The Church, Theo...

Who turned out the lights for a brighter future?

Stained Glass Window
by Hauki-

Every once in a while an article or articles you post online blows up your feed. Clearly, lighting in a worship center is a sensitive issue. In the ground swell of discussion there are a few concerns and patterns that need to be addressed. The lighting issue is a symptom of a greater issue within the North American Church, issues we do need to repent of.

One God, sneaky idols…
Churches worship methods as Christians worship preferences. While churches decry consumerism, Christians can point out the out of balance focus on methodology. Shedding light on modern idols is essential. We should operate from our theology and not our methodology. Methods change, who God is does not. On the individual side, church is not a commodity or business, it is a family. Being the church via one’s preferences misses a major point in the Bible: It’s not about you. Let us be frank: method worship and preference worship are major idols we the church need to remove.

One family, many discussions…
We are too quick to end discussions, as if the truth is already clearly known or understood. We are too quick to take offense. For example: The no light crowd pounces on the non-biblical issue with a side of evangelism. The all light all the time crowd brings out the design and Bible issue. Boom. Then there are people on the entire spectrum who say we shouldn’t discuss such things as there are more important issues. All three shutter discussion that is healthy and important. As Christians we stop discussion way too often and to our hurt. Cue the passages that talk about listening.

One creator, numerous stories…
Design communicates. Design matters. How we act as a church communicates our message as much or more so than what we say. For instance: Try communicating about Jesus’ birth in a brightly lit room, or discuss heaven in a dimly lit dark one. In both these scenarios the environment is antithetical to the story. Both these stories also need to be communicated with utmost clarity. We must stop treating the arts, such as design, as a non biblical, minor issue. Our mission to clearly communicate and proclaim who God is requires that such be brought under the light of our theology to reach a darkened world. After all, artists are a part of the body of Christ.

One church, open back doors…
In the last few decades there is a price the church paid: the de-churched. The idolatry, shuttering of discussion, and schizophrenic views on the arts cost the church too much. After all, we are family. Perhaps church growth would improve if our back doors were what we shuttered and not discussion, if we valued the glory of God more and our little kingdoms less. We can open our front doors more with artistic brilliance as more darken the seats of our worship centers. That is a worthy discussion, but there are sins we as a church family must repent of first. We’ve already paid too high a price.

The bottom line:
How we light our churches is not a big deal. How we discuss it shines a light on a dark stains the blood of Christ can easily wipe clean. While lighting may not be significant, there is too deep a price we paid. So, why not have the discussion and let the grace which God lavished on us and predestined before the foundations of the world conform us to the image of His son. Why not focus on the long-suffering and patience aspects of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. As a family we can and must do better.

Life & Learning

Becoming a dad is the solution

DSC_0754What would a world without dads look like? Here are some surprising statistics from fatherless children:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home

Fatherless homes make up nearly 22% of American children. A father in every home will not eliminate crime, but it would not hurt. An involved and time invested father in every home, that would radically change the country. A life without fathers would be catastrophic, and the issue is growing not shrinking. So, here is the solution, if you’re a father, work hard at being a dad.

First step to being a dad is to find a good, godly dad and learn from him
Modeling is critical as being a dad is something that is caught. Just being in the presence of a dad who is active in the life of his children will give one great insight. Interact with this dad and learn all that you can from him. There is no such thing as the perfect dad, but there is such thing as godly examples. By networking with other dads, a growing dad can gain insight, accountability and skill in raising children. Dave Simmons, in his Dad the Shepherd Series, calls this an e-team (Encouragement- team). This is a group of three to five dads who hold each other accountable and learn from each other as they work through how to be a dad. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Second step to being a dad is to be a part of the body of Christ
The family and the church should not be at odds with each other. My dad’s three goals in my life made church a natural connection to meet those goals, where else could I effectively learn the Bible, discernment and service at the same time? Serving the Lord was the highest ideal growing up. My parents had missionaries over, pastors over, speakers over, ministry teams over, Christian musicians over, Bible studies, etc. They did this to serve Jesus. People from all over the world that call Christ their savior celebrated Christmas at one time at my parent’s house. The mission of the Woznek family was to serve the church because that meant serving God. Get your family to serve together.

Third step to being a dad is to be intentional
My dad had set three clear goals for me, and he held vigorously to them. The goals set for me were simple and guided the decisions he made. My dad did not sub-contract my life to other institutions; he used them to accomplish the goals he set. I wanted to serve at a camp I spent much time at during my summers, but dad would not allow it. This was a great frustration to me. Serving every summer at one camp would limit other experiences I could have. That decision was invaluable. While serving in various ministries, I had multiple experiences to draw wisdom, far more than had I only served at one place. It fit in with my dad’s goal, and it enriched the times I did serve at my desired camp. The way dad used other institutions in my life to reach certain goals produced another attribute to my life.

