Monday, December 30, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
On November 17th, shortly after 11AM, the small Illinois community of Washington was devastated by an F4 tornado that cut a diagonal path across the length of the town. The destruction was tremendous. In the aftermath, many people were asking questions, "Why would God allow this?" and "Where was God?" These questions and others do have answers.
Monday, October 14, 2013
In a world gone wild, freedom has been redefined by the sexual rules of the flesh. This affects not only the current political realm but Christian liberty as well. The church has done a poor job of handling the issue. In the light of real liberty, how is sex to be handled? Can we help the culture shift without destroying the people we need to be helping?
Monday, October 7, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
To everything there is a season. The old song says, "No change is permanent, but change is." That means that nothing in our lives are permanent. There is a time for everything, some longer than others. Change isn't easy. When we reach a crossroads of a change in life, how do we know which way to go?
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Knowing the difference between correction and attack is essential to protecting your heart. More importantly, there is a great responsibility for the words we speak. What is our part of the equation? Where does our responsibility end? What happens when truth collides with deception?
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I freely admit, we need help. Between my wife and I, we have a lot of gifts and experience we bring to the table for a variety of ministry roles. However, there are a lot of things we just can't do. Trust me when I say this, you really don't want to hear me lead worship. The experience would be horrifying enough to inspire a Roger Corman film or Stephen King novel. We wouldn't even make it to the end of the first song of the first service. Not a good way to start.
We've had more than our share of setbacks. Those are to be expected. We've had a number of people we'd hoped would help that have backed away or felt lead to engage in other ministry activities. Some of them have expressed that they would be on board for months and even years that have backed off. Granted, a few of them are not right for the changes to the vision the Lord has given but some could adapt. However, The Lord's will must be supreme, not mine.
Finding leaders is extremely hard anyway. One of the challenges is dealing the accusation of "stealing sheep." I have heard that accusation leveled against several prominent pastors and larger churches and, ironically, used by many of those same pastors. I have to admit, the statement has never entirely made sense but I understand the sting of it. It hits at the need for acceptance and approval from authority figures that almost all of us deal with to one degree or another. The problem is that no one can actually "steal" anyone (unless of course there's kidnapping involved). Asking someone to help with a church or ministry puts the ball in their court. If the Lord leads that the question be asked, it is up the Lord and the person asked to make the call. People have free will and it's the Lord's will that matters most.
It's hard to build and keep a congregation together. Any departure can affect a pastor, some more deeply than others.It's especially true when that person or people are in key positions or actively serving. I believe it is this sense of loss along with an out-of-balance approach to leaving a church (see Leaving a Church in the Jesus' Outsider Archives) that contributes to the accusation. Again, I understand it but fulfilling a vision from the Lord and obedience to His word outweigh injured feelings or fear of loss.
The greater problem is born out of love. As I look at the people and pray about who to ask, they are all serving in a variety of capacities in churches and ministries I have great love and affection for and do not want to see them short-handed. Loyalty to beloved congregations and their leadership is a far greater hindrance that I could have ever anticipated. While I do not fear the sheep stealing accusation, I do struggle with feelings that I am raiding churches for their best, their mature, and talent. It has kept me from approaching a number of people over the last several months that I should have.
Most of those whom I've talked to about leadership are ones who've been cast-offs from other churches. Wounded leaders shut down by circumstance, politics, or, in some cases, their own shortcomings they have yet to see. My reasoning was that since the Lovely Bride and I are outcasts in many regards, that's where we should look. The results have been something less than spectacular. It's left us at essentially ground zero with leadership.
The ones who have come to us are not in any capacity ready to lead. Most are seeking a position for the sake of the position, have serious doctrinal issues, or are not yet in a place in their walk to lead. The latter category we can work with and help them mature, but the others are ones whom we cannot risk taking on at the beginning. For leaders, we need mature disciples of Christ ready to hit the ground running.
Shaking this handicap off is very difficult. Only recently have I approached someone who is actively serving. The Lord led them elsewhere, but I was able to overcome my hesitation and make the ask. I don't want to leave any church hurting for leadership, helpers, or musicians. The latter is particularly difficult because there is a small pool of musicians and vocalists able to pull off the type of music we'll be doing at FC and all of them are playing worship in one church or another. Love is getting in the way of the ask.
I am praying about taking a different approach. Thus far, we have kept the vision in house and only made it available to advisers and those we have asked to help. The Lovely Bride is feeling led to just put it out there for all to see. Her belief is that as we make it more public, we will inflame the passions of the right people and they will find us. There will still have to be a vetting process but it does seem like wisdom especially since I'm not sure who to approach at this point.
So, very soon, I will be putting the whole framework online. I don't know where I'm going to post it yet, but I will get make it available as soon as time allows. In the meantime, I have begun converting the Christ's Embassy Facebook page to Freedom Church. Over the next couple of days, I should get most of that process finished. To stay on top of things, please "like" the page. I will post there as often as possible.
