How activists against racism may be reinforcing it deeper into our culture.

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I watched a video the other day of a passionate young adult working to prove that racism is a very real problem that must be dealt with.  By the time it appeared on my Facebook feed it had been watched hundreds of thousands of times. 

Actually, he did a good job identifying problems that do exist and areas in our culture that need to be improved.  The problem is HOW he was making his viewers aware.  He basically said repeatedly in different ways, “You’re a racist!”  He was bold and passionate. 

Before we proceed let’s assume his information was 100% accurate and his heart was in the right place.

I still think he, along with many others, are making things worse. 

Here is why.

There is an important piece to the maturation process psychologically – identity.  Professional counselors and educators have been aware of this for a long time.

If an alcoholic is trying to improve, it’s one thing for him to admit he has a problem.  It’s something else to have him come home night after night to a spouse that calls him a “worthless drunk.”  Counselors long ago realized that berating and name calling doesn’t help.  In fact, it makes it worse.  Being made aware of a problem is very different than being told your problem is your identity… repeatedly. The wife may hate that he is an alcoholic– and at the same time reinforcing it IS his identity more deeply into his heart and soul! 

In education, it’s the same way.  If you have a young child who struggles with math, it’s one thing to identify there are places he needs extra attention; it’s another to remind him repeatedly he is “stupid.” You can absolutely point out an area in which he needs to improve, but ratifying in him that being “stupid” is a part of his identity will do more damage than good.  He may even actually come to believe it is who he is, accepting it even deeper into his identity. 

Moreover, social uniqueness (identity) is formed by what you are for AND by what you are against, from religion, politics, national identities, even artistic preferences.  Identity IS divisive and being unique is a basic human desire.  What’s important is HOW we approach uniqueness.  Racism (used broadly), by practice, is not only preferring a unique trait, but also believing the PEOPLE who have or prefer other unique traits are somehow less valuable or even worthless.  Our culture has ignorantly tried to throw out both sides of this by pretending to be blind to differences in general.  Trying to say there is no gender, color, intellectual or athletic gifting and the like is silly and limits the beautiful diversity of humanity.  For example:

People need to stop saying things like “kids don’t see color.”  Yes, they do.  They just aren’t bothered by the difference.  In fact, they can openly talk about it because a difference in skin color is a vastly inferior issue to the friendship they have.  What needs to be elevated is the priority of love.

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”- Martin Luther King, Jr.

We don’t want to live blind to the complex beauty that is humanity, or be afraid to see differences in each other. However, the binding agent of this uniqueness is love. 

Lastly, abhorrent name calling, violent marches, and belittling trigger the primal fight or flight instinct.  There are countless articles and research papers showing that people struggle to learn when they are deeply angry or afraid.  Every well-intentioned video or article that provokes the primal fight or flight may be highly effective click-bait (meaning a lot of people see it) but will not help move hearts toward love and respect.  In most cases as your blood pressure goes up, your ability to reason goes way down. 

So, what do we do?

In my home: I will not label my kids as a racist, idiot, bully or the like. Even if I think their values are wrong. That’s not their identity and not who they have to become.  That said they are unique and absolutely can improve themselves in many ways.  Not everything they like or dislike will be right, but that has no bearing on their value as a person.  In Christianity, human value is not subjective but objective. I will teach them there is space to love people deeply and talk about differences, even debate them. As a Christian, I tell them all humans are made in the image of God and have immeasurable value– from the unborn baby to the elderly dementia patient, from those born in the heart of India to those born in the heart of Kansas– and we should treat all as Christ sees them over how we may feel about them.  So, in our home we may challenge each other’s ideas and prefer different music styles, but love remains.

Identity: People are eternally valuable creations of God. 

Objective: Teach my children to approach a complex world the way Jesus did. You can challenge people, wrestle with ideas and ideals, but you cannot take away their transcendent value.  You don’t have that power.

In our culture: The battle is won by education and in relationships. I decided to do a little “research” and spent an evening watching interview after interview on YouTube of people who overcame racism.  I couldn’t find one that overcame racism with more physical or emotional violence.  The victory was always won through relationships and education.  If the objective is to win HEARTS– tangible forgiveness, mercy, and love are far more powerful than taking up arms and stone-throwing. If you want to change hearts, don’t work to prove there is hate without also working to demonstrate how it can be overcome. Don’t divide people further, build a bridge to speak into their life.

