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Tag Archives: wisdom

The Core of Christianity.

Whenever I read blog posts or status updates by my non-believer friends its clear to me that most atheists are under the false impression that the belief in God is at the core of Christianity. Maybe you’re a believer and you think the same. I’d like to offer you a challenge.

I’d suggest that perhaps the core of Christianity isn’t belief in God at all. Now, the foundation of christian belief starts with the fear of God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Prov. 1:7

So yes the belief in and fear of God is foundational, but I’d suggest that it’s not at Christianity’s Core. While belief, faith in the unseen God is the foundation of Christianity, Its center column (to continue with the building analogy) is far more visceral than the simple belief in God. This core element is pivotal, because while the existence of God cannot be irrefutably proven or disproven, this core piece is so innate and so key in all of humanity that it is Christianity’s greatest proof when present and also its most difficult apologetic question when it is absent.

The existence or God is not at the Core of Christianity; Love is. If it were not so wouldn’t the Bible be filled with philosophy; arguing for the existence of the diety around which it is centered? No, His existence is presupposed throughout all of its pages; instead, it tells the story of our need for an unstoppable love, created by a relentlessly loving God.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

Theologically, 1st john is one of my favorite letters. It gets right down to it: God is love. Why was it that God sent his only begotten son? Was it for Anger at our disobedience? Was it for a desire for the world to be morally righted according to his law? No – For God so LOVED… Why is there a whole chapter dedicated in 1st Corinthians to explaining one word? Is there any other word that is so extensively defined anywhere else the Bible? And could it be any more clear when that chapter ends with these words:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:13

Better than Faith: mere faith is important – even foundational to Christianity. Better than hope; we have hope for eternal life and yet we’re told that something is better than that hope. Love is the greatest of these.

So, go ahead tell me I can’t prove the existence of God. I wasn’t supposed to prove it anyway; that’s what faith is for. Go ahead tell me that the world is a terrible place and that its getting worse; I know that man is fallen and I have hope anyway. But I’d like to see you try – I’d love to see you try to disprove Love – true, relentless, fierce undying, sacrificial, love. Love wins.

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3 Things My Grandfather Taught Me


My Granddad Billy “Poppy” Key

I get my first name from my maternal granddad, Billy Key. He’s a retired Methodist pastor who is still very well known in south Georgia Methodism. At age 87 my grandfather is still a great blessing to my whole family. This morning I woke up thinking of what a great life he’s lead and all the things I’ve learned from him. There have been many, many great stories that I hope to tell and retell, and many more simple scripture lessons and poems that he’s shared over the years through his many sermons.

 

I think I can narrow it down to three things that summarize what I’ve learned from him.

1) Always be ready to share the gospel, anytime anywhere.

Long before I even knew it was scripture I would hear my granddad quote 2nd Timothy 4:2

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine”

For many of my growing up years, I actually thought that he was the first one to say that. I didn’t realize it was in the Bible – he says it like he owns it. (would that we may all take such ownership over the Word, that it comes out of such conviction)

My Grand Father has never met a stranger and is never afraid to speak the name of Jesus to anyone he meets throughout his day. In today’s world the word ‘preach’ isn’t very cool. We think it sounds dictatorial, dogmatic, long-winded or boring, but we’re told in scripture to preach – and Billy Key is never afraid to ‘preach’ even if its just a few words of truth to the clerk at the grocery store.

2) Always be grateful for what you have and what you are given.

He has always displayed an attitude of thankfulness. Still today, he’s very thankful for any small everyday blessing that friends and family offer him – the kind of things that many of us would take for granted. Many times at thanksgiving he reminds us of an story of a woman who would say before every meal ‘Much obliged for the vittles, Lord.’

When he was a young boy in Adrian, Georgia, he was walking out of Church with his family one day and it was particularly beautiful outside. He turned to his mother and he said “Isn’t this a great world we live in?” and that sense of wonder and joy at the simple blessings has never left him throughout his life.

