Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why do we like to think the worst about ourselves?

What is it about American Christians that causes us to think the worst about ourselves?  Do we have some kind of innate inferiority complex that causes us to believe any statistic that comes down the pike if it expresses a negative view of Christianity?

Take a look at this piece in Christianity Today.  The author makes a valid point that the statistics we love to go around quoting are all negative statistics, and many of them are flat out misleading if not fabricated falsehoods. I remember sitting in a meeting watching a video of a prominent teen evangelist who was breathlessly telling us that only 4% of American kids will be Christians in the next generation.  I leaned over to the pastor sitting next to me and said "I know how to lie with statistics too" and we both smiled.  That number comes from an informal survey (read nonscientific) done by a seminary professor more than 10 years ago with a sample size of just over 200 people.  More on that here.   Yet people keep running around repeating it as if it were inscribed on stone tablets found found on Mt. Sinai.  It's wrong people!  Get over it!  Stop repeating the lie.!

Maybe Christians should try this form of therapy.

Let's try something new for a while.  Let's only say positive things about the church that are true.  Let's declare a fast from criticalness.  Let's speak positively about the Body of Christ, and see if it becomes more attractive to people.  How about that for a change.

I realize this will crimp the fundraising plans of many who make their living out of scaring Christians into thinking they are under siege.  But this too shall pass.  And the world may just be a better place afterward.

It's worth a shot, don't you think?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

Take a look at this clip and remember those who gave all for our country.  I tear up every time I watch it, specifically at the scenes of soldiers loading into their landing crafts.  It reminds me of my dad, who was a landing craft driver during the Normandy invasion.  I cannot imagine the terror, the chaos, or the valor required to do that job.  Those were amazing men.

The other scene that just tears me up is the two WWII vets in the cemetery, one missing part of a leg.  I can't imagine standing there where brave young men who you went through training with are buried.  Why did you live and they die?  Fate?  Luck?  Divine intervention?  We may never know.

Watch the clip and remember those who gave all for our freedom.

Friday, May 21, 2010

How do you celebrate Pentecost?

For Christians there are four major religious holidays:


Good Friday



The first three receive quite a bit of attention, but the last one receives scant attention outside the church, and not much more inside the church. Pentecost celebrates the arrival of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. This was the Comforter that Jesus had promised to the disciples.  It was the fulfillment of the Emmanuel - God with us - idea.  Jesus was the incarnation of God and walked with us on the earth.  But he was limited by time and space and the human body.  The Holy Spirit is not limited by time, space and the human body.  The Spirit can be with all of us at the same time,and he can, and will, indwell in our soul and shape our character into the Christlikeness that we are called to.

This Sunday, take some time to celebrate Pentecost.  If your church doesn't celebrate Pentecost, encourage your pastor to do so.  The Spirit of the Living God dwelling with us gives us the power of God in our lives.  It is the greatest gift of God this side of heaven.  The Spirit is there to guide us, comfort us, encourage us, enlighten us and so much more.

Celebrate Pentecost and thank God for his Spirit who lives with us. It is the greatest gift we can receive until we see Jesus face to face.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Existential Questions for Christians

Admiral James Stockdale's opening questions during the 1992 Vice Presidential debate are good questions for all of us to consider as we travel through our journey of this life as we prepare for the next life.  Who am I?  Why am I here?  These are great existential questions for us to consider as we live each day.

Who am I?  Am I the person I born to be?  Am I the person who had bad things happen to them previously in their life?  Am I the person who did many bad things to myself and others?  Am I a child of the King?  Am I a victorious Christian? Am I a guilt-ridden Christian lamenting my life and the way it has turned out?  Am I someone who looks forward to what each day brings?  Or am I someone who looks forward to each day as a way of getting one day closer to the end and receiving my eternal reward.  Am I someone people turn to for guidance and comfort?  Am I someone that people don't turn to unless they have to?

I don't have easy answers because each of us is in a different place.  But, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, we know that we are brothers and sisters of the King.  In Mark 3:35 Jesus said "whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."  Emotionally we may not be there, but that is the reality of what Christ has given to us.

Why am I here?  I'm not going to list all of the possibilities for this, just meditate on the question.  Why am I here?  Do I have a purpose?  Has God shared with my my raison d'etre?  Go read the beginning of Exodus or Isaiah 6 to see examples of God-given purpose.  Read Mark 3 where Jesus calls his disciples.  Read the accounts of Jesus and his mission.  Ask God what your purpose is.  Pray, and sit quietly and listen as he speaks to you.  Let the Lord speak to your soul and it may help you answer some of these questions.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What to do about illegal immigration

The recent Arizona law allowing police to check the status of illegal immigrants has once again brought a vexing issue to the forefront.  What should we do about the flood of illegal immigrants that are in our country and continue to pour over our borders?  The federal government response has been feckless at best, and Arizona is taking steps to secure its own borders and get some kind of control over the people who are overwhelming.

Last summer I wrote this paper on the issue, and I think it is worth revisiting.

When Doing Good May Be Breaking The Law -

Christians are in a particularly difficult spot with this issue. We are commanded to look out for the "least of these" and we are also commanded to obey the law.

I encourage you to read the paper and offer your thoughts here.  It's not that long and an easy read.  But is is a vexing issue for our country.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sitting with Job

This has been a very trying 14 months in the life of my family.  We have experienced the usual ups and downs of life as well some very unusual events that just have me scratching my head.

My business has been battered by the disaster that is the Michigan economy. I'm still waiting for the recovery that has been talked about some time.  But it is what it is.  I knew there was a risk when I went out on my own.  There is a high risk and a high reward in a venture such as self employment, and I'm in the risk phase right now.  I'm praying that the reward phase is just around the corner.

But the real struggle has been in the health of our family.  Last year I tore my rotator cuff and labrum in an unfortunate incident.  The recovery from the surgery has taken many months and much hard work.  Today is the first day I have been able to throw a tennis ball without any tightness or hitch in my motion.  It's a small victory, but I need a victory.

My kids have both had their share of issues.  One has developed POTS, and the other has a spinal malformation that has just come to light.  I know you never want to ask the question "What else can go wrong" but I'm about there.  I know that my issues are not life-threatening but they are potentially serious medical issues that have turned our lives upside down in the past year.  I long for the days when I awoke and assumed that everything was going to be OK that day. I say this not to evoke sympathy or pity, but to bring up a point.

I have gained a great appreciation for people who have been through periods of suffering.  I have had a taste of what it is like to have the concerns of life just grind you down and suck the joy out of your day.  I've seen the depressive effects of losing hope that things will return to normal.  I've seen the bills that chronic illnesses can generate.

If you have been suffering and I have been indifferent to you, please accept my apology.  Sadly it has taken some ugly life events to open my eyes to the suffering of others.  I pray that God will use this with me in ministry to help others during their time of sitting with Job.  If you haven't read Job lately, open your Bible and take a look at a story of suffering and redemption.  It's a good, but difficult at times, read.  You will also learn that good, Godly friends are invaluable because Job's friends were next thing to useless.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

How is this even a good idea?

I can't begin to tell you how wrong this story is.  And sadly, they use the same hymnals that we use.  Memo to self - do not purchase used hymnals.