Living an unscripted life!
Do you ever feel as if your life is about as predictable as a bad ‘B’ movie? You know the type of movies I’m talking about right? You know who the villain is in the first 5 minutes, or you know that ‘so-so’ is going to end up with ‘so-so’, or the fact that the guy who says ‘let’s split up and search for them’ is the first one to bite the bullet!
What’s amazing is that is the exact opposite of how God wants and intends for you to live your life. Jesus said that his desire was to give you a “…rich and satisfying life” (Jn 10:10) yet so many of us have settle for safe and predictable. I think that it’s time for all of us who claim to know Christ and want to live like Christ to flip the script and start living the way God intended.
Our reason’s for not letting loose tends to revolve around things like what others will think of us, how will it all turn out, what if I fall flat on my face? Well, think about this, Jesus was never in a hurry, rarely did what was expected, and often didn’t do what people wanted, yet he is the most influential person in human history! If you want to live a life of impact, a life that makes a difference you cannot just go with the flow and be like everyone else. You’ve got to be willing to ‘go off script’ and break away from the safe and predictable.
I’d like to personally invite you to be my guest this Sunday as we launch this brand new series simply called “Unscripted”, and if you do come, make sure to say “Hi”!
PS: Here’s a trailer video our amazing Creative Team put together for the series:
Why Racism, and Reverse Racism Can’t Coexist With The Bible!
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
Free Agency and Church Staff!
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?
Why 2,000 year old letters matter: An Impassioned Plea to Rob Bell!
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,
Naive, Fool, or Mocker…I’ve Been All Three!
How long, you simpletons, will you insist on being simpleminded? How long will you mockers relish your mocking? How long will you fools hate knowledge? – Proverbs 1:22
Our small group (shout out to all my groupies!) is currently doing an ancient study (circa 2001) of Andy Stanley’s called The Best Question Ever. The study is mainly about how to make wise decisions; not good or bad, but wise. Wise decisions are basically defined in this way, applying all the truth and information that you have at hand, while also bringing into bear your past experiences, your present circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams. Once you have all of that you can then make a ‘wise decision’. It’s a great study and if you haven’t done it you may want to share this post with your small group leader and encourage him/her to do the study in the near future…hint, hint, hint!
But, I want to focus on one particular lesson in which Andy talks about the three categories of people within the book of Proverbs, the naive, the fool, and the mocker. Andy takes great care in defining each and then gives some poignant illustrations as to how they would respond. Here is a snippet of those definitions:
- Naive: also called simple or simpleton, is someone who simply doesn’t know what they don’t know. They just don’t have enough experience to be able to clearly discern. The danger here is that this person will often wrongly believe that they do know, or they know enough. This trap can be overcome by #1 gaining experience and #2 listening to older/wiser counsel. (Proverbs 14:5)
- Fool: also called foolish, is someone who knows, but doesn’t care. They know that if they stick their tongue in the light socket that it will shock them, but they want to do it anyways, it was fun the first time, so let’s do that again. A fool wrongly believes that just because it happened last time, it doesn’t mean that it’ll happen this time too, and/or they believe that unlike everyone else, they’ll get away with it. The fool can only stop being a fool by accepting the truth and changing his ways. Unfortunately for the fool this only happens after multiple times of things blowing up in his face and having to bear the consequences. (Proverbs 10:23)
- Mocker: also called the scoffer, is someone who knows, doesn’t care, and will ridicule you for caring or trying to correct him. They will continue down the same path, making the same mistakes, knowing that destruction is coming all the while humming their happy little tune. They will make fun of you, slander you, attack you as often as they can, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do to help them. In fact, the only solution is to cast them out of your circle of friends and hope that God grabs a hold of their heart. (Proverbs 9:7-8)
I’m sure as you read through the definitions you probably had pictures of multiple people flash through your mind for each of them. It may have even inspired a verbal reaction of “that’s right!”…but pause in your indignation for just a moment, how often have you been naive, played to fool, or scoffed at others counsel? Self evaluation is never easy and often painful, but always necessary if we are going to consistently make wise decisions instead of naive, foolish, or mocking ones!
Here’s to being wise my friends,