Posts Tagged: Jesus

Serving Alcohol and a Kentucky County Clerk

I wish Christians wouldn’t make it so hard to be a Christian witness in this world!

Why do Christians protest abortion clinics?

Why do Christians hold-up signs that read, “Adam & Eve NOT Adam & Steve”?

Why do Christians put up signs that say, “Sunday is the Mark of the Beast”?

And why does Kim Davis insist on keeping her job?

I am pro-life. I am not in favor of gay marriage. I believe ONE day (not today) but one day Sunday will be the mark of the beast. I do agree that Kim Davis should obey her conscience if her conscience so tells her and not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

But you can believe all the latter issues without participating in the former!

By participating in the former in the manner they do, these Christians make it more difficult for the rest of us in the Christian world to have a receptive audience in the world to talk about Jesus!

Instead most people just want to know, “Why are Christians so mean and weird?”

Every time I as a Christian have to waste a breath explaining that I am not the protestor outside the abortion clinic or the hate monger holding up a sign that says, “God kills f_ _ _ dead”; that I am not part of the group that posted the billboard on the freeway proclaiming the Pope as the anti-christ, and that I do believe Kim Davis should simply resign…

I am wasting a breath in which I could be and should be talking about Jesus.

In this latest of issues, Mrs. Davis & all the Christians that have a bent towards unproductive activism, may I share a story from my life that would help the rest of us in the Christian world bring the focus back to Jesus & not to have you be the face of Christianity everyone is talking about.

When I was in college I came under the conviction that I should not serve alcohol to individuals. The conflict I faced as a result of this conviction was that I worked at a restaurant as a server in which one of my responsibilities was to sell and deliver alcohol to the patrons under my care.

I had options: remain working at the restaurant saying nothing and thus going against my conscience. Ask for a religious accommodation and if granted make extra work for my fellow servers. If accommodation was not given and they decided to fire me for my convictions, then I could sue the restaurant and at the very least retain my job, prove my point, and annoy everyone I worked with.

So you know what I did?

Wait for it…

I quit my job.

Why?

Because none of the options would have made Jesus better known or better loved.

Mrs. Davis I have absolutely zero problem with your conviction.

And I know you see this as a stand for Jesus. But as long as you are taking this stand, no one is actually talking to the rest of us Christians about Jesus, they are just talking about the “crazy” Christian in Kentucky that won’t issue a marriage license.

May the Holy Spirit grant us all the discernment to know when and HOW to stand for the God-given convictions we hold so dear.

And may our “stands” always increase the conversation about Jesus!

Kurt Cobain: A Different Perspective Twenty Years Later

 

This coming week, April 5th, 2014 will be the 20th anniversary of the suicide of one Mr. Kurt Cobain.

Cobain was 27 years old–

I was 16 years old.

I was crushed!

Kurt Cobain for those that don’t know was the lead singer of the Grunge band, “Nirvana.” In 1994 for me music was all about Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Doors, and Celine Dion. Yes, that is right I said Celine Dion…there is a story to that last one, but I’ll spare you of it.

Nirvana though was truly at the top of my music love list! I was an acerbic kid and the in-your-face lyrics that Kurt Cobain as the lead singer and songwriter produced resonated with my bitter life.

I had grown-up hearing the stories of the 60’s, always feeling that I had been born in the wrong era, but now I felt like this man, Kurt Cobain, was our generations Janis Joplin or Jim Morrison. And I guess he truly was since he/his music was loud, in your face, and just like that–dead.

While he didn’t die of a drug overdose like Joplin & Morrison, Cobain died of a self-inflicted gun-shot wound. The autopsy report revealed that if he hadn’t killed himself with a gun-shot blast he would have been dead from drugs shortly anyway as his body was so full of them his heart would have likely stopped that same day.

Twenty years ago when I heard the news I remember camping out in front of the TV for days taking in every single story from, what was then truly a music channel, MTV.

You see I wasn’t just a fan of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”; in fact I resented those individuals that acted upset by Cobain’s death but really only knew that one song. NO! I was a true fan, I even had a cassette tape of “Bleach” their independently released album.

Twenty years ago when I heard the news I remember being almost proud of Cobain. His suicide made him even more heroic to my teenage mind. I thought, “Cobain had had enough. Society had been “raping” him so long and he finally said ‘that’s it, you can’t touch me anymore.'” (this was the language I would use in reference to his song “Rape Me”).

Twenty years ago when I heard the news I remember being affirmed in my own desire to die. I thought going out like Cobain would be somehow satisfying, I was I guess you could say caught-up in the Werther effect or Suicide Contagion of Cobain’s death.

Twenty years ago when I heard the news I turned on Nirvana and got high in honor of Cobain.

Twenty years ago I gave no thought to the the 2-year-old daughter Cobain was leaving behind.

Twenty years later my perspective has changed…

My new perspective can be summed-up in three thoughts:

  1. Jesus’ heart hurt(s) because He loves Kurt Cobain and died for him, just like He died for the rest of us. This is a truth that should resonate in the mind of every Christian at the knowledge of each and every death in this world. We should not become callus to death, the greatest evidence of our greatest enemy, and we definitely should never glorify it! Jesus died, in part to put an end to all death.
  2. Kurt Cobain reached the final destination that all folk that don’t understand and accept the love of Jesus will eventually arrive at. No, maybe all won’t take their lives like Cobain did; but all, apart from Jesus, will at some point in their quiet moments, in their alone times, in their solitude feel a deep emptiness that they believe nothing but death can take away.
  3. While I was mourning the death of Kurt Cobain twenty-years ago, Jesus was orchestrating things so that I would choose to worship a different hero that gave of His life freely rather than ending it selfishly. That is a pretty amazing truth. If you had told that 16 year old kid that He would one day be a preacher in love with Jesus I would have had a very hard time believing you. It was at that time much easier to believe my ultimate reality would fall more along the lines of Mr. Cobain’s. I praise Jesus while I was wandering aimlessly after the world of Cobain, Jesus was wandering not so aimlessly after me.

Ten Most Read Blog Posts for February 2014

In this past month of February, my blog was viewed more times than any other month in it’s history and more times than the entire first year (2011) of “Outside the Pulpit.” This was due to the fact that three of the blog posts are in the top ten viewed of all posts in the 3 1/2 year history. So here are the most viewed posts on “Outside the Pulpit” for February 2014. Thank you for being a reader of this blog! I hope if it is a benefit to your life that you will share it with others.

If you missed any of the following posts I hope you will enjoy your read.

The Top Ten:

  1. “Why the Recent Rhetoric in the Church Makes Me Want to Shout About “Spiritual Formation” This post was not only the most viewed post of this month, it is the new number 1 viewed blog in “Outside the Pulpit’s” 3+ year history.
  2. Help! Adventist Ed is Dying: I was criticized by some for this article and I believe some of the criticism was fair, a point I made then about that post and I make it again here about the opinions I had in this post, “Take ‘em or leave ‘em as a parent that will soon have three kids in Adventist Ed, these are my thoughts.” They were just my thoughts.
  3. How I Hope Adventists Will Respond to the Kenneth Copeland/Pope Francis Video.
  4. Why I Get Defensive
  5. Please Count! This post to me is so important and can be a real help to folk, I hope more will read it!
  6. Please Move to The Middle
  7. A Response to Elder Stephen Bohr’s “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah”: This post was written back in October of 2013 but due to of course the nature of the ordination debate and the attention it continues to receive this blog has remained well read each month.
  8. Faster Pastor’s Episode # 7: “Is Christmas Compatible w/ Christ?” This was the most recent Faster Pastor Episode we did and also the most viewed of any of the episodes we have done. Dr. John Reeve joined us and we were blessed by his insights. David has moved off to Australia that may actually make it easier for us to do more Faster Pastor’s since he’ll be more permanent and not roaming all over the world now that he is the Senior Pastor of a church down there.
  9. Glad to Know I’m Still a Child of The King: I’m always a little saddened that my spiritual posts are not nearly as well read as my “controversial” posts. I guess that is just human nature. Though I hope we all realize, a controversy will never enhance our lives only the love of Jesus will. With that in mind I hope you’ll read this post for the first time, or 2nd time if necessary!
  10. The Superiority of Adventist Education–Please Read & Respond: This post was written back in 2011; yet at times it still pops up in the top ten list. What can I say? People are passionate about Adventist Ed, as well they should be!

Those are the top ten. Some new posts coming soon in March. Thank you again for being a great group of readers. I’d love to have you share any or all of these posts if you feel others would be interested.

 

 

 

Sorrows & Grief

Tonight as I was snuggling with my two year old son, Landon, & we were going through our usual routine, “Daddy snuggle me just 2 more minutes,” and ultimately me conceding at least once or twice, the thought suddenly popped into my head,

“How am I going to handle it when a girl someday breaks this kids heart?”

Random! I know!

But there it was, a dreadful thought! I began to remember when I got my heart broken. I was a Sophomore in college, I got a phone call, if there is such a thing as “Dear John” phone calls that was it…I was dumped. I didn’t see it coming & I was heart broken. It was close to 1 a.m., but one of the first things I did was call my parents. My mom answered, I could tell I woke-her-up. “Mom,” I sputtered, “Chad what’s wrong?” “Mom, (Name withheld for protection since this individual may never want to admit to dating me:)) just broke-up with me!” I said through sobs.

Landon is two, he won’t even date for 15 years, but I found myself saddened at just the thought of that potential call.

And maybe it’s because I’m a preacher, but everything turns into a Spiritual nugget; & this was no exception.

Because while I was pondering and sorrowing over my two year old son’s future heart break at the hands of some woman whom fails to see how awesome he is! 🙂

This text popped into my mind,

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” –Isaiah 53:3

And suddenly I understood it differently.

In the past I have seen this sorrow and this grief directly related to the emotional and physical torment Jesus personally went through on this earth; and maybe that is still what this text is primarily saying.

But tonight as a Dad worrying about his son’s hypothetical heartbreak and the ensuing phone call I will receive at 1 in the morning, I saw Jesus as sorrowful and grief stricken because He loves me so much that every hurt I have, He intimately felt and feels.

Before I had kids I never saw anything sorrowful or even painful about the life of a toddler. Now my heart hurts when I see my kids wounded physically and emotionally. I’m a man of sorrows & acquainted with the griefs of toddlers because I love them so much!

And one day if we are still on this planet, I will be sorrowful & grief stricken for pre-adolescent children, and then I will feel the sorrow & grief of teenagers, I will feel the sorrow & grief of getting dumped…not because I’ve been dumped…but because I have a son that has received that “Dear John” phone call.

Jesus loves me more than I love my kids, no wonder He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; when my heart breaks, His heart breaks.

My Mom got me through that phone call, but I later learned that when she hung-up her and my Dad shed a few tears of their own.

Why?

Because that is the essence of loving parents, our sorrow is their sorrow, our grief is their grief.

Our sorrow is His sorrow. Our grief is His grief.

Jesus Would Endorse…

Which candidate would Jesus endorse? A pretty silly question, since the answer is quite obvious! After analysis of both Mr. Mitt Romney & President Barack Obama it is clear that Jesus would endorse…

NEITHER!

Why?

Is it because Jesus wants a different candidate? Perhaps if Ron Paul had won the GOP nod or maybe if the Libertarian Party had more sway and their candidate, Gary Johnson, had a chance of winning.

No Jesus would not endorse them either.

How can I be so sure?

Because of Jesus’ track record.

Jesus refused to ever endorse a single candidate or show His hand a single time while He walked on this earth.

Now some may say, “well that is because there was no candidate to endorse.” “There was not the political strife in the first century that there is in the 21st century.”

Really?

History would tell a different story. Do any of these issues sound familiar?

  • A growing economic disparity betwen the upper & lower classes.
  • Frustration over taxes & tax policy.
  • Blurred lines between church & state.
  • Questions on what social issues should be under church jurisdiction & which should be under government jurisdiction.

Jesus’ world was ripe with political strife and on many occasions He was asked to step into the political fray and “endorse” a candidate:

“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come,” –Luke 17:20a

The folk of that day didn’t think of the Kingdom of God in spiritual terms like we do now (yes we believe it is literal, but not a literal kingdom of this earth, God’s Kingdom on this earth is a Spiritual one in each of us), they saw the kingdom as an actual physical kingdom lead by humans on the earth. When the pharisees were asking about the kingdom they were talking about a literal earthly kingdom. But Jesus deflected their questioned, He turned their political question into a Spiritual discussion, 

“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” –Luke 17:20b-21

Even after Jesus had clearly shown He was for a higher purpose than just the happenings of this world. His followers continued to want His insight & help with the political world they were living in,

“Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” –Acts 1:6 (This was after Jesus had died and risen from the grave).

And what does Jesus decided to talk about? The Holy Spirit & them being missionaries to the world,

“And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” –Acts 1:7, 8

In fact Jesus was so adverse to the political world and so frustrating folk with His political inaction that at one point in His ministry they tried to force Him to take a political stand,

 Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.” –John 6:15

Jesus never disparaged Caesar, Herod, or any other political leader. In fact the one time He mentioned Caesar, maybe the one time He made any type of political statement, Jesus actually frustrated all sides,

“Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”…Show Me the tax money. So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” –Matthew 22:17 & 19-21

An answer that would irritate both the Romans and the Jews. “So wait a second what things can Caesar be over and what things is God over? Who gets to decide?”

Jesus on this earth refused to get involved in endorsing candidates or trying to establish any party or human power.

What is the best way to know what someone is going to do in the future? By understanding what they have done in the past.

Which candidate would Jesus endorse? Neither. He would do what He always did endorse His Father in Heaven and leave it at that.

Would it not then seem logical for the followers of Jesus on this earth to do as He did.

Especially us as Pastors? Isn’t that what we teach our paritioners, “Do as Jesus did.”?

Hasn’t someone gotten rich off of rubber “WWJD” wrist bands? (What Would Jesus Do)

Jesus didn’t endorse a man, He represented God and God alone.

Shouldn’t we?

****Note 1: This is not a statement against voting.

****Note 2: My friend David Asscherick pointed out the following statement to me, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’” Luke 13:32. This was stated in regards to a threat supposedly coming from Herod. While this doesn’t blow my understanding out of the water regarding Jesus never endorsing. It is a statement firmly warning/clarifying to Herod that his earthly power & consequences has no authority over what God will divinely do!

 

 

 

Daily Disappointment

In November of 1844 William Miller, the leader of the Millerite Movement & the man that predicted that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844 wrote these words,

“Brethren, hold fast; let no man take your crown. I have fixed my mind upon another time, and here I mean to stand until God gives me more light. And that is, Today, Today, & Today, until He comes and I see Him for whom my soul yearns.”

Today as I attended the funeral of a young lady whom today would have turned 34 had she not died in her sleep two weeks ago without warning, I was reminded why I as a believer in the 2nd Coming of Jesus should hope for and even live in expectation of His return TODAY.

You see if Jesus had come TODAY, Carla’s parents & brother, her exended family, and friends would not be going to sleep tonight in sorrow. If Jesus had come TODAY all the tears shed in that little A-framed church would have been wiped away, if only Jesus had come TODAY.

For those living close to the heart of Jesus there should be so much in this world that daily reminds us why we are disappointed that Jesus has not returned TODAY!

Every argument with our spouse…

Every moment of temptation we succumb to…

Every cross word spoken to our children…

Every political debate we watch…

Every distant war we try to ignore…

Every explicit billboard we pass…

Every innocent victim mourned by her mother….

should cause at least a modicum of disappointment that TODAY a cloud the size of a man’s fist has not appeared in the eastern sky.

This world is not our home and so TODAY we will hold fast to hope, letting no man take our crowns. 

We will live in expectation TODAY & EVERY DAY until He comes and we see Him whom our souls yearn, and on that day, our disappointment will be no more!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come TODAY!

No Defense, So Amazing!

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.” –Isaiah 53:7

This has to be one of the most incredible verses in the Bible & one of the most amazing attributes of Jesus.

Jesus didn’t defend Himself even though He was completely in the right! The accusations against Him were statements of assumption, statements of hearsay, statements based on misinformation, well to be direct they were just flat out lies; yet, Jesus spoke not a word of defense.

There are few things I find so amazing from a human perspective as this. I find that even when I am a little in the wrong I want to defend myself; but when I am being accused based on assumption, hearsay, misinformation, and absolute lies I want to scream from the mountain tops my defense; charge the guilty parties with sword of tongue drawn, ready to cut them to bits with words, but…

But this in no way models Jesus’ example. Jesus was so secure with His mission, with His purpose, with His love and acceptance from the Father that He never opened His mouth even though He was absolutely right and His accusers were absolutely wrong.

Jesus help me to plant this scripture in my heart and remember it every time I want to open my mouth in defense, even when I’m right, help me to be silent!

 

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