Archive for the 'Church' Category

Jul 14 2013

Go To Church

Published by under Church

If you’re awake this morning and thinking about skipping church (like I do pretty much every week), get up and go.

Don’t go so you can feel like you did your duty.

Don’t go to avoid guilt for NOT going.

Go because, regardless of how you feel, it’s your home and there’s probably peace somewhere in your home.

Stereotypical teenagers say they hate a ton of things about their house – the people (mom and dad and siblings), the layout (not enough privacy), and the noise (mom watching re-runs of The Andy Griffith Show at an ear-splitting volume). A lot of people (maybe you) feel one (or all) of these ways about the church. Not into the people. Not into the room. Not into the noise.

But if you’re into peace, I think you should go this morning. A teenager’s room is usually a peaceful place for them. It seems the #1 reason to go to church has been and always will be to meet God. And when we meet him, we hear and feel the words of Jesus…

Peace be with you.
_John 20:21

Go to church this morning (or this evening if your church has a night service). Just do it. If only for the peace.

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Jul 08 2013

When I Don’t Like Church

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I don’t like church sometimes.

Occasionally people will say, “Oh, man, I haven’t seen you at church in a couple weeks. You must be busy.” In my head, I think, “No, not really. I just haven’t felt like coming.” But then my lying mouth opens and out spill the words, “Yeah, crazy busy, bro.”

I’ve never been burned by church. I love my pastors and the staff. I really like the people who go there. I let small things get to me.

“It’s too much like a concert.”

“Why are we singing these same 5 words for 90 seconds?”

“The Church is more than just Sunday.”

My head kind of ruins things for  me.

But I realized something when I left church yesterday morning: I’m rarely more at peace than in the 30 minutes right after church. That’s something my head can’t explain.

We are filled with the good things of your house…
_Psalm 65:4

The best of houses are places of peace and seeking my own peace might be a really selfish reason to go to church. But there may not be anything wrong with that. Before I can love other people, I need to love myself.

On those mornings when I think I don’t like church, I hope I can remind myself that I love peace and I get peace in the house of God I call home.

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Aug 19 2010

Church Talk #1

Published by under Church

Somewhere in America right now there are NFL and NCAA teams practicing for football season. There are coaches screaming in the players’ ears and pushing them to the breaking point.

In my hometown of Nashville is a church – my church. I really like my church. We’re currently doing a series explaining the DNA of how we want to live. They’ve chosen three phrases to describe things:

  1. Radically Devoted (to Christ)
  2. Irrevocably Committed (to one another)
  3. Relentlessly Dedicated (to reaching the lost)

I love those things. I really do. It’s clever. It’s biblical – it’s the two greatest commandments and the Great Commission. Except for three problems. I find myself more:

  1. Partially Devoted (to Christ)
  2. Conditionally Committed (to one another)
  3. Pretty Much (Not) Dedicated (to reaching the lost)

I know the top 3 things are GOALS of the church. But the bottom 3 are REALITIES for me (and a lot of people I know).

You know what I feel like? I feel like I live life in one of those money booths where money is blowing all over the place. That’s what my heart and mind feel like pretty much every day. It’s loud and windy and totally chaotic and hard to keep a hold on things. While I wish my life was built on rock-solid adjectives like radical, irrevocable, and relentless, the truth is that far less-weighty adjectives define my interior life.

And while we should all desire the firm adjectives, the weak ones usually define us.

They did for most people in the early church, too – the ones we read about in the New Testament. They were screwed up. Big time. Like me. Like us.

And do you know what Paul said to them? He said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

Coaches exist to motivate their players to greatness and to goals – a Super Bowl. A Tostitos National Championship. That’s why pastors exist, too – to teach and encourage and shepherd and model good behavior. They’re not perfect, but they’re very special people – people who daily try to get us to follow them into goals like being radically devoted, irrevocably committed, and relentlessly dedicated. Frankly, I don’t like that language. It seems forced and impossible. And so far away from where I am right now. But we all need goals. And those seem like pretty good ones to me.

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Nov 23 2009

The Angry Man and The Old Pastor

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On Saturday, I found out about a situation that unfolded a while back where a well-known 60-something pastor was put on blast by a guy in his 30s. The 30-something sarcastically dressed down this pastor (and several other pastors) with biting language bordering on viciousness. You may know the situation I speak of, but there’s no need to name names in the comments. It’s not important who the parties were.

What I’m concerned with is my OWN heart – and YOUR heart. Believe it or not, my heart has never really felt at home in church. Since I heard about Him, I’ve always connected with Jesus, but often not church. Many of us had or currently have issues with the church.

As I wrote the 30-something guy a letter (which I never sent), it occurred to me the letter could easily be addressed to me. I’m not often angry, but am disillusioned frequently. Instead of post the letter, I re-purposed it from the point-of-view of the 60-something pastor and how HE might respond to 20- and 30-somethings frustrated with church. These are the words and thoughts I attempted to teach myself tonight.

—————————————————

I’m a 65-year old pastor. I’ve been serving Jesus Christ for 40 years – longer than most of you reading this have been alive. I’ve long been perplexed with how frustrated you are with me and my generation for “messing up the Church.” My sons and daughters, are you so sure you know how things ought to be run? Do you know why your soul is so thirsty? I will freely admit to you that I’ve been largely clueless about how to run my church. I’ve listened for God’s voice to the best of my ability with other people in this congregation. But imperfection has been my constant companion since the day I first arrived here. I haven’t done everything right. But I’ve done everything the best way I knew.

Like Joshua, I too will soon go the way of all the earth. My lungs will breathe no more and you will inherit the church which was, for a season, entrusted to me. My children, you will see that flock work is work indeed. The babies you today kiss on the forehead will tomorrow call you a hippie, send you angry emails, and leave your church in frustration. It will happen many times and break your heart at every occurrence.

In all your current anger, you imagine yourselves the clearinghouse of truth. It is not so. Just because you’re angry doesn’t mean you’re right. When you imagine you’re “exposing” the hypocrisy of the church, you expose more about the bitterness in your own heart. When you imagine you’re creating a movement of other like-minded people, you’re really just rallying more and more to divisiveness and discord. Your life is not characterized by peace, but war.

Perhaps I have messed up, my children, and led this church poorly. Perhaps I really am the cause of these problems. And, if so, perhaps it is for this reason: that you might know the truth. Your hearts are not clean. My messed up life may have existed to make you this way – that you might see your heart and be so dismayed with its helplessness that you’re forced to talk with God Himself, to inquire why such a depth of negative emotion exists in you for mistaken infractions that were not intended for your harm.

If the measure of your emotion is so great that you can’t explain it, perhaps there are other flammables that are blazing hot in the hidden corners of your heart – problems for which I am not responsible but problems that increase your anger toward me. Pursue the reasons for your discontent because that will lead you to the reason church exists. The firefighter of your heart is Jesus Himself – not cooler leaders, not new worship music, not different preaching, not better programs. You will never assuage the anger in your heart with written or verbal abuse.

Sons and daughters, I assure you it is not an enjoyable life to suck on lemons every day. Your protesting heart is not against me. It is against anything that keeps you from God. I do not believe you could name a punishment for me to endure that would atone for your frustrations. The problem is bigger than me. But in whatever ways I’ve kept you from Him, I sincerely apologize. It has been unintentional. Remember, I am only a man. God will cover my mistakes. Do not allow your previous energy spent in anger toward me to prolong your absence from Him. Ask God to make clear the path forward and restore your heart that you may be bitter no longer. “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them.’” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Someday, perhaps you will be the 65-year old writing letters to young adults. Have something powerful to tell them about our God. I entrust you to Him.

9 responses so far