Way to Drop the Ball, Phil

*Sigh*

That’s what I thought when I first heard about the “controversy” surrounding Phil Robertson. Also, for the sake of length I’m not going to explain what happened. Besides, every news outlet has covered it, you can read part of the interview he gave with GQ magazine almost anywhere.

Anyway, I can’t say I was exactly surprised when Christians all over the place went crazy hearing that Phil got suspended over the comments. I was however pretty disappointed with the way Christians decided to express their view (and outrage) over the suspension. There are a fewdifferent themes interwoven into this situation so I’m going to list them out and address them head on. Hopefully I can shed some light on this issue and why I’m pretty fed up with my own people who claim to follow a God who extends grace to all, but yet only show grace to their own.

1. The Free Speech Issue

Let’s nip this one in the bud fast. A&E suspending Phil is not a free speech infringement.

Viewing this from a strict viewpoint of rights and free speech, any employer should have the right to fire people for the language they use if they deem it inappropriate. We’ve had to let people go at my dad’s company because of the words they used, does this mean we were infringing on free speech? Of course not! People can say almost anything they want without the government infringing. This does not mean that there are no consequences for the words you use. If someone lumps bestiality, homosexuality, and fornication into one sentence then there might be some kickback.

2. The Political Issue

I’m not surprised that of course party lines were drawn when this happened. It’s really a shame that someone’s view is so heavily linked to the assumption of their political leaning. I’m not surprised that conservatives all of the sudden came out in support of Phil’s free speech to say whatever he wants (they are not surprisingly silent on this issue when something is being said that they don’t agree with however), and I’m not surprised that liberals are all of the sudden insisting that someone being fired for their beliefs is not infringing on their free speech. Yet I bet if Phil was a homosexual, expressed his view for equality and got fired for that, there’d be an uproar from the liberal side. It’s frustrating to see that beliefs are not consistent, they are so often just driven by political leanings.

3. The Jesus Issue

This is what matters to me. I don’t care about free speech, political leanings, company profits nearly as much as I care about how Jesus handles himself and how as people who claim to follow Him we are called to be LIKE Him. We are called to be followers of Jesus ONLY.

I’m not approaching this issue from a political viewpoint. I don’t care about the conservative view point or liberal viewpoint nearly as much as I care about the view that Jesus has of people. I don’t care if it’s a double standard, just because someone else isn’t playing fair doesn’t mean that we who claim to follow the God of the universe start cheating too. The rules don’t change simply because other people (who don’t claim what we claim) don’t follow the “rules”. I don’t care how hypocritical, judgmental, or hateful other people are. It does not change who we as followers of Christ are called to be. Just read about the guy called Jesus who died on a cross after being tried unjustly and unfairly (what a double standard right?)

Here’s the bottom line; I don’t care if it’s a double standard, I don’t care if it’s not fair. As followers of Jesus we are called to speak kindly and with love to people. There are ways to express your convictions, to express the heart of God without compromising your beliefs and without marginalizing someone. A great example of that would be Jesus with the woman at the well. He didn’t come out and lump her sin in with bestiality, he didn’t tell her that sin “just ain’t logical” or anything like that. He met her where she was at, offered her FIRST living water and then told her to go and sin no more. Jesus doesn’t avoid sin, he overwhelms it with love and grace and she turns from it and lives forever changed because of Jesus.

I’m tired and exhausted from apparent “christians” who have no problem watching movies that involve premarital sex, who are silent on divorce in the church, who are silent on pornography, who are silent on the ridiculous amount of consumeristic tendencies our culture thrives on, who have no problem listening to music with sexual suggestive themes or watching music videos full of hypersexualization, who have no problem having a little too much to drink every now and then but then have the audacity to make sure we know the “truth”on homosexuality! In their minds they say “we MUST make sure people KNOW that WE believe homosexuality is SIN! is SIN!”

It gets old quick.

People all over the place need redeeming grace that Jesus offers them, we are the vessels with which Jesus shows it.

