Redemptive Fire

With increasing awareness of healthy living, the nagging obligation of environmental concern, global philanthropy shifting from lifestyle to fashion, and widespread rediscovery of the U S Constitution, it’s easy to get distracted. Christians aren’t called to create “a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.” Yes, we need to eat right, live right, work right, give right, and vote right—and we seem to have forgotten how to do those things. But.. we must make sure we do them for the right reasons.

It is easy to think that diligence—voting and environmental alike—serves the purpose of creating a permanently perfect world. The fountain of eternal youth is a heathen quest. Christians worship a God who heals and grants eternal life through simple faith. The invading government of Jesus that will break through the sky is our hope for future society. While reigning on His throne, Jesus will clean up any oil spill and restore any lost species.  · · · →

Fast Bridges

When I was little, I remember riding down the expressway in the back seat when my mother called my father’s attention to the wheels on a semi ahead of our Jeep® Grand Cherokee. “Quick, grab some paper and write ‘TREAD,'” he said. “Hold it up to the window as we pass by.” Waiving to the driver from the left lane, dad bleeped his horn and the driver noticed our message, nodded his head, and proceeded to pull over. We continued our family vacation without incident.

Later, dad explained that truckers often have their tires retreaded, so sometimes the tread peels off. It can cause an accident given all the wrong circumstances. The trucker was grateful for the message.

This story reminds me of my days in the food service industry. How many restaurants have “feedback” boxes, phone numbers to call, or websites where we can tell about our experience? We often see signs on a commercial vehicle that say, “How’s my driving?” Feedback is something we are asked for with almost every product and service, from TV service to mobile networks.  · · · →

Mission Discipleship

I mentioned Barna’s research on changes in youth faith practices in recent posts, but never expounded… until now.

My basic interpretation of his figures suggests a pattern: the American Church 1. DOES THINGS THAT PRODUCE visible numbers, not disciples, 2. HAS visible numbers, not disciples, 3. is externally PERCEIVED AS WANTING visible numbers, not disciples, and 4. internally, views itself, largely, as “not dedicated or bold.” What does this mean?

Before this means anything there is one other piece of common knowledge that is not in the research, but we all know to be true: American Christians WANT disciples. Conclusion: We don’t know what what discipleship is.

This is obvious in the fact that Christians view themselves in terms of  “dedication” rather than “passion.”

Dedication is about meeting and pursuing a standard or goal outside of ourselves. Passion is completely different because it flows from the heart and our innermost desires.  · · · →

Listen

First impressions aren’t infallible. We all know it, yet we all tend to live like they are.

What’s the first thing a pastor might think when he sees his church membership dropping? “Invite more people,” of course. What if the numbers aren’t going down from a lack of invitations, but from a lack of substance? Barna research suggests a perception among non-Christians that church-goers are only interested in numbers, not depth. Are we Christians shallow, only caring about attendance figures? Do we truly want to glue apples to unfruitful trees? Or is our mistake that we are letting “first impressions” dictate solutions? Evangelism is wasted when reduced to a “first impression-solution” to empty pews. It should remain part of our ongoing charge to fulfill the Great Commission: making disciples.

Remember the bible studies we’d go to as a youth? We’d open to a passage, we’d all shared our thoughts. How did we come to understand what the Bible meant?  · · · →