Category Archives: Character

Handling our own…

haseltine1

Recently, yet another controversy happened in the body of Christ that had to do with homosexuality. It’s a big issue, and as a general rule we are handling it poorly. This time the issue was over comments made by Dan Haseltine. Dan is the frontman of the Christian troubadours known as Jars of Clay. (Let me be clear I am not discussing their music. Its fine, I enjoy it sometimes)

Dan is in trouble with many people over a series of tweets he made. (Perhaps Mark Driscoll should lend him support.) These tweets were a stream of consciousness from Dan concerning the issue of Homosexuality, and Homosexual rights.

These tweets come across differently depending on who reads them. Some read it and think that he is supporting gay marriage. Some read it and are confused. Some read it and get offended. These are all legit immediate responses.

This is why we cannot make our decisions off of our immediate reactions. We need to be quick to listen and ask questions, but slow to speak and condemn. Yet, once again the Christian community has failed to do this. People jumped off the cliff right from the get go and wrote off the band because they think they know what is what simply by a few tweets.

Dan Himself responded to the critics on his website. Here is a summary.

  • Twitter is the wrong place to discuss this.
  • I ought to be clear with my words and not leave room for misunderstandings
  • I need to be sensitive when discussing sensitive topics
  • If you want to read the article yourself, go to Dan’s personal website. DanHaseltine.com

But to be honest, I am not even here to discuss Dan’s thoughts, or even tackle the questions concerning homosexuality. What I want to discuss is the way we handle our own.

Whether or not you like him, agree with him, etc… Dan Haseltine professes faith in Christ Jesus, the Lord who came in the flesh, was crucified for the sin of the world, buried and then resurrected to reconcile humanity back to God. Being that he is a brother, we need to respond to him as such we have certain ways we need to treat him and respond to him. So let’s look at the way the Bible tells us to deal with our brothers.

Step 1: Personal Discussion

Matthew 18:15“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

The first thing to do is to discuss the issue with your brother directly. ALONE! This means calling him out over twitter is wrong. Long before you get to twitter, you should have emailed him personally and shared your thoughts. Generally with folks like Dan, who are famous, or well known, many people will be emailing and this will cause them to publicly discuss it further. It is not your job to bring public rebuke, or public shame.

Galatians 6:1-2 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

I want to make a clear note here. Dan Haseltine has not been caught in a transgression, but rather a miscommunication. So be careful with your words. But the key in this verse is “Spirit of Gentleness” Perhaps you need to take time out and do a word-study on Gentleness. It’s important. While on the topic of gentleness, remember the words of Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Walk in forgiveness. Be quick to let things go and do not hold onto grudges. Ok, now suppose you have an issue, and you have personally spoken to him and he didn’t agree, didn’t repent, and didn’t change. Then the bible tells us to take a few brothers and go to him. Matthew 18:16

This one is harder to do with someone like Dan Haseltine, this is simply because chances are, as a general rule you do not know him. You might know all about him, but if you have never spoken to him before, you do not have a voice in his life. If you take the time to send him a private email, he may respond, but He doesn’t know you. You have no relationship, so do not assume he is required to engage you personally.

The big key to dealing with these kinds of issues is communication and Love. We need to discuss with one another to truly begin to understand where our hearts lie. Our goal shouldn’t be to shame or lose a brother. Our goal should be to restore a relationship, and while this is not always possible, it is possible far more often than we admit. The big key is our ability to value the others over our own need to be right.

We need to love our brothers and have open and honest dialogue. We need to recognize what is the heart of our brother. Sometimes we cannot find a common ground or an understanding, but often we could if we are willing to let go of our need to be right and our need to assume our understanding is truth.

It is a political spirit that tells us to value “truth” over relationship. Jesus met us while we were in sin and loved us. He never once left us alone. He never wrote us off. He chose to be connected to us no matter the cost. He was willing to die for people who hated him and stood against everything He was.

The issue is not Dan Haseltine. The issue is not even homosexuality. The issue is how do we handle our own? The world is watching and the world is supposed to, “Know we are Christ’s disciples by our Love” Perhaps We need to learn to walk in love more than we walk in correction. I challenge you, next time someone treads this line, take the moment and pause and pray. Ask God what his heart and his plan and his goal is in this situation.

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The Dirty Secret of Unforgiveness

Jesus is pretty clear about his stance on forgiveness. He died on a cross to forgive the whole of the world. He even made forgiveness the pinnacle point of the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 he tells us that We should forgive so our father will forgive us. Then he continues with the inverse. If we fail to forgive then God will not forgive us. This is a serious charge. We should really make sure we are getting this right in our own heart.

Yet we as a society, yes even Christians, are very quick to harbor unforgiveness. Here is an example I run into fairly often thanks to the wonders of social media. Michael Vick. Michael is a professional football player. 7 years ago He was charged with a serious crime, It was about a ring of dog fights. There was a serious amount of animal cruelty. In 2007 he was charged, and He plead guilty. He admitted His crime.

What happened next was interesting. Vick was sentenced to serve his sentence in Leavenworth Federal Prison. (This prison was almost chosen to replace Guantanamo Bay) So to say he did ‘Hard Time’ is not a pun, but truth. In the midst of this incarceration he was mentored by Coach Tony Dungy who is an outspoken Christian. It was during this time that Michael Vick made a confession of Faith in Jesus Christ. He publicly repented to both God and man for his crime and is very open about how terrible he was and his regret.

Following His release from prison He was allowed to return to the NFL under probationary terms which required him to continue being mentored by Coach Dungy. The Philadelphia Eagles (My Team) picked him up as a free agent. I was happy about this because I love seeinf reconciliation and restoration. I found it amusing that the Eagles chose him. (The Eagle is a biblical symbol of restoration Isaiah 40:31)

Truth be told, as a player he wasn’t a great fit for the team. I was not shedding tears this year as he was released. However in his time here, He showed strong leadership, and a serious character change. So to cut this story short, He did everything he could to move to restoration, reconciliation, and repentance.

Now by my understanding of Scripture, If he has repented to God, then God has given him unconditional forgiveness. Therefore, we as God’s ambassadors on the earth should extend the same forgiveness. However this has not been the case. We as a community have offered no forgiveness. Instead we love to bring up his past and hold it against him. We protest everything he does and everything he says. We scrutinize his life just waiting for him to make a minuscule mistake so we can be affirmed in our judgment.

It’s sickening and its the opposite of Christ. Instead of being the accusers we should be the first ones lending a hand and helping our brother grow and change. Instead we accuse, we protest, and we publicly defame. We act as though we are better because our sins aren’t public.

I assure you, you are no better than Michael Vick. I may not have done what he did, but I have just as much crimson in my life. If Vick and I stand before God together nether one of us is going to be able to stand on our own measure. But by the blood of Christ we are forgiven.

So what am I saying? Am I telling you to go out and support everything he does? No. However I am asking you to let go of His past Michael Vick has, and he has moved on into the grace of God well. By continually bringing up his sin, it doesn’t make him look bad. It makes us look bad.

We need to be the model of forgiveness and not the model of accusation. Too often we are ready with the accusing. The thing is that While Christ is the redeemer. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. It is Satan who likes to remind us of our past and tries to condemn. You are siding with Satan every time you are quick to remind the world of someone’s sin. You are siding with Satan when instead of moving toward reconciliation you cling to an offense.

Public shaming has never been an aspect of our faith. Ham was condemned for shaming his father instead of covering him. Are you like ham? Are you quick to point out the sins of others instead of covering them and helping them out of their sin? Jesus was not. When Jesus saw a mob ready to stone a woman caught in adultery, He offered forgiveness and freedom.

Be like Jesus. Offer forgiveness. Instead of being quick to shame. Let, as the bible says, “Him who has been forgiven much also love much.” Please be the image of Christ and the image of reconciliation which is the Ministry we have received from Jesus. 2nd Corinthians 5 says that it means NOT holdingthe sins of the world against them. Let go of their sins, in fact, let go of your own. Let’s be quick to repent, and quick to forgive.

I know it is hard, but it is the model that Jesus walks in and it is the model we are to walk in. We are quick to walk more in the model of Satan and instead of listening and forgiving we accusing and ignore. Be on the look out for some more character posts like this in the coming days. I feel it is a major issue in the church. Next on the agenda is addressing the comments of Dan Haseltine, and the reaction of the church.

passion

The Hero We Need…

I want to say upfront that this is not a synopsis of the movie, so I will try to hold off from major spoilers. However, Captain America: The Winter Soldier presents a world-view that is very unique and seems almost inconceivable to many. So if you read this, be warned you many see minor spoilers. You may want to have watched the movie before you read this.

So Captain America is a man with a unique take on the world. He was born an raised in the era Leading up to and during the second world war, but thanks to being frozen has found himself in the modern age. These two worlds couldn’t be more different. Or perhaps they are much more similar than we would care to believe.

During the war, everything was pretty clear. America Good, Hitler Bad. If you just knew that everything fell into place. You knew that the villains intended to kill, steal, and destroy. So you did what you had to in order to stop them. This is how it worked. But this world is not that world. So thee is this struggle with the world trying to convince Captain America to conform to the modern era. This is exemplified in a scene where Captain America is Speaking with Nick Fury after being shown the helicarriers (Flying aircraft carriers) Where Fury explains that they ships will take out threats before they happen. Captain America has a strong reaction…

“That’s not freedom. That’s fear.”

