November 5th, 2013 | 9 Comments »

Was it something I said?

I guess it was, because last week – just between Thursday and Monday – nearly 16,000 people visited this site. What’s more, last Thursday’s post generated blog posts responses, Facebook discussions, Facebook notes, and hosts of other conversations. I was not privy to most of these conversations and did not want to be. From what others tell me, some conversations were healthy and good, while others, were, um, less so. Either way, I’m glad so many people are talking about the challenges facing my tribe (Churches of Christ), and many of these conversations will result in positive movement. At least, I hope that’s the case.

There is a strange, strange feeling that accompanies the knowledge that 16,000 people are talking about you. As a friend of mine said, “That’s about as Church of Christ viral as it gets.” The feeling is not what you think. I never felt offended or criticized or even popular.

I felt shocked.

I felt shocked because all the fuss and fervor were revelatory to me about the state of Churches of Christ. I figured these conversations were happening every week across the country. I clearly have no gauge about what’s controversial or not. Through all the fuss, I learned a great deal and perhaps, what I think I’ve learned is of deeper concern than those I spoke of last Thursday.

Here’s what I learned:

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Posted in church, leadership
October 7th, 2013 | 6 Comments »

I wrote this piece after last year’s Presidential election. At the time I was raked over the coals by some, but the current climate in Washington and the absolutely pitiful, hateful, unloving, disrespectful, and quite frankly ill-informed political opinions (on all sides) have demonstrated that I was on to something. In short, Christians have traded their birthright of the Kingdom for a bowl of political porridge.
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You’ve heard, “Actions speak louder than words.” I’m sure the old axiom is true. We are defined by what we do more than by what we say.  That said, our words and language have the pesky ability to reveal our hearts in ways little else does.

Jesus said, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” He meant that what is in us will come out of us. The human heart has an exhaust pipe – our mouths.

That’s why I have been so disconcerted this past week by the way my Christian friends have expressed their disappointment in the outcome of the Presidential election. Our heart-revealing language has found us both sinful and idolatrous.

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Posted in Bible, church
October 3rd, 2013 | 1 Comment »

For several years I did this talk using Batman Begins as a key to the believer’s journey with God. This past summer, I retired this teaching. Here it is, in case you wanna see/hear it again.

[tentblogger-vimeo 44907065]

 

September 10th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

Tomorrow our nation, and our allies around the world, will pause to remember the events of September 11th. As a teacher, my wife Rochelle, will cease teaching science and spend the day guiding students through reflection about the terrorists attacks in New York and Washington. My daughters, in first and fourth grade respectively, will do much of the same.

In advance of September 11th (and since this blog post every Tuesday and Thursday), here a reflection on peace which I penned last year.

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There are any number of scriptures we Christians don’t take seriously, but maybe none are taken less seriously than Romans 12.18-20. Here, the apostle Paul instructs the church this way: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’”

Living at peace is tough business and “Christian America” has particularly struggled with it in the wake of September 11, 2001. The reasons are obvious. We were struck! Hit! Devastated! All by an enemy that had long been at war with us, though many of us knew or cared very much about them. At the time it felt reassuring to hear President George W. Bush tell New Yorkers — and the rest of the world — that the people who did this would hear from us.

We needed protection from the twisted minds that could envisage, plan, and celebrate the kind of destruction visited New York, Washington, and Shanksville, PA. Innocent people were targeted, children were killed, families undone. It was a slaughter, pure and simple. And in some sectors of the world, there was dancing in the streets.

It was no wonder then that so many of us — Christians, that is — supported combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. I did! Full steam ahead.

And I wasn’t shocked to learn, even years after 9/11, that the majority of Christians supported torture in some instances. It’s not that we’re evil or vengeful, it’s that we’re human. We have spouses and children; parents and grandparents; friends and classmates; that we love, that we want to protect, and we have a country we want to flourish.

What’s more, many of us believe that God has blessed us to live in the best, most humane, most prosperous and healthy country in the history of the world. And we want the best of that country to live forever and would love for others around the world to enjoy the benefits and blessings of our system. In sum, the September 11th attacks came from a place of evil, and as scripture teaches, evil must be resisted.

But the scriptures teach us about peace too.

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August 27th, 2013 | 6 Comments »

Seriously. Let’s quit. No more “millennial talk.”

Now that everyone has either written about what Millennials “want” or responded to what someone else wrote about what Millennials want, it might be time to deal with the elephant in the room: We care about what Millennials want because it saves us all the long, hard, difficult, but life-transforming work of spiritual formation.

I’ll be honest. I’m sick of hearing about the “Millennials” and what they want from church. Isn’t it about time that we called Millennials what they are: Self-Centered? Just like GenXers and Baby Boomers before them. It’s not totally their fault, though. Millennials have been marketed to from birth, got trophies for showing up, and both the culture and the church immersed them in a hyper-individualized-your-way-right-away, you’re “unique” in the world mindset. We kinda did it to you.

Nevertheless, you should know there is nothing new, cool, avant-garde, or even thoughtful about wanting what you want and wanting it now; nothing particularly hip in thinking everybody else should change and bend and bow. My first grader pulls that off just fine. And, yes, every previous generation thought they were the first to “really get Jesus” too.

But maybe – just maybe – those of us ahead of our Millennial friends on the journey might serve Millennials better through seeking the Kingdom better. How about disallowing Millennials from echoing their Baby-Boomer and GenX forerunners who still – to this day – show up in churches believing church and Christian life is about what they want? Every generation complains and has complained about what the church is and isn’t. Sometimes we’re right to do so. But other times, we’ve simply missed the whole point of why God called us into community with other people with differences of thought, style, and perspective.

The truth is we’re all just too selfish.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

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Posted in church, leadership
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