I am well aware of this being a hot potato, but the truth of the Word of God should be able to bear some significant light, and hopefully change into the hearts of those who are willing to listen.
What is ‘Racism’?
Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed directed against someone of a different race* based upon the belief that ones own race is superior.
The belief that all members of each race* possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race* or races*. (*emphasis added) Oxford Dictionary
I think it’s important to note that you don’t have to be a bigot to be a racist. For example if you have ever said to yourself or to others, ‘all asians are good at math’, ‘all hispanics are hard workers’, ‘all african-americans are good athletes’, ‘all caucasians live in the suburbs’; you are, by definition, being racist. Essentially, if you group people based upon their ethnic background, cultural context, or color of their skin, instead of their individual talents, abilities, gifts, and personality you are thereby ‘being racist’ because you are categorizing by race.
So, let’s first challenge this idea that their are such things as ‘Races’. According to the dictionary Race is; a group of persons related by common descent or heredity. Hmmmmm, now that IS interesting isn’t it? If you have read your Bible, and you believe what it teaches then we are all descended from not only one, but two common ancestors. According to Genesis 1-3, God created a male and a female, Adam and Eve, and all mankind originated in the two of them. As the centuries waned on man abandoned God and his laws, so God sent a prophet/preacher in the man Noah to warn them of a global flood which would wipe out all of those who did not turn back to God. Unfortunately, no one but Noah and his family believed God’s message and God did in fact wipe out all of creation and start over with Noah and his family. So, all of humanity is related to Adam and Eve through Noah and his wife. Therefore, there is only one race, the Human Race.
The entire idea of designation of races actually comes from a well known scientist named…Charles Darwin. Yes, that is correct the author of Origin of Species was the individual that popularized and propagated the idea of one race being inferior or superior to another. In fact, Darwin himself taught that the Australian Aborigine was actually THE missing link to apes. That the Africans or negroids were less evolved than Asians or mongoloids, and that Europeans or caucasoids were at the top of the evolutionary scale. The secondary title of his book is actually incredibly telling, ‘The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle of Life’. Betcha didn’t learn that one in science class did ya!
When we read our Bible correctly we see that God created humanity in His own image! It doesn’t matter what your skin color is, what your ethnic background, or which continent your ancestors originally hailed from, YOU, as with all humanity, are made in the image of God! There is only one race, the human race. Your background neither makes you superior or inferior to another, God made you special, created you for purpose, and if you believe in Jesus Christ has destined you to reign with him in all eternity!
I think that it is high time that those who claim to know the Bible and love Jesus Christ take this bull by the horns and show the world how God intended it to be!
For further reading and scientific background check out this incredibly insightful article: Where Did The Races Come From?
I’ll leave you with the words of Jesus Christ as encouragement:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. – John 13:34-35 NIV
I am an unabashed fan of the NFL. Since the day that the Mayflower trucks rolled out of the ingrate city of Baltimore (yeah, I said it!) to the current day I have been a Colts fan. When we lived outside of the state of Indiana and the Colts weren’t particularly good I would often frequent sports bars so I could catch the game. Then in year 5 of my absence from the greatest state in the world, came this new fangled thing called NFL Sunday Ticket (insert hallelujah chorus)! I was now able to watch my team play each and every week, albeit with terrible announcers because quite frankly the Colts were fairly terrible.
So, when the NFL season is over, like all rabid fans, I begin to wonder what my beloved Colts will do during the off-season. Today, March 10th, is the official beginning of what is called Free Agency, I’ll explain that knowing that some people reading this post have no idea to which I am referring to. Free Agency is when veteran players contracts with their current team are up, they become a ‘free agent’, in essence they are now free to sign with whatever team will pay them the money they want. Some teams (I’m looking at you Oakland) are typically overspending on players that are flashy and fancy, and they never quite work out. Each and every year teams are lauded for making the ‘bold move’, for signing the ‘difference maker’, for catching the one person who could make them Super Bowl contenders. The problem is, it RARELY works out that way. Michael Schottey of Bleacher Report wrote a fantastic article yesterday that chronicled the teams that ‘won’ free agency the last several years and balanced that against their resulting record. Suffice to say, it isn’t pretty (Winning Free Agency Hardly Equates To Winning Games).
Now, you might be wondering, “What in the world does this have to do with the church?”…well I’m so glad you asked! For years and years the American church has been participating in it’s own brand of free agency. One church signs another churches ‘star’ player and plugs them into their programs expecting blazing results and championship caliber play. What happens more often than not is terrible friction, mediocre results, and an overall discomfort for the whole team. If the senior leader is worth his salt then he can usually rectify the situation but it takes precious time and valuable energy to do so and it ends up being the church and the other staff who pays the price. I’m not saying that it is never worth it to bring someone in from the outside, but you had better make sure it’s the right person you’re bringing in. Otherwise, you will at best move sideways for a while and at worst your ministry may regress.
Many years ago I heard Rick Warren, pastor/founder of Saddleback Valley Community Church, say something like this, “Building your staff from within is always preferred when possible.” That statement has resonated with me over the years and as I have thought about it more and more, it just makes sense! The people in your church are already passionate about what you are doing. They get your vision, they hear you talk each and every week, they are already known commodities. You may be thinking about the ‘professional training’ that outside ‘free agents’ may have, and there is some truth to that. But if I’ve learned anything about hiring staff over the last 20 years it’s this, you can teach people the ins and outs of ministry, but you can’t teach passion, you can’t force them to get the vision, and you can’t know someone you’ve never worked alongside of.
Of the 5 additional full/part time staff we have at Friendship all but one of them are homegrown. This doesn’t mean that we will never hire from outside, in fact at some points you’ll need to, but I will say that when you hire from the inside the learning curve is much less steep and the failure rate is infinitesimal in comparison.
I thank God almost daily for the staff he has allowed us to assemble at Friendship. They make what I do easier and a whole lot more fun. Pastors, your staff can either make you or break you, make sure you choose wisely!
I’d love to hear back from you on this, even if you are not hiring in the ‘church’ world. What has been your experience with this?
This coming Sunday, March 8th, 2015, I’ll begin teaching a series that has been 20+ years in the making. I have had the privilege of being a pastor for just over 20 years and during that time I’ve counseled hundreds, if not thousands of people. If there is one common thread among them all, it’s that they all, in fact, we all are looking for satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace in this life. For most of humanity this search seems endless, we look for it in every person we meet, in every job we take, in every day that we live, and the majority of us walk away, unfulfilled.
It wasn’t always this way; in the beginning things were perfect, and then sin came in and destroyed it all. But, what if there was a way to experience that fullness, that peace, that joy once again? What if, say our Creator, actually had a plan in place to connect us to those things that would fill our hearts with peace, our lives with meaning, and our relationships with joy? Jesus, in fact, promises as much when he says in John 10:10:
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
The process isn’t some 10 step program, or a list of rules or regulations. No, it’s something far more profound, you see our souls are out of alignment with the purposes and plan of God for our life. And, because of this, just like when a car is out of alignment, there is all sorts of vibration, chaos, and unsettledness in our soul. It doesn’t matter how much we have, how many relationships we engage in, or how much accomplishment we can find, there will always be something that’s “off” and we feel it. But, when our souls become aligned with Him, the world around us can be spinning out of control and we will be in absolute peace.
If you want to discover how you can get your soul back in line with God’s, I’d like to invite you to come to Friendship Church this weekend, or listen online at experiencefriendship.com.
I’ll see you then!
Having been a ‘victim’ of exaggeration and outright lies about things I’ve said, preached, or written I always try to err on the side of grace, and when I feel it’s necessary to speak to a subject, make sure I’ve done my research.
Several years ago Rob Bell wrote a book entitled Love Wins, a book which ended up costing him his pastorate. It felt like every evangelical/orthodox pastor with a social media account was bashing him even before the book had been released! Knowing the world we live in and Satan’s great desire to divide those of us who claim the name of Christ I actually went out and read the book, go figure! The book wasn’t as evil as everyone said, but Mr. Bell’s conclusions were simply made because of his emotions about the subject rather than his research of the truth on the subject from Scripture. The biggest problem that developed from his book was not the discussion on Heaven and Hell, that was good, instead it was the increasingly embraced idea that maybe, just maybe, placing your faith in Jesus Christ in this life isn’t the only way for salvation. Now, for fairness sake, Mr. Bell doesn’t come right out and say this verbatim, but he leads you right to the doorstep, knocks on the door, looks at you with a smile and says, ‘So, whatcha think?’.
Again, Mr. Bell and now along with his wife, have come out with a new book on marriage called The Zimzum of Love. Now, I will readily confess that I have not read the book, nor do I plan to, but Mr. Bell and his wife gave an interview with Oprah, which I watched in it’s entirety. It is this interview and the words that he and his wife chose that I now have to address. I could address the fact that they include homosexuality as a viable option for humanity, but I’ve done that before. Suffice to say that I believe like all sins, homosexuality is a cheap imitation of God’s relational design, that will leave all those who participate in it more broken, more wounded, and less fulfilled. Satan is the ultimate deceiver and he’s garnering more and more of professed believers into accepting the lie that God is keeping something from you, when in reality it’s that God is wanting to protect you, because He’s got something better for you!
Here are my previous posts on the subject:
- Extreme “Christian” Views on Homosexuality
- A Biblical Response to Homosexuality
- What about Gay Marriage?
However, that is not why I write this post. I write this because of a statement that Mr. Bell makes while trying to defend his position on homosexuality. Here is the quote verbatim:
“I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life.”
And here is the salient clip, just in case you think I might be taking it out of context:
For clarity sake, what Mr. Bell has just said is that the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it makes it’s best defense the Bible. Allow that to sink in for a moment… He has just said that ‘flesh-and-blood people’ not a holy, sovereign God should determine what is right for them. He has just implicated that the Bible is in fact, irrelevant in our world today, it cannot be relied upon, it cannot be trusted as truth. He has finally hypothesized that if the church keeps as it’s focus the truth found in the Word of God, they will cease to be an influence on the world around them.
I am most certain that Mr. Bell will not read my small, inconsequential blog, but hopefully people who listen to him will. Hopefully, my friends who have read some of his previous writings, which for the most part were solid, will veer away from this new iteration of his faith. My friends, I beg of you to consider the implications if indeed the Bible is irrelevant:
- The mission of the church is founded in those 2,000 year old letters. I have often stated that I believe that the local church, as the messenger of Jesus Christ, is the hope of the world. If the Bible is irrelevant, our world is without hope.
- The message of the gospel is found in those 2,000 year old letters. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the Father except through me.” If this truth cannot change culture, than culture cannot be changed!
- The key to genuine fulfillment is found in those 2,000 year old letters. Jesus says that He came to give us life in all of it’s fullness! If His words are irrelevant than we as a human race are living empty lives, void of fulfillment, and without the possibility of real enjoyment.
My friends, those 2,000 year old letters are precious to me, not because I am some stuck in the mud, fundamental, traditionalist who still believes that a fat adulterous King was the only one who could authenticate Scripture (King James if you’re wondering), but because I have tried them, tested them, and applied them to my life year after year, and they have proven faithful! Those 2,000 year old letters change lives, saves marriages, and alters eternal destinies, they are far from irrelevant, they are essential!
Think about it,
I think one of the coolest things about Friendship Church is that we are constantly trying to take the long-term view of things. Always asking the question, “How will this affect us 5, 10, 15 years from now?” This approach has saved us from making a lot of short-sited decisions that could have had significant, long-term repercussions. It has also enabled us to make hard decisions with short-term pain for long-term health.
This is exactly what we did when evaluating if it was a good thing and good time for my family and I to take a sabbatical. We are certainly not “burned out”, frustrated, or tired of leading Friendship. In fact, this is the most fun I’ve had in a long time. It’s an absolute joy to be able to watch decisions we made 3-5 years ago become reality and see all these people come to know Christ and so many of you take huge steps in your spiritual growth. In all transparency, this is the last time I would choose to go on sabbatical. I love leading the charge, being the visionary, teaching the Word, and watching lives change…but that is the short-term view of things.
The long-term view says, bigger things are yet to come, greater growth is just around the corner, and what we are experiencing now is just a sliver of the blessing God has for us. If I continue to lead the charge through this time, my batteries may not have enough left to lead an even bigger charge later, and that’s not acceptable. If our vision as a church is to “glorify God as an effective and influential church” then it’s leaders must make sure that they are doing the same with their lives. If staying and enjoying this Summer with my amazing church means that I won’t be as effective as possible when I’m needed most, then I’m being selfish.