Your prayers are appreciated and, if I may, solicited. God is leading and He is taking us on a path apart from all the well-laid plans. I'm nervous and a little scared, but I have to trust that He knows better than I ever could.
Monday, September 16, 2013
It's good to be back on the air! To kick it off, we're looking at the power of words. James spent a lot of time on the subject and there is a thread running through the rest of the Scripture on the same topic. Words can give life or can bring death. The effects can last long after they're spoken. What's been spoken over you?
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
Monday, July 29, 2013
America is a land of entitlement. At least, that's what it has become. We expect that we will have everything from money, nice things, and even our health with little or no work on our part. I'm generalizing of course, but the spirit of entitlement is strong and its taint affects all of us in ways we may not realize. It has given rise to one of the most destructive doctrines ever concocted in the pit of hell.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Every day we are bombarded with the world's garbage. Sexual immorality, violence, and more darkness are becoming the norms for our society and the church appears powerless to stop the decline. Can things be changed? With real power that comes from a greater source than politics, opinion polls, and protests. Wanna change the world? Here's where you start.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
We're told to put on the Full Armor of God but do we really know what that armor is? There's a lot of bad teaching out there when it comes to the pieces of the armor. It's time to cut through the junk and get down to the truth. What did Paul mean?
Monday, June 24, 2013
Just before recording, I went for a walk to pray and clear my head. On the route were three churches, each from a different denomination. The Lord spoke to me as I walked and told me to pray for each of them. What the Spirit had to say to them has benefit for us all as it gives insight into His heart. I share mine with you as well. To understand the direction the Lord is sending me and the message He has given me, tune in to this episode. You may find a touch of His call yourself.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I'm all about breaking barriers. Racial, economic, denomination, I'll break almost any barrier you got. I'm in favor of breaking the sound barrier. There are some barriers I won't break. Too much danger lies beyond the one that must not be broken.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Where is the church today? That's some of what the Lord laid out for me when I was flat on my back. Today's episode picks up where we left off with the real State of Things. What does the Lord have to say to us for the days we live in?
Monday, June 10, 2013
While on my back, the Lord and I spoke often. In fact, He did most of the talking. I wrestled long and hard with all that He showed me and said. I've already shared some of what He said and State of Things is revealing more. He opened my eyes wide to the reality of the church today, where we are, and where we are going. The beginning isn't pretty but don't despair. Not yet, anyway.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
(From The Foundations Archive) It has been said, "Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words." The Gospel is inherently verbal but there is some truth in the statement. To reach the world with the love of God manifest in Christ Jesus, we will need both words and deeds.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Everybody loves nuts, right? Peanuts, cashews, pistachios, and more are all yummy treats. However, there are nuts that are destructive, creating an allergic reaction that could be fatal. When fruit is what we need, what happens when nuts are thrown in the mix?
Thursday, May 2, 2013
The memes, oh the memes! All sorts of them are floating around the internet but a few that have stood out as questions about the state of the world. People are trying to make sense of the world around them and wind up making or re-posting memes while scratching their heads. Logic doesn't seem to apply. Perhaps Scripture does.
Monday, April 29, 2013
How arrogant we humans are! So often are we caught up in our expectations and schedules that we miss what's right in front of us. In Part 2 of Scheduled Miracles & Other Madness, we continue to look at things the modern church does that conflict with God's ways out of our good intentions and desire to see His glory on Earth rather than open rebellion. We also seek to find the Lord where He actually resides.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
In what turned out to be part one of a series, we look at some of the bad (and mostly unScriptural) habits the church has fallen into. If the truth be told, some of these have really been bothering me for a while and, if I read some blogs correctly, I'm not alone. Some of these are specific to certain movements within the church but a lot of them apply to everyone.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Is it possible to be culturally relevant and still be true to the Word of God? That question has been debated for a very long time. Some fall to one side and some to another. How did Paul handle this situation? For that matter, how did Jesus?
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Monday, April 15, 2013
It's Tax Day! Midnight tonight is when all that fun and exciting paperwork has to be turned in to our wonderful government! Wheee! Okay, maybe this isn't everyone's favorite day of the year but it is important. Many of us struggle with paying our taxes for a variety of reasons from disagreeing with how much we pay to taking issue with what the government spends the money on. Some have even gone so far as to say that Christian's shouldn't pay taxes to what they call a corrupt government. What does Scripture say? Does it make allowances for the kind of government we have?
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
(From The Foundations Archive) Mental illness impacts more people than most of us ever realize. It creates a lot of interesting issues for the Church of Jesus Christ including debates as to its spiritual nature. How do we handle something we don't often want to even talk about? What can we do to overcome the stigma?
