A College Girl’s Letter To Men

ishot-2Honor, my 19 year old daughter,  wrote this yesterday and I felt compelled to share it here.

Dear Men,

Every little girl dreams of getting married. I work at a daycare and half the time my little girls are playing “marriage” or “house”. Every one of them talks about being married to their husbands one day and having sweet babies and being mommies. While they aren’t old enough to fully comprehend the responsibility of such things, it is still something they desire, from a very small age. I was one of those little girls.

For years I have prayed for the man that God has set aside for me. I have prayed he comes quickly. I have prayed he seeks the Lord and loves little ones and loves me. I pray that he knows how to lead me. But as of late, I have begun to become discouraged by such things. Days go by. Months. Years. And as I have gotten older I have been forced to recognize the utter ugliness of the world I dwell in. Pornography and sexual temptations haunt young men around every corner. When you’re young you don’t realize it, but then something happens and suddenly it seems so much closer and so much more real than it did before. Porn used to be an ugly word, followed by shame and lust and sin. Nowadays, it is thrown around freely. As if it is just a part of life. As if it is okay. As if we should just expect it to always be around. As if it is perfectly normal for every young man to have seen it and struggle with it.

The average age for a male to view pornography is by the age of 9. Nine. 9? 9! As I stated previously, I work at a daycare. The kids I work with are as old as six. It both startles and scares me to think that by the time my young boys are 12, most, if not all of them, will have viewed pornography. By the age of 16 many of them will struggle with porn addictions. 10 years and the little boys I once knew will be forever tainted. It breaks my heart into a thousand pieces to think upon such things. Because they are so innocent and so sweet and one day they will have wives and girlfriends, who will never be able to compete with something this graphic.

I have seen women struggle over the fact that their boyfriends or guy friends or husbands struggle with porn or a sexual desire that cannot be quenched. I myself have been a victim of a young man who decided to choose porn and temptation and lust over me. Perhaps you don’t know it…perhaps nobody has ever told you what it feels like when someone chooses a computer or an iPhone screen over you.

I knew a young man who was addicted to porn by the age of 16; he started viewing it when he was 10. Josh Duggar recently admitted he was cheating on his wife and struggling with porn as well. Strippers and pornography and graphic movies and unfortunate sexual interactions have forever changed the world. They have forever changed the world for so many young women who are put up to compete with things that are horrifically violent and devastating and painful and ultimately unreal. And nowadays I wonder…is there even a young man who hasn’t looked at porn? Because now I expect that every man, every young man and boy has viewed such things. The movie/book “50 Shades of Grey” is celebrated and now more and more women are told that they should be able to take on mental, physical, sexual and verbal abuse in order to maintain a man. But where in the Bible does it say that men are supposed to abuse and hurt their wives and significant others? I have yet to find such a thing. In fact, I believe the Bible says otherwise. Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Ephesians 5:25 says, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”. 1 Peter 3:7 says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” I have looked. So far I don’t see anything about God telling men to view pornography and hurt their loved ones.

I am 19 years old. I used to be excited about getting married. Now…now I’m not so sure. I am fearful. Because I have already been left behind for a girl on a computer screen. And I know, like I know many other women have felt, like I could never compete with that. She is perfect. And photo shopped. And told how to act. She does whatever a director tells her to do, even if it physically destroys her. How could I ever hold a candlestick to a girl that’s so flawless? She does things I am too afraid to do. And if I’m not willing to do it, a trip to the strip club or elsewhere will fix that right up. Or will it? I never thought I would be so worried about getting married. I want to be married. I want to have kids and a happy home. But I do not want to be betrayed. Or abandoned. Or have something so fake be put above me. I am already hurt by the possibility because chances of meeting someone who has saved himself or not viewed pornography are so slim they are little to none. I am not saying they are impossible, for all things are possible with Christ. But sometimes it feels like my odds aren’t very high.

This letter is a plea. A plea to men. To the men who have wives – I have given you evidence to not view pornography. You have a wonderful wife that God gave you – why would you treat her such? There is a big chance she gave you her everything…and now it is time your body is hers, and only hers. To young men who have yet to have wives but perhaps have girlfriends or are struggling – please turn away from temptation. Pull a Joseph and flee! Flee from sin and run into the arms of God. You will save your future wife/girlfriend so much grief if you choose not to act upon your sinful desires. To fathers – encourage your sons. Please, oh please fathers, encourage your sons. Encourage your sons in the way of the Lord. Encourage your sons to save their minds and their bodies for their future wives. Some of you fathers have daughters. How would you feel if you find out your little girl couldn’t stand a chance against a glowing screen? How would you feel if your daughter felt forced to sexually exploit herself because the world tells her that is the only way she can keep him around?

William M. Struthers writes, “Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.” Bonds are broken. Relationships are torn to shreds or put under strain because of something the devil is trying to use to fight against us and fight against God. But I encourage you! Take up your shield and raise your prayers and the Bible up and fight off such temptations! For the Lord is strong and he will fight for you (see Exodus 14:14).

