November 29, 2007

So Let Me Get This Straight

It's first degree murder if the husband wants the abortion and the mom doesn't, but it's a women's right to choose if the mom wants the abortion and the father doesn't?

Wow...that makes a ton of sense

I Want You To Picture This

As you read this story, I want you to actually stop long enough to try and put yourself watching this happen.

And I know that the details probably aren't exactly accurate. But it's horrific enough.

What haunts me is actually pondering hearing a little girl beg for daddy to stop.

And then what humbles me, what staggers me, what just overwhelms my soul and causes me to yield to the will of God…

God allowed this to happen to this little girl, and He didn't stop it.

And I can't tell you why that is. And I can't begin to challenge his judgments. But Solomon said in Ecclesiastes that the biggest problem in life is not life without God, but rather life with God. Life with a God who is sovereign and who will act as He pleases.

When I read stories like this, as God has grown me and shaped me, I fall at His feet and simply say God, I hope you held her tightly as she was being hit repeatedly with leather belts and as her little head went under water, I hope she saw Your face appearing brighter and brighter.

And I also say, God, I am just as evil as those that abused her, and because of Your grace in my life, I am who I am today.

It is too much for the soul to ponder.

November 28, 2007

It’s One Thing To Break A Rule

It's a whole different thing to commit adultery.

That was a little nugget I pulled from a sermon by Jonathan McIntosh at The Journey. It was toward the very end of the sermon, but it really stuck out to me. So much so I wanted to write about it today.

When we think about religion, when we think about Jesus, why is it that we automatically default to the rules and regulations we believe will be imposed upon us. Is it because we don't want to be told what to do? Is it because we love our sin so much that we don't want to give it up.

We don't want to be told not to have sex outside of marriage. We don't want to be restricted from getting inebriated every weekend. We don't want to be bound by having to give generously to God's church and God's people. We don't want anyone imposing rules on us.

But yet when we get married, we have no problem with the rules our spouse imposes on us. And those rules are unspoken. Don't hit me. Don't hurt me. Provide for me. Take care of me. Love me. Pamper me. Honor me. Cherish me. Don't sleep around on me. Don't talk bad about me. Wear your wedding ring.

So what's the difference? The main one is that we see Jesus as a set of rules and we see our spouse as a person with whom we have an intimate relationship. We can break Jesus' rules and it's just breaking a rule. We break our spouses' rules and we're committing adultery.

And there's a big difference in the two. In one scenario, we're simply someone who can't follow instructions, in the other we're a whoreing spouse.

But I would say that we should look at our relationship with Jesus the same way. The essence of the Gospel is not rules but a person. A person who is the same in His humanity as our spouse. And once we are united in faith to Jesus, we are engaged in an intimate (non-sexual-but still intimate) relationship with Him. And to violate that relationship by placing other God's, other desires, other motives ahead of that relationship is to play the part of a whore once more.

It puts our sin in a whole new light. You're not just breaking a rule. You're cheating on Jesus. And that's imagery, especially in the book of Hosea, that the Bible uses repeatedly.

It's funny, I would never do anything to hurt my wife, not because I feel bound to obey her rules, but because I couldn't take doing something to wound her heart. I love her. I care for her. However, I don't think twice about wounding the heart of Jesus. Mainly because, too many times, I reduce the Savior to a set of rules to follow.

Christians were never meant to live like that. Thank you Jonathan for sharing that on Sunday.

November 27, 2007

Don't Be A Hypocrite

Today's blog post can be found over at LifePoint's blog site.

November 26, 2007

Drop The Act

The link to the sermon I preached this past Sunday is now online.

Thank you God for giving me the strength to get through it without throwing up!

When The Dollars Won’t Let You Go

I was cruising through my blog feeds last night and came across this post by Mark Dever over at 9Marks. He's been reading Bob Kauflin's latest book and references this quote in the book:

"I know worship pastors who wouldn't be in their present church unless they were being paid. That's not good. Salary shouldn't be the primary means of determining where we serve. And you shouldn't work at a church you wouldn't attend."

And that quote got me to thinking: How many people are in their current jobs strictly because of money?

I can say from personal experience that I know a bunch. I know folks who are employed by companies and organizations that if it weren't for the size of the paycheck, they wouldn't be there. I know people employed by churches who hold to a completely different set of theological beliefs than the church they are employed by, but because they church gives them big dollars, they don't say anything. And worse, they make peace with the fact that they aren't on board with the church's mission and live a double life. They will secretly lament the church's shortcomings, yet take its money.

In my opinion, that's stealing.

You see, IMO, when you sign on to a church or a ministry organization, you don't sign up for the money. You sign up because you believe in the mission. And when you don't whole-heartedly embrace the mission any longer, or the methods that are being used to accomplish that mission, it's time for you to go – regardless of the financial impact.

But people don't do that. Why? Because the false security that money provides becomes our God. We worship it. We bow to it. We sacrifice our character and integrity for it. We lose our soul for it. And we get trapped by the big paycheck. And we'll look back at our lives and realize we spent significant chunks of our time here on Earth laboring for a cause we didn't truly believe in. We'll realize we were hypocrites. We were acting. We were playing a part.

And millions in the world today are doing what they do, not because they love it, but because of the bucks.

I can think of no clearer example of what Jesus meant when He said you cannot serve two masters. Doing something you aren't truly passionate about because it puts big money in your pocket.

What people don't realize is that the money goes back in the box and you can't take it with you.

But you can take the growth, enjoyment, and experience of doing something God has called you to do all the way into Eternity.

Are you trapped by the dollars? I hope not.

November 25, 2007

It’s Sunday Night – And Here Are My Thoughts

What a last four days it has been.

  • We spent Thanksgiving day in St. Louis with family. Touch football in 25 degree weather was fantastic. Just don't do it with open-toed sandals for two hours.
  • I might spend hours looking at this. It may not come around again for a long time but I'm certainly going to enjoy the next six days while it lasts.
  • Saturday was an awesome time with Jenni's family. Two things we always do when we get together on that side of the family – EAT and PLAY CARDS. If time allows, a nap is always mandatory.
  • I'm exhausted after all that has gone on over the last 96 hours. Fortunately, it was cold, rainy, and overcast this afternoon so I was able to sneak in a three hour nap. Can't beat those.
  • I preached this morning at LifePoint on Luke 12: 1-9. Hypocrisy is never a fun subject to talk about, but God was good this morning.
  • "It Is Well With My Soul" is one of my favorite hymns ever. Dennis and the peeps did a great job with it this morning. It helped me in ways they'll never know.
  • We had 270 in attendance at LifePoint even though it was the Sunday after Thanksgiving. That's a great thing. God is doing some amazing things at our church right now.
  • I will have to blog more about this later on in the week.
  • The Rams still stink.
  • Can anyone stop Devin Hester?
  • Putting up a Christmas tree is one of my favorite / least favorite things to do.
  • I can't wait to DVR "The Amazing Race" and watch it with my family."

I can't wait to see what God has in store for the next seven days. I needed the last four more than I realize. I truly am thankful for all that God has given me. And after 96 whirlwind hours, I can truly say it was a great holiday weekend.

November 21, 2007

Aren’t All Religions The Same?

  • I mean, can't we all just get to God in our own way.
  • How can someone possibly judge someone else simply because they have a different religion?
  • What religion you are doesn't matter, as long as you do what's right.
  • Aren't they all the same anyway? It's not important what religion you practice, what matters is that you do what's right for you. Right?

I think most people who are not Christians or adherents to any other religion think these kind of thoughts most times when it comes to the topic of faith.

It sounds great. It sounds nice. It sounds accepting. It sounds compassionate. It sounds loving. It sounds inclusive.

After all, if those statements are true, then God can't be mad at anybody except those who do bad things and who aren't doing what's right for them.

If those statements are true, God doesn't judge. He loves. There is no anger from the divine. Only warm fuzzies for you along your life journey.

Don't be a hater. Don't judge. Just do what's right for you and I'll do what's right for me.

That's the mantra for today.


Let's talk about it over the next week or so. Is this right? Or is this wrong?

November 19, 2007

More On The Seismic Activity

David Fitch blogs the latest piece on this story that I wrote about a few weeks ago.

