Why Are We So Afraid?

The other day I was thinking about the various things that the Church is crying out against in American society.  I talked with someone about a documentary he wanted me to watch about the rise of Islam, and he said, “it’s scary, scary stuff.”  That has just stuck with me.

Why are we so afraid?

It got me thinking about Jesus.  He struck fear in the heart of the religious leaders of his time and they influenced the political leaders to be afraid of him as well.  He was a threat to their power.  He was declaring a new kingdom and a new way of living with God the Father.  He was seen as a revolutionary and a threat.

Revolutionaries are always a threat to those in power.

Change is always a threat to those in power.

The Church is clearly seeing a diminishing of our “power” and influence in American society.  The responses that I am seeing more often than not boil down to fear.

Are we afraid of losing our “power.”

The really sad thing about all of this is that we blame society for our loss of influence in American society.  But the real reason that we have lost our influence is because we gave it away.  We stopped caring about being a force for good in society and instead huddled together in our little clubs.

Don’t blame the media, the president, muslims, or the Gays for our fear.  It’s our own fault.

How do we overcome our fears?

Engagement.  Engagement does not mean agreement.  Engagement does not mean debate.  Engagement starts with conversation.  Stop decrying the evils of american society to club members who already agree with you.  Get out and get to know a gay person.  Talk to a muslim.  Serve the poor.

Do something.  Don’t let fear paralyze you.

Jesus help me to not let fear paralyze me.

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“Christians” make me so angry

Today I saw that a group of people who profess to be Christians have decided to picket the funeral of two boys who were murdered by their father. These people claim that this tragedy happened because of Washington State’s recent passing of Gay Marriage bills in the state senate and house of representatives. According to them these two young boys are a sign of God’s judgment.

What?!

Whenever I see this kind of stuff and particularly from this group I get so angry. What a horrible way to respond to tragedy. What are they hoping to accomplish? I have yet to encounter anyone who has converted to Christianity bias a result of picketing soldiers funerals. What I have encountered is a lot of people who become angry at Christians because of this group.

Please stop.

What I truly don’t understand here is whether or not these people have a clear understanding of their own sinfulness. Because if they did I don’t think they would be compelled to picket. Understanding how much Jesus Hans changed me and continues to change me, and how much grace I have received for my own brokenness has forced me to walk humbly in these issues. I don’t think Jesus would have us boycotting the sinfulness of our political structures. When reading the gospels he was more confrontational with religious people.

If we (the Church) actually take the message of the Gospel and the grace therein more seriously and actually live this out, maybe we would see positive changes in our society. Until that happens these picketers are wasting their time and giving everyone who wants to be agents of the grace of God a bad name.

Seriously, please stop.

I have a feeling that the more severe judgement will be on those who cause people to run away from the gospel, or keep people out of the kingdom of God. Does Luke 17:1-2 come into play here? Are these folks protesting funerals and giving Jesus a bad name causing people to sin? Is this action leading others into the death of their spirit?

How is that any different than the sociopathic behavior of Josh Powell who killed his own boys.

Seriously Westboro. You’re killing people. Stop it!

Off My Mind

I’ve had a very simple project that I just haven’t wanted to do.  I’ve been putting it off.  I just finished it.  Man that feels good when things like that are done.  

What is on your brain that you know you need to do but have been putting off?  You’ll feel way better if you just get it done. 

Is it a phone call?

Is it a project around the house?

Is it writing the check for that bill that you don’t want to pay?

What is it?

I really think its unhealthy to live with too many things on your mind.  Get them done and get them out of your head.

Missional Spirituality (Review)

Missional is a buzzword in the North American Church.  It’s a buzzword with a lot of ambiguity.  What does it mean to be missional?  What is a missional church?  What is a missional follower of Jesus?  These are all questions that church leaders are asking.  And there are many resources that are trying to provide some clarity to these questions.

