9 Objections to Christianity

Over the past 2 days I have watched much of the Resurgence13 Conference (you may have seen a lot of #R13 on social media.) This Seattle based conference had live sites scattered across America and also and online contingency of over 20,000 viewers. Over the 48 hours of the conference delegates and online subscribers heard messages from Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, Judah Smith, James McDonald and Matt Chandler just to name a few. The heart of the conference was for delegates to learn lessons from ministry leaders who have seen God’s faithfulness as they respond to his call. Many of these sessions I managed to see and found all of them especially helpful, compelling and empowering. I’m sure in time these sessions will made available at The Resurgence.

In the final session of the conference Pastor Mark Driscoll shared of a number of new developments that he, his church (Mars Hill) and The Resurgence website would be working on. One of those is a project that will become a book, sermon series and small group studies on the 9 objections to Christianity
the unchurched and dechurched (people that haven’t attended church for a considerable amount of time.)

The market research (done by some of the market leaders in research) has already been undertaken and after numerous survey’s, focus groups and interviews Mark shared the summary of the Top 9 objections to Christianity. I for one, am incredibly thankful for the time, energy and expense that has been invested and await eagerly the finalisation and communication in full of the data, it’s findings and how we as believers are to respond. So these are the 9 and below also a quote from different participants of the study.

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Intolerance
“Some Christian groups are too intolerant”

Sex
“The Christian religion and I have different views on social issues like abortion and gay marriage

Politics
“I don’t like how some Christian groups meddle in politics”

Hypocrisy
“Most Christians are hypocrites”

Exclusivity
“There are lots of religions, and I’m not sure only one has to be the right way”

Inequality
“All people are not created equal in the Christian faith”

Scripture
“I don’t really share the beliefs that the Christian faith tells me I should”

Greed
“Christianity is about making money, not religion”

Irrelevance
“The Christian faith is not relevant to modern times”

I wish I could post the session as I greatly appreciated how in just 90 minutes Mark unpacked these objections, it would obviously help further explain what each subheading specifically spoke too. I look forward to this project and it’s findings being shared on the global scale in the first half of 2014.

I truly believe It’s important for us as believers to be engaging in the conversations our culture is having, and be able to speak the truth into issues, shortcomings and falsehoods people have about Christianity.

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Where is my Value?

I’m a Performance Addict

To be honest I’ve always known it, I’ve always seemed to care too highly about what others thought and truly believed that if I succeed in things (work, radio, ministry, sport, friendships really everything) I thought it’d make me a better person & more highly valued to others and ultimately to Jesus.

During a pretty dark period in my life a few years ago I processed a lot of these thoughts and felt like God did a great work in my heart & motivations. However, as you probably know their is always MORE God wants to do.
This week after hearing a message by Peter McHugh during a Pastors Retreat I read Luke 10:38-42 in fresh eyes, it says:

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

As we look to the 10 commandments we see two very important things. The first commandment points us to intimacy with God. The second commandment speaks of involvement. The order is important. We need to find our identity in Christ not in our activity. We need to be more aware of what God is doing for us, rather than what we are doing for God. However its;

Acceptance before performance BUT not without performance.

Change your belief not just behavior. If you do it the other way you become a moralist. I must change my belief systems (by being renewed in my mind by the Gospel) about who God is and how he really truly views me and what is of greatest importance to him! Ministry to the Father comes first. What’s the father doing? That is the great question I must always ask myself.

We know all fruitfulness comes from the place of intimacy with Jesus John 15:1-17 tells us that.

Before I finish it’s important to notice one thing within the story of Mary & Martha. Jesus says “Mary has chosen the good portion” it isn’t the only portion! Doing things, leading serving are all important, it’s not the only portion, It’s just the intimacy with Jesus, finding our identity, security and value in Jesus not in what we do.

Behavior is an echo of belief.

Jesus, help me to see my value and worth is in you and that in you I am accepted and loved unconditionally And let me lead and do things from that place of acceptance.

11 Leadership Lessons

20130221-115244.jpgLast night I had a leadership training night with some of my youth leadership team. We were very lucky to be able to have Phill Brake senior minister of Compass Church share with our team.

He along with his associate Michael Salisbury shared some fantastic insights from their 15+ years of friendship and ministry together. Last night they shared about things they wish someone had told them at the start of their leadership journey. Here is just a few of the dot point notes I took from last night I found very helpful:

Don’t discount the role you can play in a young persons life.Have Fun!

You’ve gotta enjoy the ministry your doing.

Know what are your drainers & replenishes.

Be true to yourself

You reproduce after who you really are, not who you present to be.

Be servant hearted… But remember, God will do what he wanted, either with us or despite us.

You choose your attitude! You can choose how you are going respond to.

The grass is not always greener on the other side…

Believe Big, even if the last time ‘failed’. The size of your God, will determine the size of what you believe God can do!

Be accountable. Find out Godly mentors, for different areas. You’ll need to go find them.

I fast & I pray, I listen & obey.

I’m so thankful to Phill’s friendship and ministry over the years. I hope these quick 11 points help grow you in your life and leadership.

Your Life Matters.

2 Favorite Words

As your fairly aware right now I’m currently tracking through the book of Ephesians with the teens and twenties of my church. I was told this week that a number of church including Mars Hill and Discovery Church are doing, or about to do something very similar. It’s exciting to hear this, as I love the book of Ephesians  and would encourage every Christian regularly to read and meditate on, its brilliant.

I want to tell you what my two favorite words are in the bible. They come after these few verses in Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

What are my favorite two words in the bible?

BUT GOD

Ephesians 2:4-5 reveals “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.”

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This tells me that even if your at the lowest point in yourself, feel broken, trapped and locked up in your sin and feel as though their is no way out for you, no hope for you, the bible has some amazingly good news for you… BUT GOD!

I know you can feel like sometimes your sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven. That that choice you made cannot be undone. The decision to do or act on the temptation can make you feel like you are done for and that your now stuck in a hopeless pit of sin and self destruction. I want to remind you… BUT GOD! There is a BUT GOD moment for you than can come to pass in your life.

You are never too far gone! You’ve never “done to much”! You are loved, grace, love, forgiveness and mercy are available for you… But the only answer is found in him. Not in your good deeds, your attendance, your acts of mercy. These are all good things, but the answer isn’t within yourself or what you can do. The answer to your sinfulness and mine is found in no other… BUT GOD!

BUT GOT

I Am Forgiven

Last night I preached from Ephesians 2 about what does it meant to be Forgiven and how should we live in light of the forgiveness that is ours ‘In Christ.’ Rather than share with you my full sermon notes and blog about them, I thought I’d share with you two of the most moving moments from the night.

These two videos (please watch them in order) were things I shared with our teens and twenties, although I must say one of our teens (Ellery) sung the Jimmy Needham song faultlessly. The first video is a video piece that’s been put together to a sermon from Judah Smith and his Jesus is Music Project. The second is a brilliant track from Jimmy Needham.

You are forgiven in Christ, you are loved in Christ, you are free in Christ… You are his!

The church hurt me!

I have a number of friends who have been hurt by a church. Even writing a sentence like that is filled with controversy and questions. Many of them never want to walk into any church gathering ever again, let alone see the people that hurt them. I can understand that, a number of them have every reason to be hurt too. What happened, how they were treated, how that issue was handled was hurtful and their reason for wanting to never be in a church let alone see another believer again I can empathize with. I too have felt the pain of disappointment and hurt by leaders and people in church. I’d like to share with you not only some of my journey, but my heart towards you and my heart for God.

This blog is my letter to you. You are loved deeply by God and I care for you greatly.
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I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for the hurt, I’m sorry that someone has disappointed you, misunderstood you and damaged you in that way. The true reality for you is though that you are going to have to find a way to forgive. That right now feels like the hardest thing in the world, I see that. But, just like we want others to forgive us we have to forgive others also.

Hurt and pain in this life though is sadly a reality. Whether it be in our studies, our work, sporting club even our friends and families will at some point hurt us or let us down. But we don’t stop going to these things or spending time with those people just because of that. People are people. The only way to avoid hurt and disappointment from people is to avoid human contact all together, but this is no way to live. It certainly isn’t the life God desires you to have. Being hurt in a church does not mean that following God is not worth it, that churches can’t be trusted or that serving in church is not important. People are people no matter where you are. Every church is filled with imperfect people. It’s lead by imperfect leaders serving imperfect people all pursuing a Holy, Perfect and Glorious God.

Before I go on any further, lets look at our own lives. No doubt its safe to say You too have probably have let someone down before. I want to urge you to not let people get in the way of your faith in God. Rather, let your faith in God help you rise above the imperfections of others. Let your faith in God be big enough to love the undeserving. What they did, how they treated you was wrong, but allow God to convict them of that, and if they don’t repent of it God will bring justice into that situation. And if it was illegal the police will too.

Friend, ‘SOME’ are Not ‘ALL’ Churches. Some churches may not value character, other churches may have a poor way of holding people to account in leadership and others may just have a unhealthy way of living out their faith. And others just do things differently than you would prefer. Find another church. For every ‘bad’ church (if I can use that term, you get my heart in this I hope) there are dozens of ‘good’ churches. The real key is to not give up. This is a much better plan than ‘never going back’ to ANY church. There is no need to ‘slam’ or ‘bash’ churches or talk about how awful organized religion is etc. Doing this does does not help you or others. In fact, it could well be a tool of the enemy to sabotage God’s plan in yours or their life.

God is so much bigger than our human weaknesses and shortcomings. If it were not for God’s grace we would all be in trouble. Can I urge you to make your faith in God bigger than the problems you are facing and the issues, frustrations and disappointments you’ve encountered at other churches. God is bigger than our circumstances. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, we are called to build His church, to serve others and to live in harmony with the family of God.

One of the central messages that is essential to Christians is that of forgiveness. That Jesus, although we don’t deserve it, and can never earn it, has offered us grace, forgiveness love and freedom. I pray as you allow God room into your world that you would take the courage and strength that is available and forgive.

Please watch these two videos. They share with you my desire for you.

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you

– Lewis B. Smedes

Your Life Matters!

I Am

Starting this Sunday at my church I’ll begin preaching to our teens and twenties on the subject of identity. This is by far one of, if not the most important and yet untouched messages young people need to hear.

This series is based from statements made by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians of how we are now viewed because of and through Jesus. Ephesians 1:3-14 says this:

Blessed be the God a20130203-105741.jpgnd Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

So over the next few months I plan to encourage and teach our young people that:

 

1) I Am in Christ
2) I Am a Saint
3) I Am Blessed
4) I Am Saved
5) I am Reconciled
6) I Am Afflicted
7) I Am New
8) I Am Forgiven
9) I Am Adopted
10) I Am Loved
11) I Am Victorious

My prayer for not only my young people, but for you, is that as you commence 2013 you would know Jesus more intimately and that you would know who you are now because of Jesus.

A great book to read on this would be Mark Driscoll’s “Who Do You Think You Are.”