Would believers want you voted off?

There are plenty of things going on right now that I could write about. See you at the pole has finished, and there has been some nasty backlash form others. It would be easy for me to get on a soapbox and cry out injustice in this post, but I will not do it for a couple of reasons. One is that it wouldn’t really be beneficial. This blog is meant to challenge others rather than preach to the choir. Second reason is that while this incident can provide some challenging things for us I need to sit back and cool off first. Nasty insults and failure of logic can make even the sanest man go crazy. So instead I will be discussing survivor.

Yes, one of my guilty pleasures is survivor. This past week’s episode was “interesting”. There was a woman who made it known she is a Christian who went to seminary. The episode focused on her spending time in prayer and the response of the other players over it. Now if you watched this episode then you may be hoping I will talk about another woman who clearly showed prejudice towards this Christian for praying. You’re not going to hear that form me today either though. She also said some interesting things that would make a good post for another day, but it is not my job to police the atheists for being atheists. My issue with the whole situation was the behavior with the Christian woman.

Now let me be candid. My issue was not over speaking in tongues. If you bring that topic up in the comments it is likely going to get a boot because it will detract from the actual topic of this post. You have been warned. It may seem weird that I even bring this up, but there is usually at least one person that jumps on a topic like this if it is not warned against to begin with. My real issue was the she just gave Christians a bad name.

She was simply lazy and nasty towards her other teammates. She made multiple comments to a woman’s face about how she must have had breast implants. She rolled her eyes at everyone who disagreed with her. She showed off arrogance and pride. The kicker though was the she would end everything with “God bless them”. Really? I mean seriously? Wishing them well through God makes everything else ok?

Stop pretending people. You cannot say and do whatever you want, but then throw out a disclaimer to make everything you said and did ok. You can’t treat people like garbage, but then say “I am praying for you” as though that is supposed to make everything better. The sad thing is that we use this tactic far to often.

We use it when we evangelize. “You are a harlot who is going to hell, but I am praying for your soul”… wouldn’t it be better and more tactful to say, “We are all sinners, and there is a consequence for that sin, but God loved us so much that He made a new way for us. Is there anything going on in your life that you would like me to be praying about?” Pretending to show care and concern is not really doing it.

This woman went on a reality TV show openly proclaiming her Christianity and praying, but in the same breath would spew out insults and pride towards others. She hated how two non-Christians were acting between each other and chucked it up as them being a danger in the game. She wanted to use the game to show her disapproval of another person’s lifestyle, and it showed. The sad thing was I found myself rooting for her tribe to vote her off. I did not want this woman on my TV representing my God.

Would Christians root for you or against you on a reality TV show? That is an interesting question to ask. Would I make others in my faith feel comfortable with my representation of them, or would they want to see me get out at the first opportunity?

Life is the real reality tv show. How are we representing Christ for others to see?

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How foolish will you feel on the train?

A few years ago I had a dream. It was peculiar to say the least. I was on a train. I have only been on a train once in real life back in Peru. My dream started on this train. I had no real idea how I got on this train, but I knew the destination of the train was somehow important. I ended up having a conversation with the conductor of the train. I will spare you readers the details of the conversation, but at the end I realized in this dream that I had died, and that this train was taking me to my destination after death. Basically, I was taking a train ride to heaven.

Somehow that did not strike me as strange. It was what I saw in the train that surprised me. I saw other people. People I knew and met throughout my life. Ironically none of them were my close friends or family. It was various people that I had never gotten along with or treated poorly. At first I felt extremely awkward in this train. The hostility I expected to have shown at me and show back to these various people made me sick to my stomach. The result was far different. All the issues were in the past. We met each other with smiles and hugs. People who probably would have been considered my enemy at one point or another were happy to see me. In the midst of it all we couldn’t help, but wonder why we wasted so much time hating and disagreeing with each other on earth.

“I realize I may be with that person in heaven one day, but I really don’t like them right now.” It’s a common statement. Most of us have probably heard something like it. Most of us have probably said something like it ourselves. It also happens to drive me absolutely nuts.

We can just be nasty to others sometimes. Sometimes we show hate and anger towards another believer because of some argument. Sometimes we just don’t like the person for some silly and pointless reason. People can get under our skin, and we express that we hate being around them. We just make things difficult.

Sometimes it is over a different view whether it is politically or theologically. We can do a great job at showing hate to others due to minor differences on views. “I realize some people who believe like this may be in heaven, but the differences are just too big for now.” This saddens me because I have had attitudes like this before, and it never really got me anywhere. In the end I just wasted a bunch of time, and left a pretty crummy testimony behind me.

Why are we waiting until heaven to get alone, and show kindness, compassion, and partnership? I have had to work with some really difficulty people in ministry ever since being in High School. There were some that I just couldn’t stand being around let alone make a difference in other people’s lives for God. I wasted a lot of time and energy on my hate and pride towards fellow Christians.

Yes, sometimes it is not hate and just simple pride. We think of ourselves better than others in our faith. We have a superior purity in our resolve, we study Scripture more than others, we abstain from worldly things more than that other person. We take our “righteousness” and “sanctification” and use it to become proud.

Here is the thing. I realize that my dream was just a dream, but it really got me thinking ever since then. How much time will I feel like I wasted looking down and being angry at others? How foolish am I going to feel when I am on that train for real? The dream came up after I just could not get along with some other believers. I found myself hating them for their personality, some for their different views, and I let their flaws and sins dictate my behavior towards them.

I’m not saying I get along with everyone or that I even agree with everyone, but should that really keep me from working with them all the same to advance the kingdom of God? I still wrestle with this issue in my mind. I think Christ’s church would be a lot better off if we all wrestled with it a little more.

A profound lesson from the NFL

If you enjoy the NFL then you have likely seen or even been a part of the grumbling of the refs this season. It is arguable some of the worst works from refs the world has seen. There is a very interesting trend in the midst of all of this, and it does not center on the refs. It is all about the players.

Read news articles and you will soon hear form the opinions of some of the players. Some begin to make interesting points about how the lack of enforcing penalties will lead to serious injuries because the players will always push the envelope. They will always go just as far as they can without getting into trouble. They will use up as much leash as you will give them.

This observation is incredibly simplistic yet profound. It goes far beyond just football players. As humans we are always trying to push the limits of what we can get away with. Our questions betray this quality in us. “How far is to far physically in my relationship?” “When is too much to drink too much?” “How untruthful can I be before I outright lie?” “How far can I go until I lust?”

We dance along the edge of sin. We go as far as we can without technically breaking any rules. We essentially ignore the spirit of the law. Take these football players as an example. They do not care about the rules of the game being there to ensure fairness and safety for all. They want to do whatever they can to get an edge. They will only obey the law because of its consequences rather than its purpose.

Did you know that God did not make the law in order to just have consequences? The law serves a purpose and not just the logistics of the law, but the spirit of the law as well. It is not simply just a list of rules. The law is a set of guardrails. Picture guardrails on a road. The guardrails are there to protect you from going further off the road and causing some serious damage. However, hitting the guardrails themselves is a pretty bad idea too.

We do that with the law though. We dance along the edge and flirt with it. We don’t take it seriously, and eventually go against the law thus hitting the guardrail. You get hurt. It is painful. You face consequences for hitting the guardrail. You need to pay for your car damage. If you were being reckless you may need to pay a fine. Wouldn’t it have been easier to acknowledge the purpose of the guardrails and keep your distance?

Sometimes we dance along the edge of danger for the thrill, sometimes to prove we are strong, but there is always and underlying reason. We are stating that we have no respect for the danger. When we look to see how close we can get to breaking God’s law without actually doing it then we are showing our lack of respect for God and His standard. We are admitting that we have missed the point. God wants to keep us safe. He wants us to live a full and beneficial life. He wants that life to have purpose. Why would you go off and waste it?

The gospel is for ugly people too

What qualifications are you placing for people to receive salvation? What behaviors from a person are keeping you from telling them about Christ? We get plenty of things backwards. We have a habit of doing things in the wrong order. It saddens me when we fall into this trap of the gospel.

We want people to act saved before they become saved. We want them to live a life that is reflective of a Christian attitude in order for them to become a Christian. Don’t believe me? Just look at where so many of the average Christians discussions rest on with non-Christians. It is things like adultery, homosexuality, abortion, alcohol, drugs, etc.

We tell ourselves that people will only be able to come to Christ when they turn from some issues they have in their life. This is just wrong. There is a lot that goes on in the moment of salvation. The individual realizes he has sin in his life and what that means for him. He understands there is nothing he can do to change that. He realizes that only Christ can bring him salvation. He did not act like a Christian before he became a Christian though.

This is what we call sanctification. Sanctification is the process of growth in the Christian life. It is where we work to become more and more like Christ. We will not fix everything in our lives following a profession of faith. The porn addict still needs to detox from his addiction. The alcoholic will still fight urges to go back into his former lifestyle.

A change on views in abortion is not what is going to get someone saved. A change on other issues like drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, or any other hot topic issue with Christians will not bring about salvation. Why then do we keep acting like it will.

We look to the politicians to bring about new laws that will bring us back to being a “Christian nation”. Since when did laws decide if a country was Christian? We think we need to clean up people’s lives before they can come to Jesus. When we do that we spit in the face of the gospel. The beauty of the cross is that it is ugly. Seriously, the cross is ugly. It is the symbol of an ugly death that happened for the sake of ugly sins, and it is for ugly people to come and fall down on their knees in repentance.

The gospel doesn’t demand ugly people become beautiful in order to accept it. It invites ugly people to come and experience a new life full of beauty. Presenting the gospel is not a fight for ideals, laws, or even worldviews. It is a fight for the heart and soul of the individual. All the other stuff comes later.

I personally am so thankful that the gospel is for ugly people, because I was an ugly person. I took time to get out of the mess I was in once I turned my life over to Christ. Yes I was thankful that there were people in my life willing to tell me my choices were wrong, but they realized Christ was what was needed to change my life. We need to stop waiting for people to get their act together for us to share the gospel, and start sharing it with the ugly people because they are the ones who need it.

Politically correct and cookies

Remember my post a ways back where I used the analogy of the drunk man on a horse? That analogy can really be used for any situation where there are two extremes. Christianity is full of opportunities to fall of a horse only to get back on and fall off the other side. There is one topic in particular that catches my eye on occasion. It is the topic of being politically correct.

Not political correctness is a bit of a sore spot for Christians. This statement gets thrown in our face whenever we speak against some kind of sin. It is not politically correct to tell someone something they are doing is wrong. That is a big no. We take this issue though and decide to jump off the cliff with it. Being politically incorrect is some kind of a badge of honor for Christians in our world today. We will say what we want, when we want, however we want because that is Christian and American.

I would propose that there are some things that are certainly politically incorrect. Racist jokes are rather politically incorrect. Judging someone for their skin color should be a pretty big no for anyone including Christians. Should we avoid it just because it is politically correct?

Before I go any further down this path I should probably explain my thoughts on the root reasons of being politically correct. We should not agree to something simply because culture says we ought to. That is simply stupid. If you say something is wrong because our culture tells you it is wrong then you are more brainwashed then any Bible believing Christian. Sorry, but it’s true. However, there are some things that are politically incorrect that more importantly are things Scripture says we should speak up against. Racism is one.

There are others too. Our behavior towards mentally challenged individuals is something that is considered in the ling of being politically correct. I will admit I am pretty bias on this one. I am married to a woman who majored in special education, and I also have family that measure in some range of the autistic scale. Because of all of this I have no problem speaking up when someone uses the word “retarded”.

It is not the word itself that bothers me, but the use of the word that causes issues. When someone wants to explain that something is dumb or stupid and uses the word retarded then I am going to take offense to that. I would be pretty inhuman not to. Same goes for using the word gay to call something stupid. I may not agree with the gay lifestyle, but I most certainly do not think they are stupid. That’s just common sense.

However, we wave the banner of Christians should not care about being politically correct. I have actually had self-proclaimed Christians tell me it is ok to use the word “retarded” to call something stupid because we should not be politically correct anyway. It goes beyond political correctness folks. Christianity is not an excuse to be a jerk to the world.

This is generally how a conversation with a politically incorrect individual goes with me. I will replace more unsavory words with the word cookie, because cookies make everything better
PI Person: something something so retarded/gay something something.
Me: Hey, that is actually pretty offensive when you stop to think about it (Goes on to explain reasoning for retarded being offensive.
PI person: How dare you tell me how to talk. cookie cookie cookie cookie. You can’t tell me what is right or wrong to say. Cookie cookie cookie cookie. Jesus did not care about being politically correct and offended people all the time.
Me: I hope you realize how idiotic and juvenile you are being.
PI person: How dare you say something that personally offends me! COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE.
Me: I’m sorry. I thought I was supposed to be politically incorrect as a Christian.

I have had this kind of conversation with multiple people under multiple circumstances. It’s being a jerk plain and simple. Why do we use Jesus as an excuse to be jerks. Why must we blame our culture for being too sensitive and thus be obscene to make a point? The fact is that we do not care about being offensive until someone offends us. What if you had a family member with cancer and I made in inappropriate joke over someone dying from cancer? Offended? Then what makes these other issue any different?

I’m tired of being politically correct/incorrect. If it is Christian then just suck it up and live like it. Being politically correct does not always match up with Christianity, but sometimes being politically incorrect is just as wrong for Christians. Learn how to stay on the horse.

Circumstances are an illusion

Contentment is a funny word. It can hold so much purpose and meaning for the Christian life. It is also a quality that we struggle to find proper balance on. Sometimes we struggle with being content over our financial situations. We are unhappy with the work we are doing or the wages we receive for the work. Sometimes we lose contentment over school. We become sick of studying, and just want to move on to the “real world”. Maybe we struggle being content over singleness. We do not want to be lonely.

Then there is the other side of the coin. Some people are often blamed for being overly content. They are told they are too comfortable with how their life is, and that things need to change. How can this be? If Scripture says we are to be content, then how could we possibly be too content with our circumstances?

Paul discusses this issue in Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

A beautiful passage that is often misquoted. I want to move backwards on this passage by first talking about the phrase, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”. People take this statement out of its context all the time. The majority who use this verse would imply that we can succeed in any endeavor we set out on as long as we do it through God. That simply is not correct. Anyone who looks at the life of the average Christian will know this is simply not true. We must look at this phrase in the context of the letter to the Philippians.

This phrase is referring to our obedience to God, and the contentment we can find in that. We can be content under any circumstance because of the strength God gives us. Because God gives us strength, we can properly serve Him in the way He calls us to. The circumstances revolving around contentment are an illusion.

Yes, you read that correctly. Contentment has nothing to do with our circumstances. We often think of contentment being a virtue when we are going through a difficult time. However, contentment is something that should flow out from us no matter where we are at in life. Why? Because God is going to change our lives regularly.

It is actually not wrong to desire for a change. God calls us to change. Sometimes He calls us to a different location or work. Sometimes He calls us to a new standard of living. Sometimes He calls us to a person. Sometimes he just calls us out of a specific situation. However, the contentment is focused on realizing these things are on God’s timetable. God will never move you forward if you cannot remain content on Him where you currently are.

Contentment is something that is focused on God rather than our circumstances. This is why you could be content with your current situation, but not really content in the way you need to be. A good question to ask yourself is if everything would change in your life, would you still remain content in who God is and what He is doing?

Are you being content over your current living circumstances, or are you being content in God? If your contentment is placed in God then it will never matter what your circumstances are. Sometimes God is waiting to move you in a direction you desire and feel He wants you to go until you learn how to be content without that very desire. God needs to be what you delight in.

Dancing through the chaos

Sometimes we just go through crummy times in life. Often things can seem more disastrous than they actually are. Other times they are just as disastrous as they appear. Discouragement is the battle cry of the enemy. A life dwelled in discouragement eventually leads to a fall. It is simply inevitable. Sometimes life just isn’t working out right.

There is a song by Mercyme. The first lines say, “If you had a dime for every time it rained on this parade you’re marching in called life You’d start to wonder if someone out there’s got your number.” Sometimes we feel like this. We feel like any attempt to stand back up results in a few more kicks to get back down. The chorus of this song is pretty simple. It doesn’t have a deep theological answer. It does not quote the overquoted Scripture passages at you. It says something very simple. The verse ends by saying, “Hold your breath, breath in deep, remember”. What we are to remember is “You know it’s going to be alright”.

Sometimes you aren’t going to just be lifted out of the mess that life is at. Sometimes you are just going to need to bear with it. Sometimes you just need to say you are going to hold your breath and ride this thing out because God is still there. You may not see the end of this difficulty, but God is aware of it, and he has things taken care of. All you need to do is just hang in there.

The bridge to this song should be a common saying amongst Christians. “Count it pure joy when the world comes crashing. Hold your head up and keep on dancing.” Our first reaction when the world seems to come crashing is to mope around and sit in our own self-pity. Maybe it is time to just get up and dance through the chaos.

Chaos is something that is just going to exist around us. It is here to stay until Jesus comes to reign, and put all things back in proper order. We can either live in darkness through that chaos, or dance through it to come out on the other end.

Imagine the testimony we would have. People would look at us and wonder how we could have so much joy in the midst of devastation and trials. How could we live so happily? How could we be dancing through this chaotic world without discouragement and depression? Hold your head up. Hold it up higher than eye level. Hold it up to a God who sees past the chaos.

We may look silly dancing through this chaos. We make look like utter fools as the world seems to be falling down around us, but that is just because people do not see what we do. People look at us in those moments and see a fool dancing alone, but we see something different. We see a partner dancing through this chaos with us. We follow Him step by step around the destruction and pain. It’s a dance unlike any other you will ever experience. Let’s dance through the chaos together shall we?