Kim Kardashian’s Butt

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1400710375_131204463_kim-kardashian-467You would have to be living under a rock to not have heard about the story (which we consider news) of Kim Kardashian posing naked for¬†Paper¬†magazine. Reports say that the cover photo has been viewed over 16 million times and Christians have taken to the internet to express their concern. I’ve read a few blog posts about how upset parents are about Kardashian’s recent photo. No longer can they protect their children from the internet.

This interests me because now parents are concerned with protecting their kids from images on the internet.

Kardashian is certainly not the first celebrity to pose nude for the cover of a magazine and she will certainly not be the last. Most technological innovations have been powered by pornography or have been used for the distribution of pornographic material. What Kardashian did is nothing new. And we shouldn’t consider what she has done as innovative. Far from it. She is simply following in the footsteps of several celebrities before her.

The humorous part is still how parents are now concerned. In an age where it is estimated that about 20% of students have sent or received a sext, people¬†are concerned about Kim Kardashian’s butt. Or in an age where hook-up apps like Tindr allow for discreet and consensual sex, people¬†are concerned about Kim Kardashian appearing full frontal.

I have a lot of thoughts about this. Personally, I wasn’t phased by what Kardashian did. Since culture is a reflection of its people, no one should have been surprised. Writing shaming articles to her reminding her of daughter won’t create change. I would think the church would’ve learned from previous mistakes that one cannot shame someone into change. Instead of trying to launch a campaign to protest the Kardashians (or would it be Wests?), here are some things we can reflect on as we see culture continue moving in this direction:

1.) Innocence cannot be protected.

As much as it saddens me to say this, it is highly unlikely that the younger generations will grow up without being exposed to porn. We could force the government to make a ban, but that will only last for so long. Morals cannot be made laws. And I think this is a good thing. If morals become laws, then are they morals? People will not change because of force. People are only changed through the Holy Spirit.

Innocence simply cannot be protected. Look at the Garden of Eden. Instead of trying to protect innocence, try to instill a good moral compass. These are commonly mistaken as the same thing. However, as we have seen from “good Christian children” heading off to college only to behave in “hedonism” and other atrocities that make parents shudder at night, we should see¬†that protecting innocence and instilling good morals are not the same thing. Build up morals instead of building up walls.

2.) Don’t be surprised.

It always amazes me how surprised Christians are at people. Every time I look at Christ, I never see Him surprised. How would it look if Christ responded in the same way we respond? Let’s take a look at the woman caught in adultery:

Then the people brought forth a woman caught in the act of adultery. They told Christ what she had done.¬†“Oh my goodness!” exclaimed Christ. “How dare you do these sort of things. Did you not¬†think about your children? Your parents? Your friends? Your relatives? Do you know the¬†irreparable damage that you have done? You don’t even have the common decency to clothe yourself in front of me? We won’t completely stone her, but we will protest everything her family does until she stops sleeping around.”

It’s quite a dramatically different response than what we read in John. Every time someone “misbehaves” by our standards, we tend to respond in shock. Jesus was never shocked and that left a mark on people. They could be close with Him because He was never shocked. Perhaps part of the reason people are so alienated from Christians is that Christ-followers respond with the exact opposite reaction that Christ would have responded with.

3.) We are sexual.

Deb Hirsch spoke about this at a conference I was at and it all made sense. We are all sexual beings. But, like she said, sexuality is not confined to genitalia. Kardashian may have shown herself naked, but that was not the whole of her sexuality.

We have a tendency in the evangelical church to respond negatively to sex. But people will continue to express themselves¬†sexually. As Christ-followers, we need to teach people that what we do with our genitalia is not the whole of our sexuality. Instead of saying, “STOP IT,” we need to be saying, “there is so much more than what you think.”

I think Kim Kardashian’s butt serves as a good reminder for Christians to reevaluate what we are saying about sexuality and innocence (that’s a sentence I never thought I would write). And instead of responding with our mouths wide open, we need to respond with our arms wide open.

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Stop Going to Church

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church-at-night-iceland_00449588Whenever I hear the phrase, “I need to start going to church” or “I go to church,” a little piece inside of me dies. It’s not that I don’t want people to be a part of the church. On the contrary, I believe everyone should be a part of the church.

But instead of people being a part of church, most people just go to church.

One of my fears as a pastor is that many people in the western evangelical world have the tendency to view church as a service to attend. Because of this line of thought, we focus extraordinary amounts of energy on crafting a service that people will want to attend. I’m not arguing against excellence. I do believe that we should do things with as much excellence¬†as possible. As a person who has been involved in theatre, being a part of¬†something done¬†well¬†draws me closer to God. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong about pursuing excellence in preaching, singing, teaching, or any other aspect to the gathering.


 But instead of people being a part of church, most people just go to church.


But church cannot be confined just to people gathering to view a service. It has to be so much more.

I, like many of you, have been guilty of using the phrase, “The service wasn’t that good today,” or “The service was really great today.” Our view of church is primarily based upon the quality of the songs or the emotional weight of the sermon. Because of this, our involvement within the church is shallow, at best. What I mean by this is that when things change or when a particular church doesn’t meet our standards, we are quick to abandon.

We treat the church like numerous whores with whom we divide our time.

There are various reasons we do this:

  1. We don’t like turmoil. We have an unrealistic utopian view of what the church should look like.
  2. We like to be surrounded by people with similar beliefs and opinions. It makes us feel more comfortable.
  3. Church is more of a hobby than a defining characteristic in our lives.

Church isn’t something that we can attend. Church is something that we must be. In our own lives, we all have good and bad days. There are days we wish that we could go back and and redo. There are days we celebrate milestones. There are days we mourn over missed opportunities. There are days we curse God. And then there are days we praise God.


 We treat the church like numerous whores with whom we divide our time.


And just like in our own lives, the church often functions the same way. Which is why we cannot just attend church. This is why church is something we must be. When we are the church, then we work together to prepare the bride for her bridegroom.

Christ is calling us to be part of the bridal party…not just attendees of¬†the wedding. He wants us to be active. He wants us to serve. He wants us to remain faithful. But many of us are just sitting in the crowd waiting for the wedding to start while the bride remains in the back waiting for her faithful bridal party to join her in preparation for her big day.

Perhaps I am a bit optimistic in my belief that people can still gather and disagree yet partake of the Eucharist together. But wouldn’t that represent the Kingdom a bit more than what we have today? Wouldn’t Christ’s prayer in John 17 be a bit sweeter if we did that?


Christ is calling us to be part of the bridal party…not just attendees of¬†the wedding.


Here is what I propose: we stop going to church.

We stop attending and we start participating. We stop sitting in on a service and we start helping. We stop looking to the church as a place and we start looking to the church as a people. Just like we have our good days and our bad days, so the church has her good days and her bad days. We wouldn’t abandon our own lives, so why do we abandon the life of the church?

In an age of consumeristic driven churches where there is a brand for everyone, we spend too much time shopping around and not seeing the damage that is doing to the bride. I said it before and I’ll say it again: we treat the church like numerous whore with whom we divide our time. This is the problem with simply going to church. It makes it easier to leave. It makes it easier to separate oneself from the life of the church (and I’m not talking about potlucks and game nights). It makes it easier for one to abandon when things get rough or when things don’t go “the right way.”

I have “left” 2 churches in my lifetime. I was heavily involved in both churches. One, I was active in the youth group. The other, I was serving with the worship team. Whereas both circumstances may have seemed right on paper, I cannot help but think, “is this what Jesus had in mind when He established His bride?” I never left the Church but I have left local churches. And how we view/treat local churches determines what our view is of the Church.

Just like all throughout the Bible, the life of the church (both local and universal) is going to be messy. There will be disagreements, fights, uneasiness, and pain. But aren’t these the signs of the earth groaning in labor? Aren’t these the signs that the Kingdom is “now but not yet?”

If we all stopped going to church and started being the church, perhaps things might change. If we remembered that Christ called us to serve His bride, perhaps reconciliation before desertion would be our first thought. If we remembered that one day we will be united in the Kingdom with the Church, perhaps that would change how we treated one another. Heaven could be awkward for many of us (myself included).

