Tag: culture

Forget It Conservative Christianity, I’m Choosing Hell

One of the most telling aspects of any faith is its vision of heaven. Gaze into the crystal ball of any religion for a picture of their afterlife, and there you will find a clear culmination and ultimate fruition of its true desires, values, and beliefs.

In fact, for Christianity, the concept of the “Kingdom of God” is in essence, a sample-sized, earthly manifestation of a believed future, five-course, eternal reality—a kind of foretaste now of a feast to come later. What any version of Christianity is presently dishing out upon the world’s table in thought, word, and deed is in fact a profound foreshadowing of what truly resides in the heart of their faith and what they hope will extend in greater proportion and size for all eternity. Despite any creed’s best intentions, one is always becoming tomorrow, in reality or vision, what you are doing and believing today.

What will heaven be like?

Well, if you took the current picture of conservative, Evangelical Christianity and multiplied it by forever in a heaven far, far away—for many, this is their preferred vision of eternity.

It’s a vision of American, Evangelical, conservative Christianity manifested upon the cosmos without limits and double-fried in an inch thick batter of endlessness. For them, heaven is their brand of faith and faithfulness being awarded the eternal green light from God to the exclusion of all others and super-sized beyond limits of scope and time. Heaven is everything that conservative, Evangelical Christianity is today injected with steroids, spun into eternity like a breakdancer on crack, and given full reign over all things, forever.

What does this Evangelical, conservative Christianity kind-of-heaven look like? Well, what does Evangelical, conservative Christianity look like now?

From what I see, heaven is an exclusive club of the do-gooders and the conservative-enough believers in which you are so-saved and so-loved, all up until the tragic point you blink with a question or step outside inerrant lines. It’s an eternal existence of warmth when you fit, and cold shoulders and surface pleasantries when, for some reason, you don’t.

It’s hell.

It’s an eternal contemporary, Christian rock themed couple’s cruise where the whole boat is jacked up with people trying to prove how in love they are with each other and Jesus all while slamming Shirley Temple’s as they blissfully walk hand-in-hand with pride past the slot machines that have been unplugged for their spiritually-sensitive accommodation.

It’s hell.

It’s a forever worship service to see whose hands are raised the highest and looks to be pressing deepest into the presence of the Lord “Jeezus,” all while the worship leader is seemingly breaking the all time record for withstanding the squeeze of his skinny jeans before passing out on stage—not to mention the pastor whose hands are sweating in hopes the gold dust machine secretly mounted into the ceiling above doesn’t short out this time.

It’s hell.

Heaven is a place where your unrepentant, wrong-believing, non-KJV, doubt-harboring, sin-dripping wayward loved ones and fellow human beings endure eternal, flesh-melting torture in a place called “hell” while you sip Mimosas undisturbed on the shores of righteous bliss somehow totally at peace and satisfaction with a god who remains completely holy and just in the process.

It’s hell.

It’s the place where Jesus shrugs his shoulders in his “welcome to heaven” orientation speech looking out to those polished few who “made it” declaring with a sheepish grin on his face, “Well folks, I did the best I could—glad at least you’re here.”

It’s the fruition of a long-desired escape from the pesky, inconvenient people with whom you disagree and those who dare to question, offend, and even stand against a cut and pasted, conservative theology and a pretentious, anti-Jesus way of living.

It’s a gathering of predominantly white, starch-pressed people with a few minorities thrown in who have proven their conservative value and Evangelical legitimacy.

It’s hell.

It’s a place where an Ark believed to have carried a few of those specially selected to survive a frustrated god is made into a profiteering amusement park to honor a psychotically personified deity instead of a memorial to remember a humanity that died, and a people who projected their spiritual ignorance onto God with a false, diabolical, bible-making storyline that is so far from His heart, nature, and ways.

It’s hell.

Heaven is a forever-long small group meeting where the highlight of the gathering culminates when one’s spiritual jollies finally climax as you exercise your ultimate, conservative Christian role as spiritual policeman and accountability partner while circling the room with the questions, “what are you working on spiritually?” and “how can we pray for you?”

It’s hell.

Heaven is a place where your kids can finally and forever avoid those dirty, worldly sports groups that don’t have a Evangelical-flavored devotion and prayer session before every practice, play, water break, and game.

Heaven is that place where my LGBT friends and family will be burning in hell, not because Jesus said so, but because conservatism did.

It’s hell.

This, and sadly so much more, is the heaven of conservative Christianity, the spiritual wet dream of Evangelicals, the 72 virgins of Islam shrink-wrapped and spiritualized for Christianity.

To be sure, this is not the vision of heaven intrinsic to the hearts and minds of all Evangelicals, but sadly, no amount of conservative love, exceptions, do-gooding, and redemptive moments can out-sound and out-glare the screeching overall declaration and vision of the conservative, Christian heaven that is exclusive, performance-driven, racist, sexist, homophobic, bigoted, elitist, brutal, graceless, inhumane, and filled wall-to-wall with conditional-ladened love.

That’s why I’m a human, a Christian, and a pastor who would rather burn in hell with the broken than float around in clouds with the spiritually fascist.

Perhaps, the scandalous scandal of the Gospel of Jesus is that in the end, to the surprise of all, the tables are turned, and Jesus is found once again, determined to live with and love the very people the religious hope to live and love without.

Perhaps hell is disguised as heaven to the religious, and heaven is disguised as hell to the broken—all to make sure the right people get to the right place.

For the same Jesus that traded heaven once already to be with the religiously outcast will be the same One to do it again—and this time, forever.

So stop trying to assimilate me into your spiritual Borg of a hell you’re pimping as heaven, I’ve made my choice—your mission that has made me a project of your self-righteous quest to desperately valid your empty faith by making it mine, is futile.

Your hell is where my Jesus will be.

I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and your heaven is not.

That’s why, forget it conservative Christianity, I’ve heard and seen enough—I’m choosing, hell.


“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I make my bed in Hell, behold, You are there.”  -Psalm 139

Why Modern Christianity Makes People Vomit

It’s not a new revelation that modern Christianity is on the decline, especially the American brand. There are growing numbers of good, thinking people who are vomiting out the spiritual elitism, arrogance, and religiosity that oozes out of the pores of countless Christians and their church culture. Yet sadly, as many that yell “fire” in hopes to solicit a cure, most Christians simply resolve to bury their heads in the sand and cling to their black and white, cut and paste spiritualities. Like Linus with his blanket, nose-blind to their own reality, many Christians refuse to let go of the very things that make them stink—sending many, kneeling to the porcelain altar, vomiting it all out.

There are real reasons for all the upchucking— many that are hard to hear, but nonetheless, true. I don’t pretend to believe any of this will make much of a difference, only that someone should have the guts to unveil the true reasons for all the spewing.

We Know You are Faking It-  When the Christian life is centered on one’s spiritual performance, the best anyone can do is pretend— we know you’re pretending.

What you are proclaiming as the cure is really the poison. Your focus on sin, sin-management, and personal, spiritual improvement only imprisons people to the futility of their efforts to get better—leaving them addicted to the lie that if they would just try harder, pray longer, or do more spiritual things, one day they’ll arrive. We see you drink in the motivational messages, the calls to “get radical” for Jesus. We hear the fear tactics and religious prescriptions, the weight you place on guilt and shame. We see the wads of cash you lay down for the latest “to do” books on Christian living and the conferences that peddle them. It’s all about you and your quest to become somebody for Jesus.

Yet, we aren’t fooled, for all the WWJD stickers lining your bumper, we see that nobody is living it like you pretend to be. We are wide awake to the spiritual game of competitive Christianity you are playing.

The truth is, your faith is undoable, leaving people with the only thing left to choose— look the part, go through the motions, and hope nobody sees behind the veil to the ghost town of your spiritual life. There should be no surprise to see countless people simply opting out, realizing it’s more genuine to stay home than it is to be a part.

Grace is the only power that changes anything. Grace proclaims it’s not your performance that defines you, it’s Christ’s. Grace awakens us to the reality that we are already whole, complete, sanctified, justified, pure, holy, righteous, and saved—with no reason for any sense of guilt, shame, fear, or condemnation dwelling in our lives. The very things your modern Christianity are trying to work into our souls are the very things Jesus erased. The Gospel of Jesus is all Grace, or it’s not all Gospel. Grace levels the playing field—none are better, only different.

Yet sadly, Grace isn’t sufficient for you. You’d rather play a losing game and gather others around the misery of your hopeless spiritual plight, while believing its salvation—addicted to the Law you are pimping as Gospel. All, while the spiritual and moral decline of those under your legalistic chemtrails increases all the more as they breathe in your toxin—sending the masses vomiting to the hills.

You Say Stupid Stuff You Think Is Spiritual-  The talking points you’ve cocked and loaded for any given moment, the spiritual cue cards ready for the perfect “Christian” response, the cheesy Facebook memes with outdated fonts and clip art, all leave people inwardly concluding, “Gag me with a multi-colored pitchfork.”

We can tell, though perhaps your intentions are good, you don’t have much of a grasp on the script you are repeating, and for some, there’s a sure void of genuine heart behind what rolls off the tongue. Things like, “I’ll be praying for you,” “God will never give you more than you can handle,” “You just need to press into God more,” “Hate the sin and love the sinner” all render people flat and spiritually comatose.

Chances are, it really wasn’t about actually praying, and even if you do pray, does that mean God will now magically release a blessing on one’s behalf that He was withholding in wait for your petition? Who’s in control of God anyways? You? God? I have a hard time believing a pithy little statement asserting what “God gives you to handle” is going to resonate with a dying cancer patient and their desperate family. Does God really “give” that stuff out anyways, and out of the goodness of His little heart, stops just a wee-bit short of “too much?” Besides, how exactly does one “press into God” more? Is there a special valve you push, some hip-posture you take? What does that even mean?

How about just genuinely caring about people beyond a prepackaged response, getting involved in their lives, walking with them a mile or two, and leave the Christian talking points on the pew.

You Suck At Being Human-  It’s pretty obvious, at least the impression you create— you care more about rule-keeping, creed-following, and church-life than you do about real people, especially those who are offensive to you.

Surely to your surprise, when onlookers observe your Christian life they conclude that becoming more like you is a downgrade, not an upgrade. For to walk upon your path and adopt your values is to become more judgmental, arrogant, phony, exhausted, and legalistic —loving less, enjoying less, and being free… less.

It’s all a drag, a constant spiritual skate on thin ice— parsing every word and action. You boast of a freedom that looks more like prison. You can’t love simply for the sake of loving, there always has to be a catch— some kind of condition, restriction, or spiritual agenda. It’s all so complicated and involved. Line after line of fine print— swimming in a sea of forever pretentiousness.

Why can’t you just be human?

Like Jesus.

Your Worship Is Empty-  For all the subwoofers, intelligent lighting, video packages, church-franchising, and skinny jeans, as much as you may have a heart to “reach” people, you come off like a microwaved hamburger; done on the outside, still frozen in the middle.

Sure, people come, and it all may be musically, visually, and architecturally impressive, but a show never changed anyone; at least, not in the right ways. Where are the choruses, “My life sucks right now, and so does God?” I know, that would be too raw and real to where many are truly at I guess— doesn’t fit a starch-ironed, pleated theology, or look good on LED-shaded projection screens. Since when is a healthy faith journey simply a matter of inspiration, cutting and pasting bullet-points, and conjuring up the determination to give another college-try at becoming a better, “sold-out-for-Jesus” person the upcoming week.

By the way, how’s that going for you— all the “becoming a better person for Jesus” stuff? Well, I can tell you— the world sees, that behind all the religious theatre, it’s not. Nobody is getting fooled, but you.

Why? Because light shows, movies, television specials, clever spiritual acronyms, inspiration, and self-determination never changed anyone. Only Grace can, and does.

Shows are easy— loving people, giving Grace, being real… much more messy—all that money can’t buy.

The world is insulted that you approach them like a commercial audience to be inspired into a sale.  People are too smart for that, and quite frankly, too valuable and filled with divine dignity to be belittled by your spiritual snake oil.

We see the show, but not near the genuine, humble love for people. That’s why we vomit it out. Away from us you evil doers, you worship God with your lips, but your heart is far, far from Him.

You Think You Have It-  So drunk on the sound of your own voice, as if God allotted you exclusive awareness to all things Bible and its proper interpretation, you cling onto your truth as if the Deity has trademarked your understanding.  No room for questioning, no room for thinking, no room for living to the beat of an alternative drum—if only to assimilate us all into the collective of your spiritual Borg.

You are always right; a true, genuine follower of Christ—everyone else, some shade of rebellion and unfaithfulness—desperately in need of your discipleship. We, the wayward, dwelling somewhere in the darkness cast by the throne upon which you sit— as you spray on your favorite morning perfume, “Arrogance” by Chanel Evangelical, we can’t help but be confronted by the stench that falls. What you smell as flowers, we smell as feces.

It’s all so convenient, so intoxicating— that you have “it,” and everyone else, by your declaration, does not.  Oh, how our gag reflexes can’t help but spit out that attitude, and all that comes with it.

You See People As A Project- We are the potential notch on your “conversions” belt. Like Chia Pets, ordered for a rainy afternoon, you pour yourself into our lives for one underlying purpose— to see, if upon us, your ideology will grow.

Everything you do, even the love you express, has an agenda in the shadows—not that we become fellow “learners” with you, but rather, that you are the “learned,” and we are to learn to be as learned as you. Your’s is not an introduction to Jesus, but an induction into religion.

We sense the fingers crossed behind your back, hoping that by your efforts and clever ministry strategies we might start saying the right things, doing the right things, believing the right things, all because you befriended us in fulfillment of your pre-packaged, purpose-driven mission statement.

It’s what you think you are supposed to do, but ironically, what we see Jesus never do—treat people like a project.

You Read Into A Book And Turn Off Your Brain-  The Bible is everything to you— and by “everything,” I mean everything.

It’s your salvation, justification, license for condemnation. It’s your indoctrination, discrimination— not the just the Bible, but your literal, black and white, leather-bound approach. Like a deer caught in the high-beams, you’re entranced by its religious capacity to condemn and self-justify— blocking your ability to see its Light and rendering you as an obstacle to God’s intention.

Whatever lines you auto-tune to echo what you want them to say— those becomes undebatable to you— more definitive and directional than Jesus Himself. To you, the Word hasn’t become flesh, He has become fine-printed in the nuances of your interpretation.

Forget all the science the screams for an old earth. Forget the eyes that clearly see evolution within Genesis creation. Forget the brain in which a God who is Love can’t compute a God of eternal, tormenting hell. Forget the grey, the mystery, the journey, the humanity within every word and page.  Forget those, who lives were immersed with Jesus, yet completely missed His essence because they had their heads buried in the words.

You personify the Bible as God’s plan to turn off a thinking brain and a beating heart— best used to win arguments, justify hate, and draw lines in the sand as to who is in and who is out, right and wrong, and good or evil.

What God created to be a launch pad to a Jesus encounter, you have reduced to a roadmap from Jesus, declaring of which, you hold the navigation key.

All your Bible-thumping, memorization, proof-texting, and debating squeezes the abdominals to a full-on upchucking.

You Unify Around What You Are Against-  The motto of the sum of your Christian philosophy, “Don’t drink, don’t chew, and don’t go with girls that do.” Don’t do this, don’t do that, we are against this, and we are against that.

Nothing enflames the passion of your cause more than to discover a new enemy. If you can’t find a real one, you simply string one together—homosexuality, liberality, wars against Christianity, prayer in schools, transgender equality—always some ax to grind. Nothing takes the wind out of your sails than to be absent of sin-targets for which to take your self-righteous aim— those who sin differently than you, your favorite sitting duck.

It’s all so obvious as you live out your religiosity, love is an accessory, and apparently so is giving a damn. Satisfied with taking shelter behind the walls of your spiritual pride, you refuse to reexamine, to fully consider, “maybe we’re wrong.” Besides, there’s way to much too sin to point out to ever begin to look at your own.

Communing around the sacraments of your hate, you hijack Jesus, and make him the hood ornament of your world bulldozer— known best by all the things you are against, not the common sense, Jesus-things you should be for… unconditional love, grace, humility, selflessness, serving, sacrifice… and on, and on, and on.

All, while more and more good, thinking, love-believing, grace-intoxicated, Jesus adoring people, vomit it all out of their mouths— and rightly so.

Get in line behind Jesus, all ye fellow heathens, He is joining us—leading the way of gag…

“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking… you make me want to vomit.” -Jesus    (Revelations 3:16  MSG)

Christian, Shut Up And Listen Already

I get it, there are a lot of high-volume issues at play in the jukebox of our culture.

Sexuality, immigration, terrorism, politics, economics, war, racism, poverty, abortion. All, filling the airwaves with their sound. Complex voices, ringing around our heads. Stirring our thoughts, twisting our emotions. Reverberating straight to the bottom, rattling the very essence of our souls, forcing the ultimate question…

What does it mean to be Christian?

You want it to calm down, turn down, settle down, make it all go away. What you don’t understand you label as noise. What doesn’t fit your theological playlists, you quickly eject. Cupping your ears, you crank up the volume of familiar hymns. Drowning out, discrediting what doesn’t align. The voices God wants so desperately to speak to your faith, you simply want to subtract.

What you call static, Jesus calls sacred…humanity crying out, if only to be heard.

So much to learn, so much to understand, so much to be gained. This is what learners of Jesus are supposed to do… learn.

Our culture is a concert hall of instruments, each in their own way, crying out with the same longing. A beautiful song. What does it truly look like to be human? To be pleasing to our Maker. Is it being more like this, or more like that. Living this way or living that. Believing more over here, or believing more over there. Each having a melody. If only to be heard.

What you call unconscionable, even unlovable, Jesus calls undeniable, even in-condemnable…humanity crying out, if only to be affirmed.

At the core of every soul is an ancient desire fashioned from the eternal, to love and be loved. To have value, to have worth. Meaning, purpose… beating the beats of our heart. To be alive in our living.  Just… to be… frigging… affirmed.

But you don’t hear it, and you won’t hear it.

Sadly, we Christians suck at learning, even more at listening. We think it’s all about the concluding and the speaking. In our arrogance, we assume we already have what needs to be said, believe it’s our job to say it, and people need to hear it.

Spoiler alert. Christian, nobody gives a damn! You’ve lost your credibility. You’re all talk, no listen.

Licking your chops, unfolding your talking points, “this is what the Bible says.” We play in bands of like-mindedness, creating walls of sound to out-sound opponents. Walled in spiritual neighborhoods of little pink theologies. We Christians are experts at volume; speaking over, drowning out… ideas, creeds, viewpoints… even people.

This is who we have become. Noisy. Mute-button, Christians.

Can you just shut up already? For Christ’s sake… shut up?

You are speaking to be heard rather then listening to become a voice. And therefore, you have no voice that our culture is willing to hear.

When is the last time you sat down, and just listened?

Listened to the journey of a homosexual. The path of one who is transgender. A Muslim’s story. Or that of a mother who had an abortion. Broke bread with one who believes differently. Sat at the feet of a black man, an hispanic women. Dare I ask, maybe even an enemy.

When was the last time, you frigging just listened?

Give me the day, the hour, the minute.

I’m not talking about listening to tolerate, with spiritual eyes rolling in the back of your head. Going through mission-statement motions.

I’m talking about sitting to be transformed. To see Jesus where you believe you will see none.

Is your faith system so weak that you can’t think, reflect, listen, question… even learn, possibly come to a new perspective?

Within the sound of everything you label as noise, are the cries of real people, longing to be heard.

Our culture is listening for our listening, not for our words.

There should never be a voice that needs to force to be heard. Never a person questioning, desperately desperate to be affirmed.

Yet this is what we Christians have created. Hell on earth. A culture, a world, that has to cry, beg, plead… just to be heard, just to be loved, just to be affirmed.

That is the last thing that should be happening where we Christians are near.

Folks, this isn’t a game where the loudest voice wins. In fact, it’s where we listen, and only where we listen, that Jesus begins.

For the every cry of every person has already been heard and answered by Grace. We simply listen and point to the beauty of His face.

It’s that simple.

He is our voice, His Gospel is this… that in Christ, all are unconditionally loved, affirmed, valued, and desired. None are better, only different. Adored, delighted, saved, made whole, in Him.

This is our faith. This is the Kingdom.

It only begins however, when we shut up, and listen.


for Christ’s sake…

shhhh, shhh, shh,

shut up…

and listen.

Starbucks, Christmas, and Superficial Christian Whiners

So here we go again. Can we Christians just grow up?

Big deal, so Starbucks is sporting a red cup for the holiday season. No, it doesn’t have “Merry Christmas” or “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” glittered on it. It’s a red cup, people. A simple.. red… cup.

Besides, isn’t that everything your little heart desires? A pristine, “Jesus-filled” Christmas without being visually assaulted by satanic, atrocious, secular images of diabolical reindeers and snowmen.

Starbucks owes no one a curtsey to their faith. They are not obligated to give religious sponsorship. They are a free company in a free country. If you want to sip your Mocha Latte’ from a cup ladened with seasonal little-baby-Jesus sayings, do the hard work of starting your own show where you can pimp whatever coffee cup you want. You could even call it “Higher Grounds,” to match the cheesy-Christian, arrogant disposition from which you gaze upon the world.

But, it’s not about that is it? Not even close.

Your judgmental version of Jesus isn’t about what you could be doing, it’s about flapping your gums at what everyone else should be doing. Pitching a temper tantrum when culture doesn’t harmonize with your black and white, underwear-ironed, pretentious Evangelical world. Your arm-chair version of the Christian life looks like that 40 year old, adult child who lives in mom and pop’s basement, eating Corn Puffs in his boxers. Pouting when he doesn’t get his way, while pointing freshly-licked fingers at everybody else’s life, completely oblivious to the pathetic nature of his own.

Don’t we have anything better to do?

Here’s an idea. Put on some pants, wipe the orange drool off your face, and get a life for crying out loud. Don’t you realize how pathetically desperate you look, glued to your cultural radar screen ready to pounce on the slightest blip of what you perceive to be an offense to your faith.

Enough is enough.

The way of Jesus has never been about words on cups. And that it apparently is for a serious portion of our Christian culture, shows just how disgustingly lame we have become.

But really, who should be surprised. When worship has become all about stage lighting, tight packaging, skinny jeans and whose hands are lifted highest. When church has become all about growth trends, baptismal counts, carpet colors, slick branding, and warm bodies. When faithfulness has become all about social appearances, verse quoting, creed conformity, behavior modification, and doing “big” things for Jesus. When the Christian life has become all about making sure you’re against all the right things, gaining cultural footing, and talking amongst your own while you judge the world. Then Christmas becoming about a red Starbucks cup… starts to make sense.

My God people, what the hell have we become?

Masters at nothing that matters and everything that doesn’t. Superficial, selfish whiners who have turned Jesus into everything He’s not. Easily offended spiritual babies who can’t even smell our own dirty diapers.

That’s who.

We have become a fart in a fan store. Completely, irrelevant. The more we try to jam our views and values down the throats of our culture, the more society vomits them right back. Why? Because they know the essence of Jesus better than we do.

That’s why.

They know the way of Jesus is to serve, not to be served. Period, end of sentence.

Understand this, as people observe you, they ask one primary question… “would becoming more like you be an upgrade or a downgrade in my life?”

Though perhaps you don’t care, they do. And I think they have given their answer. Your version of Christianity sends even Jesus vomiting into the porcelain altar. It’s nothing like Him. It’s superficial, selfish, and whiney. And quite frankly, the world sees your faith, founded on appearances, theological conformity, self-preservation, religious fanfare, spiritual elitism, and a judgmental spirit and therefore has decided it just isn’t going to be superficial, selfish, and childish like you.

Downgrade discerned.

Christmas… it’s not about a red cup, but a new covenant cup of Grace. A Grace that places everyone on equal ground, none our better, only different. All beloved by God.

That is the essence of Emmanuel. Born to rebirth us all. Grace with us, in us, for us… as us. All of us.

Until people matter more than red cups, we will forever be drinking and selling a coffee Jesus never ordered.

One that He, me, and the world will forever spit out.

Middle School Whining, Easily Offended, Feather Ruffled Christians

I am not nearly as concerned about how other Christians receive me as I am about how non-Christians receive me and my faith.

Why? First, because I am not trying primarily to influence Christians. I love Christians, but they are not my most urgent desire.

Second, because I have found that many Christians have become so quick to hear what they want to hear, no matter what you say or how you say it. And in most circumstances, when words and actions are twisted, it’s in a negative way that fuels their having something to stand against or label as “wrong” or “offensive.”  It’s almost as if we have determined that “assuming,” “conjecture,” “spin,”  and “being offended” are new gifts of the Spirit. Most Christians listen not to understand, but to see if what you say fits with what they believe.

In fact, I am not sure who dropped who as a child, but it seems a majority of Christians these days, particularly Evangelicals have a whiney, insecure chip on their shoulder and their radars set to high sensitivity. They seem locked and loaded, ready to strike out against even the slightest blip on their “this is wrong” screen.  Many Christians have become self-declared experts in and increasingly known for what they are against. With language like “persecuted,” “targeted,” “violated” “discriminated” and alike, they are quick to sound the alarm, take up arms, choose sides, and declare apocalyptic doom and gloom when they feel threatened or conclude they aren’t getting their way in culture.

Are Christians being mistreated and/or discriminated against in America? In certain instances, I am sure they are. Are there problems in the world, things that need addressing and improving? I am sure there are. Do we Christians sometimes get treated unfairly while being given the short end of the stick? Sure. Could Christians say they have various kinds of “enemies” within our culture? I suppose so. Depending on your flavor of Christianity and what you deem to be right and wrong, you have things you are against and things that you feel are against you. Yet truthfully, that reality only puts Christians (no matter the variety) in the same parking lot as just about every other group or believe-set on planet earth.

Yet sadly, what is so disturbing, is the truth that the way many Christians have been handling this reality, particularly as of late, is so middle school; selfish, dramatic, and immature. With moans and groans, grandiose statements and declarations, whines and complaints, we bark at the world.  Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, Albert Mohler, and Jack Graham, as much as I respect them, seemingly can’t control their licking chops dripping with rhetoric about all that is wrong with the world and how all of Christianity (mainly Christian America) is in the balance. Lions, tigers and, bears, oh my! And then in between barks and rants, they feverishly board up the windows of Christianity for war and the ultimate defense of Christianity’s seat in the world. All so that we can have our way for the sake of our way.

Right now, the hot issue that has ignited much of this posture is homosexuality, but trust me, when that issue drifts back stage, many Evangelicals (and other groups) will certainly find another. What would would they do, where would they find their passion, where would they focus their vision if there wasn’t something to be against and complain about?

Don’t be a hater for me dragging the truth out of the shadows, but, for many Christians in relation to our culture, it has become all about us for the sake of us, no matter how missional and spiritual the lipstick is we are putting on the pig of our selfishness.

At the end of the day, we have been found out, we are more concerned about America serving us than serving America; laws serving us, treatment serving us, politics serving us, values serving us, morality serving us, preferences serving us. All, instead of us just serving people… without condition, expectations, return, pouting, rants, and defense of the institution that is Evangelical Christianity.

I find it interesting that any defensive impulsive Jesus manifested was directed actually at confronting people who withheld Grace and love to the broken, sinning, and condemned within culture. When Jesus turned over the tables in the temple, it was in defense of the exploitation of people for personal gain in the guise of spiritual enrichment.  Oh my, that could poke a few holes in modern church-world.

Interestingly enough, we never see Jesus defending His cause in relation to the world, but rather, in relation to religious people who would restrict Him from serving the world through Grace. In fact, what we do see, is Jesus loving, serving, and sacrificing for the world, not standing against it, distanced from it, and barking at it.

We never see Jesus rant, pout, whine, or defensively defend Himself or His cause. In fact, when He was provoked to do so, to write that FB status about how offended He is, how wrong the world is, how He and His peeps were getting the shaft, He remained silent. Later finally declaring… “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And to top it off, His message about Church-world is, “and the gates of hell will not overcome it.” No need to get defensive, I got it covered. Just love people, serve people, give them Grace as I have given you… unconditionally without condition. I’ll take care of the rest.

Besides, it’s not about you, it’s not about “church,” it’s not about being treated fairly, it’s not about your doctrine, it’s not about your standing within culture (or America), it’s not about politics… it’s about Me. And more than that, it’s about giving, not receiving; serving, not being served; lowering yourself, not being lifted up; giving yourself away, not insisting on your way.

Christian, get off your high horse and start loving people, serving people, and standing with people… period.

