Why Do You Believe?

…or not??

This is testimony time. You get a chance to share why you believe what you believe. I am presuming that most that visit here are Christians, so I want to know why it is that you have come to the faith that you have in Christ.

And if you aren’t a Christian, then share that as well.

But you have to keep it short… 250 words or less…

This isn’t a trick question and it shouldn’t be that hard… so I expect…NO, I DEMAND a lot of comments on this one. So much so, that I am allowing the infamous ANONYMOUS to comment for this post… so no excuses!

Go!

Dial A Prayer

Saw this over on MMI and thought I would pass it along.

Ugh…

Most people who attend weekend worship services are used to being asked to turn their cellphones off (which doesn’t stop the confoudned things from ringing at the most inopportune moments).

At Pathway of Life Church in southeast Dallas, worshippers are asked to turn their mobile phones on.

Each Sunday during the 10:30 a.m. services, the congregation is asked to call people in need of prayer — including those who cannot be at church. The lights in the sanctuary are dimmed, and the hundreds of lighted cellphones make quite a sight.

Feed ‘Em Dummy UPDATE

Below is a repeat of a post I did a few weeks ago. I wanted to give you an update and let you know what was happening.

First, thanks to everyone from SCP that has donated…but here’s something cool! There has been a donor that has promised to match whatever funds we give to this project so that means for every dollar you give it is doubled. I want to challenge everyone to donate whatever money you can. This is really helping some less fortunate people have some of their needs met. I have already pitched in, but I am planning on pitching in a few more bucks since I know that it will double. Hope you will join me if you are able… either way spread the word. Thanks.

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While in Florida attending the Church of the Ping (see previous post), I was introduced to Jay (pictured to the right) who has a remarkable story and inspirational challenge for all of us.

Here’s the quick scoop of what Jay is about. He lives among a community of disabled people who are on tight fixed incomes and are struggling to make ends meet. Jay is trying to meet this need that is growing every week as he makes himself available and feeds those around him.

So after hearing Jay’s story, I wanted the SCP Nation to be involved, so I told Jay yesterday that we were committed to spreading the word about his ministry.

I want to challenge everybody to take a moment and listen to Jay’s story on the Etcetera podcast, and then get involved by visiting his website called Heaven’s Grocer. There you can click the “Make a Donation” link and give as you feel led.

Let’s make a strong showing and support someone who is reaching people in a real and effective way!

200 (’06)

Here’s the blurbs from the rest of my favorite posts… this time we go back to 2006.

Just today I ran into someone from a previous church. She had left the church a few months prior to my own departure amid some stressful personal struggles and the desire to attend a church that she felt met the needs of her children more completely.

She said that in the weeks following this decision, she began to find out what her “supposed” church community was all about. Her choice to leave the church was met with mixed reviews, with some people being downright offended. People from her small group that called her on a regular basis stopped calling. People she would call suddenly were too busy to get together. And, in the midst of her personal needs, when she really needed some of these “tried and true” friends, they were nowhere to be found. While she had served this church and loved the people there for years, she felt a mixed bag of sadness and rage at the way she was now being treated.
First Church of the Ambivalent 4/30/06

It’s Purpose Driven Pastor Season here in Southern California. Pastors from all over the world are here to visit Saddleback Church and learn how to help their churches grow….

Standing in line at Starbucks the other morning and watching these people interact, I was so thankful not to be a part of the theatrical drama that is played out in ministry conferences like this and others like it around the world. Everyone puts on their best face, smiles their best smile and places that best foot firmly forward. But like the Hollywood sets located about an hour north of here, once you walk behind the door and peek behind the curtain you discover it is only a facade… it looks good on the outside, but it has the same problems, shallowness and sin that your church has. It’s just bigger, that’s all!
Purpose Driven Pastor Season 05/18/06

Being outside the church has opened up my eyes to the possibilities of sharing life with people I might have never noticed before. Now the goal isn’t to try and find a way to get these people into my church…it’s just to get to know them as they are with no “end game” of finding a way to turn my conversations into an opportunity to invite them to my next “hip and relevant” church event.

It has been said by some friends that we shouldn’t give up on God’s institution just because it contains messed up people. So, I guess the question is, why do I need God’s institution since messed up people like me are everywhere to befriend. I do not feel far from God when I spend time relating with people wherever I go.
Messed Up People 5/27/06

Each and every Sunday in pulpits around America, pastors will stand and proclaim their version of the truth. It’s not ultimate truth, it’s not “gospel truth”… not to say that there isn’t truth in their words… but what power do their words really hold? And as an aside, does talking for 30-45 minutes about the truth you want to proclaim make it any more influential. Pastors, catch a clue… the more you talk, the less we listen. It’s human nature!
My Words Are Powerless 7/01/06

Ted, it has been said that you have “fallen from grace”. This phrase is very often used when pastors are asked to step down from their ministry positions because of impropriety….

You didn’t fall from grace Ted, you have fallen into grace.

People want to keep you from grace. These “great religious leaders” you have been asked to submit to for “restoration” don’t want you to have grace. The Dobson’s of the world don’t want you to experience grace. They want you to jump through hoops to earn it back….

Others telling you that you have “fallen from grace” implies that you now have to climb your way back up to the place you were before. It puts you back on that merry-go-round of goodness that leads you nowhere. It keeps you spinning so you never experience true grace. You and I know that the place where your were wasn’t grace. It was getting you nowhere close to grace. The place you were before was a prison… it was a cage.

Grace is freedom.

And for those who have found the freedom of grace, life is never the same.
A Letter to Ted Haggard – Part 3 11/12/06

200 (’05)

Just over two years ago, I started writing this blog and Stupid Church People began when Josh and I got our heads together to make it happen. Now 200 posts later, much has changed in my life, my views, and my beliefs. It’s been quite a journey.

For those of you new here, I thought I would take this chance to give some snapshots of my favorite posts from the previous 199. I will break this up into two posts spanning 2005 and 2006. Enjoy….

Stupid Church People are well aware of what it means to get second chances. More than once in this life, through my failures and the failures of others, I have found myself in “starting over” mode. Not a very fun place to be while I was there, but an almost necessary place if I truly want to move forward in my life.
Finding Grace 4/17/05

Concepts that have sought to change the church, such as the current “emerging church” are nothing more than contemporary expressions of the the old paradigm. They are a start but often even these churches find themselves emulating ideals and programs (although more relevant) of the old models they despised.
The Coming Revolution of the Church 5/1/05

Pastors… That’s the number one weakness in the modern church today. Paid pastoral leadership is the reason the church is weak, inefficient and to a point…neutered.

Are we that arrogant as pastors that we think if we didn’t exist that people wouldn’t figure out how to have church by themselves….without our leadership? Pastors, do we think that we need to create meetings, groups and activities to keep the church people “happy” and “connected”? Do we think that believers wouldn’t figure out a way to get together regularly, for sharing, communion, mutual encouragement and to share their faith stories? Do we not think that the life force of the believer, the Holy Spirit, might not be “set free” to work in and through Christ-followers to accomplish his work here on earth?

Think about it. Whenever you pay someone to do a task or job, what are you really doing? You are asking them to take responsibility for something you don’t want to do. Isn’t this the American way??
The Pastor Problem 6/14/05

Mix a good dose of ego addiction with Jesus, and the consequences are frightening. It causes ministers to build huge churches as a monument to their own ego, it causes people to go on television with their “unique ministry”, which is another term for “my ministry”. It causes people to write books, speak all over the world, abandon their families, their friends, and their neighborhoods so they can respond to the “great need”… which is really the need to be needed.

