Outrage Over the Konduga and Chibok Kidnappings.

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Where is the international outrage?  Where is the support?  Why the silence from the media?  Twenty five school aged girls were kidnapped in Konduga in March, silence.  No rescue efforts.  No outrage.   3 weeks later on April 15th another 230 girls kidnapped from school to be sold as sex slaves and wives. The original 25 kidnappings weren’t even mentioned until after the next kidnapping in April.  Still silence until MAY???  and no international rescue efforts?

The missing Malaysian flight 370 disappears with 227 passengers and 12 crew members in March.  An international search began within 24 hours.  At the peak of the search for this missing plane 26 countries were assisting with aircraft and ships from 11 of them!  Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea, The United Kingdom and the United States of America all joined in, spending millions of dollars searching for the missing aircraft.  The search…

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You don’t REALLY need to pray all the time…

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David Platt wrote a book called Radical (buy it!) where he calls us out on our life of prayer.  He’s pretty blunt about it.  He says, basically, that if you’re leading a life that consists mainly of going to work, catching some TV and grabbing dinner out every once in a while you probably really don’t NEED prayer in your life.

Read the Bible and there are portions of it where you see this absolutely desperate type of prayer.  Why don’t I pray like that?  Well the answer is pretty simple.  I’m not living on the edge.  I don’t really NEED to pray to live the way I do.  I am secure.  I get by pretty well without prayer, at least by my own standards.

But don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying life without prayer is okay.  What I’m saying is that living a life that doesn’t require desperate prayer is empty.  I’m starting to see that.  I live a life that does not require desperate prayer.  The solution is not to simply pray more.  It’s to stick my neck out and do the radical things that make me desperate for prayer because I can’t even fathom doing them on my own.

So I have this little thing in the works.  A big thing, actually.  And I’m nervous about it.  All this talk.  All this blogging.  All these ideas.  It’s about to turn into something that blows the doors off of my comfortable existence.  It’s going to immerse me into an environment where I am no longer talking to people who mostly already agree.  I am going to have the opportunity to dive headfirst into a community that includes a lot of non-believers.  Non-believers that, for the most part, hate each other.  And it will be my job to bring them together.  Yeah.  I think I’m going to need to pray a bit more.

I’m a bit scared.  So I’ve started praying.  Praying differently than before.  Praying like I mean it.  Praying like I really need God’s help to pull this off.  Because to do what I’m about to do, I will most definitely need the help of God himself because it’s way over my head.

So far I’ve lived a life where I rather frequently FORGET to pray.  Screw that.  I want to live a life where I’m scared NOT to pray.  Where I’m so close to the edge that prayer is the only thing keeping me from falling over it.  And I’m about to get that chance.  The chance to turn back the hands of time and hundreds or even thousands of years of fighting and hate.

So I’m praying.  Like never before.  And I’m thankful to have all of you along for the ride.

More to come.

We were built to be heroes.  And I just got my chance to be a hero.

Photo credit: madhankumarbs / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

What if they really are going to hell?

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This is not a happy post.  Sorry.  Take a long look at that picture.  Those men are about to die at the hands of their own government.  We could engage in a very philosophical debate about whether non-believers all go to hell.  The debate over this subject is such a giant waste of time and I don’t want to add to it more than necessary.  One side would bust out their Bibles and read the words of Christ that say that no one goes to the father except through him.  They would then have that bizzare and disturbing look of satisfaction that some Christians get when they feel they’ve accurately predicted the eternal damnation of another human being.

Some will argue that a person only goes to hell if they are first told about Christ and only then intentionally reject him.  As David Platt points out, this would mean that telling someone about Christ literally creates the possiblity of hell where there previously had been none, which is hard to believe. After that we’ll start talking about whether babies go to hell and that’s where it really gets heated.

My analysis?  I don’t know.  The end.

We don’t really know one way or the other.  Decision: Do you assume they are not going to hell and do nothing?  Or assume they are and we get our tails in gear?  If we live our lives treating the eternity of others with that level of urgency, what harm have we caused?  None.  So why on earth would we run the risk and waste time debating the topic in place of getting out there and spreading the word?  You know… just in case.

What prompted all this?  I saw an article about innocent civilians being gunned down by the Syrian government.  Are these men going to hell because they died never knowing Christ?  I don’t know.  And neither do you for sure, let’s be honest.  And “I don’t know” isn’t good enough in this situation.  And if you’re one of those uber-confident Christians that can say with full authority that these men are definitely going to hell because they didn’t know Christ, then I have a very convicting question for you: What did you do about it?  Stop patting yourself on the back for knowing that answer with such confidence and start convicting yourself to the thought that you knew they were going to hell and did nothing.

Personally, I never lifted a finger.  I see their photo standing their with their backs to me, one of them turned just enough that I can see the fear on his face knowing he is about to die, and I know that I did nothing to change his eternity.  I bet he’s thinking about his eternity.  Why wasn’t I thinking about his eternity when I had the chance?  I’m angry that these men were killed by their government.  But I’m more angry that I was sitting in my posh midwestern suburban home while it happened and did nothing to affect their eternity.

We have a lot of work to do.  A planet’s worth of work to do.  Let’s not sit around debating whether we need to do the work, and let’s just do it.  I’d much rather meet my maker having done more than I needed to, as opposed to seeing him and explaining how I won the debate on not needing to do anything at all.

We were built to be heroes.  It’s about time we started acting like heroes.

The Bible is Not a Motivational Book

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I don’t read the Bible to feel good about myself.  I don’t read the Bible to be inspired to do great things.  We need to stop seeing the Bible purely as a source to feel good.  It’s a history book, people.  And for those expecting it to be a beautiful history where cats and dogs live together in harmony forever and ever, it’s not.  It’s crammed full of all of the crazy, evil, ignorant things people have done since the beginning of time.  Anyone who criticizes the Bible runs to these things and believes them as hardcore fact and points to them and says, “See, God is terrible.”

But as much as people love to run to the dirt and accept it as true, they refuse to run to the light and accept it as well.  Non-believers cherry-pick the Bible and call all the bad stuff “fact” and all the salvation stuff “fanstasy.”  And us good Christians call them out on it and stand up on our podiums and congratulate ourselves on our faith in the ENTIRE Bible.

Well I’m a believer and I don’t believe the entire Bible either.  For me, it’s something like, “Yahoo!  Christ died for me and I am special.”  And then, “Obedience to God’s word and faith without works is dead??  Well… you know it’s really just a book written by people and who knows if they had their head screwed on straight.”

So believers don’t really believe the entire Bible either, it turns out.  So I have a suggestion, or perhaps a challenge.  I’m not saying “never again”, but for a month, stop reading the Bible for comfort or inspiration and just read it for what it mainly is: A historical account of stuff that actually happened.  A text book.  And a text book that tells a shockingly compelling story about some amazing things our God and his Son have done over the years.  With a good bit of practical advice on how to experience that full history thrown in for good measure.

Let’s get the Bible out of the clouds and into our laps and realize that what we’re reading isn’t eloquent verse, it’s truth.  It’s basic things that happened and the fact that they happened can mean only one thing: There is a God.  He does amazing things in unexpected ways.  And he loves us.  A ton.  End of story.

This stuff really happened people.  Get your head around that.  I know my head is not entirely wrapped around that fact but I’m at least glad I’ve realized it needs to be.

Love you all.  Let’s have a conversation.  What’s the toughest part of the Bible for you to accept as actual fact?

We were built to be heroes.  It’s about time we started acting like heroes.

A gatekeeper’s manifesto.

I am the gatekeeper.  I was given the scriptures as a younger man and I cherish them more than you could know.  I read them constantly.  I know them cover to cover.  I respect them and care for them.  They are without blemish.  Not a single note.  Not a single folded page.  Not a speck of dust.  They are well out of reach of my mischevious children.  They’ve never set a finger on them.  These pages receive the respect they deserve.

And here you are, steeped in your sin, seeking to see them.  Seeking to see my precious scriptures.  Don’t you realize these are the words of the man who died for those sins of yours?  Those disgusting acts of yours.  Parading around the way you do.  I shouldn’t even be talking to you.  What if someone saw us together?  All my years of hard work washed away.  And here you stand with your hand out.  Wanting to read these pages.  Wanting to touch them.  You’d probably just fold the pages and write all over them with your filthy hands.

Thank God for me.  Thank God I am here to stop you.  You come to me without even confessing your sins.  Without even repenting of them!  You are not qualified sir.  You are rejected.  Come back to me when you’ve turned yourself toward the Lord and then, perhaps, I will let you see these cherished words.  These letters in red.

Until then, this gate is closed.  Closed to you, that is.

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Are you acting as a gatekeeper for God?  “No one comes to the father except through me.”  Christ is the gate.  We are directed to bring people to the gate.  We are required to trust God to determine who passes through it.  Do not deny God the opportunity to bring someone to through the gate because you decided yourself that they were not worthy to approach it.  I would rather meet my maker having brought too many to the gate than too few.

We can act as gatekeepers by rejecting others.  We can act as gatekeepers by cowering in fear of being rejected.  And we can act as gatekeepers by simply sitting and doing nothing.  Whether passive or active, any act of gatekeeping has us usurping God’s role to sort out the saved from the unsaved.  That is not our place.  That is not our role.  We bring people to the gate.  We do not decide who passes through it.

We were built to be heroes.  Not gatekeepers.

Photo credit: calstatela.edu

Phil Robertson’s opinion doesn’t matter. Neither does mine. Get to work.

 

Let’s talk about Phil Robertson.  (How’s that for a little SEO?)  His opinion about homosexuality doesn’t matter.  Neither does yours, by the way.  Or mine.  Here’s why: It’s not our job to care about whether being gay is a sin.  Let’s read that again.  It’s not our job to care about whether being gay is a sin.

This is where Christians often say, “Yes… you are wise.  We should love the sinner and hate the sin.”

No.  Wrong.  Let’s try this again.  It’s not our job to care whether being gay is a sin.  This includes the process of “lovingly” deciding you will love a sinner anyway.

Our job is to make disciples.  “But how can I bring someone to Christ if they don’t acknowledge their sin?”  Who made you gatekeeper, pal?  Who put you in the judges robes to determine who should and should not be brought to Christ?

I am not interested in engaging you on your Biblical analysis of whether homosexuality is a sin.  I know my personal sin and there is no debating it… it’s a sin.  So I’m not interested in debating what is and is not a sin.  It’s a huge waste of time and a distraction from our mission.  I am interested in walking with you into a world that is full of every sin you can possibly imagine and treating every single person we encounter as a human being desperately in need of entering into a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

End of story.  End of mission.

Every minute you spend debating about whether being gay is a sin is a minute that could have been spent telling your story to someone else in order to bring them closer the Christ.  And let’s not forget that your story is full of sin.  Someone, seeing your sin, talked to you about Christ, didn’t they?  In my case, the people who brought me to Christ did so SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE OF MY SIN.  They saved my life.

Who’s life are you saving by intellectualizing whether homosexuality is a sin?  How many people did you save by having a church committee meeting, or a synod conference, on this topic?

Enough already.  Your opinion of homosexuality doesn’t mean a hill of beans.  You are not a judge.  You are a servant of the Judge.  You bring people to His feet, not your own.  And this judge forgave the murderers who nailed him to a cross while he was still hanging on that cross.

We do not love homosexuals, or bisexuals, or Asians, or Africans, or short or tall, wide or thin.  We love people.  We tell them our story so that they can see the beauty of the words in the Bible and the amazing grace that pours from the God who created us.  We tell them our sin so they can see our God loves sinners.  He does not seek out the perfect, and neither should we.  When we bring people to the Bible, and to Christ, their sin is exposed before God.  Not before us.  It is exposed before God and they are given the chance to ask God to take it from them.  And the truly bizarre, unfair, unjust reality is that God does take it.  Even though we could never do anything to deserve that.

You are not a pre-screener for Christ.  You are a hero.  Right now.  Today.  You are a hero.  Heroes run into burning buildings, and dive into frozen waters, and they never… ever… ask first, “Is this person worthy of saving?”  They just save them.  That’s our job description.  It was kept simple for a reason.  Stop mucking it up.  We are surrounded by people who need a hero.  Let’s get to work reaching them, whoever they are.

We were built to be a heroes.  It’s about time we started acting like heroes.