1 John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” We are called to love one another, men and women alike. And when we choose to give into sexual temptation and let Satan run rampant we are choosing not to love. Not to love wives. Not to love one another. Not to love girlfriends or someone’s daughter. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Men love your women. Love your wives. Your girlfriends. Your future wives. Your future girlfriends. Love them enough that it prevents you from allowing temptation and struggle to enter into your life.

This is a call to arms. A call to fathers and sons and uncles and husbands and boyfriends. A call to young men and boys and old men who have walked the earth for many years. A call to defend the Lord’s word and yourselves from Satan’s desperate attempt to tear our world limb from limb. Kick Satan’s butt. Scream at him and tell him you know love and will not fall into his ways! Resist. Flee. Run from temptation, take up your cross and follow the Lord desperately.

The Girl Who Was Chosen By A Man 2000 Years Ago

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7

You can read more of Honor’s stuff at her blog http://teawiththree.blogspot.com/

An Open Letter To My Pro-Choice Friends As To Why I Have No Choice But To Be Pro-Life.

MB PostsOver the last few months there has been no lack of social commentary regarding life, choice and reproductive rights. A good portion of that commentary, escalated by the release of several Planned Parenthood videos, has billowed from political hopefuls, seeking to secure the praise of their party’s base. Because of this, I find their words are not as concerned with a clear explanation of position, but rather are intended to besmirch their opponents. It’s the “red meat to the lions” endeavor that seeks to spread the impression that those who hold an opposing view are nothing more than pro-misogynist Terrorists, if on the right or pro-infanticide Feminazis, if on the left.

My intention here is not to supplement to that kind of bombast. Nor is it to orbit around all the political leveraging on this topic. Rather, what I am seeking to accomplish is why I am pro-life and how being so does not stem from some twisted desire to be anti-rights, anti-choice or anti-women. Now in writing this, I have no illusion that your mind will be changed if you are pro-choice. I do hope that with the absence of prickly sound bites and over-the-top name calling, people who do not hold my view can at least understand why people who are pro-life hold the view they do.

1st The Science Points To Human Life

I’m an evangelical pastor that has a serious appreciation of modern science. I see it as an ally to what I believe, not an adversary. With this, I believe the scientific evidence proves that biologically we are dealing with human life at the event of conception. Now we can debate if this equals personhood (I’ll get to that later), however there is no debate that the genetic materials involved at conception are by all quantifiable accounts human. For when two human gametes couple to form a human zygote, it is human life that is underway.

Perhaps some of the strongest evidence that a fetus is more than just a ubiquitous housing of tissue comes from the Planned Parenthood videos themselves. What is clear, is that the harvesting of organs and other parts are specifically human organs and human tissues. In other words, the monetary value of the harvested portions derive their value from being human, not merely being tissue and organs. To my knowledge there is not a high demand for fetal otter tissue or fetal hippo organs. It is the humanness of these fetal components that fetch their dollar value. Thus pro-choice science inadvertently agrees with pro-life science that what we are dealing with is a scale of humans. They may be tiny, undeveloped, dependent humans called fetuses (unless they were intentionally planned and then we use the familial term baby), but they are still human and they are still living by every technical measurement. The difference we seem to have is rooted in my second point.

2nd The Economy Of Human Fetuses and Eagle Eggs

I support sensible conservation. I also support making endangered species a protected class. On the flip side I have no compulsion to rescue every spider that creeps into my house. My reasoning is based on the environmental economy of supply and demand. There is an ample supply of spiders and so I think nothing of pushing one under foot, where as the Bald Eagle is rare and so I fully endorse criminalizing any activity when eagles or their eggs are harmed.

Now seeing that the human race has hit the 7 billion mark it seems we see ourselves as spiders more than eagles on the fetus front. We think we can afford to have a different view of our unborn race because our race is in ample supply. If however, our species were down to 100,000, our fetal value and hence protection would sky rocket in the economy of life. Debates about rights and choice would evaporate in light of pro-pregnancy rallies. As a species we would take dramatic steps to protect every fetus like it was an eagle egg. In the face of extinction all sides would agree that fetuses are worthy of protection. But at 7 billion we feel we can comfortably afford the position of pro-choice (some even advocating for it in light of concerns regarding overpopulation).

From this it seems that the pro-choice side views human fetal value as partly connected to population size, as displayed toward policies regarding endangered animals. When supply is low the value increases, but when supply is high the value drops. Conversely the pro-life side sees human fetal value as intrinsic and not conditioned by population density or other environmental considerations. Thus the total number of humans never dictates how valuable a single human is. It is similar as to why we have protective rights for minorities; we seek to protect the intrinsic value of an individual irrespective of an overall population or its biases.

Building on this I would take things a step further and say that all human value is intrinsic, not only irrespective of population size, but also regardless of one’s participatory status in a given population. Thus I move to my third point.

