What are we going to do when we disagree?

•September 9, 2010 • 1 Comment

One thing a person has by the time they reach 55 years of age is self-knowledge. Now I realize that there are exceptions but for the most part people in their 50’s have a pretty good idea who they are. That includes all the good qualities along with all the dreaded bad. What does this gift of self-knowledge tell me about me?  Well, one of the things it tells me is that that I like to argue with people. Politics, theology, music, movies, & who has the best burger – you name it, I like to argue about it. I remember my dear Grandmother telling me when I was a mere child, “You are either going to be a lawyer or a preacher one day because you like to talk so much and because you have always got to be right!”  Needless to say her spiritual gift was prophecy. I feel like in some ways I was able to keep a handle on it throughout my 30’s and 40’s. Maybe I was just too busy raising children and being constantly humbled by the experience to pick a fight with anyone. Or maybe I was just not passionate enough about anything to want to tangle. All I know is that in my 50’s the “argue monster” has once again reared his ugly head. Last summer I met a brand new friend who has become a pretty important & vital part of my life. His name is FACEBOOK. Do you know him? He is really fun and cool and interesting and DANGEROUS. I think the dangerous aspect of my new friend’s personality is why I am so fascinated with him. My new friend Facebook  re-introduced me to lots of my old friends from high school and college and churches that I’ve served over the years. Such fun, good times for sure! But you know me…never have I been one to shy away from a heated political or theological discussion. And so my friend got me reaquainted really quick with my old friend the “argue monster” and before you know it, I’m in all kinds of trouble with all kinds of old and new friends. Remember in the old days when we could sleep on it? You know, have a little time to rehearse what we’re going to say to that jerk who made some offensive comment about your politics, or your favorite band, or your theological orientation?  Funny wasn’t it,  how a good nights sleep and a little time to process the fact that it really wasn’t  that big a deal and certainly not big enough to lose a life-long friend over, impacted our eventual response?  With FACEBOOK it’s all instantaneous. We can immediately tell them how shallow, insensitive, idiotic, ill-informed and un-Christian they are. And boy does it feel good! Well, for a few moments it feels good. At least until the remorse, guilt, shame, and embarrasement set in. And if you have a soul, that’s exactly what happens. Anybody out there relating to what I’m saying here. Anybody out there feeling like we need a really good seminar, workshop, sermon, or book  capturing the essense of what we are suppose to do when we disagree? In the day and time in which we live there may be few questions more important than this one –  What are we going to do when we disagree?  We are a body of believers that have become fearful and suspicious towards one another, all the while a lost and dying world looks on. We are reminded in the book of Ephesians that our struggle or battle is not with flesh and blood and yet for many of us, that is the battle we choose each and every day. I don’t know about you but I’m thinking that I might just need a little accountability. A little something to remind me that my goal and purpose in this life is to KNOW God, to enjoy Him forever, to glorify Him and try and become more like him in the way I live my everyday life. Today I am taking a pledge. A pledge that hopefully lead me into a more civil and Christ-like existence. The pledge consist of 3 articles, articles that I believe to be Biblically based and Christ-centered. Won’t you consider taking the pledge with me?

Article I.      I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect at all times, especially toward those whom I disagree – even if I feel disrespected by them.

Article II.    I will at all times express my disagreements with other people’s ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally.

Article III.  I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt.

It’s Thursday, but Sunday’s Coming

•December 4, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Tony Campolo – my favorite preacher, prophet, teacher, political scientist, and all around hell raiser and provocateur, is coming to town. It’s Thursday but Sunday’s a coming!  This Sunday December 7th 2008, Dr Anthony Campolo is coming to town and he will be speaking at The Woodlands Methodist Church where I have been employed and in ministry for some 17 years. To be perfectly honest with you, I never thought this day would come. For you see, Tony is a prophet with a capitol P and big, successful mega-churches like ours would be wise to stay away from such trouble makers and status quo challengers. But you want believe it, the most serendipitous thing just happened… Dr. Ed Robb invited Tony to come speak at both the 11:00 a.m. traditional service and the 9:15 a.m. Harvest service (a modern worship service started by J.D. Walt, Chris Tomlin and myself some 10 years ago) This is in keeping with his idea of occasionally living a little dangerous and taking some BIG FUN risks from time to time. So, it’s Thursday and it’s a little boring around here in The Woodlands but Sunday’s a coming! I was laying in bed last night thinking about how much fun it’s going to be when Tony open’s his mouth this Sunday and out comes radical wisdom, heart-pounding inspiration, jaw-dropping truth and knowledge unlike anyone has ever heard before – it’s going to be awesome. Tony is so rock-n-roll. He is the only speaker I know that can be classified rock-n-roll. He is the speaker your Mother doesn’t want you to listen to. He says the things that make you blush with conviction. He’s loud like ACDC, abbrasive and thunderous like The Who, creative and etherial like Radiohead, and poetic like Dylan and Lennon. In fact, he’s more rock-n-roll than most rock-n-roll I listen to. It’s Thursday, God’s people are hungry for a fresh word cause their hearts are growing faint from all the economic chaos , but Sunday’s a coming. 30 years ago I attended my very first National Youth Workers Convention in San Diego CA. I was a 24 year old rookie youth pastor working in a 300 member church with 15 jr. and sr. high school students. I had an awesome puppet ministry and I was oh so clueless. It was at that convention that I first heard Tony speak. I will never, ever forget what he said. He walked up to the mike, look at his watch and said “Over the next 24 hours, 24,000 people will die of starvation on this planet and I’m not sure whether anyone in this room really gives a sh***t!” He paused for just a second while thousands of youth workers passed out, gasped for breath, and fell over with coronaries…he then said these immortal words “What’s really sad is that most of you are more concerned with the curse word I just used then you are with the reality of 24,000 people dying of starvation.” I’m not sure if anything, next to my Damascus Road conversion, has ever sooooo gotten my attention. So, needless to say I’ve been a BIG Campolo fan ever since. Promise you will be there front and center this Sunday. If you miss it be sure and listen online at TWUMC.org a few days later. It’s going to be so Rock-n-roll!!!!

Joe the Plumber Eclipses Joe Sixpack

•October 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Last night I viewed the last of 49 political debates. That’s right, I admit it…I watched all 49 debates. Don’t be hatin – don’t be judgin…you probably watched every episode of Lost…some twice! Needless to say, over the last 2 years I have become quite the TVholic. And here is what’s really sad, my sweet wife of 30 years has become just as much of a political junkie as me. She use to bake, sew, take walks with our dog in the neighborhood, and long for more chick flicks on the tube. Now she is just as addicted to Morning Joe, Hardball, Countdown, and Anderson Cooper 360 as I am. With this difficult empty nest situation we find ourselves in we’ve found something we love to do togther though, and that’s pretty cool. So last night the debates of the 2008 campaign came to a close. After shedding a tear of two we then moved into the 2nd phase of our post debate ritual – two to three hours of more TV… recaps and post debate commentary. You know, every election seems to have it’s everyman. I was beginning to think this year might be different in that there would be no everyman in the 2008 campaign. But last night John Sidney McCain (Sidney is McCain’s middle name in case you don’t know) introduced America to Joe Wurzelbacher or Joe the Plumber. Joe is this campaigns everyman… a small business owner from Holland Ohio who last night got his 15 minutes of fame. So this guy has a 6 minute conversation with Barak Obama in Ohio the other day and now find himself being mentioned 26 times in last nights debate. This guy will probably end up with some kind of book deal and a made for TV movie if he plays his cards right. According to news reports this morning, he has already hired an agent to handle his many television interview offers and product endorsement deals. What a great country this is! Wouldn’t it be something if Joe the Plumber takes the place of Joe Sixpack in becoming the game changer in this years election? Believe me when I say that stranger things have happened. Well guess what? According to this morning’s Los Angeles Times, this year’s everyman, Joe the Plumber, is not even registred to vote! That’s right, he’s not registered to vote in the 2008 Presidential election in his home state of Ohio. The one guy who might just change the whole conversation in political world 2008 is not even going to exercise his constitutional right to vote. One of my all time favorite pet peeves…people who criticize the government at hand along with it’s elected officials but who don’t vote. Is there anything more cynical, more apathetic than that? Hey Joe, what’s the deal? This is America bro, where one of the most precious rights and duties we have is to VOTE. I know it’s too late for some of you who might be reading this blogpost- the deadline for registration has come and gone and you’re in the same  boat as Joe the Plumber. You’ve got 2 years before the next election…GET REGISTERED!!!

