April 30, 2007

What's to debate?

Colorado’s largest Episcopal parish voted to leave the denomination and join a missionary diocese. Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin states, “The Episcopal Church is the U.S. wing of the world wide Anglican Communion, a fellowship of churches that traces its roots to the Church of England. Anglicans have been debating for decades how they should interpret Scripture on salvation, truth and sexuality.” The Word is perfectly clear – and that’s the problem. Debate has become a tool of justification for those trying to save themselves, make their own truth, and condone homosexuality. Halleluiah and Amen to people who bravely stand against those who bend the Word in order to conform to a lifestyle.

April 27, 2007

In the Dark

I just read a column in the Denver Post written by Diane Carman titled, ‘Why do men earn more? Just because.’ Delving into the pay inequity and disparity between men and women, Ms. Carman quotes a source as saying, “The biggest problem is that we usually don’t know what others are being paid. We’re in the dark.” This problem is not limited to men vs. women, nor confined to corporate America, it’s also found it in the church. More than once my request for salary information on our church staff has been turned down. In one conversation with the Chairman of the Elders I was told such information would not be released because all staff salaries weren’t paid on the same scale. One of the implied reasons for non-disclosure was to avoid the possibility staff comparing their salaries with one another and having hurt feelings. OK, I get it – just because.

April 26, 2007


My adult Sunday school teacher recently cautioned the class, “There’s a lot of money to be made in faith issues. People [we] want to do right by God and many are making money on our desire to please God.” When we hear reports of financial improprieties in churches, it’s hard to contemplate the same might occur in our church and with people we know and trust. However, in reality it is happening in my church, your church and the early church. Paul mentions those who want to peddle the word of God for profit in 1 Cor 2:17. Expounding on the verse, the NIV Study Bible footnote says, “Paul is referring to false teachers who had infiltrated the Corinthian church. Such persons – themselves insecure, self-sufficient and boastful – artfully presented themselves in a persuasive manner, and their chief interest was to make money from gullible church members…” I think we should be on the watch for false teachers and those who want to make money on the church – if for no other reason than to avoid being labeled ‘gullible’.

April 25, 2007

Not Guilty

In my leadership class (secular) we listened to presentations from local and state law enforcement. At one point the discussion turned toward the subject of the polygraph. Considering the sensitivity of the machine, a quick witted member said, “Those of us with Catholic backgrounds are guilty no matter what.” She does have a point. Self-imposed guilt and allowing others to send us on guilt trips are often side effects of trying to live a Christian life. We really want to do what is pleasing to God. I think the antidote for the unwarranted guilt would be to know Scripture. The more we mature in the Word, the easier it is to distinguish between a conscience pricked by the Spirit and one that is being needled by man.

April 24, 2007

Reading Between the Lines

I’ve found the church is not above using high pressure marketing techniques. Under the title of Giving of Our Tithes & Offerings our church bulletin links worship to tithing saying, “Giving is a part of our church’s worship. Our guests are not expected to give, but may do so if they like. Please place offerings in collection boxes located in the back of the Auditorium.” While visitors may be relieved to know they are not expected to give financially, the message for the members is, ‘Listen up. Guests are under no obligation to give, but you are. The church expects you to give – both in tithes and offerings – and failing to do so affects the church’s worship.’ So, how long can one get away with being a guest?

April 23, 2007


In the season opener of the Sci-Fi Channel’s Stargate Atlantis, the evil Asurans probed the minds of captives Gen. Jack O’Neill and bureaucratic Richard Woolsey. With his unconventional thought process, O’Neill’s mind gave up very little information. However, on discovery that Woolsey’s mind oozed vital information to the enemy, O’Neill turned to him and said, “Way to resist!” What a great line - and so appropriate for believes when we fail to resist the devil. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NIV

April 20, 2007

Not Needed

New York Times reporter Laurie Goodstein wrote about the role the church is playing in the lives of Latinos’. A quote from Edgar Chilin, who immigrated from Guatemala 25 years ago, caught my attention. “We pray to God when we feel the need to, but when we come here to America, we don’t feel the need.” I don’t know about you, but I can hear multiple sermon topics coming from this statement. Personally, I can’t get through a day without prayer, so I’m having difficulty comprehending not feeling the need to pray. I don't wish Edgar any ill-will, but I’m praying that something happens in his American lifestyle which shows him the ‘need to pray to God’.

