We live in a world where you can find pretty much everything online. There are archives of all kinds out there. You can hear voices every since there have been devices to record them. Of course, this massive online collection is also filled with billions of hours of meaningless content that makes many of us question our very existence.
And that’s exactly what is motivating these posts.
My grandfather, who passed away in April of 2014, was a preacher. He spent much of his life behind the pulpit in one way or another. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of recordings of him preaching. But we do have some.
Over the next few weeks I plan on sharing those recordings with you. He spent a lot of his life traveling and sharing with churches in revivals. And I’ll be honest with you, I’m hoping that by sharing these with you, there may be others who have recordings of some of his sermons that will dig out those old tapes and share them with me.
Nevertheless, the messages he preached, including this one that was preached over 20 years ago, still have a very timely message for us today.
I encourage you to listen in and let God speak to you!
(The audio starts at about 10 seconds in. Also, early in the recording, for about 30 seconds it will sound like he walks away from the mic, but he gets back quickly.)
How many times have you found yourself in a debate over theology? Maybe you’re not a pastor, so it doesn’t happen that often to you. But it happens pretty often in circles I run in. And my guess is, even if you don’t think you’re having theological discussions on a regular basis, you really are.
There are a lot of different theological views out there. Arminian. Reformed. Calvinist. Lutheran. Catholic. And more.
This may feel controversial to you, but my aim in this post is to convince you that your theology is not the most important thing.
We think it is. And it’s important, for sure. But it’s not the most important thing. We’ve elevated it over the most important thing. We’ve given supremacy to our theology and made the important thing secondary. When our theology should be secondary to the most important thing.
What’s the most important thing? What the Bible ACTUALLY says.
Too often, we approach scripture with our theology colored glasses on. And instead of seeking to understand what the Bible says, our aim is to make the words of scripture fit within our theology.
We wouldn’t admit to this, but that’s exactly what we do.
Our theology tells us something is right or wrong. So, we go to the Bible looking for verses that prove our stance. And we can be successful at finding quite a few of them too.
But, what do we do when we find those verses that don’t prove our stance? This is the prime question.
When something from scripture doesn’t fit with what we believe about our faith, do we adjust our belief or do we try to adjust what the Bible says?
I’m afraid, that more often than not, we adjust what the Bible says to fit within our framework of our theological system.
My challenge to you, the next time you’re reading scripture and you come across a passage that seems to contradict what you believe, read it again. And again. And again. Cross reference. Look up what the words mean in a Bible dictionary. Seek counsel. Ask people who agree with you and people who disagree with you.
And if it doesn’t fit with what you believe. Adjust your belief to the Bible.
Don’t let your theology colored glasses affect how you interpret scripture. Always adjust your theology to what scripture says.
There’s a group of idiots out there. Most of us know who they are. They’re known as Westboro Baptist. They protest everything. They first got their bad rap because they protested the funerals of fallen soldiers. Seems like a great idea right? Let’s protest the people who fight for the right for us to protest.
Now, it seems they protest everything. They’d probably protest Jesus if He was walking on the earth today.
Between their protesting of funerals and LGBT rallies and events, they’ve become pretty disliked amongst a lot of groups of people. They probably argue that Christians aren’t supposed to be liked. They probably think they’re being persecuted for their faith. The reality is, they’re being persecuted for being idiots.
But, that’s not really the reason I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post out of a bit of frustration.
“Why are you frustrated, bro?” (I like to call myself bro, it makes me feel relevant.)
The reason I’m frustrated is that I, as a Christ follower and Bible believer often get lumped into the same category as the Westboro Bigots. And it’s unfair. And inaccurate.
The fact that I believe in the Bible does not make me a fundamentalist. It does not mean I want to thump those who don’t agree with me over the head with my bible. It doesn’t mean I want to protest Gay pride parades and shout hate speech.
But, too often, those of us who believe what the Bible ACTUALLY says are lumped into the category with those who distort its message.
Do I disagree with those who say I must condone beliefs and practices that are counter to what the Bible teaches? Yes. Do I hate them? No. Will I treat those I disagree with in an ungodly and unChristlike fashion? No. In fact, I will do my best to love those who disagree with me as Christ would love them. I may fall short from time to time, just as I fall short at loving those with whom I agree. But, will do my best to love.