When he says this, Nick Fury get a little angry and retorts,

“We take the world as it is Captain.Not as we would like it to be. It’s about Damn time you got with that program…”

Right here we see the chief struggle of the movie. The Captain is a man of Absolutes; Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, Freedom and Fear. Captain America doesn’t dance in the grey areas, and he doesn’t hide in the shadows. The fact that the world wants him to conform to secrets, shadows, and moral ambiguity doesn’t sit well with him.

This is the modern life. The world has definitely changed. There is no good and evil. There is no right and wrong. There is only life. The thing tat is right for me is wrong for you and thats OK, because we are tolerant. Its this shadow that gives Evil a place to grow. Because S.H.I.E.L.D. thrived and embraced moral ambiguity and a life in the shadows, there was no light to shine on the evil that had grown within their own ranks.

Welcome to the real world. If you are reading this, you know that I am a Christian. Chances are that you would call yourself one too. Therefore you know that we should be Captain America. The problem is that more often than we care to admit, we bow to compromise. Despite the desire to be the Super Soldier, more often we become the man who lives in the shadows. Whilst we talk like the idealist, our actions betray us. We are Nick Fury.

As the movie continues, we see something interesting. Captain America and his resolve proves to be right. In the end the compromise of S.H.I.E.L.D. leads to its downfall, and even Nick Fury himself has to admit tat the whole system is broken. This is troublesome, and difficult for Fury to accept. The people he has believed in, the thing that he spent his life fighting for was ntohing more than a broken system and a failed ideology.

Welcome to the real world. A system of moral ambiguity will always fail. If a game doesn’t have set rules it can never be won. The best you can do is to hold of defeat a little while longer. But eventually the compromise you have given in to will eventually rise up and take you out.

Welcome to the real world. No matter how hard you try to ignore it it creeps up on you. That is why in a world filled with men like Nick Fury, Captain America is the Hero we need. We need men who lack compromise. Who live in the Light and shine the light in the darkness to make all the roaches scatter.

We do not need another person comfortable with secrecy, shadows, and fear. We need FREEDOM, We need TRUTH, and we need LIGHT. Will you stand and be counted as a Captain America? Or will you fall with the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. and try to survive the failure of the world? Other heroes have claimed to be the Hero we needed, but none have actually been. Captain America, the man out of time, the man without compromise. He is the Hero we desperately need.

When Children Become Pawns…

childNelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

However, If History teaches us anything, it’s this. Children are nothing more than pawns to advance an agenda. Perhaps this sounds cynical to you and perhaps this is enough for you to click off this article. I hope not though because I want to tell a story or two.

You see a long time ago on the other side of the world there was a nation enslaved. These were the Jews. They had been slaves of Egypt for 400 years. But whilst slaves, they began to make babies, lots of babies. This caused the people in power to be afraid. This cause the leaders to make a decree.

Kill all the baby boys…

The leaders knew that the way to keep the people under control was to control the children. How many innocent children were killed? I don’t know, but God did get his way and did raise up a deliverer. Moses.

But this isn’t the only time. In Daniel chapter 1 we see the best Boys of Israel being taken to the King of Babylon so that He can train them in His school. He wants to use education to make the Hebrews subservient. This didn’t work because Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-Nego, and Daniel all stayed true to God.

However the fact remains, the children were merely pawns to the political agenda. They were being used to keep the people in line. It doesn’t stop there. In the time of Jesus, Israel was occupied by the Romans. To keep the peace, and maintain order there was a decree.

Kill all the baby boys…

In the midst of the Jesus survived, and was a deliverer. Yet once again the political agenda used the youth and murdered a generation to push their power base. By now you might think this is only a biblical fairy tale, and has no bearing on life in the ‘real world.’

What about Abortion? Hitler? Communism? I could go on with example after example of where political agendas used children to project their power and push their beliefs. The problem in all of these is that it never works out well for the children.

Abortion has ended the lives of millions of children before they even had the chance to live. Hitler killed millions of men, women, and children. Communism left millions in poverty, and many innumerable dead.

The political spirit seeks to use children as pawns and bargaining chips. They want to push a specific agenda, and they destroy the lives of Children to do it.

Jesus Loves The Little Children…

This was not the method or model of Jesus. Jesus was for the children. He let them come, he blessed them. He gave them hope. This is the model by which Christianity was birthed. So this should be the model by which we operate. Is this accurate?

Sadly, no. We Christians are just as likely to use children as pawns. This is clearly evident by the whole controversy of World Vision.

I do not need to go into the full story, but the controversy started when World Vision decided they would allow Married Homosexuals to work for them. This caused a big outrage, and within a few days, they decided to go back to their previous view.

I am not going to argue the merits of their change. I am a man who believes in traditional biblical marriage, but my pain is not with the marriage issue at all. My problem is that in the midst of the controversy, it was not world vision who was made to suffer, but the children.

You see the people who were outraged and wanted to support traditional marriage didn’t just send letters, emails, phone calls, and protests. No instead they cancelled their sponsorships.

According to Rich Stearns who is the president of World Vision, about 10,000 child sponsorships were cancelled due to the controversy. The problem is that this means that 10,000 children were used as fuel for a political agenda. This is unacceptable

If you want to let World Vision know you are opposed to their policy, do it, but do it in a way that protects the children. These children didn’t vote for or against gay marriage. World Vision never asked for their thoughts on the issue. But because of the issue, people are taking away from the children.

This is about as sensible as slapping your neighbor’s children because your neighbor hit a golf ball into your window. The children should be the priority. We should have found an equitable solution to the controversy that didn’t leave 10,000 children without help, and without hope. It makes me sad to see this, because once again the church has become so CONSUMED with a political agenda that the flame of Love was extinguished.

Jesus Loves The Little Children…

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Jesus died for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus died for all the children
Of the world.

Jesus rose for all the children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus rose for all the children
Of the world.

Jesus dealt with Sin in his time, but He didn’t do it at the expense of the Children. Why? Because he valued people, especially Children, more than politics or religion. Now, perhaps you have read this and your heart hurts because you see the brokenness of Christianity just like I did. Or, perhaps you think I am only writing this to get you to sponsor a world vision Child.

I am not. I do not sponsor a child through world vision. I am not asking you to. However there are dozens of organizations who deal with child sponsorship, so if you want to sponsor a child, contact one of them.

The Way we treat the children shows the true condition of our soul, and right now our soul is sick. I pray that as you read this, you are not offended. I am not meaning to call a specific person out. I am calling a specific issue out. I want to see the Children blessed. I want to see the Children prosper.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any child sponsorship group as of the writing of this article. Also the child in the above picture is not mine. He was adopted by a missionary friend who I was visiting in India. Yay Adoption!

Another 140 Characters:

140characters

A while back I wrote an article called “My Life in 140 Characters or less” It was a short story about how some people will only know us through our social media. Well today I felt inclined to continue that thought and go a little further. Lets talk twitter.

Twitter is a brilliant and terrible social media tool. The trick with twitter is that it limits what you can say. You are only allowed 140 characters. In those 140 characters you can say anything you want, and people do. If you just look at a bunch of twitter accounts you will see everything from posts about daily living, food, adult interaction, music, celebrities, bacon, funny pictures, more celebrities, and occasionally someone shares something that is real, that is insightful, and helps us understand the nature of humanity better.

However, the world is watching us. I have found some of my tweets being retweeted by people I do not know. They don’t follow me, we have never met, but somehow they have found my tweets and liked what I was saying enough to retweet me. Now imagine this with me. If all I tweeted about was the Bacon Cheeseburger I just ate, and the weather outside, and the celebrity who did that thing that was so crazy I was like LOLWUT… (please note these are examples and not things I am likely to actually say) Is any of that going to make an impact on someones life? Probably not. Perhaps I tweeted a funny joke, which happens from time to time. Still, no funny joke has ever changed someones life.

We must be so careful with our words, especially in the age of social media when we have less words to spare. Let’s look at what Jesus said on this topic. (words, not social media)

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37 (emphasis added)

Jesus warns us about idle words. Yet so often we find ourselves making the smallest of small talk. What does our conversation say about us? As Christians, and especially those of us who call ourselves ministers of the Gospel. Do we know more about pop culture, and celebrities than we know about The Bible and Jesus.

The thing is that in truth many of us do know more about the Bible and Jesus than other things, but does out communication reflect that? Do people read your twitter account and see Christ? Or do they see someone else. Do they read your words and think of Heaven or Earth, or worse, Hell?

In the age of social media we have a unique way to interact with the world. There are people who may never see us face to face but they will see our facebook, our twitter, our youtube, and the things we say there might be just the thing that they need to hear to spark a change in their life that draws them closer to Jesus.

We need to be careful with our words. We need to be real, and authentic, and all those other buzzwords that people like to spout off, but most of all we need to be CAREFUL. Careful because we are supposed to be reflections of Christ and our words are supposed to let the world hear Him.

I should put a disclaimer, its not a bad thing to discuss movies, music, food, etc. But as I said we need to be careful that the image we project through social media is Christ. Further more disclaimer #2, if your regular life does not reflect Christ. Perhaps you should get in the prayer closet and fix that. Becuase it is not enough for our social media to reflect Christ. We need to reflect Christ in the real world. Our social media should be an accurate representation of our real life.

God bless you and I hope that you are well. As always, comments and questions are welcomed.