Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I do not plan on going off on a rant about kinkiness or anything like that (I’ll save that for my marriage blog hehe)…rather I want to talk about this movement of people that meets every Sunday in many different buildings they mistakingly call the church. Don't forget...people are the church...not bricks. These are people that think every time they get beat up they are having an encounter with God. If for some reason they do not feel pain then they feel sorely neglected and perhaps made to feel like a major sinner. They enjoy being yelled at the entire message because if they are not hurt by the message than perhaps they did not hear from God.
I ran across a quote today posted to my ministries website (www.thatsnotmygod.com) that said this, “Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you...He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you; he hates them too. God hates--right now, personally, objectively--hates some of you. He has had enough...YOU are the problem, not the solution....God doesn’t just hate what you do, he hates what you are!”
I will not say who said this because I prefer not to give him the publicity though many already know who it came from. What I find interesting about this quote is that it is not out of the norm for him or others to say this kind of thing and get a rousing “AMEN!” This was stated not in a church of 100 people but rather a church of thousands of people. This almost motivates me to get behind my pulpit….er….um….rocked out music stand and be a complete and total hard-nose lacking in scriptural knowledge. It seems more times than not if you are loud, mean, scripturally challenged and a lacking in grace pastor that you could end up with a large church!
Now this is what I read in the red letters of the Bible. Matthew 11:29 says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Now if you are like me you have heard that the “yoke” is something heavy and because Jesus was a carpenter he probably made many heavy yokes. However Torah teachers (Rabbis, ie. Jesus) would teach the accepted interpretations or yoke of their community. Jesus invitation to those who listened to many teachers and interpretations helps establish him as a Rabbi would present an interpretation that was easy and light (to understand not necessarily to do) (Matt. 13:11-30). Therefore, he was probably not speaking to unsaved people bogged down with sin but people unsure of the many interpretations they heard in the great religious debate in Galilee.
However, many times people quote and therefore base their theology on Psalms 5:5 “The arrogant cannot stand in your presence. You hate all who do wrong.” SEE…GOD HATES YOU BECAUSE YOU SIN! Now I believe Psalms to be a very inspiring book of the Bible and would teach from it proudly. However to base a theology off of one of the most emo people in the Bible is probably not the wisest thing in the world to do. There is a simple phrase going on here we are familiar with, it goes like this “you are putting words in my mouth.” Now…imagine God and David sitting down at the great Starbucks in the sky ready to have a little coffee talk (insert Mike Myers Jewish joke here). Do you think God might say to David “um…perhaps you were putting words in my mouth.” In my opinion I think he would.
Sadly each Sunday people come in to buildings and want to be beat down. What is even sadder about this scenario is that people will then mistake a ranting leader at an altar call as having a God experience when in fact God may have left the building. I have been guilty of making some ignorant comments in the heat of the moment. I am leading a youth group again while pastoring a church and as I look at some of the messages I spoke on during the old days of youth pastoring….I have no other choice than to throw them out.
We need to stay educated on the Bible and what it says. So put your latex wear away, leave your whips and chains at home and come to a place where you hear about the red letter Jesus. Will the teachings always be mushy leaving you with a squishy feeling….no…not all the time. The concepts should be easy to understand…perhaps the difficulty is putting it into action. Let me state it this way. A pastor may make it very difficult for people to live out the simple teachings of Christ because they expect change in one meeting at the altar before they leave the building. This is the end result of the Billy Graham generation we live in. "If you don't change RIGHT NOW you have sin issues." What? I think it becomes much easier to put the teachings of Christ into action when we are free to continue on with our journey WORKING OUT our salvation taking things one step at a time. It is true we should work on it and not be lazy but I am pretty sure if you don’t change THAT MOMENT a bus probably won’t hit you on the way home from church.
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Just today I ran across an article talking about how long a pastor stays after a building project. Unfortunatley some are a victim to the process and don't make it to see the completion. What is even more interesting is that often times within 2 years of that project being done the pastor will resign and go to another church or do a complete job switch. Why? What might happen is that they get jazzed up with their people on a physical goal and when that goal is met there is nothing there to keep them motivated. If they don't keep the spiritual goal the priority then when the physical goal is met there is nothing and a kind of depression sets in. This is what happened in Nehamiah's day. The wall was up the city was finished but the people lost their connection with God. When you come to the end of the book you find that not only was their a need for the reconstruction of the walls but the reinstruction of the people. So once again Ezra is the man. The people come to Ezra and they begin to get back into what matters....what God has to say. In other words to keep the main thing the main thing....ministry. When they got back to this a sort of revival broke out.
What can be a sad thing looking at this story and statistic is that I and maybe you have seen it happen. You end up getting the churches that live from capital campaign to capital campaign. From one building project to another they are constantly pursuing a physical goal mislabeling physical growth for spiritual growth. This simply is not the case and cannot be the case. It would be interesting to me to see some of these churches that are building without truly needing to, to do a capital campaign in their church in order to wipe out poverty/debt within their congregation (a sort of jubilee). To see if people would pledge as much not to see a big elaborate new sidewalk going into their church or new building but rather pay off a widows home within the church. The spiritual goals will always give more gas to a church body than a physical goal. Sure it is nice to have new with the latest and greatest. I think it is necessary to be a good steward of what we have. However, would some of the money we drop into a church building program make even King Solomon blush? If we could talk to some of the saints that have gone on before us or even Jesus for that matter and say, "1, 2, 3, or 20 million dollar building project or fight social injustices (starting first in the church...I am a big advocate for helping those within the family)?" I think I know what they would say and I think I could show you a church body that is on such a spiritual high that no building program could ever duplicate. I opt for spiritual goals.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
My kids will often times remind me when they are hungry. They also know that all they have to do is ask and it requires ZERO faith on their part that we will actually have something for them. It may not be exactly what they want but they will get something to eat. They fully rely on Tracy and I to take care of them. All they need to do is ask and know we will supply their needs.
I am reminded in Matthew 6:25-27,34(NIV) states “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Us as Christians can be SO good at pointing out the sin in others or talk about issues that are so far-fetched I wonder if we even believe what we are talking about. For that matter we are great at even talking about lifestyles others live or moral standards other people have because they don’t line up with our biased Christian life. Personally I think the biggest area a Christian struggles in BAR NONE is to “not worry about tomorrow.”
It seems we are wired to worry. We worry about current events, end times, our daily lives, money, retirement, kids future, what movie we will see, etc. I would not be so naïve as to say we ought not to plan a bit. What I would say though is we ought to quit worrying so much. If you and I fully trust God….I mean really trust God beyond what any cliché might say…then we need to let God take care of us. I do not think we have the right as a Christian to talk about others until we get the fundamental basics down in our own life. Personally I like the motto of some of my guy church friends that say, "it is what it is."
Do we love God? Do we trust God? Then don’t worry. Do be dumb, but don’t worry. Remember in the past all of the times God has come through for you? I think he will do it again. My kids have no need to worry about whether or not they will eat, have clothes or a home to live in. I literally want them to go through life being wise but having fun while letting me take care of them until they can take care of themselves. I pray that at that point they will return the favor when they become married and have children. Worry can stifle us and hold us in complete bondage if we let it. Trust in God.
Friday, September 23, 2011
It has been awhile since my last blog…pretty much the only reason is that I have had nothing to say. However, there are a few things that I am excited to talk about now. The first would be the, October series we announced last Sunday at Radiant Fellowship. You see many churches and Christians will do everything under the sun at Halloween and label it as “harvest party” or “candy carnival” or "Harvest Carnival" or other things. We have decided to just call it what it is…a Halloween series. Our outreach during trick or treating will simply be called a Halloween party (complete with bon-fire...have you looked up the origin of bon-fires? Perhaps we should call them "Harvest fires"?).
I recall serving in a church where if you even printed on orange paper during the month of October it would be frowned upon. This was simply silly. There are all kinds of arguments one could make that if you do a Halloween party than you are worshiping the devil. Let me share with you a note from a lady at our church in her 50’s that I got the other day after we unveiled the series.
“I really like your take on Halloween. For years we did Halloween Barns for the church we went to. One of my Baptist friends asked why I was worshiping the devil. I just said they must know more about devil worship then me, cause I was giving the kids a safe place to dress up in costumes to play while getting food for the food pantry, and just what does devil worship look like? So we are looking forward to your Oct series.”