Why did Phil drop the ball? Because he had a chance to clearly articulate God’s heart for people. Instead He told the interviewer how a woman’s vagina has “more to offer” than a man’s anus (gee, thanks for the heads up bro), and that sin “just ain’t logical”. Way to drop the ball Phil, truly you showed Jesus to a a world desperate for answers.

If you like this post then share it!

-TW

The Pastor: Overburdened and it’s our fault!

I feel bad for pastors. Am I allowed to say that? Really, they don’t have it easy. Most of them live on borderline poverty. Usually there’s only 1 pastor per 75-100 people, and the congregation demands them to essentially be Jesus (that is, with no sin). I mean what a burden other Christians can put on someone who has the title pastor. We want our pastor to be there for us whenever we need him and when he can’t make it out to something we deem important (like a funeral) we think that he isn’t really doing his job. But here’s the thing, what if we have a very skewed and often incorrect view of what the role of a pastor really is? That would change things wouldn’t it?

 

 

It’s no surprise to anyone in the Church to hear about pastor so and so who had an affair, stole money from the church or engaged in some other act that got him to “step down” which is a polite way of saying got fired. We are quick to be the first to cast stones at the pastor without any real understanding of the pressure that we have put on him. The pastor is expected to be the ultimate family man, to never be angry, no smoking of course, most Church bodies would frown on their pastor having a beer, he has to have the answer to every question we have, and he MUST pump out sermons like candy (and they better be good and life changing every time!). Can anyone fill such a role? When the pastor fails one of these stipulations we put on him, all of the sudden he is under review and he might need to step down and take some time off. Ridiculous.

 

 

We’ve made the role of pastor in the Church the all in one printer. The pastor is expected to fill several roles that are outside the Biblical role of pastor. When we put all these different roles in to one guy, they all come out just ok. I’ve met many pastors that really are terrible with people skills, but they are amazing teachers. I’ve met pastors who have a heart for the lost and would rather spend their time outside the Church walls evangelizing, and I’ve met pastors who are great pastors. They have a heart for the people in their church, they spend as much time as they can being a shepherd to their flock. Seeing a pastor who has the gift of pastoring is amazing and refreshing, seeing a pastor who has a completely different gift but still try and pastor is frustrating.

 

 

A couple posts ago I posted about the 5 roles we see in Scripture to equip the saints. The roles are the apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor, and teacher. All five of these roles are given to equip the Church but somewhere along the line we cut out 3 and combined two. In our modern day Church culture here in the states we got rid of the apostle, prophetic and evangelist and we combined the pastor and teacher in to one. Why? Beats me. I’m sure someone knows why, but I really don’t. To me it makes no sense to take one of those roles and make it the superman role while cutting out the others. Here’s why.

 

 

First (as I said earlier), it puts way too much pressure on one guy to lead a huge congregation and he has to fit in to all of these different roles on demand to meet the needs of the people. When you have a one boss CEO mentality in a local Church model it fails. Why? Because unlike a CEO a pastor by definition has to be completely engaged with everyone in his congregation. This is why having multiple pastors (or people with the gift of pastoring) is essential. Think about it like this. If I’m a shepherd and I have a flock of 200 sheep, I can’t possibly take care of them all by myself, I’m going to need a few other guys who also are shepherds to help take care of the flock. This same logic should be applied to our church bodies. NOTE: By pastor I don’t necessarily mean a guy who is paid in a full time salary position and who is also an administrator. I mean people who have the gift of pastoring actually using their gift. People who pastor don’t need to be the big leaders of a local church body.

 

 

Second, the 5 role structure is so clear in Scripture and all 5 roles are necessary to the body. A pastor shepherds people, takes care of their needs, a teacher teaches! Why have a pastor teach when that might not be his gift? Ever heard a pastor who can’t teach try and teach? It’s painful. This is not meant to offend anyone but it’s true. If they don’t have the gift, then don’t put them in that position. The apostle (think missionary), prophet and evangelist are all necessary roles that are so desperately needed but are missing.