Let us begin serving through disagreements, fights, arguments, uneasiness, complacency, apathy, and anything else that stands in the way of us preparing the Bride for her Bridegroom. Let us begin being the Church that Christ called us to be.

Noah & God’s Justice

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NoahThis week, I was able to get to see Noah.¬†I had high expectations going into the film because I am a huge Aronofsky fan. His ability to delve into the psyche of a character is fascinating. That’s what drew me to the film.

Before watching it, I had read a majority of the “controversy” surrounding it. I say it like that because I am pretty certain that at any given time, we, as the church, will pick a wrong battle to fight. We tend to make mountains out of molehills. Since Aronofsky is an atheist, we began preparing our rebuttal for whatever film we saw from him. Even if the film was 100% accurate, we were ready to make our case as to why the film was not 100% accurate. Most had their minds made up before the film was even released.

And then we wonder why people claim Christians are full of hate?

I’m not going to dive into a piece by piece dissection of the film. To do that to any kind of film does a disservice to the work of art. So I tend to steer clear of those kind of reviews of films. Most people who write those kinds of reviews are usually the kind of people who do not appreciate art or culture as much as they want to be right and want to make sure that everyone knows that they are right.

Instead, I want to highlight what I think this film displays beautifully: the justice of God. After Noah receives the vision from God as to what He is going to do to the world, you begin to sense in him a disturbance. But wouldn’t you be disturbed if you knew what was going to happen to the entire world?

As a child, I think I misread Noah. I read it as this wonderful story of happiness and singing animals. There was even a rainbow at the end. In reality, it is this horribly destructive story that shows the justice of God. That should disturb us. That should shake us to our foundations. That should cause us a sense of uneasiness. Because God’s justice¬†will never be¬†comfortable to us. We will never fully comprehend His justice because we will never fully comprehend Him.

In my mind, I could never understand why a mass genocide would be necessary. No matter what kind of evil takes place. Try as you may to put it in your own words, but it will never sound right. And we need to be okay with that. We need to understand that there are parts of the Bible that will cause us uneasiness and disturbance. If we read through the Bible and do not have those feelings, I don’t think that means that we’ve finally understood the justice of God as much as it means that we have tried to justify it in our minds (and that is never a good idea).

God demanded justice be served for the way people treated one another, nature, the animals, and ultimately Him. If you’ve heard anything about the film it is probably that Aronofsky works from a position that Noah was the first environmentalist. People were immediately upset because obviously God never said to look after the earth…well except that was His first command to man. What I loved about this element was that it showed that God’s justice demanded a verdict for all of creation. Not just mankind. Everything.

God’s justice is much larger than we can ever comprehend. In the film, it drove Noah to insanity. He was disturbed by everything that had just taken place. And he should have been. God’s justice is not an easy pill to swallow.

So why have we made it that way?

Christ is ultimately the fulfillment of God’s justice. But I fear that doesn’t disturb us as much as it should. A living man, the son of God, had to be killed in order for the justice of God to be fulfilled. I can give you answers as to why this makes sense. I can show you in the Bible why it is the way it is. But in my heart, it is harder for me to comprehend. Maybe that’s a lack of faith. Maybe that’s a lack of understanding. Or maybe that is the difference between mankind and God. We can say the words that make perfect sense but that doesn’t necessarily mean we truly understand and comprehend. And for that, there are no words.

This film helped me see that. It helped me see a glimpse of God’s justice. Is it hard to watch? Yes. Is it disturbing? Yes. And it should be. The more it disturbs and upsets us, the sweeter His mercy and grace is to us. The harder it is for us to explain why things had to happen like that, the more powerful Christ’s sacrifice is to us. We will not fully understand it, but that does not mean that it is meaningless. Far from it. I think the things that we cannot fully understand are the things that are more meaningful.

