November 2009


Luther, Calvin and Wesley were three men with great convictions many years ago.  Where are those kind of men today?

And finally, this really isn’t a thesis, but maybe it’s half of one…  A few hundred years ago there were these men that had an impact upon the direction of Christianity.  I’m not sure that the three of them could have attended the same church or served on the same committee, but they were firm on their convictions and were willing to sell out for the greater cause.  Maybe hundreds of years from now, someone will be looking back at our time and be able to pick out a few people that had as dramatic of an impact.  If so, I’d love to associate myself with those people.  They will be ones that challenge the way I think, what I believe and will hold me to a higher standard than the majority of my peers.  They are also the ones that will push me to wrestle with these other 9 theses and the ones that I add as I travel this journey.

A pastor’s message is not “good” if it doesn’t strengthen your stance or change your direction.

This is a new one for me.  I’ve been guilty of walking out of a service, having listened to a pastor speak about something that seemingly made no sense to me.  But because it didn’t ruffle my feathers, I stopped by and let him know that it was a “good” message.  But I’m coming to realize that our time to make a difference is limited to an ever-shrinking window.  If we miss that window, we might not get another chance.  So, my measure of “good” lies within the boundaries of firming the ground upon which you stand or redirecting your steps in an alternate direction.  I take this stance because if a pastor is going to capture a group of people’s attention for a given period of time, he ought to have something to say that will make a difference.

I don’t have to convince anyone of or defend God to anyone – He’s got that under control.

This has been a liberating thesis to learn and live by.  If God is who He says He is and the Bible accurately tells of the beginning and end of man’s days (both of which I believe to be true), then there’s nothing I can say to convince another of who God is.  Now, I don’t think this absolves me of living a life that displays God’s love and provides a conduit to those that would like to learn more, but I can’t find anywhere in scripture where we are told to convince of or defend God to another.  And in light of my sixth thesis, I don’t think I am qualified to do so outside of God speaking through me anyway.

Being in the majority does not mean that I’m right.

We live in a society where majority rules.  If there are three people and a dispute comes about, the third mediates and casts the deciding vote.  If you’re accused of a crime, you have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers.  Church denominations gather together on some regularity to agree on the manner in which their denomination will uphold their theological stance.  Church boards gather to agree upon how to guide the local congregation.  Leaders attend conferences and neighbors talk over coffee – all to determine the common ground of the majority.

In our brief history as a country, we’ve watched our majority believe we would be best served to own other human beings as slaves and repress females from having a voice.  Both of these issues were debated as Biblical issues and are now argued as Biblical issues in opposition to the previous stance.  I use these examples as a reminder that being in the majority, no matter how exhilarating it may be, does not conclude one’s rightness.

God does not conform to my reasoning.

I am bound to the limitations in which I was created.  Much like a picture frame was created to hold an image and not power an airplane, I do not possess the capability to reason with or dictate to the God that created the heavens and Earth.  And for that reason, what He chooses to do doesn’t always make sense.  Why are babies miscarried by their mothers?  Why doesn’t every couple have the ability to become parents?  Why do children get cancer?  Why do mothers die when their children are young?  Why don’t parents ALWAYS love the kids they’ve been blessed with?  Some things don’t make sense from my point of view.  But I believe that’s because I don’t have the luxury of seeing the entire picture or the capability of understanding the good that comes from what seems as bad.

Tradition is not gospel.

This thesis became a glaring problem in my life a few years ago when I looked in the rearview mirror of life and realized that a good portion of my theological belief was rooted in tradition and not the Bible.  I’m not talking about style or musical preference or whether it’s OK to wear jeans to church, but in where I gather my view of God.  Is He simply the flannel-graph cut outs from the 50 Sunday School stories that were repeated from the age of 5 until 12?  Or was I wrestling with a God who would rescue a son from slaughter (Abraham and Isaac) on one hand and then would protect a father (Lot) who offers his daughters to be raped by an angry mob on the other.  I began to question where my beliefs were coming from and am embarrassed to admit that it was mostly from tradition.  And while tradition’s great when it comes to Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, it doesn’t build a very firm foundation for faith.

The U.S. is a mission field.

Let me preface my explanation with the fact that I’m glad there are people that God has called to leave their home and make a difference in a region of the globe other than where they originated.  That being said, you don’t have to leave home to be a missionary.  The U.S., on paper is still a nation formed on principles of those that have followed Christ.  But if you sit down in your local Starbucks or McDonalds or the food court of your local mall, or wherever you might be and listen to the people around you, you’ll quickly hear that they don’t know the God of the Bible anymore.  They are searching for something – anything that will put the pieces of the puzzle together for them.  I’ve grown up listening to people being trained in dialect, moved to a foreign region and becoming entrenched in the local culture to become like Paul in Athens and create a bridge from where people are searching to where God remains.  At the same time, I’ve listened to the argument that “good Christian people don’t listen, watch, wear or go to that” – whatever “that” might have been.  Again, I go back to our command to go and make disciples.  Very few people are going to uproot and go way over there to make a difference.  But, every one of us is surrounded by people that aren’t following Christ.  (If you don’t know anyone that’s not a Christian – then that’s another issue and I question your value to the cause.)  Become a backyard missionary.  Love the people God puts you in contact with.  Maybe you’ll be the spark that ignites the flame.

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