Monday, October 27, 2008

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

A running list that is updated throughout the day with links that I feel will help us get there.

* First off, this may be the most important video that you watch all day long.

* If you are a parent or involved with children in any way this link will lead you to an article that points out that we could be raising the most spineless children yet.
* Take a look at Matt Dabbs thoughts on the future of the Lord's church at this link.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Dragnet

It seems that we often become so caught up in theology, interpretation, and doctrine that we often forget the very force behind our faith. How can we forget Jesus? How can we forget the most missional being in existence? I cringe as I write this, but the answer is: very easily. It seems to me that we get so caught up in being "the" true church that we begin worrying and studying matters that have no bearing on what Jesus commanded. We teach the plan of salvation but we don't teach what Jesus, in his limited words left for us, taught.
I caught myself a few months back allowing my desire to be right and able to defend any doctrinal issue with any member of any denomination to forget the very reason that I wanted to become a Christian in the first place. I found myself trying to figure out how to break this cycle and the next thing I know I was knee deep in a study of Christ's parables. It is in these stories of Jesus that the very essence of what this blog is about is set forth. An overwhelming majority of them contain this message: The church is here to be missional.
In no parable is this message passed on more succinctly than the parable of the dragnet. Found in Matthew 13: 47-51(please read these verses, many of us think these parables are the "milk" discussed in 1 Corinthians but to me they are the "meatiest" parts of the Bible), Jesus tells those listening to his voice at the time that the kingdom of heaven (i.e. THE CHURCH) is like a dragnet thrown into the ocean, picking up anything and everything that it crosses. Could Christ have been more specific regarding what He, not Paul, Peter, James, Alexander Campbell, Calvin, C.S. Lewis, but HE, the Lord and Savior, expected from His true church? Christ is telling us to be missional and bring all to Him. Drag the deepest depths and bring them to the shores that His Father created. This is what being missional is all about but sadly Christ somewhat addresses what happens in the church today as this parable continues.
Christ reminds the listeners that once the the dragnet of the fishermen in his parable is filled and it gets to shore that they then sit down and separate the good from the bad. This makes sense right. The fishermen would keep what they can use and can fulfill and sustain them and cast what is useless away. Sadly, this is where I see a disconnect in too many churches with what Christ is teaching here. To be able to understand what I am trying to say here you have to understand that if we placed ourselves in this parable, we aren't the fishermen or the dragnet. We are the fish. Ask yourself how low did the dragnet of the church have to scrape you to shore? Granted, once to shore, or in the church we do serve a dual role, but in the end, we are still the fish. The church as a whole is the dragnet. This misunderstanding or just refusal to obey Christ is what is keeping many churches from becoming missional.
We want to become the sorters. We want to become the ones who pass judgment on who is worthy to be brought to shore. We want to be selective about who we invite to church or to group Bible studies. We all have our selected "buddies" from church that we go out to dinner with because we have decided to go ahead and deem ourselves worthy to stay ashore but those others still have too much work to do. We want to roll our eyes or sigh when the somewhat special needs individual in our church gets his turn to lead the devo on Wednesday night (assuming the church even thinks that he or she wants to be asked to participate in a leadership role in worship of our Lord). To do these things is wrong and is a direct violation of Jesus' teaching.
How do I know? Verse 49. Jesus tells us when his fish will be separated good from bad and it has nothing to do with mankind. Jesus tells us that His angels will do the separating. The angels will separate the evil from the just. This does not mean there will be a separation of the church from the world. In context, Christ is saying that the wicked IN THE CHURCH, will be removed from the just in THAT SAME CHURCH. That is assuming that we haven't already done such a bang-up job of taking care of the angel's duty that this is even needed.
In conclusion I want to make one last point about this parable. Jesus pointed out that the dragnet was not brought to shore until it was full. Christ then uses one of those great Biblical phrases; so it shall be. The dragnet of the church will not be brought to shore until it too is full. Isn't that what being missional is all about? Are we not commanded to be filling up the dragnet that we are caught in at the same time. How can the dragnet ever become full while we are just lure fishing for the kind of fish we want. How can it become full when we keep scaring off the fish? Then again, maybe some are scared of what will happen when it does become full. I know this, if you are truly following Christ's example and commands to be a missional disciple of His, there should be no doubt which vessel you will fall into.

Please check out this post and other similar ones by like-minded Christians at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Book Review: Churched by Matthew Paul Turner

I can think of no greater honor that a blogger can receive than being asked by a publisher to read and review a book for a book's blog tour. Not only do you get a free copy of a first edition book (I have a thing about first edition hard backs), but you get to lay eyes on something that is new before others. What's not to like about that?

Such was the case with the new novel Churched by Matthew Paul Turner ( This book takes the reader 30 years back in time to look at Matthew's youth growing up in a Fundamentalist Baptist church. From the opening story that Matthew tells about his modern day conversations with the Pentecostal pastor who has stopped believing he can speak in tongues, I found myself snickering often while reading this book.
Matthew pulls no punches when discussing his fundamentalist church youth and how ridiculous he thought most of it was as a child. Needless to say, time has not healed those wounds. Matthew's remembrances of Jesus-shaped cookies, saving a seat for Jesus on the school bus, and fear of his pastor had me reminiscing often about my own time spent in church as a young and impressionable boy. Anyone who reads this book and who grew up in church will more than likely read something that snaps you back in time to your own experiences as a youth in church.
I am not sure if it was purposeful or not, but about two-thirds through the book the laughter dies down and Matthew Turner gives the reader a real glimpse of the effects that being raised to fear God has had on him. Matthew reveals to the reader a teenager who, although he is doing everything his church has told him to, still feels unworthy of God's love. Further, Matthew wanted to see the love of Christ in his parents. Matthew discussed the fact that he really wanted his parents to tell him that they saw what he was doing and that they were going to point out exactly how they were proud of him instead of where he was falling short. This time never comes and Matthew writes about a discussion he had with his mom as a graduating senior when his mom has to ask Matthew if he knows that she is proud of him. How sad that because a gracious God was not taught to this young man that he grew up wondering if he was not only good enough for his parents, but for God.
I walked away from this book thinking about how people too often hide behind laughter when they are uncomfortable. As I read the latter parts of this book I could imagine Matthew battling with himself about how much to reveal about his true feelings and confusion that was instilled in him. As the book closes Matthew tries to raise that guard of humor back up but it never fully hid him for me and I walked away from this book feeling sorry for Matthew.
Most disappointing was the fact that Matthew failed to heed his own advise. Matthew writes about a lesson a teacher once taught him about knowing that there is poo mixed in with your desert. If you knew that, you would not eat the desert, was the point and it was used to illustrate how one unclean ingredient can ruin an otherwise good thing. I found myself thinking back to that illustration when Matthew expresses his views on the Bible at the end of this book. Matthew continues to believe that because the church and people in the church he grew up with were imperfect, so is the word of God. I just hope Matthew writes another book when he discovers that the only solution to his continued confusion about God is in the Bible. I grew up as a Church of Christ preachers kid for goodness sake, but I don't blame God for the confusion I felt and handled incorrectly. My wish is that Matthew will stop writing about wanting hope and will start reading about getting hope. Now that is a book I long to read.
I would not recommend this book to a younger person but for the sake of novelty and memory I would definitely recommend it to my peers. This book was a fun journey for me and has motivated me to make sure that my children are not living in fear of God but wonder, amazement, and praise.
If you would like to purchase or read more abut Churched, follow this link:

What Does Socialism Sound Like?

"Under socialism all will govern in turn and will soon become accustomed to no one governing." -Vladimir Lenin
Listen closely to what this man is saying. If you vote for him anyway let me go ahead and thank you in advance for collapsing our democracy.

"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." - Winston Churchill
"Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” - Alexis de Tocqueville

Friday, October 10, 2008

Obama the Messiah???

Attention Christians. I have great news for you all. Louis Farrakhan believes that Obama is the Messiah. This is a quote from a recent speech Farrakhan, a leader of the Muslim religion, gave:
"You are the instruments that God is going to use to bring
about universal change, and that is why Barack has captured the youth.
And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn't care anything about. That's a sign. When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear,
and the Messiah is absolutely speaking."
Here is a short video of that speech:

The word Messiah when discussed in Christian and Jewish circles of course refers to the Christ Jesus or the anointed deliverer of the Jews. This is not a word that is thrown around lightly in the Bible and there are only a few times it is used. The word originally meant one who is anointed by the Lord. While Christians believe that Jesus Christ has come the Jewish religion is still waiting for the Messiah to come to Earth. We as New Testament Christians are to be taking the example of the original 12 disciples and proclaiming as Andrew did to Simon in John 1 that "We have found the Messiah..." (A personal note here: Ryan Gallagher if you are reading this know that your discussion of Andrew being one of your Biblical heroes is still fresh on my mind and I thank you for that). How can you as a Christian proclaim that you have already found the Messiah and that he has saved you and then turn around and place a vote for someone the world is telling you is the Messiah.
In a spirit of optimism, let's assume that Farrakhan is talking about the secular view and definition of the word Messiah. This definition of course is a zealous leader who is anticipated to serve the role of a liberator or savior. So exactly what is Farrakhan saying that Obama is going to liberate us American people from? The last time I checked we have equal rights and opportunities in this country so the is no need to liberate from oppression. There are no slaves who need liberating. There are no dictators who we need relief from. So exactly what then?
Perhaps Farrakhan believes that our nation needs to be further liberated from Christian ideals and beliefs. The same beliefs that this country has been founded on. The same beliefs that members of Farrakhan's religion wish to kill us for. Perhaps he believes that Obama is going to serve the role of the Muslim liberator in America. What do you think? Are you thinking at all?
It's time to get smart Christian men and women. I do not think that I am reaching too far by saying that a vote for a man proclaimed by Muslims to be the Messiah is a vote against the Messiah who has already bled and died for your sins.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Gospel of Inclusion part 1

I sat and watched someone try and convert a person today. They tried to convert this person to the Gospel. Unfortunately it was the gospel of inclusion. The conversation went something like this:
"There was this charismatic evangelist named Carlton Pearson who went to do some mission work in Africa. While there, a young American boy saw a native African child who no one had ever taught the gospel to. The American child looked to Carlton and asked 'why does that boy have to go to hell?' This caused this once well thought of and highly influential minister to rethink what he had been taught and what he had been teaching. He then decided to invent a new theological thought. One of inclusion."
I was eating my lunch while I was listening to this conversation unfold in front of me and I almost choked as I sat and listened. The man delivering this message must have noticed that I was turning green with disgust as he said, "I knew you wouldn't like this." I will post my response to that comment at a later time. For now, let's take a closer look at this line of thought named Inclusion Theology.
Allow me to preface any further writing with the fact that by no means am I judging Mr. Pearson or his followers. As many in several religious communities have called him and his theology "heretical," I feel that doing so would not show any graciousness but only exacerbate the problem that I do believe Pearson was attempting to address when he set out on this mission. My hope is that someone will read this planned series of postings and either choose to avoid or remove themselves from what does not line up with the One Truth we are promised in scripture.
So what is this controversial theology? What is the problem? Why is an older white male in rural Northwest, AL attempting to convert people in this area to this line of thinking? Hopefully we can find the answers together.
For today, allow me to just lay out the basic points of Pearson's Gospel of Inclusion. In the following days we will break down each point and find if and where the flaw lies and why this may be dangerous. Carlton Pearson's Gospel of Inclusion teaches:
  1. Christ's death and resurrection made it possible for all of humanity to share in an eternal heavenly glory but that there is no necessity to man to repent of their sins and follow any plan of salvation.
  2. Know it or now, like it or not, all of mankind's destiny ends in heaven.
  3. The is no need to believe in Jesus Christ in order to spend eternity with Him. Due to God's grace there are no conditions to salvation.
  4. Only willful sinners who have been saved already and then intentionally reject Christ will be separated from God in eternity.
  5. There is some type of hell that is helpful to ministry teachings but we don't need to teach it because we don't want God to seem intolerant or angry.

This is what I came up against today and what caused me to thirst for truth that could only be quenched by God's Holy Word and time in prayer. In the next post on this matter I will take a closer look at the first point above and hopefully assist you in arming yourself with Scripture to fend off this relatively new doctrine.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

*This is a great mash-up of The Dark Knight and Toy Story. I thought of my friend's son Tyler when I watched this.

*Take time to read Jim Martin's brief writing on steps to living a gracious life.

* Make sure you watch this video regarding Obama's ties to the Kenyan governement and his Muslim radical relative who has allowed and supported genocide in the country. The end poses a very serious question that should be answered before anyone votes for Obama.

*Finally, make sure you read this article about perception over at Stoned-Campbell Disciple. Warning: do not look at the picture below the title for too long or your head will explode as minde did.

"I'm Taking My Ball and Going Home :("

Have you ever seen someone do something so ridiculous that while they are doing it you are left speechless. I think the medical term for this is stupitongue displacia. This happened to me last night.
I have the privilege of coaching a group of 6-9 year old boys and girls in soccer and last night was our next to last game of the season. Our team only has one loss all year so yes, we are really good. I have nothing to do with that by the way. Our opponent last night was a group of kids from a nearby town called Winfield, AL. This team was pretty good but to say the least they were way over coached.
To make a long story short, there was a disagreement about one of the rules and as soon as I voiced my concern over what was going on, one of the coaches for the other team grabbed his ball, his child, and walked away from the field. He was not seen again the rest of the night so I am assuming he literally took his ball and went home. Now this guy was probably in his mid-40's but he literally took his ball and went home because he did not get his way.
I felt so bad for the kids on the opposite team as well as my own team. Here we are at an event meant to be for the children and the adults are imposing their will on the activity. Further, what was this man teaching these kids? He was telling his son and the kids on that team that when you don't get your way or you don't like what is going on in life, you just quit. I voiced this to the remaining coach of the opposite team after the game was over and he agreed that the man should watch his actions and maybe avoid children's sporting events all together.
Regardless, our team WHACKED the other team after this happened and the final was 8-1. Also, I was able to use the incident as a teaching tool for the our team and pointed out to them that no matter what problems or worries we are having we don't want to be quitters.
Let me also make one last comment here. I am so proud of the way the kids on our team conduct themselves. I think it would not be bragging to state that of all the teams we have played this year that our team is the best. Minus one game where our kids walked around (my fault because I warmed them up too hard) we have beaten the socks off of every team we have played this year. This fact has led to animosity by kids on the other teams despite the fact that our kids don't gloat, brag, or rub the huge victories in the opponents face. My team has been pushed, pulled, kicked, spit on, and called names (especially the minority child on my team, nice going parents). Through all this my team has not reciprocated but rather heeded my advice and let their game talk for them and used the other kid's disgusting behavior to fuel their desire play the game the right way and have fun doing it. These kids are an example for all of us and especially us as Christians. When we are shocked by the ways of the world let us not react in kind but rather use it to fuel the fire of our call to discipleship and have fun doing it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

Hello all. I hope that you find something informative, funny, or uplifting to point you in the right direction today.
* First off, LISTEN CAREFULLY!!! This video contain one Samantha Power. She has been one of Obama's chief foreign policy advisers and will be an important part of an Obama administration. In this video she is calling for the destruction of Israel. If you are Jewish or believe that the Jews are still God's chosen people you would have to be beyond foolish to cast a vote for Obama.

* No, I am not a fan of Ole Miss but videos like the one below remind me of how happy I am to be from the south. C'mon, Elvis and SEC doesn't get much better.

Check Your Inventory

We had an interesting conversation yesterday in Sunday school regarding remembering to confess our sins. Basically a question was asked regarding not remembering all the sins you commit during a day and never asking forgiveness of God for those sins. If you are having this problem, the solution is quite simple. We should never carry around an inventory of sin. As Christians we are commanded to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). If we are doing this, we should never fail to confess our sins to God. We should immediately know when we sin and immediately ask God's forgiveness for each particular sin. If you say a word you should not say, STOP, and pray for forgiveness. If you have a thought or look at a member of the opposite sex in a lustful way, STOP, and ask for God's forgiveness. If you catch yourself gossiping or slandering someone, STOP, and ask forgiveness of this sin. If we do this and apply this to our lives we will not be able to build up a sin inventory and we can rest easily knowing that we have shown God our recognition that he is God and we are merely flawed humans.
In Psalm 32 David speaks of the burden of unconfessed sins. David reveals in his prayer that when he failed to ask forgiveness that he felt older, he moped and complained about the burden, and that God's hand caused him to have less energy. This may be the self-diagnosis of depression in the Bible but that's a new discussion all together. As I read that chapter I can think of times in my life when I have naively attempted to hide or mask sin in my life. Perhaps you can think of sins in your life that you have failed to confess to God and can relate to David's writing here. If so, drop to your knees and pray for God's forgiveness. Begin repairing that relationship with God. Perhaps many of us need to have a fire sale of our sin inventory in order to avoid the eternal fire that unconfessed sin is promised.