Tag: Facebook

Drop Your Stone

Because of recent events, I have to admit my hands have been full of rocks.

hand-holding-stonesI’ve wanted to throw them at certain people for quite some time now.  Every night after spending a short time scrolling down my FACEBOOK wall, I was adding names to my list of people who I felt needed a stone chucked in their direction.

I was getting rather upset.  My hands were packed full of rocks and I had quite a pile of them at my feet just waiting for me to pick up. To say that I was ready to begin catapulting them across the wide spectrum of people I disagreed with would be an understatement.  Many of my rocks were destined for those I have serious differences with. Particularly with those that have different beliefs than me. But some of these rocks I held were intended for some fellow believers.  Specifically those fellow believer’s that are part of  the ill-defined segment known vicariously as “Christian Millennials”.  Many of whom choose to take an opposing side of issues that are not in line with how they were raised.  Many turning their back on the very foundational principles that their parents taught them and then they spend most of their time and thoughts on bashing (throwing rocks) at this same foundation.  Many taking joy when a fellow believer fails in their Spiritual walk.

Defined as those that are 24 to 36 or so, depending on who you read.  They’ve been called the “Me, Me, Me Generation” by Time magazine.  There is a common belief that they feel “entitled” by just about everyone.  The bottom line is that these “millennials” believe they are right on just about every question of life.  Even if they do not think they are right, they just know that you are wrong.

And they are leaving the church in droves.

Now it would appear that I am making too broad of a statement and painting a picture that all people in this group are the same… they are not. Many are searching for the truth and the church truly does need to find common ground with them. Also, before I come across as just throwing judgmental hand grenades at them, please read this to the end.

It is said that 70 percent of those raised in the church disengage from it in their 20s.  One-third of Americans under 30 now claim “no belief in God or at least not the God they were raised to believe in.”

So there are 80 million millennialists (give or take) in the U.S.—and approximately the same number of suggestions for how to bring them back to the church.  But most of the proposals I’ve read fall into two camps.

The first goes something like this:  The church needs to be more hip and relevant. Drop stodgy traditions. Play louder music. Hire pastors with tattoos and fauxhawks. Few come right out and advocate for this approach, but it is clear they do not want their parents church.

Others demand a more fundamental change. They insist the church soften itjesus-thumps-up1s positions on key doctrines and social issues. They say, our culture is secularized. Let’s get with the times in order to attract the younger generation, they say. Let’s marginalize God and/or Jesus Christ as simply our “buddy” to help us out (with a wink and a smile) when we are in trouble and that everyone can live their life as they wish regardless of eternal consequence.  They believe we must abandon core beliefs and restrictive moral teachings of the traditional church. They believe the Bible is intended as a guideline, not necessarily absolute truth. They tend to question every story found in the Bible. It surly could not have happened the way the Bible said it did and if you do believe the Bible as fact, you are a racist, bigoted, hypocritical, uneducated homophobe.  More importantly… you are just plain wrong.

They really believe that Christianity must “change or die.”

I have issues with both approaches.

I want a pastor that is relevent and up to date with the issues of life for all members of my church. I want him to be aware of current events but he doesn’t have to look like me.  He shouldn’t have to look like them either.  Chasing just the “coolness” factor at church won’t work.

I have horrible memories of a pastor lecturing me at summer camp when I was a teenager about the evils of a rock band that had not put out an album in 10 years. He came to the “service” dressed like me and tried to use language that he thought would relate to me. He had no clue and more importantly he was trying to relate and be “cool” but failed miserably. 

In my experience, churches that try to be cool end up with a pathetic facsimile of what was cool about 5 years ago.  No one wants to see a 60-year-old pastor acting like he is 25.  It never comes off well.  Does this mean that a pastor is “done” in his ministry in his 50’s or heaven forbid his 40’s? What will be “cool” when these “Christian Millennialist’s”  turn 50?  Will they be as relevant as they present themselves today?  I think not. What will these, all-knowing (but have no real life experience) people do when the next generation comes along and has a different way doing things and have their own version of being “cool”? Will they see error in their ways? Or will it be too late to even matter?

The second tack is worse. Not only will we end up compromising core beliefs, we will shrink our churches as well. The advocates of this approach seem to have missed what happened to mainline liberal churches over the last few decades. Adopting liberal theologies and culturally acceptable beliefs has drastically reduced their attendance. When the premise of your take on Biblical accuracy of truth starts with “God couldn’t have” or “God didn’t” it is a slippery slope to complete unbelief.

In addition, I think  that in solely conceptualizing God as a nice, kind, “Jesus is my best friend,” lover of kittens and puppies way that we have, we lose some of the reverence for the righteousness of a Holy God. Make no mistake, there will be eternal consequences for the way we live our lives.

While I am still coming to terms with how to exactly handle my inner feelings in dealing with them, I still believe that people like me and those of the church need to find common ground with those that carry these beliefs.

Now back to my hand full of rocks…

throwing rocksI had enough. I was tired of seeing these people getting away with throwing rocks at other people who I felt did not deserve the bashing they were receiving. It was now my turn.  As I scrolled down my FACEBOOK feed and I was picking up more rocks and taking more names to receive them. I was going to respond to every post I disagreed with. Everyone was going to know what these people were really like.  I wanted to embarrass them. I wanted retaliation. I wanted to prove them wrong.

I threw a couple of rocks at a few of them.

But as I raised my arm to sling another of my well-deserved, verbal judgemental stones… a still small voice in my heart said:

“Before you throw another one… Maybe we need to have a little conversation as a reminder?”

Arguing, I began to tell the Lord that I was justified! They were wrong and I was right and it was important that everyone know!

As I thought about justifying my argument to set people straight, I was reminded of the story of a woman caught in the very act of adultery – which in Jesus’ culture was justifiably punishable by stoning.  Jesus faced this mob that was eager to stone this woman. He put a stop to it with a simple challenge: “anyone who has no sin in their life should step forward and throw the first stone”.  Jesus didn’t say, “If you’ve never committed adultery, pelt her now, as hard as you can!”

Nope. It was if you’re without sin. Without any sin.

Sin is sin is sin. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. 

Reminding myself of this story, I let a few stones drop from my hand.

I’ve never molested a child or shot anyone or taken something that didn’t belong to me, but guess what? I’m still a fallible human being. I’ve messed up. A lot.  I am not perfect and I need grace and forgiveness.

I can’t throw that “without sin” stone. Can you?

A few more stones fell from my hand to the ground.

I pondered three Biblical truths:

  • No one is without sin. (Romans 3:23)
  • Treat others as you want to be treated. (Matthew 7:12)
  • Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

I need to accept that God will take care of the outcome.  It’s not my job.

Regardless of my “feelings” or “thoughts”, it is not my job to stone those who I think are wrong.

Maybe this is the common ground we need to have.  Instead of feeling like we need to throw stones at those we disagree with maybe we all need a reminder of our own sin. It is impossible to be self-righteous when you recognize the sin in your own life. I think we will struggle to judge others when the grace that covers our sin is front and center on your mind.

I dropped the remaining stones to the ground.

I am going back inside my glass house now.  First to wash my hands, secondly to wash my windows because it seems I haven’t been seeing things clearly.

Again, I need to accept that God will take care of the outcome.

Throwing stones…why does it seem as if everyone is guilty of doing this? Why are we so quick to judge?

Whatever you’re thinking of throwing… just don’t.

Drop your stone.

 

Advertisements

The Journey

A few months ago marked my 44 years of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. 

However, in many ways, I still feel like a young Christian that is stumbling over nothing, falling The Journey Logodown and having to pick myself to try again.  I never thought that the journey to become like Christ was as long as it has been for me.  I thought I would be there by now, but it seems I’ve only just begun.

As I write those words, I wonder if I’ve been too open about my walk and struggle in my Christian walk. I have had people comment to me in the past about how shocked they were to hear how I had struggled in my life. They could not believe that I failed in my first marriage and in my ministry. The only words I could come up with in response was that I was sorry I let God and them down. 

It is something that I live with everyday. I am torn between what could have been in my ministry and where I am at today.  The lessons learned from my failure has made me so much more compassionate towards those that have failed or struggle in this life.  Something that I did not even consider in the years that I was in the ministry. 

My failure broke me.  The price of failure has been one that I am still paying for even after 20 years.  

Truth is, I am not a person that finds joy in sharing my failures.  But one thing iindexs true… I have had more than my fair share of them.  I have to be honest and try to not deceive anyone into thinking that I have everything in my Christian walk all together. I surely cannot deceive myself, I have to live with it everyday.

So how do I be an open book and not be honest about my past failures?  It would be easy to just write generic, short little gleeb articles that give advice with no experience. I see them all the time.  I cannot do that.  I try not to give advice.  I write to remind myself of the lessons learned by my failures and successes.  I try to influence by being an example of what can happen in your life when you take your eyes off of Jesus Christ. I try to give the reader something to ponder.  The truth is my life has been one to be used as an example of caution. If it can happen to me… it can happen to you.

My relationship with God cannot be summed up in a FACEBOOK post. I read catchy little Christian phrases on FACEBOOK that annoy me to no end. Often they are posted by people I know personally and I want to pull my hair out.  I get so frustrated because when people favorpost them, it seems to me that it dumbs down the real relationship a person should have with Jesus Christ.  That somehow by posting if you love God… re-post this message and He will do you a favor.

I do not want to speak for God but I do not think God is not in the business of doing favors for me or you just because we re-post this.

Here’s my up-front disclaimer: I’m not fond of Christian jokes and one-liners. I might be a terrible stick-in-the-mud, but when I pass a church marquee sign posting a “Christian” message, I wince. Although I fight the urge, I read it. And sometimes I need to seek God’s forgiveness for the thoughts that enter my mind after my car has passed by.

I drive about 30 miles to work everyday. On my drive I pass a church where they post phrases on their church marquee. They change it often.  Before Election Day, it read: “To find God, turn right and go straight.” I am sure every left-leaning friend I had would be outraged by what it said. 

Another time the sign read, “If God gave you the same priority you give Him, would you be saved?” My instinctive response was a low growl. I wasn’t being convicted by the Holy Spirit; I simply have an adverse reaction to being smacked in the head with weak theology. God gave me all the priority He intended by giving His Son to die on the cross for me. Salvation comes from the acceptance of His Son and His death that paid the price for my sin. My salvation is not dependent on my priority on any random day.

Why do we insist on using catch phrases to attract our community to Christ?

I understand people are well-meaning.  I am trying extremely hard to not judge but this week I have read FACEBOOK posts such as:

“God answers knee-mail,”

“God loves everyone, but probably prefers fruits of the spirit over religious nuts.”

“Sitting in church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car.”

“Why do some people change churches? What difference does it make which one you stay home from?”

“Don’t make me come down there–signed God.”

Or consider the church sign I passed while driving to work this week. 

It read, “WARNING! Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.”

My response is always the same: “Huh?”

Do we really want to guilt people into worshipping with us? When people read these messages and the out-loud response is, “See? THAT’S why I don’t go to church!” we’ve failed our community–and our faith.

Sure, I get it. But why does it make me crazy? Statements like these are patronizing, condescending, and place the reader on the defensive side of living.  It cheapens the journey that most of us are on.

StonesI am not innocent of doing it either, here’s one that I am guilty of posting –  “Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.”  

As if!  You’re still on the ground with a bloody nose and scrapped knees and I’m trying to tell you how to take those stumbling places and grow? Come on!  Catchy little slogans do nothing to help you or me grow in Christ. I need Christ and I need Him constantly!

And, to be honest, it doesn’t take a stone to make me stumble.  I’m pretty good at stumbling over sand, over a crack in the sidewalk.  It’s never something big thing or I would avoid it.  It’s always the little things that cause my fall, my failing…..and then I grieve, beat myself up and tell God I’m sorry, I won’t do it again (but I will)….and that I should be past all of this by now, but I’m not.

And, then, like a child, embarrassed by my failings, but suffering in my pains, I run back to God and am welcomed by His grace, his love and forgiveness.  I’m always embarrassed to face Him, to come to Him and tell Him “I did it again!  I’m so sorry!!”  And He forgives, He bandages my wounds and He offers to walk with me even as I stumble along.

Are we really trying to reach out to those who are far from God? If the answer is “Yes,” we need to speak and write the words that others understand and will respond to positively.

The FACEBOOK audience is composed of moms and dads, children and grandparents, friends and facebook3neighbors that do not know Christ. They are overworked, tired and stretched to the limits emotionally, mentally and financially to consider the importance of having a relationship with Him. They are searching for something more meaningful than Christian one-liners. All too often they are searching in the wrong places.

We have an incredible opportunity to reach people for Christ.  But it will not happen with a catch-phrase posted on FACEBOOK and truth be told it will not come from any of my writings and postings to this blog site. It will only happen when we meet and love people where they are at in life.  It will happen when we develop relationships that are deeper than FACEBOOK postings.

My desire is to have my writings be an encouragement to those that want to reach others for Christ. I want to show people that my journey has been one to note because of the lessons that can be learned from it.  I have no belief that my words will reach the masses but maybe they will reach one WELCOME-your-churchthat will be encouraged to live for Christ in a deeper way and reach others for Him.

As far as reaching people on FACEBOOK.  Let me just say that if you insist on posting those Christian one-liners, please make sure your other postings and life live up to those postings. 

As for church marquee signs, perhaps we simply need to say, Sunday Services: 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. All Are Welcome!

With God’s spirit, those words might be more than enough.

 

 

 

Winning the Argument But Losing the War

People fascinate me.

Stories fascinate me.

Listening to people tell me their story fascinates me.

I am intrigued by what makes each one of us different.

I wonder what shaped you? Who shaped you? What drove you to be who you are today?

Unfortunately, oncsomeone_is_wrong_on_the_internet1e you start to get a feel for who this person is you also get to hear some things from this person that you really don’t like, or is different from you. It really gets interesting when you find out that this person believes differently than you. This often leads to some heated conversation.

Why? Why are there tensions created when you meet someone who believes something different from your beliefs? Why do people feel like they have to argue about every single aspect of Christianity?

I’m “friends” on Facebook with a lot of people who believe differently than I do. A few are merely acquaintances. A few I know well. Two of those friends recently caused quite an argument on Facebook. The details are not really important (here at least), what happened in the aftermath is.

As it always seems to happen… people get 10 ft. tall and bulletproof when they are in the comfort and security of their home and armed with a keyboard.

They raised their verbal (written) fists.

Both threw punches.

And the watching Facebook world… watched… and judged.

It was like waWHy I am Righttching the freshman preacher boys in the dorm back in the day when I was a student at Liberty University. Every Fall you would hear a new batch of them arguing about things that have no eternal significance, but were trying their best to prove to everyone who would listen that they were right.  They would say that they were not arguing but they were just explaining why they were right.

It usually took these preacher boys about a year or so of studying Theology for them to realize that they really didn’t have a clue and there were many more acceptable answers to the same questions they were so desperately trying to prove as Freshman. 

My two friends were having a “discussion” on Facebook and everything would have been fine if it stayed in the “discussion mode”.  But like many “discussions” it didn’t.  At first, they slightly disagreed. But within 15 minutes, one of my friends was declaring the other a heretic. Now… it should be noted that both of these friends declare themselves as believers… Christians.  They were arguing about issues that actually had nothing to do with leading people to Christ. 

As their discussion crossed the 60-minute mark, and their Facebook feeds fully flushed with arguments and disagreements, I realized that they were no longer simply stating opinion. They were positioning themselves to win the argument, dismissing any counter points no matter whether they agreed or not. They were in this fight to be crowned the person most in the right. And it didn’t feel good.

This silly argument left me thinking: What is it about human beings that leaves us needing to be right, needing to get the last word in no matter what? Regardless of the cost. Regardless of the people who were reading their hateful, hurtful banter.

Sure enough… some people would message me over the course of my two friends argument and comment about how these two well-meaning people had done more to harm to the cause of Christ then they would ever know.  One would walk away the “winner”… winning the argument but losing the war.

I can’t say that I have always been innocent of getting involved in “discussions” that turn into man_yelling_at_computerarguments.  But as I have grown older, I am not the guy to argue theology anymore.  For those of you that do not know, I am educated and trained in Bible theology… and I can argue with the best of them. But I also know that I don’t have all the answers and I don’t wear my education on my sleeve. I don’t have to prove to anyone what I believe. Over time I have realized that more damage has been done arguing over things that mean nothing to the cause of Christ. I know what I believe and I am not swayed by anyone wanting to argue the tenets of Calvinism or the pros and cons of the KJV or just about any aspect of Christianity. I’ve learned the hard way to stay as far away from the arguing as I can.  I have seen too much damage done in the process of being “right” and I have never witnessed anyone say, “Wow… that argument completely changed my fundamental belief system!” or like Phillip Yancey stated:

“No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost the argument.”

No one “wins” in these debates and arguments. People get hurt. Words cut like the knife from both sides. No one drops their sword and advances the Kingdom. I might go so far as to say we retreat the Kingdom. We need to be able to explore the tension and not do so with our verbal fists raised. We need to ask the questions, receive the answers all the while drinking a large mug of grace.

Because the watching world… watches… and judges.

fool

The Sounds of Silence

It’s such a noisy world right now.   All around, all the time there is noise.   The noise of politics, of countries in chaos, angry people, frustrations over gas prices, and literally a thousand other things bring noise to our lives.  The internet, Apple, Android, Skype, Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, Google, AOL, TV and Radio…it’s everywhere!   And it’s deafening.


I know a little about being deaf.  I have always had a hearing problem.  I have failed every hearing test I have ever taken.  That goes back to kindergarten and the advent of headphones and the 70’s  didn’t help my hearing loss.  The “cool quotient” in the 70’s was based upon how loud you could play your music, not necessarily how good the music was.  As a result, I grew up reading lips as a way to understand what people were saying.  

I learned to hide it pretty well.  At times I am sure that when I was too loud it was just passed off as a young man just trying to get attention.  The truth was, I had an 60% loss in my left ear and about 80% loss in my right.  I never ever really realized how loud I actually was sometimes.

Some of you may know that I traveled with a singing group that promoted Missions and Liberty University in the early 80’s.  I have always been able to sing but for almost four years I traveled all across America and over the world, not singing but running the soundboard for the group.  Actually, I operated the soundboard and had the opportunity to mix the sound for a few of the top Christian Artists during that time.  Go figure…I may have been the only deaf sound man in the United States.  I still laugh about it from time to time.

If my hearing needed any more trauma other than what had come to me naturally, in addition to the loud music I listened to in the 70’s, I did not need the ear infection that started in my left (my better) ear in October of 2008.   The result was a chronic infection that I dealt with for almost two years before I finally had to have a  radical mastoidectomy.  For me, it meant a surgical cut (incision) was made behind the ear. The mastoid bone was  exposed and opened with a surgical drill.  The infection was then removed.  The eardrum and most of the middle ear structures were completely removed.  The stapes (the “stirrup” shaped bone) was spared to help preserve some hearing.  The end result was that I lost almost all (95%) of my hearing in left ear.  That doesn’t mean there is silence because in my left ear all I hear is tinnitus, which is a constant loud ringing in my ear.  Have you ever held up a sea shell to your ear and it sounds like the oceans waves?  Well, multiply the volume of that by 1,000 times and now you know what I hear in my left ear.   In addition, I have lost a good portion of my ability to taste because most of my tongue is numb and I still have a tingling in the tips of my fingers.  All of these are side effects that could happen as a result of this surgery…seems to me that I got all of them.

In light of my deafness, you might find it interesting to know that the one thing I really want is silence.  When I am exposed to loud noises it makes me anxious and uneasy.   The dizzy effect that overcomes me when I am in a crowd or a loud restaurant has been difficult to adjust to.   It is not just about volume of the noise either.   When there is a lot of people talking at once it is so hard for me to pick up one voice because all I hear is all of them at once and it impossible for me to carry on a conversation or even concentrate.  When I am in the lobby after church and everyone is talking and having friendly conversations, all I want is to head out to the car so that I can hear the sound of silence and have some peace of mind. 

I think that’s why music is so enjoyable to me.  I put on some headphones (at the appropriate volume), put on some great music and off I drift with my brain only focusing on one thing.   Music….sweet music that allows me some isolation from the world around me.  It’s life giving for me to have a few minutes of my music.

This “noise” that surrounds us today is deafening.   I think that this is the feeling that most of us feel in times like these.  I don’t think we were designed for all this noise going on in the world.  The noise of politics, of countries in chaos, angry people, frustrations over gas prices, and literally a thousand other things bring this noise to our lives.  Again, it is not just about the volume of the noise but rather the dizzying effect of all the noises happening all at once.   I believe that we all need some quiet time.  We need some time when all the noise is somewhere else and we can listen to God speak to our heart and our mind.  With all the noise around us, I think that sometimes God has to shout to get our attention.  If we could just get away sometimes and  just find a few moments of quiet, we would hear God speak.

Even God had to tell David in Psalms, “BE STILL and know that I am God.”  Sometimes we just have to find some silence, calm our fears and listen to God.

Now, I know that this post isn’t life changing, it isn’t really that interesting.  But I know that lately it’s just a real need I have and I know others do as well. 

The Sounds of Silence.

As you can, with all this noise around you, find a place to be quiet today.  God is speaking and I know you will want to hear what it is that He is saying to you.

No Whining Zone – A FACEBOOK Challenge

Like many of you, I spend some time on FACEBOOK.   For the most part, much of the stuff that takes place there is pure fluff and an absolute waste of time.  Personally,  I don’t do much more than post links to my blog, shamelessly promote my love for my Cleveland Indians and Browns, comment on the pages of a few friends and quickly spy on what people are doing and saying.

As far as my “status” on FACEBOOK, I try to add real, original, humorous or thought-provoking posts.  Most times I fail at the humor and thought-provoking part but I try to keep it positive and representative of what I want people to see from me.  If at all possible, I try to point people to consider Jesus Christ without trying to preach sermons on my status as some people try to do.  If anything, these “sermons turned to status” turn me off.  Especially when my honor, loyalty and my relationship with God or Jesus Christ will be called into question if I don’t re-post it.

That being said, I have always noticed a disturbing trend on FACEBOOK.  As I surf the “home page” of my FB account, I have noticed that most of the status updates are just opportunities for people to whine and complain about something that is going on in their life.  Most times I am sure people are not aware that they are complaining and whining as much as they are.  I am not perfect and have, at times, found myself falling into the trap of posting a whine or complaint about something in my life as well.

This week I had a real learning experience as it relates to my “status” posts on FACEBOOK.  I was not feeling well.  I found myself posting how frustrated I was at not feeling well when I had a day off from work.  Seemed innocent.  I mean who really reads the status posts and who really pays attention to them? Right?

It’s Monday morning, I sit in my office preparing for another week of work.   I am waiting for one of my employees to come to work.  I hear Laurie’s voice from the front of the main office and she is talking to her co-workers as she heads down the aisle heading towards my desk.  Before I know it, Laurie pokes her head into my office and she is smiling.

“Good Morning!!!” she exclaims, “How are you feeling? I read on FACEBOOK that you were sick all weekend”.

I wave her into my office and ask her to sit down and I proceed to tell her that I still wasn’t feeling the best and just start listing my aliments to her.  As I continue my complaint, I look up and it is then my selfish thoughts and words drift off into a mixed up unintelligible mumble.  For it is then I see this woman, who has a look of genuine concern for me on her face,  is sitting there with a red bandana wrapped tightly around her head.  Her beautiful long  hair long-lost from the chemo treatments.   She is 70 lbs lighter than she was the day she told me she had to leave early for a doctor’s appointment.  Today is her first day back to work in over a year.

Truth be told, I was not even aware that I had complained on FACEBOOK that I was sick.  I quickly moved the conversation to discussing her return to work and how happy it was to have her back.   I showed her to her desk and went over the day’s agenda.

When I could, I made my way back to my computer and logged on to FB to see exactly what I had posted.  Sure enough…there it was.  My complaint about a very temporary event in my life  was clearly written on my status.  I then click on Laurie’s  FACEBOOK profile and start reading her posts.  Not only was I embarrassed by complaining of my cold to a woman who has been struggling with cancer for over a year, I was humbled by the fact that every single post on her profile was not a complaint or a whine.  Her posts were different from most I had read on FB.   She took joy in the moment… she was thankful for another day…the warm day… the cold day…it didn’t matter.  She was thankful for the gift of another Christmas.  She did not complain or whine about her job, her co-workers,  her kids, politics or her husband.   She did not complain about how long the week was and how short the weekend’s were.   She did not complain about the mess in the house nor did she list all things she had to do in order to get a little time for herself.  She was simply satisfied with getting another chance with another day.

I was ashamed and was clearly reminded that I have no business complaining about anything in my life.

It is estimated that the average person is said to complain nearly 15-30 times a day!  As much as we might want to believe that complaining is something that only others are guilty of, the truth is that we are all complainers.

Regardless what term you use to describe it — such as griping, grumbling, whining, or belly aching it is still complaining.  The Bible commonly uses the term “murmuring” to describe what many of us do.  It has the same symptoms for all of us…unhappiness, dissatisfaction and discontent.  The question that burns in my heart and mind is why?  Why are we so dissatisfied with our life?  Why so unhappy? Why the discontent?

Probably what bothers me most of all is the fact that I see the FACEBOOK posts from only those that I am “friends” with.  I currently have 350 people who have befriended me on FB.   Considering my background as a graduate from a Christian College (Liberty University) and the fact that I was a former Christian School Administrator and have been actively involved in the Church since I was 10 years old, the vast majority of those who I am friends with are people who would define themselves as having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Again…the burning question…why the discontent, the unhappiness and the dissatisfaction?

I would like to believe that the reason for all of this could be tied to just being immature.  We accept Christ as our Savior, then fail to grow into mature adult Christians.  Then again, maybe it is tied to being just selfish and self-centered.  I do know some people who I call “axis people” …you know people who believe that the axis that the world revolves around is wherever they are standing.  The world just revolves around them and what happens anywhere else just doesn’t matter.  As much as I would like to use these simplistic reasons to explain all the whining and complaining I see, I believe it is something more serious and heart-breaking.

Complaining is Evidence of Unbelief

I personally believe that it stems from a basic core of unbelief in our lives.  Sure we believe enough to cling to the fact that we acknowledge that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins by His death on the cross.  We believe and trust that He has saved us and has prepared a place for us in heaven.  In other words…we believe that God will “take care” of us in eternity.  However, we honestly don’t believe that God can take care of us in this world.  If we honestly trusted and believed in God’s ability to take care of us then there would be no need to complain as we do.  We would be more content because we would finally accept the fact that God places us exactly where He wants us to be.

Regardless of whatever circumstances may cause discontent or dissatisfaction, complaining is an expression of unbelief toward God’s order in our life.   The whole premise of Christianity is that Jesus becomes the Lord of our life and our circumstances.  They are in His hands.  If  you as a believer complain, it really becomes an accusation against our Lord, in whom you’ve trusted your life.

…for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD” (Ex. 16:8). (See also Psm. 106:24-26)

As we look back into the Old Testament and see how God dealt with the Children of Israel, we discover that the Lord always considered their complaints as an act of unbelief directed toward Him. When they complained about their circumstances, their type of food, and even at Moses, God was displeased because they weren’t thankful for what He had provided them. He was disappointed that they refused to trust in Him to provide, protect, and direct the order of their lives.

“Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp” (Numbers 11:1).

I believe that the whining and complaining is unbelief in God’s Word.  Romans 8:28 says “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose“. If  you call yourself a Christian and you say that the Lord is in control of your life, and is working “ALL THINGS together for our good,”  you should stop complaining and start thanking the Lord for the plan He is working together for us.

Whining is Not for Christians

The Apostle Paul tells Christians to do all things without complaining (Phil. 2:14), and the epistle of Jude places complainers in the same category as ungodly sinners who will inherit judgment: “…to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds… These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts…” (Jude 1:15-16). Complaining is common-place in the lives of unbelievers who have no trust in God, but Christians should be people of faith, filled with gratefulness and thanksgiving.

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one disturbed by what I read on FACEBOOK.   I think I have a right to be concerned, but it isn’t limited to just FB.  Twitter is just as bad.  I have read post after post where a brother or sister in Christ writes something that takes away from their testimony.  Maybe it is an attempt to be funny or sarcastic.  Either way it does nothing but cause people to think of  that person as a hypocrite.

God knows my heart, I am not trying to judge anyone here.  I am just asking that we as believer’s need to watch what we post and how it could be interpreted by others.  Especially by those that are our friends that are unbeliever’s and those that are young in Christ.

Too many Christians seem to think that it is alright to post a Bible verse one minute and then follow it up with a statement that totally contradicts their faith.  Do we really become so self-absorbed that we forget that other people read our posts?  We have a responsibility to remain true to our faith and to our testimony.  Most people will only see the Jesus Christ they see in you.  What are you showing them?

I’m hoping to see (but I’m not holding my breath) a Facebook post that says, “Today is Monday and I’m SOOO glad I get to go to work. I just KNOW God is going to do something great through me.” That would be better than the usual drivel that says, “Where did the weekend go? I’m SOOO tired.”

So I am proposing for all of you to consider taking up a FACEBOOK Challenge.  I am challenging all of us to STOP all the whining and complaining.   I am declaring it a “No Whining Zone”   This is my challenge to all of you.  Quit your whining about work, quit complaining about all of your most meaningless and trivial issues in your life.  Instead of complaining that Monday is here, say a prayer that God would work through you to bless those you meet this week.  Thank Him that you’re still working when many people are not.  And most of all, please stop posting on Facebook how excited you are to get to the weekend where everything will be about “you”.   If God could work for six days and call everything He did good, so can you.

Do ya think any of my FACEBOOK friends will “unfriend” me after this…..?

Only time will tell.

Mistakes We Knew We Were Making

I believe that mistakes and failures are a part of being human.  They are precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way.

Have you ever made a mistake?

I’m not talking about the little ones you can sweep under the rug.  A huge one.  The kind that changes your life, alters your direction, makes you feel as though your world has just collapsed…and maybe it has.

You can’t go back.  You can’t pretend it never happened.  And in that moment, you’re utterly helpless.

I’ve been there.

But I am not alone.  We all make mistakes.  The problem is that most people just blame someone or something else as to why they made the mistake in the first place.  I find that there are very few innocent mistakes that have happened in my life.  My experience tells me that the mistakes I have made in my life have been made with clear thought of what I was doing before I did it.  I either did not realize the magnitude of the results or I did not care at the time.  This is true with most people.

Take Responsibility

It is sad enough that someone makes a mistake, it is worse when that mistake is blamed on something or someone else.   A number of years ago, there was a popular  show on television that coined the phrase, “The devil made me do it!”.  It was quite popular and you heard it everywhere.   The problem is that in reality the devil probably had very little to do with the mistake or failure in your life.   We forget that most times in our lives, we are our own worst enemy.  Take responsibility for the failure and move on.  Don’t blame anyone else except yourself.  If for nothing else than for putting yourself in a position to fail in the first place.  We ALL have choices.

Don’t Pile On

There was a time when person made a mistake, that it was private.  It never really left the privacy of a persons home or in the worst case the church lobby.  But things have changed.  Never before in history does the common man have instant access to spread rumor and gossip about another person.   I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that there is a lot of self-serving criticism these days.  I am really concerned when I read the posts on FACEBOOK,  MySpace and other social networks such as Twitter.   It has given people immediate access to share gossip and criticism of others who have made mistakes.

According to FACEBOOK, the average member has 338 friends.  I feel that number is way too low, but using that statistic, if your take in account that maybe 80% of them you don’t ever care if you talk to them or not.  That still leaves somewhere around 67 people you communicate with fairly regularly.  Take in account the principle of the Six Degrees of Separation (also referred to as the “Human Web”) which refers to the idea that, if a person is one step away from each person they know and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people they know, then everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on Earth.    Daunting when you think about how much damage can be done by a simple word of gossip or words that tear down another person that you post on your computer.

Almost instantly, I can post something on Facebook and know that within seconds I have potentially  shared it with thousands.   As if the church lobby wasn’t bad enough for these things to happen, we now have brought it into our home and we can freely share in the privacy of our living room.  Like a viral pandemic, it spreads through conversations and the Internet.  There’s no desire to help the person who has made the mistake or help them find the answers in life they need.  It’s nothing more than, No mistakes allowed.  Because if you do, I will post it on my computer for all the world to see.  We need to stop kicking people when they are down.  We need to help those who have fallen, those who have made a mess of their life.  As believer’s we need to offer the same forgiveness that God imparts on us.   Be part of the solution to the mistake.

What About Second Chances?

God is about second chances.  Good thing too because not a single one of us has the resume to make it on our own.  We’ve all made mistakes.  Huge ones.  Life changing ones.  They send us running down the wrong path, following the wrong leaders, seeking the wrong goals.  And yet Jesus shows up to give us that second chance.  And He gives it freely!  It’s amazing really.

Unlike the world, God isn’t interested in what we did but who we are.  He doesn’t see the mistakes of our past but the joy of our future.  He can wipe our slate clean and walk with us forever.  And He wants to!  He actually and sincerely wants to…with all our problems and emotional baggage…and even though we’ll continue making mistakes along the way,  He won’t post it on the internet.

I’ve known people who have hurt others.  But when they turned to God and He gave them a second chance.  I’ve known people who have lied, stolen and betrayed.  But when they turned to God and He wiped their slates clean.  I’ve known people who have fought God and cursed His name.  But when they turned to Him, He forgave them.  When they turned to Him…He saved them.  Just like the white out we use to fix our mistakes when we write, God white outs our mistakes….He sees them no more.

Jesus did not come into this world with self-serving criticism.  He did not come to point out our mistakes and reject us.  He came to give life and hope and joy for all who believe in Him. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3:17) I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10b)

Mistakes, we all make them.  No one is exempt.   I think all of us wish we could erase some of the dark times in our lives created by our mistakes.  But all of life’s experiences, bad and good, make us who we are.  Erasing any of these life lessons would be the greater mistake.  A lesson is never learned until a life is changed.  Change is available for you today.  God is waiting for you to just ask for forgiveness  and He will forgive.  New life can be found in Him.

All you have to do is ask.



There are a Few Things I am Thankful for But Make 2009 Go Away

Maybe it’s just me,  but 2009 was a difficult year.  I am not sad to see it go away and be logged into the history books.   As I have reviewed this past year, I have noticed that so many of my posts have been directly related to the things that I was experiencing or thinking about at the time.  I have never written a post to get or gain attention.  I write to clear my head and it relaxes me. With that in mind, I have attached links to previous posts to the various experiences I have encountered this past year.  Please feel free to click on them and re-read some of my favorite posts of 2009.

It has been a year where I have had to deal with some serious health issues.   A few surgeries later, I am in still in recovery mode, trying to deal with the results of the operations.  Sometimes the cure is worse than the problem.  More importantly, this year was a time when I had to endure the loss of the two of the closest friends I have ever had on this earth.

Within a short span of three months, I lost Bob Emrich and Bryan Blakely.   Bryan was my closest childhood friend growing up in Oak Harbor, Ohio.  There wasn’t much that happened to either of  us from the time we were 6 to 18 that we were not involved in together.  As life happens to all of us, after high school we went our separate ways.  We always stayed in touch but we both lived in different parts of the country and we were on different paths.  However, Bryan was part of a foundation in my life and when we were able to get together over the years, it was just like old times.  Thirty years may have passed but it would only be a few moments and we were just like we were when we were 18.  Good times.  He was taken way too soon.

Bob was my mentor and he was the one person that could always point me in the right direction.  He was an example to me of what it means to live a life that would bring honor to his family and to his God.  He showed me how to truly live as Christian in this world.  He taught me more about God’s grace than any preacher that I have ever heard.  No, he was not perfect but he was a perfect example of what God can do in a person’s life if they allow Him to work in their life.  Bob wasn’t a preacher but a truck driver.  I cannot tell you how many times I would call him and he would be winding his way through the mountains of Tennessee or making his way through the corn fields of Iowa.  He always made time for me and always had a good word to say.  I still cannot bring myself to delete his phone number off my phone.

Performing the eulogy at their funerals was the most difficult thing that I have ever done.   I cannot express to you how much I miss them.

This year was also a time where I had to deal with some major health issues.  Without boring you with the details, I had to have two operations.  The second surgery was much more serious than I  was really prepared for and I am still dealing with the results of the operation.  Those results have hindered my ability to write and to do many of the things I did and enjoyed so easily in 2008.

For example, I have completely lost hearing in my left ear and have a 60% loss in my right.   I am on the fast track in becoming deaf.   Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music.  It is something that I have enjoyed my whole life and it is slowly being taken from me.  I have also lost most of my ability to taste food.  Most of my tongue is numb and I have limited ability to even taste what I am eating or drinking.   Finally, my right hand is still asleep.  This hinders my ability to write and typing is much harder than ever before.  The doctor says that while there is no chance that my hearing will come back, I may experience some improvement with some of the other issues.  So, while I am waiting to recover from this surgery,  I am trying to do what my friend Bob would have done.  He would  have called me to talk about the things we were thankful for in spite of the circumstances that we are in.

In honoring his life, I am trying to put into practice what he would have done.  In that process, I realize that I am extremely thankful for many things in my life, in spite of the difficulty of this past year.    One thing in particular that I am thankful for in 2009 is this blog.  Over the year, I have had over 150,000 visitors.  Now I know not all of them read my blog and some visit my blog just to read what new ridiculous and stupid thing  comes out of my mouth and spills out onto these pages.  Like I always say,  I love to write…I never said I write well.

One post that went viral this year was a post about things I am thankful for  called  “A Few of My Favorite Things… .  This post has by far has been my most popular post with over 20,000 hits and still growing.   I wrote that after my first surgery and just posted a few of my favorite things and things I was I was thankful for.   I would like to update it and add to those things and really be thankful for what God has allowed for me to be a part of in 2009.

So here are a few of my favorite things to be thankful for 2009…

And finally, in no particular order, here are a few of the maybe or maybe not so important things  to be thankful for…

So there you have it… a list of a few of my favorite things I am thankful for in my life.  No, the list is not complete and I am sure that there are more things I am thankful for if I would sit and think for a few minutes.    However,  that is for another time.

In closing, I will not be sad to see 2009 go away.  I am looking forward to what God has in store for me in 2010.   The slate is clean and anything is possible.

I will not be surprised by anything that may happen…but then again, maybe it’s just me.