Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top 10 Worst Church Moments

How many of these have you experienced? This is from a pastor named Maurilio Amorim and the link to his blog is below. It reminds me that the way of Jesus is the way that shows extreme welcome to the outsider.

Top 10 Worst Church Moments from a Church Secret Shopper

I have attended hundreds of church services as a church secret shopper. I’ve had thousands of conversations with volunteers, staff and visitors. Here’s my list of the top 10 worst things people said to me:

10. “Excuse me, but you’re sitting in my seat” It seems cliche but it happens more often than you think.

9. “ya’ not from around here, are ya?” Older man said to me after I asked directions to the restroom. I didn’t respond, but I was thinking: “What gave it away? having all my teeth?”

8. “Follow the blue line. It’s kinda of complicated. Good luck.” Said the two men sitting inside the information kiosk before turning to each other and finishing their conversation. They pointed to a board on the wall with multiple color lines leading to different locations on campus.

7. “Nazarenes are a lot like the Baptists, but holier,” middle aged man at a Nazarene church when I asked him the difference between a Nazarene and a Baptist church.

6. “You’re the prettiest thang I ever seen!” I’m not telling you who said it.

5. “We Lutherans are a homely bunch.” A greeter at a Lutheran church as I asked more information about her church. She was right.

4. “I don’t know anything. I can’t really help you. This is my first day at the information table and the person who was going to train me didn’t show up.”

3. “I’ve got dresses that are older than you!” I don’t really remember how I got into this one, but does it really matter?

2. “It must be a special day, I see a lot of strangers here today.” Misguided Music minister during a Sunday morning greeting time. No warm and fuzzies for this stranger.

1. “Hey, Mister, come back here! You’re not Catholic, are you? Give me the wafer back!” A Catholic Priest on the rightful suspicion I was impersonating a catholic worshiper during communion. I had to give it up.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Being Like Christ in the Home

This hangs in the kitchen of our friends' home. There's good theology and counsel here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mission to Joplin 2011

The Joplin, Missouri post-tornado cleanup team has begun to arrive. I hope to send their updates as I get them. When I was in Tuscaloosa, internet service was sketchy and I only managed one update during the week. Keep checking back.

Day 1 - From Les and Mary Carroll

We were talking last night about how this will be life changing for us. We also talked about how much we take for granted and how very blessed we really are. You are someone in our lives who we dearly love. By sharing this experience, we feel in some way that you are here with us.

We arrived in Joplin Wednesday afternoon unsure of what we would encounter with no idea what to expect. Nothing in our experience prepared us for what was to come. As we came over the first hill and saw the devastation in front of us, we were speechless. See the slide show above, but know that these pictures do not capture even a hint of the horrific catastrophy before us.

The tornado of May 23rd at 5:42 pm on a Sunday evening cut a path 13 miles long and, in places, a half mile wide. The damage is extensive. A 12 story hospital was twisted four inches off of it's foundation. Window on almost every floor of that hospital imploded and much of the roof was lifted off. The building is now condemned. The high school was decimated, 18,000 cars were twisted beyond recognition, and the sparse landscape is punctuated by twisted bare trees and miles and miles of rubble. An iron cross of St. Mary's is all that remains of one particular church. Thirty churches were destroyed. Yesterday we stood in a cemetary where huge granite headstones were blown off the foundation.

It all leaves us asking just how fast can the wind really blow?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

God Does Not Care About Your Happiness

There, I've said it.

So many people talk about not being happy, and here I am saying that God does not care about your happiness. Really. I look for places in Scripture that signal to me that God's driving interest in our life is to provide the things that fit our definition of what it means to be happy. It's not there. God's attention is on something else in our life.

Ask anyone what it means to be happy. Some describe happiness as the general feeling of euphoria. You are happy, some say, if you feel the rush of endorphins from any source - extreme sports, roller coasters, great parties, competitive card games, a great sale, etc. Others will say that drugs and alcohol will give them the feeling they describe as happy, even if only temporarily.

Psychologists describe happiness as a route of a person' s life. It begins with physiological needs for food water, sleep, and a general level of physical peace in life. Once those are met, more and more happiness is achieved by being safe, feeling loved, having a positive self image, and ultimately becoming all one is capable of becoming.

There is an attitude of entitlement when it comes to happiness as we define it. The message we give is that it is our God-given right to experience the endorphin rush, feel the euphoria frequently, and travel the route of happiness from physical needs to self-actualization.

The problem is, I don't see where God promises that our life focus is to be on that, nor that we are even guaranteed those things in life. Jesus made it clear that being his followers would be costly, not free and easy. He said he came to bring division, not peace, and that we must take up our cross daily and lose ourselves (Matthew 10:34-39). Suffering, not happiness as we define it, seems to be what is promised.

That is not something many, including many church leaders, want to hear. We want God to be a God who gives us what we want, how we want it, and when we want it. The problem is, of course, that when we get to demand what we want of God or when we get to tell God what God should do and how, the roles have been reversed. We then are the gods, and we are dictating to God. It doesn't work that way. God is sovereign and takes orders from no one.

We are not entitled to happiness on our own terms. God doesn't owe us that. In fact, I'll say it again, God does not care about your happiness. However, God does care about your holiness. Making God proud, bringing honor to God by striving to live a blameless life is what God cares about for you and me. The ironic twist is that when we strive to make God proud, when we pursue holiness, we find the very thing we say we're looking for in the first place. We find true and lasting joy. We will find happiness as we see how God favors us.

If you're not happy, my guess is you've tried everything else. Maybe you should try God's way to the best life possible. It comes from pursuing God's interests and ways, by seeking to live to a different standard, and seeking the sacred in daily life.

Pursue being a holy person. If you want real happiness, pursue holiness.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mission to Honduras 2011

Tomorrow morning, I leave for the Central American country of Honduras. That country has been near and dear to me since the late 1990s when my wife, Cile, and others first took a trip to there to help with post-hurricane Mitch relief. Since then, churches I have served have sent somewhere near 20 mission teams.

I will be sending updates daily on my mission blog. Click here for Mission to Honduras 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Faith in the Workplace

Be consistent in all of life. Be just as much of a Christian at work as you are in church. It sounds easy enough. It can't be that hard, right?

And then it happens. You are asked to sign-off on something that is not true or you feel pressured to join your co-workers in behavior that cuts against your spiritual convictions. Maybe you are suddenly troubled by your firm's policy toward social issues. Perhaps it is the larger issues of wealth creation in a world filled with abject poverty that bothers you. Whatever "it" is, you suddenly find yourself wondering how a person of deep faith can make it in today's work environment. Spiritual integrity and a market economy seem mutually excluding.

Contrary to ridiculous negative stereotypes of Christians, most I know are hard-working, compassionate, and generally decent human-beings. Most Christ-followers want to make a meaningful contribution to this world and to the organizations to which they belong, including their workplaces. However, most Christ-followers sometimes find themselves in compromising, unethical, or immoral circumstances on the job and are troubled by it. They want to remain faithful to God while working their careers, but find it increasingly difficult to do both.

This issue is compounded for many who feel that they must do whatever it takes to maintain their source of income. Times continue to be hard for many. Expenses are high, money is tight, options are limited, and fear of job loss leads to a mindset of self-preservation at any cost.