You really need to read it, as I think it is extremely insightful. The last paragraph is what struck me:

One more question for REVEAL. If the people who are leaving Willow Creek are the mature Christians, could this mean Willow's role was never more than a good old-fashioned evangelistic organization? It was never meant to be church. For one thing is true, I see more and more Christian leaving large mega churches seeking missional community. Is there anything wrong with that? Could this be Willow's role in the renewal of the church?

I've had thoughts along this line for a long time. In my tenure at Upward, I was able to sit down and talk with small churches and mega-churches alike and one thing almost always presented itself. The bigger the church got, the more it trended towards Sunday morning being a performance, and the church being a machine when it came to "evangelism".

But the one thing that those large church staffs always told me was that the back door was growing larger and larger. Sure they were bringing people in the front door, but they were also seeing people leave at alarming rates. And it made sense. Because almost all of their efforts, even their mission statements, were largely aimed at the front door, not the family already in the house.

And I have a theory why.

Because walking people through the stages of spiritual formation is hard work, time consuming, painful, messy, and taxing. And we would rather have a good show they dig in and do real work. Style is always easier than substance. Flair is always more expedient than labor.

But it's funny that Jesus said the field was white unto harvest, but the "laborers" were few. A lot of people want to be in show-business, but few people want to be a farmer. One gets you lots of fans. One just makes you work and sweat.

(HT: Jared)

November 16, 2007

See Dennis, I Told You So

And now Seth Godin has agreed with me as well!

Here's the key paragraphs:

Last year, more than $8,000,000,000 was wasted on these cards. Not in the value spent, but in fees and breakage. When you give a card, if it doesn't get used, someone ends up keeping your money, and it's not the recipient. People spent more than eight billion dollars for nothing... buying a product that isn't as good as cash. Along the way, we bought the story that giving someone a hundred dollar bill as a gift ("go buy what you want") is callous, insensitive, a crass shortcut. Buying them a $100 Best Buy card, on the other hand, is thoughtful. Even if they spend $92 and have to waste the rest.

The interesting thing about stories is that the inconsistent ones don't always hold up to scrutiny. Consumer Reports and others are trying to spread a different story. One that sounds like this:

Gift cards are for chumps.

If enough people talk about this new story, people will be embarrassed to give a gift card. It's a waste. It's a scam. It's a trap for the recipient. The irony is that the gift card companies could easily spend, say, half the profits and create a wonderful, better story... where every $100 gift card also generates two or three dollars for a worthy cause. That would resonate with a lot of people... But I think it's unlikely.

I could go off on a LONG, LONG rant about what Christmas has become and what we have turned it into, BUT, for right now I won't.

I just think it's interesting that we paid nobody in particular almost 8 BILLION dollars last year. Great stewardship!

November 15, 2007

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Bill McLellan, a columnist for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, wrote a column about Sen. Grassley wanting to investigate six "prosperity Gospel" types. I'll just say that I'm not a huge fan of Mr. McLellan but I think these paragraphs are right on:

But it isn't. According to a story in this newspaper a week ago, Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, has asked Meyer for documents detailing the finances of the Joyce Meyer Ministries, based in Fenton. He wants to know about clothing, cosmetic surgery, a $23,000 marble-topped commode, a $30,000 conference table and five pages of so on and so forth.

I could go item by item, but let's just take the first one — clothing. What business is that of the government? Do we want staffers from the Finance Committee poking around in Billy Graham's closet? Maybe they would find expensive Italian suits. So what? If preachers are required to wear cheap clothes, the Rev. Larry Rice would pass muster, but not many others, and certainly not any of those who espouse the "prosperity gospel." That's what Meyer preaches, that God showers blessings on those he favors.

And if you want to believe that, you can. It's not the role of the government to decide the theological validity of anybody's religious beliefs. Matters of faith are not stuff for a Senate committee to consider. Of course, the senator is arguing that financial matters are a little different. In a written statement, he claimed he has "an obligation to donors" to find out that the money is being spent as intended. No, he doesn't.

Basically what McLellan is arguing is that if you're stupid enough to give to the "prosperity Gospel" types, then that's your business and your loss. It's not up to the government to save you from your own stupidity. And that's absolutely right. There is a real inherent danger in governmental interference in religious matters. Suppose some feel that John Piper is too fundamentalist and that people shouldn't be subjected to that, then what?

