Friday, August 28, 2015

He's Pulled The Curtain Back


The curtain has been pulled back and the insidious and ugly nature of sin has been exposed. In the last few weeks, we have seen the unraveling of many people's lives, families, and careers. Josh Duggar was exposed for being a client on Ashley Madison. This public figure and representative for Christian family values was exposed as a fraud. There have been pastors, seminary professors, and presidents of Christian colleges exposed for affairs. 

In addition to giving a black eye to the church and staining the name of Jesus, it devastates lives. Families have been ruined. Years of labor have been tainted with scandal that it can never be disassociated with.

But in the midst of all of this, I believe something else is happening. God is giving us a gift. This may sound bizarre upon first glance, given the above devastation noted, but it is true. God has given believers a gift. 

What is that gift? Clarity

If there were any pockets of uncertainty, any shred of doubt about the heinous evil of sin, that has been blown up in the face of these sexual scandals. In the event that you had any fantasies swirling around in your mind about the excitement, freedom, enjoyment, and allure of an extra-marital affair, it should be lying in worse ruins than Hiroshima after the atomic bomb. 

We have crystal clear clarity about the darkness and devastation of sin. We see the secret sex stripped of all illusions of grandeur when we see a son confronting his father's adultery saying, "It's over dad." There's nothing to fantasize about with that, is there? There's nothing exciting about imagining Josh Duggar having to face his wife, his children, or his family, is there? The allure of sex outside your marriage, and all that comes with it, may look so appealing and so amazing, until you see the lifetime of devastation it leaves for the two minutes of physical enjoyment it gives.

Oh friends, God has graciously pulled the curtain back on the evil of sin. He has shown us sin's true colors. We should heed the warning. We should thank God for the clarity. The capacity to do evil lurks within us all. We are all five minutes away from a moral disaster in our own lives. 

Follow the words of the Hebrews writer in Hebrews 3:12-14

"12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end."

Take care, Christians. You have evil and unbelief that lurks in your heart that threatens to pull you away from the Living God. So surrender daily to Jesus. Find believers to surround you who can get in your business and exhort you. The deceitfulness of sin is real. But it is a liar. God has given us the gift of clarity. Receive it. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Gender Reveal Parties of the Future: A Parable

Once upon a time, in a very advanced and evolved land, they threw parties. They were unique. They were parties of great celebration and anticipation. For these parties were no mere marking of time or remembering an event, these parties were a revelation. They were called: gender reveal parties.

These parties had been happening for centuries. Previous generations in the land - strange, primitive ancestors - would throw these parties while the fetus was still in the womb. Some - a few of the wackiest - would even call the fetuses babies, as if they were really human until they were out of their mother's body. They had these parties, gathering everyone around, and then the parents would tell everyone the gender of the fetus. This would be followed by a symbolic gesture like releasing blue balloons for boys or pink balloons for girls - I warned you they were strange creatures. 

They were savage people. Parents were preposterously oppressive and barbaric for determining the gender of their children instead of waiting to let the child choose for themselves. They acted as if gender was something biological instead of something you have to feel out on your own. They eventually evolved. Thankfully.

In the new and evolved land, these parties were great celebrations where grown people gathered around with friends and family to reveal their gender. The age of discovery varied for each person. Some knew early on as children, others later in life, and some went back and forth frequently before truly settling down. It was such a liberating thing. 

This does not mean that everyone evolved. Some were stuck in the Stone Age with their insistence that gender was biological and determined by God. They made their arguments. They said things like, "If gender is not set, but is fluid, why do you act as if gender based names are set? Why does a man named "Mark" feel the need to change his name to a girl name like "Christy?" Why not just be a girl named "Mark?" Gender based names appear more set than gender itself." 

Or they said things like, "If people can be born as the wrong gender (i.e. they have XY male chromosomes but are convinced they are a woman), then how is gender a social construct? You cannot be born the wrong gender (implying that gender is set) and simultaneously say it is a social construct." They really were clever, these barbarians and their cute arguments, but the people learned how to shut them up. They called the Dissenters unloving and hateful. This usually caused them to wilt like flowers. 

In this gloriously evolved land, you could no longer disagree with other people's beliefs or you were labeled intolerant; literally, you were labelled so everyone knew you were a Dissenter. Yes, it was a small problem that the word "tolerant" inherently means to put up with people who hold different positions than you, but consistent beliefs were not nearly as important as feelings in this land. The tactic of the moral majority of shutting the mouth of the Dissenters was perfected. People were convinced it was unloving to challenge people's ideas and make them feel uncomfortable. Love and disagreement were no longer compatible. 

It was truly an incredible country. The apex of human evolution. A land where Love Wins (as they would say) and truth was written by the feelings of the day - but could change tomorrow if necessary. If only previous generations would have let go of all their primitive ideas quicker, they would have become great sooner.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Voice In The Wilderness


There is quite a stir happening in the United States right now. We are a very unsettled nation. We are experiencing a moral revolution unlike any other in our nation's history. Whether you like it or not, it is happening. 

Many are cheering the revolution on; others are pumping the brakes, but discovering the brake line got cut somewhere along the way. 

It is possible to both oppose this shift and to see the potential benefits. The Church of Jesus, committed to the authority of Scripture, on a mission to reach people with the gospel, must continue to declare the will of God for all of mankind. We do not bow to public pressure or rejection. We keep proclaiming the truth. We do so with mournful hearts and lamenting over the devastation sin causes in people's lives.

The question the Church is going to have to answer is this: are we willing to stand as a voice of truth in a world that rejects it AND us? 

When John the Baptist stepped onto the scene, he came preaching for people to repent and turn from their sins - which is never a popular message, for those wondering. Many began questioning him, "Who are you?" They kept pressing him for an answer to the question. In frustration, they finally told him they had to give an answer to those who sent them and they demanded for him to say something about himself. John's answer then should be the answer of the Church now. He said, 

"I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord.'"

John's statement deserves several points of emphasis and highlighting. 

First, he is a voice. John is not going to try and accomplish his mission through his actions alone. His mission involves being a voice. The Church's mission, and the Christian's life, must involve our voice. It is a vocal mission.

Second, he is crying out in the wilderness. He is standing alone. He is swimming against the stream. He is going against the culture. The Church in America today must learn to be a wilderness people. This does not mean we load up on canned goods and ammo and build underground houses in Montana. It does mean we are prepared to stand alone if necessary. 

Third, he is proclaiming a message of Christ's coming. John was preparing the way of Jesus' coming. He was calling people to repent of their sins and prepare for the coming of the Lord. Church, this is still our mission. We are making straight the way of the Lord. We are crying to people: "Jesus is coming, repent of your sins, and put your faith in Christ."

As Christians will soon learn, if you have not already, it is not always fun being on the opposite end of popular opinion. Being a voice in the wilderness and proclaiming God's message eventually cost John the Baptist his life. His head was put on a platter at a party for entertainment. Sometimes that is the cost of being voice in the wilderness in a culture that hates dissenting voices.

May the Church stand boldly in our culture, proclaiming with confidence the truths of God, no matter the cost. May we stand firm as we become the entertainment for the culture's party raging around us, even when it means being the hors d'oeuvres.




Monday, June 29, 2015

There's Nowhere To Hide

In many ways, some things haven't changed. In other ways, everything has changed. We are living in an unprecedented time. With the Supreme Court's ruling last Friday, same-sex "marriage" is now legal in all 50 states. This is not surprising considering the recent trajectory we have been on as a country. What is surprising are the number of people who do not seem to realize where this is heading. 

Friday was not the end of the homo crusade, or jihad (I'll let you pick your flavor of word choice since that is the kind of society we are now). If you believe the finish line was reached with the new court ruling, I have some swamp land in the Everglades I would love to sell you. The finish line was not reached, the starting gun sounded. 





The secular, liberal, gay, - and many other adjectives - agenda is driving down a mountain with no brakes and no intention of pushing them if they did. There will be no satisfaction until they are not only allowed, but applauded for their actions. Full acceptance is the goal. Those who resist will become the target.

Here enters the Church. 


For the first time in my lifetime, it has finally hit me that Christians are not the moral majority. It may have been that way for a few years, but Friday's ruling solidified it. The moral/sexual revolution in the United States is quickly changing the landscape of our country. I suspect that I will never witness Christian morality as the majority again. This could be the best thing for the Church.


"Whatever do you mean, Erik?" Well, let me explain. There are no rocks for Christians to hideout under. We will be pressed now to answer the question on where we stand on this issue. It will become the litmus test of our social standing. If you believe, as a Christian, you will be able to keep your view on this sealed, you are wrong. If you believe you will be allowed to simply "agree to disagree," you are wrong. If you believe this is an inconsequential issue that is not worth all the fuss being made about it, you are wrong. 


There are a lot of ripple effects that could come from this decision. I will address them in future posts. The goal of this little soirĂ©e is to make clear to Christians that putting your view in your back pocket, hoping you will never have to take it out, is foolish. Are you going to submit to the authority of God's Word or surrender to the authority of the Correctness Police? Are you willing to go against the mob and intolerista? They are coming. 


The Church will thrive from this. It may not be reflected in our numbers, but the Church will become clearer about its mission and calling. The Church will be pruned of those who have half-heartedly associated with Christianity. The Church will be pruned of those who claimed Christianity because it was the socially acceptable thing to do. Only genuine believers will claim Christ and stand on His Word when it is socially unacceptable. This issue is going to forcefully shake the tree of the Church and I am imagining a lot of debris is going to come raining down. But good news, friends, the church will shine. The gates of hell will not prevail against her (Matthew 16:18).


Now is the time to solidify your position, friends. The world is going to call your hand and make you show your cards. There's nowhere to hide. 


*I proudly have my name attached as a signatory of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's declaration "Here I Stand" evangelical declaration of marriage, read it here

*A great resource on the Bible's teaching on homosexuality and an answer to the popular arguments for same-sex marriage is Kevin DeYoung's What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality (a short, but important book)  


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

God is in the Camp

The last several months at TJC have been unbelievable. We have experienced remarkable growth. In just four months we have witness attendance shoot up from 400 to 600. We are moving from 2 services to the 3 services, beginning March 22nd (8/9:30/11). We anticipate 750-800 people to visit on Easter (April 5th). We are witnessing salvations, baptisms, people signing up to serve, people joining Gospel Communities, folks becoming covenant members, and endless stories of people inviting, serving, and meeting the needs of others. It has been incredible. 

If I am being honest with you, all of these incredible things excites me beyond all belief, but it is also scares me. It scares me because I do not want us (the church and me personally) to do anything that hinders what God is doing. It is evident that God's presence is with us and is moving in our midst. So I keep humbly praying, "Oh God, thank you for making Your presence very real to us and showing Yourself to us, please don't let us blow it." While you may think I'm playing, I'm not. 

As I was thinking about this phenomena we are experiencing and my own heart's yearning to not mess it up, the phrase, "God is in the camp" came to mind. As I google searched the phrase - as all pastors do when they are trying to remember where that verse they vaguely remember is - I came across a passage. 

Deuteronomy 23:14 - Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

Moses is giving a vital reminder to Israel, the people of God. He sets their minds on the reality that God is with them. His presence dwells with them. God walks in the midst of the camp. This leads Moses to declare to them that they must be holy. Because God is with them, they should strive for holiness so He does not turn away from them. If they want to dwell in His presence, and if they want Him to continue to remain in the camp, they must be careful to walk in obedience. 


Oh friends, this is the tug my heart was experiencing. I cherish God's presence in our "camp" and what He has being doing in our midst. I've visited and experienced many churches, and I can tell you, not all of them have God in the camp. I want Him to remain with us and do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), but we must walk in humble obedience to Him. We must submit our lives willingly to Him. 

With humble and hungry hearts, we cry, "God is in the camp! Let us walk in His ways." 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Simple Reminder

If you had the power to write the story of your life and submit it to God for execution, I highly doubt you would script any trials, struggles, or pain. We are creatures of comfort. We don't want to hurt or experience suffering. We are as adverse to pain as Cousin Eddie is to a job or James Harden is to a razor.

In fact, this aversion to pain has led many to believe the blessing of God in our lives is incompatible with suffering or loss. The idea goes like this: God's blessing in my life equals relatively pain-free living and smooth sailing. Pain and struggle must mean God is displeased with me.

This could not be further from the truth. This false thinking has come into our minds from poor teaching in churches and pink-haired ladies on TV.

God's love for you is not measured in your level of pain.

God's blessing and favor is not determined by your trials.

I was reminded of this truth when reading from Genesis this week. In Genesis 35, we see God protects Jacob as he travels through rivaling cities who could try to plunder Jacob's possessions. Jacob does not fear and describes God as "the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone." (vs 3). This is an incredible promise and hope that Jacob clings to. And it was true.

But later in Genesis 35 we see that Jacob's wife, Rachel, is having their son Benjamin, Rachel dies in childbirth. In an instant, Jacob's wife is dead.

Though God's blessing and favor are clearly over Jacob, Rachel dies giving birth. Trials and tribulations are a part of life for all of us. Trials in our life and God's presence and favor in our life, are not two separate lives, but one.

I don't know what you are going through today or what trials are consuming your thoughts and emotions, but I know God wants you to seek Him in them. I don't know what hurt you are processing, but I know that Jesus wants you to process it at His feet. 

A simple reminder today: God's pleasure with you and His favor in your life is not indicated by the trials you suffer. When you face trials of many kinds, rejoice, for God is working in them to mature you and grow your faith (James 1:2-4). Remember that Jesus' grace is sufficient for you in all things (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Never mistake trials for God's abandonment or displeasure of you. The world is broken due to sin. In this world you will experience trials and tribulations. But take heart, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33).


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TJC Will Never Be The Same

I have been the pastor of The Journey Church for over 8 years now. It has been a wild ride. We have met in a small strip center, schools, and our current building. We have started several campuses in surrounding cities. Those churches have since been planted off as autonomous churches with their own governing elders. In the course of these years, we have witnessed God do some great things. But something different is happening right now. Something is happening that is unlike anything in our history. 

Over the last 6 months, subtle, but massive shifts have been happening in the hearts of leaders, and the vision, mission, and strategy to reach people who don't know Jesus and grow to maturity people who do, has never been more clear. I believe when we look back years from now at the history of TJC, we will look back at where we're at right now and say, "That's it, that's where we transitioned. It was at that point we took off and never looked back."

I say this with all sincerity and excitement: I have NEVER been more excited about where we are as a church, and where we are going, than I am in this season of our history.

Why am I so excited? Several reasons:

1. As a leadership team of elders and staff, we have never been more on the same page and unified about the clarity of our direction and how to get there. God has given us a clarity of focus and a strategy for how we are going to get there. About 5 months ago our elders and staff read Tim Keller's article, "Leadership and Church Size Dynamics." It is such a helpful tool in understanding the different ways churches, based on their size, have to adjust and structure in order to reach more people. As we read the article we began to see a clear picture of things we needed to begin working on.

Those things included:
- preparing our building to better accomadate people and growth
- transitioning our shepherding, discipleship, and care-giving focus to groups
- clarifying the role of elders, staff, and volunteer teams
- creating a clear and simple assimilation processes for people to go from a guest to a fully committed member
- hiring needed staff members for the purpose of raising the quality of our ministries and their effectiveness
- communicating more clearly the vision and direction

We have a clear focus on where we are heading and every elder, staff member, and key leader is excited. Watch a brief video of this here.

2. We are healthier than we have ever been financially as a church. We have over 70K in our FORWARD fund that has been raised for renovations and expansion in the building. In addition to these funds, we have over 70K in our savings and checking accounts, with zero debt. This is a great place to be and positions us to do some amazing things. 

In addition to this, we hit and raised our FORWARD goal several weeks before the finish line! God is doing a great thing in our midst, and the excitement is being felt in our people too.

3. We have a plethora of high quality people with a interest in working at our church. We have several men currently being interviewed for the Associate Pastor position. These are guys who are eager for a change to join the TJC family and be a part of what we are doing. They are willing to pack up their family and move here to do it. This is something to be excited about. We have a church that people want to be a part of.

4. Our mission focuses are active and growing. Our Imago Dei ministry, which focuses on ministering to families with children with special needs, has VBS this week. Our Haiti mission focus has been great with a future trip coming up in a few months. 

5. This last thing is more of a personal excitement, but it is a renewed passion that God has stirred within me for preaching His Word. It is not that I have ever lost a passion, but God has reinvigorated me with a desire to be more evangelistic. I want the messages to be Christ-exalting, but terribly practical to help people's lives. 

TJC exists to show Jesus as incomparably glorious so that to disregard him is incomprehensibly absurd. We want everything we do to show Jesus as unrivaled, without competitors. We want to live, worship, arrange our lives, time, and money in such way that makes Jesus non-ignorable, in Lebanon and beyond. Everything we do, every decision we make, every dollar we spend as a church, is going through the question: does this help us make Jesus look incomparably glorious?

All of these things really only capture a snapshot of the overall momentum that is building at our church. May TJC put a dent in lostness in Lebanon and beyond, help believers mature into Christlikeness, and all of this for the glory of Jesus Christ. Get excited TJC! I am, more than ever before.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Erik


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Marriage Myth that Needs to Die




As someone who counsels and talks with a lot of married people, I come across a lot of different scenarios. I see both older and younger couples hitting roadblocks in their marriages and relationships. I encounter people who really want their marriages to be healthy and enjoyable, but have struggles they often don't know how to overcome. Like a storm which creates waves that threaten to sink a boat at sea, trials and tribulations bang up against many fragile marriages, threatening to sink them. 

But interestingly, I found one common factor in many of these situations. I have spotted a lie that is passed around and believed hook, line, and sinker.


You want to know what it is? Wait for it...

Good marriages don't have problems, bad ones do. 

X!!!!!! [FAMILY FEUD BUZZER SOUNDS]

In the words of the professor from Waterboy, "Well, folks, mama's wrong again."

We live under a lie and illusion in our culture that there are good marriages and bad marriages. Good ones are believed to be those where there are no issues. Bad ones are the one's that have conflict, struggles, and trials. But this is a lie. 

There are good marriages and bad ones, but it is not based on whether or not you have struggles and conflicts. Every marriage has conflict. Every marriage has struggles. Every marriage has some issues that need to be addressed and cleaned up. This is not the mark of a bad marriage. 

A Bad Marriage

No, the mark of a bad marriage is the one that has all these issues, yet does not deal with them. That is a bad marriage. A bad marriage is the one that tries to band-aid problems by not dealing with them. A bad marriage is the one that thinks ignoring problems will make them go away. A bad marriage tries to keep "peace" by not having hard conversations. 

A Good Marriage

In contrast, good marriages, which are also marked by struggles, conflicts, and trials, deal with issues. A good marriage admits there are problems and seek solution. A good marriage is one that can comfortably admit it is not perfect, but is striving to become so. A good marriage faces the realities confronting the relationship and seek to honor Christ and surrender to his guidance and will. A good marriage is marked by imperfect people who don't pretend or act as if they are perfect. A good marriage is marked by a lot of apologies. A good marriage is saturated with forgiveness and grace. A good marriage seeks not one's own needs, but the needs of the other.

This is why, to our shock and dismay, a good marriage can be one that goes to marriage counseling. A good marriage is one where sometimes hard conversations damper our spirits. But this is not a bad thing. It is healthy. 

Sometimes in order to heal physically, you have to break and cut in order to repair. A marriage is no different. In a relationship as dynamic as a marriage, sometimes you have to injure in order to get stronger. Sometimes you must cut so you can be healthier. This is a good marriage.

So...

Next time you are feeling down and depressed because you think your marriage is bad, ask yourself this question: do I think my marriage is bad because we are having some difficulties or because we are not dealing with our problems? If it is the former, then you do not necessarily have a bad marriage. If it is the latter, then you do.  So fix it.

You may never be problem-free in your marriage - and by "may never be" I mean you won't - but if you deal with the problems in your marriage, you are in a good marriage. The bad ones are not the one's with issues, but the one's that do not deal with their issues. Big difference.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Why Not Me?


When it comes to people moving to places to spread the gospel, whether that be a city in America with few churches and professing Christians or whether that is a country where Christians are beheaded by radical Muslims, the question I think worth asking is: why not me?

When I read the New Testament and look at the lives of early believers, I can't help but be deeply moved by their courageous boldness to be on the move for Jesus. I cannot help but notice their willingness to face ridicule, scorn, and even death for Christ. 

Why not me?

Where is my willingness to even lose a Facebook friend or Twitter follower? Am I so worried about being misunderstood or labeled something that I keep my mouth shut about things happening in our society that grieve the heart of God? Would I pick my family up and move to a city where I knew no one, all with the intent of helping more people get introduced to Jesus? 

Why not me?

Is Jesus not worth every bit and more of what I just wrote? Do I believe that to live is Christ and to die really is gain? Are these just words in my Bible that sound great as Twitter posts and t-shirt fodder, but in reality is not how I live?

Why not me?

One life. Just one. Am I wasting it on comfort, popularity, safety, familiarity, and long-life?

It is not the super-Christians (no such person) who do crazy things like this. It should be every Christian willing. If we are unwilling to even ask the question, perhaps we are living in self-deception. 

Why not me? 


Why not you?
 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Fearful Thing


There is a pervasive trend that has developed within American Christianity, or at least a segment of professing believers. The development is terrifying. What is it? The lessening of sin and dismissal of any such notion in the Bible that God deals with sinners. It seems the gospel message has become all about the love of God with the absence of any warnings and set standard which God upholds. The idea is that God just loves you as you are and you are free to continue living as you do. 

Where does this idea creep in? Well, it usually begins by making claims that the way of Jesus is to welcome and accept sinners. So we immediately throw out Old Testament passages which highlight God's judgment and we go only to Jesus, as if we can pit them against each other. Yet, interestingly, if you examine the Gospels close enough, you will notice Jesus is no pushover on sin. He does not dismiss it or ignore it or lower God's standard one bit. In fact, he warns that anyone who lessens even the least of the commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:19).

Then if you look at other prominent stories that many like to highlight to paint a pushover Jesus, such as the adulterous woman and the woman at the well, you find interesting facts. Rather than being examples of Jesus flippancy or ignoring of sin, they are the opposite. Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery (John 8) to "go and sin no more." He confronts and brings up the sin of the woman at the well (John 4). He is the one who highlights her continuous failed marriages and live-in boyfriend. If sin was of no matter to him, why would he do this?

The reason sin matters, and the reason we should not lessen or lighten it up, is that it shows us our rebellion and separation from God. This in turn shows us our need for a Savior. There is a reason Jesus goes into this woman's sin with her before revealing to her that he is the Messiah. People need to see the reality of their sin before they will understand their need for a Savior.

This is why any "gospel" void of discussing the reality of sin and God's righteous judgment against it is a false gospel. The Good News of the gospel is good news in response to very bad news. The bad news is that sin separates us from God and we are sinners. The bad news is that we are not good people who do bad things, we are rebels against God. We willingly sin and often try to lessen its heinous nature. The bad news is that God is holy, so holy that he cannot ignore and look past sin, and we are sinners, so sinful that we stand condemned before God. But the good news of the gospel is that God so loved us, and desired to ransom us from this condition, that He sent His Son to bear our sin and the punishment attached to it. If you strip away the bad news of the gospel, the good news doesn't really make much sense. 

So back to my original issue. The trend currently in fashion is to lessen sin and God's view of it. The narrative is that God is loving and accepting, and we Christians should not warn people about their sin or their persistence in it. We seem to forget that Jesus warns that a tree is known by its fruits (Matthew 7). So if we see people living in habitual sin, we should rightfully warn that it is not the way of God, and to continue unrepentant is to reject God, which will incur judgment. 

Many will scoff at such sentences, so narrow-minded and Old Testament-like. Yet the Hebrew writer (New Testament, by the way) says in Hebrews 10:31 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." That is a terrifying sentence. The writer sees falling into the hands of God in judgment as a fearful and dreadful thing. But what is the context of this verse? What provokes the writer to make this statement? Answer: "For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." (Hebrews 10:26). Who runs the risk of falling into the hands of God in judgment? Those who know and have been told the truth, yet go on sinning deliberately. 

