UnChristian Part 2

 Sunday, April 27, 2008

My most recent post was in regards to how Christians, as a whole, are perceived. And if we are truthful none of the views expressed by "outsiders" should surprise anyone. At some point in our lives we've experienced a less than Christian attitude from those in the body of Christ. The question is-----How do we, as the body of Christ, change how the church is perceived?

One pastor in Sugar Hill Georgia asked himself that same question. In turn he issued an apology for his less than Christian attitude over the years. Their sermon sign read We're Sorry. No clever ante dotes, but a humble we're sorry.You can view the article here at The Christian Index. And also listen to the sermon he preached that morning at mysugarhillchurch.com.

No surprise that this has caused an uproar among some Christians who believe that there are no apologies to be made. Pastor Richard Lee, has been accused of watering down the word of God to boost his membership and has been called one sorry church by one blog. Overall from the 2 blogs that I've read on the subject, they have been pretty ugly, and I wonder if anyone listened to the sermon. I've listened to the sermon and in my opinion he's not compromised the word of God, nor has he catered to anyone. He's simply said the truth. And let's face it, some people can't take the truth.

The truth hurts, it stings and I realize that some won't get it. Through out the sermon Pastor Richard Lee has made it clear that he believes the word of God is 100 percent truth without error and will never compromise the word or Jesus. His mission and the churches mission is to love others, embrace them and help them on their journey to know and come to have a true relationship with Jesus. A relationship that transforms and changes from the inside out . It's not about man-made tradition...it's all about Jesus! I encourage everyone to read and listen to the sermon and judge for themselves.


What do Non-Christians Really Think About The Church

 Wednesday, April 16, 2008

This past weekend I went to the bookstore in search of a particular book, Lord Save Us From Your Followers. After seeing this new book, the title intrigued me. However, the book wasn't available. Undaunted I roamed the store and saw another book that peaked my curiosity. Unchristian, written by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. Happy with my purchase I set out for home and devoured the book within one day. This is a book based on 3 years of research about what the younger generation, particularly those 16-29 years of age, really think about Christianity. Eyeopening----yes, but not surprising to me as I read what "outsiders" (the term the book used) really think about the followers of Jesus. Said many times by those interviewed, it's not Jesus they have a problem with, but rather those who call themselves His followers. One man stated this about Christianity. "Christianity has become bloated with blind followers who would rather repeat slogans than actually feel true compassion and care. Christianity has become marketed and streamlined into a juggernaut of of fearmongering that has lost its own heart." WOW!

It wasn't surprising to me that those on the outside view Christians as hypocritical, sheltered, have a get saved mentality, anti-homosexual, judgmental, and too political. I've often said if your going to talk the talk walk the walk. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen. I often find it unbelievable that a lot of Christians expect those who aren't christian to have the same ideals about morality that they do. Judgments are made about people without even getting to know the person. We jump to conclusions that often lead us camped out on the side of the road somewhere and wondering what the heck just happened. Are we really being Christ like? Are we following Jesus' example of Grace?

One job that I had, all the employees would meet in the morning and have prayer in the break room before clocking in. One day while working, a group of women were clustered together, and one said "Did you hear about that gay pride parade their having?" Yeah, one girl replied. "We'll I hope God strikes them all with lightning!" I couldn't believe what I just heard. Weren't these the same women I prayed with every morning? Unable to contain my anger and hold my tongue I stood up walked over and stated the following " The last time I checked God's Grace was extended to everyone. Do they not deserve the same Grace. Sin is sin, and there is no sin greater than the other." No one said a word. I'm not sure if they were caught off guard or simply searching their mind for a comeback reply. But none answered, they just looked at each other and quietly walked away. I have a couple of family members who are Gay, Muslim, and Louis Farrakhan Muslim, but I love them regardless of their sexual orientation or religion. Everyone in my family knows were I stand on these issues. We've had candid conversations, but at no time was I hateful, spiteful, or lacking compassion. I am simply the instrument that God uses. But if I'm brash and offensive I've totally turned this individual off and they may never come to know Jesus. It's about creating meaningful relationships and letting God do the rest.

A friend Kristina Alford has issued a challenge called the 3 challenge. Here it is in her own words:

The 3 Challenge:

Pray and ask God to reveal at least 3 people in our lives that we could be friends with.

Purposefully pray for them.

Purposefully set up times for coffee, lunch, dinner or outings to just hang out and do stuff with.

Invite them to be a part of our life—the good, the bad & the ugly of our lives

(Christ Followers aren’t perfect ya know—so key: to just be real…)

Realize that no matter what happens that we must choose to continue the friendship…even if they never come to know Christ…

a side note:

the idea was to not be so

“in your face”

and religious or fake…

but rather kind and encouraging,

simple, and real about life.

Growing up in the church I've seen some things done right and some done horribly wrong. If we are ever going to engage "outsiders" we must be honest with ourselves and evaluate what we've done wrong, learn from our mistakes and be willing to reach out to others in kindness, compassion, and love. I will leave you with this excerpt from the book Unchristian:

"Stephen, a seventeen-year-old from New Hampshire, offered this gut-wrenching description of his life in one of our survey: "what is God? Simply put, God is a figment of our minds grasping the sad fact that we have nothing else to believe in. I live alone. I am alone. I will always be alone. So Why should I lie to myself about a God that lets me live a life where the only people I care for treat me like s----? I want to die every day; that is my one wish. I pray to God for that, sure, but it's only because I need something. Every day I have to go through realizing that my life amounts to nothing. I quit."

"Does this tear you up? Do his thoughts about God offend you, or do you see them for what they are: an expression of his deep hurt? What would it take to help him, to keep him from suicide, to really see and develop his potential to be a Christ follower? It would take more than a few nice conversations. It would take sincere, deep engagement over many months to deal with his depression and anguish."

I recommend that everyone read this book!


As we forgive those who trespass against us.......

 Monday, April 7, 2008

Prayer comes so much easier when its something that we want or an event that catapults us to prayer for an individual such as a natural disaster, sickness, or some other traumatic event. However, it doesn't come that easy when we've been hurt. If you read my last post then you know what sent me into a tail spin this time last week. Since then I've been praying for forgiveness, and the ability to pray for the stranger that had me seeing red. The world would tell me people such as this girl needs no compassion, love, or prayer. "Let them all burn in hell!" would be what most would say. As much as I would like to say that, my heart won't let me. Even after the entire incident I found myself secretly praying for her. Bitterness and anger have such a way of rooting itself in our lives that it slowly turns a soft heart hard as steel. Forgiveness never comes easy. Forgiveness comes with getting on your knees and praying through the hurt. If I am in Christ and He in me then the end result is clear, Love your enemies. If He is merciful then I must be merciful. There is no fine line, no straddling the fence and no if's and's or but's. Through it all I pray, please Lord Give Me Strength!


Sticks and Stones

 Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." We've all quoted this line at least once or twice in our childhood. A phrase that has been a rebuttal to someone who has said something cruel to us. Oh how I wish this were true, that words never hurt. But the power of words can cut us deeper than any physical wound could. The actions of others in our lives, whether they are strangers, friends, or family can leave us bitter, angry and wanting revenge.
The ugliness of what words can do hit me at my own home yesterday. While standing on my front porch talking to my sister on the phone a car drove by. Some girl in the backseat, whose identity was shielded by tinted windows, stuck her hand out the window, waved and said "Hi nigger." Needless to say I hollered back some not so nice language. Here I was in my own yard and minding my own business. It hurt me to my very soul. Richard wrapped his arms around me and tried to comfort me as best he could. I had the urge to beat that girl silly. But all I could do was bury my head on my oldest daughters shoulder and cry. I've been fighting against harboring any bitterness for this young girl, trying my best to muster a pray for her. Now I'm finding myself running the event over in my head like some bad episode. Honestly I'm struggling with having any compassion, forgiveness, or any feeling for this girl, other than giving her the whooping she deserves.

All these emotions flooded me and my mind was consumed with getting "even." However, I know that's not how you handle the situation. Some people might say "Oh anybody can be a n----r. Well, no they can't. This was a word specifically given to African-Americans, to demean, humiliate, and bully. This is not just a word, this was a stone aimed and fired at me. "Lord" I say "please don't let me be bitter, and angry. Help me to forgive because I don't want to."

She needs Jesus, just like anyone else. I'm trying to remember that, though wounded from her stone. And this is another lesson that I will learn about the grace of God, healing, praying and loving those who hate me just because my skin color is different.