The 3 Worst Moments In The (Modern) History of Christianity

The 3 Worst Moments In The (Modern) History of Christianity

The title of the post pretty much says it all.  So grab your “A Bread Crumb and Fish” T-shirt and watch the videos below….

 

Sometimes you get tongue tied, and then there’s this:

 

Some things are better if never done at all, this is one.

 

*Drumroll* And the winner is…..

 

But wait, there’s more! Just in case you aren’t left speechless, here’s the bonus (not necessarily Christian) video:

 

Which ones would make your list?

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And the Oscar goes to…

My generation, the Millennials Generation Y, Mosaics, or whatever you may call us is obsessed with fame.  It is an underlying cause to the explosion of social networks/media.  It’s why our self worth is intricately connected with the amount of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and Instagram followers.  It also helps to explain the success of reality tv and YouTube.  The heart cry of my generation is: LOOK AT ME!

There is one story that is different from every other story.

The difficulty with the Story of God is asking oneself, “Where do I fit?”  The Story of God is unique.  It is an eternal story. The critical reality to reconcile in the Story of God is that you and I are not the main character and we will never be the main character. Let me say that again: you are not the main character in the story of God.  Some of you are relieved by that, others of you are enraged by that.

If you and I can never play the role of the main character in the Story of God, then where do we fit?

Are you a supporting actor?

Are you actively involved in the story of God?

Supporting actors have a relationship with Jesus and they are consumed with advancing his kingdom and not their own.

If you are a supporting actor, might I suggest that you ask yourself three questions?

  1. What is God saying to you?
  2. What are you going to do about it?
  3. Who are you going to share it with?

Are you an extra, involved only in the crowd scenes?

If you would call yourself an extra, then my assumption would be that you have a malnourished relationship with Jesus.  You prayed a prayer somewhere along the way.  Perhaps at youth camp or children’s church or DNOW.  You are not actively involved in the Story of God.  You might even think that ministry is for the “professionals.”

Sure, you show up to church; but you probably only read your bible or pray during a crisis.  And let’s be honest, you probably want all of the benefits, without undertaking any of the responsibility of being a Christ Follower.

For the extra on the set, might I suggest that your next steps could be the following:

  • Ask yourself, “Am I ok with being an extra?”  If not, what are you going to do  about it?
  • Perhaps there is some sin you need to admit to God.
  • Lastly, maybe you should to start reading your bible…again….

Do you have a ticket to watch the movie from the comfort of stadium seating in a posh movie theater?

If you would identify with this description, then my guess is that you do not have a relationship with Jesus, but you are very curious.  You find yourself asking questions frequently about matters of faith and religion and what happens after you die.  You realize, as Blaise Pascal said, “There is a God shaped vacuum {hole} in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

This Jesus guy and the things he does and says piqué your interest.  You are reaching out and asking questions of people you believe to be Christ followers.

If this is you, then may I ask, “What’s stopping you from beginning a relationship with Jesus?”

Do you know what it takes?

  • Ask God to forgive or sins.
  • Believe that Jesus is who he says he is and does what he says he can do.
  • Commit your life to following him everyday.

Click here for a short video explaining this.

Did you even know that a story like this existed?

If you were unaware of the Story of God the chances are that you do not have a relationship with Jesus. You’re not even sure what to make of all this Jesus stuff. May I make a suggestion?

Grab a cup of coffee or coke with someone you know that is a Christ Follower, and ask questions, begin a dialogue.  Maybe it’s a coworker, a neighbor, a dad on your kids football team, or a pastor…just try not to listen to a tv preacher….

If the heart cry of my generation is: look at me. Then, the heart cry of the story of God is: I LOVE YOU!  Therefore, our greatest struggle will be to humbly and honestly answer this simple, yet profound, question: “Where do I fit?”

  • Which one are you?
  • What is your next step?

What’s so good about Friday?

Millions of Christians around the world tonight will pause and remember that 2000 years ago an assuming child was born. He grew up in an unassuming village as the son of a carpenter. This same boy would grow into a man and come onto the scene at a wedding in Cana. After that wedding in Cana he would go on to turn the religious establishment upon its head.

The the religious elite would respond by conspiring to have him eliminated, assassinated, crucified. You see nearly 2000 years ago this day they took this King down from his cross and laid him in a tomb. Hope had vanished. His followers hid. The world was dark. Satan rejoiced.

But then, there was that day, that Sunday. Friends went to an empty tomb and spoke with angels who gave them the news the continues to echo today: “HE IS NOT HERE. HE HAS RISEN!” You see the child was God in flesh, the God who became man, yet remained God. And this King, Jesus, returned to his throne and awaits the day that God will send him back to the earth to make all things right and to make all things new.

Several hundred years before Jesus’ birth the prophet Isaiah wrote the following words foretelling the drama that would unfold of Jesus’ arrest, beating, trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection.

From Isaiah 53.2-10, ESV
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

When he was born no fuss was made. As he grew no one noticed. He came from a back woods village where Nobody’s come from. He was not a handsome man, he didn’t fit our ideal for a Warrior-King-Leader-Savior.

3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

We were ashamed of him and dismissed him when we turned our backs on him. No one wanted to be associated with the radical son of a carpenter.

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

Yet, even though we turned our backs on him, he turned his heart towards ours. He put the unbearable weight of our sin on his back.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin, he knew that at a level we never will. He was beaten to a pulp and tortured and mocked, and whipped, then standing on death’s doorstep they stopped only to humiliate him on the cross. His pain was our healing. His suffering was our comfort.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray;we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We are helpless, wandering, and naturally lean toward unfaithfulness. We have chosen our pathetic path over his perfect path. We spit in God’s face and turn our back to him screaming, “You’re wrong!” And because God embodies grace Jesus exchanged our sin for his perfectness to honor his Father.

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,so he opened not his mouth.

Jesus had at his disposal legions of angels waiting in battle formation with baited breath and weapons drawn for the command; the words they wanted to hear him say: “Now!” With all this at his fingertips Jesus was silent. He set aside his authority to obey the Father, even to death on a cross, regardless of the cost.

8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

The establishment gave him a unjust trial and an unjust conviction. Hearts ached believing the lies that he was not the Son of God. Not the Messiah. Not Immanuel. Not Jesus. And so the people lost hope.

9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

He was treated like a violent career criminal though he had never done any wrong.

10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

And God let this happen. Not because he is unjust or loving, but because he is just and is loving. You see without the shedding of blood there will be no forgiveness of sin. No lamb could ever fully satisfy this requirement, it took a perfect, sinless God-Man Savior. It took Jesus.

“…then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57 ESV)

Brick By Brick

BRICK BY BRICK

Last weekend I attended Verge, a conference hosted by the Verge Network in Austin, TX. It was phenomenal. In fact, it could be the best conference I have ever attended. The production value was highly professional and everything was thought through to the smallest detail.

The conference was held at the ACL-Moody Theater in downtown Austin. It is a venue known for hosting acts like Coldplay, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, and Mumford & Sons. It is an incredible venue. And here’s the cool thing, a place typically filled with people who are ‘three sheets to the wind’ was filled with a group of men and women focused on missional living and discipleship. It seemed like the kind of place Paul would have loved.

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I had the privilege to hear noted speakers such as David Platt, Francis Chan, Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, and Mike Breen. During the two-day long conference it felt like trying to drink from a fire hose. Information overload is an understatement. The quality of their content left plenty to chew on. Things like:

  • From Mike Breen in regards to discipleship: “Fruitfulness not success is the number one objective.”
  • From Todd Engstrom in regards to missional communities: “A missionary is someone who sacrifices everything but the gospel for the sake of the gospel.”
  • From Jeff Vanderstelt: “Anytime your life rises or falls based on anything or anyone….it’s worship.”
  • From Alan Hirsch in regards to discipleship and evangelism: “Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ and Christianity without Christ is Christianity without discipleship.”
  • From Neil Cole in regards to discipleship: “Bad people make good soil…they have a lot of fertilizer in their life.” Also, “The quality of the church is determined by the quality of its disciples.” That one will keep you up at night…..
  • Lastly, from Dr. John Perkins in regards to discipleship: “The biblical statement is not us asking someone “do you want to be saved?” But them asking us, “how can I have what you have?””

See what I mean? Chew on that for a while…..

On day one of the conference during some down time that afternoon I found myself sitting outside of Mozart’s, a local coffee shop, overlooking Lake Austin. It hit me: I want to speak at conferences, camps, retreats, etc., but why? Is my primary focus to establish my platform or to make Jesus famous?

I think that is a question each of us must ask ourselves regularly. I love students. I love student ministry. I love teaching. And I love studying. How can I use these to make Jesus famous and invest in other ministries? After some time I landed with the realization that I genuinely I want to do this to make Jesus famous, not myself.

Then, the other day I was watching a TED talk by Rick Warren from 2006 entitled A Life of Purpose. In it he mentions Psalm 72 where Solomon prays to God asking for a massive kingdom and enormous influence. On the surface this sounds like the most selfish prayer in the bible. On the contrary, this is a prayer that God would increase his fame through Solomon so that Solomon would be an instrument used by God and for God’s glory alone. You see, Solomon wants to care for the marginalized. I think this is a prayer that honors God.

I may never speak at a camp, retreat, or DNOW. I may never write a bestselling paradigm shifting book. I may never be on the main stage at Verge or Orange or Youth Specialties. That does not give me an excuse to abdicate my influence. In fact, it requires me to be more conscious of how I am leveraging my influence for God’s Kingdom, not mine.

We all live in a sphere of influence, mine just happens to be with the church, students, parents, and schools. Your sphere may be your neighborhood, kids’ sports teams (because we all know they can’t play just one), or project team at work. In that sphere, where God has intentionally placed you, how will you leverage your influence to increase God’s Kingdom and not your bank account?

A Fly On The Wall

I wrote down these thoughts in my journal several months ago while reading through the Psalms. Many have heard this familiar passage read at funerals. However, I believe that when we read this passage without the lens of funerals and mourning blurring our vision we will see something new and fresh we have never seen before.

As we study the Psalms we experience David’s conversations with God like a fly on the wall. Perhaps, nowhere else in the bible can we find such a wide range of raw emotions.

My paraphrase of the Psalmist’s words follow in italics.

PSALM 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
God is my protector and provider. In Him I have everything I need.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He gives me perfect rest, peaceful rest, in Him I am made whole, again.

He guides me in paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake.
He wants me to be in a right relationship with him! He will be made famous.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
When life is dark and I am overwhelmed, God is with me. Because God, my Comforter, my Protector, is with me I fear nothing.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
I am richly blessed by you.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
You have chosen me and blessed me beyond compare.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Because of my right relationship with God he will shower me with his goodness and mercy forever; and even though I may die, I will live with Him in heaven forever.

People will often read this passage when they need comforting; what passage do you read when you need comforting?

Lessons from a Toddler

I wonder if disciplining me is as frustrating for God as it is for me to discipline my toddler? We don’t beat him, we don’t spank him, we don’t even wash his mouth out with soap. I can tell you from experience that, yes, Zest soap tastes just like it smells.

After some trial and error we found out that having him sit in the corner for a pre-determined amount of time seems to work. Essentially, he sits in timeout on the wall in our hallway until either he calms down or the timer goes off, whichever comes first.

Do you have a toddler? Is your toddler the angel that mine isn’t? No worries, if you don’t have a toddler I’m sure that you were the epitome of perfection as a toddler.

But here’s what I’m getting at: I love my toddler, as a result when he disobeys he is disciplined. He disobeys, rebels, errs, he sins. I love him, therefore, I step in to discipline and correct him…but most importantly, to protect him. I think this is a huge part of God’s love that we misunderstand.

We view God’s discipline as disappointment or punishment or hatred of who we are and/or what we have done. When in fact, his discipline is an expression of his hesed, agape love for us. You see, God’s love is not restrictive, it is protective.

Think about Adam and Eve. One strike and they’re out?! The other day I was watching JV and Varsity baseball teams at the local high school practice. I’m a football guy. I was never good at baseball; and honestly a little afraid of the ball (but I wasn’t afraid of a 6’3″ 275lb football player running full steam at me…go figure). I know enough about baseball to not fully understand the infield fly rule…but to understand that it takes three strikes and you’re out. Even some justice systems will give you three strikes before the harshest penalty is levied. But God (there’s that phrase) only gives one strike. One. That doesn’t seem fair… It’s not fair that Jesus died on a cross. We forget that God is not preoccupied with fairness; he is consumed by holiness and justice.

Back to Adam and Eve. They sin one time and their relationship with God is broken. They sin one time and they’re disciplined. They’re kicked out of the Garden for-e-ver. And why? Because God loves them. You see the result of their action was eternal…it now required a Savior.

Adam and Eve sinned. They rebelled against God. They decided that they knew better than God. But here’s why God’s decision to expel Adam and Eve from the Garden is both discipline and love: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV). There’s that phrase again, But God. That phrase is hope. That phrase in Romans 5.8 shows us that discipline is love.

What is your initial reaction when God disciplines you?
“God’s love is protective, not restrictive,” how does this impact your view of God’s discipline?