To this day he begins prayers with “Thank ya, Thank ya, Thank ya, Lord” as a simple expression of how grateful he is for God’s hand on his life.

3) And finally, bless the socks off of everyone around you.

My granddad is a blesser. He blesses people. We throw the world ‘blessing’ around a lot in churchianity and I think it looses its meaning, but what I mean by this is literal and intentional spiritual blessing passed from one person to another.

I hope that every one of you is fortunate enough to receive a Billy Key-style blessing in your life, if not from him, then maybe from someone else. He often grabs hold of you – by the arm or the shoulder. Then he stares at you right in the face and he addresses you. “Will” he’ll say, “You have been blessed with a great many gifts and the Lord is with you. You’re a capable young man. We’re proud of you and what you’re doing and we’re excited to see where the Lord is leading you!” Then he’d give me a big slap on the back and smile. Other times he’ll just grab you and quote from Numbers Six

“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”

Again, much of my growing up years I didn’t know this was scripture – he said it so sincerely I could’ve believed they were his words.

At the very least, he’ll walk up to you and grab your arm, pat you hard on the back and shout “Bless ya, Bless ya, Bless ya!” It makes me think of Genesis 32 when Jacob wrestles with God and says “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” If it had been Billy Key, he would’ve said “I will not let you go unless I bless you!” He does it so easily, its as if he doesn’t even have to try.

Furthermore…

Over the past several years, my Granddad, who I call “Poppy” has preached fewer and fewer sermons. And when we get together as a family he doesn’t speak the same homily that he used to, but he still says one thing. After the Thanksgiving, Christmas or Independence Day celebration has ended, and all the grandchildren and great grandchildren are sitting in wake of a big family meal, Poppy stops and says this simple poem. Written by the Georgia poet, Sidney Lanier (who lived in Montgomery, AL for a few years), this little poem has become a treasure of my family’s. I think it sums up the kind of faith that Billy Key Has.

I know not how such things may be
I only know He speaks to me.
Not through the grass nor through the sod
but in my heart the voice of God
Speaking spirit unto spirit,
and if I listen I can hear it.
Voice of God that speaks to me
out of His infinity.

I called my grandad and asked him to recite it to me so I could copy it down and he was over joyed – upon finishing it he paused and said “There it is, its yours for the rest of your life now.” I couln’t’ve have ask for a richer inheritance.

These things have been a blessing to me, may they be a blessing to you.

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Debunking the term: “Real”

I’ve heard lots of people talk about a need to get ‘real’ so I thought this would be a good choice for my first edition of ‘debunking the term’

Where have I heard ‘Real’

Lots of Christians talk about getting ‘real’ – they talk about certain churches being ‘real’ and certain preachers being ‘real’ – Specifically, churches that are more contemporary in their style are usually called ‘real’ – does that mean that traditional churches are fake? Certainly they can be, but I don’t think they have to be as a rule – I’ve been to some contemporary services where people were pretty fake.

Some will also use the term ‘real’ – when they’re talking about people; saying about a preacher ‘he’s just so real!’ or of their church ‘the people there are real.’

The problem is people don’t really mean ‘real.’

What I think people mean by ‘Real’

Most often when someone says ‘real’ they actually mean ‘understandable’ or ‘accessible to me.’ That’s why to some, real is rap music whereas to others its country; it’s just that with which they most identify. Some people say ‘real’ and what they mean is that they can simply understand it. That’s why when a pastor gets up and starts using lots of theological terms and obscure scripture references – some people might not think of him as ‘real’ – when if fact he is no less ‘real’ than the preacher that only refers to the most basic scriptures and tells funny stories about the crazy things he did when he was in college. Neither person is faking it; they’re both telling the truth.

The Problem with being “Real”

By calling something ‘real.’ You’re inferring that the alternatives are less than real, but this isn’t the only unintended implication of this phrase. I’ve been in situations where I’ve heard Christians say ‘we just want to get real’ or ‘we need to be real with each other.’ In this instance it means they want ‘no holds barred’ honesty, which is way overrated. Think about it:

  • Maybe you are ok with airing out the skeletons in your closet, but that doesn’t mean that its good, necessary or healthy for everyone else to do the same. While we are told to confess our sins to one another – we’re not told to confess our every sin to the whole community. Transparency is good – sharing each others burdens is great – presenting stumbling blocks for others by sharing your innermost secrets with people not mature enough to handle them… not so much
  • Often when a larger (20+) community gets into a pattern of sharing its most intimate secrets with everyone people begin to one-up each other with tragedies and sins – each week you’ll have people who want to sound more and more pitiful.
  • Finally people use this brand of radical honesty as an excuse to be rude, negative or hurtful. I’ve seen it myself and I think its a flagrant misuse of scripture to act as if rudeness is excused by scripture simply because ‘its the truth.’ Nor do I see cynicism in the person of Jesus. If being a consistently negative person is ‘real’ then I don’t believe it’s Christ-like to be ‘real’ by that definition. Bear in mind, “kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24

Here’s what is Real:

It is possible to live a life focused on the path that God has laid out for us. I’ve known many people who live this life – I aspire to be one of them. Would Christ ask us to do something impossible when he said “Be Holy as I am Holy?” (1 Peter 1:16) Impossible for us, certainly, but aren’t we also told that we can do all things through Christ? (Philippians 4:13) What force is more powerful: our sinful nature or God’s ability to sanctify?  – To say ‘all have sinned’ is only half the reality – the other half? Jesus died to free us from sin.  The scripture states ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) it doesn’t say “All will continue to sin….” – its past tense. Freedom from sin – that’s real.

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Quote: Dedication and Failure

I think one of the greatest failings in my generation is impatience and a lack of true dedication. We tend to pick a cause or project and chase after that for a stint, and at the first major failure we’ll give up and decide that we’re not chasing after the right goal. I’ve seen it in others, I’ve seen it in myself. The great film director, Cecil B.  De Mille said

“Most of us serve our ideals by fits and starts. The person who makes a success of living is one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That’s dedication.” – Cecil B. De Mille

This reminded me of something Craig Groeschel said at catalyst this year

“This generation over estimates what God wants to do with them in the short term and under estimates what God wants to do in the long term.”  – Craig Groeschel

I know some people that at a young age are already angry because they haven’t reached celebrity status in their field. I think one of the greatest failures a young person can have is thinking that I have already reached a place where I no longer have any major lessons to learn. This mindset means that failure comes as a total shock and complete disappointment. Whereas a resilient, dedicated individuals remember Thomas Edison’s quote regarding his efforts with creating the first lightbulb.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

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Quote for the day: Veterans and passing the baton.

n honor of veterans day I researched quotes regarding veterans. I found a quote that I think applies to not only veterans of war, but also veterans of church work. See what you think:

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”- George Washington

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Today’s Quote: Political Ad Campaigns

I love what comedian Brian Regan said about political ad billboards – he points out that they’re often just the person’s name and 2-3 words they’ve chosen to describe themselves, as if that’s all that was needed to make an informed decision. Political Ads are ridiculous. Alabama is famous for its political ads – whether its for Young Boozer (and yes, that’s his real name) or Dale Peterson. But funny ads are everywhere else too. One of my favorites is anti Sam Katz, a guy who is apparently running for mayor of Winnipeg. It ends with footage of him playing soccer and accidentally kicking a kid in the face. You’ll want to check it out sometime. I don’t know what they’re like where you are – but here in Montgomery the negative ads have gotten so intense that I almost don’t want to watch TV until after the elections are over.
By this time everyone has to be getting tired of the mudslinging – in relation to that, this quote about negative political ads caught my eye.

Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country — and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.
– Charles Krauthammer

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A Quote for Today

saw a quote that caught my attention today thought I’d share;

“One of the great disadvantages of hurry is that it takes such a long time.” – G.K. Chesterton

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