Categotry Archives: Rantings


Can I Just Say This?


Categories: music, Rantings

I am bored to tears with “Christian” music–especially worship music.

(And the rebels shouted AMEN!)

Actually, to many people nowadays, that might not seem like a very provocative statement. But if you know me at all, you’ll know it’s kind of a strong thing to say. Why?

I am a worship leader.


The Point–and How We Have Become Experts at Missing It


Categories: changing mindsets, food for thought, Rantings

I hope this post makes sense when I get through with it. Seasons of de-construction and re-thinking (like the one I am in) can sometimes be exciting and illuminating, sometimes scary. Sometimes I feel like I’m dwelling in utter chaos inside, with no point of reference, wondering which direction “up” is. Add a little sleep deprivation to the mix, and…let’s just say I hope this doesn’t end up sounding like I’ve been spending too much time in the poppy fields.

But as I take a different look at what I grew up in, and compare it to a fresh look at Scripture, one thing that seems to be showing up in my mind over and over is how much we (by “we” I mean the church) are missing the point. A lot of that point-missing, I’m convinced, is largely due to the institutions we (again, the church) have been encased in. And because I’ve been part of that system for so long, I have to include myself in “we” and admit that I’ve spent a great many years “missing the point.”

Here are just a few examples of what I’m thinking about…

  • The plan of most churches is to buy land and build buildings, set up programs that will draw people into those buildings–which, in turn, brings in more money, so we can build bigger buildings, hire more staff and have more programs to bring in more people and more money to have more buildings and more staff and more programs to… (ad infinitum). This cyclical pattern causes us to make church size the goal, and we measure our success by how many people are coming each week. Missing the point.
  • We build bowling alleys, tennis courts, state-of-the-art video arcades, and even things like merry-go-rounds (in the children’s department) for the stated purpose of drawing more people and helping the “community”. Most of the “community” we’re drawing are existing believers who come in from other, smaller, more struggling churches that can’t “compete”. Most non-Christians still won’t come to our bowling alleys because it’s “church.” Missing the point.
  • Because of the high costs of land and mortgages, as well as swollen payrolls and budgets, church leadership increasingly makes decisions based on the financial “bottom line” rather than how to best fulfill the commissions of Jesus. Pastors and leaders become financially dependent on their church machines, and instead of seeking ways to disciple people and help them be Jesus to the world, the goal becomes to keep people (and their money) in the church by whatever means possible. Missing the point.
  • Instead of letting Scripture be our plumb line and trying to interpret its meaning and live our lives by it, we become convinced of an opinion and “interpret” Scripture to back up what we already believe to be true. Missing the point.
There are many other ways I believe we are missing the point, but…you get the idea.

So…you might be thinking, “Okay, big shot, you’ve done so well at pointing out where we’re missing the point…so what is the point?”

Umm…I’m still figuring that out. (Remember, I did include me in “we.”)

Actually, I do think I know what “the point” is…it’s just that I can’t say I have all the answers as far as how to flesh it out.

For the church…I think the point is JESUS. To draw close to Him as individuals, and to help as many others as we can to draw close to Him, too. Everything else is just details. And the problem is not that buildings and programs are inherently bad, but that we are letting the details get in the way. And that’s how we miss the point.

But fleshing that out, as I said, is what this whole re-thinking process is for me. How do we get back to making Jesus the point and not get wrapped up in the details? The first step, I think, is to step back, look at the complicated mess, and see what we can do to simplify. For us, it’s gotten WAY simple. Doing house church for 8 years shows you what you really need as opposed to what is shiny and cool to have. It really changes your perspective on what’s important.

In future blog entries, I hope to tackle some of the “fleshing out” part of this. For now, though…let me just say that simplifying and returning to the “point” is more than just doing less stuff or streamlining our programs. It’s about simplifying our thinking, learning to keep the main thing the main thing–going back to what Jesus actually said and how He lived, and from that, find out how to live that out in our world and culture. I think it’s a lot more simple than what we’ve made it to be.


