Tuesday, October 27, 2015

7 Realities of Living in this Present World

Currently I'm preaching through 1 Peter. Central to this book is the idea that we are not citizens of this present world and our allegiance should be elsewhere. Below are seven thoughts from this Sunday's sermon...

  1. You may not be a superhero, but if you are a child of God you have a secret identity. Although you live IN the world and AMONG the people of the world; you are a SECRET AGENT for the future Kingdom.
  2. As a Secret Agent, you are tasked with living IN this present world but FOR the coming world.
  3. In this present world, you are expected to submit to all authority.
  4. Submission is not an indication of weakness, nor is it something that is forced on others (we are never commanded to force someone to submit). Submission IS an intentional decision we make to proactively turn ourselves over to someone else. We make the choice, not to exert our own power but to place ourselves under the power of someone else.
  5. We submit so that everyone will know that Christians have no desire to subvert or seize authority in this present world. We can be model citizens/employees/students because we know that power in this world is temporal and not important.
  6. Even if those in authority figures are evil, we submit. Remember, abuse in the present world only means rewards in the future kingdom.
  7. The only exception is that we should not "obey" if asked to violate God's law. However, even our disobedience should be done with an attitude of submission; and we must remember that "righteous disobedience" does not come without consequences. Choosing to obey God rather than man might lead to persecution.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What would Jesus say to a pedophile?

On Monday, the Salon website ran an editorial entitled:

I'm a pedophile, but I'm not a monster.

(you can read it here.)

What is your initial reaction to this? Then, once you've grabbed your breath, what is your secondary reaction? Any different? More importantly, how do you think Jesus would respond to Todd Nickerson (the author of the story).

I'll be honest. My first thought was, "This isn't real. This is satire. It's a modern rendering of "A Modest Proposal." I even spent time googling the story to figure out if it was a joke. I don't think it is.

So I began trying to process what this means. More specifically, I asked myself the question, "How should Christ's church respond to a person like this? What does it mean for Christians to embrace someone who is sexually attracted to little children? (if you have little children, these questions take on a whole other dimension)"

We ALL have value and worth IN SPITE OF our sin.

Peter denied Christ, swearing a vow that he didn't know him. Still, Jesus commissioned Peter to lead the church IN SPITE OF his sin.

Jonah blatantly disregarded God's command to go to Nineveh. He chose to go the opposite direction. Still, God used Jonah to bring great revival to a massive city IN SPITE OF his sin.

Romans tells us that "while we were still sinners" Christ died for us. He chose to give His life for ours IN SPITE OF our sin.

My personal IN SPITE OF list is long. Jesus loves me in spite of my unfaithfulness to him, in spite of my anger, in spite of my lack of trust, in spite of my wandering, in spite of my stubbornness, in spite of my critical spirit, in spite of my...

We must not lose sight of the idea that our faith does not focus on sin. Our faith focuses on salvation. At the same time, we do not gloss over sin; we acknowledge it, confess it, repent of it, and leave it behind. I know it is no longer a popular sentiment, and is often derided as being insensitive, but the truth of "loving the sinner while rejecting the sin" is still true. In fact, this idea lies at the heart of Jesus' ministry.


To the woman caught in adultery Jesus said, "I do not condemn you." And He said, "Go and sin no more."

To the rich young ruler Jesus said, "Follow me." And He said, "Sell your possessions."

To His followers, Jesus said, "Be my disciple." And He said, "Take up your cross."

In His parable about a great party, Jesus told of a master who invited everyone to be His guest. And He demanded they remove their own clothes and wear the new garments He had provided.

Jesus accepts everyone as they are. And Jesus changes everyone to be like him. Therefore, Jesus expects that those who follow him will let go of the things to which they cling most tightly. The apostles echoed this principle in the rest of the New Testament.

Writing to the church in Corinth, Paul instructed the believers to let go of their relationship with a man whose sexual immorality was destroying the purity of the church. Then, once the man had personally let go of the sin that held him back, Paul commanded the church to embrace him.

In Philippians, Christians are instructed to follow the example of Christ who was willing to let go of the status which was rightly His. Jesus' example was provided to illustrate the instruction to let go of our own desires for the good of others.

Following Christ requires us to let go of that which is most precious to us.

I am saddened that many Christians have believed a lie. They have bought the world's teaching that they don't need to let go. They believe they can embrace and cling to their own notions of themselves and still follow Christ. I wonder if this is the mindset of those who will be saved, but as if through the fire.


I think Jesus would welcome Todd into his arms. I think Jesus would affirm Todd as a person made in the image of God. I think Jesus would tell Todd that he loved him IN SPITE OF his sexual preference.

And I think Jesus would tell Todd to let go.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Who is more evil: Harry Potter or Frodo?

I originally posted this about 8 years ago. It still seems incredibly relevant to today. Enjoy a little light reading.

  1. Both "heroes" have a fiercely loyal and slightly simple companion with reddish hair.
  2. Grima Wormtongue and Peter Pettigrew (aka Wormtail?).
  3. Most of the blonde elves look like Malfoys.
  4. Magic.
  5. Gimly and Hagrid are pretty much the same, except for a seven foot difference.
  6. Nazguls and Dementors make the exact same sound.
  7. Way too much wide-eyed, wistful staring into nothing by both Frodo and Harry.
  8. Gollum or Dobby? You pick.
  9. The ring is essentially a horcrux, isn't it?
  10. Dumbledore and Gandolph look alike.
*Now watching LOTR III and realizing I should have added in another one. Big Spiders.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What To Do When Your Country Is Crashing Down Around You

This month I'm reading in Lamentations and last night I was back to chapter one. This is really a fascinating book as it is incredibly depressing, yet hopeful.

