The Winds of Change…

Apr 22

Do you remember the guys that would show up to the High School parking lot years after they graduated? We would look at them and think, ‘wow, after I graduate I’m never coming back here again.” We didn’t want to get caught dead being seen in High School after we graduated! That’s what the ‘losers’ did.

As a young Christian I thought that it was my job to not change. To view the world through the doctrines I was taught and to disregard new ideas that get in the way of a ‘Christian worldview.’ I took that role very seriously but then I realized that it was inconsistent with the way of Jesus. God gave us a brain and he designed us to grow.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

Have you ever met a Christian who hasn’t changed since the day you first met them? Still giving the same old tired cliches? Still spouting the company line? No excitement, no freshness, just a stern adherence to the same old…

Don’t get me wrong, certain beliefs will always remain bedrock. I still affirm the Nicene creed and the basic tenants of the faith but something has changed.

It’s like I use to watch a TV show in black/white but then they released a color version on blu-ray. Now, as I rewatch episodes I am seeing things I never saw before. God is doing new things in my heart and teaching me new lessons.

Sometimes I want to go back to the black/white days. It was so much simpler. Less details. Less fogs. But alas, color is in. I want to be that bright-eyed 17 year old who thinks he has it all figured out. I want to be that college student who is talking down to the science professors. It felt good to be naively CERTAIN.

It is better to be the Christian God calls you to be today than to preserve the Christian you were 10 years ago.meg-eric

Imagine if Paul just made copies of the letter of Galatians…imagine if all his letters were just repeats.

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Starbucks

Mar 22

starbucksStarbucks

A home away from home
Everybody connecting or on the phone
Perhaps all of it is a overblown cover for being alone..
Occupy Wallstreet says: Turn this coffee into stone

The caffeine brings high esteem
John puts in cream
Jane is trying to stay lean
Eating and drinking at Starbucks makes them BEAM

Does it really need to be this cold in here?
A customer who sits too long is a worse than a warm beer.
And we don’t want the shareholders to fear.
Getem in, getem out, the stock price must be stout.

Excuse me sir: How much for a cup of coffee and a home away from home?
At Starbucks it costs Fivebucks
Oh, what a deal
Yes, of course, a great deal, maybe even a steal?

My brother said, ‘Everybody is waiting in line to be special.’
Bono said, ‘Everybody is running to stand still’

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What is Happening with Me?

Mar 15

photoIt has been a long time since I’ve shamelessly spilled my guts on the Internet for the world to see. I have learned that it isn’t always best to ‘cast your pearls before pigs’ (of course I’m not talking about my audience). :) Sarcasm off. But every now and then, a dump session is good for the ego. It lets people know you are a real person who has real conflicts.

 My personality type is always reaching for success. I could be unemployed, flat broke, and hurting, but I will go to great lengths to show the world that I am successful. I was born with a need to succeed and will work toward that no matter what situation I am in.

I have set the bar high for myself. At this age, I expected to be married with many kids, leading a new church movement that would make a positive impact in the world, and be financially bank rolling it all.

Instead, I am 32, single (and loving it), working as an assistant Pastor at a small church in Duncanville (with amazing students who are a blessing to work with), doing important Database work at a Private School, and no children (at least that I know of)  - sarcasm back on). :)

My new life, this life, today, now, I am learning to listen to the voice within – The one that God placed there a long time ago. I am learning that success has many faces. My Master Jesus died on a bloody cross. I am learning to be authentic and the important thing is who you really ARE. It doesn’t matter how others see you if they don’t see reality.

I am learning that my past and my future play a role but that my present situation is the one I have. Switchfoot has a lyric ‘this is your life, and today is all you got NOW.’

I am learning – I am growing – I am wrestling with what it means to be human. I’m going through ups and downs. I’m experiencing mistakes, successes, and forgiveness. I’m learning about letting go and embracing. I’m focusing on enjoying the many faces and the many blessings that are daily available.

I hope to publish a book by the end of this year. I am attractive and attract many girls but have not chosen one to be my lawfully wedded bride…yet.

I am in season 2 of Game of Thrones and also a couple other shows. I am madly waiting for the final season of Mad Men to begin. Hopefully Don will find the gospel.

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The Nature of the Bible

Mar 08

natureofthebible

College was such an important time for my spiritual development. I was convinced that I knew everything….because I went by “God’s Word!” There were all sorts of Christian books about ‘knowing God’s Word.’ This was perfect slogan for a young feeble-minded college student looking to build a framework for processing life.

Then one day… I realized that knowing the Bible ‘intellectually’ has its limitations.

In the Bible, there is a story about a King who asked his prophets if he should go to war? His prophets agreed that God would grant the victory! Conversely, there was one unique prophet named Micaiah who said something strange. He said God sent a misleading spirit in order to bait the king into a deadly war. The King ignored the prophet Micaiah’s ‘deceptive spirit’ theory and went to war. Shortly after the war began the King was killed!

 1 Kings 22:20-23 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’ “One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’” ‘By what means?’ the LORD asked. ” ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. ” ‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’ “So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.”

The King was given God’s Word but the King didn’t have God’s heart. Many people claim to know God’s Word. They might be super smart, intellectual and consistent. Or they might be misled, angry, and misleading others. Hiding behind the Bible and religion is an ancient practice that has been mastered by many. Eventually, the fake-phony-facade wears off and the real you shines through.

Howard Hendricks at Dallas Theological Seminary used to say, ‘Do you read the Bible or does the Bible read you?”

 

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Pastor & Priest

Oct 09

Throughout the years I’ve had many people ask me about the differences between a Priest and a Pastor. This is a difficult question because there are several interrelated strands…. Most people aren’t interested in the historical or theological intricacies. Rather, I find most people are interested in practical differences.

Here is a simple question that might help to frame the issue: What’s the difference between a President and a King? Both of these titles distinguish a person who rules but the structure behind these titles and their roles include differences. For example, a King may employ a president (lower-case) to enforce different offices. It works the same way with a Priest and a Pastor. Both titles denote a person who leads in some spiritual sense but the systems and functions have nuances that modify the duties and perception of the position.

Within Christendom, often Protestants call their spiritual leaders “Pastor” whereas Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox adherents call their spiritual leaders “Priest”. However, there are instances when these two terms are used interchangeably.

For example, Anglican or Episcopal Priests can be married and have children but Roman Catholic Priests usually cannot. Hence, both are called Priests but because they belong to different traditions, their positions are different. Think of French fries and potato wedges…..

Here are some quick snippets:

  1. Pastors do not have a standardized ordination process unless they are members of a specific denomination (Presbyterian/Lutheran/Methodist…etc); Priests do have a standardized ordination process.
  2. Pastors may get married; Roman Catholic Priests cannot but Anglican and Eastern Orthodox can.
  3. Pastors may have children; Priests cannot but Anglican and Eastern Orthodox can.
  4. Pastors may dress in any appropriate manner; Priests wear the clerical apparel.

Obviously this blog is not exhaustive but this question is certainly bigger than a blog posting. Here is a blog that goes into more detail: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/blackwhiteandgray/2012/01/what%E2%80%99s-the-difference-between-a-pastor-and-a-priest/

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Christianity – More than Beliefs

Sep 26

For the longest time I believed Christianity was about having the right beliefs and about sticking to those beliefs no matter what. I was taught to believe in the midst of doubt. What followed was a list of propositions to believe:

Jesus is God

Jesus will return

Salvation by grace through faith

And the list goes on…..

I believe these propositions but something changed a few years ago when I started asking some questions:

  1. What difference does it make?
  2. So what?
  3. Am I not going to still put on the same pair of pants tomorrow morning and go through a similar routine?

At the end of the day, if we have memorized code words or statements that don’t intersect with or influence how we live our life then what’s the point? Being able to regurgitate answers for a test is cool until you get a real job.

I think more Christians need to start asking, ‘so what?” “What difference does it make?” “Why is this important?” For example, lets take the “Jesus is God” proposition. So what if Jesus is God? What difference does it make?

In short, the idea that Jesus is God has far reaching implications. For starters, it means that God has been revealed to us through Jesus. This person was gracious, honest and forgiving. If God is gracious, honest and forgiving then we ought to do the same since our Creator made us to be like him.

What we believe needs to transfer into how we act. If not, then we are just a dictionary. If our beliefs don’t help us to become a better person then we’ve got to go deeper.

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A Good Church – Who Can Find Her?

Sep 24

How can a person find a good church?

What’s important?

We often forget that all church communities are made up of people who have their strengths and weaknesses. Some churches have excellent teaching and do a really poor job of living out those teachings as a community. Other churches have terrible teaching but are highly involved in making the world a better place. Still other churches have excellent teaching and actions, but are filled with socially awkward people. Finally, there are churches that are not really churches. They’re more like country clubs.

My suggestion to you is to commit. Find a church to commit to. Over time, you will recognize what the strengths are, as well as what the weaknesses are, and you will find areas of refreshment and service.

We are a society who loves to explore ALL the options and run from commitment. You can improve a church by committing to it. Many dying churches could use new life and new ideas. Push your way through. Do not be intimidated by stingy leaders and idealizations. GET REAL..

Just like any relationship, there may come a time to move on. I get it. I have had to do the same thing. But…the longer I’ve committed the more the church has become my home.

John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ Apply that to your pursuit of a church community.

Nobody owns the church. It is always up for sale. Show up with 20 friends, and make it your home. You would be surprised how much influence you can have and how much of an impact you can make in a church. Your voice/heart matters.

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