If we were to take Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, and Sylvester Stallone and roll them together into one guy, we might get a glimpse into who Samson was. The boy was just enormous. In reading the history of Samson in Judges 13:1-5 it’s clear that he had a great future ahead of him. God chose him to lead His people, and Samson was uniquely gifted for the task. Few of us, if any, are gifted like Samson, but we are all created for divine purposes. I love the way King David talks about our uniqueness in Ps 139:13-16. Samson was strong, and his future was bright, but somewhere along the way, he fell. (more…)
One evening during my study break this past summer I found a documentary over George Washington on Amazon Prime. As Debi and I watched the preview for the docudrama, she got the sense the flick was more hero worship than historical. We didn’t take in the show so I can’t make a review. But I did wonder if maybe a little hero worship might not be a bad thing these days.
You see, we live in a culture of criticism today where anything that is not 100% aligned with our feelings is speculative and everything is open for potshots. Cynicism is supreme and praise is problematic. No, we don’t want to deify people nor turn a blind eye to blatant sin. However, when we are geared toward tearing down, we miss so much good intertwined with the weeds that we pull up the whole plant and have nothing to encourage ourselves with or learn from.
One arena where this is especially seen is in discussions about the church. Even celebrated Christian writer, Francis Chan, noted that his objective in a recent book was to “point out areas where the church is lacking.” Areas where the church is lacking? We all know that local bodies of Christ have issues. I’ve been in some form of Christian ministry for over 25 years and I can tell you plenty of stories of dysfunction. The question though is one of focus. What will we choose to spend our time looking at; the problems or the praise? This is especially true for followers of Jesus. Yes, there are issues to be discussed and strategies to be employed for improvement. However, when we do nothing but throw stones at the church, we are ultimately harming ourselves.
When I look around at the world today and see all the pains and problems, I am also quickly reminded that Jesus has the answers in his body, which is the universal church. Loneliness is alieved when people connect passionately with Jesus at the center. When the local church family is embraced, we find healing and purpose in a world of self-centeredness. In short, while there are issues arising from our broken humanity, we owe it to ourselves and those who come after us to pursue and praise the local church which is to reflect the authentic universal and eternal Church.
But on a more intimate note, one of my favorite Biblical pictures of the church is the Bride of Christ. It’s interesting to see the tension of this illustration with a book by Dan Kimball entitled, “They Like Jesus but Not the church.” Here’s the deal. I am not perfect nor is my wife. However, if someone began to trash talk my bride and say they liked me, but not her, well then, our relationship would be over with. You just don’t talk bad about my bride. Jesus probably doesn’t like it much when people talk down His Bride especially with a caviler attitude. That ought to challenge us.
I’ll be making some posts this fall on the church and I hope they will be of an encouragement to you. I hope that at the end of all this, you will love the church as much as I do. Yes, there are and will be problems. But it is my desire that we might own up to our responsibilities and stand together to praise the Bride of Christ as much as He does.
What are some positive memories or praises that you can give about the universal Church or your local body of Christ today?
Francis Chan, Letters to The Church (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2018), 211.
That’s right — one year ago today, the Kickstarter campaign funded and the book project, Confessions of a Pastor, was set in motion. I can still remember thirty days prior, at the launch of the drive, praying, “Ok Jesus, this is now in your hands. It will either fund or fail.” The project did fund and I am still amazed at the results today. I continue to thank Jesus and so many of you for bringing Confessions to life.
Early in the editing process we changed the official name to simply “Confessions” with the subtitle of “Finding Hope Through One Pastor’s Doubt.” Thinking of Hope, the heart of Confessions has already borne fruit in bringing hope to many and so I want to give a huge thanks on this anniversary date to everyone who gave and prayed for the venture. Not only is the book bringing encouragement to people and drawing them closer to the love of Christ, but once our final financial requirements with LUCID Books are completed, 50% of any additional royalties from the project will go toward world missions.
What about you? If you have read Confessions, what stories can you share of encouragement or testimonies from those you know? If you’ve not had a chance to read Confessions yet, you can get an e-copy or paper back from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sources.
As I begin a summer study break in a few weeks, I will explore the possibility of turning the print into an audible work and also begin to seriously flesh out the next major writing project. But for now, I’d love to hear your stories from the release of Confessions. You can share them here, on social media sources, or even write a review for Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Again – thanks to everyone who made this project a reality!
They did it again! It’s just another reason why I’m proud of Cypress Crossings Christian Church. This past weekend volunteers from the C4 family reached out again this year to bless children and families in our area. For a church family of our size; they did an amazing job in providing just under 150 children and families in our region with Christmas presents. The thrilling part is that this outreach project was not something pushed by the lead minister. It actually grew up organically from within the body and that’s what Christmas and real Christianity is all about.
Jesus clearly noted that he came to seek and to save that which was lost and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus came to give. The folks of C4 have not only experienced the life changing grace of Christ but have turned around to bless others. They are giving.
People have pointed to John Lennon’s song, Imagine, as a hope for humanity. As for me, I like imagining a world, not with or without religion, but where more people truly know Jesus Christ and are radically pursuing Him. Such a place might actually do what politics simply cannot accomplish. Change the heart and thus the world. To indeed bring “Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men.” Yes; Imagining a world with more Jesus, more Christmas.
But for now . . . I’m stoked at how C4 is giving it an amazing shot.