Monthly Archives: October 2021

Shallow Waters vs. Diving Deep in Faith

There were plenty of opportunities for me to learn to swim prior to Mrs. Humphrey’s 10th Grade swim class at Garden City West High School. I just never learned. My parents paid for swimming lessons. I didn’t learn. My Aunt Alice and Uncle Dick had a swimming pool. We were at their house nearly every weekend in the summer. I didn’t learn. At the Nazarene Camp grounds, my time at the lake was spent playing in the shallow waters with the other non-swimmers. I never swam.

The shallow waters offered no threat. When at a lake, I could jump and splash in shallow end, never venturing past the rope with the blue and white buoys. I couldn’t swim out to the dock and jump off the ledge like the other big kids. I couldn’t display any feats of strengthen and endurance by swimming across the lake. Shallow water was all I knew but it became increasingly unsatisfying as I grew older. No 14-year-old wants to be splashing around with toddlers in the shallow waters, but that was all I knew.

Churches are full of people living with a shallow faith much like me prior to Mrs. Humphrey’s swim class. Their surface devotion to God becomes less and less satisfying but it’s all they know. Shallow living believers tend to have one foot on the beach (in the world) and the other foot in the living waters of Jesus. It’s easy to be distracted in such surroundings. It’s easy to abandon the lake all together and take one’s toys and go home– just hop out if you don’t like what’s happening. Shallow-watered faith followers don’t experience a deep wholeheartedness that results from being immersed in the fullness of the love of Jesus. They don’t comprehend the profound satisfaction and joy unspeakable that comes from a bottomless trust in Jesus. Shallow living becomes increasingly unsatisfactory and maybe that’s why so many tend to make waves not disciples.

Do not think this shallow brand of Christianity is new or a by-product of the pandemic. Paul and the author of Hebrews didn’t talk about shallow believers. They used a different metaphor (baby-food-eating followers), but it’s the same thing.

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

By this time, you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid fool! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. Hebrews 5:12-13

Jesus talked about shallow people, in his parable of the Soils (using dirt not water as his example) when he said:

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Matthew 13:5-6

According to Jesus, shallow followers don’t last. It’s impossible to have a foot in the world while standing on the promises of Jesus. Shallow-end followers get nervous when the preacher starts using language of a deeper commitment, wholeheartedness and living life with open hands toward Jesus. They are uneasy with diving into the deep end and relying solely on Jesus for their future. Like it or not, this leaves them in the unfulfilled, worrisome, in the muck of doubt-filled shallow waters. Some people spend their entire life splashing around never venturing past the buoys and into the fullness of his grace. Others, unsatisfied, walk away leaving the waters of faith altogether.

My brothers and sisters, we must dive in the deep end with Jesus if we want everlasting joy. Immerse ourselves in His love. Trusting that he will carry us through the tough times. It’s being wholly committed with an undivided heart. It’s the call to the deeper life, the holy life. Jump in with both feet. The living water of Jesus is refreshing and good. 

I didn’t stay in the shallow end. Thanks to Mrs. Humphrey in the 10th grade, I learned to swim. No one will confuse me with Michael Phelps these days, but now I can “Nestea plunge” into the deep end and not worry. I long for that same confidence in all of us in the deep waters of faith.

CPR for the Dying Church: A step-by-step guide.

Is your church on life support? Can you imagine a bright future for your church? Look around your church, will the people you worship with every Sunday be in your church or in heaven in 25 years? 10 Years? Does the church have the resources to be viable, warm, inviting, good-neighborly, evangelistic church in ten years? What steps are you taking to make sure the voice, hands and feet of Jesus will still be active for the next generation?

If you honestly admit to the previous questions, “I doubt that my church will be in existence in 10 years.” Here are some immediate action Church CPR steps to be taken:

1) Pray. No explanation needed. Follow the following prayer guide (never fear, it’s not complicated): Calculate how much you are currently praying and double it. That’s it. Pray more. Jesus told us to pray for workers, not the harvest. The harvest is ready. Pray. Pray. Pray. 

2) Don’t demonize those outside of the church, instead, you too, get out of your building. If your church is on life support, you’ve probably noticed that new folks aren’t coming in. If they come once, they don’t come back. Build relationships outside of your building first, so these folks will know at least one person (you) when they come into the church building. 

3) Don’t cater to the older people (exclusively), actively look for young people. Invite young people to coffee, lunch or even to your house (before inviting them to church). Find children and grandchildren that need surrogate grandparents. Love them. Shower them with kindness. Live before them the fruit of the spirit.

4). Don’t promise perfection. Offer relationships. People long for meaningful relationships. Let young people know what to expect when they enter your building. Say something like, “We don’t have a lot of people, but we do have is a church full of loving, kind, warm, friendly, generous grandparents.” (Of course, then be all of the above attributes). Young adults are not afraid to have older friends. Be that older friend that they can confide in.

5) Don’t be desperate. Be hopeful. You are in sales, not management. No gimmicks. No goofiness like in the old days. No “Break-the-Sunday-School-record-and-the pastor-will-swallow-a-gold-fish” tricks. Trust that God Almighty will provide. 

6) Don’t be despondent. Be faithful. It’s Jesus’ church, not yours. Trust Him. God is with you. Your church can turn around. Your church does not have to die. Jesus raised Lazarus. He can raise your church too. God is on your side.

7) Don’t delay. Start today. When is the best time to be concerned about your church’s future? 20 years ago. When’s the next best time to be concerned for the church’s future? Today.

These are strange times for all us. But God is overall. The Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His church. Be busy. Be faithful. Be constant in prayer. The Lord is coming. Let Him find you doing His will at all times.

Is Fa666eBook the Anti-Christ?

When Fa666ebook went down for a few hours yesterday, that loud cheering you heard may have been coming from my office. Every pastor that I know was near giddy at the prospects that they and their church would not be taking Fa666ebook shots from the nuts, crackpots and antichrists of the world.

Only 1 John mentions antichrists (See 1 John 2 and 4). The folks, John mentions as antichrists (John uses mostly the plural form not singular) are the Jesus deniers in the last days. Seems like Fa66ebook to me. We can debate “the last days” another time, I just know that in the last 15 years, Fa666ebook has done more to harm the gospel of Jesus Christ than any other entity. If that doesn’t make it an antichrist, I don’t know what does. 

Every pastor I know has been attacked. Lies spread. Rumors started. Innuendo suggested all on Fa666ebook. Churches have split over Fa666ebook posts. Marriages destroyed and affairs started on Fa666ebook. Fa666ebook has contributed to the suicide rate as people see phony lives posted and believe their real life doesn’t match up. Do you know anyone who has changed their political leanings, views on the pandemic or switched an already-made-up-opinion-on-anything because of a Fa666ebook post? Me neither. Instead I know plenty who have ended friendships, walked out of churches, wounded pastors and others all because of Fa666ebook. Fa666ebook has done more harm than good.

Some will argue of the good on Fa666ebook. I like wishing “Happy Birthday” to my Fa666ebook friends too. Just yesterday, Fa666ebook informed me of a young lady who’s engaged to be married. From time to time, I will learn of a friend’s passing on Fa666ebook. Our church posts our services on Fa666ebook and there is a Fa666ebook prayer request page for crying out loud (literally). All true. But if I were the real Enemy (and some on Fa666ebook have suggested I am), I wouldn’t make Fa666ebook all bad. No one would participate if it were all bad. Make it good. Make it even mostly good. But then sprinkle in the divisive, corrosive, death inducing, antichrist (anti-Jesus) garbage that so many get caught up in. Seems like a slick strategy from the Father of Lies to me.

HYPOCRITE ALERT: You are probably reading this blog via Fa666ebook. I am on it. I send birthday greetings. I post articles like these. I share our church’s Sunday morning services in hopes that someone might find Jesus as they are scrolling along. Does that make me a contributor to the Enemies destructive plans? I don’t know. I struggle with it. I have a love but mostly hate relationship with fa666ebook. 

Is Fa666ebook “the” antichrist? No. Is it “an” antichrist? It sure can be. So be careful my fellow Fa666ebook users. Limit your exposure. Only post positive things. Be a blessing, not a curse. If Fa666ebook had been around in the first century Paul would have written Ephesians 4:29 this way: Do not let any unwholesome posts be placed on Facebook, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who read it. (Italicized and non-bold words mine).