"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
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Are Christians, particularly Christians in America, sociopathic?
Christian… Sociopath… These are two words that on the surface seem completely incompatible. Acts 11:26 tells us that the term “Christian” was first used of disciples in the Antioch church. This was initially used as an insult in that people were saying they were “little Christs”. In other words, they were just like Jesus, who because of His great love for people, voluntarily died to pay for the sins of the world. On the other hand – the dictionary defines sociopath as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” Another says that “Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others.”
How can someone who is living a life that is reminiscent of a man whose critics admit was at least a good person and moral teacher exhibit behavior or attitudes that are patently selfish and apathetic to others? However, in spite of the apparent contradiction, I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, the answer is closer to “yes” than any of us who call ourselves a Christian would like to admit… And it tears me up inside… Let me allow this clip from Atheist Magician and Comedian Penn Jillette to begin to explain what I mean:
“How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” There is the rub… Way too many “Christians” fall in a daily routine and are comfortable to coast through life without a broken heart for their friends and family who, if what we believe is really true, are destined for an eternity without God… Well… to be honest that is the essence of selfishly living life “without concern for the effects of their behavior [or lack thereof] on others”, isn’t it???
We certainly shouldn’t be comfortable with it… But sadly I think that may just be the problem… our comfort. Because we are relatively comfortable, especially in comparison to most of the rest of the world, we just get into auto pilot and unintentionally slip into apathy. It’s not a conscious thing, but it occurs anyway… and it’s tragic.
Penn said “There comes a point where I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” Because people’s eternities are so important, our “social conscience” should remind us that we have a “moral responsibility” to love those around us enough to take the risk of offending them or losing a friendship to in a sense “tackle” them by sharing the truth about Jesus…
Let’s pray to God for forgiveness for our sociopathic tendencies and begin to live a life that actually reflects our name-sake, Jesus… and refuse to scoot through life uncaring and unaffected by the many people we know who do not yet have a relationship with Him.
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For well over a year I have been working on a church plant. This church plant has culminated to the point that we are within 2 weeks of launch. Our official launch will take place on Easter Sunday on 2013. Gang….I am extremely proud to be a part of watching God work within our little group. I am now convinced…if you want to see God work…watch a church plant go, and watch those people latch onto God.
Now I know,that most of my readers are no where in the Kansas City Metro area, but I really want you guys to think about helping in anyway that you can. Be praying for us as we launch our church this Easter. If you have family in Kansas City north, call them this weekend and tell them to come our way. If you live in the Kansas City Metro….COME OUR WAY!
The link to our little church is RIGHT HERE
Like this post if you are praying for us as we launch out to reach Kansas City with the gospel. If you are interested in helping us out CLICK HERE for our contact form
Folks, this comes right out of the…”what were they thinking” file. A church in Jackson, Mississippi told a couple that they could not marry in their church because…hold your breath folks….they were black. I wish I could say that I was kidding. I wish that this was some sarcastic play on modern times and politics, but alas…it is not. This is a true story. Here is a quick rundown of the story.
Charles Wilson and Te’Andrea were set to be married in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs. Shortly after the rehearsal, Rev. Stan Weatherford moved the wedding to another sanctuary. The reason that it was moved is that a small group within the church did not want the couple to marry there because of their race.
According to the Reverend the venue was changed to avoid conflict within the church. Additionally, Rev. Weatherford indicated to the Wilson’s that the congregation would fire him if he married them at his church. The Pastor did not confirm or deny this accusation.
My Pastor warns of not jumping to conclusions and to be weary where only one side of the story is told. However there are 4 sides to this story.
Side 1 – The Wilsons – They were scheduled to be wedded in the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs. They were asked to change venues one or two days prior to the wedding by the Reverend of the Church.
Side 2 – Reverend Stan Weatherford – Asked the Wilsons to change venues of the wedding. He does not say the reason for the change. However, he does state that he was trying to maintain the peace in the church and to avoid conflict with the church.
Side 3 – the Elect few – These are the people that asked or told the Reverend to change the venue.
Side 4 – The Congregation – These are the people who found out that something happened through the news.
The odd thing here is that there is no denial from the Church that race played a role in the change of venue. Instead we get a hindsight is 20/20 statement from the Reverend.
We also have the Mississippi Baptist Convention praying for the church, and allowing the church to work through difficulties and disagreements of the church while making a statement that they reject racial discrimination.
I have no idea what really happened, but where there is smoke, there is fire, and gang there is a lot of smoke here. Now, we have national headlines about the Southern Baptist Convention being racists.
Baptists have a severe perception battle they are fighting on numerous fronts. I can attest to this first hand that people cringe when they hear the word Baptist. MANY will choose not to go to a great church simply because of the word BAPTIST! Which is a shame. I would be willing to bet that 90%-95% of the Baptist churches are God fearing bible believing churches. Every belief system has it’s extreme weirdo’s, Christianity is no exception.
The Church leadership seems to have forgotten that they are representative of Christ on earth! As a result, their actions directly reflect on Christ. Instead of putting Christ first they put their own personal hatred and ignorance ahead of the word of God. There is not one thing that is biblical about racism.
What is also pitiful here is that (assuming this is what happened) a Reverend WILLINGLY did something grossly wrong to protect his job and keep the peace. Rather than honoring the word of God he feared the condemnation of man.
All I can do is shake my head at this non-sense and pray that there is some side of this that is missing. That all of this is somehow wrong. However…I don’t think that will be the case.
I just stumbled across this story today. I have to say I am just sitting here shaking my head. Here is the simple breakdown:
– Family hosts small group at home on a regular basis of about 15 to 20 people.
– City deems this to be a church numerous fire hazards due to meeting at home.
– Family builds 2000 sqft building for meetings.
– City raids the building and home, arrests the father.
– Father will go to jail for about 60 days.
Here is a link to the story: http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/man-facing-jail-for-hosting-home-bible-study.html
So I read this story and see two things.
- I am mildly upset at the perception of silly business on behalf of the pastor that was arrested. This appears to be a big gotcha and perhaps a thumbing of the nose to the city of Phoenix by the associate pastor. The city does have city ordinances that must be followed on the construction of the new buildings, and he clearly did not follow them. That being said…
- The city has no reason/defense against what they have done. My family and I host small groups fairly regularly. We have on any given small group night as many as 18 men, women and children in my tiny abode. We could be affected by this. In order for the City of Phoenix to demonstrate that the application of the law is not specific to small groups (Christians in other words) they would have to target groups of guys who get together to watch Monday Night Football on every Monday night at someone house. How about any regular get together with families?
I fully believe that the officials involved with this from the city of Phoenix are targeting this man and his family because he is a “religious zealot” (this is what atheist’s and liberals like to call committed Christians). The one that really gets me is having the police called on them, BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENT, while eating a meal in the back yard with their friends. This is a clear indication of some sort of persecution. However, this pastor should have gone out of his way to either continue to have the meeting in his home, backyard or following the city code with the construction of the new building.
Today I want to put out a word of encouragement to all my friends and readers… I’ve seen some discouragement and that makes my heart heavy… DON’T GIVE UP!!!
God, Himself, encourages us to, “Not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6)
I’ve had some conversations with people who have tried to take the G90X challenge with me and/or who have committed to reading through the Bible in 2010, but have fallen behind in their goals… They were bold enough to try and start something that will help them grow in their walk with Jesus, but have not been able to completely follow through with their original goal…
And do you know what? THAT’S OKAY!!! Seriously! We all fall short sometimes… There is nothing magic about ANY spiritual discipline in and of itself! Christianity is about a relationship with the God who created the universe, NOT about trying to work at doing better things or striving to be a good person!
Let me remind you of what Greg said in his original G90X post:
By the way, let’s not be legalistic with this. G90X is just an intensive spiritual workout to jumpstart our spiritual disciplines. Remember that those who choose to do it with me are not necessarily more spiritual than those who don’t. You can do all the disciplines in the world and if you are not controlled by the Spirit and fueled through God’s power in your motives it is all wood, hay and stubble… If you are choosing not to do it (which is totally fine) I challenge you to, at the least, amp up your spiritual disciplines.
