Archives For faith

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”  1 Corinthians 15:17

Creation could have happened in 6, literal days or over 6 billion years. If science were to prove something either way tomorrow, it would have no affect on my faith.

 

The Flood could’ve covered the whole Earth or it could’ve just covered where Noah and humanity inhabited.

 

I could be really wrong on a variety of my own interpretations of Scripture. I could have some mixed up views of who God really is. In fact, I am sure I don’t know a whole host of things about God.

 

But if Jesus doesn’t rise up from the grave, my faith is worthless. It all hinges on one moment. One piece of history. One moment of redemption – God making it so I could have a real, living relationship with Him – and have a full life here on Earth.

 

But I recently read that nearly 1/3 of Christians don’t believe in a physical resurrection of Jesus. And so I’m wondering – What is the basis of our faith with the resurrection gone?

 

Tim Keller writes, “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said?”

 

Why live a radical life of sacrifice if Jesus wasn’t really the son of God? That wouldn’t make any sense.

 

It’s all or nothing for me when it comes to the Resurrection.

 

Jesus is either a nut job or he is Lord.

 

Without the resurrection, I’d enjoy a couple of quotes on peace and love from Jesus, but I’m not going to follow Him with my life. In fact, for me, I may not even believe in God’s promises. Or His love. Or His care for me. Or that I could be experiencing resurrection from all the death in my own life – or that I could be made whole.

 

I don’t know where I’d be, but I do know that my entire life trajectory has been altered by God’s son.

 

I believe it.

 

And I’m in.

 

I’m all in.

“God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” Acts 2:24

Where are you at?

My favorite part of Tim Tebow isn’t that he’s a winner. Although it is impressive that he has started as 4-1 as a starter. I didn’t see that coming.

My favorite part of Tim Tebow is not that he is very unorthodox in the option-style offense he runs. It is not in how he is playing the game right now.

My favorite part of Tim Tebow is not that he wears his faith on his sleeve (or more literally…on his face). Although the way he does it is equally impressive as his track record with winning. He is never obnoxious about his faith expression and you can sense the sincerity in what he believes. He isn’t doing it for a show, but because he honestly and wholeheartedly loves God. And he has backed it up with an unbelievable track record in serving those who need it most.

But what I love most about Tebow is not his ability to win, his ability to play the game different, or even his faith.

What I love most about Tim Tebow is his ability to handle the haters.

The truth is, everyone who succeeds at something in life has haters. Whether it is a business job, an NFL player, or even a pastor – you get haters.

And Tebow’s list of haters is longer than anyone I’ve ever seen. The attacks from both sportscasters and people of different faith backgrounds has been disheartening. And the worst part is that Christians (who have become so cynical and believe that the way they live out their faith is the only way…) have thrown their stones at him as well.

For me, every time that Tebow responds with grace, a smile comes across my face. Every time he chooses not to fire back at a snarky remark about his faith, I grin again. Every time Tim chooses to go prove the haters wrong with his actions rather than retaliate, I’m inspired.

That is why Tim Tebow is #winning. And why for me, it has nothing to do with football.

angry-marky-mark

I’ve been tossing around this concept in my head for a few weeks now and don’t have a clear answer.  How do rational, objective-thinking Christians distance themselves from other preachers that have a large reach, but whose faith looks completely different from theirs? Do we just let it go and live our own lives and let our actions speak for themselves?  Before we can answer this, I suppose, is to ask why anyone would need to distance themselves from another Christian.

Let me start with a story.  My wife was in a natural, non-threatening conversation with a co-worker about faith.  Her friend, who hasn’t been to church in years (but is interested in spirituality), had only seen Joel Osteen on TV and assumed that my wife went to a smaller version of his church.  “I thought they were all basically the same” her friend said.  And her assessment was that Joel Osteen was making some basic, common-sense evaluations and made the assumption that Christians don’t really critically think.

Now I’m definitely not here to take shots at Osteen. I did that once and felt guilty about it.  But the truth is the Gospel takes a much different manifestation in my life than the way he talks about it.  And way more important than my personal differences from Osteen, is that the unchurched have a whole set of presumptions about us Jesus-followers.  Without recognizing these presumptions, it is difficult to have a faith conversation with someone who has different views.  Research shows that people who do not believe in Jesus associate Christians with being hypocritical, anti-gay, sheltered, too political, and judgmental (87% of people according to Barna).  Not the best of lists when talking about an inspiring faith, and honestly is not really something I’m interested in being a part of.

And when I talk about distancing myself from other Christians, I don’t just mean someone like Terry Jones, the man who became famous for his Qu’ran burning threats on September 11th.  I don’t think non-believers assume most Christ followers are that off the mark.  But I do mean Christian leaders whose faith looks so radically different from mine (or yours), but are still largely popular in the evangelical community.

Allow me to use the example of Mark Driscoll.  I know, I know.  Most people in our Christian subculture have a strong opinion of the man, positive or negative.  Mark is a guy who is quickly becoming the leading evangelical voice, but much of what he says drives me crazy.  Like when he talks about being a “Macho Man” Christian and how “there’s nothing holier than two men beating each other in a cage fight”. Or when he called 5 people up on stage at a conference and told them to punch him in the face.  “Man up! I’m serious!” Mark said.  When the other men didn’t punch him, he had them kicked out of the conference for being sissies.

Whaaaat?

Or when he did a sermon on the heresy of “The Shack” (which is a fictional book). Or that he would use church discipline on men who decide to be stay-at-home fathers (How is his wife allowed to speak in church if he is taking everything literally and not in context?). Or how he does a sermon on the fallacies of Rob Bell’s theology.  Or that all yoga is evil. Or Avatar is the most demonic movie of all time.  Or his low view of women.  Or his arrogant-vibe.  Or his use of language.

driscoll-punch

And I don’t mean to single out Driscoll.  In fact, I agree with tons of his content and appreciate the Acts29 Network (especially the Rochester chapter).  I think he does a lot of good.  It’s just combined with a bit of crazy.  And I also know that Mark likes to utilize controversy to magnify his platform, but people read TIME magazine and see that his theology is in the “Top 10 Ideas That Are Changing the World”.  And I’m not sure that God’s holiness requires me to fight other men (see “Prince of Peace”).  But I’m lumped into this category with Driscoll when I believe in the cross.

But there is this line that can easily be crossed. We as Christians who desire to distance ourselves from other Christians can end up talking so bad about other Christian leaders that it ends up making us look like we beat each other up.  Like those previous paragraphs.  Did I end up just causing more disagreements among Christians that don’t really matter?  Because that’s definitely not my goal.

And Lord knows we as Christians get enough criticism from non-followers of Jesus without criticizing each other.  But I don’t want to be in certain camps, either.

And therein lies the tension.

So what do you think?  How do we distance ourselves from other Christians? Is it worth our time? When does it become hurtful to the Kingdom?

PS – I’m not interested in more comments on Driscoll, Osteen, or Bell’s theology.  I’m interested in the questions raised above.

doubtposter-second

Also, you can check out our “Parent Cue”, which is a parent discussion guide at the church blog here.  Can’t wait to see you all on Sunday!

dominos

Have you seen all the new Dominos Turnaround commercials? They seem to be everywhere.  The company has made terrible pizzas for years.  The brilliant part about their new marketing strategy is that they are admitting they were wrong. And they went way over the top with it too.  They made a “documentary” and showed focus groups complaining that the pizza tasted like cardboard.  They put up signs in their stores apologizing for being “mass produced, boring, pizza.”  And their CEO was their leading voice in it all.

So what can we as a Church learn from this?

1.) Honesty and Transparency Matter

Being boldly honest is something that you can take a lot of heat for.  You’ll hear critics say, Continue Reading…

its-good-to-be-scared

To read more, head over to Relevant Magazine. I’d love to get your thoughts there.

Also, this was my first time being featured by a magazine, and it happens to be my favorite, so I was pretty excited! Thanks to everyone who read and gave me feedback. I’m always looking to move forward in my faith.

galatians-3

Our youth group tonight studied Galatians 3, which you can read online here.  I wanted to jot down a few thoughts, as well as our discussion questions for the night.  If you are a youth leader and need a lesson, always feel free to stop by here and take any thoughts.  Before I share parts of the lesson, I want to show this incredibly awesome video explaining the concept of faith and works, which is a lot of what Paul focuses on for Galatians 3.

That video is just fantastic.  If you want to purchase it, go to Image Vine.

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:26

The youth listed off ways we have heard of explaining how to attain salvation, other than through Jesus of Nazareth.  We talked about most world religions teaching that it is by how good of a person someone is, whereas Jesus says it is about faith.

We defined works as things you do.

We defined faith as what you believe.

Then we had a brief history lesson on Martin Luther, and how he got so upset with the people of the church selling what were called “indulgences” – where people could pay money for their sins to attain salvation.  It was a bad period for the church, to say the least.  Luther also put the Bible into the language of the people, and made it accessible for everyone, not just the main pastor/priest.  We also clarified that Martin Luther is different from MLK Jr.  Good distinction for 7th graders. 🙂

Then we talked about failure.  What it feels like.  How we all have failed.  Then we looked at Romans 3:23, which says that everyone who does something wrong falls short of God’s glory.  We discussed that even the best of people could not make it without Jesus.  A few of the kids had never heard this.  That is always exciting for me to share.

It’s so basic, but so huge.

Sarah proceeded to talk about John Newton and the story of Amazing Grace.  John Newton did some horrible, horrible things (like participate in chaining up slaves from Africa, participating in the killing of African babies, and many more inhumane treatment of people).  Of course, John Newton goes on to write about he was the lowest “wretch”, but that God’s grace saved him from that.

We concluded with the video I posted at the start of this post (we actually started with a funny, edited version of “100 Greatest Hits of Youtube Videos in 4 Minutes“) and focused in on the line:

We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.

I really liked how the video distinguished faith and works, and how that relates to our salvation.

What we do matters a LOT, but it’s faith in Jesus that saves you.  Doing good for the world though has to be a part of a vibrant faith.  This is an important distinction.

Here were our discussion questions.  Feel free to add your two cents or thoughts on these:

– Have you ever struggled with not thinking you weren’t “good” enough to be saved?

– Do you really believe that we’re saved by faith?

Does the idea of people who have done awful things going to heaven b/c of their faith in Jesus bother you?  What about people who do good things not being saved because they don’t believe in Jesus?

– The final verse in Galatians 3 says there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave nor free, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’  What does this mean?  What doesn’t this mean?

Questions raised by the students:

– What about people who have never heard about Jesus?

– What about people with mental health problems who are not fully functioning?

– What about babies who die and never hear about Christ?

We concluded by understanding that we have a ridiculously gracious God and that God doesn’t give us every single answer.  It was a good night.

================================================================

What are your thoughts on these questions?  Anything to add to these?