Graciousness is the balm for incivility.
Compassion is ointment for bigotry.
Forgiveness is surgery to heal anger.
Servanthood is the hospital for curing pride.
I am not surprised. The news that broke this week about Planned Parenthood is a natural outgrowth of secular thought. Just as superiority of a certain ethnicity is an outgrowth of evolutionary thought. Treating aborted babies as a cash crop is consistent. Stating the alternative of just throwing ‘it’ away a dry juxtaposition on an empty system. We must realize that secularism is not morally neutral.
Religion as a whole has its problems. Though by religion in North America people usually mean Christianity. After all, the voice of the church was not loud when slavery was around, though there were Christians and churches that decried the barbarism. The ills of the past are often thrown in Christianity’s face. Such misses the point of Christianity, but that is for another day. In reality the problem is not religion specific, but of the marriage of church and state that is the issue. What is often decried as “church” was really “state” in past history.
That is the past, let us focus on recent history. In the 20th century secularism took on greater vigor. As evolutionary thought exploded and theologically conservative Christians (unwisely) abandoned centers of cultural influence, secularism blossomed with greater speed. Along with the explosion of secularism was the political movement of socialism/communism/fascism. Society formed a spectrum of tolerance whereby religion was either forbidden, ‘tolerated to a point,’ or said to only be placed in one’s private life, not the public square. The premise of this form of thought is fairness, justice, and what is best for society as a whole. Humanity paid a price.
Racism now had scientific backing, not just a mere political/colonialism one. In the name of the greater good and the shelving to outright forbidding religion the human soul was lost. Religion was no longer to “force” it’s views on morality, though morals were being forced on everyone through secular society: Conform or be labeled and destroyed. In this seemingly progressive period of history, racism fell out of favor, though the strongest supporters of secularism and racism still had cards to play: government and “best for society.”
The slavery of the confederacy was outlawed, and the KKK type things were formed. These too slowly fell out of favor, but eugenics and then the abortion issue came into vogue as KKK types lost favor. Social safety nets also formed under the nobility of the “war on poverty.” Going against the wisdom or the effectiveness of such social help programs is to be going against the poor. Going against abortion is to be on the wrong side of the war on women. Standing for morality based on a religious premise is to be like the racists of the past, except such people are not.
In the United States, slavery, the Confederacy, the KKK, Socialism, Secularism, and Planned Parenthood have one common ancestor. Globally secular and evolutionary thought pays a common price. In recent history secularism slaughtered millions. In the name of the common good or even choice a terrible price was paid: people can be less than human. And when people are less then human, discarding such lesser beings is consistent both scientifically or for the common good. Harvesting human body parts from abortions instead of dumping them in the trash is not unreasonable. The wretchedness of such a juxtaposition is lost upon secularism. Gone (maybe, doubtfully) is the racism, but the pillar of racism isn’t: that a group of people can be less than human.
Secularism is not the answer, for in it we have more people slaughtered than any event in history of mankind, minus the flood. If avoiding religion brings the slaughter of millions, and the abuse of religion brought on its own tragedies, what then is the solution? For humanity could not live up to the ideals of religion, nor could humanity live up to its own ideals in secularism. Racism is bad, that is nearly universal now, but abortion kills more African Americans than any other type of death, bar none. Our social safety nets have destroyed families and heaped upon us the problem of absent fathers. Fatherless homes have a massive impact on crime, mental health, the economy, and education. We now live in the mess created in large measure by secularism. What, then, is the solution?
The misunderstanding of Christianity is that the church is perfect. The church is not perfect, but it is about being perfected by the only one who can change us. The good news, known as the Gospel, is that Jesus showed us a better way to solve problems: Loving sacrifice. Jesus demonstrated this by dying on a cross, though he is innocent, for our sins, though we are guilty. The concept of freedom comes from God and specifically the person of Jesus. For freedom’s sake Christ set us free. Government or secularism cannot solve humanities ills, nor can religion.
