If you have been following my Twitter & FaceBook updates this may not be news to you. I have been working now for the last few months on my first e-book. Today I'd like to officially announce the title of the book, Gospel Confusion: Confessions of a Pastor.
Gospel Confusion is my personal story of how I missed and confused the gospel. It is a story of my journey through legalism, moralism and the emerging church, and some of the things I learned about myself along the way. One of the greatest struggles facing believers today is one of identity. Who am I? Does my value come from me and what I produce? Where do I find the love, acceptance and approval that my heart desires?
The e-book will be self published and will be available for sale on Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad & iPhone & Nook devices. Stay tuned for release date in the weeks ahead. Thank you to my friend Jim Schultz who designed the cover for the book. Please contact Jim for all your art and graphic design needs. firstname.lastname@example.org
This post is a follow up to my posting here.
Today is Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Former Governor Mike Huckabee has asked for Christians around the country to show support for the fast food restaurant. It appears that it has been been a huge success, as Chick-Fil-A’s across the country have had lines out the door, all day long. Yesterday morning I blogged about the pending event, and I caused quite the stir by my opinion. Some understood what I was trying to say, and others did not. I thought I would clarify why I wrote what I wrote. Let me begin by saying that my post entitled “Eat more Chickin...just don’t call it justice” set a record from my blog. At the time of this writing, roughly 1,000 visits have been recorded, in just a little over a day. That is not earth shattering...but it was a lot for me. Thank you to those who shared and commented. I am loving the conversation.
What I should have said.....
I should have made it clearer that I am not opposing Chick-Fil-A.
As I mentioned in the article...”I love Chick-Fil-A.” I am a regular caloric partaker of their heavenly goodness. I have no opposition to Chick-Fil-A, Dan Cathy’s statements about marriage, or their right to express their opinion. On FaceBook, I’ve seen many comments about Chick-Fil-A’s philanthropic endeavors and I applaud them.
I should have made it clearer that I am not opposing ANYBODY who goes to Chick-Fil-A to show their support.
Many were offended that I had cast judgment on them for their desire to go show support. That was not my intention at all. If you believe in freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion...fantastic! I did not mean to imply that those who were supporting Chick-Fil-A did not care about the social issues I mentioned. That would be very hypocritical, as I myself, have not shown a passion for all of those issues. My article was not a blanket statement for all people who support Chick-Fil-A. That would have been extremely foolish. My wording was poor and should have been more specific.
What I really was saying....
My “rant” was aimed at those who were strictly going to buy a chicken sandwich, to make a statement, in order to oppose homosexuals. This truly was my intent. I know that not everybody who went, was or is making this statement. If you are backing a business and their freedom to express themselves...then my issue is not with you. My issue is with those who live in hypocrisy in singling out a single sin.
The answer to sin is not a national protest, boycott or petition. This is not loving, it is not gospel, it is not Godly. To make a such a public statement against a particular sin (homosexuality) while living in sin everyday (yes I mean everybody) is wrong. The point of my article was about making another kind of statement. A statement that reaches out to those who some oppose. I stated the following in the post.
“If you really want to support Chick-Fil-A, and make a difference, go give away a chicken sandwich and fries to a homosexual couple. Where is the same passion and love to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth?”
Again...this is directed to those who would rather oppose sin with a public statement, than actually doing the hard work of loving their neighbor. I have, and always have been opposed to boycotts. I don’t believe they help, encourage or justify the purpose of such events. Some, who would throw their 100% support behind Chick-Fil-A because of their pro marriage stance, have no problem with supporting other companies who are for gay marriage. Apple is pro gay...yet many do not care and still buy their products. Starbucks is pro gay...but some still buy their coffee. There are many companies that we can list here. So yes it bothers me when some pick and choose what they oppose and what they support. If you are going to take such a stand then do so with all of your heart and energy. Be consistent.
The gospel is the answer. The gospel is the only thing that will change America. Not national boycotts or appreciation days. The only thing that will melt hearts, change minds, convert sinners is the gospel. My frustration is when we spend all sorts of energy trying to change others with morality. We can not expect those who are not christians; to act or be like christians, until they are in fact christians!
