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Posted on Jan 21, 2015 in Church, Culture, Featured, Humility, Leadership, Lost Virtues, repost, Unity

Believing the Bible Does Not Make You A Fundamentalist

Believing the Bible Does Not Make You A Fundamentalist

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.

Bible-ThumperBut, 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.

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Posted on Nov 5, 2014 in Blog, Culture, Humility, Leadership, repost

The Two Things Millennials Must Fix Now: WAKE UP!

The Two Things Millennials Must Fix Now: WAKE UP!

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.

WAKE UP!

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Posted on Oct 30, 2014 in Culture, Featured, Humility, Intentional Living, Pain and Suffering, repost

Why Not To Take Your Own Life

Why Not To Take Your Own Life

I haven’t wanted to say anything about this story. As a general rule, I don’t talk about issues such as these because I find that they do more to divide people than they unite us. And considering the plethora of opportunities that exist for such divisions, I haven’t said anything about a lot of them. But, when I saw the headline of this article scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, I knew I had something I needed to say. Then when I watched Brittany Maynard’s latest video, I felt it was a necessity to speak up.

Why-not-to-take-your-own-lifeLet me preface all of my comments with this, I can’t imagine the horrible pain and suffering Brittany is going through. I would never pretend to understand how she feels. And even though my position as a pastor has afforded me the opportunity to walk with some through difficult circumstances, I have never walked through what she is walking through on a personal level. When she speaks of the suffering she experiences, the seizures, the headaches, the lack of recognition and I’m sure a plethora of other pains and turmoil she has had to endure, I can’t even begin to imagine how strong the desire for it all to end must be. And God help me and my family if we ever have to endure something this painful and tragic.

I also want to make it clear, I am not trying to stir up any controversy. I’m not trying to take advantage of a popular topic to gain popularity. I am trying to speak, what I see in the Bible as well as in the natural order of things, to be truth.

But, this morning I saw the headline: “Ore. woman postpones planned suicide, still feels well” something went off in my head. And it is to that I must speak up.

In Brittany’s most recent video, she says: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lHXH0Zb2QI)

“If all my dreams came true, I would somehow survive this.” – Brittany Maynard.

In the article on KGW.com, there is this quote: (http://www.kgw.com/story/news/local/2014/10/30/brittany-maynard-postpones-oregon-assisted-suicide/18167099/)

“I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” she said in a video on her website The Brittany Maynard fund.” “But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”

What I fear about not speaking up is yet another area of life in the Northwest and our entire western culture, that becomes clouded by the exercising of broken people making broken rules to fix a broken world. There are so many issues that we need to address, but they have become taboo for Christians and especially pastors to talk about.

Where does it end? I know there are laws to deal with this issue, but once we take steps in this direction, it could easily become a much bigger issue than being terminally ill with a disease such as cancer. There are those who struggle with mental illness who would describe their lives with as much pain and sorry, if not more than what Brittany has endured. How can we say that Brittany’s physical pain is any more justifiable than the emotional and mental pain some people endure? There are hundreds of other qualifications that can be added to this issue that cloud the water to an inextricable level.

But, it’s not even just that. I believe that Brittany’s life is a gift. I believe that having been given the opportunity to exist, she has received a great gift from our creator. I don’t know Brittany, to know how she feels about the gift she’s been given or to know where she is on her spiritual journey. I would like to know. And, honestly, part of my hope in writing this is to get that opportunity. I am a Pastor at SixEight Church in Vancouver, WA. I would love the opportunity to discuss this with her. I maybe help her understand the gift she has. I doubt I will get that opportunity, and if I do, it seems that the ball is already rolling pretty fast down hill, but you never know.

And that’s exactly the point. You never know what’s going to happen. It is not for us to know, only for God. And only God sits outside of our lives and situations. Only God has the vantage point with which to judge when a life should begin and when a life should end. That is how He designed it. That is how he created this world to function.

