Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In response...

So, I want to respond to Richard's comment on my last blog as well as explain myself further. I think I might not have written things out as well as I wanted--here goes on clearing it up a bit:

I don't want to push evangelism to the side. Not at all. I am NOT discounting sharing our faith. I am not even saying that its a secondary issue. I am saying that we get to it by sharing the love of God in a tangible way. Evangelism is like point B, where love is point A. I get to point B through point A. Its not on the back burner, its just that I think it comes naturally after point A. Following along with what Brittany said when she responded: we are commanded to share the love of Christ unconditionally. Period.

Secondly, American churches have been pushing this whole "share the gospel" thing for a while and its simply not working. It just isn't. And the problem isn't non-Christians. Its Christians. Did you know that only 1 out of every 10 Southern Baptists will ever share their faith? That's 10%!!! The largest Protestant group in America and only one out of every ten ever bothers to tell someone about their new life in Jesus. Wow...

People don't want the personal responsibility. They want to put the blame on someone else for everything. I've definitely seen it in my time managing a retail store and a fast food joint. People always want someone else to point the finger at. The problem is, pastors allow their congregations to do it. They tell them to invite people to church to hear the gospel. Churches organize one big Sunday every now and then for everyone to bring a friend or two. "Make sure on THIS Sunday you bring someone!" My head hurts when I start thinking about it... why in the world would someone want to come to church to hear a pastor explain about life in Jesus when they don't see it in the person inviting them? Shouldn't the members of a church be living a life in Christ where they don't have to invite people on Sunday for their pastor to explain it? Does that make sense? Its sad. We don't live lives that reflect Jesus so we have to have someone else explain it to them. That's just a terrible situation to be in. We simply need to recognize the mentality isn't working and we must rethink and rework it.

Thirdly, I don't think that "sharing the gospel" is always the most loving thing we can do. If someone has no food... if someone has no clean water source... if someone has no basic medicinal needs... if someone is in need, and we say "Hey, Jesus loves you and etc etc etc..." What have we done for them? Nothing. Nothing at all. Maybe made things worse. In "Velvet Elvis," Rob Bell says that we should consider saying: "Jesus loves you, here's a toaster." Funny, but you get the point. If someone has needs that are urgent, we should be helping them to meet them in a sustainable way. The whole teach a man to fish mentality. Make a difference in this world.

Look at the situation in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands are being displaced. Thousands and thousands are being murdered. If I went to a refugee camp simply to "share the gospel" and did nothing else, that's missing the point. Totally missing the point of Jesus. We should be about changing our world. Changing our community. Changing our own lives. We need to support groups like the ONE campaign and let our government know that we must make a difference here and now.

I love the Church. My faith has been renewed recently and I have hope for the Church. Hope for change. Hope that we can make things better. That's what Jesus left us here to do. I have hope that there is a kingdom to come, but also want to be about seeing the kingdom here and now. Too many misconstrue my recent change for something other than what it is.

To just get it out in the open: I have a lot of issues with the Church. But I still love her. And I have hope for us all. I think Jesus wants us all to pursue him in a way that is authentic to who he made us to be. I think Jesus never wants us to get in a mindset where we say we have arrived. But that we are all always on a journey to pursue him in a honest and real way. Sure, that looks a little different for everyone, but I don't think God would have it any other way.

Above and beyond all of that though--we must be sharing the love of God with a world that desperately needs it. Less that have of a percent of the US's budget goes to impoverished people while thirty percent goes to the military. America's government and America's churches need to open their eyes. Winds of change are blowing. I feel it. Emphasis must be placed on loving people, helping people, changing lives... because that's what we were made for.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The question of love...

It's quite amazing how many times I have been asked by people if I really believe that we should love people just to be loving people. In other words, do I really think the Church in America should put all its emphasis on loving people without any strings attached?


