What about differences?

The political and social upheaval that is going on in the United States can give great insights into what each of us, as followers of Jesus, are clinging to for significance and hope. Paul wrote something to the Galatian church that applies to our context: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28 The ways that the world uses to judge significance and valued are meaningless in the Kingdom that Jesus founded. So using race to justify power, entitlement, or worth is not part of the way a follower of Jesus should be living their life. Using economic status (see James 2) or nationality or education level or gender to ascribe worth, meaning, or purpose is contrary to the gospel that Jesus left us. This gospel is one of repentance and forgiveness for those in Christ. Segregation, self-justification, and unforgiveness are hallmarks of the world’s political, economic, and social systems. For, if someone from the other party has political power, that makes them an impediment to something you need and thus the enemy. Their actions are unforgiveable or have no rationalization. The same can be said with any identity based outside of Christ. Sadly, as I check twitter and facebook, more and more what I see of both left and right leaning Christians is the adoption of the narratives of the world. If you are spending more time checking for and outraged by the sliver in your brother or sister’s eye, then you likely have adopted a political or economic...

Do You Sabbath?

Do you take the time to enjoy a Sabbath? I am going to guess that you don’t. Even among those who follow Christ, taking the time to rest, be still, and be quiet is approached with a stigma. Those who do not keep busy are seen as: Lazy Wasting time Letting the world get ahead Not being productive Old fashioned Legalistic If I truly believe that my identity is not tied to the things I accomplish, then I’d be willing to stop accomplishing for Sabbath. When identity is confused with productivity, it is difficult to trust that God is pleased with you when you rest. Through this lens, Sabbath is seen as an inconvenience. Here are Jesus’ words on intentionally pausing: Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27-28 In order to justify our busy lifestyles, the tendency in looking at these verses is to focus on “not man for the Sabbath.” These are Jesus’ words to the religious leaders about finding one’s worth in legalistically following rules rather than the good things of God. Let’s not overlook the beginning of that statement – “The Sabbath was made for man.” Our ability to intentionally stop is a gift. It is necessary for us to function as we were designed. Slaves don’t get a chance to rest. Sabbath is an expression of our freedom. Sabbath is not a time of nothingness, but a time of connection. It is a time for us to be reminded that God’s love is not based on the world’s...

Being Hated

Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. – 1 John 3:13 How does the thought of begin hated for following Jesus make you feel? John says not to be surprised if the world hates us. Reflecting the image of God will elicit a response from a world that does not understand and must confront their own sense of shame. It was this sort of shame that incited Cain to hate and kill his brother Abel. Looking around at the church in our culture, we do seem genuinely surprised when the world pushes back against our beliefs. One response we offer is to compromise. There are attempts to make the truth that we are immersed in more palatable. This effort to be liked and win affirmation voids the power of freedom and transformation that Christ Himself promises. There are many tough truths in the gospel, whitewashing them or saying that they don’t apply to modern culture takes away the cross that some must carry to be conformed into the image of Christ. People are being held back in captivity by compromise. Another response is to intentionally drum up hatred. As if Jesus and John saying to expect resistance means that we need to produce it ourselves. So we see a version of “in your face” Christianity that seems very far from the example that Christ demonstrated. This warning about being hated is not to be used as a way to build identity. Every effort is to be made to live in peace with everyone. Yet this goes hand in hand with holiness (Hebrews 12:14), because that...

An Idea About Evangelism Training

I went to a Friday night race in Daytona with my dad a couple weeks ago. We had a great time together experiencing the atmosphere and the sounds, smells, and power of the trucks on the track. As we entered the speedway grounds, there were three men at the entrance gate. One had a bullhorn and was reading a Bible passages about the judgment of God. The two others had signs with similar messages about perishing and hell and stood with their free arms outstretched holding tracts. While I am giving them credit for being well-meaning, there efforts were ignored by the large crowd walking past them. These men were doing evangelism. In our Christian terminology, evangelism is what you are trained for; having gone through a program, and been trained in the right steps in presenting the gospel to others. This type of training takes a variety of forms, but the commonality is that evangelism is seen as a separate discipline for the follower of Christ. Think of the fear response that is so common when people are told we are going to talk about or teach ‘evangelism’. Evangelism is presented as a discipleship elective and in practice comes off feeling forced and unnatural. What if we simply taught people to love others? That the people around them and that come into our churches are more than a statistic or a project. They are people who are struggling with their place in the world. What if we simply taught people to listen to others? Rather than giving enough attention to throw in the appropriate Bible verse, this would take compassion...

Prepare to WIN in 2017

At the end of every year, I take some time to look back at the previous year and look forward to the next. It is an exercise that is not uncommon, and I use the time to evaluate and make a plan in several areas of my life. So, in the couple weeks after Christmas and to start the new year, I spent a significant amount of time reflecting and planning. When working with coaching clients, I find that many people are attracted to the thought of doing this, but lack a framework that allows them to safely evaluate. Hence, for many, such an exercise becomes one of comparison, shame and making a commitment to try harder. What I wanted to do in this first blog of the year is give you a simple framework that you can add to or subtract from as is appropriate for the context of your life. It is a great tool to examine yourself spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, professionally, as a parent, or in numerous other areas. The acronym is simple: W. I. N. Click here to get 33 clarifying questions to help you make a discipleship plan. W is a prompt to look at what you did well in the area you are examining. Too often our tendency is to start an examination with where we fell short. My own tendency is to want to press on before celebrating what has been done. Here are a few sample questions: What did I do well in the area being examined? How have I celebrated these milestones? How will what I did well impact...

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