The Problem with You Christians Is . . .

There were times Jesus drew people to Himself, and times when He drove them away. Truths He told that inspired people to love Him, and truths He told that incited them to kill Him.

While Jesus certainly listened to people and we know by His actions that He loved them, I don’t get the impression He checked in with them frequently to ask how He was doing. He didn’t have the disciples hand out response cards or run polls with certain demographics to see if He should tell more stories this week or hit harder on the love thing, but pull back a bit on hell.

Jesus wasn’t one to check His reflection in every mirror. He was the image of only One – God the Father – and that’s the only mirror that mattered. Continue Reading →

Let’s Not Pretend – Not Even for a Moment

Let’s not pretend, even for a minute, that God’s Word isn’t powerful, dangerous, and newsworthy.

Let’s not be shocked at the headlines, the Twitter feeds, or the backlash.

Let’s not, even for a minute, act as though reciting God’s Word in public should be greeted with the same response as quoting famous poetry or prophets or politicians. It won’t be, because it’s not just words. It is the Word of God.

Conventional news and social media is abuzz that Melania Trump opened the president’s Florida rally by reciting the Lord’s Prayer, based on Jesus’ instructions on prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.

Critics pounced on her with complaints ranging from the predictable charge that it violated the separation of church and state to the ridiculous claim that the fact she had to read it rather than recite it from memory indicates she’s not a good Christian. Continue Reading →

Why Christians Must Be Relentless about This One Thing

There are plenty of debatable issues among Christians. Valid topics on which reasonable believers disagree. The life of a Jesus-follower is marked by freedom from judgment and condemnation because of the work of Jesus on the cross, so we should give one another a wide berth.

There’s one subject, however, on which the Bible is clear: the Jesus-follower’s relationship with hate.

Hatred can find no quarter in the body of Christ and we must be relentless on this front. The Bible warns that there will come a time when the love of many will grow cold and that people will fall away, betray, and hate one another. (Matthew 24:10-13) Jesus is describing a time of spiritual and interpersonal ugliness that permeates even the visible church. Anyone who’s had a taste of it already cringes at the recollection. Continue Reading →

The Day I Accidentally Evacuated Starbucks

Once I accidentally evacuated a Starbucks.

Okay, it wasn’t an accident that I did it but it was accidental I had the authority to pull it off. As it happened, I was enjoying some quiet in a window seat at the coffee shop when the fire alarm went off.

Initially, I reacted like everyone else in the place. I continued about my business and assumed momentarily the staff would turn it off. They didn’t. Continue Reading →

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 →