Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I sit here this morning with a bit of time on my hands after traveling 10 hours in the car. I had an opportunity to listen to a couple of Chandler and Keller sermons.

So I ask, what does God want from me? These men both hammer on the evangelical church, saying that mere "religion" is not enough. Yet most Christians would either disagree or say, "Huh? How can you call yourself a Christian if you are not religious?"

I see their point (Chandler and Keller), and I believe that they back it up with sound exegesis. And I agree that many evangelical churches fall into a blindness where they think they get it, but in reality they seem to only confirm what is preached. Just how narrow is that road, Jesus?

Why do we have to have classes on evangelism? Answer: To help grow the church. But if instead we just taught about the beauty of God and why he is worthy of all our love, wouldn't evangelism be a natural by-product of a changed life? And is the reason we don't teach more about the latter is because we just don't get it? Yet Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart!

I don't think he was wrong.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


My life has endured a lot of changes lately, in several areas. But I want to focus on the spiritual side today.

I used to go to church and just agree with everything said, and defend it against anyone who thought differently. Yes, I was one of them. But then I started asking some questions, and when I met one of them, I found that I didn't care for that kind of response. I wanted honestly and truth, not pat answers and conformity. That attitude got me into trouble with the powers that be.

I saw this statement in another blog (here) and it has stuck with me since.

The Pharisees’ entire religious system was built on what man esteems. Everything they did was done to receive glory, honor and praise from man. They got it, even the disciples thought the Pharisees were top rung guys.

Most churches that I see represent this in one way or another. When I walk into a service, I feel I can quickly discern what the main focus of a congregation is all about. Maybe it is all about the preacher, a building project, pride in their friendliness or some other aspect of their personality, maybe it is about their giving to missions or the community, the list goes on. But what I want to find is a church that is flat out in love with God. Not the god who rubber stamps their dreams and wishes, but the God of the universe who loves us and saves us, and sometimes in ways that we do not understand.

When I look at this quote, one thing that strikes me is "even the disciples thought the Pharisees were top rung guys." Is this an issue today? (Rhetorical question, of course it is.) I noticed on the website of one of the churches I attended a sermon titled, "Detour Around Legalism." While I do not know the content of the message (and don't care to), my previous experience with this congregation tells me that it was either a pat on the back of themselves or a blind foray into the depths of a topic that they really need to dig deeper into.

Even the disciples thought the Pharisees were the "it" guys. That is so scary. Like Tim Keller and many others, I believe that Jesus came to destroy this kind of thinking. Note that it is the thinking that Jesus wanted to destroy, and not the Pharisees. Somehow, I have to figure out how to do that if I want to be like Him. Not an easy job.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The First Visit

We are at a place where we are looking for a church home. Yesterday, we traveled 13.5 miles to visit a Baptist church that we had heard some good things about. I had listened to a couple of sermons and thought they were good.

We arrived and parked in the lot. There were no signs to lead us to where to enter, but we saw several people heading to the back. We followed suit, and discovered that was where the main entrance to the sanctuary is. We entered and found a seat. Someone did hold the door for us and we were handed a bulletin, but other than that, we received no greeting or acknowledgement. We sat within 3 feet of where a man was standing and talking to others. Turns out he was the pastor. No, I don't believe that the pastor has to greet every visitor, but I also believe that the church will often follow the pastor's lead. If he only talks to the same people every week (and I am not saying that is the case here, but it could be) then the church often follows suit. My wife did comment about how they seemed friendly amongst themselves.

If I could say anything about this visit, I would say that is was clinical. The message was good, but lacked passion or challenge. It was very intellectual. It was well researched and delivered. The church was the same. The people were nice and appeared to enjoy one another, but it seemed to lack depth. Lots of handshakes, brief conversations, and then off to their seats.

So on the way home, my wife asked what I thought. I told her it was okay, and that there were some positive things but also some things that bothered me. The bottom line for me was that we needed to look closer to home. Not to find a better church, but to find a place where we can get more involved without being hindered by a 25 minute drive one way. We need to and hope to find a place in our own community where we can be a part of a family, even if is slightly dysfunctional.