Relevant Christian Celebrates 6 Years!

Relevant Christian posted it’s first post on February 26th, 2007 entitled Rebel, or Progressive Thinker?, and at today’s count, have had over 316 posts, well over 261,000 visitors, and 1,890 published comments.

The purpose behind Relevant Christian was born out of a growing uneasiness about the state of Christianity, and a desire to start people thinking, or maybe even start a conversation. While it was not our purposeful intention to be controversial, we have at times, definitely succeeded in being so.

Our most popular post to date, “What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos?”, has been viewed 115,910 times, and was written by a very good friend and pastor Timmy Gibson.

We have had the pleasure of having some great contributors to Relevant Christian, and I would like to say thank you to those who have contributed (no pun intended) to the success of Relevant Christian.

Timmy Gibson
Joe Martino
Bill Reichart
Dave Anderson
Chris Elrod
Justin Heibert
Joel Johnson
Tracey Eldridge
Heather
Shane Anderson
Stephen McDonald

…oh yeah….Me and one or two others that I may have neglected to mention…and of course those that have written guest posts from time to time….Thank You!

It has been an exciting journey…so far!

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Who is my neighbor?

 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

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The point that Jesus is trying to emphasize is a widening concept of the term neighbor. In an overly religious setting the walls of ‘neighbor’ were defined very strictly. Jesus steps in to say that anyone in need, no matter what differences you have, is a neighbor in need of God’s grace and your concern.

And this thought has called, encouraged and sent Christian missionaries around the world for hundreds of years. We have concluded (rightly) that anyone in need is our neighbor. We have taken Jesus’ message to heart.

But in our zeal to fulfill this call we have forgotten something that is hugely important to Jesus: our actual neighbors.

Picture your house, apartment or living quarters. Make a grid like a tic-tac-toe board and put yourself in the center.

If each section of the grid were a neighbors house, could you list the eight closest people that live next to you? What else do you know about them? Can you list everyone in the house? Are they more than casual acquaintances; would you actually consider them friends?

The times I’ve done this have shown that less than 50% of people can name a majority of people around them and very few can name all eight. The speaker this last weekend shared similar results.

In our Christian passion to share our faith with the whole world we have forgotten those that live immediately around us. We have become blinded by going to all the world that we have forgotten the immediacy of those around that need to hear about Jesus.

This is one reason I push missional theology. It forces us to wrestle with the way we think of “Christian missions.” The job isn’t always ‘to go’ to exotic places and eat different food. Sometimes Christ’s call is to stay and be with those he has put around us. It’s to know about Bill and Brenda. Have them into your home and be more than fence sharers, be real neighbors. Love them into the Kingdom.

In Times Like These…..

Photo courtesy of HopeinJesus.org

Photo courtesy of HopeinJesus.org

It is In Times Like These that I am reminded just how dark, cold, confused, completely hopeless the world seems.

With the devastating news of a gunman walking into an elementary school and opening fire on little children in a kindergarten class…I am reminded of just how much we all need Jesus!

Let’s face it…as much as we would like to pretend that everything is just fine, and go on about our lives as if everything is perfect…it most definitely is not! There is no way to explain why someone would walk into a kindergarten classroom and kill 18 innocent children…other than the indisputable fact that there is evil in this world.

In Times Like These…it becomes abundantly clear that our only hope is Jesus. Anything else is hollow.

The world needs light. The world needs clarity. The worlds needs hope. The world needs Jesus!

What’s an Xmas?

merry_xmas_lgA good friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day that he was out getting some xmas clothes for his son. Well…needless to say…being the somewhat funny jerk of a friend that I am, I started razzing him about his choice of the word “Xmas” instead of typing Christmas.

I must admit….the exchange between he and me was quite humorous, but we do at times pick pretty hard at each other…but we have been friends for well over 20 years, so I think we can handle it.

In his defense, though I think it’s a pretty flimsy one, he was in a store chasing around a VERY active and curious 1 year old boy, and he said Xmas was easier to type on his phone than Christmas.

That is true…Xmas is much easier to type, but it lacks something. It just looks like somethings missing. It kind of reminds me of a math equation….(you know, the whole X equals Y junk?) and anyone who knows me will tell you…I hate math!

The more spiritual or religious types may tell you that it is a shadowing of our lives. How so easily and conveniently we can leave Christ out of the conversation. I can see some validity in their argument, and I must admit….my mind did go there for a moment. Probably mostly due to my many years spent in a ultra-religious and judgmental state of mind.

However, I think for the most point….we just need to get over it.

Carlos Whitaker had a humorous post a few years ago that I wanted to share with you.

