You Can’t Be Serious!?!?

Last night, I read an “article” claiming that “if a person votes for a democrat (the promoters and supporters of sin) and were to die without repenting of that, he or she is going to hell.” 

My first reaction was, “You can’t be serious. This must be one of those Christian satire sites. You know, like the Wittenburg Door, Lark News,  or something like that.” 

However, as I explored the site, I found that it was all too real. To be honest, that scares the crap out of me. 

The author explains that he is attempting to get this “important message” to “blacks and hispanics who think they are Christians and who don’t want to offend God but who vote lock step for democrats.”

He goes on to use a couple of verses to prove his point…that “the Bible says if you vote for a democrat and were to die thereafter you would go to hell.” 

I love “pick and choose” Christian authors. They find a verse of Scripture that loosely supports their claims and twist it to justify their judgment of others. It’s the ultimate example of taking something out of context to say something that it really doesn’t say. 

The author labels democrats as the “promoters and supporters of sin.” Wow! 

You know, this article might actually impact the way I vote. I mean, if all one has to do in order to avoid hell is to vote Republican, well then you can maybe, just maybe count me in. 

It’s also good to know that, if I simply vote Republican, I won’t be one of those who possesses the attributes of “sinful” things as “homosexuality, lesbianism, strife, deceit, slander [political sound bites], gossips, idol worshippers, God-haters, atheists – all primarily attributes of liberals.” Certainly these are only attributes of liberals and no conservatives have ever struggled with any of the issues above. 

The author is right on one thing. He states, “many who think they are Christian aren’t going to Heaven.” I couldn’t agree more.

So, what if he’s wrong about this voting thing? What if heaven is filled with murderers, prostitutes, homosexuals, gossips, and liberals? What if Jesus really meant it when he said that those who will “inherit the Kingdom” are those who fed the hungry, gave a drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, showed hospitality to strangers, cared for the sick, visited those  in prision, those who sought after Him, those who were considered “the least”, those who “hunger and thirst for justice”, those who show mercy, and work for peace? What if Jesus really doesn’t care about which political party we align ourselves with? 

Let’s be honest…the whole “Republican vs. Democrat” and “liberal vs. conservative” thing misses the point entirely. Can you imagine a world where we put down what seperates us and cling to that which unites? Can you imagine a world where we put aside our political differences, our religious differences, our socio-economic differences, and simply worked together for the greater good? 


Telling Our Stories


Last night, I watched a program on PBS called “Tattooed Under Fire”. It was a fascinating film following some of our young military folks before, during, and after being deployed to Iraq.

To be honest, some of the stories were horrifying…difficult to watch and hear. 

What became the most disturbing was seeing a few of the young men after they had returned home…struggling to shake some of the tragic events that took place while in Iraq. PTSD is a very real thing…that impacts the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health of many of our veterans. The loss of lives weighed heavy on the hearts, minds, and souls of these young men and women serving our military. As I listened to the stories, my heart was breaking. In fact, at one point, Emily came in the room and said, “Are you okay? You look troubled.” Truth is…I was. 

At one point in the film, a young man is sharing a story about one of his “kills” in Iraq. His unit was under fire…he looked up and saw a young child. The next thing he saw was the child raising a rocket launcher. He said, “I had no choice. It was either me and 5-6 of my fellow soliders or it was the kid.” Then, he kept repeating, “It was just a kid.” And, you could see how troubled he was as a result. 

One of the things that these young soliders had in common was their storyboards. These storyboards are their tattoo’s…on their arms, backs, chests, and legs. They tell their stories…of life, love, family, war, and peace. The tattoo artists created powerful and meaningful artwork that communicate an incredible story. These storyboards have become part of the healing process for these young soldiers. 

Some folks have issues with tattoo’s. I never have. I believe that tattoo’s are a form of expression. They communicate a story. They tell of love. They tell of pain. They tell the story of one’s life.

I believe it’s healthy for all of us to have storyboards. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get tattoo’s. I’m simply saying that we all need a way to tell our stories. Whether it’s a tattoo, a blog, a song, a poem, a short story, a video project…whatever the form, we need to tell our stories. Telling our stories isn’t just about remembering…it’s about healing and wholeness.

What’s your storyboard? 

For more on “Tattooed Under Fire”, click HERE

Stop “Jesus Juking” Everything

Blogger Jon Acuff has written about what he calls “Jesus Jukes”. Here is his definition of the “Jesus Juke”:

Like a football player juking you at the last second and going a different direction, the Jesus Juke is when someone takes what is clearly a joke filled conversation and completely reverses direction into something serious and holy.

I would argue that “Jesus Jukes” are not limited to “joke filled conversation.” I believe the “Jesus Juke” can happen in serious conversations as well.

This morning, I was reading a report about an Indiana UM church that has an incredible ministry feeding hungry people in their community. They average about 110 in worship. And, they tend to serve over 100 meals to hungry children, men, and women. They serve lunches anytime school is out (Spring Break, Christmas Break, summer vacation). They also provide free books and tutoring. The story was incredible. 

Then came the “Jesus Juke” in the comment section. The comment simply said, “This is good – but are you teaching them Jesus?”

In my opinion, the author of the comment should have stopped with “This is good.” Generally, when someone inserts a “but” they are going to discredit whatever they said prior to the “but.” Kind of like, “I really don’t mean to offend you, BUT…” and then you proceed to say something ridiculously offensive. 

Seriously…you hear a story about a church feeding hungry people and your question is “are you teaching them Jesus?” It’s like the author of the comment was discrediting the feeding of the hungry because the pastor and church members are not “preaching the Gospel” or offering altar calls at the end of lunch. 

Church-folk have a tendency to do this…to overlook the incredible ministry that is taking place in order to get to the bottom line. “Are you teaching them Jesus?” “How many people got saved?” These are questions we commonly hear.

I’ll never forget having someone ask me how many people we “saved” in Guatemala. My response was, “Well, we built tables and benches for a feeding center that feeds around 100 kids everyday. We worked on the foundation of a house for a soon-to-be-homeless family. We did a lot of work on the clinic, which sees a great deal of people on a daily basis. So, while we didn’t exactly pray the ‘sinners prayer’ with anyone, I’d guess we probably ‘saved’ around 300 people…give or take.” 

Of course, it wasn’t the answer he was looking for. However, it might be the answer Jesus is looking for. It doesn’t seem like Jesus is keeping a “souls saved” score card for his followers. At the end of my life, I don’t think Jesus is going to ask me “how many people did you save?” 

However, Jesus might ask me how many hungry people I fed. He might ask me how many naked people I clothed. He might ask me how many sick and imprisoned people I visited and cared for. He might ask me how I cared for the orphaned, the widowed, the least of these. He might ask how I provided shelther for the homeless.

While I might like to talk about how many kids “came to Jesus” at a middle school camp I directed…and Jesus might be pleased…I think he might indicate that, while that’s “all good stuff”, I may have missed the point. 

Maybe, as Christians, we could stop “Jesus Juking” everything and start celebrating together. We should celebrate people “getting saved” through the means of verbally preaching the Gospel. We should celebrate people “getting saved” by being fed, tutored, and cared for in practical ways.

I don’t know…feel free to “Jesus Juke” me anytime. Just know that I’ll probably make fun of you!

 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’ “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’ “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’  Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’   And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life.” ~Matthew 25:34-46

Aren’t We All Messed Up?


By now, many of you have read the headlines or viewed the evening news stories regarding the arrest of a Lafayette area pastor on some bizarre charges. Given that these events are basically happening in our own backyard, I felt like responding in some manner.

First, my heart breaks for the church, the innocent victims, the family of the pastor, and for the pastor himself.

Second, it appears that we live in a “guilty until proven innocent” culture, rather than one where a person is “innocent until proven guilty”. While it appears that the evidence is pointing in the direction of the pastor, we do not know for sure that he is indeed guilty. Yet, the media is already on top of the story…plastering patchy details and images all over the place. And, so, I struggle with this too…I’ve already cast my judgment. But, at the same time, my heart wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe a disgruntled employee is setting him up? Who knows? In this world, anything is possible.

Third, the damage has been done. Regardless of the verdict, lives have been forever changed. Trust has been compromised. Integrity has been questioned. Allegations have been made…and, even if this pastor is proven to be innocent, the damage has been done…to the church, to his family, to the victims, to his ministry. There will be fallout…people will leave that particular church….people might walk away from the Church (big “C”…as in the universal church)…people might walk away from their faith. This may be the final strike for some.

Fourth, I struggle with how to respond. Part of me cries out, “That sick _______ (fill-in the blank with some offensive term).” Part of me wants to know how to respond in love, grace, mercy, and humility. Part of me is filled with anger because of the damage that this causes to the Church…this is not a case where “any press is good press.” This doesn’t help the Movement! Yet, part of me wants to respond in compassion because I know this can happen anywhere.

Fifth, I reminded of the importance of taking steps to protect myself…my family…my ministry…my church…my denomination. Scripture calls leaders to live “above reproach”…leading “blameless” lives. While that is essentially impossible…that is the call…that is what we strive towards (as Wesley would encourage all to “strive after perfection in love.”). Therefore, we need to take steps that protect our ministry from allegations that could destroy the very things we love. Sure, we take risks to share the love, hope, joy, grace, and peace of Jesus with all. But, we do so in ways that, at the end of the day, won’t produce ministry-ending repercussions. I mean, it is one thing for a pastor to get arrested for protesting a violation of civil rights…it’s another thing to get arrested for the pending charges in this case.

Sixth, I believe it is important to get help before it’s too late. If the allegations in this story are true, then there must have been some indications that something was messed up. Pastoral pride, you know…the “I’m the pastor, so I’m supposed to have it all figured out” thing…sometimes gets in the way of pastors seeking the help they need. Too often, pastors (and others) repress their struggles. They operate in “super-pastor” mode and fail to honestly deal with their humanness. Therefore, instead of dealing with their issues in a healthy manner, they act out in destructive ways.

Seventh, I’ve seen this way too many times. I’ve experienced it from a distance. I’ve experienced it a lot closer to home. Whether it’s a megachurch pastor getting “happy endings” from a known male prostitute, a pastor having an affair with a member of his congregation, a pastor crossing ethical lines with one of her staff members, or a pastor who hides his addiction (to whatever)…we’ve seen it too often.

Eighth, at the end of the day, we simply need honesty. Because, let’s face it…aren’t we all messed up? Maybe you’re not messed up in a way that will land you on the 11 o’clock news or the front page of the paper. But, if you’re going to be honest with yourself (and others), you know you have some issues. I mean, my language, my overly-cynical attitude, my eating and drinking habits, my tendency to be quick to judge, my lack of compassion, my failure to truly love the least in meaningful ways, my desire to convince others that “everything is okay” even when it’s not…these are issues that if not dealt with in a healthy manner could eventually cause some major problems.

So, we need to ask ourselves how we are going to handle our issues. Will we deal with our stuff in a healthy manner? Will we get professional help, if necessary? Will we find some trusted friends who will help hold us accountable? Or will we attempt to take the focus off of our “stuff” by pointing out others shortcomings? Will we strive to hide our stuff or will we strive towards honesty and love?

So the church’s supervisor must be without fault. They should be faithful to their spouse, sober, modest, and honest. They should show hospitality and be skilled at teaching. Timothy 3:2, CEB