Even though you are having to endure the greatest pain you have ever known, God can use that pain and adversity to shape you and those around you. Just as Brittany may not be healed of this disease and her pain may never cease, whatever pain you are dealing with may last the rest of your life. But what if God has a plan to use that pain to sharpen you into a tool He can use to accomplish great things for His Kingdom?

When you go through suffering, when you endure pain, you gain credibility – especially if you handle it well. Some of the people I admire the most are those who have suffered greatly but still honor God with their lives and thank Him for His blessings. I know someone right now who is suffering that way, and the way She is handling this adversity is speaking volumes to me and our community.

But, when you decide to end it all, you rob yourself and those around you of that opportunity. You may feel right now that there is nothing worth living for. But, can I, perhaps a total stranger, implore you to look a little harder. You may be all alone right now, but that doesn’t mean you will always be alone. And maybe God wants to use this suffering to lead you across someone else’s path. And maybe it’s that crossing of paths that will lead to your ability to endure for the long haul. And maybe you crossing their path is what gives them their reason to live.

There is so much about what’s going on in our lives that we don’t understand. There is so much we will never see from where we sit, because we are in the middle of the situation. But, just as an offensive coordinator has the ability to adjust the plays he calls because he’s sitting up in a booth where he can easily see the changes the defense is making – God sits much higher than us and has the ability to see how what we are doing right now is going to affect the lives os those around us.

Can you imagine what would happen if Brittany changed her mind? There are millions of people who know her story. But can you imagine what would happen if she decided to endure because her life is a gift? There would be millions of people who would see and want to know why. And that would give her an amazing chance to tell those people about God and why, even though it will be the hardest thing she and her family have to go through, to tell the world about how God has a purpose for every day of her life and she wants to honor Him with that.

Psalm 90:14-16 says:

14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
    your splendor to their children.

May your deeds be shown to your servants. Not only does this tell us that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that we never fully understand what God is doing, but it is teaching us to make the most of every day God has given us.

Where do I see that? In Psalm 90:12:

12 Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

And what about Psalm 139:16:

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

Teach us to count the days. Teach us to make the most of every opportunity. There are so many opportunities ahead of you. No matter who you are or where you are, there are opportunities in front of you. All you have to do is start looking for them. All we have to do is to follow the example of Christ on the cross. Who endured the greatest pain and suffering so we could have the hope of eternal joy beyond our time of pain and suffering on this earth. Your life was worth so much that He gave up his own so you could walk in a redeemed and restored relationship with the creator of this universe.

To see those opportunities, we must learn to walk in humility. We do that by following in Christ’s example: (Phil 2:3-8)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very natureGod,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

What if our purpose is not solely wrapped up in what we can get for ourselves out of this life, but instead is intricately tied to all the people around us. What if, instead of making our whole existence about ourselves, we valued those around us more than us? What if we had the same mindset as Jesus who made himself nothing, endured great pain and humiliation all for us?

Whatever turmoil you find yourself in, not matter how deeply you wish to end your life on this planet, can I encourage you to make the most of every day you’ve been given? Can I implore you to stick it out? That the life you live is a gift from the God of this universe, and to cut that life short is to cut short the purpose for which you’ve been created. You are worth so much. You have so much value to our God. He created you in His image, which means you have intrinsic dignity, worth and value.

You are amazing and you have been amazingly made. Your value is not determined by how cool you are, how many friends you have, or (even as I have argued in this post) because of the difference you can make in the lives of those around you. Are those important? Except for being cool, yes. Being cool isn’t important, that’s just dumb to worry yourself about that. Regardless of those things, you have worth and value because you are made in the image of an amazing God. All the other stuff aside, you are amazing because of whose image you are made in. And that’s reason enough to endure.

The fact that my phone just went crazy announcing an amber alert for my areas speaks to the truth of this matter. Life is important. Life has value. And when a life is in danger, we should fight like crazy to save it. Brittany’s life has value. The life of these missing children have value. The fact that murder is illegal around the globe speaks to this fact as well. Life is valuable. It’s a gift. When I think of your life, I think of it as being precious. When I think of my wife and the gift her life is to me and my family, it’s precious. When I think of my children, I think of them as being precious gifts to me and this planet. Life is a gift.