April 19, 2007

I'm a Good Person

What do a convicted felon, a TV actor in a network drama and radio talk show host Don Imus have in common? In separate instances all three recently attempted to put a shine on their tarnished image by saying, “I’m a good person”. The Apostle Paul makes an interesting observation and offers sound advice when he says, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Cor 10:12 NIV)

April 18, 2007

Really in Need

One time I was in the church office when a little girl came in with her mother and grandmother. The child, quite fashionable for a four-year old, was wearing trendy jeans and brand new Nike tennis shoes trimmed in pink. The mother, who didn’t attend our church, was asking for money to help pay her electric bill. At the time finances in my family were tight and my children were wearing off brand shoes, hand-me-down clothes and riding Christmas bicycles purchased at the Salvation Army. I don’t know the particulars of the mother’s situation or the outcome of her request, but I will tell you I didn’t have a Good Samaritan bone in my body. I know the standards for measuring ‘the poor’ have changed over the years, but it seemed to me then, as it does now, that wearing the coolest fashion of the day doesn’t qualify one as being ‘really in need’.

April 17, 2007

In Remembrance

To the Virginia Tech Family: May you find Peace through the Lord and be comforted with precious memories.

April 16, 2007


I’ve just read through a Personal Commitment form for a church in my community. Before having a membership relationship with this church one must of course believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Additional requirements for the prospective member are sharing their personal testimony with a selected elder team member, attending the church introduction class and completing the discipleship training. The candidate must also be maintaining a lifestyle of growth, service and commitment to Christ and to the mission of the XYZ Church. Last but not least the candidate must be willing to live in harmony with the articles [of the denomination], the Statement of Faith, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and the policies of the church. What ever happened to ‘Come Just as You Are?’

April 13, 2007


A family in our church who’ve been members for over 20 years was going through a rough time. The family of seven consisted of a husband and wife, four children and an elderly mother. As the wife was undergoing chemo and radiation treatment for breast cancer, the husband had a seizure while at work and was forced to take some time off. Finances deteriorated rapidly and they didn’t have the money to make the rent payment. “We were going to be evicted in 24 hours and it took everything I had to ask the church for help. It was desperation and a last resort.” The couple was told after speaking with one of the ministers they would have to go through financial counseling with the benevolence committee before the church would give them any assistance. Referring to the new church guidelines the minister said, “That’s just the way we do things now.” Let’s get this straight, 24 hours to call a meeting, undergo financial counseling, and get approval. I’m sorry, but I just can’t see the early church requiring the needy to jump through hoops and over the obstacles in order to get help.

April 12, 2007

Guilt Free Forwards

Sometimes I’ll get a forward I really enjoy - that is until I get to the end and find a message that says, ‘If you love God, you’ll help send this message around the world.’ Or, ‘If you send this to 10 people in the next 10 minutes you will be blessed.’ Urrg! It’s irritating and I doubt God’s impressed with men’s attempt to prove their love or secure blessings. Really, I don’t get the school yard mentality of a document creator trying to bully recipients into passing on jokes and pictures under the umbrella of spirituality. Trust me, if the message is good I’ll forward it to my friends and relatives without the promise of a blessing - and without someone telling me to do so.

April 11, 2007

Mini-Mega Church

I just read Jim & Casper Go To Church, written by Jim Henderson & Matt Casper. Jim (a longtime Christian) hired Casper (an atheist) to accompany him in visiting twelve of America’s best - and least – known churches. In the Forward George Barna states, “Marketers sometimes use a ‘mystery shopper’ – an unannounced, anonymous observer, who is secretly sent into a client’s environment to note what the experience is like for a typical outsider. In a sense, Casper was sent as a mystery shopper to examine the church environment in America.” I’m still digesting what I’ve read and I’m vacillating between two thoughts. Is it an eye opener or a black eye for the church in general? Most churches in America will not reach mega-church status – but that doesn’t keep them from trying. It’s interesting to read what’s happening in the mega-church and thought provoking to realize my mid-size church is emulating them even down to phraseology. I highly recommend this book to the average person in the pew. Not that it wouldn’t be a good read for leaders, but they, being the architects shaping today’s church, won’t be happy seeing their creations exposed.

April 10, 2007


Recently I went on a field trip to the state capitol with my leadership class. As guests of our Representative, we sat on the floor of the House and listened to the discussion on bills before the legislature. Later during an informal question and answer period our Representative said, “It’s not always about what we can do for you (constituents), it’s often about what we protect you from.” I think the same can be said of God. We’re so busy looking to have our needs met and be blessed, that we fail to consider God's protection. Thankfully, He even protects us from ourselves.

April 09, 2007

Need to Know

On a church membership application under ‘personal information’ two of the questions asked were to name your previously attended church and your reason for leaving. It’s an easy answer if you left a church because you were relocating to another community. However, people often change churches in the same town and for a variety of reasons such as conflicts, sexual immorality or wayward teaching. While those reasons might come up in an informal conversation with others, I doubt anyone would state their reasons honestly in writing. My question is why does a prospective church need to know your reason for leaving a previous church and how is it pertinent to placing membership? This type of inquiry is something I’d expect to hear in a premarital counseling session like, “Why did you divorce you first husband?”

April 06, 2007


Service clubs and organizations have membership applications, but I just can’t wrap my head around a church membership application. I recently read a Membership Application for one of our local churches which states that after completing the form the applicant will be contacted “to set up a pre-membership interview (usually within 2-3 weeks). Subject to the interview, your membership will be voted on for approval at the next scheduled membership meeting.” What ever happened to going forward during an invitation, accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and being baptized? In the time it took to confess Christ, put on a baptismal robe, go into the baptistery, you were welcomed into the Family of God. I just can’t hear Jesus saying, “After your interview, in two or three weeks – Follow Me”. Nor can I imagine Paul telling the Gentiles the Jews would be voting on their membership. I understand why churches want to quantify their membership; I’m just not convinced it’s complementary to New Testament evangelism.

April 05, 2007

This One's For You

I struggle, and sometimes hurdle, Scripture that requires interpretation of figurative language. I’d have been totally lost if the Gospels had recorded the parables, but failed to include their meaning. Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” (Luke 12:41 NIV) Reading between the lines I think Peter is wondering, ‘If it’s for me, do I need to take notes? Will I be able to unscramble this parable without help? Will you consider me dull if it has to be explained?’ All Scripture is profitable and I try to understand it, but I have a feeling when I get to heaven I’ll be sent to preschool for the Parable-Challenged and Revelation 101.

April 04, 2007

Statement of Faith by Committee

Many churches and religious organizations have a Statement of Faith. The first one I read had seven simple ‘We believe…’ statements about the Word of God, Jesus, the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the resurrection, etc. I’ve recently read a Statement of Faith which has the basics, but it’s almost doubled in size as leaders have customized it to their congregation. One statement says, “In the personal and premillenial (sp) and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ ….” If I’m reading this correctly, the denomination expects its members to subscribe to the premillennial view. Good Luck! I’ve never seen a body of believers agree on that issue. Actually, I personally find great sport in debating pre-, post- and amillennial views. I see this as an issue for personal interpretation of Scripture rather than it being a Statement of Faith.

April 03, 2007

Clue By Clue 'Till You Know Who

A youth pastor was called into the senior pastor’s office and told he’d offended someone in the congregation. The youth pastor was prepared to make amends, but rather than revealing the offended party’s name the senior pastor simply stated, “You need to pray about it and let God reveal it to you.” Certainly we know God reveals things to us when we ask, but I’d have been thinking, ‘You’ve already got the answer. Surly God wouldn’t mind if you give me a clue.’ Eventually the youth pastor concluded the offended party was more than likely the pastor’s wife. Placing this scenario in the business world, I can’t imagine an administrator telling an employee to think (pray) about who in the office they’ve offended. Scripture simply states we’re to go to one another when there’s an offense, leave it to man to complicate things.

April 02, 2007

Stepping Back

My Grandpa was a sociable guy. Although he tried his hand at various occupations, he’d rather visit with friends and play the fiddle for community dances than have a dependable job. Grandma on the other hand was industrious. After raising five children she turned their home into a boarding house in order to save the homestead. Grandpa resented the boarders and Grandma came to regret taking on the role of bread winner. In hind sight Grandma said, “I should have stepped back and forced him to make the living, even if it meant losing our home.” In the church it’s not unusual to see women take on a leadership role for much the same reason. The Biblical role of leadership falls squarely on the shoulders of men and in some cases church leadership has been weakened by women who are trying to share the load. It might be surprising to see the outcome if women took a step back - for better or for worse.