If you have to defend Christianity, then defend Christianity by defending the people Jesus defended and died for… sinners, not unlike you. He didn’t die for Churches, doctrine, or a prominent place in culture, He died for people, all people. If you have to get on a soap box, if you have to rant, if you have to be all middle-school dramatic and whine while taking your marbles and going home, do so about injustice, do so about people withholding Grace, do so about people being condemned, marginalized, and labeled.

Christian, it’s not about you. Christianity, it’s not about you. Franklin Graham, Francis Chan, David Platt, Chris Kratzer, it’s not about you. Doctrine, right and wrong, in and out, fair or unfair, it’s not about you. Evangelicalism in America, it’s not about you. It’s about Jesus.

Let Grace do what it does (and can only do), which is everything that matters; change, inspire, correct, heal, save, draw, prompt, protect, and prosper.  Trust it over institution, trust if over doctrine, trust it over fairness, trust it over defense, trust it over self. Just love, and let Grace do the rest. For Grace is a person, and that person is Jesus.

Stop your whining, easily offended, feather-ruffled, self-righteous vomits. Christianity is not slipping into the abyss of culture, it is actually being pruned by the Father of all that would be about everything but Him. Him, who is Grace… pure Grace.

It’s an interesting thought, that while Evangelicals (and other Christian groups) so want to prune, correct and change the world to be and think like them, it is God who is pruning, correcting, and desiring to change them to be and think like Him.

So You Believe Homosexuality is a Sin, Now What?

At the end of the day, the debate about whether homosexuality is a sin or not will long be like the debate between Calvinist and Armenians. Each will quote their bible verses and line up their arguments with very little to any resolution between them. Those who believe homosexuality is a sin have their biblical convictions, as do those who do not believe homosexuality is a sin. As a result of their disagreements, there is unfortunately very little, if any mutual respect for one another to be found in most circles. This, in my opinion, is reflective of the sad state of Christianity in America and beyond.

For me, beyond the question of, “Is homosexuality a sin?” is perhaps a much more important question, “If you believe it is, now what?” What is the Jesus-way of dealing with that which you believe is sin?

Here are some thoughts…  if you believe homosexuality is a sin… fine, now…

1) You should focus on taking your sin seriously, now more than ever.

Since you believe homosexuality is a sin, and apparently increasing in influence and presence in our culture, you should start taking your sin much more seriously as the same reality could manifest with and because of your sin issues.

Imagine if our culture had the same “outbreak” and increased acceptance of your sin issues as you perhaps feel is happening with homosexuality. That could be catastrophic.

Imagine if things like lying, gluttony, gossiping, coveting, or “not doing the good that you know to do” (to name a cursory few sins) were legalized and lit on fire in our culture. That would be world changing! Imagine if everybody adopted and legalized the sin in your life. Comparatively, the presence of homosexuality in our culture would pail in comparison to the damage potential of the sin in your life (or mine) going viral.

Furthermore, in the familiar teaching about logs of personal sin and specks of sin in other people’s lives, Christ taught how suspicious it is to be even merely looking at sin in other people’s lives when there is obviously a log-full to be taken seriously (looked at) in your own life. In fact, one could surmise, with much wisdom, that Jesus was pointing out the fact that if you properly took your own sin-log serious enough, there would be little if any time for looking, let alone, finger pointing at another’s sin. And even more, Jesus seems to set the standard, if your log of sin isn’t so serious to you that in seeing your own, you can’t even begin to dream of having the perspective from which to judge just a speck in another, you aren’t taking YOUR sin seriously enough.

Perhaps, we Christians who are often so sin-conscious in our outward gaze, but sin-justifying in our inward gaze are the reason why sin seems to be increasing in our culture. The culture sees our example, and concludes, “Double standard for you, double standard for me.”

See, a lack of needed seriousness (apparent because one seems to have time for sin finger-pointing) about one’s gluttoness face-feedings at the local Golden Coral every Sunday after service could be sending a message that a person’s homosexuality is not so serious too. A lack of seriousness about one’s church gossiping, slander, and backstabbing could be sending a message that one’s homosexuality is not so serious too. A lack of seriousness about one’s coveting of other people’s lives, ministries, salaries, homes, marriages, finances, clothes, health, etc. etc. etc. could be sending a message that their homosexuality is not so serious too. And the list goes on and on.

Since you believe homosexuality is a sin and it’s growing presence and influence in our culture is alarming, all the more reason, you better spend every waking moment getting off of their sin and on top of yours, for your’s could become even more alarming than theirs.

The way of Jesus in responding to believed sin isn’t to point fingers and focus attention externally, but to be humbled by the alarming, toxic reality of sin in our own lives that demands our internal vigilance and heavenly mercy.

The way of Jesus is to make sure you don’t take your eye off the ball. The ball is your sin, not theirs.

2) You should be befriending many more gay people.

Jesus befriended sinning, sinful, sin-ladened people. Can’t get around that.

In fact, much of his reputation was founded on it. Apparently it wasn’t a hobby, but a priority. People don’t get reputations from hobbies. Jesus saw sinners as friends, and more profound, sinners saw Jesus as “friend.”

Every gay person you meet, from the day you declared homosexuality a sin, should now conclude from your investment and interaction in their life that you are a real-deal “friend.” That’s the Jesus-way and the Jesus-result.

This is no easy accomplishment. That is, to be known as a “friend” by gay people. When gay people see you in public, they ought to be saying to one another, “he (or she) is safe, they truly get me, and love me for me.” Not an easy response to gain.

Thats why this Jesus-way of befriending means genuinely loving gay people, not for the purpose of trying to change them (as if you or I could do that anyways), but simply to love them. People don’t hang out with and call a “friend,” people who are simply trying to change them and thus put another spiritual knot on their belt. Do you call people like that, friends?

Oh, and by the way, that whole “hate the sin, but love the sinner,” thing. That’s like saying, “Love the pizza, but hate the sauce.” Loving a person the Jesus-way is loving the person, as is.

But, if you believe your befriending a homosexual can change them, all the more reason you ought to be befriending every gay person you meet.  Oh, and I guess that applies to every other kind of sin and sinner; hookers, liars, murders, child abusers, sexual predators, rapists etc. Shoot, for that matter, you ought to be befriending yourself.

Dang, between taking your sin more (properly) seriously and genuinely befriending gay people (who you may believe are our culture’s worst sinners) there isn’t going to be time for much else… hate, condemnation, marginalizing, political rants, declarations of your right and they’re wrong.

3) You should be studying the “clobber” passages that relate to YOUR sin much harder

Along with your belief that homosexuality is a sin, you may believe that people hearing the so called “clobber” passages in the Bible about homosexuality is going to change their mind and heart. Therefore, perhaps you memorize them and even rehearse them in preparation for that next debate or anticipated time when you get to “restore a brother gently.”

At the very least, if you are like most people who believe homosexuality is a sin, you have studied the 6 “clobber” passages in the Bible widely believed to condemn homosexuality as sin.

By the way, you also may believe there are passages in the Bible that give you license to point out people’s sin and get them on what you believe to be the right path. Just a question… these passages, that have become important to many people now, especially with the whole homosexuality issue, have they been just as important to you in regards to sins like gluttony, cheating, coveting, divorce, etc. etc. etc.? Have you made good on those passages and leaned across the cubicle to confront or “restore” your over eating, Christian coworker? What about your gossiping small-group buddy? What about your envious worship band team member? What about your non-biblically divorced next door neighbor?

If not, why not? There are tons of other sins and corresponding “clobber” passages to choose from? Aren’t those sins just as serious?

Why is it, with this whole homosexuality thing, that seemingly it’s all the sudden now so important to make sure we dust off the biblical badges that seem to justify our spiritual policing of believers and the world?

Well, if you believe clobber passages change hearts and minds, so be it… great. But that means you should now be all the more memorizing and studying the clobber passages about your sin for the same purpose.  You should be writing yourself blog posts, Facebook statements, political messages, declarations of doom and wrath, and holding yourself to the fire for the destruction of America?

See, God doesn’t need to look any further than your own sin (or mine) for cause and reason to open up a can of angel-wrath upon the world. In fact, God expects the world to sin, but you (and I) do it having “tasted and seen.” Oops, probably not good if you believe in all that judgement, wrath, and hell-fire stuff.

I mean really, if God was looking for easy justification to man-handle the planet and drum up disasters of judgement, I think we would ironically find him far more peering into the stain-glassed windows of the Church more than bedroom windows of the world.

So you believe homosexuality is a sin because of your understanding of the “clobber” passages in the Bible. What are the clobber passages that speak to your sin issues? Are you studying them with equal diligence and debate? What about your self-posts, self-articles, self-rants?

If you believe clobber passages change people, are you just as adamant to use them to change you?

4) You should be defending and declaring from the mountain tops the righteousness of homosexual Christians and God’s unconditional love for them.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin, great… now what? Is it more of an important sin than yours?

I read somewhere, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Sin, in God’s eyes, is not placed in hierarchy. Therefore, the same righteousness declared over your life, through faith in Christ, is the same declared over a homosexual Christian.

I know, maybe you say your sin is not a “life-style” of sin. You don’t willingly choose it. Really?

Btw, how many times sinning in the same way makes for a “life-style?” Is it two, five, ten, twenty four? Who gets to determine and judge that? And, how much time in between the sin is this limit. One hour, one day, one week? Who gets to determine and judge that?

See, if you (or I) can’t shout from the mountain top that homosexual Christians are righteous in Christ; unconditionally loved, holy, sanctified, and justified, than neither can you say you are. All these spiritual realities of the believer are based solely on Christ’s performance and finished work on the cross, not the believer’s. It is Christ who makes and keeps us righteous, holy, loved, sanctified, justified, and yes, even saved.

The moment you pull back from the righteousness of homosexuals, you are pulling back from your own.

