Month: February 2014

Offending with the Gospel

The Gospel offends.

I just started reading Christless Christianity by Michael Horton, in large part based on the many references to it in Jesus + Nothing = Everything (a fantastic book you should read). One of the opening points in Horton’s book is that the Gospel always offends; if the Gospel is nice, if it is popular, it is because it is no longer the Gospel.

The Gospel thunders that you do nothing. You don’t help. That salvation comes from outside of you, because it’s your fault that you’re going to hell. You’re the one who chose to sin against God; you’re the one who decided to find delight in evil. It was God who chose you, and there was nothing in you good to choose. He didn’t choose you because you were pretty or because you tried hard; in fact, the Bible claims that we are spiritually dead by nature. All our best works? They’re nothing more than dirty, dirty rags. And if that’s true for our best, what’s true of our worst?

Despite that, God chose us – God chose us! He decided to save us, not through anything we do, but through Jesus. Jesus was our substitute. Christ took our punishment and we got his record of perfection.

And the thing is… that message is offensive! Many, even in churches that faithfully proclaim Christ, seem anesthetized to the offense of that message. Many grew up with it or have simply allowed themselves to get used to it. In part, at least at times, it is the fault of the pastor himself for growing “used” to the message or trumpeting it in the exact same way every time (guilty!).

Well, apparently I offended some of my members today. I hope – I pray – that it was the offense of the Gospel that did it and not my fumbling words. What did I say? (more…)

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I lost my Bible.

I lost my Bible.

I lost my Bible.

How does a pastor lose his Bible?!

A little backstory: I love my Bible. It’s an NIV 84 my wife got for me a number of years back. She searched all over for it; I’d already given an identical copy away twice to people who didn’t have Bibles. So, there’s a nostalgia factor for the source of this particular printed copy of God’s Word. Add in several notes I keep in there, and there are factors beyond it being “simply” the exact human words God chose to communicate to us.

Add in that I’ve used this Bible for years. It’s literally the only Bible I’ve used in ministry since I’ve become a pastor. The thing’s falling apart. The binding is shot.

And the memories… (more…)

Failure

“Pastor, I need help. I want to hurt myself. I’ve been having suicidal thoughts.”

I don’t remember a lot of the conversation. It was late. I was ready for bed when the call came in. And the second I heard what the problem is, my mind focused on that. And I prayed. Oh, I prayed.

“I’m cutting myself. I need someone to help me. Please.”

His guardian won’t take him in to get help. “It’s not that bad,” the guardian says. I want to hurt that person. They should know better.

Can I take him in? He’s a minor. I’m not a legal guardian. Can I pick him and take him to a doctor? Do I even know the place to go this late at night? Do I just stay up with him so he’s safe, and then take him in the morning?

I share Jesus. I share law and gospel. I tell him, “You’re my brother. I love you.”

“I love you, pastor,” he answers.

Tears in my eyes.

What do I do? (more…)

But what about the VISITORS?!?!

Take a look around. It looks a little different here. I messed with the theme and  some of the sidebar stuff. Like it? Don’t? Let me know if you have any feelings other than apathy. I get enough “eh” on any given Sunday.

Why the change? Well, I’ve noticed that sometimes the text can be hard to read. While I certainly won’t hide my God or who I am when I write, I want to make sure the content is clear so when people come to visit this little blog, they react to the content and not to the packaging.

Sorta like my goal any given Sunday, huh?

I don’t care if people like me. I really don’t care if people like the music. I don’t care if people come in and “oo” and “ah” at the sanctuary.

I care that when people come in, they are shown Jesus and what he has done for them. And I don’t want any of the “packaging,” whatever that packaging may be, to get in the way.

Meh. This isn’t a big post tonight — just basically a note saying, “Yeah, you’re not insane if you remember things looking differently.” I’m just trying to make things easier to navigate, get around, and access content.

And maybe one little deeper thought thrown in.

Really. It’s a deeper thought.

Really.

The Curse of the Family Portrait

I have a problem with family portraits.

It has nothing to do with my complete lack of good looks. True, I worry about shattering the camera’s lens every time I smile, but that’s not what my problem is.

Every time we’ve taken a family portrait, my wife shortly thereafter announces that she’s pregnant.

About a year after we got married, our then-church had a membership directory made. Cool! We’d get our first family portrait! Except… There was three of us in that portrait. We just didn’t know she was pregnant at the time.

Rinse and repeat for children two and three.

So, what does this have to do with ministry?

My congregation is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary. We met today to discuss how to celebrate. We’re having a special service. We’re going to take a look at the time capsule put in the cornerstone when the church was built 100 years ago. Oh, and we’re going to have a new member directory made. With pictures of everyone!

And there’s no way one of those is going to be made without the pastor getting his picture in there. With his family, of course.

Which means… within the next year, we’re having a family portrait.

And if God continues to laugh in the same chortle he’s had at my family for years… in about a year and a half, I’ll have another child visible for all to see.

You think I can get someone to pretend to be me, thus negating the family portrait, and no one will notice?