Fourth step to being a dad is talk talk talk
De-briefing was a regular part of my life. If a dad is not intentional in how he builds his children, debriefing is a very difficult thing to do. The de-brief is the ultimate indicator that involvement is taking place. My dad and I talked about everything. This happened because my dad started when I was young. In my later years I would voluntarily talk with my dad about the days events, there was no “How was school today.” Joys, victories and practical jokes were all shared. De-briefs, however, were also hard when dealing with failure. Without fail a discussion would occur as to why discipline measures were taken. Discipline was talking. Dad would walk me through the choice that was made, and the consequences of that choice. This taught me how to think and how to think biblically.

The bottom line:
The fifth step is the most joyful and the most painful: my dad let me go and became a cheerleader and resource to me. While his goals were met, it is never easy to let one graduate to adulthood. The fifth step would never have had happened if the others were not followed. If I need advice, or to bounce things off someone, dad is there.

Life & Learning

Avoiding politics is laziness

DSC_0010A growing trend are those who disdain discussions of politics. Sadly, this is why politics is caustic. I am asserting that the avoidance of politics is a major problem, for Christians as well. This mindset costs us liberty and truth. Political avoidance allows us to chuck our discernment, life of thought and even empathy in exchange for the illusion of a good life. We need to be more politically astute.

If people knew…
While attending a leadership conference in Washington DC a democrat chief of staff stated, “If the American people truly understood how things work we would not get away with all that we do.” The purpose of the conference was to educate and help people to better understand. The implication at the conference is there is an inherent system of corruption. Playing off the ignorance of people should be unsettling to us.

Politics is truly local
The complexities of getting something done is profound. The hoops to jump through at various levels of government at times is absurd. We invest too much focus on national or federal politics and not enough on state or local politics. For example, much issues people have with Common Core is actually a state vs school board issue, not a Federal take over issue. Often what frustrates educators and then parents is changes made in state capitals, not DC. Who are your state representatives? Don’t know who they are? There is a key problem.

Character matters
For civil government to work, character and morality are essential. The result of losing character is the mess we have today. For example, many are against vaccinations. Much of this comes from a distrust of various institutions and government itself. Another example is the litigious society that we live in. Much of the vitriol in politics is a result of a loss of character. This is where religion plays a critical role in the life of a society. It’s presence in the public square is essential. A secular society in inherently unstable, as is state run religion.

Justice matters
Politics is determined by those who show up. Top down approaches rarely do well. Top down is great for emergency management, but it is lousy for societal change. Again, politics is profoundly local. Much of the injustice we see stems from not showing up where it counts. Politics is a reflection of us and the reflection of injustice demonstrates out absence. Protesting is a sign of laziness where we didn’t show up. Mobs rarely lead to justice.

Liberty matters
God created man to be free. While I orient my life on the Bible as the way and truth and life, that should not be forced on anyone. In a free society there will be many and even opposing views. This also means that those from a secular viewpoint should not impose their views as well. Too many people are trying to get the government to do their bidding. This inevitably leads to tyranny, whether state religion run societies or fully secular societies. (Even secularists have their fundamentalists.)

The bottom line:
We need to be engaged in politics. A professor drilled into out heads the process: Think. Judge. Redeem. We need tor read and study issues more broadly. Judge the issues on their own merits. Finally, see if the issue should be discarded or redeemed for good. If, like many, you hate politics, remember this: We the people, we the problem. It’s time we show up, for politics at best is living at peace with our neighbors. That can only happen if you show up.

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Pray for Ferguson and Pray for all

Jesus said blessed are the peace makers. For sure we need more of and to be peacemakers. Here are my thoughts on Ferguson:

1) We seriously need to wait for the facts. They don’t come as fast as a CSI episode.
2) We need to be better informed at how law enforcement operates and criminal justice system operates.
3) We need to listen better. Even after the statement was read reporters asked questions that were already answered. Social media did much the same.
4) Using a bad example to push a good point is a bad thing. ‘Yeah, but…” doesn’t help. Sometimes a bad incident is just that.
5) No doubt the jury knew of the ramifications of their decision. No doubt their choice was the harder one to make. Easy to give an indictment and pacify the mob, but is that justice if the facts do not support an indictment?

Manic Mondays

Manic Monday: hello.

I’m fascinated by recent discussions on whether or not churches should have greeting times. I’m fascinated at the awkwardness and plastic nature of it. Many are averse to such things, especially introverts.

