Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Maybe It's Shouldn't Be All About You!

We live in a pretty self centered world, and sometimes it seems like we live in a pretty self centered church. I see lots of talk about "me" and "I" and the focus on what I need, have or can get. We have a lot of ideas about what we are free to do in Christ, this was made pretty evident to me today. I saw a Facebook post from a prominent Bible teacher today that had a profanity in it. It wasn't a major profanity, it wasn't one of the big ones, but it's something I wouldn't allow my kids to say, I wouldn't say in front of my kids. You wouldn't say it in church, so I'm not sure why it seemed ok to be used in this write up. No one seemed to mind, except for one person who commented, who said that the message of the post was taken away from by what they considered a poor choice of words.

What transpired to the replies to this person gave me chills. It is what I fear that Western Christianity is turning into, and I'm positive that isn't a good thing. The person was rebuked for her statement, called a legalist, told she was uptight and needed to stop being judgmental. A few people agreed with her, but most seemed to rally around the author of the post and support the use of some colorful langauge. What do we do with this?

First let me say that I understand that we live in the time and land of the snowflake that gets offended by everything. We can't speak the name of Jesus without offending, the Bible is offensive the message of the Cross is offensive, the name of God offends. I get that, and we can't stop preaching or proclaiming Jesus. I understand that, and that is not what I'm talking about. What I am talking about is when we begin to marginalize other Christians because our freedom sometimes is harsh and abrasive to their faith. This isn't a new issue. Paul dealt with this in 1 Corinthians 8. The problem in Corinth, among other things, we steak. Most of the steak you bought made the trip to the market from the pagan temple, where is was sacrificed to a pagan god. This made some believers think that maybe meat offered to demons wasn't a good idea. Other's thought it wasn't a big deal, it's not the steak's fault. Who was right? Paul says, "yes, you are both right". He simply said, if you can't eat it with a clear conscience, then don't. If you can, go ahead. Where it gets tricky is when you are eating it with a clear conscience while clouding someone else’s. Our freedom causing someone else to struggle with sin.

In verse 12 Paul says this behavior is sinning against Christ. To do something to violate another person's conscious, to make them stumble is to sin against Christ who died for them. That is a pretty big thing. I know I have been guilty, I have caused others to sin. I have used my freedom to make a mess of things. For those times I have caused others to sin and to stumble, I am sorry. When my pride and my love of self and my own freedom comes before someone else, I am sorry. Sometimes it's a simple as eating a salad, or not having that drink or not saying that word or talking about that movie. We need to not tell that joke or that story so we don't cause others to stumble. It's as simple as sometimes we need to put the other person first. We need to think about them and how we can support them. After all, isn't that what the cross of Christ is all about?  He put us first, we can be more like Jesus. It's not just about me being free, but about us, all of us being whole, clean and unified. We are the bride of Christ, together so let's work together to make sure we all get there together. A steak and a profanity just isn't worth it.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Do You Take Your Own Advice?

One of the things that I learned early on in ministry is that it's much easier to give advice than to take advice. Everyone will tell you what you should or shouldn't do. No one really want to be on the receiving end. It's always better to be the one giving the answers than the one getting told what to do. The truth is we all need some wisdom sometimes, we all need some help. The first and best place to turn is of course the Bible. Outside of that, where do we go? What do we do?

As a Life Coach, I help people in many of the areas they need help. I don't always give advice, I do more guiding and discovery (call me and I'll show you how it's done). I do give some advice, and I like to think its pretty advice. I try to get most of it from the Bible, which is the best place in the world to get advice.

I give some good advice, but it's not always easy to take that advice. It's easy to tell someone they need to forgive, harder to forgive. It's easy to tell someone to stop sinning, harder to stop yourself. It's easy to tell people o quit eating sugar, drinking coke, eat healthy and exercise, but harder to do yourself. It's easy to tell people to do the right thing, not as easy to follow.

Some days I have to stop and ask myself what would I tell someone else in my shoes. I have to ask myself to coach myself and give myself some advice, then I try to take it. Turns out that I give pretty good advice, as long as I found it in the Bible. Need some advice?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Accountability, Social Media and Drive by Judgement

I received a message from a stranger today who claims to follow me (even though I've never heard of him before) who decided that he knows I've made mistakes. He decided that I have no business acting like a Christian, trying to help people or posting truth on social media because of the mistakes I've made in the past. I was told that he heard that I have messed up in the past and said:

"I’m all for forgiveness and God using people who have been broken of their sins, repent and seek forgiveness and accountability. I believe God uses us in incredible ways, but I have not seen from you any humility in who you portray yourself to be. I am praying for you and hope that you will consider praying this over and really seeking God by allowing him to humble you."

This individual who I have never spoken with, I don't know and who doesn't really know me outside of seeing my posts on social media. Is this what we have come too by iron sharpening iron? Is this what we have descended too to have accountability? These are wise words, and I know that I continue to need to be humbled. I know that I need to continue to seek God, but why would an individual send me this message and then proceed to block me so I can't have a conversation with them? This individual claims they know who I "really" am, yet I have no idea who this person even is.

I will admit, when I was initially unable to respond to this individual, I was angry. I am constantly examining myself, I confess and repent, I share my weaknesses with my wife and some close friends. I share with my wife and some others when I struggle and when I fall. I have people in my life who really know me. When this individual claims they know who I "really" am, I struggled with confusion and frustration. How does a stranger know who I really am?

I wonder if this is what is going on with Christians today? What happens when we say we "pray about confronting someone" but none of it is in love. Are we just concerned with being right? Do we enjoy judging individuals so much that we just make comments on Facebook and then close the dialogue? I am grieved that I have no opportunity to even talk with this individual. They have said they haven't seen any humility in me, but I can't have any sort of relationship with this individual. There is no iron sharpening iron here, just stones being thrown. In the modern church, is the woman who was caught in adultery doomed? Will she be stoned to death while the words of Jesus are drowned out by the shouts of "I've prayed about this"? I hope this isn't what we are becoming.

I invite anyone to confront me in my sin and my error, but I ask that you don't it as a brother and not a drive by Pharisee. That never does anything, and to be honest, is probably just as sinful as the sin you are confronting. Like Paul, I know that I may be the worst of all sinners, but I choose to me forward and focus on Christ, not every mistake I've made. Just  thought.