Category Archives: worldview
A storm rolled through town tonight. My family and I were watching my son at Tae Kwon Do. Suddenly the rains came and the thunder struck. I walked through the rain to pick my wife and children up at the curb. A rainbow appeared as we were leaving the parking lot. Driving home, every one in the van strained to see the colors in the sky. That’s when I said, “God is telling us, ‘Hi.'”
Let me stop here. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I never say weird things like that. Typically, that kind of “Christianese” simply annoys me. But for some reason, this time, it was different.
I was reminded of what God told us in Genesis 9:12-15…
Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life.
Somewhere along the way, rainbows became associated with different movements or stereotypes.
As a child of the ’80’s, I remember when liking rainbows made you a “girl.”
Rainbows were somehow linked with unicorns and Rainbow Brite.
Now in our modern era, the rainbow has become the proud symbol of the gay and lesbian community. A flag waving with rainbow colors declares, “PRIDE.”
Yet, I stared into the colors of this rainbow. Each color shining clear and bright. A near, complete arch, stood proudly displayed in the sky. A bold reminder that rainbows are not girlie. They shouldn’t be linked with unicorns and fairies. And it is far bigger than a community of people. The rainbow stands alone as God’s promise to mankind. A promise to never again flood and destroy all of humanity.
In all honesty, I don’t fully understand God’s mindset when it comes to the flood. But there is one thing I know…the rainbow is His.
It is a symbol of mercy and grace.
It is a symbol of His covenant.
It’s God saying, “Hey, I’m still here.”
It is His.
I probably won’t stop and stare at every rainbow I see. I won’t get “girlie” every time the rain comes and a rainbow appears. I’m just not like that. But for some reason, tonight was different. God giving me a nudge. A simple…
Hi, Stan. My promise is still good. They never fail. I love you.
What do rainbows mean to you?
Over the course of time, the word “organic” has become a bit confused. Apparently it’s so confused that we have to label fruit as “organic” to distinguish it from non-organic fruit. Don’t jump all over me just yet, I get it, okay. Some fruits, vegetables and other foods have preservatives and fillers added to help keep them more fresh, longer. What’s interesting to me is our culture’s passion to get back to organic.
Organic is natural, fresh, simple, healthy, real. It’s grassroots. There’s nothing else added.
Nothing. It’s simply organic, natural, fresh, simple, healthy.
Our lives are so cluttered with so many things, that we are in a desperate search to get back to what’s organic; simple and natural. As a society, we are desperately craving less fillers and preservatives. And as a follower of Christ, I am finding the same in my relationship with God.
Over time, I have added so many fillers and preservatives to my relationship with God. And eventually, the relationship I truly have with God is simply a “preserved” image of the real thing. It’s not a real, fresh, simple, natural or healthy relationship, it’s one filled with junk to make it appear better and to help it hopefully last a little longer.
And then it happens. I wake up one day and it hits me…my relationship with God is superficial. It’s simply covered up with fillers and preservatives. It’s why I grow tense and uneasy. It’s part of why I become angry and frustrated with life. I try to go through life on the additives of a relationship with God, only to find that the real thing has alluded my grasp. As a result, my life is chaotic and upsetting. Little things bother me. Things just don’t seem right. Then I realize, it’s time to get back to God. And not the god I like to create in my head, but the One, True God, who desires more than anything to know me and have a relationship with me. But it’s going to require cutting out a few additives (Jeremiah 29:13).
I have to cut…
- selfish desires (James 4:2)
- false gods (Exodus 20:3)
- comfortable Christianity (2 Timothy 3:12)
- people pleasing (John 15:18)
- my will (Romans 12:1)
- legalism (Romans 8:3)
- other sources (Psalm 119:9-11)
See, developing an organic relationship with God means cutting out all the additives and fillers. It’s surrendering every fiber of my being and allowing God to lead and rule in every area of my life. Without that, the only relationship I have with God is simply unnatural. It’s full of extras that dilute the purity of the relationship God wants to have with me. It means surrendering my will to God’s. It means aligning myself with what He has revealed in Scripture, not trying to align God with my thoughts and feelings. It even means surrendering all the “laws” of Christianity to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will. It means finding the God who is alive and well beneath all the mega-church, post-modern, missional, traditional, denominational conversations out there.
I want to experience God in His purest form. I’m tired of the additives and fillers. They only screw things up.
What do you think it looks like to have an “organic” relationship with God?
What would you add to the list?
So, you might be thinking to yourself, “Where has Stan been?” Well, I’m still alive. That’s a good start (at least for some of you I guess).
The real question is, why haven’t you blogged in 3 months (or however long it has been)? The answer is a good one. You’re never going to believe this. I…have…been…freaking…busy!!!
That’s right folks, my answer to my weird absence is, I’m busy.
However, in the midst of my crazy, busy start to a summer, I have found a few minutes to touch base with you about something that has absolutely been annoying me for quite some time. That’s right, you don’t hear from me for months, and the first thing I say is, “I’m annoyed.” Sorry for the negativity, it’s just where I am.
Over the last few weeks I have been flipping through radio stations where I live in Northern Virginia. Let me just say, there’s nothing good on. I want to make sure you understand my sentiment, that even includes “positive” radio. Yeah, you know them. The “Christianese” guys on the radio who don’t say they’re Christian, but they’re just so “positive.” In other words, there isn’t much on.
Here’s where I think God is trying to tell me something. I turned on the radio (yes, I hear you. I need an iPad to listen to Pandora while cruising the highway. I totally agree with you.) when I got in the car and started flipping through stations. One of the first stations I landed on had a caller on the line. It was a lady. I missed the context, but didn’t take me long to pick up where they were. Not a quote, but this was her story…
Yeah, I do that all the time. One time, I asked my boyfriend if he minded if I flashed an attendant so we could get free parking.
Of course, I changed that station, only to find another talking about this…
Well, I just think you should do whatever makes you feel good and happy. Maybe you shouldn’t be with your husband if he doesn’t make you happy. You need to follow your heart girl, and do what feels right.
And still another…
The only way to be happy is to find it within yourself. You’ve just got to look inside of you.
At this point, I had all but given up on humanity. And radio in the DMV. Here’s what God is telling me in my search for something decent to listen to on the radio…
- Humanity is broken and we desperately need to be
- The worldview that many people are living by is leading them to heartbreaking decisions and a painful existence.
- When it comes to Northern Virginia, I need to help people develop a biblical worldview.
Here’s where you come in. I would love to hear what you are doing in your ministry, para-church or other organization, to help people develop a worldview that will actually make an eternal difference in their lives.
Everyone lives by some worldview. How are you helping connect people to a biblical one?
I enjoy listening to many people. National speakers, pastors, writers, presidents, CEO’s and more. I like listening to people that I disagree with. It forces me to take a stand on what I really believe, rather than just float along with whatever the next thing to come along is. With that in mind, this is what I like so much about a guy like Francis Chan.
When I listen to him, I don’t hear a lot of bias toward his own way of thinking. He challenges us to confront God and Scripture to determine what we believe. I think in a lot of ways I like him because he makes things very simple and I am a simple guy.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.” I haven’t read the book, so I won’t comment on it yet. I don’t think I should comment on a book I haven’t read. However, I believe Mr. Chan has read it and he has some very interesting comments. He never calls out Mr. Bell. He never points to anyone in particular to throw them under the bus. He simply says that we can’t afford to get the issue of hell, wrong. Check out this video and let me know what you think about this whole conversation.
Have you heard the news? It’s the end of the world. Or at least, that’s what Harold Camping wants everyone to believe. He made the same, bold prediction in 1994 and now nearly 20 years later, he is making it again. His original date was off, based on a slight miscalculation. However, he believes he is back on track again.
It would be very easy to sit here and spout off my opinion on this topic. However, I want to simply let Scripture speak for itself.
Colossians 1:15 – “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
In other words, Jesus Christ not only created the entire universe, but He also holds it together by the power of His words. It was God’s intention to save humanity through His Son, Jesus. It is this same Jesus who also said this…
Matthew 24:36 – “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
There is only one thing that Jesus doesn’t know, and that is when God will send Him back to earth.
Acts 1:6-8 – “So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’ He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
The disciples are concerned about when Jesus is coming back to ultimately take care of Kingdom business. Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about that. It’s none of your business. You just be My witnesses and do the work I give you in all the world.”
Matthew 24:42-44 – “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Let’s recap |
1) When Jesus comes back is none of my business.
2) Jesus doesn’t even know when He’s coming back.
3) Jesus’ return will be sudden and Scripture makes the assertion that none of us know the time.
There are a couple of questions that come to mind as a result of simply reading what God has to say for Himself (instead of assuming we can figure Him out all the time). The first question is, where does this land our friend, Harold Camping? What should we do with his claims? Where do we land on this issue?
Another question, and by far the more urgent of the two, is, what are you doing with your time? If you are a follower of Christ, did you live life today like you were concerned about the coming of Christ? Or did you go through life today assuming that just like yesterday, Jesus wouldn’t return? Are you living as if your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers will spend eternity without God if you don’t do something? Or are you assuming that you will always have another day?
Have you explored the claims of Christ thoroughly enough?
Have you given your life to Christ and submitted to the will of God through baptism? (Acts 2:38)
If you are a follower of Christ, I want to challenge you to live as if Jesus will come back at any time, day or night. Be careful listening to so-called “prophets” who proclaim the end of the world. Scripture has a pretty clear teaching on that. However, it is also clear in its teaching that we need to live life everyday as if it is the last.
What does that mean for you?
Well, I plan to write again sometime after 6:00 pm tomorrow night. If you don’t hear from me, just assume you missed the train. hahah =)
The news hit late at night on May 1st, 2011. The President of the United States of America announces that a very strategic strike by covert military forces had lead to the death of Osama Bin Laden. The mastermind behind the 9/11 attack on the United States. The mastermind behind hundreds of other attacks, leaving thousands dead in his wake.
At the onset of the news, I was so excited. I’m so thankful to the countless men and women serving our nation in the military. I’m so thankful that nearly a decade of work has paid off for them. I’m so thankful that they didn’t quit. I’m so thankful to the President of the United States for not giving up and for allowing us to find him.
Then I woke up Monday morning. I felt different. I wasn’t sure what I really felt or which was right. My thoughts shifted to, “I’m a Christian before I’m an American. Is it okay for me to be glad this murderer is dead? How would Jesus have responded?” I was so confused and not sure what to feel about the death of this man.
I have gone back and forth on this issue most of the day. I have read Facebook posts detailing each person’s, personal opinions. I have read the arguments. I have even watched the videos on YouTube that are already saying the Government invented Osama Bin Laden and that he wasn’t even a real person (crazy people). I wish I could say that I have some solid answer, but truthfully I’m still wondering what to think.
Here is where I land |
I am happy that a mass murderer is no more!
I am happy that we finally got the man who killed thousands of Americans in a matter of hours.
I am happy about that.
I am sad that another soul has likely gone into eternity without Jesus as his Advocate.
I am sad that he could not be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of you land on one side of this argument or the other. Some of you aren’t struggling with this at all. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be. I’m not telling you how to think about this by any stretch. However, if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to wrestle with something I am wrestling with. From the mouth of Jesus Christ Himself. If you are diving in deep, becoming more like Christ, tell me these words of His aren’t hard to wrestle with.
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For He gives His sunlight to both the evil and the good, and He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
I am glad that Osama Bin Laden can never hurt another human being again! Praise God for that.
I am sad that he met God without knowing Jesus!
What do you think?
Jesus asks a lot of me. He has high expectations of me. And to be quite honest, His standard is not an easy one to reach. Maybe that’s why He says the road to destruction is wide and the road to salvation is narrow. In Luke 9, Jesus is talking to a crowd about what it means to follow Him. This is how He describes what it means to be a disciple.
Luke 9:23 – “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”
That is no easy task. I mean, the cross was where criminals went to be tortured and die. It’s where people hung for days, starving to death while they urinated and defecated all over themselves. It’s where the smell of blood and sweat mixed under your nostrils. You simply died in your own shame and filth. It was the most gruesome way to die ever devised by mankind (in my opinion).
And that’s the standard for those who want to be followers of Christ is that on a daily basis, they take up their cross and follow Him. Daily cross-carrying, is the standard of discipleship for those claiming to follow Christ. The cross is very symbolic of your own death. Jesus carried His own cross to His death. Criminals carried their crosses to their death. In other words, Jesus wants me to die to myself and only live for one person; Him.