When Jesus Becomes Our Focus

•October 9, 2008 • 1 Comment

Have you noticed how much disunity there in the church today.  Is it just me or does everybody seem to be looking for a theological fight! It’s no wonder the world looks on in disbelief and apathy as God’s people continue to pick sides in the doctrinal wars of 2008. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for some 30 years now and one thing I’ve realized and experienced in that time is that there is an amazing thing that happens when we focus our attention on Jesus. We become more unified. When Jesus becomes the object of my affection and my devotion other people who have also made Jesus the object of their affection and devotion become family. I just want to hug them, give them a high five, and worship with them. They may be angry calvanist who want to fight about every doctrinal argument that comes down the pike or crazy charismatics who feel like I don’t really get the Holy Spirit – it doesn’t matter how conflicting our theological views are in regard to baptism, the second coming of Jesus, communion, etc. if we are both utterly and completely impressed with Jesus we’ve got something powerful in common – something that transcends all those non-essential issues that always seem to divide us as a church.  Bono was recently quoted as saying  “religion is what happens when the spirit leaves the room.” That may be one of may favorite quotes of the decade and perhaps one of my top ten of all time. The renewal that is so needed in America will not come until until Jesus once again becomes the object of our affection. We gotta get the spirit back in the room! Don’t you think there is a  whole lot of dead religion getting in the way of real renewal? Religion that seems to come to the surface when we fail to focus our attention of the Lord Jesus. As we focus on Him we can’t help but be brought together.  But remember and be forwarned, all those non-essentials, those details of the faith that we want to make into essentials – well something strange and wonderful will begin to happen to them -they will begin to shrink in significance when the presence of Jesus looms.

The Gathering Together

•September 10, 2008 • Leave a Comment

If you’ve been following this historic 2008 election you’re aware of the fact this this country is split right down the middle. No question about it, this is one close race. Elections, especially presidential ones, remind us that there is not alot of unity in the nation when it comes to the big issues that face us. Disunity is everywhere – man against beast (hello Sarah Palin!) man against man, class against class, nation against nation and ideology against ideology. I can’t even be unified in my own soul and spirit. I am a walking, talking civil war. Within me there is on a daily basis a desire for good and a desire for evil. I hate my sin and love my sin all at the same time. We just started a big Ephesians Bible Study in out student ministry and already I’m excited because of it’s key message – the gathering together of all things in Jesus! It’s central theme is the realization of the disunity in the universe and the conviction that real unity only comes through the Lord Jesus. After months of watching this election unfold, I need me some UNITY!!! Bring it on Jesus………………………

A Call to Impact Political Parties

•April 17, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I think I would have to agree with Brian Mclaren when he says that it’s time to get beyond the idea that Christians should be in one political party and not the other. He suggest that we need followers of the Lord Jesus in each party calling both democrats and republicans to a higher standard. We’re all aware of the problem of republicans thinking the only two moral issues of the day are gay marriage and abortion. Jesus seem to think that being peacemakers and caring for the poor and disenfranchised were pretty important moral issues also. And if you don’t think the democrats need to have a greater concern for faith in America, sexual integrity and respect for life in all its forms well then you’ve had your head in the sand for the past few decades. Here is a novel idea – democrats and republicans who admit the weaknesses of their party.  Now this is really twilight zone thinking but how about people who acknowledge the strengths of the other party! It’s time to recognize the fact that Jesus is neither republican or democrat – liberal or conservative. Jesus in fact, transcends all these wordly systems and labels. He also calls us to see our identity in him as something much deeper and more significant than political parties.

IF YOU WANT TO WIN THIS WORLD TO CHRIST, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SIT IN THE SMOKING SECTION

•October 23, 2007 • 1 Comment

Okay, hands down, my favorite quote of the year! I wish it we’re an original but it’s not. Neil Cole said it in his sensational book – Organic Church. So why are we going to have to sit in the smoking section you may be asking? Cause that’s where the lost people are found dummy! And you need to know this too – if you make them put their cigarette out to hear the message they will be thinking about only one thing: “When can I get another cigarette?” Incarnation –  this is a word that always makes me hungry for some strange reason. It also reminds me that God didn’t expect us to come to Him in heaven. He did a really crazy, risky thing – God came to us. He lived life on our terms and on our turf. Jesus sat in the smoking section.  So, as much as I hate smoking and smoking sections I am still the hands, feet, eyes and ears of Jesus on this planet and I need to bring him to the lost children of planet earth