    “Top 9 Reasons Why It’s Ok to Say Merry XMAS!”
    1. I love baby Jesus too but he didn’t name Christmas…Christmas. We did.
    2. If this offends you then I suggest you change your greeting to “May you have the most joyous season of celebrating the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. It is less confusing than Merry Christmas.
    3. I find it more insulting that people get mad at Bart Millard for saying Xmas and have no idea that the pagan origins of their gift exchanges started in ancient Babylon when the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25. Raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving were traditions of this feast.
    4. I’m thinking we should celebrate Christmas when it actually happened. More or less around September.
    The shepherds were not tending their sheep in the middle of a Judean winter. I promise.
    5. I’m not taking Christ out of Christmas when I say Xmas… I am giving more attention to the word “mas” which in the true language of God means “more”
    6. I love Jesus. If you are concerned with people seeing a Christian take “Christ” out of the word “Christmas” let’s just say it Merry Jesusmas so that everybody will get it.
    7. On twitter it is a much better way of saving your character count.
    8. Let’s face it. Jesus is the X Factor! What A Better Way To Say It!!!
    9. I hate lists of 10 so I’m gonna stop at 9…Or really 8.

So….there you have it. I like it…I think I will start using that one myself. Right now as a matter of fact.

I hope you have a Very Merry Jesusmas!

What do you think of the whole XMAS vs. Christmas debate?

Treating People Like Jesus

McDonalds really seems to be at the crossroads of American life. Rich and poor gather under the golden arches for cheap food that is quick and tasty. Their slogan could just as easily be, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to eat cheap.” I’ve seen business suits and birthday suits at McDonalds, it attracts everyone.

English: The official logo.
English: The official logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was at a discipling group today at one of our local McDonalds. While I was waiting for the group members to show up, I had someone join me at my table and he proceeded to hand me a couple of napkins and some hand sanitizing wipes. I (without looking up from my book) said thanks and kept reading. He handed out more napkins and wipes to the surrounding tables before returning to sit down next to me. When he noticed that I didn’t use the napkin as a coaster, he felt the need to pick up my cup and do it for me.

That got my attention and I knew this guy was serious about wanting to have some company, so I put my book down and waited for what was next. In our next few minutes together (about 15) here are the topics we covered:

  • Getting an ID from the government
  • Police
  • Colorado
  • Colorado’s nice residents
  • Kansas
  • Looooosiana
  • New York and New Jersey (he was born in both places)
  • California
  • Missouri
  • Colorado’s nice residents
  • Texas
  • The DMV
  • And how nice everyone in Colorado.

The two most repeated phrases of our conversation were, “You know?” (I didn’t, which got me in trouble on a number of occasions) and, “It’s just such a pain in the ass.” (I pretended to know).

You can probably tell by now that something wasn’t well with my new acquaintance, and the longer he sat across from me the more potent the smell of alcohol became. He was out of it enough that after my discipling group (an hour and a half long) I saw him again having a conversation with a bird statue a few blocks down (yes conversation, not monologue).

He even drew me a picture.

Towards the end of our time together he began to berate and yell at another customer as he was leaving McDonald’s because the guy at my table was convinced that he was the governor of Colorado and couldn’t figure out why he didn’t want to have a conversation with him.

Since the moment we first began to talk I had a nudge to engage his guy and talk to him. I kept hearing in my mind, “Treat this guy like Jesus.” Which of course meant that I would need to act like Jesus.

How do you extend grace, fellowship and company to someone that drunk, disoriented and out of it all together? I had Matthew 25 running through my head:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

I knew that this is a guy loved and created in the image of God. I needed to treat him as such, but thinking about it and doing it are two different things. Given his current state it was going to be even harder. Here are some things I thought about that I think are helpful. I, in no way, think I was perfect and don’t think I’ve covered everything well. I’ve got room to grow and hope that God continues to shape me so I do better next time. Here are three things I think we need to practice better.

  1. Talk to them. There were several people that either blew off his presence or mocked him. A couple of tables snickered and pointed fingers as he talked. Engaging him and talking to him validates his humanity. Even in an inebriated state he needs to be treated humanely.
  2. Offer help. When he was talking about going to the DMV, he showed me the address he needed to go. I offered to help him find it. Though I was met with an angry outburst (because he knew the way), the point is that we should offer to go the extra step. Spend voluntary time with him.
  3. Offer to pray. This is an opportunity I’m ashamed to say that I missed. Part of it was because I barely got a word it, but most of it was because I wasn’t assertive enough. I could have offered to pray with him and his struggle to get to the DMV.

———-

Please comment below and add to the list. What other suggestions do you have?

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The Way!

There are many people in the world looking, desperately searching for their way in this life. They are trying to find their path.

photo courtesy of Ponsulak

In their search they will no doubt run across several different paths. Some with signs shining brightly with brilliant lights and much fanfare, and some with really cool graphics touting all of the modern catch phrases. Then there is the path that has a sign simply stating “The Way”. Which path will they choose is the question? Will they choose one of the paths that are more enticing, or the one with the simple statement?

It is so very easy to become confused by all of the different paths, and for those that are on a particular path, it always seems like the right one to them and they will gladly tell you the same.

How I wish that everyone could/would choose the right path. It would make their/our lives so much better. We would have much less heartache, stress, worry and fear in this world.

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14 NIV

Thank you Father for showing us “The Way”. Help us to shine your light to light the right path to a lost and dying world.