The premise of this post stems from a text written by John Owen in 1662 and I think it rings true today. I am going to take some liberty with the explanation of the text to give it a more modern understanding, but I believe pondering this idea is worthwhile.
Owens treaties was primarily purposed toward the papist’s who would read prayer books and homilies prepared by the church hierarchy in lieu of depending on one’s relationship with Christ to use the gift that Jesus had given them. He focused on prayer for a time and was fully convinced that all of the gifts that God had given needed to be exercised.
Owen states to those who were truly called, “to stir up the gifts that they had received by the use and exercise of them”. Furthermore he stated that if anything were to be ‘profitable’ it must be ‘improved’, thus, a person must USE one’s gift for it to be both improved and profitable. (the word improved was used in the seventeenth century to mean ‘profitable’) Westminster Larger Catechism Read More
It took some soul searching but recently I decided to dump Facebook. This is not a commentary about Facebook itself, but rather people’s use of it. Nor is this a sob story, so don’t feel sorry for me. I made my own bed, was forced to lay in it for a time, now I’m picking up the pieces and moving on. So no pity party here. Here’s the basic problem I see with Facebook as it relates to Christian people: It encourages people to behave in un-Christian ways because it provides an outlet to say things one would never say in person. It creates an environment where you can feel free to criticize at a distance, secretly gossip through private messages, and misread entire posts because let’s face it, you can’t see the eyes of the person who wrote the post. Further, we all have filters based on life-experiences, so it is all too easy to interject your own meaning into the written words. Read More
Kidz 4 Christ has been on a new series called Life’s Classroom. It is about the Parables that Jesus told during his time on Earth. This past Sunday we talked to the kids about jealousy and envy and it’s a lesson that even us adults can take to heart. It is a lesson near-and-dear to my heart as I struggled with it for many years. For the longest time, I was a workaholic and not necessarily because I liked working but because I liked stuff. Usually I saw things I wanted when someone else had it. I had set goals on having a huge house and a couple cars.
But as I grew older and had a family my priorities changed and I have come to live humbly. In fact, when my family got a new house a few years ago, it was a down-size. Every year at our church rummage sale, I am elated to donate things to sell. I’d get rid of much much more but I get vetoed by my wife. Just like in my day, kids today compare what they have with what their friends have. It’s a struggle I have with my own kids teaching them not to put value on things. They are beginning to understand and that’s what I was trying to pass on to the K4C kids on Sunday.
I find it rather interesting that the church in it’s effort to avoid “worldliness” rails against anything secular merely because it is not affiliated or associated with the church. I recall as a young Christian in a rather conservative, charismatic church being told that I had to rid my life of all things secular. Near the top of the list was my entire record collection. For those of you who don’t know what a record is…google it. I remember a pastor once telling me how dangerous it was to allow anything secular, especially “rock music” into my life. I would most certainly be corrupted. Not wanting to be corrupted, I took my entire collection and threw it into a dumpster. Now I will be the first to say that within popular music are many themes that are completely inappropriate for a person intent on living a life of godliness. It’s important for followers of Christ to learn to be discerning regarding what’s appropriate for them. But for many well-meaning Christians, it’s not discernment they’re after, it’s the ridding of all things secular. Read More
Before I talk more about Kidz 4 Christ, I wanted to bring up something that’s been on my heart for a couple months now. Whether it’s been in person or social media, I’ve either been part of or listened to some discussions about various church views – and all of these discussions have left a bad taste in my mouth. So I’m gonna lighten things up with a joke first. This is from my favorite comedian, Emo Phillips:
Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”
So why am I so uptight about excellence? You may not realize it because I work extremely hard to temper my expectations of others, but I am passionate about excellence especially in the body of Christ. Lots of people over the years have simply said “Tom’s just a perfectionist, OCD, or just plain anal about details”. While I realize I often come across this way, that’s not why I struggle to accept mediocrity. That word “mediocrity” was a perfect example. At first I spelled it wrong, but I took the few minutes needed to go dictionary.com and figure out the appropriate spelling. OCD? No. I spelled it correctly because I feel it’s important to be as competent as I can be. I could have let it slide, but for me it’s a slippery slope of accepting lazy behaviors if I start letting little things slide. When it comes to my service to the body of Christ, He deserves better from me. One of the scriptures that’s shaped my attitudes over the years goes like this:
Luke 14: Figure the Cost Read More
The last couple weeks I’ve shared how I became a Children’s Pastor at The Scruffy Church. I’ve shared how God’s plan had been in motion since I was 15 years old, though it was a good 10 years later before I realized it. I’ve shared how God used several people in my life to get me to this point, how they’ve bettered my life in so many ways and how I’ve affected some of theirs. At the end of last week, I also shared that it was not an easy decision for me to accept the Pastor role.
What I didn’t share with you was the type of person I was as I grew from a teenager to a young adult. No, I am not going to share all my dirty little secrets and bad behaviors with you. Sorry! But I will say that as a teenager and young adult, I was definitely not future pastor material. I don’t think that I had done anything heinous or victimized anyone in anyway, but much of my behavior and actions were definitely not Christ-like. Because of that, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that God had a plan for me since I was born which He put into motion when I was 15 years old.
Every so often I like to use the Scruffy Blog to tell you a little about the people that keep Scruffy doing what we do. So let me introduce to you to Chris Washburn. Some say Chris needs no introductions because once you meet him, you will never forget him. Could it be his tats? Or maybe his gauged ear lobes or nose ring? Some people believe those are the things that makes Chris “cool”, but I’m here to tell you there’s a lot more to Chris, a whole lot more. Read More
Last week I talked about my journey in becoming a Children’s Pastor. The short version involves Marlena and me finding a church, then me getting involved in children’s ministry as I’ve always been good with kids, being mentored and completing bible school and then moving into the Children’s Pastor role so that Pastor Steve could fill other areas of need. However, this version does not give God his due credit.
When I was in high school, I joined the newly formed drama club and had a part in our production of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I didn’t realize it at the time, and I didn’t even realize it until after becoming a part of The Scruffy Church, but this one decision directly affected every aspect of my employment from that point forward, every aspect of my romantic relationships, including my marriage and fatherhood, and it caused the existence of most of my closest friendships.
I’ve been pondering the term “first world problems” a lot lately, mostly because so many people banter about it on Facebook and Twitter. When they do, they are usually trying to make some point about how your problems aren’t really very serious compared to those who are starving and suffering all over the world. When they post these little quips, it has the effect of making you feel like you are a selfish jerk for daring to complain about whatever isn’t going so well in your life. So I am going to go on record today and say that this treatment is neither sensible, fair nor just. Read More