Perhaps we need to get back to basics, shall we? Introverts only need a few good friends. But that has to start somewhere. Initial greetings are often awkward, especially those that end in marriage. (My wife thought I was completely and obnoxiously extroverted. We have two incredibly boyz now. Clearly, we got over awkward. Though, she does say I still have to work on the obnoxious extroversion.

Another basic we need to get over is community. Church is a community. As we out it at my church, we’re one happy dysfunctional family. We got issues, and that’s ok because of what Jesus did. Our mistakes are covered. One of the things we value is the individual, not just the church at home. So, we make it a point to say Hi! Hospitality doesn’t mean we change who we are. Being polite and civil means saying hi.

One last thing we need to back to. The idea that something ritual isn’t authentic is absurd. Spontaneity does not equal authenticity. I read the inside of my wedding ring each time I out it on. I pray with my boyz each night. Is that inauthentic because it’s routine, or is the authenticity of those relationships what drives the ritual? Ritual matters and it’s a beautiful language that can serve communities well.

Saying Hello! may be awkward or plastic at first. Then you get to know the person. Hello suddenly carries weight and meaning because bodily language is often unique to each person. The sudden aversion to Hello! has a flip side. Perhaps it can also be a cynical attitude based on an increasingly shallow culture for those who loath it. Or perhaps the ritual of saying hello is really the training ground for true authenticity.

So. Hello. How are you?

Life & Learning

Politics: What I am FOR

DSCF0820Political discussions are often interesting. Too many try to avoid them, which is why we have the mess that we’re in. An informed populace is essential to a free country. Sadly, many are not informed or have not thought through things. Often people try to pigeon hole: Oh, you’re a liberal. Oh, you’re a conservative. (Hysterically, even the no labels crowd does this.) As today is voting day, here is what I am FOR:

I am for individual soul liberty.
I believe one is answerable directly to God and that no religion should be forced upon them. This means people may live according to their conscience. Galatians says that it is for freedom’s sake that Christ set us free. Freedom is no small matter. This also means that religious views and discussion have a place in the public square, especially in matters of life, liberty, justice, and privacy.

Free markets
The beauty of business is that it’s a free exchange of goods without coercion by a government. Central control, central planning, crony capitalism end up being inefficient and tyrannical. Free markets also opens up opportunity for anyone. Prices are determined by the market, not by government interference.

Rule of law
Rule of law limits tyranny. Rule of man is it ends up in tyranny. Many of the issues we struggle with today is because of rule of man either by executive order or by oligarchy of the current judicial system. Deference should be to the people, not to judicial whim or executive fiat. Both the executive and judicial branches have assumed too much authority.

Government promoting good, restraining evil
I believe the role of government is to promote good and restrain evil. This obviously requires rigorous discussion on what is good. This also means governing with the reality that evil exists. When government steps beyond this, I believe it steps beyond it’s God ordained role. I believe that higher levels of government should be limited, with deference to lower lower levels. This means a limited federal government, robust state governments and vibrant local governments.

Pro-family, pro-fathers
While exceptions exist, the rule is that things are best with healthy, intact families. Family dysfunction creates massive loads of stress and the problems associated therein. Laws, safety nets, etc should consider the nuclear family as a primary concern. Many of our safety nets undermine fatherhood. There is a direct correlation between fatherless homes and crime, poverty, etc. This also means we view children as life not as an inconvenience, including the unborn.

Conservation, compassion and responsibility
We should leave things better than what we find them. I believe that a country that has safety nets is compassionate. I also believe that compassion also means helping people achieve their personal responsibility. These ideas bring out the best in people by promoting the good that they can offer, while also restraining the evils of laziness, irresponsibility, and exploitation. Natural resources are for our good and should also be cared for. This includes people, which is society’s greatest resource.

Cautious foreign policy
Government should act with the understanding that evil exists. A robust military is essential. At the same time, intervention in other affairs should be done with caution for the reasons stated above. A more prudent course of action in foreign policy would do our country well. Both isolationism and over assertiveness is unwise.

Civility and vibrant debate
I think in all matters we can be civil. We can and should have robust debates about critical issues. The current oligarchy nature of the judicial branch, over reach by the executive branch, and the polarization by two political parties and media undercuts this ideal. We have a bigotry and civility problem in our country. We are all share the blame.

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To my pastor friends!

To those who work hard at making disciples, not your own kingdom,
To those who love their sheep as the foundation to reach the lost,
To those deeply wounded by church, but hold firmly to the resurrection of Jesus,
To those who faithfully teach the Bible, not just self help tips,

Dust your boots off at night, and put them on again in morning,
Rest well, and work hard,
Rest in the grace of God and comfort of the Spirit,
And when you’re frustrated or think you can’t do it, you can!
Why? Cause Jesus rose from dead!

Happy Pastoral Appreciation Month! You can do it!

Love,
Pastor Ty