Guys, I’ll be honest. I felt a little bit torn during Easter services yesterday. Don’t get me wrong – our Easter experience was fantastic – I sensed an incredible spiritual unrest among many folks in the room. But I’ve always struggled with the religious aspects of Christian holidays in general. It isn’t that I don’t recognize and appreciate Jesus’ role as Savior. Rather, it’s because I try my best recognize it. I try my best to always be in a state of awareness that recognizes Jesus’ living and active role in every corner of my life. So religion doesn’t really interest me. In fact, it really bothers me. For example: why is Easter the only day you hear some people talking freely about the risen Christ?
Why not every day? Continue reading
I suppose hypocrisy is so easy to spot in others because it’s something pretty much all of us are guilty of. A man in the church passes judgement on the young folks for not tithing, and yet his offerings always come with strings attached. A Sunday School teacher gossips about a young mother for not taking her children to Sunday School, and yet never prays for or reaches out to the woman. A family stands out on a street corner protesting same-sex marriage, and yet their own marriage, rife with infidelity, deceit, and superficiality, looks nothing like their stated “biblical model” of marriage. An alcoholic looks down on a drug addict. A compulsive gambler says a pedophile lacks self control. Hypocrisy is everywhere. Throw a rock in any direction – you’ll likely hit a hypocrite. We’re all walking this earth with logs in our eyes. Continue reading
I admitted something to my wife the other day that took me a long time to be able to admit to myself:
Facebook isn’t fun anymore.
It used to be a place for you to re-connect with old classmates, network with current connections, and paint a picture for the world to see how cool you are. But now, amidst the sea of parental overshare and the seemingly unfettered onslaught of unsolicited opinions, nobody seems to walk away from a newsfeed reading without at least a slight increase in blood pressure. Continue reading
I tried to avoid adding to the rat’s nest of articles and opinions surrounding the VMA performance of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, but my reading today in Romans brought the issue to the forefront of my mind. I’m not going to comment on the level of morality in the VMA performance, nor will I make any psychologically unfounded guesses as to the cause or reasoning behind the behavior. As I’ve said in a previous post, I’m not too keen on making judgements about someone I haven’t had a conversation with. What I’m more interested in is how Christians react to sin in other people. More specifically, why is it that so many folks who engage in everyday run-of-the-mill sins feel so free to make judgements on the morality of someone on a TV screen? Yes, we ought to find sin offensive if we are going to presume to follow a God who finds sin offensive. But lately, a lot of cyber-stones being thrown by folks who seem to have forgotten that we’re all guilty of something.
Maybe, even on a subconscious level, some of us feel that just because we didn’t personally get on stage and permanently ruin teddy bears for everyone, that God has given us a free pass on our less-noticed, more socially accepted sins. So today, let’s look at the mirror instead of the TV. Continue reading
You’ve probably heard people say that one should not simply say he is a Christian, but rather act like one. This, they say, is how the world will know he is a Christian.
Here’s the problem with this idea: as soon as we begin to say that our behavior is what identifies us as Christians, we start to categorize and define what we believe to be Christian behaviors. In other words, what does it mean to “act like a Christian”? If I passed out a questionnaire with that question to my (or any other American church) congregation and asked them to jot down ideas, I’m sure we would get a lot of “doing good” answers. Loving the outcasts. Feeding the hungry. Clothing the poor. Do right. Seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Help support orphans and widows. No doubt, these are all noble causes. They’re all commendable concerns. But there’s nothing uniquely Christian about them. One does not have to be a Christian to be a good person. Furthermore, one does not have to be a good person to be a Christian (Ephesians 2:8-9). Continue reading
I keep a blog for my youth ministry students and parents , where I try to regularly post previews of what is to come for our weekly programs. This week, we’ll be talking about the Parable of the Soils. I thought I’d re-post this week’s preview article since, for me, the message in Jesus’ teaching here was particularly moving, especially coming off the coat tails of my last post about evangelism.
I don’t have much of a green thumb. I’d like to, but there always seems to be something getting in the way of me cultivating my gardening skills – weather, new baby, cash flow, motivation – and I then find myself in the produce section of Walmart knowing that the over-priced tomatoes I’m about to buy will be squishy and tasteless. And don’t even get me started on the peaches.
