Boy Scouts and Christian Principles?

As I watch the news and the debates and the Christians “take a stand” I am deeply saddened by what I hear and see from “Christians.”

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The news reported last night that “allowing gays in the boy scouts goes against our Christian principles.”

Signs are being hoisted by our children to “keep scouts 2013-02-06T191902Z_01_DB107_RTRMDNP_3_USA-BOYSCOUTS-GAYS-007.rmorally straight.”

Other signs read,

“Don’t invite sin into the camp,”

PROTESTERS AGAINST JAMES DALE

and

“A homosexual boy scout leader is like asking the fox to guard the chickens.” 

Again I am coming to the conclusion that we in the North American church are more like the Pharisees than Jesus. And we are building more walls to reaching people with the Love of Jesus than we are bridges.  At this point I know I just stepped in a big mess.  But here I go…

Why is it that homosexuality seems to be the go to “sin?”  What about lying? Cheating? Adultery? Heterosexual porn addiction? Gluttony?  We do not mind if you are gay as long as you are not openly gay.  We do not mind if you are a porn addict as long as we don’t know about it.  Are we not “inviting sin in the camp” with every leader who we invite in and every child we invite in.  Ask every leader one question: “Are you free from all sin and do you live daily without sin in your life”?  If they cannot answer with perfect sinlessness we are inviting sin into the camp.  Where do we draw the line?

This post is in no way a statement of being for or against homosexuality. It is instead a statement of being like Christ and what we teach our children.  What I see our children learning here is how to categorize like the pharisees and avoid at all costs those who don’t fit our personal values.

Is it a Christian principle to segregate ourselves over behaviors that don’t match our beliefs?

“Christian” principles are the principles of Christ.  So let’s look for a moment at Jesus.

Luke 15:1-2 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Unknown-2Jesus didn’t just welcome sinners but even ate with them.  In fact this accusation is the context for Jesus telling  3 parables… Parable of the Lost Sheep (leave the 99 and go for the 1)… Parable of the precious coin (search diligently for what is precious to the heart of God… Parable of the prodigal son (comparison between heart of God, heart of pharisee)

In Matthew 9, Jesus and his disciples are found eating in the home of Matthew along with his disreputable friends.  And again the Pharisees are bothered because he was eating with them and Jesus response is…

“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Here Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 and puts showing mercy in the context of eating with sinners and tax collectors.

In Matthew 11:19 Jesus is accused of being a drunkard and a glutton and a friend of sinners.

“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Now let’s talk “Christ”ian principles and what we are teaching our children?

  • Principles of the Pharisee… focus on the sin
  • Principles of Christ… focus on loving people in spite of sin.

Oh… a couple more questions: “is Boy Scouts of America a Christian organization?”

Can a Witch be a scout master?

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The Church today – Christlike or Phariseelike?

I have been doing a great deal of thinking recently about the church in America and its reality.  Not what we say it is, not what we want it to be, but what it really is.  If we Unknown-2were to strip away the mask, and the cute phrases, and the nice sounding mission statements and looked at the reality of what is left what would we find.

Now, mind you I am not naive enough to say this is everyone everywhere and yes I am making some generalizations.  I am very well aware that there are MANY great Christians and “churches” that live it well.

However, I am coming to the conclusion that the “church” and “Christianity” in North America looks far more like a movement of Pharisees than it does a movement of “littlepharisee Christ’s” spreading across our cities.  To be a “holy” people is not to be a “holier than thou” people but to be a people who look like Jesus, act like Jesus, love like Jesus, serve like Jesus, go where Jesus went, and be Christ-like to the world around us not just to those within our faith family and for those who are like us.

The Pharisees were all about keeping the rules and staying away from certain groups of people.

Jesus was known as a friend of sinners and came eating and drinking with sinners and tax collectors.

Pharisees made laws to protect the laws.

Jesus was known for “breaking the laws” for the sake of loving the world around him.  Jesus loved and accepted people in spite of their behavior.

Why is it when we talk about “Holiness” do we automatically go to “not sinning” instead of being like Jesus.  If we are going to be like Jesus don’t we automatically have to look at who we are friends with.  Our church culture has used words like “sanctification” and “Holiness” to separate us from the world around us and therefore make us more like Pharisees than like Jesus.  “Sanctification” and “Holiness” should be calls to enter relationships with the very people who need to see the Love of Jesus not the judgement, condemnation and laws of the Pharisees.

I would love your feedback to this question…

When you look at the church (generally speaking – from your perspective and connections) how would your rate the church on the scale of 1-10… 

(1) Looks like Jesus………………………………………………..Look like Pharisee (10)

(Non Judging, Friend of Sinners) …………………. (Separateness, judgment)

(Relational) ……………………………………………………………………… (Legal)

pharisee Unknown-2

No risk requires no faith

I have been pondering the thought… “no risk requires no faith

I’m confronted with my own reality in this at times and wonder if maybe I have redefined “risk” to make myself feel better when in reality I have not really taken much of a risk.

Here are some questions I’m pondering….

Is our faith in direct proportion to our level of risk?

Is faith a trust issue attached to our jumping in with both feet when the outcome is left in the hands of God?

If my decision is based on my “doing the math” and knowing I have the ability before I take action is the act an act of risk which requires faith?

Definitions attached to the word risk include “a chance of loss, injury, hazard, or danger”. The very nature of risk taking is intentionally putting one’s self in the possibility of a harmful or negative outcome.

If risk and faith are attached then what does the text in Hebrews 11:6 mean when it says, “without faith it is impossible to please God”?

How are you living a life of faith that pleases God?

Are there areas in your life where you need to take a risk?

Is it possible to have faith in one area but need to grow in another area?

Just pondering…

Think about it. Would love to know your thoughts.

Subtle shift – huge implications

Have you ever heard or said, “isn’t it good to be in Gos’s house”?

I am on a campaign to change this destructive phrase in the church world to, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house.”

This is a subtle shift with huge implications.  Change one word and we communicate a message that can radically impact our culture and the world around us.

The phrase, “isn’t it good to be IN God’s house” is an unbiblical phrase that has been passed on from generation to generation when Christians gather in church buildings and enjoy each others company and the “presence of the Lord”.   Nothing wrong with church buildings perse, but to call it God’s house subtly communicates unbiblical ideas and sets us up for a one day per week church where we go to meet with God.

What are the implications of changing from “in” to “be”

IN creates…

… Fights over paint and carpet and coffee in the building?..If  God’s house is to be reverenced and kept holy then let’s talk potlucks instead of carpet because BE means me!

IN creates…

… A one day a week connection with God where I go to meet him. Because that is where he is. Thus compartmentalizing my spiritual life.

BE creates a mindset of life and lifestyle incarnate every day in the world around me.

BE causes me to realize that my life is every day and all the time a representative of him.

IN creates an evangelism model that says come and get him or go to hell

BE creates a kingdom mindset that says in the real world around me where i live, work and play, may others see the love of christ in me and experience his love through me.

What would the world and culture around us look like if the church simply said, “isn’t it good to BE God’s house” and then went and lived in that reality?

Jesus is attractive… What if we lived AMONG the world around us and simply let others see Jesus instead of judgemental representatives.

Isn’t it good to BE God’s house?

The church – The embodiment of Christ

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

This is a quote that has shown up on bumper stickers and has been floating around for quite some time. So here is the thought….

Jesus the most holy person to walk the face of the earth was attracted to the most unholy and the most unholy were attracted to him. It was the religious of the day that were put off by Christ. Jesus was accused of being friends with sinners and tax collectors. He ate with them, hung out with them and was very comfortable being around those who had a lifestyle opposite his.

If the “church” is the embodiment of Christ why is it that the world is not attracted to the “church”?

Could it be that for many church is about talking about Christ vs. living like Christ. What would happen if the church became a family living like Christ in their neighborhood?

Neighbors would be attracted to Him. For when they see the church they would see Christ and Christ is attractive.

A collage of pics from our organic churches in Plano and McKinney

For more on this read my earlier post – “A picture of the church

A Picture of the Church

There are many today trying to define and paint a picture of what the church should be. I too have my thoughts and opinions. And last night my definition and opinions were solidified for me as “the church” uncovered that definition with this picture.

Jesus is revealed as the Church lives as family in community

They gathered the last few years of our journey together in pictures and had them made into this picture of Christ. It is as the church lives life together as family in their communities and neighborhoods that Christ is revealed for the world to see. The pictures tell the story of family dinners, ball games, time in the park, study of the word, sleeping on the “family” couch, refrigerator rights, loving our community, donating time and resources, crying together, serving our world, adding neighbors to the family through baptism, and simply being brothers and sisters on a journey with Christ. These pictures reveal “The Living Church”. These pictures reveal Christ in us in our community.

Thank you to the greatest example of “The Church” I have ever been a part of. You have shown me what it means to love and be loved. You have shown mean what it looks like to Love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. You have shown me what it looks like to Love your neighbor as yourself. You have shown me what it looks like to GO and make disciples. You have shown me what it looks like to live as “The Church” the body of Christ. You have shown me what Christ looks like.

This Picture will hang in a prominent place in our new home where we will continue to be reminded of what it means to be the church.

Thank you. You all are DEEPLY loved!

Our Plano TX Church Family

Our McKinney TX Church Family

The Most Important Question

There are a great deal of questions regarding church and ministry. Questions about structure, style, leadership, outreach etc.

When Jesus started talking about the church he asked a different question. He asked a question that should be asked again and again today as we discuss the church. It is a foundational question for the church and a critical question for each of us individually.

After Jesus asked those in his inner circle about what others thought about him, he turned to them and asked, “But who do you say that I am?”

I think Jesus is asking us that same question today as we look around and talk about what others think about the Church, Jesus, faith, religion etc.   The reason this is important is because everything about church begins and ends with this single qustion.

In the organic church, even if we get everything else “right” but skip this important question, we are not truly the church.  Church begins with Jesus, who he is and what He has done.

So let me ask you and put each of you on the spot as Jesus did his disciples.

WHO IS JESUS TO YOU?…