Tag Archives: church

Half-Blind

It’s really difficult to see who you really are everyday, like being half blind.

Other people see you through the lens of their hurts and experiences, and some only see a sliver of who you are, never seeing you outside that situation. People often say, “Ask someone what they think about you?,” but that’s dangerous. What they say may not be true.

Words tear down as well as build up, and the blindness we all have makes us unable to see our own faults. I can see my strengths, and almost forget my weaknesses. Not recognizing my weaknesses can make me lack compassion to others, and recognizing my weaknesses gives me humbleness before God.

That is a thing I seek–to be humble and to be the person God wants me to be, and I pray that all the time.

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Ex-Muslim Review

Diversity usually has a negative tone. One relates it to tolerance to everything except Christianity. It’s what liberals use, but indexEx-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever by Naeem Fazal gives a great definition of it through his actions without compromising the Gospel.

Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer to Jesus Changed a Life Forever is written in a friendly, warm, and conversational tone. The book begins with Naeem’s story in Kuwait before the war. As he tells his story, and how he came to know Christ, Naeem also goes into the beliefs of a Muslim. Naeem goes on to explain how he started Mosiac Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. People who attend are not necessarily believers, but from varying cultural backgrounds. As Naeem tells his story, he also teaches how to reach the lost, how the church confused him, and the bumps he experienced when he launched Mosiac.

I read this book during an electronic fast. Even as I prepare for my own ministry next year, I am encouraged by his words. A person always assumes people who attend church are saved, but that is not the case. Jesus doesn’t expect people to come to Him after first expunging their own sinful behavior; Jesus just says come, and if you come, you will change out of love for a Savior who first loved you. What Naeem writes about reminds me of a quote by C.S. Lewis:

No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes are in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one’s temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present to us: it is the very sign of His presence.

—Letter to Mary Neylan (January 20, 1942)

What Naeem wrote helped me to clarify the vision of Cataclysm, and therefore, Ex-Muslim will remain in my library for re-reading as I grow to understand how to open the eyes of the closed-minded. I gave this book five stars.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

What Does Apathy Really Mean Anyway?

Apathy is, “a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.” Other places also call apathy indifference. Apathy is infecting everything from the church to the everyday things. What does apathy really mean anyway? What does it look like?

  1. A ministry at your church lacks volunteers.
  2. The missions letter comes and you don’t read it.
  3. You don’t know the name of the janitor at your school.
  4. You ask, “How are you?,” but don’t wait for an answer.
  5. You don’t make time for anyone outside of family or you don’t make time for your family members.
  6. You focus only on your problems.
  7. “I’ll pray for you,” and you don’t.
  8. Your social online, but not in real life.
  9. Your social in real life, but not online.
  10. You don’t know the name of that homeless guy on the corner.
  11. When it’s all about you, your wants, your needs.
  12. When you don’t care if your irresponsibility affects others…

Number 2 used to apply to me. Most of the time I’m good at not doing number 7. I admit that number 4 is a sometimes. I do know the back story of two homeless guys in my area. Apathy is a real life problem.

When people use the word, apathy, it’s really hard to make the connection that maybe, just maybe it’s you and me that are the problem. Apathy has a face.

The good news?

You and I can beat apathy. We can share the love of Christ with the unsaved online or in real life. We can truly be a great friend and family member by making time in our busy schedules to pause with them, share a muffin, or listen. It’s not an incurable disease, but it is ugly.

Do you suffer from apathy?

Stop Writing Blogs That Accuse The Church

Change happens through relationships,

Yes, I’m still thinking about Sunday’s Are The Worst. It bothered me that much. Even as I scan my old blogs and other blogs, I am wondering if we need to stop writing blogs that are general accusations against the church, and instead, be the friend and stop bad behavior on the spot? Be the pastor, and talk to the congregation member(s) who are behaving badly?

Do you know how many blogs are anti-church? I don’t know either, but over the years, I have read a lot of them. It’s exhausting watching the anti-church blogs garner all the media attention. I said to a friend the other day how we eat our own for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Who needs an atheist to talk against us?

We’re doing a pretty good job of that ourselves.

While I believe in blogging and social media, I also believe in measuring every word I write or speak. Sometimes, I fail, and for that I apologize and ask that you forgive me and keep me accountable. My goal is to build up the church, help them succeed, and to show them how to be a light on a hill in a world of constant night. In writing, we are taught to show and not tell our readers what is going on in the character’s world.

Let’s practice that rule in life. Tell about scripture, the wonders of Christ, of Heaven, but also show the fruit of that belief from observing others in action to our own actions. It’s not pride. It’s not building platform. It’s finding something good to write about and letting our voices meld with other voices to be louder than the negativity. Blogs that write against the church may have genuine reasons for doing so, perhaps out of frustration, or maybe an attempt to start change or a national discussion. But how has change happened in life?

Change happens through relationships, mentorship, and standing up and for something. It begins in your church, in your neighborhood, through intimate conversations in social media, and it’s never too late to shine a light.

Mission Drift Review: Why This Should be Mandatory Readng

Mission-Drift-cover

The threat of “terrorist activities or violence of any kind” took a back seat to the threat of the Gospel. Our culture is growing in its suspicion of anything faith-based–enough to rank “exposure” to the Good News as more dangerous than terrorism. – Mission Drift, 51% through book, in reference to a foundation who invited the author to apply for funding.

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst is a book every Christian person and organization needs to read. We are all in danger of drifting from our mission whether through receiving funding from others who don’t share our beliefs, hiring people that don’t carry our vision, or on a more personal level, leaving our missional purpose slowly through every bad decision. Another drift mentioned were examples of leadership bending to the monster of political correctness when wealthy donors would ask a company to compromise just a little or allot on their Christian message.

Examples of companies who fell under the scrutiny of non-believers and have wandered far from their original message were mentioned in this book as well as examples of companies that have stayed Christian-strong for generations. I found it encouraging to read this book. For businesses who wish to leave behind a legacy, Mission Drift should be mandatory reading. It gives instructions by example how not to drift. At the time I was reading about WorldVision, they were in the news for compromising on their strong Christian beliefs. Mission Drift spoke about how WorldVision never wandered from its principles. The current news compared to when Mission Drift wrote about WorldVision tells me how easy it is to drift, even for a moment, in the face of public pressure. A believer in Christ must stay strong in the face of ridicule. It’s so rare to hear about people or companies standing for something. Those are usually accused of being judgmental or cold, even non-Christian, by some of our own Christians.

The stories of companies that, even today, stand for their Christian values urge me to stand firmer in mine. I gave this book four stars.

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review.

Negativity Grows Like a Weed

Drawn_wallpapers_Village_Church_018776_Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

In a women’s group I once led, I learned a lesson about negativity, how it can take seed and grow wild. First, one person plants the seed. It is watered by people commiserating with the situation by sharing their own negative experiences, and soon the topic changes from one of encouragement and growth to a bash-it-all which has no positive effect at all. It’s a weed, thorny and deep, in its root system, and difficult to unwind. People talk against Christians on a public forum, and like my women’s group, it can take seed and turn into something else, like a website I found which bothered me a little.

A website called, Sundays Are The Worst, leave me with mixed feelings. Do we really need one more website putting down Christians?  I do understand why this pastor and his church began the website.

Personally, I am tired of Christianity being put down on the outside and from the inside. I love my fellow believers, and I think we need to return accountability within the church. A shepherd needs to keep his congregation accountable to our Christian values through the individual relationships formed within a church body. A blog is a great way to teach, but the more appropriate response would have been to hold the offending person accountable to his or her actions. Make no mistake; I do emphathise with the servers.

After working in customer service most of my life, I did not discern between believer and unbeliever. Rude behavior is a human trait and comes from both sides. Some are unaware of it, like I have heard about the older generations. Some seniors are quite frugal with every dollar and may not realize their lack of generosity. I tip 20%, and no matter how bad the service, treat each server like a human. If the service is exceptionally bad, I do not tip at all, and do not return to that restaurant. This has only happened once.

