Thursday, September 29, 2016

9/30 - Exodus 12:3-7 - Have you painted your doorposts red?

Tell the whole congregation

of Israel ... to take a lamb ... 

5 without blemish ... 6 [and on] 

the fourteenth day of this month ...

slaughter it at twilight. 7 [Then]

they shall take some of the blood

and put it on the two doorposts

and the lintel of the houses ...

Exodus 12:3-7

In the midst of life’s bondages, how are you set free? Step 3 in the Exodus Model of the Journey to Freedom is not our step. It’s not our action. Step 3 is God’s action!


And in Exodus 3, God raised up for Israel a deliverer – Moses. Moses, however, was a mortal man, and you and I can’t rely on some dead historical figure for our freedom.


So where is our hope thirty-five hundred years later?


·         Moses was a deliverer.


·         But … he (and the Exodus) pointed to THE DELIVERER.


Moses – and the Exodus Journey – prefigured God’s eternal plan for healing, hope, and freedom. Here’s the pattern:


·         In our verses for today, freedom began for Israel after they trusted God's command and slathered their doorposts with the blood of a lamb. Historically, this event was called the Passover.


·          Thirty-five centuries later, victory comes for us when we trust in God’s provision and "paint" the doorposts of our hearts with The Blood of The Lamb. And who is that perfect Lamb? Jesus, as you probably know, is THE Lamb; as John the Baptist proclaimed, Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29 

We hinted yesterday about Jesus being God’s plan and path for freedom. He is! Now, we’ll talk about how Jesus does this throughout the rest of this study! But for now, let me simply establish this scripturally as Jesus’ sacred and eternal role …


·         "For freedom Christ has set us free," says Galatians 5:1, "Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Where does bondage come from? The yoke of slavery comes from the things of this earth – most notably, sin and deception. In contrast, true freedom must come from above, and “for freedom, Christ has set us free.”


·         “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2 Again, “the yoke of slavery” includes “the law of sin and death.” But God “has set you free from a greater “law” – “the law … of life in Christ Jesus.”


·         And John 8:32 reiterates this … and says it most simply: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”


If you are enslaved, perhaps what you need most is to give yourself ever more fully the Jesus-the-Lamb-of-God.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who needs to

buy some blood red paint

(It’s the only color that will cover

all of my hatred, discouragement,

anxiety, abrasiveness, doubt,

greed, courseness, and

impulsive behaviors.)


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

9/29 - Exodus 3:15 - Who is your deliverer?

15 God also said to Moses,

“Thus you shall say to the Israelites,

‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors,

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,

and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’”

Exodus 3


Is Moses your deliverer?


Yesterday – Step 3 – we said that when God’s people cry, God raises up a deliverer. During the Exodus Moses, of course, was God’s deliverer. He was the rescue plan for ancient Israel.


Weed to ask, though: Is Moses your deliverer?




Of course not.


You’re not a Jew from the 15th Century BC. Your taskmasters are not Egyptians with chains and whips.


Indeed, if you’re reading this, you are most likely a 21st Century AD American. Nevertheless, you surely have your own set of enslavements.


In fact, if you are reading this, I hope you can say, “I am a 21st Century Christian. Why? Because Jesus Christ is God’s rescue plan for you and me … and our generation … and all of humanity … throughout the rest of history!


Jesus is the Deliverer. And our freedom begins when we begin to trust that Jesus died to deliver us from our bondage to sin and death. The passion of Jesus-the-Deliverer – as evidenced by his sacrifice on the cross – is to forgive our sins and grant us everlasting life.


Do you believe that? Jesus is Step 3 in being set free.


Think about this … If you don’t have a deliverer, you’re on your own! As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:17, if Christ Jesus isn’t the victorious, risen Lord, then “you are still in your sins.” And isn’t that where you are? Your sins and/or the sins of others being inflicted on you are precisely what’s holding you captive? You are in bondage to your anger, grief, doubt, and addictions … and … you are beaten down by another’s callousness, abuse, and lack of compassion. You need to be set from sin and its effects.


Now, you can try a little psychology to help with this. You can try a little self-help and will-power. But if you’d been able to fix all your mess on your own, you wouldn’t be reading a series of devotions on freedom.


One famous definition of insanity is doing the same things again and again and expecting different results. And to some degree, that’s probably precisely where you are. Most of us remain in our bondage, shame, and helplessness, unless and until someone or something sets us free.


So here’s the hope … “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36


That’s the Christian message. And I can testify to that theologically … and personally. Indeed, when I first truly entrusted my brokenness, poverty, and depression to Christ, I was totally and instantly set free. (More on that in future pages.) But I’ve experienced God’s freedom personally … and as a pastor. Indeed, I’ve watched it hundreds of times in the lives of friends.


The point is this: We all need a Deliverer. We all need something bigger than ourselves. It’s humbling to cry in desperation, but true freedom only begins when we trust thatthe help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ … will turn out for my deliverance.” Philippians 1:9


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who thinks of Jesus

like the Pizza Guy:

He Delivers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

9/28 - Exodus 3:7-8 - When does God start planning your deliverance?

Then the Lord said [to Moses],

“I have observed the misery

of my people who are in Egypt;

I have heard their cry on

account of their taskmasters.

Indeed, I know their sufferings,

and I have come down to

deliver them from

the Egyptians …

Exodus 3


“Admit that you’re in bondage.” “Cry out to God.” Those are the first two steps to Israel’s escape from slavery. Today we focus on Step 3, and the first word in Exodus 3 (depending on your translation) is “Moses.”


At the end of Exodus 2, the people cried out to God, and – boom! – God immediately sent a solution – Moses, the deliverer.


Sending a deliverer is one of Lord’s most common methods of setting people free: For example, in Judges 3:9, “when the Israelites cried out to the Lord,” scripture says that “the Lord raised up a deliverer … Othniel …” Six verses later, we hear it again: “15When the Israelites cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud …”


In the New Testament, the pattern continues, of course. Jesus is our ultimate deliverer! Therefore, we can cry, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:25 


So what happened when the Israelites finally and completely called to the Lord? Boom! A deliverer.


And yet here’s the coolest part to this …


question: When did God start preparing a deliverer for Israel?

answer: Before they even cried out.


The Israelites cried out for help at the very end of Exodus 2. But at the very beginning of Exodus 2 – before they ever cried – God was already preparing the deliverer!


You probably remember the story … Pharaoh was killing Hebrew babies. Moses’ parents kept him alive by floating him down a river in a basket. And God not only provided a home for Moses, but first-hand access to the royal palace, as Moses was adopted by the royal family and raised as a prince. Yes, before Israel even cried out, Moses was wandering Egypt’s halls of influence.


More important than wandering Egypt’s portals of power, God also prepared Moses by letting him wander in the wilderness for forty years. Exile was part of Moses’ story too. Before the bush ever burned, Moses had to learn to depend on God for daily bread in desert places.


Yes, before Israel ever cried out, God was already preparing a deliverer.


Isn’t that remarkable?! God is preparing for your deliverance even before you know to cry.


And yet he’s waiting.


He’s a gentleman.


He gives you free will.


And when you finally humble yourself and call out to him, your Lord is eager to deliver. That’s his heart. You are his desire!


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who needs to quit

fulfilling the wrong scripture:

James 4:2 – “you have not

because you ask not”


Monday, September 26, 2016

9/27 - Exodus 2:23-25 - When does the rescue begin?

23 After a long time …

the Israelites groaned under

their slavery, and cried out …

24 God heard their groaning …

25 and … took notice of them.

Exodus 2


·         Question 1: When did God realize that Israel was bondage?


Answer 1: From the moment that Pharaoh placed taskmasters over them (Wait! “From that moment” was at the minimum, right?! Our all-knowing God has known such things from the beginning of creation! But let’s stick to our human timeline … When did God realize that Israel was in bondage? From the moment that Pharaoh placed taskmasters over them. That’s Question 1.


·         Question 2: And when did God begin to rescue them? (Again we’ll base this on our earthly timeline.)


Answer 2: From the moment Israel “groaned under their slavery and cried out.”


·         Question 3: If God’s people were oppressed and enslaved, why did God wait a couple of hundred years to rescue them?


Answer 3: Because God is gentleman! He generally doesn’t choose to act … until we give him our full permission.


Rescue, healing, and victory generally don’t begin until we come to “the end” of ourselves, and cry out, “Lord, I can’t … but you can.” And though it surely grieves the Father’s heart to watch us suffer, God-the-Gentleman, nevertheless, waits until we ask, until we cry, until we repent, until we invite him in.


Now, most of us like to be self-sufficient. Therefore, many of us never really allow ourselves to get to the point of humble submission. (This may be especially true of men. We were taught to pull ourselves up from our own bootstraps.) But if Step 1 in the journey to freedom is realizing that we are in bondage, then Step 2 is crying, “Lord, I can’t … but you can.” It’s calling, “God I am totally dependent on you.”


Will you humble yourself … and turn from your wicked ways … and pray … and seek his face? That’s what God-the-Gentleman is waiting for, saying things like, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14, emphasis added


In Christ’s Love,

a gentleman

who needs

The Gentleman


How Can We Pray - in October?

Prayer List for October

How can we pray for you?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

9/26 - Exodus 2:26 - How completely are you crying out?

23 After a long time …

the Israelites groaned under

their slavery, and cried out.

Out of the slavery their cry

for help rose up to God.

Exodus 2


Yesterday, Exodus 1 revealed Step 1 in the journey to freedom. What was it? One day the Israelites woke up and found that they’d become Pharaoh’s slave. That’s our first step too in the journey to freedom too. We must wake up and realize that we are in bondage.


Today we’ll discover that Exodus 2 reveals Step 2. It says, “After a long time … the Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out.”


That’s it. That’s step two. Cry out to God!


Pray! (Because freedom doesn’t come without it.)


Now, if you want to know what this cry of deliverance looks and sounds like, we must ask: Who cried out at the beginning of the Exodus?


Was it one priest who cried out on behalf of the people? (No. It was more than that.)


Was it a handful of Israel’s most faithful people? A small group? (No. It was more than that too.)


Who was it?


It was the nation as a whole.


It was all of Israel.


Collectively, the entire nation realized that they had truly and totally hit rock bottom. And they cried out as one.


This nation couldn’t bear the weight of oppression anymore. And so they groaned – as one – in utter desperation. They cried – as one – for help. Finally realizing the futility of relying on human solutions, all of Israel pleaded – as one – to God.


Now, apply that to your life. The freedom cry is not just part of you crying out. It’s all of you. It’s crying out with everything in you. It is every corner of your heart pleading … as one.


If you want freedom, you can’t say, “God heal this … but I’m going to keep rebelling, cheating, compromising, in these other areas.” The cry of freedom is total. It is complete. It is all … or nothing.


So … is all of you really crying … or just part of you? Is your desire to be free with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul, and all your strength? see Deuteronomy 6:5 Indeed, what are the corners of your heart that keep compromising, keep stalling, keep holding out?


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who spells “help”

with an ‘A’ and two ‘L’s



Saturday, September 24, 2016

9/24-25 - Exodus 1:11-14 - What's Imprisoning You?

Do You Know Joseph?


13 The Egyptians became ruthless

in imposing tasks on the Israelites …

11 [T]hey set taskmasters over them

to oppress them with forced labor …

14 and made their lives bitter with

hard service in mortar and brick

and in every kind of field labor. 

Exodus 1

Yesterday I told you that I don’t like clichés, and yet I clichéd. (Is that a word?) I said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step.”


Well, in the journey to freedom, what is the first step?


In Twelve Steps Programs – like Alcoholic Anonymous – they state the first step toward freedom like this …


We must admit that we are powerless over _______—and that our lives have become unmanageable.


The first step is realizing that we are in bondage. The first step is admitting the source of our enslavement. The first step is being so tired of things being unmanageable that we’re finally willing to do something about it.


For Israel, slavery to the Egyptians was unmanageable. Unendurable. Absolutely unacceptable. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what they did to escape this bondage, but today we need to start by realizing (comprehending, admitting) what it is that really and truly enslaves us.


So … what is it in your life? What are the things that shackle and oppress you? Below is a list of enslavements. Circle the things that are imprisoning you …



Do you see how vast and pernicious spiritual slavery is? Each of these is a cruel taskmaster. And thus the question is this: Are you tired of them? Do you want to be free?


I know you want to do something to be set free – we’re doers – but trust that this is the first step. We must admit that we are powerless over _______—and that our lives have become unmanageable.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who circled in pencil,

trusting that I will use

the eraser soon


Thursday, September 22, 2016

9/23 - Exodus 1:8-11 - Is it Time to Leave Your Egypt?

Is it Time to Leave

Your Egypt?


Now a new king

arose over Egypt,

who did not know Joseph. 

He said to his people ...

10 “Come, let us deal shrewdly

with them, or they will ... join

our enemies and fight against us ...” 

11 Therefore they set taskmasters

over them to oppress them

with forced labor.

Exodus 1

“Taskmasters.” “Oppress them.” “With forced labor.” Those are hard words.


The Israelites were once in bondage in Egypt. It was slavery, and God helped them escape.


Do you have enslavements in your life? God wants to help you escape!


Freedom is one of God’s greatest passions for you in your life. Therefore, his servants cheer, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1 God wants you to discover the courage, hope, and light that freedom brings. He prays that you will experience the power, peace, and purpose that liberty provides. Like the Israelites, God want to bring you to your Promised Land. 


“Go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess,” are the heavenly words at the end of the Exodus. see Joshua 1:11 Your Promised Land is your inheritance, your destiny. “But the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single …”


I hate clichés. But it is true. If you want to be free, you’ve got to take the first step. So where do we start? Unfortunately this journey starts in the same place the Israelites started – in a foreign land (Egypt).


Child of God, you were made for heaven … but you are living in an alien world. It’s a land of sin and pain. It’s a whole world of bondage and death. And the question is … How far do you feel like you're living from your Promised Land? How many miles do you feel like you’re living from the destiny that God has in mind for you? How do you describe living in this alien world?


What we must eventually conquer – if we want to escape that which is enslaving us – are the sins and bad habits that draw us away from our destiny. How many of our own dysfunctions carry us to our own personal Egypt – the land of bondage? How many of the chains in our lives come from our own weaknesses and failures? Are insecurities and fears tying you in knots? Like every Israelite at the beginning of the story, you have been born in Egypt; you have been planted and rooted far away from the destiny that God has planned for you.


And you know this.




You probably know precisely what many of the compromises and patterns are that you need to break. But do you believe that God has something better in store? It’s called the Promised Land. It your Promised Land. There’s a destiny awaiting you … and it’s here on this earth! “Go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.” Joshua 1:11


In Christ's Love,

a guy who want to

be called “Houdini”


(I’m ready to escape

my bondages and discover

God’s Promised Land!)


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

9/21 - Exodus 1:8 - Do you know Joseph?

Do You Know Joseph?


Now a new king

arose over Egypt,

who did not know Joseph.

Exodus 1


Do you know Joseph?


Pharaoh didn’t, and it led to disaster for Egypt. (It’s funny how forgetting a little thing like history can do that.)


You wouldn’t want to forget a little history and reap a little disaster like Pharaoh, right? Therefore, the first step toward freedom begins with this question: Do you know Joseph?


This great-grandson of Abraham, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Carted away to Egypt, Joseph’s God-given ability to interpret dreams allowed him to save Egypt from a famine. And when his brothers came to the land of the pyramids to beg for food, they never expected that the high-ranking Egyptian official they would approach would be in reality their own little brother (who had been promoted to second in charge of this desert nation).


The climax this story – indeed, the climax of the entire book of Genesis – was the forgiveness that Joseph offered his brothers: “You planned evil against me; but God purposed it for good.” Genesis 50:20


Freedom is the theme of these devotions, and freedom begins by knowing Joseph … and adopting his character.


What does Joseph teach us about freedom? First, he teaches us about perspective. If Joseph focused downward toward the situations of this earth, he would have been discouraged. He would have given up. He was sold as a slave by his own brothers. He was carted as a foreigner to a distant land. He was betrayed by his master’s family and thrown into prison. He was forgotten by a friend and left to rot even longer in a jail cell.


But … Joseph didn’t focus downward. He kept looking for – and seeing – God’s gracious hand. Looking heavenward, he could say – boldly and joyfully – You planned evil against me; but God purposed it for good.” Genesis 50:20


I want that kind of boldness! I want that kind of joy! Regardless of my circumstances, I want to be able to look for, see, and celebrate God’s goodness. Which leads to Joseph’s second lesson about freedom – forgiveness.


You’ve heard the question: Which came first – the chicken or the egg? Well, I don’t know which comes first perspective or forgiveness, but I’m convinced that the reason the many of us can’t forgive is that we don’t have the perspective that God is truly active, present, and with us, that he knows the truth and will provide the ultimate justice. (Is that you?)


Does perspective lead to forgiveness? Yes. But I’m equally convinced that forgiveness leads to the heavenward perspective that gives us life. Indeed, having walked as a pastor with hundreds of individuals, I’ve witnessed that the reason that many of us can’t see God’s love, grace, and provision is that we’ve put a barrier between him and us by refusing to forgive.


I know. Trust me. I know you’ve been hurt. But Joseph was hurt too. And he chose to forgive – and it is a choice. When we are holding onto hurts and betrayals, it is us – not the perpetrator – who is in bondage. Joseph teaches us what forgiveness and freedom look like. And by taking the hard step of forgiving his brothers – his perspective was transformed and he changed the destiny of an entire nation.


Do you want to change the destiny of your family for generations? Freedom starts with the question: Do you know Joe?


In Christ's Love,

a guy who knows the answer

to which came first –

the chicken or the egg?


The answer is …

God came first!


(I know, I know, it’s not that funny.

I should be more clever!

But truth and a proper perspective

always come first if we want

more freedom and a richer life.)


Devotions are Back - Violence in Charlotte - To my devotional group

Daily devotions are back!!!


I’ve been wanting to start them for weeks (but it’s been too, too busy and crazy.) But with the violence in Charlotte last night … it’s time. (Note: These are my first musings. Kind of a first draft as my heart grieves for our city, our police officers, and an African-American community that feels so disenfranchised.)


·         Daily devotional group – sorry, you may be getting this a second time as I sent it to all our members.

·         If you no longer wish to be on the regular devotional list, email me back and I’ll take you off the list!



The Apostle Paul said to

the people of Athens,

“What you worship as unknown,

I proclaim to you as known”

Acts 17:23


Charlotte made headlines this morning -- sad headlines. A black man was shot and killed by a black police officer … and last night our city was filled with violence.


In case you haven't noticed, these United States are not truly united.


To say that, we must admit that our nation was never perfect or perfectly united, and yet many of us remember a time when life in these United States seemed more cohesive. What's going on? And how do we respond?


First, we must acknowledge that there are major divisions in our nation. Some of these are racial. Some are cultural -- we are an increasingly diverse mix of ethnicities and belief systems. Yet, the most obvious division among us is economic … and it is our minorities who are disproportionally poor and are increasingly frustrated with the systemic forces that may seem rigged to keep them poor (enslaved).


Politically our parties on the left and the right have different "answers" to "pulling the poor out of poverty." But the solution to our current divisions isn't political. Indeed, our economics have been bad -- and getting worse -- under a successive series of “red” and “blue” congresses, Presidents, and politicians.


So where is our hope?


You and I know the answer ... but a quick history lesson is needed to understand why our nation doesn't seem to be listening the voice of hope anymore.


First, America is not a Christian nation. If we ever were is debatable, but we are now multicultural ... and increasingly so.


Yes, what we call "America" has always been multicultural ... and yet it was not very diverse. Even when waves of immigrants were flooding Ellis Island, our dominant culture maintained a Western, European, and thus predominantly Christian ethos. (Indeed for a century or two the vast majority of our immigrants came from -- "Christianized Europe” or culture that had been Christianized by Europeans.)


Did our common allegiance to Christian principles unite us to something bigger than the our ethnic differences?




But please understand that I'm not celebrating Cultural-Christianity. Linking culture and faith has watered down Christianity and weakened the testimony of the true church. Nevertheless, it did, for most of the twentieth century, produce a sense unity in our country based on this common Christian ethos.


Even America's dominant minority population -- African-Americans -- shared this Christian faith. (In fact, in the first decades of the twentieth century, our African-American communities arguably contained the most vibrant expressions of true Christianity in America. You can witness this in the power of the principals that Martin Luther King, Jr.., used to call America back to the scriptural truths of unity and equality. You can also witness this in the choice of Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer – as a temporary refugee from the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s -- to worship primarily at black churches in Harlem ... because it was the only place he found true vibrancy in Christ in America.)


But here's the point: America's dominant majority culture and America's dominant minority culture both had something bigger than race or ethnicity to unite them. And that was Jesus Christ … however perfectly or imperfectly he was proclaimed.


That's not true anymore. Recent immigration trends are from much more diverse cultures – cultures which don't share the historic Christian ethos. Please understand that I don't say that in a negative way, just factual. America is indeed increasingly racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse.


But it’s bigger than that.


The divisions in America that are ultimately keeping people apart are philosophical. We are divided in how we think. We are separated by what we believe. We are at odds over how to perceive reality – if there is such a thing as “truth” and “reality.”


Secularism is now America's dominant "religion.”


One of the core principals of secularism is that there is no objective "truth" Have you heard it’s prominent refrain – "What is true for you is true for you. And what is true for me is true for me"? With this open-minded perspective makes it easy to celebrate the differences between people, race, ethnicities and cultures. And that’s a very good thing! But a philosophy of “whatever” is a very hard way to forge any kind of cohesive national identity.


Indeed, “whatever” makes it hard to craft any kind of meaningful unity ... other than "don't judge" and "be nice."


Now "don't judge" and "be nice" certainly sound very pleasant and proper. But what happens when real sin raises its head – and it inevitably will in a broken world? If our operating principles are "don't judge" and "be quiet because that’s the way to be nice," then a secular society will inevitably sink to the levels of the lowest common denominator (like “be nice”).


We see it all around us. And our children are the first pawns of the lowest common denominator of secularization. Think about it: Their parents have been taught by a secular society that self-expression is the highest value (and “don’t judge” a person’s self-expression). Nevertheless, the selfish pursuits of selfish adults have been a major contributing factor to divorce, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and single family homes.


Now, there’s obviously a lot of heroic single moms out there. They are doing a terrific job in hard circumstances, and we celebrate those individuals. But we need to start thinking systemically (discerning) – not individually (just being nice) – because across our nation single family homes are a major contributing force behind poverty (and our children are the pawns). And what is poverty tied to? It is heavily correlated with drug use, violence, crime, declining education, and generational cycles of more and more poverty. This is self-actualization and secularization taken to its logical conclusion. And that’s the society we live in.


We could trace a similar path with racial divisions. We were once encouraged to judge people not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character. Character is the highest common denominator. But now we are taught to not “judge.” And the result is that we don’t “discern.” And it’s tragically ironic: In an age when most people are increasingly accepting of diversity, we’re increasingly segregated (and increasingly self-segregating) by the lowest common denominators – differences like the color of our skin.




Why are we increasingly divided? Why is there increasing violence in places like the Queen City? Why? Because there’s nothing that unites us anymore … other than “be nice.”


And so yesterday, something happened that was “not nice” – there was a shooting in Charlotte. It was followed by violent protests.


What can we do? Here are list of suggestions …


1.            Know the truth. Most Americans, even good Christians, are intellectually lazy. “I’m tired.” “It’s complicated.” Well, it’s time we wake up and realize that we’re living in a different world. And that’s a good thing – as the next point will say – but we can’t engage (or help save) the world if we’re ignorant of what’s really going on.


2.            Embrace this different era as part of the adventure. We’re not going to have 1950s America or Christianity ever again. And that’s a good thing! Cultural Christian watered down the faith. It’s time to boldly become first century Christians again – a dramatic minority in diverse, crass, and carnal cities like Ephesus. It was exciting to cling to God’s truth (and hope and light) in a culture of perverse darkness. And they transformed the world … by being known by their love. That’s what transformed first century culture … and world history.


3.            Don’t judge. Wait! I’m not talking about secularism’s use of this phrase. We must discern. But don’t lead with what separates us. (That sounds judgmental.) Lead with what unites us. Be, for example, like Paul in Athens. He started with the highest common denominator. Talking about walking around their city and viewing their statues – which were dedicated to about a thousand different gods and goddesses – he said, “People of Athens, I see how extremely religious you are.” Acts 17:22 In our world today, most secular people, though not very religious, have very high ideals. Start there! But keep looking for the opening to proclaim the reconciling truth in Jesus Christ. Paul did it like this, telling them that he saw a statue dedicated to an “unknown god,” and he said, “What you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you as known,” Acts 17:23 and he proceeded to testify to the God of truth.


4.            Be nice. Wait! Again I’m not talking about secularism’s use of the phrase, but let love be what defines you!


5.            Reach out to those around you who are different – perhaps especially the African-American community (and to the Hispanic community too, as this election might create deeper divisions) (and to the Muslim community if you know any Middle Eastern folk). Your first job isn’t evangelism; it’s friendship! Be nice!


You are a missionary. And nowadays, you don’t have to go half-way around the world to find a different culture. All you have to do step out your door and walk across the street. 


We have too many divisions in our culture. We need to start walking across the street or walking across the office and joyfully engaging those who are different than us.


In Christ’s Love,

a guy who was shocked

by this morning’s headlines

… but wasn’t really shocked at all

(But a guy who wants to shock

the world, instead, with our love)