Tag Archives: Bible

Compassion Ad Get’s It Wrong

Compassion Ad in Leadership Magazine

I got a copy of Leadership Magazine in the mail yesterday. I forget why, but it showed up and so I started a quick skim through it. This ad caught my eye. Before I start, let me just say that I am a big fan of Compassion and the work they do. I’m also not bothered by using advertising and appealing to Christians in the USA to give. What I do have a problem with is the wording and what I see to be a direct contradiction to what Jesus says.

The ad on the left, with a picture of two young boys sleeping on a mat on the floor, reads:

They Are The Needy.

You Are The Blessed.

We Are The Pipeline Between.

Anyone who knows of Compassion can understand the appeal. Consider sponsoring a child through Compassion, since you have money and they need food, shelter and education.

However, this seems to be counter to what I read Jesus saying:

“Blessed are the Poor.”

Apparently, blessing and need are not mutually exclusive, and one can hypothesize, money might not be a blessing at all. This sort of language bothers me because it continues to create an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality and allows us to do acts of ‘charity’ from a sort of pious and self-righteous position. It’s along the same lines of my critique of mixing up the words “unsaved” and “least of these.”

I believe a more accurate advertisement would draw out of us an emotion of the need for justice, and would compell us to give not out of a place of privilege and superiority, but out of our own need to move ourselves from participating in injustice to justice. Jesus words to the “You” in this ad (the people with the money) wasn’t that they were “blessed”, no they were “woe”ed.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.”

So, what would be a more accurate advertisement? I’ll give it one shot…

They are Blessed with the Kingdom, but have physical needs

You have money to meet their needs, and wouldn’t it be cool to support the Kings and Queens of God’s Kingdom?

We are the Pipeline to getting you out of Jesus’ “Woe” category…

Do you have any creative ad ideas? I’ll email the best ones to Compassion.

Further Thoughts On Church

I wanted to layout some further thoughts from my rambling post on Monday. First of all, thank you to everyone who commented, it really lent me some insight. So, undoubtedly, some of what I write below is in response to some of the thoughts shared. I’m also encouraged that so many people have found churches that break the traditional mold I tend to see everywhere I go.  So, my thoughts below aren’t about individual churches (if the shoe doesn’t fit…), but rather a question or thought about the “Christian” community as a whole.

The Bible

People, inside of the church and outside, have a lot of different views of this book. It’s authoritative History, good advice, fairy tale, or oppressive manifesto. It’s ancient for sure, but like many old text, there are some tidbits of advice that are universal. Christians claim the Bible as their authoritative text, but most don’t seem to have ever read it themselves. I think they should read it. But, then there’s also the crew that jumps on the Bible-in-a-Year bandwagon and attempts to cram through the whole book time and again. My main concern is that we are reading but not doing what it says.  And by doing what it says, I don’t mean condemning people who don’t believe it’s rules, but rather following the admonishes ourselves (Love your enemies, Feed the poor, put others before yourselves, do not judge, etc). I’d almost think we’d be fine just putting away our Bibles for the rest of our lives and spend our time actually trying to implement what we know we should and aren’t.


Most of my thought falls into the same category as the Bible. Isn’t there a point when the pastor, or the group, re-evaluates and says “this isn’t working.” There’s benefit to public speaking, informing, challenging, etc. But when a large group of people get together week after week to motivate themselves to follow Jesus and do what the Bible says, isn’t there a point when you raise a question as to whether it’s actually happening or not? I’m not an outsider by any means, but I think any logical person could spend a few weeks around a church and say there is a huge gaping difference between what they are preaching and what they are doing.
Part two of sermons is this idea that one person in an entire congregation (almost always a male) some how is gifted to be the only one who speaks to the entire group on a weekly basis. I’m sorry, but I see absolutely no basis for that in the Bible I read.


Some people love the music at church. I used to, but now I can’t stand it. My opinion of the singing is really summed up in this one passage, Amos 5:21-24. Part of which reads:

“Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

I can’t imagine we’ve come much farther then the Israelites in those days, in fact, I think we are probably in many ways far worse.

Communion and Sacraments

I feel similar about these as the Music above. I don’t want to diminish the value of rituals or sacred acts, I think they are a very important part of ours or any culture. And yet, they’re sacredness to me is so diminished by our inaction, that in many ways I struggle to see the value at all.
And I’ll be honest, especially for all you non-Christians out there, I just find communion bizarre. I dig that it was originally done at a passover meal, and it’s connection to the Hebrew prayers over the bread and wine at Passover and Shabbat. But, the whole drink my blood and eat my body stuff? I still don’t get it.


Most folks who gave their reason behind church mentioned community. I couldn’t agree more. I think church has been a great way for me to meet other people from my community (both geographically and common values). However, simply community, in and of itself, isn’t a very compelling reason to attend. Many people find deeper community with others through a whole host of other activities (sporting events, meals, video games, cooking, hobbies, outings, etc). Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of community, I just think pointing to church (particularly Sunday morning) as an example of deep Christian community is pretty disappointing.

[photo credit]

YouTubesday: The Poor Will Always…

I attended the CCDA conference in St. Louis this past week (thus the brief blog hiatus). It was an incredible conference and a very encouraging experience. I didn’t do much in the way of notes and things, so I don’t have a lot to post for you. However, I did find some old CCDA video on youtube, and this one from Wayne Gordon is right on. It’s about the often misquoted passage, “The poor will always be among you.”
The video is 40+ minutes long, but just listen to the first five minutes and then decide if your sucked in or not. Verse references below. (also a few other old CCDA videos in the player below)

Matthew 26:11
The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.

Deuteronomy 15

15:11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.

Leviticus 19:9 ” ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.


How do you perceive the Bible?

(also originally written some months ago)
Warning: Potentially untheological and possibly heretical thoughts to follow.

I don’t think what I am about to share with you will be heretical in any way, but just so that I feel at ease to speak freely I figured I should start with that disclaimer. I should also say that most of what I am about to share with you is not my theological foundation that I would bank on and argue for, it’s just some of the thoughts that have come to mind over the years. If you do not agree with what I share then please discuss, do not argue with me.

When I started to form my beliefs (heavily influenced by my involvement in a church youth group in high school), I was from the beginning a strong believer in the inerrancy of scripture (“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”). If you doubt or call into question the reliability of the Bible then you could call into question the things recorded in the Bible, and then we’d have all kinds of problems. There is plenty of good arguments and evidence to put forth here, but I won’t bother you with that, if your interested you can find plenty elsewhere.

It wasn’t till later, after having taken Greek (more vested interest in believing in inerrancy), and spent a bit of time in some Bible classes, that I began to have some questions. Why all the male-centered, male-dominance of Scripture if it was God inspired? Why these letters and not others from the Early Church? And primarily, why so much time debating, expounding, and extrapolating on every dot and letter? I mean there is a lot of things in there that are pretty straight forward and clear.

First, the male-dominance of the Scriptures has come to bother me. It wasn’t always this way, I being a male did not have a difficult time seeing the Scriptures as meaningful and personal, but I have come to realize my sisters in Christ do not always have the same comfort.

How do you reconcile what you can see as inherent injustice of a patriarchal society with a book of “God Breathed” scripture? I’m not exactly sure.

What I’ve come to settle on, more then argue for or against, or spend time reading long theological academic journals, is that there are a number of things in the scripture that are clear as day to me. Jesus was real and the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most revolutionary texts I’ve ever encountered. I’m compelled to follow this leader. I could and probably will spend my whole life trying to put into practice the teachings of Christ in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, and I still won’t quite know how I perceive the Bible as a whole.

Jesus: “…even greater things than these…”

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Usually when I hear folks mention this passage it’s with an attitude of “not sure what he meant, because that’s impossible.” I, on the other hand, seem to find Jesus’ words quite amazing and yet very believable. There are two reasons for this.

One, there are plenty of miracles occuring today. Most of us sitting in our wealth, independent society in the USA have not been privileged to experience the miraculous hand of God in people’s lives, quite the same as it was at work in Jesus’ time. The academics in our society have explained miracles away as a thing of the past, and for us with all our modern technology we don’t see much of a need for a miracle to occur here.
Take a short trip to a great many other places throughout the world and you’ll find out pretty quickly (whether you believe people or not is our choice), that miracles certainly seem to be happening today. I won’t go much into this, because I think we have some strong opinions on these things, but I would argue, there are a lot of folks out there that will testify to God being at work through physical miracles of healing and more.

Second, and this is one that applies to most of us, I think we have each been given plenty of resources to do “greater things” in our lifetimes. I’m not talking about dying on the cross, or literally raising someone out of a grave, but many of the other things are miracles we can help make happen through donation. You could easily feed 10,000 people a meal in your lifetime. You can provide healing treatment for lepers, donate blood or bone marrow so noblemen’s sons might live. We have a great many resources in our midst, let’s make Jesus’ words a reality.

Recycling is Biblical (part 1)

Earlier this week I sent an email out to some friends informing them of the new recycling policies in Nashville.

At the end of the letter I went out on a limb and threw in a statement saying that it’s “Biblical” to recycle. Well, I think it took a few people back and rubbed them the wrong way or something. So, I’ve got to give some explanation.

I think this will only be two parts, but no guarantees.

First of all, with any issue we address as Christians, we need to stop beginning our thought process from a societal worldview. What I mean by that is that the society we live in views the world a certain way and when we look at the Bible and try and consider the most “Christian” thing to do, we must try our hardest to begin thinking about it from a clean slate rather then the already established worldview.
It’s interesting that when I say “recycling is Biblical” that the burden of proof is on me to prove that it is indeed supported by the Bible. If we are going to step back and then we need to consider how Biblical NOT recycling is.
I’ll write more in part 2 about why I think particularly Recycling is a good thing to do and try and support environmental stewardship as a Biblical step. However, for now I think we need to start seriously considering many of the actions in our lives.

Do you know the Ten Commandments?

If you consider yourself a person of the “Book” then you amongst others probably hold highly those two stone tablets with those Ten Commandments. The important question is, do you know what they are?
For those who could only stumble across about five of those commands Congressman Lynn Westmoreland, A man pushing for the Ten Commandments to be placed in public courthouses, will happily list them out for you.

If you didn’t catch them all here’s some more info.

Lying ‘to do God a service’?

I’ve been doing a bit of catching up on my Bible reading and have recently been hanging out in the book of Job. Now, you’ve got to wonder about the book of Job. Most of the time it’s summed up by a preacher in about three chapters (the first two and then the last one), basically they say: Job’s a good guy, devil asks to test him, God let’s him take away everything Job has and even gives him boils, Job doesn’t curse God, and in the end God comes in a violent storm and then returns to Job double what he originally had, the end.
What we barely ever spend much time on is the nearly 40 chapters of conversation between Job and his three ‘counseling’ friends. I could be wrong but I think that is the longest conversation that there is in the Bible, and it’s an definite argument no less. And I’ve been spending the past two days sitting in the midst of these arguing friends, and boy is it something.

I think there are a ton of situations where you could apply some of the wisdom found here, like don’t argue with someone who just lost everything, but I think you can figure those out. Instead, I’d like to just point out one of the interesting passages I ran across that I think might lend us some insight. (This is from The Message, I looked at the NIV too and I think it’s a acceptable translation)

Job to his friends:
“are you going to keep on lying ‘to do God a service’?
to make up stories ‘to get him off the hook’?
Why do you always take his side?
Do you think he needs a lawyer to defend himself?
How would you fare if you were in the dock?
Your lies might convince a jury-but would they convince God?
He’d reprimand you on the spot
if he detected a bias in your witness.
Doesn’t his splendor put you in awe?
Aren’t you afraid to speak cheap lies before him?”

Have you been there? Eagerly trying to ‘defend God’ with your human wisdom? Is that why we are so into apologetics and theological study?

I wonder if our lack of awe at this concept of god we argue the case of, is the very thing that keeps those we argue against from seeing the splendor and standing in awe of the true living God?

free-will vs. predestination: I’m NOT a robot.

I probably won’t get to my thoughts about the Biblical foundations about free-will and predestination in this post at all. Rather, I’d like to address one of the dangers that comes up when we start to get honest and talk about this subject. Listen carefully and you might pick up on which direction I lean.

First and foremost, I am NOT a robot. I know you where probably constructing your theories and questioning whether the pictures are real, but seriously I’m not. What I mean by saying this is to address the most common response I hear from people when they are presented with the idea of predestination. IF predestination is true they say, then no choice they make is their own, they are a robot pre-programmed for every action. Therefore, one might say, what is the use of doing anything? I’ll just sit here, cause obviously that’s what God predestined me to do right?
Whether I believe theologically in predestination or not, I am still personally physically and mentally making my own decisions. If I jump, sit, sleep, eat, smile, yell, or laugh, each I have complete control over those choices (whether I’m predestined to do them or not).
I’ll try to present a brief anology, but it will fall short of proving effective unless you do your best to stretch your imagination a little. The whole problem with an anology on this topic is it is an attempt to explain God with human consructs, I find that’s not quite possible. You’ve probably seen one of those magic tricks online where you read a series of things and then say the first word that comes to your mind, “carrot” and low and behold there it is when you scroll down the very word you where thinking of. The reason they knew is because people simply tend to choose that word. But they didn’t FORCE you to choose that word. Now, what if we just always chose that word, that’s just the way people are…would that mean we suddenly lost our free-will? Now multiple that infinity times.

To Be Continued… (In other words, at some point I WILL talk about which I believe [I’m not quite sure yet] and why).