Do-Over

In an interview with Billy Graham, they asked if he could go back and do anything over, what would it be? His answer is interesting:

Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn’t really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

The Gospel According to Jobs

This article should raise the ire of the Apple faithful. That would be something in which I would take a small pleasure. 🙂

Let the tirades roll like a Michigan fan calling for the head of Rich Rodriguez!

One small quote just to get it rolling:

Steve Jobs’s gospel is, in the end, a set of beautifully polished empty promises. But I look on my secular neighbors, millions of them, like sheep without a shepherd, who no longer believe in anything they cannot see, and I cannot help feeling compassion for them, and something like fear. When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?

What I Want to be When I Grow Up!

A megachurch pastor!

Or a men’s ministries pastor in a megachurch!

Or a women’s ministries pastor in a megachurch!

Those salaries aren’t bad:

$139,000 Median salary for senior pastors at megachurches (2,000+ in weekly attendance).

$60,000 Median salary for men’s ministry pastors at megachurches.

$47,000 Median salary for women’s ministry pastors at megachurches.

More good stuff  HERE.

Religious

This column in Christianity Today is thought-provoking. Are you “religious” or “spiritual”? Careful how you answer!

The word religion comes from the Latin religare (re: “back,” and ligare: “to bind”), so the term is associated with being bound. In that sense, defining oneself as “spiritual, not religious” couldn’t be more apt, reflecting a desire to not be bound by any rules, community, or belief. Being spiritual but not religious is the perfect fit for people who don’t like the demands of religion but aren’t quite ready to say they have no soul.

Catholic philosopher Peter Kreeft has noted that our culture’s fear “is not the fear of death, as it was for the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, nor is it the fear of hell,” as found in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic societies of the medieval period. No, the fear of the age “is the fear of meaninglessness itself.”

Yet those who oppose organized religion may be missing out on some of the best tools for staving off meaninglessness.

I am bound, and gladly. I am so grateful for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. This is something I will be discussing on Wednesday nights in an adult study at our church. Join us!

Revisiting the Reformation

Christianity Today is running a series of articles from world evangelical leaders on their views of what is needed in the 21st Century.

Rene Padilla’s column focused on a return to first principles, especially as it regards the first Lausanne Conference.

Padilla’s opening line:

A key problem of evangelical churches worldwide is the unilateral emphasis on numerical growth. For the sake of it, the gospel is watered down, church services are turned into entertainment, and Jesus’ commandment to make disciples is replaced by a strategy to enroll as many converts as possible.

Great observation. Now… what do we do about it?

I personally think we are too paralyzed to do anything about it. We’ve sold ourselves out to a monster we can no longer control. Some things may just need to collapse on us for anything good to come out.

This comes from observations over the years of ministries that simply get so big they can’t step away from the success they’ve built, even if that success is about to come crashing down around them. One in particular with my own denomination was a huge ministry and the head of the ministry was clearly warned by very caring people to put a halt on things. Take a sabbatical! Get away! Renew!

His response was chilling. He couldn’t step away. It was taking in too much money.

My guess is there are so many churches and ministries so entwined with financial and numerical success that halting some of the foolish pragmatic practices has too high a price. Some things will just have to come crashing down.

And then the question still becomes, “Will we learn anything?”

In the case of this huge ministry 20 plus years ago, I honestly don’t think anything was learned. We’re as gullible as ever on some of those personality driven ministries. Maybe this time it could be different. Maybe.

Oddly Enough… We ARE Odd!

Mark Galli strikes to the heart of our aversion to being “different” as evangelicals in America. We just want to be dog-gone normal! We want to compete with the local coffee shop or bar. In his column, Galli relates the story of a lawsuit brought by a high school senior who didn’t want the graduation to take place in a church because it made the student feel offended. The church staff was offended by the remark.

We, as evangelicals, seem to take offense at people taking offense at the gospel of Jesus Christ. Shouldn’t everyone be happy about this stuff? After all, it’s the “good news” isn’t it? How dare some kid say our church is offensive!

Well, the gospel just plain makes people uncomfortable. Jesus never pulled punches. He thinned out crowds. Now, we try to swell numbers.

We need to get over ourselves. I like to be liked. No question. Yet, the gospel of Jesus Christ at some point in time is going make people nervous and uneasy. Change is necessary. Change we can really believe in. But change is what we hate. So, when the gospel, the real gospel requires change, we balk. If we get through that hesitation, we find life. Otherwise, we continue to live in darkness.

But, doggone it, we’re such nice people! Everyone should like us!

Friends, if we are in Christ, we are truly odd. The affections of this world should not hold sway. Jesus commands our allegiance. That will clash with this culture and this world. It will be uncomfortable at times. We need to consider who IS Lord in our lives.

Engaging the Culture

I have posted a couple of times on an interview with James Davison Hunter in Christianity Today. Hunter’s take on our political activity is critical, and I agree. Yet, he raised the hackles of Chuck Colson, another man I deeply admire. Colson’s critique was a bit too critical, in my view. He felt Hunter’s position meant Christians just withdraw from society.

Well, Hunter didn’t take kindly to that, either. His answer is explanatory. He articulates his position better, but he again hits Colson fairly hard.

Getting Christians to think more “Christianly” is an admirable task, as I say, but if the goal is world changing, it is guaranteed to fail.

What Hunter wants to point out is that all our political activity on the Left and the Right has caused this atmosphere of resentment. Hunter’s argument is that political activity is engagement, but it is ONE WAY to engage, not the only way to engage. He feels it is apoor way to engage.

This continues to be an interesting conversation for me. This book needs to get to the top of my “must buy” list.

My thoughts are more toward Hunter at this point. I am weary of the political swamp. Over the years I have done my share of political activity. I still hold strong political views. Yet, the point to which I engage as a Christian has become less important to me. This has not caused me to quit voting one way and vote another. This is a position I think the Emergent Church holds as a badge of honor. And it is distasteful to me. It is an attitude that almost says, “Hey! Look at me! I can vote Democrat, drink beer, and cuss. Isn’t that great?”

Well, no. It’s not. It’s reactionary. Kicking off all forms of a former generation isn’t about being “cool.” It’s thoughtless.

There is a need for faithful presence. The Church in America has lost its way. In my own denomination, we are becoming captive to pragmatism. In other denominations, it is a caving in to political winds or cultural shifts. We are losing our way as a distinct people. We don’t want to be unique anymore.

We need to regain our identity as the Bride of Christ. We belong to him, not the Republicans or the Democrats. We belong to him, not to the latest fad or trend.

We need to fall in love with our Savior all over again. To allow our hearts to be captivated by HIM. To realize he is the Bridegroom. His desire is for us as his Church. And that calls us to an intimacy this world will not understand. It will mean it just looks different at times. It is unique because our God is quite unique. But when my attention is ON HIM, nothing else matters. I am his. His desire is for me. Out of that relationship comes a faithful presence in this world.