Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"Alafia" Peace!

On Christmas day, while many tripped out on tryptophan and some were comatose on cake, others were dying from a senseless, heinous and criminal act of terrorism in Nigeria, carried out by a group that represents a growing terrorist threat globally. You see, Islamic Nigeria's answer to Al Qaeda and the Taliban is a group known as Boko Haram. 

The term "Boko Haram" comes from the Hausa word boko meaning "Animist, western or otherwise non-Islamic education" and the Arabic word haram figuratively meaning "sin" (literally, "forbidden")

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for planning and carrying out a series of coordinated attacks targeting churches in Nigeria on Christmas Day, in which an estimated 40 people lost their lives. The most serious blast took place on the outskirts of the capital Abuja claiming at least 30 lives.

Observers say the group, which has carried out dozens of violent attacks since its formation, is increasingly expanding the scope and sophistication of its operations. Why are they doing it you may ask? 

While the answer is a lot more complicated than I care to write about here, in simple terms they'd like to see Western influence and education completely eradicated from Northern Nigeria and Sharia law implemented as the penal system. 

For those who may not be aware, Nigeria represents the largest population of black people on earth with over one hundred and sixty million people living in a land area about two and a half times the size of Texas. There are over 350 ethnic groups and 250 languages.

With roughly 50% of the population professing Christianity, 47% professing Islam, and 3% animist, it's a cauldron of potent and toxic emotions waiting to explode at every turn. Sadly, we accomplish nothing other than hurting ourselves as we kill each other simply because we view the world from different perspectives.

Today, following the senseless attacks, all that's changed in Nigeria is that a few more families carry the scars and bitterness of having needlessly lost loved ones who are merely collateral damage in an un-winnable war against ourselves.

So, what's the answer? Well, the Scriptures do call Jesus the Prince of Peace and declare that God is Love. They also testify that Love covers a multitude of sins. This means that the only way to win this war is to fight the battle where it needs to be fought and with weapons that enable you win the war.

"We are not fighting against flesh and blood but against spiritual enemies in the heavenly places," declares the book of Ephesians. 1 Corinthians adds, "The weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual weapons that attack demonic strongholds...." Love is the only guaranteed weapon with which to win this war!

This music video is a brilliant reminder by a Nigerian artiste that "Alafia" (peace) is the way to resolve these incendiary issues that seemingly have no beginning and no end. Enjoy! And please remember to say a prayer for the families of the victims of the Boko Haram bombings.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Gospel of "Good News"

Let me begin by saying that I’m not advocating a gospel of “suffering.” But, it must also be said that I’m not advocating a gospel of “suffering-free living” either. In fact, I am not advocating any gospel at all other than that which has been given in the Scriptures. It is a gospel of “Good News.”

What’s the Good News? Jesus has once and for all paid the price for the sins of mankind. We are free to choose Him in order to successfully navigate the life we’ve been called to live...or not to choose Him. To choose Him does not preclude suffering! It also doesn’t preclude prosperity, divine health and healing, deliverance...and the list goes on. It does however preclude a carte blanche, wholesale interpretation of the Gospel as being a guarantee that everything in life will work out just as you want it to simply because you’ve prayed.

Christians still die of dysentery, malaria, murder and other maladies. They lose jobs, loved ones, houses and cars. Does this call into question their spirituality and prayer life? Resoundingly “No!”

Sadly, too many Christians are plagued with the tendency to extract a single verse in isolation—to the detriment of the surrounding verses—and interpret it, for better or for worse, as God’s direct mandate for their lives. For instance, many years ago the book “The Prayer of Jabez” had the unintended result of being interpreted as a promise that if we simply prayed, God would remove all pain and suffering from our lives. Amazingly, this prayer was taken from two obscure verses in 1 Chronicles 4 that were lumped in the midst of a slew of genealogies listing the descendants of Judah.

Why is that amazing you might ask? Well, interpreted as a promise from God to every praying Christian, as opposed to a direct and specific testimonial to Jabez, puts us in a world of utter confusion. Let me explain. Since Jabez lived before Paul, it’s conceivable that Paul had read these obscure verses, especially since he himself was lettered and well versed in the Torah. Paul believed in prayer. If any one knew how to pray, it was Paul. In fact, here’s what Paul said about prayer in addressing the pseudo-spirituality of the Corinthian Church:

“I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you...”

In encouraging the Church at Thessalonica he declared:

“Pray without ceasing.”

These are bold statements to make unless you’re truly a man of prayer who is confident in the knowledge that his prayers are powerful and efficacious. But here’s what the same Paul had to say about prayer as he expressed his vulnerability—something which too many Christians sadly term weakness—and frustration in his second letter to the Church at Corinth:

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.””

What? You mean the powerfully praying Paul had an unanswered prayer? Where does that leave us mere mortals then? Better still, where does that leave us in light of the mass interpretation of the Prayer of Jabez? Clearly, whatever Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, it was painful enough that he sought God on three different occasions that it be removed from Him, yet God declined to comply with Paul’s “prayer request.”

I don’t know if I can personally look at a whole City of people and declare, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you...” yet Paul did! I’m confident I don’t “pray without ceasing,” yet Paul advocated it for the Thessalonians which would seem to indicate that it was a practice he was familiar with (otherwise it would be hypocritical to advocate it when you’re not doing it yourself).

Yet, with his apparently extensive arsenal of prayer, the prayer of Jabez didn’t work for Paul even though he was a powerful, praying Christian. My point? Christianity, in all of its complexities, is at once a personalized faith and a communal journey. We can’t walk it alone, yet we each have to work it out for ourselves. So if we judge Christians who are suffering, as weak and powerless in prayer, then we are obligated to apply the same standard to John the Baptist who was beheaded by Herod. To Isaiah who was sawn in two. And to ten of the twelve disciples who died as martyrs for their faith. Evidently, the prayer of Jabez wasn’t able to keep them from pain and suffering.

