Sunday, November 11, 2012


The last several months, I have felt a tremendous sense of urgency in everything I do and in the preparations for the next step the Lord is taking the ministry He has given us. There's been a growing feeling that we need to make the transition to the next step God has for us to be ready for something. I don't know what that something is, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we need to be ready for it.

For a long time now, I have been convinced that a major crisis is headed for this country. It's more than just following events here and on the world stage. Even if I were completely unaware of all that has transpired in the last few years, I don't think that this feeling would pass. It comes upon me the strongest when I am in times of extended prayer not when I've been reading the news. I don't know what the crisis is going to be only that it will put people on the doorstep of the Church of Jesus Christ like never before. I do not believe that the results of the recent election will have any bearing on the coming crisis. It will affect the response from the government but not the clamor for hope and the need to preach the Gospel to all who come seeking and even those who do not.

When the crisis hits, hope will be the commodity most needed. Yes, food, clothing, and shelter will be needed by many, but all will be looking for hope. This is a word that has lost much of its impact in the last several years being bandied about by politicians seeking power and by those who can only offer the false hope of a life without Christ. All of these things fail in the face of great trials and crisis.

There is no doubt that things are being shaken up all across the nation. We are a people divided and lacking in faith in real Biblical truth. God has been all but removed from not only our public lives but private as well. We are soft and unable to see beyond our own comfort. Even in this difficult economy, we are still able to live in comfort with little need for anything beyond ourselves. That's just the church. The rest of the country is in worse shape.

That's a generalization but still hits close to the mark. Despite all the problems, I still trust that there is a faithful core to the Body of Christ. Even if many of us are either caught up in rules or in easy believe-ism, there are enough of the faithful to stand in the gap if we are ready. We must be ready.

For our part, my lovely bride and I are preparing for the next steps God has for us. Jesus' Outsider will continue be broadcast and possibly expand to five days a week like its predecessors. The Lord continues to allow me to find and expand an audience and as long as He's in it, I will continue. It is a real privilege to speak to so many all around the world and I have been humbled by the growth of the audience.

Next, we are praying along with others about relaunching the internet radio station we attempted a couple of years back. There is still a need for an alternative Christian station playing hard rock, metal, and punk. One of the places I have seen a great amount of faith and dedication to the Lord is in the greater Christian rock community. I also know that music is one of our most powerful and effective tools for reaching beyond our walls into the greater world. It isn't final yet, but it is a matter for prayer.

Finally, planting a new congregation has been on our hearts for a long time. Plans have been drawn up more than once for us to start and each time the Lord has told us to wait. In retrospect, we know why He told us to wait after the plans were prepared. From each trial run, we learned more and added to the vision. If the truth be told, we need to grow more before we could be in a position to lead.

The vision has grown and evolved with each close approach and has been refined into the skeleton of what it can be. The people the Lord is gathering around us will help put flesh on those bones and He will breathe life into it.

What is certain is that it will be a place where anyone can come and find Jesus. The mold for traditional churches will remain on the shelf to be used where more appropriate. We feel called to reach out to blue collar people, bikers, rockers, metal heads and others that might not be comfortable in a more conventional church setting. In other words, regular people. We will also reach out to young people who feel disenfranchised and disillusioned by the mainstream church. The atmosphere will be warm, relaxed, and open but without compromise on the truth of the Word. We will strive to love all while still holding to the fullness of the Gospel message.

As I have opportunity, I will be posting more about the vision and our progress. As I said before, there is a real sense of urgency to the work before us. We are working to be ready. May we all be ready.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Should Liberal Christianity Be Saved?

The New York Times has an interesting piece today entitled, "Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?" After reading it, I came away with more questions than answers. The main one being, should liberal Christianity be saved?

The author, Ross Douthat, did a reasonable job pointing out the decline of the liberal denominations. All of them are shrinking rapidly. When Spong wrote his book, "Why Christianity Must Change or Die," it was haled by both secular and religious liberals as the guide that would take Christianity into the 21st Century. Boy, were they wrong.

In truth, liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. If the basic doctrines are thrown out, sin is forgotten (and even embraced), and the Gospel ignored, then there's nothing left. You can't save what isn't real. It's already dead spiritually.

Before I continue, let me address something. My position on Biblical unity is well known. I believe that we all need to be one just as Jesus and the Father are one. However, I will never advocate compromise the Gospel for the sake of alleged unity. The call Jesus made was for the genuine Body to be united. If someone is not in Christ, which includes those who deny the Gospel yet call themselves Christians, then we cannot be one with them. In those cases, our mission is to reach out with the Truth of the Word to change their minds and hearts. Evangelism, not unity, is the need here. It is very difficult to reach them, but it's still the commission we're all called to. Please not this does not apply to some doctrinal disagreements including Calvin vs Wesley, Charismatic vs Non-Charismatic, musical preferences, and other comparatively minor issues we argue about.

That said, we can move on now. Douthat accurately pointed out that there is almost no difference between secular and religious liberalism. If there's no difference, why not sleep in on a Sunday and skip the whole thing? That's exactly what's happening. No matter what so-called progressive changes they try, liberal denominations are dying.

Even in the inner-city, where Liberation Theology and its racist sister, Black Liberation Theology, are more common, attendance is down. The use of Marxism with a thin veneer of the Bible over the top has an appeal to people who have been made to feel the victim who still remember a little of their church upbringing. However, like any form of godliness that lacks its power, it too is in decline. Fiery radicals like Jeremiah Wright can still draw a crowd but overall, the pews are emptier and emptier.

I can't entirely disagree with the assessment of most megachurches in the article. Here's the excerpt:

Traditional believers, both Protestant and Catholic, have not necessarily thrived in this environment. The most successful Christian bodies have often been politically conservative but theologically shallow, preaching a gospel of health and wealth rather than the full New Testament message.

I'm not a fan of the health and wealth, feel good movement. I believe in the Gospel of Grace in its fullest. The Word is encouraging, convicting, uplifting, and challenging all at the same time. To only preach a part of it is to also deny the fullness of who Jesus is.

He does deviate from the mark about the impact of liberal Christianity. Douthat stresses their call to social justice and reform as a positive. The modern, Marxist version of social justice is not a positive in any way, shape, or form. He is correct about one thing, however. He accurately points out the fact that the Christians who started the Civil Rights Movement were "more dogmatic than present-day liberal faith. Its leaders had a “deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer and worship.” They argued for progressive reform in the context of “a personal transcendent God ... the divinity of Christ, the need of personal redemption and the importance of Christian missions.

He is however wrong when he believes that the faith of those on the political right does not extend to caring for the poor. Giving figures for decades have shown just the opposite. Speaking as someone who has been involved in ministry to the poor for over fifteen years, I've seen the difference first hand. The churches that support these ministries the most are almost always the most conservative doctrinally and politically. They can be mainstream, Charismatic, Calvinist, or Wesleyan. The commonality between them is that they are all dedicated to the Word, prayer, and to Christ. That's the real unity. That's the real truth.

Should Liberal Christianity be Saved? No. Let those who discard the Cross of Christ and the fullness of the Word pass into the mists of history like so many other failed false religions.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The End of Cornerstone

For twenty-eight years, the Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, IL has drawn bands and attendees from all over the country and sometimes even the world. Thousands of people have been ministered to and rocked out to some of the best names in music. Not only was the it a place to hear huge acts but up-and-comers filled lots of stage. Talented musicians who could never get radio airplay (especially with Christian radio's current limitations) were able to be seen by audiences that otherwise might never had heard them. There was something special about it.

Now we're facing the last year the biggest Christian music festivals in the Midwest. Glenn Kaiser and JPUSA (Jesus People USA) have decided to end their sponsorship of the even after this year's festival. It's just gotten too expensive to keep up. JPUSA has been forced to do very serious fundraisers to support the last couple of events. It has gotten so expensive to put on the festival that despite huge attendance it really is cost prohibitive. It's too bad.

The passing of the fest has more effects than just direct ones. Here in Peoria, we'll be losing out as well. Each year, we have concerts put on by these bands passing through on their way to or from Cornerstone at greatly reduced cost. We get to see some really great acts. This year, there's a metal concert that's almost a mini-fest among many others. There's more going on in the area. I'm also willing to bet that other Central Illinois cities like Bloomington/Normal and Springfield have similar shows. We are able to hear bands that may never have come to Peoria without C-Stone.

When I got the email that this was the last year, my first thought wasn't about the festival itself. It was the loss of the concerts around it. The second was to wonder who would take up the mantle and launch a new festival in the Midwest. The thing about America is that when an opportunity presents itself someone will eventually take it up.

I have a lot of hope that there will be something to replace it. I've already seen a lot of Facebook chatter about it. Most of it is speculative at this point but all it takes to go from speculation to concert is a little bit of money. It will be a lot smaller in the beginning no matter where it is but it can grow.

I admit to feeling the loss as are many of my friends and acquaintances. It will be a long time before the hole left by the end of Cornerstone will be filled.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Voting for a Mormon?

With Mitt Romney leading in the polls, a lot of people, especially in Evangelical circles, are asking the question, "Can I vote for a Mormon?" The question I have to ask is, "Why not?"

First off, I know what you're thinking. Before I even get started, you're wondering if I've gone off the deep end. I know more than enough about Mormon doctrine to know not to endorse their real teachings. I'm not a victim of their well financed and slick PR campaign that has been undertaken to remove the stigma of their doctrines and history. I am not going to advocate a Gospel other than the one in the actual Bible that requires no separate book to figure out.

I also want to go on record that I am not endorsing any presidential candidate including Mitt Romney. Even when I was more embroiled in politics in my broadcasts, I didn't endorse anyone. In fact, I find it unlikely that I ever will. The question at hand is that IF Romney is the nominee, can a follower of Christ vote for him in good conscience?

Let's examine this carefully. In the past, we've had no qualms with voting for an agnostic, a Catholic (gasp, gulp! pardon the absurdity), or any other of a long string of pretenders to faith that made a show of believing but the fruit wasn't on the tree. Why should a Mormon be any different?

Yes, their actual beliefs are not in line with orthodox Christian beliefs despite their claims to the contrary. Morally, however, the teachings are close enough that they do line up with most evangelicals. They are supposed to be prolife, hold to a traditional view of marriage (at least since 1895) as being between a man a woman, and in personal responsibility. Whether Romney actually would govern that way is entirely dependent on him not on his faith. Many presidents have claimed a faith but it didn't influence their administrations or policies.

Please keep in mind that one of the most popular talk show hosts, Glenn Beck, is a professing Mormon and many of you listen to him every day. You trust him to give you information, right? His beliefs don't seem to bother you much when you're listening to him, do they? Interesting.

So, vote for Romney or don't. Base it on his positions, policies, and record. Yes, filter everything through the Word but no more or less so than with any of the other candidates. Frankly, I'm more concerned about voting for someone steeped in liberation theology, a mix of Marxism and the Bible to create a socialist doctrine, than I am about voting for a Mormon. I know what a socialist doctrine leads to when its proponents govern and it's far from actually leading in a Christlike manner.

Again, I'm not endorsing Romney or his belief system nor am I endorsing any of his primary opponents. I don't endorse candidates. All I'm saying is that voting for a Mormon is no more or less dangerous to our country than voting for a candidate of almost any other religion. Don't let it be the main factor in your vote.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Real Men Creed

Keeping in line with today's episode, Real Men and Yoga Pants, here is the Real Man Creed in its entirety. For more, listen to today's program.

Real Man Creed

I am a Real Man

I do not have a feminine side

I do not whine

I do not flinch from pain

I do not do crochet

I do not get manicures

I do not lie

I do not cheat

I do not give up

I enjoy watching stuff explode

I have manly hobbies

I have honor

I have integrity

I love my wife

I protect my family

I raise my sons to be Real Men

I guard the virtue of my daughters

I use my tools to keep my house in order

Whatever I put my hand to I do with all my might

I don't complain or grumble

I honor God in all I do

Why? ‘Cause I'm a Real Man

Monday, January 2, 2012

Launch Delayed for 24 Hours

I'm sorry to say that I have to delay the launch for 24 hours. We had some very serious illness in the Outsider household that culminated last night with hospital visits and an all-nighter. I guess if I were a big time radio host I would have a back-up plan.

Things are starting to settle today so the show should be ready to go tomorrow. Thanks for your patience and prayers.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Beginning!

The time is upon us! Tomorrow morning, very early, Jesus' Outsider hits the web. I really can't express just how excited I am about getting on the air.

When I shut down A Madman in CrazyTown, my original plan was to start within a couple of weeks. However, as we all know, things change. As always, I needed to learn that things happen in God's time and not mine. I would like to say it was just life happening but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. To be certain, circumstances did dictate a delay due to a difficult schedule but I am inclined to believe that it was merely a tool to give me time to reflect and pray more about the content and direction of the program. Never argue when God gives you more time to prepare for what He is having you do. He especially focused on why I'm going this program when I could do just about any kind of show and have fun and some impact with it.

As I prayed and enlisted others to do likewise, I heard the still, small voice of the Lord whispering into my ear about how I need to bring glory to His Name and help others do likewise. In my years in Christ both in and out of active ministry, I have been privileged to see the best the Church of Jesus Christ has to offer. I've seen the Good News preached to the poor as they've been fed and clothed, churches turn to prayer not only in times of crisis but at the specific direction of the Lord. I've been a part, albeit a very small one, of ministries that have made huge strides in unifying the church across racial, ethnic, and denominational lines. The sick have been prayed for and their families loved on as their needs were met. I have even seen couples brought back from the brink of divorce. I have been allowed to see or be a part of the glory and love of God made manifest in remarkable and profoundly simple ways.

Yet, during those times, I have also seen some of the worst the church has to offer as well. For each of those things listed above, I have seen the converse as well. I have seen couples divorce after receiving little or no help or even bad help from their church. While I've seen the hurting healed and restored, I have also seen them rejected and cast aside. For all the work on unity, I have still seen rejection of people based on their appearance or even a minor (in the eternal scheme of things) doctrinal dispute. Just as with the positives, I could keep going with the pain and hurt caused not by God but by often sincere followers allegedly done in His Name.

My prayer, and I hope yours as well, is that God will use me, any future guests, and my listeners to bring honor to the church and, more importantly, to the God and His Son we represent. I hope to break down walls that divide us, call out sin when necessary, and lift up the situations and people who God uses well. There will be hard teachings and commentary. We will talk about responding to our shifting culture and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ fits into it. At some point, I may even offend you but if I do, I hope the love I intend to convey is still felt in the offense.

I hope you will join me on this journey.