Posts Tagged ‘religion’

What’s RIGHT with…(part 1)

“Read my new blog, titled ‘what’s wrong with Christian Hip-Hop’…read my new blog ‘what’s wrong with the Church…read my new blog ‘what’s wrong with Christian leadership…” Good lord, the ship must be sinking. Call the National Guard and get us out of here because this ship is GOING DOWN! Somebody please call 911. Christian Hip-Hop is in a state of emergency! The Church is in a state of emergency! Leadership is in a state of emergency! SOMEONE HEEEEEEEELP!!!!

wait…what?…its really not that bad?

Who the heck are all of these Chicken Little’s screaming about what is WRONG with everything?!?! You want to know what’s wrong with all of these things? The bloggers running around like mini-Glenn Becks talking about what’s wrong with everything. “Yeah, but I also provide a solution to what I’m talking about too!” WHO CARES!?! So what happens, if we dont listen to your opinions, its all doomed? Allow me to use my free speech to respectfully ask you to refrain from using yours for a while.

Allow me to use my free speech to tell you about what is RIGHT with the local church.

You know what’s RIGHT about the local church? The countless numbers of people who you will NEVER hear of feeding the homeless and treating them like the image bearers of God they are. The kind of loving treatment that is the hallmark of the Body of Christ. The kind of love that sends a fame through out the collective, unknown members of the city that have no homes or phones but they have each other and brag about the love they received at that local church.

What’s right about the local church is the number of unknown people that dedicate their time, talent and treasure to seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ propelled through out their communities. What’s right about the local church is countless, nameless saints of God helping the single mom out with her daily needs because the child’s father REFUSES to pay child support and money she makes from her 3 jobs just barely covers her rent and utilities.

What’s RIGHT about the local church is the number of men who wrap their arms around the younger men to encourage them, pray for them and give them incredible, invaluable amounts of encouragement. The men who silently love their wives and children in a God honoring way so that their sons and daughters see a healthy definition of a man.

What’s right about the church is the number of untold miracles that didn’t come with a fake shake and a fall to the ground. The miracles that didn’t come with a book table and an annointed rag to purchase. But the miracles that were done in tearful prayer after the service when no one was there. The miracles done in another believer’s living room as they held an informal prayer gathering.

The countless stories of needs being met, pained people comforted by the God inspired love of their brothers and sisters in Christ, the untold salvations happening in public school cafeterias, the people dedicating their time to see illiterate youth learning to read, the people breaking free from addictions,  the people going from worship of self to the worship of the one true God, the people selling things on eBay to give to families ravaged by storms and for tents in Haiti, the people running marathons to raise awareness and funds for issues like sex slave trafficking, the people fighting to erradicate poverty– THAT’S WHAT’S RIGHT WITH THE CHURCH!

And if you don’t see it, then maybe you need a new church or maybe you need to spark a change in your own.

So share with the rest of us, what do you think is RIGHT with the church?

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What if part 1: But what if God doesn’t?

The entitlement of the American Christian aggravates me to no end sometimes. The “Me-anity” (well put Marco), we live is so not Biblical its crazy. We approach God with, not our requests but, our demands as if He exists for us. As if He exists to fulfill our will. As if God is there saying to US “Not my will but yours be done o humans.”  But what happens when God doesn’t answer our requests? And I don’t mean the “delayed but not denied” answers. I don’t mean the “He may not come when we want but He’s always on time” answers. I mean the flat out “God is not going to do that” answers. Can you trust His sovereignty in that?

I listen to some of these TV preachers that talk about “God wants to give you everything you want” and then I read the Bible and it doesn’t line up. What about in Hebrews 11 where it says “and they died WITHOUT receiving the promise.” And this was written to say they HAD FAITH! What about us? Would we continue to honor God if He doesn’t heal our child or bless our family the way we want? What if that family member dies of cancer despite your prayers? Is He still good? What if you lose your house even though you’ve printed all of the prosperity scriptures and posted them on your mirror? Is He still sovereign? What if your situation requires a miracle or life is going to get REALLY bad? Is God still sovereign?

Too many times I’ve seen people honor God for what they think they can get. They do the Christian rituals because they think God will change their situation. And then when they don’t get the desired result- out go the Bibles, prayers, church and Christian friends. Then, without fail, they say “I tried it and it didn’t work for me” as if the Christian faith was a diet or something. As if their Bibles came with a disclaimer that said “Results may vary.” 

So what am I saying? I’m saying let’s worship, honor and recklessly and relentlessly live for God not because what we want from Him, but because of who He is. Because even if He doesn’t move on my every beck and call, I recognize He is God – and I am not. The only REAL promise I have as I live this life is “In this life you will face trials and hard times. But don’t be afraid because I have overcome the world.” He overcame this world, so my final hope is not in this life. My final hope is in HIM and the eternal life He prepared for me.

What to do…part 2 Ask yourself, “Do I Give a Crap?”

So, what should you do when you don’t know your personal purpose, feel the Spirit’s leading or hear God’s voice to do something? You should be lead by compassion. I know the idea sounds completely emotional and devoid of any spiritual depth – but it is probably one of the most overlooked spiritual indicators.

Compassion comes to us in English as a Latin compound word com meaning “with” and patti – meaning “to suffer.” So compassion literally means “to suffer with.” And this idea of suffering with others was the leading cause of many of Jesus’ miracles.

Jesus heard God’s voice at baptism and repeated what He “heard from the Father” when He spoke. He was “lead by the Spirit” to be “tempted by the devil” (look it up in Luke). But He was lead by compassion to do the miracles He did. Most of the things we marvel at that happened during Jesus’ ministry was the result of compassion. He rose the boy from the dead during his funeral procession because he was lead by compassion. Not because he was dead but because he saw the pain of the boy’s mother. There was no father in the picture and when He saw that woman’s pain, He identified with her pain – He suffered with her – and was moved to do something about it. He did MANY miracles because of compassion.

Go back and read the gospels and notice how many times He saw the suffering of others, identified with their pain and then moved in to action. So, instead of looking for some hyper spiritual experience to be moved to do something, take a look around, see the needs of others, identify with their pain and allow that suffering to move you into action.

You can do GREAT things for God’s kingdom. All it takes is a life dedicated to Christ and a heart that (bluntly stated) gives a crap about others.  

So after you read this, ask yourself “Do I give acrap?” If so, take that heart and do something for His kingdom.

What to do when you don’t feel God’s leading (part 1)

So much of today’s ministry is filled with the existential ideology of purpose and calling. WE wrap it up real nice with scripture and tell people that a life lived in our God given calling is the pennacle of all living. But what should we do if we don’t feel called? Pastors talk a lot about purpose and Holy Spirit leading , but what if we genuinely don’t feel any compulsion to do anything based on those factors?

Maybe you’re 17 and you don’t feel “called.” Maybe you’re 21 and you don’t know your “purpose.” Maybe you are 45 and you don’t feel the “Holy Spirit leading” you do anything.  Do these things mean we can’t live lives used by God and impacting the world? NO! Most people are clueless of their calling, purpose or even the Spirit’s leading until they embrace a little known act of true spirituality; it is the act of COMPASSION.

to be continued….

Teen Sexting = Child Porn Charges??

Technology has always advanced because of two societal linchpins – religion and sex. These new technologies have also pused the boundaries and even redefined the boundaries of ethics. You might remember my last about sexting asking about how it should be viewed.

Well, law enforcement also has some ideas about how it should be viewed. Check out this story about teens who sexted some boys at school being charged with child pornography!

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2009/01/15/pn.sexting.teens.cnn

What do you think? Did they go to far? Is this a literal definition of the law?

Conservatives – You’ve been pimped and I have the proof!

So, I’ve thought for a while that the Republican party has been pimping Christians for their votes for a while now. “Vote for me, I believe like you. I believe the bible is God’s word like you…’ yadayadayada…

It always looked like I was being told whatever I wanted to hear to win my vote. Being a salesman, I know when I’m being sold something that’s not as advertised.

Well, President G. W. Bush was recently interviewed on ABC and revealed that he may not necessarily believe like you.

Here is David Brody, correspondent for Christian Broadcast Network’s take on it.

You might want to keep this kind of stuff in mind when we talk about “putting God’s man in office.” If this kind of stuff influenced your vote – unfortunately, you’ve been pimped.

The journey to the miraculous

September 28th, 2008 began as a landmark day. It was the first day our church’s name as legally changed to CrossPoint Church. It was the first sunday in our new building that would have the carpet down, new chairs in, new projectors installed and new computers system. It was the first Sunday we would hold service and the sanctuary didn’t look like a construction zone. We were ecstatic!

Before service that morning, my mother in law went to pray with the worship team before service started and she told them “God has some miracles in store for the people in this house”. She was right.

Service was about to begin and mom (that’s what I call her because she’s been the closest thing to a mother that I’ve had for the last 8 years) was opening the service in prayer. The sound system had just been installed so her prayer was not only theologically but also sonicaly beautiful.  Then, out of no where – BOOM! – midsentence, she falls down hard on the freshly carpeted stage. Shaking. Foaming. Light, labored breathing. She laid there. Some people thought she fell out under the power of God – but I knew better. I called 911 from my cell phone almost instantly. It seemed like an eternity, but the ambulance was there in about 2 minutes.

The entire congregation just stood still. Silence. Worry. Concern. For some, fear. It was all over them to the point you could see it. As I started to encourage the congregation to pray NOW, one of the guys at the church came up on stage, grabbed the mic and started praying. And that’s when the prayers began…

When the EMS truck arrived and the workers came in and started helping mom, dad’s grief overcame him and he broke. As I walked him off the stage I saw something I’ve never seen in the 8 years that I’ve known him – I saw tears streaming down his face from the fear and grief that gripped him. But really, if you saw your childhood sweetheart whom you’ve been married to for the last 28 years on the ground struggling to breathe what would you do?

Since the church is across the parking lot from the hospital, I helped dad walk over to the ER.

“Is there any clergy you would like to contact?” That was the first question we got asked after they took her in for a CAT scan. A case worker asked me and my wife Nichole that question. At first it didn’t hit me so I replied “Her husband is the pastor of the church next door, why?” Then it hit me…they want someone to read her last rites. They think she’s about to die. Then without saying another word the case worker said “The doctor will see you very shortly”. Then as quickly as she came, she left. The doctor brought us all into a room and told us she had a brain aneurysm. The entire room broke into tears instantly and the doctor left after she said they would stablize her and transport mom to RI Hospital. What they didn’t tell us is that they didn’t expect her to survive the trip to RI Hospital.

After we arrived at RI Hospital we waited with baited breath to see what the updates were. The doctors brought news hourly. Case workers began to ask us questions about Living Wills and DNR requests. The told us its standard procedure. But I’ve been in the ER many times and I’ve NEVER been asked about a Living Will. What they didn’t tell us is that it is standard procedure for someone who they don’t expect to make it. They didn’t tell us they didn’t expect her to survive the night. The prayers continued.

As we got news, we passed it around to people LITERALLY around the world – Spain, Africa, India, Australia, Guyana, Brazil, Portugal, Ghana – NY, NJ, CA, FL, KS, MI, TN, GA, NC, SC and many other states and countries that cover 6 of the 7 continents ALL with people in prayer for mom. It was working.

When dad, Nichole and I were all allowed to finally see her – it was the hardest thing ever to see. She was connected to tubes, wires, she was unconscious and had a drain that ran from her brain. Its tough to see one of the strongest people you know you needing assistance from machines to do the basic function of breathing. Its tough to see someone you love on death’s doorstep and all you can do is stand there. OR, in our case, we prayed.

Once she survived the night (something to doctors didn’t think would happen) the doctors began to do numerous procedures – all of which could have had deadly results. She survived them all. Meanwhile, they began to prepare us for SEVERE brain damage. They said IF she survived because, according to the doctor, she was probably the sickest person in the entire hospital – she would have severe brain damage IF she survived. But they didn’t know the power of our God.

More procedures came and for the first 2 weeks, what was supposed to be an up and down roller coaster was continual improvements DESPITE the doctors negative prognosis. They brought the worst news they could find. Our family and our friends brought it to God in prayer.

TWO hospitals wrote her off for dead – but our God wrote her off as a miracle. Today the doctors admit she is where she is because of PRAYER. They admit they couldn’t bring her to where she is today. They say they’ve never seen someone survive what she had. Mom had the highest level of aneurysms and they have all been fatal. But they didn’t know the power of our God. Well, atleast until now.

Today my heart is filled with sooooo much joy! November 18th will forever be a holiday for our family. It will forever be a day to celebrate because today is the day that mom leaves Rhode Island Hospital and heads to rehab!

So many of you out there have been praying and believing God for her healing and recovery and its very apparent that your prayers reached the ears of God. Thank you for your prayers. Mom said before prayer started 7 weeks and 2 days ago that God had some miracles in store for some people in our church.

She was right.

Thanks for reading some of the journey to a real life miracle. I have to go now. She just arrived to rehab.

You’re not a Christian? THAT’S AWESOME!!

Every week in our youth church, we try to capture as much as information as possible from our attendees. Last night, we didn’t have a regular service. Instead we just had a cookout. This is not something I normally do because I believe that our Wednesday night services should be used to focus on our “Link to God” aspect of our mission. But, this time when the idea was presented by members of the team, I felt compelled to run with it.

