Sunday, December 4, 2016

Forget church, go to work

Whether us Mark Driscoll or Perry Ward, or Darrin Patrick all my strong male pastors are being fired. Whether too much to drink, or being too domineering, or as released with Darrin

"The Journey cited a range of ongoing sinful behaviors over the past few years including manipulation, domineering, lack of biblical community, and “a history of building his identity through ministry and media platforms.”"

I have struggled with feeling a call into the ministry. I have been to seminary on 2 separate occasions. Currently on sabbatical.

I know who I am. I know God loves me. I also know I could never fit the mold with a 100
judging eyes on me.

I truly believe if we were allowed too we would judge all the 12 apostles unworthy to lead.

So where do guys like us belong. Not in modern Christianity, we know we won't make it. So if church isn't the place where we grow and thrive then where. Where do normal messed up guys work out there faith.

We do it at work I suppose. Where flaws are overlooked, dealt with, and excepted because there is an overall purpose that needs to be accomplished. Where men find value and where effort is rewarded. Where there isn't a church discipline session if you hit your hand and say a 4 letter word. The workplace may be the last place you would expect to work out your faith.

Remember though it was where David found relationship, where Jesus found all of his disciples. All on the job........

Fed up with church? I get that. Start listening for God at work. You may be surprised what you hear in a place where no religious person is watching you. Where you can be you and you can focus on just hearing God.

Friday, May 6, 2016

What, as the Christian Church, we need.............

As I have devotion this morning a thought process was started. Generosity may be our biggest need in church today but we seem to make church about worship styles. At least we do in the circles I socialize in and people from school discuss it a lot. Do we need lasers and smog machines? Should we dance and shout? A lot of people focus on King David and his dancing before the ark. We like to use this as a focal point or to make a declaration of one worship style over another. But this is one thing he did, he also poorly planned the move of the ark. Stopped after a man died. Grew angry with God. Committed adultery and murder, united the kingdom, gathered supplies to build a temple. We never focus on just those events. We can no more make David only about his one recorded dance than we can Peter only about his denial of Jesus (and Peter did that 3 times). 

We always talk about looking like an Acts or 1st century church. There was a commitment to one another. A brotherhood, generosity, sharing of material possessions. Please don't judge people based on your personal convictions. Don't make the act of being superior spiritually about your actions or how you worship. I cannot find where one or the other makes you right or wrong. We should instead focus on generosity and taking care of one another. It does no good to have any one boast in a particular worship style while needy people are outside the church. Please be generous to someone today.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Kirk Franklin, Kanye, and Yeezus

I don't normally involve current events in my posts but there is a trend I think we need to be aware of.

The trend is celebrity pastors and worship leaders willing to accept whatever to court the association of famous people. The message is one of grace translated to grant permission for everyone to do what they want to. This is not grace. Grace reveals how we have failed, the amount of God's love for us, and produces a desire to live everyday more holy than the last.

Twice now I have read as Kirk Franklin (see post below) attempts to use the grace montage to shame Christians for not supporting his celebrity partner. He is attempting to lend authenticity to Kanye's album of which he is a contributor. The same Kanye that claimed to be god, toured under a recent album titled Yeezus, and had a actor portray Jesus as a mocked prop during the tour. His album contains songs like "black skinhead" and "I Am a God". Notice the mocking of "I Am", the name by which God calls himself.

I love Kanye and pray for a true grace to fall on and in him. To Kirk Franklin I would say shaming Christians for financial gains is not going to help that occur.

You can love and support a person without promoting blasphemy. You would not tell a rapist that you will hold the camera for them or help them continue to hurt others. We confuse love and support in truth with tolerance and acceptance of sin. They are not the same thing. The new trend is then to allow our tolerance to become assistance. Then we are guilty of not only the sin but becoming a stumbling block where we should be a beacon.

The world needs the truth, not acceptance.