When we have the 5 different positions operating together we have a team of people equipping local Church bodies. I’m convinced more and more that this is the Biblical model for the local church. It’s not about having leaders, but it’s about having equippers. When the five roles are working together it’s beautiful and wonderful. When we amputate 3 roles, we end up limping along.

 

 

There’s a book I’m reading called Church Zero by Payton Jones. It’s all about what I’m talking about here so check it out!

 

-TW

Importance of Christians Engaging not Excluding the World

Warning: This post is a little longer than usual.
In this post we really wanted to address how we (as Christians) are to approach people with different beliefs. It’s a hot button issue inside the Church with an array of different methods to either interact or share Christ with people of different beliefs. This post was written mainly by Rob with Tim writing a little bit here and there to polish off the edges. How we interact with people outside the Christian faith is of utmost importance and we see Christ be an amazing example, as well as the disciples, apostles, and other people in the Bible. In a world of talking points, political rhetoric, and more talking points, it is important that Christians stand out not just in the things they say, but how well they love with their lives. People are watching and waiting to see how followers of Christ are going to handle a lot of the hot button issues of our time. Here are our thoughts.

Interactions with Non-Christians

Interaction with those of a different religion, theory, or idea is something that can’t be avoided in the world today.  Nor should it.  However, this should be prefaced with a few things.  There is no “one-size-fit-all formula” and we should not expect a certain number of converts in a certain time period.  Evangelism is not Christians persuading non-Christians to join their theology.  We aren’t to be watching numbers and setting time based goals.  These are humans we are talking about, not our personal projects.  God wants to save every single person (1 Timothy 2:4) to be saved from their sins for His glory and their blessing.  Evangelism is really Christians following the leading of the Spirit of God who works sovereignly with people  in His time and purpose.  We are reaching real people with real needs in real circumstances.  But how do we do that?

In Love: Without Condescending The Individual
Spreading the gospel is something that every Christian has the responsibility of doing.  If not for the direct command of Christ “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15) we could rely on our inherent love for other humans to dictate this commission.  As Christians, we cannot avoid that anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal Savior will spend eternity in Hell.  This should touch the heart of every Christian reading this blog.  Our mission is to reach people with a message that can save them for all eternity.  Therefore, everything we do should be out of love not condescension and care not inferiority.  Paul was such an effective evangelist because he never lost sight of the fact “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).  Had it not been for the grace of God in my life I would be in Hell for all eternity.  We, as Christians, are only looking to share how God’s grace has changed us and offer that same hope to others in Christ Jesus.

I’ll tell you what love isn’t.  Love is not using every opportunity to tell every person you met how terrible of a sinner they are and how they only deserve Hell.  Probably not a good conversation/relationship starter.  The best evangelist we have is Jesus himself.  Now, we don’t have God’s omniscience but we do have His example.  In each situation where Christ would evangelize He first developed trust and a relationship.  Think about the woman at the well (John 4:4-42).  First, it was unbelievable to that woman that a Jewish man was even speaking to her (+1 right there).  She was a Samaritan and a woman.  However, He took the initiative and went to where she was.  Ever wonder why she was coming to the well at that time of the day?  It wasn’t the typical time.  She most likely wanted to avoid the other women because of the life she was living.  Christ came to her where she was.  He then tells her what He can do for her; He can give her living water!  There is no doubt that the kindness of this man spoke greatly to this woman.  She already sensed that she was valued in the eyes of the man before her.  Our relationships with others won’t be built in a specified amount of time.  I don’t believe we have the full story of the conversation between Jesus and this woman.  Perhaps it will be days/weeks/months/years of friendship before the proper door opens to share the gospel.  The point is that we should be displaying the attributes of Christ’s love long before we share the message of the gospel.  I heard a saying that goes “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  There is a reason that Christ sat and ate with sinners.  Because it is sinners He is trying to reach.  No better way to build a relationship then over some food and/or coffee.  That is what sitting and eating with sinners is all about.  Want to build a new relationship with an unbeliever?  Grab some food/coffee and listen.  Ask what is going on with their life and actually listen to the answer.  Don’t worry about telling them their sins are taking them to Hell.  Remember this is all about God’s timing; not ours.  If we are sensitive to the leading of the Spirit we won’t miss a good opportunity to speak the gospel but when we try to force it down their throats it does nothing but look bad on Christians.  Care about the person because I can assure you that God loves them regardless of their belief.