So unless you are Mother Theresa or Billy Graham and all of this is somehow intuitive and easy for you, I have some principles that may help you be a person of spiritual integrity at work.
  1. Admit this is not simple. This is more than whether to go to the girly bar with the guys after work or to the male stripper club with the girls. This is about somehow bearing witness to Christ in every letter written, every contract signed, every project worked, and every work relationship, including that jerk in the office down the hall. This is about being a person of spiritual integrity as you manage an ideologically diverse staff, deal with people who expect certain "perks," determine the profit margin of a product, write the investment strategy for earnings, communicate with stakeholders, or create the benevolence policy of the company. If you struggle,that's to be expected.
  2. Get to your knees. Pray. Ask God for help. If you work for Ebenezer Scrooge or Attila the Hun, you're going to need some help. If your co-workers have the ethical grounding of Larry Flint, Bernard Madoff, or Rod Blagojevich, you will need help. If your workplace makes it to any "most unethical" list, you will need help. If office politics involves pulling the knife from your back, you will need help.
  3. Know you are not alone. I have had many conversations with people who are concerned about unethical practices at work. Most need to vent, but at a deeper level they want to know if they are weird for having concerns. Are they alone? No. Others at work want a work environment where they will not have to compromise their principles of faith for the bottom line. Look for them. They're probably the quiet ones. You are not alone. When you find them, become work friends. Pray together. Study the Bible together. Talk about the issues. Sticking together will help each of you get through difficult days.
  4. Be exemplary. Work hard and with integrity. We are called to work with all of our hearts "as working for the Lord" (Col. 3:23) not for human masters. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing (1 Pet. 3:9). Unlike pastors, you have the opportunity to be "salt" and "light" to co-workers daily from within the workplace. The character of your life and quality of your work are part of your witness. If you are lazy and unethical, please keep quiet about being a Christian; you're more damage than good to the cause.
  5. Communicate your principles. Know what crosses the line for you. What are your non-negotiables? I suggest you take a few minutes to write them down. It could be specific like, "I will not participate in gossip here," or more general like, "I will not do anything that takes advantage of a weak, poor, or struggling person." Write them down and then let others know as circumstances arise. One man told his boss, "I will not lie for you, but neither will I lie to you." His integrity didn't make the boss happy at first, but won his respect over time.
  6. Stick to your guns. Unless you are high up, you may not have much control over price gouging, environmental impact, poor employee management, or other issues. You do have control over what you will do when a line gets crossed. Stick to your principles, especially on the little things. It is easy to give into the big things when you've compromised your principles on the little things.
  7. Show respect. Most workplaces are microcosms of diversity. If the United States military can teach us anything, it is to show that people of different cultural backgrounds, races, genders, ages, and faith traditions can work toward a common mission. The whole system is built on mutual respect. You do not have to agree and you do not have to participate in what the other is doing, but you must show respect for the other person's perspective.
  8. Do not judge. A friend of mine refused to be a part of the late night escapades of clients who wanted more than a discount on the products he was selling. He chose to be a designated driver and waited in the car for the several hours the rest were inside living the wild life. He simply said, "It's not my thing." He didn't judge, but neither did he join them. Search your heart. Make sure your attitude toward those who make different choices than you is not an attitude of superiority or condescension. Love them, don't judge them.
  9. Keep your sense of humor. Diverse people coming together in one workplace to accomplish a single corporate mission is a recipe great comedy. Enjoy people. Laugh with them. Laughter is a universal language. Everyone around a person who is a jerk sees it and at some level can find humor in the behavior. Remember the Far Side cartoon with God as a chef making the world and sprinkling in "jerks" onto the earth "just to make it interesting." When life is "interesting," keep your sense of humor.
  10. Remember that grace abounds. Finally, remember that if you fail at keeping your own principles for whatever reason, the grace of God is strong. You won't get this right every time. None of us could make it if we had to be perfect. God's grace is, in the words of a great hymn, amazing.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wake Up, Dads

I've been told I should write a book on parenting. I'm not sure why exactly, but it comes from multiple sources. I don't have anything profound to share with parents. The most important thing to say is to prioritize your role as a parent. I see many who don't and their children are almost a bother to them.

As a father of three daughters, I have never hesitated to take them fishing, hiking, camping, to sporting events, and other activities that some think are more for boys. However, I have spent countless hours playing with the girly activities as well. I've done makeup, painted nails (that's me and daughter Madison above), had my nails done, had tea parties, participated in Barbie story lines as they emerged from my daughters' minds, and dealt with a whole lot of pink. It's what you do as a dad of daughters. I love the role of father.

Not everyone feels the same about parenting in general or fatherhood in particular. My sister-in-law sent me an article from Jeff Pearlman, a writer for It is worth sharing. He is calling dads who refuse to wipe snot, clean poop, order time outs, and just get to really know and enjoy their children to wake up. Here is part of his article:

"I understand that most of you have 9-to-5 jobs, that you leave tired and come home tired and just wanna chill in front of SportsCenter with a bowl of chips. But, seriously, you have no remote idea: Being a stay-at-home parent is exhausting. At the office, you can hide. You can take lunch. You can pretend you're working while scrolling the Internet for Yankees-Blue Jays and, ahem, Lindsay Lohan news. You have genuine social interactions with folks over the age of, oh, 12. People ask questions about your day -- and listen to the answers.

I envy you, but I sort of pity you. Kids grow. Age 1 turns to age 3, which turns to age 7, which turns to 15 and 18 and 21, all in the blink of an eye. If you're there, as I am, it flies. If you're not there -- if you're almost never there -- it barely exists at all. Which is why I just can't stomach those millions of dads who view their days at home as recovery from work, who'd rather rest than engage, who have no problem with passing the tykes off for more alone time with mom and who, literally, moan to their wives, "You have no idea how hard I work."

