I went to a strip club

Wow. Just, wow. You wanna’ know what Jesus is like? Not what the Church says He’s like, or what those outside the Church think He’s like, but what Jesus is really like? Read this post.

just a jesus follower

strip clubA while back I was asked by a group of pastor’s wives to go with them to strip clubs.

That sentence alone sounds strange. But hang with me.

At first I was a little hesitant. And not for reasons you might think.

I love people. Especially ones who are broken; it’s part of my calling. But, given what I’ve walked through, I know how fragile broken people can be.

And I know how insensitive the church can be.

And I was uneasy.

But, these weren’t just any pastors wives.

They had a vision.

One that longed to love on women that society had thrown aside.

It reminded me a lot of Jesus.

So, I jumped on it.

Their plan was to visit these clubs once a month to deliver a meal and gift baskets. I joined them the first night and I’ll be honest, I had NO IDEA what to expect.

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One Cannot Be Human Alone

MarkWatneySpacePirateHumans are made in God’s image.

God’s image is trinitarian, relational.

One cannot be human alone.

 

Your challenge this week is to laugh with someone you love.

Sounds easy enough, right?

But if you’re too busy to click the link to read the rest of this post, you realize this challenge might not be as easy as it sounds. So take a minute and slow down long enough to read this, really read it, and think about how you live.

Carl Jung once said, “Busyness is not not just FROM the devil, it IS the devil.” When I look at the pace at which we live these days, I cannot help but conclude he was right. The evil one has taken the Transitive Property of Equality (if A = B, and B= C, then A = C) and twisted it into the Transitive Property of Busyness. If busyness equals productivity, and productivity is good, then busyness is good. And we believe the lie.

Just look at your calendar. That’s all you have to do. Or look at your friends, if they pause long enough for you to see them. Watch your kids – overworked, overstressed, always rushing off to the next good thing. See how they learn from us. Ask yourself, I dare you, ask yourself, when was the last time you stopped just to hang out with people you love? How long ago was that? How often? What percentage of your waking hours do you give to simply enjoying the people you enjoy being with?

Now look , I get it. I really do. Overworking is one of the demons I wrestle with. I appreciate the self-satisfaction that comes from hard work. And I understand there are “seasons” in life, some seasons being busier than others. So I know, from my own experience, how easy it is for the busy seasons to bleed into one another until every season is just as busy as the last. Where is the joy in that? Where is the laughter?

Our problem is too many good things. Who of us willingly gives sacrifices our time and our relationships for bad things, for wasteful things? We may be forced to attend a few pointless meetings, but always in the context of some greater good. We’re too busy for wasteful things. We cut them out of our lives. Because if we’re going to miss a soccer game, or piano recital, or dinner with a friend, it better be worth it.

But is it? Worth it, I mean? Is our busyness worth the sacrifices we make to keep going, to keep running, to keep spinning our wheels?

My favorite seminary professor taught us something I just can’t forget. “You cannot be human alone,” he said one day. We didn’t get it, of course. So he explained.

To be human is to be made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). God exists as Trinity, three-in-one. God exists in a relationship within God’s self. To be made in God’s image is to be made for relationship. Humans are hard-wired for connection. Thus, to be disconnected, to be truly and totally alone, is to be less than human.

Robinson Crusoe on his island, not human until he meets Friday. Tom Hanks on his island, not human until he meets Wilson. Mark Watney on Mars, not human until he establishes contact with NASA. Why do you think solitary confinement is the worst punishment we can come up with?

We are made for relationship. Our busyness doesn’t merely wear us out. Our busyness renders us inhuman by the exact amount that it disrupts our relationships. Laughter is the antidote to this poison. Not the hollow laughter of a business traveler watching reruns of The Office in her hotel room. Nor the sad laughter of a dude watching cat videos. But the honest laughter that flows from the conversation of friends relaxing over coffee. Or the free laughter of lovers who have been married so long they no longer worry what the other one thinks.

Slow down this week. Create space in your schedule for someone else. Go out to dinner. Grab coffee. Catch a ball game. Just hang out. Don’t spend all your time at work. Give your time to the people you care about. Laugh with someone you love.


Why nothing seems to get people back to church – The issue at the core of decline

This goes right to the heart of our idea that church growth is not a goal, but a by-product. If we love Jesus, we will love his people; and that involves sharing and inviting people in. If we love our church, we will love our church people; and that usually involves keeping other people out.

The Millennial Pastor

“People just aren’t committed like they used to be”

This week, I came across this satirical article from the site BabylonBee “After 12 Years Of Quarterly Church Attendance, Parents Shocked By Daughter’s Lack Of Faith

The article humorously reveals an issue facing many churches today. I can’t tell you how many times (56,819 times) I have had the conversation where someone talks about the fact that young people aren’t as committed as they once were. People aren’t coming to church like they did in decades past, and those left behind have started to notice. Many congregations are feeling older, thinner, and tired out. The future feels bleak. The studies tell us that the church is declining.

And so churches try any number of things to attract people back to church. Youth group programs, revamped and modern music, renovated worship spaces, hip and cool pastors with tattoos and any…

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Why Does the Church Exist?

Hey y’all, I don’t know this guy, but I thought this was a great post. It certainly captures my own POV. Worth sharing.

Clergy Family Confidential

williamtemplein1942-abc-500This past week (November 6th to be precise) we commemorated William Temple on the calendar of saints. Temple was a second generation Archbishop of Canterbury (his father was also the ABC), theologian, scholar, and advocate for social justice. I could go on but I am confident in your abilities to access Google.

I bring this up because of a quote attributed to him — he said something similar if not in these precise words:

“The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.”

I can think of a lot of people who would disagree quite vehemently with this statement. It’s not that they wouldn’t want to help the poor and downtrodden and needy. And it’s not that they don’t think it’s important to share the Gospel with those beyond the walls of the church. But, frankly, it’s countercultural to think beyond…

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A Holy No

Just say no for Jesus. Nancy Reagan would love it. You see, we swim in the midst of opportunity. It surrounds us like oxygen. Chances to give, to serve, to help. Most of the time we keep our eyes focused on the road ahead of us, windows up, radio blaring, in order to avoid those chances crowding the roadside like so many beggars. We choose not to see to avoid suffering the guilt of saying no to helping those in need.

Then we spend some time with You. We open our eyes, or You open them for us. We see the world in need rushing by, just outside the glass cages in which we live. Either we are overwhelmed and give up, returning gratefully, shamefully to Kubrik’s vision of eyes of wide shut. Or we start doing.

And our doing becomes our undoing. Because we can never do enough. But at least we feel better, having contributed our busy little part to doing nothing. “Remember the story of the starfish,” we shout over our shoulders, running on to the next good deed. “Made a difference for that one!”

So we immerse ourselves in the busy-ness of the good, which precludes and prohibits us from ever attempting the great. We become so busy doing good we never stop to listen to You, to what You may be calling us, to the direction You might give.

Screw the starfish. Why spend our lives throwing back starfish one at a time? Why not dig a whole new beach?

We must be willing to say no. No to the good. And it’s hard precisely because it’s the good. Easy to say no to the dumb, or boring, or trivial. But the good? Ah, so much harder. Yet every time we say yes, we limit other possibilities, other opportunities we may be too busy to notice.

The worst part is we don’t limit only ourselves. Every time I over-work, over-reach and over-commit, I diminish the possibilities for someone else. We’re so busy running around trying to do everything we don’t leave room for anyone else to do anything.

I know. I know. I can hear you now. You don’t want to do it all, but no one else will step up. You have to do it or it won’t get done at all.

Did you ever consider that if it doesn’t get done, maybe it wasn’t worth doing in the first place?

Sometimes we have to create room for things to fail in order to discern what truly should be done.

It’s not that little things are not worth doing. The question is not whether the good things should be done. The question is whether you should be the one doing them. If you hire Picasso to fix your plumbing you do a grave injustice to God’s creation (and probably get a lousy plumber). Hire a plumber and let Picasso paint, for God’s sake!

We must say no to opportunities and chances and possibilities beyond number. We must say no, because only if we say no and no and no again will we ever be able to shout YES!

We must wait. Ooh, but it’s hard. Waiting. Patiently. Actively. Expectently.

We must listen. Ooh, that’s harder. Listening. For God’s still small voice in the midst of the winds of busy-ness. We must be still and quiet in order to hear.

We must let God do His part. Let Him call us, direct us, command. Then and only then comes our yes. And our doing becomes a holy doing, not the worthless striving and vain, inglorious man. But the holy work of a righteous God.

There we find our purpose, our meaning, our true calling. There, living into the holy yes, we dance in greatness instead of settling for merely good enough. Living into God’s yes begins with a holy no.


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