Can there be good and nobel secularists? Yes. But, there cannot be a good and noble secular society. Secularism is not morally neutral and has it’s own sins to atone for. But justice and the good of society cannot come at the price of our humanity. We bear the image of God. All people of all ethnicities do. If this were not true, than why did Jesus say go into all the world and preach the Gospel? The greatest mark of equality is not by law, but by Jesus. The only answer for religion and secularism’s ills is the forgiveness that Jesus already provided. There is no other way to balance the scales of justice. Humanity’s sin is too great.
I finally found the solution to ALL the church’s problems! For sure this will be a chapter in my up and coming book “Humility and how I achieved it.” Oh wait! I do have a chapter about that! Let me be frank, cause I love you. Church has a big y’all don’t agree with me issue. Here is what I mean:
Be a cheerleader
That’s right. Start off by trying to encourage people not be a critic. (Yeah, some of you preacher boys should just stop reading right now and focus on this part.) We all have too many critics but not enough cheerleaders. My critics practically killed me! Cheerleading is a choice.
There is nothing more comfortable than being around a loving person. That person may even point out where you’re wrong, like a loving mommy saying “you’re not wearing that are you!?” while baking you epic chocolate chip cookies. Seriously, love comforts. Don’t pour gas on a bad situation. Bring about peace and comfort. That’s what I do.
Be a team
You live as a team or you die as a team. Period. Work together. I do believe the Spirit is readily available to help with this. After all, if we don’t row together alike a team… Work it out and be a team. Easy to do when the above is true! So, get in line and be like me!
We have affection and and sympathy for people we are loyal to. An we even do that for friends of our friends. So, care about the people I care about.
Here is what it comes down to: You need to have the same mind and love as me. Really. Church would be so much better this way. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this whole thing is be in arrogant. “Oh course everything in church would be better if we thought like you, duh!” “You’re just thinking of yourself! What about diversity all?” My response? You’re just thinking about you. In fact, you think church would be better if people were one with you and not me.
Why I’m right and you should be like me
I could have had the good life, but I didn’t. I sacrificed and worked hard just like you do. But, I did it for you and not myself. I put up with a lot. And frankly, it killed me. You humiliated me and being in this job I got blamed for things I didn’t even do. But hear me out. There is a day coming when everyone will agree that I am right and people should be like me. Mark my words: everyone.
The bottom line:
This chapter is called Philippians Chapter Two. My brother Paul wrote it for me. (If y’all think like and agree with him you’ll be well on your way to being like me.) Humility is the KEY! So, what church to be better? Be humble like me. It’s the only thing that work.
Love you all!
Many of us have wondered, is this really how my life is supposed to be? Maybe your life’s story is marked by poor decisions or the hurtful actions of others. How can you turn things around? Is God still interested in using you? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Rewritten guides you through five life opportunities to exchange your story for God’s story. When you become the person He designed you to be and accomplish the tasks appointed to only you, you will experience the greatest fulfillment you could ever know and bring hope to a broken world.
Bruce & Heather Moore made the most extreme decision of their lives by leaving a large suburb church to rebirth a dying church with one year to live. They have seen the radical transformation of a church and the stories of countless lives rewritten. Bruce serves as Senior Pastor at Christ Fellowship Tampa and they have a very active preschooler.
reWritten is logical and flows together well as a book. The book is written in three sections: Your Story, God’s Story and The Exchange. The aim of the books is towards those whose lives are a wreck, though anyone will benefit from reading it. The first part had me skeptical at first of the book, until I remembered that ministry is really that messy. The second part is well written. The third part is pure gold. I appreciate discussion and thought questions, ‘story builders,’ were well placed throughout the chapters than merely as an after thought.
Story as metaphor
The Moore’s use the concept of story as a metaphor throughout the book. The over all concept of exchanging our story for God’s story. reWritten reflects this in the layout. The metaphor adds significance to how God uniquely designed each one of us for His good purpose. What stands out from this is how approachable the book is; gracious and dealing with truth.
He said what?!
My heart leaped when I read the table of contents. We too often get locked into the idea that if life is good, then God is blessing. The Moore’s deal with the topics of humility and suffering! Too often these areas are ignored. Of note, the section of forgiveness is well done. It’s important to read the book from beginning to end to get the full scope, but mark the last section up well. It’s an excellent resource for counseling. I appreciate in how the personal stories shared makes God the hero. Some stories end exceptionally, while other end with ‘because this is what God wants of us.’
