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Below are just some ramblings for a Wednesday afternoon.  Take these for what you wish…but these are some un-edited and off the cuff beliefs that I hold.  There are some snippets relating to life, marketing, and leadership…but most of these are relating to faith.   Maybe you share some of them. 

God is a lover, not a hater.  It angers me to see His name attached to hate, vile, simplistic arguments, picket signs, and campaign slogans.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, where you’ve done it, or who you’ve done it with…God is in love with you.  We too often think that God’s angry at us, waiting to pounce on our poor decisions.  That’s just not the case.  God is a lover, and He’ll pursue you with every ounce of energy He has. 

Forgiveness is easier to give out than it is to receive.  I am capable of causing severe harm in people’s lives.  Because of my poor decisions and prideful attitude, I have hurt many people.  Sometimes, I even did this in the name of “what’s right.”  I’m ashamed of myself, and wish so desperately that I could take those moments back.  I can’t.  And, I understand the responses of anger and the cold shoulder treatment.  I deserve those.  What blows me away and leaves me speechless is when someone truly forgives me.  In those moments, I see so clearly how much courage Jesus lived with his entire life.  It also causes me to envision the possibilities of a group of people who live in true forgiveness.  

Jesus was a revolutionary.  And, He won.   His entire life was a beautiful and loud collision of grace and hopelessness.  If you would have followed Him, you would’ve constantly been amazed.  His leadership was courageous.  His teachings were absolutely profound.  But, His life….His life was brilliant.  Jesus pointed out the fallacies of religion while re-centering humanity with the desires and heart of the Father.  This wasn’t about instituting a new law because the law of Moses sucked…this was about revealing what God had desired all along.  It wasn’t about law at all.  His life was about freedom.  He set us free from the systems, religions, habits, customs, and souls that plague us into oblivion.  He taught us how to live in this freedom by loving the down-and-outs, misfits, poor, oppressed, and hurting.  This is the Father’s heart…that we would simply love and enjoy. 

A vast majority of churches spend a lot of time with their heads up their butts.  We seriously believe that the most pressing issues facing us are ensuring that our way is the right way.  We fight about what other churches do.  We yell when someone voices an opinion or criticism against something that we hold dear.  We argue about how many songs we should sing on Sunday, and from what era those songs should be.  We go into a hysterical panic attack if a woman touches a microphone.  But…at least we are doing things “right.”  Please note, the “right” in that instance was super sarcastic.  What we argue and write letters about is both laughable and miserably sad.  We’ve missed the point, and the world pays the price.

I think that salvation has as much to do with what happens here as to what happens on the other side of the grave.  Yes, I am a fan of heaven…but I think we use heaven to convince ourselves that what we do here doesn’t matter.  I believe that the Gospel is actually about re-creating us  while we are here, to the point where we become new creations living in the midst of an old creation….that we live as salt and light in the midst of a dark, depraved world.  I believe this means that we can actually like living here, and not just complain and moan about how bad things have become.  The world sucks…I get it.  But just because the Father has granted us eternal security doesn’t give us an excuse to arrogantly huddle inside church buildings and write off the rest of the world because they don’t get it.

It’s possible, and necessary, to change hopeless situations.  In an increasingly shrunken world, saturated with technology and ridiculous profit margins, it is absolutely unbelievable that hunger still plagues a majority of the globe.  Our world is filled with all sorts of darkness:  abuse, slavery, human trafficking, the porn industry, intense poverty, drugs, CEO’s who live above the law, hate, prejudice, lies being presented as truth…the list goes on, and on.  What are we doing to stop this?  What are we doing to present a different alternative to the people affected by these situations?  I believe this is the message of Jesus…the Father desires there to be hope here, not depravity.

I don’t fit in at my church.  I may not fit in at your church.  I have probably made people feel like they can’t fit in at my church.  Shame on us for creating those perceptions.  Churches should be places of honest questioning…overflowing with hope, passsion, joy, forgiveness, and grace.  They should be places that invight creativity, provide deep insight, challenge norms and convictions, and counteract injustices.  They should be places that redefine humanity as we know it…that allow for us a new way to exist and interact with our surroundings.  Instead…a vast majority of our churches are plagued by greed, politicism, elitism, pride, fear, and the isatiable desire to be big.  I used to buy into that game, and played it pretty well.  I’ll spend the rest of my life re-defining that structure. 

I’m tired of small dreams, mindlessly reciprocating traditions, and half-baked theology being presented as the gospel.   Our cold environments, archaic structures, and half thought out programs are the reason that we are struggling with attendences in today’s cultural climate.  Our ignorance toward uncovering the whole gospel of Jesus is the reason that our influence has waned.  We settle for cheesy, complacent theology and expect the world to come to us.  It’s time for the church to rise from these ashes, to apologize for it’s mistakes, and to stop wasting people’s time with anything less than the grace and rescue of Jesus Christ in tangible, authentic, real forms.

I have been thrown under the bus, used, and discredited.  That sucks.  May we always strive to uncover the best in each other, to embrace each other’s giftedness, and to leverage the best of ourselves and each other.  May we never trample, abuse, and use each other for our own gains or to further our own leadership posture.