Why The Bible Matters

bibleReposted from Radical Mentoring

Why do so few people read the Bible?

I’m not talking about a random verse pulled out to make a point, I’m talking about the book itself . . . the entity . . . this thing that’s integral to our faith. It’s one of the most important topics!

God’s Word is eternal . . . it’ll last beyond the internet, the Super Bowl, the iPhone, the Final Four . . . everything. In heaven, we’ll recognize the words, the wisdom, and the authors, and we’ll never tire of learning what it all means.

So why bother now? Why not wait until heaven when we’ll have all the time in the world? (. . . or out of the world?) Besides, is this stuff really important? Is it really true? Why do we struggle to ‘get into it’?

There’s the fact that God’s Word has been around . . . unchanged for hundreds, if not thousands of years, and almost half the world’s population believe its essence. A friend of mine was ready to commit his life to the nine ‘insights’ spelled out in The Celestine Prophecy. I asked, “Wow, what if the author changes his mind, or discovers some new truth?” Shortly after, he published The Tenth Insight. My friend later became a Jesus-follower.

Isn’t it smarter to build your life on a time-tested plan?  The New Testament approach to life is wise, effective, stable, practical, and true.

“But isn’t the Bible just a compendium of stories and folklore, pieced together by church people with a motive?”

Sounds convincing, until you try to explain how the Dead Sea Scrolls perfectly matched earlier manuscripts and were untouched by church people from their recording until their discovery in the 1950’s. The Bible is true. You can depend on it.

“But is it relevant?” You bet it is! Here’s just one example . . .

You get a new job or have your first child or move to a new church. You’re scared out of your skin! But when you read 2 Timothy 1:7, God reminds you “the spirit of fear is not of God, but God is love, power and a sound mind.” Suddenly, you realize “Hey, I can do this! God loves me! This fear I’m feeling isn’t coming from Him . . . I have His power within me . . . I can discipline myself . . . I have a sound mind . . . let’s get on with it!” You’re no longer afraid.

And one more point . . . the Bible is supernatural! I’m not kidding.

Remember Hebrews 4:12? For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Paraphrase: God will use His Word to help you sort out your thoughts and attitudes regarding what you want (i.e., your “heart”).

I take that to mean when I read the Bible and ask, “God, what are you teaching me here?” or “Lord, what would you have me do?” He’ll often give me wisdom I’m not smart enough to discover on my own.

And then I try to obey. I also write it down in my journal, because I don’t want to forget. I’ve unearthed much of what’s written in my blog posts this way.

So . . . read your Bible. And chat with the Author as you read. Pray. Ask questions. Listen to His answers and instructions.


In Light of the Facts

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Reposted from Radical Mentoring

“Just give me the facts.” We men say it all the time. But sometimes our biggest problems stem from not accepting the facts. From deceiving ourselves and believing something other than the truth. This is particularly true of optimists like me. I’ll tell myself all kinds of lies to keep hope alive . . . to see a pony in the pile, to think a particular problem can be solved. Here’s a painful principle . . .

A problem without a solution is a fact.

To illustrate. Suppose I decide my problem is that I can’t dunk a basketball. Now I’m about 5 feet 10 inches, and I can’t jump. At all. I can lose weight, work out, hire a personal trainer who works with the ‘vertically challenged,’ practice jumping 8 hours a day, whatever. But this side of heaven, I’ll never dunk a basketball. There is no solution to this problem. So failing to dunk a basketball is no longer a problem, it’s a fact. I cannot dunk. Period.

Think about how much time and effort we spend on unsolvable problems. To call it a fact seems so final. So hopeless. The ‘cold hard facts.’ But wouldn’t it be smarter to accept the facts and then live in light of the facts?

Okay, that’s the post.

So what’s bothering you these days? Are you stuck, trying to solve a problem that has no solution? Will you accept the facts and set yourself free?

God is with you. He might not take away the problem, but He’ll help you deal with it. He won’t change the facts, but He’ll be with you as you live in light of the facts, no matter how hard they are to accept.


Are You a Human Being or a Human Doing


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Years ago, a good friend really handed it to me. He said, “When I see someone running as hard as you run, I wonder who he’s trying to please.” My friend didn’t wonder, “Is he trying to please someone?” He knew that answer. The question was who?

Most of us start out trying to please our dads. For some of us, that’s the who we’re chasing for the rest of our lives, whether we realize it or not. For years, each time I’d get a promotion or a raise, I’d call my dad before I’d call my wife. It took me a long time to uncover what that said about the most significant who in my life.

But after surrendering to God and ‘replacing’ my earthly father with my Heavenly Father, things changed. I released my dad from all my expectations; from all the things I wished he had been and done. I forgave him and accepted him just as he was for the rest of his life. But before long, I was driving just as hard as a sold-out Christian as I was before. Why?

The reality is, some of us make God our work. We make Him something we do. The church loves it because we fill all the volunteer jobs; fill the seats and the fill the offering plates.

But we miss what God really wants . . .







Those things flow from the Holy Spirit living in our hearts when we stop being human doings and become human beings.

This week, spend time just being . . . with your family, with your friends, with yourself and especially with God.

Just as a soldier who takes on his day without having orders from his commanding officer could be in trouble, how then can we head out in the morning without first consulting Our King of Kings?

Instead of just charging out and doing, stop first to be with Him and ask, “Lord, what would you have me do today?”

In Faith…..We Choose

Reposted from Radical Mentoring

We’re Christians because we have faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Which can seem sort of easy to have faith in since it happened 2,000 years ago and didn’t cause us any personal pain.

It’s much harder to have faith when God allows a man to get hit by a car while he’s biking with his son. Or when God tolerates an innocent child being sold into the sex trade. Or when God seemingly doesn’t answer cries for mercy for loved ones suffering debilitating pain.

There are two elements of God’s perspective missing from ours . . . two things we have to grasp and embrace by faith if we’re going to make sense of pain and tragedy in this world . . .

  1. The long view  God sees timelessly. We think right now; He thinks eternity. What looks like tragedy to us in the short-term is grace and mercy in the long. We must learn to trust in the long view and trust that God knows what he’s doing through pain and tragedy in our lives.
  2. The broad view  God is always doing multiple things in multiple lives at the same time. We have no idea how momentary pain or overwhelming tragedy are being used to challenge someone, to break down a hard heart, or to raise up compassion.

When Romans 8:28 starts with “We know” (that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them), it means we “know in advance.” We know God loves us and He’s in charge, so in faith, we surrender. We yield our demands for a certain outcome. We trust He knows what’s best, and is doing something good, even while we struggle through tough times.

In faith, we choose to rest in the fact that He’s using our pain and the suffering for His purposes. In faith, we choose to pray continuously and rely on His strength to get through whatever we’re going through. In faith, we choose to trust that after we do all we can, the outcome is up to Him. And in faith, we choose to believe God has a plan and will use our pain for good somewhere for someone.

That’s what faith is.

Scripture: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1) 

Is that really in the Bible?

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Reposted from Rethink

You don’t have to look far to hear or read something that claims to be biblical that clearly isn’t. The internet is full of wackos claiming some kind of truth but in reality are just spewing lies. Most of us can recognize those untruths from a mile away. However, there are a couple unbiblical statements that have gained traction and made it into our common beliefs.

In fact some of these statements get used by Christians everyday. Worse yet, people who decide to follow Jesus assume this is what he is offering.

Here are a few statements that are unbiblical that we need to rethink how we use.

God wants me to be happy

We elevate our value of happiness way above healthy levels in this country. Now being happy is not bad, but God’s first concern is not our happiness. God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.What does that mean? In other words, God is more concerned that we are in right relationship with him, rather than us being happy.

God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.

Craig Groeschel says it this way: “God doesn’t want you to be happy when it causes us to do something wrong or unwise.”

Too often we use our happiness as an excuse to get away with something we shouldn’t be messing with. God wants you to be in a right relationship with him. Will there be happiness there? Sure, at times. But as in any relationship there will be struggles and difficulties as well. Happiness should not be our top concern.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me 

I know, I know, I can hear you now, “But I read this in the Bible, it has to be true!” It’s not the verse that is wrong, but it’s how it’s applied. This verse is not a hype up verse to gain strength to do some human feat. This verse is not about getting enough strength to win your game or gain that promotion. Not that those are bad things, but what’s going on here is much deeper.

We read this verse like this: “I can do all things, that I want, through Christ who strengthens me.” What Paul actually means is this: “I can do all things, that God leads me to, through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you hear the difference? Paul is saying that regardless of your life circumstances God will sustain you in what he has called you to.

The bottom line is I Am Not Good Enough but the God I serve is more than enough.

Everything happens for a reason 

This phrase typically shows up following a tragedy. And I get it, we are trying to offer a little hope in a difficult situation. But I just can’t believe it. It doesn’t add up. And the Bible seems to paint a different picture. Just take a glance at the story of Job.

We are grasping at straws trying to make sense of a confusing and out of control world. The truth is, in this world crap happens. Life is hard. People die. Relationships end. Our health deteriorates. And God is not up there causing these things to happen.

I know I just painted a rather bleak picture. And while I do not believe everything happens for a reason, I do believe that God takes the mess of this world and gives it reason. I have seen it time and time again. God takes the worst of situations and turns it into something beautiful. God takes our mess and points us to the hope in Christ.

God won’t give me more than I can handle

I used to tell myself this whenever I was tempted or was just facing some difficulty. I’d tell myself this only to give into temptation a moment later or throw in the towel the next day. Most of my life has been more than I can handle.

Instead of thinking God won’t give us more than we can handle, we need to give up and let God help us. Listen, there will be things in your life that are more than you can handle, but it’s not more than God can handle. God doesn’t call us to a life that we are capable of living. He calls us to a life that we are only capable of living with Him; more this here.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says come to me when you are tired and burdened. Stop trying to do life on your own and let Jesus help you.

Here’s the bottom line of this article. Our beliefs need to be rooted in scripture. Much of what the church is known for is not biblical. We need to each examine our lives and our beliefs and see if it lines up the truth of the bible.

Four of the Worse Reasons to leave a Church

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 3.55.53 AMReposted from Rethink

I once heard a pastor say that the church is like a body. Sometimes you eat food and sometimes you “release” food. In other words, a church will always be bringing new people in and letting people go. And both are required to be healthy.

There certainly are valid reasons on why you should leave a church, but that’s another topic of another post. In this post we are going to examine some of the worst reasons to leave a church.

1. I’m Not Being Fed Anymore

If a church abandons it’s call to teach God’s word and grow and develop the congregation, this can be a legit concern. However more often than not I see this used as an excuse to leave based off a dislike of the new direction, type of preaching, or some other stylistic preference.

It is not the church’s job to feed you. It is your job. 

It’s popular in our culture to abdicate our responsibility and assign blame to someone else for our own failure. If you are not being fed in your spiritual life the only person to blame is you. It is your job and your responsibility to feed yourself, not anyone else’s. If you are not being feed at your church I suggest you find a way to feed yourself. Buy a book, download a podcast, journal, pray, dust off your bible, just find some way you can feed yourself. 

If you aren’t getting spiritual fed at your church, don’t leave; find a way to feed yourself.

2. I Don’t Have Any Friends Here

Whenever I hear “I don’t know anyone here” or “I don’t have any friends” I always ask, “Do you go to a small group?” “Have you tried to hangout with anybody?” Most of the time the answer is no. If you aren’t plugged in anywhere outside the Sunday service you will never build relationships. Relationships are built when you invest your time. In other words, the grass isn’t greener over there; the grass is green where you water it.

Friendships rarely just happen. They are forged by time spent together. If you go to church once or twice a month for an hour on Sunday you aren’t going to develop any friendships. You need to spend more time with people.

Find a place to serve, check out a small group, find a common interest with someone and just hang out. Learn people’s names, listen to their story, and when you find someone you connect with hang out with them outside church. You aren’t going to get connected without first putting in effort. 

Instead of waiting for someone to invite you, invite. Don’t leave your church until you at least put effort into building a few friendships.

3. They Don’t Have “________” Ministry

As a pastor I get approached regularly about starting a ministry for “__________.” Nine times out of ten they are great ideas. We won’t talk about the one out of ten bad ideas… When I ask if they would want to lead, start, or help in the ministry the answer is essentially no you do it, I just want to attend. This consumeristic mindset is crippling the church. 

Maybe the reason you have such a great idea for your church is because God wants you to do it!

Every church cannot have every kind of ministry. Each church is unique and will look different and have different ministries, and that’s okay! Just because your church doesn’t have this great ministry doesn’t mean it should be started. It might not align with their specific mission and vision.

If you have a ministry you think would be beneficial to your church go meet with your pastor. See if it will fit the direction your church is heading. If it does, don’t assume your pastor will do all the work; offer to help start it or even lead it. The pastor of your church isn’t the only one gifted to lead a ministry. You are too! Use your gifts to grow and benefit the church.

4. The Pastor Doesn’t Know My Name

If you go to a smaller church or hang out with the pastor regularly you might have a case. However, I have seen people get mad that a pastor cannot remember their name when they talked to him once, and they are part of a 1000+ congregation. I am terrible at remembering names, and I feel TERRIBLE when I forget someone’s name. But there are 100’s, sometimes 1000’s of names pastors have to keep track of. Give them a little grace.

While in a larger church not everyone can have a personal relationship with the lead pastor, there is a benefit. The larger the church the more pastors will be on staff. You might not be able to be best buds with the lead guy, but find another pastor on staff that you can connect with.

The purpose of this article is not to convince you to never leave a church again. Most of us will not be at the same church for our whole lives. And that’s okay! The purpose is to challenge why we leave. A lot of people bail at the slightest inconvenience, and in doing so they are robbing the church of their gifts and skills and they are robbing themselves of what the church has to offer them.

Sometimes the greatest things in life are on the other side of difficulty. Maybe, just maybe, if you stick it out you will find it was well worth it.

Before you leave your church prayerfully consider your reasoning. Have you considered talking to someone on staff or in leadership at the church? Is the issue a reason to leave or can it be solved with a few conversations? Doing life with others is hard, and there will be conflict. But if we push through that conflict there is beauty on the other side.

When is it Time to Leave Your Church

Reposted from Rethink

It’s no secret that most people don’t stay at a church for very long. The reasons are many, some good, some bad. The reality is people leave churches. The question is how are you supposed to know when is it time to leave? 

Maybe you are thinking Well, if that’s true, then you should be telling people to stay in their church!

I have written on the worst reasons to leave your church before. But there are also good reasons to leave your church. I get it, church attendance has become increasingly sporadic. But the answer to that issue is not telling people to stay in bad situations. 

I’ve talked to many people that have been considering leaving their current church. In the majority of cases it’s a decision that weighs heavily on them. It’s not always easy to discern and figure out when it’s time to find the door. 

While there are plenty of reasons to stay in your church, there are also things that should cause you to leave. And that’s what I want to look at in this article. Here are reasons to consider leaving your church.

You Haven’t Found Community (but you’ve tried)

One of the biggest reasons that church is important for Christians is that we have people to do life together with. If you aren’t finding that in your church, it might be time to look for a different church. But hear me on this, you have to TRY first. I have heard the complaint from a lot of people that goes like, “I’m not connecting at my church.” Then I ask, “Well what have you tried?” And often times it’s nothing… Or “I went to something once.” Before you can say you can’t find community you have to try first.

The Church Isn’t Doing Anything for People Outside The Church

Churches should have a balance between growing the spiritual depth of those in the church and loving those outside the church. If you church has become all internal and has no focus on what’s happening outside the walls, it’s time to go. Any church that only focuses on those inevitably become sick and dies. The church was never meant to be exclusive, but rather inclusive. That responsibility lies not only on the church, but on you as well. Find a place that puts an emphasis on loving people outside the church. 

There is Abuse of Power in the Church Leadership

It’s a sad reality we live in that this even has to be said. But it’s commonplace to find a church consumed with the pursuit of power. I have heard many heartbreaking stories of spiritual, emotional, and sometimes even physical abuse that have taken place inside churches. If the leadership in your church is demanding, twisting the Gospel to give them power, or is using the Bible to put others down, get out. If there’s even a hint of that in your church, RUN.

You Don’t Agree With the Vision

One of the beautiful things in the church in the western world is that there are a thousand different kind of churches, each with a different look, feel, and vision for why they exist. Most of these differences aren’t right or wrong; they are just preference. If you don’t agree with the direction your church is going, that’s fine; go find one you can get behind. That’s the beauty of having so many unique churches; each one will make an impact in a different way. 

You Don’t Trust the Church With Your Money

Do you trust your church to use the money you give to make an impact on people’s lives inside the church, in the community, and around the world? If you cannot trust the church with your money, you shouldn’t give them your time.

I know of a lot of churches that keep closed books and will not share where the money that comes in goes. They might show broad categories, but no specifics. Giving to a church is like making an investment. If you shifted your 401k to a new broker and they wouldn’t show you where your money was, you would pull it fast! If you regularly give and attend a church you should know exactly how your money is being used and you should see “returns” on your investment.

Church Politics Have Overtaken the Pursuit of Jesus

Wherever two or more people gather the one thing you can guarantee is there will be issues. Every church has, and will continue to have, issues. You cannot expect a group of broken, messed up, people to come together and all of a sudden be perfect. Not going to happen. If you want to be a part of a church, or any group of people, you will have to have some grace.

However there are some churches where the church politics have overtaken everything else. If your church is all about the church politics, drama, or he said/she said it might be time to look for a new church.

There’s No Place For You to Use Your Skills/Gifts

Every single person is different and has a unique set of skills. This means that you were created in a way that you can serve and use your skills to benefit those around you. There is a place in which you can use those gifts inside the church. If your church doesn’t have a place or aren’t willing to let you use your skills, you need to find a place where you can use your God-given gifts to benefit those around you. 

Maybe you are living one of these things out and now you are wondering, How do I actually leave my church? That is a whole other article and is highly situationally based. However let me say this. It should always start with prayer and conversations with trusted friends. Don’t make this decision on a whim or in search of green pastures.

I want to hear thoughts… What reasons do you think someone should leave? Have you left a church? What drove you to that decision?