There are a lot of people in this world I disagree with and I actually enjoy a well-mannered debate.  Yet, I do not have any power to remove someone’s value. Even if I disagree with them. In my opinion their value is assigned by the Creator. 

He loved people so much that he sent what was dearest to him, his son, to die, so that they may be rescued.  The very people he knew had wrong affections and values.

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

I’ll let pastor King be my final thought…

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

picture: https://www.pexels.com/photo/portrait-dark-black-and-white-eyes-12087/

 

A truly traditional view of sex (and other appetites)

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A truly traditional view of sex. * (and other appetites)

“I was born this way.”

“I just wish God would take this desire away, it isn’t fair!  Is he punishing me?”

“What if God put this desire in me and never gives me a way to satisfy it?”

These are statements I have heard from men unsatisfied in their own marriages, single men struggling to stay pure, and those whose bodies were severely damaged from tragic accidents.

Let’s examine a few of these a bit more.

A young man in his mid-twenties married a delightful young lady who ended up having almost no sexual drive.  The normally good-natured young man found himself regularly exploring other outlets sexually.  He, like most who come in my office in a moral dilemma, worked to emotionally pull me into their situation.  “Can’t you see how hard this has been?  What else was I supposed to do?”

Another young man came to me who, for lack of a better way to state it, wasn’t attractive at all.  It wasn’t his fault and he was actually a wonderful individual whose company I enjoyed.  As he aged his fear of not having an outlet to satisfy his sexual desires pushed him ever further away from what he felt was his moral center.  By the time he came to me he was afraid he would never have a sexual outlet with another person.  In desperation with no other option, would a prostitute be a viable option?

No matter what situation is presented me in counseling I find a common thread – all of us tend to hang primarily on causation and use it as permission.  When people come into my office they often try to emotionally convince me that the painful cause of their struggle should permit them to act as they see fit.  Moreover, I have found that people also will tell me all the morally good things they are trying to do in their situation…they are trying to witness in their affair, they are praying that God would provide a better solution or change their appetite.

Here is my thought.  What if debates over the cause alone is the wrong place to focus our energy?

The meta-themes (overarching ideas offered) in the Bible juxtapose (to place apparent opposing ideas alongside each other) the call for man to be holy as God is holy (1 Pe 1:16) and that all have fallen short of the glory of God and cannot be righteous without Christ’s work (Rom. 3:21-26).  We are called to be holy but literally cannot do it on our own.

So here we have something really interesting emerge.

There is a perfect example we are to strive toward but all of us have things that prevent us from achieving it. The vast sea of causes would be impossible to list here, yet I find it interesting the like causes tend to draw people together and they often belittle people who struggle in ways they don’t.  For example, a relatively wealthy, suburban Christian church filled with mostly traditional families may be full of pride, arrogance, gossip, and material gluttony and not even see it in themselves.  While blind to their sin they vocally denounce the struggles that very few of them have.

The older and more well read I become I find myself evermore gracious towards those who struggle in ways that I do not.  Now I find myself encouraging everyone to pursue the ways and nature of Christ instead of keeping our focus on causes.  I now ask people this question: What actions and heart conditions could move you most towards the nature of Jesus?  My objective is to move their focus off their obsession with their struggle and on to the work, nature, and ways of Christ.  I love the way C.S. Lewis says it, “Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will turn the necessity to glorious gain.”

Therefore, when someone comes into my office obsessing over their perceived disabilities and the life permissions they believe it gives them I change the conversation to the holiness of Jesus and ask how they could move that direction.

“I was born this way.”

Maybe this is so, but the deeper question remains.  Are you moving more toward the ways and nature of Jesus or are you using your life allotment as reason to excuse yourself from this journey?

“I just wish God would take this desire away, it isn’t fair!  Is he punishing me?”

Possibly this struggle was allowed to hone you spiritually.  So, are you moving more toward the ways and nature of Jesus or are you using your life allotment as reason to excuse yourself from this journey?