For you, I offer these 10 commandments of righteous fatherhood. Pay close attention, because, behind your back, people are pitying your wife:
  1. No golf on weekends: Seriously, it's ludicrous. Your spouse is home with the kids all the time, and you think it's OK to take five hours on a weekend day to pursue your own pastime? Selfishness, thy name is Father.
  2. Wake up: Literally, wake up. With your kids. On at least one of the two weekend days -- and perhaps both. I know: you wake up early for work. Not even remotely the same thing. Rising alongside the kiddies is hard. And crazy. And (gasp!) sorta fun, if you'd just stop moping.
  3. Change diapers: If you have little kids, and you don't know how to change diapers (or, even worse, refuse to change diapers), you're pathetic. That's no exaggeration -- p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c. It's not all that hard, and though the poop sometimes winds up on the fingers, well, uh, yeah. It just does. Wash your hands.
  4. Play with dolls and paint your toenails: How many fathers do I know who refuse to get girlish with their girls? Dozens. Dude, put aside the machismo, break out Barbie and slather on some pink polish. You'll make a friend for life -- and nobody else is watching.
  5. Do things you don't want to do: It's easy to take the kids to the driving range -- because you want to be there. Now try spending the day having a tea party at American Girl. Or crawling through one of those wormholes at the nearby kiddie gym. Fun? Often, no. But this isn't about you.
  6. Order the wife to bug off: I recently met a mother who told me her husband hadn't been alone with their 9-year-old daughter for more than two hours ... ever. Inexcusable. Let your wife do her own thing: relax, take a run, whatever. Entertain your children solo. They don't bite (Note: is not liable if your children do, in fact, bite).
  7. Surprise! Just once, on a random day without meaning or purpose, show up early at your kid's school/camp/wherever, say "Get in the car!" and take him/her somewhere special. Just the two of you, alone. A movie. A park. A hike. The memory lasts -- I promise.
  8. Dishes Don't Clean Themselves (Nor Do Toys): It's amazing how this one works. You pick up a dish, run it under hot water with some soap, rub it down with a towel and place it back on the shelf. Then repeat.
  9. Wake up your kid: Not often. But if you want to score big points and create a killer memory moment, walk in Junior's room at, oh, midnight, wake him/her up and go outside for 10 minutes to watch the stars.
  10. For God's sake, tell your kids you love them: They never see you, and they'd probably like to know.
Bud, as you read this your wife is expecting little -- and your kids are expecting even less. Pull one out of the blue. Make Father's Day less about you, and all about them."

Love it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is it Okay for a Christian to Cuss?

Sometimes it's fun to be a pastor, especially when you are with a someone who doesn't know you are a pastor. I have seen more than one shocked expression when a person finds out the person they've just spent the airplane ride or cocktail table with is a pastor. I can see their mind racing through the events up to that point to see what they said and did.

Most people want to remember one thing--did I cuss in front of the pastor? I assure them that cussing in front of me is not the big issue. I'm not their judge. However, the fact that so many use profanity, including Christians, raises a question I hear often: Is it okay for a Christian to cuss?

Many will argue against cussing from Scripture in passages such as the taming of the tongue in James 3 or words that arise from what's in the human heart in Luke 6. Some have asked whether we want our lives to be more like an episode of South Park or like the vision of holiness from the book of Revelation. Some argue that profanity is culturally defined and any cultural standard of which words are not acceptable is arbitrary and therefore not binding.

Language is complex. Word usage and meanings are constantly evolving. However, this issue for me is not complex. I have a simple standard by which to measure the words that come out of my mouth. I think it is a useful one for all Christians.

Would I cuss if I were face-to-face with God?

That's it for me. If I were there when the glory of God passed by Moses, would I say "#@$#, would you look at that?" If I were in the scene from Isaiah 6 where Isaiah goes before God and it is awesome to see, would I cuss? If I was on the mountain of transfiguration with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, would profanity leave my lips? I don't think so.

My litmus test: if you wouldn't use the word in front of God, don't say it. The fact is, God is always with us. We are always in front of God. So in the end, never say it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Father's Expectation for Boys Dating Girls

A few years ago, I sent letters to my daughters' boyfriends. In the letter were three pieces of paper. Two were my attempts to be funny. I had seen an "Application for Dating My Daughter" and "10 Simple Rules for Dating My Daughter" in email forwards several times and included those in the letter. If you haven't seen them, look them up. Very entertaining, especially if you are a father of daughters who are dating. I sent those two pieces for fun, but the third piece was the one I really cared that the boys read and internalized. It was called, "Expectations."

This "Expectations" piece originated as I thought about how over the years I have said things to our girls about my expectations for boys who are interested in them. I have talked about the attitudes and actions of their significant other that matters most. One night I couldn't sleep, got up, and put my thoughts on paper. For what it is worth, I now share them with you. This is what I expect of boys who are interested in my daughters.