You go down a slippery road because what's being investigated depends on who is in power. And while we may agree that those in the "health and wealth" camp are destroying people's souls and perverting the great Gospel of Jesus, we should leave justice and accounting for that perversion in the hands of Jesus and not in the Senate floor of Washington DC. What we end up cheering for today, might very well turn out to be the very thing that sends us underground in the future. Once government feels comfortable dictating religious matters, it is a slippery slope we walk.

The columnist ends with a great closing salvo:

I think not. Freedom of religion means, among other things, that matters of faith are not subject to government approval. A "prosperity gospel" that includes a $23,000 marble-topped commode for the preacher does not appeal to me, but maybe it does to you, and the U.S. Senate has no business saying it shouldn't

If you want the "money lovers" to not be able to live their lavish lifestyles, then the answer is to share the true and real Gospel as much as you can. Not look to the politicians to bring down their empire.

November 14, 2007

He Might Be Right – Then Again He Could Be Wrong

Mark Dever gave a talk at Southern Seminary. He's a pastor of a Baptist church in Washington D.C. He founded 9Marks ministries. He takes church membership, discipline, and preaching seriously.

Key Paragraphs:

"The problem with the seeker-sensitive model, emerging church model and even the traditional model that say, 'Get as many people into a room as possible and share the Gospel with them,' is that they view success in light of visible fruit," he said. "All three of these approaches say, 'Change your techniques and let's get some numbers.'

"Instead of being directed by [visible] success, we should be directed by faithfulness. We should say, 'If the Lord doesn't like our product, we will change the product.' We shouldn't take the idea that if we don't have X number of conversions in our church, then we must be doing something wrong. I am glad Jeremiah didn't think that. And I am glad that Jesus Christ didn't think that. Let us remember that we are following the One who was crucified as a revolutionary."

OK. Could not agree more. Since salvation is of the Lord, and only God's to give, and really only God's to know, we should not be in the business of touting number of conversions. I'm convinced organizations do it for marketing purposes and not genuine heartfelt reasons. I've seen it first-hand. If we have a lot of "decisions" we can begin to slide in and take some of God's glory and think we had something to do with it. We can place our name alongside of God's name. And we look better in the process.

So I'm tracking with Dever here. But, is he really arguing against Biblical contextualization. Would you share the Gospel and teach the Bible the same way to a redneck from Mississippi as you would an inner-city black woman from Chicago?

Isn't context important? Isn't it of significant importance? Isn't that part of being a missionary?

I think it is. I think it has to be. I think Dever would say that himself.

"You must very clearly preach the Gospel, Sunday after Sunday, making it very clear what a Christian is [in such a situation]," he said.

"Second, you must be very patient. It took me two years to finish dealing with that issue, in a very stable, Bible-believing congregation. Get counsel from older men who agree with you theologically.

"And when the time comes, what is typically lacking in pastors in many cases is courage," Dever said, adding that it takes "courage to look at a man twice your age and tell him that he has been doing things wrong all his life. You must keep making it very clear what a Christian is."

Understand, the more clear you are, the narrower the definition. And the more you begin to realize that most people attending churches these days are still lost. And in a lot of ways, our preaching has given them false hope.

November 13, 2007

Dad – Do I Have Hair Under My Armpit?

You know, my boys are unbelievable. Apart from God the Father – Son – And Holy Spirit, and my wife, they are the most precious treasures in the world.

  • There are days where I wonder if they'll make it to 10
  • There are days where I wonder if they wouldn't have been better off having a different dad.
  • There are days where they teach me more about myself than I could have ever dreamt possible.
  • There are days where I want them to quit growing up so I can enjoy these years a little while longer.
  • There are days where questions like the title just crack me up.
  • There are days where sadness overwhelms me because I'll never be the dad they deserve. I'm just being the best dad I can be.
  • There are days where I am so excited about all that God will have for them.
  • There are days where I am fearful for the world that they have to grow up in.
  • There are days where I am paralyzed by all the responsibility I feel to raise them up to be Godly men, husbands, and fathers themselves.
  • There are days where my heart bursts with joy when they wrap their little arms around my neck.
  • There are days where I cry like a baby because to them I have the most special title in the world: "Dad"
  • There are days where I feel like an utter failure.
  • There are days where I feel like I did it right.

But every day, I thank God that he gave them to me. I always wanted to be a dad. And I always wanted to have boys of my own. God has been truly gracious to me. So take time to smile when a three year old looks at you with big blue eyes and great big smile and asks you if he has hair under his armpit!

November 12, 2007

Why God Why

Do things like this have to happen? And why did you allow this to happen?

In short, a little girl was left in her home by her step-father. Then, one of the step-father's friends came and abducted her, took her to his trailer and raped her. After raping her, the step-father arrived, and raped her as well. After both were done, they then took her outside and strangled her with a curtain cord. Then drove her to a remote sinkhole where they simply dumped her lifeless body in a cave.

There are so many questions that come to mind for anyone:

  • How can two grown men sexually devastate a young girl?
  • How can any adult human being strangle a young child and watch her struggle for life before your very eyes?
  • How can anyone continue doing any of it when you hear a young girl beg for you to please stop?
  • What purpose did this event serve?
  • Where was God while all of this was taking place?
  • Is that really the purpose of this 9 year old's life? To be raped and murdered while she was still a child?
  • Why didn't God stop this?

Evil like this happens every day. I recently talked with a friend who had just experienced a suicide by a father who left his wife and three children by hanging himself on the front porch. You read news stories and talk with people and there is one inescapable conclusion. Evil is all around us and the heart is absolutely depraved. Anyone is capable of anything.

So what do we do? Do we live in fear? Is God really watching all of this? Has He fallen asleep on the throne? Or worse, does He condone this? Why doesn't He stop it? If He can part the Red Sea and create the universe in 6 days, do you really mean to tell me he can't stop an evil step-father from this horrendous act?

  • I wonder if people ever ask those questions?
  • I wonder if people ever wrestle with those questions?
  • I wonder what the Bible has to say about those questions?
  • I wonder what God has to say about those questions?
  • I wonder where we can turn for answers?
  • I wonder if God did answer that question if we would accept his answer and submit to it?

Life isn't all roses. Life isn't all fun. Life isn't all about how to do church better or how to preach better. Life is real. Life is hard.

Maybe some more to ponder tomorrow. I think this is enough for today.

November 11, 2007

Happy Veterans Day

To my dad – John Peter Backes. C'mon with a name like that you had to know his son was going to be a pastor J.

There are those in the world that think I'm a little off mentally sometimes. My dad's the cause of it. Back in the mid 1960's my dad VOLUNTARILY signed up to be a United States Marine and did a 13 month tour I believe (correct me if I'm wrong) in Vietnam.

Also, back where I'm from, there are many brave men and women who have served the United States faithfully through their military service. I love hearing the older generations talk about being in the Army or Navy, and what not.

My dad gave me many opportunities in life that I'm extremely grateful for. His, and folks just like him, service to our country gives us all opportunities that we take for granted far too often in our daily lives. By God's sovereign hand we live in a democracy. Also by God's sovereign hand, there are folks willing to make untold sacrifices and thousands have given the ultimate sacrifice.

On this day, we say thank you. But we should say thank you every day and honor that sacrifice with our lives and the choices we make.

Thanks Dad….

November 09, 2007

Eternity On My Mind

Nothing earth shattering in the tank today. Thoughts and a lot of life swirling around right now. But nothing pressing on the soul to opine about.

In some ways, people would call this a throw away post. To others, it would be less than ideal. It's hard having something to think about every day.

The most pressing thing going right now is to finish my prospectus for Eternity. I've in the middle of it and have finished Mission, Values, Summary View Of Ministry, and finishing up my section on the context in which I will plant which is Jefferson City, MO.

I'm coming face to face with the situation where I thought for years I knew how other churches were doing it wrong and how I would do it better. Now I'm having to get that down on paper and get rolling with it. It's a daunting task. I could use the prayer.

A while back, I asked here on the blog what people would write if they were writing a mission statement. I believe I've decided on the mission for Eternity. I'll end with that:

To labor for the Gospel as it transforms us, our city, and our world for eternity.

November 08, 2007

This Would Be Funny

If you couldn't honestly say that somehow it may be true.

The invitation. A funny and peculiar thing. Why do we do it? Where did it come from?

Response to God is an important part of faith and repentance. Peter exhorted those listening to his sermon to repent and be baptized.

Billy Graham made the invitation a cornerstone of the American church. Thousands upon thousands of churches followed suit. I've heard sermons on why not doing the invitation is sentencing people to hell. (BTW, the pastor who gave that sermon pastors a large Baptist church in a town that shares a name with a hippie gathering in the 60's)

Does it all depend on your theology? Is it emotional manipulation?

Can it be effective today in a culture conditioned to be skeptical of religious manufacturing?

Don't you get disgusted with the pastor who utters the words "just one more verse" because he doesn't want to be embarrassed by the fact that no one responded to his sermon and therefore he wants to try and force someone to come to the front so it can look like he had an impact?

If it's so effective, why did Billy Graham have to "engineer" movement by encouraging his counselors to begin moving forward first?

What if you don't give people a chance to respond publicly? What then? Should there be public response other than baptism? Does the public nature add undue pressure?

All things I ponder while waiting for another episode of Survivor and The Office.

November 07, 2007

Acts 29 Quarterly And All Things Tuesday

Yesterday was a great day in many respects. A beautiful day to drive from Ozark to St. Louis to Jefferson City back to Ozark. I love drive times alone with God.

The Acts29 quarterly was great as usual. Preaching was the topic. Highlights were:

  • Jonathan McIntosh challenging us to examine our weaknesses in our preaching. He talked about three streams and how it is vital for preachers to be good in all three streams. He shared rightly that most folks default to one stream but that we needed to listen to guys from all three streams. The three he hit on were:
    • Normative – Truth focused (John MacArthur, John Piper, et all) – What to I want people to know or believe?
    • Existential – Emotion Focused (Martin Lloyd Jones – CJ Mahaney) – What do I want people to feel?
    • Situational – Action Focused (Andy Stanley – Rick Warren) – What do I want people to do?
  • Catching up and sitting with Steve Easterwood from FBC Lake St. Louis.
  • Having a chance to talk with Bob Werner about planting Eternity. Bob's first pastorate was in Jefferson City. He had many good words.
  • Listening to Darrin Patrick, Ron Cathcart, John Ryan, and a great guy who I can't for the life of me remember his name (although he won a preaching award from Covenant Theological Seminary) answer questions about preaching ranging from:
    • How they prepare for their sermons?
    • How much time do they prepare?
    • What is their best advice for guys who are trying to find their voice?
    • Their advice on building preaching teams
    • Their thoughts on use of certain language in sermons
    • Their thoughts on being a communicator for God on Sunday morning
  • Getting to say hi once again to Maxedon, Sam, Brian, Trey, and meeting Mike Hubbard and Marc Sikma

It was then time to head to Jefferson City and have a meeting with some folks about Eternity. For those who are just catching up, I am in the process of planting a church in the next 12 – 18 months named Eternity and Jefferson City is where that church will be. Last night's meeting was great. From everyone I've talked to, the area is in desperate need of a Gospel centered, culturally sensible church.

With every discussion I have about Eternity, I grow more excited and nauseous at the same time. I am growing increasingly aware how huge of a task it will be. I am also realizing with each day how great God is, how ignorant and sinful I am, and how I am in dire straits if God isn't driving this train.

But as each day goes by, Eternity becomes more and more a reality and the path to reality a little more clear.

It was a good day. Let's see what today holds!

November 05, 2007

Does Jesus Make You Happy?

It's a fair question. I would argue it's the most important question in life. Recently, a well known blogger and author posted a list of things that made him happy:

  • The newly released album from the David Crowder Band.
  • When my wife makes me go play golf with my son--who now owns his first set of clubs.
  • Winning another fantasy football game.
  • The smell of the church atrium now that the coffee shop is open.
  • Finding out that I'm going to a conference after all
  • Yard moderation.
  • Our Sunday evening service
  • Learning that a friend is finally blogging
  • Watching a football athlete speak.
  • Discovering that iTunes has some competition
  • Our new king-size bed.
  • TV Shows
  • When someone delivers freshly brewed decaf coffee to my office mid-afternoon.
  • Spending time downtown
  • Watching my daughter play soccer.
  • Cool parts of my job
  • Planning my next trip to the beach.

What you'll find striking about this list is that Jesus didn't make the list. For that matter, God didn't make the list. Church made it. But God didn't. There's a big difference. I tried to point that out to the author. The author chose not to publish my comment on his blog. It appears asking why Jesus didn't make him happy was not an acceptable comment for others to see.

But now the question looms for all of us. If you published your list on the Internet, would Jesus make it? You see the list above lists sports, coffee, stuff, leisure, etc but is that truly where our happiness and joy as Christians is supposed to originate. How exactly is the list above any different than a garden-variety pagan's list?

I'd like to give the author the benefit of the doubt. I was willing to. I assumed it was just an editorial oversight. He really did love Jesus and Jesus actually did make him happy. He had just missed putting Jesus in the list. But given the fact that my comment was reviewed and not acted upon, I can only assume once the minor detail was brought to his attention, he still didn't think Jesus should be included.

Which is sad, because I think there are millions of Christians that would make their lists and not include Jesus in the mix. When you get right down to it, Jesus doesn't make them happy, He's just a drag on their life. Too many rules. Too many don'ts. Too many things He expects of me. That's not fun. That's not happy. That's oppressive. Give me my family, my food, my fun and that's what makes me happy. Don't get me wrong, those things make a lot of people happy, and in many respects, there's nothing wrong with those things bringing happiness to your life.

But Jesus should be # 1 on that list. And you should find all those others things enjoyable only because first you find enjoyment in Jesus. It's in Him that we have life, breath, and everything. He is the giver of all those other things. He is the reason you can live with a smile and not in terror fearing for your life before a Holy righteous God.

He is, in every meaningful way, the river of living water.

Now, if He could only find a way to make his way up in the rankings of things we love in life.

November 01, 2007

The Days Ahead

Everyone is gone from Tan-Tar-A and has returned home to their churches in Missouri to continue their loving service to their congregations.

Micah has a good roundup this morning that I would like to interact with a little bit.

Getting to meet Darrin Patrick was a much more exciting experience than I imagined it would be. I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of guys who are very successful in ministry and who lead fast growing churches, many of which are considered mega-churches and I have never met a Pastor more congenial and laid back as was Patrick.

I'm convinced that if those in the Missouri Baptist Convention and really around the nation would actually spend time with us Acts29 type folks, and the church planters in our network, that they would discover we are not a bunch of beer-drinking liberal freakshows as many would like to paint us as. I read blogs that bash Driscoll and certainly Darrin has taken his load of criticism but much of that criticism is coming from ignorance and fear. As I spent time with guys like Sam Byers, Trey Herweck, Kevin Larson, Rik Maxedon and others, you'll discover that these guys are young, passionate; Gospel consumed people who just want to see Jesus be the hero in their churches.

And the fledgling reformation going on in American Christianity today in ironic ways is about returning to our roots and first loves rather than about leaving them. If you look historically, you'll find that the young church planters would share more in common the founders of the SBC than they do with the current SBC. The young guys are accused of deviating from tradition, but rather they in fact are the ones looking to restore the tradition. Reformed doctrine, Christ exaltation, Man centered renunciation, and a belief in only the Gospel as the possible means of transformation characterizes this group.

And like many times in history, the more that the other side gets to actually know where they are coming from and understand who they really are, the more they realize there is nothing to fear but rather to embrace. And I think many people are discovering that.

I am proud to be a part of that group and I am excited about what God is/currently/and will do through us in the days and years ahead. There is a passionate resurgence well underway and I think folks are beginning to see that. Guys like Darrin and Lane, pastors who are passionate not only about their churches, but the churches of the guys who will plant in the future are awesome to be around and I think typify the spirit of Paul in Acts. They realize that we won't reach the world with one church. And they are passionate about their roles in developing and coaching guys who feel the call of God to plant a church.

For those who might read this and not know a lot about Acts 29 or the young church planters currently in the MBC, I would encourage you to do the same thing Micah did. Just find a way to hang out us. You'll find we're not the boogey-man you may have thought us to be.