“With each moment that we suffer, God brings us gifts that change our perspective and allow other people to see His grace in our lives.” p. 139 on suffering
reWritten is approachable without being inaccurate. It is definitely written from a pastoral heart that cares deeply for people. The book has one of the best rhythms I’ve seen in a long time. The first section had me on edge a little as almost being cliché. When starting to read remember that, yes, ministry is that messy. We forget that too often. The second part is a clear description of God’s image in our lives and the rhythm really picks up there. The pattern of the book is one we should model in ministering to people; moving from where they’re at to where God wants the to be.
The bottom line:
reWritten is an excellent resource to help people to take the mess of their story and to seeing what God wants to do in their life. This is a book that pushes us to live Godly, seeking what He is doing in our circumstances. It builds a big picture of the great God we serve. Well written, the book also addresses topics we often ignore, such as humility and suffering. For those who actively council and minister to people, reWritten is a helpful guide to keep on hand.
God’s blessing is not fragile. Too often we view God’s blessing as some delicate mist. If we make the slightest wrong move *p o o f* it vanishes away. Preachers and churches often craft statements like If you don’t do [insert topic de jour here] then you won’t get God’s blessing. Another way we see this tyranny is when making decisions. We struggle to figure out which choice God will bless. Why? Cause if we choose wrongly, *p o o f*… This view treats God’s blessing as a form of tyranny. This misses the point of the Gospel, and misunderstands God’s love.
The last few weeks I’ve been reflecting on the life of Peter. Peter and I both have what I like to call “hoof in mouth disease.” Peter was passionate and full of life. This often got him into trouble. Yet, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to say that God blessed Peter and his ministry. Peter denied Jesus. Three times, actually. This same Peter preached the first sermon of the church. Peter reached out to gentiles (Acts 10), was care-fronted by Paul for hypocrisy (Gal 2) and yet wrote to prolific letters (1&2 Peter). Peter died upside down on a cross. God blessed his ministry.
A Prostitute, A Foreigner, An Adulteress
Rahab was a prostitute. She’s in Jesus’ genealogy of Matthew. Hebrews 11 lists her as a women of faith. Ruth acted in faith and married Boaz. She’s also in Jesus genealogy. A book written about her faithfulness in pursuing God stands in contrast to the time of Judges when “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Israel did not view foreigner’s well at that time. Bathsheba committed adultery with King David. She’s also in Jesus’ genealogy. David was still considered a man after God’s own heart. Glaring issues, still blessed by God.
God’s blessings is not fragile because the Gospel is not fragile! The grace and mercy of the Gospel overcomes the fragility of God’s blessings. To treat God’s blessing as something delicate is to fundamentally misunderstand the Gospel. Jesus died ONCE of ALL our sin. Jesus rose again, defeating sin and death. While we were yet sinners Christ died for the ungodly. Jesus acted before we were worthy of being blessed. God’s blessing isn’t connected to our actions as much as its connected to the Gospel.
Wisdom & Faith
Act based on wisdom and faith. Being in Christ doesn’t mean we should do anything what we want. Does God bless sin? No. Bible makes that pretty clear. Two key themes in Scripture point to how God desires for us to act: 1) acting based on wisdom and 2) acting based on faith. They are tired together. Make the best informed choice you can make and step out on faith. Seek wise counsel, search the Scripture, pray throughout the process and act in faith. That makes God happy.
What if I choose wrong?
John says that if we confess our sins Jesus is faithful and just to forgive. Why? The Gospel is the foundation of God blessings us. God even uses our mistakes to conform and sharpen us into the image of Christ. Be less worried about error and more concerned about gaining wisdom and acting in faith. God’s blessing isn’t that fragile. In fact, it’s His desire to bless those who are in Christ. Yes, we can squander God’s blessing. But, look at Peter, God can bless big messes. Some trophies of Grace just take more polishing than others.
