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We’re All Broken

We’re all broken. We’re all sinners. Paul makes that abundantly clear in Romans. Here, he says it right here: 

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23

So if we’re all broken sinners, why isn’t the church more accepting of other sinners? Why does it seem like there are sinners who the church accepts and those it doesn’t? Isn’t it the same kind of hypocrisy Jesus railed against the Pharisees for?

There are thousands of churches in America today who have come to this conclusion. We’re all sinners, and we can’t seem to stop sinning. It was Jesus love and His blood that saved us. Why then, should we draw lines in the sand over things like abortion and same-sex attraction? Why not just accept the gay couple? Why not defend a woman’s right to abortion? After all, we all sin too, so who are we to point fingers?

Something New

A couple decades ago a movement began within American Christianity. It was the “We’re all broken, so let’s figure out how to do this life thing together” movement. Let’s call it WABSLFOHTDTLTT for short. 

The people who started the WABSLFOHTDTLTT movement had an honest aim. It felt like the hell-fire-and-brimstone religion of their father’s generation was rife with hypocrisy. How many of us who grew up in Baptist churches didn’t catch a deacon drinking? It was Jesus’ blood that saved us, so let’s focus on that more and focus on sin much less. That sounded really good.

And millions of Americans agreed.

With this new mindset in hand, teachers were born and turned into celebrities overnight. They could give language to how millions were feeling. Rob Bell was a sensation with his well-produced Nooma videos. We were introduced to a Christianity that had more questions than answers now. 

It became more acceptable to be a pilgrim on a journey for truth than a Bible-thumper. After all, we’re just trying to figure life out. WABSLFOHTDTLTT grew and found more of a home in historically evangelical churches. Blogging became popular in the mid 00’s, which gave rise to the join-me-on-the-journey-of-discovery crowd. Besides, there were far too many theologians who disagreed about things they knew for sure. 

WABSLFOHTDTLTT became the most popular and powerful movement in Christianity, and almost no one realized it. We were still defining movements by denominational lines, but the internet changed all that. We all now had new places to commune together to hear new ideas online, and those crossed denominational lines for the first time. Something new had been born.

Changing of the Guard

WABSLFOHTDTLTT began to develop its own theology and moral code starting about a decade ago. It’s hard to admit to not knowing anything for too long. Instead of knowing what theology was correct, WABSLFOHTDTLTT decided instead that it knew for sure what theologies were wrong. 

Those who engaged with scripture and came to sure conclusions were wrong. None of us can know for sure what God meant in much of the Bible. They knew that Jesus loved us, and that God is love, but beyond that, everything else created more questions than answers. Even who and how God loved was questioned. 

More and more voices became popular during this second decade of WABSLFOHTDTLTT’s maturity. Those voices started to clash with popular voices from the old crowd of theological thought. The crusty old hypocrites gave the new guard plenty to write about, and their books sold like crazy. In the space of five years, the money followed the popularity of a new theology, and the old guard suddenly found their ideas no longer publishable at nearly the same rate as before.

People liked this new theology.

A New Seminary

By 2010, very little of the conservative evangelical community embraced alternate lifestyles like homosexuality and abortion, cohabitation or transgenderism. At least not openly. In 2012, President Barack Obama declared his support for gay marriage. The news media at large quickly pivoted and became incredibly openly gay, where it had been reserved on the matter before. 

Coincidentally, WABSLFOHTDTLTT began speaking up on behalf of the gays and lesbians that the church had left behind at the same time. After all, we’re all sinners, so who are we to judge? Gay marriage and gay inclusion became the force to be reckoned with. But now, WABSLFOHTDTLTT was less on a journey to figure out life and more on a crusade to change the church. 

They had now established schools of theology to train conservative evangelicals, almost entirely online. Books and blogs taught these new seminarians that the Bible says a lot of things about a lot of things, so who are we to say what is sin and what is not? Jesus never uttered the words homosexuality. Paul never spoke about abortion. The questioning was over, and the new theology had been agreed upon. 

The only sin became being part of the old guard. Their most detestable sin was believing in sin at all. The WABSLFOHTDTLTT movement went through a rebranding, and it became “agree with us or get out of the way.” Let’s call it AWUOGOOTW for short. 

Before AWUOGOOTW, churches in America could be recognized by their logos. If not that, their statement of faith certainly made things clear. But after the movement formally known as WABSLFOHTDTLTT became AWUOGOOTW, it became nearly impossible to spot the difference. 

Many churches stopped talking about useful social issues for fear of being pushed out of the way by AWUOGOOTW. 

This all coincided nicely with an orange-haired billionaire deciding to run for president.