If they aren’t righteous, you aren’t either.  If they are second class citizens, so are you.

5) You should be welcoming and wanting homosexuals in your church all the more.

In the same way, if you, with your sin and sinning, are welcome and wanted in your church, why aren’t homosexuals?

I know, it’s maybe because you see your sin as a sin and many homosexuals don’t. And yes, many don’t believe the way you do that their homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, perhaps in your mind they are not welcome or wanted. They, through their behavior and attitude towards what you call sin, are condoning sin. And you perhaps believe we can’t have any of that running around on in the church.

Well, maybe now you see your sin as sin, but did you always? Furthermore, do you see all your sin? Are you aware of all the areas of sin in your life and see every sin-area of your life as sin? Is not, in your beliefs, the heart wicked and full of deceit? Even portions of your heart, due to the “flesh?” Therefore, can you really trust that you see everything, and aren’t missing an area where you think you aren’t sinning, but actually are? Just like you believe homosexuals do.

By the way, perhaps you say you see your sin as sin, and that makes all the difference, is that why perhaps you overeat still? That’s why you perhaps still lie, right? That’s why you are better than homosexuals? You are better, more worthy, more wanted church-material because you are managing sin better in your life? That’s why you are the perfect leader, right? Never make mistakes that you know are mistakes, never see thing that you are doing as o.k when in fact, they are sin? Right?

I mean seriously, tell the Holy Spirit to move onto someone else. You don’t need any truth guidance, you got it all under perfect view, watch, discernment, and containment in your life. Which makes you the perfect gatekeeper for a church, right? Who better to know who should be in or out, welcome or wanted then you? You see all your sin perfectly, surely, you can do that in other people’s lives, right?

Trust me, awareness of sin makes a terrible safe-guard for sin. Just because you know and say it’s wrong doesn’t make you any more protected from acting on it, nor does it make you any better of a Christian or worthy of being welcomed or wanted in a church.

If “Church” is of and for the sin-aware, then “Church” would have never started. No one starts as sin-aware and therefore, there would have been no one to begin “Church” with on that first Pentecost.

Besides, in your mind, are homosexuals, regardless of “sin-awareness” better off in fellowship with the world or in the family of a church? If, while you were knowingly sinning, no one welcomed and wanted you, where would you be right now? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to change people, if change is needed? Point out sin, if sin pointing out is needed? Or, are you dependent on your “church-strength” and “church systems” to do it and manage it.

It’s one thing to welcome the knowingly sinning, and another to want them. It’s easy to welcome, and not want. Easy to let them sit in your pews, enjoy the same air conditioning, and sing your songs. But a whole other thing to “want” them; want them connected, want them serving, want them doing life along side everyone else.

Truth is, while you were knowingly sinning, through the cross, God welcomed and wanted you into His Kingdom, and still does. To not welcome and want homosexuals, is in all natural and spiritual reality, not to want and welcome you.

If you can’t welcome and want them, you can’t welcome and want you.

So, you believe homosexuality is a sin… now what?



Dispelling Fears about Truly Loving Homosexuals

I hate being put into any one camp as a Christian, but I consider myself (for conversation’s sake) to be a conservative Christian. I greatly value the Bible, and consider it to be God’s Word. I take sin seriously and desire to be a person of Truth.

For me Grace and Truth are not two separate things, like Grace is the nice side of The Gospel and Truth is where we get to point out people’s sins and stuff. Grace and Truth are not a reference to separate things or two aspects of one thing, there are a reference to one person, Jesus.

That might help to explain why this whole “lifting out” and “above” of the homosexual issue is both disheartening and disturbing to me as a Christian. The more I read, the more barbaric conversations I see and hear between Christians about homosexuality, the more I sense that the controversy among Christians surrounding homosexuality is much more driven by fear than by most anything else. Why else would one sin (for those who believe it is a sin) be given so much more blatant attention and bias than all the others?

I think we need to start with the common ground that we all as Christians love Jesus, want to be faithful, and don’t want to be a hinderance, but rather a help to the cause of Christ.  I have a hard time thinking of too many Christians I know who don’t have these intentions  in their core. Perhaps there are some, but few and far between.

Beyond that common ground, there are a host of issues that have come to the conversation table that have resulted in a wide variety of differing views about homosexuality. Many of them, I suspect, are motivated by fear, particularly among many evangelicals.

It’s interesting to me that the bible doesn’t call us to tolerate people who sin differently than we do, but to love them. If Jesus merely had lifted a standard of “tolerating” as our template, sadly much of the Christian community still wouldn’t get a clean pass, as we can’t even act “tolerating” to homosexuals in our churches and Christian organizations . But the standard is even greater, it’s love, not tolerance.  Love doesn’t erase people, look away, simply tolerate their existence, treat another’s sin as more sinful than theirs, or judge, condemn, or send to the curb as second class citizens or no citizen at all. This is not love.

For many, they are truly afraid of truly loving homosexuals. Why?

Let me identify and help dissolve some of the fears behind an unwillingess to truly love homosexuals, or even just tolerate them.

Fear 1: If we truly love homosexuals, we won’t be faithful in defending what the Bible says about homosexuality.

Let me put your heart and mind at ease, or make you really angry… your choice. The truth is, no one truly defends what the Bible truly says, they defend what they believe the Bible says. It’s not the authority of scripture that they are truly defending, it’s the authority of their beliefs about what scripture says that they are ardently trying to defend. Need proof?

Lets just take an issue far more major, essential, and important than homosexuality… like “salvation.”

There are large evangelical, biblical, scholarly people who believe that salvation is a gift from God given to all people received by personal faith in Christ. According to their beliefs, God loves everyone, wants everyone saved, and provides the way through Jesus for them to be saved, through faith. Anyone can believe and receive this gift of salvation. This group can line up many bible passages that they claim to be authoritative proof that their belief is right and faithful to God’s Word.

But did you know there is also an equally large group of evangelical, biblical, scholarly people who believe that salvation is a gift from God given to some people and not to others as He predestines some to enjoy heaven and some to burn in hell, giving people no choice in the matter whatsoever. In fact, according to their beliefs (including popular pastors like Francis Chan, Mark Driscoll, David Platt etc.)  even people who want nothing to do with God, God regenerates and makes them unwillingly believe in Jesus through “irresistible grace” so that they go to heaven, but God withholds doing this for others, and thus, they sadly go to hell. They too, line up their bible passages they claim to be authoritative proof that their belief is right and faithful to God’s Word.

Obviously, using the very same Bible, these two large groups who each claim to be biblical, conservative, evangelical, authority-of-scripture loving Christians have come to two very, very different conclusions about the central foundational issue of Christian salvation. In fact, each group often declares the opposing group as not submitting to the authority of God’s Word and faithful interpretation. They both claim that what they believe is what the Bible “plainly teaches,” that theirs is the absolute truth of God’s Word, and that they are the true guardians of the authority of God’s Word.

This is just one example of so many examples of how Christians who claim to be bible-authority loving, evangelical, and faithful have come to very different conclusion/beliefs about what the very same bible says or doesn’t say on essential and non-essential issues. Who truly can claim they have got it right and are in sync with the authority of the Bible? Obviously, both can’t be right and true to God’s Word?

Now we arrive at homosexuality. An issue that many Christians would say is a slam dunk, cut and dry issue. Surely, we Christians, who easily can get the whole issue of salvation right (lots of sarcasm intended) have the inside scoop to what the Bible truly means about this issue.  You can see in how we have handled the central issue of salvation so well that certainly, we can handle the simple “pop fly ball” of homosexuality (more sarcasm). Besides, we are the authorities of the authority of the Bible, can’t you tell by how many denominations with entirely different beliefs we have? Trust us, we know what we are talking about and know the plain truth about what the Bible teaches, especially about homosexuality.

The truth is, as with the issue of salvation, there are biblical, scholarly, Jesus-loving, conservative people whose views and understanding about what the Bible truly says about homosexuality are greatly differing. Each brings their Bible, passages, word studies and lexicons to the table and having read the same Bible conclude very different understandings, each one claiming they are the authority on the authority of the Bible and what they believe is the plain and faithful teaching of God’s Word.

I am not going to get into that debate only to say that there is one, and both sides feel just as biblical, scholarly, faithful, and Jesus-loving as the other.

My point is this, if you refrain from truly loving homosexuals, letting them in you church, sitting besides them in a small group, hiring them in your company, or allowing them involvement in your ministry because you fear in doing such things you are not defending what the Bible says about homosexuality, what you are truly deliberating over is not what the Bible truly says, but what you believe at that moment the Bible says.

What if you are wrong, what if you got the interpretation wrong and in the meanwhile you isolated, condemned, and marginalized an entire people-group in the process when you shouldn’t have? What if you have made an idol out of your understanding?

Jesus once addressed this type of issue to people who wanted to place their stances on the Word of God over their stance with people.

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

I love what Steve McVey says of this passage and issue…

“They had their Bibles in hand and studied them much. In fact, they could quote most of the Old Testament, but Jesus said they simply didn’t get it. While they professed to be focused on living by the teaching of their Bibles, Jesus said they were missing Him. 

There are Christians today who talk more about the Bible than they do Jesus. That should be a red flag. The Bible is not an end unto itself. Nor is it a guidebook or a handbook for living. The Bible is a grace book that points us to Jesus Christ. He is the end that we pursue. If we are not led to the person of Christ and to faith in Him, like the Pharisees, we are missing the whole point of the Bible. I realize this viewpoint may be uncomfortable for some people. It may sound to you like I’m minimizing the place of the Bible in our lives, but I certainly hope not. Remember, this is coming from somebody who has spent his life studying, emphasizing, and teaching the Bible! I love the Bible more than I have words to express. But it’s a paradox. As much as I love studying the Bible, and as much as I love teaching it and helping other people discover how great a blessing it is, learning the Bible is not the main thing. As we live in Him and He lives through us, we will approach the Bible in the right way, knowing that Christ is our life source, and the Bible points us to Him.”  –McVey, Steve (2011-02-01). 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday (pp. 79-80). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Bible is important, no doubt, but the truth of the matter is, we should be very careful not to lean on our own understanding to the point we are willing to miss the heart of Jesus for truly loving all people. None of us are truly the authority on what’s authoritative in the Bible. This is what the Pharisees were never willing to do, that is, to come down from their religious pride they would call “faithfulness to God’s Word” and stand with people.

Christians are great at claiming “authority” when they feel their throne lowering and their control slipping away.  In contrast, when Jesus used the fullness of the power of authority, he washed people’s feet. When we Christians use authority, we tend to erase and marginalize people and people groups.

This must come to an end if we are going to have a voice that has influence in the world.

Fear 2: If we truly love homosexuals, we will be condoning homosexuality.

Jesus was not afraid to associate Himself with people whose lives were sinful and questionable at best. If you believe all homosexuality is sinful, it may also be that you join those who believe the same and fear that drawing too close and giving them equal respect, involvement, friendship, employment, acceptance, and/or love might mean you are or appear to be condoning homosexuality.

Recently, World Vision, a Christian organization explored this issue by changing their policies to be open to hiring homosexuals in their workplace. Later, after Christian pressure, they changed back to their original policy to not do so. The main issue it seems is that many Christians insisted that to hire homosexuals was to condone sin and a sinful lifestyle.  Many would say that homosexuals are not just sinning, but living a lifestyle of choosing sin willingly without any sense of repentance.

Here again, I am not going to get into the issues of whether homosexuality is a sin or not or that people who are homosexual are committing a lifestyle of sin by their rebellious choice.

However, I do wonder if companies like World Vision treat other sins like they treat the believed-to-be-sin of homosexuality when they hire and manage people. Do they check to see if all the fat people they hire are fat for exclusively medical conditions beyond their control rather than being an issue of gluttony? If so, how is that determined? Do they interview and explore every divorced person’s marriage history, determining if the divorce was biblical or not, because many would say that remarriage after an unbiblical divorce is adultery, a sin? If so, who makes this determination?

But let’s take things even a bit further. The truth is, every Christian has an area where they are knowingly sinning and even unrepentive, just like many Christians would declare homosexuals are doing. Yup it’s true! Don’t believe me, read on.

The bible teaches, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” -James 4:17

Many Christians know they should be obeying speed laws, never running red lights, should be tithing 10%, should  have constant pure thoughts, should never covet their neighbor’s home, should be completely satisfied with their own looks, giving to the poor, should care for orphans and take care of widows, should not have selfish thoughts, should have faith instead of worry, pray without ceasing, and the list goes on and on and on. There is so much good we ought to be doing that no one could measure up.

Yet, are you repenting (a concept most evangelicals mistakenly believe means to “change your ways”) right now of all the good you ought to do but are not? You aren’t repenting because to do so would take every moment of every day as there is always something good you know you should be doing but you aren’t.

But if you are going to live by the notion that unrepentive, repeated sin is the crossing line that determines whether loving, welcoming, including or hiring a person is condoning their sin or not, than your “not doing the good that you ought to” is not only sin, it’s an unrepentive lifestyle of sin of your free choice that you and every Christian is living right now! You should never be hired, included, accepted or welcomed because you are living in sin, and we can’t condone that!

Btw, I was just wondering, how many times do you commit the same sin before it becomes a lifestyle of sin? 2 times, 5, 1o? Who makes that determination anyways?

Furthermore, if this is the line of believing you are going to take, then every person Jesus interacted with and even those He called as disciples He did so as an act of condoning sin. Peter , for example, had it in his heart the capacity and later the actions of denying Jesus, and Jesus knew that long before it ever even happened. Was Jesus therefore, condoning his sin?  He ate and drank with sinful people, was He in doing so condoning their sin? He even called/hired broken, sinful, lifestyle-of-sin type people onto His team, was He therefore condoning sin?

It was only the religiously-spirited Pharisees who would draw this ignorant conclusion of Jesus and condemn Him for doing so. It is the same today.

Imagine if World Vision had taken a stance like this… We want to hire every qualified homosexual person we can find, not because we agree with everything about them or their lifestyle, but we would rather have them around the influence, safety, and care of the people of Jesus than the world. We believe we can do a better job of loving them and coming along side them as we all grow in Grace than anyone else. And what better way than to work side by side together, doing life.  We want them to be exposed to the life of Christ in us (if they aren’t already) and the Holy Spirit around us that they might have every opportunity to consider the claims of Christ and their true identity and life in Him. We will let the Holy Spirit be our judge and jury and us their friend and coworker. We will trust the Holy Spirit with any change that needs to take place in any of our lives, and to protect our reputation and character as an organization. We do not see their employment as a threat to the integrity of the Gospel nor our Christian organization, but a result of it.

In fact, I would suggest that companies, churches, and organizations that withhold the full Grace of the Gospel, or communicate any hint of the Law to homosexuals through not welcoming, including, valuing, respecting, hiring, or empowering them is doing far more to condone their sin (if that is what you believe) than by bringing them into the arms of your love. The Bible clearly teaches that it is the Law that entices us to sin, not Grace. Giving Grace and acceptance does not condone sin, it is in fact the only Gospel chance, through the Holy Spirit, for true change to occur. It is God’s kindness that leads to a change of mind (what repentance really means).

If you are truly afraid of condoning sin, then welcome, love, respect, hire, befriend and involve homosexuals in  your life, ministry, or organization. To not do so condones far more sin. Trust God with your reputation, and Grace to manage and influence people… Jesus did.

Fear 3: If we truly love homosexuals, we won’t be taking sin seriously. 

Sin is serious, there is no question about that. But, how we go about taking sin seriously is even more critical.

The truth is, Grace and Grace alone is the solution to sin. Jesus was and is the solution for all sin, and He is Grace. Grace is not a new theology, program, or fad, He is a person, Jesus.

We are not the solution to sin. The Law shows us we can never solve the problem of sin by any effort or aspect of our lives and living. Alone, we are powerless against sin. Jesus alone, is the only power to overcome it. God took sin so seriously that He dealt with it completely and eternally through Jesus knowing we are powerless against it. When we harbor any level of belief that any aspect of our performance can resolve issues of sin in ourselves or others we are in fact not taking sin seriously, but rather minimizing the seriousness of sin down to a level of human ability to resolve.

The Bible shows us that the more we focus on sin, the more we will sin. Yet, the more we focus on Jesus, the more we will understand our true nature and identity in Him and therefore live victorious lives.The best way to take sin seriously is to take the finished work of the cross seriously. Taking sin seriously means to stop focusing on sin and place your focus on Christ and what He has done for you and to you. And not just you, but everyone.

As Christians, taking sin seriously means doing everything we can to help people experience the Grace of God through Jesus Christ, the only solution. As Christians, our identity is secure in Him, and His Grace is what promises to carry out the good work in us. Taking sin seriously means trusting Grace completely. We should never fear sin or sinful people in such a way as to keep us from befriending, hiring, welcoming, or involving homosexuals (if you believe homosexuality is a sin). In fact, what we should fear is not taking sin seriously enough to manifest the remedy to sin, the Grace of Jesus Christ and the companionship, friendship, and fellowship of His people whether in the context of a church, organization, or a company. We in fact minimize the power of sin and compromise the Gospel when we think that we can marginalize certain sinful people in the work place, a Christian organization, or the church and yet consider them our mission, as if keeping them at arms length, compartmentalizing them, and hoping they get our message from a distance is the best strategy for the Gospel. Do we truly trust Grace to be the remedy for sin or would we rather have people working, living, involved, and empowered by the world as if the world were a better place for people to work out this sin issue in their lives? Is sin serious enough to us to manifest what Jesus has done about it and our trust of the power of the Gospel in us and through us enough to walk along side of it without fear of contamination or reputation? If you truly believe Christ lives in you and as you in this world, contamination and reputation are much more likely to become an excuse than a real concern.

Now more than ever, preaching the Gospel means being the Gospel. You can’t be the Gospel through mere words, you can only be the Gospel of Grace through being, walking, befriending, and doing life with people. Just like Jesus did. If the mere message was enough, Jesus would have merely passed out teaching tapes.  The Gospel was never intended to merely be a speech, but to be a stance with people. And not just select people, but broken, hurting, confused, difficult, dirty people who sin differently than you.

When God manifested the reality of His taking of sin seriously, it resulted in the serving of people infected with the very thing He detested  by coming out of heaven and walking, hiring, befriending, involving, empowering, and ultimately dying for them.

Taking sin seriously is not in what you are willing to disapprove and disassociate from, but who you are willing to be the Gospel of God’s Grace with in life, work, church, and friendship.

Fear 4: If we truly love homosexuals, we might start attracting too many gays.

Yes, I have heard pastors, ministry leaders, and Christians vomit this kind of sentiment, “what if we start attracting too many gays?”

Really? I am sure before Jesus left heaven to be born on earth, God’s last words to Him were something like, “Hey Jesus, Son, old pal. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t attract to many sinners, I have no clue what to if that happens, it would be a huge mess.”

I suppose I can understand the anxiety, sorta. Ministries, churches, Christians, and Christian organization are under a lot of pressure. Unfortunately, mainly from other Christians. We Christians are experts and flogging each other, with a little bit of salt in our hands to rub on afterwards . So, I can understand the anxiety, but I don’t necessarily agree with bowing to it.

