What every Christian conversation about Bruce Jenner should sound like.

 Thanks to Chris Martin for the inspiration on this one.

THEM: “Hey, you’re a Christian, right?”

YOU: “Yeah.  Aren’t you?”

THEM: “Long story.”

YOU: “Cool.  Mine was too.  What’s up?”

THEM: “What do you think about Bruce Jenner?”

YOU: “I love him.  A lot.”

THEM: “Oh, like you’re a fan?”

YOU: “No.  I don’t love his career.  I love him.”

THEM: “Well he’s not a he anymore.  He’s a she.”

YOU:  “Got it.  I love her.  A lot.”

THEM: “Yeah.  I see where you’re going.  Love is good.  Very John Lennon of you.  I mean about his whole transgender thing.”

YOU: “Same answer.  Love.”

THEM: “So… um.  Do you think it’s a sin?”

YOU: “Are you asking me if I think Bruce Jenner is a sinner?”

THEM: “Yeah!  The meaty stuff.  Is Bruce Jenner a sinner?”

YOU: “I’ve never met anyone who isn’t a sinner.  I’m a sinner.  So are you.”

THEM: “Oh, well okay.  But you’re missing the point.  Is being transgender a sin?”

YOU: “Actually dude, you’re missing the point.  My job is to make disciples.  Everyone I’ve ever met is a sinner.  So I don’t really worry about it and I just do my job.”

THEM: “But would God actually want a disciple who’s a sinner?”

YOU: “Well, as close as I can tell, he wanted me.  Want to hear my story?”

­­­­­­­­­­­­­________________

The End

Keep it simple people.  Our job is to make disciples.  And the most powerful tool for that is not the Bible.  It’s your witness.  Start telling it.

Have a nice day.

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Talking Christ out of dying on the cross.

Okay, Jesus. I get it, okay? You love all people, etc. etc. But you’re talking about dying here for these people. Dying for their sins, right? That’s what you said. Listen, do what you want. But just listen to me for a couple of minutes.

So you’re dying for THEIR sins, right? Setting aside the fact that this doesn’t really make any sense to me, let’s be practical for a minute. First, limited audience. How many people are even going to be in town to see this happen. Sin is global, dude. GLOBAL. Even if everyone in town sees you do this and stops sinning, how many is that? A few thousand? At best? Out of the entire world? Talk about a drop in the ocean. It’s not worth it.

Also, talk about giving a drunk a drink! It’s not like people are actually going to stop sinning. You’re dying for their sins right in the middle of them continuing to sin, pal. Think about that! How unfair is that? And also, doesn’t it seem a little pointless? Die for their sins and they start sinning again in what, 30 seconds? Listen Jesus, you just don’t buy a drunk a drink. It’s not right.

Also, why does this all have to fall on your shoulders? Shouldn’t their be some sort of organized initiative or program to reduce sin? There are a lot of good people and good organizations out there. If you don’t do this, someone else will.

________________________

Sounds ridiculous, right? Then why do I have this conversation all the time about the people around us who need help right now?

Have an awesome day.

JDV

Photo credit: http://www.johnlund.com

You are alone in your sin.

You need to get a handle on this sin thing.  What’s the matter with you?  You realize don’t you that most people don’t “struggle” with this they way you do, right?  There must be something wrong with you, some wires crossed.  Whatever it is, you need to draw back into yourself and figure it out.  Put prayer on hold, would ya?  You can’t be praying in the middle of this giant mess you’re in.  And think about your wife, your family, your friends.  Listen, I’m your friend, and you have got to get a handle on this.  I know you supposedly had a “good day” yesterday but how long will that last?  You really think you can string together even five decent days in a row?  When has that worked out?

Get to work on this.  Figure it out.  You’re on your own out there until you can get this sorted out.

_____________________

Ever heard these words?  Yeah.  I have.  All the time.  This is that conversation the devil likes to have with you in order to guarantee that you never break free from sin.  Yes, the devil can actually use your own battle with sin against you.  A crafty little bastard.  Fighting him off can actually fuel his game.  Distance from God.  It’s all about distance from God.  How many times have I skipped prayer because of recent sin?  Mission accomplished, devil.  Well played.

So let’s set it straight.  If you are stuck in sin YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  But you had better get about the business of surrounding yourself with strong Christians who don’t define their faith as a means by which to judge the sins of others.  You need real Christians, not Christians who are full of crap.  You need scripture, and you had best not ever… EVER… step away from prayer.  I don’t care how much you lose your battle, you get back onto that battle field with your Christian friends and your powerful God and you fight again.

Got it?  Don’t believe the crap you hear.  Because you’re going to hear it.  Over and over.  But you’ve got an army behind you.  Want me in your army?  I can do that.  james.d.voigt@gmail.com.  And trust me on this: with me in your army you will no longer be alone in your sin!  We’ll fight it off together.

Take today and kick the living crap out of your sin.  Team up.  Pray up.  Bible up.  And start kicking.

 

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

 

Photo credit: Leni Tuchsen / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Wow. I’m NOT abandoned to Christ. Not even close.

Remember a while back I put up a post about starting with small things to abandon yourself to Christ?  Well that has been a learning experience for me because I have found it very difficult to give up even the simplest things, even when doing so just to test my willingness to give something up or take on something new.  I am WAY off the mark on the little things, so no wonder I feel like I’m missing the boat on the big things.

But I’m not down on myself about it.  I’m seeing it more as good news.  Things are pretty good now, and I’m a total screw up.  Think about how AWESOME they will be as I continue to grow in faith and become more willing to abandon my life for the one who created me.

This could get seriously cool.

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

90 minutes that turned me around. And I needed it.

Ömer Ünlü / Foter.com / CC BY

People think I really have it together.  If only they knew.  The inside of my head is a messy place.

I’ve been missing for a couple of weeks.  But I’ve actually been more than just missing.  I’ve been steeped in a two week barrage of intentional rebellion against God.  I was angry about some stuff.  I get that way sometimes.  And I didn’t just wander from God.  I prayed and told God I was going off the reservation for a while and I didn’t know how long.  And my life went they way it always does at when I rebel: badly.  But I’ve never done this intentionally before.  It’s always been a “victim of circumstance” type of justification in the past.  I guess technically that’s intentional, but this was different.  I’ve never looked God in the face (so to speak) and pretty much flipped him the bird.

But I did.  And the walk back to God for me is normally slow and filled with shame and a strong dose of self-hate.  But this walk back was as different as the original rebellion.

I got an email from a friend that wanted to meet.  She’s with the church, so I figured it was about my Sunday school class.  I actually lost a little sleep thinking maybe I did something to tick off some parents.  My class is, you could say, non-traditional.  Maybe I was getting hollered at for something.  But maybe I was being asked to step up to a higher level, so that was an exciting thought.

I even brought my yellow pad.  I was ready.  We engaged in the normal small talk and then that moment came when it was obviously time to get down to business so I asked, “So what’s up?”

“Nothing.  I was just concerned about you.”

Wait.  Hang on a second.  There is no agenda?  No hill to be charged?  This friend is taking time out of their day, a lot of it, just to be sure I am okay.  Actually set an appointment just for that.  While everyone else was assuming I had it all together, this friend saw something and was concerned and took an hour and half out of her time to talk.

And wow did I talk.  I stopped myself about an hour into it realizing that I was engaged in a major “Jim explosion” and I was yammering on and on.  But that was okay.  I was assured it was okay.  We talked about all sorts of things.  One of the things we talked about was the fact that I teach Sunday school, but my kids only come to church at all maybe half the time.  Odd.  I agreed.  So we mixed in a little correction and challenge all at the same time.

A meeting for no specific reason.  Well actually that’s not true.  I meeting for me.  I’m not used to that.  But it turned me around at a time that I seriously needed to be turned around.  And as is often the case it coincided with other events like a fellow blogger calling me out on not posting, another writer finishing her book.  All these things came together and for the first time I felt true regret for my rebellion.  Not just feeling bad for myself.  This was a true connection with God where I felt bad about my sin for God’s sake, not just for my own self-loathing purposes.

This was a big day.  A day that pulled me out of a place that I needed to be pulled from.

So thank you.  You know who you are.  Thank you.

Happy New Year everyone.

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.

 

Attack the hell out of sin.

Cheetah

Pardon my language here, but you can’t wander out of sin. You can’t cut back a little more every day until it’s out of your life. You can’t stop sinning tomorrow. Or next week. It’s not a New Year’s resolution. There is one way to deal with sin: You attack the hell out of it. Niceties aside.  Proper language aside.  One strategy: an all-out assault on sin like a crazed military brigade taking an enemy hill.

Dave Ramsey likes to say that you can wander into debt, but you cannot wander out of it. He likens the process of getting out of debt to the gazelle running from the cheetah. The gazelle doesn’t think about running away. He doesn’t get a slow start and sort of work his way up to a jog, and then eventually run. No. The gazelle sees the danger, and he RUNS. No distractions. That gazelle isn’t checking its email. Its got one singular focus in its life: RUN!

That’s how Dave Ramsey deals with debt. And that’s how the Cannot Contain family deals with sin. That cheetah isn’t interested in a conversation. It’s interested in devouring you. Leaving no trace of what used to be your life. Sin doesn’t negotiate, and enough is never enough. It doesn’t nibble. It destroys. And it’s never satisfied until every last ounce of you is gone.

We have one advantage over that lone gazelle sprinting across the landscape. We have brothers. We have sisters. We have warriors walking along side us that attack with us. They rescue us when we fall. The save us when we don’t even see the attack coming. We have an army behind us.

I am your brother. If you have sin that needs to be attacked, I am here to attack it right along with you. Sin is full of shame and embarrassment, so we don’t like to talk about it in the comments. But you can email me any time. james.d.voigt@gmail.com   I don’t judge because I cannot judge.  I come into this battle with unclean hands just like the rest of us.  But the bottom line is this: I come ready for war.

We were built to be heroes. And heroes attack together.

Photo credit: Rainbirder / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA