Whoosh! That is me blowing the dust off this blog. As a leader and one that seems to operate from a different leadership grid I am so surprised at the places and situations God has put me in. I am stunned when someone talks to me about the leadership I carry and how they see the gift in me. I have laughed on many occasions about how I took the George Barna test on leadership online and how he gently told me that I did not have that gift…a shepherd maybe…leader no. As I think about myself and my journey I have a couple of thoughts…I never sought to be a leader…at all. My strongest gift. I think, is showing up…putting one foot one front of the other and continuing on following Jesus…loving His Church.
I came into being a pastor kind of different. I had been in a church plant that was led by a young guy. We were there to support and help build the church from the ground up. I had no desire to go beyond leading worship and a small group…and after five years this young leader changed his theology drastically. Went from a charismatic bent to a full on cessationist in a short time. Caught off guard we suggested he speak to the leaders over him to see what they thought. He could not lead in the Vineyard and hold to those values…so he pulled the church out. This is a much longer story but we, with the blessing of the Vineyard, planted our church…with fifteen or so people we began again. My point in telling that story is say I understand when leaders, especially young leaders, change their minds on theology. I get it…and yet I do not.
As I look over the landscape of the church, at least in the states, there is a constant stream of articles that get passed around talking about another leader leaving the faith. Pastors, ministry leaders, worship leaders, authors of best sellers, leaving behind Jesus and His church. I read this article about another one and he spoke about his journey towards unbelief and he said something like, “I began to wonder if the Bible had gotten it wrong about the LGBTQ questions.” You know I can almost get my head wrapped around a guy going from charismatic to non-charismatic but to ponder out loud does the Bible have this or that wrong is beyond me. No one ever seems to ask, “Do you think the culture has gotten this wrong?” No…it is a Bible problem. I am reminded of a sermon Jesus preaches in John 6 and it is gross and controversial and then Jesus turns to His disciples, “Does this offend you?” That is the problem isn’t it…the person is offended because the scripture speaks to a different view of holiness and spirituality than they are comfortable with. How may times do you hear the question, “How could a loving God send anyone to Hell?” He does not send anyone there…it is a choice. Hell was created for Satan and his followers…well, now I did it I brought up the devil. How archaic is that?
Jesus knew the message He brought and the things He would declare would be offensive and even divisive and He still pressed on. John 3:16 is quoted over and over and yet God is rarely seen as loving because His view is much different than our view. For a short time I wrote for an online religious paper. I was consistently being challenged and argued with as I wrote things concerning the church and scriptures. And at least one of the arguers was a pastor…who help low value of the scriptures. Now I will be very transparent here…I am not a great theologian or even a Bible scholar…I love Jesus, His church, His word. I have had many doubts and questions, many times where I just did not understand what God was or was not doing and yet it never crossed my mind to think, “What is the Bible got this part wrong?” It is so strange and even humorous to think in this time of such great enlightenment and wisdom we still stumble for satan’s oldest line, “Did God really say?” Then, because we are so biblically illiterate we misquote scripture or overlook it because culture says we cannot say, “The Bible says.” YES WE CAN!
The great cultural architects of the day do not know which bathroom to use, what sex they are, how many sexes there are, when life actually begins. They label certain lives not worthy of having life, defend the rights of one human but not of another. A mom can begin at the age of three to tell her little boy he is really a girl. By age seven she can begin the procedure to have his sex changed. The dad speaks up and a jury votes eleven out of twelve that she is right and dad has no say. A judge did intervene but where do you even find a jury where eleven people would think it is a good idea to let the mom have her way here? I would hazard to say that just a few years ago the mom would have lost custody, would have had to go though psych evaluations and only allowed visitation with a guardian in the room. Culture has lost its mind…and the church will lose its also if we keep pandering to culture.
Pastor/author Erwin McManus says, “The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world.” We exist to be an alternative to what is being presented out there as wisdom and life. An alternative…it will be offensive at times. We do not have to work at being offensive it is built into our message. When Jesus declares that He is the way, the truth and the life and the only way to the Father…that is offensive to culture…and now to some in the church. Strange. In a faith where as we read about the disciples we tend to overlook that as far as we can tell only John might have died of natural causes…and they did try to boil him in oil! Culture killed everyone of them…after of course they killed Jesus.
Another story in John…after the crucifixion the guys were huddled in a room…afraid. Jesus walks in, through locked doors and all of that and then says to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” John 20:21 Now let’s be clear here…they did not find comfort in any of His words there. “PEACE!!!! They just killed you! I mean I know you are alive now but you were dead there for a bit…let’s talk about that…but let’s do it somewhere else!” Jesus had prayed for the guys earlier and in His prayer He did not ask God to get us out of here…but to protect us while we are here. In the Jesus movement it was a big thing to speak of the second coming of Jesus and to think that it as imminent…a bit of escapism I think. He is coming back…yet He left us here. Salt and light…salt preserves…salt give flavor…light allows others to see through a darkness that covers the world.
Let me stop this ramble with this…the Psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy…so often it begins with attacking God’s word…he steals the light that lights up the path we walk on. I feel for the guy who let culture put out the light of his path. I do pray he comes back…though I suspect his new found celebrity identity will be hard to leave…One more thought…cannot help it in light of current events…I am not one to jump on celebrity band wagons but I must say…along with Kanye West…JESUS IS KING!!!!