Category: Articles

On my recent trip to Maryland I had the great joy of rekindling a friendship with an old friend who time and distance had brought separation. I enjoy my friend Dwayne’s company. Ohhh, are we different people. If someone listened in on our conversations they would wonder how these two guys get along.
Let’s just say we aren’t afraid of a little debate. We have two different ways of looking at the same thing. It’s not like one is wrong and one is right. Let’s call it perspective. Our conversations often involve discerning the other’s perspective. It makes us better.
The deeper satisfaction in our relationship is the lack of fear that even when we disagree and get excited we will always part friends. We don’t agree on everything. We don’t have the same opinion or approach on very many things actually. However, when we part our minds are racing, our hearts are being molded and our faith is challenged (in a good way). Don’t think the Biblical concept of “iron sharpening iron” is pain free and easy. It isn’t.
I can also assure you we have walked away not mad at each other but frustrated for sure. It doesn’t matter. The friendship prevails. I hope all the readers of this article have one of those friendships. If not, pray for one. We need it.
Dwayne was sitting at the breakfast table (he had coffee) while I devoured my French toast. We were having a lively discussion debate about church. We were talking about the lack of motivation among Christians to get their hands dirty in ministry. We were talking about what seems to be a lack of understanding about the kingdom of God and his work of redemption being real now, today not when we get to heaven. We both agreed it seems like we are sitting around waiting to go to glory hoping God does some good stuff around us.
Dwayne made a statement that really caught my attention. He said “We don’t need heaven anymore…we are have it right here.” I briskly asked him to explain himself. He did.
His thoughts revolved around the idea that we don’t serve God because we have taken our wealth and American culture and created our own bit of heaven. Thus, we don’t grasp that desperate situation of the lost world as we sit in our man made heavens. Basically, we have spent our resources in making heaven on earth instead of spending our resources on bringing heaven into the lives of others.
He is right. I couldn’t debate him. This has profound implications. By making our little world a bit of heaven instead of looking at the Scripture that calls our life here on earth war the future home in glory isn’t the goal, it’s the revised version.
Our view of life has become like buying a car. We don’t do so because we need one. We do so to get the latest version with more bells and whistles. How I treat it is different than if I understand I need that car to survive.
This isn’t anything new. God’s people have this struggle since Old Testament times. One thing happens when the body of Christ becomes to comfortable here on earth. God has a way of shaking it up. Dwayne and I agree. Our prayers aren’t for God to keep from shaking it up. Our prayers are that we will be faithful when he does.

Remember the days when getting on an airplane was easy. Walk in. Get your ticket. Go to your gate. The family gets to come with you. Say goodbyes. Get on the plane and away we go.
So much for the old days. Who would have ever thought we would have to take off our shoes to get on an airplane. I forgot that we have to take off our belts. After losing some weight I had a pair of pants on that without the belt…well…I was going ghetto. When I had to let go of my pants and put my hands in the air to be body scanned by one of these new profound machines I was scared to death my pants would end up around my ankles. I guess at that point they could realize I had no weapons.
All this “getting ready” to ride the plane. It reminds me of Sunday mornings in our family. My mother would put us through the mill in order to go to church. I’m really glad church has gotten “comfortable” and casual. I just couldn’t see the Israelites putting on their Sunday best in the middle of the desert to go to the tabernacle. Can you hear Momma hollering at little Moses Jr “Where is your rob we washed in the Red Sea young man?” Moses Jr. would remind Mom that it was washed on the other side of the Red Sea and when Moses Sr. said go…well the Saturday best was left behind.
I was reading the other day about the armor of God. Paul is talking about getting ready. It’s like being a police officer. The checklist looks the same…Gun…check. Bullet proof vest…check. Utility belt with Taser…check. Work boots…check. One last thing…Hat…check. We are good to go.
Ephesians relates these to truth, righteousness, gospel of peace and salvation. The prepared believer is ready to do battle with the forces that seek to destroy the glory and grace of God.
Well, that is not the end of the story. In our world life has gotten so complicated it is like being in the airport and having all the announcements coming through the speaker at once. It actually seemed to happen on this trip through Charlotte. Gates were changing, passengers were missing, and confusion was reigning. Nothing new at the Charlotte airport. Even if you listened real close you might not know where you are going. The lady just came on and apologized for the confusion.
So many of us are armed and ready to go but the confusion abounds. There is so much noise in our lives we don’t know where to go and what to do. Noise from the kids, work, government, Internet, friends, church (yes, church can get quite noisy) and just about any other element of life throws more and more noise our way.
Being able to focus is impossible.
Who said the Internet would make like easier. Guess what…they lied. It created more noise.
So here we are ready to go. So many people I talk to can’t figure out from the noise where they are to go. Welcome to Christianity 2014.
Paul answers it. He doesn’t say go out and slay the enemy. He doesn’t say get louder and busier. He actually says the opposite. Look what he says…”And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Need to hear the voice that reveals truth, righteousness, the gospel and salvation. Step back. Pray. Pray anyway you can. Pray for those creating the noise. Now we might know where we are going with all this armor on.
Got to go…they are calling my flight and there is a baby crying already. More noise…”Oh Lord, be with this confused baby and frustrated mom. And give me the grace to consider them better than myself.” Here we go. How do I know I will be sitting next to this crying baby.
By the way…today is my beautiful daughter’s birthday. Love ya babe.

As I continue to labor in ministry I have to make a startling admission. It might surprise many. I get it about God, the Father. I totally grasp Jesus, the Son of God. However, when it comes to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, I have to say I understand him less and less.
I know the theological book definition. I can read the Scriptures. However, when I meld the Scriptures with what I see in life, it makes me wonder.
At the same time I grow more and more bewildered about the Holy Spirit I become more and more convinced that the depravity of man is sure uglier, evil and deeper than any preacher likes to admit.
Possibly it is the interaction of the Holy Spirit with the powerful depravity of the world, self and devil that confuses this peewee brain. Just the fact in the book of Daniel that an angel was in battle for 21 days by evil forces to deliver a message straight from God baffles me. He had to call on Michael the arch-angle to win the day. It sounds like a fantasy story straight out of Disneyland.
Open to the book of Job and get a little more confused. Oh, don’t worry, God wins the day but the process is mind-boggling. We see a little more of strange God stuff that is unexplainable in the book of Acts as the Holy Spirit makes his presence in the heart of man after the resurrection of Jesus.
There is this side of the work of God attributed to the Holy Spirit that leaves me with a flat out “I don’t know, answer.” I don’t doubt the amazement of the Holy Spirit. I simply don’t know how it works.
How is it that one addict can boldly call on God and never touch his idols again while another addict pleads for the mercy of God believing in Jesus only to fight the urges for the rest of his life? How is it that a miserable, friendless alcoholic can abuse his body and soul day in and day out only to have a great friend of the faith killed in a horrible accident? What makes the light bulb go on for one man and the other to be blind as a bat; yet, they both claim Jesus as their only hope?
Are you ready for this? I can give you the logical sovereignty of God, Holy Spirit driven, glory of God answer. It may appease the burdened soul. If pressed beyond that…”I don’t know.”
We are told that we don’t know the thoughts of God and his ways are not our ways. But than the preacher gets up and declares “know the will of God.” How is that even possible? I’m not too sure anymore.
It isn’t that I doubt God. I know the Internet works. I don’t know nor will I ever understand how it works. Cyberspace is as foreign to me as living on the planet Mars. But, I can save this very article in someplace I can’t touch or feel and retrieve it at a later date.
Maybe we aren’t to know exactly how God works. I don’t think we can handle it. When John closes the book of Revelation there is a sense that we can’t handle what John saw about God and his ways.
So in the end of the day, we seem to waste a lot of time trying to figure out God so it can make sense to us but…it isn’t supposed to. God sending his beloved Son to take our sins defies all logic. Our depravity would find a way to warp God if we could figure him out. A sense of awe is the very essence of turning to Him. Jeremiah said that the people of God turned their back because they lost their awe of Him. Well, the more I realize I don’t understand instills a sense of the awe of God in my soul. Why? The story from Genesis through Revelation makes so much sense but at the same time is so profound it leaves us where Job was…who am I, I’m not God. Ahhh, the very essence of salvation.

Jesus often gave pictures that emphasized his teachings. One of the most famous pictures or as we call them parables is “The Good Samaritan.” Preachers use this story to motivate the audience to go out of their comfort and care for someone in need.
It is a much bigger picture. The parable was used to illustrate that righteousness (doing what is right in the eyes of God) was not about keeping the law. Instead righteousness was about extending mercy especially to those who aren’t necessarily high on our list.
The self-righteous one questioning Jesus would have loved the beginning of the parable. The priest and the Levite who did not help the beaten traveler would have been technically right in their application of the law. They would have been declared “unclean” if the suffering traveler was dead.
Jesus turns the table. The Samaritan aids the near dead man. He is the righteous neighbor. He is extending mercy and love by sacrificing for the needy man. He doesn’t figure out what is wrong. He attends to the need. Jesus has now redefined righteousness. To be righteous is to extend mercy.
Christian circles are known to spend time debating blame and causes instead of spending the energy to attend to the need. It is like we are the priest and Levite trying to figure out what is “right” so we can be relieved of the call to extend mercy. We call it love to lay blame instead of being part of a solution.
There is a need in our area that has received a lot of media attention. It is the failing grade in the Hardeeville school system. I have heard just about every angle on the issue. It’s the teachers. It’s the school system. It’s the parents. It’s the culture. Meanwhile the United Way of the Lowcountry reports that 67% of elementary school children in Jasper County cannot read at grade level. Regardless of the cause 7 out of 10 children in the school system are not reading at a level that provides hope for their future.
A recent study claims that 2/3 of students that do not read proficiently by grade 4 end up in jail or on welfare. I learned something recently I had no idea. Children learn to read by grade 4. From grade 4 on they read to learn. Therefore, if they do not read well by grade 4 the chance of success educationally and socially becomes extremely hard.
Our first response is to debate the problem. It is time to cease debate. The United Way, AmeriCorps and Crossroad Community Support Services have joined hands to address the problem. It is simple really.
A tutor program has been started. It is a one-on-one program that at this time is focused on grades 1 – 3 in 8 local elementary schools including the Jasper schools. It has the curriculum. It has the books. It only needs one thing…volunteers (men and women).
A tutor would serve a minimum of 1 hour a day assisting two children for the school year. Last year the program saw an increase in reading levels of 87% of the students involved.
I am calling on the Christian community to cease debating the problem, cease being a priest and Levi and follow the lead of The Good Samaritan. Get off our horse and give 1 hour to a child that needs to read. We as a Christian community talk all the time about people needing to read the Bible. Well, our neighbor is having a hard time reading. What do we expect?
I think what Jesus taught was to help the neighbor to read. It doesn’t cost us anything other than a little time and effort. We don’t have to build a program. It’s about caring for children in 1st through 3rd grade. They aren’t hardened criminals. They are kids. Reading may be a path that leads them away from a life of crime.
Join me. I’m going to tutor in the fall. My neighbor is in need and I’ve been on the wrong side of the road for too long. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a child who learned to read by listening to adults’ waste hours seeking someone to blame. There are 8 schools in our two counties that need help. There are too many children that can’t read well. The clock is ticking. For the 3rd graders, 4th grade is one year away.
Call 837-2000 and let them know you want to help tutor. 1 hour. 1 day a week.
For those that read this post that are not living in the Bluffton, South Carolina area I know there is need in your community somewhere. I know there are needy children within your community. I know there are suffering travelers on the path of life somewhere. Go to the school guidance department. Go to the senior citizen center. Go to the local hospital. It might be as simple as walking across the street to the single mom or dad. Weary beaten travelers are everywhere. We know it. Get on the right side of the street. Extend mercy. As Jesus taught…it is the righteousness of God.

The young man sat on the couch with an odd smirk on his face. He said he needed to talk about what I would describe as a “light bulb” moment. This was odd. For the past few months he wrestled with his wife through marriage counseling that seemed to be going nowhere.
A lot of counseling seems like that. In marriage counseling it can easily and quickly become a “he said, she said” fiasco. Counselors can become judge, jury, official, referee and umpire. Amazingly it doesn’t matter what they talk about it is deflection and blame at it’s worse. Getting around to heart issues is like trying to get a kite to fly on a windless day. We run around in circles over and over again looking for the breath of wind to take over only to have the kite fall to the ground.
I had expected the same thing this day only his wife was absent. The smirk was either a bomb getting ready to explode or a real change. Real change often does not take place in the counseling office, small group or church meeting. It tends to happen in everyday life when the truths of the counseling office, small group and church meeting come together to make sense. Today real change was on the menu. It was a breath of fresh air.
As the man spoke his smirk transferred to my face and I knew it. I have been where he is. I have seen the moment of Biblical understanding. It wasn’t an issue of being broken. It was an issue of being redeemed.
He told of discovering that the goal in life is to be like Christ. That is what we call “making disciples.” In the quest to be like Christ or a disciple he had interpreted the Scriptures to be a list. He was guilty of not keeping the list. At the same time he held his wife responsible for not keeping his list. She had enough issues not keeping her own. He declared that he thought being like Christ was to make sure the “love” checklist was functioning. You know…be patient, kind, forgiving, not keeping a record of wrongs, thinking the best and so on, and so on, and so on. Every week the question is about what is not being fulfilled.
He moved on to share her “light bulb” moment. Being like Christ is not batting .300 or completing 70% of your “love” completions. The smirk came back quickly…being like Christ is to “be love.” Now my smirk meets his. He got it. When the apostle John spoke about Christians being known for their love it was not about the “list.” It was about them. Their spirit or their being (a new being) was transformed and it was transformed to be love not act loving. No wonder the church in Ephesus (Revelation 2) was told they were good doers but they needed to return to their first love (Jesus). Doing acts of love did not make us Godly lovers. Having love define us doesn’t need deliberate actions. How do we get this? Understanding that when John 3:16 says God so loved the world it isn’t an option.
This all came about by asking a simple question to the young man a few weeks ago. I asked “why did sinners want to sit with Jesus?” It wasn’t that he loved them well. He embodied love. Every action and word from him was defined by his love.
What does this have to do with mercy? The love of God through Jesus Christ has nothing to do with performing acts of mercy. Mercy will flow when we are love.
It really is not as confusing as it sounds. When you discover this truth and that the source is a relationship with the one who was love embodied…look for the smirk.

The young girl reached into her pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. A scowl immediately became apparent on the host. “They always find enough money to buy cigarettes,” was mumbled. While on one hand the statement bothers us we should all remember that somewhere and with someone we have had the same attitude. Maybe it was unruly children while a mother sits on the cell phone. It might have been the home with the 56” plasma television as a meal was dropped off during the holidays. This is just a drop of the spirit that drives mercy away from our hearts. However, we sure enjoy the mercy provided by God through Jesus Christ when we have our soothing habits that take a piece of our lives. It happens to be that our soothing habits might not be offensive or obvious.
Mercy is not a program so we can check the box on our list of Christian duties. Jesus teaches it over and over again. Why? We have to ask the right questions. Why does Jesus talk about mercy so much? Mercy displays the heart of God. It was to be the heart of the believer.
We like to think there is a certain portion of our population that are visual learners while the others are auditory. However, Jesus constantly gives pictures in our world that emphasize both our auditory and visual senses. We all learn by what we see. It brings clarity to what we say. Acts of mercy bring clarity to words of mercy.
Jesus makes it very clear that those who receive mercy are ones who extend mercy. Too often we think it is a duty. We serve on an outreach project. We go on a missions trip. We give a few bucks during the holidays. These programs aren’t necessarily our heart. They can become our one time action in our endeavor to be Christian.
Jesus had a different idea. I was told of a story about Christians in early Ephesus. Those in poverty would abandon their children at the trash piles. Their children would die. As long as they didn’t have to see it they could justify their actions. The Christians in Ephesus would go out and rescue the babies from death. They would raise them as their own. This mercy was not an option. It was their faith.
Mercy does not seek to justify the situation. It does not seek to lay blame. It is an act of Christ that displays the heart of Christ. Mercy defines the life of a believer. In our culture we have left mercy ministries to the government and social service agencies and than cry “foul” when it doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t. Mercy was meant to reveal the heart of God who displayed such a great mercy on humankind that he sent his own son to pay a price so great that no one could argue or doubt the love of God for a creation gone awry. Man’s feeble attempts outside of this gift of God are destined to fail.
We often wonder how we lost our voice in our world. We didn’t lose it by failure to read the Bible, prayer and church attendance. We didn’t lose it by having opinions. We lost it when we failed to embrace the gospel as a life transformer. We bought the gospel as a life insurance waiting to die to receive the benefit. We taught a false gospel.
The gospel was given to man to reveal Jesus and the greatest mercy one could find. A friend of mine whispered in my ear this past Sunday “The mercy I extend is relative to my personal portfolio. The more things I have the less mercy I extend.” He was right. The basic reason we don’t extend mercy is our love with things of this world. We want the blessings of God without giving them away like he did. That is not the gospel. Meanwhile, we wonder why no one listens.

I went to a meeting a few weeks ago to discuss Mercy ministry. It came clear that most people at the meeting had no idea the Biblical and practical practice of Mercy ministry. At one point a man stood his ground and declared that evangelism was the only form of community outreach the church should engage. He wanted to be convinced that Mercy ministry had a place in Christianity.
Personally, I was shocked. I’ll admit it was pretty discouraging. Without question Mercy type ministry is “social work.” Somehow and somewhere Christianity has deemed this on option. It is reserved for the “passionate” or as I heard recently “the liberals.”
Mercy is simply extending a helping hand to those who are in need or suffering. We have taken the approach that we will only help those we want to. Often we want to only help those who make good decisions. I hate to tell you this but those who are in need often make poor decisions. That is why they are in need. We also tend to want to only help those that have our values.
The section of our community that is in need of mercy will tend to not have our values. One of the biggest reasons is that wealth affects how we perceive our world. Studies have proven this.
It can be seen in how we perceive food. Those in a poor condition will tend to look at a meal in terms of being full. Once the meal is over it would not be uncommon to hear the question “Did you have enough to eat?” Their diet often consists of fried foods, starches and breads. Why? They might not know when their next decent meal may come.
Meanwhile the middle class (people like you and me) tends to ask, “How did it taste?” Or “Did you like it?” Our value isn’t on our bellies being full. Instead it is our personal taste that matters. I have actually seen acquaintances eat half of their meal and determine it was not to their liking. It was eatable. They did not like it. So…they sent it back in disgust.
Meanwhile, the upper segment of our society isn’t concerned about their belly or their taste. They will comment on the presentation. I’m not even going to comment on this one. I do not relate. However, it is true.
Three groups of people with three different views of food is just the beginning.
This is just an inkling of the effect their economic condition has upon them. The value systems are different. Many in the lower economic group that I have association are what I would call “survivors.” Somehow, someway, they make life work. Their stories often humble me and shock me at the same time.
Mercy is not intended to be dependent upon the state of being. If Jesus had a list of requirements for us to receive mercy or social assistance we would be out of luck (if there is such a thing). The mercy extended by Christ resembles his story of the Good Samaritan. Tim Keller, renowned pastor and author, calls it “The Call of the Jericho Road.” We are going to continue this discussion on the call of all Christians to extend mercy next week. Take some time and read about the Jericho Road in Luke 10.
Jesus spoke of social assistance in Matthew 25 when he described Christians (by the way it is the only place he gives a description of believers). He also declared mercy to be extremely close to the greatest commandment to love God. He said to love our neighbor as ourselves. Extending mercy isn’t a choice. It’s a command. To be continued.

Nothing, BT Article, May 18, 2014

I am at a blank. There are times I sit and stare at the screen and come up with absolutely nothing. The deadline is on to produce by Thursday. I pray. I read. I pray some more. It doesn’t matter…there is not a single worthy thought. It would be so easy to let the editor know there will not be an article this week. What is he going to do…fire me (for those who don’t know, this article is a voluntary submission each week and I thank the Bluffton Today staff for this opportunity)? Maybe I’ll just pull out a 3 year old article for submission. Who in America can remember an article especially my articles from 3 years ago?
