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A Culture of Honor

By on Mar 22, 2017 in The Scrawl | 0 comments

Trying to explain the culture of any organization, institution, or church is difficult without experiencing it. I call the gift of “discernment of spirits” the gift of being able to see the present. And it’s one, when you have it, that allows you to see what’s happening in the moment. It allows you to understand things, intimately, like culture. People look at the culture of their church or their business and often they miss what it really is in light of what it ought to be. That may sound confusing, but I can’t tell you the number of churches I have been in where they say their mission is [insert pithy statement scrawled on a six foot tall banner] and then assume that I totally connect with and get that. Instead, I tend to see things how they are. Which was one of the reasons planting a church was exceedingly difficult for me, personally.   And what...

The Gift Isn’t What You Think It Is

By on Mar 20, 2017 in The Scrawl | 0 comments

Human beings are indoctrinated from birth, in almost every culture, to observe gift giving. Have you ever thought of that? There are almost no humans on earth who don’t understand the concept. Go low: a child in a ghetto begging for scraps understands the meals he gets are gifts. Go high: the rich, for some reason, are often honored with tributes. Gifts are a part of the world, not just a single, isolated culture or race or socioeconomic background. Why? Why would gifts be that intrinsic to our condition? Is there any, totally natural and completely explainable, reason for gifts? I would argue that if the world we live in is purely a result of what biological matter does at this current temperature, if the world is purely biological and the immaterial is merely a construct of that biological material’s evolution, there is no reason for gifts. Gifts, even the most tawdry and...

Gospel Trumps Maslow

By on Mar 15, 2017 in The Scrawl | 0 comments

That’s a pretty wonkish title, I know. Whatever, it’s my blog. Every Tuesday night, the men of Immanuel Nashville meet for Theology. Theology is pretty basic: Teaching. Walking in the Light Bestowing Honor We talk about Jesus and the bible, then we confess our sins to each other, and then we finish by celebrating one another. It fits in the whole rubric of Immanuel quite well. Having gone to these since they began in January, right after we moved, I can say that they are powerful but not in a way I’m used to. I’m used to stepping into “Men’s Bible Studies” of various kinds armed to the teeth to fight heresy, proclaim the gospel, and hopefully shine some Jesus on my brothers. Theology isn’t like that. It’s very subdued in many ways. The topic isn’t ever some pet theological theory or concept or innovation: it’s Jesus and...

Why Witchcraft Makes Sense

By on Mar 9, 2017 in The Scrawl | 0 comments

I can never be accused of writing boring headlines, can I? Okay, so strap in because this requires some thinking that won’t be sewn up for at least five hundred words. I’m “friends” with people on social media who are not Christians. I’m friends with people in real life who aren’t Christians. I go to church with some too, I’m sure. But through my social media experience I have observed something interesting and, finally, logical. But it doesn’t seem logical at first. The phenomena I speak of is former “Christians” now engaged in full-blown witchcraft. Not, not like 80’s witchcraft where you listened to Ozzy and cried about how hard your teenaged life was while you burned a black candle. No, I mean an actual appeal to a spirit or spirits in pursuit of power for one purpose or another. This isn’t the first time I...

The Big Lie

By on Mar 7, 2017 in The Scrawl |

Western Hemisphere, American, Southern, Cultural Christianity is no Christianity at all. And here’s one of the big reasons why. WHASCC is the spoof, the mockery that all Christianity bears as a burden. It’s both Westboro and $130M church buildings. And the real church suffers for it. But let me tell you where WHASCC wants to get into my heart. And how. And why I sometimes let it when I’m not being vigilant. Universal Healthcare and Immigration are the two big ones that spring to mind, but there are others. Universal healthcare is bad, right? I mean, it means I get less money, right? That I am paying for someone else to have something they haven’t worked for, right? I mean, why should I ever pay for someone to have something and have no benefit from it. This is Jesus up and down, right? The government says it is illegal for a hospital to deny me treatment for any...

An Angry Tree

By on Feb 21, 2017 in The Scrawl |

Since moving to Nashville, I have come to see that there is a peculiar change occurring in me week in and week out. I have never, ever, gone to a church that was as drenched in the gospel and soaked in the overwhelming grace of Jesus, as Immanuel Nashville. Hear me: they/we are far from perfect. I can find problems with anyone, and anything, ever, and can usually complain about something. But this isn’t a nitpicky sort of thing. I cannot in any way do anything but marvel at the power of God to change me that I am experiencing. And it’s not because of Ray Ortlund or any amazingly well-crafted process or program. In fact, it’s the opposite. There is no formula outside of Gospel + Safety + Time. This exposure to a rowdy, nearly ridiculous group of outcasts who have all encountered grace through crippling brokenness is doing something to me. For instance, I have never,...

Where My Soul Thrives

By on Feb 8, 2017 in The Scrawl |

I posted a photo to Twitter this morning and there was a big reason behind it. I have several friends right now that are suffering in what I think of as “Soul Deserts.” So what is a Soul Desert? Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (ESV) People talk about fresh food deserts. Where the only way a person can get fresh, healthy food, is to travel beyond their ability. I understand this concept and think it’s horrible. But worse is the idea of a Soul Desert. I would define a Soul Desert as an area with few if any healthy churches. And by churches I don’t mean buildings. I mean communities of faith that are actively living out said faith for Jesus, in their broader social community, with a mission towards bringing the gospel. The Soul Desert is a...

The End?

By on Feb 6, 2017 in The Scrawl |

Raped. Murdered. Betrayed. Robbed. Cheated. These are past-tense verbs that describe horrific actions. These are also impossible to permanently apply to a Christian. Can a Christian be murdered? No. Raped? No. Robbed? Betrayed? Insert your sin here. Really, it doesn’t matter what it is. And some of you might be sharpening your pitchforks but I need you to see something and really engage this line of thinking for a moment. But first, let’s talk about immigration, because I need more kindling around my feet. I watched the 84 Lumber ad that was so controversial. From a marketing standpoint, it’s absolutely brilliant. 100% got me. It should be required study for those in pursuit of marketing that makes an impact. But what occurred to me in the whole of the immigration debate is a rather unusual set of assumptions. I am against building a wall. I am also against 100% open...