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Hey Fellow Christians, We Have a Fight on Our Hands!

Fighting for the Flag

I learned in a public high school, nothing draws a crowd faster than a fight. Now that I’m an adult, the same is true, but usually the fight isn’t with fists but with words. The idea of fighting the good fight is definitely a biblical idea. We should fight for our purity and fight for the innocent and defenseless. But there’s another lesson I was taught as a kid. Sometimes it takes even more guts to walk away from a fight.

I’ve been a little exhausted by all of the “fightin’ words” I’ve seen displayed across my social media news.

“We’ve gotta fight for our rights… We’ve gotta fight the liberals… We’ve gotta fight to keep this country Christian, put God back in schools, etc…”

I get it. You’re frustrated. Here’s the big question we forget to ask though. WHO is it we’re really fighting with? I have no fight with liberals or conservatives or libertarians or anyone else. I have no fight with the LGBT community. I have no fight with non-Baptists or non-Christians or non-theists. Why? Because these are all people. Like me. And we all have three things in common.

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Rainbows, Flags, and the Immeasurable Love and Grace of God. Yes, #LoveWins

Rainbow Flag

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in American culture. As one guy on Facebook put it, “My newsfeed looks like the confederate army declared war on a Skittles factory.” We’ve certainly seen a lot of flags and rainbows. And rainbow flags, of course.

Not because you haven’t heard, but for the sake of context, the Supreme Court of the United States did indeed make a history-altering decision on Friday, June 26, 2015, declaring that states could no longer ban same-sex couples from civil marriage.

Then the internet blew up. People were happy. And angry. And confused about whether they should be happy or angry. In the middle of it all, President Barack Obama tweeted using the hashtag #LoveWins and millions followed suit. The White House was lit up with rainbow-colored lights, as were Niagara Falls, Cinderella’s Castle, the Empire State Building, and many, many, maaaany social profile photos.

As leprechauns scurried around in utter confusion and unicorns danced with glee, I couldn’t help but reflect on the ancient history of the rainbow, going all the way back to the story where it made its scriptural debut. Long before the rainbow flag became the symbol of the gay pride movement (1978, to be exact), God used the rainbow to communicate that #LoveWins to a primitive family desperately in need of reassurance.

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10 Terrible Reasons to Be Done with Church

historical-sculpture-religion

The “Dones.” It’s a term sociologists and researchers use to describe those who are done with church. The Dones were once part of a church, but have become disillusioned for a variety of reasons and have decided to be spiritual without the help of a local congregation. And the Dones are growing in number.

I’m a Pastor, and I’ve seen the church from every angle. I’ve been a church kid, a kid whose family left the church, and a young adult who found my way back to the church. I’ve been the Pastor of smaller, more traditional churches, on staff at a megachurch, and a planter of a new church unlike any other I’ve ever been part of. And there have been, in my twenty years of ministry, quite a few Sunday nights when I’ve felt the desire to be Done again.

But I’m here. And I’m committed. And I’ll share why, but first, I want to address some of the most common reasons you might think you’re Done with the church.

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18 Lessons from 18 Years of Marriage

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On June 14, 1997, I married Angie Kirk, the most amazing woman on earth! The last eighteen years have been an adventure. We left home to go to college together and got engaged a little over a month into our freshmen year. That next spring I started pastoring a small church and Angie went back to Kentucky for the summer to finish planning our wedding. I cruised into town just a couple of days before the big event after all the hard work was done and took my beautiful bride as my wedded wife.

We’ve lived through a number of significant changes since then. Angie became a social worker, earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the field. She worked in Kentucky recruiting and training foster and adoptive families, offered therapy to foster families and children, and now serves Grace Hills doing counseling, women’s ministry, and more.

I served as Pastor of a couple of small, rural churches when I was way too young to know what I was doing and then enjoyed eight great years leading a church in my hometown. I led a church in Northwest Arkansas for five years and then we headed west to California where we joined the staff of Saddleback Church and lived a bit of west coast life.

Together, we took a big leap four years ago and moved back to Northwest Arkansas to plant Grace Hills, which has continued to change our lives in radical ways. We’ve had three precious kids along the way. Ella, beautiful, smart, and sweet was our special, grace-gift from God. Sam, tender-hearted and brave, was an answer to years of praying and struggling through secondary infertility, miscarriages, and a lot of waiting on God. And Drew, wild and joy-filled, was our big surprise!!

Before I get to my eighteen big words of advice, here’s what I’ve noticed in the last few years of our life together:

  • Life has become more of an adventure as we’ve loosened up and lived it to the full.
  • We’re closer than ever, mainly because we’ve dealt with things that could’ve torn us apart.
  • The best is yet to come for us as a couple, as a family, and especially in eternity.

Let me stop and interject that in too many ways, I’ve blown it as a married guy over the last eighteen years. But the grace of God has been at work in me, in my wife, and in our relationship. She’s shown me forgiveness, love, and respect and it’s changed me radically from who I once was. And I’m still on the journey, hoping to become the man she deserves in this life. Angie amazes me more today than ever.

So to you who may be early on in the journey – single and searching, engaged, or newlywed – here are eighteen of the most important things I think I’ve learned in the last eighteen years.

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The Pathway to Unity Includes Dying to the Narcissism of Our Minor Differences

Windows

I once attended a service at a church of a different flavor. The history of their movement includes several thousand churches splintering away from Baptists a couple hundred years ago over differences in ecclesiology, baptism, worship, and a few other issues.

I was surprised at our similarities. Sitting through their service felt just like sitting through the service I was accustomed to attending. There was biblical preaching, singing from a hymnal, an invitation of sorts, hand-shaking at the door, and pretty much a common set of cultural values. But our two movements have a rough history filled with debate and deep division.

After a couple of decades in ministry, I’ve come to observe that this is the way things are between many denominations that are close but not exactly alike. And I think it’s true in politics as well. We often feel most distant from those with whom we have only slight disagreement.

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