Coffee, Theology, and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Category: Blog (page 4 of 13)

Putting the Cart Before the Horse.

As much as I like (and use) Facebook, it can also be frustrating.  Frustrating because you get the opinions and views of not just people you agree with, but people you disagree with.  It’s not that I don’t mind to disagree, in fact, I enjoy a good discussion with people who hold different views than myself.  However, what gets my blood boiling are the people (mainly Christians) who are arrogant and never wrong who would much rather shove a bucket of truth down an unbeliever’s throat than spoon feed little bits over time to a friend in need.

 

We’ve all seen it in some form in life at one time. The street preacher who would much rather  yell, rant and rave about homosexuality than speaking in love to people the hope of Jesus from their mess.  The Facebook people who loves those memes about fire and brimstone and then not only defends himself/herself but is hostile, arrogant and rude in the dialogue.   Or how about the statuses that come across like the person’s views are absolute truth and then say “hey I’m just saying what God says”.  Gee, thanks for speaking for the big guy, he is after all…a mute….

 

 

See, when we take “truth” (I say that in quotations because so many things that people say are true are more twisted than true) and strip it down to raw, cold facts we don’t really reach people at all, instead we turn them off to the point of Jesus, salvation and new, everlasting life.   If you ever read the Gospels you’ll see that Jesus always connects relationally to his audience and then begins to preach to them.  You’ll never find Jesus in the gospels on a street corner letting people know of the doom to come, you’ll never find Jesus stirring up controversy because he was condemning people outside of his religious system.  In fact, the only time Jesus really starts making waves is when He attacks the religious elite!  Thing about it, what got Jesus killed?  His own people essentially forced Rome to crucify Him.  It wasn’t Rome’s bright idea to kill this guy and when He did stand trial Pilot said He found no fault with the man.

 

The disciples went out in to the world to MAKE disciples.  Think about that for a minute, the disciples made converts, then disciples.  There was no big spread of Christianity then, the disciples were the essentially the only ones.  What good  would screaming on street corners do?  Nothing that’s what.  The disciples were far too concerned with people than they were with being right because being “right” was never the POINT.  Jesus is the point, redemption is the point, repentance is the point, everlasting life that starts now is the point, not proving that your views are 100% accurate, not telling people that you have the corner on truth.  Jesus, He is the point of life, it’s how God designed it. Everything points to Jesus.     If you’re on a street corner preaching (or yelling) and people are passing by you and not listening, then maybe you should stop.  Why? Because you’re about as affective as preaching in your closet.    I’ve heard people tell me “But the word of God is being proclaimed” in that case preach in your house alone too.

 

 

Let me bring some balance here.  The heart of everything we do must be love, not condemnation.  I’ve seen street preachers filled with the Holy Spirit practically crying because of how burdened they were for the lost.  Love flowing out of them like a river and people listening to what this man had to say.  When love becomes our motivation everything changes.   Our hearts are not cold and bitter, they are warm and sweet to people who are not in the faith.  I am exhausted from seeing people defend there arrogant actions by quoting one single verse, or telling me to take my beef up with God not with them because they are just a messenger.  That’s an excuse for being a jerk.   All throughout the Scriptures we are told to have love and to speak with gentleness and respect.  Let me put it another way for you: It’s not your job to save anyone, all you’re instructed to do is be a physical incarnation of Jesus and to make disciples, NOT enemies.  You can’t save anyone only the Holy Spirit does that work.  You don’t judge the world only God can do that.  You don’t defend God, God can defend Himself.  You don’t have the authority to condemn or save people, only God can do that.

 

 

Love people like crazy, God is the judge of humanity, not Christians.

 

 

-TW

 

 

 

You Follow Jesus? Welcome to Full Time Ministry.

If you’ve read any of my posts before then you’ve heard me say that I believe if you’re a Christian you’re automatically in full time ministry. I want to expound on this thought because I really believe it’s one of the key things to help change our mindset when it comes to living our faith out tangibly every day as opposed to keeping it inside and expressing it through just things that our American Christian culture has deemed spiritual.

Ministry is a funny word. It’s funny because at it’s most basic definition it means to serve. When you minister to someone you are essentially serving them in some way. You’re helping to address physical needs, spiritual needs or emotional needs that the person can benefit from. Christ is the ultimate example because in His ministry (think service) He served people in all three areas.

Why is this important? Because, as a good friend of mine says, if we are around people then we have the opportunity to minister. As opposed to the common idea of ministry, that is someone who is a professional minister or someone who serves on Sunday morning during a Church meeting, ministry is for every believer everywhere all the time. This is exactly how we express the tangible Jesus to people by ministering to them. It doesn’t have to always be in elaborate ways. Sometimes it’s being friendly to the clerk behind the counter, or talking to your waiter who you know is having a really bad day. Other times someone might need some work done around the house or someone to talk to. Ministry is a huge word and it encompasses the life of the believer. In fact it is our duty as followers of Christ to minister to people we meet everywhere.

It’s difficult to break the habits in which we use words. Often times when I say ministry people think of a Church program, or something that has to do with Church meetings. Although ministry encompasses that, it’s not limited to inside the Church walls and what happens in our meetings. Our definition of ministry must be expanded. Why? Because Christ was always ministering to people OUTSIDE the Church. Jesus was always with the people that society deemed unapproachable and the religious elite saw as too filthy to touch (sound familiar?). This is the people who need to be served the most. The ones society has given up on.

What’s this look like practically for us? Well we all have different lives, different jobs, families, we live across the globe and yet we can all minister. The job you have, what does it look like when you view it as your ministry, not just your job? Who are the people that are in your life that you can serve? Maybe it’s your wife, maybe it’s the guy in the cubicle next to you, or maybe it’s the barista who hands you your latte every morning. We all have people in our life that we can serve in some way. You’re life is your ministry, live it that way – TW

Seeing the Big Picture

I love to travel. Currently, I’m on a two week road trip with a good friend of mine named Jerry visiting friends we haven’t seen in a while. On Sunday night we stopped in Ohio to visit friends we haven’t seen since Jerry and I were in Belgium. Monday and Tuesday night we spent with two friends of ours in Michigan who just got married and we eventually ended up in Rockford Illinois where we’ll be for the next 10 days.

I love to travel because I love being able to experience new cultures, different ways of life, and places that are region specific. But really when it comes down to it what I love most about traveling is meeting other people in the Kingdom of God who are making an impact in their local communities by participating in a movement that is 2,000 years old. That’s really the point of this post, to share my most recent thoughts on this thing called Christianity and what it actually means in the big picture.

Most Christians probably know that Christianity was started a long time ago by this guy named Jesus, but what we don’t realize is that we are participating in the same movement that he started all those years ago. That same Kingdom Jesus talks about over and over again is still happening today and we are a part of this living movement. Sometimes we get so sucked into our current culture and era that we don’t see the Christianity today as a continuation of the movement Jesus started 2,000 years ago but that’s exactly what it is. It’s a living and breathing movement that is still happening and will continue to happen. This is what is so powerful about the Christian movement, ultimately it’s really the Jesus movement and ultimately that boils down to the Kingdom movement. When we view Christianity through the lenses of the Kingdom of God and the core of that being Jesus and the Scriptures He laid out then other things in Christianity that we fight over fade in to the background because the big picture is that Jesus told us to reach the lost with his message and announce His kingdom that brings healing, the changing of the mind and ultimately life everlasting that starts right now.

It’s easy to get sucked into discussions about difficult topics in Scripture that soon become arguments and then turn into dividing lines that fracture the Church (I’m talking the church not your local church body). Are there things in Scripture that we won’t see eye to eye on? Sure, but are those topics that we disagree on really enough to stop the Kingdom from going forth? Absolutely not. See my point here? I love a good discussion, I love wrestling with the paradoxes and gray areas of God’s word and Christian culture BUT, at the end of the day none of that takes away from the most fundamental basic teachings of Christ that anyone in the faith clearly sees laid out in Scripture such as making disciples, loving the broken, proclaiming the good news of Christ and ultimately seeing people come to know the radical love of our God. The other stuff is secondary to these things and they should be. Because once we make secondary stuff primary, we start creating huge divides in the body that Christ prayed to be one in.

Let me tie this together for you, there is a huge kingdom already here on earth full of Christ followers passionate about impacting their local areas with the message and love of Jesus. Do not buy in to the lie that your local Church culture is the only way to do church, follow Christ, or express the teachings of Christ. The kingdom of God is extremely diverse and full of different cultures and is constantly moving and impacting all around the world. The kingdom is bigger than you, it’s bigger than me, and it’s all that matters because it is everlasting. When we express this kingdom through love, the teachings of Christ and the BIble we give people a glimpse of heaven. Today in your life take time to remember and reflect that as you breath Christians all over the world are active and expanding the Kingdom. Christianity is no spectators sport, it is an active and full life that requires your participation.

-TW

“Waiting on God” Has Failed Many Christians

Psalm 27:14
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” –ESV

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” –KJV

 

From many pulpits it has been proclaimed that we “wait on God.”  Whether it is a spouse that we are waiting for, a direction for our career, an answer to prayer for a loved one, or a big life decision.  We are constantly instructed to wait.  So young teenagers put on purity rings as they wait for their spouse, and college graduates pass on job offers as they wait, and married couples renew their lease on their apartment waiting on an answer to buy a house.  Waiting is the name of the game.

But what if that wasn’t Biblical?  What if this whole concept we have developed of “waiting on God” wasn’t what God intended at all?  Yes, I realize there are numerous verses about waiting on God but I think the English language doesn’t do us any justice here.  Let me take you to a few other verses that use this same word wait (qavah).

Genesis 1:9
“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.”

Psalm 25:5
“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

Psalm 37:34
Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.”
“Ok…” you say, “why do you bring these up?”  I will tell you.  This word “qavah” has two meanings.  There is both the literal and figurative meaning to the word.  We have words like this in English that we use CONSTANTLY.  For example, the word hot.  When we say, “That pan is hot.” We understand that it is the literal meaning of the word and the pan has a high temperature and we could get burned if we touch it.  However, when we say “That girl is hot!” we aren’t worried that if we touch her our skin will get burned (maybe our hearts) but that she is attractive.  That is the figurative use of the word.

So what is the literal meaning of the word translated “to wait?”  It actually has the idea of a rope (see here).  A rope has many strands that are pulled/twisted together which gives it strength.  A strand by itself is not adequately strong but when they are all twisted together they can hold much more weight!  The literal meaning is implied in verses like Genesis 1:9 where things are gathered together or bound together.

So what is the figurative meaning of the word?  That is found in all the other verses translated “to look” or “to wait.”  It gives the idea of hoping for or waiting for something.  In this case it is we who are waiting, or looking for God.

Now, when it comes to words with figurative and literal meanings there is always a connection (even if a faint one) between the two meanings.  We can see that with the word hot, cold, dead, etc.  But for some reason churches have not been pulling the connection between the two meanings of the words.  Instead “waiting” on God has turned into a pause in life until we get an answer.  Waiting on God has been giving the idea that we aren’t complete or capable until God reveals something new to us.  With this view we have been setting up kids for failure.  Think about the situation of waiting on a spouse.  To me, I always got the impression that in my waiting for my future spouse I’m not complete until I have her.  My life is missing something and I have to wait on God for my wife until I can be effective for God.  We are neglecting the literal meaning of the word when we do that and are losing out on some tremendous Biblical teaching.

Waiting on God is not a pause in service but a preparation.  What if we took the literal meaning of waiting and applied it to the figurative?  What if we thought of that rope and tried to determine the strands of it?  Instead of waiting on God to do something while we twiddle our thumbs, we can be actively adding strands to that rope.  I think that is much closer to the meaning of the word “to wait.”  Those verses in the Psalms are talking about waiting on God but they are also talking about actions.  Lead me in truth, teach me, and keep his way are all actions.  There are things to be done while we are waiting!  The strands of the rope?  I see that as learning the truth of God, praying, reading, actively doing what you can where you are now, attending church, witnessing to others, etc.  There is so much we can be doing while we “wait on God” but that is often neglected as we are told to just wait.

What will this preparation do for us?  Well it will keep our focus on God for one thing.  But it will also prepare us so that when God says “ok, go!” we are ready and able to do the next thing he has called us to do.  God has something for each of us to do in our lives at this very moment.  It may just be a preparation step and learning more about Him, it may be witnessing to friends and family, it may be taking a younger person out for coffee and conversation, but there is something we can all do right now!  We should be adding strands to that rope so when God gives  us the next task, our rope is ready to handle the load and will not break under the pressure.  “Waiting on God” is not an excuse to stop working and it isn’t a declaration that we aren’t able to be used of God.  Instead it is the active step of preparation and involvement service in where He has us RIGHT NOW.

~Rob

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What Mighty Ducks 2 and the Bible have in common.

This is a long post, just so your warned.

Community is one of the many buzz words in the Church community. It’s taken over like a plague. That usually is a good thing, but if we don’t really understand what that word implies then it becomes a dangerous thing. Dangerous because we start to redefine what community actually implies. When we start reading our culture into words, we sometimes tend to water down their meaning. For example many churches have community groups but all that means is a group who meets once a week for 3 hours to maybe eat some food, then go through a Bible study that the larger Church has already put together. This is not community, that’s Bible study with food.

Really community in Christianity boils down to a group of people pursuing The Lord together. Can this happen once a week in someone’s house? Of course, but when that’s all it is, a few meetings during the week, we lose the intimacy with each other. When we plan out the meeting every time, we don’t give much room for God to truly move. Why do I say this? Because sometimes we trick ourselves. We pray prayers like “God have your way tonight” but really what we’re saying is “hey God we have our format prepared, hope you fit in”. This is why I get frustrated with the Sunday service so often, because regardless of our prayers for the Holy Spirit to move, we don’t. We refuse to change too many things on a Sunday morning. I think we should be praying “God help us to be willing to change on a moments notice as your Spirit leads”.

Back to my point. About 6 years ago I met a group of people that became my community. We met once a week on Saturday nights as a group but the difference was that it didn’t stop there for us. We were always together throughout the week and it did not always have a “spiritual” emphasis. What i mean is that often times we got together for dinner, or to do homework together. We had common interests and we did a lot of them together. There is strength in Christian community because you’re able to let your guard down. People want to be there for you, not throw you out, people want to know you intimately in your life not in designated Christian times. This small group I was a part of was called 11th hour and it changed my life.

We really didn’t know what was happening. I would bring a friend out who never met anyone from 11th hour and they would say “I can’t believe this exists” and we would say “us either”. We knew early on that it had nothing to do with us and everything to do with God working among us. We got to a point in 11th hour where our prayer was “God, whatever you want to take away, take away, whatever you want to add, add” and it was completely genuine. We were willing to change anything that he wanted changed. We knew we wanted two things, the real presence of God continually and authentic, deep relationships with each other. God granted both of those to us and we would never be the same.

