Friday, May 14, 2010

I've Moved!

As of 5/14/10 I have moved to a new blogsite at Wordpress! Here is the new address

It's called Lessons Along the Way. I hope you'll join me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

If Only I Didn't Know Now What I Didn't Know Then!

Have you ever had a time in your life where you read or heard something and you just wish you hadn't heard that? Your life would have been just as good or maybe even better had you not been given that information? It's happened to me a few times. Most often it has been when I find out something about a friend or a family member that surprises or disappoints me. Then I find myself trying not to think less of that person, but it's hard because now I know something about them that changes how I feel about them. I can't help but think that I would have been much better off not knowing.
Well, that's how I feel about modern, organized religion. During the decades that I have been involved in the church, I have found out so many things about the church that I wish I didn't know. ( but then I wouldn't know the truth, would I? More on that later).

• I wish I didn't know that people were asked to leave the worship team because they smoked. Or were divorced. Or hadn't been baptized. By the way, they were asked to leave by a leader that was on his third marriage.

• I wish I didn't know that two families had left the church because the secretary had misspelled "turkey" in the Thanksgiving bulletin.

• I wish I didn't know that new believers were denied the sacraments because they hadn't signed membership papers.

• I wish I didn't know about a church that publishes a quarterly paper given to all the members that shows how much money each member gave that past 3 months.

• I wish I didn't know about a group of "Christians" who publicly attacked a church because they showed the lyrics to the praise songs on the wall instead of using a hymnal.

• I wish I didn't know that when we are encouraged to "give back to God" with our tithes that what that often means is that God needs a new sound system or copy machine.

The list goes on and on, and we wonder why people won't give Jesus the time of day? I mean what the he**?

I believe it was Ghandi that said " I like Jesus Christ very much, it's his followers I don't care for." (paraphrased). Ghandi probably wouldn't like me very much either, but I can live with that because he's not the one I'm trying to impress.

I don't know how many times through the years that I have been told that there is no need to look for another church because they all fall short of what the church is supposed to be. There's the truth I mentioned earlier. All churches are flawed, and some are just flat out wrong.

So what do we do? Not go at all? Maybe, but I don't think that's the best solution. We need the fellowship of other believers. But if a church is more concerned with political correctness, cultural relevance, or what I call the 3B's ( building, budgets, and butts in the seats) get out of there my friend, get out. That's not what Jesus is about. There are many alternatives like fellowship meetings in your home or a coffee shop or a restaurant or park. Or you can find another church, but be aware, if you are in search of perfection it's going to be a long search. No church will ever be perfect as long as there are people in it.

I want to close this by addressing three separate groups of people.

First, I want to say something to the folks that have been going to church for a long time, which I am a part of. STOP IT! We need to look around us and see the perilous condition of the world we live in. People need Jesus and we're driving them off because of what they wear or look like? Or their taste in music? Or their version of the bible? You know what? Those are "man-rules" and have no foundational basis in Scripture…none! Let's stop playing church and start being the church.

The second group of people I want to talk to is all you new believers. CAUTION! Don't let yourself get caught up in all this institutional, religious crap. All you need to do is pray, read God's word and live like Jesus. Anything else is unnecessary. It may not be essentially wrong, but it is unnecessary.

The third group of people I want to say something to are you folks who may be considering looking into this Jesus that us "religious" people talk about so much. To you I say…. DON'T LET US SCARE YOU AWAY! Contrary to what some Christians will tell you, we are no better than anyone else. We are dumb sheep in need of a shepherd. We are sinners who have made the same mistakes you have, probably even worse. But we are saved! And I want you to be saved too! You see, Jesus looks past and through all the sin, and mistakes, and stupidity of His people and LOVES THEM ANYWAY! No one, not even his well meaning followers can separate you from His love.

I'm not encouraging you to never attend a church. I would never do that. There is great teaching that goes on in some churches, and there are some wonderful people to be found there. But often it is mixed with or even overshadowed by "man-rules" That's not Jesus. Please don't judge Jesus by the actions or character of his people. No one would ever come to him if that was the right criteria.

So go ahead and check him out, kick the tires a little bit. He'll show you what is important and what is not. One day Jesus is going to come back and clean up this mess, heaven will be the perfect church, and you can be a part of the wonderful reward he has planned.
It's like Red Bull For The Soul!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Goldilocks Theology

I am in the midst of reading Ray Stedman's book "Adventuring Through the Bible." I am a great admirer of Mr. Stedman, who I believe is one of the great evangelical teachers and authors of our time. Mr. Stedman passed away years ago, but through his books and sermons he has become a wonderful mentor for me. I heartily recommend that you check out his teachings. They are all available for free at .

I was reading in his book about how a true relationship with God has to be a blending of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. He states that if one's faith relies too heavily on one or the other of these two things that our relationship with and our understanding of God will not be as it should be. I completely agree. If we put too much emphasis on Scripture and not enough on the Holy Spirit, it can lead to a dry, boring, intellectual view of God that can become ineffectual. However, if we put too much emphasis on the Holy Spirit, and not enough in God's Word, it can lead to a view of God that is based solely on feelings and emotions, which can result in chaos and mayhem. But if our relationship with Christ is an equal blending of the two, then we know that we love Jesus with truth, love and the understanding that comes from the revelation of Scripture through the Holy Spirit.

As I was thinking about this subject, I suddenly found myself (believe it or not ) thinking of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This should come as no surprise to those of you that know me. If I remember the story correctly, at one point Goldilocks is trying out the beds of the bears while they are out foraging or something. The first bed she tried was Papa Bears, a huge bed that was very hard and uncomfortable. The second bed was Mama Bears, also huge but way too soft. The third beds was Baby Bears. It was smaller in size but just right as far as being comfortable was concerned.

I started to think about how these beds might represent what I am talking about here. The first bed was very hard and unforgiving. To me, that is a picture of a relationship with God based entirely on Scripture. Christianity becomes a difficult, very strict set of rules that leads us to believe that God is that "angry old man" ready to strike us down if we can't abide by the commands God puts forth in his word.

The second "too soft' bed would represent a relationship with God based solely on the Spirit. It can be more comfortable, but where is the foundation for the feelings and emotions that are propelling you along on your spiritual journey? How do you know whether this new "Spiritual Fad" is based on truth? You don't if your relationship with God lacks the revelation of Scripture.

The third bed is smaller, more comfortable and it allows you to rest knowing that you have found that "just right" area where you know that your relationship with God is based on both the truth of Scripture and the leading of the Spirit. That's what I'm looking for at this point of my journey. A place to rest in God's love and truth. And you know what? I think I'm getting close. I'm beginning to feel more comfortable with who I am in Christ. I also know that I don't want to get too comfortable because then I won't grow.

The pursuit of God is forever and we need to have a place where we can rest and re-energize. For me, it's a comfortable place right between Scripture and Spirit.

It's Like Red Bull For the Soul!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Empty Cup

It's funny sometimes where one can find spiritual inspiration. God can speak in many unexpected and surprising ways. This time for me, it came in the form of a scene from a movie. Surprising in itself is the movie that God chose to place this message. It was the movie 2012, you know, that heartwarming tale of total global destruction.

There is a scene in the movie that involves a Tibetan monk trying to teach an apprentice of his about wisdom. The apprentice is complaining that he just can't get his mind around what true wisdom is. As it happens, the both of them are drinking tea and each has a cup on the table. The apprentice's cup is already half full, but without saying a word, the teacher picks up the teapot and begins to top off the apprentice's cup. However, he does not stop when the cup is full. Rather, he continues to pour until the cup overflows and spills all over the table. Finally, as the apprentice looks on curiously, the monk stops pouring the tea. The monk looks at the apprentice and says ( I don't remember the exact words ) " In order to obtain true wisdom, one must empty the cup before adding more."

I have to honest, that phrase hit me pretty hard. I have been struggling as of late with my relationship with God. I have had very little desire to pray, read scripture, and especially go to church. The main reason for this is that I'm so disappointed in what passes for Christianity these days, that I just don't want to be a part of it. To me Christianity has become jaded, judgmental, self-centered, and the churches have become little more than competitive businesses. Believe me, I was involved in church leadership for over 20 years and I saw all the politics and competiveness, and cultural influences first hand. Maybe even a bigger problem is that the vast majority of church goers don't think it is happening in their church. Believe me people, it is.

So what do I do about this disappointment and anger I have towards modern day Christianity? I am going to ask God to help me empty the cup. Somehow, I have to get past this point and move on to the important things, such as my own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I need to empty the cup of all the foul tasting, old hurts that have gone cold and just sit in the bottom of my "spiritual cup" and contaminate anything else I try to put in there. It won't be easy, because if I'm being honest, I have sometimes enjoyed my anger, and used it as a reason to separate myself from anything that smacked of organized religion. It's time that all that anger ends.

So here's the plan, I am mentally, emotionally, and spiritually emptying the cup. I am going to begin refilling it with good things like renewed prayer and quiet, reflective scripture reading. I'm not going to allow my cup to be filled with the trappings of modern day Christianity. I will keep up a relationship with my church and the wonderful brothers and sisters I have there. But the church will no longer be the foundation of my faith. I should never have allowed that to happen in the first place. I will be putting all my faith into a deep, some might even say vintage relationship with Christ.

God, please help me to depend on you for my salvation and for my ability and desire to live the life you want me to. Please empty my cup and help me to move past the pain of what has happened. Please fill my cup with love, wisdom and passion for a deeper relationship with you. I need to find peace again, and I know that true peace can only be found in you. Amen

Monday, February 1, 2010


Ever since I started this blog, I have been hard pressed not to have my postings come off as Sunday school lessons. I guess almost 20 years of teaching at youth group and in youth classes on Sunday mornings will do that to a person. There is really nothing wrong with that, but in 2010, I think I want to go in a little bit of a different direction.

My spiritual journey has taken some unusual, but not totally unexpected turns in the last few months, and truth be told, I'm still trying to figure them out. Therefore, I'm going to try and journal my spiritual journey here on my blog. For me, writing like this is spiritually therapeutic. It helps me to understand what I believe, and hopefully it will solicit some dialogue with readers that will help to clarify things even more.

I know I am going to write things that some of you may not understand or even take offense with. Please know that I am only being honest with you and myself in hopes of stimulating some open paths to a new understanding of Jesus and who he is to us.
Last night as I was reading God's Word, I came upon the passage where Jesus told his followers that now they had become his friends. ( John 15 ). The first thought that came to my mind was that old song "What a friend we have in Jesus". So I started to sing it and pay close attention to the words. I won't go into that right now, I'll leave that research up to you. But I will tell you that by the time I was done, I became more and more amazed by the very idea that Jesus wants to be friends with me! Really? The Son of God? The Savior of the Universe? Wants to be friends with me? Incredible!

Before I go any further, I have to be honest and tell you that I don't have many friends. I have a huge group of people who I know and interact with but, to be honest, most of them would have to be categorized as acquaintances, not friends. Most of the relationships I have with these folks lack the degree of closeness or intimacy that is needed for the foundation of a true friendship. I have two or three people who I would not hesitate to call friends, but really, that's about it.

I began to wonder why it is that after half a century on this planet, I can count the number of close friends that I have on one hand. Sadly, my conclusion is this. I'm hard to get along with. Don't believe me? Ask my family. If they are being truthful, and speaking in love, they would have to agree with me. I am quick to anger, and way too quick to speak my mind. I tend to be judgmental and unforgiving once someone ticks me off. I could go on, but I find myself a little embarrassed here. Given all that I have just said, why would anyone want to be friends with me? Heck, I don't want to be friends with me. And why in the world would Jesus want to be friends with me?

Because he loves me, plain and simple. For that reason alone, his friendship is one I need to pursue and cultivate. Because I love him. This will be a daily pursuit for me, one I look forward to. Because I know that the closer and more intimate my friendship with Jesus becomes, the better friend I will become to those around me. That will be just one of the fruits of my friendship with Christ.

It will be like Red Bull For The Soul………………my friend.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Lost Art of Conversation

To me there are few things better in life than getting together with friends over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and having a good conversation. Whether the topic is everyday life, or something more specific, it fascinates me to hear what others have to say. It always serves to give me some food for thought and to possibly look at things from a different perspective.

Unfortunately, I am convinced that good conversation is a lost art. Today, people just can't get together for a good talk. With all of the technological advances in the past decade, there really is no need for people to actually converse with one another anymore. You can use Facebook, My Space, Twitter, text messaging, or email to convey your message to someone without even hearing thier voice or interacting with them. In most cases, we don't even take the time to spell out the whole word. Everything is abbreviated. That's how little we care about conversation in this day and age. I actually heard someone say not too long ago that they still write letters to family and friends. It blew me away. This person really cares enough to sit down and write a letter? That's amazing.
I am considering having some sort of gathering on a regular basis where I can meet with people I care about and just talk and share about anything that we want. No set agenda. There will be one rule however. Shut your cell phones off. The world can get by without us for a little while.