But what about when the opportunity finally comes up and perhaps our friend here asks us about the Gospel?  How do we share it?

In Truth: Without Compromising His Message
This one can be a little more difficult.  This is one of the major reasons that Peter says “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).  Gentleness and respect is what we are talking about when we say “in love.”  The first half of that verse says “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy.”  Interesting.  What I am reminded of is that this gospel is unchanging.  The gospel deals with the holiness of our Savior and therefore we should not alter it in any way.  We don’t need to change the message to make it more acceptable or to take an edge off it.  We need to present the truth.  Let’s go back to the woman at the well.  She and Christ have a relationship now and Christ in His omniscience sees the opportunity to face this woman with the truth of the message.  Her sin.  He asks her to go get her husband.  He confronts her with the issue she was looking to avoid by going to the well at that time of day.  But because He already established the relationship she didn’t throw the bucket of water on him and run back to her home.  Christ didn’t cover up the “ugly” part of the gospel to make it easier to swallow.  When our friends ask us about the gospel the issue of sin must be addressed.  Now, I wouldn’t suggest calling out the wrong you see in everyone else.  That would be the wrong way to go about it.  Christ had the lady confront her own sin before he spoke about it.  If it looks like someone is getting uncomfortable and upset about the topic and no longer wants to discuss it that would be a good time to let it go and talk about something else.  Too often Christians get the “Gospel Mode” going and can’t get out of it.  Just because someone asked you about an attribute of God doesn’t mean you have to point out the fact that pre-marital sex is wrong.  God is the one who is working with hearts/souls/minds and we are just “clay vessels” carrying the message of salvation.  Let God do His work and we must be faithful to present the uncompromised message of salvation.  Not this “feel good gospel” because that won’t save anyone from Hell.  But the reality that Christ died on the cross for sins and only a sinner can be saved.  Christ said “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).  Sinners are the ones who need Christ (thankfully I am definitely one of those which makes me eligible for forgiveness).

So the question then arises:  Well, if I am supposed to witness to nonbelievers and Jesus sat and ate with sinners, shouldn’t I go to the strip clubs, bars, and night clubs so I can relate to them?  We should go to where they are right?  How do I do that?

In Life: Without Contradicting My Testimony
As a messenger of the gospel my life is the greatest message being given.  If my life doesn’t display the love of Christ then no one will care what my lips are speaking.  This is why we stress the attitude of Christians so much on this blog.  The world around us is watching us to see if we practice what we preach and all too often Christians are coming up way too short.  I was once told “we represent a giving God so when we go to others we better go giving.”  Whether that is money, food, time, or whatever I think there is a lot of truth in it.  So first, our lives must reflect our Savior; not deny Him.  I will defer to the words said before an old DC Talk song “What If I Stumble.”

“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him with their lifestyle.  That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

Tim & Rob

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Sometimes Christians Get It Wrong

Originally, I was writing a post about absolute truth and how it exists and how important it is. But then I realized that I don’t know nearly enough on the subject to articulate myself well enough for a post. But as I began to write, another topic emerged. The more I wrote, the more I realized that I needed to take my post in another direction. So buckle up here we go.

As Christians, sometimes we think we own the corner on truth. What I mean by that is we sometimes assume that everything we say about the Christian faith is true, as opposed to truth dictating what we believe about the Christian faith. If you look even briefly at the history of the Christian faith, you will see that we have done things that we look back on and say “what were they thinking?!” For example, the crusades were a very bad idea and not true to the Christian faith and the teachings of Christ. Although at the time they felt justified in their actions, we see clearly now that what they did was contrary to Christ and His Kingdom.