This gives me great hope as we will be reaching many people with this series that the church may tend to run and hide from. Each week is the title of a classic rock song and I will be sharing a message that parallels it doused with scripture (I threw that last bit in there for those who like mention me in their church messages). The worship team will be playing each song before I speak…it is going to be a great time of deep study and the avid music lover will really dig it.
Week 1: California Dreaming….Topic: Letting go of the past.
Week 2: Shooting Star…Topic: Dealing with casualties of life.
Week 3: Enter Sandman…Guest speaker Mike Barden
Week 4: Sound of Silence…Hearing God when it is quiet
Week 5: Welcome to My Nightmare (title of the series): ….Guest Speaker Pastor Bob Beeman.
Friday, August 26, 2011
So here goes part 3 of my “oddly conservative” blog series. What I find interesting about this so far is the amount of input I have gotten from a crowd I have not heard from before. I enjoy being a free thinker/free believer and stretching…wrestling…debating theological issues. All you have to do is hang out with me for a bit and you will find this out. I really don’t get offended by a whole lot, especially other people’s opinions or doctrinal beliefs. In fact I welcome it because I may learn something along with the way. I have to be careful though because though I label myself as one...even free thinkers/free believers can be some of the most close minded people. If your experience does not align with theirs and you still see the cup as half full...you are in trouble. I will say that sadly those who have had nothing but good experiences or hide the bad ones can come across as pompous and arrogant which drives me nuts.
The thing that I see quite a bit since I was a youth pastor beginning in 1995 is the after school activities ramping up. Do you remember when soccer and other sports NEVER met on Wednesday nights? If you do you might even remember when stores were closed on Sundays. This is where I become “old school” and again…it is my opinion.
Growing up in church, I along with many friends from my church…it was never an option to miss either a Sunday or Wednesday night program (Royal Rangers, Youth Group, Awana, etc.) due to extracurricular activities. To be honest with you my Dad never gave us an option. Again...it was a lifestyle not a weekly decision. Anything I or other kids wanted to sign up for pertaining to school had to run through the filter of “will it interfere with church activities?” Kind of like the question most youth pastors ask when a teen tells him/her they are dating, "Is he/she a Christian?" If it did interfere then the parents would talk to the coach and ask if something could be worked out. If not…then plain and simple we were not involved with it. It was not because “that sport is evil because it pulls you away from church” it was simply because parents wanted their kids in church. In my own experience and many of my friends on Facebook we found it to be a great experience. I never did want to miss youth group…I wouldn’t have mind missing a few morning services but even Sunday night church was fun.
So why am I such a stick in the mud when it comes to parents getting their kids to come to church? Again…I say church but however that looks for you is what’s important (home fellowship group, etc.). The reason why is that I remember being 14 or 15 and thinking when I get my license and car…church will be the last place you will find me. However…thanks to my parents who were willing to be hated by me, and some very cool youth pastors and senior pastor (still at Poplar Creek Church) I never wanted to leave. The fact of the matter is I was ticked when I had to miss as I became 18 and began to work full time. If it was not for those guidelines in my life (though some may say were legalistic) I can say I would not be where I am today because of it. I was able to weather two horrific storms in church politics as a pastor. I am able to come alongside other hurting people in the church and help them find hope. Trust me when I say, If my parents did not at times MAKE me come to church, I would not have gone and probably would not be where I am today.
I believe it is healthy for parents to setup boundaries. I dealt with many teens in youth group and speaking engagements where there are no boundaries. As one person said, "a river without boundaries is just a swamp." Will boundaries solve everything? Nope. I would like to believe though that they would certainly curtail the number of Christian drop-outs however. I can only pray that I raise my kids the same way and when those teen years come…I can be as cool with them as my parents were with me and that they stick to it.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Growing up I was never really into music at all until my brother one Christmas bought me my first, Guardian and Sacred Warrior tapes. I was instantly sold and began to listen to more and more Christian music. By time I was 17/18 years old I was DJ’ing for a Christian skate-night my youth pastor and I started. It began with one night a month and rapidly turned into every Friday night from 9 until Midnight at Milwaukee’s premiere skate rink. I formed a great relationship with the local Christian bookstore (while working for another) and began getting all kinds of underground and hard to find Christian music from rock to rap to rave. It was rare if the skate rink didn’t close their doors each Friday night because they ran out of skates which meant 450+ people.
