Archive for January, 2015

Litter Pan Theology

Posted: January 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

To say that I frequently have visitors over to my house, would be an understatement. We literally have guests over everyday. If you are like me, you want to have a clean, inviting home, when friends arrive.

To maintain this standard, my wife and I literally have to clean everyday. Every night when our visitors leave, we have games to put away, little ones to clean up after, toys to put away, dishes to wash, floors to sweep, carpets to vacuum, the list goes on. All of this in preparation for the next day’s visitors.

What if I did all this cleaning, but left my cat’s dirty litter pan in the middle of my living room? What if I failed to empty it for weeks? What if I simply dusted the furniture and vacuumed around it? Would you notice my clean dining room? What if I invited you in and acted like the filthy, stinking, eye watering litter pan was not even there?

You’d wonder why I was worried about dusting my nic nacs while ignoring the most obvious thing that needed to be dealt with. I could spend hours on “routine” maintenance issues around my house, but until I deal with that big pile of stinky cat poo, none of it will matter.

Many professing Christ following, church goers practice Litter Pan Theology. They come to church each week, sing some songs, throw a few bucks in the offering, listen to a good sermon and go home. Meanwhile they have a major issue in their life they neglect. Things only they know about. They play the game, do a few little religious things and skirt the real issue. They dust around the edges, wash the windows, look around and say perfect. All the while they have this big crap filled litter pan in the middle of their life and completely ignore it.

Dump the pan
What they need to do is dump the litter pan. Get rid of the steaming pile of crap. If they refuse to deal with this issue they are wasting their time coming to church. A filthy litter pan overpowers everything else in your life. Just like a burning cat urine smell permeates everything in your home, a sin issue you refuse to deal with taints everything you do. You will be ineffective in your walk and in your ability to hear from God.

If you don’t deal with the issue of sin, you put it ahead of God. Anything you put ahead of God, becomes your god. Don’t worship a litter pan.

He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)

Watering Rocks

Posted: January 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

Jesus tried to teach us something about making disciples that for some reason, we as a church, are determined, not to learn.

I’m not suggesting we are acting with malicious intent, but more likely, ignorance. We have the best of intentions when it comes to church growth and disciple making as well as evangelism, we just don’t follow the example Jesus gave us. In fact, all of our methods are polar opposites from the methods Jesus used.

Before you head to the comment section and type, ‘How dare you’, or, ‘Who do you think you are?’, could we take a few minutes, read a little scripture and discuss why I believe we ignore the example Jesus set for us? Thank you.

Imagine it’s Easter Sunday at your church. You’ve spent weeks preparing your services and programs because you know that statistically, visitors are at an all time high on Easter. Churches are packed and this is your one opportunity to get them saved and attending your church.

Nothing will be left to chance. The worship team has chosen the perfect songs to extract an emotional response from their audience of newcomers.

The children’s ministry rooms have been freshened up with new inviting colors and the Noah’s ark mural was just installed yesterday. Check

The smell of fresh coffee drifts through the foyer, mixed with the scent of chocolate covered donuts and cherry filled pastries. Check

All the greeters are at their stations, dressed in their new matching blue Polo shirt complete with embroidered names. Armed with breath mints and welcome packets they greet guests through wide smiles. The greeter to guest ratio seems like 2 to 1. Check

The rest rooms are as clean and sterile as a heart surgery ward, as is the rest of the building. Check

Your Pastor has worked and reworked his sermon to get the most bang for the buck, so to speak. It’s seeker friendly, heavy on love and acceptance and light on sin and sacrifice. We can discuss these issues later, after they say the sinner’s prayer. We don’t want to scare them away. This might be our only chance.

Now let’s check out How Jesus handled large crowds of seekers. We will start in Luke 14:25. Massive crowds were pressing in on all sides. The “church” was packed. Like our Easter services, this was the perfect opportunity for Jesus to give a message to get people to say the sinner’s prayer and join his Church. So let’s eavesdrop on Jesus’ perfect sermon:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple.”

Whoa, wait, what. Don’t leave please. Jesus is just kidding. That was his icebreaker. Please give him a minute. Jesus you’re scaring them. Look at their faces. You want to lose them? Just get to the sinner’s prayer part.

“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

Hey where are you going? Don’t leave. Come back! Jesus what are you doing? We need them. There’s thousands of people here. We will be the biggest church in town. Don’t you want a big church? You are doing this all wrong.

Oh wait we lost them but some more crowds are coming. Now Jesus remember what happened to the other crowds? Let’s get it right this time. Welcome everyone. Let me introduce our esteemed speaker, Jesus.

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Jesus please stop! Look at them. They are leaving. Say something!

“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink,

No something else. Something positive.

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. The one who feeds on me will live because of me.”

In Matthew 13 Jesus is once again surrounded by such large crowds that he had to get in a boat and preach from the water. This is a church planters dream. Reel them in Jesus.