In that instance, the restaurant was empty of all but I and maybe another table. The waiters and waitresses were hanging around the coffee pot, laughing and talking, not busy at all. Our coffee cups were never refilled. We tried to get their attention, but to no avail. This was a rare circumstance of bad service. If service is slow, I don’t complain. I go out to enjoy time with the people I love. If a spot is on my silverware, I say nothing. Bad behavior does exist in Christianity, because we all struggle with sin. Sin goes unchecked because churches and the church body are afraid to offend. It’s easier to broadly sweep accusations over an entire body than to confront a particular offender head on. Political correctness isn’t just in culture, but in our body of believers, too. Negativity is easy.

Learning the lessons of bad behavior is hard. It takes humility to approach a server or someone you offended to say, I’m sorry.  It takes strength to self-examine and repentance to turn a corner, reversing the bad habits we learned as humans. How about holding each other accountable?

I believe the creators of Sundays Are The Worst have good intentions. Good lessons can be learned, but remember, there are always two sides to every story. Negativity can grow like a weed. I am reminded about what Brandon Cox said:

It is not possible to concoct a story about the church that is better than what people actually experience in the real world, but it is possible to tell the right stories and to tell them well. Part of flooding the online space with God’s glory and with the gospel of Jesus is making sure the gospel is given a great deal of attention next to all the other stories being told. This has been our mission since the beginning, and we now have more tools than ever for getting it done. – Brandon Cox, How Social Media Can Save The Church’s Brand

What do you think of this site? Share your thoughts.

 

Easter is Coming

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Do we even realize the pain Jesus went through in order that we may live?

No more have I realized my short-sightedness and recognized my apathy to the supernatural than when I read a blog on someone witnessing a death of a possibly unsaved person. In comparison with someone who dies knowing the truth to someone dying seeing the unseen hell of a lasting void without God, it’s disturbing. It’s not the first time that I have heard this. The blog also jerks me awake.

I am ashamed at my sense of apathy. I take away the power of Jesus by thinking my own strength can change things when Jesus can do things without us. I even take away the power of the Word by my actions. Why do I do that?

The Gospel is quite powerful on its own without any garnishment. No more was this shown than in Billy Graham’s, My Hope America. No wonder atheists fight to bring down crosses and abolish the Book. Little do they know of the power behind them from another source–a darker source–one with a fate already doomed who wants to bring down as many souls as possible. Our silence causes us to choose sides. So even if we claim agnostic, we are still an unbeliever. By our silence, we choose. Thankfully, God goes after His children, and even more so, I thank God for His mercy and grace. He knows I try, and He knows how much I fall short.

Only through Jesus, my mind whispers achingly. Only through Jesus…I can do all things through Him. But, Oh Lord, forgive me my apathy. Forgive me when I do not hold enough faith in Your power.

Easter is coming. The world feels like a great blanket is being pulled over it, dousing the light, as the world teaches us good is evil, and evil is good. The enlightened thinking of scholars who don’t know Christ continue to influence those who can’t look beyond the degrees or their own unhealed wounds. The minority groups yell the loudest, push the hardest, and where are the Christians?

Lord, forgive us for putting down each other when we can’t live up to each other’s expectations. Forgive us for infighting when a bigger fight exists outside the walls of our church. Forgive us for putting down Your church. My heart hurts for those hurting and for those without a voice. We need to get our hands dirty this Easter, vow to be better, close our mouths, withhold the hurtful words, do the work ourselves and stop expecting someone else to take on our burdens, and strive to speak truth with love to each other, even if it hurts a little. Forgive us for our apathy, Lord, when we take away the power of your Word and Your presence. Help us to understand. In Jesus Name, Amen

Meanwhile, I urge you to read this blog, it’s important…

Time
So he comes to us, this man we’ll call Dave, and the drugs aren’t working anymore. Dave’s heart continues growing weaker and weaker and the doctor, he tells him straight, “Time. Only time. Maybe minutes. Maybe hours. Maybe days. What do you want to do?” Read More…