The old guard’s positions on homosexuality and abortion fit well into the candidate’s mounting promises. If you were a church, the vanguards at AWUOGOOTW demanded that you make a statement denouncing the Orange One lest you be publicly shamed. Many, many of the old guard churches capitulated to AWUOGOOTW’s demands. 

Voting for Trump became synonymous with the only new sin: believing that we live in a world with any standards at all except what AWUOGOOTW created. AWUOGOOTW had now gone beyond creating a new theology; they had developed a new morality as well. 

When Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, it was universally reported as the fault of the evil old guard Christians. They were part of the mounting demise of America, and it was because they were immoral and hate-mongering bigots. The very morals that used to guide the churches in our nation had immediately become immoral. 

An Ancient Prophecy

Because of the election of Donald Trump, AWUOGOOTW rebranded again. They now became “we’re right, so believe what we tell you to, or else,” WRSBWWTYTOE for short. 

Not everyone who runs with the WRSBWWTYTOE crowd is as beligerant and determined as their leaders are. Many still espouse the heartbeat of the original WABSLFOHTDTLTT movement that started this all off. But make no mistake, WRSBWWTYTOE is no longer interested in figuring life out. It now wants only one thing: the death of the old guard of Christianity. 

We have found ourselves in this condition for one simple reason. It is actually the fulfillment, or at least the partial fulfillment, of an ancient prophecy:

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3

Striking a Nerve

The original WABSLFOHTDTLTT movement’s problem was not their genuine desire to figure life out, but their genuine desire to do so without committing themselves to God and His Word to do it. In many cases, WABSLFOHTDTLTT’s rejection of the hypocrisy they saw from previous generations was justified. What is never justified is to attach God to hypocrisy. 

Instead of seeing the wickedness in their father’s generation and trembling in fear that they would soon repeat it, WABSLFOHTDTLTT assured itself that the path to finding what was right was to go on this grand journey. Their bible was the collective exchange between bloggers, celebrity pastors and conference speakers. 

They struck on a nerve that resonated in our nation, and quickly people had a taste for this sweet treat they were experiencing. Sundays without spiritual confrontation. Church without conviction. Life without the struggle of sin. People all over America and the world chose for themselves teachers who would tickle their ears with such things. And they made them rich and powerful.

True Christianity

Romans 3:23 was always the rally cry of every movement designed to cast off sound doctrine. These church movements have always cherry-picked passages to justify their existence. But Paul shoots down their argument with his preamble to the book of Romans:

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.

Romans 1:5

Paul felt it was his mission to teach the unsaved masses obedience to God that came as an outflow of faith. Faith, as Paul saw it, was not an invitation to include sinners into a social institution, but a means by which we could actually begin to obey God’s righteous commands. 

Obedience to God is foundational to the Christian life, and any movement that departs from that will ultimately depart from God. If your faith is Jesus is what provides you the ability to obey Him, then you are defined as a Christian by the Bible. If your faith provides you the opportunity to live in habitual sin, you have created an entirely new religion that has nothing to do with God or His Word.

And that is exactly what we have in America today. 

A Day to Change

If you have given yourself into this “broken and sinful journeyman” crusade, it ends badly. It ends with God telling you, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you.” It never starts as an outright rejection of sin and peoples’ need of Jesus’ redemption, but it always ends there. 

The church wasn’t created to journey together in sin and brokenness. It was established by Jesus to encourage His true followers to pursue righteousness and obedience to God. Yes, sinful people have found a way to make a mess of that, but that doesn’t change the foundational nature of the church. 

Today is your day to leave behind a theology and lifestyle that embraces sin as a way of life. It is your opportunity to repent of your sinfulness and accept Jesus and choose to follow Him all the days of your life. If you have never done that, or aren’t even sure what that means, I encourage you to reach out today. You can email me from my contact form on this site.

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Stop Fighting Over Pie

There is a tendency to get defensive and territorial when we see others begin to move into our space. We’re all prone to it.

  • When that person sits next to you on the plane at the last minute when you thought you had the row to yourself.
  • When you’re standing in line and someone walks up, you scoot closer to the person in front of you.
  • When you scoot your bag a little closer to yourself when someone else walks up or sits down next to you.

We all learned to be like this on the playground when we were little. If we didn’t hold on to that ball, someone else was going to come and take it. If we don’t protect it, we’ll lose it. Scarcity causes us to see life as a pie. There’s only so much of it to go around, so we’ve got to fight to hold on to what little slice we currently have.

Unfortunately, the lessons we learn on the playground aren’t all good. I’ve seen over and over through the years that many churches and church leaders look at people like part of that pie. If they let someone or something new in, it may threaten to take a little bit of that pie. Pie they worked very hard to acquire.

So we fight over pie. Churches and pastors look at each other with suspicion and derision instead of working together to reach the lost around us.

Stop it.