Missional Spirituality (Paperback, Kindle) by Roger Helland and Leonard Hjalmarson is one of these many books.  Unlike many of the other texts that I’ve been reading on the subject.  Missional Spirituality builds its foundation on Jesus response to the question, “What is the greatest commandment?”  Jesus’ reply to this question is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

From this response Helland and Hjalmarson begin to investigate what it means to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  They focus on practices that help believers grow in their love for the Lord in all four of these arenas.  This is important as it helps people build faith and knowledge about God and move them into living the mission of God.  The authors then go into examining what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

Missional Spirituality is by no means a ground breaking revolutionary text on what the church should be doing to be more “missional”.  However, it is a helpful text for church leaders and non-church leaders to begin to figure out what it means to live in God’s mission of grace and saving the world.

Changes

There are some changes that are coming to Creekside Church.  They are changes that we believe will ultimately help Creekside in the next chapter of our church’s story.  There are two staff members who are no longer going to be on staff at our church.  But they are planning on remaining at Creekside.

These staff changes mean that there are going to be more changes down the road as we bring new people on the team.  Help get them acclimated to our church culture and climate.  Give them the tools that they will need to do their jobs and all that.

Just a whole lot of new stuff coming at Creekside.

Now. I like most people have a hard time with change.  Mainly because change is inconvenient.  I like to have things a certain way.  And I like to have a system.  I like for other people to have their systems and I want those systems to work with my systems.  Any change usually slows down those systems.

However, I am trying to embrace change and to be more flexible.  This is hard for me. But I’m trying to enter into this season of change with excitement.  Because God is way smarter than me.  And even thought I don’t like change, God can still orchestrate these changes.  I want to see what he’s going to do.  I want to see how this all pans out.

God has something cool in store for Creekside.

Vulnerability

I think what is really troubling me in this whole issue is that there is a lack of vulnerability on the part of church leaders.

When dealing with a church there is a lot of trust in the congregation that the leaders will help them to become more like Jesus.  Church members confide in leaders their struggles and where they need help, believing that these leaders will help them to grow.

Confession creates a position of vulnerability with the hope of restoration.  When we (church leaders) put a bunch of barriers in someone’s path to restoration, or give them arbitrary activities that we think should make them closer to Jesus, we take advantage of their vulnerability.

That’s abuse.

Church leaders, have you ever made a mistake?  Have you ever had to confess your mistakes to someone?  I know the pastor in question has been publicly chastised and claims to have undergone discipline himself.  My question here is shouldn’t that discipline create more humility and more vulnerability?

There is a fear in church leadership that if we show our own weaknesses then people won’t want to follow us.  That is we let people know we aren’t perfect they will see through our B.S. and go to someone who has their crap together.

I know from experience at Creekside that when our pastor (Don) has expressed his own weaknesses people have actually responded favorably.  Don is one of us.  He’s not better than us, he’s just one follower of Jesus trying to help other people follow Jesus.

In a conversation with another person who calls Creekside home they said that why they love Creekside is that we are willing to talk to people based on life experience.  We have a community of broken people and Jesus is putting us back together.  We have drug addicts sitting next to stay at home moms.  All of us recognize that we need Jesus.  And recognizing that we all need Jesus helps us to be vulnerable and honest with each other.

Brothers, we are all broken

My heart is hurting for people who have been deeply hurt by a church in my area.  As a leader in a church I know that it is not hard to offend someone.  As someone who goes to a church I know that it is not hard to be offended.

But the stories that I am hearing lately are too much.  Church discipline is intended to ultimately be redemptive, to help people get closer to Jesus.  It’s not intended to show your power or authority over your followers.

Pastors can you please take a moment to pray for the people in your area who are hurting because of church leadership.  It’s not fair to those people that their image of Jesus is tarnished because of human agents.

The truth is that we are all incredibly broken people.  The grace of Jesus is the only thing that helps us get our lives back together.  Can we talk more about that?  Can we humbly recognize our need for Jesus?

Leaders, let’s get out of the way of people who are trying to find Jesus.  We are not meant to be gatekeepers of faith.  We are guides.  The only reason that we can guide anyone in their faith journey is because some one guided us.  That person was a broken human too.

Let’s be honest.

Let’s be humble.

Let’s celebrate Jesus’ transforming love and grace.

Let’s help people walk away from sin and towards the grace that we find in the Cross of Christ.

I think that’s what people are looking for when they come to church for the first time.

Love.

Hope.

Healing.

Forgiveness.

Compassion.

Community.

We should be the best at creating environments like this because we have received all of this from Jesus in the first place.