Monday, September 17, 2012

Want A More Christian Nation? (Repost from February)

Here’s a novel idea, make more Christians. 

Is it a coincidence that in the last thirty years, as the church has increasingly turned to political action to achieve spiritual aims, that we’ve seen the largest decline in church membership in our history? So today we’ve been reduced to bogus claims of a war on religion and religious liberty to explain the sad fact that we are a church in decline. Our so called leaders much prefer that excuse than a long look in the mirror.
You want war, go to Somalia, ask them what Christian persecution means. We live in the freest country in the world in terms of the right to practice our faith and we can’t fill a sanctuary an hour a week, while the church is thriving in the most inhospitable places on earth. Places where to self-identify as Christian can cost you your life. 

So why does the faith prosper there and falter here? Why are our leaders whining about legislation instead of focusing on salvation? You want a nation with respect for family values? Make more Christians. You want the institution of marriage strengthened? Make more Christians. Interested in sexual purity? Make more Christians.  Peace, charity, a nation where widows and orphans are cared for, and our elderly and the poor are honored rather than considered a burden? A church alive with purpose? Yep, make more Christians.

Maybe if our leaders spent less time running around like rock stars filling stadiums at $25 a pop, and instead followed the lead of our brethren in Somalia, China, or Pakistan we’d have a church as vibrant as theirs.
War on religion? You don’t need to make war on the church in America, they’re too busy advocating legislation, sub-contracting our faith to politicians who every four years ring our Pavlovian bells, only to take our votes and money till the next election cycle comes round. If a New Testament believer were suddenly transported to present day America they’d be appalled. Would they recognize us or turn away in disgust?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Force Of Nature

Have you ever encountered a force of nature? There’s an easy way to tell, if you have to stop and think about your answer you haven’t. Forces of nature leave an indelible impression, in 2004 I went through Hurricane Charley. It was a force three hurricane and I will never forget that experience.

Forces of nature often become landmarks in our lives, the people of Katrina will always remember that hurricane as a focal point, as in life before Katrina and life after. Forces of nature can be hurricanes, earthquakes, or drought. They can be events like the Civil War, World War 2, Kennedy’s assassination. They are always powerful phenomena that alter lives, defining events if you will.

So you hardly expect to encounter one on a church bus, cleverly disguised as a twenty something woman about the size of a munchkin, with a passion for purity in young girls that washes over you like a tsunami. We’re not talking about the purity the way that adults preach to youngsters, you know what I’m talking about. “Don’t have sex before marriage, buy longer skirts, don’t dress like a tramp, you’ll get treated like a tramp.” That stuff verges on legalism, and young girls sense that. 

No, Ashley Dawn communicates the loving purity of Jesus. She tells the young girls “You MERIT dressing with taste, you DESERVE to be treated with respect because you are a child of the most high God, you ARE ALREADY beautiful with the beauty of Christ and the messages you are seeing on TV, in your music, pictured in tabloids, are lies, designed to defile you, not to make you acceptable.

Ashley Dawn is exhausting to be around because her heart is on fire for little girls, she speaks from love, a shout really, and she’s all about passion not rules. She get’s girls to the same place older folks try to, but she phrases her message in love not dictum, not you should, but you deserve.

Here’s the deal, I’m not asking you to support this woman, I’m telling you. I’ve never done that before, but her ministry is that important. She’s at the start of her journey and I believe she’s going to impact thousands of young girls at precisely the place they’re most reachable, in early elementary school. So go to her website, support her on Facebook at InnerBeauty101, follow her on Twitter, go to her YouTube channel at, or simply email her at  But go to her now, she’s about God’s business and she needs our support now.That’s what a force of nature does to you, sweeps you along in it’s path, and resistance is futile (Where have I heard that before?)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The God Of Second Chances

No conflict is so severe as his who labors to subdue himself.~Thomas a Kempis
There are few people who know utter despair like those who desperately want to stop some destructive behavior yet find themselves incapable of doing so. They may be substance abusers, wife beaters, workaholics. It may be anger, adultery, promiscuity or pornography.The list might include gambling, stealing, or any myriad of behaviors that damage or destroy our relationships with loved ones and God. To want to stop these behaviors yet be unable to is heartbreaking to watch for those of us who care.
Often, the destruction is complete. The sufferers life is a flaming ruin, they are reduced to little more than human wreckage with no real reason to even remain on the planet. If they were to die at that point there'd be scarecly a ripple on the pond of life, hardly anyone would even notice they're gone.
No problem. 
It's at that point the God of Second Chances can stride in,, snatch the sufferer from the jaws of the monster, and deliver him to the shores of a better land. I don't know about you, but in early June, 1989 I was a man in desperate need of a second chance. Homeless, unemployable, drinking a 1.5 of vodka a day, bleeding from both mouth and bowels, and totally alone. Shaking so hard I could not get toothpaste on a toothbrush, all I wanted was to die. Little did I know that in just a few days I was going to be delivered into the hands of a group of Good Samaritans who were to teach me the most important lesson about God I've ever learned. "There is a God and I'm not Him."
Four years later I returned to the faith of my childhood, sober and teachable, and it's been a remarkable journey filled with joy and sorrow, but never lacking the God of Second Chances. So if you have a loved one or friend hellbound to destruction, he just might be in preparation to receive a gift. It's always a mystery why some of us require complete devastation in order to pay attention, but that's just the way it is, a complete deflation of self leading to total defeat can sometimes be the launching pad to glory.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Glow of the Lord at Work.

I had one of those moments Sunday, you know the kind, a moment suffused with the glow of the Lord at work.

On Sunday afternoons I facilitate a Christ Based 12 Step group at my church and while I was making the coffee a young woman walked in and asked if she was in the right place for the recovery meeting. I said yes and invited her to sit and relax while I finished the coffee.

We got to talking and she said that she was homeless, she'd been molested 5 years ago, that had begun a downward spiral of booze and despair, and now she was an atheist. That sort of surprised me since we, after all, are a church group and we don't advertise anywhere, so I asked her how she found out about us and she said the words that rocked my world. "I started going to church here a few weeks ago and I saw it in the church bulletin."

Jesus. A homeless atheist living in the woods near our church, for some reason starts going to church, is attracted back over and over again, and still an atheist, decides to seek help with her drinking from a bunch of believers. 

Is that cool or what......we beat our heads trying to figure out how to reason with atheists, when really, we just have to live like Christians. In another fellowship I belong to it's called attraction not promotion.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A New Season

I believe that we are at a new moment, not a moment to change the eternal reality of our faith, but perhaps to just redirect our energy for awhile. Perhaps preaching against evolution can wait for awhile, we can give the gay marriage crusade a rest for a bit. 

The moment today is about people suffering and filled with despair and fear. And we have a Christ perfect for this moment. preaching against gay marriage, evolution, or climate change has no relevance to a father struggling to feed his children. When we do that we appear out of touch and heartless. So maybe we could give it a rest, feed the kids, and later we can return to these other issues.

Devaluing Evil

Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, Hess, Himmler, Bormann, and Speer. These are names that belong in and should be reserved for the category Demonic Evil. To any student of history, they personify the evil that man is capable of inflicting on his fellow man. The use of their names should be reserved for the purpose of condemning catastrophic acts of barbarism. Any other use devalues evil.

So when politicians casually use their names to describe their opponents they are doing a great disservice to humanity. They are reducing the concept of pure malevolent evil to a middle school insult, “Your mother wears combat boots!”  Democrats do it to Republicans, Republicans do it to Democrats, and they both rise up in faux righteous indignation in an effort to score political points when it happens.

Stop it now! Both parties demean themselves. We are now three generations removed from the Holocaust, to our children it’s a chapter in their history books and when we fling these demonic names at political opponents whose only evil is that they disagree with our pet policy prescriptions, what are our children to think? Will they wonder if the magnitude of the events of WW 2 has been blown out of proportion because of the casual use of these evil names?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Angels Should Wear ID

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.  Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:1-2)

 This verse has some really scary implications. If I read the verse correctly, they might show up anywhere and we won’t recognize them. What if they’ve got brown skin and cross the Rio Grande at night because that’s how they like to travel? What if they’re black, look 85 years old, haven’t had a drivers license for twenty years and they show up to vote like they have for years, and you turn them away because you changed the law?

What if they lived in Baghdad and you bombed them because, well you could. Or were living among the poor of Haiti and you went on TV and said the earthquake was God’s judgment on that country? Or they were ministering to the poor in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and you laid that God’s judgment thing on them again?

Worse yet, what if that panhandler who asked me for two bucks a while back, and I turned him down even though I had it because I knew he’d just spend it on booze, what if he was an angel and had just misplaced his ID? Really, I hate that verse, not because I don’t agree with it, but because I’m so damn bad at it.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Who's Your Jesus?

Do You Know Jesus? You know, Jesus, Son of God, Water Walker, Dead Raiser, Feeder of Multitudes with little more than a snack tray, Stamped Ticket to heaven? That’s right, the Sunday School Jesus. If you do, and that’s how you know Him, then praise God, don’t let anyone tell you your knowledge of Jesus is inadequate.

Every once in a while someone comes along with an epiphany and a book contract, and now we gotta deal with a whole new side of Jesus, although really, how new could it be if they’re citing scripture to support this stunning new insight into the nature of Jesus?

I suppose it’s all right, after all, do you really believe that your understanding of Jesus is THE definitive understanding of an infinite Jesus? In John 21:25 the disciple wrote “Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” So there’s one of my favorite Jesus, the Mysterious One.

I’m also quite infatuated with the Anonymous Jesus. Remember the lame man by the pool? When he went back to his village the elders asked him “Who healed you?” and he didn’t know. It’s almost like Jesus enjoyed pranking people. BOOM, you’re healed, now you figure it out. I love that Jesus.

And how about the, I Just Showed You How, For Crying Out Loud Jesus? One day Jesus is confronted with thousands of hungry people and the disciples don’t know what to do, so Jesus grabs a kid with a snack tray consisting of a few fish and a couple of loaves of bread, has the disciples distribute it and they feed everyone and have baskets of food left over. So far so good. A while later they are facing the same scenario, thousands of hungry folks and a kid with a snack tray. What do the disciples say? How are we going to feed this crowd? They’re lucky Jesus didn’t feed THEM to the crowd. 

So anyway, that’s how my mind works. I wonder what Jesus you like……..