It drew out people we hadn’t seen in months and people we had never seen before. It was GREAT. But, my favorite part of the night is when I looked at the information sheets we had people fill out. On the sheet, we ask “do you consider yourself a Christian?” Why do we ask? So we can get some kind of gauge as to how we are doing to reach the lost. Surely some people answer the question causually and just say yes because they aren’t any other religion. But some answer honestly.

Last night I saw my FAVORITE answer to that question on the sheet. Some people answered “No.” SWEEEET! You’re not a Christian? THAT’S AWESOME!!

Why is that awesome? Because it shows us where the Great Commission can be acted out in our setting. It shows us where the chance for the ultimate miracle can be done right in front of us. It gives evangelism a new face every week. It gives another opportunity for the angels in heaven to rejoice after the person realizes the realness of God and what Christ did for them. It gives them the chance to encounter the love of God and the love of His people. Plus, it shows us we’re not just a gathering place for church kids to feel safe, but a place where unchurched people can come and safely hear a dangerous message.

So when I see people coming in that aren’t Christians, I get excited because I believe God can reach them and at some point someone will ask them if they are a Christian and one day they will say “Yes.” Not because they come to our youth service with other Christians, but because they’ve dedicated their lives to Christ personally. And that’s awesome.

Ashamed or just uninformed?

One thing that has always been a pet peeve of mine since I began my life in the faith is when I find Christians who live in shame of their faith. I’m not talking about Christians who are quite about their faith and let their light shine by their lives. I’m talking about Christians who are ashamed of their faith. Won’t talk about it anywhere outside of church and doesn’t want anyone to even know they have any faith.

While that is STILL a pet peeve of mine, I’m now met with a question: Why? Why are some Chrisitans ashamed of their faith? Then I thought that if they knew about…wait…maybe that’s it. Maybe they don’t know.  Maybe they don’t have the information.

So my question as a Christian, disciple and a youth pastor is this: Are people ashamed or just uninformed? I mean really, is there a more uncomfortable time than the times when you are ill-equipped to do something?

Imagine the time when someone like a teacher or employer put you on the spot about something you didn’t have the information to give a proper answer. Imagine being called on in your first day of advanced calculus to solve a problem in front of the entire class but your math skills are only informed enough to handle basic algebra. How would you feel? Stupid and ashamed? Probably. Well imagine living that way. Imagine being in that type of situation but instead of calculus, you have to answer the most important question you will ever ask – the reason for your faith.

I think that’s how most Christians feel. Not shame because they are embarrassed about what they believe. Just shame that comes from probably the biggest issue that plagues Christians today – ignorance.

So how can we as pastors, leaders and laymen help people to be more informed about their faith and not just inspired?

Let’s Discuss it – Abortion

Okay folks, let’s discuss it! Every 4 years it becomes a HOT topic of conversation around America so I’ve decided to open a place to discuss it right here.

ABORTION

What do you think? Is there EVER a time when abortion is okay? I’ll give a few REAL examples of people I know and you tell me what YOU believe their response should have been. Again these aren’t hypothetical situations. These are REAL cases from people I PERSONALLY know. The names have been removed.

Case #1. I young lady I know was raped. Not date raped. Not “I said yes then changed my mind” but raped by someone she knew. The end result – pregnancy. Should she have carried through with the pregnancy and have a living reminder of that horrible event and deal with the psychological effects of having to live with that man’s seed inside her for 9 months carry through with the excrutiating pain of giving birth? Or should she have an abortion?

Case #2. A young woman with a history of troubling health issues sleeps with an old boyfriend at the party and gets pregnant. Due to her health issues, the doctor tells her she won’t survive the pregnancy. Later test show that if she carries through the pregnancy, neither her OR the baby will survive birth. Should she continue with the pregnancy and hope the doctors are wrong? Should she continue with the pregnancy and accept the responsibility of her actions that will cost her her life as well as the life of the unborn? Or should she abort the pregnancy?

Case #3. A married couple had been trying for YEARS to get pregnant with no results. Finally after years of vitamins, trips to the doctor and cold underwear – they get pregnant. One problem – the baby’s brain isn’t properly developed. In fact, tests show that the left and right hemispheres will never connect because of a pocket of water in between the two. The child will have a lifetime of surgeries, pain, under development, may never walk, and will never come close to a normal life and the prospect of a long life is nill. Doctors say MAYBE the child will make it to 20 and those 20 years will be miserable. The parents will struggle and statistics show the marriage will likely end in divorce. Should they terminate the pregnancy or take their chances at healing?

Tell me your thoughts.

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