Christian Crank or Life-Giving Messenger from God

Not sure if you’ve noticed but there are a lot of cranks in the church of Christ. That would be splendid, if we ran like the early Model T’s that required cranking to get their engines revving. In my experience, though, church cranks are more likely to kill momentum than to inspire it.

Cranky church people have been memorialized in books, movies, prime time, late night television, and church lore as well. We’re well-versed in the stereotype of the sourpuss hard-wired to take issue with every issue. Until Jesus returns to take us home, cranks will walk and worship among us. Continue Reading →

Turn the Radio – Off?

Driving home from a breakfast date today, I tuned my radio to the local Christian radio station. (That’s right. It’s Rhode Island so I’m only aware of the one.) Here in the rural area of RI, it’s not uncommon to pick up one or two stations at a time on one dial location and that’s what happened.

For several miles, it was obvious I was driving on the line where the airwaves intersect for several stations, none of them able to dominate. I heard a crossfire of contemporary Christian music, an interview with a noteworthy Christian, and a sermon. I wanted to hear the sermon and kept hoping that station would take over but the three continued to battle it out for several minutes until I finally opted for silence. Continue Reading →

When God Calls Us to Incompetence

Does God ever call people to incompetence? Does He ever ask us to do things He knows we won’t do as well as someone else could?

Yesterday, I read these verses in Habakkuk during my morning devotions:

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” Habakkuk 2:18-20 ESV

These are sobering words and it was early morning so in my self-confidence, I prayed and recorded my prayer in a status update on my Facebook page. This is what I wrote: “Today I will ask God to show me the worthless idols of my own making in my life. Today I will keep silence before Him who hears and speaks, the only living God, the One who created me and I’ll pay attention. He is the Truth in a world of deception but He cries out and today I’ll have ears that hear.”

That’s a lovely prayer, isn’t it? I thought so, too.

I brushed my teeth. Walked out of my front door. And God immediately answered that prayer. That sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it? And, well, it was, but first – – – Continue Reading →

The Church Knows Better . . .

We’re a nation of wrestlers. Daily we contend with the greater issues of our humanity. How do we define gender and sexuality? How do we love our neighbors – those within and those without our borders? How can we protect our loved ones from violence and terrorists? Is it ever moral to take a life?

We hear a great raging river of voices – most are angry and shouting, others are fearful or alarmed, some speak reason but are quickly silenced, others are almost too meek to be heard – almost. And we, the followers of Jesus Christ who comprise the church, stand on the banks of this cultural Nile wondering how we will ever cross safely to the other side. Continue Reading →

One Important Fact that is Simultaneously True and Insignificant

Absolutely no one is listening.

I know you’ve noticed. Lots of people talking, shouting, tweeting, blogging, debating, declaring, speeching, preaching, sign-toting, status-updating, well . . . you know. We are a nation of assertive, right-knowing, ground-standing, self-empowered individuals and no one, no one, is going to run our lives. We’re all going to do it our way.

And it’s here, in this time, to these people, that we share the gospel. It’s into this fray we send our messages, like stray balloons, of love, grace, truth, mercy, holiness, and eternal life. (Mine keeps getting caught in the power lines, bursting into flames before it ever reaches the crowd.) This is the place and time our loving Father determined for us to represent Him, this throbbing, pulsing, vein-popping outpost of glory. Here is where He’s sent us to deliver. Even when no one is listening. Continue Reading →

If (you can keep your faith when all about you)

If you can keep your faith when all about you

Are losing theirs and demanding you do, too.

If you can trust in God when others deny Him

But not hate them for denying what is true.

If you can be despised and not give in to hatred,

Or being pressured choose not to compromise,

Or faced with fearful times not yield to fretting,

And hold fast to truth when barraged with lies.

Continue Reading →

The Silence of God’s Lambs – Our Responsibility to the Persecuted Church

Last week, I was stricken with a painful infection, one that had me in agony for several long hours. All I could comprehend was pain. My entire focus was on accessing relief. Driven to secure a solution, in four short hours I called my doctor’s office three times and the pharmacy twice.

When I finally experienced relief (only a few hours after receiving a prescription), I happened to read a report by Open Doors about the plight of Christians in countries hostile to our faith, countries where believers suffer pain and hardship for which there is no immediate prescription.

I thought about how we sometimes romanticize persecution and martyrdom as though the brothers and sisters who experience it are some other breed of humans, a people somehow impervious to pain and suffering, a people somehow resigned to yielding their personal hopes and the dreams they have for their children over to a greater cause. All the while we, Christians in countries friendlier to faith, are free to make sacrifice a choice, an a la carte option on some larger Christian menu. Continue Reading →

Dear Listening American Church – What Will We Inaugurate in the Days to Come

Dear Listening American Church (those who have ears, let them hear),

This week, our country will witness another transition of power at the highest level. The election was brutal on the entire nation but the Christian church took hits from within and without. Many are feeling, at the very least, beat up, battered, or bewildered. Others are resentful and angry. Still others harbor self-righteousness and smug pride. All of us are weary and wondering what the future holds. Now is an opportunity for the church to facilitate healing, restoration of truth, and reconciliation within the body of Christ. Continue Reading →

Holy Hearing Aid! The Missing Ministry of the Modern Church

Is the modern church in need of a Holy Hearing Aid?

If we asked an impartial artist to render a symbolic drawing after observing the American church, I can only imagine that she would draw a being covered with talking mouths.

As if the body of Christ had made a visit to Chernobyl and, like deformed frogs affected by acid rain, had over-produced the moving lips and wagging tongue of God. As if the world was full of Charlie Brown’s and the American church was the teacher’s voice “wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah”. Or the drone of Ben Stein as the uninspired science teacher in “The Wonder Years.”

It’s vital that Christians speak truth. It’s crucial not to stand idly by when falsehood and deception rule the day. But our primary calling is to represent Jesus so sometimes that means speaking out but often it means listening harder than we ever would of our own accord because honestly, we serve a listening God. Continue Reading →

Because I Could Not Stop for Death . . .

There’s nothing clever in this blog post. If you’re in the mood for clever, click to the next blog on your list. No harm, no foul.

I want to be careful not to cloud this message in a flurry of metaphors or a pile of prose. The word on my heart is best delivered straight up, like the ghost of Christmas present in the Bill Murray movie Scrooged. She appears to the main character and plants a blow that brings him to his knees. “Sometimes you have to slap them in the face!” she says. “Sometimes the truth is painful but it’s made your cheeks rosy and your eyes bright!” That line is so funny because we know it’s true. Continue Reading →