Tag Archives: Christians

It’s Time for Christians to Lead

designThis is the time for Christians to lead.

Our culture is suffering the effects of deficient leadership. The bar of expected decorum and etiquette has been lowered to the ground. Integrity and common decency are passé. There is deep division racially, politically and economically. Ideological rhetoric is drowning out reason. Few are naïve enough to trust authority, and skepticism about religion is at an all time high. Many are too jaded to even hope for hope. The world needs help, now.

This is the time for Christians to lead. We say we have the solution; His name is Jesus.

Step up.

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No One is Expendable

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At a summer youth event for the organization that I serve, I was talking with a guest speaker who was visiting us from out of state. He remarked about our diversity of leaders and how the mutual respect among us was obvious. He remarked about how some of our key leaders did not fit the typical mold of our denomination. Specifically, he said, “You guys come from different nationalities and cultures. You speak different languages. You have leaders that are all inked and pierced up. How do you get everyone to accept each other so well?” I gave a pretty straight answer: “We’re not big enough to eliminate people because they are different from us.”

His reaction surprised me. He said, “We aren’t either; we just don’t know it.”

I most certainly did not mean by this answer that we have low standards for leaders or that we will let anyone lead. I simply meant that we are a relatively small organization and if we eliminate leaders because they don’t look or dress or act like me, we will cease to exist. People are not expendable. One definition of expendable is: Considered to be not worth keeping or maintaining (dictionary.com). We can’t throw people away. We need every qualified leader we can get. Our leaders are very qualified. They love Jesus with all their hearts and live exemplary lives. They happen to not fit the mold that some people have established.

Our guest finished the conversation by saying, “Some of your best leaders wouldn’t get the time of day in the state where I serve. We have some things to learn.”

We may raise a few eyebrows and be accused of being desperate. That’s ok – we are desperate – to see young lives changed. We are willing to do whatever it takes to see that happen.


11 Reasons NOT to Give Tithes

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The word “tithe” mean “tenth”. It is a biblical principle that indicates that people are supposed to offer 10% of their income to the church. 10%! That’s a huge percentage. Like you, I can think of many reasons why I should not give away that much of my money!

Here are just a few:

1. I need that money. I need to pay bills; my family has needs. I’m in debt over my head. I am responsible to take care of my financial obligations. If I give tithes, I may not be able to do so.

2. I need to save for the future. Who knows what tomorrow holds? Anything could happen…and I need to be prepared for an unknown future.

3. What if something bad happens? My car could break down or our refrigerator might stop working. If I pay tithes, I might get stuck in a bad spot.

4. I don’t like everything that happens in our church. The pastor doesn’t always do things that way I want him to. I’m not sure where all the money goes. The staff probably makes too much money. I think they waste a lot of resources. I could go on and on…

5. Tithing is an Old Testament concept. Jesus never said, “Thou shalt tithe”.  In the New Testament, we are free to do whatever we think is best. Tithing is legalism. We are no longer bound by the Old Testament rules.

6. I don’t have enough money. It’s simple: I already run short of money. Common sense says that if I give money away, I’ll have less. One day, when I get rich, I will tithe.

7. I don’t feel called to give tithe. Generosity is not my spiritual gift. The Bible clearly says that some people have the spiritual gift of generosity. I don’t have that gift!

8. Let the rich people take care of the church. They could write one check and pay all the church bills. That way, those of us who have less wouldn’t have to deal with that responsibility.

9. I know of too many crooked preachers and churches. I’ve heard too many stories about Mercedes Benz and vacation homes in Vegas. There is no way I’m helping that preacher get rich!

10. I pay my tithes in different ways, like volunteering to serve at church and singing in the choir. If I give ten percent of my time, that’s the same thing.

11. God doesn’t need my money – He owns everything.

I trust by now, you understand that this is a parody. Pardon my sarcasm. The above are all reasons that I have heard as to why some people don’t give tithes. And any excuse will do. The truth is, among a hundred other good reasons, other people will be blessed if you do tithe. That should be enough – helping other people. Helping them to find Christ, to serve God, to find healing for their marriage and family, to have something to eat, to know that God loves them.

It’s simple. Just give God your 10%. You will like the results.


I Admit it, I’m an Alien

Spending most of our time with fellow Christ-followers can cause us to approach our lives as though we live in a bubble. One indicator is when our conversation centers on how shocked we are at the condition of the world and the depravity of the people around us. Christians are aghast that non-straight people want to get married.  We are stunned that some choose to end the life of a child while it is still in it’s mother’s womb. We are incredulous that everyone doesn’t agree with our political stance.

We have to stop expecting those who do not follow Christ to behave as though they do. Make no mistake: We are a minority and the majority is not impressed with our morals. They will continue to do as they do – regardless of how shocked we are or how much we complain about it.

Remember, we don’t belong here. I go back to 80’s Christian rock band, Petra, when they sang, “Not of This World”.  We are not at home here; we are citizens of another place. We are aliens. Not of the outer space variety but of the heavenly kingdom variety. Philippians 3:20 reminds us, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)  No wonder we don’t feel at home – we are not at home.

While we must share the Good News of Christ, we will never change our unChristian culture into a Christian culture. The quickest we can expect things to get perfect is the moment we make it home.

So behave yourself as a short-term visitor – an alien. That’s what I am, I admit it.


the health care debacle: who is to blame?

I have a couple of friends that love our President and everything he does. He made their year with his influence over the Supreme Court and their decision to mandate a health insurance tax. However, most of my friends are quite upset with the decision.

For what it’s worth, I have a view I haven’t heard anyone else mention up to this point:

The Bible tells us that it is the responsibility of Christians and the Church to take care of the widow, the orphan, the needy and the poor (see references below). It appears that several years ago, we decided to abdicate that responsibility. So someone has to do it.  Enter – the government of the United States. Back as far as President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression, the government began handing our support to needy people. This practice has grown ever since.  The current health care reform emphasis is simply an extension of this.

So what would keep the church from being able to fulfill these responsibilities?

  • Most people are not a part of a local church, therefore we are not even in relationship with them.  This responsibility involves way more than just giving money.
  • Most people who do go to church do not give money to the church so there is nothing to share with the poor. We spend everything we get trying to keep the doors opened.
  • Most Christians simply won’t accept the responsibility. They are more concerned about democracy that they are about obedience to Scripture. So we hand the job over to the government. Yet many complain when it’s not done their way.

This essence of this problem is not political. It is spiritual. We won’t change it by voting. We will only change it by doing what God told us to do.

I think God had a better plan.

Proverbs 19:17 When you help the poor you are lending to the Lord–and he pays wonderful interest on your loan!

1 John 3:17 But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him–how can God’s love be within him?

Proverbs 14:31 Anyone who oppresses the poor is insulting God who made them. To help the poor is to honor God.

James 1:27 The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father’s point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord–not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world.

Psalms 82:4 Rescue the poor and helpless from the grasp of evil men.

1 Timothy 6:18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give happily to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them.

Luke 3:11 “If you have two coats,” he replied, “give one to the poor. If you have extra food, give it away to those who are hungry.”

2 Corinthians 9:9 It is as the Scriptures say: “The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever.”

Isaiah 58:7 I want you to share your food with the hungry and bring right into your own homes those who are helpless, poor, and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don’t hide from relatives who need your help.

Isaiah 58:10 “Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day.

Matthew 25: 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”


i go to church

I make a living in the church, actually through the church. Worship services usually happen in the church but they are only a part of what we do. I went to church before I was paid to go and should I lose my job in ministry, I would keep going to church.

I usually emphasize a missional expression of ministry, or carrying out in our culture what Christ tells us in the church. But today I want to discuss what I get out of worship services. In addition to the usual (worship, prayer, learning more about God, etc.), I find many personal benefits to regularly attending worship gatherings.  These things have nothing to do with my being a pastor. They have everything to do with me going to church services.

Here are some of the benefits I get out of church:

I encourage others at church. Many people don’t believe it, but their very appearance in a church service is an encouragement to other people. Obviously if you are not there, they will not get that encouragement. So I go.

I get to experience “the moment”. God’s Spirit works in unique ways while His people are gathered in a group. That moment cannot be recaptured or transferred. If I miss it, I just miss it. There is power in spontaneity. God might tell me to say something or do something for someone “right now”. If I’m not there, I will miss the spontaneous.

I get to use my gifts that are intended for worship gatherings. The Bible is clear that some of the talents given to people are given for the purpose of building up others while at worship. If I don’t go to church, I cannot use those gifts anywhere else.

I am made aware of the right-now needs of my church family. A simple look in the eye can inform you of someone who is hurting or frightened or angry. I can respond, on the spot, to that need. If I am not at church, I won’t even know of the need. So I go.

My fellow leaders speak into my life. Messages or sermons or teachings are the best counsel and advice that a pastor can offer. Watching on the Internet or on television or listening online is great, but it is not the same as in person. D. L. Moody (in the late 1800’s) said, “The difference between listening to a radio sermon and going to church…is almost like the difference between calling your girl on the phone and spending an evening with her.”

I am “in the know” with the immediate direction of our church. I don’t want to hear through the grapevine about something special that God is doing or a change that is taking place. I want to see and hear it first-hand.

I am able fulfill my responsibility as a member of my church. Among our responsibilities are: prayer for others when they need it, responding to crisis at the moment, providing support when it is needed, and participating in the forward movement of the church. If I am somewhere else, none of this can happen…until maybe later. Sometimes, later is too late.

These things cannot happen outside of the church, so I go. Often. I love going to church and my life would be incomplete without it. So I go. Whether or not I am a pastor, I go to church.

So before you decide to skip church, or before you allow something else to push your church service to the back burner, please know that your attendance and involvement is important.

Don’t miss something important. Go to church.

How about you? Why do you go or not go to church?