I answer with a resounding yes. I think loving people for the purpose of converting them isn't loving people. I think loving people so they listen to your point by point spill on what "salvation" in Jesus is, isn't loving people. I think giving someone food or clothing if they come to an event at your church to hear a "gospel" presentation isn't loving people.


Love isn't conditional. There's no "I'll love people so I can..." or "I'll love people if they..." That's conditional. That's not love. And quite frankly, that's not the way of Jesus. I think that's what's all screwed up in American Christianity. Our purpose has become our passion. Rather than our passion taking on a purpose of its own. We think that Jesus said we should first and foremost convert people into "believers" or "Christians" so they can goto heaven. How far off we have gotten.

Jesus never said love people so... Jesus never said love people if... Jesus said we should love people. Besides, the salvation Jesus preached was a rescue from the hell they were already in. And on top of that, the restoring of Creation the Bible speaks of is ALL of Creation... not just humans. All of this universe. This earth is hurting because of our lack of concern. So if God's concerned about the whole of Creation, shouldn't be as well? Anywho, I think most of our understanding of "salvation" is way off too... but that's a whole other can of worms I am choosing to open at a later date. Nonetheless, no matter what you believe salvation is, I think we can all agree it is a rescue from hell--but shouldn't it be rescuing people from the hell so many are caught in here on earth? Shouldn't we be about that? Shouldn't we be concerned about that? Shouldn't that be a priority? Shouldn't it be real?

I need to stop writing... I tend to get on tangents and get way off subject and I don't want my point to be lost. So in response to so many who keep asking and to all those yet to ask: YES. We should love people just to love people.

If that's our focus... the rest should come naturally. I know not everyone is going to choose to be a Christ follower. I am well aware that the Gospel can be "offensive." I don't think its our position to make it so. I don't think its our position to change it from what it is. I think its our job to do what it says. And the rest--it will come naturally.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My God, what have we done?

I read the news from yesterday, and I can't fathom it. I scan the headlines and find no answers in them. The articles provide more details, but there's not conclusion to them. It's just... more nothing.

32 people? How can one human take two handguns and kill over 30 people? How? And why? Why would someone do this? I don't get it. I can't understand. My heart hurts so bad. So much death. So much anger. And no answers.

The worship leader at my last church said aloud one Sunday morning: "Jesus, come quickly. Come quickly, Lord." I find myself responding in my heart: "Jesus, don't come back so soon. We've messed this up so much."

I'm not even torn on the subject. It doesn't bother me to say that we have a lot of work to do and I won't be disappointed if the "2nd Coming" isn't in my lifetime. We have screwed up this planet and its people so much... we've screwed up eachother. We've screwed up our lives. We've screwed up everything. So much is so wrong. And we blame evil... and we blame TV... and we blame rap... and we blame heavy metal... and we blame computer games... and we blame advertisers... and we blame the adult/porn industry... we blame the internet.

I blame us.
We've messed it up. The shootings at VTech show that. We, as humanity, are way off track. We like to point the finger. Its a human thing. Like in Genesis when God asks Eve what happened and Eve says it was Adam's fault; then God asks Adam what happened and he blamed Eve and God and Satan. We've always been misplacing blame. We don't want it on ourselves. But it's time to be honest about our situation... This earth is bleeding. Its dying. We have to make efforts to stop it. We can all be fatalistic about it and say its too far gone--but then we start huddling up in our own little groups and give the rest of the world the middle finger and say "To hell with them." But isn't that already happening? We have all got to change. Its not optional. Its not up for discussion. Its a necessity. Change must happen. And it must be now.

Jack Johnson says: "It was you, it was me, it was every man. We've all got the blood on our hands. We only get what we demand. And if we want hell, then hell's what we'll have."

So I leave you with the same question I heard Jim Quigley pose a while back: "My God what have we done? My God! What have we done?"

And what must we do now?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh no... words are coming out.

That's what Brian Regan says about those of us who don't think before we speak. We think words, we say words. Seems simple. But so dangerous. I say what's on my mind. And I have so much to say at times that I don't know where to start.

First, I think we're all a bunch of self-righteous pricks. Me. You. Us. We're all so concerned with ourselves that we think little (if ever) about anyone else. So concerned about staying in our own little circles. So concerned about personal purity. So concerned about being doctrinally correct. Dispensationalism has taken over America. I wish I could simply blame Darby, Scofield, LaHaye and Jenkins, but its not just their fault. We see a world getting worse and we just give it the finger and try to take care of ourselves. We use the excuse we're concerned with eternity, but really we're just trying to make ourselves feel better about ignoring that whole "your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." We say we're focusing on not being of the world, but really we're just trying to make ourselves feel better about ignoring that whole "in the world." ORTHOPRAXY, my friends. ORTHOPRAXY. Sure, orthodoxy is important. But that's a whole other bag of worms. Orthopraxy is the DOING part of the equation. Ephesians 2 says we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Its not an if. Its not even a command. Its a fact. Its who we are. Its our purpose. Its our reason for being alive in Christ: to do something about it.

Second, going back to what I said a couple of weeks ago: we all wanna be right. And when it comes to Scripture, doctrine, theology, etc... people get heated real quick. Why? Because we're all convinced we're "right." I heard a pastor a couple weeks ago talk about having the "pure" gospel. It made me sick to my stomach. Without naming them directly, he began to call out other denominations that didn't have it right. They are wrong. The way they view God's word is defiling it. But he... he has it right. The SBC has the pure gospel.... what a pile of manure. We're all humans. 1st Corinthians 13 says that in this life, we'll only know in part. Sure, I think the way I look at Scripture is right, but I admit that I could be wrong. I try to stay teachable and willing to listen and learn. Cause I could be wrong about some things. For us to say we have it 100% right and others don't--that's wrong. Anyways---back to my point about being right and Scripture: people get heated quick. The Bible is personal and we strive to be correct in our understanding. I'm trying to take that into consideration when I say what I'm going to say next...

Postmodernism is coming on fast. Times are changing. Minds and hearts are changing. This world is not the same world of thirty... even twenty... years ago. For us to hold to our "absolutes" like they are our only hope is a lost cause. We need to acknowledge our view of Scripture could be wrong in effort to break down the walls of denominations. We need to focus on unity and love. We need to see that refining of our faith is not found in more scholarship or study or in degrees... but in getting our hands dirty, in holding a dying person, in taking the time to care about a homeless person, in contributing to social organizations that make a difference in our communities, in teaching a child about art and how to express themselves, in making others feel important. This is where kingdom work is done. Not every so often when our church plans an event. But everyday. EVERYDAY. I need to change. We need to change...

Jesus said to "repent, for the kindgom of heaven is at hand."

So: Christians, Christ followers, followers of Jesus... repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

God have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ahhhh, Saturday...

Brit's outta town all weekend and I'm off today. I needed some time to myself. I've been recording some new songs for about four hours now. Its nice. Tedious, but nice. I wish I could do this all the time. Record and produce and sing and write... that's what I'd love to do. Hone these talents and abilities rather than my sales skills. Work towards a career that's rewarding. To feel like I'm giving something to this world. To contribute the best way I know how...

I'm so scared to even attempt to pursue it though. Those close to me tell me to try and sell some songs, but I don't wanna sell anything. I'm sure I'd love the money that comes with all that. But I'll be... (something)... if I'll turn on the radio in the car to hear someone else singing MY song. Ya know? The words are from my heart. From my life. I wanna sing them. I wanna play these songs. I wanna be the one on stage.

I don't feel like I was made for a career in sales. I don't feel like I was made for middle management. I don't feel like I was made for marketing. I'm good at all those things. But I have this burning I carry around inside my heart that says I was made for so much more than that. Made for so much more than what I live. So much more than this...