Back to “Normalcy”

So, I just returned from an incredibly helpful conference: “Drive” in Atlanta at Northpoint church. I hope to use this blog to share some insights and thoughts that could be helpful for us all to wrestle through. In addition to the great content, there is something about seeing the environment, meeting volunteers, leaders and other church folks from all over the world (we even provided a ride to a gal from Germany on one morning!).
Northpoint, led by Pastor Andy Stanley is a church that has a compelling vision that is contagious and you see it everywhere.

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What’s Directing Your Life pt.2 – practical stuff

So yesterday we looked at this critical question of what’s directing our lives. Please read that post (if you haven’t already) before getting into this one…

In this post, I want to talk about some of the more common areas, as a pastor, I’ve noticed professing Christians to lack the authority of God’s Word in their lives. This is not meant to be a judgment, but rather an opportunity for us all to do some assessment and ask, “am I living a life, that I call Christian but that lacks the authority of God’s Word?”

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What’s directing your life?

I am growing concerned about how many church-going, Christians I meet who are kinda loose on the Bible. What I mean is: many of us would call ourselves “Christians” but I wonder what is really directing our lives? For some I think it’s a lack of understanding. They believe the Gospel, the love the church and they enjoy the Bible. However, they don’t really know what it says. There is a lot they have yet to learn. I pray that those folks would not sit still on that, but would really seek to learn it and live it. There are others who I’ve met who kinda find the Bible “dated” or not completely relevant (which is often code for: “I don’t like what it says”) — now, please note, these are church-going, Jesus-professing folks. And those folks often approach the Bible as one of many sources of help and truth and they tend to use the things they find helpful and discard whatever seems too hard or inconvenient.

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Upstream, downstream–the water flows

While it’s often seen as a negative thing (usually mentioned in talks about pollution) there can be positives about what flows downstream. What I mean is the idea of “downstream” is really a neutral thing because based on what you put in and do “upstream” leads to what you see “downstream”. I bring all this up to highlight something I’m beginning to see both personally and professionally. What you put in to your life/organization may seem relatively small and maybe even insignificant at the time, but what happens is you begin to see the outcome “downstream” in time. As a dad I’m already seeing good and not so good things in my little girls based on early investments. As a husband I’m seeing some pretty cool things taking shape. As a pastor, well, I’ve been real encouraged about some little decisions and a few big ones that we made a few years ago and even some made a few months ago that we are seeing some exciting results from.

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It’s About the Gospel!

I was talking with someone after church yesterday who was asking about the differences between the Catholic faith and what we teach and believe. Her main concern was that she heard from some people that Catholics are not Christian and are not “saved”. I’ve found comments like this from evangelical Christians before and it saddens me. Without getting into the specific differences between the two – let’s focus on two foundational concerns:

1. Don’t label. I think it’s dangerous when we begin to “label” people because what typically happens when we place a label on someone is the cease to be a “person”. They become one of “those” people. We begin to assume everyone with that label believes the same things and usually we assume the worst stereotypical characteristics about that label apply to that person. All of this is dangerous and hinders our ability to serve, love and minister to people. (And often leads to judgmentalism).

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Legalism vs grace motivated lifestyle change

Once a person becomes a believer in Jesus would you expect to see change? Maybe not all at once, but I’d have to answer “yes”. I would expect, if a person is sincerely impacted and responding to the Gospel that it couldn’t help but bring character change (plus the power to see that change become a new reality – (thank you Holy Spirit!)). I don’t think there are many true believers who would disagree with what I’ve said so far. But I think the key is what makes the changes in our life, habits and character?

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Writing a Book

So, everytime I get away for just a little bit of time, it returns. The desire to write a book or two has been resurfacing for many years now and I’m starting to think seriously about doing it. I’ve got two ideas already but I thought I would reach out to you, the readers and ask for your help. Especially for those of you who also have heard me speak a time or two (or more). What “themes” do you particularly appreciate? Have I spoken on something, sometime where you’ve said: “I wish he would do a book about that.” Okay, maybe that’s a little unrealistic, whoever thinks a speaker should do a book about something? But I guess my point is, that I’ve listened to many pastors over the years and there are certain subjects that seem to either peak my interest or I think to myself, “that pastor seems to speak well on that subject, I like when he talks about that.” Maybe I’m putting myself out there a little too much here – maybe I won’t like what I hear back? Anyway — the thought is out there now. What might be some highlights/ themes / topics you think would be interesting? Help.

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Tragedy, brokenness and our faith

So I can’t help but be struck by the sheer amount of tragedy and brokenness we see around us today. And no, I’m not becoming an “end times” theorist with predictions and panic-inducing generalizations (see former post and message on the end times). I’m merely saying, it’s the reality of life on planet earth right now. And with the invention of media, things that we never knew about before are now streamed to our laptops within seconds of them happening. We see brokenness and pain more than any generation before us. Note: I say: “we see” it, because I believe there was this kind of brokenness in every generation, but with our technology we can get it all brought right to us. This has prompted some to shut off the news and turn to entertainment — but it’s still there.

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What the world needs-The Radicals Preview

Tomorrow (Sunday) we kick off the brand new series: The Radicals. I would propose that while the term “radical” has been less than favorable (either 90’s slang word or extreme religious military/ terrorism ties) it really is the best term for what it means to actually follow Jesus in 2011. Sure, in some ways, Christianity seems to be relatively “accepted” in main stream culture. Except for the jabs and jokes about political leanings — Christianity, especially in the midwest, seems to be “alright”. However, if you actually read the Bible and begin to look at what the Bible defines as Christianity – well then we have an interesting paradox. We have a Christianity that is both countercultural BUT what the world needs most from the church today! The true heart of Christianity requires something so much more, well, radical, than we often try to pass off as “Christianity”. But I would say that one of the reasons for any form of ridicule or jabs at modern day Christian faith is because we are not living the life. We’ve created some form of watered-down faith that stands for very little and the stuff it does stand for seems to be far down stream from what Jesus stood for. We stand for political “rights” but throw away people and compassion in the process. We stand for legalistic “rules” and expect people to have “arrived” well before they even really know Jesus.

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Retro-Christianity part two

So, in our attempt to “reorient our Christianity” we are trying to learn what “baggage” has been added to our faith. In our last post we focused on some of the external markings and memories of faith. Today I wanted to process with you some of the unspoken or maybe even spoken ideals, “brand” or focus of what made up true Christianity. If you had to summarize some of the main aspects of Christianity from what we saw and what we even see around us today – what would you say they are?

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