So, to lump me in with haters just isn’t fair.
Because of this practice, we have silenced the voices of those who probably understand best what the Bible teaches. And so, those would approach the conversation with love are left in this weird middle place. We don’t agree with the radical Westboro idiots. But, neither do we agree with those who say we must compromise on what the Bible teaches.
I can believe the Bible without being a fundamentalist. In fact, I tend to think there are a lot of problems with fundamentalism. I think there are problems with any view of Christianity that minimizes loving your neighbor to elevate proving your stance.
We cannot form doctrine in response to cultural pressures. We should seek to discover what the Bible says when we are presented with cultural issues, but our aim should seek to discover the truth of God’s word not to react to what we think is wrong because the voices of culture around us are so loud. We should have a passion to know God that drives us to discover every possible way we can apply His truth to our lives and our world.
We must always form doctrine out of the truth the Bible actually speaks. If the Bible doesn’t say it, we cannot infer it. Where the Bible isn’t clear, we cannot insert a definitive statement. We can use our best judgement to say, “The Bible doesn’t make this clear, but my best answer in light of God’s word is…”
And we must be lovers of God and his word so that we can rightfully form a belief system that represents the entirety of God’s thought. Our desire for perfectly logical systems cannot trump what the Bible says and doesn’t say. We cannot approach the Bible to find proof for our way of thinking. We cannot approach the Bible to prove our theoLOGICAL system is the right one. If the bible contradicts our theology, our theology must change.
My hope and aim is to start being a voice of humility, honesty and authenticity in this dialog. And I hope more of us will find the courage to add our voice to this discussion and others like it. Just because we disagree does not mean we are released from our command to love.
And a word to my fellow, non-fundamentalist, Bible believing Christian brothers and sisters. We must first be known by our love. This is how the world will know that we follow Christ, by our love for one another. There is no room for us to begin with hatred and slander. It’s just not an option. Let your life prove wrong those who claim we are haters simply because we disagree. But, we must learn to bring a much needed voice of reason to these crucial conversations. Especially when they are happening within the church. To be silent is not an option. But if we approach our disagreements with humility, honesty and authenticity, we will be able to be a part of the crucial conversations that are going to shape the next generation of Christianity.
This is a big week for College Football! If you’re hiding in a cave somewhere, you may not know. So let me inform you. This coming Monday, January 12th is the first College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship game.
If you don’t know me, you may not know that I’m a big fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. I grew up in Ohio. And it’s pretty much a given that if you grow up in Ohio, you’re going to be a Buckeyes fan.
And it just so happens that the Buckeyes made it into the very first CFP National Championship Game.
But so did another team.
The Oregon Ducks.
One other detail you may need to know. I live in Southwest Washington. We’re often considered a suburb of Portland, OR. We are about 2 hours away from Eugene, OR, where the Ducks play.
That means I am literally surrounded by Ducks fans. They are everywhere. All the time. And now that they’re in the National Championship game, they are multiplying at a rabbitesque pace.
My Facebook newsfeed is covered in so much Duck news that it looks like I’m a Duck fan.
But I’m not.
Really, really not.
In fact, one of the reasons I am writing this post is so that I can encourage my Ohio friends to post more Buckeyes stuff so there will be a little more balance in my news feed. I need you to step it up guys! help a brother out!
I’m also a pastor. Which means I can’t really talk about my favorite team right now. I’m hamstrung. I’m surrounded by the Ducks, and I’m rooting for the other team. I could talk about them, but it could be seen as an abuse of power. And if the Bucks lose, I’ll never hear the end of it.
I’m literally living in enemy territory. I’m behind enemy lines, and my only hope is a victory. Not so I can be braggadocios (after all, I like my home and would like it to not be burned down or painted by green and yellow paintballs), but just so I don’t have to endure years of put downs.
So on one hand, this is a plea to my favorite team. Please don’t let me down. Not this time. Not this game. Not against this team!
But, it got me thinking. There has to be a way for me to engage in conversation about this game without it ending in an all out brawl.