Monday, April 8, 2013
There will always be things that happen in this world that will outrage us. Anger can be a strong motivator. Politicians on both sides of the political debate count on it. When our goal is participating in what God is doing to build His Kingdom, is anger what we need? Can it be counter productive? What is the root of right action in the face of depravity and sin?
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Victoria's Secret has the worst idea in the history of the company and you will hate it. Universities and colleges are in the act too. There are times that when the world acting like the world happens in ways that even the unchurched wind up shocked and scratching their heads. Our role is more important than ever.
Monday, April 1, 2013
According to the Beatles, "Love is all you need." The question is, what is love? After several incidents this week that have sparked brought this issue to a head for me, I couldn't help but discuss it with you. I've seen love turned on its head, upside-down if you will, but that's not what we really need.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Once again, the Lord intervenes. After preparing a program for today, the Holy Spirit lead me to change it at the last minute. Reading Facebook posts on the cultural topic of the day as it became heated arguments caused me a grief unlike anything I had felt after reading anything on social media. How do we approach this line in the sand and still fulfill the ultimate law of love? Where is Jesus in all this?
Monday, March 25, 2013
How do you know if you're dealing with a Pharisee? More importantly, how do we recognize the Pharisee in the mirror? Breaking this stronghold we all must deal with can dramatically change how we approach disagreements and change within the church of Jesus Christ.
Monday, March 18, 2013
There are times when the old, tried and true methods fail us. Actually, it's more often than not that how we've done things for years are not connecting with people anymore. Without tearing down traditions, is there a need to communicate the Gospel differently? A profound experience at church service the weekend served as a reminder of just how important it is to find a way to reach the unchurched and the de-churched who are not able to connect with more conventional styles of "doing church."
Friday, March 15, 2013
(From the Madman in Crazytown Archives) Free Exercise! No, this isn't about the latest weight loss scheme or a gym membership. Our Constitutional liberties as Christians are under assault. One of the few programs from MiCT that dealt directly with faith, this show is as timely now in the growing oppressive culture as it was when originally broadcast, perhaps more so. Remember what the Constitution actually says and Who we actually serve.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Monday, March 11, 2013
Alcohol and the Scriptures? No, this isn't the Gospel according to Jack Daniels or Anheuser-Busch. We do need to have a very serious discussion about the consumption of alcohol in the church in this country. The debate may have consequences that are more than you expect.
Friday, March 8, 2013
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Monday, March 4, 2013
While watching Willy Wonk and The Chocolate Factory (The original), I was struck by how similar the children are to how Christians behave. Each of them, extreme though they may be, is a fine example of a bad example of how we view church and one another. If we really want to face the truth, there's a little of each of them in all of us.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
When the Lord began to challenge me about Jesus' Outsider, I must admit I was more than a little shaken up. Doing a podcast has become such an integral part of my life that if He told me to put it down I don't know if I could without a gut-wrenching struggle. Between Jesus' Outsider, A Madman in CrazyTown, and Foundations, I've been broadcasting almost continuously for nearly five years. The only time off I've taken has been to shift to a new program. I truly enjoy sitting behind the Big Boy Mic and spending time with my audience, striving to proclaim truth to them. As the Lord whispered to me about the program, I finally laid it fully on the table. If He told me the season was over, it was over. I would stop. This is one of the reasons there weren't any new programs for the end of last week (2/27 & 3/1). Until I had a resolution, I would not broadcast.
As I prayed this week, the Lord did give me clarification on what He was trying to tell me. He asked me some very powerful questions. The first thing He asked me was, "Are you drawing your self worth and measuring success from how many listeners and followers you have or from Me?" Ouch. I was forced to admit I put huge stock in the number of listeners, followers, and Facebook fans and measure more by those numbers than I should. What's really sad is that I've been here before and laid it on the altar before. It hit me very hard that I had fallen back into a trap I had been in before. I measured the success or failure of the program on these numbers more than obedience to His will and His message. If an episode had below average listeners I felt a sting of rejection.
Jesus' next question built upon the first, "How has this affected the program?" Double ouch. He struck me to the core with that one. I prayed more and asked the question back to Him, begging Him to reveal the answer. When He did open my heart to my folly, I almost gave up the program. He revealed that I had begun to change the content of the episode and even make topic choices based on not offending listeners or on what they would find interesting to catch their eye. I was drawing on my experience as a broadcaster more than going to Jesus' in prayer when making programming decisions. Years of studying media and how to build an audience was working against me. The desire to have a popular program with the associated rush of acceptance that comes with it had become an overpowering part of my life. I looked back over the last six months of episodes and saw fewer and fewer topics that would be considered controversial, challenging, or possibly offensive to potential and existing listeners.
