Breaking News…”Misremembering” And The Quest For Integrity

Brian Williams has been suspended from NBC this week.
Longtime NBC anchorman was challenged by others within the media world as to the substance of his “encounters” while reporting on the Iraq war in 2003.  His “misremembering” of specific details has left some scratching their heads while others calling for his immediate termination.  Whether intentional or not, the fallout of “misremembering” at the journalistic level will undoubtedly have consequences.

Similarly, within the Christian world “misremembering” and/or inconsistencies of witness will also undoubtedly have consequences!  Like those who report the news nationally and internationally, Christians leaders are looked up to.  They provide other Christians and would-be believers vital information, sources of hope, and godly direction.  Integrity and honesty should be a given, although there have been some who have fallen from grace over the years. swaggart

The witness of Christians can become greatly devalued when inconsistencies and misremembering takes place.  What good is it to speak of love and grace and even Jesus when suddenly we misremember how we are to treat other people?  What good are these Christian qualities when our actions and attitudes do not resemble our words?  Worse yet, what good is it to go to church and sing all the right songs and pray all the right prayers only to walk out of those doors and resemble anything but a Christ follower in our unhealthy habits, speech and actions?

Do we run the risk of running empty on integrity when we misremember how we are to be as Christians?  You bet we do!  The unfortunate consequences of lack of integrity as people of faith is that we will lead people away from God. Why would people want to seek out Christ when His very own followers do not practice what they preach?

Two things happen when we live within the “misremembered” and dishonest walk of “faith”

hypo1. Our Christian witness is compromised, phony and detremental to others who are ACTUALLY living as God has called the faithful to live.  We are not only ruining the chances of potential new believers coming to the faith, but we are making it even harder on other believers who are living lives of integrity.   It only takes a few rotten apples to ruin the whole bunch.  When others look at the church they will mostly likely first see the rotten ones.  We must be aware of our witness to others…it matters THAT much!

2.  Our personal faith and growth will be stuntedstunted
…from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”  (James 3:10-12)
Living a dishonest life within the realms of faith will inevitably shortchange our potential maturity and growth.  We cannot live this way.  As James puts it “this ought not be this way“.   We jeopardize not only the Christian witness to others, but we tarnish our own paths and limit what God can do through us by living this way.   Living a “misremembered” life that lacks integrity is cheap and unfortunately more common than not.  Dare I say that Christ has called us to live the uncommon life that is full of integrity, love and obedience!

BrianLet’s face it, Brian Williams isn’t the only one who has “misremembered” things, he was just caught.
Many are just as guilty of this same character flaw.  Brian Williams just happened to be in the public eye reporting the news.  Will there be more who will fall from grace?  Of course…but you and I do not have to be included in this statistic if we are mindful of this trap!  Integrity is a valuable, often tarnished commodity that many lack today.  As people of faith, we ought to make it our goal to strive to live integrity in all that we do and all that we are!

Let’s stop the “misremembering” madness in our own lives and start practicing honesty, sincerity and truth both in word and deed.

Something more to ponder today!

Dear Salvation Army, Selling Your Soul For Relevancy…

It is one thing to be culturally relevant in our worship settings:
-For the music to be relevant to the demographics of our congregations.
-For the messages to be relevant to our target audiences.
I’m not saying relevancy is wrong…we need to be relevant to some degree!

But…

could there ever be a point at which we sell our souls for the sake of relevancy?
How far is too far?
knife
How far do we go in order to reach our local cultures yet do not lose our souls in the process?  There is no denying that The Salvation Army is needed and has the capacity to do wonderful things as we strive to help people in need.  We mustn’t lose this in any transformational process.   We cannot lose our identities as an Army of Salvation for the sake of “fitting in”.  Booth wasn’t so much concerned with “fitting in” as he was concerned with meeting human needs in Christ’s name.  He even worked with politicians to change labor laws and make working conditions safer for people by building a match factory.    Booth wasn’t about merely “fitting in”, he (Catherine too of course) was about making a difference in people’s lives while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

soldiers3
Wearing a uniform doesn’t quite allow any of its Salvationists to “fit in”…but they are certainly identifiable, and these elements which make us stand out can help us to be a light in a seemingly dark world.  We have the capacity to help transform lives with the help and power of the Holy Spirit.  Our main goal should never just be about relevancy.  This isn’t the main principle of what we do and who we are (or vice-versa).  The principle can still be summed up in one of our oldest slogans “Soup, Soap, Salvation!”  We were formed to go for souls and go for the worst.  We are united under one God, One Salvation, One Hope for the whole world.  We cannot water this down, but we can offer hope, love, support and grace one spoonful at a time.

Dear Salvation Army, have we sold our souls at times for relevancy?
Are we doing it right now?

Sometimes I fear that we chase the almighty dollar more than we chase after the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I think that we fear what other entities including governments will do to us if we boldly proclaim the name of Jesus Christ in our programs and in public places.

Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t an army of Salvation anymore but rather more of an army of convenience and platitudes as long as no one is offended by the gospel.

Sometimes I wonder if we have lost a step in this march because of it.
Sometimes I wonder if we have been chasing after the approval of other people instead of the approval of God.

Sometimes…

If this has ever or is the case…then we need repentance.
If this is the case in our personal ministries we need to seek reconciliation and a realignment of priorities and holiness.

To the faithful and to the upright…show us the way!
Be examples to the rest of us.
Help us when we have gotten so focused upon pleasing the world around us that we have strayed from our first love.
I am not casting any blame upon anyone more than myself in this entry of Pastor’s ponderings today.  I have felt this conviction within my heart.  These are personal and yet public because perhaps, just perhaps there are others out there who feel the same way.

Join me, pray with me, pray for me…and I will pray for you as well.
We are not alone in this fight…we never were.
We are an Army, fighting side by side and with the power of the Holy Spirit who can and will provide us His strength and guidance along this dusty rugged path.

“Give me one pure and holy passion.
  Give me one magnificent obsession.
 Give me one glorious ambition for my life
  To know and follow hard after You.

To know and follow hard after you
To grow as your disciple in your truth
This world is empty, pale, and poor
Compared to knowing you, my Lord
Lead me on and I will run after you
Lead me on and I will run after you”

(by MARK ALTROGGE)

Something more of the Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

“Left Behind” Great Fiction But Horrible Theology…*Sigh

The reboot of “Left Behind” is set to hit theaters today (October 3rd, 2014) starring Nicolas Cage.  I won’t be seeing this film in the theaters…if ever.  It’s not that I don’t like Nic Cage, in fact I’ve always been a fan.  It’s that I just can’t support a movie that wields such a horrendous, unbiblical view about eschatology.

sharkHow I Could Watch “Left Behind”:  
Have you ever played the “what if” game?  It’s a kind of game that allows you consider the “what if’s” in life.  For instance, what if I watched this movie?  Well, if I were to watch this movie (which I probably wont, I’ll just wait for the next National Treasure movie to get my Nic Cage fix) I would wait for the dvd release, curl up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch this movie in conjunction with any other sci-fi genre movies that I enjoy watching.  I might even possibly watch this movie on “cheesy movie night” a designated family movie night where we gather around the living room and watch movies that have absolutely no bearing on reality.  This one, (Left Behind) quite possibly would be right after Sharknado and that other academy award winning (sarcastic cough),  awesomely bad/awesomely cheesy second installment Sharknado 2.  What an awesome cheesy movie night that would be!

The Real Problem With Left Behind:
Some are using this apocalyptic movie as some sort of credible means to evangelistically scare the literal hell out of people, cue up the childhood memories of watching A Thief In The Night. a thief I am all for loving people into the kingdom and for everyone to be introduced to Christ…but this, in my opinion, is NOT the way to go about it.  People shouldn’t be coerced into finding Christ through fictional-theatrical ploys such as this.  Real relationships with real people = real evangelistic opportunities to know Him.  Not some marketing campaign in which the writer of this fictional story makes a killing even in a mediocre movie release.

I love movies.  I am a sci-fi geek, I openly admit this.  I also love reading and understanding God’s Word and digging deeper to better understand what it says; but I just can’t mash these two things together in THIS movie and come away feeling the truth and even “End Times” truths have been accurately represented in this work of fiction.   This is horrible theology.

popcornIF you go to see this film in the theaters (and I hope you don’t)…
Don’t go to see this film if you want to know more about God.
Don’t go spend your $10 plus dollars on a movie ticket and then a $100 dollars on movie priced snacks (seriously who pays $30 for a bag of soggy popcorn and a soda?) and enter the theater thinking you’re going to uncover the truths of Revelation and how it’ll all “go down”.   Please show me anywhere in scripture where the depictions of Left Behind are in anyway accurate!?
Don’t drink the Left Behind cool-aide and then begin chanting in “Kirk Cameron we trust“, oh wait he isn’t in this one.  I’m sorry if this come off as cynical.  I’m just sort of sensitive when scripture gets misrepresented and then attempts to become a big money maker…it sort of grinds on me that way.  It’s fiction, take it for what it is.  Don’t use it as some sort of evangelistic campaign.  It just comes off as disingenuous.

Who knows, maybe six months from now I might be curled up on the couch eating my popcorn as the credits roll on Sharknado 2 and think “what the heck, let’s watch another cheesy sci-fi movie” and then Left Behind starring Nic Cage might come to mind.  Who knows, maybe then I’ll watch it and roll my eyes…it could happen.

-Just a thought, and a rather opinionated (more than usual) blog post.

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