Posts tagged Church

More Dumb Things Christians Say

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more Dumb thingsThere are certain things Christians should refrain from saying. Why? Because, well, they are dumb! Don’t feel bad. I have had my dumb moments too. Let’s make sure to scratch these three from our Christian vocabulary.

1. God told me to ______. We have to be careful here. God does speak to us through His word. He impresses thoughts and ideas into our conscience. He influences us through other people. Yet, sometimes Christians play the “God told me card.” If we are going to say “God told me too” we had better make sure that He really did, because if He didn’t that would be putting words in God’s mouth. Essentially, it becomes using God’s name without God’s consent. I have heard Christians say that God told them to do many different things, and some of the things that “God told them”, I am pretty sure, were in direct violation of His written word. So either God forgot what He said before or He didn’t tell you. Sadly, some Christians even use God’s false endorsement as a means to manipulate other people. Don’t say God told me unless you are 100% absolutely sure that He did, in fact, tell you.

2. I just have to leave it in God’s hands. Certainly, there are times in life where we have no choice but to leave situations in God’s hands. We have to trust that He loves us, is well aware of all we will experience in life, and trust His guidance. Yet, we must also remember that leaving things in God’s hands does not exempt us from doing our part. Leaving things in God’s hands is not an excuse for us not to apply ourselves and work hard. “I have a test tomorrow, and I am leaving it in God’s hands.” Awesome. So you have studied all you can, right? “I am leaving the results of my sermon Sunday up to God.” Great! So you prepared and rehearsed adequately? “I am trusting God with my kids.” Wonderful. So you have poured yourself into their lives and done all you can to prepare them for what they will face? Trusting God is working hard and applying ourselves to whatever task we are given, and then trusting Him with the outcome.

3. I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. This is absolutely correct! One does not have to go to church to become a Christian. A person is born in Christ by repenting and trusting in Christ. Case closed. It should be pointed out, however, that church attendance is a tremendous part of growing as a Christian. In fact, it is paramount. Think about how poor this logic is when applied to other scenarios. “I don’t need to spend any time with my spouse to be married.” No, but if you want that marriage to be anything special you had dang well better! “I don’t need to go to practice to play in the band.” True, but you won’t know the songs, and you won’t mesh with the rest of the band. You will be the bass player that is a beat behind the drummer, and that just annoys everyone. “I don’t need to go to school to be a student.” Nope, but if you want to pass the class you do! You get the point. Church doesn’t make one a Christian, but it is a big part if growing in Christ. We need other people. We need encouragement and accountability. We need to hear God’s word spoken (along with our personal reading), and we need to have a place to ask questions and explore our faith.

So, have you ever said “dumb things” as a Christian or heard someone else babble things that make you cringe? What are they?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Apologetic Wednesday:The 7 Year Old Atheist

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seven year old atheistRecently, I came across an article written by a woman who discusses the fact that her seven year old daughter is an atheist. The mother was once a catholic and now labels herself as a “recovering Catholic.” She seems uncertain about where her own beliefs fall.  She labels herself as agnostic but seems to teeter back and forth between belief, or wanting to believe, to doubt, to feeling assured that belief in God is silly. I found her article interesting, but I found myself sad as I read it.

It also made me think about my own kids. God is extremely important in my life. He is a constant companion. He listens to me when I talk. He consoles me like a loving Father and is also quick to discipline me when I need it. It is a relationship that I greatly enjoy. Though I often cause problems in our relationship, get distracted, and place distance or tension in the relationship, He never moves. I am often humbled by His grace. I want my children to experience this friendship as well. I want them to understand that there is someone who loves them even more than I. I want them to know that God’s love extends beyond their shortcomings and failures.

So what if my kids decided one day that they didn’t believe? That would break my heart. Obviously, nothing will ever change the way I feel about my kids. I will love them until the grave overtakes me. But I hope they can have the same thing I have, life. I hope they choose life when the choice is set before them, but I know the choice is theirs. God lets us freely choose whether we want to have a relationship with Him.

But, it does not mean that I cannot educate my kids. I want them to have all the best information possible when it comes to the most important decision they will make. I know some will balk about my saying that having a relationship with God is the most important decision in life, but it honestly is. If God exists, then we are responsible for how we relate to God. If God does not exist, then there are hosts of consequences that result from “Killing God”, to borrow from Nietzsche. It is of utmost import to understand who God is, what He expects from us, and how we are to relate to Him.

I will not take a passive approach when it comes to the most important decision they will make. The article by Carolyn Castiglia, about her seven year old atheist daughter, is fraught with theological and philosophical problems. It almost seems naïve. Forgive me if I am wrong, but the reader is forced to ask to what degree she grappled with her questions about God, and what depth of study she was involved in. She does not seem to really be able to dialogue with her daughter’s questions about God, possibly because she herself has never settled or considered these questions herself. Of course, one does not have to really delve into metaphysical questions, and Miss Castiglia has every right not to, but the tone of her article seems to imply that she does want answers. As was previously stated, the question of God is not one that can be swept under the rug.

In her article she refers to God as “a giant man in the sky with long hair and a big robe” and then as a “notion” and later an “energy.” Her understanding of who God is has changed through her life, but she began with a rather perverse understanding. Her daughter states that she doesn’t believe in God because she “knows too much science”, when in reality there is no conflict between God and science. The mother also seems to view God as a crutch for the emotionally laden or psychologically distressed. While God does offer much comfort, he is anything but a crutch. In fact, Jesus called us to a life filled with difficulty if we truly seek to be a disciple.

We could continue discussing the theological deficits in Miss Castiglia’s article, but my point in writing is not to take her to task. I would love to discuss some of her assumptions with both her and her daughter, but my point here as that believers must spend time in understanding Theology and churches must teach more about Theology. Church should be a place where people can receive information that can be directly applied to daily life, but without the balance of sound theological teaching they will not understand why they should apply what scripture says. There must be a balance between the theological and daily application.

The current statistic is that seven out of ten adolescents leave the church upon graduation. Why is this? Is it perhaps that they are not taught to articulate worldviews, including their own? Are they provided a firm theological foundation at the church? Are they encouraged to read their Bibles and given the tools need to understand it in its literal, grammatical, and historical context? Are the seventy percent of adolescents that walk away the unpaid bills of the church?

Current research shows that only sixteen percent of church goers read their Bible. Upon those that do read the Bible, the average time spent reading is seven minutes, whereas the average American watches five hours of television a night. The television educates us into imbecility, and we do not spend the time developing our understanding of God and how we relate to Him. According to the Barna Research Group, less than fifty percent of Americans can name the first book of the Bible! If one cannot name the first book of the Bible then what chance does one have tackling the bigger questions?

Believers, we owe it to ourselves and our children to grapple with the big questions and do our best to have an answer ready. Some believers don’t like to think and ask questions, they just accept what they know to be true. I caution those that have this mentality to beware, your children might just be thinkers.

“You cannot evade the issue of God: whether you talk about pigs or the binomial theory, you are still talking about Him … If Christianity should happen to be true–that is to say, if its God is the real God of the universe – then defending it may mean talking about anything and everything.” -G.K. Chesterton

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Best of 2012: Great Excuses for Skipping Church

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Best of 2012_Church ExcusesHere, we have the second most read and circulated post of 2012. It is one of my favorites, not because it is well written, but because many of the excuses here I have heard over the years. We are funny creatures. Sometimes, as Christians, it is good to laugh at ourselves. We need not take ourselves to seriously. We should also be reminded that we can talk ourselves into just about anything if we try hard enough. We can come up with excuses to avoid what we want to avoid. Whenever we look for the bad in things (like a church) we will always find it.
Let’s just be honest. Some Sundays, for whatever reason, we just don’t want to go to church. Even though I am a minister, and kind of get paid to be there, I understand that some Sundays it is just so hard to go. The only problem is, if you don’t go, well that looks bad on your Christian-ometer. You could get a bad grade and be blackballed if you just skip church without a good excuse. So, I decided to put together a list of great excuses for skipping and/or not going to church at all.

Majority of these I have heard with my own ears throughout the years (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, I promise), while some have been heard by others that they shared with me. So, if you would like some good excuses reasons for not being at church, then feast your eyes on these.

  • It is youth Sunday.
  • God told me I needed to stay home this Sunday for some reason (this is great, who can dispute God???).
  • I worked 80 hours this week.
  • They are just serving communion, so I will just stay home.
  • The music is too loud/slow/fast/old/new/contemporary.
  • The music director wouldn’t let me sing in the choir.
  • They are having a guest speaker.
  • The pews/chairs are too hard/soft.
  • Someone made fun of my toes (no joke, heard it myself).
  • I’m just not getting fed.
  • I don’t know anyone there (because you never come, wait, did I just type that?)
  • It’s full of hypocrites (well yea, it’s full of people).
  • They try and get “rough” youth to come. I don’t want to be a part of a church that invites kids with problems (blank stare).
  • I don’t have anything to wear.
  • I can stay home. There are plenty of preachers on TV.
  • They just want my hard earned cash.
  • The preacher preached against Harry Potter (this is one of my personal favorites).
  • I can’t come without my spouse.
  • The preacher preaches too long.
  • They have drums there.
  • Our electricity went off.
  • Its too cold/hot.
  • No one checked on me after I missed three weeks in a row.
  • Someone I don’t like goes there.
  • The preacher yells too much.
  • There are too many old people.
  • They cater to the young too much.
  • My alarm didn’t go off.
  • I really needed to mow the yard.
  • The preacher gave a sermon directed specifically at me.
  • The church did me wrong about 15 years ago.
  • I can’t come because I might have a seizure crossing the street (this one was given by a gentlemen that lived across the road from the church over a decade ago).
  • I overslept.
  • I haven’t gotten to see my family much this week.
  • It’s the Superbowl.
  • Not a single person asked me how I have been doing.
  • The church is too mission minded.
  • I thought I might be getting sick.
  • Someone corrected my child.
  • Someone was in my seat.
  • I just don’t like church politics.
  • I just needed a day off.
  • I will go to church when things get right between me and God.

You know, some of these sound pretty decent, but aren’t they really excuses? When I was in college working on my undergraduate degree, I decided to find a reason not to go to church on Wednesday nights. I really didn’t have to work terribly hard. I convinced myself that it really wasn’t important for me to be there on Wednesdays. I went on to miss Wednesday night church for a couple of years, or went on and off. I mean seriously, college students are busy, right? The truth is, it hurt my spiritual life and I missed out on relationships that I could have greatly benefited from.

Sometimes we have good reasons for not being at church, I get that. Things come up here and there. A lot of times though, we find excuses not to be there. Certain churches are not a perfect fit for certain people, but that is no reason to not go. Find a church that teaches the truth, get involved, and go regularly. The cumulative effects will be worth it, I promise. Just remember, no church is perfect because they are full of imperfect people.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.  – Hebrews 10:25

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

How to Be A Crummy Church Member

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What is it that keeps a church alive, healthy, and vibrant? Of course, the easy Christian answer is God. Church would be nothing more than a social club without God. Nothing could be accomplished in the church if it were not for God’s enabling, active presence. We are reminded in Psalm 127, “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.”

Yet, we cannot afford to ignore the human element in healthy churches. Often, people tend to think that their involvement in the church is relatively insignificant to the health of the church and the overall kingdom of Christ. This is one of the greatest deceptions. Each individual in a church has a highly significant role in their church. When we realize this, we might begin to take our role more seriously within the church body. The fact is, your presence and active involvement is crucial to the health of your church. Each person has a place carved out specifically for them; a role that was custom made for them to perform. When we minimize the importance of our role or task that God has given us, we set back the Kingdom of God. When we fail to come through we leave a hole to be filled by someone else, which in turn, distracts them from their specific task. This is not meant to be guilt inducing. Instead it is meant to be sobering and to remind us that God wants to use us!

It is up to every individual member of the church to keep the church’s momentum going forward. As the individuals go, so goes the church. Lloyd Cory illustrates this masterfully.

The ministry of the church is a ministry of people. When a church lives, it lives because the people within are vital and active. When a church dies, it withers and dies not because the brick and mortar and carpet and pews get old and begin to crack and rip and crumble. A church withers and dies because the people wither and die.
I think a vivid illustration of this comes from a true story of a young minister in Oklahoma who went to this little, though long-standing, church in hopes of really reviving the ministry of it. He had stars in his eyes and great hopes for the future. He thought he could turn it around. And he gave it his best effort and his best shot week after week, to no avail.

Finally, he had one last idea, and it seemed to work. He announced in the local newspaper on Saturday that the church had died, and on Sunday afternoon there would be a funeral service at the church itself, and all who wished could attend. For the first time in his years there the place was packed. In fact, people were standing outside on tiptoes looking through the window to see this most unusual funeral service for a church.

To their shock, because most of them got there twenty or thirty minutes early to get a seat, there was a casket down front. And it was smothered with flowers. He told the people as soon as the eulogy was finished they could pass by and view the remains of the dearly beloved that they were putting to rest that day. They could hardly wait until he finished the eulogy. He slowly opened the casket, pushed the flowers aside, and people walked by, filed by, one by one, to look in and leave sheepishly, feeling guilty as they walked out the door, because inside the casket he had placed a large mirror. As they walked by, they saw the church that had died.

With that being said, how does one become a church killer? That is, what makes a person a crummy church member? For anyone who wants to be a poor church member, simply do the following:

  • Be a consumer and never give of your time or energy.
  • Have a sense of entitlement. The church is here to meet my needs.
  • Make commitments and never follow through.
  • Don’t get to know other members at a personal level.
  • Suggest needs to be met and don’t get involved in meeting those needs.
  • Never give of your hard earned money.
  • Don’t apply what you are taught in church.
  • Hate change.
  • Wear your feeling on your shoulders.
  • Make the extent of your church involvement sitting in a pew on Sundays.
  • Criticize things and never offer solutions.
  • Talk about others behind their back.
  • Assume the worst about others.
  • View theology and doctrine as unimportant. See immediate application as all that matters.
  • View your contributions as insignificant.
  • Assume that because you give of your money that you solely get to call the shots on how things should be done.
  • Don’t practice outside of church what you affirm in church.
  • Discourage new ideas.
  • Place church at the bottom of your priority list.
  • Get huffy if no one calls to check on you when you miss.
  • Be concerned about trivial matters.
  • If things aren’t done your way, be sure to gripe about it and make sure everyone knows it.
  • Focus exclusively on the church and ignore the surrounding community.
  • Never study by yourself. Make your spiritual needs purely the church’s responsibility.
  • Be critical.
  • Never forgive others.

It is really easy to be a crummy church member. It takes being intentional to be the hands and feet of Christ and to contribute to the vitality of the church. How different would our lives, churches, communities and the world look if we took our calling to serve seriously? Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Shouldn’t we do the same?

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

If someone wants to be a crummy church member, what advice would you give them?

The Church Games

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Recently, a man was found alone on a deserted island. He made his home there for over a decade. When rescuers inquired about his life of solitude, he was eager to show them how he managed life alone on the island. As they toured the island with this modern day Robinson Crusoe they noticed three, fairly elaborate, thatched huts. Curious, they asked him why there were three huts. The man explained, “Well, one is my home.  It isn’t much, but I made it feel like home. The second hut is my church. I am deeply religious. I worship there every Sunday. The third hut, well, that is my old church. We started having trouble there so I had to leave.”

Even in a church of one there are problems. Why is this? Because churches are full of people, and people are full of problems. Essentially, you have a bunch of broken people gathering together to worship, learn, and grow as Christians. In some ways, it is like one giant support group.

Yet, when you take a bunch of people and put them together, sometimes they have trouble getting along. It is interesting, because when you read the Pauline Epistles often you see Paul addressing specific problems and conflicts within various churches. Churches had struggles and problems two thousand years ago and this remains true today. The more things change the more they stay the same, as the saying goes.

Often, people are tempted to think it is their church that has problems. So the simple solution is to go find another church. The truth is, all churches have problems, some more than others (and I am happy to be part of one that stays low on the dramameter).

Sometimes, there are serious problems in churches. There are also certain congregations that reach a level of toxicity where it is wise to leave. Here I am speaking of scandals, heresies, and people that have lost entirely the vision of Christ. Most church problems, however, are usually the result of petty squabbles.

So what makes it difficult for people in churches to get along at times? Why do silly problems arise? There are diverse reasons, I am sure we could come up with a list as long as the phone book of why people can’t get along at times, but let’s look at a few of the common reasons people don’t get along in churches.

  • Turf wars. “This is my ministry and not yours!” As silly as this is, I have seen it happen. Isn’t the idea of ministry for as many people to get involved as possible? I understand that every ministry needs a leader. I get that, but so often people want to be a lone wolf and resist help from others. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together. What say you?
  • Mind reading. Communication problems plague everyone. The people you worship with on a weekly basis cannot read your mind. If there is a problem then talk to someone. If you want to see something done differently then let someone know. Don’t expect anyone else to read your mind.
  • Differences of opinion. It would be great if everyone agreed on everything in a church body, but it just doesn’t always happen. Just because the majority does not hold your opinion is no reason to get upset. Instead of pouting that you didn’t get your way, put on your big boy underwear and support the decision.
  • Gossip. When will we learn that talking about other people ranks near the top of dumb things to do? What situation has ever been fixed by gossiping? When has the world ever become a better place by talking about someone behind their back? When did someone come to know Jesus through the gossip chain? Hmmm? So don’t do it!
  • Assuming the worst. Sometimes Christian BROTHERS and SISTERS choose to assume the worst about one another instead of believing the best. Let me get this straight. Your friend, whom you refer to as brother or sister, which you have known for years, does something, and you don’t know why or for what purpose, so you are going to ASSUME the worst? Really? Why not believe the best and see what happens?
  • Hurt feelings. Sure, sometimes we get our feelings hurt. I don’t like it, no one ever enjoys it, but it is a part of life. Sometimes, we are going to get our feelings hurt. Sometimes we get left out on accident. At times, people forget to call and check on us. Does this mean we should hole up and isolate ourselves from the people that care most about us?
  • Money matters. We all give our tithes (or at least, we should all give our tithes). The thing is, when you give money to God that money is no longer yours. So, what the entire church decides to do with the money is what matters. We might disagree from time to time, but let’s be team players.

There is no perfect church. There never will be this side of eternity. So we have to find a place where the atmosphere is loving, the truth is taught, and a vision is promoted. A place where we can use our talents and worship. A place where the Gospel is taught, lived out, and spread outside its doors. If the essentials are there, we have to be willing to overlook the small stuff and stick with it.

Church is a lot like marriage. There are hot and cold seasons. Some times are happier than others. There are times were you want out. Just like marriage, you have to be willing to stick with it. If you leave one church, due to some minor problems, I can promise you there will be a whole new set waiting for you at the next one.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. – I Corinthians 1:10

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

The Other Brother

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The son of a wealthy business executive showed up late for work, again. He wasn’t too worried about it. He enjoyed a cushy job and the security of knowing that his father owned the company. When he walked through the door his older brother met him with a cold glare and a snarky comment.

He settled in behind his desk, replied to the more important emails, and allowed his mind to wander. In two short years, he had grown tired of the corporate world. He felt that he needed some excitement in his life, a change of pace. He had been entertaining an idea and decided he would talk to his father later that evening.

That night he approached his father and told him that he would like to quit the company that his father had worked so many years to build and move upstate. He explained that he wanted to do life on his own, outside of his father’s shadow. He pleaded with his dad to give him a substantial sum of money so that he could move and start his own business. His father was resistant, but the son pushed explaining, “Half of what you own will be mine one day anyway, why not give it to me now so I can actually enjoy it?”

His father was reluctant, but later that week he opened a bank account and inserted a substantial amount of money for his youngest son. Excited, the young man wasted no time. He moved about two hundred miles north and found a penthouse that overlooked the city. Knowing that he had plenty of cash reserve, he decided to relax a while before finding a job and working toward starting his own business.

Eager to make friends, he threw lavish parties. His house was constantly filled with people he did not know. As long as the money was there, he had plenty of friends. Happy to be living his own life, he used much of his money on high class prostitutes (if there is such a thing?) and become well acquainted with substances.

This lifestyle continued for longer than he realized until his entire nest egg was gone. He quickly realized that when the stream of money was gone, so were the new friends that he made. He didn’t miss his fair-weather friends near as much as he did the substances that his body had become dependent on. Not only was he unable to afford the chemicals that his body craved, but he couldn’t pay the rent or any of his other bills.

His yuppy lifestyle was gone. He had acquired several different jobs, but the environment was not as forgiving as his father’s company. Due to his substance abuse and his less than desirable work performance, he could not hold down a job. He found himself on the street barely able to feed himself.

One night, he was on the verge of taking his own life. When he realized that his dad might be willing to give him an opportunity to clean the company’s offices at night. He just wanted to sleep in a warm bed and not be hungry. He phoned his father and got his voicemail. He explained that he would be returning by bus the next day at 5:00 P.M. and let his father know the state his life was in. He wanted his father to know he was coming home, but would understand if his father had no place for him. As he left the message he stated, “If you aren’t at the bus stop, I will know not to come home.”

As he was arriving closer to his home town, the knot in his stomach grew intense. He felt that he was going to be sick. He laid his head back and dosed off. The bus lazily rolled into town and came to a stop. The young man awoke to the sound of the breaks and driver announcing the stop. When he peered out the window, he was overwhelmed by the amount of people waiting at the stop. Who were all these people? He started to recognize faces. He knew most of these people. They were friends of his and his family’s. There was a banner that said “Welcome Home.”

As he panned the crowd, his eyes locked onto his father’s. Hot tears burned down his face. He was overwhelmed with emotion. As he exited the bus, he was ready to give his father the speech he had rehearsed the whole ride home. “Dad, I am so sorry…” His father quickly interrupted, “I know. I am glad you are back. Let’s go home.”

They returned home and celebrated well into the night. The son had returned home. Everyone was glad to see him, everybody except for his older brother. His older brother hated him for coming back. He was angry at his father for giving him a second chance. He had been loyal to his dad since childhood. He worked hard day after day. He never gave his dad any problems. Where was his reward for being the good son? Why should his brother’s negligence and haphazard lifestyle be celebrated? So during the celebrated he stayed home and stewed in his own bitterness.

We are well familiar with this story. It has been told and retold hundreds of times. We know it as “the prodigal son” or “the lost son.” When this story is told, majority of the emphasis is placed on the brother that left, squandered his life, and returned home. The focus should be here, because it is a gripping story of grace and redemption. Yet, there is much to be learned from the other brother.

Instead of celebrating with joy over the fact that his brother was home, he chose to focus on himself. Instead of being overjoyed that a life was changed, he chose to feel sorry for himself. Instead of realizing the blessings he had experienced in life due to his choices, he chose to begrudge his brother the benefit of a second chance.

When we read this story we feel inspired by the father’s grace and look at the other brother with disdain for his poor attitude, but how often are we the other brother? How often are we cynical of people that want to change? Do we extend to others the benefit of a second chance?

Sometimes as believers we focus on how long we have been serving and look down our noses at those who are ready to come to Christ or return to Christ. I once heard someone say, “We don’t want certain kind of people in our church.” Really? Because I thought church was a safe haven for anyone willing to walk through the doors. It is a place for the faithful and prodigal. If we are honest though, we have all been a prodigal.

Let’s make sure we are loving as Jesus loved. Let’s make sure we share in the excitement when prodigals return. Let’s make sure we don’t miss out on the joy when lives are changed because we are too focused on how faithful we have been.

Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. – Rick Warren

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Great Excuses for Skipping Church

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Let’s just be honest. Some Sundays, for whatever reason, we just don’t want to go to church. Even though I am a minister, and kind of get paid to be there, I understand that some Sundays it is just so hard to go. The only problem is, if you don’t go, well that looks bad on your Christian-ometer. You could get a bad grade and be blackballed if you just skip church without a good excuse. So, I decided to put together a list of great excuses for skipping and/or not going to church at all.

Majority of these I have heard with my own ears throughout the years (I didn’t mean for that to rhyme, I promise), while some have been heard by others that they shared with me. So, if you would like some good excuses reasons for not being at church, then feast your eyes on these.

  • It is youth Sunday.
  • God told me I needed to stay home this Sunday for some reason (this is great, who can dispute God???).
  • I worked 80 hours this week.
  • They are just serving communion, so I will just stay home.
  • The music is too loud/slow/fast/old/new/contemporary.
  • The music director wouldn’t let me sing in the choir.
  • They are having a guest speaker.
  • The pews/chairs are too hard/soft.
  • Someone made fun of my toes (no joke, heard it myself).
  • I’m just not getting fed.
  • I don’t know anyone there (because you never come, wait, did I just type that?)
  • It’s full of hypocrites (well yea, it’s full of people).
  • They try and get “rough” youth to come. I don’t want to be a part of a church that invites kids with problems (blank stare).
  • I don’t have anything to wear.
  • I can stay home. There are plenty of preachers on TV.
  • They just want my hard earned cash.
  • The preacher preached against Harry Potter (this is one of my personal favorites).
  • I can’t come without my spouse.
  • The preacher preaches too long.
  • They have drums there.
  • Our electricity went off.
  • Its too cold/hot.
  • No one checked on me after I missed three weeks in a row.
  • Someone I don’t like goes there.
  • The preacher yells too much.
  • There are too many old people.
  • They cater to the young too much.
  • My alarm didn’t go off.
  • I really needed to mow the yard.
  • The preacher gave a sermon directed specifically at me.
  • The church did me wrong about 15 years ago.
  • I can’t come because I might have a seizure crossing the street (this one was given by a gentlemen that lived across the road from the church over a decade ago).
  • I overslept.
  • I haven’t gotten to see my family much this week.
  • It’s the Superbowl.
  • Not a single person asked me how I have been doing.
  • The church is too mission minded.
  • I thought I might be getting sick.
  • Someone corrected my child.
  • Someone was in my seat.
  • I just don’t like church politics.
  • I just needed a day off.
  • I will go to church when things get right between me and God.

You know, some of these sound pretty decent, but aren’t they really excuses? When I was in college working on my undergraduate degree, I decided to find a reason not to go to church on Wednesday nights. I really didn’t have to work terribly hard. I convinced myself that it really wasn’t important for me to be there on Wednesdays. I went on to miss Wednesday night church for a couple of years, or went on and off. I mean seriously, college students are busy, right? The truth is, it hurt my spiritual life and I missed out on relationships that I could have greatly benefited from.

Sometimes we have good reasons for not being at church, I get that. Things come up here and there. A lot of times though, we find excuses not to be there. Certain churches are not a perfect fit for certain people, but that is no reason to not go. Find a church that teaches the truth, get involved, and go regularly. The cumulative effects will be worth it, I promise. Just remember, no church is perfect because they are full of imperfect people.

And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.  – Hebrews 10:25

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed
Josh

Please, please, please, share with us your favorite church excuse.

Walk Badly

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Just for today, instead of “walking good”, it is time to “walk badly.” Well, sort of. I got the privilege of doing a post over at Jared Hollier’s blog, Badly Drawn Bible.

So, if you wanna, you can head over to Badly Drawn Bible and read about “Life Behind the Pastoral Curtain.” It is just a little glimpse into the lives of ministers and some things to remember so you can better support them. While you are there help yourself to a heapin helpin of his writings and drawings, or what I like to call the good (his writing), the bad (his drawing), and the ugly (the left half of his face that he conveniently conceals in his photo).”

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

No Butts In the Body of Christ

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Within a church there are various people with different interests, abilities, talents, and personalities. Diversity is such a delight, yet within an atmosphere of diversity must exist unity. In fact, this is where the term university comes from, meaning unity among diversity. In a church, a diverse group of people is to be united under a single banner. They are to use their various talents and interests to share the Gospel message of Christ, forming a unified front.

In 1 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul uses a brilliant, yet familiar, analogy as to how a church should function. He likens the body of Christ to a physical body. He reminds us that no part is insignificant. Each piece of the body must be present and working for the whole to function. Notice what he says in verses 15-20. “Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”

He is driving a point home. There is a place for everyone in the body. No part is more important than any other. It takes everyone to keep the body of Christ functioning properly. When one part of the body is hurting the entire body suffers.

He is also emphasizing that there should be unity. It takes people working together, not against one another. When there is harmony in the body it is able to move in a graceful dance.

Paul discusses many different parts of the body: eyes, hands, head, and feet. One part Paul does not mention is the butt. Yes, you heard me right, the butt. Now before you think me crass, I might point out if Isaiah can liken our righteousness acts to “filthy rags” (look up the meaning) I can certainly talk about the spiritual butt.

So what is the spiritual butt of the body? These would be the people with smelly attitudes. They see all the problems but want no part in coming up with solutions. They want to see new ministries started, but want other people to start them. Instead of promoting unity, they sow seeds of dissent. They speak discouragement instead of encouragement. They point out mistakes, but forget to show love. They are concerned with their own wishes instead of seeking the desires of the greater body. They see ministry as competition instead of service.

The spiritual butt of the body isn’t concerned with seeking Christ, promoting unity, and seeing that the body does well. Instead, the concern is on self. The Spiritual butt asks, “What am I getting out of church?” instead of “What am I giving?”.

Hands and feet are desperately needed, but there is no room for Spiritual butts in the body of Christ. Let’s love, give, encourage, serve, and promote a spirit of unity.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Satan’s Wiki Leaks

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Late last night, I was having difficulty trying to get some sleep. I was rolling my goals for 2012 around in my mind, and I thought of a couple more things I would like to add to the list. I rolled out of bed carefully, so as not to wake my wife. I swiped the mouse to wake up the slumbering computer, which I was slightly envious of, and typed in my additional goals for the New Year. After, I did a quick search on Google to see what goals others had set for the year. Out of nowhere the blue LED on my monitor began to blink red. I thought my monitor might be giving up the ghost and then the screen flashed red and a website popped up. Upon inspection, the web address was www.satanwikileaks.imp. At this point I was taken back.  This was not your average pop-up. As I looked at the site, I came across Satan’s agenda for 2012. Apparently, even dark lord’s set goals every year as well.

Why was this even online? The best I can guess, some rogue demon underling had a beef with the head guy and started the leaks website. It has since been taken down, and I am sure the little imp has been dealt with. I doubt they had much trouble figuring out a form of punishment for the little incubus.

I jotted down as many of Satan’s goals for the year as I could before the website was shut down, and I thought you might find it beneficial if I shared them with you.

  1. Keep the message alive and well that there are multiple paths to God. Ingrain in people’s minds that all religions are equal and that to claim absolute truth is being intolerant.
  2. Promote the idea that people have no control over their sexuality. They cannot help what they feel or what they want. Sex is a natural animalistic instinct that should always be expressed.
  3. Cause petty problems in churches that cause people to blame the pastor and stop coming. This is the easiest way to cripple a church.
  4. Give people an insatiable desire for stuff. They must believe that having material items is more important than relationships. They must not have family time, keep them working and enjoying their individual hobbies.
  5. Keep Christians concerned with how they look. Make sure they focus on their image more than their hearts. They must be preoccupied with doing things to make them look good.
  6. Make sure that those filthy creatures known as humans blame God when bad things happen. Even though he didn’t cause the bad to happen, they must believe that he did.
  7. Make this summer especially hot so the women will wear less clothes. This gives us an edge when we play the lust card in the lives of men.
  8. When people vote in the presidential election this year, keep them focused on the economy and nothing else. They must not give credence to the candidate’s moral platform.
  9. Create competition within churches. They must not feel that they are working on a team heading toward a common goal. Instead, keep them jealous of each other’s ministries. Let’s up the dissention in churches.
  10. Let’s see how many Christian leaders we can get involved in sexual scandals. These are just fun, plus they make Christians look hypocritical. It does much to turn people away from Christianity.
  11. Don’t let people spend much time thinking that they have a limited time to live. Instead, let them think they have plenty of time to make things right with the enemy.
  12. Let’s keep fueling this porn industry. 28,000 people accessing porn every second is not enough. This number needs to be much higher because we know that porn use cripples relationships.
  13. Promote the idea that what a person does only affects them. This keeps people self centered and lets them rationalize their problems.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Question: If you were going to play the Devil’s advocate, what goals would you add to the list?

Disclaimer: This is a fictional account meant to provoke thought.

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