Category Archives: Christian Culture

Christian Culture Church Leadership Churches Life

Why I Left the Church of the Nazarene

          Thank you everyone for reading and sharing my story. The reach and response have been absolutely overwhelming! Thank you for all your comments on this page, on Facebook, and through private messages. I read all of them, though I may not be able to respond to all of them. Thank you again. I have also made one correction below: the church that I served and worshipped at while I was in college was an Evangelical Methodist Church, not a Free Methodist Church as I had thought. 
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          About 5 years ago, I left the denomination that introduced me to Jesus. I didn’t walk out of the Church of the Nazarene with fanfare, fireworks or middle fingers. My relationship with the CotN had more of a soft closing. But I did leave. I let my credentials lapse.  I’m currently serving, preaching, and pursuing ordination in the United Methodist Church. When I first left the CotN, I got emails left and right from different pastors and friends wanting to know if it was true that I left, why I left, and if I’ll consider staying. Eventually, those kind of emails stopped. Now, I get emails from young Nazarene ministers asking me why I left, if they should leave, where they could go, and how to leave gracefully. I haven’t been shy about this conversation in person, but I haven’t Facebooked or said anything publicly about leaving the CotN, mostly because I love the CotN and I don’t want to hurt my friends there or somehow appear bitter. But I think it’s time I shared my story because I am entirely uncomfortable caring for so many ministry hopefuls who feel like they can’t serve in a church they love.

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Christian Culture Fun Inspiration Life

A Break Up Note: With Certainty

You just think about what you've done, Certainty.
You just think about what you’ve done, Certainty.

Dear Certainty,

Sorry to do it this way, but it’s over.

     We had our time, and it was good. You really strengthened me over the years. You gave me courage to say and do some pretty awesome things. Because of you, I–more or less–stayed out of trouble when I was young. You helped me in college, and that was nice. Because of you, I was never really unsure of where to go with my life. I really need to thank you for that.

     But let’s be honest, Certainty, you’ve gotten me into a number of fights, too. read more »

Christian Culture Eschatology Fun Theology

The History of Rap ture

Oh, there's a video game, too? This just got real.
Oh, there’s a video game, too? This just got real.

“Ray! Their shoes, their socks, their clothes, everything was left behind! These people are gone!”

-Hattie Durham in Left Behind

Apparently there’s this movie coming out this weekend about the end times from a “Christian” perspective. I know this because a lot of people are blogging about how Rapture teachings are not biblical. Rather than arguing about the bibliosity™ of rapture teaching (the kind of teaching found in books and movies like “Left Behind,” “A Thief in the Night,” and “Late Great Planet Earth”), I thought I’d just make a timeline that shows how we got to thinking like this.* Enjoy!

. . .

years 27-37 ad:  

A peasant, pedestrian, preacher, named Jesus, announces the Kingdom of God, is crucified and resurrected. Implications for the next life are established. (might as well start at the beginning.)

years 70-90ish:  

“The Revelation” is written, the coming of Christ and the end of evil, in an apocalyptic style.

year 100:

Everybody starts predicting the date when Jesus will come back, even though Jesus basically said, “don’t bother.”

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Christian Culture Church Leadership Inspiration Theology

How to Make Disciples and Why I Don’t Like the Sinners’ Prayer

     If converting people to Christianity was like buying shoes, the “Sinner’s Prayer” is like swiping the credit card and signing the receipt. It’s kind of the linchpin to a proselytizing session. The goal of all the selling, persuading, and smiling is to get the person that believes differently than you to say the “Sinner’s Prayer.” And like the credit card, the “Sinner’s Prayer” is an invention to make the transaction as simple as possible.

     I was trained as a teenager to proselytize my friends to my faith. I was trained to get into conversations, and the ultimate goal was to seal the deal by getting people to say the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

     My first encounter with the prayer was after a terrifying Christian play. I might have mentioned this before. I was 12 yrs old, and I attended a play consisting of something like 20 vignettes of people just before some sort of freak accident (like a brick wall falling on them). Each vignette then depicted the characters waking up in front of an angel with a book, and if they at some point in their life said the “Sinner’s Prayer” and really believed it, then the Hallelujah Chorus would play and they’d get to go to heaven. 

     However, the majority of the characters had not said this prayer, so Satan and his demons would slink from the wings to drag these poor souls, kicking and screaming, into a hell of cray paper and strobe lights. At the end of the play, some guy that I didn’t know and didn’t know me came out and told me that I needed to give my life to Jesus or I would go to hell, and then he led me and other scared children in the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Transaction complete, I even got a receipt.

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Christian Culture Church Leadership Devotional Thought Inspiration Spiritual Practices

Christian Living is Like Improv Acting

 Screen Shot 2013-09-09 at 12.15.19 PMThe second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND… to me, YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.

(Tina Fey, Bossypants)

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   I love stories. I love hearing about heroes, conflict, growth, redemption, victory, and love. I especially love hearing true stories, stories of peoples’ origins, struggles, and family. Stories are how we understand ourselves. When we describe ourselves to new acquaintances, we don’t describe our dimensions! We tell stories. Stories are how we understand our world, each other, and even things beyond our understanding.

     As Christians, we are a people of a particular story. It has a beginning, middle, and end, filled with dynamic and round read more »

Christian Culture Music

Derek Webb’s “Heavy”

Derek Joanna and I
Joanna and I with Derek Webb in Kansas City in 2008?

I’ve been a fan of Derek Webb for, well, most of my life. I learned to play guitar listening to Caedmon’s Call’s 40 Acres, and wooing the girls at church camp with Table for Two and Somewhere North of Here (we were pretty sure the women were wooed). He just released a new album, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry & I Love You, available for digital download right now (hard copies in a month) here. I do make a guest appearance on Everything Will Change, so, you know, I’m kind of a big deal (actually, Derek called for some fans to join an ‘internet choir’ for one of his songs, awesome idea).

     As I’ve been reading some reviews, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are saying Derek is back, as if he’s apologizing for the things he’s been saying that has challenged so many Christians and so much of what we think is Christian.  Some people think this album is an apology to fans that he’s alienated. I couldn’t disagree more. I think this album is more personal and

Look! There I am, thanked and everything!
Look! There I am, thanked and everything!

less activisty, but I think it’s clear in the title track, that what he is saying now is what he’s always been trying to say.

     So, below is a video he just put out of one of his more personal read more »