Jesus says there was a farmer who cast some seed on the path and the birds ate it. Some seed fell on rocky places and sprang up quickly in the shallow soil. The sun came up and killed the plants because they had no root. Other seed fell in the thorn bushes and got choked out. Other seed fell on good soil and produced a big crop. If you get it, you get it. Then he walked away.

What was that? Even the disciples were perplexed.

Jesus refused to water rocks because it’s a waste of time. He cuts right to the chase, to weed out the pretenders. He only wants the true followers. The totally committed. He does not care about big numbers just for the sake of big numbers. He’d rather have 12 surrendered hearts than 12,000 pew warmers.

But not us. We took classes. We read books on church growth. We would rather water rocks

Sounds like a funny t-shirt or bumper sticker, but the harsh reality is not funny. I know countless professing Christians who hide behind the slogan, “Jesus loves you”, without really loving people.

The irony, to be called a Christian, is to be, Christ-like. We are told throughout the New Testament, to be imitators of Christ, therefore if Jesus loved people, skeletons and all, shouldn’t we love people too?

Many in the Church body focus on a lot of things when building a church, but neglect the one thing that works. We build big fortresses for millions of dollars on sprawling campuses. We conduct extensive market research and hire consultants to inform us of what unbelievers are looking for in a church.

We visit coffee houses in search of the finest coffees and pastries to serve in our caramel, mocha, latte color decorated “Hebrews” coffee bar. We read best selling, emerging church books to find out if guests want to wear, “Hello my name is” tags or remain anonymous. The latest polls tell us our music needs to be upbeat, like the chart toppers with plenty of lights and fog. People want to feel like they are at a concert.

We purchase cushioned chairs that rival the finest home theaters, complete with cup holder and built in Bluetooth and handy cell phone charger for convenience. Our interior design team spent months picking our color schemes after attending home shows and researching the latest fashion trends. Who knew puce was in?

Our subscription to “Church Business” magazine came just in time, before we got too far into construction, informing us that having a 20,000 gallon saltwater fish tank in our foyer would land us on the front page of our local newspaper, making us, the talk of the town. God truly does work in mysterious ways. Can I get a witness?

Our visitor center is stocked with full color glossy brochures of all 427 programs we offer, from softball to knitting. Our book store is stocked with all the latest books from the countries top motivational, I mean mega church pastors, sharing vital secrets on how to have the best life ever.

We hired the team from Walt Disney World to decorate our children’s ministry rooms and MTV executives came up with our themed teen center and the t-shirt design for our youth leaders, “You can’t spell youth ministry without Y O U. They are so in tune with God, it’s scary.

Our billboard campaign is in full swing promoting our new sermon series, God Invented Sex, and should really pack them in. Our pastor’s wife just read an article in Cosmo titled “SEX SELLS” This just confirms we are experiencing God’s Favor. Our pastor’s 50 foot smiling face looks great and will really build HIS platform.

Thankfully, our consultants have their fingers on the pulse of society and warned us against displaying any crosses or religious references in our d├ęcor. Seekers don’t like that kind of blatant, in your face, God stuff. We made sure to inform our leadership team to send out memos reminding their teams, people are easily offended at the name of Jesus, so let’s just stick with “God”.

Okay, so there may be a bit of satire here, but not as much as you would think. The point I want to make is this; We as a Church, in America, focus on a lot of things that are not Jesus.

We look to world to design and build Jesus’ church. We ignore the detailed instructions Christ gave us to build, His Church. We think we need to have the best buildings. The best music. The best coffee. The most comfortable seating. The most programs. The coolest youth rooms. The most charismatic speaker.

Many churches have all these things and yet fail to make disciples. They loose attendees when the next best church down the street opens up for business. They fail to have an eternal impact on their communities.

These churches are so focused on empire building, they forget, we are in the Kingdom building business. And the best way to build God’s Kingdom is to LOVE people. To be servants in our communities. Love is the most powerful weapon we have in our arsenal. Lights and fog won’t change hearts. Coffee bars and bookstores won’t bring about true repentance. Gorgeous landscaping will not make disciples who make disciples.

Love is all you need. Love is the answer to every question. How can I be so sure of this? Because God solved all the problems of this sinful world with love.

For God so LOVED the world, that he gave his only son. Jesus loved the world so much, he came. Love’s the only rule. Go be Jesus. Go love people

Are You For Real?

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

This is a relevant question today, one only you can answer. I’m not talking about what other people think of you. I’m not talking about the person your friends and family think you are. I’m not talking about the person you’ve painted yourself to be on social media. I’m not talking about the mask you put on Sunday morning. I’m talking about the kind of real, Jesus was referring to when, in Revelation, he said, “I know your deeds, you have a reputation for being alive, but I know you. I know your inner most thoughts. You have everybody fooled but you’re not fooling me. I know your heart. You are DEAD.”