Being a disciple means that you are a follower, a student of someone. If I want to follow Jesus more closely, I need to study Him more. I need to spend more time in the Gospels, absorbing every move and conversation. I need to seek after Him as if I believe I was really lost without Him (and I do). And when I have discovered Him in a whole new way, I need to take His radical life and begin to replicate it on a daily basis.
I need to love the unlovable.
I need to serve even when it’s not in my best interest.
I need to teach as if eternity hung in the balance.
I need to spend time with the least of these.
I need to give all that I have, 100% of the time.
And no matter how far I think I have come, there is always a next step. There is always someone else to love. Someone to serve. Someone who needs to hear that Jesus is the way to God. I’m thankful for the words of Paul in Philippians 3…
Philippians 3:12-14 – “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,tbut I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
I’m so thankful for Christ. I’m so thankful for the forgiveness He offers me. I’m so thankful for grace. I’m so thankful for an example of how to live life. I know I will never attain perfection on this side of heaven, but I’m going to continue striving toward what I am called to. And I’m called to be more like Jesus.
What do you think about discipleship?
What do you need to do today to be more like Jesus? Tomorrow?
I would like to start this post by admitting something. It’s confession time.
I’m not perfect.
I know, some of you are shocked. I’m sorry for ruining your worldview. I guess what we have to do is this; when we make mistakes, we must learn from them. If we don’t learn from them, that is when there is a significant problem. Alright, enough preliminary mumbo, jumbo. On to the story.
Today was a big day. It was “Meet The Teacher” for Grant (8) and Ashton (5). Ashton’s kindergarten age group was up first at one o’clock this afternoon. So we hopped in the van and headed to the school. This is big time stuff. I mean, Ashton is going to “big school” for the first time. On the way we encounter heavier than usual, traffic. There had been an accident on the road and the clean up was blocking the road to the school. Two semis waited somewhat patiently for their opportunity to turn. I pull up beside one and put on my blinker. Multiple cars, truck and semis all wait their turn with their blinkers on as well.
The first semi goes past me. I feel at this point it is my turn to make the turn into the right lane. I happen to glance into my rear view mirror and the car behind me has decided that looking at the end of my Mazda MPV is below her pay grade. She accelerates and swerves around me, nearly hitting the semi in the process. I had already begun my lane shift and only happened to catch her make this move, fortunately for us. I slam on the brakes and look to the right. I lay on my horn, not because I am generally a road rage person, but because she has endangered my family, complete with our little man of the hour. At this point I would like to go ahead and make my second mistake of the day. Ready? Please read an emphasis on the she driver.
At this point, I take my spot behind her. In her haste around the corner, she nearly rear ends the 18 wheeler. I can’t figure her out at this point. I patiently and in a very Christ like way, tailgate her a little bit while throwing my arms in the air to try and prove my point. My wife begins to calm me down and I try to get myself in check. Both of our vehicles shift into the right lane after passing the semi and turn our blinkers on. She is turning where we are turning. Uh-oh! I hope she’s not going to the school. One right and left turn later, sure enough, she pulls into the same school parking lot we do. I sure hope she doesn’t have a kid going into kindergarten.
We get out of the van after parking. We walk to the door and I of course notice that this lady is walking behind us. She has a son with her. Oh boy! She was far enough behind us that when we got to the door, certain things would be obvious. If I let the door shut, she was close enough to know that I would have been shutting it on her. She was also just far enough back to know that if I held the door, I was doing her a favor. I had cooled off just enough, I opted to hold the door for her. At this kind gesture of mine, I made sure my wife noticed how good I was. Possibly mistake #3.
We sit down and go through the introductions of the teachers, principal and other staff. It’s a fun little event. Then it’s time to go see Ashton’s classroom and meet his teacher. At this point I begin to internally hope that this lady and her son aren’t in Ashton’s class. And off we go. We walk in the room and look around. So many toys. So much wonder. Ashton might as well have been in heaven. He’s going to love school. We locate his name at the table. There he is with his packet of new stuff, name tag and all. Oh look, he’s going to be sitting next to Samuel. How nice. We can’t wait to meet Samuel. I can see his awesome family now. A cute couple, new to town, looking for a church home. And God has put me in their path. He knows just how to work His world you know. But mostly I’m sure that his family has to be better than the crazy lady who almost killed us all on the way to the school.
I look at the door to watch the other parents and children come in to Ashton’s class. And to my uber excitement, in walks the lady who got her driver’s license yesterday. I look at Misty and we share one of those married couple, mental conversations for a second or two. She points at me as if to blame me for this awkwardness. I have yet to put myself in that position. Yet, surely we are still in the clear. I mean, what are the chances that she will even make her way over to us? After all, we are on the far side of the class room. Slow but sure, she makes her way toward us, scanning the names on the tables. And as if Christmas had come early for me, her son’s name…Samuel.
Yep, you guessed it. She nearly ran my family out of our lane. I honked and raised my arms in disgust. She almost ran into the back of an 18-wheeler. And now, her son is sitting right next to mine in class.
It is at this point that God begins to have a conversation with me. Maybe less a conversation and more of a, “keeled over laughing, smacking his knee,” sense of humor, moment (I have no idea if that last sentence is grammatically correct). I begin to listen to God and I realize something. I realized I have been put in this position for a reason. There are still things that I have to learn, but even more, there may be something that this family needs. God had done it again. He had my complete attention.
In this upcoming school year, that lady and her family will be getting better from me than a honk and hand waving. To me, this is no coincidence. It is an opportunity.
God used this to humble me. He also used it to remind me that His followers are always on display. And at any given moment our lives can draw people to Jesus or they can turn them away from Him. And I personally want to be one that uses my life to draw people toward God. I guess even pastors need to be re-taught this lesson.
Can you think of a humbling moment like this that God has used to teach you something?
What about your life?
Do you stop and wonder if how you live pushes people away from God or draws them toward Him?
Our family has gone on a few vacations together. For the most part, we don’t get too far from home, but we do enjoy getting out of town every now and then. Have you ever noticed the types of places we plan to go for vacation? They’re usually tropical, warm destinations. Disney World. Disney Land. Sea World. Bahamas. Jamaica. A cruise. The beach. Depending on your vacation, you will look for places to tour. You might be a family that likes to walk around a historical museum or location. Seeing a statue that was built in memory of someone can be a lot of fun. We plan to go somewhere that we can tour and see things that we can’t see at home.
Want to know what one of the tourist stops in the United Kingdom is? A church like this one near Exminster in Great Britain. It is the Church of St. Martin and it dates back to the 14th Century. You can even go online here and research much of the data on the church. For instance, the history tells us about the Parish registers, dating back to 1562. They even have published indexes covering baptisms, weddings, burials and christenings.
As our family was driving through one small town in Missouri, we stopped at a little park to have a picnic lunch. Vacations on a budget is how we roll. We sat eating our lunch and noticed a cute little building on the park grounds. It sure looked like a church. A really old church. My wife wanted some pictures before we left town. We started to walk around the building and we saw a sign in the front. It was the town museum, formerly a church. It had been remade to show off town history along with much of the history of the church. It didn’t date back to 1562, but it was still a very old church building.
In terms of “religion,” the western world is following suit with much of that of Europe. As Europe has moved away from Christianity, much of America is doing the same. We could answer the question, “Are you a Christian” with the answer, “Yes,” while at the same time answering the question, “Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God” with the answer, “No.” Simply stated, the church in America is dying. More churches die per year than we replace with new churches. According to one article I read, we need to plant 2900 more churches a year just to keep up with the population growth.
Let me say it this way, America has decided it no longer needs the church. The church is no longer the center for spiritual needs to be met. As Europe left the church behind, America is following close behind.
A very sad possibility is ahead of us. That possibility is that churches could feasibly become tourist locations in America.
I for one, am not ready to concede. I for one, am not ready to turn our churches over to the tourist industry. The question is, how far are we willing to go to stop the bleeding?
How much are we willing to sacrifice to make the church of God thrive again?
Are we willing to engage the culture in new and risky ways?
I would like to share more on that question in a future post. In the meantime, what are some of your thoughts?
How is your church engaging the culture around you in fresh ways?
What are some of your ideas for engaging the culture so that we don’t become a tourist attraction in America?
What do you think some of the key contributing factors are to this decline in the church in America?