"In like" with Christ but not "in love"

This is a post to gently remind believers of the importance of romanticism.

Not romance. Romanticism.

If you're a follower of Jesus,  then there's a good chance you're a romantic. You ACTUALLY believe that lives can be transformed from the inside-out; that people aren't destined to blissful ignorance; that transformed lives changes culture, which changes communities which changes cities which changes countries which changes the planet.

You believe in the romantic notion that one day there will be a reckoning that will be swift, terrifying and beautiful all at once.

And if you're a follower, you've probably been a critic of christianized culture (note: not "christian culture") or of the church in general. You've probably lifted a single eyebrow in question at the hypocrisy, ignorance, or lunacy in the christianized version of churches or of society. And you've done so for the simple reason that you care. Deeply. Passionately. Because it matters. Because you're a romantic. Because God is real.

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Religious Artifacts and and the Twinkie: Why Some Bad Ideas Aren’t Worth Saving

After an acrimonious standoff between Hostess executives and the bakery labor union, our worst apocalyptic fears might be realized: Twinkies might disappear forever. Eighty-three years of children’s lunchboxes and Texas Fair fryers might not be enough to rescue the golden little fella from spongecake oblivion. 

But just because Twinkies have always been around isn’t reason enough to keep them there. Nostalgia shouldn’t hijack common sense. 

The church has had its own share of bad products which, like the the Twinkie, have been unhealthy, strangely enjoyable, and made on the cheap. I say it’s time to retire all those evangelical products that made us so happy at the time. Here’s a start:

  • Children’s flannel boards with all those Caucasian Bible characters
  • Pyramid-shaped photo arrangements of church staff (pastor on top, with his wing men in dark suits in descending order according to seminary degrees and paychecks)
  • Padded, mauve sky-box chairs
  • The badly-proofed collection of typed praise songs with the plastic curlicue binding
  • Round, plasticized communion wafers
  • The dual-handled pouch-bag-offering-thingie (passed down the aisle with choreographed wonder)
  • My Texas pastor’s clear plexiglass pulpit with the laser-cut cross cutout
  • The 3-D silver dove for my bumper
  • Big screens that disappear into the big slit in the ceiling
  • Hand-made banners with silk tassels
  • Powerpoint slideshows (golden wheat stalks blowing? Multi-racial families smiling? Clouds billowing?)
  • Black electric keyboards from Wal-Mart with pre-set beats “for the young people”
  • Four Words: Bob. Tomato. Larry. Cucumber
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Give Thanks; Not Spanks

A few years ago, during a Thanksgiving church service, my hilarious younger brother leans over and whispers in a silly tone of voice to both me and our older brother, "give thanks; not spanks." As is typical when I'm with my brothers, I got a bad case of the giggles and wiggles in church at his funny little rhyme.

Every day we have choices. Grumble and complain about life's spanks or give thanks.

Trust me when I say I can grumble with the best of them when things just aren't going my way.

I was doing a lot of grumbling over life's spanks upon me back in 2007. I had finished seminary, moved back home with mom and dad, struggled to find a "real" job and ended up cleaning toilets at Disneyland. One stereotypically beautiful Southern Californian day, I met up with a friend who had attended seminary with me. My sweet friend listened as I went on and on complaining about my life during that season of toilets, plungers, and a whole lot of blah, blah, blah. When I had finished spewing out complaints about life's spanks, my friend graced me with her wisdom and love and asked me one simple question that caused a radical shift to take place in my life.

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Church Is Useless

“Church is useless.”

I might have expected such a comment from my 24-year-old nephew who insists that living with his parents in the room he’s occupied since birth, whose passion is playing FPS (First Person Shooter) games and whose sole means of gainful employment is a part-time job at a local restaurant. But my nephew, as far as I know, has never said that. Though he was “raised in the church,” he doesn’t attend with any regularity. But as far as I know, he’s never said the church is useless.

Instead, the quote came from a 28-year-old—let’s call him Michael—who has a really good job, is married to a very successful marketing executive and who has nothing in common with my nephew except that he was also raised in the church.

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What Is Spiritual Maturity?

Groups of People: followers of Jesus

·         A follower is by definition someone who has given his/her life to follow Jesus and has put Him first. This assumes a measure of passion for Christ.

 

Group 5: The Mature: Demonstrate the courage by following His leadership in His timing with His attitude and His character.  Gracious with the immature, ignores the spiritually arrogant, has healthy friendships with other followers for whom he/she prays and has many friendships with non-followers.

Thank you for your patience during my summer break. This post wraps up our series on “Groups of People: followers and non-followers”.

What is spiritual maturity?

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The pursuit of knowledge in the Christian life

The more I read the Old Testament the more I am amazed at how consistent it is with the message of the New Testament.  Over the last couple of weeks I have been reading through Proverbs, a book known for its claims on how pursuing God’s wisdom leads to a well ordered, and profitable life.  Solomon, the author of most of the book of Proverbs, placed a high value on the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.  In fact in several places the two words seem to be used interchangeably.  In our culture today there are people who put Christians down for their perceived lack of knowledge.  To these people Christians do not have enough “evidence” or are maybe behind the curve on claims to truth.  To them Christian beliefs are outdated, or do not apply to our modern culture.  However the Bible claims the exact opposite. 

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Expanding our Circle of Friends in the Church

The church has become a master at niche marketing.  From the kind of music style you want in your worship service, to whether you prefer a small church or large.  There are also things like Stephen Ministries, a ministry designed to train people to be good “helpers”, for lack of a better word, in coming alongside a person to help them through a period of grief. 

If you want a small group experience there is one for almost any place you are at in your “spiritual journey”.  For instance, some churches have “seeker” small groups, new believer small groups, high school small groups, single adult small groups, men’s groups, women’s group, recovery groups, motor cycle groups, MOPS, and “young at heart” groups.  One of these options is most likely available to you.  If I have left any group out that you attend or know about, I apologize.

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