Death is a certainty for all. So it’s what we do with our lives that matters. Our lives should be about life, not death.

To quote the greatest movie of all time: “You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?”

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Posted on Oct 23, 2014 in Blog, Church, Creativity, Culture, Encouragement, Fathering, Leadership, Pain and Suffering, repost

No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

No More Cookie Cutter Pastors, No More Cookie Cutter Churches. (Why you’re not a failure even though it feels like it.)

(Intro: This is a post I wrote in Sept of 2012, when I was fairly upset about some stuff, so I wrote this article and never published it. I just reread it and wanted to share it with you.)

Sometimes when it feels like we’ve failed at something, I think the basis of what we’re feeling is based on someone else’s imposed definition of who they think you should be – and you’re not living up to it.

You know what I’m talking about. People see a pastor at another church while they’re visiting on a weekend, and they instantly start comparing you (their pastor) to them. They notice all the little things they do that you don’t do. They notice their style and their voice. They notice all the things that make them who they are, and compare them to you.

What they don’t realize is that, they are experiencing them in a vacuum. For one, it’s not a fair, side by side comparison. It’s not like they’re in a Best Buy, looking at the TV’s where they can see the same movie on a hundred TV’s. Can you imagine that store? A hundred different worship leaders singing the same song or a hundred different pastors preaching the same sermon so you can pick the one you like best?

When they take the TV home, they begin to notice the flaws.

You’ve been there. You buy the TV, get home and realize it doesn’t have enough connections, or doesn’t look as big as you thought it did, or it looks bigger. You buy a used car, and on the way home you hear a noise you didn’t hear. You go to a new church, and then the pastor says something you don’t think is funny, he’s kind of a nerd, the worship leader is a little pitchy or sings a song you don’t like every weekend. Then they start to remember all the things they liked about their old pastor, forget all the things they didn’t like and long for the days when they were at their previous church.

I know I’ve been there before. I’ve had, in my life and ministry on a regular basis, people who judge me and how I do ministry against how they think I should be doing ministry. They have an image of what they think I should be in their head, and when I don’t live up to it, I am failing.

I’ve had people judge me against a flawed perception of themselves. They believe they are great at my job (even though they may have no training or experience) and that I should be doing my job as good as they think they could do my job.

Maybe they can do my job better, but the bottom line is, we shouldn’t judge anyone based on what we think they should be. But, you know how you work at a job for 40+ hours a week? You do this thing for 40+ hours a week that I don’t claim to know all about. There are things about your job that I don’t understand. Things that can’t be understood unless you’re in it all the time. The reverse is also true, but it’s not real PC to say. But I will. Unless you are a Pastor and you make your living pastoring a church and work in the church 7 days a week, you just don’t have an understanding of what it really means to lead a church.

The other bottom line, you shouldn’t let people judge you based on who they think you should be.

I know you can’t control them, but you can control how much you let them in your head. Don’t let their judgement of you drive you to try to be someone you’re not.

You are awesome just how God created you. The other guy they are comparing you to is awesome how God created him. When you try to be like him, you are being an imitation of a creation, not being the creation God created. When you’re trying to be someone else, that’s idolatry. We are made in God’s image, and our only pursuit can be the image the designer put in us since before we were born.

One thing I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves. But only if that improvement is based on principle and truth, not comparison. If the improvement is to keep up with someone else, or because we are under pressure from people around us to be something we’re not, we shouldn’t do it.

As we shape who we are and the people we lead, we need to build into them the ability to think and appreciate people for who they are. Don’t let your people get caught up in the comparison game. Don’t let them talk negatively about your pastor, don’t let them talk negatively about your subordinates. Teach them to learn to appreciate the good things and find ways they can step in and fill in the perceived gaps.

One final note: with the highly connected world we live in, it’s very easy to see what every other church on the planet is doing. Whether it’s worship styles or songs, programs or ministries, videos, graphics, stage designs or sermons. We need to be careful to be sure that we aren’t comparing what we do to what the rest of the world is doing. God has a plan and design for your church body, just as he as a plan and design for you.

Just as God created you uniquely, he created your church body uniquely. If he wanted us to all be the same and act the same, he would have prescribed it for us. And in the areas we do have such prescriptions, I do think we should strive to live up that prescription. However, just as each of us are unique, he wants your church body to represent him uniquely.

So, no more cookie cutter pastors, no more cookie cutter churches.

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Posted on May 10, 2014 in Blog, Culture, Deliberate Living, Featured, Intentional Living, Lost Virtues, repost, Responsibility

The Death of Personal Responsibility (repost from 68church.com)

The Death of Personal Responsibility (repost from 68church.com)

(I wrote this article a couple of weeks ago for our church blog, and I wanted to share it with you as well. The original post can be found at: http://68church.com/the-death-of-personal-responsibility/)

A few weeks ago, this graphic was making the rounds on Facebook. And as much as you and I may dislike memes and they way they’ve destroyed Facebook, there is a lot of truth in this one.

childhoodisnotadiseaseWhat is the truth that is in this picture? It’s really a rather frightening one. Because what it contains is evidence that we apparently live in a post-responsibility world. We live in a time where responsibility only pertains to others and how what they did has caused my current crisis – whatever that may be.

“Hang on man, are you saying these aren’t real issues and diseases?” No. Not necessarily. However, I do think we are far to quick to jump to labeling someone ADHD simply because they have never been taught the discipline of sitting still and paying attention. We are too quick to write off our bad behavior as being some sort of psychological disorder. And when we have a bad day, we think the answer is a happy pill of some kind.

Do I daydream? I do. Does that mean I have ADHD, no. It means I need to focus.

Do I snap and get angry? Sometimes. Does that mean I’m bipolar? No. It means I need to work on my temper.

Do I find myself sad or upset about things from time to time? Sure. Doesn’t that mean I’m depressed? No. Perhaps it means I need to focus more on gratitude.

Again, I’m not saying these issues don’t exist. I think they do. I have no doubt ADHD is a real thing – for some. I have no doubt that some people struggle with being bipolar. And I know people go through depression. I’m not judging or condemning those who legitimately struggle with those things.

But here’s what I am saying: we are the cause of our problems. Even if you have a true and legitimate diagnosis of one of these or the hundreds of other “disorders” that exist today, you are still responsible for your choices. There may be some who aren’t responsible, but they are the exception. Don’t hear me wrong either. I’m not saying I’m immune to this. I have these thoughts creep up from time to time. It’s much easier to look for someone or something to blame instead of taking the blame for myself.

The moment you push responsibility off your shoulders and onto the shoulders of something or someone else is the exact moment you stop growing and moving forward. As long as it’s not your fault, there’s no need for you to work on it.

Sure, that’s an easier place to be. It’s always easier to not have to work on who you are. It’s always easier to not have to have any reason to try to change. It’s always easier to stay the same and blame something for why you can’t change. But as long as your a victim of some disease, you will always be at the mercy of it. And what you’re really a victim of is the definition we read online, then looking for those things in ourselves. We read articles like “10 signs of ADHD” or “3 ways to know you’re depressed” and, magically, we see all those symptoms in our own lives. As if it’s possible to self-diagnose depression with a 3 point article that we skimmed.

Here’s the great concern for us as followers of Christ. We can’t pursue sin and Jesus at the same time. We’re either pursuing Jesus or we’re pursuing ourselves. What I hear in a lot of this discussion is an attempt to be able to justify our sins by something we can’t control so we can still call ourselves Christians. We want the promise of eternity with Jesus without having to give up what we like in this life. So we rationalize and justify our sins with psychological disorders, claiming that we just can’t change.

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:24-27)

But you can change. We all can. But in order to change, we have to admit that there is something wrong with us. And unless you’re willing to do that, you’ll never get past where you are right now. But, if we can all admit that we are responsible for our choices and our actions…if we can all recognize that we’re sinners…if we can all recognize that we’ve made mistakes – then we have a chance at growing and changing.

Is it easy? No. But is it worth it? Yes! I will even go so far as to say, if we don’t suffer through the change, we will never know what it means to find joy.

“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) 

And you know what, the day we decide to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions and start to work on turning away from the sins in our lives could be the best day of our time here on earth. Without that day, we never become more like Christ. But, with that day, we continue to work out our salvation and become more and more like Christ a little more each day.

Please, make that day – today! 

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Posted on Feb 13, 2014 in Culture, Featured, Parenting, repost

A Love Delusion

A Love Delusion

Before you read this: this isn’t an article for parents. As you read it, you might think that’s the case. And while it definitely applies to parenting, it also applies to any loving relationship.

There is a huge delusion our culture has bought into, and it’s absolutely devastating. That delusion is if you love someone, you let them do whatever they want. You don’t say anything to them, even if you see them driving into a mine field – love doesn’t say anything.

This delusion plays into all of our relationships, for instance how we parent. If we really love our kids, we will let them do whatever they want and become whomever they want to be. It also plays into our “romantic” relationships. We see our spouse or the person we love the most doing something that is going to be harmful to them or to their coworkers, and because we love them, we don’t say anything.

“They’ll figure it out” we say, “just give them enough time, and they’ll finally understand.”

But, then they don’t. And this one wrong decision they make leads to another one. If they went right to this 2nd wrong decision the first time around, they would’ve said no. But because they made the first wrong decision, the second wrong decision was now within reason.

Add a couple dozen other bad choices on top of that, and they’ve created a whole lifestyle that’s paradoxical to who they could have been. And now who they become will be greatly affected by this new person they are.

Is this always devastating? No. In fact, I completely believe that God can use these stories for great thing in reaching people for His glory.

But is it best? I don’t think so.

Call me old fashioned. I don’t really care.

It’s easy as a parent to look at your child and see all the possibilities that wait for them. You can see all the potential they have. You can see the pitfalls too, but mostly what you see is potential. Does this mean what you see for them is the best option? Not necessarily. But, you have life experience to add to what you see in them, and you can help them steer away from their pitfalls and toward their possibility.

But you can’t do that if you just let them do whatever they want.

The same is true for other relationships. You can see all the potential that lies within people around you. You can see the pitfalls too, and if you can steer them toward their strengths, you can help them.

Lest you hear me wrong, I’m not advocating for manipulative and controlling relationships. I don’t think it’s our responsibility to control people around us and to manipulate them into doing what we think they should do.

But, I also don’t think we should sit silently and not offer the insight we have.

If we really love someone, wouldn’t we want the absolute best for them? Of course. Well, what if the absolute best for them will only come about if you speak truth into their life? Even if it’s hard and uncomfortable.

What if the most loving thing you can do for a person is confront them? And when did confrontation become such a bad thing?

It’s easy to say we would stop our loved ones from hitting the gas heading into a curve that could send them over a cliff. But, why don’t we do everything we can to stop them from starting down the path that can lead them to the point that they will end up in a car headed for the cliff without you in it to stop them?

“So, what are you saying Writing Man?”

I’m saying we need to love one another enough to sharpen one another. There are several passages in the bible that talk about the effects of teamwork and working together. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Ecc. 4:9-10

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.

To me, it feels like forcing people to walk alone. If we don’t help people walk this journey, we’re forcing them to walk by themselves. If we don’t love people enough to tell them the hard things, do we really love them?

What we have been taught is love, isn’t love at all. It’s a delusion. Fake love is careful not to hurt someone’s feelings. Fake love goes out of its way not to offend.

But real love, seeks a way to share the truth in a loving way.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Eph. 4:15

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