My favorite style of music still to this day is industrial and goth. Everything else I enjoy as well. During my mid 20’s though I began to enjoy more and more of the mainstream stuff as well (I hate the word secular). My collection of 4500 CD’s and cassettes went from ALL Christian to mainstream as well including, Pink Floyd, Ozzy, Phish, Rush, and more. I have and remain very open minded about all things music unless it is a new album from, Brad Paisley.
This is what’s oddly conservative about me in regards to church music. I do not care for in the least classic hymns that are redone to include verses that were never in the original version. I also do not care for beautiful hymns such as How Great Thou Art; It is Well With My Soul, etc. butchered into something that completely sounds like garbage. Now I have heard some classics redone musically and they are phenomenal. The worship leader, Monica Barden at the church I pastor always hits it out of the park when she re-works an old song of the church.
However, when an artist takes an old hymn and adds some new lyrics and breathy or grunting voice behind it…to me it is an epic fail. Now I am not a musician but to add some lyrics to an already perfect song to me shows no creative ability. Where in mainstream pop-culture do you see someone adding a few extra chords to Moonlight Sonata making the new way the standard in which we hear it? Who would dream of adding a few new chords to Canon in D. So why add some lines to, Amazing Grace and throw out some of the original verses?
Call me old fashioned but I prefer people don’t mess with the old songs if it means getting rid of the original wording or music. Many churches probably have not sung the original, Amazing Grace in a long time. I don’t need marketing gurus telling today’s puppets of Christian top 40 what to add or change to make an extra buck by desecrating a pillar of the Christian music scene. Over and over you hear these redos on Christian radio which gets sickening after a half hour of listening. It is my opinion leave the music alone and let the beauty of its original wording and orchestrations still move people like the day it was written.btw...the person standing in the picture with me is, Eric Clayton of "Saviour Machine." My fav. group that does Christian goth...think Wagner meets Pink Floyd.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
I think the first thing I am conservative about given my upbringing is church attendance. I truly believe there is still hope for the church. Yes I understand many people have been hurt by the church…I HAVE BEEN THERE in a very real way and can relate. But for me to write of church because I had a bad experience would be like me writing off “Noodles and Company” because I had bad service at one location. That is simply crazy.In our study at church on Wednesday nights I love that N.T. Wright still finds this concept to be a great thing.
The argument out there is that “we are the church” and I get that. I do not believe you need a building to have church. I believe you do not need the building to have a certain look in order to be “the church.” I honestly do not care if you meet in a school, home, pub, etc. In my humble opinion I think today’s Christians has made church a weekly decision and not a lifestyle decision. To be completely honest with you I am grateful my parents made sure we were at church every Sunday morning (and Sunday night because that was the trend) and Wednesday nights. The programs were great and I think all in all I turned out alright. This is the same thing we are doing with our kids. Being a pastor, I am required to be at church more often but that will not be required of my children. Sunday’s and midweek will work for me. I find the statistics interesting with parents that try to be "the cool parents" and don't take there kids to church vs. the ones that do. The ones raised by "the cool parents" are statistically more likely to not even attend a church gathering of any kind.
No doubt people need a weekend here or there because they are sick or on vacation or just want to stay home after working…I get that. In the broad spectrum though I think it is very healthy to role-model church attendance to our children and quite honestly it is good for us as adults. I can already hear parents saying, “you just wait until your kids are in sports or are teenagers and don’t want to go.” My response for that is going to be in another blog ;-).
I believe in Hebrews 10:25(NIV) “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” There is certainly a push you get when you can meet together with other people on a weekly basis. No doubt we get fellowship in other places but there is something to be said about being with a church (however that may look for you) and making sure if you have kids…they attend. I love Facebook but I need to physically be with people.
Well…there is the first thing I am oddly conservative about. Did I scare you yet? You will find I am actually old fashion in some ways over the next week. Don't worry though...though I am conservative in some areas...you not so conservative Christians....I am with you as well!