Note to Tulsa Drivers

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Categories: food for thought, Rantings, What the heck was THAT?

Dear honorable drivers of Tulsa….

Remember “SNOW?” It’s that powdery white stuff that sometimes falls from the sky in winter. We don’t get as much of it as they get in, say, Nome, Alaska or upper Minnesota. But we do get it, usually a couple of times each winter. Enough that by now we should all know how to drive in it. So as nicely as I can, let me remind you of a few basic principles of driving in snow:
  1. Snow is slippery. That means it takes longer to stop. It also means that you cannot turn as abruptly as you normally would, or you will begin to slide sideways. Smart people accommodate for this by driving more slowly, and allowing more distance between them and the driver in front of them. Simple, huh?
  2. If you start to slide, turn your wheels into the slide rather than against it. It feels weird at first, but it helps your tires regain traction.
  3. Gravity still works when it snows. This means if you approach a hill that hasn’t been treated and you do not have enough momentum when you start to drive up it, you will slide backward and hit the car behind you. It also means that you must be extra, extra careful going downhill. Don’t slam your brakes; pump them gently.
  4. Better to arrive late to work or school than not to arrive at all. Take your time.
  5. You are not the only person on the road when it is snowing. This means if you want to drive like a moron and ruin your own car, that’s one thing, but you do not have the right to ruin other people’s cars around you by being stupid. Be aware of others.
Thank you for your rapt attention. I’m sure the entire Tulsa metro area will now be a safer place because you all have read my blog.

P.S. To the guy who broke all these rules this morning and almost ran into me at the corner of 91st and Aspen: Please pay special attention to rule number 5.

P.P.S. To the road crews who plow and salt the roads: While I certainly appreciate everything you do…it does snow in Tulsa from time to time. Perhaps you should all get together and have a meeting to discuss how not to be taken by surprise and leave main roads untreated during rush hour. Just a thought…


Re-thinking Evangelism (and lots of other stuff)

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Categories: changing mindsets, food for thought, Rantings

I’m looking at the top of the page, and I notice that “re-thinking church” is in my blog title. But the truth is…I’m in a season right now where I’m re-thinking everything. Doctrines, beliefs, and practices I’ve taken for granted for most of my churchy life are getting taken off the shelf, dusted off, and looked at to make sure this is really how Jesus wants it, or really what He meant when He said _________ (fill in the blank). Some stuff is getting reaffirmed, and some stuff is getting reworked. It actually feels very healthy.


Off the Subject: The Stupid Weather

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Categories: Rantings, What the heck was THAT?

It seems like Tulsa has these themed winters or something. The winters aren’t the same year after year; it’s like each winter the weather finds its own pattern, and does the same stuff over and over again. Each winter is its own barrel of fun. Yeah, right.

We went through a couple of winters a few years ago where the theme must have been “Warm, Windy, and Drought-like”. The main dangers were grassfires and being over-dressed. Almost no snow. Lots of people lost trees due to not enough rain.

Last year, the theme was “Almost Like Michigan, Only Further South and Not Quite As Much Snow.” Lots of cold, cold temperatures (well, for Tulsa, anyway). And lots of snow events–especially on weekends when people were trying to go to church. Our driveway took a real beating last winter. We were really ready for spring when it happened.

This year’s theme seems to be “Ice. Freezing Rain. Freezing Drizzle. Anything Frozen Other Than Snow.”

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Tulsa saw an ice storm of catastrophic, landscape-altering proportions. Over a half million people lost power statewide, and many of our oldest and best trees were ruined. Limbs everywhere. Some places still look like war zones, while we wait for tree limbs stacked as high as houses to be removed from our roadsides. (Feeling sorry for us yet?)

Since then, almost every precipitation event this winter has included some form of frozen precipitation other than snow. Freezing rain, drizzle, ice fog. No repeats of the wicked ice storm yet, but just enough to make the roads slick and the people irritated. Oh, and between events it gets warm enough for shirt sleeves, just long enough so you can’t get used to the cold. Almost no snow so far this winter.

The forecast this week? Today and tomorrow, shirt-sleeve weather. Wednesday…ice.

Crap, crap, crap.


Christian: Noun or Adjective?


Categories: changing mindsets, food for thought, Meanderings (look it up), Rantings

Hmmm…something going through my head lately. Something I read in Velvet Elvis (which I finished by the way–no further heresies to report). But in the book, Rob Bell remarked on something that I found interesting, and am still chewing on and grappling with….

The word “Christian” was not intended to be used as an adjective.

In Scripture, it is always a noun, referring to a person who follows Christ.

Now, forgive me if this offends your religious sensibilities–just being honest here–I have grown less and less comfortable using the word “Christian” to describe myself, although by Biblical standards I certainly am one. I love Jesus and attempt to follow Him with my life, and I’m not ashamed of Him. But the word “Christian” in our culture has become so loaded that people attach to it any of a number of stereotypes and misconceptions every time it is used. It isn’t that I am trying to avoid hostility by non-Christians; it’s just that I want them to be hostile toward me for the right reasons. (?) So when possible, I try to gravitate toward terms like “Christ-follower” or “disciple of Jesus”.

Anyhow…I think that this idea of using the word “Christian” as an adjective rather than a noun has served to complicate things even more. We use “Christian” to describe a type of music, or a type of book, or (forgive me again) even a type of nation. But in the Jewish mindset (out of which most of the Scriptures were written), there is no differentiation between sacred and secular (or in our vernacular, Christian or non-Christian) when referring to these things. In the Jewish mindset, everything is sacred if God is in the center of your life. As such, everything is redeemable under Him. But we so categorize things using “Christian” as an adjective that we Christians start getting paranoid about what’s okay for us, and what’s not okay.

Here’s an example: someone says, “I only listen to Christian music.” I get that we aren’t to just fill our minds with garbage, but show me chapter and verse to show where we are supposed to use the Christian tag to identify something like music. What makes it Christian? Is it that a Christian is singing it? Or that the message has to be specifically talking about Christ? Does that mean typical romantic love songs are not Christian? What if a Christian wrote the love song? Are Christians not allowed to be romantic?

Can you see how this way of thinking imprisons us–let alone alienates us from unbelievers? Do you see how we’ve made “non-Christian” a code for “unclean?”


Something more, something real

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Categories: food for thought, Meanderings (look it up), Rantings, You need to read this

In a number of my entries, I am highlighting certain flaws and indescrepancies that I’ve observed in institutional Christianity (i.e., what most people refer to as “church”). If you catch me on a day when I’m ranting, you’re liable to think that I (like many others) am just jaded and bitter and looking for a place to spew venom.

But the truth is, this is a journey, a process–not a destination. I know that in my ramblings, however random they might appear, I am going somewhere. In fact, I believe Jesus is taking me somewhere. This isn’t merely a journey away from something; it is a journey toward something.


The Wild One part 2

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Categories: Broken machine, Rantings, Wild One

Yesterday I wrote about my wife, Shelby, who loves Jesus very much but has never done well in the context of institutional church. She tried very hard to fit in because it was the only expression of the Christian faith she knew; but when God led us away from institutionality, it was one of the best things that ever happened to her spiritually. I’d like to pick up the thread from here. (Read the previous entry first if you missed it yesterday.)


Superhero Christianity

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Categories: Rantings, What the heck was THAT?

(I found this awesome picture here.)
Today I’d like to introduce you to one of my former favorite superheros. If you’ve spent much time in church circles, you know this person, although you’ve probably never really met him/her. I say “him/her” because this superhero takes many forms and versions, but the gist is about the same no matter how you view him/her. (Being a male, I see him as a man, so I’ll use “he” from now on.)

This superhero is a man of mythic spiritual proportions, even surpassing Jesus Himself. (I’ll unpack that seemingly blasphemous statement in a minute.) I call this person….SUPER-CHRISTIAN.

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