When evangelism goes too far.

I'm all for evangelism. I think the church needs to be involved in sharing the gospel with the lost. Many of us have been taught the "Bridge Method" where we draw the gap between God and Man on a napkin, and show how the cross bridged the gap. I've used modifications of this approach before, and found it to be a simple way to explain a profound concept.

If you're not familiar with the concept, it's illustrated to the left. We're separated from God because of our sin. No matter how hard we try, we can't bridge the gap because once we've sinned we're separated from God, and owe Him death. (Romans 6:23). Fortunately, Jesus Christ died and offers eternal life by faith in Him (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus, the cross bridges the gap.

Well, the bridge method made more than one impression on this guy.

Sorry... I'm all for evangelism, but if evangelism means someone's going to stick a needle in my body, I'm too carnal for that.

Courage? Finally someone says it.

NEW YORK (AP) - Houston Comets forward Sheryl Swoopes is opening up about being a lesbian, telling a magazine that she's "tired of having to hide my feelings about the person I care about."

Swoopes, honored last month as the WNBA's Most Valuable Player, told ESPN The Magazine for a story on newsstands Wednesday that she didn't always know she was gay and fears that coming out could jeopardize her status as a role model.

"Do I think I was born this way? No," Swoopes said. "And that's probably confusing to some, because I know a lot of people believe that you are..."

Read the Entire Article Here:

I've always wondered why the homosexual community hasn't poured its assets into discovering the "gay gene" in people so they could prove once and for all that homosexuality isn't a behavioral choice, but a genetic trait like having blue eyes or red hair.

Everyone always wants to talk about the courage of celebrities who "come out" publicly, but I've never been that impressed. Every homosexual I've ever seen interviewed on TV plays the creation card - this is the way I was made... you have to accept me.

To me, it's not courageous to admit something that is a part of your genetic makeup.

Admitting something that you can't help doesn't highlight your courage, but your insecurity. Admitting something you can help but have chosen not to help takes courage. Because the responsibility for that is on you, not someone else.

Sheryl Swoopes? There's a woman with courage. I don't agree with her decision to practice homosexuality. But she has effectively alienated herself from two groups of society. The homophobes are upset with her because she pulled a fast one on them and didn't "come out" before they were fans. And the homosexuals are upset because she pulled a fast one on them and let the cat out of the bag.

Born this way? Not Sheryl Swoopes. This was a choice for her, and she knows it.

I can't agree with her choice, but at least she's honest. That takes courage.

Rogue Choirs

Check out this article from MSNBC. Why am I not surprised?

CHARLOTTE HARBOR — The pastor of a Charlotte Harbor church had 16 church members booted from a service after they allegedly refused to stop singing and let the clergyman preach.
Deputies were called at 10 a.m. Saturday by Pastor David Noel of the Seventh Day Adventist Church on Harborview Road.

Noel told a deputy he was instructed by regional church superiors to involve law enforcement to remove the rogue choir. The deputy issued trespass warnings to the group, and all 16 left the church without incident.

The sheriff's office got another call from the church shortly before noon when a parishioner wanted to file assault charges against Noel. Edourd Pierrelus, 57, of Port Charlotte, said Noel got mad at him, hit him in the chest and twisted his earlobe during a church service a week earlier.
The man told the deputy the entire congregation of 25 witnessed the attack. Pierrelus said that because of the way the singing dispute was resolved, he now wanted to pursue charges of simple battery.

Deputies say the dispute is rooted in concerns about the handling of church funds. The members of the rogue choir told deputies they'd handle those concerns within the church.

Prayer in School

A New Jersey football coach resigned his position last week after school officials requested that he no longer lead his football team in prayer before games. You can read the whole story here.

Not long ago I posted my thoughts about schools teaching creation science in schools. I'm against it. Our schools are currently falling behind schools from other countries in many key areas like math, technology, and even literacy. Why should the school spend its time teaching a theory that it doesn't understand, either pro creation or against it? It's not the public school's responsibility to teach my children about God, it's mine.

I feel the same way about the current controversy surrounding this New Jersey football coach. While he's attempting to be a sacrificial lamb, it's my opinion that conservative Christians should back the school in this instance, not the coach.

If public school teachers are allowed to pray on behalf of my child, who governs what can be said in those prayers? Could my child's Muslim teacher lead the class (including my son or daughter) in a prayer to Allah? Could my child's Buddhist teacher lead my child in meditation? This New Jersey coach is Catholic, which only reinforces my point.

If I send my son or daughter to athletic practice, I don't expect the coach to venerate Mary. I expect him to teach my son or daughter to play a sport. My son or daughter should be allowed to pray. But public school teachers, coaches, and administrators don't need to lead my son or daughter in prayer.


The pastors at FBCN are engaged in a discussion right now about the vision for the future of the church. It's a healthy discussion, and comes at a great time - the church just transitioned in a new senior pastor after Gene Getz, the former senior pastor retired to devote his time in other pursuits. In addition, the church is in the process of beginning a new building that will mean moving the entire campus of the church north about two miles. The momentum in the church is strong, and the pastors are committed to keeping the church focused through the move, so the discussion has been fun to be a part of.

Yesterday, during the discussions, the topic of authenticity came up. It has become the code word for today's Christianity, and is used to describe everything that is both right and wrong with Christianity today. Everyone agrees that authenticity is good, but it seems nobody can define it.

We talked a lot about what things could be described as "authentic" behaviors by the church. Some people brought up the idea of helping transients, feeding the hungry, and loving the hurting. The majority of the examples pointed to authenticity as the importance of Christians not portraying the "holier than thou" attitude, to the point of disclosing their own weaknesses, struggles, and shortcomings so that those on the outside don't see Christians as acting as though they "have it all together."

The idea of authenticity as disclosure seems to be the most popular way to understand the word. Basically, I'm authentic if I share my shortcomings and struggles with someone else so they know I'm not perfect.

While I think there's probably something to disclosure as a part of authenticity, I think that's a misdefinition of what the church truly needs as far as authenticity goes. Frankly, I don't need to disclose my shortcomings to other people - the majority of the time they're as plain as day. I have never met an unbeliever who stumbled because he thought I had it all together, but I meet unbelievers all the time who struggle because they know Christians don't have it all together, but are put off by the attitude of Christians who like to pretend otherwise.

Authenticity is more about attitude than disclosure. Although there's a healthy intimacy level with various people in which we are able to disclose our struggles at different levels, there are times at which such disclosure would be horribly inappropriate. But an attitude of humility in recognition of what God has done in my life completely apart from my own acting is never inappropriate.

As an authentic church, and as authentic believers, we should seek to refine our attitude to be an attitude of authenticity rather than the false masks we like to wear. But we don't have to be a culture that magnifies our weaknesses to win others - they know our weaknesses; our responsibility is to magnify our gracious God.


They were supposed to show our house today, so the puppy and I went to Petsmart to look around. She doesn't care for strange people in the house who don't let her out to play with them. The sad puppy dog eyes work on Kari but don't seem to work on potential homebuyers, plus the dog loves to visit Petsmart, so off we went.

This week Dallas had what the meteorologists are calling a "cold snap." Basically, for non-texicans, that means the weather finally dipped below a hundred degrees. There's nothing cold about a cold snap in Dallas. In fact, the weather today is sunny and nearly 70 degrees. But don't tell the Texans. Between the house and Petsmart, I counted 8 people walking outside with heavy winter coats and gloves. Eight.

Texans notoriously overreact to the weather. Two or three weeks ago, Hurricane Rita was supposed to pass over Dallas with the potential of 10 inches of rain in the metroplex. You couldn't find bottled water in the grocery stores, and there were fights in gas stations between people trying to hoard imperishable items in case of the worst. Our houses might float away, but I'll be darned if she's going to take the last Snickers bar.

Don't even mention snow around here. If the weather man even says words that rhyme with snow, people lose control of their cars, lock themselves in their homes, and light fires in trashcans in their backyards, "just in case."

And today, on the first truly beautiful day this fall, Texans are bundled up like Eskimos.

As I laughed at the sheer lunacy of what I was seeing, a commercial came on the local Christian radio station about an upcoming church conference coming to our area that promised to "completely revive today's dying church." That's when I realized it; it isn't just Texans. The church overreacts in the same way.

Why do we need a completely new paradigm for church? Why does the church need a one-hundred and eighty degree perspective switch from its previous philosophy? I've been to these radically different churches - the ones who are redoing church to "revive today's dying church." Ask them how they know we're dying, and they point to the churches seeming inability to reach the postmodern generation. So they're redoing church to "fix it." The church has missed this entire generation, so they're going after it. They're starting whole churches aimed at fixing the problem of the church. How do we know they're successful? The postmoderns are showing up in droves.

But the senior adults aren't. Neither are the middle-aged people. The kids usually come with the middle-aged people, so they're missing. We've overcorrected our philosophy so much that now, instead of missing one generation, we're missing three. Surely that can't be church the way God intended it to work.

I would argue that the vast majority of churches today don't need a major paradigm shift. They don't need to go back to the drawing board. We don't need an entire overhaul, we just need a tune-up. The world today doesn't need a postmodern church, it needs to be brought into a relationship with God through saving faith in Jesus Christ. We don't need new paradigms, we just need people who love our generation enough to share God's Word with us, and to welcome us to the family.

Earth to Dallas: lose the coat, it's seventy degrees outside.

A Life With Purpose - Book Review

On one of my bookshelves I have two stacks: books I have to read, and books I want to read. The first stack is books I have to read for school or work, and the second stack is usually full of random books I've received as gifts, or that I stumbled on at Half Price Books, my favorite used bookstore. The drill is this: after I finish one of the "have to reads," I grab one of the "want to reads" as a reward.

I have great in-laws, and last Christmas they loaded me up on "want to read" books. After ten months, I'm finally about to exhaust those books, and am in dire need of some more. Fortunately, Christmas is just around the corner.

Today, I finished a major exam for one of my classes and searched for a "want to read" book. I picked out "A Life With Purpose" by George Mair. The subtitle of the book is "Reverend Rick Warren, The Most Inspiring Pastor of Our Time." It was a freebie somewhere, and since I love biographies, I figured it might be interesting.

If you're one of those over-sensitive types who believes you really shouldn't say anything at all if you don't have something nice to say, it might be advisable to stop reading here and pretend I wrote no more. I have absolutely nothing nice to say about this book. Consider yourself warned.

For starters, I feel the need to say that I'm not opposed to Rick Warren. I personally enjoyed "The Purpose Driven Church" very much. "The Purpose Driven Life" was for me a lot like Jurassic Park - the hype oversold the actual experience, and I was left disappointed once I finally got around to reading the book. But I didn't hate it.

This book on the other hand... well, let's just say about halfway through the book I promised myself if I could get through it, I'd treat myself to my "have to read pile." (I always finish books... period. It's part of being a type-A, obsessive compulsive guy. What can I say?)

For starters, from the forward, and from the book itself, it's obvious Warren had nothing to do with this book. The guy writing the book is an admirer of his who talked with his family, and friends, but didn't spend time with Warren in the writing of this book. For that I'm thankful. Like him or not, Rick Warren is one of the most listened to spokespersons in America when it comes to Christianity. To think that one of the most powerful men in American Christianity today's sole mission in life is actually to be like Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale is frightening. But that's what this book insinuates.

This book insinuates that Rick Warren is carrying the torch first lit by Bob Schuller (of Crystal Cathedral fame) and Norman Vincent Peale (writer of "The Power of Positive Thinking"). In fact, there's more biographical information about these two men in the book than there is about Rick Warren himself. Interestingly, if you do the math, Saddleback was several years old before Warren and Schuller met, although this book claims Schuller was the primary influence in the bedrock principles Warren used to start his ministry.

I got the distinct picture throughout the book that the author had an ulterior motive, and it wasn't to describe Rick Warren. Rather, the book seemed to be an attempt to give credibility to the Positive Thinking gospel on the coat tails of Rick Warren's success.

Although I haven't agreed with everything Warren has put out, I don't get the impression that the Purpose Driven Life is truly the revival of the Power of Positive Thinking gospel. If it was, the Purpose Driven Life would amount to no more than the Ego Driven Life. I find that philosophy hard to derive from a book that begins by saying "It's not about you."

The Purpose Driven Life is an utter contradiction if we take it in light of Norman Vincent Peale's philosophy. The Power of Positive Thinking is an exaltation of humanity, and the philosophy that you are what you think you are; it's the "Little Engine That Could" mentality. But the Little Engine was a train, and trains aren't fallen humans. Trains might be able to climb mountains they didn't think they could cross, but humans are unable to bridge the gap between themselves and God that was created by their sin.

True significance for humanity is not found in humanity, but in what God has said about the crowning jewel in His creation: we are created in His image. Beyond that, humanity who is in a right relationship with God (through faith in His Son) is seen as the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, who is loved and cherished by God. There is no power in positive thinking, other than positive thinking about who God is, and who humanity is in light of who God is. If the Purpose of the Purpose Driven Life is anything other than "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever," we fall tragically short of the purpose for which we were intended.