Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tebow Messiah

So, everybody likes an underdog and I am no different. Though being a Raiders fan it was really hard even to consider giving any credit to Tim Tebow. However, after hearing about him non-stop for the last few weeks I have learned to respect the Denver QB. But what I decided to comment on this morning is the response of the Christian public to Mr. Tebow.

Americans are obsessed with celebrities. From sports stars to movie stars to celebrities who have no talent (These seem to abound more and more), they can’t get enough of their lives. Christians sadly are no different. They want someone who will represent them to the world. To make them cool and relevant again. I have heard it said, “If our next president was a believer…” or if only [insert actor or band here] were to become a Christian…” This is really nothing new. Think about it, the Jews were looking for the same thing in Jesus. But what we are missing is that this cult of personality is not going to solve Christianity’s woes. The problems are much deeper than what any celebrity spokesperson can cover up.

In order for the church to be relavant again, we must stop what we have been doing, and begin to act like the Church we were commanded to be. We have become so much like the world that we have caught its disease. There is only one who is worthy of praise, Jesus! In time Mr. Tebow will have a bad day and slip up or not meet the worlds view of what a Christian should be (meek and gentle all the time), and he will be put up for scorn. I hope this day never comes, but if it does. I am not shaken, my faith is in Jesus. He has never and will never fail me, or you. I think Mr. Tebow would agree wholeheartedly with that.

And though the Raiders fan in me will not let me say “GO BR%$#OS” I will say to Mr. Tebow, “God Bless ya man, and keep up the good work”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Worlds worst blogger

Ok, I know I don't have to tell any of you. But I am the worlds worst  blogger! over a year!

Quick update, Teresa won the prize. I am sending her a shirt. We are moving to Africa in less than a month. I now have 3 kids. And I think I am ready to tackle the next topic regarding simple church. "Let the children come to me"

That is, if anyone is still out there and listening?

So, let me know....shall I continue? or did I lose you all?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prizes announced!

As many of you know, I am giving away a prize to the best commenter of the month. I will announce the winner in September and they will receive their choice of the following prizes:

T-Shirt option 1: be

T-Shirt option 2: Pelacara (face-peeler) This is made for a special few. Some of my fellow
missionaries have been accused of being the mythical face peelers. By the way these faces are
supposed to be sold in the states...yeah. so, you too can join the club. just don't wear this in Peru!

Book option: If you prefer the non-fiction book I will send you a copy of "Reimagining Church"
by Frank Viola

It isn't too late to send in your comments about any of the previous posts and I will be posting a new chapter in the next couple of days! go nuts.

Monday, August 23, 2010

3rd world internet blues...

Sorry to disappear on you guys like that. My internet has been out for a week now. I will be posting some things very soon, now that we are back online. stay tuned...

Monday, August 16, 2010


I am working on the next couple of chapters for the book/blog. So, in the meantime I thought i would open up some topics for conversation. Comment and let everyone know your thoughts. Also, don't forget to vote on the prizes for commenters (to the right).
One of the major disadvantages to simple/organic church meetings that meet in homes or other 'secular' places is that they are hard to find. They do not meet on a special day or place, and sometimes they even change locations with every meeting, so they are often impossible to find. If you visit a new city and plan on being there for a while, it is very difficult to find an organic body with whom to worship. They don't exactly advertise. So, I was wondering if there was some way we can stay connected and open up some possibilities for new relationships and networking without compromising our relationship focused approach.

I know of times where Apostolic workers (missionaries) have passed through a city and needed assistance (food, shelter, fellowship) and they have had doors slammed in their faces. What a welcome site it would be to run into other like minded believers who would be willing to help a church planter type as he is traveling.

One idea I had actually came from the early church (imagine that!). Because of persecution, many of these early groups of believers did not want to advertise to the whole world where they were meeting. So they used simple designs that often disguised a cross, fish or other christian symbol to identify themselves to other believers. Chi-Ro, the first 2 letters of the word Christ, Ichthus or fish symbol and even an anchor are well known as an early christian symbols.

So, here is an idea. What do you guys think? Maybe if we started putting a symbol on our doors or mailboxes or somewhere visible that could help us to find each other and locate a place to worship with the brothers. Let me know what you think of this idea and if you like it, what would be a good symbol to use. my vote goes for Chi-ro.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Confession as a Second language, Part 2

As I learned to confess more intimate sins and I learned something about myself. I am real bad about justifying my sin or like Adam, placing the blame on someone else. This is what it often looked like.

Me: Listen I just wanted to ask your forgiveness for being short with you earlier and not treating you like I should…It’s just that…I’m kind of frustrated because you are always interrupting me and nagging me about stuff.

Wife: Ummm…that just made it worse.

Yeah, not pretty. Sounds familiar huh. God: Did you eat the fruit? Adam: Umm…yeah, I did. But it was the woman you gave me who offered me some fruit and I ate it. We hate taking the full blame for our actions. We want to water down our blame. This is not true confession. We are supposed to confess OUR sins, not the other persons. See it doesn’t matter what caused you to act wrong, you still acted wrong. You are responsible for it. There is a time and a place for dealing with those frustrations, it just isn’t during your confession. When confessing search your heart. See if you have done anything to wrong someone, an action, a thought, a word, whatever. Then confess what you have done. If they feel conviction they may confess something to you, but if they don’t, that’s okay.

Many sins within the church begin with a simple misunderstanding or an offense that goes undealt with. That is why Jesus taught us what to do in these instances. Let’s look at Matt 18:15-17

If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.

As you can see in this passage the burden of confrontation is upon the offended not the offender. What usually goes on in our heads is something more akin to vengance. “Well, they know what they did and they should come and say they are sorry!” When actually this passage says just the opposite. It says we should take the offense directly to our brother. Why? In my experience, 9 out of 10 times the brother has no idea he has even offended you. It is usually just a misunderstanding that leads to immediate reconciliation. But it requires us to be humble and admit when our feelings have been hurt. More often than not I see people more concerned with winning an argument than finding peace in their relationships. This is destructive to the person but especially to the body.

When we follow this simple teaching of Christ confession is usually joined with asking for forgiveness and then repentance. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of Christian love in the community of believers. I have always said that one of the chief characteristics of God is forgiveness. And if we truly want to emulate him and be like him, we will forgive. We will forgive when we have been misunderstood. We will forgive even if it makes us look bad, we will forgive over and over and over(Luke 17:4). Because that is how he treats us. Remember the Lords prayer(Luke 11:4)? “Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us” The ‘as’ in this sentence is not meaning at the same time, but in the same way. If we will be forgiven in the same way we have forgiven others, we better be people characterized by forgiveness because we sure need plenty of it.

Finally, Jesus says if you have taken your offense to you brother privately, with witnesses and even before the church and he still does not repent that we should treat him like a Pagan or a tax collector. Many feel that this is finally the place where they get to punish the one who has wronged them by kicking them out of the body. While it may be necessary to take some strong action, possibly even excluding them from meetings, the sentiment is not hatefulness. How did Jesus treat tax collectors? How did Paul treat Pagans? They were lost, people needing a savior. They were treated with Love and kindness. The passage is basically saying if they refuse to repent then treat them like unbelievers, win them over to Christ through love.

If you really want to begin to live this active, participatory Body life confession is a good place to start. At its core it is humbling and others centered. It brings about unity. It gives the church something to do. Instead of just sitting in a pew hearing lofty words you forget before you even leave the building, why don’t we help one another with their struggles. Carry each others burdens (Galatians 6:2)

But before we can carry each others burdens, don’t forget you have to reveal your burdens to the ones who can help, the church. That is the first obstacle in beginning to speak the language of confession. Getting over yourself and your desire to be misunderstood. See, We want people to misunderstand us and think we are better than we are. It is precisely because of this obstacle that most people never learn the language of Confession.

Our problem with confession stems from our fear of being found out! Everyone is under the (false) impression that I am good, kind, and hard working. They think I am a good dad and a great husband, I am a faithful follower of Jesus in every way. So, if this is all true, if I am doing alright why do I need Jesus?

Remember the people Jesus enjoyed being around. Not sinners, but sinners who admitted they needed help. The pharisees were sinners, they just didn’t admit it. They portrayed an outward expression that said I have it all together. Sound familiar? But these “sinners” Jesus hung out with basically said, “I am a mess, I am beyond help, I am a prostitute, a drunk, a thief, a disease ridden, broken down pile of flesh. Jesus, you are the only one who can help me.” Everyone already knew who they were. They didn’t need to hide, they couldn’t if they wanted to. Jesus reached out to them because they were broken before him. To the Pharisees, who hid their sin with religious piety and fancy words, Jesus said…”Hypocrite! Snake! Liar! you look great on the outside but inside you are full of death.” I no longer want to be found in the camp of the Pharisees. I want to be known for what I am, so that Jesus can be seen for who He is. I encourage you to confess your true self to the world and let Jesus be glorified in you. Paul did it:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:21-25)

So will I:

I am selfish, I am lazy, I put myself above my family, I am like a prostitute who follows after loves of the world and ignores the only one who truly loves me. I am angry, I hold grudges. I fight. I think myself better than others. I am a freaking mess! Jesus, Help me!

How about you?

Confession as a Second language, Part 1

Being overseas for extended periods of time, you get accustomed to being around people who speak several languages. Sometimes you even speak 2-3 languages in a single conversation. Some things just sound better in a certain language. Then when you are in an environment where there is only one language spoken, you feel restricted, even like you can not fully express yourself. If you only speak one language you probably don’t know this feeling, that’s okay but you don’t know what you are missing.

In a similar way, most believers in churches today only speak one language. They do not know the benefits of speaking the language of confession. It really is like another language, you have to learn how to do it. We usually stumble through it at first, but with time it becomes part of how we express ourselves. Let me share how I learned Confession as a Second Language.

I think my first taste of real freedom in the church meeting came when I began learning to confess. I had been a leader in church circles since I was in high school. When you are in leadership, there is a certain unwritten decorum that you must keep up. It basically portrays that you have your stuff together. You are not struggling or in sin. You are worthy of being looked up to. You, of course know this is a lie. But you convince yourself that it is necessary to keep up the façade in order to not be a stumbling block or lead others into sin. After all, they look up to you. You don’t want to let them down.

The first time I revealed my real self in a meeting was after my accident. I was in a meeting with several other believers. I was struggling with my recovery and submitting fully to Him so I was ignoring God. I had gone for several weeks without reading the word or speaking to the Lord. As I was in the meeting the Lord began to convict me, I truly wanted to repent and turn to the Lord. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Okay Lord you are right, I will get back to your Word and we will start talking more.

God: Confess this struggle with the group.

Me: Whoa! I don’t think there is any reason to go that far! We will work this out on our own Lord.

God: Confess.

Me: Lord I have not sinned against them. Let’s just keep this between us.

God: It has and does affect them. Confess it.

Me: Yes, sir

So, I let it loose. I told them, I haven’t read my Bible. I haven’t prayed in who knows how long. I am just keeping up this appearance of a Godly leader but it is a lie. I am struggling. (I winced inside thinking I would hear gasps, I thought I would open my eyes to gaping jaws and disappointed looks) But as I looked around I saw understanding from everyone. And guess what happened, everyone else started confessing their own personal struggles. We had a beautiful time of revealing ourselves and our sin before the Lord. We testified to one another that none of us have arrived, we all still need Jesus.

And guess what else happened? The body didn’t let it end with my confession. They took it further, they prayed for me that night. They commited to pray for me over the next few weeks. They kept me accountable and checked on me to see if I was in the word, how was I living, etc. and honestly they helped me get through this rough patch in my walk. This experience helped me to understand the passage in James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

One of my mentors once told me of the dangers of hidden sin. He always said “Confessed sin we can deal with, but hidden sin is so destructive because it controls us.” It controls our behavior because we are afraid we will be found out. But once you are found out, you are free. You can begin to deal with the issue or be healed instead of expending all of your energy in hiding it.

As missionaries we often have to deal with the Christian Superhero syndrome. For some reason, people think missionaries are better christians, that we do not struggle or doubt. It always makes me feel awkward, like I have been caught in a lie. After seeing how things worked out when I shared my real self, I determined to learn the language of confession. I will show the world who I really am, So that Jesus can be more glorified in me, a poor wicked sinner. I try to take every opportunity I can to glorify Christ through my confession. When I am in small groups or even speaking in larger settings, I search myself asking the Lord to reveal in me things that do not please him. If it is appropriate for the setting I will just confess it, ask people to help me. Most people no longer see me as a better Christian, just another loser saved by grace.

These were my first experiences with confession, they mostly dealt with simple things. The Lord decided to take me a bit further down this road. but that is for tomorrow...