The Hebrew writer wasn't as cultured and in-the-know as many Christians today are, but he seemed pretty convinced that sin will damn people. So while the trend today may be to lessen the talk about sin and talk more about love, we may find the love they are speaking of has no backbone to it, it is shallow emotionalism, the kind that damns people because it deceives them into thinking sin doesn't matter to God and they can keep living how they want. 


Oh, what a fearful thing.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Why TJC is Partnering with The Haiti Collective

The Journey Church recently finished a six month process of praying and fact gathering to discern where the Lord would have our church invest in global missions. It is our mission as a church to be a gospel-centered church that makes knowledgeable, obedient, and passionate followers of Jesus Christ. We focus our effort to this by 1. celebrating the gospel in WORSHIP each week, 2. applying the gospel in COMMUNITY with each other, and 3. extending the gospel through MISSION both locally and globally. That is our focus as a church. So we have been prayerfully seeking God's direction for how to fulfill the global part of this third component of our mission.

In the beginning we believed we were going to adopt an unreached unengaged people group in Europe. We did a lot of research on this. We made a trip to the International Mission Board's conference for European missions. We made contact with missionaries all over Europe. And we prayed for God's direction. At the end of all our exploration, we did not believe the timing was right for TJC to go to Europe. Our church body was not quite ready financially, or with personnel, to have maximum effectiveness in Europe. We still believe there will be a day when we engage in European missions, we just do not sense it is time. 

Why Haiti?
 
After we looked thoroughly at Europe, we began to set our eyes on a more accessible location for us to invest. We thought about Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti. There were pros and cons to each, but we began to pray about where we could be effective and engage the largest number of people in our congregation in missions. This led us to Haiti, and in particular, The Haiti Collective (hereafter THC).

  (above: the beautiful landscapes of Haiti, below: the stark reality of poverty)

I had been on three previous trips with THC and have seen the amazing work of ministry happening in Haiti. THC focuses on bringing hope to Haiti through the love of Jesus Christ. It is committed to the local church and investing in its leaders and ministries. More specifically, THC seeks partnerships between US churches and Haitian churches. In this partnership, there is pastoral training, orphan care, micro-business, church planting, medical care, adoption, and many other amazing opportunities to serve the Kingdom of God. 

Though this is not global missions to the unreached unengaged, that does not mean this is not a desperately needed and fruitful mission. There are millions of lost people in Haiti and there is a spiritual darkness that exists there because of the presence of Voodoo. In addition to millions of lost people, Haitian churches are filled with believers that do not have the resources afforded to us for discipleship and spiritual growth. The pastors are not theologically educated and can rarely afford the resources to acquire that education. By empowering these local churches and pastors, we are equipping them to reach Haiti with the gospel.

  (above: orphans eating, below: an orphan gets her meal)

Our church has committed to approach local and global missions from a long-term perspective. We do not want to take short-term trips to different places each year. We want to invest in a partnership and relationship that is enduring and lasting. We want to build relationships with those we minister to and with. We want to grow with the leaders and support the orphans. We desire that TJC folks would adopt many of these orphans. THC gives us that opportunity.

Where Are We Investing?

(Port-de-Paix is in northern Haiti)

The Journey Church will be partnering with a church in the city of Port-de-Paix. It has a population of roughly 250,000 people. It is located in the northern part of Haiti on the coast. The church in Port-de-Paix is led by two pastors who work bi-vocationally to lead the church. The church is caring for orphans and providing education, clothing, and food for them. There are so many opportunities for us to partner with this church to extend the gospel.

  (above: clean water filters provided by THC, below: pastor's conference & training)
 
When Are We Going?

We will be taking a team to Port-De-Paix this summer (2014) on August 8th-16th. We will begin promoting this at church soon and enlisting those interested. We are looking to take a team of 4-6 folks. We will be doing theological training with the pastors, evangelistic services, VBS with the orphan children, with the potential of doing some medical missions if we have the right personnel. The cost of the trip will be roughly $2,000 per person. This pays for airfare, ground transportation, food, water, and lodging. Every needed expense on the trip will be covered by this cost. We will look to do some fundraisers to lower this overall cost for those attending.

(above: Haitian children, below: Sunday worship gathering)

Those interested will need to:

1. sign up and indicate your interest level

2. acquire your passport 

3. attend all required meetings about the trip (first mtg April 18th)

4. $100 deposit due before May 8th
 
We will share more details at our first meeting about the trip. If this is something you would like to participate in, mark your calendars now, and begin to make preparations to be a part of this incredible ministry. 

If you cannot go on this first trip in August, we are looking to take another trip in January. We can take multiple trips per year, so be sure to prayerfully seek the Lord about how you may participate in this incredible opportunity to extend the gospel globally through MISSION. 

Every person is responsible for participating in global missions. There are only three possible options: you're a sender, you're a goer, or you're disobedient. Which will you be?

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Monday, March 24, 2014

John Owen on the Grace of Christ

"The endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion that is in him who is thus our husband, as he is the God of Zion."

"...if all the world should (if I may say so) set themselves to drink free grace, mercy, and pardon, drawing water continually from the wells of salvation; if they should set themselves to draw from one single promise, an angel standing by and crying, "Drink, O my friends, yea, drink abundantly, take so much grace and pardon as shall be abundantly sufficient for the wolrd of sin which is in every one of you;" - they would not be able to sink the grace of the promise one hair's breadth. There is enough for millions of worlds, if they were; because it flows into it from an infinite, bottomless fountain."

"This infiniteness of grace, in respect of its spring and fountain, will answer all objections that might hinder our souls from drawing nigh to communion with him, and from a free embracing of him. Will not this suit us in all our distresses? What is our finite guilt before it? Show me the sinner that can spread iniquities to the dimensions of this grace. Here is mercy enough for the greatest, the oldest, the stubbornest transgressor." 

Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Works of John Owen. The Banner of Truth Trust. Volume 2. Part II. Chapter 3. Digression 1. (p.61-62)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Alter Call and Why We Don't Do It at TJC

The church I pastor (The Journey Church) is 8 years old. Over those years we have witnessed God save hundreds of people and we have had the privilege of baptizing hundreds more. However, during the course of these years we have not offered what is traditionally known as an "alter call" or "invitation." I do not go stand down front and wait for people to walk up to me for prayer or salvation why the band plays "Just As I Am" for the one millionth time. I think this is more for the ego of pastors and/or the assurance that things are "happening" for the congregation.

"But don't you guys want people saved?" We absolutely do! And we have seen people saved, many people! Every week we preach the Bible, we offer Christ to sinners, and invite people to turn from their self-absorbed lives to a life submitted to Christ through faith and repentance. We just happen to believe  this can happen in the seats as they hear the gospel, at home in their bedroom, in their car driving, or any number of other places. An alter call and invitation at the end of service, where 3 minutes is designated for salvation, is unrealistic. Some people have questions, need to work through issues, need to sit down and see things from the Bible, need counsel through difficult situations, and many other things. "Just As I Am" does not offer enough time to do this, nor is the time necessarily the most optimal or ideal.

In the Bible-belt, where we are located, many cannot conceive of any other way of salvation happening, apart from the alter call. But what I found in my time pastoring in the South is many stake their assurance of salvation on "walking the aisle" or "praying the prayer" or "raising my hand" or "praying with the pastor." None of these things mean anything apart from the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the heart of a dead sinner. Walking aisles and repeating prayers don't change hearts, in fact, they may actually deceive hearts. Talking to a pastor doesn't save you. There is only one Mediator between God and man, it is the Lord Jesus Christ, not your pastor. We are to flee to Jesus, not Pastor X.

"But aren't people supposed to make a public declaration of faith?" Yes. That is what baptism is. Trusting and surrendering to Christ can be a private thing, in fact, it must be personal and individual. However, baptism is our public declaration and profession of our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. An alter call is not necessary for people to make public professions of faith. 

Pastor Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church shares a good summary of my thinking on this subject with 10 points against the alter call:
1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the New Testament.
2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology (more about that here).
3. The altar call very easily confuses the physical act of “coming forward” with the spiritual act of “coming to Christ.” These two can happen simultaneously, but too often people believe that coming to Christ is going forward (and vice-versa).
4. The altar call can easily deceive people about the reality of their spiritual state and the biblical basis for assurance. The Bible never offers us assurance on the ground that we “went forward.”
5. The altar call partially replaces baptism as the means of public profession of faith.
6. The altar call can mislead us to think that salvation (or any official response to God’s Word) happens primarily on Sundays, only at the end of the service, and only “up front.”
7. The altar call can confuse people regarding “sacred” things and “sacred” places, as the name “altar call” suggests.
8. The altar call is not sensitive to our cautious and relational age where most people come to faith over a period of time and often with the interaction of a good friend.
9. The altar call is often seen as “the most important part of the service”, and this de-emphasizes the truly more important parts of corporate worship which God has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing).
10. God is glorified to powerfully bless the things He has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing), not the things we have invented. We should always be leery of adding to God’s prescriptions for His corporate worship.
Can God save somebody who "walks the aisle" or "prays the prayer?" Yes. Does God need these things to do so? No. The church for the first 1800+ years of its history never knew such a phenomena.

At The Journey Church, we invite people weekly to trust Christ. And something amazing has happened over the last 8+ years - they have. What does it look like? It looks like conversations after our worship gatherings conclude. It looks like emails or Facebook messages to meet up and discuss what God is doing in their hearts. It looks like conversations in Gospel Communities or a Membership Meeting. There are many conversations about the gospel and responding to it taking place throughout the week at The Journey Church. We happen to believe the 3 minutes segment of time often known as the "invitation" is unnecessary, and perhaps unhelpful, in leading people know and understand how to follow Jesus. 

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yes, Argue. But, Yes, Pray



The more I ponder the plight of our country the more I'm reminded that public square conversations are needed and defense of the Christian worldview from those who want to attack is necessary. There needs to be healthy arguments given in defense of the Christian position. However, I'm also reminded the only thing that will bring real and lasting change to our country is a revival of the gospel. For that we must pray.

In Colossians 1:3-6 Paul writes to the church there:

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,

 A few points of observation for us to consider here:

1 . Paul calls the gospel "the word of truth." The gospel is the truth about God, us, the world, and reality. 

2. Paul states to the Colossian believers that the gospel is bearing fruit and increasing in the whole world. The gospel was going forth and bearing fruit. The influence of the gospel was spreading and growing. 

Friends, the God who brought the growth and increase from gospel seed planting is the same God we serve today. He can revive us again. He is the Sovereign Lord of the universe and of the harvest. We must pray for revival to burst forth on our land. Until then, may we be faithful seed planting and soil watering believers, who live with a fervency of prayer for God to cause the word of truth to increase throughout the world.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Conscience, Religious Liberty, and Discrimination


**Warning: Some graphic language and terms are used in order to communicate a point, the language and tone of these examples do not reflect my personal feelings or views or that of The Journey Church or other organizations I represent

A huge issue being discussed right now in the national media and within Christendom is religious liberty versus discrimination. The gay marriage debate is front and center, once again, and the subject now is over religious freedom to decline services to same-sex partners or whether it is discrimination. 

I do not pretend that this is an easy issue. But it is an important one. 

The debate centers around Christian conscience of assisting or performing services for a same-sex marriage. This is not about whether a burger joint owned by Christians should serve homosexuals at their counters. This is not about whether a gym owned by Christians should allow homosexuals to be members. This is about asking business owners or service providers to provide a service that directly violates their conscience. 

For example: there have already been cases around the country of florists, bakers, and photographers being fined by the government for refusing to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies due to their Christian convictions. The government is currently making decisions and legislation that would force these businesses to provide services and violate their conscience. 

There has been much written about this as of late. Trevin Wax writes particularly about the violation of conscience here. Al Mohler writes here about the coercion of the government to force people to do things against their religious liberties. Doug Wilson writes here in response to two journalists who write and compare not serving homosexuals as Jim Crow laws. Joe Carter writes here about why the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage is not the same as race and civil rights. You can go and read these articles to gain more understanding of the issues at hand here.

The way I would like to end this post is to share why I'm personally concerned about our trajectory. Our government is rapidly falling in line with the narrative that to decline services to someone for religious convictions is insufficient and only a cover up for discrimination. This bothers me because I can see a day when someone contacts me about renting our church to have a same-sex marriage and/or asking me to perform the ceremony. We would decline both requests for such services. What happens when this is reported to civil authorities as discrimination and/or a hate crime or violation of civil rights, and the church, including myself, are fined, penalized, and even prosecuted? 

I am not homophobic. I have friends who are professing homosexuals. I do not agree with this lifestyle based on my religious convictions and worldview. However, I will eat in the same restaruant with them. I will workout on the same machines and equipment. I will use the same pool. I will root for them when they make a tackle, hit a jumper, or throw a no-hitter. They are welcome to attend our church's worship gatherings. However, to ask me to endorse, support, or contribute to their being married, violates my conscience and convictions. But it appears we are on track for the government to say, "Too bad." 

Consider some parallel situations and ask whether it is appropiate for services to be performed:

-- a lesbian couple who owns a sign shop are asked to create a banner for an anti-gay rally that says, "Fags go to hell!" Should they be forced to create this sign?

-- a black family who owns a bakery are given an order for a cake that reads, "Happy 150th Anniversary Ku Klux Klan: Death to all Nigers." Should this family be reasonably expected to make this cake without pause or hesitation or are they discriminating?

-- a Jewish family who owns a kosher restaurant is asked to supply an order of smoked ham. Are they forced to violate conscience because they are a public restaurant or are they discriminating against us pork lovers?

-- a feminist bookstore owner is asked to carry a book by a guy who constantly slams women, refers to them as "bitches," and writes insistently on how the only uses for a woman are sex and carrying babies. Should she be made to sell and promote such a book in her store or is she discriminating?

-- a pacifist movie theatre owner is asked to show a documentary supporting and propagating war called "The Beauty of War." Is he to violate his conscience or is he discriminating?

-- a Muslim family who owns a tee shirt print company is asked to produce shirts which read, "Jesus is Lord, Muhammad's a Liar." Is the family expected to go along with this or would it be discrimination to decline?

The purpose of some of these graphic scenarios is position us to see what is at stake here. In each one of these examples, I believe the business owners are within their rights to decline services. I do not believe any of them should be forced to violate their conscience and convictions, regardless of whether the pressure is from the public or the government. 

We are not dealing with bigotry and discrimination. I do not know any thoughtful and devout Christians who are homophobic or consumed with making homosexuals miserable. The charge often leveled against Christians is we are consumed with this issue. I'm not consumed with this. I do not desire to spend significant time writing or speaking about it. However, when it is constantly pushed in your face by the media, the gay activists, and the government, then Christians have to speak up. We do not want to violate our conscience. It is not discrimination. It is not a race issue. It is not bigotry. It is about our convictions and the religious liberty to live those. If we do not have that, then our country is but a faint shadow of what we once were, and my own military service to uphold our freedoms seems in vain.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Chuck Liddell and Hope for Your Day


Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
These words are powerful. They are God's words. They are penned by men, but inspired and directed by the Spirit of God. These words are meant to fuel hope, encouragement, and joy.

Our citizenship, as followers of Jesus Christ, is heaven. And from heaven we await our Savior. He's coming back. He is coming to restore all things. He is coming to redeem creation and establish his kingdom forever. 

Then he will do something amazing. He will transform our lowly, sickly, dying bodies, into glorious, perfected bodies, like his own. We will be raised to new life and never sin again. Never die again. Never get sick again. This is the hope of the Christian life. We long for and await this day. 

But what causes us to believe in this hope? 

What makes us think this can actually happen?

The answer: because the power that enables Jesus to subject all things to himself is the power that cause these dead bones to live. 

This verse packs a Chuck Liddell to the temple type ending. Jesus, who was raised from the dead, ascended to the right hand of God, now rules and reigns over the unviverse, and every molecule in it. He upholds the universe by the Word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). The same power that enables him to subject all things to himself is the very power that will one day cause these lowly bodies to be glorious. 

Oh friends, the Christian hope is an incredible hope. Set your eyes on your citizenship in heaven today and the Savior we await to come from there. For in a blink of an eye he is coming. He leaves us in the closing words of our Bible's with the promise, "Surely I am coming soon."

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Does Daddy Really Love Me?

This is the essential question behind our struggles with sin. 

But I'll return to that issue in just a moment. 

As a father of three children, two who are old enough to be into everything, I am often giving commands. "Don't jump off that. "Don't put that in your mouth." "Read some pages in your book before playing on the iPad." "Eat more of your dinner." "Take your medicine." And the list could go on.

All of these commands have one thing at their core: I love and care for my kids. 

I love my kids. And my love for them is why I give them commands. I don't want them to get injured or sick. I want them to be able to read competently, not just play video games. I want them to grow strong and be healthy. All of the commands I give them are fueled by my love and affection for them. I want the best for them. 

But you have kids. And you know that while my reasoning for the commands is the love I have for them, they only see it from a perspective of rules. Their young minds only perceive daddy as a rule-giver. However, these potential perspectives from my kids doesn't stop me from giving and upholding those rules. Why? Because I love them enough not to give them over to irresponsible, destructive behaviors. I'm not going to let them jump from things that will injure them or let them only eat Hershey Kisses or neglect homework for games. This is not me being the Big Ole Meany Butt, it is demonstrating Fatherly love and care for my beloved children.

Now back to my opening statement about "Does Daddy Really Love Me?" as the essential question behind our struggles with sin.

When we ask the question, we are not speaking of earthly fathers, but our Heavenly Father. Whether it is having sex outside the confines of God's decree of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman or our unhealthy clinging to material possessions, we have commands from God that we are expected to obey. Be it stealing, lying, drunkenness, gossip, or any number of sins, we have boundaries God has given for us to live in. 

However, like young children with their parents, we do not like rules. We do not always understand the wisdom of why we cannot do something. We do not always grasp the benefits we will experience if we will submit to our Father's will. I believe the question we must remind ourselves to ask, which empowers obedience is, "Does daddy really love me?" 