Let me come at this from a different angle… Think about a person with whom you have a solid relationship… Got it? Okay… Now, how is it that you maintain that relationship? Love, right? And that Love is expressed by T-I-M-E… but that time isn’t spent in a ritualistic ridged manner is it? Relationships are fluid and we spend time with our friends and family in different ways… The same should be for our relationship with (worship of) God!! The point is to spend time with Him!!
Struggling reading so much of the Bible at one clip? That’s okay!!! Keep at it – Get back on the proverbial horse… but don’t beat yourself up over it… But realize also, that this isn’t the only way God wants us to spend time with Him… He wants us to pray… He wants us to sing to Him… He wants us to talk about Him to others… He wants us to spend time with other believers (at church AND other places)…
Do you get it? GOD wants to have a relationship with you!!! But He wants a REAL relationship not something manufactured or fake. If you struggle with some aspect of spending time with God be sure that you are supplementing it with other ways… but don’t grow weary of trying to make the weaker aspects of your walk better… If you don’t get a hold of a friend on the phone, what do you do? You call back, right? If that doesn’t work you txt or you swing by their house or maybe you try to get a hold of one of their friends/family to tell them you’re looking for them. God is trying to get a hold of you… He’s not hard to reach…
Go spend some time with Him today in a variety of ways!! You won’t regret it.
Have you ever said something stupid that pretty much as soon as it left your mouth you wish you could take it back? Or maybe you said something that was taken out of context and/or misunderstood by someone and it wreaked a lot of havoc? Boy, I have! It happens to me much more than I’d ever like to admit… usually happens on days when I’m physically, spiritually or emotionally weary and/or when I’m carelessly trying to be funny…
God’s Word has a lot to tell us about our words and how constructive or destructive they can be…
So, what makes the difference?
Like I said… I usually get my words all twisted up when I’m physically tired or emotionally drained… or when I’m focused less on the eternal (i.e. Advancing God’s Kingdom) and more on the temporal (i.e. trying to make people think I’m fun, clever, knowledgeable or funny). When we are worn out (like I am this week) or out of focus our hearts can get our priorities out of whack and this can lead to us saying things we might normally had avoided saying if our hearts were peacefully resting in God… I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired I have to fight becoming ego-centric (thinking everything is about me)… For me this shows up by my being cranky and/or by saying something utterly stupid… Again… this happens far more than I’d like and I’ve found myself having to apologize – which is never a “fun” proposition.
What does God’s Word have to say?
The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
Ouch!!! And as a person on staff at a wonderful church the next passage (James 3:1-10) sometimes stings even more:
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check… The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
So, what must be done? Daily (at minimum) heart-checks through Bible study and Prayer… Reading, Memorizing, Meditating on and Praying back God’s Word… Submitting to the Holy Spirit who will empower us to be and do more and more like Jesus…
Popping off and saying stupid stuff is a very “worldly” thing to do… Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 that we are to avoid being like “the world” and we are to this by transforming our lives (heart) by the renewing of our minds… See, above, in Luke, Jesus said that our tongues are controlled by our hearts and in James God tells us that our life-direction is set by our words… Paul tells us we can transform our lives and break from old worldly patterns by renewing our mind… He also suggests elsewhere (Philippians 4:8, see below) that this is done by meditating on certain aspects of God’s Word and works:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
This is just the medicine that I need to prevent the destructive sickness of foot-in-mouth-itis that plagues me from time to time… To help this preventive medicine along I’m going to daily “self-medicate” on Philippians 4:8 (i.e. I’m going to remind myself of this passage to start each day)… Focusing on the things this verse tells us to focus upon should do wonders for my attitude and miracles with my words (both spoken AND written).
Additionally, at least once each day (and probably more) I will pray aloud Psalm 19:14… I’m trusting God’s Word that this frequent renewing of my mind will continually transform my life to look more and more like Jesus and, in doing so; God will also be able to use me to progressively and positively impact people’s lives with His love.
Will you also take up the challenge of starting off each day by reading/meditating on Philippians 4:8 and in making Psalm 19:14 a regular part of your daily prayer life?
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14).
