November 19th, 2013 | 11 Comments »

The Christian way of being mean is telling those we’ve offended that we’re “speaking the truth in love”.

Misappropriating this little gem from Ephesians 4 is popular because it allows us to be rude, condescending, and hurtful to non-Christians while simultaneously allowing us to hold on to our own privilege and self-righteousness.

There’s been a lot of talk in the last week about “speaking the truth in love.”

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June 21st, 2012 | 4 Comments »

Your preacher might be better if they could focus on preaching. It had to be said! Truth is, many churches require so much of their pastor that they hardly have anytime to prepare to preach.

Preparing to preach isn’t always difficult, but it is time consuming.

There’s language study, historical/critical review, prayer, devotional time in the text, reading, reflecting, constructing, importing creative elements, story-building, writing and delivery. Preaching takes time, so does visitation, prayer for the sick, staff meetings and leading, building use and facility concerns, other teaching responsibilities during the week, and hosts of other activities. Some preachers have to handle all these activities themselves, so it’s no wonder some preachers serve up yesterday’s leftovers from the pulpit. It’s easy to flip open the latest book and harvest 3 points here and 5 suggestions there, call it a sermon and go home.

 

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June 19th, 2012 | 14 Comments »

I’m growing evermore concerned about the debased preaching in many American churches. Here’s how it goes, preachers are talking about how sin “pisses off” God or that some people think Jesus “dressed like a fairy,” or that Jesus “wasn’t a wuss.” I’ve even heard one well-known pastor tell a story about dismissing a young man’s theological questions because he was “a loser that lived at home with his mom.” In addition, more and more preachers/church planters/lead pastors – whatever you want to call us – are spending a good percentage of sermon time yelling at their congregations. Trust me, I understand the desire to shake the church from it’s missional malaise, but I don’t think raising the volume is going to work. Churches are dying, not deaf. I suppose all the yelling is designed to communicate passion, but it so often comes across as anger.

I know what these guys (and they are mostly guys) are attempting to get at. They simultaneously want to wake a sleeping church, make her seem cool, and ostensibly help men see a Jesus they can relate to. But I have to question whether or not they need to be Sam Kinison to do it. I find it odd that some feel the need to make Jesus seem cooler or manlier than the versions they grew up with. Not because Jesus is not cool or manly, but rather because in their effort to shape Jesus into their own image, they make the same mistake their forerunners did by simply not allowing Jesus to be Jesus.

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February 22nd, 2012 | 16 Comments »

I was slightly taken aback when one of our church members – a friend and supporter of mine – joked to her husband that she listens to me 40-minutes every Sunday. Trust me, no one knows better than I do when I stray over my allotted time. In fairness, my sermons are typically about 30-minutes, not 40. A co-worker complained to me once that a particular sermon was 38-minutes (I could tell she had only checked the time stamp on the podcast and hadn’t listened to it. There was more recorded than the sermon and she hadn’t been in worship to hear it the first time. That sermon was 30-minutes). However, she was right in that my sermons are longer than (1) I was trained to make them, (2) have typically preached them in the past and (3) than I grew up hearing others preach their sermons.

What’s more, I’m not the only one who is preaching longer. I examined the podcasts I listen to weekly and began paying attention to the length of the sermons.  I also paid closer attention to the communicators I watch online in the early hours of Sunday morning. In addition, I talked to local preachers and perused all types of church websites and I  noticed something: Hardly anyone preaches 20-minutes sermons anymore! As a matter of fact, recently we had  a family join our congregation only to leave a month later. When I encountered the husband one morning in BestBuy, he reluctantly confessed he left because of “the teaching.” Surprised by his bluntness, I stepped back. He continued, “Sorry, Pastor, It just wasn’t enough. I need an hour of teaching; 50-minutes at least.” Oddly, while attention spans in America may be getting shorter, sermons are getting longer. And there are 4 reasons why!

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January 25th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Since I’m back blogging, I thought we might pick up where we left off in our discussion about dating and relationships. If you’re new you can see the previous posts here, here, and here.

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Hearts aren’t toys!

This sounds obvious, I know, but when we’re dating or trying to date someone, we often forget. I once knew a guy who was in love. The one thing he and his girlfriend shared was that they were both madly in love with her. As he sacrificed his will and wishes she openly accepted all he had to give. His money. His gifts. His time and attention. She gave none in return. Frequently he told his friends how wonderful, nice, gentle and loving she was when they were together, but in public all his friends saw was her demeaning him, mocking him, and rejecting all forms of displayed affection.

Slowly it broke him.

After a while – and with the encouragement of friends – he broke up with her, but his heart had already been exposed to enough venom that it took a long time for him to recover. He was unable to trust other young women. He became distant. He came to believe all the worst of what she had said about him. His biggest problem was that he allowed this girlfriend to treat his heart like a toy, a plaything.

Proverbs 4:23 teaches us this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

All of your life bubbles up and spills over from your heart. It’s more important than you think. Therefore, you must guard it from people who – purposefully or not – would hurt, harm or break it.

But how?

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