It’s amazing to me how ill-equipped many Christians, ministries and churches feel in ministering to people whose sin (if you believe homosexuality is a sin) is not only different from theirs, but believe its presence automatically threatens their reputation and integrity. Sure, some are more than willing to allow homosexuals into a worship service, event, gathering, or to have a doughnut together at the church cafe’, but the idea of including them as valued parts of your organization or ministry sends many into a tailspin of fear.

Why? Because of several of the fears already addressed previously in this article. For many churches and ministries, they see themselves more as an institution to be maintained rather than a mission to be extended, and at the end of the day, preserving their institution is more important than standing true to their mission. They are willing to be misunderstood and rejected by the people they are supposed to reach in the process of making sure they are understood and accepted  by the people they wish to keep… Christians, Christian donors, Christian supporters.

What are we going to do with the homosexual visitor who wants to become a member? What do we do with the homosexual member who wants to volunteer? What do we do with the homosexual volunteer who feels called to lead? Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Here’s what many do, we welcome them enough to feel good about ourselves, but politely (or not so politely)  keep them at a distance so that they don’t threaten the other ways we want to keep on feeling good about ourselves… you got is, church politics, christian politics, ministry politics, denominational politics etc.

There are legitimate concerns about involving people into areas of volunteering, employment, and leadership. We must be discerning and wise. But anyone can have an agenda, selfish motive, lack of character, illegal background etc. Is homosexuality in and of itself an automatic disqualification from being volunteer, employment, or leadership material? On what grounds? Sin? Willing sin?

Yes, we Christians with our churches, organizations, and ministries want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to say homosexuals are a part of our mission (if you believe they need to be seen as a mission in the first place) but not have to deal with the unfortunate mess integrating them into the life of your church, ministry or company would entail in our Christian culture today.

Unless of course, they clean up and repent of their ways, then they are one of us! If they join us on the evil, spiritual seductive treadmill of self-improvement where God does His part and we do our part, then they are one of us! If they hate themselves but not knowing exactly why like we do, then they are one of us! If they join our hypocritical plight and become inspired by message after message of the things they need to do and not do to be a better Christian and act like they are actually making any progress when they really aren’t, then they are one of us! If they reject their sexual orientation and claim it’s all a choice like we believe it is, than they are one of us. By the way, I was just wondering, if you are a heterosexual, when did you choose to be heterosexual? Just curious. If they just get an accountability partner, those precious little spiritual gems, then they will be one of us!

No wonder why the real concern shouldn’t be about whether we will attract too many homosexuals, it’s will we attract any at all? And if we do, will they even stick around long enough for us to know their story. I know, we hope not, and may not even care. That could get too dirty for our porcelain Christian life, ministry, or church.

Besides, why would they want to become any more like us and believe more of what we do? Why would they want to join our futile, self-focused, performance-driven so-called Christian walk that never gets truly any better but rather just pretends like things are. Why would they want to get involved in our church where what we are against is far more important than what we are for, where the Holy Spirit’s ability to change people has been replaced with rules, regulation, guilt trips, and fear. Why, why, why?

If you, your ministry, or your church fears attracting too many gays, let me put your mind at ease, trust me you won’t! And thank God for that! They would do better to go straight to hell, the place many have likely deemed they are all going anyways.

Fear 5: If we truly love homosexuals, we will be adapting to our culture.

One of the cries I often hear from those who seem to want to condemn all homosexuals to the fires of hell and claim that the Bible is perfectly and unquestionably clear that God feels the same is that if you disagree, have questions, harbor doubts, or just aren’t sure about the whole matter, you are not only just “adapting to our culture,” you are not staying true to the authority of God’s Word.

I truly believe that there is little cultural influence in the hearts and minds of those who humbly and truly wrestle with the issues surrounding homosexuality. For both the homosexual and the one who wrestles with what one as a Christian is to believe and do with this issue, the depth of struggle, inner debate, spiritual searching, biblical study, and desire for truth is far deeper than one merely bending to the winds of culture.

People are discovering firsthand, not primarily through cultural experiences, but personal ones, that this issue is much more complex than meets the eye and the black and white tunnel vision of those who are quick to cherry pick their way through the scriptures in order to build their case for what they are against in life and in the world. Furthermore, Christians are coming to realize there are other credible ways as to how one could interpret the biblical references to homosexuality than merely what has been commonly offered. It’s not just clear, cut and dry. These are not far-fetched, doing a “dance around the truth” kind of exegesis exercises being done, but real, faithful biblical scholarship by people who are just as serious about Jesus, the Bible, and sin as anyone else.

I am sure there is a homosexual agenda in both the Christian culture and our culture at large, but there are also a lot of other agendas within our Christian culture. Agendas are not new. And I would dare to say it is not agendas that are driving the reevaluation of this issue, but rather compassion, and biblical revelation.

If Christians were continually prone to merely adapting to culture and that was the driving force behind the questions people are posing to what has previously been accepted and taught as the plain, clear truth about what the bible says about homosexuality, than I am curious as to why for the past 15 years, our culture has become much more health, weight, and nutritionally fit minded, yet the church is clearly not adapting to that much.

Don’t worry, if you wrestle with what the bible says about homosexuality and how to handle this issue in the lives of others, chances are strong that you aren’t merely adapting to culture, but working through issues that are much more complicated than that. Furthermore, you are trying to navigate the application of the Grace growing within you. Grace has filled your heart with wisdom, compassion, and truth. And looking at the world through the eyes of Jesus has begun to look much different from when you merely saw it through the eyes of “church”, “religion”, or “legalism.”

Keep growing in Grace, perfect love casts out fear.

What We Love About Christmas

Hate me forever, label me a heretic, or just defriend me, but I just don’t think Jesus is as mad as some people hope He is about how we celebrate Christmas in our culture. Behind some of the things we do that are deemed so off-message are in fact some deep, sacred longings placed in our hearts by God Himself. Seems like we are so far from what Christmas is about when in fact, we might be closer than we ever believed.

“God has set eternity in the hearts if men.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Isn’t that what the lights, candles and glitzy decorations are all about? We long for a celestial, cozy, dreamy world where our senses are dazzled with snowy peace, bright purity, and the visually fantastic. Maybe we don’t flesh it out all perfectly and theologically, but deep down, we want what God has prepared for us… heaven; this world renewed and reconciled back to God. Heaven, the world of the fantastic, pure, celestial, and a dreamy eternity. We want a world where the baseline stories (many secular) of Christmas live; good wins over evil, our priorities are placed in the right order, families heal and last forever, life is everlasting, and things are restored to how they should be. That’s Rudolph, Santa, Frosty, the Grinch, Elf, and the list goes on and on. Maybe as far away as it might seem, we are actually closer than we first believed.

Or what about the packages, the ribbons, and the bows. Is it really all that bad? God did create us to be blessed, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and yes, materialistically. Sure, some of us rush ahead to take it for ourselves; that’s not good nor Godly. But, the sense and longing to have blessed lives where we were created to receive (from the Lord) with abundance is still under the surface, it’s their deep in our hearts. God put it there. It’s heaven isn’t it? Where everyone has what they need and are blessed by the Lord to beyond satisfaction, never hungry nor thirsty again. Our inheritance from the Lord, fully given by Him and fully received by us, with wealth beyond measure. And then, the giving. We have this deep sense that we are created to be blessed to be a blessing. We all want to give, to have something worth giving. Maybe we try to purchase this experience from malls, shopping centers, and online sprees, but we just want to love and be loved, God put that in our heart. That’s heaven isn’t? Where we love and are loved without restraint or limit. Where we have everything to receive and to give. That’s Christmas. That’s Jesus. That’s heaven.

Isn’t all of this what we love about Christmas. It’s magical like that.

We call it magical because that’s the best word we can find, it’s the closest word we can think of as we get a touch of the eternity God wrote in our hearts.

But, God knows the perfect and complete words. God calls it Jesus… Heaven… Christmas. Truth is, it’s better than magical… it’s all real, in heaven, in Him.

Maybe as far away as it might seem, we are actually closer than we believe? Maybe Jesus isn’t as mad as some people hope He is about how we celebrate Christmas in our culture.

True Friendships

Relationships are the marrow of life, and friendships being a very important aspect.

Seems to me though, maybe we throw the term “friendship” around a bit too freely. Just about anything qualifies for the term, “friendship” these days.  The person who knows a person who knows a person that you know… boom, that’s a friend.  The person on Facebook who you can’t even remember how you were “friended” in the first place… there you have it, another friend. The term “friend” could mean just about anything today and describe a wide variety of levels of intimacy between people. Nothing necessarily good or bad about that, just our cultural reality.  We all want to be “friend” heavy.

Yet, though we may know a lot of people, call a lot of people friends, and love to increase our “follower” and “friend” totals on our social networks, I would venture to say we are a culture lacking in “true friendships.”

The truth is, especially in our culture today, that over a life time you may have only 1-5 true friendships. And after reading further, you may realize you only have one or two, if that. The irony is deep as like never before we have so many ways to connect with people, but yet we lack true friendships in our life.

This is not anything necessarily new I guess, Jesus (while on earth) only really had three (Peter, James, and John).  Yet, I would say we are less prepared as a culture to develop and maintain true friendships, not because of a lack of ways to connect, but rather because of a kind of aversion or maybe even inability to connect at the level of true friendships.

What are the hallmarks of a “true friendship?”  Here are 5 ways to know if you have one…

1) You don’t have to inspire nor solicit them to be interested or engaged in your life-  If you have to be the primary one to keep a true friendship going, you don’t have one. In a true friendship, you don’t have to work to keep them interested and interacting with you. They have their own energy to be consistently interested and involved in your life. It’s never a one way street. You don’t have to drag them along into having a genuine care, concern, and consistent investment in your life. It’s not a “we only talk when I am the one to call” deal. Both of you are holding up the relationship, not just one of you. If you feel a consistent imbalance in the shared energy towards the friendship, you don’t have a true friendship.