When we look at modern day Christianity (especially here in the states) we must be careful in how outspoken we are regarding what we think we know. Sometimes we over extend our hand and assume that the way we were taught to interpret the Bible is the right way, or the way we were taught to see our culture or the unsaved is the right way. We must extremely careful not to get so wrapped up in our dogma that it blinds us to truth when it is presented.

One of the dangers I see in the Christian faith is that we have let other things such as world views, politics, and compromise come in and alter our view of the way of Christ. We have taken certain messages from the world (such as the liberal message or conservative message) identified parts of it in the Bible, and then made up our own version of Christianity. Essentially, we have let other things dictate how we see the Bible and ultimately our faith, instead of digging more in to the context and history of our faith and seeing how to apply it here and now.

One of the biggest missteps I have seen over the past ten years is the way many public Christian figures (and not so public figures) have handled the homosexual movement. In a faith that is so clear on grace, redemption, love, and forgiveness, we instead pointed out the action of homosexuality and essentially condemned people solely for the particular action. In the process we not only lost the heart of the gospel (that no matter what we do, we are in need of Jesus and His healing), but we lost the ear of many people engaged in that lifestyle. From people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who blamed 9/11 on the homosexual movement, to the pastor who suggested that we round up all the homosexuals and put them in a quarantined area with an electric fence, we have made some missteps in the way to engage this growing topic in our culture.

Sometimes, we as Christians can accidentally get so arrogant, so full of pride, because we think that our eyes have been open to all truth because of Christ when this is not the case. Sometimes, we think “well I believe in Jesus and affirm his resurrection, therefore whatever I think must be completely true” and this is a dangerous slope because no human knows everything. No human has the corner on all truth. The pursuit of truth is a lifelong pursuit and one that we can never fulfill in our lifetimes. We are wrong on some things. Even now, I’m sure that all of my beliefs are not accurate when stacked up against God and his absolute truth. Even though many of you reading this who are Christians are agreeing with me, your actions sometimes say quite the opposite.

Let me ask the Christians out here a question, when was the last time you apologized to a person who was not in the Christian faith? When was the last time you told someone “I was wrong for thinking that about you”? Christians are called to be humble, people are looking to make things right, not to inflame the situation. I have heard with my own ears people who profess Christianity talk so arrogantly about what they think they know and as soon as someone enters the conversation with a different view, the Christian shuts them down immediately with prepackaged Christian culture answers. This is not the way to engage people and to win their respect so they will hear you out and continue a conversation about deep, complicated things.

Let me ask you (the Christian) one final question. What’s your motive? To prove to the world that everything that you say is absolute truth? Is it to prove that you are right and they are wrong and therefore everyone must see everything the way you see it? Or is your point to introduce them to Jesus so that they may know Him and His way, His teachings, His kingdom? When your motivation is introduce people to the risen Christ, the way you engage people with different views than you changes greatly. It changes from attacking and overloading them with your worldview, to being a listener and conversationalist, trusting that it is Jesus who redeems and saves people, not you.

If all we do as Christians is tell the world how wrong they are, and how right we are, and people reject Christ because of that (as many have) then we still lose in the end. Our only focus should be introducing people to God and His kingdom. The Bible makes it clear, God judges people, not us. Why? Because all are equal at the foot of the cross. Without Christ we are all in the same sinking boat. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how you live, Jesus is the only hope for humanity.
-TW

What Salvation Is: Part 1

The next two blog posts will be a little different.  Julia’s dad (my father-in-law) has professed faith in Christ last week and even got up and gave his testimony during CBC’s services on Sunday.  This is a place he hasn’t stepped foot in for years.  I was with him briefly on Monday night and could definitely see a change.  With that in mind I was thinking of what true salvation is and the ways salvation changes us.  This post will be what salvation is and the following will be what salvation does.

What is Salvation?
A mere decision to a proposition?  Not in the slightest.  A mere conclusion of logic?  Also, no.  Salvation of the Bible is something much more than simply a logical decision or a decision of change.  The shortest message of salvation I think you can read is found in Acts 16:30-31:
“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Believe on” has the idea of trusting on, resting on, trusting oneself to, or depending on.  What it doesn’t mean is assenting to, acknowledging that, superficially accepting, or any other form of such things.  In Biblical Greek, the word “believe” and “faith” are very closely related (much closer than we know in English).  In fact it would be correct to translate Ephesians 2:8 as “For by grace are you saved through belief; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Believing and faith in the Bible are the same thing.  This is a much stronger word than what we use “believe” for in today’s English language.  We use it to say “to think” or “to assent/accept” and even “to come to understand.”  These meanings are not the meaning of “believing on” in Acts 16:31.  There is an illustration I’ve heard often of a tight rope walker in the 19th century that goes by the name of Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet).  He stretched a tight rope across the Niagra Falls to show his pristine balancing skills.  He started across with a balancing pole, then did a back somersault while walking across.  Each crossing after that he completed in a different manner: blindfolded, with a wheelbarrow, even making an omelet in the middle of the rope.  Then he comes to the crowd that was watching him and asks if they believe that he could carry someone across on his back.  Everyone at once screams “YES WE BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!”  But then his question changed and was now, “Ok, who will get on my back and cross?”  The crowd suddenly went silent.  Everyone believed ABOUT Blondin.  They saw what he did and believed he COULD do it but no one was willing to believe IN or ON Blondin and get on his back.  Many people believe about the Lord Jesus Christ but only those who believe on Him will ever get real life.

“the Lord Jesus Christ” does not say “Jesus” or “the Savior” or even “Christ.”  He is the one of whom we read that died and rose again.
Jesus tells us that this is the one who became a man to be the savior.  We just recently celebrated the birth of Jesus.  Joseph was told “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).   The name Jesus tells us of his humanity.
Christ is the anointed one.  He is the promised Messiah, the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42).  It is a shame to proclaim Jesus as a cool, party attending, rebel character that is found being proclaimed in many churches.  This is the anointed one, the Messiah, the promised one.
Lord is a term used of one in authority over you, one who you submit and bow to.  There are not two separate events of accepting Jesus as your Savior then accepting him as your Lord.  Salvation is the acknowledgment of Him as Lord!

So the gospel of salvation is that man is without ability to save himself but upon the confession of helplessness, the repentance of sin, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on Christ (both the person and the work) “you shall be saved.”

Romans 6:17 is Paul looking back to before they were “saved” when he says, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.”  He is commenting on the fact that we were astray from God and servants of sin.  Then he reflects on their moment of conversion when he says, “but ye have obeyed from the heart.”  The tense of the verb “obeyed” is in the Aorist tense which says it happened at a definite moment of time (the moment of salvation).  But what is interesting is the last phrase, “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”  Salvation is doctrine; it is truth to be received.  God has revealed the truth of the person and work of Christ and given man the responsibility to respond to the doctrine.  Salvation is truth to be received.

So in the ultimate sense, what is salvation?  It is the supernatural work of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It is the redemption of a fallen race and is available to all.  It is not just giving your life to Jesus or accepting a Savior as I hope I made clear.  Now, at Salvation we may not have known everything we were coming into, I know I didn’t.  But we can look at that moment and see that all of these things are true and prove true in the life of a true believer.  Thank goodness we can say:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

Next time, we will look at what salvation does.  Stay tuned.

~Rob

 

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Knowing God, Without Knowing God

Last night I had the great opportunity to hang out with some great people I know from a local Church.  They had second Thanksgiving which is exactly what it sounds like.  Everyone brings thanksgiving leftovers, they heat it up, then all eat together.  It was great to see 30 people all over the house eating, engaging in conversation, and enjoying a glimpse of the Kingdom together.  It wasn’t long before talks about theology, prayer, Israel and the like came up and everyone participating in conversations like it all over the house.

 

I was sitting in the kitchen at a table and was talking to another guy about prayer and Christianity.  During the conversation the idea of knowing God, without knowing God came up.  The guy I was talking to said “I have so many Christian friends who know the word, they are so close! But they don’t have a living relationship with Jesus.  It’s like reading someones facebook feed without every talking to them”.  In that moment the thought of knowing about God without actually knowing God hit me in a completely fresh way

There’s no doubt there’s always been a tension between works and grace.  But if there’s one thing that I think is clear in Scripture it’s that works are tangible evidence of the faith inside of you.  James mentions this when he says “Faith without works is dead” and Jesus mentions this in Matthew where he says “Only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven”.  Notice, it’s not who says a prayer, it’s not who walks down an aisle (although this can be a means to doing the will of the Father).  Jesus is clear that it’s not just about saying words, it’s about living out the will of the Father.

 

This should shake us to our core in a very healthy way.  Sometimes I think we get too hung up on the “just pray this prayer and believe” mentality.  James also goes on to say that even the demons believe in God.  Belief is simply not enough.  I think this is important to see because although salvation comes through grace, and through trust in the price Christ payed, that belief is ultimately fleshed out through the life you live.   When people claim to be followers of Jesus, but there is not evidence in their life, they either have a misunderstanding of the Gospel they’ve claimed to believe, or they truly don’t believe in it.

 

Think about it like this.  If someone truly grasped, understood, and was wrecked by this amazing Christ that conquered death for us, offers us a new life transformed, shows us a way to live in wholeness, how would that not change your life?  It’s a shame when I see the gospel cheapened, whittled down to a sentence.  When you do that, not only do you misrepresent the big picture of what is actively happening now, you give the impression that the gospel is just a simple sentence to pray, not a radical life change.  And let’s face it, the gospel of Christ is designed to invade every corner of our life and change it to the ways of God.  This of course, is not an overnight change, and we are all works in progress (I have plenty of junk I have to go through still), but God is patient and He walks through this journey with us, lovingly pointing out where our  life needs to change.   This of course is only one aspect of the Gospel of Christ, and that’s ok.  It’s impossible to fully explain it in a blog post, or a book, it has to be seen through life.

 

It is quite possible to know God, without actually knowing God.  You can have all the head knowledge in the world, all the verses you were taught in AWANA memorized, never missed a Sunday morning in Church, and you can still miss Jesus.  You can still miss the relationship He longs to have with you every day, all day.  Jesus is a person.  Not a book, not a belief, not a sunday morning service.  He is living and breathing at the right hand of the Father, and He desires to talk to us, He desires to guide our life step by step, moment by moment.   We must realize that it’s not just saying “Lord Lord”, it’s about pursing the heart of the Father, doing His will on earth, ushering in the Kingdom of God to a dying world.

 

-TW

 

 

Why Can’t We all Just Get Along?

Ok ok so perhaps I’m an idealist? But hey that is what my blog is for, where I can express my idealist views.

 

More and more the debate between Christians and Atheists rages on.  In the headlines we see  “Atheists sues to take out God out of pledge of allegiance” and then of course we see the Christian’s response in other comments and headlines.  We see it in the media all the time. This war it seems that comes up every so often (especially around the holidays) Atheists attempting to take the word “God” out of everything and Christians trying to put the word “God” in everything.  My question is why can’t we just get along?  This is my letter to the Atheists and then next to the Christians.

 

 

To my Atheists friends

Why, Why, Why, Why WHY!  I truly don’t get it.  Taking God out of the pledge of allegiance? I lovingly say that you are in the minority (perhaps growing but still in the minority) on this issue.  the majority of Americans believe in some kind of God (granted it could be a different god, many different religions are represented in America, but never the less most Americans believe in some form of a higher power)  Having the word “God” in a pledge, or on a dollar bill is not religion, it’s a general belief held by MOST people in the world.  There is no way to beat around the bush you guys are on the fringe of the belief system and you can’t dictate to an entire nation what can and can not be in our pledge or on a dollar bill just because you choose not to believe in God (Might I also mention that before you deny the existence of God you first have to acknowledge there is a possibility that He exists, to deny is first to affirm then to reject that belief.)  It is impossible to deny anything without first being aware of it.  But that is for another time.

