christianity, Finance, Uncategorized

Mixing Faith and Business

Whether you’re attempting to witness to your frustrated waitress or deciding how to run a “Christian Business,” when, where, and how to mix your faith with business affairs is a sticky subject for a lot of people.

no_witnessing_allowedA few years ago, the Lovely Wife and I were unloading some of our kid’s old toys and clothes on eBay.  We had gotten a pretty slick system down, and generally made more at it than we would have at a rummage sale.  We tried a few times to find sources of other cheap stuff to resale on eBay, but we just never got the situation working quite that smoothly.  The Lovely Wife, during this time, had a great idea: including a CD of a message from our church in the shipment for free.  We had tons of CD’s from our church laying around that we had accumulated over the years, so it was sort of like cleaning AND spreading the Gospel!  That’s what I call a Win-Win Scenario.

After we ran out of appropriate CD’s, we told our church what we were doing, and they started giving us free copies of a simple message on how to be saved, and what it means to be a Christian.  These got included in every shipment with a simple note: “Thanks for your business!  Please enjoy this CD as our ‘Thank You’ Gift!”  All in all, over 150 CD’s got sent out, to a generally decent reception.  However, we got a pretty angry email back once, from a “Christian” of all people.  I have long since lost the email, but I’ll reproduce it here as best as I remember:

Dear Seller,

I did receive the CD, but I did not listen to it.  I am a Christian, and I believe that it’s people like you who give us a bad name.  I just wanted to order some clothes, not be preached to.  This is a business transaction, and God has no place in it.

Now, you might think I’m wording it more strongly than it originally was, but as I recall, it was just that terse.  This “Christian” was angry and deeply offended at our attempts to share our faith in what we, at least, believed was a safe and non-confrontational way.  It begs the question “WHEN, if not in the course of normal human interactions, is the appropriate place to share one’s faith?!”  She apparently strongly believed it should be kept in the 4 walls of the church house.

I’m assuming here that the crux of her argument rests on her assertation that God has no place in business.  I think that’s a pretty hard argument to make, Biblically, as we can see that God routinely blessed the business affairs of his servants.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were all greatly blessed in their livestock and produce.  I believe we’re called by God to be salt and light to a dark and dead world.  Many times, if not most of the time, the most meaningful of these interactions happen in our normal daily affairs.  I think it’s a testament to our integrity if we “show Christ” by the way we conduct business.

So I’ve made a little list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that you are free to add to:

DO:

  • Be watchful of God-ordained opportunities.  Business is done by people.  And those people may be hurting or just in need of a friend who truly cares.  Sometimes the opportunity is available and appropriate to minister during your business conversation.  It may be as simple as letting them know you care, or it may be an opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
  • Be mindful of the other person’s situation.  A stressed waitress on Saturday night probably cares a good deal more about a nice smile and a generous tip than the tract you leave her.  The Lovely Wife and I have had a hanful of opportunities during slow business days to discuss God with a waiter or waitress, but we were short and courteous, offering to talk more later, and inviting them to church.  We leave much larger tips than normal on these occasions.
  • Ask for a time to talk again.  If the topic of God comes up (and why wouldn’t it, you talk about other things in your life), it’s okay to ask for a time to discuss your beliefs in greater detail.  Something like, “I can’t believe we’ve worked together all this time and I’ve never really shared with you what I believe.  I know you’re busy, can we get together some time and talk?”
  • Run your business in a Christ-centric way.  I’m not saying slap every customer in the face with a Bible.  But allow your convictions and Christian Ethics to be the guiding factor in all business dealings.  Many of the Bible’s teachings have very practical every-day applications, and this is a great place for them.  Be generous, not greedy.  Give freely to your community, because they’re the ones that keep you in business.  Never respond with a harsh word, but in kindness.
  • Share your faith when appropriate, and back it up with the previous “DO.”  We’re the keepers of the most important truth in the universe, and tasked with sharing it with the world.  I typically feel it’s better to err on the side of over-sharing, than under-sharing.  The most important thing is that if you do, you must portray Christ to your customers, vendors, and everyone else in all of your dealings.

DON’T

  • Be a jerk.  And there are tons of ways that self-righteous people find to be jerks.  Leaving a tract instead of a tip, interrupting the normal flow of business for someone to make sure they know just how badly they need Jesus, etc, etc.  The Golden Rule is a great guideline here.  And if you present yourself as a Christian, you HAVE to show the love of Christ in everything you do, whether that means giving an extra tip, or great service.
  • Use Jesus as a marketing tool.  I think former Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee is a great example of this “DON’T,” with his ad with a giant cross in the background.  Tacky and tasteless.  Businesses advertising themselves as “Christian businesses” just turn my stomach, and are typically far from what you would expect from a Christian business.  They typically charge higher prices, and offer less service, just from what I’ve seen.  Unless it relates to the business itself (i.e. Christian Counselling, Christian Book Store) let your actions speak, not your business cards.
  • Preach.  While there are many appropriate times to share your faith with someone in a business setting.  These are typically conversational, where it’s done with a heart of love and a listening ear.  Under most circumstances, it’s probably best to keep the sermonette on the Blood of Christ for an after-hours conversation.  If you’re the business person, you’re on someone else’s time.  If you’re the customer, the other person is on their boss’s clock.  You have to be respectful of that.

We’re called to show the truth and love of Jesus everywhere we go?  How do you do that in your everyday life?  Feel free to add to my list!

christianity, Uncategorized

A Christian and His Money are Soon . . . ?

I’ve heard it said that Jesus taught more on money than on any other worldly topic.  I haven’t done the research to back up that claim, so I’m not staking my reputation on it, but I do know he has a lot to say about it, so it sounds plausible enough.  Mostly, the New Testament seems to deal with giving, with an implication that God will show his blessings to us if we do that.  Well, “implication” might be too vague of a word . . . “Give and it shall be given unto you, press down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom,” is a bit more definite than a mere “implication.”  On the flip-side, we have also find some pretty dire warnings concerning money in the scripture – that the love of it is the root of all evil, and that a fool and his money are soon parted.

I’ve made no secret of the financial hardships that I and my family endured just a few years ago.  I never spoke much of the bad times. . . but they were pretty bad, wreaking havok on our marriage, and bringing us, and me in particular, to our knees (finally.)  And God delivered us in ways that could only be described as miraculous . . . practically giving us a house and property for next to nothing (seriously . . . our house payment is half of what my last car payment was), and bringing us to a place where, although we still have a pretty tight budget, we can pay all of our bills on time.  16 months of unemployment makes you appreciate little things like that.  One question that went through my mind all the time was something along the lines of, “Why are you doing this to me God?!  I pay my tithes, I’ve given . . . I live my life for you, and they’re coming to repo my car tomorrow!”  I got pretty angry.  And attempted, in vain, to try to make something happen for myself . . . improve my life on my own.  God, again, didn’t allow me to do that, and everything I tried came crashing right down around me.  I got pretty bitter . . . and then, with my pride and ego finally broken, I asked a life-changing question:  “God, please show me the sin in my life that is bringing this destruction on me.  Please show me where I’m wrong.”

And I saw the truth:  a fool and his money really are soon parted.  I had the idea in my head that being a “good steward” of the money God gave me meant that I had to pay my tithes . . . give every once in awhile, when I felt like, and . . . well . . . and that’s pretty much it.  Otherwise, I lived my life for 3 things:  the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.  Now, saying those words brings to mind all kinds of debauchery that was simply not the case with me.  I spent my money . . . and when I ran out, I just used credit cards.  If I wanted something, I got it.  I withheld myself from nothing.  Expensive clothes, the coolest new gadgets, top of the line computers, the nicest apartments in town.  Those things are fine, I suppose, if God has blessed you with the income to acquire them in a financially and spiritually responsible way.  I just used credit cards.    I made decent money, but not enough.  I occasionally felt guilty . . . or at least stressed . . . to have so much debt.  But when I got it paid down some, I just charged it right back up again, as soon as there was space to buy something I wanted.  God HAD to bring me to a place where I couldn’t depend on my job, credit, or anything else for provision . . . only Him.  And while it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, it was the most profitable.

I’ve said before that I find myself defending a “prosperity gospel” that I don’t totally agree with, in order to the defend a truth that I do believe in: Biblical teachings on prosperity.  I think we’ll find that if we’re handling money in unGodly or irresponsible ways, God can’t bless that.  But while a fool and his money are soon parted, a Christian will find that he and God’s money are quickly drawn together.  I’ve found myself recently pretty disheartened with my job, when promised raises and benefits didn’t materialize.  But when I began to give freely to God, and trust in him for my provision, I can honestly say I’ve been pretty shocked to see money coming in, business projects coming in, and God’s provision working in my life.  I’m not rich, and may never be, but I know, KNOW, now that I never have to worry again about making ends meet.  God provides for those of us who follow him in our money, as well as our lifestyle.

On that note, I’m pretty excited to have a whole string of posts about finances and financial planning coming out soon.  Before my current position, I was a financial advisor for several years, and have real practical knowledge about finance (my degree is in Finance, by the way), as well as many more hard-learned lessons about managing our finances in Godly ways (still learning!).  And who knows…maybe I’ll even make them into their own blog soon.

christianity

A Relevant Gospel for a Web 2.0 World

I’ve been working on some new features for the main site, and haven’t really had much time to sit down and collect my thoughts recently.  If you’ve followed me for long, you know how fervently I strive to be a “witness,” whatever that may entail.  And as a self-professed geek, I feel that these internets can and should be used as a tool for evangelization.  The question is: “How?”

I teach the Teens’ Sunday School class at my church, and have a mission for it that I believe is somewhat unique to a class of that age-range: to teach them how to read and understand the Bible for themselves.  Somewhere along in my life, I got a pretty decent understanding of the Bible, how to study it, etc. . . and that was before my brief and disappointing stay at a Bible college.  So, we go through a book of the Bible, taking our time, reading, and learning how to take the story, and apply it to our lives, how to read it in context so we don’t get wacky with things, how to study a topic throughout the Bible as a applicable one arises through our reading.  Most of the kids didn’t even realize there was a concordance in the back of their Bible before it started, and they’ve really learned how to dig in and find answers to tough questions in the Bible.

We recently began studying the book of Acts, and while we’ve only talked about 2 verses in it in depth, so far, it’s really started changing the way I view my witnessing activities.  In Acts 1:8, we see a mandate that represents an almost insurmountable slew of cultural barriers.  Not only should the disciples witness to their own kind, but to the Samaritans (gasp!) and eventually even the Gentiles!  We’re studying the book in this light: as a manual for reaching across barriers and winning the lost.

In my class, I used  the example of me and a redneck.  I am, at my heart, a city boy.  I don’t hunt.  I don’t fish.  I don’t really even like to be outside, except for perfect, cool days, with no bugs.  I like the hustle and bustle of a city.  I don’t particularly care for country-style fried foods (they do fry everything…ever had a fried twinkie?  I have).  I don’t like football.  Basically, it’s nearly impossible for me to connect with the traditional southerners of small-town Arkansas.  However, I have the mandate to do just that, to spread the Gospel.  And to be effective, I feel, I must do it in a way that is relevant to the person receiving it.  I think, here, is where we lose a lot of effectiveness has Christians today.

Paul famously (infamously?) said when he was in Rome, he did as the Romans.  That he becomes all things to all people, in order the spread the Gospel.  I think I can surmise, that this means if I’m going to witness to rednecks (and I don’t use that term derogatorily) then I have to “become one” . . . so to speak.  I have to be willing to show them I care about them, and that usually means showing that I care about the things they care about.  That I “get” them.  I mean . . . seriously . . . what country fellow, who hunts and fishes, and loves the outdoors and all the stuff in it, is going to take a look at a pale, pasty, computer nerd, who is never parted with his iPhone and think, “This guy really gets where I’m coming from . . . and I should listen to what he has to say.”  I’m not saying be fake . . . I’d be ridiculed pretty fast if I went around with boots talking about shooting animals in the woods.  But I can engage Mr. Redneck in areas where we can connect.  I can show I care by saying, “Hey . . . you been fishing lately?  Catch anything?”  I think the working premise here, is that I care enough about him to engage him in his culture, if I can’t engage him as part of his culture.  Maybe even go fishing with him.  Believe me, he’d only invite me once. 😉

We’ve become so accustomed to “church-centered” evangelization, that we miss out on the true secret of church growth in Acts: personal evangelism.  They were at each other’s houses, breaking bread, and believers were added to the church daily.  That means that on a daily basis, regular believing Jews would have to go out of their way to befriend Gentiles and Samaritans.  To love them.  Care for them.  Looking at churches today, we’ve evolved into our own brand of Judaism.  We don’t reach to the world, we look down on them.  We don’t go to the lost, and pull them up to where we are, we look down on them and expect them to come to us.  I believe that the relevance of evangelistic crusades for this generation just isn’t there.  Basically, we’ve gotten a little too self-righteous.

So, for today’s generation, the internet is obviously a relevant way to engage them, but I haven’t seen it used effectively (yet) to reach anyone.  I have an idea, but I’m interested in hearing your opinions.  Leave some ideas in the comments, or share a new way to engage anyone in a way that is relevant to who they are.  One way I think the internet can excel, for us, is to provide a place for us to encourage each other to go out and win the lost.  To share ideas, stories, and testimonies of how to be an effective witness.  That’s why I started TheLimitless.com, and that’s especially why I opened it up to a community of bloggers to host their own blogging site on, or share their current blog with a new audience.  Hopefully, we can all help each other become real and true witnesses.

christianity, Church

The Era of Mega-Preachers is Over.

I’ve been noticing the trend lately, amongst the charismatic/pentecostal circles to focus on something our movement has ignored for quite some time: service.  Full Gospel denominations and movements have had their voices overshadowed, intentionally or not, by the mega-preachers.  The Benny Hinns, Creflo Dollars, Joyce Meyers, and (God help us) the Joel Osteens of the world.  I’m calling it today, and we’ll reconvene in a few years to see how right I am (Hint: very).  While we’ll probably see Benny’s giant hair, Joyce Meyers man-pants, and Joel Osteen’s impossibly large teeth for on TV for quite some time, I believe their influence on modern churches is waining.

Recently, I was encouraged to hear Dutch Sheets really ripping into modern churches today, and he said something I found incredibly interesting, “It’s my goal to keep as many people out of the pulpit as possible . . . from what I do . . . it’s my goal to ordain lawyers, and doctors . . . to go out into the world and share Jesus.”  According to Matthew 11:10-13, we are a kingdom at war.  We’ve always been at war, and we will continue to be, until Jesus returns, sets things right, and hands the Kingdom over to his father (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).  We can’t win a war with the troops sitting around marveling at the equivalent of super-solders showing off their strength by ripping phone books.  We win a war by training and equipping soldiers to fight, and then sending them out to defeat the enemy.

I believe this celebrity-focused Christianity we’ve experienced thanks to TBN and the like over the last few decades has created a dangerous set of circumstances in the church.  We have people praying for hours, to get deep revelations, just for sake of praying for hours and getting revelations.  To impress friends and church members.  To share with other Christians, who are also sharing their “deep revelations” to the same group.  Never leaving the church… never venturing outside to a world in need of salvation.  We have more and more dramatic church services, with people being slain in the spirit, getting one deliverance after another.  It’s bred an inwardly-focused body of Christ.  This is clearly not conducive to gaining new converts, winning the lost, or impacting this world for Jesus.

But, during this time, I’ve also noticed a movement among young people and college students towards what I’m calling here, “new-radicalism.”  They have an understanding that the ministry is not about being in a pulpit.  That revelations are practical knowledge from God for one purpose: to aid in preaching the gospel to the utter-most parts of the earth.  These young people are embracing something I did several years ago: you don’t have to have a ministerial license, or a theological degree, to be in the ministry.  We’re in the ministry because we’ve accepted Jesus Christ, and have committed our lives to serving him, and spreading his Gospel everywhere we can.  I work in the business world . . . a place many traditional preachers can’t reach.  I meet people regularly with very comfortable lives, who are seldom confronted with the Gospel.  How do you show someone a need in their lives, when they believe they have every need met, and plenty more laid up in store?  A preacher can’t . . . but one of their own can.  Doctor’s are notorious know-it-all’s.  But who can reach a doctor?  A better doctor.

So, while I’m boldly proclaiming that the era of Mega-Preachers is over… I do expect to see them on the Television for several years to come.  But always catering to the same crowd…an aging crowd…a self-indulgent crowd.  And as they die out, and retire to their mega-mansions and yachts, I believe we’re going to see a movement dramatically rise to fore-front of Christianity that is starting right now – a movement of regular people, in regular jobs, who are sold out to God.  A movement of regular people who boldly preach the Gospel on streets, brokerage floors, board rooms, hospital rooms, court houses . . . the list can go on forever.  I believe this is a group that won’t compromise with the seeker-sensitive movement, and will call sin sin.  I believe this group will be empowerd by God to do greater works than the televangelists ever thought about.  I expect healings, miracles, signs, and wonders to happen…in ordinary lives, in ordinary circumstances . . . through extraordinary and yet totally average people.

The next time you see Joel Osteen’s grin…the next seeker-senstive service you attend…the next time Joyce Meyers tries to make you believe it’s okay for women to look like men…just smile and realize that they’re on the way out.  A revival of a church similar to the Book of Acts is happening.  And I’m joining in.  Are you?

christianity

Where have all the posts gone?

It’s been quite an ordeal, lately. I say “it,” as if I’m referring to a single issue, but that’s quite the over-simplification. My posts from the last few months have disappeared, due in large part to my failure to back things up, and in small part to a rough and bumpy ride taken by my web server. This has also encouraged yet another look on this page…which is not yet complete, and a reinvention of TheLimitless.com . . . again. I’ve learned an awful lot about web servers, and php, and the dreaded CSS, and how not to cook microwavable pizzas lately, so it wasn’t an incredibly taxing endeavour, except that the front page of TheLimitless.com lots all its modifications, such as they were, and is now a relatively blank slate, waiting for my clammy and cludgy fingers to manipulate it into a somewhat presentable affair.

Now, I know that the few people who still visit my blog (very few, after over 2 weeks with no site up at all) don’t come here to hear me prattle on about web servers, and CSS, and all that crap. Oh no, you come here to watch me get all red faced and rant about politicians, or to see me be a bit too honest, and make a fool out of myself, in the attempt to share a little truth about life and Godliness.

So, I must be honest, I don’t really keep up with political news anymore. Tabitha, or Pinky, as I call her behind her back, and the slightly unwelcome tweets of the #TCOTers are about all the news I force myself to consider, and I typically read the headline and never click through on the link. So guess what that leaves us with? 😀

I recently lost a mentor. Not only a role model, but possibly the single most influential person in my spiritual life. And I was okay with it, as she was a woman of God, and a person who lived the fullness of the Gospel in every area of her life. She has a great reward in Heaven that I’m sure she’s enjoying right now. However, a few days after the funeral, I found myself perusing job sites, and I thought to myself, “Uh-oh…I don’t have anyone to ask if this is right or not…I better pray and know the will of God before I go off on a job hunt.”

A sound idea, at any time. But I realized what an unGodly burden I placed on this person, to be my conduit to God, my oracle. And how spiritually lazy I had been to think like that. Wow.

But don’t wag your finger, my friend, because I’m not the first person to think like that. The only difference is that I’m portraying as an unrighteous behavior. This type of spiritually damaging dependency is not only tolerated, but encouraged in many churches. Either because the pastor is controlling and self-aggrandizing, and wants to be able to take credit for every victory in his member’s lives, or because the pastor is a poor and lazy shepherd, and allows his people to use him up, abuse him, and leave him out to dry, instead of teaching them how to be profitable Christians.

In saying that, I obviously can’t blame pastors only, or even mostly. We Christians are a lazy, self-absorbed lot. Instead of reaching out to help others, with an honest eye turned toward ourselves enough to realize we’re no better than anyone else, we choose to spend our time self-analyzing, and fault-finding, and asking for help and prayer over the little things we go through. I’m not suggesting that what you’re going through isn’t important, but there’s one important difference between you and sinner in the same situation. You have hope. Act like it.

It’s been a dangerous and selfish practice of Charismatic/Pentecostal circles over the last century to experience “More of Your Glory, More of Your Power, More of Your Spirit in me,” simply for the sake of experiencing it, and impressing other Christians with how spiritual we are, and sharing our deep revelations with other Christians so they can marvel at our wisdom, while the world goes to hell. There are great deep things of God, and they need to be searched out, but there is always a purpose to it: souls.

And yet, we’re still babies needing to be weaned off the pastoral nipple. Something is dreadfully and horribly wrong. In being forced to “grow up” through my loss, I’ve had my eyes open to what a pitiful little infant I was. And I’m concerned that as much as I thought I was spiritually mature, there many more out there who believe the same, in the same situation, who may never see the truth, because they believe it’s the right way to be.

I think that God is shaking things up in the church worldwide, to allow us to see this, and take on our mantle of servanthood and ministry. And I’ll talk more about that soon. Welcome back readers. I hope to see you all a lot more soon.

christianity, Christians Gone Wild!

Prosperity Flakiness

If you’ve read my stuff for any length of time, you’ve no doubt caught me defending the message of prosperity being taught in some Christian circles today (and on TV), and encouraging you not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.  However, after a recent event at Books-A-Million, I’ve come to realize that maybe my exposure to certain teachings in this doctrine have been limited.  I don’t watch Christian TV (TBN, etc), and my views on God’s plans for prospering his people have largely come from my own study, and from my pastor.  Because my Pastor is so Biblically sound, and makes so much sense, I assumed everyone else did as well, and were being unfairly criticized due to the loud, but few, flakes out there.

Maybe I was wrong . . . I overheard an apparently lonely, middle-aged, obese man acosting a Books a Million Employee in between the Christian Section and the Comic Books (I was in the Comic Books, thank you very much).

Fat Christian:  “Churches have really gotten away from reaching out to people and from being mission-oriented, and instead have built large mega-churches”

Employee:  “That’s right.”  (While putting books up on the shelf)

At this point, I thought the Fat Christian might be a good Christian, and was making a point about Charitability.

Fat Christian:  “But God doesn’t want to make us rich just for Mega-Churches, he wants to make us rich so we can use our mega-churches to reach out to people… tell them how to become rich also.”

Employee:  “Uh…Yeah, God wants us to help people.”  He was clearly uncomfortable, and left a sitting area and walked to my aisle in the comic books…Fat Christian followed

Fat Christian:   “People think that we’re preaching that we’re all supposed to be like super-rich billionaires, but I don’t think that’s really the case.  I think God just wants us to be well off.  God may not give me millions, but I could sure use 100,000 or so!  God wants to give his people money, so that while everyone around us is losing their jobs, and getting their homes repossessed, we can come right in and buy them up for really cheap.”

The Employee the left and the Fat Christian followed close behind, clearly ambivalent to the fact that the guy just wanted away from him.  I finished making my comic book selections and went to other side of the store, with a new understanding of why Christendom, at large, hates the prosperity preachers.  Jesus wants us to teach people to be rich, so we can really screw the people who are already victims of the predatory bank lending.  YAY JESUS!

Sheesh.

christianity, Online Living

Christian Carnival CCXLV

Welcome to the Christian Carnival, CCXLV, which a handy Roman numeral converter tells me means 245!  Wow, I should learn Roman some day.

Before I get right to the posts, I want to thank you all for the honor of hosting the Christian Carnival here at my little site.  I’ve participated, off and on (mostly off), in the Carnival since 2004, but this is my first time hosting.  So, today I’m very pleased to present the following submissions, in no particular order:

And that wraps it up for this week!  Some great reads.  Unfortunately, a crazy week at work prevented me from submitting my own post this week, and also weighed in on the time it would take to properly categorize the postings.  Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Christian Carnival!

christianity, Christians Gone Wild!

You can be a Christian for only $12.99!

Ever since W.W.J.D. bracelets, it seems that enterprising people have sought to capitalize on naivete of Christendom.  What would Jesus do?  Probably he wouldn’t wear a bracelet that cost $5 and tauntingly remind people to consider what Jesus would do in any situation.

I recently stumbled across this lovely site on the internets that portrays just how far that rabbit hole goes.  Seriously?  Is there no limit to what people will make?  I suppose though, they wouldn’t make it, if crazy Christians wouldn’t wear it!  Since I was…oh…16 or so, I have eschewed all forms of Christian apparel.  It’s typically tacky, and mostly self-righteous and condescending.  When it’s not those, and strives to just be humorous, it mixes in a good bit of heresy as well.  In the case of the image to the right, it also infringes on a trademark.

A few more examples of some of the worst Christian paraphernalia the net has to offer:

Again…copyright infringement seems to be a meaningless phrase to Christians.  I wonder how many Christian musicians are pirated on the net.  Once I heard a waiter say you can always tell the Christians groups at the restaurant, because they only want to know what they can get for free.  Shameful.

A spoof on (RED) the charity that fights against AIDS?!  Seriously?  Who would wear that?  Do they have no shame?  I don’t even know what else to say about this disgusting and flagrant self-righteous piece.

I’ve noticed for years and years a disturbing trend in churches to copy and imitate the world in order to feel “relevant.”  Did God not give us imaginations?  Even if you’re not original enough to come up with something on your own, why must you copy the worldliest things out there?  It happens in Christian music all the time, and along the same lines…in Christian retail, it seems they also make tackier and stupid imitations of other worldly things.  Worse, here is another example of just stupid theology.  “Satan got Punk’d”  What does that even mean?  He’s still controlling and influencing the world…so it would seem that if anyone got Punk’d, we did.

One of the weirdest and scariest examples of this is the new world of Christian emo.  Seriously?  How can a Christian be depressed, hate the world, and dress like a tranny?  W.W.J.D.?  He would not wear black fingernail polish.

In a strange example of Christian greed, www.wearyourfaith.com wouldn’t allow me to use some of their images claiming “Copyright.”  Not only do they not own the art on the shirts (they’re available in many other places) some of their art itself is copyrighted.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and is only indicative of the larger problem of Christianity attempting to become more “worldly” in order to feel like people can relate, when the truth is…”why become a Christian if my life is no different afterward?”  Christian skater tv shows (Thank you Alec Baldwin), Christian punk rock, and pastors riding motorcycles around their sanctuary.  There is no holiness and sanctification in the body of Christ today.  That will draw people.  Lifting up Jesus instead of skating or other worldly influences will draw people to God.  We have that in writing:  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32.

christianity, Church, witnessing

Unprofitable Blogging

Last week I posed the challenge to witness to one person for every blog post.  I happen to know that at least 10 Christian bloggers visited my site, and chose not to respond to that challenge, choosing instead to mindlessly prattle on with their unprofitable theologies and divisive doctrinal debates.

Perhaps some non-evangelicals would dismiss it as the church leader told William Carey: “Young man, when God wants to save the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine.”

Listen… you may not like that Jesus commissioned us to go out and preach to all the world, God knows there are lots of things in the Bible I wish I could just rip right off the page and pretend like it didn’t exist (love your enemies?!), but you can’t ignore it.  Sitting at home, feeling so spiritual because the other unprofitable “servants” of God think you’re very intelligent is self-delusional.   I present you with a video, and a testimony.  God help me be as profitable in life as this man:

christianity, Online Living

Blogging for Jesus Me

My wife nonchalantly posed a serious question to me recently, as she looked at some notes for future blog posts, “You have so many good things to say…why do you sit in front of a computer and blog them, instead of going out and sharing them with people who need Jesus?”

I’m always up for some harsh self-examination, so I really pondered how I could answer this, and justify my relatively reclusive lifestyle.  I’m not reclusive because I blog, let me get that straight.  I don’t sit at home wishing I was elsewhere, but I just have to get this post written.  I blog because I find it enjoyable, and I like the web development aspect of it (I’m a geek, what can I say?).  And I just happen to be rather introverted.  But this got me thinking on how blogging fits in with God’s great commission to go out and win the world.

I believe if harnessed properly, the internet could be a tremendous tool in reaching the world with the Gospel.  I have yet to see anyone actually accomplish this, however.  Surely our blogs, much of which debate the finer points of religious doctrine, are not effective conduits for the Gospel of Salvation to reach a lost person.  On the contrary, I would submit that should a spiritually-curious non-Christian stumble into our blogosphere, they may find so many contradicting statements, arguments, and debates, that they would be turned off to the Gospel.  I’m not criticizing any one person here, as I’ve engaged in a few debates myself on the internet, for better or worse.  But do these benefit the Kingdom of God?  I don’t believe so.  At best, it seems like the proverbial “peeing contest,” and at worse is actually a divisive force in the church.

Those criticisms out of the way, I will also admit that there have been several times that I have read a blog and felt personally challenged to better my walk with God.  I have been convicted, encouraged, and enlightened on many different kinds of topics in regards to my faith, and living it out in this world.  More than once, I can probably even say that my prayer and bible study times have profited from some things I’ve read.  And many of us just write to share our thoughts, and experiences, in our Christian walk.  If we find something interesting while studying the Bible, we share it with other Christians through our blog . . . and I would even say that is very Biblical.  It’s the 21st century version of Acts 2:46.

For some people, I imagine, this online community is the only place they feel like that have that fellowship.  But is this a healthy situation for the Christian and the Kingdom of God?  I think not.  Our highest calling is to fulfill our Great Commission, to go out and win the world.  While theoretically possible, I find it highly doubtful that blogging will do that.  A Christian, full of love, caring and helping someone in need, and sharing the Gospel with them, will do that, though.  I’m not saying don’t blog, but I encourage you to keep it in its place.  Instead of debating, let’s all encourage each other to go out and win souls for Jesus!  Let’s keep sharing our experiences, encouraging each other, and growing together, but let the fruit of that be evident in our profitability for the Kingdom of God.

I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this, as I don’t believe myself to be the authority on the effectiveness of blogging as a witnessing tool.  But I also want to issue a challenge to every blogger reading this post, which I intend to participiate in with you:  Witness to, or share the gospel with 1 person for each blog post you write this week.

I, personally, get very excited when I think about the great things that we can all accomplish together for the Kingdom of God.  Let’s make the Christian blogging movement responsible for souls being brought into the Kingdom of God, and not just a lot of interesting articles for other Christians.

If you’re taking the challenge, leave a comment, or trackback here with a story of how it went!