And You Wonder Why People Arent Christians: Part IX

As the election looms in the distance, the internet is never too far away to provide us with reasons why people do not want to be a Christian.  Elections have the power to bring out in people their “true colors” but for Dr. Gary Cass he didn’t need the election, he just needed a microphone and an audience.

Cass is the CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) based in Vista, CA.

The Mission of the CADC is as follows:

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3) Education Corporation whose purpose it is to become the first-in-mind champion of Christian religious liberty, domestically and internationally, and a national clearing house and first line of response to anti-Christian defamation, bigotry, and discrimination.

The CADC will work constructively to advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God.

The CADC will respond in the media to attacks by any individual person or groups of persons, institutions, or nations that defame and /or discriminate against Christ, Christianity, the Holy Bible, Christian churches and institutions, Christian individuals, and Christian leaders.

In cooperation with friendly Christian grassroots organizations, in secular and Christian media outlets, the CADC will create a “rapid response” team and public relations campaigns to answer the egregious injustice and double standards used against Christians. The CADC will build its own grassroots network.

The CADC will develop strong partnerships with friendly Christian Legal ministries for the purpose of seeking and/or providing legal services on behalf of its constituents. The CADC will collect and forward bona-fide complaints of discrimination and bigotry aimed at Christians which warrant legal action up to and including litigation.

In a nut shell, the CADC promotes under the guise of freedom of religion, their brand of Christianity and everyone else, is just plain wrong.  They have the means, the resources and the guts to take on anti-Christian stances around the world.  (I hope I am not their next target.)  For example, on their website they have “Seven Reasons Why Barack Obama Is Not A Christian.”  Their seven points range from being pro-homosexual rights to he believes their are many paths to Heaven.  So if you believe one or all seven of these points, then you are in the same class as the President as someone who the CADC believes have wandered from the faith.

The leader of the CADC, this beacon of Christian truth and light and acceptance, recently told a captive audience that to be a true Christian means owning a fire arm… that’s right… to be the arbiter of love and justice means carrying a loaded Smith and Wesson emblazon with John 3:16 on the handle I am sure.  You can watch the video below or read the article here.

The CADC on many levels is troubling.  Sure I admire his gusto to be faithful to the commands to love your neighbor  but gun ownership?  I am fine with people owning guns as long as they are maintained, locked up from children and are registered with the state.  But did Christ really call for gun ownership?  I dont see that anywhere in the Bible.

The CADC once again gives all Christians a bad name; they get the most press and they get the attention.   Christianity is not about gun ownership or pointing out reasons why the President is not a Christian.  No Christianity is more than that… it has to be…

If those at the CADC want to ” advance a robust religious liberty in public opinion and policy so that Christians everywhere might fulfill their biblical duties to God and neighbor; to proclaim and to live out the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the whole counsel of the Word of God,” then we might want to include all views and understandings.  You might actually learn something new… then again maybe not.  But the fact remains that we are all in this together.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Not sure who or what “right wing watch” is I just thank them for finding and posting this video.

What’s next? Chick-Fil-A Boycott Day?

Since my move and start of a new position in Houston,  I have been busy and have not updated as much as I had before. Thank you to you my faithful readers for sticking with me. Hopefully once things settle down I will get back in the grove. Below is a piece I wrote a while back about Chick-Fil-A ceasing their funding to organizations that are anti same sex marriage.

Thanks again for your support.


In a major announcement, months after the company was embroiled in a public debate, Chick-fil-a according to a LGBT support group has stopped making donations to organizations that are against same-sex marriages.  You can read the full article here.

Chick-fil-a in an internal memo stated that the company will treat every “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender.”  How about that… Chick-fil-a finding their Christian roots again.  So now what are the throngs of people to do that went out on August 1 to support Chick-Fil-A’s right to “free speech” (read: believe same-sex marriage is a sin.)?  Are these God-fearing Christians now going to boycott this institution because they have gone back on what they one stood for and claimed to be Christian?  I wonder if now the leaders of Chick-Fil-A will now be allowed to get divorces and have second and even third wives.

The fact of the matter is that this is a step in the right direction.  For me, Chick-Fil-A’s original comments and actions were against my understanding of what the gospel is calling the Church and followers of Christ to be and become.  In the entire Bible, there are about 6 verses that actually in some way talk about homosexuality… that’s it… six.  No long discourses from prophets or even Jesus or even one of the dedicated disciples.  These verses are found throughout the Bible in different testaments and writings.  There is no unified voice on this.  There are more verses about proper eating habits and dietary laws than verses about homosexuality.  Where are the protests of the McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants for making people fat and indulging them in guilty, which by the way it is a sin.  But no mention of that from people in society.  Sadly the some followers of Christ have made the singling out of this small segment of the population their sole focus.  No mention of unconditional love, no mention of free grace, nothing just righteous indignation and self-righteousness, the complete opposite of what the gospel calls us to be.

If Christ was of the radical embodiment of God and acted as such, then why aren’t all followers of Christ?  Today people focus too much on one particular issue that they believe is at the center and forefront of what is means to be a follower of Christ.  In the end, does is matter if someone loves someone else of the same gender?

Chick-Fil-A has the absolute right to run their company the way they want, but the problem that many people had is that they drug all Christians into the mix.  It made all Christians look bad and it gave Christianity a bad name.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

Christianity and 9/11: 11 years later

Below is an article I wrote for the Orange County Record. It will be published tomorrow but I thought I would post it today on the anniversary of September 11, 2001.


Yesterday marked the 11th anniversary of the terror attacks that took place across the country on September 11, 2001. On that day nearly 3000 people lost their lives. Every year the country is called to stop and remember those who perished in a senseless act.

Since then the world is a much different place. Wars were fought in remembrance of those who died; soldiers gave their lives defending the freedoms that we have here in this country today. But one of the biggest things that happened because of 9/11 was that Islam was put on the map and under a microscope.

Christians have had a choice to make sense that day: live in fear and hatred of another religion or learn and find way to connect via common ground. Many people, many Christians have made all Muslims the enemy of the United States and even of Christianity itself. This is a tragic outlook for Christians to take; this makes all followers of Christ look bad and it is still happening today.

Since 9/11 a number of anti-Muslim websites, rallies, posts and possibly sermons have taken place. Most of them have been based in the fear, assumptions and thinly veiled truths. The other day I saw a bumper sticker that read “Mohammed is dead, Jesus is Alive!” This got me thinking, would this sticker have ever been produced if 9/11 never happened? Why are some Christians so afraid of this particular religion? Why are debates being held on whether the President of the United States is or is not a Muslim? It is unfortunate that all peaceful Muslims here in this country are lumped into a class of people that advocate to the death of innocent life. Most Christians do not want to lump together with Westboro Baptist. If we do not want to have this done to us, then why are some so quick to do it to others? Where is the grace? Where is the love? Where is the notion that all of humanity is created in the very same image of God that you and I are created in?

Islam has been around for centuries but until 9/11 I really did not know much about the religion. I knew that Islam’s holy book was called the Koran, followers of Islam or Muslims had a very strict prayer life and their prophet was named Mohammed. That was it- like many I was pretty limited on my understanding of this particular religion. Some have still not taken the time to learn more or get to know their fellow Muslim neighbor. Protests and rallies are held across this country to stop the building of mosques. Remember the big uproar that was caused when an Islam Center was going to be built near where the World Trade Centers once stood? People who were against the mosque cited that it was because of Islam that the towers fell. This is a poor analogy. If that is the case then across Europe there should be no new churches because of the atrocities of the Crusades.

When I was in seminary in Kentucky I took a World Religions course. As part of the requirement I had to visit various centers of worship across different religions. Next door to the seminary was an Islamic center. The class was invited to visit the center and witness daily prayer. After the prayer session I was able to speak to the Imam about Islam and the center itself. One of the questions I asked was “Since 9/11 how have you seen a change in the way you are treated here in Kentucky?” The Imam stated that he wished that more people understood that the terrorists did not follow what was written in the Koran and that not all Muslims acted the way they acted. He followed that up and said, “Never before have I ever had to defend my faith.”

This country was founded on the notion of religious liberty and freedom. Christians are called to be the hands and feet of God in the world at all times and to all people even those of other religions.

September 11, 2001 was one of the worst acts of violence ever enacted and we should remember those who lost their lives. But making all of Islam the villain of freedom and Christianity is wrong.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Let’s Stop Lying to Young People

My latest article for the Orange County Record


The Church for decades, maybe centuries, has been caught in a terrible lie.  For some people it is a lie that is has been so engrained as truth, they believe it as such.  This particular lie is one that when confronted or analyzed, many church goers would vehemently deny.  So what is this lie?  Answer- Children and Young People matter to the church.

I know that is a stout claim but is one that is not without merit.  For too long the church has been a place where those in charge or those who assumed the power set the rules, set the order of worship and set the way that a particular congregation is supposed serve and worship God.  Often this is done by people who have been in the church for sometime (generally all or most of their life) and they feel the need to continue on this tradition that they are used to.

Sadly in many congregations around the country the number of young adults and teenagers attending church services are dropping rapidly.  Sure you can blame parents or video games or being over extended with extracurricular activities, but that is a cop-out.  The real answer which may be hard to hear for some is that the church is unwelcoming to them.

If a child was raised in the church they know the stories of Jesus; they know how he touched people’s lives and how Christ came to show the love of God in the world.  They were taught at young age that God had gifted them with special abilities and talents and passions to be used for the work of the Kingdom.  And as children grow into teenagers, teenagers into young adults, the reality becomes more evident.  To be a participating member of most congregations, you have to be at least 45 years old, have been a member most of your life and you have “waited your turn.”  This is the perception of the church- people ‘punching’ their ticket and waiting until they have ‘paid their dues’ to be a full participating, active member of the church.

Young people are not leaving the church because they have objection with the teachings of Christ, rather they are leaving because they have no place in the church.   Sure churches do a great job with their nursery program, Worship and Wonder program and even youth and college programs, but after that the church has not done too well.  The church has bought into the lie that the late Whitney Houston promoted, that the “children are our future.”  This, my friends, is a bold face lie.

Children, middle schoolers, high schoolers, young adults are not the future of the church, they are the “right now.”

This segment of the population needs to know that their ideas, theologies, concerns, worship styles and missional thoughts are valid.  Too often churches try to squeeze all of this into one Sunday generally know as “Youth Sunday.”  On this particular Sunday the youth are able to read scripture, sing praise songs and even preach.  After that one particular Sunday service it is back to the same routine.  Some churches have a “children’s moment” but even then that has turned into a Sunday morning version of ‘Kid’s Say The Darnest Things’ or a well intentioned person is trying to cram too much theology in a simple metaphor.

In some congregations the children are separated from the rest of the congregation to have their own service of worship.  Many children enjoy and learn from this experience but once you hit age of 10 or so, it’s in the sanctuary with your parents.

There is a huge disconnect.

Matthew 19:14 reads, “Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children. ” (Common English Bible)

For the church to be relevant in society it must meet the needs of those around them.  Churches are losing the young adult population as well as the Baby Boomers, why?  They are tired of waiting to make an impact on the church and the world today.  But for this to happen, people in power and church structures are going to have to change.  It will take time and effort and faith; for the church’s sake I hope we are able to answer that call.

Let’s stop telling the lie.

What A Difference A Year Makes

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of one of the most infamous end times predictions to date.  Harold Camping and his Family Radio called on Christians to prepare themselves for the end of the world, the date of this cataclysmic event?  May 21, 2011.

Camping stated he had figured out through numerology and probably some complicated algebra problem that the Bible predicted the end of the world and if you looked closely enough you would find the date.  This wasn’t Camping’s first trip to the rodeo when it comes to end times predictions.  In 1994 and 1995 he made similar predictions, but this one gained some momentum largely in part (I believe) due to the internet.

Any time a Christian minister makes bold predictions it garners national attention.  For days leading up to the fateful day, news organizations from around the world held interviews with Camping as well his followers.  On May 20, people waited with bated breath to see if anything would happen in Australia.  I thought this was interesting that the notion of the end of the world was supposed to start  across the International Time Line.  The International Time Line is a human construction; Camping was banking that God subscribed to the International Date and even Day Light Savings time to ensure the end of the world.

Of course, May 21, 2011 came and went and nothing happened, we are still hear.  Camping tried to revise his claim and stated that May 21 was the spiritual judgment and the physical judgement was to come in October.  That date as well came and went.  Finally Camping declared that humanity was not supposed to know when the end of the world was going to be and therefore we should stop worrying about it.

In the wake of the prediction, hundreds if not thousands of people spent their money and said their good-byes for nothing.  One report came out that a family in New York had racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because they thought the end of the world was coming and no one would come calling for their payment. (Greedy?)

Time Magazine called Camping’s prediction one of the top ten failed predictions of all time.  (Read it here)

People have been trying to figure out when the end of the world is going to be for millennia, the newest craze is the Mayan Calendar which goes out sometime in December 2012.

The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t really matter when Jesus is coming back or when the world will end; what matters is what followers of Christ are going to do in the mean time.  Are we going to sit around and just wait or are we going to try to bring a piece of the “pie in the sky” Heaven here on earth?  Brian McLaren (not sure if he is the originator of this quote or not) stated that we needed to stop teaching the Bible as an evacuation plan, but rather a transformation plan.  This is was the fault of the May 2011 prediction.  While they firmly believed that the world was going to end instead of trying to transforms people’s lives by allowing them to experience the same Christ they had experience they posted billboards and ran radio spots.  No billboard, picket sign, radio commercial or even blog post will ever be as effective as personal, one-on-one, communication and contact.

Jesus was with the people.  He didn’t sit from a throne and bark orders or look smugly down his nose at the outcasts of society.  No, we got his hands dirty and mingled with people who most wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole.  He transformed lives with his presence.  We have ability as well.

It won’t be too much longer until we get another bold prediction and we will have to re-visit this.  But in the meantime, let’s start transforming the world.  It’s a big place and we have a lot of work to do.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

What The Church Can Learn From A Tornado Warning

I have lived in the great state and former county of Texas most of my life.  There are many things that Texas is known for: cowboys, barbecue, high school football, the heat and tornadoes.  Growing up I can remember learning at an early age what the name of the county we lived in and what its shape was so I could easily point it out on the TV screen when a weather alert appeared.  A couple of times my parents woke me and my sisters up to get into the closet in the bathroom because of the tornado sirens were sounding.  Luckily the few shares we had with tornadoes none of them ever struck our house or even populated areas of our town.  Nevertheless it is safe to say, I do not like tornadoes.

On Tuesday, a massive storm swept through Southeast Texas dumping rain so fast the roads began to flood because the drainage system was so overwhelmed.  I tried to drive home, but did not want to have my car end up as a boat, I pulled into a parking lot and called my neighbor who has a gigantic truck.  I was glad he did because even if I had made it to the main road in Orange (which I am not sure I would have) I would not have made it into my neighborhood due to the flooding.

So I got back home a little wet but glad that my family was safe and sound in our home, a blessing for sure. We have recently entered the 21st century and have Dish TV I learned something… Dish and heavy rain do not mix. (check out the picture here).  No big deal… thats why we have a DVR. 🙂  My wife and I were watching something we had recorded when i looked up out our living room window to see the sky had turned green.  If you have ever lived where tornadoes are previlent, you know a green sky at night is not a good sign.  A green sky doesn’t always mean a tornado is coming or present, but that the condiditions might be favorable for one.

Knowing that the satellite tv was out, I took to the internet, going to  a couple of the local news stations’ pages.  Nothing to report… just flash flood warnings and tornado watch.  My computer was open to facebook and I noticed that the local radio station had reported that there was a tornado warning for Orange.  I thought it was odd that the radio station (KOGT 1600AM) knew this information but the news stations did not.  So I looked on the National Weather Service page and sure enough there was tornado warning for Orange County Texas.  My first question was why werent the news stations reporting this online, I couldnt get their tv signal to see if they were interrupting programming but a tornado in any state is important, so report the news!

So armed with my flashlight app (the power went out briefly), my accuweather app (to track the storm on radar) and my facebook app, my wife, my daughter and I went into the interior hallway of our house and waited out the storm.  The wind would whip up and then die back down, the rain would surge and then it would be a light pitter-patter.  The whole time I was checking the weather on my phone and reading posts from people in Orange and the surrounding areas on the KOGT facebook page.  People were writing things like “NWS [National Weather Service]  says out of bridge city/ orange by 7:45…” or ” according to the radio – about 7:27 in Bridge City, headed to West Orange at 7:30 and onto Starks” and “cell was moving fast (35mph). hopefully in the clear soon.”  Gone are the days of just sitting in the quiet or listening to the weather radio, rather people took the internet to express their frustrations and concerns about what was going on outside their window.  In the end, the cell moved on, dumped a bunch of rain and flooded the streets.

So what can the Church learn from this?

First, people are willing and seeking out to share thoughts and information freely about their life, they just need a forum, a place to connect.  Too often the church is a seen a place where people go to re-hear what they already know; as Brian McLaren once put it church/the gospel too often is seen as an “evacuation plan rather than a transformation plan.”  They have heard the stories from their youth and they pretty much have it under control.  Let’s not stir the pot, let’s not shake things up.  We do things this way because its been that way since Carter was in office and why change a good thing?  But the fact of the matter is that people are looking for a place to share, to explore and commune about what is happening in their world.  People take the internet via forums, twitter and facebook to share their thoughts with anyone who will metaphorically listen.  People want to be heard, they want to know that their stories, feelings and experiences matter… to someone… why do you think there are millions of blogs (like this one) on the internet at this very moment?

Second, Community is not bound by the confines of a walled building.  People are connecting in this highly technological world at a rapid pace.  The people who wrote on the radio’s Facebook page were from the same area but maybe didn’t have anything else in common.  People are connecting today because of their love of computers or even “The Hunger Games”…Men, women, boys, girls from 9 to 99 all coming around a common interest.  This however is not the cause when it comes to the church. More often than not people who were not raised in church or disenfranchised with organized religion are not going to come to a church building.  Why?  They have nothing in common with them.  If the perception is that people in the church all understand the Bible in a certain way, they all like the same music and that is that, then why would someone come to that community?  The Church has an opportunity to establish new communities where people can come and express themselves outside the confines of a stained glass windowed building.  Small groups or house churches are great places where the gospel can be shared and even questioned.  I have a small group at my house every week and there are times when people who do not attend my congregation but are looking for community and they find it at my house.  We do Bible studies and ask questions that sometimes someone might be scared or embarrassed to even bring up.

How the church reacts to the notion that  church as we know it, people in a stained glass building singing “A Might Fortress Is Our God,” may not be church of the future.  Not get me wrong, I like “A Might Fortress” and I love the stained glass window of Christ in my congregation’s sanctuary but I understand that church is different for people in different places of their lives.

I am not advocating for the destruction of ‘traditional’ church.  But I am advocating for the church to expand its horizons to different venues, to seek out a different “clientele.”   How can the message of Christ be ‘translated’ to this 21st century, iPhone/iPad driven, blog reading, society?  If you figure that one out, you win the prize.

I believe that the church is at the precipice of a major shift, the church needs to learn from a tornado warning.

Let us take heed.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan