Answering my “critics” on why I am so UNopinionated in my blog posts

Posted on by Cor in LIFE | 9 Comments

censoredI am most criticized on my blog for not sharing my perspective. That may be the first time EVER such a criticism was leveled at a blogger. But it’s a fair criticism. I’m very slow to share my thoughts.

Why?

My main interest is to start conversations around the gospel. Those conversation may take place in the comments. It may also take place among friends, only one of which needs to have read my post. One of the highest compliments I can be given is that something I wrote ignited a conversation amongst roommates, or spouses, or small groups.

You may then ask, “Can’t you share your opinion as part of the conversation?” Yes. I can. And I have. And I will continue to do so. Sparingly.

6a01538e92ee33970b0168e61c7f73970cWhy will I comment only sparingly?

#1 – See “my main interest” above.

#2 – Inserting my opinion can (though it mustn’t need to) stifle rather than foster conversation.

#3 – Some mistakenly think I have it all figured out.

#4 – I am very blessed to see into the thinking of others through their responses. Do NOT undervalue the opinions of others!

#5 – There have been many times where other commenters have shared thinking similar to my own.

JFK_Sticker#6 – How many teachers (or parents) let their students (or children) struggle to find the answer on their own despite being begged for it? *Cor touches nose twice*

#7 – It takes a tremendous physical, emotional, and spiritual effort to come up with an idea, write on it, edit
it, create questions, find a picture, post it online, share it to social media, and figure out
the perfect title to hook you into reading.

#8 – Same as #7 but related to time. I have a full-time family and full-time job.

Do you want me to share my opinion? Here is the only BONA FIDE way to guarantee I will share my opinion on a subject. Write me a letter (pastorcor@gmail.com).

I’ll respond.

Rottenecards_7478922_pqtsry4t99Remember the widely known “Dear Abby” column? Like that. You write a note discussing a problem and I’ll give you my best advice. I promise.

But you have to be willing for me to anonymously post on my blog the content of your letter and my response.

How’s that sound?

Share your comment below. Better yet, send me your first letter (pastorcor@gmail.com)!

Should your spouse be your best friend? Prominent pastor says “NO!”

Posted on by Cor in Sex and Relationships | 12 Comments

1015g4“There was a time in my life when I nursed two irresponsible thoughts: I saw [my wife] as my best friend, and I concluded that my life was too busy for close friendships.”

The quote comes from Gordon MacDonald, a once prominent pastor and current chancellor of Denver Seminary. He has also served as a counselor to former President Bill Clinton and editor-at-large with Leadership Journal (connected to Christianity Today). In other words, this is one smart dude.

He makes his point explicit by saying “a spouse and a best friend are likely to be two different people.”

I find his words jarring. Especially when I consider the Christian subculture of marriage.

How often have I heard of a fiancé exclaiming, “I’m so excited to marry my best friend”?

It begs the question, what does MacDonald believe a best friend should be and do? And how does that compare to what he believes a spouse should be and do?

MacDonald clarifies that a best friend should challenge him in “such things as the quality my marriage, the state of my soul, the quality of my speech, the style of my financial life, and the depth of my relationships.” He says relieving his wife of some (emphasis mine) of that responsibility has increased their intimacy and connection.

After hearing him out, I bristle less than I did at first. He would use the term “best friend” in a manner differently than me.

I do believe that my marriage can benefit from having a dude speak into my life. And I believe I have this with several men.

In the end, I’m still likely to call Jill my “best friend.” No one knows me better than she does. There’s no one I spend more time with. And many of the the things MacDonald calls for in a best friend, I see in Jill.

I just sent her a note asking her if I’m her bestie. I’ll let you know which box she checks.

QUESTION:

1. What was your initial response to MacDonald’s quote? Did you bristle like I did or not?

2. Do you find the marriage/best friend mantra to be a part of your Christian subculture?

3. Do you think a spouse and best friend should be two different people? Do you find any benefit in MacDonald’s distinction?

The Story’s Not Over Yet by Max Lucado

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | Leave a comment

00.159.263_PS2The Story’s Not Over Yet by Max Lucado

The message of Easter is clear – the story’s not over yet. We haven’t heard the punchline, and we haven’t finished the battle. Don’t be premature in your judgments or too final in your opinion. The Judge hasn’t returned, and the jury isn’t in.

The story isn’t over yet. All that needs to be said hasn’t been said. And all that will be seen hasn’t been seen.

That’s good news. If your eyes have ever moistened at the newsreels of the hungry, remember the story’s not over yet. If you’ve ever been bewildered as you beheld pain triumph over peace – keep the Easter message in mind. The story’s not over yet.

If you’ve ever found your fists clenched in rage as you read of the atrocities at Auschwitz, I’ve got something to show you. If you’ve stood distraught as you hear stories of yet another hijacking… another serial murderer… another child beating, there is a verse I want you to consider.

Or perhaps your feelings are more personal. Maybe the ugly moments in history and open wounds of our day have dared to leave your television screen and enter your house.

Maybe you’ve buried a child whose body was broken by a reckless driver. Maybe your child had never called you daddy. Maybe the one who promised to love you forever loved you for only as long as it was convenient. Maybe you’ve suffered personally from the cruelties in the world. Maybe the shadow of the question mark has blackened your door.

Maybe you have asked, “Why?”

“The rain on the unjust I can understand… but why the just?” “To suffer the consequences of my sins makes sense, but why should I pay for the sin of others?” “Why the innocent?” “Why the children?” “Why the pure?” “Why me?”

Hard questions. Necessary questions. Questions surfaced by a perplexing passage in Matthew.

Is there any passage in Scripture bloodier than then the killing of the children by the soldiers of Herod? Though not specifically described, its bloody footprints are left between the lines of these verses.

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’ ” -Matthew 2:16-18

It’s a grisly scene: horses galloping, mothers with small boys running and screaming. The flashing of weapons. The flow of innocent blood. The sudden stillness of tiny hands. Mothers clutching lifeless bodies to blood-soaked breasts.

It’s a scene of swords piercing the innocent.

No justification. No explanation. Just cruel carnage. A senseless slaughter.

And during it all, a fat king sits on a throne less than ten miles away, blind to the tears he has summoned, deaf to the anguish he has caused. Herod drinks wine the color of the blood he is spilling.

The wail heard in Bethlehem echoes through the stars. A chorus of chaos refusing to be comforted. A thousand tears with one voice, a hundred hearts with one question.

“Why?”

***

The composer of this chaos watches from a nearby mountain. With each flash of the sword, he claps. With each plunge of the dagger, he gloats.

Evil at its worst. Blackness at its darkest.

This madman sheds no tears for the young-dead. He is intent on only one thing: killing the Christ before He leaves the cradle.

And when the ravage is completed and the madman knows he has failed, he curses, swirls around, and returns to his pit.

***

Thirty years later, the other moment for which Satan has waited arrives. He is repeating his drama of desolation. Once again he is slaughtering the innocent.

Once again swords flash and feet scamper. Once again a spineless king called Herod is a pawn in the play. Once again there are the tears of a mother who wonders why. Once again flesh is torn. Once again there are the cries of anguish.

Once again Satan is trying to kill life itself.

This time he has Him where he wants Him. God on a cross. The One who escaped him in Bethlehem is bolted to a tree. Satan applauds as the skin is ripped. “This time You won’t get away!”

A spear breaks through Jesus’ ribs. Once again the innocent is pierced.

“I have done it!” The madman dances amidst the demons. “I have won!”

But the claim is premature.

For the crucified One who descends the spiral stairway into the cavern of death is not a defeated messiah. And He has not come to surrender. Far from it. He is a creator, and He has come to reclaim His own.

He has come to storm the gates of death.

He scatters the demons and rips open the prison doors. He takes captivity captive and frees the faithful.

You can be sure of one thing. Among the voices that sing His welcome are His Bethlehem brothers. They died that He might escape. He has now died that they might escape. They died that He might live. And now, He’s returned to return the favor.

The Easter announcement is clear. Victory is secure. Wails of Bethlehem will turn into the victories of Calvary. Don’t forget that.

The next time the soldiers of Satan steal the joy from your arms.

The next time your prayers float into a silent sky.

The next time you wonder how God could sit still while the innocent suffer.

Remember, the story’s not over yet. Remember the Easter Jesus rescued the imprisoned and remember…He is coming to do it again.

7 Accessible Ways to Connect with Jesus this Easter season

Posted on by Cor in FAITH | 2 Comments

Christ crucifiedMy choice of the word “accessible” over “easy” was intentional. Connecting with Jesus is accessible to all of us. But if I were to say “easy” too many would misunderstand this to mean “fast”. I don’t offer you 10 “fast” ways to connect with Jesus. But I do believe they are accessible ways.

1. Bless his name.

Call out praise to him. Easter depicts the climactic salvation of our God. There is no more appropriate response than to bless, or exclaim, or praise, his name.

Psalm 100 beckons (that’s a good word) us to: 1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good;his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

2. Dwell with him.

“Dang, I’m so busy right now.” Who has time for dwelling with God? It’s so time-consuming and unproductive. Right?

When I state it in such frank terms, it’s easy to deny we would ever hold time/productivity over and against God. But, practically speaking, isn’t that (at times, not always) what we state by our perpetual busyness?

Dwell with him. “Even if I made time, what would I do?”

Hey, thanks for asking.

3. Read the accounts of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Matthew. Mark. Luke. John. For a helpful comparison of the accounts read this.

Then read 1 Corinthians 15 which is the Bible’s most explicit interpretation of the implications of the resurrection.

Jesus died. No two words have greater significance. Yet how casually (carelessly?) we can invoke them in order to dabble with sin. They become our means of prescribed healing before we’ve even tasted sin’s deceitfulness. How special his death is. No matter how many times we’ve celebrated Good Friday, may we pray our hearts be gripped by the one who was forsaken so that we might be forgiven.

He is risen! They are the three words upon which the entire Christian faith hangs. For “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” But “in fact Christ has been raised from the dead!” So shall come to pass the saying: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

4. Listen to him.

God’s Word is amazing. It is a treasure map with X’s that mark-the-spot on every page.

Some of you are well acquainted with it. You’ve seen these X’s before. So don’t read it this Easter to be informed of something new. Read it so that God can form something new in you.

5. Listen for him.

This is a spiritual exercise that few try and fewer persevere in. It is the ritual of being still and silent before the Lord.

Have you ever sat in silence, quieting your soul like a little boy named Samuel? 1 Samuel 3:8-10

“Oh, there it is. I knew I could find an INaccessible option on his list.”

Okay. Hear me out.

Have I done this? Yes. Does it always (ever?) yield an audible response by God? No. Have I felt foolish at times for sitting in silence where nothing appears to happen? Yep.

But I can also recount times of feeling God’s presence. I could call this God “speaking ‘peace’ to my soul.” I could call it experiencing him. I could call it being filled with his Spirit. Regardless, we have a Father that delights in connecting and communicating with us, through his Word and by his Spirit. So trying listening for him.

Christ art6. Obey him.

Honestly, this is where I’m being undone right now.

Last week I was reading in 1 Samuel. Saul had been given instructions by God. They came through Samuel’s mouth. But Samuel had made it clear Saul needed to listen to these “words of the Lord.” Saul had completed God’s decrees. Mostly.

Through the Lord, Saul’s disobedience was revealed to Samuel. In his rebuke of Saul’s disobedience, he asked, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?”

Saul rationalized his sin by pointing to his works of faithfulness.

Then Samuel said this, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen [better than] the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination.”

I’ve been thinking about that last line all week. When I rebel it is commensurate to divination. Wow.

I don’t obey God in order to earn his love. Easter reminds me that I’m already supremely loved by God.

I hope to obey because I have God’s love.

7. Attend a Good Friday and Easter Sunday service.

Each of the previous examples could be done in isolation. So connect this week with others, whether through a small group or Easter service. Something special happens when Christ followers come together with the intent of remembering his death.

For me, Good Friday is one of the most emotional and impactful services of the year. And it’s because I am with brothers and sisters in Christ.

May the crazy love of Jesus Christ connect with you again this Easter holiday, or for the first time!

QUESTIONS

1. Did any of these 7 ways of connecting with Jesus resonate with you?

2. What accessible ways, though not always easy or fast, would you encourage people to connect with Jesus this Easter?

Share your comments below!

2014 Reader Survey with book giveaway

Posted on by Cor in LIFE | 3 Comments

I want to take this opportunity to say "THANKS!" I appreciate you and the perspective you bring to the conversation.Hey friends,

I want this blog to start conversations around the gospel in the areas of your life that matter most.

To do that, I’d love to hear from you through a short, easy-to-fill-out survey. It should only take a few minutes but I hope it results in conversations that resonate deeply with your life, relationships, and faith.

Honestly, there are only FIVE required questions, though I’d appreciate as much feedback as you’re willing to share. The first 50 responses will receive a FREE book.

Don’t be afraid to be critical (all you Minnesotans).

Take the survey by clicking HERE.

Thanks so much!

And if you’re looking for the most recent conversations, those that people just like you have gotten excited about, be sure to check out:

  1. A legit conversation on whether Jesus would bake a wedding cake for a gay
    (over 90 comments!)
  2. 9 takeaways from a day with Ed Stetzer, the Yoda of church statistics
  3. Guest post by Sarah Taylor: Ending our wedding ceremony with our first ever kiss