“What if God put this desire in me and never gives me a way to satisfy it?”

Appetites unfulfilled happen all the time.  Just ask the young wounded soldier I met a few years ago who will never know many joys that others have.  The core question still remains.  Are you moving closer to the ways and nature of Jesus or are you using your life allotment as an excuse not to pursue the ways and nature of Jesus?  Moreover, as you pursue Jesus you will find your appetites fulfilled in other ways.

Finally, I have found when a pastor or Christian counselor places primary efforts towards the spiritual direction one is moving rather than just obsessing on a single issue you give them a spiritual life skill that will carry over into many areas of living.  You also show them how to make Jesus famous in their struggle.  As the Apostle Paul so eloquently states, he can now “…delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10) Just maybe your struggle, whatever it may be, could make your satisfaction in Jesus ever more profound and visible.  That I believe is our primary objective.  Jesus satisfies most. I quite enjoy the way Dr. John Piper says it, “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him.”  And this should be our primary objective – to glorify God.  In the light of eternity this is our greatest pleasure.

Can you see it? Our hurts are often the very places Jesus shines the brightest.

Two things to pray:

  1. Father help me to forgive those who sin differently than I.
  2. Lord help me to become aware of sin I have allowed in my own life by causal justification.

Two things you can do:

  1. Work to befriend someone whose struggle is different than yours and show them grace and encouragement to move towards “be holy as I am holy” and what that means in the greater story of Scripture.
  2. Stop obsessing over specific sins and always work to help people see how they could make Jesus famous through their areas of imperfection, whatever it may be.

Back to the cultural hot topic of our day.  Sex.  Like any appetite it can be abused, twisted, worshiped, obsessed over, and made into a god itself.  Whatever the hunger, whatever the perspective of it, I still ask the same question.  How can you move more toward the ways and nature of Christ with what you have?  No one gets this fully right and that is where the work of Christ on the cross comes in. 

* I must state that I am going to do my best to transliterate, if you will, the works of a few authors, most notably C.S. Lewis into a colloquial format.  For more information, please read the letters between Sheldon Vanauken and Lewis as well as his book The Four Loves.

Why the Baltimore mom is a big deal!

Why the Baltimore mom is a big deal! 

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The story has gone viral.

Baltimore is in chaos. Live footage from the riots is streaming into millions of homes from camera crews on the scene. One mom watching the news on her couch notices a young man. It’s her son! He is live on TV throwing rocks at police officers. This mom takes action like a Special Forces soldier on a mission, marches down into the chaos and accomplishes what the police force could not.

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See, the police and National Guard eventually did CONTAIN people. That’s not the deeper issue though. Did you notice the boy didn’t fight back against his mom? He will go to war against a system he doesn’t believe in, but he doesn’t dare try to come against mom!

I love the way Ruben Navarrette, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post states it:

“The video shows Graham furiously grabbing her son’s sweater, yelling at him, and shoving him away from the crowd. It also shows her slapping him in the head and ripping off his hoodie and mask, as if to say: ‘I’m your mother! You’re not going to hide from me!’ The same young man who — just a few minutes earlier — hadn’t been afraid to hurl rocks at police was frantically trying to get away from his mother.”

Nowhere in history has a state taken the place of a family successfully! Do you see it?

An unarmed mom subdued a rioter. Why? Because she has his heart!

I’m not saying I hold her up as the model parent.  Whether you agree or disagree with her method, the fact is even imperfect parenting has MORE power over the heart then any court or legal system.

A family has MORE POWER than any state over individuals. Let that sink in deep for a moment. Relationships trump law.

Law alone can’t contain the human heart for long. There is only one tool powerful enough to grab our hearts – love. And yes, even tough love!

Ruben continues in his article:

“Where were the parents or guardians for the rest of these kids? They need to step up, too. No more tolerating lawlessness, or making excuses, or blaming misbehavior on societal ills. Normally, this young man might be arrested, put in a cell, and hauled into court. In this case, Hero Mom was the police, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner — all rolled into one.”

Do you see it? She did this with no riot gear, no weapon, no tear gas, and no need for superior strength.

Just maybe there is more to the power of family than popular politics would like us to think.  It’s almost like we were designed for them.  🙂

References:

Pictures 1: http://cdn.inquisitr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/baltimore-mom.jpg

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRlmCf1Kj2o

Picture 2: http://legalinsurrection.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Baltimore-Mom-Hits-Rioting-Son-2-620×437.jpg

Navarrette, Ruben http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/04/28/hero-baltimore-riots-mom/

Our mixed up view of the favor of God.

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Our mixed up view of the favor of God. 

Several weeks ago our guest speaker Dr. Carl Shepherd made a profound statement:

“Most people are unhappy with their getting, and satisfied with their giving.”

We are obsessed with what we receive and offer little attention or strategy to what we give away. People are constantly praying that God will give them more instead of praying that He will help them give more away.

I think we have mixed up the way we measure the favor of God. We measure it by how much we get. 

This isn’t always a bad thing. God wants to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11). However, there is another piece to this puzzle. We are to also be a massive blessing to others with our time, talent, and treasure. In fact, we could be living a disobedient life all while God is allowing us to have incredible amounts of time, talent, or treasure (James 4:17).

We need to be discontent with our giving and more content with our getting. 

The goal of this life is not to acquire as much stuff for ourselves as we can with our time, talent, or treasure.  Biblical stewardship is making Jesus and His ways as famous as possible with these resources.

This is a huge problem in our world. Most people use their time, talent, and treasure to make themselves as famous as they can. I don’t care what popular culture says, this isn’t just selfish, it may actually be sin. (Luke 12:48, James 4:17, James 1:27)

Your goal in life should be to make Jesus as famous as possible with your time, talent, and treasure! 

Our prayer for more time, talent, or treasure ought to be like this, “Oh God, increase my capacity to give.”

My prayer for you as a counter-cultural pastor is this. (This is a dangerous prayer, people don’t like it!  Especially Christians who aren’t really Christian.)

God please don’t waste your gifts of time, talent, and treasure on those who hoard for their own self-pleasure.  I pray that you would bless beyond measure the talent, time, and treasure of those who desperately want to give to glorify you!

That is truly counter-cultural.

So what will you do with the limited time God has given you?

What will you do with the material resources God has allowed you steward for your short, finite life?

What will you do with the talent God has given you?

Please listen closely!  With no strategy in these areas something awful will happen.  The loudest cultural voices will steal your greatest asset and it isn’t your time, talent, or treasure.  It’s your heart. 

Please take a few moments and check this sermon out!

The discipleship information the end of the video is referencing can be found here: Catechumen

Relationslips sermon series

Welcome to the FREE resource page for the Relationslips series at Trinity Church.

In this quick series we tackle 4 relational lies our culture as adopted.

  1. Relationships are just physical.
  2. People fall in love.
  3. You must fight for power in relationships.
  4. If your marriage is healthy everything should just work.

Below you will find videos and notes for each study.

Relationslips

 

Week 1: Relationships are purely physical vs. relationships are something deeply spiritual. 

Notes can be viewed by clicking: HERE

 

Week 2: You fall in love vs. you prepare for love.

Notes can be viewed by clicking: HERE

 

Week 3: Leadership in relationships is about having the power vs. leadership is about serving.

Notes can be viewed by clicking: HERE

 

Week 4: Good marriages just work vs. Good marriages are work.

Notes can be viewed by clicking: HERE

What is True Love? (It’s not what you think!)

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True love.  I have seen it, but it isn’t where you might think.

After almost fifteen years of ministry, I have seen a bloody trail of mutilated marriages. 

Children confused and lost.  Adults betrayed and abandoned.  I have seen countless bitter, broken people so shattered they wonder if they could ever be put back together again.  Almost every destroyed marriage began with a tender kiss, loving hugs, and dreams of a wonderful future.  Then in the wake of a broken world all that “love” melts away.
 
I don’t see love anymore when a young couple comes into my office to talk about marriage. 