The final question Jesus asked was the kicker, "What did I give you as the purpose and vision for Jesus' Outsider? Are you still 'In Christ, but out of the box?'" I was hit with how I was missing what the Lord had called me to do. In the beginning, when I only had a handful of listeners to each episode, it was so easy to follow the Lord's guidance for the program. Topics were unusual and frequently very edgy. the content of each episode was full of straight forward truth and humor. I was joyful sitting behind the mic. I had to admit to myself that doing the show wasn't as easy to do as it was in the early days. Even though I still enjoyed doing the program, it was becoming a chore. The quality had really slipped from the first several months. I was preparing less for each episode than I used to and was thinking more about the numbers. I had lost focus. If I can't overcome this now, I will never be able to pastor a church that challenges the status quo as Jesus' Outsider is supposed to do.
A couple of weeks ago as I sat in the services where we are attending, the Lord spoke to me very clearly that the program's tagline/motto was to be the same for the church we are preparing to start. To do that, I had to remember what it means to be "in Christ but out of the box." If the last several months of Jesus' Outsider is any indication, I had lost a lot of that in my life and in my message and the Lord is convicting of that loss.
When Jesus' walked the earth, He embodied that principle. At every turn, Jesus challenged people's preconceived notions on religion, faith, and, most importantly, who the Messiah really was. The religious authorities that strove to put man-made restrictions on God's people felt the brunt of His correction and challenges. Many of the people who followed their teachings without question were presented the opportunity to accept the words of Jesus or continue with the Pharisees and Sadducees. While we know about all the ones who followed Jesus, we often forget how many chose to reject Him and remain in their traditions, regulations, and the other religious instruction of the day. They chose to stay in the box.
To be 'in Christ but out of the box' means to be faithful to the Word of God without compromise. The truth of scripture must always be paramount in the minds and hearts of all who seek to follow Christ. The Gospel hasn't changed since the beginning and we have no right to change it now. Sin is still sin and must be addressed even when the sin is popular with the masses and will offend people. "The Cross is an offence to those who are perishing." (I Cor 1:18) We cannot forget that. If we do, there are people who will find themselves in Hell that we might have been able to share the Good News of Jesus with and give them the opportunity to choose eternal life.
The other side of that however is to be willing to challenge any tradition, method, or model that can get in the way of people coming to Jesus. There are no sacred cows in following Jesus. It's too easy to fall into old patterns and methods because that's how things have always been done or it worked in the past. It is possible to be fully obedient to the Word and still culturally relevant. There will be criticism and people will be resistant to the idea of change. It has always been the case. We cannot be afraid of being opposed, ridiculed, or unpopular.
Jesus had to remind me of that. I'm still learning to walk in this lesson. The course correction needed for the program and me personally will take some time but I know I don't walk in it alone. I will continue to produce programs through the journey and work to restore the Lord's original intent for the program. I hope you'll walk with me.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Years ago, I remember hearing on the radio ads in the guise of programming for a book called "Prayer Secrets." In a deep southern drawl, a nationally known preacher would claim to know the secret of getting prayers answered. Was he right? Or perhaps there's something more to praying with authority than some religious formula.
Friday, February 22, 2013
(From The Archives) Paul strove to be all things to all men in order to reach some. Paul's effectiveness isn't in doubt so perhaps we need to do the same. With a vastly diverse culture, how can the modern church effectively work to the same goal?
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
The Word is powerful, of that there is no doubt. Unfortunately, it isn't always easy for a finite, fallen human being to interpret. Today's program tries to give you a few tools to make the task easier so we can all be diligent to be "workmen approved by God, rightly dividing the Word of truth."
Friday, February 15, 2013
(From The Foundations Archive) Introspection isn't all bad. It's necessary at times. The problem comes when we look inward too often and our gaze never looks outward. We can even start to think it's the point. When the church is only focused inward, the consequences can be grave.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Monday, February 11, 2013
Michael Jordan didn't become Michael Jordan by practicing double-twist, black flip, reverse layups. He shot free-throws, layups, and from different points on the court. If we want to be successful as the church, we need to get back to the basics starting with the first pillar, the Word.
Friday, February 8, 2013
It's time to move from assessment and obstacles into the goal. What does the church look like when she's functioning as the spotless bride of Christ? The Pillars of the church must be explored, shored up, and set if we are to see a healthy body and a strong Kingdom.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
The specifics of the attack may change, but the source and the strategy don't. We're back in Nehemiah again to find out how he dealt with the the opposition he faced in building the walls. There are some very real lessons we can learn from how he dealt with Sanballat and his cronies that we can apply to our own battles.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Lincoln can teach us a lesson or two about handling opposition and warfare. When we start to do the work of restoration of the Body of Christ, we will face a lot of opposition both from within the church and from the outside. If we are to win this war we find ourselves in, we need to handle it right. Victory hangs in the balance.