Archive for August, 2014

Depends on the Translation

Posted: August 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

How many pastors does it take to screw in a light bulb? I already told you. Yes I did. Look at the title of the blog. See now you get it. Okay it was lame but on a serious note, regardless of the translation of the Bible we have, why are we so far off base when it comes to imitating Christ?

It’s not like the Bible and the Church of 2015 are just two ships passing in the night, they are not even sailing in the same ocean. So how do we navigate our way back to the shores of truth? How do we escape the waves of compromise?

Let’s look at some of the differences between the actions of Christ and the behavior of the 2014 Church. This will hopefully show us some action steps to reconcile the differences.

Jesus called us to be fishers of men. We want to be cleaners of fish.
Jesus said to go and make disciples. We sit and wait for people to come to our churches.
Jesus created disciples that were willing to die and many did. We create teens who are indifferent to God.
Jesus hung out with sinners. We avoid them at all cost.
Jesus loved his enemies. We boycott ours.
Jesus loved people, met their needs and taught them in interesting and practical ways. We tell people to say a prayer or burn in hell.
Jesus was about his Father’s business. We are about everything else but that.
Jesus spent countless hours alone in prayer and communion with his Father. We don’t have time for that.
Jesus said to hide God’s word in our hearts. We update our Facebook, Twitter, and other social media pages and watch countless hours of television.
Jesus said take up you cross and he led by example. We avoid suffering at all cost.
Jesus preached the Peter and Paul package of discipleship. We preach the feel good Jeremiah package.
Jesus commanded us to make disciples. We make churchgoers.
Jesus did not say make disciples and if you can’t make disciples, just make Christians.
Jesus said not to be ashamed of him. We are embarrassed to tell our friends and colleagues about him.
Jesus warned us not to store up treasures on earth. Our basements, attics and garages are so jammed packed with stuff that we are forced to rent storage units for the overflow.

Jesus commanded us to take care of the poor and widows and orphans. We walk by the homeless on our way out to dinner and let government programs supplement the poor.

Jesus said we should produce a crop 30, 60, 100 fold. We produce nothing.

Jesus said people will know we are his disciples by how we love each other. We are known more for what we stand against than who we stand for.

As you can see by just a few of the examples I’ve listed, we are far better imposters of Christ than imitators. How do we turn the ship around, re-chart our course, point the compass of our hearts towards Christ and reach our desired destination?

Study, Study, Then Study
Every actor studies for the part. When Will Smith played Muhammad Ali he not only under went extreme physical exercise but he trained with professional boxers. He studied videos of Ali’s fights. He learned Ali’s mannerisms and facial expressions. He probably knew as much about Ali as Ali knew about Ali.

This is the same approach we need to take when it comes to imitating Jesus Christ. But we cannot genuinely imitate someone we don’t know. We cannot act like Jesus if we don’t know how Jesus would act in a situation. Makes sense, right? The thing that turns most people off from hearing about Jesus is us and our attempt to “act” like the way we think Jesus should act or how he would treat someone, based off our lack of knowledge of Jesus himself.

I want to challenge each one who reads this blog to join me in a journey, through a series of blogs to help us better understand Jesus and how he really lived and taught. I also want to challenge you to dig into your Bible for at least 30 minutes a day with the specific purpose of studying the ministry of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ready, Set, Study

Don’t Follow Jesus

Posted: August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Has Rob lost his faith or his mind?

That’s probably what you are wondering right now, but those of you who know me, know that I am going somewhere with this…as usual.

Last night as I was reading my Bible, I came across a story I have literally read dozens of times over the last 20 years. It’s found in the Book of Mark chapter 5. It’s the story of when Jesus caused a shortage of bacon when he sent 2000 pigs filled with demons over a cliff to drown in the sea.

You can read the whole story after you finish here but I want to focus on a small part of the story that I found particularly interesting. We will pick up at verse 19:

As Jesus was getting in the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Following Jesus would have been a good thing, but Jesus had a better thing for the man to do. His ways are not our ways. Jesus knew that the man would have a greater kingdom impact by staying right where he was because people in the town knew him, at least they knew the old demon-possessed guy. His testimony would have weight behind it. This once uncontrollable demon filled crazy man had an encounter with Jesus and it forever changed his life. There would be no denying it in his hometown.

I am certain you have heard stories of miraculous healings in far away places you cannot pronounce and you doubt them, even in a small way. You tell yourself that these are just clever emotional stories to illicit a monetary response from you. Sure miracles can happen but you’ll believe it when you see it.

But if Joe, your neighbor dying from 4th stage lung cancer is miraculously healed, that’s another story all together. You know Joe. You have prayed for Joe. In fact you had your whole church praying for Joe. You’ve spent countless hours sitting by his bed talking with him. You’ve laughed with him, you’ve cried with him. If he were healed the whole town would know the power of God. People’s faith would grow in leaps and bounds. No one could deny that God had intervened. Joe’s story would change the whole town. Many would give their lives to Jesus.

But what if Joe was healed and no one knew? What if he went to some other state or country and told his story? Many would doubt. There would be skeptics in every audience. No one knows Joe. No one saw how close to death he was. His story just does not pack the punch it would in his own home town.

Let’s see what happened to the demon-possessed man:

Mark 5:20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

If God has saved you from a life of sin and made you a new creation in Christ, use it. The people who knew the “old” you will see the “new” you and be amazed. They will have to concede that God has in fact done a mighty thing in your life. Your testimony in your own home town among your friends and family will hold more weight and make a greater impact then if you travelled the world telling strangers what Jesus did for you. Your family and friends are your mission field. All we have to do is live our faith out in front of them.

Jesus told the man to stay home and win souls. That’s great advice today too.

The title to this blog could mean one of two things; first I think attending a Christian writer’s conference is a waste of time and money or I believe they are not a waste of time and money.

I just returned from my annual trek to Langhorne Pennsylvania where I attend the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference and I decided after attending this conference for the last 5 years, it was time to put my thoughts on paper so to speak.

I have realized several things over the years:
If I was not a writer I would be a writer’s conference groupie. I would go just to hang out with some of the most amazing people I have ever come to know and love. I am so very blessed by the friendships I have made. The four short days we see each other seem to fly by in seconds and we head our separate ways across the country. The funny thing I have found is when we see each other again it’s as if no time has passed at all.

The second thing I learned was that we all struggle with fear and doubt regardless of our writing experience or lack thereof. We find encouragement and inspiration in the halls and classrooms on the campus of Cairn University.

The beautiful grounds of this campus, normally bustling with college students, becomes a retreat of sorts for writers in the Christian publishing world. We come from diverse backgrounds and all walks of like. The novice to the expert. We share ideas, successes and our failures. We laugh with each other and we cry with each other. We discuss how to take the message of the Gospel to the world through our writing but more importantly we share our love for our Savior Jesus Christ.

I love all the classes where I learn everything from how to write a book proposal that won’t end up in the trash to promoting my work through social media. But the thing I love the most is what happens at the end of every day.

After a long day of learning, after we listen to the evening keynote speaker enlighten us to an important issue we all make our way back to Heritage Hall. We gather around in comfy chairs and share our lives. We might even play a card game and every now and then someone will break out a guitar and sing. We build friendships that will last a life time and beyond.

If you want to experience the things that I have come to look forward to every year I suggest you go to http://www.Philadelphia.writehisanswer.com and register for next years conference.

As you probably figured out. I’m not wasting money on a Christian Writer’s Conference, I’m enjoying every minute of my investment.