This post is the conclusion to a two-part series. It will probably not make much sense unless you go read the first post: Will I be dumping Starbucks?
I concluded the last post by asking if there was a better way to approach cultural issues than this ban on Starbucks.
This is how I answered:
In order to win the right war, sometimes we have to stop focusing on the wrong one. Sometimes, it is best to lose a battle in order to win a war. And I fear that our insistence on fighting so hard in the cultural war is causing us to lose the eternal war.
What good comes from gaining the top of the cultural mountain; if in gaining it, you have lost the ear of the very people you are trying to reach? Our task is not cultural superiority. It is gospel proclamation.
Our job as the church is not to “beat” gay rights activists, or liberals in general for that matter, in some imaginary game. Our job is to proclaim the gospel to them and continue to proclaim it to ourselves.
And that is where I want to pick up. If by reading my first post on this, you got the impression I felt we needed to be silent, then let me clarify. I do not think we should do less about cultural issues like same-sex marriage. I think we should do more. Continue reading
Now, I can sense the blood pressure rising in most of the people reading this. That is, if it is the usual crew. Yes, I did hear what the CEO of Starbucks said, and I do understand their stance on same-sex marriage. And no, my views on this issue have not changed. My prayer is that personal reasons never shift my view on something when I feel the Bible has an authoritative stance on that issue. In all things, I want the Bible, not culture or my own feelings (or even my own reason and logic) to be the source of my beliefs.
Yet, I will not be boycotting Starbucks. If you will permit me to explain, I will share my thoughts on this whole fiasco. Do not read this as condemnation to those who have in good conscience chosen to boycott Starbucks. The issue is simply too complex for one post, so I will start with some thoughts about the problem, and in the next post, I will provide my humble suggestions for a better way. In short though, I think I can sum up the problem in one sentence.
We know this to be true. Live long enough, and you see the world around you adjust and evolve. It is a fact of life. Some things appear to always push forward, like technology. While other things seem to move in circles, like fashion. (Enter the teenage girl with her side ponytail and “I love the 80s” fluorescent tank top fiddling with her iPhone.)
However, despite this simple truth of life, sometimes we forget it is the nature of things. Sometimes, the trends of change take so long to sweep across a culture that they do not seem to evolve at all. When a shift takes more than one generation to occur, the change occurs so subtly that most do not notice until some key event signals the shift’s arrival. Then, what was held to be a timeless reality, assumed to be unchanging, disappears and causes everyone to scramble.
In a recent article, Trevin Wax discusses this exact phenomenon in the life of the evangelical church in America. I strongly suggest reading his article. It’s called, Southern Baptists, I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Zion Anymore, and Trevin could not be more right. Continue reading
If you ever want to feel awkward, try preaching a wedding as a single guy.
That will just about do it.
A few months ago, I received a call from an old college student of mine. He and his fiancée (also a past student of mine) were getting married and wanted me to officiate the ceremony. In almost all circumstances, I would have said no, but this particular couple was an exception to that rule. Over the years, I had closely watched their relationship blossom and grow into a godly, responsible relationship.
So, I said yes.
Last Saturday, I stood up on stage, next to the groom, as they swung those doors open and his bride walked down the aisle. Then, the couple turned and stared at me, waiting on me to impart some words of Biblical wisdom about marriage.
That is where the awkward started. Continue reading
This post is a continuation from a previous post. For the whole story, read On debating an imam.
Christianity is not about a religion, or a philosophy, or a worldview; it is about a person.
For centuries men have been beaten, persecuted, tortured, and killed, and it was not for the sake of a philosophy. These men and women did not stare death in the face, resting their hopes in an idea. No, the strength to stand in the fire came not from an idea, but hope that welled up because of a person. The sufferings of this faith were, and still are, for the sake of a name.
It is a name that is above every name, and that name is Jesus, the Christ.
For the Christian, Christ is our all, the Word wrapped in flesh. Jesus is the bread of life, he is the living water, and he is the good shepherd.
Jesus is the very Son of God. Continue reading
If you started reading this post hoping for a quick word about evangelism, you are unfortunately mistaken.
Truly, scripture often uses the imagery of light, and it does so in a positive manner. People are encouraged to be light, to not hide their light, to be in the light, and the word of God calls itself a light to our paths. In these instances, light represents either guidance, openness and honesty, or the ability to see the world correctly. It is often a reference to testimony and has a missional bend, one that calls us to share our light with others.
That being said, I make reference to none of these images. Continue reading
The gospel is undefeatable.
I was reminded of this truth over the weekend. After I finished my last final exam for the semester, I made my way back to Tennessee as a surprise for my former students. Each year, our college ministry holds a mystery trip in honor of the graduating seniors. The students dress up in formal wear and go they know not where.
This year, I was part of the mystery.
“The only thing good about 29 is the fact that it is not 30.” At least, that is what I said on this day last year. You may want to read that post first. It is called Confessions of a 29-year-old.
It is funny. For years, 30 was that age off in the future. As I got older, I stared at 30 down the end of the long hall, thinking, “At least I’m not 30 yet.”
Today, I stand on the other side of that number. I am 30. Continue reading
It is funny how life has a way of coming back around to the same point. Despite a seemingly linear movement down life’s road, we often find ourselves stumbling across signposts and circumstances that make us feel we have visited a place before.
This morning, I found myself reading old posts on my blog. Keep in mind, for you this may simply be a collection of articles, interesting or otherwise. For me, it is my journal. It is my life laid out in ink (howbeit digital) and I often find myself revisiting stories so that I can recount God’s work in my own life.
One post in particular struck a chord.
In May of 2010, I wrote a post about walking in faith. It was a point in my life where I was struggling with a lot of uncertainty about my future. I had decisions to make concerning my next steps in life and relationships with others, and I felt as though I was walking in the dark.
Today, instead of writing out a new post, I thought I would share this one.
It is called Steps in the Darkness. Give it a read.
An ellipsis, a literary term, is the notation of an omission of superfluous information. It is the set of three dots put between two pieces of significant information to show that the stuff in between was not worth writing.
Life can feel like an ellipsis sometimes. At least, that has been my experience of late.
There are those moments in life, the months (or perhaps even years) tucked between major life events, that appear as nothing more than a hiatus separating life’s chapters. It is these moments that feel they would best be represented by those three little dots instead of the words it would take to tell them. They are seemingly superfluous phrases in the midst of an otherwise meaningful quote. Continue reading