The answer to that question is an emphatic and unquestionable: yes! He loves you more than anyone else ever has. The Bible makes clear God's love for us, namely in sending His Son to atone for our sins (Romans 5:8; John 3:16; 1 John 4:10). God has affections for you and delights in you, which is why He does not want you to engage in actions, behaviors, and attitudes that are destructive to you. He wants you to thrive and live a life of joy. 

The issue is many of us reason like children and believe the Hershey Kisses for dinner (or sex outside of heterosexual marriage) or neglecting homework for video games (or clinging to material possessions) are the most desirable things, but meany-butt daddy won't let us. The list could go on, but the issue remains the same. If we trust daddy is wise, then we can submit to his ways, because we believe he has our best interest at heart, and he loves us.

Daddy does love us. Rather than rallying together the siblings to reason with ourselves about how "out-of-touch" dad is or to overthrow him so our wisdom will prevail, we should submit to the loving commands of our Father. Even when we do not understand "why" He commands what He does, perhaps our advice to our children, heard from the lips of God, would be apropos, "Because I said so, and I love you."

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

An open letter to my social media friends


There are many things I am still learning about life and maturity. So my open letter is not coming from the guy who has figured it all out. However, I want to issue a plea to all my fellow social media users. I believe we have allowed social media to distort how we deal with issues in our lives. Let me explain.

One of the drawbacks of social media is that it has dulled our sense of what should be shared publicly and what should not. We have become so accustomed to telling everyone about our lives that wisdom has walked out the door. We over share details of our lives that should be kept to ourselves or our family. There are such things as inappropriate status updates - and it has nothing to do with the amount of clothing you are wearing. 

You know this to be true. How many times have you been on social media and read a status and thought to yourself, "TMI" or "over share"? How many times has your spouse or friend said to you, "did you see what _______ posted on Facebook today?" So we are all aware that this happens. But what we like to think is that it doesn't happen with us.

Instead of keeping certain things to ourselves or taking time to process issues with people in real life, we blast our thoughts for all the world to see. In doing this we think we are being authentic and real, you know, really sharing our lives with others. But instead what happens is we live under the illusion we are actually dealing with issues when in fact we are not. We actually start using social media to be passive aggressive and "make a statement" when what we should do is pick up a phone or go sit down with someone.

Airing out your marriage problems on Facebook is inappropriate. Talking about how bad someone hurt you or how disappointed you are in someone is not Facebook material. Why? Because these are things you should address with a much smaller group of people in real life, not the social media world. You may garner sympathy and a slew of encouragers, but what happens if you are the problem or reason for the dispute? What happens if you are in the wrong? People on Facebook don't know that...because they are not really in your life. They are in the life you portray. There's a big difference. 

People I went to high-school with 15 years ago, that I do not see or interact with in daily life, do not need to know I'm angry at my wife or grieving some internal hurt. Why? Because they cannot do anything. Social media was not created for dealing with life issues. You can stay in touch with people through social media, but it is not supposed to be the place where our relationships take place. And because of that, it is not the place where we air our problems and hurts, at least not the real ones. Those are reserved for the people who are truly in our lives. These are the people who can love us enough to tell us when we are wrong. They are not just people who will "like" our latest rant because they are ignorant of the actual details.

May we learn to exhibit self-control and recognize that not everything needs to be posted for everyone to see. Instead of rushing to update our status when something happens in life, perhaps we need to take time to process and think and consult people who are really in our lives.

Sincerely, 
The guy who has to delete many status' composed in frustration and hurt

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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Half-Butt Apologies


"Kaleigh, did you hit Wyatt?"

"He is being mean to me!"

"Did you hit him? Yes or No?"

"Yes," she poutingly admits. 

"Then you need to apologize to him."

Silence.

"Kaleigh, tell him you are sorry, now."

"Sorry."

This is not atypical to what is bound to happen whenever my four year old daughter and her four year old cousin get together. And you have seen this unfold before too. You get on to your kid and have them apologize to their friend, cousin, or sibling, and they do. But do you ever notice they do not appear very sorry at all? In fact, their apology is begrudging. If words could smack the taste out of someone's mouth, that is what many of these apologies amount to.

We somewhat expect kids to do this. They don't want to apologize. They only do it because we make them. We just assume (or hope) they will one day learn to be genuine when they make mistakes. We tell ourselves they will mature and learn to take responsibility for their actions. They will learn to apologize when they wrong someone. 

Fast forward the clocks.

We are those kids. 

We suck at apologizing. In fact, some people have gone years without apologizng to those whom they have hurt. Many just wait for things to blow over or go away and then pretend like everything is normal. Others attempt to apologize, but when you investigate the apology, it isn't actually an apology. 

Let me explain. 

If you say something offensive to someone and it hurts their feelings, you should say to them, "I'm sorry I said that, it was wrong and hurtful. I apologize." That is an apology. 

What you should not say is, "I'm sorry that you got your feelings hurt." This is not an apology. It is an effort to put responsibility on the person whose feelings were hurt, instead of your actions. You said something hurtful, but instead of owning it, you are shifting the blame on the other person. "I'm sorry that you got your feelings hurt," is making them to blame for the relational conflict or impasse. Interestingly, when the person who has been offended doesn't feel the apology was adequate or genuine (because it wasn't), the offender will say something like, "Well, I apologized, I don't know what it else you want me to do."

Beware. This can happen in your marriage, with your friends, with co-workers, with family members, and the list goes on. If we do not learn to truly apologize when we hurt others, it will damage these relationships and produce bitterness, resentment, and anger.

This is how many people approach "apologizing" these days. Not many are willing to take responsibility for their mistakes and missteps. I want to challenge us to learn to take responsibility for our actions. It is not an expectation that anyone will be perfect. So instead of refusing to take ownership of our faults and apologizing to those we hurt with them, let's be reminded we no longer have to maintain a front of perfection. 

If there are people in your life today that you need to say "sorry" to or give an extensive apology, then do it. Just be sure your apology doesn't like the 4 year old doing what daddy told her to do.

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