So yes. Go and watch Noah. It is an incredible film with a powerful story. I mean…it’s not as funny as¬†Evan Almighty, but Russell Crowe is no Steve Carell. Wrestle with God’s justice and wrestle with God’s mercy.¬†Be uncomfortable and at a loss for words. Not everything will be able to be explained. And even if it can be explained, that doesn’t mean we will understand it.

*Oh — and the Nephilites are awesome. Believable? Unlikely. But still, they are awesome.*

Women

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689a88267369f5e5c2d3360d618479e4Last year, I read (or rather, listened) to Tina Fey’s¬†Bossypants. It was an autobiographical book dealing primarily with her years before and after¬†Saturday Night Live. There was a part in the book where she mentioned that Lorne Michaels (creator and executive producer) was excited about her becoming part of the writing staff because he was looking to diversify. Fey was startled by the comment because she was a female and didn’t seem to think that being a female meant diversity. As the first female head writer of¬†Saturday Night Live, it was interesting to read about her time there and about the changes she was able to make.

The 2012 election gave Congress 20 female senators, which is the most in US history.

In 2010, Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director at the Oscars.

In 2013, General Motors named their first female CEO and it was also the first female CEO of a major automaker.

In 2008, Sarah Palin was the first female VP nominee. (**I have since been notified by my father, Tony Trimble, that Geraldine Ferraro was actually the first VP nominee for a major American party. Palin was just the first female VP candidate for the Republican party.**)

This year, the Golden Globes and the Oscars were hosted by females.

One would have to be ignorant to not see the strides that women have made in the past few years. From the entertainment industry to politics to business, women are being recognized and rewarded for their talent. They have been fighting an uphill battle for quite some time and with each accomplishment, they see how the fight has been worth it all.

But it’s far from over. Within the Church, there still seems to be a vast number of people who are against women in leadership roles. Most of the time, there are at least two passages that are brought up, sometimes 3, in regards to why this should be the case: I Corinthians 14.34 and I Timothy 2.12 (sometimes, they will also mention I Timothy 3.1-13).

What has always been intriguing to me about those passages is how we choose an extremely literal interoperation of them. But we do not use that same hermeneutic on other Pauline texts. For instance:

I Corinthians 11.4-6 (NLT) says this:

A man dishonors his head if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair! But since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, she should wear a covering.

I have seen men praying with caps on before. But Paul says it is dishonorable. I guess that means a majority of the Pope’s prayers have been dishonorable. Women no longer wear head coverings to church. Why do we no longer make them do this?

I Timothy 2.8-9 (NLT) says this:

In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy. And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes.

It’s been a long time since I went to church and saw men praying with holy hands lifted up to God. And I have seen numerous pieces of jewelry on women in church, as well. We will allow all of these changes.

But women must still remain silent and should not have any position of leadership over a man.

I think we sometimes forget that God appointed Deborah a judge, had Anna the prophet be the first to proclaim that Jesus is the redemption, applauded Priscilla for her faith and how she spread the good news, and had a group of women tell the disciples that the Christ had been resurrected. Women haven’t always been silent. On the contrary, they have spoken powerful messages concerning the movements of God and His Church.

I don’t think that Paul was against women in leadership in the church. I think he was against anything that stood in the way of the Gospel being preached and in that church, several women were doing just that. But Christ liberated women through His teachings and I don’t think that Paul went back on that at all.

One of my¬†favorite parts of Christ’s life is how a woman prophesied His redemptive nature and how women proclaimed the truth of His redemptive nature in the end. In the end, Christ commanded the women to go and tell the other disciples about what they had just seen. I think Christ is¬†still¬†commanding women to go and proclaim the good news. I think Christ is still calling women to serve in the church in leadership positions.

And who knows, maybe if they did, each Sunday would begin to look a little bit more like Resurrection Sunday.

Hurting People Hurt….God

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I’ve always been fascinated by the phrase, “hurting people hurt people.” Perhaps because it is true. Perhaps because I have been affected by it. Perhaps because I have hurt people while I was hurting. But nonetheless, it has always fascinated me.

This phrase has been crossing my mind quite frequently lately. I think the phrase causes us to feel some sense of sorrow for the one who is hurting. And I do feel sorry for those who are hurting. We all hurt. So we know the pain.

But what saddens me the most about hurting people…is that they hurt God. Seems kind of harsh, right? It seems like I am saying that we are bullying God. But that isn’t what I’m saying.

God seeks reconciliation. In II Corinthians, Paul states that God is in the business of reconciliation. God seeks redemption. The psalmist speaks of that in Psalm 130. This list could go on and on of all the things that God desires. One thing, however, that does not make that list, is pain. God does not seek pain. He does not seek suffering. He does not want that. He doesn’t want us to hurt. He doesn’t want us to experience pain. He doesn’t want us to suffer.

But because we are hurting people, we hurt God.

An organization that constantly blows me away is People of the Second Chance. It is an organization that is simply centered on grace. It speaks grace into the darkest of places. It speaks love where there is hatred. It speaks hope where there is hopelessness. And it speaks forgiveness where there is hurt. Story after story tells of a person who was hurt, who then hurt others, and then found grace…and was set free from the cycle.

That’s the way it should be. You might be thinking, “yeah, that’s they way it should be for my friend who was hurt by ____________.” Fill in the blank with whatever you like. Most of us will think of something “huge.” But it doesn’t have to be some life-altering action.

Maybe it was a friend lying to you.

Maybe it was a parent not following through with a promise.

Maybe it was a mentor disappointing you.

Maybe it was a teacher not telling the truth.

A minister not helping you.

A Christian not being Christ.

Whatever it may have been, it doesn’t have to be big to cause pain. It doesn’t have to be some life-altering action to cause you to hurt. And then the cycle continues.

You begin to lie to friends…

You begin to not follow through with promises…

You begin to disappoint…

You begin to speak falsely to those who look up to you…

You begin to ignore others…

You begin to not be Christ.

You hurt people because you hurt.

So here is what I mean by the phrase “hurting people hurt…God.” It’s not that you bully God. It’s not that you wrong Him. It’s that you hurt Him because He does not desire to see you hurt. Is there pain in this world? Of course. Is there an explanation? Nothing that will help. How then shall we live? By continuing the cycle of hurting others?

I hope not…

Because then we end up hurting God.

We hurt Him because He does not desire to see us hurt. It pains Him to see us suffer. So is this post about us realizing that we should stop hurting because we make God sad? No. It is a post reminding us that God is a god of reconciliation, redemption, hope, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. Not a god of pain, hurt, and suffering. Is this a post to make you feel guilty about going through pain right now? No. But it is a post to remind you that it is no desire of God’s for you to have to go through pain.

Hurting people hurt God…because God does not desire to see hurt. And one day, He will reconcile. It’s not comforting thinking that the reconciliation is not happening right now. But perhaps you can be that reconciliation for someone. Perhaps you can be the redemption that someone needs. Perhaps you can begin to break the cycle. Perhaps you can realize that there is grace in your story.

There is No Grace

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Grace is a word that has been tossed around so much that it has, unfortunately, lost quite a bit of its meaning. I would endeavor to say that many of us have vague thoughts about grace. We might believe it is what saves us. We might believe that it is what God gives whenever we don’t get punished for sin. Some might confuse grace and mercy (which are two different attributes, one is not synonymous for the other). Some might think that grace has something to do with prayer. And then there are a few that might think that Grace died 30 years ago.

Whatever your thoughts, we can all agree that grace is a term that has been used quite a bit. It is for good reason. Ephesians says that “it is by grace you have been saved.” Grace is spoken of heavily throughout the Pauline epistles. In fact, we probably gather most of our teachings regarding grace from Paul, particularly from Romans.

So why do I want to talk about grace? Because there is no grace. At least not anymore.Image 

Grace used to exist. But now we are weighed down by phrases like:

You should’ve known better…

I expected more from you…

I can’t believe you did that…

When will you ever learn…

We’ve heard these phrases. Maybe from our parents. Maybe from friends. Maybe from fellow church members. Maybe from our pastor. When we hear those words, something inside of us dies. What is that thing? Our perception of grace.

In the evangelical church, we work hard at making sure grace is given to those outside the church. We want everyone to experience the grace of God; well, at least until you begin following Christ. When you start following Christ, you should know better. I mean, that’s what Paul is saying in Romans when he says “shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” What Paul is saying is that once you become a Christian, stop sinning because you shouldn’t increase grace. Right?¬†

Sometimes the people who feel grace the least are the ones inside the church. 

If a Christian has an abortion, she should’ve known better.

If a guy has sex with his girlfriend, he should’ve known better.

If someone is given to drunkenness, he/she should’ve known better.

Drugs? You should know better.

Did something you regret? You should know better.

And on and on the list can go. Because once you become a Christian, you should know better. Once you become a Christian, there is no grace. Well, unless it is one of the smaller sins, like lying, cheating, coveting, gossip, laziness, etc. Those sins are covered by grace because they aren’t really sins. They are the things we all do…which makes them okay; because God can’t damn us all to hell. So if you do a small sin, God’s grace covers that. But if you do a large sin, like sex, drugs, drunkenness, etc., there is no grace.

I hope we are shown as much grace as we give. One of the saddest things I see is when Christians are graceless toward other Christians. Our definition of grace has been killed by people withholding grace. For living in a covenant of grace, it sure looks a lot like the law at times.

God Doesn’t Deserve Us

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So many times I hear people saying, “I don’t deserve you, God.” I’ve never understood that. It seems to be a bit of a pity party. It’s like you look at your life and say, “You’re too good for me. I don’t know why you haven’t abandoned me.” What does that do for self-worth? What does that do for motivation for mission?

I’d like to propose the exact opposite of this mindset. God doesn’t deserve us. I mean, look at us. We’ve got it all together. We’ve put out hundreds of thousands of books on ministry. God has one. We’ve written several blogs about the Church. God doesn’t have a blog. We’ve created innovative worship. God has the Psalms.

We’ve formulated messages to where you can reach people wherever they are in relation to God.

We’ve translated the Bible into almost every language and are working toward having it available in every language.

We’ve written several commentaries about what the Scriptures are really saying.

We’ve built huge churches to bring in thousands of people.

We have denominations for every single taste. Much like that of Baskin Robbins.

We’ve simplified church to an hour long so that it can fit in our busy schedules.

We’ve put out one-page devotionals so we can have accessible spiritual growth.

We’ve made church available online so that you do not have to leave your home.

We’ve done a lot if you look at it. What makes God think that He actually deserves us? When looking at it, we run a pretty tight ship. These are accomplishments of which we should be proud. Look at all that we have done to advance the Kingdom (I mean, we can give praise to God, but we played a pretty key role in all of it).

I fear that we sometimes move toward this mindset. We move toward the mindset that God doesn’t deserve us. But in reality, it’s true.

God doesn’t deserve someone who thinks he/she can fix the Church.

God doesn’t deserve someone who thinks he/she is going to be the next leader of the Church.

God doesn’t deserve someone who thinks he/she is the greatest worship leader.

God doesn’t deserve someone who thinks he/she is the best preacher.

God doesn’t deserve someone who thinks he/she knows the best direction for the Church.

God doesn’t deserve us. He deserves better.

He deserves the woman who gave all of her money to the synagogue.

He deserves the fishermen who left their occupation.

He deserves the prostitute who begs for forgiveness.

He deserves the repentant disciple who previously disowned Him.

He deserves the thief who recognizes His sovereignty.

He deserves much better than us. Many times, He deserves the exact opposite of who we are. So why is it that we are scared to try and become what He deserves? Why is it that we are scared to become “perfect as I am perfect?” Why is it that we are scared to admit we don’t have it all together? To admit that we are sinful? To admit that we are not in a position to lead a church (but that for some reason He still desires to use us)? To admit that we sometimes try to steal His fame? To admit that sometimes we are in the wrong?

Perhaps instead of saying, “God, I don’t deserve you,” we should say, “God, you don’t deserve me.” Because when we understand¬†that¬†concept, I think we begin to understand grace and mercy a little more.