Monday, September 6, 2010


I've just started reading a book called Radical. It's already a bit disturbing, but the author asks some questions that have always concerned me. Church, in middle class America, looks nothing like the church in the Bible...but for me, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Being a follower of Jesus, in His own words, has some implications that challenge me. Listen to his words-

Luke 9:57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 59 And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." 60 But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." 61 Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." 62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

So These men come to Jesus and express an interest in following Him and His responses them are-
You can expect homelessness in the journey ahead.
Don't go to your dad's funeral, there's more important work to be done.
You can't go say goodbye to your family, if they're more important than this you're not fit for the kingdom.

What about in Luke 14:25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, `This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 "Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 "Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

Again, what are the implications of the things Jesus is talking about?
Forsaking everything, selling everything, abandoning everything...consider the cost and then decide if you are really willing to follow me.

Another time, a wealthy young man approaches Jesus expressing a desire to follow Him. Jesus responded to him in Mark 10:21b"One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." Again, give up everything and follow me.

Interestingly enough, when Jesus called His disciples, they did just what Jesus is asking these other people to do. They left their businesses, their homes, their families...everything to follow Him.

In Matthew 13, Jesus describes His kingdom like this; vs. 44 "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Again, forsaking everything to follow Him, selling everything to pursue His kingdom.

I've heard many explanations over the years about these texts, what this would have meant in "their" culture. How this was for that dispensation. I've even heard these scriptures used to justify and inspire building programs or commitments to tithing or voluntary service in the nursery.

Here's the thought that troubles me, what if Jesus meant that for me to follow Him I have to be willing to give up everything? I don't see Him telling any of these people to confess, believe and pray this's not in there. He doesn't say to find a good Bible believing church and get plugged in. He says sell it all, forsake it all, give up everything, pick up your cross and come follow me. I've often struggled with how easily we become followers of Jesus today, is it supposed to be that easy? Or is it supposed to be a daunting proposition to be His follower? If it's a simple decision away, then what's all this talk about considering the cost about?

I wonder what the church in America would look like today if we used Jesus outreach strategies? There are many parts of the world where becoming a follower of Jesus means all of these things. Forsaking, selling, abandoning and dying. In America, becoming a follower of Jesus means your Sunday mornings are now booked. And if you're really serious Sunday and Wednesday evenings too. Is it supposed to be like this? Or are we called to something more radical than American Christianity?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

From the hearts of children

Last Sunday I taught our 4th and 5th graders about the crucifixion and death of Jesus. We gave them a time to take sticky notes and write down and questions, prayers or just whatever they wanted to and stick them to the cross in the front of the room.

Here are some of their thoughts and concerns-

Jesus, please help me be a better person and be nicer to my brother.

Please give me your patience and help me through all hard times.

I sometimes have a hard time listening to my parent.

Why were we so important?

You are my LIFE.

Lord I need help understanding you. Will you help me?

Controlling my anger.

Pray for my family and cats.


What should I do to stop my siblings from sin?

For my uncle Rich and that I wouldn’t always be left out of stuff and
that God understands.

Be with my Mom.

You are the light!

Friends, let them stay with me. Let them not go away. Let them stay.

For my uncle Richard.

For my family because of my Grandpa’s death, but I know that he is in Heaven.

Do I need to be a part of the orfanage?

Will you remember me?

Thank you.

Why did you hurt Jesus?

My house was flooded so life is hard.

Thank you Lord for everything. Without you I’d be lost.

You are the Lord my God Almighty.

I love you. You’re my savior. Should I do cheerleading anymore?

God tell me your words. Show me how to listen.

Do you really have a reason for everything?

Why did you make people?

My friend doesn’t know God.

Stop hurting brother and sister. Keep praying.

I have a hard time trusting adults.

Thank you for everything, Jesus. You didn’t deserve to die, I do.

My leg and head problems are increasing.

My grandma that she will live turning 100 May.

What are the roots to my leg and foot problems.

Is it right to miss Bobby even though he is doing better there than here?

Why have I had a bad week. I hope that you will help me next week.

Why did Christ Jesus tell God “Why did you leave me”?

Thank you!

Why do I pressure so much?

My family is breaking.

Jesus I’m just so thankful for what you’ve done for all of us and I
know I could never suffer through the pain you did.

My friend Cristina, she sometimes is mean to me because her parents broke up.

Take my heart Lord.

Help me!

God how did you do it? Don’t forget me.

Jesus help me with my sin for I feel I could fall down crying without you.

I want to come closer to you.

Thank you Jisus (their spelling) : )

Thank you for dying for our sins.

For my aunt to believe in God.

Thank you for dying on the cross! I love you.


How could he talk if he was dead?

Thank you for all you have done! I love you.

Please let our house sell.

Help me understand you more.


Why did God let you die such a horrible death?

Why do we think too much about ourselves?

To come closer to you.

God I need help I don’t know how to stop judging people.

How do I help my parents?

I pray that every kid in the Treehouse will receive salvation!

Can you help Maddie lear about you? Please.

Thank you Jesus.

I hope my friend is ok.

Why did you take away my sins?

Help my friend to stop lying.

How did you create the world?

I’m sorry for being mean to Nana.


To be a better person.

Why can’t God save us now?

My friends Rachel, Julia, and David.

Disobeying parents.

Following the Lord.

Not perfect with you.

How could you love me if I’m so sinful?

Didn’t there have to be a beginning who made God he wouldn’t just show up?

My brother was diagnosed with epilepsy.

My family loves Jesus.

Help me catch up on my Bible reading.

Why do I get migraines?

Hope kids are ok because of kidnapper.

My grandma is still recovering from being sick.

Mrs. Carol’s mom.

My friend Katie. She is bossy to me because her parents are broken up.

Thank you. So much.


How do you enter into the kingdom?

Help me God.

I’m sorry for being mean to Nana.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Clinging to the beam

I saw this video this morning on Donald Miller's blog. I felt that it best described where I've been living in my walk with God for the past few years...

If you know me, you probably know that several years ago we had a really bad experience in ministry. I trusted people, put myself out there and threw myself into the building of a church. I'm not going back into everything that happened in this post. I'm mainly addressing my reaction to the unraveling of what I thought were real friendships. That and the shattering of my perception of what the organized institutional church is all about...and what it is to be a pastor. I believed DEEPLY in all of these things.

Unfortunately, as a result of these very difficult lessons, I decided that I would just hang onto the "balance beam"...not put myself out there, not trust people...particularly pastors and church staff. I've done a fair job of appearing to be "out there for God", but I've been playing it safe, holding back, not letting people...particularly church people, in.

The thing is, I don't want to play it safe...I don't want to hang onto the beam, ease myself to the floor and then stand up like I nailed the dismount. I'm not concerned about being judged harshly for playing it safe. God knows my heart, I just don't believe I'm called to live a safe and comfortable life...I don't see that in the lives of people in the scriptures. I don't pretend to fully know what all of this means, but I do feel like it's time to get back up and start standing on the beam. If I figure out what that looks like I'll be sure to write about it here.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ummm, I really don't know where to begin...

Feel free to share any thoughts that come to mind...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


I'm currently involved in friendships with three other men who are not followers of Jesus. They all believe that they would never be welcomed into any church...that may not be true, but they would not be welcome in many churches. Two have a great deal of church experience which have solidified this belief. One was forced to go to church with his grandmother, the church was independent Baptist and VERY legalistic. He has tattoos and several body piercings that the people at this church told him they either had to be removed or covered with clothing…ah, religion. Yes, cover up who you really are…that way you can look like us…fake.

The other was brought up Catholic. He tells me all the time that he was WAY too religious growing up. His conclusion about religion is this, if you sincerely follow and live out religion, it leads to death. I agree completely, I keep telling him that religion kills people, especially in churches…heck, it killed Jesus. It was also his biggest obstacle to announcing the in-breaking of the kingdom into this world. This response has led to some great conversations. Not about church or sin or repentance, but about Jesus. Who He is, and perhaps more importantly for these two, who he is not. For each of them, they have mistakenly associated Jesus with the religious people and organizations they were exposed to.

The other day I was going to lunch with my ex-catholic friend when we started talking about Jesus. This doesn’t happen often by the way, but every once in a while God interrupts our conversations about life and whatnot to give an opportunity to interject some kingdom truths. As we talked I turned to my buddy and said to him, “You know what I like about you? You don’t have a problem with God, you just hate religion…I think God feels much the same way.” That sparked a really good conversation.

