Types of broken people in your life

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Common types of brokenEach of us is broken, at least to some degree. We just prefer that it go undetected by others.

But the gospel reminds us that our brokenness is not the final word. God’s grace is the final word. The Lord Jesus Christ has spoken into our broken (Isa 61:1) that we may be healed.

This healing can come altogether at once.

Often though it takes time. We work it out with God in the midst of everyday life.

And we get to do it with others.

But we must recognize not all broken is the same broken.

  • There’s broken where we know it and we’re working it out in healthy ways with God and others.
  • There’s broken where we know it and we’re working it out in unhealthy public ways.
  • There’s broken where we don’t know it because we’ve been deceived.
  • There’s broken where we’re denying its consequences.
  • There’s broken where the consequences bring pain but not learning. So it’ll break again. Soon.
  • There’s broken where we’re suffering in secret, even while in the presence of others.
  • There’s broken where brokenness is the only thing we see. Every day. It feels like it’s always been this way. And always will be. This broken holds little hope for ever becoming unbroken.

These are common types of broken.

But there is an uncommon type of broken.

There’s a broken where a body is crushed for our sin and by his wounds we are healed.

Question: What other types of broken are there?

 

 

How to become godless while faithfully attending church

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 3 Comments

I constructed a list for those who want to become godless while still attending Sunday services.

WorshipServiceIf you don’t want that, yet you identify with several of the items on this list, I would encourage you to take note and seek change through Christ.

  • Believe attendance at a service is the litmus test for the Christian life. Just get there. That’s it. It’s pass/fail. Such clear lines make the inner legalist happy. And attendance is a nice low bar that most can surpass.
  • Rationalize away an absence by espousing it as far better than even attendance. “I needed my own personal sabbath” and “I don’t need to go to  church to live out my faith” are quite convincing to others.
  • Do not serve or help out around the church. This could start to mimic the character of Christ who came not to be served but to serve. So make sure the church serves you.
  • Disregard good and godly counsel. I didn’t say perfect counsel. It is quite sufficient to become godless by discounting good, even mediocre, counsel. Do what you want.
  • Believe that a leader knowing your name is preferable than God knowing it. If we content ourselves with knowing a spiritual leader more than God, we are well on our way.
  • Sing the songs without worshipping God. Have you ever “woke up” from a trance-like state at the end of a worship set? It’s like you got lost in the music more than in connecting with God. If you have, that’s it. Perfect.
  • Focus more on what is funny in the sermon than what is beneficial for your faith. Those faith things are okay. But be sure to have a new joke to share later at lunch.
  • img16.jpgBelieve you know better than the preacher. (Psst. Lil’ secret. Prior to preaching, this happened to me. A lot. It still can if I’m not careful. Seminary students, I’m looking your way.)
  • When it comes to applying the sermon, know you’re already doing it. Probably better than most. If you get convicted that you’re not doing it, identify someone you know who really needed to hear this message. Bemoan that they missed it. That should distract the conviction away.
  • Do not get involved beyond Sunday morning. Let the service be your entire church diet. Don’t eat in between these Sunday meals. That’s plenty. Don’t want to overdue.

It’s not an exhaustive list. There’s much more that could be done to become godless while faithfully attending church.

What would you add to the list?

And who else needs to read this? You could share it with them by clicking to the left because – honestly! – they need it more than we do.

 

Responding to Ferguson: My Challenge and Yours

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 3 Comments

This is my humble response to Ferguson. It’s been a real challenge to get to this point. But not nearly as challenging as to those in Ferguson who have been and still are in the midst of it or those who face discrimination every day.

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Outrage In Missouri Town After Police Shooting Of 18-Yr-Old ManI’m often late to the party. It’s true in the case of Ferguson. And intentionally so.

My habit is to take in as much information as possible. Then I like to write a “Therefore, what do you think about ___________?” type of post.

In this case, I read online news outlets which falsely claim to bring full coverage. I read blog posts coming through my newsfeed purporting to know what others didn’t. I clicked on opinion pieces demanding what the way forward must look like.

Very little of what I read resonated. 

The facts resonated. Unarmed man shot dead by police. One black and the other white. Race. (In)Justice. A town (nation?) divided. That is gripping. Mr. Brown’s death had the potential to spawn racial conversations which could propel Ferguson forward (and, potentially, all of us) .

Instead news outlets sensationalize. Blog posts are one-sided. And the opinion pieces are, well, opinion. The entire group swoops in to squeeze as much ratings out of the story as possible before they pack up and move on to the next money- (ahem) newsmaker.

140811222359-ac-sot-family-of-michael-brown-speak-00004829-tablet-large-e1408111953709A life is lost. This is so sad.

But also an opportunity is lost. For all that was said, we missed the opportunity to converse. To listen. To learn. To love.

This missed opportunity makes me thankful for Pastor Bob Bixby’s commentary (which I highly recommend you read!). He prescribes a way of relating that would move black and white Christians forward. His words are all very helpful, insightful, and biblical. His is a light in the darkness.

But there were few like it. Most failed to resonate.

Did you ever feel this way?

I struggled to ascertain why that was.

Then I read a post by Seth Godin called, “The end of everyone.” It has no relationship to Ferguson. He says:

I’m not sure if it was ever possible to say, “everyone loves ___,” “everyone respects ___” or even, “everyone really doesn’t like ___”, but there’s no doubt at all that this isn’t true any more. There is no more everyone. Instead, there are many pockets of someones. 

Something clicked.

Inevitably, these well-intended news and opinion pieces end with a call to action. “Everyone needs to wake up.” “Everyone needs to call for justice.” “Everyone needs to X, then Y, and then Z.”

Again, it didn’t resonate. I didn’t feel like I (or everyone) needed to do that. Or this.

Maybe there isn’t the same way forward for everyone

DSC_7433-Ferguson protest don't shoot-aI think the Bible gives us strong admonitions related to the events in Ferguson. “Mourn with those who mourn.” “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness an ever flowing stream.”

How? How do we do that? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure that out. It’s not easy.

Sound bites are easy. Giving a report is easy. Writing this post is easy.

But changing a culture or city or nation? That’s not easy. Uprooting the sin of systemic and institutional racism? We’re not going to solve that this week. Coming against the sin of racism in my own heart? I need to fight that every day.

And maybe that’s the greatest challenge – to grapple with what I can do and will do – which will not be easy nor yield immediate results.

What do you think? 

I’d love to converse, listen, and learn from you so that I can better love others.

Please share your thoughts below!

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For more reading on this topic, I asked the question whether or not I was racist in this post when I posted a picture of Sweet Brown who spoke the memorable words, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” I appreciated the honest and civil conversation that resulted.

 

What kind of man goes to church?

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 1 Comment

man-reading-bibleThis is not a question with a punchline. It’s not a derogatory slight. And it’s honestly not a rhetorical question.

What kind of man goes to church?

The easiest answer would be a Christian man. But let’s keep going.

I would guess a certain number of men given to music. After all, musical worship takes up 25-50% of most services.

There must be a fair number of arm chair theologians, right? The message makes up the bulk of the rest of the service.

Is that it? Christian men who like music or theology?

pants-yell-video-someone-loves-youOf course not. That only covers the kind of men that show up on a Sunday. There are more things churches do during the week.

There are men that do softball Thursday nights.

There are men that meet early for breakfast on Wednesdays.

There are men that lead small groups in their homes or service opportunities in their communities.

Are these the kind of men that go to church?

So where am I going with this?

Here’s my concern: Amidst all of the different types of men that go to church, there is one that gets little to no attention.

He doesn’t get blog posts written about him. His example isn’t lauded for others to follow. No one studies him to know why he is the way that he is.

Who is he? He is a loving man.

No. Not sensual, romance-novel lovers.

Rather the man that loves God and people. Deeply. Sacrificially.

We know God is love. John Mark McMillan accurately penned the song How He Loves. The main chorus? Oh, how he loves us.

We know Christ loves. He demonstrates his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, he died for us. In a church of 100 (or, for that matter, 1,000 or 10,000), he would leave them all to pursue one who is going astray. Oh, how he loves.

But do we have any examples of Christian men as deep lovers of God and people? Are they there and we’re not seeing them? Or are we not seeing them because they’re not there?

It’s what makes the example of Jesus — the man — so compelling. He loved. He loved the woman caught in adultery seemingly as much as he did his great friend, Lazarus. He loved Peter despite his betrayal as much as he did his faithful mother.

He loves me. He loves you. Oh, how he loves.

His love resulted in alienation from his family, his disciples, and his Father.

His love resulted in violence toward himself.

His love gave and gave and gave.

Oh, how he loves.

He was a theologian. He was a teacher. He was a leader. He was a communicator. He was a healer.

But, more so than all of these, he was a lover.

There are many church stories of brilliant theologians. Many stories of men who had eloquent speech. Many who could lead or blog or gather a (social media) crowd. Honestly, how many times have you seen the Christian pastor introduced with the bio, “He took his church from 30 to 3,000”? So many stories.

But there are precious few stories of loving men or loving leaders.

Why? Does that kind of man go to church and we’re not seeing them? Or are we not seeing them because they’re not there?

Question:

  • Why do you believe we esteem many characteristics of our leaders (even worthy ones like intelligence, musical ability, communication skills, etc.) more so than love?
  • Do you have an example of a man or woman (see below) that has been for you an example of God’s love? Would you share their story?

Note: the decision to write this post directed to men was intentional. I do not view them as THE problem or the only problem. There are many women who are not known for love. They too need to be challenged to love God and others more deeply. 

The decision was a stylistic one. I felt it flowed better this way than by addressing both genders simultaneously.

It also reveals a desire to lovingly confront Christian leaders, the majority of which is comprised of men, though not exclusively. I hope we can highlight this and be known for our love.

 

Why I am grateful God sees me as I am sinning

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I’ve sinned in my life. A lot.

Price is RightBut wait, there’s more. As a result of my sin I’ve received the added bonuses of embarrassment, guilt, shame, and brokenness. It’s the worst Price is Right showcase ever.

Some time ago I had the startling realization. He sees me when I’m sleeping. He knows when I’m awake. He knows when I’ve been bad or good…

No, not Santa. God.

southfloridacaraccident001God sees. God sees all. He sees when I’ve been bad. But he doesn’t just come upon the scene afterwards like a state trooper does a car accident. He’s there the entire time. Hebrews 4:13 says, “And no creature is hidden from his sight, all are naked and exposed to his eyes.”

God sees me as I’m sinning. He sees me in my first temptation. He sees me in the mental struggle and the rationalization. He sees as my affections turn away. He sees me as I say “yes” to falsehood rather than truth, darkness rather than light, death rather than life, sin’s embrace rather than his.

He sees me as I am sinning.

In such moments, John Owen wonders, “Do I count fellowship with God of so little value that for this vile lust’s sake, I have hardly left him any room in my heart?”

Yes. In that moment I have left little room in my heart for him. I count connection with sin as greater than connection with my Savior.

And as I turn away from him he keeps his eyes on me.

Have you ever babysat? If so, you know how hard it can be to keep watching. Little kids do some crazy things. They may be dangerous, gross, or embarrassing. In such moments the easiest thing to do is look away.

God doesn’t look away. He sees all. All of my dangerous, gross, and embarrassing moments.

Brennan Manning wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel, “God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am” (25).Ragamuffin-Gospel

I’m not excited that God sees me as I’m sinning. But I am grateful for it.

Otherwise, how can I be assured that he is still willing to save me? If he only sees in part, maybe he only saves in part. But if he sees all, I can be assured that he can save all. Even my grossest, most shameful, disturbing, and embarrassing sins, can be redeemed!

If you’re anything like me, and have sinned a lot, take hope today in his grace.

He has seen all. Even still, he is willing to save.