Friday, May 17, 2013
Today, I got the honor of listening to the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, speak. He wasn't really speaking to my class, but we got to sit in and listen and ask a few questions. His wife is a former student at the seminary here at Wesley, and he was speaking with the Board of Governors for the school. It was mostly about national security and all that stuff. It was very interesting, and I wondered how he sleeps at night knowing all that he knows.
One of our students in the DMin program here for military chaplains ask about him and his personal faith. His response was terribly disappointing. He couldn't be in a more safe environment. There were no press there besides a photographer for the school. It was seminary board members, seminary professors and ministers who are doctoral students. He basically said that faith was personal and that you just don't speak about those issues.
Who in the world taught him that? I'm deeply troubled by this answer that I've heard time and time again. I do believe it was taught a generation ago, but I'm just not sure what Bible those who taught it were reading. Would the Apostle Paul say faith is 'personal?' Would Peter say it was 'personal?' Would Jesus say it was 'personal' and 'private?' Moreover, would Martin Luther King, Jr. or Mother Teresa say that faith is something you don't talk about? I wasn't looking for the man to preach a sermon. I was looking for something at least like, "My wife attend such and such church and my faith has been a source of strength in the most difficult hours of this job."
Friends, if you want a personal and private faith, then you do not want the faith of the Bible. You want some kind of bland American-ized faith that is not the faith to which Jesus called His disciples, not the faith which Paul used to start the countless churches and not the faith that has changed the world many times over. Faith in Jesus is radical. It comes out in our actions, in the way we treat people, in the way we serve and in the way we talk. Some of us might have jobs that require us to speak a little more political about issues of faith while on the job (and we desperately need Christians in those sectors!), but we shouldn't ever be ashamed to claim the name. We should never be afraid to claim who we are in Christ. The Church will never change the lives of those who desperately need our message of hope and grace if our faith is personal and private. The World needs a Church whose faith is relational and public.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Some would say, "Oh, I'm not a leader." If you have kids, you're a leader. You don't get a choice. You lead someone. You have a follower or followers. Lovett Weems, my professor this week, said something today that made me think about parents: "Leadership is and is not a voice activated system." There is something important about leaders casting vision. They must name the dream ahead, the future reality that the organization is shooting for, whether that be a Fortune 500 company, a church, or a family. However, leadership isn't done simply by casting a vision at a board meeting. Leadership takes working the plan and massaging the vision. You have to put feet on it. You have to do what you visioned to do.
If you want your baking company to make better cakes, the best cakes in the world, then you need to get busy testing recipes. If you want your church to reach young people, then you better get to work developing ministry that reaches kids. Often, leaders name things, but never do anything about them. And the vision will eventually fail.
I'll bet you had a dream for how you wanted your kids to turn out. Maybe you still do. If you are follower of Christ, what is most important to you? Is your goal for your kids to become a deeply devoted follower of Jesus who is capable of withstanding the pressures of peers and culture to make God-honoring decisions? Is your vision for them to independently choose lives of Christian morality and integrity? Maybe you haven't thought it out that far, but that's probably high on the list. It oughtta be. So, what are we doing as leaders/parents to help that? Are we making worship as a family a priority on Sundays? Are we teaching them Biblical principals at home or are we solely depending on our church to do that? Don't you think the CEO of the baking company ought to know what good cake taste like? As parents, we have to lead our kids and work our plan to help them take the next steps we hope they will take. When they turn 9 or 10 we'll have to re-cast a new vision for a next step and work it even harder. Same goes for 13 and 16 and graduation. What worked at 5 won't work at 15, but they need vision from us for a future reality, and they need us to show them and lead them how to get there. Let us not just dream a dream for our kids or simply tell them what we want them to be like, let's give them tools, teaching, and growing opportunities to get there.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Are you ready to be poured out? Discipleship has been on my heart a lot lately. I'm concerned that American churches are full of people satisfied with shallow faith and few moving moments a year in worship. There is so much more to faith. God calls us to radical abandonment. God calls us to not jsut be converts to Christ, but to be disciples of Christ. I recently read this quote a friend posted on Facebook from British Evangelist Mike Pilavachi: "Christians have bumper stickers and catch phrases, believers have creeds and promises, disciples have scars and stories." That hit me square in the forehead.
Christianity is not an anecdote. Faith in Jesus is not about easy answers and catch phrases. It is messy and sloppy. It is sometimes painful. It is a process. And it is beautiful. The Apostle Paul equated it to being empty of all that is 'us'...being poured out. I want to be poured out because I want to be emptied of me and filled with Jesus. I'm not there yet, but doggone it, I'm working on it. Can you imagine what would happen in our communities if we decided to be poured out, to be dissciples, to open ourselves to the scars, so that we might have story to share? Would you dare pray that prayer? Would you dare ask God to empty you of yourself? It's a dangerous prayer. But it's the only way to live, friend.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
I would encourage you to read Mark 9:14-24. My devotion today took me to that passage, which I haven't read in a while. It's a story I was familiar with, but those words of a dad whose child is stricken by a terrible infirmity jumped off the page at me. That is the simplest and maybe most important prayer: Help my lack of faith. The call of God to believers is to be people that live by faith. The Apostle Paul described it as being led by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Honestly, though, we often lack faith. Instead, we behave in ways that make sense, when faith often requires behavior that seems upside-down. Just think about it. Here's a sample of the Biblical principles that the Bible says are true that make no sense in the world.
- The last shall be first...but Ricky Bobby says that if you ain't first you're last, right?
- When we are empty, we are filled...but the world says to get as full as we can with as much stuff as we can.
- When we are weak, He is strong in us...but business leadership principles tell us to never let 'em see you sweat.
- It's better to give than receive...really? Unless it's tech gadgets. It's always better to receive those, right?
- Through Christ's death, we find life...but I thought death was final.
This is why we lack faith. Faith is counter intuitive. It doesn't make sense. Yet, I know that God is sometimes screaming at me, "Trust me!!!" Just trust me. What would it look like for you to consider living by faith, and not the principles of this world, in your family, at work, in the community, on the interstate, with your dreams and hopes, and in your finances? The point of it all is for us to learn that God's ways are best and that He has a plan for us that's better than we imagined. Let us be people that pray that prayer every time we struggle between decisions of faith and what the world says 'makes sense.' Lord, help me with my lack of faith.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
- There does seem to be somewhat of a preoccupation in the Baptist/Methodist branch of Protestantism with porn/sex over other sins like, greed, for instance. Hugh Heffner, Larry Flint, and MTV get lots of attention while Bernie Madoff, Enron, and Wall Street seem to get a free ride.
- Carter, Why do you always talk about pornography.
- As large of an event you would think the creation and demise of dinosaurs are, why no mention of dinosaurs in the Bible?
The greatest controversy outside the protestant faith is the term “trinity” (which is not used in God’s word). Consequently, even some Christians have a hard time explaining it. If you were to explain the Trinity to someone who feels they have to understand it, how would you do it?
Well, the best way I can understand it is this: I am a husband, a father, and a son...but I'm still me. In each of those roles, I have a different part to play, but I'm still me. I think that's an easy way to understand how we can be many things but the same thing.
The other thing that has always made sense to me is the H2O. That's right...water. At room temperature, it's a liquid. At 32 degrees, it's a solid. At 212 degrees, it's a gas. However, it's still two Hydrogen and one oxygen, just in different forms. The same is true of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Same stuff...different forms.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
- What are the Apocrypha books and why are they not included in our Bible at Church of the Way?
- What is main difference between Catholicism and Methodist from a theological basis?
- Being brought up in a Catholic homestead, yet last 15 years being a Methodist, I thought the way we dressed showed respect to our God. Why does that not appear to be the case in the Methodist religion?
- There are estimates that there's upwards of 41,000 Christian based denominations/sub groups. Though most have the same base ideology there's many differences between even the larger of the denominations. If all these groups are supposed to be based around the same principles of the Bible, why are there so many differences? Example. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe exactly 144,000 have been preselected to go to heaven.
Monday, April 22, 2013
- Why does God continue to challenge us in life, when we have had so many difficult challenges and we just would like to come to peace with life?
- Do bad things happen to good people because God or the Devil is teaching you a lesson?
Bad things happen because we live in a broken world. We invited disobedience into the world, and now we're upset at its affect. Of course, we're all to blame. We are broken people. The devil is out to get us, to keep us from being all God created us to be. But God isn't out to get us. God is out to save us. Certainly, God tests us, but those tests usually aren't to 'teach us a lesson.' God's tests are to test our faith so that He can give us more. God wants good for us, though. You can bank on that. One more question in this same line of thought.
- If a person has "faith" in Christ, why do they still suffer from health issues?
God is healing this broken world. The hope of those who believe is a resurrection world in which there is no sickness, no more disease, no more tears, and no more brokenness. Come Lord Jesus.