We rent our home, so there is little obligation to do any landscaping beyond keeping the lawn in order. But in the spirit of making a house a home, we decided to do a few minor improvements this spring and summer. I dug some trenches, laid eco-friendly siding, poured mulch, and even planted some wild flowers (planting wild flowers: a self-defeating statement, I know). Continue reading
“I don’t mean to gossip, but did you hear…”
These were the first words I heard when I walked into my normal workout area at the gym. As I headed for the TRX, I had to pass the two gossip ladies who are always hoarding equipment but rarely using it on account of their constant chatter (thank God I don’t need to use the pink hand weights and jazzercise steps). They’re always there when I am. Always. And I always have to hear about whose life is in shambles, who needs to wear less makeup, who has the worst hygiene, and ohmygoshjustmakeitstop.
But today’s gossip gave me a little more insight into just how sickening it is. Today the conversation revealed enough to me that I was able to determine that these two dressed-alike-hand-weight-hoarding ladies are talking about folks that go to their church. Continue reading
It’s been a little while since I’ve written a blog post. It’s not for lack of material – indeed, I’ve had plenty of observations over the last several weeks that could manafest an interesting blog post – but due to busyness and the fear of being inaccurately labeled as a ranting liberal (who knew gun control was such a hot issue?), I’ve chosen to dial it back a bit. But here we are, and here is the simple truth: I’ve read something in the Bible and want to share it with you. Whether it is considered to be conservative or liberal in nature, I could not care less. I would hope it is neither.
I serve as youth pastor at a church where the senior pastor is cool enough to call me “Associate Pastor” rather than just the “youth guy.” He even lets me preach from time to time with a “whenever you want, just let me know” sort of attitude, and I really appreciate that kind of ministerial validation. When the opportunity came for me to take on a four-week preaching binge, I gladly accepted and planned a four-week series on the book of Philippians. In reality, one could exegetically take months preaching from this epistle, but I’m happy to at least do a brief survey over it. Continue reading
Like everyone else, I’d like some answers. I’ve looked to CNN for clarity. I’ve even turned on Fox News. MSNBC. Blogs. Newspapers (online, of course). Nobody has quick answers for me. But as I read in Matthew 14, the thing to do in times of sorrow, disappointment, and confusion, is to unload it onto Jesus. Even Jesus himself went to pray in solitude when he was troubled. If you spend even more time in Matthew 14, you’ll also read that when we become too focused on ourselves – our circumstances, insecurities, concerns – we begin to sink. When we feel lost, sunk, or in the process of becoming either of the two, the only logical thing to do is turn our eyes upon Jesus.
And yet too many of us are focusing on our “rights.” Some folks are suggesting that the President, along with gun control advocates, is “politicizing tragedy.” It’s ironic to me that these are the same folks who have taken this tragedy as an opportunity to politicize their faith – folks like Mike Huckabee who suggest that God abandoned the children at Sandy Hook because we’ve “systematically removed God” from schools and government. I agree with Huckabee when he says, “Maybe we ought to let him in on the front end and we wouldn’t have to call him to show up when it’s all said and done at the back end,” but I would suggest that this politician is woefully misguided as to where the “front end” is located. Continue reading
I don’t watch NFL. The sound of a football game on TV brings back memories of Sunday afternoons where my dad wouldn’t let anything be on the TV that didn’t involve the Broncos (don’t get the wrong idea here – I have fond memories of hanging out with my Dad…I just didn’t share his fondness of boring TV when I was growing up under his roof). In fact, the only reason I know anything about Bob Costas is because he’s the nice man who appears on my TV screen every two years when the Olympics are on (you know – real sports). I am so far-removed from the NFL that I wasn’t even aware that Mr. Costas did anything other than cover the Olympics. So you can imagine my surprise when I started seeing hateful comments about Bob Costas appearing on my Facebook newsfeed after the December 2nd Sunday Night Football presentation on NBC. To put it lightly, Costas said some things during halftime that indirectly addressed the issue of gun control, which upset some people. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see it here.