Further more, why this anger towards religion? Does it really bother you that much to hear the word “God” in the pledge? Then just don’t say God, also if you truly celebrate diversity then you will celebrate the life change many many people  have experienced due to an encounter with God.  Diversity is dangerous because it means accepting things you don’t actually agree with.  You can’t be open minded when it is convenient to you and then shun people that hold a worldview that si completely opposite to yours.  I guess I just don’t understand why there is such a hostile movement coming from the atheists.  You are free to believe almost anything you want here in the states, you can believe in the flying spaghetti monster, or in nothing beyond us.  It really doesn’t matter what you believe, you don’t face jail time, you’re protected by our constitution, you can burn the flag, you can put the flag on a pole in your yard, you can say the pledge, you don’t have to say the pledge.  Do whatever you want, you already have that freedom!  But no, instead now Americans have to deal with your obsession for taking the word “God” out of everything public.  It’s ridiculous because ultimately until you start massacring people (Not that you ever would) you can’t eradicate the belief of God.

 

 

 

To my Christian Family.

 

Change the focus! It is not necessarily proving to someone that you are right and they are wrong   My gosh I’m so exhausted from hearing and seeing debates about God with other people who are not Christians.  Ultimately God is the one who calls people right? It is our job to love people like crazy, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Instead we get in to debates about what is true, what is not true.  God is true, and we believe that, and God has called us to be the light of the world, not the annoying pests that keep telling people to repent or face Hell.  We are called to be goodness, to literally be workers in the kingdom of God bringing heaven to earth, restoring people to Jesus.  I’m not saying we can’t talk about Hell, I’m not saying we can’t affirm Hell. What I am saying is that most people here in our culture already know about Hell, they already know that Christians believe that Hell is forever and eternal. Let us not forget that without love we are a clanging cymbal (1 Corinthians 13)  I really hate when people say “the gospel is offensive” it is?  The word gospel means Good News! How the heck is good news offensive?  And where is that in the scripture? And don’t give me Galatians 5:11 because Paul was under persecution from the Jewish people, not from the pagans.  The same goes for Jesus, the pagans did not crucify Jesus. The chosen people of God in the Old Testament (A.K.A the Israelites) crucified Jesus.   Our “good news” should be a breath of fresh air to a dying world, not more death.  It’s time to communicate and to show people that God wants people restored to Him! This is the crux of the whole Bible! That God made a way for us to be restored to God.  Lets offer some GOOD news.  Good news that we don’t have to live separated from God forever in Hell? Absolutely! But also that we can live with God right now! Right this second!

And really honestly if God is taken out of the pledge who cares? Say God anyway! Be a rebel! Pray in school, put the nativity up on your front lawn! Just because we are called to be peacemakers does not mean that we can’t peacefully protest and continue to peacefully rebel against the government when the time is appropriate.  Let’s say one day the government says being a born again Christian is unlawful and is punishable by prison or some other punishment I hope to God (truly) that Christians are just as outspoken then as they are now.  Personally? I think it’s easy to whine about things when their are no consequences, we will see how many people stand up when/if true persecution comes.

 

 

Couple disclaimers

1. I’m generalizing both with Christians and Atheists because I don’t have the time or space to go in to detail. Both movements are too large to completely define, so I stuck to mainly media generalizations

 

2. I have quite a few friends who are Atheists so this is not an attack on atheism, please don’t see it this way

 

3. I have MANY friends (family really) who are Christians, this is not an attack on Christianity, i breathe the Christian faith, it is all I’m concerned about in my life, and that is why I said what I said.  It is also why I am generally most critical of Christianity, because I am part of that movement.

 

4. 1 Corinthians 13.