Archive for the ‘Crosspoint’ Category

Have you ever felt like you have let God down?  That in spite of all that he’s done in your life, you have still turned your back on him.  That you’ve neglected the gifts he’s given you.  Maybe even…denied Him.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with this daily.  Sometimes, it’s because I’m overwhelmed by how great a sinner I still am.  Other times, it’s because I look at myself and I see wasted potential – that, though I haven’t denied Christ directly, I’ve denied the power of Christ by neglecting to nurture the gifts he’s given me when it comes to my career, my family, and even how I relate to people one-on-one.

Then I re-read this:

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]

   “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

   “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

   “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

   “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

   Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”   Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”   (John 21:15-19)

For years, I’ve read this and thought, “Ouch… that is harsh.”  As if Jesus is saying to Peter, “Okay, buddy… you denied me, so guess what.  One day you will have to die for me.”  It almost reads like Jesus is scolding Peter.  (And given Peter’s response of “What about him?”, it’s easy to think so).

But the more I reflect on this passage, the more I feel like Jesus wasn’t trying to discourage Peter, but encourage him.  Don’t think so?  Then bear with me a second.

Peter, in spite of repeated promises that he would never deny Jesus, did – in fact – deny Jesus three times, just as Jesus predicted he would.  Seeing what was happening to Jesus – being arrested and held for trial – it’s safe to say that Peter’s loyalty was overshadowed by sheer fear that he would face the same consequences.  So he denies Jesus, and now Jesus – resurrected from the dead – is walking with him down the beach, posing a simple question:  “Peter, do you love me?”

Can you imagine what Peter is feeling?  On the one hand, he’s certainly thrilled and amazed to see his Savior alive again.  But on the other, he’s carrying around this incredible guilt at his denial of Christ.  And he’s obviously defensive and scared about what Christ is telling him will happen to him.

But you have to look deeper:  Peter denied Christ to save his own skin.  Yet here is Jesus, telling Peter that one day he will – in fact – die for Christ.

Jesus is telling Peter that even though his character and loyalty failed him, and he denied Christ in the past, that one day he will not run or deny Christ, but die for him – that even though he’s failed to live up to his faith in the past, he will not fail in the future.

“Peter, one day, you will be the kind of man you want – and I designed you – to be.”

I hear those words encouraging me, because I’ve denied Christ.  I’ve denied his power in my life.  I’ve denied what he’s designed me to be.  I sin.  I wimp out in my faith.  I cower in fear when confronted.  I neglect the gifts he’s given me.  And looking back at this track record, I think I’d be scared to death if Jesus called out to me and said, “Kevin, do you love me?”

But I pray to hear the same thing Peter heard – that one day I will have the courage and the will to be the kind of man of God I’m designed to be.  All that is left for me to do is to decide:  Shall I dwell in a mediocre faith, too immobilized by fear and selfishness to truly make a difference?  Or will I choose to truly love Christ, and do whatever it takes to make the message of his love known?

1.  You are thin-skinned.

If we get offended at everything, I think that makes us stupid Christians.  And, wow, we can get offended at just about anything:  Styles of worship, four-letter-words, Christians that drink, Christians that don’t, Gay Pride Day at Disney World, political preferences, and so on.  And it’s worse when it’s personal.  We often take offense at any sort of criticism, constructive or otherwise.  We take offense if someone neglected to invite us to the party.

Here’s the deal when it comes to being easily offended:  People will probably associate you more with what you are against than what you are for.  They will also label you an angry, negative person who’s just too much maintenance to be around.  How do I know this?  In my freshman year in college, I got ticked at everything.  Someone criticized me, I got offended.  My friends went somewhere without me, I got offended.  You know what happened?  By the end of the year, I lost my friends.  Gone.  Out.  After all, who wants to hang out with a psycho who gets pissed and vocals my “offense” every time something didn’t go my way.

Yes, there is a difference between right and wrong.  There is a time to speak up when a confrontation is necessary.  There are standards we can choose to live by.  But these things should not override our patience with and love for people, especially within the body of Christ.  After all, those of us who are easily offended often don’t even know what we do that may be offending to someone else.

Plus, our egos… wait, let me put this another way.  In the body of Christ, it is NOT about me.  It’s about others.  Period.  And other people – being in ANY relationship with other people – is going to risk pain and being wounded.  So, I need to make allowance for each other’s faults, put on my flame-retardant Kevlar underwear, and suck it up already.  There’s too much to be done for it to be about me and what bothers me.

