Sometimes a good dream has to die…

24 03 2009


Helping God Out…aka “Healer” was faked.

20 08 2008

So the story broke today. Mike Guglielmucci faked the whole thing. He never had cancer. He never had a terminal illness. He never went to the doctor, got the bad news, and then sat down and penned that awesome song. It was a lie. He was a fake.

But the song wasn’t.

Let’s face it. The song is a good song. I admit that I didn’t like it much at first. And, honestly, if it wasn’t coupled with the incredible (and completely made up) testimony, I don’t know if I ever would have liked it. But I do now. And so do millions of people around the world. God took Mike’s lack of class and character, turned it around, and made good come out of it.

Just like He always does.

I feel horrible for the thousands of people who spent $40 a pop to buy the healer DVD. I hope somehow they get their money back. I and am grieving for the people who will harden their hearts toward God because of this debauchery.

But I think that it is wonderful to serve a God who uses screw-ups, idiots, and yes even sinners–like me. I know that I’ve been guilty of the same thing Mike did. He tried to help God out a little bit. As if God were incapable of bringing glory to himself without that incredible story and somewhat mediocre song. I’ve done the same. I’ve enhanced details to make the story zing, threw in a key change to manipulate emotions, marketed for shock value, and…

I’m not proud of it.

And I struggle every day to be authentic and real with God and before His people–His church. It’s just that I understand the temptation to spice things up a bit now and then. I know that God doesn’t need me or you, or Mike Guglielmucci for that matter, to carry him. And it is comforting to see that with the song Healer–just as it has been with me and you–that even when we thought we were carrying God, he was carrying us.

Read the story here.

Have you tried to “help God out”? Hit the “comment” link and Join the Conversation.

My Blog Is Better Than Your Blog

12 08 2008

“Never have so many people with so little to say said so much to so few.” –

So I haven’t posted in a while…a long while. It wasn’t that I lost interest; I lost focus.

I found myself checking my blog several times a day just to see how many hits I had. I know, I’m pathetic…I was on this quest to prove that “my blog was better than your blog”. And as the hits came in, I felt some how justified as a person because of them.

I wonder why I am so prone to defining myself by how important I am to other people. By finding my self-worth in other people’s opinions, I allowed them to define me. I was as witty as you said I was. I was as smart as your “hits” declared. It is a scary thing—the power we allow others to wield over us.

I don’t want to be defined by you. I don’t want to be defined by my accomplishments, or my failures, or my status, or my abilities.

I want to believe that what God says about me is true.

I want to believe.

So what defines you? Hit the “comment” link and Join the Conversation.

Someone’s Got Sulfur Balls?

19 05 2008

I never would have believed it if I hadn’t heard it from my own brother. It’s true. My brother’s next-door neighbor has sulfur balls…

If you’re wondering if a new STD is wreaking havoc on the youth culture…that’s not what I’m talking about. Sulfur Balls, as it turns out, are (supposedly) the petrified remains of the “hell-fire and brimstone” that God rained down upon Sodom and Gomorrah in an attempt to satiate his hatred and satisfy his wrath. And my brother’s next-door neighbor carries one…in his pocket.

Yep. My brother got “witnessed” to.

I know the last sentence isn’t exactly grammatically correct, but who has time for proper English when heaven and hell is on the line? If you are a Christian, you know what I mean. If you aren’t part of the flock, “witnessing” is when we Christians share our faith with you _____________________ (fill in the blank with reference of choice: “seeker”, “pagan”, “non-Christian”, “lost”, “eternally damned”, etc). It is an incredibly frightening experience and something that we’ve known since camp that we were supposed to do, but something that we don’t do very well.

Please forgive us…

But come on, Sulfur Balls—in your pocket! Is that how we attempt to share the story of Christ with those around us? The neighbor not only had the Sulfur Ball, he had a neat pamphlet (tract) to go along with it. The tract contained several full color pictures of the ancient ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah complete with descriptions of the ferocity of God’s attack. The tract ended with the prayer of salvation and web address for more information.

I believe that we can do better than that! Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that the zealous neighbor was out there giving it a shot (he claims that he passes out 30 Sulfur Ball pamphlets a day!). And I admit that more often than not, I wimp out and let opportunities pass me by…but I still think that something has got to be done about the way we share our faith!

Do I believe that God is a righteous God? Yes.

Do I believe that God judges evil? Yes.

But do I believe that God wants going around and scaring the bejeepers out of people so they’ll repent and visit our web site. NO!

The Bible says, “It is his kindness that leads us to repentance” (Rom. 2:4). God is waiting patiently, hoping that one more person will come to know him! He longs for us to reveal Him as the giver of all good gifts and the creator life to the full! He sent His son to be a friend that sticks closer than a brother! We’ve got a lot to talk about!

If that person you pass on the street today, or the woman sitting next to you at Starbucks, or the student checking out in front of you at Wal-Mart, if they only learn one thing from you about the God that we serve, please don’t let it be the Sulfur Balls…

(In case you think I’m making this up, here’s a pic.)

Pipe Cleaners and Popsicle Sticks

12 05 2008

I went to Vacation Bible School (VBS) once as a kid. I was about 10 years old and I was spending a week with my Aunt and Uncle in Martinsville, Indiana. Since my Aunt wasn’t a regular churchgoer, I’m pretty sure she just needed a babysitter. VBS to the rescue…

I’d been to church before, but really wasn’t much of a churchgoer myself—sitting in abject boredom for two hours every few months doesn’t really qualify you as a regular—which means, of course, that I didn’t get to lay claim to my own pew (but I did get a role in the Christmas pageant once). Anyway, mom had taken us to church a couple of times—enough that I knew that I went to a “Church of God” church. I had no idea what that was or what we believed, but I knew we were right. And deep down inside, I pitied all of the poor souls who were caught up in all kinds of false doctrines—you know, the Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, and, to say the least, Pentecostals. I felt sorry for them in a way. Someone had lied to them! They’d been duped into following down the wrong path and it ended them up in a quagmire of confusion. It was a crying shame, really.

When Aunt Debbie announced that we would be going to a church event—something called a “Vacation Bible School”—my heresy radar was immediately on tilt. “What kind of church is it?” I wondered? I later learned that it was a Nazarene church. No self-respecting, ten-year-old, Church of God, non-regular has any idea what a Nazarene church is, but I could tell that it smacked of heresy.

“I’m not going.” I declared with all the righteous indignation of a martyr’s last words. My aunt countered that either I would go or I would stay home and do chores.

I went.

As I reflect on that summer and my experience at the VBS, two things amaze me:
1) VBS teachers are masters with pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks! I’m pretty sure we illustrated the entire Old Testament with ‘craft’ supplies and a tub of white glue. (Check out the amazing Dancing Pipe Cleaner Man here!)
2) It is shocking how prone I am to thinking I am right, and everybody else is hopelessly wrong.

What is it inside the heart of man that convinces us that we—the person who can’t even tie a tie—could possible have unlocked the secrets of the universe? How is it that we believe that our understanding of truth could be so much superior to those who worship at the church across the street? Why do we need to be right, and why do we need others to be wrong?

Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I take “poor in spirit” to mean open-minded—being willing to admit that you don’t have it all figured out; you don’t have all of the answers. I confess that I’ve spent too many days walking around like the spiritual upper class. I needed, and (confession) still desperately need to be right. And it wasn’t enough simply to be right; I needed others to know I was right. Insecurity fueled my quest for dominance, and, like a cage fighter seeking a belt, I took on any challenger.

The problem with being right is that it forces us to think that everyone else is wrong. It forces us to close our minds to other ideas, philosophies, and opinions. Our ideas become lines drawn with the intention of separating truth from fiction, but end up separating us from the actual person behind the idea—a person with real hopes and dreams and fears. Our quest for right-ness dupes us into seclusion, and it is ourselves that we hold hostage.

The world would be a better place if I could—if we all could—learn to love the person behind the idea. I think Jesus did that. At first I was uncomfortable with Christ’s seeming lack of zeal to defend himself before Pilate. I couldn’t believe that he refused to lecture the woman caught in adultery. Why didn’t he plea with the rich young ruler? Surely he could have out debated the Pharisees! Didn’t he want to be right? Didn’t he want to win?

Then it hit me: maybe he didn’t want to win; maybe he wanted us to.

Blogger Small Group :: Thoughts on James 1:1

29 04 2008

“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:”

James knew his audience. He wrote to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations. How many time do we as Christians and, more specifically church leaders, take the shotgun approach to our ministry? We try our best to appease everyone and, in so doing, reach no one! We sprinkle our services with a little bit of this and a little bit of that like sugar coating on a cake. We attempt to satisfy all age groups and personalities; is it any wonder that we come off sounding like a politician running for office?

James took a different approach. He narrowed is focus like a laser pinpointing its target. He spoke to the lost nation of Israel.

Dialogue Church is different. It’s not designed to reach everyone. We have no expectation that the masses will come running. We are perfectly fine with the fact that Christians will be more comfortable in more traditional churches. We aren’t targeting them. We believe that the Traditional Christian Church has become experts at reaching Christians for Christ. We are reaching to a new generation—an emerging culture. We are listening to those who are asking questions. We are journeying with those on a spiritual pilgrimage. We connect with others as artist finding beauty in the chaos and doubts. We are convinced that we have much to learn and so we invite others to ‘join the conversation’.

Stop being friends with your pastor.

23 04 2008

Seriously. Stop it.

Stop the phone calls.
Stop the Hallmark cards.
Stop the invites to cookouts and graduations.

Stop being friends with the “pastor” and just be friends with the person.

Do you really like him? Is she the type of person that you’d vacation with if she weren’t the “head honcho”? Ask yourself if you’d take the time to bake the cookies if he or she worked at the Supermarket or at the office.

You see, sooner or later the truth comes out. And it hurts. It hurts to realize that relationships you thought were forged in the furnace of love turn out to be cheap imports. It hurts when people who stood by you as the pastor, sit indifferent when you’re not. It hurts when the ‘friends’ who called everyday won’t pick up the phone when you have no more offer.

What we need—what we all need, is to love and to be loved. When we befriend a person because they are “kind of a big deal”, or because they get invited to all the right parities, or because they have a nice fishing boat we’re not loving them…the only person we love is our self.