Okay, I’m certain I’ll get a little hate mail on this one, but at least read through the whole thing before you jump to a conclusion one way or the other.
This is a topic that is highly volatile and charged with emotion. There are some “Christians” (I put it in quotes because that is what they term themselves, but their actions reveal otherwise) who picket the funerals of openly homosexual men/women with signs such as “Burn In Hell Homo”…yeah I’m pretty sure that is not Christlike in any way shape or form, enough said!
On the other end there are some “Christians” (in quotes because they refuse to accept the Bible as authoritative) who make their decisions based upon emotions and what feels right or easy. They don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and in doing so reject God’s Word. This group is a little trickier. Often, their arguments sound compelling, are dripping with good intentions, and often relate to a person very close to them who struggles with homosexuality. The most recent example is that of Brian McLaren. At one time McLaren was a solid, evangelical pastor who believed in and preached the truth and reliability of the Bible. Today, Mr. McLaren questions the veracity of almost all evangelical doctrine and theology (Heaven, Hell, Salvation, Christ alone for salvation, etc…). He recently performed his son’s gay marriage and in the article (McLaren and same-sex marriage) regarding the event he made this very telling statement:
“I was a good kid, I believed what I’d been told. And as a pastor, I started having gay people come out to me and what became clearer and clearer to me is that their experience was not explained by the theology I inherited. And that it would be unjust to continue to uphold what I’d been taught. Maybe I could say it like this: My call to love God and love my neighbor was in conflict with what I’d been taught the Bible required me to say and do.” – Brian McLaren
McLaren says that when his or others experience or feelings didn’t line up with Scripture then it must be Scripture that changes, or at least the application of Scripture. When in truth the point of Scripture is to show US where WE are wrong and guide us in the right path:
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT
I’m going to wrap Part 1 up this way, If you begin to select the sins you see as “damndable” you will never select any sins that you struggle with, only those you see in others. This violates the the very underpinnings of how Christ commands we are to deal with sin, “…first take the beam out of your own eye…”, “…let he who is without sin cast the first stone…”. If, in constrast, you begin to select the sins you see as “acceptable” where and when do you draw the line? You begin to develop theology and practice based upon what is palatable and easy instead of what is true. This violates Jesus clear teaching on following him, “…take up your cross and follow me…”, “…deny yourself and follow me…”. Jesus Christ has neither called us to be judgmental nor comfortable.
Tony Morgan is one of my all-time favorite church leadership/health/growth gurus! He’s definitely solidified that standing with his latest book Taking the Lid off of Your Church, available on Kindle for a paltry $2.99. Ever since I read the great little e-book The Leisure Suit Trap, which by the way is still available with several other books for free download on Tony’s site, I’ve been a fan and here’s why:
- I can read all of his books in about an hour…that’s a pretty big one for me!
- He has a great sense of humor, Leisure Suit and Cockroaches, need I say more?
- He has actually been a pastor and lead churches through growth and structural change with success
- Half of his books are free…another big selling point
- His stuff actually works…yeah, that’s the big one!!!
In Taking the Lid Off, Tony’s approach doesn’t consist of cute rhymes or meter, but rather meaty questions that cause you to stop and really think through the issue at hand. Tony isn’t trying to sell a ‘one size fits all’ leadership program, instead he forces you to look at yourself and those you’ve surrounded yourself with and ask, “What needs to change for me and my team to be successful?”
Although this book is aimed primarily at church leaders, I believe that it would be a great book for anyone who is serious about becoming a better leader to take an afternoon and read through. I promise you’ll be challenged to think beyond your current situation and you may even find the solution that has been alluding you and end up finding yourself, your team, and your organization or church unstuck.
For more of Tony’s books check out his website: Tony Morgan Live
You can also follow him on Twitter, and it’s well worth the follow: @tonymorganlive
I’m Back…with my overwhelmed, excited, anticipating, travel weary, football ready, totally blessed, no excuses self!
Overwhelmed: I will never be able to fully and completely express how thankful I am to you for this time. It has drawn us closer together as a family and recharged our batteries for ministry, thank you!
Excited: I can’t wait for Sunday, I’m so chomping at the bit to be back, 3 months is WAAAY too long!
Anticipating: I’m so thankful to hear that everything went so well this Summer and I’m looking forward to hearing all the great stories on Sunday night.
Travel Weary: If I don’t see a plane again for 6 months that will be just fine with me.
Football Ready: The Tailgate Party on September 9th is going to be phenomenal! It’ll be the perfect opportunity for you to invite your unsaved, unchurched, or de-churched friends to experience the life changing reality of Jesus Christ…and have a really great time. You’ll need to bring your lawn chairs and your favorite tailgating items. The atmosphere will be part tailgate, part open-air-concert, part service, and all AWESOME!
Totally Blessed: Last Sunday Dustin presented a tremendous message about Elijah and how to come off of the mountain. I really hope that you took the truth he presented to heart, I’ll be adding to it this weekend. I’ll be talking about how we can gain a better perspective on our life and increase our potential for blessing.
No Excuses: I know a lot of us traveled this Summer and missed being a regular part of church. This Sunday is your chance to get back in the rhythm. School has started, it’s actually rained a few time, pre-season football is in full swing, so you know Fall is just around the corner. Let’s pack out Friendship this Sunday and kick it off right!
I do believe without a doubt that the next 6 months will yield some of the most exciting moments of our lives and in the life of the Friendship, don’t miss it!
God Is Up To Something BIG!!!
Since the first time I heard Perry Noble speak, I was a fan. Not like he was my hero or anything, but I just have completely appreciated his perspective on the church. He’s refreshing and challenging in the same breath, and he often says things I was thinking…but with much more flare!
Perry wrote a great article today on a very present issue and he presents a very balanced and Biblical view that I think all Christians should take a listen to. So, take five minutes to allow yourself to be challenged with some truth.
Hey all you Friendship People! I thought I’d take a few minutes and talk with you guys directly. Here are 7 things I want you all to know…
- Man, do I miss you guys! It’s half way through our time apart and its killing me. I must confess I secretly get on Facebook just to see pictures of what you’re all up to. I’m so looking forward to seeing you all on August 19th!
- We are having a fantastic time! Our time in the Mediterranean and in Europe was absolutely awesome! I’ve posted a few pictures below that I thought you might all enjoy. I think we can all literally feel the stress falling off. Plus, notice the really good-looking company I keep!
- I’ve been reading through the New Testament, and my passion and love for the church of Jesus Christ is stronger than it has ever been! I know that some of you were a little worried that being gone this long would dim my passion…NOT A CHANCE, it’s burning white-hot!
- Don’t miss REST. The series starting this week with our buddies from City Community is going to be phenomenal. You will not want to miss even one week. And, yes, I know some of you have been “Playing Hooky”, you better be there this week…I know who you are 🙂
- You all knocked it out of the park with Summer Break! I am so amazed with the number of children who came, but even more thankful with the 20+ children who gave their lives to Christ. We told the leaders of Next Level Church, the place we are going to down here, about it and they were just as excited as I was. You guys are amazing!!!
- Don’t miss the Meredith Andrews Concert. Meredith is a great Christian songwriter and singer. We are absolutely blessed that she is going to be there, as she usually plays to crowds of 1,500+ at her concerts. Plus she is a personal friend of Dustin and Sarah, so pack Friendship out for me, standing room only!
- I’ve got the preface and the first chapter of my book written. If enough of you are interested I’ll post the preface on the blog in the next few weeks. I’d love to get your feedback on it.
Okay, 1 freebie…I’m dying to see what the Colts are going to do this year! Anyone else?
Love your guys,
Your Absentee QB, Dave
During our Sabbatical we walked through the ancient ruins of the City of Ephesus. Ephesus is in modern day Turkey and is one of the most extensive archeological sites in the entire world. You might be familiar with Ephesus from the books of Acts and the book that bears the name of the city’s residents, Ephesians. (When I have better bandwidth I’ll post some pictures and some videos of this amazing place.)
As we walked along we were all amazed at the sheer massiveness that once held some 300,000 people. We began our tour at the peak of the mountain/hill on which the city sits. We could look out into the valley and see for hundreds of acres the amazing sights and the many discoveries of a city that was founded almost 2,000 years before the birth of Christ.
Ephesus was one of the most influential cities in the ancient world for two reasons. #1 it housed one of the largest and most extensive libraries second only to the famed library at Alexandria. #2 it was the epicenter and the birth place of the worship of the Goddess Diana or Artemis. Ephesus was, for all intents and purposes, the center of spirituality and knowledge for all of Asia.
The Apostle Paul came to Ephesus somewhat by “accident”, at least by man’s perception. Acts 19 records that he had been teaching many of the coastal cities, and he decided to trek inland. He came to Ephesus and discovered that there were a handful, 12 men, of disciples there. So, he decided to teach them and those who would listen in the local synagogue. But after a few months the leaders of the synagogue became increasingly jealous of Paul, so he left and went to a local, secular philosophy hall (Acts 19:9) where he taught for 2 years. The crowd continued to grow and many, many people came to Christ and a large church began to grow at Ephesus. They in turn invited their friends to come and listen, who invited their friends, and so on. It became such a “phenomenon” that people from all around Asia came to listen. It was so pervasive and influential that both those who were supporters of and the enemies of Christianity and Paul admitted it’s unbelievable influence in the region…
This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:10 ESV)
And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. (Acts 19:26 ESV)
The second statement was from a man named Demitrius, I’ll talk about him during another post.