Finally, it’s important to again recognize the words of Paul—writer of almost two-thirds of the New Testament—to the Church at Corinth as he addresses the issue of God expanding his territory and influence:

“Are they serving Christ? I am serving Him more. (I am crazy to talk like this). I have worked much harder than they. I have been in prison more often. I have been hurt more in beatings. I have been near death many times. Five times the Jews have given me their punishment of thirty-nine lashes with a whip. Three different times I was beaten with rods. One time I was almost stoned to death. Three times I was in ships that wrecked, and one of those times I spent a night and a day in the sea. I have gone on many travels and have been in danger from rivers, thieves, my own people, the Jews, and those who are not Jews.

I have been in danger in cities, in places where no one lives, and on the sea. And I have been in danger with false Christians. I have done hard and tiring work, and many times I did not sleep. I have been hungry and thirsty, and many times I have been without food. I have been cold and without clothes. Besides all this, there is on me every day the load of my concern for all the churches.”

How do you top that? Evidently Paul’s commitment to his faith had little or nothing to do with whether or not he was “abounding or abasing.” It mattered little to him that he had suffered, and he in fact counted it a privilege to bear the stripes of suffering for the sake of the Gospel. So whether you believe in a “prosperity” or a “suffering” gospel, the real “Good News” is that Jesus has paid the price for all of our sins and we are called to share that fact with everyone, regardless of what your personal theological leanings might be.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Just Your Typical, Friendly Neighborhood Tram Ride

Okay, let me give you fair warning: This video is extremely explicit in its liberal use of foul language but I'm making no apologies for posting it since there's a bigger picture that I'm painting here. So, if you can't handle the language, and if you're inclined to get on your moral high horse and tell me how wrong I am for posting this video, please, slowly back away from The Journeyman and find a blog that has more Sunday School content to your liking. I'm satisfied with my own horse and don't need the use of yours!

This video, posted only yesterday on youtube, is the very definition of viral. It's had almost two and a half million hits as at the time of my embedding it. I love that! No, not the content of the video silly, I love the fact that it's so culturally relevant that as many as two and a half million people have already watched it and reposted it in some form or another. Now, I don't know the many and varied reasons why the video has been reposted, but I certainly know why I'm posting it here.

You see, recently I was teaching on a passage of Scripture taken from Luke 10:25-37--It's come to be popularly known as the story of "The Good Samaritan." It strikes me that the object lesson which Jesus was attempting to illustrate was the idea of what one must do to "inherit eternal life." Jesus is asked this question by a well-learned attorney at law. He responds by asking the attorney what the Good Book has to say about it. The attorney responds, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

That last little detail, it would appear, might have been somewhat of a sticking point for our wise and learned friend, and so he asks Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" I'm eternally grateful that he asked this question, and that Jesus answered it leaving no room for equivocation, otherwise I'm fully persuaded that this would have been an eternal, long-standing and contentious debate amongst believers, as to who our neighbor actually is.

Jesus' response? He told the story of the Good Samaritan. Now, for the sake of brevity I'm not inclined to repeat the story in too much detail here, so if you're somewhat behind on your Bible knowledge stories then read it here so that you can follow along with the rest of us as we embark on this journey of discovery. Suffice it to say that in the story we discover that your neighbor is the very person who has persecuted and judged you the most and the loudest.

There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans (this fact is highlighted for us in John 4:9 in the story of the Woman at the Well). Samaritans were regarded as half-breed Jews and outside of the covenant God had made with Abraham. They had been persecuted endlessly and were not even accepted in their own homeland. As the story goes, a Jew had been robbed, beaten and left to die by the side of the road. First a priest and then a Levite (holy man) came upon his bloodied body and crossed the street to the other side, presumably so that they wouldn't be late for their appointments to save the world.

Then along comes this Samaritan who, not only tends to the wounds of his Jewish adversary, but he places him on his own horse (note that it wasn't a high horse) and brought him to an inn for rest and recuperation. He proceeded to pay for his care out of his personal funds and committed to pay whatever else was due and payable upon his return from his originally proposed journey (which he had clearly abandoned until the following day so that he could care for a man who thought of him as a second class citizen). Do you see the parallels yet?

This is not a condescending attempt to be charitable toward the lady who spewed so much noxious venom in her diatribe above. It is simply an attempt to live out the true intent and meaning of the Scriptures. Jesus declared "Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?" The learned lawyer answered, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus responded, "You go, and do likewise." I guess that settles it. You can't argue your way out of that one can you?

I don't know anything about this lady. For all we know she may have been abused or abandoned by her parents. She may well have been abused or molested by the only black people she knew growing up. She may even have been bullied in school or abandoned by her husband for another woman... heck, she might just have been having a bad day. Or not! Whatever the case, it's an irrelevant detail. Jesus made it clear that the one that's our neighbor is not just the one that sits beside us in Sunday School, that looks nice, smells nice and speaks Christianese.

In fact, it would appear that Jesus wanted to make it abundantly clear that our neighbor is the one who wishes us ill and hopes for our demise. Our neighbor is the one that spews vitriol on the tram, calling us names and deriding us for even thinking that England could be our country if we're black... or Polish! Evidently it has little to do with the color of your skin as much as it has to do with anyone who wasn't born in the UK and who doesn't speak with an English accent.

So while this video is going viral, you might be tempted to join the bandwagon of haters and deriders screaming for her head. If you're a Christ-follower, then according to Jesus, that is the wrong response. Can you imagine what it could do for her and her child who is subjected to being raised with such unfounded prejudice, if we, instead of calling for her head, determined to kill her...with kindness and love?

Imagine what could happen if millions of Christ-followers who viewed this video decided to take a moment out of their busy "priest and levite" schedule and just become the Samaritan that cares enough to deviate from the norm and pray for her? Oh the endless possibilities. Just my two cents!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The New Cultural Inventors of Evil


This is a rant. Actually, this is an angry rant. If you’re not up to it, slowly take your fingers off the keyboard and back away from the computer. Still here? Okay, just as long as you don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It’s a given that in our post-modern world there are things that go on that—shall we say—raise the eyebrows.

Some of those things I find mildly irritating, while others I find somewhat frustrating.

This is neither!

This makes me want to blow a gasket. This makes me downright angry. This sickens me to my gut.

My wife called my attention to an article she’d recently read and I just about threw up my breakfast (and if you know me you'll know I'm really partial to my food).

There’s a store in the Greely Mall in Greely, Colorado that has reinvented the boundaries of lasciviousness and debauchery. Kids N Teen sells crotchless panties for girls as young as seven years old! Yep, you heard me right. I said seven years old!!!

What? Please forgive me for being such a prude, but somewhere we’ve crossed the line from being culturally relevant to being creepy, lewd and perverse.

Crotchless panties—if I’m not mistaken—are products made to heighten sexual pleasure for adults. It’s not my business what adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms, but I certainly draw the line when it involves sexualizing seven year olds.

What were they thinking? Well, when confronted the store claimed that the underwear was meant for high school girls. Oh, okay. Forgive my cynicism but am I to understand that that makes it more acceptable?

My youngest child is a freshman in high school and she’s almost fifteen. If anyone—and I mean anyone—gave her a gift of crotchless panties, you’d have to visit that person in hospital and then stop off at the jail to visit me afterwards.

In case you missed the question the first time let me ask it again: What the heck were they thinking? Actually, the real question should probably be, “Were they thinking?”

Here’s what bothers me the most; in doing market research to determine the viability of such a despicable product, who did they poll? Better yet, who did they determine to be their target market?

Last I checked, seven-year-olds don’t go shopping by themselves. There isn’t a parent that I know that would be purchasing crotchless panties for their seven year olds, so that leaves only pedophiles and child abusers as a possible target market.

With that in mind, the owners of that store should be put in prison and introduced to the prison population as child molesters and then left with them for a couple of days. That should, hopefully, serve to reorient their broken and perverted perspective.

While due credit must be given to the angry parents that forced the store to remove the “thong panties” from the shelves, it must also be noted that sadly, our culture feeds this kind of perversion and voyeurism.

Shows like TLC’s (The Learning Channel-what a contradiction in terms) Toddlers and Tiaras glorifies the sexualization of kids. Spoiled and pampered five year olds are dressed up and made up to look like what can only be described as painted dolls, all in a bid to satisfy their parents missing childhoods.

The parents who parade their children in such despicable ways are setting them up for a painful future, but that’s another story for another time. My wife—being so much more gracious than I am—calls these parents “Troubled.”

I have a different word for them, but for the sake of my audience let’s just say I consider them deviant and demonized!

We are a nation in dire straits. When the freedom to choose leads us down the path to inescapable bondage to illicit and perverted sex, then we are no longer free. The Scriptures have this to say;

“People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking and to do things they should not do. They are filled with every kind of sin, evil, selfishness....They invent ways of doing evil.”
-Romans 1:28-30

Monday, October 24, 2011


Over the last week I’ve watched two different documentaries on the life and legacy of Steve Jobs, including an interview with his biographer. To say the least, they’ve left my head swimming with numerous thoughts and ideas. Prone to bouts of anomie, Steve Jobs’ story paints him as being neither the happiest, nor the easiest of people to get along with. Adopted by a blue collar couple in northern California, his father drilled into him the need to be ‘perfect’ at everything he did, and as he grew older, this value made him extremely intolerant of imperfections and perceived weakness.

But for all his perceived weltschmerz, Steve Jobs was arguably the greatest visionary of our time. He single handedly reshaped our world with his vision of simple, elegant, and user friendly technology. Amazingly, Steve and Apple didn’t actually invent the personal computer or the mp3 player, but simply envisioned how they could improve upon existing technology. The ipod, the iphone, the ipad, the imac all changed our world and how we interface with technology and each other.

Imagine being the one responsible for restructuring and reshaping how recording companies do business. Imagine telling them what they are going to charge for their music and, indeed that they’re going to have to sell individual songs and not just whole albums! That’s what Steve Jobs did when he started the ipod and itunes revolution. But the appeal of the i-products is so much more than just functionality, as the aesthetic appeal has made it almost unacceptable not to own one. It would appear that your social status is enhanced simply because you own an i-product. From owning a mere 6% market share of personal computers, and 90 days away from filing for bankrupcy when he returned to Apple, Jobs turned the company into the second largest corporation in the world, second only to Exxon Mobil.

Apple’s i-product appeal has gone global and Jobs’ influence reaches far beyond the shores of the USA. At his death, people held vigils with their ipads burning eternal candles with flickering flames. But it’s not just the music, phone, and computer industries that have been revolutionized because of Steve Jobs’ vision; even the education industry has been revolutionized (especially in the area of teaching autistic children) because of the introduction of the ipad tablet in response to Kindle’s book reader. Where Kindle saw a revolutionary book reader, Steve Jobs saw a life changing tablet.

“How on earth do you propose to weave all that into i-gospel,” I hear you ask? Well, consider this: As Christ followers we’re invited to be part of a revolution that changes our world in every strata of society much like Jobs has done with his ‘i-product’ technology, except that what we offer has eternal value. Richard Stearns, in his book, The Hole In Our Gospel, puts it like this;

Didn’t Jesus always care about the whole person—one’s health, family, work, values, relationships, behavior toward others—and his or her soul? Jesus’ view of the gospel went beyond a bingo card transaction; it embraced a revolutionary new view of the world, an earth transformed by transformed people, His “disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19 NKJV), who would usher in the revolutionary kingdom of God. Those words from the Lord’s Prayer, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” were and are a clarion call to Jesus’ followers not just to proclaim the good news but to be the good news, here and now (Matt. 6:10). This gospel—the whole gospel—means much more than the personal salvation of individuals. It means a social revolution.

Remember that Jesus’ mission statement simply reads; “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) This means that the message of God’s love is designed simply, elegantly, and functionally, so that it can be embraced by all people, beginning a revolution that changes the status quo. The thing is though, you may be the only ‘i-gospel’ some people will ever see. So what do they see when they see you? A revolutionary 'product' like the iphone or the ipad that they long to possess, or an old MS DOS word processor that serves no useful purpose in a world of i-products? Hey, I’m just the messenger!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hole In Our Gospel!

Over the course of my journey in Christ, I’ve constantly been shaped and reshaped. My thinking has continually been challenged and modified and then challenged again. My interpretation of God’s purpose for my life has vacillated back and forth like a yoyo, and at the worst of times, I’ve wondered if He does indeed have a purpose for my life at all!

At different junctures of my life, when it would appear that I’ve just about run out of answers, I’ve often found a book that profoundly influenced my life and reshaped my thinking and my approach to living out the gospel message. Chuck Colson’s How Now Shall We Live was one such book, as was Mark Batterson’s In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day.... Of course, the problem is, once I start naming books that have impacted me at significant moments in my life, it’s difficult to find the appropriate stopping point, and so I’ll just stop at those two books and apologize to the amazing author’s whose books I’ve not mentioned but who have had a profound impact in my life.

This past weekend I was in San Antonio, TX speaking for a dear friend of mine. As I waited in his office before the start of service, I browsed his bookshelf and came upon a book with an intriguing title (If you ever want to get me to read a book, just tell me it has an off-the-wall title and I’m usually sold). It shouted off the bookshelf amongst all the other books as it declared: The Hole in Our Gospel. “I wonder what that’s about,” I thought to myself, and so I picked it up and haven’t put it down since (No I didn’t steal it, my friend let me borrow it).

It’s written by Richard Stearns (President of World Vision since 1998, and former President of Parker Brother’s Games at the tender age of 33). The thing about this book is that it screams at me in words similar to ones that I’ve spoken for quite a while now, and so it was hugely inspiring to find someone else, someone with a lot more ‘street credibility’ than me, echoing the same sentiments. Here’s an excerpt from the book that spoke to me powerfully (and I hadn’t even gotten past the introduction yet);

"You might imagine the author of a book challenging you to respond to the great needs of the poorest people in our world—an author who, in fact, leads a large, global humanitarian organization that feeds the hungry, assists disaster victims, and cares for widows and orphans across the planet—to be some kind of spiritual hero or saint. You might even be inclined to think of me as a “Mother Teresa” in a business suit. But if you have any of those impressions, you are sorely mistaken. Let me clear that up right at the outset. I, too, have had a lifelong battle trying to “walk the talk.” I am certainly no saint or hero, and I never set out to “save the world”—I didn’t have that kind of courage or imagination. I was a most reluctant recruit to this cause—in many ways a coward. But as you read a little more about my story, my hope is that you’ll learn from my mistakes and laugh a little at my failures. That God still chooses to use flawed human beings like me is both astonishing and encouraging. And if He can use me, He can use you."

If you’re even remotely like me in that you so desperately want to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, these words probably speak to you just as powerfully because they remind you that even after all the boneheaded decisions and poor choices you’ve made along the course of your journey, God can and will still use you. These words remind us that our failures and our mistakes are all part of shaping our story, and it’s been said ad naseum that, “He who tells the best story, wins the world.” Your story is integral in helping others shape their destiny, especially the seemingly unsavory and difficult parts, the failures, and the uncertainties. Why? Because they make you just as human as the next person and reassures them that if you can navigate the pitfalls of life successfully, so can they!

Friday, August 5, 2011

'Re'-Defining Success!

"Success is not sustainable if it's defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once captivated me - 40,000 stores! - are not what matter. The only number that matters is "one". One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time. We had to get back to what mattered most." ~ Howard Schulz (CEO of Starbucks Coffee)

There's something inately comforting about this quote. I imagine though, that it probably only brings comfort to those who've tried to succeed with numbers and have failed in some form or another. Here's what I'm trying to say: Building a mega church was once a goal for me! It isn't any more. But that's not because I built one and then decided that it wasn't my thing. On the contrary, it's because I tried to build one and couldn't. For me though, that's a good thing. It may not be so for you. Let me explain.

Howard Schulz was CEO of Starbucks and built the business into a very successful company (Any one who can convince people to part with $5.00 for a cup of coffeee is a brilliant strategist and entrepreneur in my book). He eventually left that position to become Chairman of the Board. Unfortunately, after his departure as CEO, Starbucks began to lose their market lead and their client base. Why? Howard's quote above is the reason they finally came up with after he returned to the position of CEO and did some exploratory research into why they were not as successful as they'd been in the past. But this post isn't actually about Coffee or Starbucks, it's about church planting and pastoring. Huh? Just go with me on this for a moment.

For church planters and pastors it's so easy to get caught up in the 'numbers game' and think that the success of your church is determined purely by attendance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Conversely though, the danger with dispeling the value of attendance numbers, is the fact that numbers represent people. That's what really speaks to me about Howard's quote. It's not the numbers I'm concerned with, after all, if you're truly reaching and impacting people's lives your attendance is bound to grow. My concern is that we all too often lose sight of the individual and only see the numbers. In my case, once numbers ceased to be the sole motivating factor in building a church, I began to see the individual. The hurting, seeking, and broken people that sorround me daily and that desperately cry out for answers. That shift in paradigm suddenly made pastoring infinitely more meaningful to me than a slammin' Sunday service (though that's a great thing to have). That's essentially what I hear Howard saying when he says "the only number that matters is One."

Seems to me he's in pretty good company since Jesus was concerned about the "one" too. You see, in the parable of the Lost Sheep, He tells us that the Shepherd (Himself) leaves the 99 to go and search for the 1. That becomes really, really important when that 1 is you!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pass the Morality 'Box' Please!

The majority of us have been born, bred, and raised in a system of religious rules and laws that satisfy our inherent need for a neat ‘box’ of moral understanding. We’re often extremely smug in the knowledge that we largely avoid “bad” behavior, but in being that way, we’re actually missing the point of morality.

Morality isn’t about following a set of rules, it isn’t about meeting a quota of prayer, and it isn’t even about faithful church attendance, as vital to the Christian faith as all these things may be. Morality is about living out the character of the One who defines morality. It’s about loving other’s completely and unconditionally even when they seem unlovable.

If Jesus is the standard for ‘Christian’ morality, and He is, then let’s attempt to view His life through the lens of our often misguided sense of morality: His response to the woman caught in adultery would have earned Him ridicule and ostracism by our ‘morality police’ because, after all, adultery is a sin and to deal with it with such ‘casual dismissal’ and forgiveness as He did would have sent a message that sexual sin is acceptable. If you don’t believe me, simply observe the reactions of the ‘godly’ men of the day, holding their stones of judgment, just waiting to purge society of this miscreant who would deface their religion by living such an immoral life. For those who might need it spelled out completely, Jesus, responding with compassion, looked beyond just the simple act of adultery, to the history and heart of the woman in question.

If that doesn’t throw a wrench in the wheel of our morality police, let’s examine His instructions to His disciples as He sent them into the city to go and prepare for their Passover meal together. He actually instructed them to go to someone’s house, untie his donkey and bring it back to Him. If anyone asked what they were doing, he further offered, they were simply to reply, “The Master has need of it.” What?! Rather than ask permission, they were to simply take the donkey and only explain if someone saw them and enquired? What if no one saw them, what was the actual owner of the donkey to think when he discovered his priced possession had been ‘stolen’?

The rules of morality, at least as we express them, would suggest that they should have asked permission first before ‘borrowing’ the donkey, but not according to Jesus’ instructions. Now I’m sure theologically smarter people than me have written whole treatises on the finer points of ‘borrowing’ a donkey without first asking for permission, but that isn’t my objective here. So what’s my point I hear you ask? Simply this: You can’t put morality in neat little boxes governed by strict rules. The life and love of God are key and indispensible factors in playing out true Christian morality.

Those who seek to package morality in neat little box of rules and regulations are soon confronted with a dilemma, especially if they are willing to read the Bible without a preconceived set of ideas in the foreground. They are unclear as to what to do with stories of people like Rahab “the harlot.” Was she moral? In hiding the Israelite spies and protecting God’s people, she outright lied to the authorities regarding their whereabouts. Since those who follow rules have determined that lying is always a sin and always wrong, where do they place Rahab?

Now, if you don’t listen carefully, you might misconstrue me to be preaching some version of moral relativity, but that is absolutely not the case. I’m simply saying that morality isn’t about a set of rules, it’s about displaying the character of Christ in any given situation and loving the people He paid a high price for, and if you try to make it solely about following rules and regulations (like the Pharisees did), you are guaranteed to run in to many road blocks that make it difficult for you to live out your faith with any significant impact in the lives of the people who don’t believe the way you do.

I imagine that many Christians have heard of Corrie Ten Boom. Her life story is filled with intrigue, risk, and adventure as she grew up during Hitler’s reign of terror and his attempt to impose Nazi dominance on the known world. That season brought about a lifestyle of tremendous uncertainty for Corrie and her family. They had an active ‘scheme’ going to hide Jews from the German authorities and then out right lie about it. Were they moral in trying to protect the innocent lives of God’s chosen people through lying and scheming? Does the fact that a self-proclaimed ruler of the world, a madman and megalomaniac, gassed 6 million innocent Jews make any difference to your position? I guess how you answer that question will reveal on which side of the morality conversation you pitch your tent.

God is on Facebook!

Saw this on a friends FB page and really loved it. Feel free to share it if you like it too! BTW, click on the image to enlarge it so that you can read the text better.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Future is Now!!!

The future will be heavily influenced by those who see possibilities and act on them before they become obvious. Did you know that the top ten jobs of 2011 didn't exist in 2004? We're actually preparing the next generation for jobs that don't even exist yet, and to resolve and deal with problems that we don't even know are problems. 20 years ago the internet was a virtually unknown quantity. Today any business worth its salt must not only maintain a presence on the internet, but must actively use social media in their networking. This video speaks volumes more than words so watch it and enjoy.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Vicissitudes of Life

“Later, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his followers came to be alone with him. They said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that it is time for you to come again and for this age to end?” Jesus answered, “Be careful that no one fools you. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am Christ,’ and they will fool many people. You will hear about wars and stories of wars that are coming, but don’t be afraid. These things must happen before the end comes.
Nations will fight against other nations; kingdoms will fight against other kingdoms. There will be times when there is no food for people to eat, and there will be earthquakes in different places. These things are like the first pains when something new is about to be born.
Then people will arrest you, hand you over to be hurt, and kill you. They will hate you because you believe in me. At that time, many will lose their faith, and they will turn against each other and hate each other. Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe lies. There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other. But those people who keep their faith until the end will be saved. The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.”
Matthew 24: 3 – 14 (NCV)

In the last month or so there have been countless dissertations written in response to the controversial “Love Wins” book written by Rob Bell. In one instance there was a more than 21-page response dissecting every detail of Bell’s ‘irresponsible’ theology, and the negative and dangerous impact it would have on well meaning Truth-seekers. Rob was labeled a “dangerous heretic” and those of us who tried to suggest that, regardless of his theological position on heaven and hell, he had a lot to say worthy of consideration, were almost similarly labeled.

I was appalled to read a commentary that boldly declared, “Love doesn’t win Jesus does….” Huh? Did I miss the fine print somewhere? Doesn’t the Bible declare that God is Love? Doesn’t it emphatically state that Love covers a multitude of sin? Isn’t the Bible abundantly clear on the notion that to find eternal life you must “Love God, and love your neighbor?” If these statements are true, and indeed they are, then how does love not win? Nevertheless, some people I greatly respect in ministry sounded the alarm as to the danger that Rob Bell posed to the Gospel message. Some suggested that if he was wrestling with his own personal demons from his childhood, he should keep that wrestling to himself and not write a book about it.

And so it was that Rob Bell was consigned to the scrapheap of heretical irrelevance. Now fast forward a few weeks, and out of the woodwork comes crawling an old ‘adversary.’ The infamous Harold Camping, 89 years old, returned with his ‘doomsday prophecy’ regarding the end of the world. Harold had previously, dutifully informed a watching world that our end was slated for 1994. Since 1994 has come and gone, it’s pretty apparent that Harold miscalculated. However, “newer evidence” has assured him that this time he’s right. So confident was he in his mathematical calculations about the end of the world (the apocalyptic judgment spoken of in the Book of Revelation) being on May 21, 2011, that part of his multi-million dollar advertising campaign stated “The Bible guarantees it.”

Sadly for Harold and his agenda, May 21, 2011 has come and gone and, just like back in 1994, we’re still here. But strangely the critics who annihilated Rob Bell for his ‘misguided’ theology are noticeably quiet. Why? Are they simply selective about whom they vilify and castigate as a heretic? Or does the measure of the potential damage play a part in determining whether someone is worth writing about? In case they’ve missed some of the fallout from Harold’s ‘prophetic’ insight, let me highlight a few instances. And, oh, by the way, before I talk about the fallout from Harold’s pernicious prophesy, let me share his response to his “error in calculation.”
Harold is purported to have said, “Through chatting with a friend over what he acknowledged was a very difficult weekend, it dawned on him that instead of the biblical Rapture in which the faithful would be swept up to the heavens, May 21 had instead been a “spiritual” Judgment Day, which places the entire world under Christ’s judgment. The globe will be completely destroyed in five months when the apocalypse comes. But because God’s judgment and salvation were completed on Saturday, there’s no point in continuing to warn people about it….The fact is there is only one kind of people who will ascend into heaven…if God has saved them they’re going to be caught up.”

So I ask you, who is more dangerous to Truth seekers, Bell or Harold? Harold states that, since the spiritual apocalypse happened on May 21, there’s no longer a need to evangelize because it’s too late for anyone who didn’t respond to the gospel before then. For the next five months until the actual apocalypse, there is no more room for salvation so it’s pointless to spread the message. Bell on the other hand, calls us to engage community in a sacrificial manner and let the love of God shine through us because “love always wins.” Yet the critics vilified Bell and are silent about Harold? I don’t get it!

Allison Warden helped organize the billboard and postcard campaigns as well as other media promotion for the May 21 rapture date in cities across the US through a website called “We Can Know.” Warden declared, “If May 21 passes and I’m still here, that means I wasn’t saved. Does that mean God’s word is inaccurate or untrue? Not at all.”

In January, an MSNBC article declared, “Marie Exley would have liked to start a family. Instead the 32-year-old Army veteran has less than six months left, which she’ll spend spreading a stark warning: Judgment Day is almost here.” The article further stated, “In August (2010) Exley left her home in Colorado Springs, Colo., to work with Oakland, Calif.-based Family Radio Worldwide, the independent Christian ministry whose leader, Harold Camping, has calculated the may 21 date based on his reading of the Bible.” Finally the article says, “Exley, who said her beliefs have alienated her from most of her friends and family hopes that it is not everyone who hears her message who will mock it, and that even people who dismiss her now might still come to believe.”

Kevin Brown, a Family Radio representative, said conflict with other family members was part of the test of whether a person truly believed. “They’re going through the fiery trial each day,” he said.

Josh Ocasion, who works the teleprompter during Camping’s live broadcasts said he enjoyed the production work but never fully believed the May 21 prophecy would come through. “I thought he would show some more human decency in admitting he made a mistake,” he said in response to Camping’s statement about his miscalculations, “We didn’t really see that.”

When asked about all the devout followers and believers who had sold and given away houses, cars, and property, Camping responded, “We’re not in the business of financial advice, we’re in the business of telling people there’s someone who you can maybe talk to, maybe pray to, and that’s God.” In case you underestimate Camping’s influence and authority, you should know that in 2009 his nonprofit reported in IRS filings that it received $18.3 million in donations, and had assets in excess of $104 million, including $34 million in stocks or other publicly traded securities.

Maybe the most painful story I read is the story of the Haddad family. Abby Haddad Carson left her job as a nurse so she and her husband, Robert, could go on mission trips to “sound the trumpet.” They stopped working on their house and saving for their kid’s college education. Grace Haddad, their 16-year-old daughter says, “My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven. At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.” Grace and her two other siblings have struggled to make sense of their shifting world, torn between their love for their parents and their need to understand this strange worldview.

And the stories go on and on. We could write a book on the hurt, pain, and destruction caused by Harold Camping’s message. But even after his “miscalculations” he remains stoically committed to his version of truth. He assures us that it’s too late for anyone else to get saved. If this isn’t a blatant heretical position, I don’t know what is, yet the Bell critics are silent, as if Bell’s position has done more damage for the cause of Christ than Harold’s. So look again at Matthew 24. You’ll notice that there are four prevailing themes that feature strongly in Jesus’ discourse about the end of the age. Deception, wars, famine, and death. Whose message unwittingly promotes these themes, Bell’s or Camping’s? You decide.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Burden of Hate?

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear" ~ Martin Luther King Jnr.

This statement speaks to my heart in so many powerful ways. More importantly though, I also believe it speaks to the heart of the message of the gospel. When Jesus was asked the question, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" He answered, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And love your neighbor as you do yourself." Then to ensure no ambiguity in His intent, He goes on to define who our neighbor is in the ever popular story of the "Good Samaritan." Evidently, according to Jesus' story, the one that despises you and treats you as if you were cattle droppings, is actually the neighbor you're supposed to be loving. If love, and I use this word in the purest most altruistic sense, were easy, then every body would be practicing it perfectly. As it stands, not only does love require superhuman effort daily, it requires divine inspiration.

In simplifying the message of the gospel again (Just like Jesus did), we run the risk of losing credibility amongst those who believe that it takes special training, and a special 'anointing' to dissect and disseminate the message. But we are guaranteed to gain the ear of those we are desperately trying to reach. A friend of mine puts it like this;

"For the gospel to spread it must be believed. So many Christians know church but not the gospel. They may know doctrine but not Christ. Leaders must help people understand the essence of the Christ following story and how it intersects with their lives and the world as a whole." ~ Alex McManus

The gospel cannot be neatly stacked into tidy little shelves of ideologies and formulas. It's veracity can't be subject to the dictates of human wisdom. Broken, hurting people don't fit neatly into ideologies and formulas. The gospel message is timeless, but it's new; and therein lies the paradox. It isn't difficult, but it's hard. It isn't complex to understand, but it's not so easy to do. When the message is distilled down to it's rawest essence, it is simply this: "Love God, and love People." Living your life for someone else and for a cause bigger than you, is a lofty ideal in the thinking, but an excruciatingly sacrificial task in the doing. I'd tell you to ask Martin Luther King Jnr., but, sadly he paid the ultimate sacrifice in practicing what he believed and so I guess you're just going to have to wait to ask him. In the meantime, how about letting your life be a "letter" written by God to His creation?!

I also wanted to be sure to register my thoughts about the end of the world which is apparently slated for tomorrow, Saturday May 21, 2011. I'm not ready yet, and so I'll see you in church on Sunday! Seriously though, this type of foolish rhetoric is exactly why people think the Church is completely irrelevant and self-absorbed. Now, I realize that this foolhardy faction hardly represents the Church, but tell that to the media and everyone else who will take advantage of every opportunity to knock the Church. The Bible guarantees it??? Seriously? In what book and chapter? And what the heck will all these clowns do on Sunday when they wake up bright and early on "God's good earth?"

Friday, May 6, 2011

Seriously??? No, seriously!!!

I've heard a lot of absurd and ridiculouos statements made in my life, such as the hate laden rhetoric of President Obama's 'former' pastor, but the following excerpt from an MSNBC article takes the cake. The article posted today declared:

Protest leader and Islamic cleric Alim Jamil Yahya said he condemned the "brutal killing" of bin Laden and described the al-Qaida founder's burial at sea as a desecration of his body. He said that although many Muslims did not agree with bin Laden's methods, they still revered him as a martyr because he fought for freedom against oppression by "the satanic U.S. hegemony." [emphasis mine]

Seriously? No, I mean, really, seriously??? 9-11 was an unprovoked, unwarranted attack against over 3000 innocent civilians who had begun the morning kissing their spouses, loved ones, significant others, and kids good bye, completely oblivious to the fact that it was the last time they'd ever get to do that. That was hailed by these moronic imbeciles (yes I feel that strongly about it) as a triumph for 'good over evil.'

What, in their opinions would have been a more humane death for Bin Laden? A plane crashing into his abode? A bomb blowing up in the basement of his 'hidden-from-Pakistani-military-home'? And what would have been a fitting burial. A pile of concrete rubble and steel? It's patently obvious that these hate-mongers will stop at nothing short of an attempt to anihilate Western civilization. Fortunately though, history is filled with precedents of others before them who have tried and failed.

They use Western technology, live in luxurious homes, drive luxurious cars, yatchs, and planes, all designed and built by Western technology, while denying their citizens the same comforts. Yet the West and more specifically, the USA is the great Satan? If that is true, I wonder how badly they must feel about being "in bed" with Satan? Judging from their continued use of Western technology; not very badly! There, I've said it and I feel much better. Now it's your turn.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A Pleasant 'Kick' in the Gluteus Maximus!

If you think your odds are impossible, then watch this video. If this doesn't inspire you to "go for it", I imagine nothing will. Enjoy this 'kick' in the rear end that points you in the direction of your dreams.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Don't Jealous Me!!!

Okay, in honor of my upcoming trip to Nigeria I thought it would be great to post this hilarious youtube video of a Nigerian guy who seems really 'mad' at the world and rants and raves about different issues. This one is about "beatings" and Afro and Carribean parents. Now, I realize some of you are sensitive about language so I should warn you that he does use a few swear words (minimally), but if you can stomach that, then you'll really love the humor. This is part nine so obviously there are eight previous parts. If you really like this then I suggest you go on youtube and find the rest. Part seven was pretty spectacular as well and judging from the number of hits he's getting, I'm not alone in thinking he's hilarous. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Christianity's 'Favorite' Heretic? You?

Christianity is a boiling cauldron, frothing over with the ideas of myriad well-meaning people trying to explain an ancient text in a present context. We’ve apparently forgotten, or intentionally neglected the need to have a pleasant and respectful conversation, understanding that not one of us has a monopoly on wisdom.

The firestorm surrounding Rob Bells latest book, ‘Love Wins,’ has put us back squarely in the middle of yet another pointless and un-objective debate in which no one wins, and a watching world simply sits back and reaffirms their contention that Christianity is outmoded and irrelevant. Why can’t we simply agree to disagree without being disagreeable like most civilized people do? Yes, Rob’s book is controversial and admittedly, has some portions of really suspect theology, but does that make it all wrong?

Make no mistake about it; I like Rob Bell and I like much of what he has to say. And while I admit that some of what he has to say makes me squirm, am I ready to consign him to the scrap heap as an irrelevant heretic? Resoundingly, no! Alas, it seems though, that the usual suspects (the self appointed arbiters of Christianity) have quickly labeled him as such yet again. One would think that there’s nothing substantive in the message that he’s trying to communicate.

Indeed, if we labeled Rob a heretic, in order to be impartial and objective, we’d have to apply the same label to just about every pastor who’s ever stood behind a pulpit on any given Sunday. I daresay that at one point or another, every pastor has ‘embraced’ a doctrine or idea that has brought them precipitously close to the all too familiar label of heretic.

Ranging from Obama’s beleaguered former “pastor” spewing his hate rhetoric, to the over zealous non-user of birth control that has 15-kids and counting, and everything in-between, we’ve all found ourselves on the wrong side of heresy at one point or another. And why not? Aren’t we all on a journey in which we’re hopefully learning more and more? As you learn more doesn’t your paradigm shift along with your new understanding?

So as to dispel any notions of contention or argument, let’s define ‘heresy’ so that we’re at least playing in the same stadium. According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary, heresy is: (the act of having) an opinion or belief that is the opposite of or against what is the official or popular opinion, or an action which shows that you have no respect for the official opinion. One who practices heresy is considered a heretic.

By this definition, Martin Luther was a heretic! Interestingly enough, his ‘revolutionary’ idea that grace and not indulgences rescued people from eternal damnation, didn’t sit well with the Catholic Church at the time. Today, that indisputable truth forms the bedrock of Evangelical Christianity. What if Luther had caved to the critics, preferring instead an easier life of acceptance and reverence over a life of controversy and criticism?

In reading Rob’s book, it seems entirely apposite that, as the Church, we should be asking some of the deeply troubling questions he has raised instead of throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water. I like the way Don Miller puts it in a blog he wrote inspired by Brian McLaren’s A New Kind Of Christianity. He says,

“When theologians throw out anomalies that threaten their paradigms, they respect their interpretation of truth more than truth, or worse, believe their interpretation of truth is actually truth. They use terms like Biblical and heretic to convince themselves and others that their interpretation is the real truth and others are a threat to “the gospel” or to God Himself. This sort of language isn’t helpful or respectful of anomalies, not to mention its behavior indicates a genuine intellectual threat that should be taken seriously, not dismissed as heresy.”

The truth is, the further removed we are from the actual historical accounts of the Bible, the more subjective our interpretations become. Why, you might ask? Because our interpretation and understanding of Scripture is viewed through the filter of culture, the lens of personal experiences, the limitations of our cognitive abilities, and various other very individual factors. If that were not the case, we would have no need for denominations. The photograph at the beginning of this article speaks volumes more than words could say, to buttress my point.

We all have our subjective interpretations of what we believe the Bible is saying and thus we establish churches built on the context of ‘our revelation,’ with particularly strong leanings toward whatever it is we’re passionate about. Does that make us all heretics? After all, Jesus’ doctrine about His Church wasn’t at all ambiguous. He stated, “I will build my Church….” Evidently, we thought adding an “s” to the word Church wouldn’t really matter much to Jesus. One Church, many Churches, it’s all the same isn’t it?

Yesterday I received an interesting e-mail from a young friend of mine in Lagos, Nigeria. I’ve removed any names to protect this friend’s identity, and I’ve also slightly edited the text of the e-mail while maintaining its full integrity:

Hello Sir

How are you and the family?

Sir, I wanted to ask a Question that’s bothered me a lot...People attach a lot of funny meanings to African art work and art festivals, saying they’re fetish. A preacher said Nigeria hosting FESTAC '77 (Festival of African Arts and Culture) was Idol worshipping, which accounts for why Nigeria is still so backward.... I STRONGLY disagree even though I didn’t tell him so....

Also, a lot of pastors and leaders... encourage reading as a part of life and learning. Recently though, I was confused all over again...when a preacher said... reading books by non-Christian authors is an error.... So I ask, should we limit reading to books written by church folks only??....

I’ll spare you the boring details of my response to the questions and ask one of my own: Is this pastor who tells his congregation (because of an apparent lack of cognitive skills), that reading anything written by non-Christians is error, a heretic? How many pastors and leaders do you know who’ve written books about every imaginable interpretation of the Scriptures while peddling their version as the “gospel truth”? Are they too heretics? Why is Rob Bell a heretic? Because he has questions, and answers them differently from the way others do?

My very dear friend, Alex McManus, has written copiously about the idea that the Bible is a great piece of human literature. I guess in most people’s eyes this makes Alex a heretic, right? But let’s look a little deeper at his simple but obvious contention.

Alex cites Genesis and the creation story. He asks the question (this is my paraphrase), if no one was around to actually record creation, isn’t it fair to say that it is not God’s account, but simply Israel’s account of creation? Even if you contend that God revealed it to Israel, and Moses documented it, the further question has to be asked, did God personally sit with Moses and dictate word for word what he was to write down? Moses gives no such indication in his writings and I imagine that’s a detail that one wouldn’t leave out. Since no one is alive to verify exactly how it happened, why do we argue the point as if any one of our perspectives would be the definitive truth?

Does it in any way minimize the validity of the Scriptures if we simply accept that the creation story is Israel’s interpretation of what God revealed to them, written through the lens of Moses’ culture, abilities, and paradigms? Further more, if we accept this, then how accurate is it to say that the Scriptures are all “God’s word to humanity” since nobody was literally present at creation to draft the account of God word for word? Since Moses wrote the creation account in Genesis, isn’t it Moses’ word as revealed by God?

Misunderstanding Alex’s reasons for making this claim, critics respond rather aggressively to such pondering as they feel a need to protect what they consider the sanctity of the Scriptures. The truth is the Scriptures don’t need protecting, least of all from men who profess Jesus as Lord. If men were so inspired by God’s interaction with them so that they penned the accounts of that interaction(with no concept at the time that their accounts would one day become part of holy Scripture), Alex’s contention is that that is an even more powerful testimony to God’s amazing work amongst His creation.

This reasoning is further strengthened by the fact that, at different points in history, groups of men like you and I sat down, took counsel amongst themselves, and decided which ‘books’ to canonize as Holy Scripture. Over time some books that were not initially accepted as Biblical canon, came to be accepted. As it stands, what has been canonized as the Catholic Bible is a far cry from what we’ve come to know as the Protestant Bible. The books of Baruch, Tobit, Judith, Book of Wisdom amongst others, which are considered part of the Jewish and Catholic Canon, are not part of the Protestant Bible.

So, with that in mind, is a Christ-following Catholic a heretic when he quotes from those books which he firmly believes are part of Holy Scripture, but which are not acknowledged by Protestants? Who is right? Who has exclusive authority to be absolutely certain that they are the ones with the true pipeline to God? Besides, what about those who accepted the Bible as the authoritative and exclusive word of God before the books of Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude, and Revelation were included as part of Scripture, are they heretics? For that matter, are we the heretics for adding those books subsequent to what was originally canonized as Scripture?

The truth is the Rob Bell’s and Alex McManus’ of the world are in many ways the real heroes. They constantly put themselves in front of the sharp blades of the critics, giving voice to the questions that many of us secretly ponder, not with a view to undermining the veracity of our faith, but in an attempt to better understand how it applies to us in our context. After all, it is an ancient text being made applicable in a present context.

Truth isn’t subjective and it isn’t changing anytime soon, just as it hasn’t changed since the days when Jesus Himself walked terra firma, and these men are not attempting to subvert the truth, they are simply trying to interpret it in the light of their own cultural context. After all, when’s the last time you sacrificed a goat at the temple to cleanse your sins? Or for that matter, when was the last time you celebrated the feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles)? Never, right? That’s understandable because you never lived in hastily put together tents while wondering in the wilderness for forty years. So how do we understand the value of Sukkot in light of who we are today as Christ-followers? While truth isn't changing, our understanding of truth is changing and it takes guts and strength to accept and acknowledge that.

I imagine very few Christians of his day wanted to sit down and have lunch with Martin Luther as he pondered the ‘new’ truth he’d ‘discovered’. The truth is though, that he hadn’t discovered anything “new” at all. He had simply come into a better understanding of a truth that had always been there, and had somehow been lost in translation as the emperor Constantine tried to merge the political aspirations of Rome with the Christian faith he’d supposedly embraced.

Often times, we discover that the most vocal critics of those who are simply trying to make a difference in other people’s lives as they interpret and practice their faith, are the ones who’ve made little or no impact on their environment with the message of the gospel.