I heard John Maxwell once give an incredible illustration, it went something like this. Nature gives us one of the best examples of shared leadership and the importance of down-time. When geese fly across country going South or back North they fly in a “V” formation, as I’m sure you’ve seen. This formation gives the flock incredible aerodynamics and allows them as a group to fly infinitely farther than they could individually. The formation allows for each goose to receive a certain amount of lift from the flapping of the wings of the goose directly in front of them. The lead goose takes the brunt of the wind for the group and his wings provide lift for the entire group, while the rest of the geese “honk” their encouragement to him to keep up the pace. When the goose in the lead becomes tired, another leader rotates to the front. This enables the entire group to continue moving forward while at the same time allowing the lead goose gets the much needed rest for the next length of the journey.
That is why my family and I are going on sabbatical. I want to be ready for the next phase of the journey of Friendship Church. I believe with all my heart that greater things are on their way, that God has more in store for us than any of us can even begin to think or imagine, and I want to be ready! In the short-term it will be painful to be away from you this Summer, but the long-term rewards will far outweigh short-term pain.
“No discipline (training) seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of peace and righteousness for those who are trained by it.” Heb 12:11
Starting on Sunday, May 20th I will have the incredible opportunity to take a sabbatical. My sabbatical will go throughout the Summer of 2012 with a highlight of being able to walk the streets that the Apostle Paul walked, taught, lived, and died. So, what is the point of a sabbatical?
Rest: A major part of our sabbatical is for rest. The ability to not have to preach every single week, be ready to counsel at a moments notice, or be actively engaged in decision making. If you run an engine at maximum rpm (rotations per minute) for too long you can burn up the engine. The same is true for human beings, especially those who carry the burden of leadership. If you truly love the people you lead you carry their burdens with you, and after a certain period of time if you don’t take an extended time of rest, it begins to take a toll on your continued abitlity to lead effectively. I love Friendship Church way to much to get to the point where my leadership becomes less or even completely ineffective. I have no desire to “burn out”, I want my fire to continue to burn bright over my entire life!
Renew: The second component of our sabbatical is renewal. All throughout our sabbatical I will be reading, writing, and studying. I want my passion for Christ, my joy for ministry, and my love for Friendship to be renewed and stoked to it’s full potential! Although I won’t be physically with you I will be daily praying and asking for God’s incredible blessings to continue to flow, and when I return, with completely full tanks, we’ll be ready to take the future that God has for us!
Reconnect: The final piece of our sabbatical is to reconnect with each other. Just like any family as we grow up we tend to move towards our own loves and joys, which can sometimes cause us to not spend as much time together. Unlike other families the pressure of ministry exaggerates those tensions and makes it more difficult to reconnect. So, we decided that it was essential that none of this sabbatical was done alone, we will do it as a family. Our girls are entering transitional times in their lives and this Summer is perfect timing for us to strengthen our bond and our relationships.
I am so thankful to Friendship Church for allowing me and my family to enjoy such an incredible blessing. This is a gift that I wish everyone could enjoy at some point in their lives, and I am so blessed to be able to experience it!
1. I believe the potential for the local church to do good and create positive change in the world is greater than it has ever been.
2. I believe that the ROOT of the desire to do good and create positive change in the world HAS to be the GOSPEL…and if it isn’t, what will develop is cool ministry fads and ideas…but nothing revolutionary that will impact the world.
3. I believe that some of the greatest Christian leaders that the world will ever know are currently in elementary school, middle school, and high school…thus making youth and children’s ministry one of the greatest mission opportunities that the local church can invest in.
4. I believe that more and more church leaders are going to begin to take radical steps of faith rather than trying to repair broken systems.
5. I believe that more and more church leaders are going to continually put personal preferences of ministry aside and work together with other people to accomplish more ministry than they could have ever done alone.
6. I believe that we’re going to see some of the greatest moves of God this world has ever seen in the next 20 years…MOST of them happening because the local church finally decided to step up and be the church.
7. I believe God wants to use your church to do unbelievable things in the community in which HE has planted you.
8. I believe the key to a healthy church is healthy church leadership…leaders cannot fly at the speed of sound and expect to hear God’s still small voice. The healthier we get, the healthier our churches can be.
9. I believe that if ALL leaders took the advice God gave us in Galatians 6:9 that we would see breakthroughs like we’ve NEVER seen before.
10. I believe God has called the church to CHANGE the world…not complain about it!!! We are an empowered body of believers whom He has called to attempt the “impossible” so that people can see HIM!!! (So…what is that thing that you know you should do next?)