Jeremiah certainly wrote from a place of despair. The world he knew had ended. His agony and grief bleed across the pages. The most glorious city every built lay in ruins and for Jeremiah there was no hope of restoration or rebuilding.

Yet there is hope.

There is hope because Jerusalem was not the first city to be destroyed, neither would it be the last. Throughout the history of the world, great empires have risen and fallen. Today, on every continent, we can walk in the ruins of once great cities. The Mayans, the Incas, the Romans, the Persians and many more have come and gone. No kingdom lasts forever.

This doesn't sound hopeful?

Today's kingdoms will fall also. America is just a baby. At a little over 200 years old, we've been around a far shorter time than Israel or Judah lasted. But just as Jerusalem was decimated, so too will Washington fall. New York will falter. LA will fade into oblivion. This may not happen in our lifetime, but it will happen. It will someday be written of our kingdom:
How lonely sits the citythat was full of people!How like a widow has she become,she who was great among the nations!She who was a princess among the provinceshas become a slave.
Do you see the hope now?

Just as kingdoms fail, so will you! You'll live for 70 or 80 years if you do well, then you'll become worm food. All you've accomplished will be forgotten. All you've accumulated will rust. All you've done will crumble. Nothing we do lasts forever.

Yet, there's hope!

1 Peter 1 says that we have been born again into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. This inheritance is being kept in heaven for you, guarded by God the Father!

If your hope is in yourself, you'll be disappointed.
If your hope is in your abilities or accumulation or accomplishment, you'll be let down.
If your hope is in your country, you'll find it lacking.
If your hope is in a politician, you'll regret it.
If your hope is in a leader or a pastor or a celebrity, you'll be disenchanted.

Everything ends.

Except the kingdom of heaven.

Place your hope in the Lord. Invest yourself in his kingdom. Direct your time, your talent and your treasure toward that which truly matters and that which lasts forever.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Everyone Needs A Faithful Beagle In Their Life

This is something I wrote about 10 years ago. I still miss my beagle greatly. We have new dogs now, and they do the same thing as the beagle did...

For the last 30 minutes, I've been sitting at my dining room table working. My dog has been sitting at the door waiting for Marianne to get home. She did this last night as well. She just quietly sits there and waits.

I wonder if that is what God does for us sometimes? Just quietly sits and waits for us to come home...

Monday, September 7, 2015

What the Bible Actually Says About the Things God Loves

There has been much talk lately about the things that God HATES (the Bible does say there are some of them). I've also stumbled upon many conversations about what the Bible DOESN'T say about different issues.

It seems to me that it might be nice to spend some time thinking about what the Bible DOES say... particularly, what it says about the things God LOVES. Recently I came across this infographic which is all about the things God loves, specifically, the things the Bible says God loves. Check it out. It might surprise you what is not included, but it will certainly encourage you when you discover that you're included...

Discover more infographs at OVERVIEWBIBLE.COM

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sometimes Christians Need to Quit Their Jobs

Photo by NBC News
Kim Davis is the government worker in Kentucky who spent a night in jail because she refused to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

My desire here is not to take sides or make political points, but rather to point out that sometimes our perspective as Americans might be different than our perspective as Christians. When that happens, my default is to choose my Christian perspective rather than my American perspective. How you respond... Is your choice.

As a Christian

If you claim to follow Christ, you regularly find yourself asking, "Will I be representing Jesus well if I do this...?" Sometimes the answer is an obvious "yes" or "no" and sometimes it is far less obvious.

If I were in Kim Davis' shoes my answer to this question might be different than hers.

There comes a time in many people's lives when they are forced to make difficult choices. Despite what Michelob light commercials might say, you can't have it all. You may not always be able to have your dream job AND live a God-honoring life.

Truth be told, many careers currently exist which a Christian should probably not pursue. Perhaps as society morphs and the values of our culture change, that list will grow. Perhaps it has already grown to include certain government positions.

Each of us must determine for ourselves whether we can excel in our career and in doing so represent Jesus well. If we cannot, it may be time for a necessary ending.

Here is where I think Kim Davis has missed the bigger point. There is a way for her to honor the law of the land and to remain faithful to God. It's not easy, but there is a way. She can resign. I completely understand that she has been put in an unfair position. It is a shame that she must make such a choice. But that is the choice she has.

She can choose to assert her rights and take up her case, or she can choose to follow her savior and take up her cross.

As An American

If I take my faith out of this, which I wouldn't choose to do. I would probably side with Kim Davis. As Americans, we usually choose to stand by one another even when we disagree. We are people welded together through compromise and deference. We find solutions rather than exclusions.

Unfortunately, this case was blown into a national feeding frenzy when it probably could have been solved at the local level. Given the opportunity, I'm sure the local officials could have found a way to allow Ms. Davis to honor her conscience while still providing the necessary services required by the law (for what it's worth, it isn't the law yet in Kentucky but it will be eventually).

Sometimes it is good and proper to raise national awareness and to prick the conscience of our population. But not always. Sometimes, we just need to give each other time and space and figure out how to live with one another in spite of our differing opinions.

My last statement is one that could be heeded by all sides of these present debates. Our search for solutions has not been comprehensive enough if we must rob one person of their civil rights in order to provide another with theirs.