The more I thought about it I realized that writer’s block resembles life. There are more times than we like to admit that we got nothing on any given day and on any given life process. It is so hard to say “I don’t know.” It’s even worse to say, “Sorry, I got nothing for you today.”
In many jobs it is a cause to be terminated. Try that one as a police officer or a doctor. I can see it now. The patient is all ready to go on the operation table. The doctor asks for the scalpel. Just as he goes to make the incision that could begin to save his patient’s life he lets out “This is a wrap…sorry… I just don’t have it going today.”
These things scare us. We work so hard to make something happen. It is sort of writing this article…I’m trying to make something out of nothing. So…I write about nothing.
I guess the point I want to make is that many times we got nothing. The problem is we are so pressed to make something happen. In America the stress is building more and more. I know of pastors that dread a bad sermon. Why? The criticism and potential exodus is real.
Let’s face it…we don’t tolerate inability to create or perform especially if one is in the position where he is required to perform. I was reading the other day about a professional basketball player who had the worse night of his career. He went 0 for 12 from the floor. The writer alluded that he was overrated or was a choke artist. I didn’t now robots were in the NBA.
Pay careful attention. There are times we got nothing. We tend to hide our failures in something else. We blow smoke. We hide. We deflect. We do all we can do to avoid attention. I’ve worked for companies that say “work more, work harder, get it done no matter what it costs.” I’ve heard spouses say it. I’ve heard congregation members say it. I’ve heard elders and deacons say it.
There is one thing we are missing. Does anybody care why we got nothing? I think that is why Jesus attracted sinners. Many of them had nothing. Compared to the Pharisees they were the bottom of the pickle barrel. What did they have for the Son of God? Nothing. So what did he do? He loved them. He cared and compassionately addressed why they were prostitutes (wanted man not God), had multiple relationships (spiritual thirsty), and were crooks and thieves (served money instead of God). He did it in a way that revealed He was the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Next time somebody you know has got nothing. Find out why and love them well.

In October 2006 Richard Dawkins, scientist and atheist wrote what became a #1 bestseller The God Delusion. Basically, Dawkins seeks to prove that God does not exist through science and reasoning.
Dawkins work while becoming a best seller was debated not only among Christians but his peers as well. Many arguments were made against his reasoning. In one hand it amazes me that a book full of error and debate can be so readably accepted in the academic world as truth. On the other hand I am not surprised at all for man has sought to discredit God in every generation.
Dawkins relates belief in God to a delusion. A delusion is “is a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary.” Dawkins seeks to make the argument that science provides the evidence that there is no Grand Creator (God) but man believes in God regardless.
I hold a different view. I’m not really worried about a delusion being the problem of our faith. All arguments boil down to presuppositions. Give an intelligent, educated scientist the facts and he can make anything he wants out of them. Demand he hold to presuppositions and he will see the facts based on his personal fundamental belief system. Christians read the science and see the Creator. Non-believers read the science and see man. If that isn’t enough to scare somebody I don’t know what is. If man’s hope is man history (facts) says we are in trouble.
So, I am not worried about a delusion or Richard Dawkins. I’m more concerned about delusions second cousin, “Illusion.” An illusion is “a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.” I am more concerned that faith in Jesus Christ is being wrongly perceived in our day and age. Or is it?
Throughout Biblical history and into modern times true believers in Jesus Christ were perceived to be different than their world. In ancient times when plagues and disease swept though towns and cities it was the Christians who risked (many died doing so) their lives to care for their neighbor. They lived the gospel…not just preached it. When there was need, Christians responded.
Historically, when Christians became secularized (love of money and thus themselves) they tended to slink back from adversity. They became blamers and condemners instead of people who stood against injustice, protected the innocents and cared for the poor and desolate. They pointed fingers instead of got their fingers dirty. Their comfort became their god. They manipulated God into who they wanted him to be instead of being transformed into who God wanted them to be (mini Jesus). Jesus spoke about this on a regular basis. He said in simple terms “You cannot serve two masters, you will love the one and hate the other.”
There are those who understand the call. They aren’t treating God like an insurance policy waiting for the day they need to keep their backsides out of hell. They answer the call daily. They immediately go and serve in disaster areas (hurricanes, tornados, floods). They take care of A.I.D.S. patients. They bring the pregnant mom and child into their homes instead of protesting against abortion. They seek to close predatory lending institutions. They tutor, mentor and stand against injustices such as racism.
The problem is these that understand the call to “lay down your life for the sake of another” (the way of Christ) are becoming fewer and fewer. The illusion is that belief in Christ is easy, solves life’s woes and actually is a guarantee to prosper here on earth. God’s grace might cover everything but it sure doesn’t solve everything. Delusion…illusion… I’m not sure which one has more effect on the gospel. Two masters…now that is one to be concerned about.

We have been warned that a cultural shift would change the face of the church. That shift is not coming…it is here. Young America is rejecting the church as we know it. We (Christians) waste a lot of time looking for a cause instead of discussing a solution.
As a late Baby Boomer I believe that one of the reasons for the cultural shift is the legalism that plagues us. We teach salvation by grace but practice salvation by grace plus works.
After discussing this issue in a church group I received the following email (edited for space) from a “None” (the younger generation who claims “none” as a religion). Instead of blame let’s stop and listen. Healing begins by listening.
Why have the “None’s” divorced the church?
It’s because we are tired. We are tired of never measuring up and not being good ‘enough’. We cannot possibly attain to the standard you hold over us. So, we quit.
We have a need to be loved. To be known. To be accepted. To be cherished. We have a need to know the truth. To believe in something. Someone. We have a need for that truth to make a difference and to tell us who we are and why we are here. We have a need to be forgiven.
Sadly, Church, you are not meeting those needs. What we find frankly turns us off and turns us away. Instead of being loved, we are told to love God. But WHO is God? Instead of being known, we are told to know God’s Word. But again, WHO is God? Instead of being accepted, we are told to accept His will. But what does that mean?
Church, you are confusing us. You tell us Jesus came to heal the sick, but you tell us to stop being sick. You tell us, God came to save the lost but then tell us to get our acts together. We hear, “God loves you and has come to give you joy, to give you peace, to give you rest, to forgive you and give you life.” But that is not what we see modeled by you. Instead we are told to Do More and Try Harder. You ask us, What’s Wrong with You? And tell us that, We Should Know Better. Well, we really just don’t (and I’ll let you in on a little secret, neither do you, so stop acting it.)
This we find outside of your doors, believe it or not. You, Church, are supposed to be a safe place, a hospital I can come to, to bind up my wounds, but I do not find that kind of healing with you. My soul is screaming for relationship, for connection and community. For that safe place. The outside gives that to me. They don’t strap me with rules and regulations and judgment. No, it’s quite the opposite, really. I am free to be who I want to be. So this is where I turn. To the safety of my girl-friend or my boy-friend or same-sex relationship. To the protection of drugs and alcohol and self-mutilation, numbing my pain and emptiness. To my addictions and dysfunctions, because it works, at least for a while.
We don’t have time or patience for this “Carrot and Stick” kind of faith. Be good and you’ll get a carrot. Be bad and I’ll beat you with a stick. Because, didn’t you hear me when I said, my soul is screaming for relationship?
I don’t want to be rude, but Church, you need to hear this. You got distracted. You fell asleep at the wheel and now you’re paying for it. And now we’re paying for it. You majored on the minor and minored on the major. You were swallowed up in the trap of Look Good and Do Better. But I’m here to tell you, that that’s just not real life. This pain and hurt I feel, is real life. This pressure I feel, is real life.
If you would have explained to me, really explained, that He came to take all of my sticks and give me all His carrots regardless of my “sinful transgressions”. Well, maybe, just maybe I would have stuck around a little longer. But right now, I’m Just. Too Exhausted. So I quit.
That’s one reason at least, for my divorcing you, Church.
Upon receiving this email my heart began to ache…maybe it isn’t so much the younger generation that needs to repent but the older as well.