Posted tagged ‘good news’

That Judgmental Evangelical Church!

March 4, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     March 4, 2019

                      

Carol and I sat back and watched an episode of Criminal Minds last night. We can’t keep up with all the recorded episodes we have on our DVR, thus the episode we watched was from last October.

Without going into the plot too much, a woman is killed and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) team is sent to investigate. In looking at the way the woman has been murdered, investigating who her friends are, and her routines, they summarize that there is some connection between what has happened and the church she attends.

That’s when the term “evangelical” gets used! She was involved in an EVANGELICAL church. The way it’s said you could almost put in parentheses after it “You know…one of those!” as the person turned to the side and spat!

The next scene has the team interviewing the pastor. His character comes off as self-righteous and judgmental. Envision a pastor with a whip! The viewer immediately does not like him and, after all, he’s the pastor of one of those EVANGELICAL churches! You are given the impression that “fun” is a four letter word for him.

Several other indicators are that he and his church are narrow-minded, critical, ready to shun sinners, and legalistic. They probably don’t even drink root beer!

Such is the general public’s, or at least those in the entertainment world, view of evangelicals! I wouldn’t have been as bothered by the episode if they would have just said “church”, but those who produce the show probably don’t understand what evangelical means.

The term “evangelical” comes from the Greek word “euangelion”, meaning “the good news” or the “gospel.” Thus, an evangelical church focuses on the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.

That good news includes the grace of God, forgiveness, love, acceptance, hope, and peace. 

Some evangelicals, rightfully so, have made a mess of evangelicalism! They’ve reversed the mirror of Jesus. Instead of people seeing the image of Christ in his church they see a bunch of people who seem to have been sucking on lemons too long! I’ll be honest! There are a number of people in churches I’ve served who are about as pleasant as hemorrhoids!

It should not be! “Good News” has become religious rhetoric, and grace has been replaced with guilt. 

One of my closest friends in ministry, Rev. Tom Bayes, recently urged me to write a book about “church stuff”. Tom and I, along with our other clergy friend, Rev. Chuck Moore, spent years serving churches in the Lansing, Michigan area and sharing stories over lunches. There was a lot of laughter in the midst of our burger-munching. I think I’ll take him up on his request. The book, however, will revolve around a pastor who laughs, jokes around with the people of his congregation, enjoys life, and exhibits the Joy of life. AND he will be a pastor who firmly holds to the belief that Jesus is “Good News”!

Maybe I’ll even make him…you know…one of those Baptist pastors!

Not That Complicated

July 25, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    July 25, 2013

 

                                      

 

     Today marked the last day of our congregation’s day camp, which we call Summer Daze. Summer Daze began about eight years ago as a way to encourage kids to read during the school’s summer vacation. It actually began as a result of conversations with the Shirley Stevens, the principal of Longfellow School down the street from our church. Longfellow, which unfortunately closed about four years ago, did not have funding for a summer reading program, so our church stepped into the gap in the creation of Summer Daze.

This year’s theme was a take-off (no pun intended) on “Star Wars.” During the week we talked about some Biblical themes that deal with light and darkness, chosen people, and heroes of the Christian faith.

Today I explained the simple gospel message to the kids. It wasn’t complicated, and they understood it. I realized that as a pastor for thirty-four years that I quite often have made the gospel complicated. I’m prone to put in “What if’s”.

I realize that life is often complicated. It’s filled with crises, misunderstandings, obstacles, and setbacks. But the gospel is rather simple and straightforward.

Each of us is sinful and falls short .

      God still loves us despite our failures.

       He gave his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to atone for our sin.

      If we believe in Jesus God promises life, and life eternal.

 

We can lengthen out the theology with more clarification…and amplification…but it still really comes down to that summary. It’s really a life and death story, or, better yet, a death to life story.

And the interesting thing is that when I look back on it, today’s sharing of the simple gospel was made possible because a school couldn’t provide a reading program.

Amazing!

A 3 A.M. Start

June 22, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 22, 2013

 

I arise at 3 in the morning tomorrow! There is something awkward about getting out of bed before Starbucks even opens! 3 A.M. Is one of those times where you’re not sure whether or coming or going…or both at the same time, so you smack into yourself!

The early start is so I can arrive at church at 4:00, so our mission team can pack up, pray, and be on the road to Denver International Airport by 4:45. Several people told me this past week that they would be praying for us…from their beds that morning.

For the next week I’ll be posting a Words from W.W. From Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I’ll post something each evening about what has happened that day…about the people we meet…the children who will be attending basketball camp…the interactions between our team members with the Dominicans, and also with one another. I’ll try to share with you how we have been blessed, challenged, and transformed.

Our team of sixteen goes expecting to see God work, but, quite frankly, I’m sensing that God will be transforming each one of us even more than the people whose homeland we’ll be visiting. I’m expecting that new revelations about our own lives will come to us.

It will be long hot days in Santo Domingo. Our basketball staff will be conducting three camp sessions each day (8:30-10:00, 10:30-12:00, 1:30-3:00) for a hundred different kids each session. And then from 3:30-4:30 some of the young men in the community have been invited to come and play hoops with us (if enough of us are still standing). During the 90 minutes I’ll be presenting a devotional thought to start with. We call them Buddy Basketball values. They tie some aspect of the game of basketball to the gospel message. Basketball is a great teaching tool to talk about hope, to talk about good news.

Each evening we’ll spend some time as a team debriefing and sharing God-stories from the day. I’m excited to see what God is going especially do in the lives of the men who are a part of the team (Seven of us!).

It all starts with a splash of hot water in my face at 3 A.M, and my Keurig waking up about ten minutes later.

Pray for us!