ARE YOU EVEN CHRISTIAN?

ARE YOU EVEN CHRISTIAN?

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking a thought. It has been a thought of mine for quite a while and so I’m going to put it right here for you to wrestle with. You don’t have to agree with me, I’m ok with that. Civility says we can disagree and still be friends; it used to say that any way.

Noah was a man that that God came to and asked to build a boat, a very big boat. A boat that saved the world as we know it, if you believe the story; and I do. As you think about what God did in the life of Noah, whom he considered a righteous man at the time, it was a bit irrational to those around him. It had never rained upon the earth. There was no large body of water nearby that we are aware of. The very concept of a “boat” was new, weird, odd, unheralded, or crazy. 120 years worth of crazy depending upon how you understand the story. So God asked Noah to do something that from the outside was very, very “not rational.” Made no sense. It was a bad financial decision. The list could go on and on.

IRRATIONAL

What about a guy named Abram? Seriously. This guy, a pagan by any understanding of the story, was living his life and claims that God came to him and told him to up and move. The invitation was to come and follow me [God] and I will show you a land that I am going to give to you and your family, which is going to become a great nation and will bless all the nations of the earth. Wow. Not rational. Not rational you ask? No, not rational. At the time this guy is 75 years of age, his wife is 65 and they have no children what so ever. Abram’s wife had been barren, infertile, unblessed with children for 65 years. Where is this nation going to come from, and where did you say we were going?

NOT RATIONAL

These are the stories over and over again that show up in the Bible. The Bible that the Christian church claims as their manifesto, their sacred book, their direct word from God himself, this book is full of these stories to the point where it is the norm. It is super normal in the Bible that God asks people to do things they cannot do, things that make no sense, things that cost everything, things that will have the community around them making fun of them.

upside-downThe Kingdom of God Is not of this world. The Kingdom of God does not do things the way this world does them. In this world we think things through, make a plan, save up store up and then claw our way up to the top. This world is a “Me first and you get the leftovers” sort of society. Smart, godly, Christian, people will do the smart, financially fiscal thing that makes the most sense in today’s world. That’s what we teach. This is probably why we don’t see an awful lot of people going into missions. I’m not saying we don’t see some people making missions their life.

 

“If all you ever hear is your god telling you to do rational, reasonable things, you probably need an introduction to God and to the Bible.”

IRRATIONAL PRIORITIES

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6 that we are to make the Kingdom of God the main priority in our lives. Jesus says that if we seek that Kingdom first, all the things that pagans run after; clothes and food and homes and such will be provided by the king himself. The church, the real church, has been called to run after God and his mission. The Christians, the real Christians, have been called to bring the Kingdom of God to bear upon this world. God’s plan for my life is that I make known the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that I love the people that God loves without getting all entrenched in this world. My investments should reflect Kingdom values. My relationships should reflect Kingdom values. My entertainment choices: Movies, music, shows, should all reflect Kingdom values. If my goal is focused on saving, protecting, and or gaining for me and mine, then I’m fooling myself about even being a Christian. God only wants my heart, which gives him everything.

IRRATIONAL SAVIOR

Jesus made 120-180 gallons of wine out of water at a wedding once. Just because he said so.
Jesus spit on the ground and made mud to put on the blind man’s eyes. That’s how he healed him.
Jesus told a man to sell everything he had, give to the poor and then to come and follow Jesus.
Jesus told one of his followers to walk out across the lake on top of the water.
Jesus forgave a man’s sins and in doing so, healed the man.
Jesus didn’t condemn a naked woman caught in the bed of a married man, even though his “Law” said to stone her to death.
Jesus ate in the homes of sinners and drank their wine. People called him a drunkard.
Jesus cast out demons on a regular basis.
Jesus went to “church” weekly, as was his custom.
Jesus died for sins he never committed, for people that rejected him and didn’t care about him.
God raised Jesus from the dead.

 

IF YOU BELIEVE, WHY DON’T YOU STILL DO IT?

Do you believe these things really happened or are they just stories to you?

Think about it for a moment. Do you really, honestly, with all your heart, believe that Jesus did and said these things to you and I and the world of today?

Why doesn’t it compel you to do irrational things that make no sense to spiritually anemic, or spiritually dead people? Does Jesus live inside you? Why isn’t he doing through you what he did in your Bible?

“When you realize that God never seems to ask YOU to take a ridiculous RISK, you’ll realize that you aren’t following God at all.”

All Jesus asked us to do was change the world one person at a time. “Go into all the world” he said, “and make disciples.” Before he said that, he let us know that he was sending his Holy Spirit, the Counselor, to teach us all things AND to remind us of everything Jesus said to us.

We are not alone; he is with us IF we are surrendered to him. Love he said, love the people into the Kingdom of Heaven. “”Each one reach one,” it’s not political, it’s not economical, and I can promise you it is certainly not RATIONAL. Get out of your comfort zone, you cubicle, your hometown and the plan that you have FOR your life. RISK it all for the Kingdom of Heaven and watch what God does IN your life.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Peace be with you

feet of JesusThe “Butt-inski”

As two of Jesus’ disciples walked along on that very first easter day, they were met by a traveler. A guy. A man headed in the same direction they were going. He walked along with them for  a while as they were headed to a town named Emmaus. This man walked up into a conversation they were having about Jesus himself. They were disturbed by some things that the ladies had said to them, and honestly, based upon this description of the conversation, I would say they appeared to have serious doubts.

He hears their doubts and challenges them

As the stranger interacts with them, they end up kind of incredulous that he appeared to be uninformed about the weekend events. In true hospitable fashion they take it upon themselves to inform him. So they tell him all about Jesus, what he did, the miracles, how he was arrested and killed, then buried. I’m sure they told him what Jesus meant to them personally. This guy, this stranger that walked with them, listened, interacted, asked questions and heard them. The stranger hears their doubts. He then challenges their doubts and unfolds the scriptures for them. When it is all said and done, He ends up at their supper, breaking bread with them, and it is only then that they realize Jesus has been walking with them all along. Immediately Jesus disappears.

Out of their element …

They were walking and lamenting the loss of their leader, their lord, their friend, and there was no way that they were going to believe he was right there. I have often asked myself why Mary at the tomb, and these guys here on the road, didn’t recognize Jesus? Then I remember all the times that I have been somewhere and someone comes up to me, or I go up to someone, and realize who they are.  Out of their normal element or relationship, I do not recognize them. Then it hits me, this is “Bill!”

I think that is exactly what is going on here. They saw Jesus buried, he cannot be here, so that doesn’t even enter their minds. I don’t know what a post burial, resurrected, but pre-ascension body looks like, but they certainly saw him when he broke the bread, when he was “In his element.” Handing out communion he was Jesus again, and Jesus alive!!

What about you?

I wonder how many times we miss God in our lives, miss Jesus doing a work, miss the Holy spirit because he belongs in Church on Sunday morning. Here we are going through our week, maybe we have a spouse and we are doing our daily thing, chasing kids, a quick kiss before we leave for work, maybe a fight and we are immediately in a tension. A flat tire and the day feels wrecked, or work is just piling up and we don’t feel appreciated, no one cares so we melt into the old pit of wallowing; no one likes me, no one notices, I’ll never get ahead. God where are you?

“… and I know that there are angels all around …”

It is at times like these that we miss seeing God in our lives. We end up so focused on our want, our need or our loss, or our problems, that we don’t lift our eyes up and look at who is walking around us. Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Look!

The Kingdom of God is here. Jesus said it is near, it is coming and it is in you. Jesus is in the Kingdom, so Jesus IS here. The Holy Spirit is in the Kingdom, so the Holy Spirit IS here. Angels are in the kingdom, so angels ARE here. I want to encourage you to lift your chin and look around. God is here in your midst. In the middle of your daily struggle, in the middle of your need to make a decision, in the middle of your fight with your spouse. He is here at work. He is here in your doubt and despair.  He will never leave you alone, but we may be choosing not to believe he could be here.
Cry for nigeriaAs you travel on this road to your Emmaus, that stranger, that song, that group pf people, that church, that co-worker, God is using them to speak to you, to support you, to love you, but you have to open your eyes and believe. Stop what you are doing right now and ask God to open your eyes.

 

I’m sick of doing NOTHING about Planned Parenthood!!!!

This morning I saw a post from someone that encouraged us all to do something, to make a difference. Have you ever actually decided to look for an opportunity to make a difference? I mean have you ever stopped your “so-very-important” busy life? I’m talking about right now stand on the brake and bring your day to a screeching halt! You ever done that so that you could intentionally, with great purpose, change the world?

MY ORDER MY WAY

latte artMy barista does that every time I show up at the coffee shop. He or she, depending upon the day, takes MY order, makes it the way I LIKE it. For the time that I am at the coffee sop I get to stop and these people help me to regain my mind so I can go out and hopefully make a difference.

LIKE A ROTTWEILER IN A CAT POUND

I was down in Orlando one time and I’m telling you!! Three lanes of traffic and the “elderly person” in the far left, high speed, “what-the-heck-are-you-doing-in-this-lane-lady?” lane, realized at the last second, that she was AT her exit!!! She slammed on the brake and completely stopped in order to let traffic stop, or thin out, or dissipate, so she could drive laterally across three lanes of traffic to that exit. I’m telling you all those tires sounded like a Rottweiler in a cat pound! Boomer and AvaThere was more squalling, bawling, and screeching then a Haunted house at Halloween full of middle school girls. In my mind, every one spilled their morning coffee in their laps. I can only imagine that even the most pious of drivers was inflicting this person with thoughts and descriptions, as well as questions, concerning the Underworld, and the legitimacy of someone’s birth.

That lady stopped, for all the wrong reasons she stopped. All the world, that was on that highway, at that moment, had no choice, they stopped with her! (you are making stopping and screeching noises in your head right now aren’t you, come on, admit it!!)

DON’T BELIEVE THE LIE

We often are sold into the lie that there is nothing we can do, or we are too busy, or it won’t matter. I want to assure you that it is a lie. Just like that lady in Orlando, if you do in fact choose to stop, I promise you that you will affect the lives of the people around you.

I felt the same way about the whole Planned Parenthood video debacle. Inside my heart I want to scathe, flay, and/ or eviscerate this organization. Not the people, that would be un-Christian: the organization and the activity, definitely. That desire coupled with social media can raise awareness, but sooner or later we have to actually DO something. I mean, stop complaining, stop shaking our fists at the computer screen, stop screaming for all in our cubicles to hear, and actually do something.

I had an epiphany a couple weeks ago. (when I was little I used to think an epiphany was like a symphony, some kind of orchestra thing) Sitting at my computer with my blood boiling, my sarcasm working it’s way up my throat, going back and forth with some of my own family even, I believe the Lord spoke to me, to my heart. He didn’t speak to me like he did to Charlton Heston in 1956 when he said, “Let my people go!” No, he simply spoke to me and asked me what I was going to DO about it. I did the usually dance; “There is nothing I can do but keep it in the forefront Lord.” He pushed me and pushed me. I ended up going down to the Pregnancy Help Center in Richmond Kentucky and talking to the Director there, her name is Heather and she has an excellent staff.

They are trying to open a clinic with an ultra sound machine so they can help care for pregnant, wed and unwed mothers. They are training parents together and separate on parenting, and the skills needed to raise a child. They provide care, material care, and support for these people. They are showing them the life giving, sparing, and life saving options that are available, other than to end the child’s life. They are making a difference.

clear-vue-350-clearvue-350-clearvue350So, they are making a difference, I want to make a difference, our church wants to make a difference. EPHIPHANY!! We could do something together, like get this clinic up and running. $13,000.00 is all they have left to raise for this project. One the one had, you stop and say, “Whoa, $13,000.00, that’s a ton of money. It would in fact buy a real nice car, I’m not gonna lie. And maybe you are saying, “I don’t have that much money to give.” I think it needs to happen, but we can all own it. I think that our community can get together across denominational, religious or societal lines and we can make this happen. Think about it, this is your chance to DO something instead of TALK ABOUT something. I’m talking about each of us in our community stretching ourselves for $25 each. (More if you can, but no pressure)

What if we all came together and knew that because we chose to stop and do something, lives were spared, lives were made whole and wholesome, families were cared for and loved on. What if you were to look at the picture and realize that your gift, regardless of size, helped get that tool into the hands of people on the front lines of saving little people’s lives. You CAN do THAT!!

GIVE A LITTLE BIT, GIVE A LITTLE BIT OF YOUR LOVE …

Go to this site, click on what ever sized gift you would like to give and then designate it to the “Operation Ultra Sound.”

https://connect.egiving.com/operation-ultrasound/madison-county-pregnancy-help-center-inc

Today, when you think there is nothing you can do, go ahead and stop what you aer doing, where you are going and make a difference. It may be something entirely different that this particular project. Maybe you just need to love on some one, pray for someone, encourage someone, buy a meal, a tank of gas, what ever.

If you will STOP, we can change the world. BE intentional!

#changetheworld

WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO NEGATIVE?

negative attitudesI found this meme on Facebook today and I had to stop and process it. There is so much truth here. I interact with people that would rather keep doing the very same toxic things, interact with the same toxic people and spew the same toxic rhetoric and then try to sell me on the idea that they are not being negative.

  1. Do you always start your answer with why something cannot be done, or why you can’t do it, or all the problems that have to be met; therefore it is impossible?

With all due respect, you are a negative person.

  1. Do you see someone’s faults before you see their value? You are a negative person.
  2. Do you find yourself throwing jabs at people that succeed? You may be a negative person.
  3. Is it easier to talk about someone in a derogatory manner than to inspire and encourage him or her? You may find that you are a negative person.
  4. When things don’t go the way you want them to go, or when people don’t do what you want them to do, do you walk out? You are a negative person.
  5. When you don’t get the spotlight or the microphone do you talk to other people about other people? You are a negative person.
  6. Do you threaten and intimidate people to get them to do the things that you think are good for them, right for them? You are not just negative, you are toxic.

It is crazy how much negativity is out there in our world today. I see the fear mongering, and hate mongering and race mongering all over social media. Every day we get up and we read toxic reports and watch toxic media about how bad things really are and it breeds to life this little cloud that follows you around all day and then we wonder why we are so depressed.

DON’T BELIEVE SOCIAL MEDIA!

Shoot, if I am to believe what I see in social media:

– Texas is about to become the proving ground for a new world order when President Obama launches the military against the nation.
– There is nothing more important in the news today than a man who chose to be a woman.
– You are about to get carjacked for stopping to see what’s in the middle of the road.
– Everyone, I mean everyone, is after your electronic identity.
– Apparently the absolute worst thing that could happen to you is that your testosterone level could fall out the bottom and you might not be interested in sex like an 18 year old at college.
– Everyone needs a handgun strapped because everyone is about to have their handgun taken away.
– The sky is falling.

How much negativity can you take? I wonder when it is that we begin to see the truth and choose to make a difference. There is a lot of good going on in the world.

THERE REALLY IS A LOT OF GOOD.

There are many stories like this that need to be pushed to show the world that great things are in fact happening.

Globally:

Ocean _ Cleanup 2I read an article about a young man that is trying to clean up the ocean and has a way that the ocean can do almost all the work. It is a joy to see that this young man, only 19 years of age, has come up with this and people are getting behind it. It is very sad that it is not all over social media.

Locally:

Police helpThere are countless articles from all over small town America of Police officers making a difference in people’s lives: from playing basketball with young people, to bringing food to the home of a person suffering dementia and everything in between. No one is lauding this very loudly. Too positive?

On Facebook:

Don’t even get me started on the dogs that choose to love on little kittens, pitbulls loving on catseven the dogs are being positive!!

Look around you for the positive that is going on.

Change your mindset and you will change your world. Let “YES” be the word that leads you, let “Yes I can” be the phrase that carries you to new heights. When people believe that they can, they don’t stop trying. When people are encouraged, they try harder.

Today choose to be an encourager. Listen you the words coming out of your mouth and choose to be positive.

DONATING TO THE PATRIOTS, ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND???

new_england_paitriotsNEW ENGLAND BY BIRTH, FAN BY….. WELL, BY BIRTH.

I have to admit to being a big fan of the Patriots. I’m from New England of course I’m a fan. So much so that I take a lot of crap from my sister Laura Beth (Dallas fan, go figure) that I won’t name so I can protect her privacy. I was a fan back in the days when we wore bags on our heads but still screamed and cheered for the team. I had a slight romantic interlude with the Cincinnati Bengals when I lived in Ohio and Icky Woods was playing, but alas, those kinds of relationship just don’t last.

MY ISSUE WITH DEFLATEGATEdeflate ring

Tom Brady under-inflates the footballs, gets vilified, Aaron Rogers admits that he over-inflates the footballs nothing? (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/20/aaron-rodgers-likes-his-footballs-overinflated/) My issue isn’t the gross, world changing, life threatening sin of the deflation, it’s the NFL’s disproportionate response to the sins of it’s players. So let me say, “Roger Goodell, get a grip man.” There, now back to what I really want to talk about.

 THE ARTICLE

I saw an article this morning that I feel I need to speak into; fans are sending money to the Patriots to pay the million-dollar fine, come on, really? The Kraft family needs US, you and I, to pony up 1 million dollars, the Kraft family? Robert Kraft’s net worth listed at Forbes is as such: 4.3 BILLION DOLLARS!! More than half of that number comes from the New England Patriot franchise: 2.6 Billion!!     http://www.forbes.com/profile/robert-kraft/ How could you possibly, even, kind of, conceive a little , that this ENTERTAINMENT franchise needs or deserves your donation dollars?

Robert KraftI’M NOT SPEAKING AGAINST THE KRAFT FAMILY

I don’t know Robert and his family. I wouldn’t mind having them in for Sunday dinner, maybe have them stop by the church and worship with us and then come home, it would be cool. But you and I don’t have clue how much he, his family, or his organizations donate to the care and ministry from the tons of requests they must get. Clearly they have done a lot of good. No, I’m not talking about them, that’s none of our business. I’m talking to all the fire breathing, club swinging, rock throwing, out of focused folks and media that think this deflation was some kind of historic, world altering, “Jesus is coming back to deal with it” event, that either needs to be kept alive or, the fines that need to be paid for by donations. Donations.

PERSPECTIVENEPAL2

So to all you fans that feel the need to pay $175 or so a ticket to sit with the pigeons at Foxboro (it’s on my bucket list) and then send free money to the Patriot franchise to pay the debt, you all know there was another earthquake in Nepal right? That’s two this month. Someone tell Roger Goodell if he wants the NFL to make a difference, then demand that the 1 million dollar fine be sent to a legitimate, responsible, accountable ministry/ organization that is working in Nepal.

Cry for nigeriaNEPAL REVISITED

A couple weeks ago there was an earthquake that killed thousands of people and now this week another one has killed hundreds. People’s lives have been shattered by loss of family, loss of friends, loss of communities, loss of homes, loss of infrastructure, loss of means, food, water, transportation, jobs, the list is unimaginable for us in the west. This is just one natural disaster. There are more things facing life on this planet that deserve at least a tithe, a tenth, a portion of the attention that has been given to this absurd, entertainment driven, travesty upon the hearts of NFL fans around the world.

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know that in America alone in 2012 according to childwelfare.gov, over 1600 children died from abuse and neglect? How does that compare to the more than 2,000 souls that died January 15 at the hand of Boko Harem? Where was/is the proportionate outcry? This wasn’t air out of a football; this was lives, men, women and children, lost. You don’t have to send millions, but where is the outcry?

WHAT DOES IT SAY?

What does it say when entertainment in America gets this kind of worldwide publicity and outrage, while the children around you get neglected or killed? I realize that we need a break from the negativity in the news, even the sports news. The media is as sensational and as negative and shocking as they can be, as the ever were, but let’s find some positivity, even in our own lives to post and talk about.

You want to make a difference in Nepal, check out this group of people:

http://winnipegcentrevineyard.com/nepal-earthquake-high-mountain-villages-update/

Let’s give some proportionate attention and donations to people making a difference, and doing good, and getting no trophies for doing it.

Let’s lift up the needs of organizations where your donations will actually make real difference.

Pick your favorite organization and donate your monies to them. The NE Patriots don’t need your money to pay their entertainment fine they have plenty. What they don’t have, they will make.

Pick your favorite community organization and donate your time to them. Start with just 5 hours this week.

Choose to change the world.

Hey Church, Get Over Yourself

feet of JesusHERE WE GO AGAIN

I heard someone pray the other day and it made me sad. They reached into 2 Chronicles 7:14. This is some of the worst theology that American Christianity pushes on people. This is usually pushed by people that lean to the “health wealth and prosperity gospel”, which is no gospel at all really. We are not Jews; we are Christians, read Matthew 24 and 25. This is what Jesus said.

This is the same problem I have with people surfing their spirituality on the “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord …” passage from Jeremiah 29. It’s just sad to see Christians grasping at a self absorbed spirituality that promises them everything, which is no spirituality at all.

 STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED

When a person begins studying scripture, seriously studying I mean, you learn that context is the most important aspect of study. In this case, God was speaking through his prophet to the nation of Israel, not to individuals. Before you go all wanky on me, here is the proof. Jesus actually said “Sell everything give to the poor and come and follow me.” Jesus said that. Most Christian people will write that off because it doesn’t apply to them. They will say that he said that to an individual man not to everyone. Then they turn right around and lay hold of the claims that were made to a nation as if God were telling them all of life and spirituality is all about them. So they prove that context is crucially important and then ignore it, why, because the OT passages don’t cost anything and promise everything. Greed, self-absorption, narcissism, call it what you want it is our sin nature.

 WHERE DOES THAT EVEN COME FROM?

As I listen to people quote these prosperity passages I hear them screaming for comfort and convenience not sacrifice and sacred living. (anyone that knows me knows that I do not think it is possible to be perfect, I’m not saying that. I’m saying live for Jesus by Jesus’ teachings) Somewhere down the line we have been fed a spiritual line of theological garbage, that following Jesus was going to make us rich and comfortable and free in this political world. I actually heard one guy say that prosperity was a sign of God’s favor, America is the new Israel because the Israelites rejected Jesus, and our nations historical prosperity was the evidence of that. Where does that even come from?

That would make most of the music industry stars, movies stars, drug dealers and what not the new religious leaders of the church? Again, that is some pathetic theology, but it is evidence that our sin nature, that nature that we are born with that says, “I want what I want, when I want it and how I want it and I want it now” is still alive, even in the church. The real church stands against that.

The problem is, that prior to Malachai God was dealing with Israel as a people group, a nation. He made promises to them as a nation that are in fact still in effect today, as a nation not as individuals. Gentile Christians (regardless of nationality) get included in, but we do not supplant Israel as Israel. We are grafted in as adopted sons and daughters.

No, when we surrendered our lives to Jesus we gave up our lives and our inalienable rights. We said, “No more me”, “Come God and live through me.” So it is imperative that we stop and ask ourselves what it is that we “signed up” for? The answer is, what did Jesus say?

What did Jesus say about how we are to live in relationship to those around us? What did Jesus say about how we are to love those around us, even our enemy?

What did Jesus say about how we are to give, seek, call down and present the kingdom of God to the world that He placed us in.

You see these are the things that make us Christians, when you obey my (Jesus’) commands. That’s what Jesus said anyway.

 NOT EVERYONE?

Jesus also said in Matthew 7:21-23 that there would be people that did religious things, spiritual things, churchy things in his name, but he will not be welcoming them into Heaven because he does not know them: no matter how much they throw his name around. He said “Only those who do the will of my father in heaven …” That means we have to be in communication with God daily, like he was. We should not just be doing good things, but we should be doing what God is asking of us today. What is God asking of you today?

carry-your-cross-and-follow-meJesus said in John 8:47 “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” When was the last time you heard from God? At the end of our lives we will look Jesus in the face and he will ask us what we did with what HE said, what did we do with the commands he gave us. To those who choose to bend his teachings and use it to find comfort and wealth, he will not welcome them, to those who let go of this world and followed his teachings, he will welcome them. He said so, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” What does that mean to you and I?
No, instead of quoting 2 Chronicles and Jeremiah 29, maybe we should be reading Jesus’ words to his followers in Matthew 24, and 25. No matter what, it is not going to get better, but worse. We live in a time when the love of most is growing cold. This is the latter age, Peter said so at Pentecost when he quoted Joel. (Acts 2, Joel 2)

I think that instead of getting everyone together, legislating morality and spirituality and praying, we should be doing what Jesus said and making disciples. Have you EVER made a disciple? Making disciples is the one thing that Jesus said to DO when he left. It is our last marching order so to speak. It is what the gifts of the Spirit, the organization of the local church, the compassion of ministry, preaching, teaching, baptizing and growing a church are supposed to be all about. He said so.

candleMaybe, just maybe, it is time to put down your comfort and convenience and pick up his cross: his teachings. So put down your rocks, you are not invited to condemn this world or the people in it. It is time to shine a little brighter by loving a little deeper. Take hold of the gift of the Spirit that is in you and make a difference in this world that is growing darker.

You who have ears to hear ………………

RANT: Millennials

The RANT Starts Here!!

Ok, I have had enough. This blog is more of a rant. So, if you are having a great day, I would invite you not to read on any further. The exits are here, here, here, and here (you have to imagine me pointing to your keyboard).

Let’s Begin.

Let’s talk “Millennials.” Not sure that’s a true word, but what the heck: this is my blog. What is a millennial? It appears from reading and googling, and googling and reading, that the millennials are people born between 1980 and the 2000s. It’s ok if we generalize a little bit here. I read articles that keep getting posted by well-meaning people, well-meaning Christian people, well-meaning Christian, right wing American, I’m guessing Republican, white people, who seem to think that they speak for everyone when they post their articles. Before you go all conservative crazy on me, I fit in to that category mostly. Mostly, but not completely.

As I write this blog, a millennial whom I haven’t seen since I did his wedding 2 years ago wrote me a note thanking me for setting him on the right path, giving him room to question things, pouring into him, and then showing him gently the truth of Jesus and the Bible. He and his wife are extremely involved in Church and discipleship, and they went to Africa this past summer because they ache for lost people around the world. I’m not blowing my horn here; I am celebrating the fact that this is NOT unusual in the circles I minister in.

THE DOWN SIDE:

They don’t attend a little white church with a 1000 foot steeple, and brass plaques with people’s names on them all over everything in the church from, pews, paintings, to communion tables and everything else that can make a person look good because they gave to God. Please let’s announce our giving to everyone (Jesus clearly said not to do that) so every one can know how holy grandma and grandpa were.

Millennials in Leadership

I see millennials in leadership changing concepts of leadership and wanting to SERVE the world in areas of evangelism, justice, oppression, racism; it kind of looks like Isaiah 58. Yeah, maybe they should stop that. Maybe they should be more concerned about wearing a tie to church, making grandma proud instead of Jesus, and fitting into some kind of American Political Artificial Christian box. They should be more concerned about going to a church that sings songs about God written in the 1700s instead singing songs TO God (let’s just ignore the scripture “sing to the Lord a new song:” Psalm 96, 98, 149, Isaiah 42) because God probably isn’t interested in his children that are alive today writing new music that represents their hearts and love for him.  What are these millennials thinking? And then they do it with instruments that probably more resemble what is mentioned biblically (Revelation, Psalms) than an organ. I guess none of that really matters, but to some it IS the issue.

Who cares if the Millennials’ church is in the mall, the storefront, the school, or some back room somewhere? If it is supposed to be in a building, then what are we saying to the underground church, the persecuted church, the struggling church and the church that is trying to take Jesus to the people rather than demand that people come to the building? HECK, the building ISN’T the church anyway. But then, I’m not sure the generation and the people writing these articles get that either.

Now, to be sarcastic…

Yeah, these millenials are a pretty slovenly group as they pretend to embrace a watered down Jesus, with all that “rock and roll” music and those personal songs that are amazing: God doesn’t want that crap! Don’t even get me started on their tattoos and their piercings. OH, and the color of their hair.

I’m not saying they don’t have problems, but before you start throwing rocks at them, look at the divorce rate of their parents. You know, those people that are producing and leading the organizations that print and post these articles. But then, Jesus didn’t really mean those things he said about divorce, loving your enemy, using worldly wealth to make friends, and denying yourself. No, those people claiming to be the example to follow are fighting with their neighbors over the length of their grass, the boat that was parked in the driveway too long, and the dog who pooped on the grass.

Really important things that change the world and all.

I pastored that church. There were a couple grandmas that didn’t like that I had a mustache when I came, but then they didn’t like that I shaved it off. They didn’t want musical instruments in the church, but their children played Metallica at home on guitars and amplifiers. They kept me at or below the poverty level for approximately ten years, though the church was very, very well off. Yeah, that was a great church. There were wonderful people there, don’t get me wrong; but, through that organization God taught me a lot about how to NOT reach people, so I moved on.  I think I could go on, but it would just keep getting a little rougher.

Suffice to say, this generation is getting an undeserved bad rap. Lighten up and look at your generation; you taught them. A little old lady from a church I pastored years ago said it best, “as go the sheep, so go the lambs” (thank you, Ina).

The rant is now officially over.

Thank you for making it this far. Please wait to get up until we reach the gate. Remember, your emotions may have shifted during this blog, so open your arguments carefully. Grab your heart and hold on to it. Please do not cross your own convictions, but lighten up on the Millennials.

I promise not judge you by the few “pew-sitters” if you stop judging the whole of the Millennials by a few as well. I promise there are inspirational Millennials out there; you might even sit next to them in church, or they may be your grandkids or your kids. Their worship is not going to look like yours because they aren’t you; the world has changed since you got saved. You use an organ, they have newer instruments. It’s ok.

church baptism

Choose to believe the best about them. Support, encourage and celebrate their relationships to Jesus. Pour into them. Talk with them. Don’t be offended when they challenge the status quo. The church of Jesus, the BRIDE of CHRIST, is in really good hands as I see this generation embracing Christianity. It’s their need to search it out and not blindly accept whatever you say: that is causing the problems, as I see it anyway. With permission I close with a quote from a millennial: addressing an article that dressed his generation down, he says, “That [anti-millennial] mindset is the quickest way to kill a seeker’s curiosity of who Jesus is.” He takes great issue with the article at point number three:

“No. 3: Jesus is one of many ways to heaven.”

“What?!” Come on.  Really?  I can easily see how the author of this article would lump me into his broken view on younger Christians.  I know this to be not true. I know Jesus is God’s only son who came to die to MY SINS because God loves me that much.  To love me that much means he cares for me and knows what is best for me – like a father but also set out clear expectations to follow like a good King. This is not fair that these assumptions and judgments are made and put on this article to FUEL the disconnect between the “traditional church” and “millennial Christians”. Sad.”

Thanks for flying with me tonight. God bless you as you all chase after knowing God.