Monday, August 30, 2010


Wait, did you hear that?  What?  I think I heard it again.  Could you repeat that?
I wasn't listening to you.

How often does this ring true for you?  I know it's all too familiar for me.  What causes my inattention is often focusing on what's going on with me and the world I think I control.  This prevents me from really hearing what's being said on the surface, and way down deep in the soul.  I need to listen with my ears and with my heart!  So often I hear the information and then begin to process that in my logical and often prejudiced mindset; so I can dispense the appropriate response.  I feel the need to "fix it" and give the steps necessary to clear the path to freedom (it worked for me before).  I'll say what I think needs to be said instead of hearing what was said and be silent!  When something is shared from the heart, I must put aside the urge to do my thing, and really connect heart-to-heart with my friend.  As I hear their heart, I'll know how to respond through the Father's love.  I'm learning how to listening now...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Mercy Me's "Crazy Enough"

I would definitely call these guys ordinary radicals. Are we crazy enough? Am I crazy as I need to be? - jim

Call me crazy but what if we learn
To love our brother for nothing in return?
Oh how the rules would change

Reaching out to the ones who need help
Treating them as you first would treat yourself
Now that would be insane

It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

(Verse 2)
Is it so strange to think that one day
we will truly see everyone the same
Oh good we be so kind? (could we be so kind?)

To sing along when life's playing their tune
And cry with them when their hearts broken in two
Have I lost my mind?

It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

Oh, have I gone mad
Believing that love still has a chance?

It may just be crazy enough
To work if we could only love
What if we somehow changed the world?
It may just be crazy enough

It may just be crazy enough (repeat)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Penny Looker

I have a friend who looks very carefully at both sides of an issue.  On one side you have "heads" with all the knowledge and organized information that will carry you to a logical conclusion in a situation.  On the other side you have "tails" with great feeling and emotion in unorganized and often unorthodox fashion arriving at another conclusion.  Which side is correct?  How do you know?  Is it important?  What difference will it make?  After looking at both sides of "the coin", my friend can see all the details that define each but understands something I often miss; the value of the coin is in the material it's made of and does not change no matter what side is showing!
I need to focus more on what the value of the coin can do than calling "heads" or "tails"!

(Not) In the World

"Disinfecting Christians from the world involves isolating followers of Christ in a spiritual safe-deposit box called the church building and teaching them to be good. In this strategy, success in the church is defined by how big a building you have to house all the Christians, and the goal is to gather as many people as possible for a couple of hours each week in that place where we are isolated and insulated from the realities of the world around us. When someone asks, "Where is your church?" we point them to a building or give them an address, and everything centers around what happens at that building.

When we gather at the building, we learn to be good. Being good is defined by what we avoid in the world. We are holy because of what we don't participate in (and at this point we may be the only organization in the world defining success by what we don't do). We live decent lives in decent homes with decent jobs and decent families as decent citizens. We are decent church members with little more impact on the world than we had before we were saved. Though thousands may join us, ultimately we have turned a deaf ear to billions who haven't even heard His name.

Discipling is much different."

- David Platt, Radical

Monday, August 16, 2010

What's the Give Away or Take Away?

Sometimes churches go a bit too far trying to share the message of salvation.  Recently a youth group was "taken hostage" by their leaders disguised as terrorists in order to "scare" them into a real commitment as a Christ follower.  It was so "real" that law enforcement and S.W.A.T. teams responded!  The intent of the "act" was lost on the intended audience.  I wonder how something like this effects a searching, struggling, and even settled soul.  Using fear as a motivation to change hearts and share love does not compute in my brain!  I recently came across a personal response to a similar situation.  A church decided to use the old "bait and switch" routine to share Christ under the guise of a "free" backpack, full of school supplies, give away.  Here's that story:

Upon arriving, everything was organized and well planned. I pulled up to the parking lot attendant to show him my confirmation number in order to park. I then parked and my son and I proceeded to check ourselves in. We were given a wristband, and told there were free concessions available for us. My son was really nervous and not sure what to think of everything, so we went inside the church where we were instructed we would be able to get our backpacks. On the outside of the building, we could hear shouting, laughter and music. I was figuring we were in for a good time. A few random people guided me to the correct door to enter. When inside 2-3 ladies welcomed me and I thanked them. They all in their own way told me they REALLY hope to see me back again. Nice for the invite, and I was feeling rather relaxed and comfortable. It was just a few feet and past a “line forming” barrier where we were taken into the sanctuary. The man on stage was throwing footballs and such to the crowd. The energy was high! I was asked to hold while an usher found us a seat. Once directed where to sit, on my way there, the lights dimmed and the mood got really serious. I thought to myself… what is happening. As predicted, in most churches that are controlling and power hungry, I was not surprised as to what came next. The speaker…. Not sure who or what position he might have in the “church” but he looked as if he might be an assistant pastor or youth pastor. (I have looked for information on him and not been able to find any) He started with his childhood story and how he “discovered” Jesus.

  “One day I was watching the old movie on Moses, and saw him split the Red Sea. I turned to my mom and asked if that was real. She replied the movie itself was not real but the actual story was. I then as a curious boy started asking question to find answers to this incredible true story.”

He continued to talk for a bit, but I started to tune out and make sure my son was doing okay. The next thing I remember tuning into was as follows.

“I just need a volunteer. You, please come here. You will not have to talk; I just need you to stand facing the wall with your back to the audience.”  The lights dimmed further as to make the mood more serious and reflective. Slow “guilt” music began to play. “Here this boy is going to represent Jesus. Back when Jesus was alive he knew he came here to save you all. I met a girl last year that was hurting. She was cutting herself and couldn’t stop. I met another girl who was suicidal and another family who just lost their house and income. “The list went on for a bit.  “Who knows what you might be going through today? Perhaps you are a wife ready to pack her bags and leave her husband… (so on with the guilt/fear questions).  You are hurting and Jesus is ready to take away all your guilt and pain no matter what your situation is. See these screens with the crosses? Jesus endured the pain, so you do not have to. (Goes back to boy standing on stage) Before nailing him to the cross, they beat him so badly he was unrecognizable. (Doing motions around the “volunteer”) – The soldiers took whips the size of this microphone, and gouged into his back. It bled and oozed. Jesus was dehydrated, and fell to the ground”

At this point again, it began to get severely graphic for a room full of kids, that were simply there for a backpack. All the specific gruesome details of the actual “hanging Jesus on the cross” I cannot relay properly. The speaker continuing….

“The last words Jesus said were “It is finished”.  So for all of you today you have nothing to worry about. Jesus died for you. (Dismisses the boy)  I have another example and I have my two boys to help me out here. (Two men from the sidelines came onstage) – This guy here will represent “the enemy”. This one here will represent you. I will represent God. As you live your life, the enemy will beat you down. When you trust in God and call on his name, the Bible says that the enemy will go away. He will be right there by your side.”

A few “Amen’s” erupted from around the sanctuary.

“As you can see God stepped in, and shooed away the enemy. As you go through life, you may stray and the enemy will come back, as he is always trying to.”

They repeated the stupid play once or twice more. The men then returned to standing on the side.

“I want to ask you all to stand with me. (Music and lights grow louder and darker. All I could think, was here it comes.) I know you all are here for backpacks, but we want to share this story with you. You will get your backpacks I promise. Right now what I have to say is important. It has nothing to do with you joining the church. The pastor and his staff are more concerned with spreading the story of Christ no matter what church you go to or where you are in your life. I am sure you all have heard of Heaven and Hell. I have had the chance to talk to people on the brink of death who have said that they had a glimpse of either Heaven or Hell. The ones who where “in Hell”, woke up gasping for air in a panic. They said the pain was intense and they could feel their soul burning as if they were above a bonfire. They felt the burning and that, my friends, will last an eternity. You know how bad it feels to get burnt. Imagine that feeling always there never going away. It sounds like torture. The ones I spoke to that had a glimpse of Heaven, said they didn’t want to return to Earth, it was so incredible.”

At this point I was appalled at the tactics this guy/institution was up to. They were literally just scaring the living Jesus into them.  Way to make a no choice, guilt ridden, fear striking speech.

“I now want to start with the children. Let us pretend there is a line of tape on the ground; one in front of you is white, and one behind you is red. Are you ready to cross the white line and make a change in your life and have a personal relationship with Jesus? I am about to invite you ALL but once again I want to start with the kids. The first “show” I did (and yes, he used the word show), there were swarms of people around this alter taking that next step in their lives. It was an amazing turnout. So I now invite the kids to come forward to the alter if you want to have that personal relationship with Jesus we have been talking about.”

No lie, I believe 85%-90% of the kids/teens were instantly up at that alter. Why wouldn’t they be? They were there for a backpack and were then all the sudden scared to death by this corralled situation. So, common sense, we now have all the kids upfront, time to target the parents/guardians!

“The little ones have made the decision to change theirs lives, now parents, I want you to consider the same. It does not matter where you are in your life. It is not about joining the church. I have a friend over here who visited a sick man everyday at the hospital until he died. He was not a part of our church, but he still took the time to let him know he cared and wanted to share the love of God with him. I am here to do the same. So parents, loved ones, I invite you now to join the youth up here if you also want to take the step toward having a relationship with Jesus.”

As in so many “institutions”, I could see and “feel” the crazy amount of ushers/counselors getting ready to move in on the people standing up front. They had some information/accepting Christ into your heart packets. So cliché! The speaker then led the whole group in a “Prayer of Salvation”. They all repeated it cult style, then were cheered for when finished. Like a miracle, the lights became bright again, music turned to something SUPER casual, and the people were all instructed to see a counselor/usher to get their “packet” on the way back to their seats. Keep in mind he was talking for a good 40-45 minutes or so! As everyone dispersed, I breathed a sigh of relief because the backpack I had come for was finally about to be given to me.  The speaker switched into fun mode again.

“Alright kiddos! Who is ready for their backpack?!? (no one really cheered, it was asked several times and the crowd started to interact just a little with excitement) Before we do that, it is time to give away this brand new bike to some lucky person in here! The Nintendo Wii will be given away by a random drawing from all the names who came to Operation Backpack! Okay let’s do a dance-off.  I want to see all ages up here dancing for the bike! “ The crowd starts to perk up again because who doesn’t want a free bike? About 7-8 people were picked to go onstage and dance. “Okay, start the music!” Everyone onstage danced their butts off. One kid stuck out because he did this maneuver that landed him on his back offstage. He thankfully was fine, and the “crowd judging” began. The kid that landed on his back, was the winner. I tell you this because the most shocking thing came out of the speakers mouth right after he announced that the kid was the winner.

“Where are your parents son?” He looks into the crowd and points to the boys parents, “I have to ask, were you on drugs when you were pregnant with him? I have NEVER seen any moves like that before!” Everyone, chuckled and passed it off.

We were then told we would be dismissed aisle by aisle to go up front to receive our backpacks.

From there, my son and I got our backpack and left the sanctuary.  We did not stick around after the “planned salvation speech”, and quickly headed home!

For the record, there were too many inserts and details to remember, but I tried to get the gist of everything.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fighting for God?

The question of "Do we/should we fight for God?' is answered well in Jesus Freaks II. Zhao Xia is the wife of pastor Li De Xian in China. He has been repeatedly imprisoned and tortured for his preaching. She says of their lifestyle, "We are constantly reminded that we are in a spiritual war. We know for whom we are fighting. We know who the enemy is. And we are fighting. Perhaps we should pray for you Christians outside of China. In your leisure, in your affluence, in your freedom, sometimes you no longer realize that you are in spiritual warfare."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Primal Leaders

"...they are numbered among the unlikely. ... those who are most religious will be most offended and indignant. Barbarians are not welcome among the civilized and are feared among the domesticated. The way of Jesus is far too savage for their sensibilities. ... Jesus is being lost in a religion bearing His name. People are being lost because they cannot reconcile Jesus' association with Christianity. Christianity has become docile, domesticated, civilized. We have forgotten that there is a kingdom of darkness stealing the hopes and dreams and souls of a humanity without God. It is time to hear the barbarian call, to form a barbarian tribe, and to unleash the barbarian revolt. Let the invasion begin ..."

- Erwin Raphael McManus, The Barbarian Way

A Tribe Called Forward

"To belong to God is to belong to His heart. If we have responded to the call of Jesus to leave everything and follow Him, then there is a voice within us crying out, "Fight for the heart of your King!" ... "yet Christianity over the past two thousand years has moved from a tribe of renegades to a religion of conformists." ... "A quick survey of the modern church would lead you to believe His invitation was "Come, and listen, ..." ... "Perhaps the tragedy of our time is that such an overwhelming number of us who declare Jesus as Lord have become domesticated - or if you will, civilized. We have lost the passion and power of that raw, untamed, and primal faith."

Erwin Raphael McManus, The Barbarian Way

Friday, August 6, 2010

Denied Entry

The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. "They won't let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner." "What are you complaining about?" said God. "They won't let Me in either."

- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's Important...

Through prayer and following our consciences, we can make a difference in our personal worlds. This is the revolution and world-changing God has called each of us to. Whether or not our obedience to Him takes on international importance is not of concern to God. What is important is that we seek Him, live for Him, and obey Him daily, and He will do the rest. There is no higher calling than this, and there is no calling more dangerous to ignore.
- Jesus Freaks Vol II

Just Listen To His Story

"... I promise myself if I ever get frustrated with life again, if I ever get into river-deep debt, I will sell it all and move out into the woods, find some people who aren't like me and learn to love them, and do something even harder, let them love me, receive the love of somebody who doesn't share my faith system, who doesn't agree with me about everything, and I will sleep beneath the stars and whisper thank you to the Creator of the universe, as a way of reacquainting myself to an old friend, a friend who says you don't have to be smart or good-looking or religious or anything; you just have to cling to Him, need Him, listen to His story."

- Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Religious People, Psssssssssst!

"I never read this section of scripture without realizing again just how suspicious people are about our being changed by Christ. I'll tell you, when your eyes are opened, when the blindness is removed, and especially when you begin to tell the story of your pilgrimage from blindness to faith in Christ, hang on! And don't be surprised if you encounter the most resistance from religious people. They will look at you like you're R2-D2 from a galaxy far, far away. They will stare. They will really begin to wonder if you've got both oars in the water. Religious folks are uncomfortable around authentic people whose lives have been changed by the living Christ."

- Charles Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Jesus Kind of Love

I really like what Donald Miller shared on his blog today and it speaks my heart too:

"The Jesus kind of love, the love that speaks the truth and yet does not try to control, is supernatural. It is a very confident position and it comes from God. Will it always win? No, but the point is not to win, the point is to love, even to our deaths. So make this commitment, I will tell the truth to the best of my ability, I will not try to control, and there is nothing anybody can do to get me to stop loving them."

~ Donald Miller (from his blog post 8/2/10)

Relational Tithe

Weird ?