christianity

Heroes of Change

We’ve recently gone through some changes in our church. Changes that I’m quite excited about. Changes that I think are necessary to the sustainability of the church. And changes that better orient the willing workers with the needs of the people.

Change is always always hard. Few people like iOS 7. Petitions about Facebook changing its interface are rampant (ironically on Facebook itself). Restructuring at work is hard. And on and on.

Change in church is no different. In fact, it’s almost sacrilegious to change something about church. Dropping a ministry or a service, to some, is akin to giving in to the liberal theology/philosophy of the day. There’s a reason the sarcastic phrase, “We ain’t never done it that way before!” hits home for so many in the church – because there are always those who will resist change out of the simple fact that that’s the way we’ve always done it.

To be sure, an evaluation needs to be made as to whether the old system is indeed working. But what happens when it isn’t working well? What happens when the congregation no longer connects with a certain ministry? Should we redouble our efforts and pulpit-bully them into participation? Should we secretly judge them for lack of involvement? Should we throw up our hands and say the Pastor isn’t giving enough time, energy, and passion?

I struggle with this. I remember as a kid in the backseat of the family car on the way to Sunday evening church looking out the window of the car and seeing people going about their lives – even Christians! – and wondering why they were so callous to God that they would not go to church on a Sunday evening like I did. I’d probably even heard that kind of talk from the pulpit when the pastor was frustrated only 1/4 of the people showed up for the service. Maybe not so bluntly, but it was there.

I don’t mean to imply that people aren’t callous to God. They are. You are. I am. We all want our own thing. We don’t want to dedicate our time to Him. We’d rather do our own thing, watch TV, play a game. But that’s not the point. The point is the attitude. In the backseat of the car, looking out the window, I didn’t have an attitude of concern for the people I saw. I had an attitude of judgement. I thought I was better than them. I still struggle. I compare my involvement in the church to those of others and think I’m better than most. Make no mistake about it, this attitude is wrong. This attitude is not the gospel. And this attitude is telling God that I’m somehow worthy of His merit. And here’s the problem, I’m not. I’m not worthy of any merit. It is by his grace that I can somehow do a good thing here or there. Certainly it makes God smile when I do submit to Him, but it does not gain me a better standing before God. I am a sinner plain and clear. And for that, I the merit I receive should be death, but for Jesus’ sacrifice and reparation for my wrongs.

For many I think people are equating the ministries they grew up with as next to godliness. They become the kid in the back seat looking out the window judging people for not following God the right way. They see the changes in ministry as an affront to the cause of Christ and judge people for not continuing on with the old ministries.

But what I’ve been most impressed with lately is the number of people in our church who are going along with the change. It may not be the most comfortable thing to do, but so many people in our church see the need for the change and are just looking to support these new ministries in whatever way they can.

Eastern Hymn Cover

Ever since I heard David Crowder’s “Eastern Hymn”,  I wanted to do it. I finally got the chance last Sunday. We obviously didn’t get it perfect; the location of the camera wasn’t able to pick up the bass and hardly the drums which are key elements of the song, and it was a bit “*pitchy”. But anyway, it was super fun to play with some super cool people!

This was also a special day for us since it was our “goodbye” to the fellowship that we have been a part of for the past 4 years. We’ve really enjoyed being part of such a cool fellowship and having the opportunity and encouragement to use our gifts. This fellowship really has been our “home fellowship” for the past 4 yeas. It has been the place that we have felt most comfortable and yet challenged. It is the fellowship that we have been at the longest. We will also remember and treasure our time at QICF!

*Some of my musical friends have issue with the word “pitchy” as made popular by the American Idol Judge, Randy Jackson. My use of it here is dedicated to those friends… 🙂

**To hear the original by David Crowder *Band, click below:

Anna’s Dead Fish

Well, it happens. Fish die. As you know, Anna got a new fish tank. We’ve had a good time taking care of it.

But the other day we noticed one that wasn’t so healthy looking. Eventually it died and we had a funeral. After using the net to remove the dead fish from her tank, and flushing it down the toilet, Anna said, “Let’s get some more!” I think she’s taking the loss well.

Actually, I knew she wasn’t going to be too upset. When I told her about it, this is how I put it:
Me: Anna, I good news and I have bad news.
Anna: What?
Me: The bad news is that one of your fish has died.
Anna: (Exaggerated sad face) Oh, why?
Me: The good news is we get to use your pink net to get it out!
Anna: (Jumping from her seat and yelling) I can do it!

Anna Not-Too-Sad

In the Toilet

But even the death of a small fish gives us a chance to talk about our big God. After all was said and done Anna asked why her fish had died. We got to remind her that one day we will all die, but that death is not the end for believers in Jesus. We reminded her of her Papa (Grandpa Smith) and how he is in heaven partying with Jesus and the angels.

For more pictures, click here.

Are Democrats the Christian’s Antithesis?

As a conservative Christian, I find myself trapped when it comes to politics. Conservative Christians typically vote republican. In my opinion, it mainly comes down to two reasons – abortion and same-sex marriage rights. Once a conservative Christian finds where a candidate stands on these two issues, it’s all over. There’s no need to hear the rest of the candidate’s platform. Guns, foreign policy, economy, Iraq – they are all moot points. This frustrates me to no end.

Now, before you go reading into what I’m saying, please know this, pro-life and anti-same-sex marriage are indeed huge issues. There’s no way around it. I cannot, in good conscience and as a Christian, support someone who favors those things. I just can’t. The Bible speaks pretty clearly to these two issues and to vote someone in who supports them seems, as one person put it, the antithesis to what Christians are about. And I agree.

Despite this, though, I would love to be able to objectively and critically evaluate the other issues. Do we criticize and bash anything and everything a democratic president or candidate does simply because of where s/he stands on the above mentioned issues? For example, would conservative Christians be so adamant about the right to bear arms if all things else were equal*? Would conservative Christians support or oppose certain immigration policies, assuming all candidates were pro-life and anti-gay marriage? Would former president Clinton be seen as the evil villain of American conservative Christianity? Could conservative Christians finally be able to admit that Mr. Clinton actually did some good for America?

Are we settling for what we can get? Are we simply limited by our choices? Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater? Maybe, just maybe, not everything a democrat stands for is a Christian’s antithesis.

As I see it, most conservative Christians will be forced to vote for McCain simply because he is more pro-life and more anti-gay marriage than his counterparts. As a conservative Christian, do I really have any other choice?

Honest questions. I welcome your comments.

*I am speaking of the general population of conservative Christians. Obviously, conservative Christian NRA members will undoubtedly feel adamant about it regardless.