Tell me if you’ve ever heard something like this: “I know what I’m doing isn’t right… okay, well maybe it’s even wrong… maybe… but I REALLY want to do this… it feels right… Well, at least I think it’s what’s going to make me happiest now. Yeah, it’s probably not what God wants, but it’s okay, cuz I’ll just ask Him to forgive me for it… later…”
Maybe we’ve even heard ourselves saying something like that… If not aloud, perhaps we’ve tried to justify sinful actions in our minds this way… Friends, let me say as lovingly as I can… this is a VERY dangerous game to play…
Consider what God says in Deuteronomy 29:
Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God… make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster… The LORD will single him out… for disaster.
Granted, this passage is written to Israel and in relation to the covenant they had with God… But the principle is clear… God HATES it when we identify with Him in name only and then go ahead and do our own thing… Isn’t that exactly what we’re doing when (like above) we try to justify stupidity? How many people do you know that claim to be Christian, yet don’t live it out in their lives at all? If and when they are confronted with their sin they blow it off as “mistakes” or dismiss it as “personality flaws” or “shortcomings”… and they will ask for forgiveness… later?
To bring this in a NT light, let’s look quickly at the end of Romans 5 and the beginning of Romans 6.
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?… Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God…
Also consider Hebrews 10
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Notice at the end it says the LORD will judge His people… Can you be saved and sin willfully, yes… but then consider the next sentence… It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. And, as a child of God, who loves Him, you will not want to persist in that sin… Robert and I have both written in recent posts about freedom in Christ, and how that freedom should not be used for evil.
It has been said that there is no such thing as a person who has accepted Jesus but has no change in their life… Does that mean that you will be perfect from the moment of salvation? Of course not! However, if there is little to no evidence of a change in your life, there is much to fear and that person should take head to 2 Corinthians 13:5 which says, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
Does this mean that you have to “clean up” your life before you come to Christ? Absolutely not… Salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone… Ephesians 4:8-9 affirms, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Since we are transformed into a new creation upon salvation then we ought to look and act differently than we did before… If we don’t we are massively immature as Christians or we are not Christians at all. Will there be ups and downs in the Christian life? SURE! Sometimes the downs might be huge… but we should be growing more and more as time progresses…
Philippians 2:13-14 says, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Basically, what this means that we have to rely upon God for the changes that He wants to take place in our lives, but we are to work with Him in that process…
So, I guess what this post boils down to is an appeal for everyone claiming the name of Christ (i.e. calling themselves Christian) to be, well, christlike (though the power of the Holy Spirit). Let’s stop living for ourselves and start living for Him… no more lame excuses for stupidity (like above) that presume upon the grace of God…
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Much has been said or written about the Twilight series that is sweeping the nation, both in book form and also on the big screen… The latest movie installment, Eclipse, released earlier this week. So, I know that what I have to say about this phenomenon is probably not earth-shattering or anything close to that, but I feel it’s important to weigh in a little from a Christian perspective, but even more specifically from a youth minister’s perspective, a father’s perspective and a former romantic’s perspective…
To be fair, let me disclose my familiarity with the series… My wife and I have read the first 2 books and watched the first 2 movies and are in the process of reading the 3rd book… I say this not neither to endorse the works – nor really to blast them… but instead to offer some cautions for anyone thinking about engaging with Stephanie Myers’ works…
First of all, the books are very well written… Ms. Myers is a masterful story teller… the books are an easy read and the story is compelling… the books and the movies are entertaining… no doubt about that.
However, it is in this mastery that the first caution needs to be raised… I have observed in many that these characters and the story are all so compelling that one can lose themselves in the story… quite literally… this is especially true for young ladies (teens and tweens) – it’s as if their own life becomes “Eclipsed” by the Twilight stories and characters.
This leads to the second caution… While many Christian writers have focused on the elements of the movies and books that at least border on the occult, these, to me, are FAR less dangerous than the portrait of “love” that is painted by the series… and girls are buying it hook, line and sinker. The relationships between Edward and Bella and Jacob are dysfunctional, at best… they are not a true picture of biblical love or a healthy dating/marriage relationship, but could and should be labeled as obsessive and co-dependent. This is particularly dangerous because the destructive way to approach romantic relationships presented in the books, especially New Moon, is shaping the expectations of young women as their bodies and minds and emotions are going through their own sort of Breaking Dawn (i.e. puberty)… Teenagers (both boys and girls) need no help in forming unhealthy ideas of “love”) – but these movies and books pushes them strongly in that direction. I shudder to think of how many multi-month long catatonic–like depressed funks that young ladies are going to slide into when their first (or second, or third…) puppy love breaks their heart? What’s more scary is I wonder how much that destructive behavior may be applauded by their friends… Then, to what extremes will they take this display of broken-heartedness (keep in mind that Edward attempted suicide in New Moon after he thought that he had lost Bella)? The logical conclusion to this is nothing short of horrifying.
Consider what God has to say in Philippians 4:6-9: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Is this the world view presented by the Twilight series?
As a father, I want my daughter and my sons to experience God’s best in their relationships – for them to be healthy, focused on Him, selfless, edifying… I want them to find their identity in Jesus, not in a fallible human being who will undoubtedly let them down (frequently)…
As a Youth minister, I want the same for the young men and women that are affected by the ministry God has graciously given me… I don’t want to have to see them hurt and holding on to hurts that have been at least partially caused by unrealistic expectations… I don’t want to see them obsess over anything other than their relationship with the Lord…. My message to the young ladies in my youth group (and others) would be very similar to an open letter Nikki from the WayFM’s morning show wrote to some of her female friends:
“I was thinking about you this weekend. It was while I was watching a movie. It was probably the most anticipated movie of 2009. Females all over the country, possibly the world, chose a team, put on the t-shirt, and maybe even camped out overnight in exhilarated excitement to take in the next chapter of this supposedly timeless love story. I was a little late in getting around to it, but as I finally sat down to watch New Moon, you were on my mind. And here’s why: ITS RIDICULOUS.
Look, I know it’s just a movie, and it’s meant for entertainment. I am a movie buff myself, and I love escaping into another place and time and diving into a world of imagined intrigue. It’s awesome. But with this one, I couldn’t even take that journey because it was just so RIDICULOUS.
Bella’s pain, relentless agony, and perpetual longing may seem romantic on a big screen, but please know this is NOT what love looks like. Please know it is NOT normal or healthy to be this obsessed with a guy, to feel as if life is over or not worth living because he isn’t a part of it anymore. Or to think this other guy might do the trick if guy number one leaves. Please know your whole life and self-worth will never be wrapped up in any man. God completes you. End of story. I know this because I’ve let myself buy into that way of thinking before. I thought there would be no life for me if it didn’t work out. And guess what? I’m still here. And God is still awesome, and life is still rolling.
Sure, I get it. It’s a movie and it’s fun. Go ahead, watch, enjoy, be entertained. But it’s just a story. Please don’t get too caught up in the picture of love Edward and Bella paint for you. Please don’t buy into it, or you may miss out on how big and life-changing love can really be. I was thinking about you as I watched this, and I just had to tell you.”
Yes, these are “just movies/books”, and some people can probably approach them this way… If you can, great… however, we have seen in the craze that has swept the nation, that this is often not the case… people are taking this series much more seriously than that… I also want to gravely caution parents that MOST young people are not mature enough to make those types of determinations (like whether they can refrain from getting sucked into the hype or not) on their own… and I would encourage you if you are going to allow your sons and daughters watch and read Twilight stuff that you watch and/or read it with them and have some very open discussions about the themes and messages in the books… For more help with this and for a more comprehensive review of the series, CLICK HERE. It is the best analysis I’ve seen on the Twilight series BY FAR.
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With the sermon last week I got bogged down in study rather than the speed reading needed to keep up the G90X pace… Today is a catch up day…
So instead of trying to teach today, let me pose some questions (please shoot me your answers as a comment to this post)… In a previous post I said that the overarching theme for the Bible is the redemption of mankind, in other words it is about God easing the tension between His perfect love and His perfect justice…
- What other themes do you see in the Bible?
- How do they speak to you?
- AND… How are you responding to them in obedience (And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:6)?
- Finally, do you trust these as God’s Will for your life (The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:17)?
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