As they sit across my desk sharing sweet comments, holding hands, and telling me how they just “fell in love,” I smile and think, you have no idea what love is…  Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet and can be fertile ground for real love to grow, but they don’t know love yet.  You don’t fall in love; it’s built with blood, sweat, and tears, over time.   Love’s structure rests on covenant, and isn’t refined until that covenant is tested by time and the fires of life.
 
Then when all is stripped away, love remains…

When all is stripped away, when there is no more sex, no more young beauty, no more exciting vacations, no more health, and no more wealth.  There with everything stripped away, I have seen glimpses of love.   Though I have seen the beginning stages of love in young couples, I have only actually seen real love in the elderly, the ones who have been to war and back relationally.  The ones who have lost it all and somewhere in the midst of the chaos through the years, they uncovered something so much more valuable than anything material.
 
They found love.
 
On the bed of long held sacred covenants I have seen these old couples delight in something that the young don’t understand at all.   The cost of that marriage, all the work, all the years, all the struggles have produced such a pure beautiful gift.  Love, abiding and unshakable.
 
Can you see it? 

Real love takes time to be birthed.  It’s guardrail is the covenant they’ve made AND kept, and it’s value is found in years of deep sacrifice.
 
This is the love Christ didn’t just demonstrate, but asks us to mimic in our marriages.
 
Ephesians 5:25a
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Eph 5:25a). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

 

 

10 Relationships Emotionally Healthy People Have

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10 relationships emotionally healthy people have.   

There are countless articles on the power of perspective and surviving difficult situations.  When strong purpose and healthy relationships are strategically injected into even the hardest of situations people can find meaning.  Everything in life hinges on relationships.  I have compiled a strategic relationship list.  If you can clearly answer all of these it will fulfill more than any job or education you achieve.  From an emotional health perspective, this list is MORE important than money, power, and education.
You probably can’t answer all of these with confidence. That’s all right, save this and work on them.
Remember… everything is about relationships!

  1. The person who demonstrated selfless love to me is _______.
  2. The person whom I have committed to demonstrate selfless love to is _______.
  3. The person who helped me discover my purpose in life is _______.
  4. The person I would gladly give everything I own to is _______.
  5. The person I could call anytime day or night and ask for help is _______.
  6. The person I keep no secrets from is _______.
  7. The person whose life mission I would love to carry on is _______.
  8. The person who I would love to carry on my life’s mission is _______.
  9. I currently feel loved by _______.
  10. The person I can’t wait to see in heaven is _______.

If you can answer all ten of these with confidence you are the relational elite. If you can answer all ten, chances are you are a stable missional person even if you are going through a rough patch in life at the moment.  If you can’t answer these, this is a great list to work on!  You will tackle everything from meaning and personal value to legacy and death by wrestling with each of these questions.  The ultimate relationship is the one you develop with Christ.

It’s important to note these questions are derived from quite a few different sources.

Why the church needs a sexual revolution

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There I was sitting with an incredible young couple.  They both grew up in solid homes with loving parents, they were college graduates, financially stable, and their new marriage was off to a great start with one little problem… sex.

With parents who danced around the topic like it had cooties and a church that gave halfhearted “sex talks,” they basically learned three things about God’s view of sex. All of which are mostly wrong.

1) Sex is taboo, run away as fast as you can.  Often quoting verses like 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” Of course the implication is SEX IS EVIL.  (Not to mention the poor exegesis.)

2) Pornography will melt your brain and turn you into a rapist and murderer. (Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t healthy!  We just don’t need to execute you for murder quite yet. 🙂  Read more here.  Freedom from Sexual Sin.)

3) If you wait until marriage sex will instantly be amazing and completely fulfilling.

And we wonder why there is so much disappointment and shame…

When she struggled to flip the switch from the doe-eyed virgin to a sex kitten, he started struggling with porn.  Her fear that he was turning into Ted Bundy completely stalled this young marriage.

What’s really sad is this isn’t just one couple.  As a pastor who has worked with many young adults, this type of situation is much more common than you think.

We did this to ourselves.  A misguided passion for holiness led Christians to run from the parts of humanity that aren’t easily put into neat little boxes.  Churches have made an attempt to address the issue of sex, along with the 90’s “True Love Waits” campaign, but unintentionally communicated some misleading messages.   Appetites we should have been teaching our children to understand and manage we just told them to avoid, or even worse we didn’t speak to them at all.  Somehow we are now surprised when our kids end up with sexual problems and have nowhere to turn.  We are surprised when young Godly kids struggle for YEARS in their marriage and are too ashamed to talk about it.

Now we stand stunned, as sex has been hijacked by secular culture. Come on!  How have we allowed this to happen?

Where are they supposed to learn about healthy sexuality if not the church and home?

It almost feels like the church wrapped sex up in a package with a bow and said, “Here secular culture, we don’t know what to do with this so you educate and define sexual morality for us.”  So they did.

Students seeking information had to learn about sex from gym teachers in sex education and the locker room instead of parents and sound Christian institutions.

Here is the truth.  God made sex.  It isn’t bad.  God gives clear boundaries not to keep us from pleasure, but to help us find our way to the best sex.  It’s a journey and takes work!

Here is my call to Christian parents, Christian schools, churches, and Christian universities:

Stop ignoring this!  Sex was created by God to be enjoyed.  Please make my work easier by teaching about sex from a Biblically accurate perspective.  Take sex out of the dark and bring it into the light.  A healthy view of sex won’t happen in the courtrooms or in the school systems.  It will begin within the boundaries of the one who designed us.  Our kids will seek out answers somewhere and it’s unfortunate that the church and its people have been largely inadequate.  In my opinion, the new sexual revolution needs to be in the church!

Resources:

The Story of Me: Ages 3-5 http://amzn.to/MU3f9E

Before I was Born: Ages 5-8 http://amzn.to/1duqeCP

What’s the Big Deal?: Why God Cares About Sex: Ages 8-11 http://amzn.to/1ezSfnZ

Facing the Facts: Ages 11-14 http://amzn.to/1cG4hfL

The Meaning of Marriage: Adults http://amzn.to/1gmjHuka

Sheet Music: Adults http://amzn.to/1lTAiqT

Continue reading:

Freedom from Sexual Sin: https://mcolaw.wordpress.com/2013/08/21/freedom-from-sexual-sin/

Digital Purity (A purity plan): https://mcolaw.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/digital-purity/

Accountability Questions: https://mcolaw.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/awkward-accountability-and-a-few-real-christians/

Here is the message:

7 relational lies that need to be confronted

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7 relational lies that must be confronted!

The Lie: People in great relationships always get along.    

The Truth: Conflict is required for intimacy.  If you are constantly running from conflict, my guess is you don’t have deep friendships.  Learning to speak truth in love will create an enviornment of transparency that satisfies deeply.  It only comes through healthy conflict and transparency.  Don’t be FAKE! 

The Lie: A healthy relationship will eventually be free of conflict.  

The Truth: We are all flawed. There is a term in the Bible called forbearance, which in context often means the refraining of enforcement.  This means there will be times where you are absolutely right about something and the other person is absolutely wrong.  However, you choose to forgive (not necessarly ignore) for the sake of the relationship.  Sometimes the relationship is more important than the issue. This also applies well to our most familiar flaws.  Much like a physical weakness or flaw, sometimes there isn’t a magic pill or miraculous counseling session that will fix it.  You choose instead to forbear and graciously move forward together!  Hear me clearly, ALL of us have issues.  Healthy relationships know, recognize, and reflect healthy forbearance. 

The Lie: People fall in love. 

The Truth: People fall in lust.  True love is work, a journey of focused commitment. History teaches us instant-conflict-free relationships are most likely to be found in fairytales.

The Lie: Lucky people experience great friendships. 

The Truth: Loving, sacrificially committed people experience great friendships.  It’s like a group of friends embarking on a long ocean voyage. The friends in this ship live it up together when it’s calm and steady each other when the storm rages. 

The Lie: I don’t need people. 

The Truth: There is nothing more powerful and satisfying than to be deeply known and loved. Known, meaning you are relationally close and familiar with that which makes another unique, the good and the bad. Loved, meaning someone affectionately chooses you, no matter what. Nothing satisfies more than to be chosen and loved, in-spite of our flaws. 

The Lie: Marriage is old fashioned and divorce is no big deal. 

The Truth: It’s often harder for people to get over a divorce than it is to recover from the death of a loved one. Betrayal after intimacy hurts deeply.  Marriage is intended to be a covenant, with boundaries, protecting a developing relationship.  The Biblical view of marriage isn’t a list of rules holding you back.  It is a treasure map showing the route to a deeply satisfying relationship.  If you don’t follow the map, don’t expect to find the treasure.

The Lie: Porn is the not-so-bad norm. 

The Truth: All porn, whether soft or hard core, is sacrificing to a false idol.  Porn plays dark games in your mind.  Hear me clearly–this includes romance novels, or what I call porn for women.  Romance novels “Photoshop” false relational images with words and create expectations that are far from reality. It seems as modern Christianity permits romance novels as acceptable, the more marriages seem to crumble.  So, why does this continue?  Let’s change that and change our marriages!  

Of course, there are more relational lies and truths.  Here are just a few, to get you thinking!

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Why you love and hate your pastor

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Why you love and hate your pastor.

Being involved in ministry for almost 15 years has led me to countless conversations with people about their pastor, or previous pastor, or grandpa who was a pastor.  Some were loved, some were loathed.  Some pastors really acted in ways they shouldn’t have; in some situations though it was just personality conflict.

Here are a few thoughts that may help shed some light.  This is not at all exhaustive and isn’t an excuse for sinful actions.

1) People, depending on their personality or season of life, want either a visionary movement creator or a chaplain. Chaplains are great listeners and are quick to quietly sit by your bedside at the hospital.  Their schedules are almost always determined by the needs of others.  Most chaplains are highly faithful people with quiet, gentle hearts.  Visionary movement creators are different.  They are driven.  They lead strong and instead of being controlled by external forces, they shape the external.  These people are intense and have a tendency to control conversations rather than be good listeners.  You need to know, God uses both!  If you are in a season where you need a chaplain, that’s great, but don’t badmouth the vision castor.  Or if you want to line up behind a strong leader, don’t bash those who God crafted to be wonderful, gentle chaplains.  Some churches need to be 150.  The gentle chaplain has an important role and some people really need this.  The church of 20,000 led by a dynamic intense leader has an important role too!  We need culture shapers who lead leaders, but don’t be surprised if your visionary pastor isn’t at your bedside every time you walk through the doors of a hospital.  I can honestly say most of the complaints I hear aren’t because of true moral failure, they are because people want a dynamic leader with massive influence that isn’t, well… dynamic.

I also want to be clear, by “chaplain” I do not necessarily mean those that serve in the military.  The job Chaplain could absolutely be done by a strong visionary leader and the numerical size of the church doesn’t always reflect they type of leader your pastor is.

2) So what about true imperfections in a leader? People also want pastors who are like Christ, which they should.  I get this.  I had someone share with me about the problems they were having with their pastor.  It became really clear they were mad that their pastor had weaknesses.

The pastor should reflect Christ, but he cannot replace him.

If Jesus is your lead pastor you will have a level of grace for your human pastor you didn’t before.  Most of the greats before us, the Apostle Paul, King David, intense Peter, even the modern guys like Luther, Wesley, and Calvin, were not perfect people at all!  The reality is if any of your pastors treated their families like Wesley did, you probably would push him out.  Or if you had a pastor that treated congregants who disagreed with him like Calvin you would be calling the police.  Or a pastor who used constant derogatory language like Luther, you would storm out of church furious!  Yet they are heroes to us all.  Remember, your pastors are human.  If the greats in the Bible were flawed and made mistakes, you better believe your pastor will be imperfect too!  I am not letting them off the hook, or saying there should be no accountability, I am however saying you need to put your hope in Jesus and love your pastor like a brother in Christ.

Remember this:

Jesus is the only perfect leader. Put your deepest hopes in him.

-Don’t condemn leaders for their personalities.  If you feel like you need to find a pastor that fits you better that’s fine, but don’t demonize and drag people through the mud on your way to the next church.

-Last, remember this is a spectrum, not absolutes.  Some chaplains may have a little vision in them and some visionaries can and should become a chaplain in certain settings.