acceptance

Stop Your Target Practice

I love it when people begin to discover that they are loved by God. I especially love it when they move from understanding how much they matter to God, to seeing that other people really matter too. They matter as treasures God created. They matter to that person who's just discovered God's grace. It's beautiful.

It's disappointing though, when followers of Christ begin to see their friends as walking targets, a bull's eye target to faith-wrestle to their knees, so they can be "saved." People can tell when the friendship is motivated by pure love that is curious, genuinely interested and invested. And, people can tell when the "friendship" is about completing a soul-saving objective. When that happens...

Right Where You Are.

A common mantra in the Church about God’s love goes like this: “God loves you right where you are, but too much to leave you there.” I’ve said it too. It’s true. 

Sometimes I wonder if our mantra risks communicating an unwillingness to love people right where they are. 

I talk to others a lot about accepting people right where they are. It’s at the core of the guest services training I do with churches and organizations. It’s what I teach. And yet, I’m embarrassed that I am still learning...

Stepping off the Stage

 This isn't news: I'm a recovering Pharisee. That is, I'm a long-time "wrapped-in-religion people-pleaser." If you don't quite understand me yet, that means that too often in my life my motivation for most anything has come from trying to make others happy with me. Approval. Acceptance. Smiles. "Isn't he awesome?" kind of stuff.

Sick, I know. I lived that way for more years than I want to admit. So I won't. But I did.  

For years I dismissed myself from Jesus' audience of Pharisees. After all I wasn't putting on a show. I wasn't making a big production out of my serving or leading or caring for people. But if I'm waiting for accolades or bothered by the lack of them, well... welcome to my stage.

Truth is, I am still tempted to live out of that paradigm... that identity. 

Original Sin vs. Original Grace | Part 3

I began this article a couple days ago, so if you're just tuning in, you may want to read Part 2 and Part 1 first (I'd start with Part 1).

Growth is process for all of us. Just look around you. It's spring; time for new birth. Blind, helpless birds wait open-mouthed for mama to provide food. Ducklings waddle in mass, following eagerly, learning to find food. Nature's newborn are immature. 

We're no different.

If we’re willing to honestly reflect on the incremental nature of our growth, we’ll have to admit that it’s taken a very long time to really accept and practice some areas of “next steps” that we’ve known cognitively for…well, a long time. If we’re honest, we’ll learn more tomorrow, next month, next year and the year after that. We’re not yet who we’re going to be.

When we’re honest about our own experiences, we realize

Original Grace vs. Original Sin | Part 2

I began this article yesterday, so if you're just hopping in, scroll down or use this link to read Part 1.

You know that little "x" that says "you are here" on the directional map at the mall? It's the "x" that identifies where you're standing at the moment, so you can navigate your way to a destination - whether it be your car or favorite store. t's true at the mall and it's true in life.

Everyone has an “x” that defines where he or she is.

nd we all arrived there through a journey. Maybe the journey seemed somehow unintentional or perhaps it was methodically plotted. Either way, a series of many steps has landed us where we are. 

It’s amazing that the scriptures are so filled with themes of journey and story, and yet we often fail to see the value of journey in someone else’s life. It’s easy to expect that once people have heard the truth, the only thing left to do is to obey. After all, Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). So they think, “You want to be free, you want to live life to the full? Then hear the truth and obey. Period.”

But it’s seldom that simple.

Original Grace vs Original Sin | Part 1

I’ve been wrestling lately with the crap inside of me. My own broken places. The effects of shame that rear up to suck me back into a hole of “you’re not good enough.” I’ve fought with my own besetting sin and the distractions that are triggers for me.

I’ve witnessed my sister going through the painful process of chemotherapy. I’ve read text reports of a family member’s baby fighting for his life. I’ve read the devastating reports and watched the wreckage video of tornadoes in Oklahoma. And I’ve read the tweets and heard the rhetoric of Christians pointing to the "justice" of God. His punishment for sin. I’m sick about the suffering and fed up with the judgment of people who speak for God.

Personal Vision: Seeing What Can Be

We're laser focused right now on our 2016 Vision as a church - Granger Community Church. his past weekend our senior pastor, Mark Beeson, urged each of us to ask "What do I want to see different in my own life by 2016? How much more loving and patient will I be? How will I be more like Jesus?"

I reread an article I wrote some time ago and reflected again...

In Matthew 4.18-20… Jesus looked past Peter's fishing nets, the smelly boats, the sun-beaten face… and saw someone who was not wise by human standards; not influential; not of noble birth. And said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Jesus' focus was on Himself, on His call, and His ability to transform. He was not focused on

Pharisees, Denney's, & Discipleship

Larry Osborne, senior pastor at Northcoast Church challenged the audience of shake-up-the-norm church planters to be cautious of the risk of becoming accidental Pharisees.

He noted that in our exuberance to rush to the front of the Jesus-line, we easily begin to look behind us at those who aren’t where we are and we judge and despise them. We risk projecting the conviction on our own heart as judgment on people who aren’t where we are.

We forget that we had to learn. We deny

Peter, Jesus... and Me

I'm realizing again just how much I relate to the Peter of the New Testament. I try to put myself in the story of the Bible, try to embrace the eternal message of the divine... and the human (that the divine created). Peter makes it easy for me. I so connect to his classic scenes.

When I read about Peter it’s easy for me to see… 

a man with his foot in his mouth;

his mouth in everyone’s ear;

and someone else’s ear in his hand!

And it’s pretty much true…look at him:    

  • After a considerable amount of time with Jesus, Peter’s still interrupting teaching time with requests in Matthew 15, like, “explain the parable to us”. Followed by Jesus’ first closing his eyes, moving from despair to smile to a nasal laugh, before cupping his face in his hands and asking, “Are you still so dull?”
  • In Luke 12, he leans over

A Muddy Christian Worldview: Us vs. Them

I'm still on the west coast enjoying the sight line of palm trees against a blue sky. I could really get used to this. As I've enjoyed the local scene, I've visited a number of churches in the past couple days. Even here in sunny L.A. the teaching in local churches can still be annoying - even damaging.

This past Saturday evening a cool website led me to an apparent relevant, progressive church who happened to give their platform to a guest professor from a nearby, well-known, evangelical college. I think it was a mistake.

Although this church was innovating ways to open dialog in their personal relationships with friends within their culture, this guest speaker managed to present a paradigm that threatened their voice of grace

People I Want on My Guest Services Team | #10 - Missional People

Alas, the end of this list: People I Want on My Guest Services Team. I'm sure this list could be longer than a Top 10; maybe 20, 30 or even 100. But you see the period of time just ten characteristics took to post.

However, we have arrived. Number 10:

  • Missional People: people who reach out to those who are seeking God

A Muddy Christian Worldview: Us vs. Them

I'm still on the west coast enjoying the sight line of palm trees against a blue sky. I could really get used to this. As I've enjoyed the local scene, I've visited a number of churches in the past couple days. Even here in sunny L.A. the teaching in local churches can still be annoying - even damaging.

This past Saturday evening a cool website led me to an apparent relevant, progressive church who happened to give their platform to a guest professor from a nearby, well-known, evangelical college. I think it was a mistake.