Monthly Archives: May 2015

Adult Terrible Twos? Don’t Reward The Tantrum!

toddler tantrumClaudia Chaudhary is the two-year old daughter of a White House correspondent. She was recently at a dinner at the White House with her Mom when, having behaved for as long as she could, Claudia hit her limit. Wearing a pink plaid dress, looking as cute as could be, Claudia flopped on the ground and threw an epic tantrum. Her Mom, the press, the President, and the First Lady smiled and collectively said, “been there.”

After all, what other age has the name “terrible” attached to it other than the “terrible-twos?” The Mayo Clinic defines the “terrible twos” as: “a normal stage in a toddler’s development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word ’no.’” Yep…sounds about right.

But if there is one-thing parents have learned is this – DON’T GIVE IN! If you do, the child learns that the tantrum is a great way to get what they want. And that can be a disaster. Have you ever seen an adult who never finished that “normal stage” of development?

In 1 Kings 21, we see the danger of an adult tantrum. King Ahab wanted a field owned by Naboth. He tried to buy it, but Naboth wouldn’t sell. So Ahab went home and pitched a fit. He was “sullen and vexed” and he “lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no food.”

The result? Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, had Naboth betrayed and killed so Ahab could get his way. Ahab was to blame for his immaturity, but the worst thing happened to him that can happen to a tantrum thrower…someone gave in!

It is really embarrassing when adults throw tantrums. But it is even worse when someone rewards them to pacify the rant. We don’t always get our way!

Unfortunately, many of us learn a different lesson: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Ever see someone yelling at a waiter for faster service? Ever see someone yell at a teacher for appropriately disciplining a student? Ever see someone yell at a referee during a kids’ soccer game? Ever see a serial horn honker?

I suppose we all have a bit of terrible-twos in us. But don’t give in to your inner two-year old any more than you would a screaming toddler. The results might be worse than you think. Rather, have the mind of Christ and “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

You’re Not A 2nd Class Christian…And Why I Came Forward

stinking-thinkingSunday’s sermon was about “Stinking Thinking.” At times, we all suffer this malady. But Romans 12:1-2 teaches us that, rather than being conformed to this world, we must be transformed by a renewed mind. Oddly, though, my sermon had the most unusual effect…it made the preacher come forward!

I don’t suppose I am the first to ever answer my own invitation, but there are a few good lessons that I learned from it, and I’d like to share them for this week’s article.

“Stinking Thinking” had 3 different examples: Elijah had wrong thinking about the lack of faith in others, and he was corrected by God; David had wrong thinking in his desires and needs, and Nathan rebuked him; and we are all rebuked by James if we have stinking, double-minded, thinking – of this world and the next.

But during the invitation, I realized that I had just confessed having the same hard-heartedness as Elijah. It is a preacher’s disease, isn’t it? Elijah was overly concerned with numbers, and his self-righteous attitude told him that he was the only one who served God. I have publicly bemoaned the lack of attendance on Sunday night and Wednesday night attendance, and it had begun to cause “stinking thinking” in me.

So I owned my confession and publicly repented. I had gotten caught up in what others were doing (or not doing). I had allowed it to poison my kindness toward some in the family of God. So here are a few take-away items I gained:

#1, I was reminded that it isn’t easy to go forward. But it shouldn’t be so hard! Please know, if you come forward, “You are NOT a 2nd Class Christian!” You aren’t a worse Christian. We all need help and encouragement. An unfortunate stigma has petrified people in the pew rather than helped them move their feet. Praise God that some overcome the stigma and ask for the love and prayers of others!

#2, I was reminded that those who can’t be with us on Sunday or Wednesday nights feel persecuted by some of the comments we make. I realize that many people, for reasons beyond their ability, cannot be back with us all the time. And to those folks, who desire to be with the saints but cannot, let me say, “You are NOT 2nd Class Christians!” If we, as the church, have made you feel sub-Christian, it is our mistake, not yours. We love and miss you when you cannot be with us.

#3, Those with “stinking thinking,” who refuse to return Sunday nights or Wednesdays, even if they easily could, need our love, not condemnation. They must answer for their hearts and minds, not me. But I will gently call: do you not desire to grow closer to God and His family, the church? Or have you become so worldly that you would rather do anything than meet with the saints? Just give it some thought, please.

May we all be transformed by renewed minds! Will you step forward? Ask for the love and prayers of the congregation. You are not a 2nd Class Christian if you do. And who knows?…there might be others who thought they were the only ones who felt that way. It might just start a movement…let’s call it Christianity.

If you want to hear the sermon, you may do so Sermon Link

The Rise of The Nones: Are We Better Off For It?

 

Empty Pew

According to Pew Research, Christianity is on the decline and the “Nones” are on the rise. Over the last several years, what researchers define as “Christianity,” has lost 8% or 5 million adults. At the same time, “Nones” represent the fastest growing division of “faith.”

Who are the “Nones?” Pew Researchers identify them as Atheists, Agnostics, and those who “adhere to nothing in particular.” They have no unified belief. They simply select “none” or “unaffiliated” when given a faith choice.

Now, to be clear, I do not submit to men’s labels either. I write and speak, regularly, that we are “Christians” alone, not called by denominational names. And we should follow what the Bible says a “Christian” is, and not let men define that term.

But let’s assume, for a moment, that the problem is not definitions and terminology. Let’s assume, rather, that Pew Researchers are correct: “Christians” from every category, region, and age group are declining. And let’s assume that those who claim no religious beliefs or affiliations are on the rise. What then?

Are we better off for it?

If I were to quote from the Bureau of Justice Statistics or from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Emerging Trends reports, what would you expect? Would it surprise you to learn that Americans face ever-increasing threats from: Gang Activity, Terrorists, Rapists, Human Traffickers, Child Abusers, Murders, the Drug Trade, and so on?

Of course not!

And does it strike you as strange that a belief in “none” might contribute to the increase? What consequences are typical when people think there are no consequences? Has history proven an inner goodness prevailing without faith?

Thoughts are things…with consequences. Our eternal beliefs matter, eternally. What do you believe? Do you believe in the lifesaving sacrifice of Jesus? Or “none?” None provides no hope, but those in Christ will see eternal life.

John 8:24, “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

If That’s Church, You Won’t Find Me There!

swingers_social_club-300x180It’s the most common excuse to avoid church: “I’m not going there; churches are full of swingers!” Wait, what? You haven’t heard that one? Well, up until recently I hadn’t either. But there’s a new “church” in town; and if that’s church, you can count me out!

According to recent news, a group calling themselves “United Fellowship Center” received a permit as a “church” in the Madison area, seven miles north of Nashville, TN. The group, formerly “The Social Club,” is a sex club that couldn’t get permitted because they sit within 1,000 feet of Goodpasture Christian School. So they changed their name and are seeking 1st amendment protection as a “church.”

What are the practices of this “church?” Up until recently, they have been BYOB (bring your own booze) fellowship and private rooms for fornication. But in order to avoid zoning restrictions, room names have been changed to “choir dressing,” “pastor’s study,” “sanctuary,” and “prayer rooms.”

This feels like a good time to say out loud, “this is why we call Bible things by Bible names!” Perhaps you thought it was silly how often your elders or a preacher told you, “words have meanings,” Do you see now why words matter?

When we allow words to be bent to serve any purpose, what happens? THIS happens. And if “church” has no real meaning, then why not let a swingers club hijack the name? In fact, according to the attorney for Fellowship, “‘church’ is something that cannot be defined under the U.S. Constitution.”

CANNOT be defined? Well, maybe not by the constitution. But it CAN BE defined.

The word ‘church’ comes to us from Old English via the German “Kirche.” It is based on an abbreviation of the Greek for “Lord’s House” (kurikon doma). It began as the “ekklesia” or a gathering of God’s people. But, in the specific context that ‘Fellowship’ is trying to get zoning status, the word “church” has a greater meaning.

Scripture teaches that the “church” is a group of believers who are “called out” to be in, but not of the world (John 15:19), following criteria laid out in God’s Word.

The church was in the mind of God before creation (Ephesians 1:4); it has Jesus as its head (Acts 4:12, Colossians 1:18); its members are called by the name Christian (Acts 11:26); Jesus built His church (Matthew 16:18); and it was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). The members of the church should have unity (John 17:20-23); there should be no divisions (Corinthians 1:10 &12:25,27); its message should be the cross (1 Corinthians 1:21-26); and its mission is the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20).

Most of us understand that getting drunk (Ephesians 5:18) & fornication (Matthew 15:19; 1 Corinthians 6:9) violate clear teachings of scripture. But here’s an interesting question. How does your “church” fare on other Bible definitions? What would it take before the group that meets at your building would no longer be called a church?

Is your baptism for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38)? Is your singing done by all of the body with the instrument of the mouth and the heart (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19)? Do your elders and deacons meet the criteria of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? Do you identify the body of believers at your congregation by a Bible name, ie., Romans 16:16?

And if you answered, “no” to any of those questions, what are you prepared to do about it? Simply accept it as inevitable? Say that ‘church’ can’t be defined? Or will you seek out a congregation that strives to be like the true church we read of in scripture? Give it some thought…