The world is fraught with bad news. It has been since the beginning and will be until the end. Ironically, after however many thousands or millions of years (depending on your theology, or lack thereof) humans are still surprised wars continue to happen, that people die, and senselessly bad things happen to really good people. We don’t expect this reality. Maybe because God didn’t create the world or its inhabitants to experience the decay that has been unstoppable since Adam and Eve fell in the garden. Our expectations match what was to be our original perfect reality and not what became our actual reality post fall.
Andy Crouch, prolific author, speaker, and Executive Editor of Christianity Today, says it like this,
“We live in a bad news to bad news reality in the church. We start in Genesis 3 (the fall) and end with Revelations 20 (the lake of fire).”
Andy’s point is that even the Church, the entity Pastor Bill Hybels calls the hope of the world, has succumbed to this grim, joyless, and visionless existence. As Believers we live like the rest of humanity, in shame and defeat, with a poor image of God the Father, Redeemer, Creator, Author, and Finisher. And, we become a poor reflection of Him.
Leslie and I were in church yesterday morning for the first time in 3 weeks. The last two Sundays we played hooky. The first week we celebrated a birthday. Last week, Leslie’s mom kept the kids for the whole weekend and, well, we savored every moment of our much-needed time off by doing very little.
But, because our church is such an amazing place we simply cannot stand to stay away for long. We love it. Every part. We love our pastor and his wife. We love the other pastors, staff, and their families. We love our Life Group. We love the people—the ones we know well and the ones we don’t. We love the music. We love the teaching. We love Grace Church. It’s home. It’s family.
This is the fourth of five video interviews Alan did with RELEVANT Magazine. The other videos will be posted here throughout this week.
Photo Credit: Edward Linsmier for Buzzfeed. Click image to read the full article.
From the article “The Man Behind The Historic Implosion Of The Ex-Gay Movement” by David Peisner:
… Chambers not only closed Exodus in sudden and dramatic fashion, but acknowledged the ineffectiveness of gay-to-straight reparative therapy and offered a remarkable mea culpa that apologized for his organization’s many missteps. He’s now founding a new organization focused on bringing Christians and homosexuals together, called Speak. Love. Many in the LGBT community hailed Exodus’ demise as a victory in the culture wars but were disappointed Chambers hadn’t gone further in his support of gay rights or his renouncement of the religious underpinnings of the ex-gay theology. To many evangelicals, the man who had not only been a leader of the ex-gay movement but also a living example of its successes was now a lost sheep, or worse, a heretic.
“There are times when I feel like I don’t have a country,” Chambers says, not far from a wall of photos that include shots of him with his wife, with his kids, and with Mike Huckabee. “There are people who have been invested in this fight for years on both sides. It’s the vocal minority on either side that gets the microphone. What I believe is there are far more people in the middle.”
It’s this middle group that he’s hoping to represent and talk to. The question is, will he have the chance? At the moment, he’s working on defining specific plans for the new organization and raising money to keep the lights on. But in order to succeed, he’ll need to convince people that his divisive past has indeed passed, and that his own personal struggle won’t get in the way of his public mission.
This article is worth the read. Please check it out. If inclined, come and let us know what you think after reading the article.
Cross-posted from the Exodus Blog
In 2009 I spent ten days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Prior to going, I spent time researching the country, its people, and the state religion of Malaysia—Islam. Months before my trip I called one of my Malaysian friends and asked her a number of questions about how the Christian Church is treated in her country. Her answer both surprised and comforted me. She said, “We are guests of Islam and Islam is a gracious host. We are guaranteed freedom of religion, worship and practice as long as we do not proselytize (seek to convert others).”
Once I was in Malaysia, I saw a thriving Christian Church and population, one that wasn’t fighting its host country or culture, but rather co-existing quite nicely and peacefully. I found the Christians there incredibly servant-hearted and patriotic, loving a country, culture, government, and people of whom they were the minority by far. In my own hotel room there was a Koran, an arrow on the ceiling pointing to the east, a mat for me to kneel on, and instructions on how to pray. I also learned that all citizens of Malaysia, regardless of the religion they are allowed to profess and follow, are considered Muslim.