We have tried to raise our daughter in a virtuous home. While we have failed at this at times, only by God’s grace can we say that we have succeeded more often than not. My expectations of a boy my daughter dates and ultimately, should the relationship progress, marry, are that he continue what we have begun. In addition to helping my daughter experience fun, crazy, abundant, and goofy happiness in life, I expect them to be models of the pursuit of holiness.

Specifically, I expect:
  • He has an active faith in God through Jesus Christ. I want my daughter to be in a relationship with someone she will also spend eternity with as a fellow believer. Is this your faith commitment?
  • He will lead her towards an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing matters more than that. If he is not committed to that, I am automatically at odds with him. Are you committed to this?
  • My daughter will not need to bring her boyfriend up to biblical standards of living… the boyfriend will already be there and leading the way. This means a personal commitment to worship God with others in a church, Bible study individually and with groups, a life of prayer, serving and helping others, and a person who gives away his time, money and faith to build God’s Kingdom on earth. Are these your practices?
I want to see a visible commitment to the ethical life of a Christ-follower. Whatever else this may mean, it at least means
  • A passion for purity of thought, words, and actions. It is not that sexual immorality, drunkenness, lying, gluttony, profanity or other items are simply things to be avoided; they are actually offensive to a man because they are offensive to God. To be blunt here, the boy will not seek to have sex before marriage, get drunk, or use profanity NOT because someone else says not to, but because the Holy Spirit has already convinced him it is not right.
  • A burden for the people on the “outs” of society like the homeless and poor. Jesus clearly favored this group with his compassion.
  • A sense that the earth is to be cared for by humans. Green is good.
  • A commitment to non-violence and non-aggression as a basic disposition. I am not a pacifist and understand that bullies often need to be forced to stop bullying, whether on the playground or as the leader of a rogue country. I expect physical strength in protecting my daughter when needed. But in relationships, generosity and kindness of spirit are the standard, not aggression.
Are you committed to this standard of living?

This is a tall list. To be sure, grace abounds and I am not interested in legalistic following of “the rules” for the rules’ sake. This is about holiness. I expect the boyfriend to already be “sold out” to Christ—to His causes, His way of living, His priorities, His holiness. A boyfriend who makes that commitment is a man after God’s own heart. And a man after God’s heart is a one who will have mine.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

10 Commandments of Marital Love

I just listened to music from the wedding ceremony of my daughter, Lauren, and her new husband, Alex. It always brings me to tears. I walked Lauren down the aisle and my friend Norm Hatter began the service. At one point, I got up to speak to Lauren and Alex and lead them through their vows. Lauren also requested that I share my "10 Commandments of Marital Love" during the ceremony.

These are words of wisdom that were originally inspired by something Dear Abbey posted, but after nearly 14 years of ministry, almost 28 years of marriage, and countless counseling sessions with couples, I created my own version of it. I come back to it from time to time to see if God has given me any new wisdom or insights. What follows is the current version and the one shared at Lauren and Alex's wedding.

Take note, couples. It doesn't matter if you are about to get married or have been married for 60 years or more, the strongest couples I know have somehow internalized these commandments.

  1. Remember That Next to God, No One Matters More Than Your Spouse. Act like that’s true. Put your spouse above your hobbies, work, circle of friends, and family.
  2. Get A Life. Have interests of your own. Nothing is more smothering than one or both partners who have nothing but the other person.
  3. Work on Your Marriage. Like a garden, if left unattended, weeds will eventually choke out the life. Attended to, however, it will bear delicious fruit such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness.
  4. Get Help When You Have A Problem. If you can’t solve a problem on your own, find someone to help you. Too many do nothing and the results are tragic. Call me if you get stuck.
  5. Remember Your Relationship Is Much More Than Your Sex Life. A healthy, lasting relationship includes emotional and spiritual intimacy.
  6. Don't Forget To Say "I Love You.” Your love may be constant, but your spouse needs to hear those words often.
  7. Willingly Share Everything With Your Spouse. Your tools, your cookware, your bodies, your heart. It’s no longer “yours” or “mine,” but think instead “ours.”
  8. Pray Together. Not just a quick prayer before meals, but on your knees together speaking with God. Couples who do this and both want to do this not only stay married, but are the most vitalized of all couple types.
  9. Forgive Each Other As God Has Forgiven You—With Grace. Who among us does not need to be forgiven?
  10. Honor And Enjoy The Lord Every Day Of Your Life Individually And Together. It is our highest and most holy calling.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Word from the Clerk

Our church is governed by a board of elders called the Session. Each Session has a clerk whose duties include communicating information from the Session to others. Last week, our clerk, Greg Nichols, sent out a letter to the congregation on behalf of the Session. It was the one page summary of my seven page letter that was sent at the same time. Here is Greg's letter:

May 10, 2011

Dear Friends,

The national Presbyterian Church is on the verge of a historical event. If it has not happened already, our denomination is about to make the headlines. On behalf of your Session (the board of elders) I wanted you to hear how your church is responding to what is happening.

The issue of the moment is related to ordination standards. The denomination has decided to remove language from our church constitution that requires ministers, elders, and deacons to “live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” and replace it with more general language about submitting “to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.” The effect of this is that it opens the way for our denomination to ordain non-celibate gay and lesbian people as ministers, elders, and deacons.

The Session met last night to discuss this issue at length and want you to know several things in response to what has happened.
  • Nothing changes at St. Andrews. We will continue to uphold the “fidelity and chastity” standard. The new language, though lacking the clear expression of “fidelity and chastity,” does not require us to violate our understanding of biblical standards.
  • The Session will make recommendations for what to do next. We have options and will weigh each prayerfully. That is the role of the elders of the church.
  • We will band together with other like-minded believers for a way forward. One group is meeting later this summer to consider options that include separating into theologically like-minded groups. We will monitor that group’s work closely.
  • We will not get sidetracked from our primary mission. St. Andrews will continue in our quest to make extraordinary followers of Jesus Christ. We will continue our journey towards being inwardly strong and outwardly focused.
  • We uphold love and truth here. We are commanded to love God and love others while upholding truth. Truth without love is abuse; love without truth is hypocrisy. We will uphold both because we love God, we love people, and we love truth.
If you are interested in more information about this, including a helpful history of the issue, the Session has endorsed and now commends Pastor John’s enclosed letter to you. If you have any questions for me, please contact me.

In Christ,
Greg Nichols
Clerk of Session, on behalf of the Session

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mourning for the Church

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every matter under the heavens...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to laugh."
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

Yesterday, I sent out a letter to the congregation reacting to troubling news of the larger church body of which we are a part, the Presbyterian Church (USA). I will write more on this in the future, but for now, I appreciate the way one group explained the position of those who see this as a departure from truth:

This is a time for grieving for the Church of Jesus Christ. In recent years we have seen one denomination after another forsake its commitment to Scripture, and thus to the Savior and Lord we know only through God's revelation of Jesus Christ in Scripture. With the passage of Amendment 10-A, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has joined that inauspicious list. By a majority vote of its presbyteries, the church has removed its ordination requirement of "fidelity within a covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness." We have now become one of the denominations that have effectively removed any distinction between truth and falsehood by permitting what Scripture and our confessions call sin.

As a result of this action, we believe that the PC(USA) faces a grave threat to its unity, as well as its peace and purity. By this vote, the denomination has chosen to break the unity of the larger body of Christ in time and space, defying the wisdom of the Scriptures, the continuous witness of the Church through time, and the overwhelming majority of believers worldwide.

These are troubling times in the Presbyterian Church (USA), but followers of Jesus must continue to speak the truth in love, promote peace, unity and purity in the PC (USA), and invite others by our words and actions to unity of mission in Jesus.

I came to know Jesus in a personal way through a member church of this denomination and I've happily stuck with the PCUSA because of that witness to me. I am not happy about what I predict will happen: we will be significantly smaller and even more deeply divided as a result of this. I am in mourning for the Church of my spiritual awakening.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Busy Year

Since the last post, I have moved my daughter, Madison, to just outside St. Louis, finished my dissertation, graduated with the doctor of ministry degree, made it through nearly a year of my wife Cile's unemployment, celebrated Cile's graduation as a Licensed Massage Therapist, walked my daughter Lauren down the aisle, begun chairing an evangelism committee in Tampa Bay area, and am preparing to celebrate daughter Christina's graduation from college. It's been a busy year.

My hope in this blog is to speak to what a life lived for Jesus can look like. If this past year has taught me anything, it is that God does not abandon us in our times of need and high production and yet we may well ignore or minimize time with God. Even though I read the Bible cover-to-cover last year and am doing it again this year, there were times when I was not slowing down. There were times when I packed my schedule so full that I was exhausted when I spoke with God. The way of Jesus does mean spending time with God. I've missed the unhurried time. This year, so far and thankfully, is better.