Thursday, December 04, 2014

My Family is Full of Selfish, Hell-bent Jerks - and Other Bad Starting Points

If you don't have issues, you better check your pulse because you probably don't have one of those either. That's true in families and it's true in churches - local churches and groups of churches.

When disagreements occur, it is very good - let's call it loving - to assume good about our brothers and sisters in Christ instead of evil. I see Christians to the left of me and to the right saying things and making arguments that don't reflect the truth about where the other parties actually are. I have found that my brothers and sisters are wonderful people; not selfish people. Here are some gracious things to assume about your church family members with whom you disagree whether they are more liberal or conservative than you:

1. They are pursuing being right in the practice of their faith. They are not bent on following their own will even if it is against God's.
2. They've read the text. It is not helpful to tell someone to read __________ passage. We have MANY intelligent, well-studied people in our family and all of us have read the texts and still often disagree about what it means in light of all the texts that pertain to a particular topic.
3. They love God, they trust Jesus, they desire the unity of the Spirit, and they love God's Church.

Have the conversation. Paul said that he is confident that in the face of disagreements, we can teach each other while accepting each other and refusing to judge (Romans 15:14). When we converse though, we'll accomplish much more if we assume good-will in our family and start the conversation where people actually are.  - Richard May

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Jesus Did Not Commt Suicide

Jesus did not commit suicide and yet...

Knowing what was in Judas' heart, Jesus told him "What you're going to do, do quickly."
Knowing what the soldiers had come to do, he walked from Gethsemane straight to them to be arrested.
Jesus stayed silent before his accusers to hasten what was inevitable.
When everything was finished, according to John, Jesus bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Jesus determined the time of his own death and he gave up his spirit because he had promised regarding his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again (John 10:18)

When it has become evident to you that you are going to die soon, that your death is going involve excruciating pain for you and for those who love you, and it is not in God's purpose for you to be healed, legitimate question arise as to what you can do to hasten your own death.

Most of us have loved people who were faced with these kinds of difficult questions.  We want them to fight hard to live! So when they've done that, and the end is still approaching, there are still questions.
Do I stop eating?
Do I stop chemotherapy?
Do I remove a breathing machine?
Do I refuse surgery?
Do I move to state where it's legal and inject a concoction that will more peacefully cease my breathing and put an end to my pain?

Do I march down the hill toward my inevitable death? Do I do it quickly? 

These are difficult questions. Personal questions. Family type questions. And perhaps, contrary to what we might have previously thought, holy questions.

Richard May

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

There is much written about why God created a world in which evil exists, but at the end of the day this very cool truth exists: People have many opportunities every day to choose to not do evil toward someone else;but to do good.
1. Give somebody the benefit of the doubt.
2. Forgive somebody whom you could crush.
3. Give somebody a sacrificial gift.
4. Go out of your way to help another.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Instead of...

  • Instead of leaving a flyer in my door, come over and chat with me in my yard.
  • Instead of yelling at me about hell, point me to some hope.
  • Instead of inviting me to your church, invite me to your den.
  • Instead of promoting the morality of your political party, lift Jesus up to me.
  • Instead of pointing out what's wrong with me, tell me about God's love for me.
  • Instead of focusing on converting me, make the attempt to connect with me.
  • Instead of moving on to the next victim when you don't catch me on your first attempt, actually want to be my friend.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Powerful Teaching?

The teachings of Jesus were powerful enough to amaze the crowds, silence the self-righteous, and convict the sinful.  They were not, however, powerful enough to give birth to a spiritual family that would last thousands of years and could withstand the gates of hell.  Only a resurrected Jesus could accomplish that. The church didn't make up the story of the resurrection to make Jesus look like a Savior. The church would not have existed to make up any stories if Jesus had never come out of his tomb.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why Would You Keep Doing the Wrong Thing?

Years ago I realized that for three quarters I had been mailing my estimated tax payments to the incorrect US Treasury address.  The address was for the US Treasury, but not the branch to which I should have addressed my mail.  I asked my tax man, "Since I've sent these three payments to this address, should I go ahead and send this one there, too?"  He looked at me with bewilderment and then asked one of the most significant questions I've ever been asked: "Why would you keep doing the wrong thing?"

Should you be asking yourself that question right now?

Friday, February 08, 2013

Defensive Mode

I was a defensive end for the Kosciusko Whippets in Mississippi.  My responsibility on most plays was containment.  No running back was supposed to get outside of me.  If they did, my teammates who were all inside of me would have little chance to tackle the runner.  Keep them inside.

Because my role was containment, my posture was defensive.  Defensive ends stood instead of getting in a three point stance.  My hands were out in front of me.  My inside leg was back a little.  When an offensive player came to block me, I used my hands to avoid being knocked down.  I would back up, instead of advancing.  I would string out the play.  Obviously, if I got pushed to the sidelines easily, that was a problem, but backing up was fine.  My goal was to keep the play contained until my advancing teammates could pursue the man with the ball.  I played in defensive mode.

The church has been in defensive mode.  Much of what we do that we call ministry is done behind church walls.  We feel safe there.  Defensive mode.

We only read Christian books, watch Christian movies, listen to Christian music, attend Christian schools (or homeschool), and have Christian friends.  Defensive mode.

For many churches, there is not goal to “seek and save the lost.”  The goal is protecting the truth.  Every community I’ve lived in has a church that always stays about 30 strong, has no impact the community, but stands for the truth.  Defensive mode.

We say a lot, “We are in the world, but not of the world.”  We emphasize “of” to affirm that we are not like them.  The truth is, though, we are not in the world.  We are in our buildings.  We might get out occasionally for a two-week mission trip, but we are quickly back to our buildings waiting for the next two-week trip.  Defensive mode.

We string the play out, and string it out, and string it out.  Maybe we are waiting for our other teammates to pursue, but we are finding that we have a bunch of defensive ends.  And we’ve been pushed to the sideline.