I was on a date with my nine-year-old, Emily. Over ice cream, I quizzed her with a number of questions. I came to, "If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?"
"With you, Daddy."
Cue the "dad tears." For now, I'm better than Disneyworld and the beach.
Too often, we hear that the stated goal of Christianity is heaven. It's not.
Kanye West, who released albums like Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has now released an exclusively Christian album titled “Jesus is King.” The same man who once rapped “I am God,” now sings on a song titled “Jesus is Lord”: “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’”
There’s plenty of scuttle over the genuineness of his conversion. Is it for real? Is this true faith, or another ambitious career stunt? Will he continue to confess his Christian faith in a year, or ten? Is he making money off of his “Sunday Services”? Where does the gospel fit in a world of celebrity, paparazzi, and Kardashians?
Pastors feel pressure to have the perfect congregation. We won’t ever say it, but we want to show off our “best people.”
The dynamic (and good looking) young adult.
The talented worship leader.
The pretty couple with the nice house and 2.5 kids.
Those with miraculous stories of conversion after a troubled life of debauchery.
Then we show up to church and bump into reality.
People who resist everything.
People who need more help than they can give.
People with memory loss and mental illness. The gossipy. The hypocrite. The flaky.
Restless. That word described how I had felt for months.
“Where should I go? What should I do?”
“Am I supposed to be somewhere else?”
The one time of year I'm sure to drink champagne is Easter. About 10 years ago I was reading a book called Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright. He said,
“If Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast and loud alleluia hymns.”
Champagne is a beverage reserved for occasions of victory, joy, and celebration. Weddings. New Years. Anniversaries. If there is any day we should have a champagne toast, it is Easter. For the Christian, Easter is THE championship day. Here are four reasons I pop a bottle (or two) on Easter:
We live in a culture of the immediate and instant. Fast food and microwaves are so 20th century. Now Grubhub and Uber Eats rush your fast food to the doorstep.
We have no patience for "the spinning wheel of death" that slowly pulls data for our screen. We expect immediate responses from text messages. We order from Amazon and want it delivered NOW.
Sometimes I don't feel like being a pastor.
There are some Sunday mornings at 6:00AM when I don't want to preach.
Sometimes I dread walking into a meeting.
Sometimes I walk into a crisis situation already emotionally exhausted.
Sometimes everyone is looking at me for direction and I don't feel like talking.
It’s common, even for non or non-practicing Christians, to “give something up for Lent.” Fasting during this somber season is an ancient Christian practice. What is fasting? Why should (or shouldn't you) give something up for Lent?
I had a realization a few weeks ago: Jesus didn’t write anything. Unlike many historical figures or religious leaders, he himself left no writings. Yes, we believe the Bible is inspired by God, but Jesus didn’t actually pen it. Why is this important?
There are some things Jesus says that are so severe they will wreck you. Sometimes he speaks things we don’t want to hear, or things that confuse us. A confession: I've been meditating on three sentences and I'm agitated by them: