Category Archives: Theology

landing the plane

Almost 2 years ago I announced that our family would be leaving the great city of Kansas City and moving 2 hours east to Jefferson City.  Quickly my time hear is coming to a close as the residency has moved into the dreaded interviewing stage.  Recently, I was invited to step into a process with the Rock Church’s Soulard campus.  Overall, our time there was great and as we continue to pray through this process I wanted to share the sermon that I preached.  This is not the quality of video or audio but hopefully you are able to enjoy God’s word.  The title of this sermon is “Sign or Savior” and was based out of John 4:43 – 54.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did proclaiming it.

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Train wreck

As I sat in my “Introduction to Preaching” at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Charles Briscoe asked a question I’ll never forget “Which one of you want to be a preacher?”  Honestly, it seemed innocent enough so I, along with everyone in the class, raised my hand.  Dr. Briscoe chose myself and 9 others and made these statements, “I want the 7 of you to raise your hands.”

He then said pointing at us, “you will fall in moral failure.”  “

Another one of you raise your hand, you, you will fail because of financial impropriety.”

At this point we are all nervous, “Next one, raise your hand”, he did slowly, “you will either burn out or give up on ministry.”

Then he turned to the class and dropped this bomb, “Statistically 1 out of 10 of you (that’s only 10% for those of you counting) will be in ministry after 20 years.”

We were in stunned silence until he said “Now, which one of you still want to be a preacher?”

Dr. Briscoe then began telling us about the many ministers that he had walked with as a part of a ministry called Pastor Serve

“PastorServe is both a crisis response team and a disaster prevention team for the Kingdom… We provide support, direction, coaching and consultation on navigating conflict and crisis – confidentially.  More importantly, we can help ministry leaders, their family or their Church proactively preempt the pain and suffering that often follows a crisis.”

That day has stuck with me and never so much as the day as I was called into an urgent meeting at the church I was a new staff member at.  When I walked upstairs, turned the corner and there he was.  Immediately, I knew what we were about to hear and I was crushed but I didn’t want to admit it.  My Pastor, who showed me the Gospel, baptized me, challenged me, helped identify my call to ministry, encouraged me and so much more, had admitted to being in an affair.  If you talk to my wife and me we refer to this part of our life as “the train wreck”.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time I heard this speech and I’m starting to realize that will not be my last.  My heart broke as I opened up twitter today and saw that Pastor Bob Coy had resigned because of moral failure.  My heart broke as I realized Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale was just involved in her own train wreck.

Pastor Bob was another man instrumental in my entering the ministry.  I’ll never forget telling my wife that I was not worthy to stand in the pulpit and preach God’s word.  She gave me a cassette tape and I listened to his testimony and realized that if God could use him He would have no problem using me. Pastor Bob is truly gifted, and God has truly used him and by His grace He will still use him.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak and confusion that is happening in the lives of those who are close to him. I am particularly praying for him and his family and the church.  While it will be tough and painful for all parties involved, the church and the Coys will get through it, God will reign, people will grow, and lives will continue to be transformed.

In the wake of this crisis I wanted to offer some things (some of which I’ve  learned from other pastors) that will hopefully help you if you ever find yourself in the middle of a crisis like this:

  1. Stay away from media:  Do not search the Internet and look for all the details about Bob Coy, but to scour your own life and “consider ourselves lest we also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) We now know enough. It’s bad. We need to avoid our natural tendencies to want to know more about the situation than what the church and the Coy family chooses to release. And, hopefully that will be minimal. More information only stirs more false information and broadens the damage.
  2. Bob Coy (and your pastor) can be restored: It will depend on his brokenness, humility, willingness to be completely transparent to those who need to know, and his acceptance of the grace of God but he can be restored.  If God used Moses, David, Noah, Jacob and so many others as Biblical examples, He can again use what is sinful for eventual good.
  3. Every pastor (even yours) is susceptible:  Stand guard. If we ever believe we are above temptation we have opened the door for the enemy’s plan to be effective.  No one wakes up and thinks about destroying their personal life and ministry. It happens gradually over time. The time to build our systems of accountability, support and protection is always now.
  4. This does not negate Bob Coy’s teaching:  I remember the decision to take down my pastor’s sermons from the web and I remember hearing people wondering what it means from all the things they learned under him. Under both men there are thousands who have been positively shaped by the teaching of those men and even more so in the case of Bob Coy.  Remember this, if the person was teaching truth, God’s Spirit is the ultimate teacher and that doesn’t change with this failure.
  5. [We] Do not shoot the wounded:  I am not sure why we have to say his but In this time Christians tend to become self-righteous and look down those who sin differently than we or have been in caught in the same sin.“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 1:8-2:2
  6. Christ and His church will survive:  The gates of Hell shall not prevail. Jesus promised this.  When it comes to popular pastors and teachers, many of us put them on pedestals on which they should not to be. While leaders are held to a high standard (1 Timothy 3:1-7;Titus 1:7-9), they are not to be looked upon as idols or “stars”. We all have our favorite teachers, I’m as guilty as the next man, but we must look beyond any pastor and keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith and leader of the church. No man went to the cross for your sin except for Jesus Christ.

Sanctity of life and MLK

Over the last few years of my life, around this time of year, I have been placed in a conundrum in my life. Every January the celebration of Martin Luther King’s (MLK) Birthday and the Sanctity of Life Sunday seem to fall on the same Sunday.  Growing up in Kansas City I went to a traditional Black church every Mid-January we spoke of Dr. King and his Christian impact on the nation in the civil rights movement.  Now that I’m a part of a majority Caucasian church Mid-January’s bring reflections the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision.  If you didn’t know Sunday (1/19) was “Sanctity of Life Sunday” is followed by Martin Luther King Jr Monday (1/20), which is followed by Roe V. Wade’s 41st anniversary on Wednesday (1/22).  There is a chilling contrast between the January 20th celebration of the life of MLK and the advancement of civil rights his legacy leaves; while simultaneously mourning the January 22nd anniversary of legalized abortion and the millions of innocent dead babies its legacy leaves.  Depending on the context, it seems that focusing on one issue or the other we are missing the boat on one of the most incredibly important subjects that affect our church today.

“…it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How much have things changed?  This is the largest chasm that is extant in the body of Christ in the US.  Our continued segregation preaches something to our surrounding culture, and it is not positive about the Kingdom of God.  We must find a way to intentionally seek racial reconciliation while addressing such a grievous sin of our nation, which happens to affect African Americans disproportionately.  The problem is both [majority] Black and Caucasian churches miss the issues that have not historically effected our communities, by doing this we miss the larger issue that severs the Kingdom of God and is simultaneously is destroying lives.

So what’s the solution? Maybe churches should make this a period of intense focus both on the protection of life and racial reconciliation.  I do not think that this is a mistake by God but orchestrated in His plan for us to take advantage two subjects that seem so different yet speak to similar injustices in our nation and in the Kingdom of God.

“The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sacrifice the futures of his children for immediate personal comfort and safety. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Blurred lines

The problem with drawing lines in the sand is that with a breath of air they disappear.

I remember driving around Kansas City with some friends while in college when I was first encountered this question that had plagued me for the entirety of my Christian life, “what is the difference between Christian and secular music?”  You see on my radio I was listening to “secular” music and my friend was becoming continually and visibly agitated with it.  When he asked me to change it, the question was raised by another friend.  Although it seemed an initially obvious answer, I did not immediately know that answer.  Actually, the more I thought about it the more I realized I am not sure.  Was it that a Christian song had to mention Jesus or God?  If that is true then what do we do with the books of Esther and Song of Songs (which do not mention either)?

Unfortunately, this is a dilemma that is not unique to the sphere of music.  We live in a world where the divide between Secular and Sacred is constantly and adamantly being drawn by both Christians and non-Christians alike.  We are frequently labeling things “Christian” that I suppose we fear otherwise might be confused for something else.

  • Christian schools
  • Christian groups
  • Christian movies
  • Christian books
  • Christian bands, etc.

If our music, our schools, our groups, our books, our actions do not point those around us to Jesus, and serve to redeem a broken world, then are they not indeed unchristian?  Instead of creating clear bright line, like we would like, Christ blurred the lines between secular and sacred, seemingly implying that the division the ritualistic religion of the day had crested a false division.  If All things are God’s, all things are in fact sacred?  IS this going to o far?  Why? Furthermore, He was criticized for almost everything he did because he acted as if things such as the purity and impurity, pious and impious, Jew and Gentile, powerful and weak, rich and poor did not exist as the world saw them.  When Paul came on the scene he preached this as he proclaimed in Romans there is no division, but “all are one in Christ Jesus.”

Is it easier to know who is in or out?   Is it that we wanted to be able to sit at the table with drunkards tax collectors and sinners, as long as we knew who was who?  Honestly , I’m not really sure, so I put the question to you, is there a Sacred/ Secular divide?

We are fighting for the wrong kingdom!

“It frustrates me how church people discern truth using their politics instead of their Bibles, and it frustrates me that they don’t know the are doing it.”

– Reverend Dr. Derrick Lynch, Blue Valley Baptist Church

As an American and also as an evangelical Christian, I can hardly bear to watch this nightmare unfolding. It’s bad for Christianity, heck it’s bad for America. Here is my take on the sorry spectacle of Christian politics — and how to fix it.

Politicians continue to use and abuse the language and symbols of Christian faith in order to win political support. They speak of God, Jesus, Christian faith and Christian values. They bow their heads in prayer at a million chicken dinners. Then Christian voters — perhaps flattered, perhaps reassured — think that these evocations of Christian symbols and terms actually mean something. Living in the Midwest I I see and hear this kind of foolishness daily. This version of Christian politics is inherently corrupting to Christian faith, ethics and witness. It confuses the message of Christianity with that of the politician of the moment. I’m not sure about your baptism but I do not remember getting handed a card to a particular political party. This conflation damages the moral witness of Christians in culture, it makes it harder for millions to even consider the claims of historic Christian faith. It drives many away from God altogether. Don’t believe me? Let me give you an example.
The whole Obama rodeo clown debacle is repugnant. Some people at the fair see the rodeo incident in which a ringleader taunted a clown wearing a mask of President Obama, played with his lips as a bull charged after him was neither racist nor disrespectful. The hooting and hollering from the crowd that night was because of a fundamental dislike of the president. Immediately we had “Christians” on the Left and Right claiming a foul and I do not want to get into the details but there are somethings I want to point out:
  1. “… but they did it to President Bush”. Again, I don’t know about you but my kids would get into trouble for making an asinine excuse like this.
  2. “[Political Party] is just the lesser of two evils”. Just remember that you are still advocating for evil.
  3. “[Political Party] is closer to my values”. Yes, and they are trying to setup there own [Political] kingdoms that compete with God’s.
Here is a wake-up call:
  • Rush Limbaugh hates Jesus.
  • Sean Hannity hates Jesus.
  • Rachel Maddow hates Jesus.
  • Mark Levin hates Jesus.
  • Kieth Olbermann hates Jesus.
  • Piers Morgan hates Jesus.
  • Anderson Cooper hates Jesus
  • Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR and whomever else I missed all hates Jesus.
  • Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and [fill in your political party if it was not mentioned] parties are ALL antithetical to the Kingdom of God.

I know you agreed with some of the list and others you disagreed but I want to ask you this, What kingdom are they fighting for? When you listen to them talk/ advocate for their position who are they talking about? A Political party, an ideology, or Christ? Better yet if someone were to listen to you talk/ advocate who would they say you are talking about? Unfortunately, we have sold out to these fiefdoms while the Kingdom of God (you know the one that Christ died in establishing) loses ground. Do not allow your voice to be co-opted by your allegiance to an earthly kingdom or party. We have prostituted ourselves out so much that the outside world does not know the difference between Christ many political parties and that is a shame.

We are fighting for the wrong kingdom, let’s start fighting for the right one because all of the other ones are just [really] ghetto idols. It’s not that much different than when my son puts on my shoes and marches around the house trying to be me. Though its cute, he is a far cry from filling the shoes he’s trying so hard to handle.
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