And I think I’ve got it figured out. It actually stems from a very biblical concept of humility and honest. You might say, authenticity.
If I talk about the weaknesses of my team and their vulnerabilities, it opens up the discussion to talk about the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the Ducks. And if I talk about the strengths of my team with humility, I can talk about what I think they need to do to win.
But I have do it within the guardrails of humility, honesty and authenticity. If I get proud, even if I’m doing so with a playful attitude, I’m called out as a hypocrite. You have to remember, I’m living in enemy territory. I’m behind enemy lines. You can’t even pretend to be proud when you’re rooting for the other team. You just can’t.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about something as important as this game.
And the hope is that I’ll also not be the recipient of a mountain of trash talk the size of Mt. Hood if the Buckeyes lose. My hopes aren’t up, but at least I’ve tried.
My point is this: no matter where you find yourself, you can have important conversations. Even if it feels like your living in enemy territory. (Not that I would ever classify those who disagree with me about much bigger issues than football enemies. But, this is a metaphor, so just roll with it if you will.)
In fact, this is the example that Jesus rolled out for us. He was humble, honest and authentic with those whom he interacted. The only people he was harsh with were the religious leaders who should have known who he was, but couldn’t see the Messiah because of their religion.
And it’s not just the CFP National Championship game driving this post. There is a conference going on in Portland, OR today. The Gay Christian Network Conference. Unfortunately some Buffoons from Westboro baptist showed up to protest. (I’m convinced Jesus would speak rather harshly to the leaders of this organization.) But, a ton of Christians from the area showed up to build a wall of love to separate the conference attendees from the idiots who have no perception of the Gospel Jesus preached.
This is my point, we can disagree. It’s Okay. We can be surrounded by people who disagree with us. And if we approach our discussions with humility, honesty and authenticity, we can talk about anything. But, we gain nothing by being silent. We gain nothing by withholding our voice from the discussion.
I don’t agree with Duck fans. Never will. I don’t agree with Westboro Baptist. I also don’t agree with Vicky Beeching who spoke today at the conference. But despite our disagreements, we can have a discussion. We can. If we can’t, we never really understood the Gospel to begin with.
In the meantime. Since this is my blog. And I can say whatever I want.
You may not know this, but two years ago I recorded a Christmas album. It’s a combination of Instrumental music, some traditional carols and a few original Christmas/Winter songs that I wrote. It was a lot of fun, and even more than that, it was therapy for me at a time when I really needed it. For me, the Studio is one of the few places where time seems to disappear and I can get lost in music.
As you may know, I love Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year. I love Snow. I love looking at Christmas lights. I love it all. For all of my life I wanted to record an album and, as many of my friends and family know, I often said that my first album would be a Christmas one. Well, I’m so glad that it is.
There may be another Christmas album in the future. Actually, if I’m being honest, there will probably be a couple more. What I would actually like to do is record an all piano Christmas album. Then record an all vocal Christmas album. But for now, this album has a combination of it all on there!
You can purchase the album in one of two ways; either buy the digital download or order a physical CD that I will mail to you! Thank you so much for your support. Have a wonderful holiday season.
If you would like a physical CD mailed to you, please fill out the form below to start the process!
Before you get all judgey with your self-righteous indignation, you need to know that I am a millennial. Just barely, but I am one. I’m kind of in between being a millennial and a Generation-Xer. So, when you hear these words you need to hear that I am not just the speaker, but I’m also the audience.
Now that I’ve said that, hear me on this fellow millennials: We have got to grow up and we’ve got to do it fast. I interact with us on a daily basis, and what I see in who we have are, whether we were raised that way or we’ve become that way, is terrifying. We’re on the verge of destroying the world and we don’t even know it. We’ve got to grow up and we’ve got to act fast.
Now that I’ve pained such a happy picture for you, let me explain.
There are two things we are doing that go hand in hand, and when they are played out, they aren’t sustainable. What are those two things? Entitlement & Abdication. Let me define my terms.
By entitlement, I’m talking about the mentality that we are entitled to anything that we want. We think we have a right to everything our heart desires. Entitlement is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
By Abdication I mean this: failure to fulfill a responsibility or duty. This is the concept that the locus of our responsibility is outside of us. Everyone around us is responsible for everything in our lives.
