50 Shades of Theological Gray

How comfortable are you with theological unknowns?

My church upbringing formed a belief system that did not allow for any theological variance. There was black and white and not much in between, and a “lukewarm” verse taken out of context was always used to substantiate the point. If you ever hinted at a middle ground (the dreaded gray), you were called “liberal” and were considered to be sliding down the proverbial slippery slope. I’m not sure what is at the bottom of the slippery slope, but to hear my childhood church describe it, I assumed it was hell. Basically a slip ‘n slide with Satan.

It makes sense in some respect. There is absolute truth, and it certainly seems possible that opening up truth to interpretation could lead to a complete loss of truth. Many seminaries thrive on this fear. There is a legitimate argument to be made IF every issue has ONE absolute truth. To me, the definition of “issue” becomes the real “issue.”

Take Jesus, as an example. There is certainly absolute truth when it comes to his Messiahship. His death and resurrection are true and critical to faith.

But what about baptism (and the Christians get nervous)? Is it required for salvation? Does submersion count more than sprinkling? I won’t get us started on infant and age-of-accountability!

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Do you know the ONE answer for EVERY faith question?

Have you ever shared your faith?

It can be terrifying. I grew up in a church where every Monday night we had “Visitation.” That term is used for an alien invasion. And it happens in funeral homes. And that’s exactly what Monday night looked like to the people who unfortunately were at home when we knocked.

Visitation was an interesting event. In case you have not had the luxury to “visit” or be “visited,” let me give you an overview of the night. The church would gather together, names and addresses of recent church visitors would be distributed, and groups of people would leave to “visit” with these people – uninvited, of course. Basically, church people would knock on stranger’s doors, interrupt their evening, and invite them back to church or share something about Jesus. You can guess how successful it was.

I only participated a few times. Honestly, once was enough. I’m not sure who had the worst experience – me or the person I “visited.”

My biggest hesitation with visitation was how to respond to faith questions. I wasn’t a biblical scholar. I had not been to seminary. I hadn’t even read the entire Bible! So the thought of anyone asking me questions about faith, God, Jesus, creation, sanctification (I would not have even known that was a real word!) or the like just freaked me out. I was afraid to share what I did know, because I firmly believed what I didn’t know would come up and my lack of knowledge would make me look like a fake. Worse, my stammering could lead people further away from God.

But you should not be afraid to share our faith, because I believe we actually have an answer to every question that could be asked. Do you know the ONE answer for EVERY faith question?

Here’s it is: Continue reading…

Why Are You Hiding?

Have you ever met someone who was truly authentic and transparent? A person who didn’t mind admitting their mistakes, failures, or personal deficiencies? A person who didn’t just KNOW they have gaps, but were open to admitting they have gaps. Take a second and think of someone … I’ll wait. It’s harder to find people like this, isn’t it? There aren’t too many people in our world who are authentic. Sure, we all have a friend or a spouse with whom we can share SOME of who we are, but complete transparency is typically not our default posture.

If you have trouble being transparent, here’s some great news – you are in good company. In fact, from the beginning of time, our defense to being found out was to hide out. The same holds true today.

Genesis 3:10 (NIV); [Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

The first thing Adam and Eve did after disobeying God was to hide from God. Unfortunately, we’ve been hiding ever since. There is just something in you and me (and apparently in Adam and Eve) that automatically desires to hide from others rather than be honest with others. We so desperately desire to look good that we pretend we are good.

The real irony is pretending and hiding prevents us from experiencing what we are trying to find by pretending and hiding. That’s a complicated thought, so let me say it again. What we all desire is to be known for who we really are, but when we hide our true self, we will never be fully known. A game of “hide and seek” was fun as a child, but as an adult, it works directly against what we need the most – to know and be known.

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Stop Preaching Every Week!

I love talking “shop” with other pastors, and lately, I’ve had the pleasure to interact with many. Preaching seems to always surface as a topic of conversation. Every pastor feels the pressure to preach great messages – not just true, but engaging and helpful content presented in an engaging way.

The most common question I’ve received in the past month or so revolves around the number of times in a calendar year a typical Senior Pastor should preach. The questions do not always start there, but that question tends to be the core issue. The last time this issue was presented to me by another pastor, it sounded something like this: “I know you preach without notes. How can I do that when I’m preaching 51 weeks a year?”

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Why Combing Your Hair Is Like Leading A Church

Why do we feel the need to label everything? Sure, some things need labels, like expiration dates on milk cartons or warning labels on fireworks. But why do we label churches? “They’re a missional church.” “They’re attractional.” “They’re traditional.” My guess is we label because we want a clear way to elevate our label over every other label, but again, that’s just a guess.

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Why Start a Blog?

I’ve asked myself that questions for years now. Multiple times I began working on launching a blog space – more times than I care to admit – but I always stopped short of posting one idea. I would get hung up on what to write, the name, finding the perfect URL. Thinking back, I’m not sure I ever had the right energy or motivation around a blog. But that has changed. Better late than never, I guess.

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