Category Archives: Church

BTW

Why is the church so second-rate when it comes to reaching and impacting society?

Doesn’t the Bride of Christ deserve the attention that Whoppers’ generates? So, what are we waiting for?

Choosing Ground

A simple meeting room at a hotel, right?

Actually, it isn’t.

This is the scene of an event that will begin a process of bringing a new church to Leland, NC. River of Leland will officially make it’s public debut on December 6 at 6:00 p.m. at the Comfort Inn in Leland.

Birthed from a desire to see people fully living the life of a Jesus follower, River of Leland hasn’t been the result of a moment of fancy; rather, it is the result of years of experience with what church wasn’t. We all have our stories of the failure of the churches we’ve been a part of, visited and associated with. Many of us were harmed by the experience; many of us left it behind — left church, Christianity and Jesus. The bitter taste that remained in our mouth inoculated us against ever making that mistake again. Even if we weren’t radically turned off by the experience, we accepted that church could never live up to its purported fame.

That is the negative side of our vision. The positive—and driving—force is our understanding of the biblical presentation of the church.

River of Leland is born out of a desire to know her and a confidence that the church is indeed the Bride of Jesus, a supernaturally powerful entity that is able to move both heaven and earth. She is the reason that Jesus came to this earth, the power that will destroy hell, the vehicle by which Satan will see his destruction and the relationship that prepares us for our heavenly reality right now. She is our inheritance that is to be spent here, on this earth, not later, one day, in heaven.

The church of Acts is the church we desire to see in Leland. A church embodied with and walking in the full power of the supernatural being who planned her and brought her into existence. Anything less is an insult to Jesus.

Intellectual Arrogance

I’m coming across authors who wrote some pretty good stuff.

The interesting thing is that they wrote it when I was in grad school and they weren’t much older than I at the time (I suppose they still aren’t much older than I now). I even vaguely remember hearing their names while in school and in full-time ministry but simply dismissing them because they weren’t in my “politically correct” (“church correct” is more appropriate) circles that I followed, read or associated with.

Now, almost 30-something years later, their writings and ideas have finally found my desk again. This time, I’m listening.

What’s irritating is that this is really good stuff. It is having a profound impact on me. Had my brain not been so full of mush way back then, how might these ideas have influenced me over the three decades that have passed? How might I have been able to influence, help and encourage countless others during that time?

I’m not crying over spilt milk; I am upset at my intellectual arrogance. I thought I had it all figured out and that caused me to tune out the very folks who could have propelled me forward in significant ways. Instead, I took the intellectual equivalence of sticking my head in the toilet and flushing. Not a good thing. Not only did I suffer, but I robbed others as well.

In a day when the internet is full of innuendos and attacks on people’s character and gossip is traded as a legitimate currency of truth, it is my desire to not stick my head in that toilet and flush. There is no place for arrogance, ever.

Understandable mistake

A lady comes into my office yesterday. She is grumpy, kinda mean.

She tells me why she’s come in, wants me to feed her everything I know and can look up about her condition. She’s not happy with my answers, questions where I went to school. Said my office was too dark and wanted to know why it was so cold. Disparaged my paintings, said my bookcase was too cluttered and questioned the way I dressed. She complained the entire time, took up time that wasn’t hers, making me late to see the next person and then said I was rushing her.

As she was checking out she insisted that the girls go get me, that I leave the next patient and come out to the desk. “I can’t believe you are going to charge me!” she indignantly exclaimed.

My response was a simple: ” Ma’am, I think you confused this office visit with going to church…” Then I turned and went back to the other patient.

Ouch!

Crossing the Jordan

Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them…  I will give you every place where you set your foot –Joshua

When the Spanish explorer Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon came into the Cape Fear region in 1526, what is now call the Cape Fear River, was christened as the Jordan River.

How appropriate… and prophetic.

I’ve done many things in my life. What is interesting is the circuitous path it has been. I find myself at a curious point in time, in many ways at the same place I was thirty-six years ago. Only now the situation is different and I am more prepared for, and committed to, a task that looms in front of me.

I’m about to cross the Jordan.

I, along with two fellow sojourners (John McIntyre and Travis Currin) and a small band of pilgrims, am going to plant a church in Leland, on the other side of the Jordan (Cape Fear) River.

“Leland” means “protected land,” “land lying fallow.” The idea is a field that has been at rest in order to become more productive when sown. Leland is indeed such a place.

Under the title: “Leland to match Wilmington’s population by 2025,”the Star News states that the population of Leland could reach 100,000 within fifteen years. In 2006, Brunswick County, where Leland is located, was already ranked as the 29th fastest growing county in the U.S.

This, along with other factors, has made Leland our target. The “land lying fallow” is primed for planting.

“River of Leland” will be the name of the church. Many more details will be forthcoming; our first worship and informational meeting will be on December 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Comfort Suites Magnolia Green in Leland.

Bait and Switch?

Why does this make me think of the current status of the evangelical church in the U.S. and the Spirit?

Tax collectors

I renewed my car tag this morning.

In all the years I’ve done this, and in three different states, my experience has always been less than warm. The folks behind the counter are always dour, sullen, scowling and just plain negative (even mean). The only reason I even return is that the law dictates I have a current tag every year.

Two things come to mind:

First, why? I understand that there is no competition; once the government gives the contract, there is no consequence. These are the proverbial tax collectors who receive funds designated for the state while taking their cut from a guaranteed income. They do not have to perform; like it or lump it, but you still have to pay them. However, should there not be some emphasis on customer relations?

Second, what does this do to the employee who has to fill this role? Imagine having to do what they do (force the people to pay an obligatory tax) and the type of folks they have to deal with daily. Who wouldn’t be sullen? What do these people do when they go home at night… kick their dog and yell at their husband?

This also brings up another thing that sprung to my mind as I stood in line. How often does the church present itself in the very same way?

When the frequenters of a church act and live as though they are sucking on lemons, why would anyone want what they’re offering? Just because you hold the keys to the Kingdom doesn’t give you the right to deny them to those who don’t have them.

Shouldn’t we be more like Matthew AFTER he met Jesus?

Is that it?

For the majority of the years I labored under the Christian banner my “walk” was constantly plagued by the nagging question “Is that it?” Is this all there is to this thing? Doesn’t it get any better? What’s all the hoopla about?

Being the good little Christian, however, I never voiced my rising concern. I was, after all, a “professional” Christian. I’d actually gone to school to do this. I “knew” how it worked.

And that was a big problem… I KNEW how it worked. Better stated, I knew how it DIDN’T work. But I was expected to have all the answers. Even more frightening, when I asked those who I deemed as “spiritual” what I was missing, I was told to not ask those sort of questions because they were “of Satan” and that I needed to work on my faith to make it stronger.

Decades–and a massive train wreck of epic proportions of my life and faith–later, I sit in awe. In awe of Abba. Honestly amazed at how I could so mess things up and he still be wanting me… me.

It seems so contradictory to wonder if there is “more” when you claim to believe in a Being who has created everything. How can my faith be so fragile if God has unlimited resources? How can he be real when my life is so unfulfilling? It just can’t be.

Either he is distracted and a liar or I’m missing something.

Experience has shown me that it is the “something” factor. When you discover the “something” it changes everything; it also makes a lot of folks uncomfortable.

Why wouldn’t it?

Everything changes while pursuing a “something” in a pit on a snowy day.

The gospel according to… Jesus?

I have a friend who says he’s worried that the church sometimes offers more of a “good deal” than it does in just sharing the Good News. It seems to me that many in the Christian world have a tendency to offer their brand of Christianity (sometimes denominational: Baptist, Methodist, charismatic, Catholic) which in essence says something to the effect of “come join us — our brand, our church, our faith — and you, too, can share in this good deal we’ve gotten in on.” –Buddy Duncan

snoopyYou may remember a best seller about four decades ago entitled The Gospel According to Peanuts by Robert Short. The message of Jesus as portrayed through the characters of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy. Big hit, millions sold, many imitators: The Gospel According to the Beatles, the Matrix, the Simpson, U2, etc., have followed.

Pastor Buddy makes a legitimate point: why don’t we reference Jesus as the best source for espousing his message?

Instead of asking what Jesus would do, maybe we should just do what He did. He proclaimed the good news. He reached out and accepted people, right where they were. He invited them to come along and walk with Him. His Good (Dare I say GREAT!) News was that the Kingdom of God has come actively into our world… Maybe if we practice the Kiss principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), we won’t have to be so creative and feel the need to write future editions of The Gospel according to: the Black-Eyed Peas; Walt Disney; Paris Hilton; Steven Spielberg; Oprah, or any other pop icon …

I love the current era’s emphasis on Jesus. Sadly, it is the younger generation that is carrying that banner. We 40+ folks have really fallen on our faces. It’s time for us to make a difference and not solely rely on our offspring to carry the banner. Our younger leaders are making some of the same mistakes we did because we bungled things badly, missed the gospel message, and have made them react instead of respond to Jesus.

Their mistakes look different. They do actually point people to Jesus and want to gather in as many as possible; but so often they, like us, end up presenting a gospel according to something else… just like we did.

Perhaps it’s time for us older believers to put our hands to the plow, learn from our younger brothers, and do what Jesus did. Time to act, not criticize.

How many votes for “all too probable?”

I am desperate to experience thesb10065494c-001 life of impossibility.

Yesterday, I stumbled across this quote by Martin Buber in his On Judaism:

“Whoever can no longer desire the impossible will be able to achieve nothing more than the all too probable.” ~page 145

Any takers for the “all too probable” lifestyle?