2.  You Are Negative About Everything.

This is related to #1, but I felt it needed to stand alone.  Why?  Because I get very frustrated with people who, on the one hand, proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ, yet, on the other hand, gripe about freakin’ everything.  And yes, I have been that person more than once.  What are we negative about?  Oh, wow…  Money, friends, health, the weather, fitting in, wanting to go “deeper,” changes (to anything), how little time we have, money (yes, I repeated it), what’s on TV, our famlies, our cars, so and so didn’t talk to me Sunday…  Okay, that’s a slippery slope that once I go down it, I might not stop.

If you’re always negative, people don’t know what you’re POSITIVE about.  And as Christians, that’s a major problem both in our walks with God and with our mission to reach people.  If we claim salvation – if we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, if we get to walk with God every day, if we will live an eternal life saved from hell – we should have JOY!  Thought out to be plainly evident in our lives.  A real joy tied to God, not a fleeting joy tied to the things on earth that will inevitably let us down.

But if we’re negative, we don’t demonstrate this joy.  We demonstrate that we don’t enjoy life.  We don’t find hope in our salvation.  And if people see that, who wants to be hanging around it?  This damages the body of Christ, but – even worse – it damages our effectiveness at bringing people into the body of Christ.

So smile, people.  Jesus Christ loves you.

Heh.  Okay, now that I’ve got your attention, keep reading so you’ll understand the title and can relax a little bit before you go off on me for it.  

Every church has “that guy” who does a little of everything in keeping everything running on a Sunday, and Jason Lack is that guy (actually, one of several) who does that for Crosspoint.  Anyway, he blogged about his own “stupid Christian” mistakes, so I thought I’d re-post his comments here (with his permission).  I think it’s a great perspective to take when looking at stupidity – to look at our OWN mistakes.  Th0ugh it’s easy (too easy) to look at other’s stupidity, it’s probably healthier and more edifying in the long run to look at our own mistakes as Christians, so that we (and others) can learn from them.

Anyway, here’s Jason’s post (click here to go to his site if you want to read it there):

Kevin dusted off his blog yesterday and wrote a post about continuing on with the series Stupid Christians. I’m not one to steal an idea and I’m not sure that I am since I am modifying it a bit.

I love the Jeff Foxworthy ‘You might be a redneck if’ jokes, I wrote a post about ‘You might go to Crosspoint if’ a while back and it is still my most popular post. One of the things I think we as Christians do that give us a bad reputation is we take ourselves entirely too seriously. I am willing to bet you (oh no he’s gambling) that most people would be highly offended at being called a stupid Christian. So here goes, I am going to start the list and, it will only be about how I am/was a stupid Christian, so if you add to the list it has to be about you, NOT anyone else.

You might be a stupid Christian if….

You ever thought secular music is an evil influence.

You thought the King James Bible is the only translation you should use.

You voted against the lottery because it WILL ruin families.

You flip someone off on your way to church.

You sleep with your girlfriend and think it is OK because God wants you guys to get married.

You think drinking is a sin and get drunk on the weekends.

You think Jesus actually cares about who is President and that it was a surprise to Him.

You gossip about some one and disguise it as a “prayer request”.

You really believe that Jesus was a white guy with long hair dressed like a hippie.

You think that there are plenty of other people paying their tithes, the church doesn’t need mine.

And to finish it off…….

You think everyone from “that church ” is going to hell.

I’m sure I have offended you with something I have said, but this is how I was/am a stupid Christian.

Feel free to add your stupidity to mine….

Great thoughts.  Let’s keep this thing rolling…

Well, lookie-there:  I actually remembered my wordpress login.  In any event, I thought I’d try to start posting again in the hopes that maybe there’s someone out there just bored enough to read this stuff.  I’m apparently bored enough to write it 😉 .

Anyway, the “Stupid Christians” series we’ve been having at Crosspoint has been triggering all kinds of thoughts for me, mainly because we only covered 3 stupid behaviors:  Hypocrisy, Judgmentalism, and being “out of touch.”  (You can go to www.crosspointlive.tv if you want to view the sermons).  But I think this only scratches the tip of the iceberg of things that we do “wrong” as Christians.  In fact, I think the list could go on and on.  So, at the risk of inevitably offending everyone, I asked the question:  “Why not?”

Let me begin with a disclaimer:  This is intended to be part fun, part serious (like the series was).  In either case, we need to know how to take long, hard looks at ourselves and LAUGH at ourselves when necessary, then change ourselves for the better.  This won’t be trivial stuff, like “you might be a stupid Christian if you use the word ‘bromance’ in a blog post.”  (j/k, Jason). 

Another disclaimer:  This is not intended to offend or attack anyone personally (though – inevitably – we ALL do stupid things, so it will probably feel personal if we do it right).  Personal attacks against people will be rejected.  Knowing the rules, feel free to comment and add to it…

Anyway, on with the list:

1.  You might be a “stupid” Christian if:  You don’t get along with other people.

Division is one of the most INSANE things that occurs in the Body of Christ.  The reasons for the divisions are rampant and could make up “stupid Christian” lists in and of themselves:  Theology, personality differences, pew color preferences, gossip, you name it…  I have NEVER been involved in a church where division did not occur.  It’s in our nature (i.e., “sin”).  But we should do everything in our power to fight against division and KILL it when it rears its ugly head.

Shouldn’t Christians be known for their love for one another?  John 13:34-35:  “Love one another.  By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Galatians 5:13:  Serve one another.  Romans 15:7:  Accept one another.  And on and on.

So, duh.  I don’t think this even needs a sermon.  It’s plain as day.  There are no excuses built in to it.  There are no, “Love one another, unless…” statements when it comes to the body of Christ.  We’re talking about a love that does not keep a record of wrongs (so that rules out the whole “look what they did to me” argument).  We’re talking about a love that continues loving EVEN WHEN THAT LOVE IS NOT RECIPROCATED.  (Yes, swallow that…if you disagree, look up “agape” and get back to me).  And yes, this even applies across theological, church-style, and – dare I say – barries of interpersonal history.  THAT is what separates the love of Christ from something shallow and not world-changing.  And changing the world begins with simply obeying the command “Love one another.”  So, get over it and get along.

***

So there you go, comment… submit your own… I’ll copy your comments and re-post them if they’re really good…

Why I Love My Church.

Posted: February 3, 2009 in Church, Crosspoint

Before I begin, let me say a couple of things:  Our church is not the only church in America.  It is not better than your church.  We do not stand on a pedestal and pat ourselves on the back for how we do it “better.”  I say these things to be clear about my intentions in this post.  This is not a game of comparison.  No, this is simply to express how this local church that I’ve been a part of has rocked my world.  This is my own experience.  Besides, I think it’d be fun if people chimed in… Anyway, on with it…

I love my church because:

  • It is exciting to be a part of something where you see God changing people’s lives every freakin’ day.
  • I love my church because we played “Amazing Grace” and a Demon Hunter song on the same Sunday.
  • I love my church because we played “Come Together” (Beatles), “Sweet Home Alabama” (Lynard Skynard), “Jump” (Van Halen), and “Interstate Love Song” (Stone Temple Pilots) back-to-back one Sunday as an illustration about how music can grab people’s attention…
  • I love that some of the people I call my closest friends were people I did NOT know 2 years ago.
  • I love a place where you can ask for nearly anything, and there’s ALWAYS someone ready to say “yes” to help out.
  • I love being part of a group of people who go out of their way to help people who are sick or hurting.
  • I love it that my kids look forward to going to church.
  • I love a little series we did last year called “Monster” – and we learned how to really energize our lives.
  • I love that my best friends aren’t perfect people.  They are sinners just like me.  We don’t hide it.  We don’t pretend to have it altogether.  But we DO grow together as we turn away from sin and move closer towards God.
  • I have friends who will get in my face and tell me to get over myself.

Man, this is too easy.  I could post on and on forever (maybe that’s the point).  But here’s the bottom line:

  • I love my church because it is the body of Christ.  It is the bride of Christ.  And through my church – as His hands, His feet – I believe God is just getting started on what he’s going to do.  After all, it is His body – His church – and I’m just blown away to get to be a part of it.

That’s Entertainment!

Posted: January 30, 2009 in Church, Crosspoint, Perspective

My doctor is awesome.  He’s both a good doctor and a man of God who, in many ways, ministers to his patients as much as he treats them for their illnesses.

Why bring this up?   Well, yesterday, at one of my frequent doctor visits (lately), he and I were talking a bit about church.  We talked briefly about Crosspoint.  Not a lot, mind you, just a minute or two.  But the last part of our conversation has been knocking at my brain ever since I left his office.

He commented:  “Too many churches try to entertain people.”  Then he said, “If you leave church every Sunday thinking, ‘That was fun,’ something’s probably wrong.”

I’ve been digesting his comment and my responses to them a lot.  My short answers to him were (1) We do not entertain without purpose, and we (2) don’t leave every service just jumping up and down screaming that was FUN!!! (though we do that a lot!).

Here’s the longer answers.  YES, we do entertain people.  I believe it is a sin that we’ve taken the most amazing message in the world – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and made it boring as heck.  Too many churches and Christians (myself included at many points in my life) have reduced Jesus to a wimp in a Miss America sash and made church feel more like a funeral home (or a museum to times of Christianity ‘past’) than a dynamic, life-changing gathering of the body of Christ where God’s Spirit moves and changes us forever.

The “entertainment” aspect of what we do is not simply to entertain.  That is empty.  And this is something I think about every week as Crosspoint’s Creative Arts Pastor.  Not just “what” elements to put in the program, but “why” and “how” are those elements going to grab people’s attention so their minds can be focused and their hearts aroused to hear the word of God.  It’s entertainment with intentionality.  Jesus never performed a miracle (so entertaining they drew HUGE crowds) without turning it into a moment for teaching people.

As for being “fun,” hmmm…  Shouldn’t new life in Christ be “fun,” if by that word we mean full of the Spirit and full of the joy that can ONLY be found in Jesus Christ?

That said, there have been many Sunday mornings where I – and many others – have not walked out of church yelling, “That was fun!”  Instead, they are walking out reflective – maybe even broken – about the sins in their lives and their need to turn away from them and engage in a relationship with Christ.  They aren’t laughing and jumping for joy because they have been convicted by God to change their lives – to let HIM begin a work in their lives.

To be fair, I think my doctor understands and would agree with these things, and I respect him deeply as a physician and as a Christ-follower.  But the conversation re-affirmed for me why we do what we do at Crosspoint.  We are caretakers – messengers – diplomats – vessels – the lucky-shlumps-who-have-the-opportunity-to-share-the-love-of-God-with-someone-else – We are the people willing to take up the cause of connecting people with Christ.  And we will do whatever it takes short of sin to make that happen.  Period.

Random bits

Posted: January 17, 2009 in Church, Crosspoint, Perspective
  • Thanks to everyone who braved the cold and helped take part in the video shoot on Thursday morning.  Video turned out well.  I hope it gets people “reThinking” serving on Sunday morning.
  • Chris Tomlin’s “God of this City” is a new song (for us, anyway) we’ll be worshipping with on Sunday morning.  Given the changes happening in our church to expand our vision to reach people in and beyond the city limits of Decatur, I do not think there is a more relevant song.
  • Twitter is an amazing tool.  Used it for the first time ever to recruit people for the video shoot.  Technology is a powerful weapon.
  • New people are getting involved in the art and video teams, and they’re talent/expertise is blowing me away.  I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish in 2009 (and beyond).
  • If you feel like Satan is beating you down (read previous post), ask yourself this one, small question:  “What do you think has Satan concerned enough that he’s trying to stop you from doing it?”
  • Thought from previous post:  Satan cannot take us out of God’s hands, but he can try to keep us from being God’s hands in this world.
  • As Dave likes to remind us:  “We’re running a rescue mission at the gates of hell.”  It’s going to get messy.
  • Think about this:  The reason we know about Christ today is, somewhere along the way, someone died to get that message out.
  • In America, we do not truly know the religious persecutions of history (and other nations).  We gripe about interpersonal conflicts, the music being too loud, and whether or not the pews should be green or red.  We don’t have to worry about being beaten, outcast, or maybe even crucified.  We are freakin’ pansies by comparison.
  • Litmus test:  “Would you still claim to be a Christian if you lived in Rome around 70 A.D.?”
  • My Jesus is not the Miss American Jesus holding a sheep with the purple sash with a hairdo out of a commercial for shampoo and conditioner.
  • This is my Jesus:  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire,  and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.  He will rule them with an iron scepter.  He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:11-16).
  • There is nothing that Satan can really do, is there?
  • Man, I’m pumped!