Lance Armstrong and the Deception of Greatness

Lance Armstrong has been called the greatest athlete of all time… until now.

Lance Armstrong won the most grueling endurance bicycle race a record seven times… until he was stripped of them.

Lance Armstrong was the Founder and head of Live Strong, a cancer support group where they tried ‘to inspire and empower’ cancer survivors and their families…. until he was forced to resign.

Lance Armstrong had it all… until he lost it all… he strove to be great but took another route to get there. In his search for greatness he found out that the path is hard to travel and not for everyone.

The troubling part of the Lance Armstrong doping story is not the fact that he used illegal medicines to enhance his performance. It is the fact that through it all he denied it over and over again. He sued people who wrote about it and sometimes won monetary settlements because of it. He was dead set on keeping his house of cards up while the world kept trying to look it.

He is like Pete Rose; Pete Rose was accused of betting on baseball during he career and was banned for the sport for life. He denied his involvement for years… until he broke his silence in his autobiography in 2004. The support that people had for him until that point quickly went away.

Lance Armstrong is now in an elite class that he did not intend to be in. He now is in the class of disgraced athletes who have been caught cheating to attain greatness. Lance Armstrong got rich on the back of a lie, he became famous on the back of lie. Now is famous for the wrong reasons and I believe the worst is yet to come.

Greatness is not built on anything but greatness itself. What is it about the human condition that so desperately wants to be on top, to be the best, the most popular, the most noticed? As a Christian, people would assume I would default to the standard Christian answer: Sin, but you might be surprised on this one, I’m not going there.

No, for me, the heart of the problem isnt sin itself, rather selfishness aka the human condition.

Theologians debate about many different things, christology, soteriology, and the human condition. The human condition is the one thing that plagues all of humanity and the gospel has to answer the problem. It is easy to just make a blanket statement that “sin” is the human condition. Not so fast my friend… you have to get a little more specific than that…

For me the human condition could me many different things but I believe the biggest one is selfishness. Selfishness pervades all of humanity from the smallest child to the oldest adult. As we grow and mature we learn how to handle and deal with our inner struggle with selfishness. I mentioned this one time to one my professors in seminary and she did not like that assertion In her mind it was hard for her to say that a newborn baby was selfish. While we do lift up children in our society on the whole they are kinda selfish. In other instances in the animal kingdom babies are left to fend for themselves, humans do not that. Another professor chimed in and stated he could see “where I was coming” from and stated that there is no biological or even logical need for my 2 year olds horde all of the toys and will not share them. Did someone teach them that? Maybe… but maybe not.

I liked what CS Lewis once wrote about selfishness

“At this very moment you and I are either committing [selfishness], or about to commit it, or repenting it.”

I am not saying that I have some sort of moral superiority to Armstrong because I didn’t cheat at cycling; but what I am saying is that I have the same being in me that caused him to strive to greatness by any means necessary. We are both made in the same image of God, fallible in the same way.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

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Newtown, CT

Newton, Connecticut.  Before today many of us had never heard of this little town.  But now, due to a senseless act this town is now on the front page of every major news site and newspaper.  In one senseless act, lives were ended, lives were cut short, peace was turned into chaos, stability turned into uncertainty.  In an instant the world of so many children and families were turned upside down.  It is a sad sad affair.

As I sit here, I type a sentence and then delete it, type a sentence and delete it… words can not express the sadness  the hurt, the pain and anguish that comes from a tragic event of this magnitude.

What are we to do?  Our hearts break and spirit cries out, but many of us are thousands of miles away…

I am reminded of a quote I heard once (not sure who or when):  “I am convinced more and more each day that we live in a world in desperate need of a Savior.”  In one act, the human condition showed its ugly head once more…

May we remember the words of Christ in Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those are mourn, for they will be comforted.”

May it be so.

Below are some touching and thoughtful tweets I saw today


6 Objections of the Church from “They Like Jesus But Not The Church”

I am currently reading “They Like Jesus But Not The Church” by Dan Kimball.  It is an interesting book on how the church is seen by those in the “emerging generations.”  The author does not hold back in calling out followers of Christ on both sides of the theological spectrum. In the book he list six objections people have to the church (they are listed below)

What do you think about these six?  Would you add or take any way?


Objection #1: The church is an “organized religion” with a political agenda;
Objection #2: The church is judgmental and negative
Objection #3: The church is male dominated and oppresses females
Objection #4: The church is homophobic
Objection #5: The church feels Christianity is right and all other religions are wrong
Objection #6: The church is full of “fundamentalists” who take the Bible too literally.

Join The Conspiracy!

Think about Christmas differently this year! Turn your Christmas upside down!

When Intolerance/Difference of Theological Belief Leads To Unemployment

For starters, this post is not about me. I am not losing my job, but it is about a fellow minister who is currently in this unfortunate boat.

A minister colleague of mine posted on Facebook that his church had made the decision that they were going to withdraw from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination. On top of that, the governing body of the church had the right to terminate the minister, no congregational vote or anything.

The beginning of all of this started when the Kentucky Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at their last assembly voted to remove the restriction that stated that open homosexuals could not be ordained in the Region.  The measure passed by a wide margin and even church in the region had an opportunity to cast a vote and speak on the issue.   For my colleague’s church this was not enough.  They disagreed with the measure and thus have taken action.

The thing that I do not understand is that in the Disciples of Christ denomination, one our main tenets is the freedom of belief and the priesthood of all believers.  Under the notion of the freedom of belief, there are not hard and fast interpretations of the Bible broad casted from on high at some national office.  Each person is supposed to be lead by the Spirit to come up with an interpretation of themselves.  Now this does not mean that they are devoid of conversation with others or that they can not draw upon the knowledge of ministers and leaders, but it does mean that the conversation can not be had.  The Disciples are big proponents of local church authority and autonomy.  It is so the church can find an expression of faith that fits the congregation at hand.  No two Disciples churches look a like and that is a great thing.  The Bible is meant to expressed in a different ways to different people.  Gone are the days of cookie cutter religion and hello a place where questions are welcomed and discussions can be had.

Does this mean you can believe whatever you want?  In a sense yes and no… I mean you believed God was a water buffalo, you have missed the point of the gospel.  But for the most part, theologies are constantly in flux, they are growing and shaping over a course of a life time.  This does not mean that once you chose one particular way of believing or understanding the Bible that you are stuck with it forever.  This is where I believe this congregation might have jumped the gun.  What is wrong with having differing theological opinions   What is wrong with having a good discussion based on and around the notion that in the end we are still welcome and able to come around the Table of Grace under the common bond of Jesus Christ.  I hate to tell this congregation but even though they differ on this issue, there are still people within the remnant that do not see eye to eye on every piece of theology, its quite impossible for that to happen.

I am saddened for my friend and colleague and pray that he will find a church that will accept him and his understanding of the gospel.

 

May it be so.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Christmas in October?

The Mayor of Houston has been receiving some “constructive criticism” regarding a tweet that she posted a few days ago. About 10 days or so before HALLOWEEN, I began to see some shops and stores put up their Christmas decorations. See the tweet below.

Stores here in Houston have stated that they have to do whatever is necessary to make sure they make their Christmas profits. That’s right… Christmas profits. I am all for businesses doing well so they can make a living, that is the American dream. But I am not for making a religious holiday into an opportunity to overspend.  It is much more than about gifts and presents and overeating, it is a remembrance of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Personally I have no problems with her comments; having Christmas decorations up two months prior to the event is ridiculous.  These decorations were up before Halloween and Thanksgiving and so called “Black Friday.”  At this rate we should keep Christmas decorations up all year.

Here’s to Annise Parker and I hope you are looking forward to Thanksgiving, the forgotten holiday.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Favorite Bible Passage (For Today)

As a minister I get asked a lot of questions.  These questions range from “Where did Cain’s wife come from?” to “How can I forgive someone when I am hurting so bad?” and everything in between.  A question that I get a lot is “what is your favorite Bible verse?”  The Bible is a big book so as you can imagine I have a lot to choose from.  The problem with answering this question is that the answer is never same day to day, month to month, year to year.  Why?  Well, things happen in our lives that change the way that we approach the scriptures.  For example, my daughter and first child Violet was born on February 1.  Before her birth, passages in the Bible that referred to a parent/child relationship or even the notion that God is a parent didn’t really mean much to me.  But after her birth, those passages took on a whole new meaning.  It was because my context had changed.  My outlook on life and what was important to me was different.  Those passages were something that I could relate to because I was a parent now.

Having a favorite Bible passage is something that evokes for us memories of a time when we felt close to God or maybe someone.  For me today my favorite passage is 1 John 4:19- “We love because God first loved us.” (Common English Bible, 2011).  This passage sums up my understanding of God, the ultimate source of all love.  The only reason we have the capacity to love another human being is because God loved us first.  I believe that this passage calls on all of the followers of Christ to remember the free gift of love and to share it willingly with others, just like it was given to us.

Does this mean that tomorrow I might change my mind?  Maybe, the fact remains that our relationship with God and the Bible is a growing relationship, not a static one.  I once heard pastor and author Brian McLaren once say that we should stop going to the Bible to only reinforce what we already know about God.  If we heed these words, then we will have a mountain of favorite passages throughout our lives.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan M. Dolive

The Gospel According to Facebook

My latest article for the Orange County Record.


Facebook is one of the most popular websites to date with nearly 500 million users from all over the world.  From its humble beginnings in the dorm room of Harvard University, Facebook is now everywhere.  From your personal computer to your Smartphone, one is never too far away from social “interactions” found within Facebook (or as a friend of my calls it ‘faceless book’).

Facebook connects us to the world around us and we are able to share things from vacation pictures to memorial pages for those who have died.  Facebook at its core is a social networking site, connecting people across various socio-economic statuses, education levels and even religions.  Facebook in my opinion has moved past its original intent of just social networking between friends.  Businesses, churches, civil groups, clubs and even TV shows all have a presence on Facebook.  Breaking news is reported, shared, liked and commented on, all within the confines of one website.  The goal has moved from friendly conversations to specific advertisements and mass information around like issues, causes and beliefs.

What does Facebook do or has done for Christianity?  Has Facebook helped or hurt the gospel message?  Recently I began to see more and more pictures shared that read “Like if you Love Jesus” or “Keep scrolling if you love the Devil, like if you love God.”  If you are a user of Facebook like I am, you have more than likely seen these pictures (or others like it) before.  These pictures call for Christians around the world to share their faith boldly and proudly on their Facebook page so that all who may grace it will know that they are a follower of Christ.

To be honest, I can’t stand them.   They clutter my news feed and are not the reason I get on Facebook.

I do not like them for a number of reasons.  First, it makes Christianity something to do, not something that is done.  Followers of Christ are called to continue the message of Christ in the world around them.  Often in churches there are talks of “letting your light shine before others,” but there is also a warning about doing things just to get attention in the name of faith.  Does it really mean I am “less of a Christian” if I decided not to click the ‘like’ button on a picture?  Does this mean that I have sold my soul to the internet Devil because I am too consumed with posting pictures of my children?  Absolutely not.  Its one thing to have a faith and have that faith inform your life, but it is another to have a faith and guilt trip others into following your actions.  Christ did not call for us to plaster our faith across the internet.  Christ calls us to be the presence of God at all times, in all places and to all people.  A person’s faith or commitment to God/Christ is not contingent on whether or not they share a Facebook photo with their friends.

Facebook and other social media outlets like it have made the gospel a bumper sticker, for good or for ill.  Since the interaction happens in cyber space the relational connection is lessened.  Because of this the scriptures, quotations, theology and sermons can all be taken out of context and promoted as truth with little or no dialogue, conversation or explanation.  Of course this can happen anywhere, but for some reason the internet has brought this to the forefront.  Is this the 21st century model of evangelism?   I sure hope not.  Social media has it place in the propagation of the gospel, but evangelism at its core is grounded in relationships.  Evangelism is a scary word for some people because they believe it means inviting people to church or knocking on people’s doors and passing out ‘salvation tracts.’  While some people believe this is the best way to promote ones faith, I believe that being in a relationship with someone first helps to “open the door” to evangelism.  One does not even have to speak the name of Jesus Christ to get the message of Christ across.  This is what Facebook and these “like if you love Jesus” pictures fail at doing; there is no relationship, just a pretty picture with a cute font.  The gospel demands more than that.

And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VIII (Prayer is Not A Weapon)

My latest article for the Orange County Record. It seems to fit in my “And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians” Series as well.


As the Republican and Democratic National Conventions have come to a close, we are officially in election season.  Between now and Election Day (November 6), we will be inundated with attack ad after attack ad on why one particular candidate is better than the other.  Each will tout their record, their plans, their reasons for why they believe they can move this country into an era of prosperity and greatness.  Since the beginning of this Presidential election cycle, debates have been held, mud has been thrown, and names have been called.  To be honest, I believe it has gotten completely out of hand.  One can not access social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter without being bombarded by other people’s advertisements for the person they support.  Some have taken to engage in serious conversations, while others are advocating for Tim Tebow or even Jesus Christ himself to run for President.

Well in Victoria, Texas some one as taken upon themselves to buy a billboard in honor of the President.  No, this billboard doesn’t thank the President for his service or one promoting his policies or even supporting electing Gov. Romney; this particular billboard is one that is passive aggressive attack all under the guise of religion.  The billboard reads “Pray for Obama- Psalms 109:8 (sic)”  (Before we get into why this is an undermining of religion, I need to point out that when you refer to a particular Psalm, there is no need to refer to it as “Psalms”, rather refer to it in the singular.)

Psalm 109:8 reads, “May his days be few; may another take his office.”  This is a completely disingenuous use of prayer and use of scripture.  For starters, this piece of scripture is not referring to an American President or even anyone from the last 2000 years.  This Psalm is a cry to God from King David.  Dr. Robert Cargill, Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Iowa stated that “The fact that the context of Psalm 109 is actually recounting the words of a righteous King David, who is complaining about the lies and threats his enemies are making against him is apparently lost on the individual who placed this ad.”  This ad was a direct attack against the President.  This is why the Secret Service was called to investigate.  Some will say that this is free speech and it should be left alone.  Others will say that is a threat and all threats should be taken seriously.  I am not a lawyer, but a follower of Christ, this is making prayer and scripture a weapon.

Is this the prayer that God wants to hear?  Is this the way that God wants humanity to act toward another person?  I do not care if you disagree with the President or even Governor Romney, the fact still remains that we are all called to live out the gospel each to our own understanding and conscience.  No one person, no one denomination, no one pastor or anyone has a monopoly on God and on how the gospel is to be carried out.  Does this mean that I agree with all expressions of the Christian faith?  Absolutely not.  Does this mean that I am going to spend money and buy a billboard passive aggressively “praying” for them.  No, I will not.  Imagine what good could have been done, how many people could have been helped, how many bellies could have been filled if that money that was used to incite and divide was used to complete and make whole.

One day while listening to the radio I heard someone call in a show and say that they believe that God was calling all followers of Christ to vote for a particular political candidate.  I believe that God does not care who wins the election of the President of the United States of America.  I believe that God has bigger things to worry about.  This does not mean that our faith does not inform our decision making, but to say that God is trying to direct all Christians in the United States to vote for a particular candidate is stretch for me.

Many followers of Christ learn from a young age that prayer is an important spiritual discipline.  People go on spiritual prayer retreats/walks to get back in touch with the Divine.  Prayer is not a weapon that is to be pulled out when someone thinks differently than we do.  No, it is a gift that has been given to us so that followers of Christ may continue to have a close, personal, relationship with God.  People refer to the ‘power of prayer’ and how prayer sustains them and fulfills them.  There a beautiful quality to prayer.  Karl Barth, a Swiss theologian, once wrote, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”  Prayer is powerful when it is used to stop the disorder in the world.  I do not mean political leaders, but the disorder or disease, famine, hate and malice.  This is the disorder that Jesus Christ came to put and end to, this is the mission that all followers of Christ are called to embody.  So as we draw nearer to November 6, 2012, let us remember to at least try to be civil with one another.  It’s the only we are going to get through it.

August 2012 Top Posts

August was a HUGE month for the blog.  Even though I did not blog that often due to the busyness of my schedule, records were still set!  During the month of August the blog was visited 4354 times!  That is more that the previous 6 months COMBINED (4335)!

A GIGANTIC thank you for reading, supporting and sharing!!!

Here are the top five posts from the month of August

  1. The Problem With The Chick-Fil-A Debate
    • My thoughts about the “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day”
  2. Robots, Arrogance and the Gospel
    • This is an oldie but a goodie… people are still receiving robo-calls from Prophet Mannesh and they are googling the number…
  3. When Did We Stop Caring for People?
    • My thoughts on the amount of press “Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day” received verses the amount of reaction people gave to Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.
  4. And You Wonder Why People Aren’t Christians: Part VII
    • A church cancels a wedding due to race
  5. Opening Ceremonies = Acceptance?
    • What can  we learn from the Opening Ceremonies?

Thank you again for supporting me and I hope to post more in the coming future!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan