The Delete Button

Sonym1 As a photographer one of the things I love about digital shots is the ability to immediately erase any shots that are blurry, too dark, or just plain messed up.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our lives had that delete button? Earlier in the day I was discussing television shows with a group of people I respect a great deal. At one point in the conversation the most elderly of the group brought up the fact that his wife enjoys watching the ‘Ellen’ show. After allowing this info to sink in for a second he immediately followed it up with, ‘Well, she thinks she’s funny. We don’t condone her lifestyle or anything’. It was in this moment I wish I could just hit delete and walk away.

As Christians we don’t need to make statements like that. I don’t believe it’s necessary. I mean if my friends were talking about how much they like me and then said ‘Dustin’s a fun guy to hang out with, but I don’t condone his thoughtlessness’ I would feel weird. Sin is the absence of our Lord and Savior. We [Christians] need to face the fact that we are all infested with it. It should make our hearts heavy when someone lives a life apart from the King. We shouldn’t be more worried if others think were condoning sin. The religious thought Jesus was a condoner of sin, but He was instead sent to demolish it. Some talk, some love .. I want to love.

There have been many moments in my life that I wish I could hit the delete button. Many times I have put my foot in my mouth, showed disrespect to another, or was just plain rude. One of my favorite promises is that when we ask for forgiveness God tosses our sin as far as the east is from the west. God has the ultimate delete button. Ever have an incident where you wish God would hit it?

Know it all?

By Luke

  I usually get together with my mom once a week when I have the time. I will take her to lunch and the grocery store to do her shopping. Ever since I gave my life to Christ she has witnessed a great deal of change in me. She is very curious about this new life I have been given and has a question or two about my faith every time she sees me. I am always ready to answer her questions and give her sound Biblical responses. Last week she asked me about the people in the world who have never heard the name Jesus and if they would be cast into hell for their ignorance. In most cases I would immediately quote from Psalms and how it talks about the heavens revealing the glory and righteousness of God or Romans chapter 1.  The problem with that is that my mom doesn’t think much of the Bible. You see she grew up in a Catholic family and spent 12 years in Catholic school during the 30’s and 40’s. To her the Bible is a dusty old book that nuns and priests used to condemn and manipulate her and her family with. There was something different about her expression when she asked though. This time she wasn’t challenging my faith but I could tell it was something she was honestly having a struggle with. To be honest I have often wondered and struggled with the thoughts of God condemning these people. I could sense a theological response wasn’t going to cut it this time. I had to be real and say I don’t know the answer to that one mom; I have struggled with the thought of this myself. When she heard my answer she looked relieved. I think she needed to know that someone who is following Christ is struggling with some of these things too.

     I wonder if too often we are more focused on proving our point and defending non-essential theology than loving people and seeing their struggles with our faith. Is it ok for a Christian to struggle with someone regarding theological issues and not always have the absolute truth and the only correct answer? Is it ok to be real?

Christians and Politics

Rob Woodrum

“We’ve got to be more politically involved as the church!  We’ve got to take this nation back for Christ!  We’ve got to get God back into our schools!  We’ve got to support our president and his war on terror, and stop the media from spreading lies and liberalism!  It’s our duty as Christians!” 

 Is it really? 

Why wasn’t Jesus political at all?  He was dropped right into the most tumultuous political and governmental turmoil that region of the world had known for a long time. Even apart from the Roman occupation of Palestine, the theocratic nation of Israel was intensely divided between Conservative Judaism and Hellenistic Judaism. The debates and conflicts were raging all around him, begging for his opinion and denouncement or support. 

Why didn’t Jesus get involved in politics?  Why didn’t he weigh in on whether the right or the left was closer to the truth?  Why didn’t he “take a stand” on at least one issue of political purpose?  As followers of Jesus, why is it our duty to take a political stand now?  Why do we need to be politically involved?  Why do we need to endorse Republican agendas and denounce Liberal Democrats and their values?  Or, on the other side of the coin, why do we need to write our congressman to stop a war in Africa, or push for social reform that will end poverty?  When did writing a congressman become something that superceded praying for peace? 

What changed?  Jesus didn’t involve himself in the politics and governmental struggles of his day.  The early church declined to do so as well.  In all of Paul’s writings, there is no mention of a Christian’s duty to get involved in the system and make positive civil changes.  Why are these things taken for granted as the Christian duty today? I can’t imagine that we shouldn’t vote…but is that our highest good?

I really want to know.

Church Marketing and YOU!

churchsign.jpg

Sometimes words dance. Sometimes they go together like peanut butter and chocolate, sometimes they don’t. Church & Marketing are two words that simply don’t gel. Unfortunately many churches gauge success by numbers and dollars. When the numbers dip, they run an ad in the local paper in order to get butts in seats, and dollars in plates.

I believe that church marketing starts with you. You go to work or school everyday and you have hundreds of interactions with others. You choose to love those around you or act like a jerk. You have the ability to be a very real example of Jesus to those around, that to me is the greatest billboard for Christ that exists.

For more info go to www.ChurchMarketingSucks.com

What examples of church marketing bug you?

K.I.S.S.

 By Luke

A simple drive down Any Street USA will reveal there are an amazing amount of different churches out there. Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic and so on and that’s just to name a few within the Christian faith alone. The list is enormous. So with all these different churches how is it possible to know which is the right one? As a world that is desperately seeking answers, whom can we turn to?

 The vast array of churches we see are the result of interpretations of scripture and tradition and these interpretations lead to different beliefs on the who, what, when, where and why of the church and its function. This set of beliefs then becomes the doctrine or foundation that is unique to any particular denomination and is the reason why there are so many different churches. Unfortunately these doctrines often take a place of hyper- exaggerated importance within the church as a whole and cause division between an otherwise united group of believers. In most cases these beliefs fall into the category of “non-essential”. Meaning they have no bearing on salvation and the commandments Jesus told us we could hang everything else on. The result of placing to much emphasis on these non- essentials is a body of believers finding its identity in doctrine and not in Christ. Dare I say? To some extent raising doctrine up as idols .

 Jesus said things like;” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). 

 So no wonder people outside the faith looking in at all the divisions and strife are confused and sometimes label the church as hypocrites. Instead of bridges of love they see mostly fences of doctrinal protection.

 

 

 The Cross, in its purest form is relevant to every situation. The unencumbered Gospel transcends all cultural, economic and political boundaries. It’s when we add to it that it becomes burdensome and irrelevant.  As we enter into the 21st century and try and realize Christ in our own lives and represent Him to the world around us, what non-essentials to the faith should we consider leaving behind? What are the doctrines or beliefs necessary to have a real workable Christianity?

 I know that the writer of Hebrews probably wasn’t addressing this but I cant help but think of this verse when I consider this question. After all when we place doctrine above love wouldn’t God see it as an encumbrance? What do you think?

 

 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

A Pirate’s Keyboard

Ok…so they have a keyboard ergonomically designed for pirates now. 

 

Ninjas need not fear, because they have one designed for them as well.

 

Uh…no, they’re not real. But they are funny.  Why?  Well, because of course, ninjas hate pirates.  Beyond that, I like this concept.

 

I like it that a pirate knows who he is, and has no use for things that don’t pertain to who he is.  Extraneous issues like “J”, “K”, “L” or “;” have no place on his keyboard.  All he needs is “RRRRRRRRRRRRR” and “!” with a hot key for “avast!”.

 

Ninjas live on an even narrower plane of existence.  One button, one kill.  I suppose my personal make-up is more collaborative with a pirate.  I feel I’m a little more complicated than a ninja….but the simplicity of both keyboards intrigues me.

 

It makes me think of the Bible. (“Doesn’t everything make you think of the Bible?”  “No.  Well…maybe, I don’t know.  Stay out of this!”)

 

Paul said when he came to Corinth, he was determined to know only one thing.  One thing summed up his identity.  Sure there were lots of other things about his life, peripheral keys that could be touched if he felt like it.  Paul, like a pirate, knew who he was, and had little use for a lot of other keys.

Paul’s keyboard may have looked like this:

 

Jesus Christ and Him crucified made up his core identity.

“But Paul, don’t you care about evolution vs. intelligent design?  Don’t you care about political scandals?”

“Maybe…but its not on my keyboard, so I don’t have a lot of use for it.” 

There is something to be said for stripping things down to core essentials.  I like Paul’s essentials.  Short, easy words whose depths can never be fully known. 

Jesus.  The closeness of that name.  God with human name.  The forever God-Man who touches my frailty, shares it with me, adding His infinite strength. 

Christ.  The Hero King.  The Rescuer.  Aragorn, Braveheart, Arthur, Superman…who only have meaning because they mirror Him. 

Crucified.  Love so unspeakable it had to be acted out in blood and agony.  The result of a world gone wrong, yet the course for a world made new.  

I can see why this was Paul’s obsession.  The depth of these simple words stir something deep in me.  It’s a good keyboard design. What do you think of as you ponder those words?  Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  What stirs in you, what do you feel?  Could that ever be the sum of your keyboard?

Identity Theft

by Dustin Bryson

Losing my wallet is a scary feeling. My heart races, I drop everything and run all over the house like a crazy person trying to find a little piece of raw hide. Why? I’m not afraid that someone will spend all my money, the truth is I don’t have any, and if someone were to use up all my credit, the card companies would take care of that in an instant. I’m not afraid that someone will go to Sams Club and purchase large amounts of mayonnaise in my name, or score a tub o pickles and use them for evil instead of good. No, what I am most afraid of is a 2×3 inch piece of plastic that bears my resemblance. A card that if aquired by evil hands could really and truly ruin my life.

Yesterday Rob was talking about how sometimes we forget who we are in Christ. Sometimes we choose to believe the lie that we are worthless, ugly, and forever broken. When, in reality, we are chosen, forgiven, loved, and adopted by the daddy who chooses to father all. As Christians we have to constantly make sure the devil isn’t trying a spiritual pick pocket on us. Satan doesn’t own us, Christ does, we were bought with a price. So, the next time you feel like you aren’t worth much, remember the blood that says different.

Rob informed us that he speaks to himself in the mirror to help remind himself who he really is. What do you do?