Monthly Archives: February 2020

UGH… and this is why we need Lent

Reports are that another religious leader fell this past week. He had been called a saint. Then this. He allegedly had an affair with a woman to whom he was giving “spiritual counsel.”

Ugh!

Again?

No. No. No. Please not again. This time it’s sexual sin. Next time it might be lying or pride or slander or unhinged anger or over-the-top selfishness or greed. You know, the usual suspects.

How can this happen again and again?  When does it stop? Why doesn’t it stop?

Because sin is sin and sin is real and the devil doesn’t stop and temptations don’t stop and cover-ups don’t stop and I know this is a run-on sentence because like sin, our enemy the devil, doesn’t quit he doesn’t stop he’s relentless and until Christians remember this there will be more stories like this until Christians remember that sin is ugly, really ugly and we need to rely on Jesus every minute of every single day and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Ugh!

Did I already write “Ugh”? I did? Good. Because that’s how I feel right now, “Ugh!”

We don’t like these stories because we know (deep inside us) we know it could be us. We are one stupid, sinful moment away from ruining our lives, our families and damaging the Church of Jesus Christ.

Too often people we love and respect disappoint us. Lord, be my mentor.
Too often we walk too close to the line. Lord, moves us closer to you.
Too often we lose sight of the mission. Lord, give us clear vision.
Too often we believe what others say about us. Lord, help us to be humble.
Too often we think it couldn’t happen to us. Lord, Jesus, remind us that you too were tempted.
Too often we rely on our strength. Lord, I am weak; You are strong.
Too often we think holy people need not confess. Lord, teach us that the most holy people confess more and more.

Too often writers like me write articles like this after something like this has happened and then we forget all about something like this until something like this happens again.

Ugh!

Lord, help me to remember. We need you! I need you. I need to remember that I need you. I need to remember that a part from you I am lost. I need to remember that I am not the sum of my appetites. I need to crave you and only you.

And this is why we need the Lent.

 

 

Valentine’s Day, Singleness and the Church of the Nazarene

Valentine’s Day rolls around every year and for those who aren’t in a relationship it can be a tough day. I have one friend that refers to Valentine’s Day as “Remind-Me-that-I-am-Single Day.” I saw a tweet that went like this:

Roses are Red
Violets are Blue,
My boyfriend cheated on me,
Thanks, Brian.

It doesn’t rhyme but you get the point. Sometimes Valentine’s Day is not a day of cheer and hearts and flowers and chocolates. For many, it’s a day of sadness of what-once-was or a day of loneliness of what-never-was. Sometimes the church contributes to this loneliness and disappointment with our Valentine’s Banquets, Heart shaped reminders and couples only events.

The Church of the Nazarene statement on singleness says,

Singleness among the people of God is to be valued and sustained by the rich fellowship of the church and the communion of the saints. To live as a single person is to engage, as Jesus did, in the intimacy of community, surrounded by friends, welcoming and being welcomed to tables, and expressing faithful witness. (Church of the Nazarene Manual, paragraph 34)

What I like best in the above statement is: “to live as a single person is to engage, as Jesus did…” If I were to ask you, “Did Jesus lived a full and complete life?”  More than likely, all of us would answer, “Yes.” Jesus life was full. He lacked nothing. He completed his mission. But Jesus was single. Jesus was fully human and single from Bethlehem to Golgotha.

Jesus was not a second-class citizen, we would never say that. Jesus accomplished all that the Father had him accomplish. He was blessed and he was single. My point? Singleness is not a curse. Singleness is not a mark of shame. Singleness can and should be embraced in the church community.

What I like second best in the above Manual statement is that singles in the church should be: “surrounded by friends, welcoming and being welcomed to tables, and expressing faithful witness.”  In other words, the church at its best is not excluding our brothers and sisters who are single, but embracing them at our functions. It’s creating a place that is not weird or awkward or uncomfortable for the single person to step into a room of mostly couples. It’s including singles in our dinner invitations and home gatherings. It’s coming alongside our single brothers and sisters and doing our best to be a loving, welcoming, embracing, celebrating community.

This Valentine’s Day let’s celebrate it by showering our loved ones (single or otherwise) with the love of Jesus. Let’s fulfill Jesus words in John 13: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Let’s make February 14 a day when everyone, everywhere– whatever their relationship status happens to be—know that they are loved!

If I were Czar of the Words we Use

Every year the Merriam-Webster Dictionary people add new words to our vocabulary (last year 640 new words were added including: ‘buzzy,’ ‘gig economy, and ‘garbage time.’). I am not sure where I apply for the position, but I’d like to be the Merriam-Webster Word ELIMINATING Czar. I want to be the guy that eliminate or makes the rules for the words and phrases we use. If elected this position here are a few changes I would make:

IMPEACHMENT: if you must use this word, it can only be used in the following sentence: “Hey tic-tac mints have a new flavor. It’s called impeach-mint. It’s a nice peachy-minty flavor.”

 DIVIDED: This word can only be used to describe a math problem. It can never be applied to people. Even when people disagree over major issues, it must be remembered that we all have been created in the image of God. We have a common bond– a common humanity that should overcome the nastiness and angst that pervades us.

NEWS JUNKIE: I’ve never heard someone say, “I’m a Bible junkie.” If folks spent one tenth of the time in the Bible that they spend watching their favorite news channel, the world would be a better place.

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY: Whether it’s a sport’s figure describing why he signed a contract with another team or a parishioner making excuses for his/her poor tithing record– whenever someone says “It’s not about the money,” it’s ALWAYS about the money.

I’M NOT A RACIST, BUT…:  Almost always the next thing spoken is a racist comment. How about this: Let’s just love people no matter their skin color and treat everyone the way we want to be treated.

BEING FED: This can only be used in a restaurant or a kitchen. As in, “Excuse me Mr. Food server, I ordered my meal 45 minutes ago and I am not being fed.” It cannot be used by a non-Bible-reading-during-the-week-but-exiting-the-church parishioner to his/her weary pastor as in “I’m just not being fed.” Excuse me as I barf the food I was fed.

I DON’T HAVE TIME: Even the busiest people will make time for important tasks. If your kitchen catches on fire while you are reading this, I assure you that you will produce time to put the kitchen fire out. When it comes to our spiritual well-being we need to make time.

IMPOSSIBLE: This word can only be used if someone says that they want to drive their car from California to Japan or referring to the Detroit Lions winning a Super Bowl. It cannot be used when speaking of a person’s potential or God’s ability to transform a person or a situation; (See Luke 18:27)

Bottom line: Our words matter. Our daily prayer should echo David’s prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NKJV).