If tomorrow, gay marriage was banned everywhere, how would that change anything? Would that save anybody? Can we really legislate morality and expect the world to change? Is this really where our energy should be exasperated? Jesus has not called us to bash people. He has called us to be people of grace, truth and love. Speak the truth! But, speak the truth in love. Take a stand! But, take a stand with grace. Be bold! But be truthful in all you do. After all, how will people know we are His? Will they know us because we pack out Chick-Fil-A and take a stand for what we believe? Or will they know us by the love we have been changed by? It’s time for the people of God to be known for what we are for and not just what we are against! Put love in action. Put truth in action.
So if you went to Chick-Fil-A to show support or not; I pray that you will take this verse to heart, for whatever motive brought you there.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” - 1 Corinthians 10:31
Here are some great articles written today that I believe present an incredible approach to this topic.
Perry Noble - Ben & Jerry's, Chick-fil-A & Political Correctness
I love Chick-Fil-A. I am also for the defense of the sacredness of marriage. Ok, now that I'm clear on that...it's time for me to rant.
It's a sad day when most Christians take a "stand" to buy a chicken sandwich. This makes absolutely no sense to me. This drives me bonkers. Does it not sicken you that "Christians" are more enraged about the attack on Chick-Fil-A than the attack of human rights around the world? Is there more justice in buying a chicken sandwich for yourself?
Why is there no outrage on FaceBook about the 1 billion people in the world who have no access to clean drinking water? Why is there no outrage on FaceBook to help support women who are abused? How about the orphans that have been neglegted and forgotten in Haiti? Where is the same focus and determination to help the hungry in our own cities?? Why is it that we have no issues, stuffing our own bellies, to support something we believe in?? How about giving that food away? For free!
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 (ESV)
If you really want to support Chick-Fil-A, and make a difference, go give away a chicken sandwhich and fries to a homosexual couple. Where is the same passion and love to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth? How will this support of this organization lead to God being Glorified?
A friend of mine from college is leading a charge in his state to defend marriage and Chick-Fil-A. They have no restaurants in his state to send people to go buy and support this cause. So he is leading a charge to bring in Chick-Fil-A to his state by "special order". He is giving people an oppurtunity to support Chick-Fil-A by ordering truckloads of food. Although, I love my friend, and highly respect him, I could not disagree more with this strategy.
You may argue that we are supporting "Biblical Values". That's great. However, God has not called us to make America more "Christian". God has called us to preach the gospel so that through the foolishness of preaching "some may be saved". God has called us to make more disciples. Trying to make America more "Christian" won't work. We can't transform this country. Only the saving message of the Gospel will save. Only God's Grace, through the finished work, and wrath absorbing death of Jesus on the cross...saves!
You are not supporting marriage. Not one $1 you spend or 1 calorie you consume will go to defend marriage. It will only go to supporting an organization that makes chicken sandwiches. And one that does a pretty good job at that! So go support Chick-Fil-A. But ask yourself this question....."What else is the gospel compelling me to do?"
Did Jesus really hate religion? I guess it all depends on what you mean by your definition of "religion". In the last week, a youtube video uploaded by Jefferson Bethke has gone viral. Viral....as in 13 million views... in one week! Ah...the power of social media. In case you've been living under a rock and haven't seen this yet...watch this first.
Jefferson's video immediately grew huge praise....and criticism. It drew praise from many who understood "religion" one way....and curses from those who understood it a different way. His words were definitely misinterpreted by many. However, he could have chosen better verbiage throughout this poem to truly communicate how he feels about true faith.
The first time I watched it..I understood what he was talking about. Jefferson is bashing the religion that promotes self righteousness, works salvation and takes the place of knowing God intimately. We've all been there and done that. I understood it from the angle of Jesus' trashing the Pharisees religiosity of His day. Need a reminder of that? Read this -
There is no doubt in my mind that the "religion" of the pharisees is what Jesus wants done away with! The problem is that most people associate the word "religion" with prayer, bible study and going to church. So when somebody hears "Jesus came to abolish religion!"...they freak out. Jesus doesn't want me to read my bible? Jesus doesn't want me to go to church? Jesus doesn't want me to pray? No..no...no! It's impossible to celebrate our faith without observing the "religious" practices that Jesus himself instituted. Jesus prayed. Jesus knew the scripture. Jesus taught and worshipped in the synagouge. Jesus was religous. However...you never see Jesus insert what he does "for" God the Father with his relationship "with" God the Father.
That's the problem I have with religion. It's when people think they are ok...based upon what they do for God. Our religious practices (prayer, bible reading, church attendance, feeding the poor, taking care of orphans & widows etc.) propel us forward in our relationship with God. However...they are never a substitute. Salavation is based upon the Grace of God alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross!
Does Jesus hate religion? It all depends on how you define it.
Everybody lives within the confines of their own reality. This reality, and what we make it appear to be, is influenced by who we have become. This reality is how we view and see the world. Some may call it a "worldview". The problem is that our worldview muddies the water of how we see everything. You can not explain something or be passionate about anything without looking at it from your worldview or perspective. It is your reality. With this worldview we have put God in a Box. We don't expect God to be anything different that what we expect. The question becomes...do I have an accurate worldview?
Your worldview has been shaped by the things that have happened to you and by the people around you. It definitley has been shaped and has been molded from what you percieve to be true. There is a reason an Al Qaeda terrorist flies a plane into a building or blows himself up on a crowded bus or street. He believes that by doing this act he will enter "paradise" and inherit 70 virgins. He believes a story that somebody down the line told him was true. I'm sure growing up he heard how evil America was. He may have even witnessed first hand occupation or "terroristic acts" from America. These people and events have shaped him. Maybe 10 years ago when the war began his family were victims of the shock and awe campaign waged against Saddam Hussein. Whatever the situation, he believes that he is right. He is just. He believes that he is the good guy. He lives in the confines of his own reality.
Many Christians today claim to have a "Biblical Worldview". But is that really possible? I mean..yes we strive to live the Bible and see the world through the filter of Scripture. I totally agree with that! However, it is hard though to see the Bible without your own biases getting in the way.
For years, the Bible was used to defend and promote slavery. Slave owners pointed to the New Testament and Paul's letter to Philemon. For years, the Bible has been used to mistreat women and treat them as second class citizens. The Bible has been used to justify war and excuse the slaughter of multitudes. Don't believe me? Do a google search or check the history of Christopher Columbus and also the Crusades. These people would have also claimed a "biblical worldview". But obviously, God is not for slavery; the mistreatment of women; and the slaying of the masses for failure to convert to Christianity.
Did you know that for awhile I thought that America was God's only hope for the world? It was almost as if I believed that if you were any other Christian living in another country that you weren't as good or special. I believed that America was the next best thing to living in heaven because this was God's paradise. No, I'm not saying that I don't love America and that I'm not patriotic. But, where faith and patriotism intersect in my journey is far different than it used to be. I had to ask myself, am I a Christian that happens to be an American or an American that happens to be a Christian. I had to ask questions outside of what I percieved was truth and reality. What does it mean to be a Christian and have all the "expectations stripped away". What does naked truth and faith look like?
How much of what we percieve to be true in applying our faith really isn't? There is absolute truth. We just get in the way of seeing it for what it really is. Down the road, what is something, that we hold dear to, that others will compare to the "slavery" example? What parts were never meant to be true but we have made them to be?
You can claim to be fundamental. You can claim to be liberal. You can claim to be progressive. All of these groups would claim a "Biblical Worldview" and believe that they were/are right. But really, nobody can have an untainted "Biblical Worldview". Their Biblical worldview is really a "Personal Biblical Worldview". It's how they see the story of the Bible in thier lives and culture. They live within the confines of their own reality. We would need the Bible to speak for itself...instead of us speaking into it. Get God out of the box you have him in.
If we are to truly transform our cities with the Gospel then we have to change our entire strategy. How many churches are trying to get "bigger and bigger" at the expense of true city wide transformation? Most churches measure success by butts in the pews...and money in the plate. Doesn't that sound a tad like a movie theater?
How many people are watching the show and how many are buying tickets?Is that what God has called us to do? Is it any wonder that our churces are filled with "spectators" and not doers? Too many churches are into what I call...Castle Building. Churches who are trying to build castles (i'm not talking about a building) are only worried about how big their church grows. They may even compete with the other churches in town. They may have clever slogans about how their church is "better" than any other church. Or maybe that church is selling itself as more "relevant", "hipper" or "cooler" than the next. I remember in one town that I pastored I was scolded by another pastor about how I was in his "territory". Wow... It's no wonder our cities are so lost.
Jesus has not called us to build castles. He has called us to be engaged in His ever expanding Kingdom. Once churches in a city realize that it's not about them...the city will be better. That city will be better reached with the Gospel. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God over all creation. God is up to something huge. He is up to something that you and I can never compete with or ever dream to outdue. Jesus was all about this kingdom.
Wouldn't it be phenomenal if churches joined each other for the sake of the Gospel? Wouldn't it be great to join other churches in the Missio Dei than the pettiness of doctrinal divide? Folks...it's time to realize we are all on the same team if we have been redeemed. Isn't that what he prayed for us in John 17 before he was arrested in the garden?
Jesus said to seek first His Kingdom. Why are you building your castle?
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. - Matthew 6:33
(for other posts about the Kingdom of God on dansardinas.net click here.
What are you willing to sacrifice so that the Gospel will transform your city? To really reach our cities with the Gospel it's going to take sacrifice. It's going to be at times uncomfortable and awkward. The Gospel cost Jesus and it will cost you & I to share it as well. That's just the plain truth.
Very few Chistians share their faith with the world. The ones that do share their faith, know what to say...but don't know how to express it in their life. Most know how to tell the ABC's of salavation....but don't know how to translate this "good news" into actions. As the old saying goes....actions speak louder than words. When is the last time you showed the world Good News?
My kids are still very young (11, 9 & 6). They are good kids but they are kids. When they do get in trouble they always tell me that they will never do it again. They say that they are very sorry...and they plead for forgiveness. I always forgive them. But, I always tell them the same thing. "Don't tell me....show me". I want them to know now that talk is cheap. You can tell me you are sorry everyday...but if you never show me than I don't believe it.
You can tell the world that Jesus saves. You can tell the world everyday that there is Good News in the world...but if you don't show it...does it matter? The world has heard enough sermons. They need to start seeing some. What are some ways we can show "good news" through actions in our city? After all...how can we talk of the life transforming message of the Gospel if it hasn't changed us? Do share...what are you doing in your city. What are ways we can show love and demonstrate "good news".
What are you willing to sacrifice so that the Gospel may advance? That question may be more complex and deeper than you may think. I'm not talking about how much money you are going to give to your church..or how much time you will spend at the next church event.
Think outside the box. Would you be willing to buy local and spend a little more money? Why? Think of the relationships that can be built with people in your own town! You are also investing into your own community everytime you purchase something from a locally owned business. For the sake of the Gospel this is so, so important. I understand that this is not possible with every purchase. However, the little changes you can make can go a long ways! You can invest in the local transformation of your city financially! It may cost you extra....but it will be worth it! You can then open doors of conversation and earn the right to be heard!
My friend and partner in ministry, Tom Richards, practices and lives this reality. Instead of buying his guitar strings online for much cheaper...he goes and buys them from a local music store. Tom and I meet weekly for a staff meeting regarding The Way Church. Tom loves Starbucks coffee. However, instead of holding our meetings in Starbucks he suggested we meet in a local coffee shop in Cape Coral. The results have been great! We are helping that local coffee shop and have built a nice relationship with the owners, Cindy and Lorraine. I'm looking for other ways to contribute locally! (Although I will still find myself at Starbucks too)
What else can you sacrifice for the Gospel? Buying local is one example....what else can we do? The Gospel is worth it.
I'm married with 3 kids and am discovering everyday how the gospel of Jesus bring healing to a lost and dying world.