This is something I have found that I like about many “non-church goers”; they really don’t have an issue with God. They just have seen enough religion to know that it’s not the answer…I’ve seen that too. I wonder how accountable the church is for the gross misunderstanding and misrepresentation of who Jesus is.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Building Bridges Pt.2

I was listening to a Christian radio talk show Thursday afternoon. I can't remember who the host was or who their guest was, but the topic was the evil of Islam. Apparently the guest was an author who has written about all of the verses in the Qur'an that talk about killing Infidels, imposing Sharia law, etc. I'm trying to figure out how the body of Christ is served by writing a book of this does this inspire followers of Jesus to reach out to a people that are obviously in need of the truth? One of the greatest deceptions of this modern age against the expansion of the Kingdom of God is that Muslims are an unreachable people. What does believing that lie say about our understanding of who God is?

To be sure, the Qur'an is not to be viewed as equal to the's NOT! However, there are many parallels in the Qur'an to the Bible. And we have to keep in mind, followers of Jesus and Muslims share some of the same ancestry. Abraham is the common thread...these are not people who started off worshiping molech or baal, they were worshipers of the one true God. Rather than spreading fear among followers of Jesus who, by the way, posess the true plan of God for salvation, shouldn't we be equipping ourselves and one another with the truth to set these people free from the deception of a dead religion? Some might say that they are terrorists. Keep in mind that before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul was a Hebrew terrorist. He persecuted the church...and God saved him and used him to write most of the New Testament. Prior to his conversion, the church was afraid of him.

Is the church actually waiting for Muslims to just wake up one day and say, "Wow, we're mistaken! Jesus IS the answer!" on their own? It could happen by divine intervention for sure...but I think God is calling His Church to step up and start bridging the gap between followers of Jesus and Muslims. We cannot expect people who are lost to be the ones who bring peace and unity. It must be the Church of Jesus Christ that takes the initiative.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Denominational damage

I sometimes visit a hunting forum to talk about hunting and outdoor activities with other outdoorsy types. On the forum there is a place designated to discussions and debates of spiritual topics. One thing I like about this forum is the wide variety of denominational and spiritual points of view that are brought to the table.

Earlier this week one of the members of this forum posted a question about the scriptures and whether they were complete and how the Bible came to be as it is today. As we talked about this he was repeatedly attacked by otherwise well meaning Christians as an unbeliever who "would one day find out how wrong he is..." Yes, the hell card. The nuclear weapon of the evangelical church.

I asked him if, in his opinion, we had enough of the scriptures to know about God and His plan for us. Here is his answer-
"I don't know. When I see all the division among the different sects or faiths within the Christian ''families'',it gives me cause to try to find answers. The easiest answer so far has come from looking at the origins of the bible itself. I have not read the deleted books and have only skimmed the apocrypha. Could there be some thing there to unify or clear up the differences ? Again I don't know. And won't until I do the research. For me there is enough in the English bibles for me to make the decision to look else where for my spiritual needs. I would think that Christians would want to know, or have done the research to be able to say '''Such and such a book was deleted because...XYZ.'' But instead most either claim that the bible has held forth for thousands and thousands of years, or attack the person asking , or say What I have
is enough for me.
At best some are condescending and at worst ,just plain ignorant.

What piqued my interest was the fact that this man who is searching for truth in scripture has observed the following, "When I see all the division among the different sects or faiths within the Christian ''families'',it gives me cause to try to find answers. The easiest answer so far has come from looking at the origins of the bible itself. I have not read the deleted books and have only skimmed the apocrypha. Could there be some thing there to unify or clear up the differences?"

My question is, is this how the bride of Christ is supposed to look? Divided? And over what, how we take communion? music styles? teaching styles? how we baptise...sprinkle? dunk? One thing is certain, at least in the eyes of this man, he may not know if the bible is complete or missing certain intended books...but he does know that what he does see in the church is NOT enough to make him satisfied that the Bible is a complete source of truth.

Is this short coming a product of the American church? I'm not sure. In Islam we see the same kinds of divisions. Sunni's, Ahmadiyya, Shi'ite's and Sufism are basically denominations of Islam...and Muslims are killing each other over their differences. When it comes to Muslims it's easy for the Christian to draw the conclusion that these people are just crazy radicals. And it's true that Christians aren't killing one another over denominational differences, but I do see our faith and the word of God cheapened by our petty disagreements.

How did we get here and what do we as followers of Christ do to restore unity in the body of Christ?