I’m sure you see it, but just in case you don’t, here is how the two play hand in hand. We believe that we are inherently deserving of privileges and special treatment and that it is someone else’ responsibility to give it to me. It’s someone else’s responsibility to take care of me and ensure that I get the special treatment that I deserve.
If you’re a millennial, what you’re probably thinking now is: here’s another conservative, old school pastor who thinks we should be moving culture back to what it was like in the 1950’s. You can think that, but the fact that you’re reading this article on a device through technology that wasn’t available more than a decade ago should give credence to the fact that I don’t want to go back to the 50’s.
My aim in writing this is to do my part, to take responsibility you might say, to help up see our faults and to find a path we can walk that is sustainable.
Maybe we just need to stop and think about it logically for a moment. If I am inherently deserving of special privileges and treatment and it’s someone else’s responsibility to provide that for me, what happens when all the people who are currently providing these things die? I know it’s morbid, but it’s a fact of life. Our parents will eventually die. I know this with certainty. What’s going to happen when the people who provide for our special treatment are gone? Who is going to provide for you?
I’m guessing you’re probably thinking that it will be the government’s responsibility. Let’s just say that the American government runs at the highest level of efficiency and is able to use every penny of every dollar with extreme financial prowess. That’s hard to say and imagine, I understand, but let’s say it anyway. What is the primary source of funds for our government? Taxes. Right? Well, if all the people who are doing the work right now die off, who is going to be left to pay taxes? If all the people who are responsible to provide for my special treatment disappear, who is going to be able to pay the government the taxes they will need to provide for my lifestyle?
This is where logic should kick in. If it’s the government’s job to provide for my special treatment, and no one works which means the government doesn’t have any money, how is the government going to be able to provide the treatment I deserve? That’s where loans come in, right?
Okay, so we have currently borrowed 17 trillion dollars. That’s $17, 000,000,000,000.00. One trillion is one million times one billion. To give you some perspective, it’s roughly (on average because the distance is always changing) 1,267,200,000 feet between the earth and the moon. Feet, not miles. A dollar bill is about 6″ long. If you were to stretch dollar bills from end to end, you would have to go back and forth between the moon 6,707+ times to get to 17 trillion. You could literally pave a highway between earth and the moon with dollar bills.
And that’s just what we’ve currently borrowed. If people stop working and our government has to borrow more money than they do now, we’ll be able to drive our cars to Proxima Centauri. It’ll be like the autobahn, except it would take us 85 years to get there if we were going as fast as the Orion-type craft.
What will eventually happen is we’ll go bankrupt. There is only about 60 trillion dollars in the world. And our country has blown through a third of that money. Once we go bankrupt, we will no longer be America, we’ll be the possession of some other country. And, there are no other countries with an economy big enough to support our lifestyle. Which means we’ll lose our entire way of life.
This is the wake up call I’m talking about. If we don’t stop our entitlement and abdication, we will literally destroy the world. I’m not talking politics. I’m not talking conservative versus liberal. I’m not talking left versus right. I’m not talking Republican versus democrat. I’m talking common sense and logic. If we don’t stop this crazy notion that the world exists to give me special treatment and it’s everyone else’s responsibility but mine to do that, we’re finished.
So, we need to grow up. We need to own our faults and start working proactively to correct them. We need to use our brains and think about the truth of the matter, not what we want the truth to be. Because no matter how much I want to be a giraffe, I never will be. No matter how much I want to be Randy Jackson, it just ain’t gonna happen dawg.
Now, what about you? Are you just sitting there, ticked off and spraying your computer screen with chewed up Cheetos or are you going to get busy fixing what we’ve broken? It doesn’t do any good to blame anyone for it. There are a thousand places to put the blame, but that’s not going to fix our problem. We are going to fix our problem. In fact, we are the only ones who can fix our problem. It’s our responsibility. It falls on our shoulders. The only way we can get the special treatment we think we deserve is if we get out there and earn it for ourselves.
I can tell you this, those of us who do will be the ones everyone else looks to get us out of the mess we are heading toward. So, let’s prepare now, and let’s be the ones who decided to fix what we broke.