2) They are with YOU- If a person is merely “with” something about you, you don’t have a true friendship.

The foundation of a true friendship is to be “with” that person, for life. Most people with whom we are friends, though they may be “with” something about us (our vision, cause, opportunity, shared interest, work, children, neighbors, project, etc.) that is shared in common, they are not “with” us.  Given the removal or diminishing of what they are “with” about us (vision, cause, job, opportunity, or benefit we bring, etc.) they would likely not be truly be “with” us.

In a true friendship, there is a deep loyalty to be with YOU above all else. By your side (where possible), on your side, with you. This is true whether you are right, wrong, up, down, or somewhere in between. Whether circumstances, settings, locations, etc. remain the same or change.  It is an unconditional devotion to be with YOU.  All relationships have ups and down and times where things are going well and when they are perhaps not, but a true friendship always lands “with you.” Any moments of tension are few, and that, quickly remedied. Oh, and by the way, you can be by somebody’s side and on somebody’s side without agreeing with them. This is a special dynamic, nuance, and skill of true friendship.

3) They have your best interest at heart- Because they are “with you” they want what is best for you. They rejoice when you rejoice, and mourn when you mourn, not the opposite.  They want to see God’s work in you come to completion to the point they highly invest themselves into you that you might be blessed. Theirs is an investment of themselves into yourself. And if ever push comes to shove or a crossroads is met, they put your best interests even above their own. They have your back, your best interests, and will protect what God is doing in and through you at all costs. They are givers in the relationship, above and beyond being a taker. This is a cornerstone of true friendships.

4) They speak the truth in love- These are not people who are playing you, saying what you want to hear, or flattering you because of what you bring to their table or can give them down the road. These are people who speak truth into your life. When they do, they wrap it in love.  You can trust that what they are saying, however hard to hear, is coming from a pure place and a pure agenda. They show up for the relationship with openness and honesty, always chasing any darkness in the relationship out of the shadows and into the light.  They are willing to confront you when you are wrong, and willing to confess to you when they are. They don’t let things fester or go underground, bur rather value having a clear and clean atmosphere in the relationship. They don’t just tolerate you, they love you.

5) They believe in you- They are your greatest fans and encouragers. They assume the best, not the worst. And when you fail, their hope remains. They do not give up on you.  No, they may not believe in everything you do or don’t do, but they still believe in you. There is a loyalty to you that is unbreakable. They want to lift you up, not bring you down, cheer you forward, not gloat when you fall backwards. They believe in you. They see God’s divine hand upon your life and the Master at work.  They see you as God sees you, like only a true friend can and would. They love you, like you, and believe in you. They bring out the best in you, and call you away from the worst. They aren’t perfect, the relationship isn’t perfect, but they are a true friend.

That being said, a couple questions…

Who are you true friends?

To whom are you a true friend?

Parenting to Win

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

Our children and our parenting were born into a war, not a vacation.  There is a real battle going on for the hearts and lives of our children and our families.  Unfortunately, many parents have either surrendered their children and their homes by outsourcing their parenting to teachers, coaches, friends, and youth groups, or they are battling with their children more than for their children. As Charles Swindoll says, “Schools, youth groups, teachers, coaches, and after school programs can’t resurrect in a child what is being put to death in the home” Furthermore, Satan loves to keep parents preoccupied with fighting with their children so as to distract and prevent them from fighting for their children.

Fathers honoring their leading role in the home with maturity, integrity, wisdom and strength is no longer lifted up in our culture, but rather mocked by figures like Homer Simpson and Ozzy Osbourne, sending mothers into a confused tailspin of trying to pick up the pieces and somehow make the whole parenting thing work. If mothers aren’t fulfilling a healthy role in the home its because we men first screwed up ours.

For many parents, we want to win the parenting war going on within our culture and our homes.  In moments of inspiration and courage, we set the standards, communicate the boundaries, create the time and energy for our children, only to have it all undone by the next pouting match, soccer season, job promotion, moment of needed discipline, guilt trip, or conversation with another parent about all the things they let their kids do.

It’s harder now to parent our children God’s way than ever before, and my sense is that many  parents are dying a silent death as they resign themselves to a passive, tolerant, culturally correct style of parenting that might as well send the message to the rest of the world, “We give up, you raise them.”  It seems these days, we aren’t parenting to win, we are parenting to survive.

Like a seen from  the movie Braveheart, I feel like shouting out a charge to parents to pick up their parenting bow-and-arrow and fight!  Our children’s lives, our homes, our culture, and our future is at stake.  It may not be easy, but we CAN win!

I love the image God gives us of parenting in Psalm 127.

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

Among the many layers of meaning within this passage, I believe this passage brings us tremendous wisdom on how to win as parents and parent to win!   To that end, here are some powerful principals from this singular passage…

1) We need to see our parenting as nothing less than a WAR for our children and their future.   As parents, we need to see ourselves as warriors at a DEFCON 5  level of alert with our parental radars fine tuned onto the battle field of our children’s lives. There can be no more passive, sideline parenting! Passive parenting is an act of surrender in the war going on for our children and their future.  Parent, do you know what’s underneath your child’s bed, in their closet? Do you know what their activity is on facebook? Do you monitor what music they listen too?  Do you know who their closest friends are? Do you have a relationship with their teachers and coaches?  Satan wants to have influence and leverage in your children’s lives, the question is, do you want it more than him? And, how much are you willing to flat out fight for it!  It will be and is a battle.

2) Draw your children as close as possible as soon as possible-  The #1 thing every parents needs in the war for our children and their future is… influence. The bonds of love and togetherness are the most important influence establishers you can have with your children.   The moment you lose influence as a parent is the moment you begin to lose the battle.

The first move an archer makes is to pull the arrow close to themselves. That action gains them the power, leverage, and control they need to point and shoot the arrow accurately.  The best archers bring the arrow as close to their body as possible.  Powerful influencers in your child’s life that draw them close to you are… love, affection , praise, example, correction, discipline, clear boundaries, interest, fun, togetherness, encouragement, and listening.  If you aren’t intimately and directly involved in your child’s life you will lack in influence, period.  Never let any person or thing win the battle for time, attention, and involvement in your child’s life.  It’s very hard to point our children in the right direction if we first don’t draw close to them and gain influence. If your children are 16 and younger, ask yourself… who or what are the top influencers in their life?  If your name wasn’t first or very high up on the list, you may have a real opportunity and need to strengthen this area of your parenting. No, a lack of influence isn’t always about what a parent has or hasn’t done, that’s for sure.  There are awesome, faithful parents who lack influence because their children have rebelled or made pour choices completely separate from a healthy home and great parents. Yet, for some parents, we lack needed influence because we simply aren’t doing our jobs.

3) Point your children in the direction God has for them.  After pulling the arrow close, aim is the next priority to the archer. Every great archer has a target in sight and in mind.  As parents we need to have a set target or goal for the parenting of our children. We need to have a sense of clear vision and direction. As my pastor friend Walk Kallestad says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”  As parents, we are a kind of launch pad to our children’s lives and part of our critical responsibility is to point their lives in the right direction. Being a few inches off-target on the launch pad can translate into being miles away from where God wants our children to be in the future..

The most important pursuit in this area of parenting is to discern what God’s vision is for your child’s future. The Bible says, “Train a child in the way he should go...”-Proverbs 22:6.  Notice is doesn’t say, train them in the way YOU went or the way YOU think they should go.

God has a unique vision for your child’s life and future, and chances are it won’t be in the same exact path you chose. Our job is to draw so close to God and our children that we can clearly see the destiny God has for our children. Our children have specialized God given passions, gifts, and personalities that need to be discerned, developed and directed.  Not having a close sense of where God is leading our children is like aimlessly pointing an arrow up in the air and hoping it hits some kind of target that turns out to be the one God wanted.

Furthermore, apart from the unique, specific future God has for our children, there are some general targets God has for all children. God wants us all to become followers of Jesus who grow into maturity and build His Kingdom. God wants all people to become men and women of Godly character, wisdom, and obedience. These are some of the essentials God sees as targets for all of our children.

God has a general and specific target and mind for your children. The question is, do you know what that target is, and are you pointing your parenting in that direction?

4) Release your children overtime to move from your influence to God’s influence

There is of little value for an archer to draw an arrow close to themsleves and carefully point it in the right direction if they aren’t going to ultimately release it.

The ultimate goal of our parenting is to release our children over time from being under our care, direction, and influence to establishing their own, personal walk with the Lord as they seek to follow God’s plan for their life.  No, we never stop being parents, but God desires us to release our children so that they are able to enter a free-will, loving, genuine relationship and life with Jesus. It is during this journey of increasing release that a child grows into expanding opportunity and freedom to own for themselves the direction and values you have been parenting them under.

Archers know that releasing an arrow too soon or waiting too long are both problematic.  Timing is everything.  When we release a child too soon we sabotage their ability to develop as they are not prepared to handle the levels of freedom and responsibility they are prematurely given. Yet, when we hold onto our children too long, we rob them of learning to take responsibility for their lives, facing the consequences of their own actions, and growing in character and confidence. In the one instance they fall to the ground unnecessarily, in the other they are never given the chance to fly.

I am amazed at how we as parents barely draw our kids close, spend very little time pointing our parenting, and haphazardly release are children into the world, and then wonder why we see them tumble, turn, and never reach their potential.

There is a war going on for our children’s lives, but it’s a war we can win!  Let’s take up our parenting bows and learn to fight for our children and their future.

Psalm 127:4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

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