Thursday, August 30, 2012

Moving Past Lewis

One of my favorite Christian authors is C.S. Lewis. His apologetics are, in my opinion, life changing. I have read Mere Christianity several times and cannot tell you how much The Screwtape Letters impacted my developing faith in college and beyond. Whenever I contemplate the workings of temptation, I remember the correspondence of Wormwood and Screwtape. As a kid, I loved The Chronicles of Narnia and checked them out from our church library every summer. A thing to note in regards to the often quoted and referenced Lewis, the world has changed. For me, Lewis's apologetic typically speaks to those who struggle with the existence of God because of the problem of evil or suffering. Today, I believe many non-believers come from a desire for personal or experienced "logic" and "philosophy". It has nothing to do with God. While I hear people still say how can God be real if there is so much evil in the world, I more commonly hear quotes or restatements of men like Dawkins and Hutchins. Their disbelief in God is not from the problem of evil in the world, but rather from their belief in the superiority of man.

The voice of the world has changed and if the message of Christ is to remain relevant and impactful, we must listen and answer the questions and accusations leveled today, not yesterday. Let me encourage you to read and study and listen...even if you don't agree. If I may recommend a few resources check out Stand to Reason and apologist Ravi Zacharis. And while you are at it, NEVER skip a chance to read and reread C.S. Lewis!

all about Christ,

Friday, May 11, 2012

Pack Your Bags, We're Going on a Guilt Trip...

I was recently driving through Louisville to pick my kids up and I noticed a sign out front of a building. It said something along the lines of "a portion of every dollar spent here goes to…"and they listed an organization. I'm not 100% certain what the organization was (check the P.S. below) but I was distracted by the "buy here and we'll do this good deed" attitude. What a horrible motivation! Were they suggesting their products are not good enough to sell on their own accord so they had to attempt to tug at our heart strings? Is this an attempt to manipulate people to buy?

Manipulation is wrong but prevalent...even in the church.

For example: Christians are to pray for others. I just spent several weeks looking at prayer in the New Testament and I noticed something. Jesus never said pray for your enemies SO THEY WILL COME TO HIM. Paul never said pray for your enemies SO THEY WILL GIVE THEIR LIVES TO CHRIST. In fact, we are never told in Scripture, but I'm sure you have often heard the "love-them-to-Christ" mentality. 

What a manipulated, sad, and twisted faith!

We are supposed to pray for and love others, period. Don't add to, don't take away. Love and pray for others.

When Jesus began teaching about praying for (and loving) our enemies, he was not intending it as a way to guilt them to repentance or salvation. He taught us to pray for and love our enemies because it was about doing the right thing. I'm praying today that you do the right thing. Love and pray for those who are against you. The power of the cross is strong enough without manipulation or guilt, do you agree?

all about Christ,

P.S. I believe the group they were raising support for was Wounded Warrior Project. I love what this group does. If you'd like to support them without being coerced into buying a product from some store, then just give here. Simple.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alienated Turtles and A Mutated Gospel

As a child I remember reading a couple issues of a black and white comic book about ninjas. Teenage ninjas. Teenage ninjas that were mutated turtles! It was awesome. Then there was a full color animated cartoon. It was awesome. Then a live action movie. It was awesome! Then more animated cartoons, different universes, two more live action movies, video games, and a CGI animated film. The story was roughly the same. Radioactive ooze turns pet turtles into ninjas. They learn ninjitsu from a mutant rat (like the turtles) who was once either a man or a rat (depending on the story line you follow) until he came into contact with the ooze. Ahh, the ooze.

Recently, Michael Bay, director of the Transformers movies (who has been hired to direct a new live action Ninja Turtles movie), made a statement about the upcoming movie. He said that the turtles would be aliens and people would love the story. ALIENS?!?

Fanboys across the world took to the interwebs and blogosphere in an outcry. The problem: The fans were excited about a new live action movie (the method of telling/retelling the story) but they were upset about the alien roots (the message, the origin, had been corrupted).

Today the church faces a very similar situation. When the virgin birth is denied or it's importance is limited, when preachers teach Christ is "just one of many ways" to heaven, or hell isn't as bad as some people say it is or it isn't even real, we have strayed greatly. As Christians, we should be just as outraged as "fanbois" all over the interwebs at Teenage Alien Ninja Turtles. As Christians, we have the greatest story ever told and we need to tell it again and again in as many different ways and venues as we can but we cannot change the story! With the greatest story comes the greatest responsibility. In other words, the Gospel's just too important to mess with.

God created us. Our sin separated us from God. We don't like that separation so we do anything we can to fill it, typically falling into more sin. God doesn't like that so He puts into motion a plan to deal with our sin. Enter Christ, God the Son, born of a virgin. Christ teaches us about living for God the Father. Christ dies for us to make a reunion with God the Father possible. Christ rises again to ensure us everything will be just as He said it would. Christ ascends to Heaven telling us He will come again to, once and for all, reunite us with God. God the Spirit works in us today, guiding, teaching, compelling us to turn from sin and receive Christ. Those who receive Christ receive Heaven. Those rejecting Christ receive Hell.

It's the greatest story ever told. It's not our story to mess with. Let me spur you to share it with someone today. Share your forgiveness!

all about Christ,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Titanic Mistake...

I was hoping we let go of the Titanic, even though Jack whispered "I'll never let go." The Titanic has re-emerged and is back in theaters and in 3-D no less. I know many are excitied, (James Cameron's bank account, and all most every female) but for myself it reminds me of the first huge mistake I made in youth ministry, an iceberg I didn't see coming and had no idea was there.  

I was in my rookie year of youth ministry at a loving and encouraging church in the small town of Milford, KY serving as their weekend youth guy while attending Bible College. I decided it was time for a blockbuster outing for our group so we set sail in our 15 passenger old school Dodge church van (which was the size of a boat) into town. We docked the van and walked up to the ticket counter and each said these words, "One for Titanic"...from then on the night began to sink.

My mistake was this: discernment. I had not previewed the movie, my college friends, the press and the media gave it glowing reviews. I added the reviews to the amazing reports and the box office numbers to equal this must be a great movie. It was for a while, but much like the captain I was in uncharted waters, not previewing the movie myself. Queue the steamy window scene in the car, and then the scene that sunk me Jack Dawson sketching Rose in the nude. I did not feel like "the king of the world", I wanted to jump over board.

I learned a lot about discernment that night. I learned that as a captain of the ship, as the leader, I must know where the boat is heading and the dangers that may lurk in the waters. Discernment in life and leadership is so very important. Take it from me you're not unsinkable.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From the Sidelines

In some ways my little brother (#21 above) is the athlete I always wanted to be. He's great at any sport he tries, I was good at playing instruments and video games (ask him about the time I beat him at Street Fighter 2...blindfolded). While I enjoyed and would never negate any of my band experiences, I still like to watch the sports I was so woefully inadequate to play. When it comes to sports, I do have a pet peeve.

This past weekend his team was in their final tournament for the season. The team they played against was tough. They could pass, rebound, and take a foul like it was nothing. I'm convinced one of the kids on the opposing team could sink threes all day if he was left open. But here's the rub - As I watched my brother's team get outplayed I heard people yelling from the stands. They were "coaching" the kids. These are middle college scholarships on the line and no NBA recruiters in the stands. Even Jeremy Lin wasn't there and that dude's everywhere right now!

While I won't repeat the things screamed from the stands, thoughts of how I wanted to respond kept coming to my head. Do something. Get in the game. Ok, I realize the fans can't jump into a middle school game to play, but we aren't just talking about a middle school game now. How many times have you been at work and heard individuals complain about this new rule or that new way of doing things? I'm sure you have NEVER heard anyone complain at church about what the church is doing or what was said or who is there.

To all the complainers, the stand coaches, those barking orders...your words are...well...not really helping. Get in the game! Instead of yelling at kids to pass, play some ball with a kid and show them how to pass. Instead of tearing down that new policy, seek to understand the whys and help enforce it by doing it. Don't just complain about the songs, youth, or sermon...pray for them and see how you can get involved.

Besides, no one in the stands gets a trophy, no matter how loud you are.

Finally, good season Josh, I'm proud of you.

all about Christ,

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spurred by an Atheist

"I read the Bible every dayI believe the fast track to atheism is reading the Bible. I've read it three times all the way through. It's a big part of our culture, a big part of our history. I don't just read things I agree with." - Penn Jillette 
Penn a self-proclaimed Atheist and reads the Bible daily...Do you? I am a self-proclaimed pastor and I miss days once and a while. 
Penn has read the Bible three times all the way through. I'm a pastor I have done it once. 
Penn realizes the impact on culture and history this Bible makes...Do you? 
Obviously the majority that read this blog are Christian and we don't believe the Bible leads to a disbelief in God, but just the opposite it strengthens our belief. 
But honestly, my Bible intake sadly has been trumped by Mr. Jillette an atheist and it spurs me to be more diligent in the Word. 
Thank You Mr. Penn Jillette...Mr. Jillette if you ever read this in your bathtub one day, here is a brief message from me to you, I pray as you read the scriptures that you would see a God that loves and saves.
You can read the entire article here... 

P.S. One day I hope to get to see you and Teller perform (Vegas or anywhere). You guys always seem so amazingly entertaining and good luck in Celebrity Apprentice.

Monday, January 30, 2012

SPUR: Conversation

I'm not sure if you are familiar with The Elephant Room or not. Basically here's how it works. A bunch of ministers/pastors/clergy get together. These individuals may disagree on any number of theologies (minor and major) and approaches to the ministry BUT they are solidly united by the blood of Christ. In that spirit of unity (all unity should flow from the blood of Christ) they discuss and even argue their views. My faith has been challenged by the few videos I have been privileged to watch. 

Here is the SPUR to love and good deeds this week. You are probably surrounded by individuals who claim to follow Christ. Ask questions. 

  • What do you believe about the Trinity? 
  • What do you believe about the tension of saved by grace and the necessity of works?
  • How does salvation work?
  • What role, if any, should the church play in politics, sports, school and so on?
  • Do all dogs go to Heaven?
Ask questions but more importantly, know why you have the answers you have. 

  • Are your understandings/answers/theologies (whatever you want to call it) "yours" OR did you just hear them somewhere? 
  • Are they from the Bible or a person or a t.v. show (you know it happens!)?
  • Why do you believe what you believe?
When you ask questions and discuss, show respect. As Christians we need to engage each other in these conversations for spiritual growth but we need to do it in the right manner.

Want to learn more about this format or The Elephant Room? Click here.

Taken from the Elephant Room: Round 2 on Vimeo.

And if anyone has the full video set, let me know!

all about Christ,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

For God so Loved Tebow

I will probably make some of you a bit upset with this post. My Facebook post inspired a huge discussion. It comes down to this. Tim Tebow. The man is amazing. He is on fire for God (just watch him). He is a humble man (just listen to him). He is putting up great stats (wins at the very least) and is getting the job done, regardless of how he throws a ball (seriously, it's ugly)! He is concerned about social justice issues and winning games. And there is no doubt in anyone's mind that he loves Jesus (this is the way it should be for all Christians by the way). Tim Tebow takes all the press with so much grace and dignity. But there is a problem. He has become an icon, an image, an idol.

  • Did you know Tim Tebow rode into Denver on the back of a donkey?
  • He once touched a pigskin and it came back to life!
  • He turned a pitcher of water into Gatorade.
  • His number is #15 because that's how many men it takes to tackle him.
  • He can dribble a football
  • He threw 316 yards, averaging 31.6 yards per throw, and getting a 31.6% viewer rating (whatever that is)...obviously God loves him and wanted him to win over the evil Steelers...(okay so I added the evil part because I am not a Steelers fan).

With all eyes on Tebow, he purposefully and appropriately redirects the attention to God...and so many Christians are enamored by this but they forgo Tebow's redirection and look to Tebow again. They tell their friends that God is giving Tebow wins. It's like the Bible Code. It makes me sad to hear things like this. Why? It's the Prosperity Gospel.

The Prosperity Gospel is a gross twisting of the scriptures. The way it works is like this: Love God and you will have all your dreams come true. Money? Yup...lots! to be 150! Want to win the Super Bowl...just watch Tim Tebow! While that is not how the Gospel works that is how so many have treated the Gospel in the midst of Tebow fever.

The Gospel does not promise us health or wealth or Super Bowl rings to pawn in our later years. Before you mishear me and start typing your angered response, the Gospel doesn't promise us heart ache either. God's goal is not our happiness or our sadness. God's goal is our holiness which is only accomplished through the blood of Jesus Christ.

When we say God is blessing Tebow, we start to sound an awful lot like Satan in the book of Job. I can just see God saying, have you considered my servant Tebow. There's no one else like him. And Satan says, that's because you bless him and give him wins. God says no, he is righteous and faithful. His wins have nothing to do with me or how he feels about me. Remove the wins and he will still bless me. Obviously I'm taking a few liberties here but I think the point is solid.

Now with all this said. I am pulling for Tebow. I lived in Florida during the Tebow years. I have always seen him as an upstanding Christian man, a solid player, and a model athlete. He's the complete package! I want him to win. I want, since the Bengals are out, the Broncos to go to the Super Bowl and surprise everyone. I would love to see him win. BUT I am afraid of the reaction of so many...Christians and non-Christians. OMT!

all about Christ,

Monday, January 2, 2012

The first iPhone and your dreams, goals, and vision

I read an interesting post on Mashable this weekend that really got me thinking about big goals and vision as 2012 rolls around. The picture to the right and below are pictures of the very first Apple iPhone prototype in 1983, yes that's correct 1983. I find it amazing that the first iPhone, as we know it, was not unveiled by Steve Jobs until January 9, 2007. 

24 years...1983 to 2007...24 years...just shy of a quarter century. 

I know 2012 just began and maybe you didn't get everything done in 2011 you wanted to. Maybe your dreams and goals didn't happen, maybe they didn't materailize, so what...keep working on it, keep praying about it, keep fighting for it. Apple and Jobs continued to tweak, work, produce and dream and now there have been 5 versions/updates of the iPhone and on March 2, 2011, at the iPad 2 event Apple announced that they have sold 100 million iPhones worldwide. 

Big goals, dreams and vision sometime takes time, don't quit.