Think of all the churches in America right now that are supporting the egos of their ministers.
Check Your Ego at the Door 9/15/05

…the church is a mess. This is largely due to the myopic nature of those in leadership. Many of them are sooooooo close to the situation that they cannot see the forest for the trees. If they could just step outside of themselves for awhile. It has taken me leaving for awhile to see it more clearly. If they could just gain a fresh perspective possibly things might begin to take a turn towards a more healthier state. But they have been so innundated and immersed in their own subculture they do not, and possibly cannot, make fresh strides. The churches I have been around have insisted on pouring new wine into old wineskins again and again and again.
Wrapping My Brain Around the Church 12/5/05

The Emergent has consistently and with increasing speed become more focused on “organizing” (i.e. 501c3 status, boards, etc) and “getting paid” (i.e. books, conventions, raising support, etc.) than they have in stimulating authentic change. They may have once had a voice and been a fresh part of the “conversation”, but in my opinion, with this latest shameless solicitation, they have become insignificant. We had hoped against hope that this wouldn’t come to pass, but even as we hoped we knew with certainty that this was the future of the Emergent Church.
Emerging Irrelevancy 12/8/05

Formerly Known as “The Pastor”

In a post entitled, The People Formerly Known As “The Pastor”, John Frye writes the following:

There are thousands of us. You probably know many of us now as insurance sales agents, real estate agents, or doing anything besides “church.” We started with idealism about being voices for the kingdom of God and soon realized we became mutated forms of USAmerican business leaders. Even Jesus became a CEO. We traded immersion in the Bible for hyped-up seminars and books about good management, strong leadership and slick public relations. We learned that the size of our church parking lot mattered more than the size of your hearts for God…

The People Formerly Known As The Pastor discovered somewhere in “doing church” that they were being paid as surrogates for the congregation’s spirituality… People seem to tell others more about their pastor(s) than about Jesus, their Savior. Of course, this made pastors feel good and loved and valued. Then it dawned on us, we were feeling good for all the wrong reasons…

The People Formerly Known As The Pastor wrestled with conflicting ego issues. Some felt the rush of power over people. Some even said that in order to get to God, you had to go through us… We were “the Lord’s anointed.” Don’t touch us. Being charged with the eternal well-being of souls is heady stuff. And, sadly, it went to our heads. We became commanders rather than servants. We liked the feeling of bossing people around…in the name of the Lord, of course… On the other hand, others of us were scared to death of you. You gave us our paycheck. You gave us benefits. Unknown to us, you called us to your church in order to get your way… We became people-pleasers at the cost of our own dreams. Eventually the commanders among us got kicked out of the church and the fearful among us got scared out. Selling shoes looked mighty appealing.

The People Formerly Known As The Pastor ran up school bills, too, going to college and seminary. It’s costly learning Hebrew and Greek these days. Our peers in the “market place” were making twice, sometimes 3 and 4 times the salary we were offered. We were told to live by faith… We officiated at very high-priced weddings and worried how we would get our own kids married. Spring Break meant Disney-World for you and your kids and a trip to see relatives for us…

The People Formerly Known As The Pastor were angry people. Not that you would know it. Our spouses and children knew it. We lived in glass houses. Our kids had to be angels while yours were smoking pot and having sex. And, God forbid, that anyone in the church say anything negative about your kid(s)… You wanted to drop them off in a very safe environment with very safe people and then you could forget all about them and do your church thing. You would listen to “Focus on the Family” and then pay church staff to focus on your kids.

The People Formerly Known As The Pastor began to smell something rotting in the whole “church” thing. Only once in the New Testament is the term for the service of pastor used as a noun (Ephesians 4:11-12)… Having accepted a corrupted image and Christendom model of “the pastor,” we finally began to see that corruption infiltrating the church. In its current expression, “the pastor” certainly isn’t biblical. And don’t get some of us started on the injustice of limiting the equal status of women in ministry.

These were the highlights for me. You can read the whole post here. I love this because John is still serving as a pastor… which makes him a better man than me. Even after all he has written here, he still is in the thick of things. Good for him (I think). Oh, but there is one thing he told me he wouldn’t do… and that’s give away a car. But he did say he’d have me a free bagel ready if I ever visited his church.