I’m not sure I’ve seen what I see in our country and society when it comes to the division and emotions. It seems we are all asked to pick a side, name our view and whatever little thing we may choose to say or post on social media we are immediately ushered onto a team and told that this is now our team and we must espouse the views of this team. We are quickly put into categories, black and white, right and wrong. The somewhat crazy thing to me is that while we may not agree with many of the stands of the particular team we are placed on, we are not allowed to have no team. Every view point or opinion is clearly a reflection of our team. It’s just not that easy and I think we do a disservice to one another when we villianize or applaud based on a comment or thought. This is incredibly difficult as a pastor and as a church. And it’s times like today where I am most thankful that we have chosen years ago to not make political comments as a church. Our philosophy has always been, “we know that we likely only get people’s attention for a minute and if we only have a minute we want to be known for Jesus – we are about Jesus, we want you to know Jesus and we want Jesus to be what we’re known for!!” It’s not that we don’t or I don’t have opinions, I do. In fact we all have opinions whether we know anything about the issue! 🙂 But I don’t want to be known and I don’t want our church to be known for our opinions, but for our Jesus! That is where change really is possible!
When I ask people, “What is a Christian?” they don’t usually respond with words like love, compassion, grace; usually they describe a person who’s anti something. Jesus was not primarily known for what he was against. He was known for serving people who had needs, feeding people who were hungry, and giving water to the thirsty. If we [Christians] were known primarily for that, then we could cut through so many divisions. . . . Christians often have a bad reputation. People think of Christians as uptight and judgmental. Odd, I thought, that [our version of Christianity] has come to convey the opposite of God’s intent, as it’s lived out through us.
Here’s the deal – lots of people like Christmas. Sure there are some who because of memories, relational pain or other serious conditions dread the holiday, but for the most part there is generally a warm feeling about Christmas for most. I’ve heard many people comment how people seem nicer (unless you’re trying to shop on Black Friday) and there is a general feeling of “good cheer” as the song says. Yet this “good cheer” seems to only last for a few weeks around Christmas and then disappears. Why?
Ok ok, I’m not sure why I am writing this blog post since I am living in Minnesota and it’s very likely that no one really cares about my east coast NBA team. First of all the NBA is not at all popular here and secondly we are far from Brooklyn! But since this is my blog, humor me, won’t you?
In the last few weeks the team has managed to draft a promising center from Duke, trade for two of the greatest players active (Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce) and convince a 10 million a year player to take 3 million for a chance to play with them (Andrei Kirelenko). This all is after they signed the guy who first got me watching and rooting for them (religiously) (Jason Kidd) to be the new head coach. Needless to say, I am excited about the potential we have as a team next year. So let’s talk a little about “team”, shall we?
I don’t think the average person has to go very far to realize our world is broken or at least far from what it could be. Has a week passed in the last year where we didn’t hear something about a crazed gunman, an abusive teacher/parent, a school bully, suicides or a financial fallout? People can be pretty brutal, hurtful and downright “lost”. Most of us just shake our heads at the news, some of us shed some tears and most of us hold on tight hoping it doesn’t impact us. It’s come to a point where we’ve forgotten how to dream about what could be, and we just hope we don’t get negatively affected.
As most people, and especially parents, I sat speechless, horrified and broken over the senseless evil at an elementary school in Connecticut yesterday. I have 3 little girls, two of them in a local elementary school and so my mind immediately goes to how horrified and utterly broken these parents and families must be. And yes, I watch as debates rage over different policies, legislation – much of which flows from heavy hearts who want justice and want to somehow prevent anything like this from ever happening again. I get that, but I think this tragedy begs even deeper questions and reveals something more primal and real.
There is lots of speculation and wonder about the end of the world and specifically the so-called “Mayan prediction”. As a pastor, I’m often asked to comment on things like this as people are curious if the Bible speaks to these issues. Well, Jesus, in the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Bible says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” This is a reference to the end times and when God will set things right. So, it would seem for anyone to place a date for the end would be contrary to Jesus declaration, that no one, not the angels, (or the Mayans) would know. There is however quite a lot written in the Bible about how we should live knowing the end is near.
Disclaimer: this blog series is based on a sermon given on April 29, 2012 on the topic of “Wisdom in the Bedroom” – the sermon and these blogs are intended for mature audiences
Yesterday we added some additional comments that we didn’t have time to fully explore in the sermon on the topic of the lies from our culture surrounding sexuality, dating and marriage. Today we continue with some additional content either barely touched on or explored in the sermon.
The second piece of counsel from Proverbs 5 and 7 is “Don’t go down that road” — Temptation.
Proverbs 7 uses a narrative story to demonstrate many of the aspects of temptation. The more we are aware of it, the better we’ll be able to recognize it and hopefully avoid it.
Here are a few of the concepts it explores:
Disclaimer: this blog post refers to sexuality and is not intended for younger audiences
So yesterday I spoke from our Simplexity series on “Wisdom for the Bedroom” which was essentially a message about sex, temptation and really the world’s vs God’s perspective on the subjects. I definitely felt like we were swimming upstream on this one. Obviously we can’t become a “one-issue” church but the indunation (is that even a word?) of the opposite (non-God) view on sexuality, body image etc is so strong that it’s hard to believe one sermon every 6 months or so will truly make a dent?
So, according to Google Analytics an average of 178 of you click on this blog EVERY WEEK! Sometimes I see as much as 500-600 hits a week and I think the lowest was like 120. Now let’s just minus a 75 of those for websites that just log into pages etc– that still means over a 100 of you are here each week…. my people! welcome!
So, I’d like to get us all involved here a little bit — (no web stalkers for this post please) share with your fellow blog readers some advice. It could be something you heard from a parent/grandparent/coach/teacher/pastor or it could be something you learned the hard way through mistakes or poor decisions. It could be serious or it could be hilarious (or somewhere in the middle). So now’s your chance people — we need some advice, we want to hear from you on any topic, anything, seriously…