The bottom line:
We shouldn’t use “God’s blessing” as a form of tyranny. Rather, God’s blessing should point us to the Gospel. God’s blessing and love are not fragile things. They produced for us a unwaivering relationship with Him through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus. If we make mistakes, the Cross covers it. Focus on gaining wisdom and walking in faith. God even uses our mistakes to form us more into
25 years ago on January 5th, 1986 I asked Jesus to save me. It is the day that changed everything. I remember sitting in my bed dreading going back to school and reflecting on all I heard at church. I knew one thing clearly: I needed to trust in Jesus.
I have no regrets over the best 25 years. This doesn’t mean I made no mistakes. It doesn’t mean there aren’t times I could have made better decisions. It means this: The cross covers all sin. Ponder that for a moment. The moment we trust in Christ He erases all your sin, past, present and future. Instead of regrets I embrace the hope of the Gospel.
Back to being
I once heard a story where a person asked a pastor what was the difference between Christianity and religion. “Religion is do, Christianity is done.” I’ve learned it is very easy to get caught up in ‘doing’ instead of what Christ is most concerned about: ‘being.’ Our favor with God is completely based on the Gospel. A sharp focus on being will result in a more sustainable doing of good things. Busyness hinders our walk. Resting and waiting on God renews it.
Church is the hero
I believe the Church is the greatest institution for hope on Earth. For sure the Church has problems, but those problems, like regrets, the cross covers. To be a part of the church only takes two things: brokenness and the Gospel. There is no other place where brokenness is embraced with a future hope of Christ making all things new. Even though there are churches who may not get this or churches who ignore sin altogether, God is in control. He will make the Church right.
God is enough
The heart and breadth of the Gospel and existence is this: God is enough. Adam & Eve did not think so. Their actions led us to live in a world that does not make sense apart from God and His Word. God did not leave us to ourselves. He did not force us into some extreme contest to earn His favor. God provided the perfect and completely sufficient way to have favor in His sight: Jesus (Jn 14:6).
We often get confused in the craziness in life. We think what is good is from God and what is bad is from the Devil. I find God in both the good and the bad times. For in both the central question being asked is this: Is God enough? All of life is shaping us for His good purpose, and in the end we will understand fully this question. Without God, we have and are nothing. With Him, we have what is most important in life.
The bottom line:
It is so sweet to trust in Jesus. He will make all things new. He will one day perfect those who are His. But, the greatest isn’t the restoration He provides. The greatest part of the Gospel is I can call Him my friend.
Crisp, winter winds blew the snow into piles.
The swirling snow could be seen for miles.
Just when it looked like there was nowhere to run from this snow cloud in my house.
Behold I was scared for I nearly tripped on a mouse.
The poor little creature had come in from the cold
Along with his family ten thousandfold!
I stopped and I thought, “Do I take pity on them all?”
or do I throw them all out like little bouncing balls?
And so I grabbed their tails as they started to run,
and threw them out one by one.
Before they were all out the door in a row, one turned its head and said “why do humans hate we mice so?”
I chuckled and said “maybe because you’ve all eaten my cheese and cake and cookie dough.”
As the mice wandered off into the cold winter night,
I saw in the distance an unfamiliar light.
It’s glow was warm and it flickered and danced.
As the snow swirled around, I fell into its trance.
A man with a fiddle and a man with a bass, played Christmas music
at that yonder place.
The music that floated gently through the air, spoke of Christ’s wonder,
goodness and grace.
They sang a song of that blessed pair
No room in the inn, were left out in the night air.
The melody went on, it spoke of the fame
Of the prince who came to declare his Father’s name.
And who should appear but the mice I threw far from me.
Their voices sounding like a sweet symphony.
A lump grew in my throat as I looked down in the snow,
There is a lesson here that someone wants me to know.
So I took the scene in afresh and anew.
I paused to ponder like so few do.
“Mr. Mouse, you asked why humans hate you so.
It has something to do with snow.
For in a town, a long time ago,
was born our savior whom we must know.
He brings a future hope of all things new:
A lion with a lamb, and a man with such as you.”
And in this scene of wind, snow and music pleasant,
we remember the Savior as our greatest present.
And once more they lifted their music loud,
for a man named Jesus overcame sin’s shroud.
I said to the mouse “Our sin and hatred He will no longer know,
because of Jesus we can start fresh, white as snow.”