Jesus was calling out the fakers, the posers, the imposters. He called out the church, the body, the ones going through the motions. The ones who look like they got it all together. They had the good deeds thing down but Jesus said, “YOU ARE DEAD.” What would Jesus say about the real you? Do you appear alive, but Jesus would tell you. “You are dead.”?

So Jesus has a standard of real, that obviously differs from our definition of real. We judge ourselves by the deeds we do. We put our time in on Sunday morning. We throw twenty bucks in the plate and feel God should be grateful. We mouth the words for 30 minutes of worship. We own a Bible, somewhere. We know John 3:16 and that Jeremiah, good plan verse too.

So if this is not real, according to Jesus, what is? What would Jesus consider, alive? What’s his definition of real? The Bible has some thoughts on this subject. Thoughts that we might not necessarily want to hear.

For starters, real to Jesus, is you being the person at home, that others believe you are at church. Real to Jesus is you living the life people will say you did, at your funeral. Real is you craving your Bible reading time. Real to Jesus is you praying without ceasing. Real is you trusting God 100% with your finances. Real to Jesus is having the right motives for everything you do in the name of Jesus. Real to Jesus looks like fourth soil growth. Real to Jesus is really forgiving those who wrong you, loving your enemies and not gossiping. Real to Jesus is being aware of a need in your church and stepping up to fill it.

Most readers of this blog will consider themselves the real deal, yet churches all over the United States suffer from a financial deficit. Their ministry effectiveness is hindered due to lack of workers. Wednesday night prayer services are barren wastelands. Community members are unaware of their existence. The pastors send out multiple emails and literally beg for leaders to rise up, but to no avail. People sign up for hospitality or worship teams and don’t even bother to show up. Children and teens walk away from church for lack of mentors. Teachers don’t even bother to look at the lesson until Sunday morning and wonder why lives are not being impacted from their “efforts”

Jesus said, “WAKE UP! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you received and heard; obey it, and repent.”

Are you dead? Or are you For REAL?

I cannot love my son…

Posted: January 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot love my son as much as God loves him. I can’t protect Christian from suffering. Yesterday my inability to protect him from the harsh pain of loss became a stark reality.

We had to put our beloved dog, Magic, to sleep yesterday. We put it off as long as we could but we knew it had gotten to the point, we were just being selfish. We were putting our emotional attachment and our fear of loss over what was best for Magic.

Magic was really Christian’s dog. Magic became a member of our family when Christian was only 3. Christian is 10 and so was Magic. Unfortunately 10 years old is at the high end of a Boxer’s lifespan. We always knew we would have to face the day when Magic would no longer be with us. Christian never even considered this day. As an innocent child, he believed Magic would live forever. He told us on more than one occasion about Magic being his best man someday at his wedding. As his parents, we knew that was never to be. We just could never bring ourselves to tell him. We always thought we’d deal with the subject someday. Someday was yesterday.

On Friday we scheduled the appointment with the vet for Monday afternoon at 3:30. We figured this would give us time to accept it and help Christian come to terms with this reality. It was a hard weekend to get through. We spent a lot of time just loving on Magic and reminiscing about all the wonderful times we shared with this amazing dog. My wife and Christian slept in the living room with Magic the entire weekend.

Sunday night my wife cooked Magic a steak dinner complete with baked potatoes and gravy. We video taped him eating and laughed and cried together. We gave him a lifetime of treats for dessert. Monday morning came all to quickly. We got Magic a double bacon and cheese A1 burger from Burger King for lunch. He then went to the beach for the first time in his life and sat on the sand next to his best friend, Christian. We took tons of pictures to memorialize the moment. My wife got a photo that is my favorite. Christian and Magic were sitting side by side facing the ocean and watching the waves come in and roll out. The sun was glistening on the water and silhouetted this dynamic duo. They stared out at the vastness of the ocean before them and it was like Magic knew they were sharing this last moment together.

We arrived at the vet and solemnly entered. Magic seemed nervous and at peace all at the same time. We were able to stay with Magic as the vet administered the drugs. I watched as my son wept over the loss of his best friend and I felt helpless. I could not fix this. I had no words to console him. No matter how much I love my son, I was helpless.

I wanted to give him inner peace and erase all traces of pain and sorrow. But in that moment I realized why it’s so important to make sure I connect my son to God at an early age and help foster a lifelong relationship. Only God can adequately provide everything my son needs emotionally and spiritually.

I love my son but I simply cannot love him as much as God does. That’s hard for me to comprehend, but it’s true and I find comfort in that. God can give my son the inner peace I cannot. God can comfort him in ways I cannot.

As hard as it was to watch my son agonize over the death of Magic, I know he is going to be okay. He will come through this more compassionate and have a greater appreciation for life. I know this because I know whose hands he is in.

And to Magic; Thank you for 8 wonderful years and thank you for making my son’s childhood so awesome and memorable. Good bye my dear friend. Enjoy your afternoons running through fields of lilies chasing butterflies. We will never forget you.