I think pie is the wrong metaphor. Instead, let people have their pie and you go somewhere else with the firehose of the Holy Spirit and put out the dumpster fire that is the wretched, miserable, demonically oppressed lives of the lost around you. They’re dying for freedom from the horrible bondage of sin and too many Christians are worried about pie.

Our culture has stopped calling us Christians and they use the term “Evangelical” now. Evangelicalism was a movement started by Billy Graham to describe a group of Christians who took their faith so seriously that they shared it. Nothing could be further from reality because in America today there’s almost no evangelism. No sharing the gospel. And no freedom for the lost and oppressed. Just pie.

It’s time to find a people who care enough about the gospel to buck the trend and give up the pie. Let them have it. The heck with the pie.

Find the lost, the hurting, the broken. Find those in bondage and tell them of the freedom they can have through Jesus. Put out the fires in their lives with the wonderful quenching shower of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you.

And then go out to eat for some pie, because that’s where it belongs; in your belly, not in your theology.

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Introduction to God Encounters

I’m excited to announce the launch of my new YouTube Channel, God Encounters!

I truly believe that this channel will encourage you to ask God for more and trust Him with more! Click the video to watch and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to get updates when I post them. I generally release videos Monday mornings at 8am Central time.

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Why I Haven’t Been Blogging For A While

As with all things in life, there is no straight-forward, simple answer. There are many reasons I have not been writing much this past year on my website, but I wanted to share the main reason, because I think it is important.

I didn’t have anything to say.

You’ve heard that old saying, “Momma always said that if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say nuthin’ at all.” Well, that’s where I’ve been for going on a year now.

Ever-Changing World

It’s not that I don’t have anything good to say about the situations going on, but that I don’t have anything valuable to add. Our world has been changing ever more rapidly in the past several years, and I began to notice a propensity for media people and even lowly Christian bloggers, like myself, to weigh in too quickly on issues.

Very seldom recently have I read someone with a truly thought-provoking insight about whatever new scandal, injustice or public outcry is in the news. It used to be that you didn’t read the comments section of a blog or newspaper because that’s where you would lose faith in humanity. Now, I fear, that is the case about most of what is being written out there. I noticed even my propensity to write about things that I had not thought through enough, so I took myself out of the game.

Anger

I’d rather not weigh in on things that I will later regret. If you write and say enough, that is somewhat unavoidable, but since we must give an account for every idle word we speak (or write), I chose to take a step back from the noise that was going on, and it’s been therapeutic.

We are currently watching our society unravel. Anger, outrage and violence increase every day. I pray that the Lord will intervene and reverse this course in the near future, but I see no signs of it slowing down. Our ever-increasing need to read and write about it and take sides is one of the greatest reasons things are speeding up.

People make points and counterpoints, but they speak right past each other. Very few are listening these days except to what they already want to hear, and when we are too quick to speak, regardless of what “side” you take on an issue, it makes it very difficult to affect change. When people are confronted with an idea or news story that is at odds with their pre-conceived notions, they almost universally reject it today.

Of course I speak in broad generalities. There are countless people out there who are not giving themselves over to every whim of the enemy, ever trying to seduce our minds into greater outrage, anger and violent thoughts, but I have noticed that they seem to have their voices drowned out at an ever-increasing rate.

Prayer Warriors

As followers of Jesus, it is normal for us to need to run counter to the current of culture, but never in my life has it been as true as now. Instead of engaging in the frenetic pace of angry dialogue, whether consuming or producing, it would be wise for us to disconnect and retreat for a time. I am not suggesting a retreat from engaging with people or a retreat from serving Jesus by loving others, only a retreat from the increase in our consumption and production of thoughts about what is going on.

Be it political, spiritual, theological or otherwise, I think it is time we reduce our participation in what is going around. I think it is a great day for Christians in America to cease from being “culture warriors” and become “prayer warriors.”

I don’t think it’s possible to just unplug from the internet of arguments without refilling that time and space in your head with something else of equal or greater value. In the past year, I have spent an increase in time and attention in studying, writing and podcasting for my 10 Week Bible Study series. I have spent a great increase in time praying, made much easier for me since I have recently moved to Kansas City to be at the International House of Prayer.

My Pitch For Change

I encourage you to join me on my podcast and in studying the 10 Week Bible Study books I have written. They are a great way to disengage a little from the whirlwind that is our culture and reengage with God’s eternal Word. I do sell them, but I have been known to sell them at my cost for those interested enough to reach out to me. I’m much more concerned with people getting the Word of God in their lives than I am with making money.

Last year I made the conscience decision to step back from the cultural fray and step into more of God’s Word, and I am much the happier for it. As you think about the next twelve months, who would you rather have speaking into and influencing your life more: the eternal, uncreated God, or Fox News and MSNBC?

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Hillary?