Our mindset was to be radically inclusive, it didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, you were welcome to join us, to be a part of our local group, to join us in pursuing The Lord together. We were set on fire with a desire to be together as much as possible with each other. One time a friend of ours got extremely sick and was put in the hospital for a week. Every day there were people in his room. Even past visitation hours. The nurses couldn’t believe how many people were with him all day and when they started asking questions we were more than happy to tell them what we were about. We even hacked in to the tv in the hospital room and hooked up a wii so we could play Mario Kart. We had 5-10 guys there day and night hanging out with him and being there for him the entire time he was in the hospital. It makes for a great story today. I mean c’mon, who hooks up a wii to a hospital tv? Our friend was sharing a room with someone else during his stay there so we had to keep quiet. Imagine 4 guys sitting on a hospital bed trying not to scream when they won or lost. It was quite the challenge.

Every day you could bet that some people somewhere from 11th hour were together doing something. We started a text loop dubbed “the loop” where people could send prayer requests to someone who would loop it out. Eventually it got so large that we had two loops. An announcement loop and a prayer loop. I was in charge of that and at one point I was sending about 10,000 texts out per month.

People were coming in to our midst and being set free from all sorts of garbage. We weren’t afraid to get in the mud with each other and work through our garbage. This was what changed my life. For the first time I had someone who knew every dark part of me, who knew all of my crap and helped me work through it. I’m still accountable to that person today and he has become one of my closest friends.

Community really is both/and. It’s all about pursuing The Lord together and it’s all about enjoying life together. When you have a group as large as 11th hour (at one point close to 35 people) you have a wide range of interests and passions. Because of that we tried to support people in doing what they loved. We went to hockey games, art exhibits, concerts, plays, and everything in between. Not because we were all passionate about these things, but because one of us was and we wanted to support that person as much as possible. The band that I play music with (Red Sea Affair) had some of the best fans. Why? Because our community was completely behind us and came to so many of our shows. When community is being fully lived out, it’s more like a unit then it is a group. It’s a living, God breathed commune that is working together in the Kingdom of God.

There’s a price though, and it’s a hefty one. You give up a lot of your individualism. It’s not just you or your family anymore, you gain a new family with new responsibilities and sometimes it gets tough. Sometimes, tough conversations have to be had, sometimes people don’t get along and you are sitting their trying to mediate between two people. This is why Biblical principles are so key. If a community isn’t practicing forgiveness, mercy, grace, patience, and ultimately love consistently, the group will fall apart. It reminds of one of my favorite scene in might ducks 2.

In this scene the hockey coach (coach Bombay) has 10 new hockey players from all over the country. So to get them to work together he ties them up on the ice so they are one big circle, then he says ok work together and skate. Of course the first time everyone tries to go their own way and they all fall. The second time someone yells “OK everyone move to your right now” to which someone else says “Who made you boss? Everyone to your left now” and of course everyone falls down. Finally, they start to work together and start to move in one direction as one group.

It’s a lighthearted scene but still a powerful lesson that can be applied here. Community only works when everyone is willing to work together, compromise, and give up some of their rights to move as a unit.

I’m not trying to paint a utopian picture here of some fantasy world where everyone floats around on clouds and never does stupid things. We’ve all had our moments throughout the years of stupid things and we’ve all either had to approach someone, or have been approach by someone and lovingly corrected. But overall, when a group of people is consistently together in life, and the common theme is pursuing the heart of Jesus together, you come out with a better way to do life. Let me sum this up.

Here’s the bottom line. When we make community a major priority in our life, and we put in the work that is necessary, ultimately we come out with a much fuller and better life. I often times look back and am so grateful for the people that i’ve had in my life and still have. People sometimes come and go as God directs them in His kingdom, and we’ve had to say goodbye to some amazing people as God moves them, but I often times sit back in a chair and remember the amazing times we had together. The other side of that coin is that I still have the most amazing people in my life. I don’t know how people do it alone, I couldn’t imagine not having people in my life that know me better than I know myself in a lot of ways. People that encourage me, allow me to encourage them, and that push me closer to Jesus.

I was with a good friend of mine a couple days ago and I introduced her to some of my community. She told me “These people are great, they just get it and I felt like I could just be myself.” Indeed my friend, indeed.

The Pastor: Overburdened and it’s our fault!

I feel bad for pastors. Am I allowed to say that? Really, they don’t have it easy. Most of them live on borderline poverty. Usually there’s only 1 pastor per 75-100 people, and the congregation demands them to essentially be Jesus (that is, with no sin). I mean what a burden other Christians can put on someone who has the title pastor. We want our pastor to be there for us whenever we need him and when he can’t make it out to something we deem important (like a funeral) we think that he isn’t really doing his job. But here’s the thing, what if we have a very skewed and often incorrect view of what the role of a pastor really is? That would change things wouldn’t it?

 

 

It’s no surprise to anyone in the Church to hear about pastor so and so who had an affair, stole money from the church or engaged in some other act that got him to “step down” which is a polite way of saying got fired. We are quick to be the first to cast stones at the pastor without any real understanding of the pressure that we have put on him. The pastor is expected to be the ultimate family man, to never be angry, no smoking of course, most Church bodies would frown on their pastor having a beer, he has to have the answer to every question we have, and he MUST pump out sermons like candy (and they better be good and life changing every time!). Can anyone fill such a role? When the pastor fails one of these stipulations we put on him, all of the sudden he is under review and he might need to step down and take some time off. Ridiculous.

 

 

We’ve made the role of pastor in the Church the all in one printer. The pastor is expected to fill several roles that are outside the Biblical role of pastor. When we put all these different roles in to one guy, they all come out just ok. I’ve met many pastors that really are terrible with people skills, but they are amazing teachers. I’ve met pastors who have a heart for the lost and would rather spend their time outside the Church walls evangelizing, and I’ve met pastors who are great pastors. They have a heart for the people in their church, they spend as much time as they can being a shepherd to their flock. Seeing a pastor who has the gift of pastoring is amazing and refreshing, seeing a pastor who has a completely different gift but still try and pastor is frustrating.

 

 

A couple posts ago I posted about the 5 roles we see in Scripture to equip the saints. The roles are the apostle, evangelist, prophet, pastor, and teacher. All five of these roles are given to equip the Church but somewhere along the line we cut out 3 and combined two. In our modern day Church culture here in the states we got rid of the apostle, prophetic and evangelist and we combined the pastor and teacher in to one. Why? Beats me. I’m sure someone knows why, but I really don’t. To me it makes no sense to take one of those roles and make it the superman role while cutting out the others. Here’s why.

 

 

First (as I said earlier), it puts way too much pressure on one guy to lead a huge congregation and he has to fit in to all of these different roles on demand to meet the needs of the people. When you have a one boss CEO mentality in a local Church model it fails. Why? Because unlike a CEO a pastor by definition has to be completely engaged with everyone in his congregation. This is why having multiple pastors (or people with the gift of pastoring) is essential. Think about it like this. If I’m a shepherd and I have a flock of 200 sheep, I can’t possibly take care of them all by myself, I’m going to need a few other guys who also are shepherds to help take care of the flock. This same logic should be applied to our church bodies. NOTE: By pastor I don’t necessarily mean a guy who is paid in a full time salary position and who is also an administrator. I mean people who have the gift of pastoring actually using their gift. People who pastor don’t need to be the big leaders of a local church body.

 

 

Second, the 5 role structure is so clear in Scripture and all 5 roles are necessary to the body. A pastor shepherds people, takes care of their needs, a teacher teaches! Why have a pastor teach when that might not be his gift? Ever heard a pastor who can’t teach try and teach? It’s painful. This is not meant to offend anyone but it’s true. If they don’t have the gift, then don’t put them in that position. The apostle (think missionary), prophet and evangelist are all necessary roles that are so desperately needed but are missing.

When we have the 5 different positions operating together we have a team of people equipping local Church bodies. I’m convinced more and more that this is the Biblical model for the local church. It’s not about having leaders, but it’s about having equippers. When the five roles are working together it’s beautiful and wonderful. When we amputate 3 roles, we end up limping along.

 

 

There’s a book I’m reading called Church Zero by Payton Jones. It’s all about what I’m talking about here so check it out!

 

-TW

The Rules of Engagement: The Lost Art of Debate.

These days I’m more of a moderator on my own Facebook page than anything else. In a way, I like that. It’s great seeing people engaged in discussion about various topics that are viewed differently through the eyes of different world views. Atheists, Christians, Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, Veterans, Moms, Dads, and more are all represented on my Facebook page pretty often. It makes me happy. Not because I get 40 likes or 40 comments, but because people are engaging in issues that are incredibly important. Now I realize that Facebook is a pretty limited medium but you know what? It’s a start. If people start talking about it, they start thinking about it, and any action first starts in the mind of a person. If all I do is plant seeds and they get watered elsewhere that’s fine with me.

Sometimes though, the conversation gets heated, the conversation gets a little intense, and before you can say controversial, people start name calling and resorting to the vocabulary of a 6th grader. I understand why. It’s easy to get emotionally involved in a conversation, especially one that you are really passionate about. Homosexuality and abortion are two topics that people are very passionate about! I get it completely. I’ve had my fair share of losing my cool and resulted in breaking a keyboard (or two….or three….). But at the end of the day no amount of anger, name calling, and insulting gets your point across does it? The next day when you read what you wrote you think “what was I thinking!”. I’ve been there too and I’ve had to apologize many a time to people that I conversed with through some sort of digital medium.

So to help all of you out reading this, I’ve composed a couple of things that you should keep in mind when debating or discussing controversial topics. Below are Tim’s online discussion rules! Also, if you post on my Facebook frequently I want to first say thank you, and then I want to say PLEASE keep these rules in mind.

1. No name calling, insulting, or personal attacks – Remember you are debating an idea, or a view point, not a person. Argue ideas, ideologies, and anything else you want, but don’t start to insult people. When you do that not only do you look desperate, you automatically lose the person you’re trying to convince of your point. It’s completely self defeating.

2. Choose your words carefully – I can’t read your mind or inflection when I’m reading your response. All I’m reading are words. Because of that go out of your way to explain that you mean this in a polite way and with respect. I’ve been learning myself that when I take the time to explain myself clearly, I’m better heard by the person.

3. Be willing to admit your wrong – Unlike the political world, admit your wrong when you’re wrong. It drives me nuts that in our rhetoric based society NO ON can admit that they were wrong on issues. I’ve tasted my foot many times, and I’m getting used to the taste. I’ve had to apologize to people for making false assumptions or just not knowing the subject as well as they did. It’s ok to admit that you were wrong!

4. Come to the table willing to learn – I’m pretty confident in my beliefs, but that doesn’t mean there are not times that I think “wow that’s a great point that I’ve never thought of”. I try and tell the person this so that way they know that I am open to what they have to say. Try it sometime, open that mind of yours in a healthy way. Don’t have it so open that your brains fall out, but don’t have it so closed that your brain can’t breathe either.

5. If you’re going to get involved with a discussion, know how to defend your point when asked – Nothing is more frustrating then asking someone a straight forward question and getting riddles in response. If you can’t really defend your position well then research it more before you start typing away furiously on that keyboard of yours.

There you have it. 5 things to keep in mind when entering the wonderful world of internet dialogue, discussion, and debate. Also let me just say that I appreciate so much all of you who take the time to engage in the discussions that happen on my Facebook frequently. I purposefully keep it open and public so people can really get different perspectives on some of the issues on our time. Thank you for participating in that discussion. – TW

Let’s Start Being Equippers. Let’s Stop Being Leaders.

First, a disclaimer. I’ve been reading a GREAT book called Church Zero written by Payton Jones. A lot of this post is pulling from that book and simply talking about/expounding upon ideas and points that he has. I recommend reading the book for anyone out there interested in the topic of Church, or leaders who are currently leading in their local church.

So far, I’ve essentially highlighted the entire book. Really, it’s that good. I often find myself saying “YES, YES! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THAT!” and the way he writes really drives important points home. In this post I want to pick up something he talks about and expound upon it.

There is a big difference between leading the saints, and equipping the saints. Think about it for a minute. We in our American church culture do a great job of leading people. In fact if you go in to a pastor’s study, you’ll be sure to find many books that deal with the subject of leading, and leading well. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find books on equipping people to do the work of the ministry. Somehow, we’ve missed this point in a huge way. Leaders lead people, they make decisions that affects the entire group, and often they are at a distance from the rest of the congregation. Just think about the last time you hung out with your lead pastor outside of a planned church function. Pastors, leaders in the church are hard to get a hold of. Rightfully so, often times the leaders are trying to lead hundreds of people. When it comes to leading we got it down pretty good. We know how to structure groups with leaders in them, we have our hierarchies all nailed down and spelled out. The “leadership” team will often spend time in prayer for the direction of their local church. We are a leadership obsessed church culture. But what if this isn’t the focus we see in the New Testament? What if in the Kingdom, your job is to work yourself out of a job? To raise people up who have the gift of teaching, pastoring, evangelizing, the prophetic, and the apostolic to either be sent out to plant new churches or to help equip the local body they are a part of.

It’s Paul who writes in Ephesians “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Notice Paul does not say “So Christ himself gave pastors to be the ceo’s of church bodies that make all the decisions” or “So christ himself gave a leadership team to lead people”. No, this goes another step further, Christ gave various gifts to people, to equip other people to do that same work. The Church leaders should be extremely concerned with equipping the saints not just leading them. What does that mean? It means recognizing that people in your congregation have gifts too, and that they should be cultivated then used. But we don’t use them. They sit in the pews as spectators like a caged animal. They have unbelievable God given gifts, and we keep the docile in the pews and tell them to “serve more”. That’s not equipping, that’s leading. People get lead by their bosses at work, people need to be equipped by the Church to expand the kingdom. It’s not about keeping people in the pews, it’s about getting them out of the pews and working in their giftings.

This is a game changer because it changes the way leadership is seen in a church body. The typical church model is lead pastor and then perhaps a few other pastors underneath, and then different leaders under that, and then the congregation (today’s term for laity). In the New testament however, we see no such order. Pastor’s were never the CEO’s of their local church, they were part of a team of people that had specific gifts who used their gifts to equip the body (which means, train them in their gifts). Let me mention here that equipping does not mean attending the sunday morning event, hearing a message, and then participating in the occasional outreach or small group. No, this is much bigger than that. This is training people in practical life ministry. This is letting that guy in your congregation who has a teaching gift, teach on Sunday morning (I know how crazy is that?), this is letting the people with the gift of evangelism loose on the streets in your town taking people with them. This is people with apostolic gifts (think church planting) be sent out and supported from the main hub. You might lose numbers in your church body. Why? Because they are being sent out to plant churches elsewhere. Note: The kingdom of God expands out, not up. Paul was a church planting MACHINE and the numbers of people he took with him grew. At one point he had eight people traveling with him planting churches all over the place. Some people would stay behind to help equip (train) people, others would continue on with Paul. Sometimes new people would join with Paul traveling planting.

What’s my bottom line? We need to start equipping people, not leading them. Why? Because it’s what Paul did, it’s what Jesus did, it’s what the disciples did. Jesus did not start a church. Jesus took 12 guys, and equipped them by physically bringing them along in His ministry. Paul was sent out by the mega church in Jerusalem and he took people WITH him and trained them on the job. This isn’t my opinion, this is what happened in Scripture! This is the theme all throughout the New Testament Church movement. Equipping people to get out of their four walls to spread the kingdom. Not to sit in a pew, listen to the same guy preach another 3 point sermon, sing a few songs, give some money, and occasionally participate in an “outreach”.

Here’s the catch. To really start equipping the saints, means a complete rework of the format we are currently stuck in. To really start training people both through teaching and practical ministry, means changing the focus from the event on Sunday morning, to the lifestyles that we live. It means changing the emphasis from spectator to participant and trainee. It means being willing to send your best guys out to start planting other churches wherever they may be. It’s a big change, but guess what? It’s what we see in the New Testament model, and it works. How do we know? Because we are still talking about and following this guy named Jesus, who changed everything, established His church, and sent out the twelve in to the world.

I’ve only scratched the surface. I haven’t even discussed how in the New Testament we see five different roles at work withing a church equally, as opposed to our pastor/teacher (label this pastor in today’s terms) model that we have been doing for quite some time now. I’m saving this discussion for a completely different post because it’s so massive.

Note: I’m not against pastors. In fact pastors are ESSENTIAL to the Church body. In my next post, I’ll be going over their importance as well as the importance of the other four roles we see in Scripture. 

The Boston Bombings: A Sobering Reminder

I was removing wallpaper when I got the news. My brother tells me “Boston just got bombed!”. At first I thought it was a hoax circulating the internet so I checked CNN and read for myself that two bombs did indeed go off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon killing at least three people including an 8 year old child. Although there has been no definite answers, the bombs do appear to be home made and there’s no doubt that the attacks were well planned out.

People’s lives in that second were changed forever. People lost limbs, average citizens had to become paramedics until first responders were on sight, and for some time after the second explosion, we all were wondering if there were more than two bombs planted in the city. Thankfully this wasn’t the case.

I want to be clear right up front, these attacks were acts of terrorism. It doesn’t matter who did it, if it was from domestic terrorist, political terrorist, left-wing, right wing, Islamic, Christian, it’s an act of terror. A child lost his life, the bombs were constructed to inflict a lot of damage, and it is indeed a sad day for America. But there’s something that we often fail to forget that this is a sobering reminder of. People all over the world experience things like this everyday.

Sometimes, it takes a tragedy to pop our bubble. In America, we are fortunate enough to live relatively safe. Most Americans don’t have to worry about being gunned down, bombs are not common, and we have a fantastic government when it comes to national security. Police, bomb squads, state of the art technology, we are fortunate. Yes, yes, we gripe about government waste and over reach, but we forget that most people don’t even get an opportunity to voice their opinion. Be grateful that you can be a loud outspoken activist for your cause and not get imprisoned by your government.

Anyway, back to my point. There are children every day who deal with the tragedy of bombings. For instance, on April 15thInsurgents in Iraq deployed a series of car bombs as part of highly co-ordinated attacks that cut across a wide swath of the country today, killing at least 55 on the deadliest day in nearly a month.” (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/15/iraq-bombings-wave-attacks.html). Think about that, in one day 55 people were dead. And let’s not forget, these people are just as much people as Americans are. Now, I’m not diminishing the Boston attacks, or trying to make the Boston bombing less real, it is indeed very real for not only the families of the victims, but for the nation. But what I am saying is to take this moment to feel how many people feel everyday.


See here is the problem. Sometimes, in all of our hustle and bustle we kind of forget that there is a world outside of America that is starkly different from ours. We forget that all over the world there is terrorism happening everyday, that children are being sold, slavery is still a big problem, and bombings are a daily routine. Things like the Boston bombing, as heinous as they are, remind us that there is a reality out there that we are rarely used to seeing. A tragic reality for many people.


As Christians, it is our job as followers of Christ to be aware of the whole world around us. In a ever connected world, it is easier than every to hear of stories happening all over the place. Sometimes it can be so overwhelming we don’t know what to do with it, but it is in these moments that the Holy Spirit reminds us that He has us where we are for a reason. I’ve am being reminded even as type this, that prayer is an incredibly powerful tool that we sometimes underestimate because we either don’t see, or miss, the fruit of it. But sometimes, prayer is all we can do. I can’t drive up to Boston and help out there. Not only will the FBI stop me from being on the scene, I literally have no knowledge in such areas. But what I can do is ask my heavenly Father to bring his spirit of comfort to those people. What I can do is ask the God who spoke us in to existence, who holds all of eternity in His hands, who is the great I Am, the first and the last, to comfort those people, to bring those evil doers to justice, and to make His kingdom come. Prayer is a powerful thing, one of the greatest tools in our arsenal, we (I) should be using it a lot more.

In closing, here are two action steps we as followers of Christ can start taking.

  1. Be more aware of the world outside of your comfort zone. God cares about every person, not just the ones that have certain nationalities. God knows every person personally and they were wonderfully and fearfully made.
  2. Pray more. Let’s face it, most of us can’t fly over to Iraq and start diffusing bombs, but we know a God who can. We know a God who can bring his Kingdom to earth, let’s start to pray for that everywhere.

Slogan Christianity: The Stuff We Make Up to Make Ourselves Feel Better

“No God — No Peace. Know God — Know Peace.”

“Free Trip to heaven. Details Inside!”

“Try our Sundays. They are better than Baskin-Robbins.”

“Searching for a new look? Have your faith lifted here!

“If you don’t like the way you were born, try being born again.”

“Looking at the way some people live, they ought to obtain eternal fire insurance soon.”


“This is a ch_ _ ch. What is missing?

U R

“Forbidden fruit creates many jams.”

“In the dark? Follow the Son.”

“Running low on faith? Stop in for a fill-up.”

“If you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep. Talk to the Shepherd.”

 

 

C’mon, seriously?! Is this what we’ve been boiling down Christianity to these days?  Slogans that are so ridiculous, so over simplistic, that the world looks at these and chuckles?  This post is going to be dealing with slogans like the ones I posted above, and the way that these slogans, and slogans like it do so much more harm than good.

 

I’m not a negative guy.  Really, I promise, I laugh all the time, sometimes I’m way too sarcastic, and I have some friends that make me cry of laughter.  I don’t want people to misunderstand my intent here, it’s not that I’m trying to point out things for the sake of pointing things out.  I’m trying to steer us back to truth, back to the reality of Jesus.  This includes calling out junk in both the Christian and non-Christian world.  I’m often more critical of the Christian world because we are the ones who are making huge claims.  Not many people claim to know absolute truth, not many people claim to know the only  way to heaven, and not many people are so bold about the truth that they claim they know.  Because of this, it’s extremely important that we know the truth that we are claiming.  If we are claiming that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and all of the other things that come with such a loaded statement, then we must be able to articulate this clearly, not dwindling it down to 5 or  6 words.  This is what gets me so frustrated about Church slogans, they are over simplistic, half true (and you know what they say about half truths), and they do very little to articulate the full truth of Jesus.

 

I know many people like to say that the gospel is simple, easy, just say a few words (from the bottom of your heart) and presto, like a magic act, you are instantly saved.  You now have permanent “fire insurance” (Aka: You’re not going to Hell) and one day you’ll be in heaven forever.  While I know this is popular thinking, I don’t think it’ Scripturally accurate.  Even Paul who preaches God’s grace to humanity, acknowledges in his letters to the Churches he started that a fruit of the Holy Spirit working, saving us, is a change in our lifestyle.  Works are a very important part to salvation, why? Not because they save us, but because they validate the real work of the Holy Spirit in us.  Some might say I’m on shaky ground, I beg to differ, the Bible is full of verses that teach this.  Of course the most popular being James 2:17, but then you have verses like Matthew 7:21, and of course the countless verses that Paul writes encouraging the Church to live a life of purity before God.  If works didn’t matter then the New Testament would not be so full of verses supporting the system of saved by the grace of God, validated by the life we live.

 

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  When it comes to the Christian faith, it is so important that we don’t windle down amazing truths in to bumper sticker slogans.  Why?  Because so often these slogans are not completely true!  For example, I saw one the other day that said “too blessed to be depressed”.  While a cute little saying that at first glance makes you say “Yeah so true!” Scripture will once again beg to differ.  Paul was quite depressed (or discouraged) often in his ministry, being shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, and cast out by his own nation, Paul wrote very often his struggle of spreading the message of Jesus to the masses.  Paul was extremely blessed, and he always brought praise to God no matter what his circumstance, but sometimes those circumstances were extremely difficult emotionally, and yet Paul kept his eyes steadily on the Father.  See the difference? The slogan tries to mask over the realities of this world, Paul collides with them head on, still considers himself blessed, and let’s God sustain him through his extremely difficult life.   Or take Job for example, everything was taken away.  If you read Job it’s clear that the word depressed doesn’t scratch the surface of what was happening, Job was honest with God in his pain, and Job never sinned.  For some reason I cant’ see Job saying “God my wife and kids are all dead, but I’m too blessed to be depressed!”.

 

Some of you might be saying give it up TIm! It’s just a stupid little slogan who cares?!.  God cares, because in a world that already muddies the truth, we don’t need to add to the noise.  Often times we hear things like “too blessed to be depressed” and we get a little high off it.  We say “Yeah! YEAH! I am to blessed!” the problem however is once we are faced with reality, that little slogan is soon gone like a vapor.  It can’t stand up to the reality of our situations.

 

Here’s my bottom line, it’s not that every slogan out there is bad, or full of hot air, it’s just that we have to be very careful with what we say is true.  If we are claiming to have the corner on truth (and we are loud about it), then everything we say about that truth, must be just that: True.   We can’t claim to know the way to heaven, then agree with many things that are not in Scripture.

 

A good friend of mine who I love dearly told me regarding my view of slogans in Christianity “Maybe some of us just like a little uplifting slogan from time to time.”Here’s the thing, if it’s not true, then it’s a lie.  There are only one of two options here, true, or not true.  If it’s not true, I dont’ want to hear it, I don’t care how appealing it sounds. I’m not concerned about trying to feel good, I’m not concerned about feeling emotionally happy, I’m concerned with what the work of Jesus has done to humanity, and what it is still doing to humanity.  I don’t want fluff do you?  Do you want to be fed a bunch of happy one liners only to find out that it was like eating junk food?  Tasted great going down but there was absolutely no nutritional value?  Look for the truth of Jesus, not for the concentrated doses of statements that give you emotional highs.  That’s not what is important here, the Kingdom of God is the most important thing because it is eternal, it is forever.

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