In, Not Of

The Word (the eternal Son of God, Second Person of the Trinity) became flesh (Jesus, fully God and fully man) and dwelt among us. -John 1:14

Jesus was fully God. He was there at creation. John goes on to tell us that without Him, Jesus, nothing would have been made. He was with God and John says that he was God. Jesus says the same thing about himself. He says if you have seen me you have seen the Father.

Since Jesus is God and left heaven and became a man, an incarnate missionary, he is the ultimate example of being in the world but not of it.

Jesus spent time with the drunkards but wasn’t a drunkard.

Jesus spent time with the prostitutes but was sexually pure.

Jesus spent time with the tax cheats but was financially responsible.

Jesus spent time with liars but always spoke the truth.

Jesus spent time with thieves but was most honest.

Jesus spent time with children and said let them be an example.

Jesus spent time with the sick and was their healer.

Jesus spent time with the troubled parent and was his counsel.

Jesus spent time with the blind and they could see.

Jesus spent time with the cutter and gave him a sound mind.

Jesus spent time with the demonized and revealed his deity.

Jesus spend time with the lepers and was their way back to community.

Jesus spent time with the sinner and forgave their sins.

Jesus spent time with the broken, lost, downtrodden, hurt, confused.

And all those people spent time with him. Why? Because he was God and he loved them. He was truly in the world but not of it.

Generation Ex-Christian

Very good interview with Drew Dyke, an editor at Christianity Today, about his new book “Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults are Leaving the Faith and How to Bring Them Back” over at al.com. Here is an excerpt.

Q. What’s the main reason they give for leaving?

A. Most cited intellectual doubts. But often there was more to the story. For example, one young woman spent the better part of an hour detailing her significant intellectual objections. But as the conversation continued, something interesting came to light. She had attended a prominent Christian college, where she’d suffered a mental breakdown after feeling ostracized by the community and betrayed by Christian friends. The timeline of her story was telling. It was shortly after this traumatic experience that she stopped practicing her faith.

Dyke Breaks These “De-Converts” Into Categories:

“Recoilers” leave because they were hurt in the church. They suffered some form of abuse at the hands of someone they saw as a spiritual authority. God was guilty by association.

“Modernists” completely reject supernatural claims. God is a delusion. Any truth beyond science is dismissed as superstition.

“Neo-pagans” refers to those who left for earth-based religions such as Wicca. Not all actually cast spells or participate in pagan rituals, but they deny a transcendent God, and see earth as the locus of true spirituality.

“Spiritual Rebels” flee the faith to indulge in behavior that conflicted with their faith. They also value autonomy and don’t want anyone — especially a superintending deity — telling them what to do.

“Drifters” do not suffer intellectual crises or consciously leave the faith; they simply drift away. Over time God becomes less and less important until one day he’s no longer part of their lives.

Q. Has the church played a role in causing this trend? If so, how can it stem the tide?

A. Many young people have been exposed to a superficial form of Christianity that effectively inoculates them against authentic faith. To stem the tide of young people leaving, I believe churches need to get shift the emphasis away from an entertainment model and back to religious education and spiritual growth.

You can read the entire interview here or go buy the book here. You can also go to www.drewdyck.com and read the first chapter of the book.

Yesterday & the Future

Yesterday the church I’ve been Youth Pastor at for the last 11 years and Interim Pastor at the last 6 months voted on a new Pastor. I am so excited for the church and really believe that the Pastor coming in will be great. I think he is what LCOG needs right now. I’ve been here for many years and will always have a fond connection to it. I was married here, dedicated my children here, I baptized my daughter here. I will remember those moments proudly.

But a new chapter is unfolding in our lives. My wife and I will be planting a new church, with a very old tradition: the Bible. We have felt the LORD leading us in this direction for the past couple years. Of course we were hesitant to step out in faith because of fear. My greatest fear was that leaving the church we have ministered at the past 11 years would hurt the Pastor. The Pastor was my dad. My wife’s greatest fear, I am sure, has been a fear that stepping out, if not in complete agreement with God’s will, would cause us harm provisionally. Sometimes God has to push us to get us to take the leap of faith he has been so gently prodding us to take. And push He has!

But all things work together for the good of them that love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). See a couple months ago my mom divorced my dad after 33 years of marriage. Dad, because of my mom’s decision, felt he had no other option but to ┬áresign the church he had Pastored for 15 years and I was given the honor and responsibility to serve as Interim Pastor. This has been the hardest six or eight months I’ve ever gone through. I never imagined my mom would divorce my dad. I never imaged I would be placed into a situation like I was faced. I never imagined I would have to explain divorce to my kids like this. But all things work for the good for those that love Jesus and are called by Him. He has a plan. I may not like what has happened, but I love Jesus and the fact that he is gonna make beauty from this mess.

So we look forward to seeing where we land. This leap of faith isn’t blind, but it can be scary. I guess if it were blind it wouldn’t be as frightening because we wouldn’t see how we could crash. We know we can crash. But we also know that if we don’t jump we won’t see His purpose fulfilled. I like the quote I read today from G.K. Chesterton, he says “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of readiness to die”. I guess that’s what we feel. A readiness to die to self so that the gospel of the kingdom, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, can be preached in power and authority by being Spirit-guided and word-centered. Making much of Jesus to the broken, lost, confused, hurt, happy, searching, hopeful, needy, black, white, brown, man, woman, rich, poor, abused, gay, straight, republican, democrat, baptist, pentecostal, unchurched, whosoever will let them come and drink freely from the water of life. The water of life makes us new as it washes over us. Because Jesus came for the whole world. Not to leave us as sinners, but so that we could experience new life. He is the vine and we are the branches. If we aren’t in Him, we aren’t alive.

So we plant this new church to bring the dead to life in Jesus name. To offer fresh hope to those that have lost their way. And to make strong roots that bind us together as a community completely attached to the King.

Let’s Go

Two worship songs to remind us why we live. We live to go into the world and live out the beautiful sacrifice of Jesus. That whosoever will can be made new by the blood and resurrection of Jesus. Let’s go tell the world that it’s the blood!