Kirk Franklin Facebook Post


Saturday, January 16, 2016

The new Hellfire and Brimstone

So I have several churches and groups I follow by podcast. I spend a minimum of 3.5 hours a day in my car so this is how I am able to stay plugged in during the week. Several of these churches have revivals going on. Traveling revivalists or evangelists have come in to speak for a period of time. Over the first few days of listening to some of these I would find myself grinding my teeth. Stressed out would best way to describe the way I felt after listening. At first I thought perhaps I just had a critical spirit. However as I prayed I began to realize some things. I then decided to listen to a Sunday morning service from another group. I then turned on a podcast from a mega church so many of these evangelists would criticize. It's a big church with multiple campuses and a coffee bar, so it would be an easy target for those who bash the "American Sunday Morning Church". What I found a was wonderful sermon full of scriptural revelation. It was about Jesus, not about other churches. I felt a jump inside my spirit. I began to realize somethings.

The new revivalist/ evangelist scares church members by telling them they need more than Sunday morning Christianity. What they have now isn't enough! It also bashes other churches as not meeting enough or being spiritual enough. This is no different than the hell fire and brimstone guys who led to people thinking they need to be saved every alter call years ago. It is a tactic that creates a false response. People respond based off fear they will disappoint God or go to hell.

But Jesus says, do not be afraid, just believe. (Mark 5:36)

I am not saying Sunday morning is ALL you need. But showing up five times a week and calling extra services isn't going to do any good without belief and relationship. Fear is not the way to spread the gospel. Instead of worrying about what every church is doing wrong or how much better we are than someone else, how about we spend some time telling the world about Jesus. What the church looks like or how they do church is not as critical as why they do church. If church is all about Jesus it's really hard to have an unimportant or uninspired service. Had I walked into the last 2 revival meetings I listened to as a nonbeliever it would have made me want to walk away saying "if church people don't like each other why do I want to be one". We are often too critical of other churches or groups. We are arrogant sometimes in thinking relationship should look the same in everyone. In the same regards churches will not look the same either. Daniel did not look like David. Abraham did not look or act like Moses, Peter, or Paul. But all followed God. The reading of the scriptures and temple built in Nehemiah didn't look like the sermon on the mount in the New Testament. These are all examples of difference with same intent. All had an intended path. All point to Jesus and his redemption of man.

I hope we will learn that we should use opportunity for speaking to share about Jesus, not to promote ourselves as better than other believers. When we tell people about Jesus and they trust in him, then we must trust him to lead the people down the path he has for them.

As for me, from now on when a speaker begins to put down another group of believers. I simply delete the podcast and quit listening!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

I am getting a divorce because we have sex too often, said no one ever.

Note: I have delayed writing and posting this because I know it will be controversial.

Many of you know me and know that I am a seminary student but I also I am a full time manufacturing worker. I work in a production factory; I supervise, train, develop, and direct a bunch of men. Some of whom can be pretty rough sometimes. It is not an environment for sensitive ears or people who get their feelings hurt. I consider this a blessing as I believe the world needs more bivocational ministers. Being a seminary student and a licensed minister I get the more than occasional question. It is often easier to ask me than their own minister (if they even have one). It usually starts out like’ “you’re a minister….. Or you are in seminary so you would know……” Since I work with mostly men a lot of those questions regard women, specifically wives.

The fact that divorce is so common in the church today concerns me, it concerns me personally as I have been divorced and I understand all the wounds that can be created by it. I understand there is no such thing as an innocent party. I also understand we need to begin to change how common it is in our churches and in the world.

The number one topic that always comes up is sex. Every time a guy comes to me regarding his marriage it has to do with sex. Not always directly but it always leads back to sex. Let me throw some of the more common out there.

  • I know I shouldn’t look at porn but my wife won’t even touch me since our kid was born or since her mother moved in. (or any other life change)
  • I haven’t done anything or cheated yet but it’s just nice that someone wants to talk to me and actually listen without fussing. I mean I remember when it used to be that way at home.
  • I know I shouldn’t look at other women but my wife doesn’t want my attention, so what does it hurt to look.

Now before anyone starts to say that they always are pushing blame on the wife, yes they are. Just like every wife blames the husband. Truth is both are to blame most of the time. I tell the men about their responsibilities (anyone that has ever been to a men’s meeting with me knows this). When I talk to a couple I will offer information regarding both roles. Today however I want to share with you all something I have noticed in all these instances. For whatever the reason at the time, in every case, the couple has stopped having sex. The devil attempts to pervert the God intended role of sex before marriage, why would we think that he does not work to pervert it by trying to stop it after marriage.

I understand there is more to a relationship than sex, however intimacy is key in every relationship, and sex is an intimate component of marriage. I would like to review several passages of scripture and reflect on them just from the idea of sex inside of marriage.

Genesis 2:18
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

When a man or women is left alone by their mate then they are more susceptible to lust, and all the things that come with it. They can include such things as emotional cheating, physical cheating, porn, lustful romance novels or movies, etc.

Ephesians 5:31
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

It is hard to become as one flesh if you ignore each other sexually. Period. Physical distance will lead to relational distance, and later to actual separation. You cannot be united if you are separated in anyway.

1 Corinthians 7:4
The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife.

Like it or not when you said I do you turned over yourself, fully yielded to the other person. This means in all things. It means if your spouse doesn’t agree with something you want to do you need to stop and rethink the thing. There needs to be discussion and agreement on all things. I hear people all the time say, my (wife or husband) doesn’t like it but I am going to do it anyway. That will never be a good thing, and cannot exist inside of a biblical relationship. The same is true with sex, men and women use sex as a tool to punish or reward each other. This is not right, and not biblical.

1 Corinthians 7:3
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

This verse includes sex; with the expectation that the other person not have sex with anyone else but their spouse there is the counter expectation that each partner will have sex with each other. I have never met a person in the process of a divorce say I don’t know how this happened we were having sex every day. Have you? I have heard “I cannot believe they would sleep with so and so”. The other person usually responds with “what do you care you weren’t sleeping with me so what do you care if someone else wants me”…….. and so one and so forth.

Read the following passage from the message bible.

1 Corinthians 7:3-6The Message (MSG)
2-6 Certainly—but only within a certain context. It’s good for a man to have a wife, and for a woman to have a husband. Sexual drives are strong, but marriage is strong enough to contain them and provide for a balanced and fulfilling sexual life in a world of sexual disorder. The marriage bed must be a place of mutuality—the husband seeking to satisfy his wife, the wife seeking to satisfy her husband. Marriage is not a place to “stand up for your rights.” Marriage is a decision to serve the other, whether in bed or out. Abstaining from sex is permissible for a period of time if you both agree to it, and if it’s for the purposes of prayer and fasting—but only for such times. Then come back together again. Satan has an ingenious way of tempting us when we least expect it. I’m not, understand, commanding these periods of abstinence—only providing my best counsel if you should choose them.

Satan has a way of tempting us when we least expect it. If you have a marriage partner I would urge you to remove the sexual temptation that often rears itself in a sexless marriage. If you can figure out how to restore intimacy you will be surprised what that will fix.

It is my prayer that this will help someone.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

I know you make it to every service but....

I have noticed a trend among people I associate with over the last few months. I think it seems to happen as New Years comes around. Perhaps it is seasonal. I am going to list below several statements I hear during this time. Hang in there. I am going somewhere with this.

1- I am on "such and such" bible reading plan. You should do it too if you want the things of God in 2016.

2- We didn't see you at the extra services we are having. We're in revival, we have a fresh wind, time to set aside things to be there every time instead of just a few times. It hurts me to see people who aren't willing to give it all up for God and only coming sometimes. Hope you can free yourself up soon.

3- I am doing "such and such" fast, you aren't ?? I am going after God and fasting is how I am kicking it off or this is how our church is kicking it off corporately.

These are prime examples of the "Jesus Juke". They are examples of trying to shame others to show you are better than them. A backhanded comment designed to show their level of spirituality but also attack the individual. What it truly reveals is the sayer doesn't love people or trust God as we should. If you love people you never want to shame them and if you trust God you know he will develop his children based on his plan.

Not everyone is the same and not everyone is being tasked for the same things by God. My response to the following could have been. (And almost was)

1- I am not on structured reading plan. But that doesn't imply that I don't read and study my bible. I am working the devotional routine that has provided years of stability in me.

2- God provided me with a grant for school and a job to support my family. Stewarding his gifts means I cannot always be at every service. God knows I am tending his gifts and he is proud of me. I don't have to be at every service because my relationship with God is not about attendance it is about love and stewardship of his presence and gifts.

3- God has impressed on me to fast before, but never as a new year event. I also have never done it at the prompting of someone else. I have never felt convicted that this was wrong or an inaccurate way to fast.

Instead I decided that response could be seen as my very own attempt to do the same thing to them. My own Jesus Juke. So I decided to be quiet and not speak. So you ask, why the post. Why be quiet and then tell the world........

........Because in this I learned something that I feel God wants me to share. In my silence I have realized that as we do life we develop relationships with people that are in our circles, some Christian and some not. Of those believers some are vocal and some are quiet. Some burn hot and fall away. Some are constant. I begun to watch those Christians around me who were quiet. Who didn't feel the need to Jesus Juke people and maintained there responsibilities. Who preferred to be devoted in silence, causing no offense in the body of believers and who set a example that would make non Christians take notice. As I noticed them I noticed maturity. I began to desire that which they had reached. That level of "in Him" that gave peace and order.

Just as Jesus would often shy away from the crowds and noise to the wilderness, I am trying to do the same. Jesus left his disciples and focused on waiting for the woman by the well, I am focusing on who crosses my path in the day to day of the path God has me on. I think we need less people caught up in hypes and fads and more people caught up in quiet simple devotion. I hear a lot about mass harvests of souls, and I am all for it. But knowing how things multiply if we all shared Christ and disciples one person there would be more added than any service will provide. If we all got quiet long enough to see the one person God had placed in front of us. Oh how the world would change. What if the mass harvest is meant to happen on at a time by each of us getting quiet with one person, not loud with many?

I hope what God has impressed on me will help someone else.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Do you even know where that comes from? Is it in the bible?

How many people have ever used or heard the term "shekinah" in referring to God glory or presence? Most people probably don't realize this Hebrew used after the fact by Jewish Rabi's in Rabbinical writing. The word does not appear in scripture. I had this discussion with someone earlier today and it got me thinking. Don't believe all you hear without understanding and discernment! Is it wrong to use the term, I suppose that appears on intent, as descriptive term its okay, but to represent as a scriptural thing........ that is an issue. There are many other examples

Is there anything directly wrong with prayer beads, well it all depends on intent and who you pray to as to whether they are sinful to use. We just have to realize and use them based on personal conviction and not pass them off as scriptural.  What about church lore? St Theresa of Avila is quoted as saying that Jesus appeared first to his mother Mary and had to stay with her for some time to comfort her after the resurrection. These are traditional teachings but cannot be confirmed based on scripture, we need to practice discernment.  We need to be aware terms like trinity, divinity, rapture, incarnation. These are descriptive words assigned by scholars to represent events or ideas laid out in scripture, but they do not appear in the bible. It is important that we teach scripture, understand scripture, and know the difference between scripture and doctrinal things that man as described. 

Imagine telling a Pentecostal that term shekinah glory is not in the bible, or a Baptist that the Jesus or the disciples never used the word trinity….. What reaction would you get? Perhaps you should pull a Catholic aside and tell them there rosary comes from a pagan religion. How would that go……?

I am not by any means saying that there is anything wrong with these terms, teachings, or actions. I am however concerned how many teach them as being in the bible, and how many people do not realize there origins. If we are to use these terms we need to be able to explain and defend them. We need to know why we use these. We must have the knowledge needed, to answer the nonbeliever when asked questions, it is a part of our jobs as Christians to be able to tell others about Jesus.