What prompted me to write on this subject was, of all things, prayer. I've decided to make 2010 a year of prayer for me. Why? Because I have lost the art of conversation when it comes to talking with God.

Anytime I wish to get to know someone better, it takes face to face conversation. I firmly believe that you cannot get to know someone any other way. Lately, the conversation between God and myself consists of a quick one-liner thrown His way a couple of times a day. Usually, when the roads are slippery or an unexpected need arises. I realize now that those one-line prayers are the spiritual equivalent of updating my Facebook status. I don't really care enough to talk to God, I'm just updating Him on what I need.

The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Well, if that's the will of God, what choice do I really have? I need to actually converse with God, and have a two way conversation. As I said earlier, the aspect of a good conversation that I enjoy the most is to discover what other people have to say. I resolve myself to finding out what God has to say. I want to become a man of prayer this year. I plan on having many, many conversations with my Creator. I intend to revive the art of conversation.

It's like Red Bull For The Soul!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My, That's an Ugly Cross You're Wearing!

" The power of the cross departed when it was changed from a thing of death to a thing of beauty. When man made of it a symbol, hung it around their necks as an ornament or made its outline before their faces as a magic sign to ward off evil, then it became at best a weak emblem, at worst a positive fetish. As such it is revered today by millions who know absolutely nothing about its power."

A.W. Tozer – The Radical Cross

I hope that quote stopped you in your tracks as much as it did me. I have been chewing on this for a couple of weeks now, wanting to write about it so badly, but I had to be sure what God was teaching me before I dared put it on paper.
Between the end of that last sentence and the beginning of this one there was a time lag of some length. I hesitated because I promised myself and God that I wasn't going to rail against the church anymore. I've said all I can say and everyone who was going to listen, has already, so it's time to move on. I still will have no qualms about pointing out the obvious like Ryan Dobson does is one of my favorite books titled "Be Intolerant, Because Some Things Are Just Stupid."
Back to the subject at hand. It is very much the fad now to wear a cross around your neck, have it tattooed on your body, or have it on your clothing. There is nothing wrong with any of those in and of themselves. It is the meaning behind it that interests me. Why is a person displaying a cross? Sadly I believe that often times it is because that is what everyone else is doing. Why else would you see celebrities whose lifestyle is blatantly un-Christ like displaying crosses on their bodies? I am convinced it is because they have no idea how radical the cross is.
Remember that the cross in biblical times was not a thing of beauty. It did not consist of jewels or precious metals, but rather it was an ugly instrument of death made of bloodstained wood. No one who went upon the cross survived, not even our Lord. It was an ugly, horribly painful way to die and there was nothing pretty about it.
The Sunday after reading what Tozer said, I was sitting in church and I found myself just staring at the large cross which is displayed on the front wall of the sanctuary. It is very simply made of hewn wood with no fancy adornments of any kind. That really spoke to me and quite frankly, I missed a goodly portion of the spiritual talk because I was really caught up in that cross. As I stared, it became something ugly, something disturbing, an object that was suddenly becoming something that I now see differently in this very radical way. It became a symbol of how cruel and hateful we humans can be.
Then I began to envision Jesus hanging on that cross and it started to become glorious, wonderful, and beautiful. It began to dawn on me that the cross is not the symbol of beauty. Jesus is, and He took all the brutality and anger and hate that it took to nail him to that cross and beat it down…hard.
My wife and I have the cross symbol all over our house, after all, that's what Christians do isn't it? We have a very special cross sitting on the mantle of our fireplace. My Dad made it. His old church was being torn down to make way for a new building and he obtained some of the wood from the old sanctuary and he made little six inch crosses in a frame for everyone who wanted one. Even that very special cross has taken on a new radical meaning, a new spiritual power for me.
After reading this, I would hope that the next time you wear a cross necklace, or hang one from your rear-view mirror, or wear your Christian t-shirt with the stylized cross on it, you will stop to think of the radical power of that symbol. The cross itself is ugly. The beauty lies in the wonderful work of Christ that He did while hanging there.
When we can see the cross in that light…….
It's like Red Bull For The Soul!