Monthly Archives: November 2019

OK Boomer: The Boomer vs. Millennial Church War

“OK Boomer” was a sound bite that recently went viral of Chlöe Swarbrick, a 25-year-old old member of New Zealand’s parliament, when responding to an older person heckling over some proposed legislation. The pejorative retort was used to dismiss or mock a perceived narrow-minded, outdated, judgmental, or condescending attitudes of older people, particularly baby boomers (those born between 1946-1964). New Zealand isn’t the only locale of such attitudes, it’s been reflected by various folks in and out of the church in America too.

Born at the tail end of the Boomer generation (1963), I can agree with some of criticism of my fellow Boomers. The church we, Boomers, are leaving behind is not all together healthy. Many have sold their souls to gaining power; are intolerant of new ideas; have subscribed to failed church models; and are holding on to sacred cows that have crippled the church.

Likewise, Millennials (the generation that includes those born between 1980 and 2003) are not viewed without fault. A quick google search of “Millennials are…” gives a list that says lazy, soft, snowflakes, too sensitive, entitled, among other stereotypes. The argument is that Millennials were handed participation trophies instead of teaching the importance of hard work and a zeal to be the best.

The resulting mistrust of each other’s generation has given rise to church wars that have rivaled the hymn vs. chorus debates of a decade ago. Just as then, the entire church suffers for it.

The truth is there are good and bad examples of both generations. The stab wounds are still healing in my back from the millennial knives firmly inserted by some of their know-it-all, I’m-right-you’re-wrong, don’t-care-who-gets-hurt tactics. Moreover, my heart is still broken over some viscous carnal attacks from narrow-minded, judgmental boomers. Every pastor I know has similar stories. Likewise, I have seen millennials love the church, work hard to see her succeed and deeply care for the older generation. I know many boomers who are mentoring, listening and empowering millennials in the service of the church. All generations have their share of saints and sinners.

The church has enough problems (recent Pew research says only 49% of Millennials call themselves Christians. Church attendance is down 7% in the last decade, etc.). Casting blame for the current realities of the church (Millennials: Boomers are the reason for the mess; Boomers: Millennials are the facilitators of this mess) is not helping. Both Millennials and Boomers need to work together to fulfill the Great Commission. We need less blaming and more blessing. Less pointing fingers and more pointing people to Jesus. Less suspicion and more trust. Less stereotyping and more cooperation, empathy and compassion.

The church was Jesus’ idea for all generations. Boomers, Millennials and everyone before or since must work together to see God’s Kingdom come and His will done on Earth as it is in heaven.

The Dos and Don’ts of Thanksgiving

Do eat turkey. Rumors exist that there are some un-Americans among us eating pork or steak on Thanksgiving. Turkey is so yummy, someone named a country after it. Check any world map, you will not find a country named Sirloin or Bacon, but between Greece and Azerbaijan you’ll see Turkey.

Don’t expect the Lions to win on Thanksgiving. If they win (that’s like saying if Jupiter falls out of orbit and smashes into Neptune), make sure your heart is ready. A Lion’s victory might be one of the signs that the Second Coming is near.

Do eat canned jellied cranberry sauce. I read this week that canned jellied cranberry sauce is the least favorite Thanksgiving food. One more indicator that our country is being taken over by communists!

Don’t call the food inside the Turkey “stuffing.” Stuffing is what’s in your pillow and teddy bear. My mama calling it dressin’ (no “g”) and it was delicious!

Don’t go shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving’s sin is gluttony not greed. (That’s only partly in jest… Say “no” to gluttony and greed!)

Do cover your pumpkin pie in Cool Whip. There is no such thing as too much Cool Whip on pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. I’m sorry for the mixed messages concerning gluttony (see above comments), but Cool Whip on pumpkin pie is quite delicious).

Don’t break the turkey wishbone with a friend and wish that the Detroit Tigers will be watchable in 2020. Don’t waste a perfectly good wish on the Tigers. No amount of wishing can help our Motor City Kitties. I know, I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Do include someone at your Thanksgiving table that might be alone this year. Is there an elderly or single person that might not have a family to celebrate the holiday? It’s not too late to Invite them to join you.

Don’t mention words like “impeachment,” “politics” or “CNN” or “Fox News” as the family gathers on Thanksgiving. All such utterances are words non-grata for a happy family gathering.

Do offer prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude. Even the most troubled among us have reasons to be thankful. Count your blessings not your problems.

Don’t miss what God is doing. God is working. He has plans for you. Good plans. Don’t let problems, diagnoses, worries or troubles divert your attention from God’s great love. Be grateful in all times. (see below).

Do memorize 1 Thessalonians 5:18: Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Thanksgiving is in one week. My prayer for you and your family is that this year’s version will be your best Thanksgiving ever… not because of the food around the table or football on TV, but because the Savior’s love is filling your heart and home.

Myles Garrett isn’t the first to regret a brief stupid moment

Last night as a football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns was nearly over and the outcome decided, a player on the Browns, Myles Garrett, ripped the helmet off of the Steelers’ quarterback and hit him in the head with it. It was a terrible, vicious act. A brawl briefly ensued. It will be remembered as a sad chapter in this NFL season. Thankfully, Mason Rudolph didn’t appear to be hurt by the action

After the game, when cooler minds prevailed, Myles Garrett said he regretted his actions. I’m sure he does. But that does not negate the consequences of his behavior and no doubt the league will promptly suspended Garrett for a lengthy period of time.

It doesn’t take long for a thoughtless or mindless or sinful act to disrupt a lifetime of action. Sadly, I have seen this truth played out over and over again in the church. Pastors and laymen who have lived for Jesus in a weak brief moment give into temptation and their witness, reputation, ministry, and sometimes their family and the future are forever devastated. Like Myles Garrett, they regret their actions but it’s too late.

It’s not too late for God to forgive, but sometimes it’s impossible to repair the damage. Like Humpty Dumpty, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot make the situation right again. That’s the trouble with sin: it messes everything up. It doesn’t just effect the sinner. The ripple effects of sinful behavior can last years. Sin takes us farther than we ever wanted to go, and damages people more than we ever thought it could.

Leaders, pastors, board members are not immune to temptation (you know this truth, but it bears repeating). One brief stupid moment can ruin a lifetime of good work. Run away from temptation. Do not think you are strong enough or spiritual enough to “handle” the enticement of the evil one. You aren’t, but Jesus is. Stay close to Jesus!

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Do you Need an Appointment with the Great Optometrist?

Many years ago, I attended a men’s retreat that had two well marked cabins for sleeping: Snorers and Non-Snorers. I stayed in the non-snorer cabin. Apparently, a friend couldn’t read. At breakfast, my weary non-snorer cabin mates showed up a bit cranky complaining about “Terry” (the name has been changed to protect the loud, obnoxious snorer). A little later Terry, bright eyed and bushy tailed, entered the dining hall. No one said a word before the fully rested Terry proclaimed, “Wow fellas, I slept great. I’m so glad we had cabins for snorers and non-snorers, I didn’t hear one guy snoring all night!”

If looks could kill, I would have been officiating Terry’s funeral later that week. My friend Terry was oblivious to his own “sins.” Eventually the rest of the fellas had an “intervention,” Terry learned of his noisy habit and switched cabins for the following evening.

A few weeks ago, I ran into a lady who was oblivious to things much more important than snoring. Years prior, she left her church because of the (her words) “toxic environment” of the church. Shortly after her exit, her former pastor said this self-absorbed, smug lady had left the church in a “blaze of condemning social media glory.” The toxicity of his church improved (his words) 1000% with her departure. She was a purveyor of bad attitudes, gossip and lies. She was the one causing much of the trouble and with her gone, church life became a joy again. Sadly, she thought the troubles were because of everyone else but her. She was oblivious to her own sins (no quotation marks required).

Jesus warned such people when he asked: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

Our proclivity to see our neighbor’s speck and miss our plank is why David prayed:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

David prayed for God Almighty to be the Eye Examiner. He didn’t want to be oblivious to his own plank-like sins and shortcomings. If he had strayed in devotion, David pleaded for God to return him to the way of righteousness. Likewise, if we are singularly focused on our neighbor’s specks while missing our own plank, then we need to hear from the Lord too. It’s humbly, reverently, periodically asking the Great Optometrist to do an eye exam for any glaring plank of poor attitudes and sinful behaviors, so that we might see clearly to the way everlasting! If (when) the Lord faithfully points out a blind spot, then our most appropriate response is repentance. Only then will we experience the healing balm of our Savior.

Why the current cultural roads are so hard to navigate

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.Matthew 7:13-14

In the past, when I’ve read these words of Jesus, I envisioned two roads: One wide road on one side and one narrow road on the other side. The wide side had lots of people travelling in a self-centered manner or with a very low bar brand of Christianity. Whereas, the narrow side had fewer travelers and were the faithful Jesus followers.

But as our country, churches, and people have become more and more divided, I think there are not two roads but three. There’s a big wide road on the left and a big wide road on the right and a teeny, tiny narrow road somewhere (we can debate if the narrow road veers a little right or a little left).

The entry ramps to both big wide roads on the left and right are easier to merge onto than ever. There are news channels giving directions to the easy access ramps. We slant our social media feeds to our particular wide road convictions (and block those “nut cases” on the other wide road). There are numerous talking heads that remind us how evil the other road travelers truly are.

The left wide road travelers tout how liberating the road is. Everyone is welcome! No fear of crashing on this road, even if you did crash there are no consequences. No hell to worry about. Jesus loves everyone and he would never send someone to such place. Jesus’ accepting and overlooking love is so wide that everyone is included no matter how sinful their behavior, how un-Christlike their attitudes or how unrepentant their heart. Seemingly, the wide left road travelers think the only evil is the people who do not agree with their wide left road positions. Travelers on the wide right road (and even on the skinning narrow road) are intolerant, hate-mongers, so please don’t travel with them.

The right wide road is so ridged that nearly no one can travel it. Yet many do. Fundamentalistically, the wide right road travelers use their Bibles as weapons. Literally taking the Sword and laying waste to anyone who disagrees with their interpretation. The wide right road folks see the world very much as black and white. You are either for us and are my friend or against us and are my enemy. There is no room for disagreement. Seemingly, the wide right road travelers think the only evil is the people who do not agree with their wide right road positions. “Travelers on the wide left road (and even the skinning narrow road) will be in for a rude awakening when our road is raptured to heaven,” they think.

The skinny narrow road is a difficult road to navigate. It doesn’t represent the wide left road, even though those travelling believe Jesus really does love everyone. It doesn’t represent the wide right road, even though it holds the whole of scripture is fully inspired. Narrow road travelers understand that they don’t have everything figured out. They wrestle with the issues. It’s messy. Sound bite answers usually aren’t sufficient. The narrow road seems too conservative for the wide left road folks and too liberal for the wide right road folks. The narrow road travelers are intolerant or naïve or not educated enough according to both the wide right and left travelers. Those on the narrow road are a lot like Jesus when he tearfully looked over Jerusalem as they grieve the bickering and divisions among their wide road travelling friends.

Travelling the narrow, skinny road is harder than ever. Jesus was right (correct, that is). It’s easy to slip onto either wide road but both those roads lead to destruction. The faithful, difficult, messy, skinny narrow road is still the road that leads to life and only a few find it.