As we were in the midst of our tour our guide stopped and pointed out several etchings of crosses and made this incredible statement, “Ephesus was once THE center of worship of the Goddess Artemis, yet within just a short time after the Apostle Paul came almost the entire city became Christians. The church at Ephesus became one of the largest and most influential churches during the first three centuries.”
Can you imagine that? A city entirely dedicated to the worship of a false god was completely turned upside down for Christ. It influenced all of Asia and the world for Christ!
Isn’t the transforming and penetrating power/love of Christ amazing?! Who else but Christ could take a former persecutor and murderer of the church (Paul) and “accidentally” send him to a city under the dark captivity of idol worship and turn it into the launching pad of Christianity for all of Asia?!
My friend, I don’t care what garbage is holding you bondage, I don’t care what lie you’ve been telling yourself about how you “can’t overcome this”, I don’t care where you’ve come from, or what you’ve done. If the transforming power and love of Christ can do this, he can change you into a person of influence for His name too!
When I was 17 I was a victim of one of the most classic sales tricks the world has ever seen! I wanted a Sony Walkman like nobodies business (if you just asked yourself, “What is a ‘walkman’?” then you are too young to be reading this post). So, I saw an ad from a local retailer that proclaimed they had just received a shipment of brand new Walkmans and they were on sale for $39, I was stoked!
I showed up to the store with my money in hand and asked for the super-cool Walkman. The massively smiling salesmen didn’t even flinch, he simply said, “Oh, that model is already sold out. But, we do have the next model up for only $30 more.” I was a victim of the bait-n-switch!
On our Sabbatical we spent a day in Rome. Our daughters desperately wanted to see the Sistine Chapel that Michelangelo adorned with gilded images of Biblical history several centuries ago. So, we asked the guide at the Vatican about how long it would take for us to see it. She guaranteed us that it would only take 90 minutes and that it was something we didn’t want to miss.
We bought our tickets and began the “short-tour” of the Vatican Museum that culminated with the chapel. At each intersection we were guided by signs that would tell us what was next followed by “…and Sistine Chapel”. At the end of each area we saw the same sign, almost as if it were taunting us, teasing us that just maybe around the next corner the Sistine Chapel would appear, yet it was always just another section with more artifacts and sculptures. Now, don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed many of them, but after we saw 90 minutes come and go, with no Sistine Chapel in sight we began to get a little annoyed.
Finally, after walking for almost 3 hours, through thousands of people, and dozens of exhibits we saw a sign that simply read “Sistine Chapel”. We walked down several flights of stairs and entered into an overfilled room of eerie silence. It was dark, smelled funny, and the caretakers kept saying in a thick Italian accent, “No talking, no pictures, no video…keep moving!” (fyi, I took video…I’ll post it in a few days so you can see too!)
The artwork by the master was magnificent! However, it was overshadowed by the length of time it took to get there, the incredibly strange ambience, and the rather rude people that were watching us assuming that any moment we might snap a forbidden photo (I of course wouldn’t do that, I was taking the video, Traci took the pictures). We couldn’t really savor the moment, we couldn’t relish in the presence of a master artist’s masterpiece. We were hushed, rushed, and crushed together like sardines.
So, we foolishly thought, now we can get on with our day and see some of the other cool parts of Rome. We made a beeline for the bathrooms and then began to follow the signs marked “Uscita” or exit. But, we didn’t leave the building, it funneled us into a massive gift shop, followed by an exhibition for the Popes, another gift shop, an exhibit for Pope John Paul, who apparently is now a saint, and on, and on. 45 minutes after following our first sign for “Uscita” we finally made it outside! At this point our entire morning had been eaten up, and lost because we had fallen victims to the bait-n-switch church.
Friends, we serve an artist who doesn’t work in oil paint or marble. He shapes eternity, humanity, and all matter to His will and for His glory. Each Sunday as we gather we celebrate His magnificence, we display the artwork of our lives, and we surrender to his continual molding. Our friends, neighbors, and loved-ones show up with a desire to get a glimpse of something wonderful, miraculous, life-changing…they want to see the Master Artist and the truth that only He offers.
If, instead, all they experience is our rules, our traditions, our timetable, and our agendas we have played the most cruel bait-n-switch of all time! We must be ruthless in keeping Christ, His glory, and His truth the central focus in all we do. When we do this, His Word promises that He will do the rest…
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
(John 12:32 ESV)