3rd How Human Is Human Enough To Have Rights?

Science proves a fetus is a human fetus. And I believe all humans would be prepared to grant protected status to a fetus if we were endangered (just as we do with endangered species and their unborn), but we don’t because humans are not endangered. Supply and demand is not the only way we measure value. Perhaps another way to look at it is to use the familiar phrase Human Rights. The question I have here is, “Who should be considered protected under Human Rights ideals?” The follow-up question is, “When do Human Rights trump governmental policy?” Is size the issue? Is dependency the cutoff? Is capability the measuring rod? Is gender or race a consideration? If someone is severely handicapped do they have less human value and consequently diminished human rights? When a country adopts a policy that takes dehumanizing action against a segment of their population, do we see that as a Human Rights epidemic? When cultures see women as less then men do we believe it is a moral responsibility to provoke social change and see things right sided toward equality? I think you get my point. When it comes to the handicapped, the incapable, the incoherent, the disenfranchised and those who are on the receiving end of whatever social bias exists, we believe those are Human Rights issues because they assault human personhood.

When I look at this in light of abortion I bring it back to the things mentioned above. Someone is not less human merely due to size, level of dependency or his or her inability to contribute. If a country shows bias against such people we see that as a Human Rights problem regardless of the laws a country establishes over the body of it’s own people. And most certainly someone is not less human, less a person, simply based on whether they were desired or perceived of as equal. Overall both pro-life and pro-choice advocates believe that human status is not based in the perceptions of others, but in the uniqueness of humanity itself. This takes me to my forth point.

4th Every Time Some Humans Concluded Other Humans Were Less Human They Were Wrong.

The ancient cultures perceived women and children as being less human. They were wrong. The slave traders and owners of historic America viewed African salves as 3/5 human. They were wrong. The Nazi’s viewed homosexuals, the handicap, Gypsies and Jews as less human. They were wrong. It seems that as a race we are good at dividing up our species into valued segments by which the less valued are expendable or exploitable. And yet every time this happens we can see in hindsight how wrong we were. Thus, since I believe science proves a fetus is a human, that humans have inherent value (a value we would all agree on if the population was at risk) and that such value is not derived from size, dependency, status, gender and desirability; as a result I believe the philosophy behind abortion is on the wrong side of history. Every time populations have rendered a value judgment of “less than human humans” future generations condemn it. This leads me to my fifth point.

5th I Don’t Choose To Be Pro-Life, Rather I Have No Ethical Choice.

Now before you misinterpret the title of this point let me clear the air. I’m not saying that people who are pro-choice are not moral. If you will entertain me for a second let me consolidate my case and from that show what I mean. If I believe science shows a human fetus is in fact human, that all humans have intrinsic value, that such value isn’t derivative from population, size, dependency or desirability but merely from being human, that to diminish such value in any corner of our species is a human rights violation and by extension a breech of individuality and personhood, and that every time this has happened before we were wrong; then I really have no choice to make here. I am bound by a pro-life position in the same way I am bound by human rights at large. To see things the way I do and then turn a blind eye would be no different than any other blind eye I might turn in the face of human bias.

Now if my premises regarding human status were different perhaps I could see my way out of a moral pro-life requirement. But the above points leave me with no option. These various facts constitute the essence of humanity. And just as I believe all classes of humans must be protected under an umbrella of human rights (minority humans, female humans, little humans, handicap humans, incarcerated humans, etc.), so too fetal humans. The location of a fetus no more changes the status of its humanity than Nazi laws and the Dachau camp could alter the intrinsic humanity of a Jewish girl. In my estimation Human Rights always trump the laws of location. This takes me to my sixth and final point.

6th Ladies, I Don’t Want To Control Your Reproductive Rights

I have a wife and two daughters. They are independent, competent and driven. I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to hold them back or make them less. With that said I also have no intention to mandate for them how they choose to handle their reproductive issues in life. However there is a big difference between having the right to “when” and “how” you reproduce and the event in which reproduction has occurred. Reproduction is just that, the genetic contribution of two humans who make a third human. How two humans want to keep their genetic material from coupling is up to them, but once they have produced a scientifically defined human (intentionally or unintentionally) the rights of that human are also conceived in that moment. Rights where population, location, size, dependency and desirability should not be factors employed to discriminate against the intrinsic value of what it means to be acknowledged as human.


As I shared from the beginning my intention is not so much to change minds (though I won’t complain if that happens), but to help my pro-choice friends better understand why this issue is passionate for us on the pro-life side of the fence. I don’t think most people who are pro-life should be likened to misogynistic terrorist who use “Family Values” as a code phrase for suppressing reproductive rights. Rather I see pro-life ideals far more like Amnesty International or other Human Rights advocates. Now in the end you may believe that our definition of what makes one a human is too constrained, but in the spirit of consistency regarding human rights and worth I would advocate we error on the side of caution when it comes to all things human.

P.S. You’ll also notice that while I am a Christian, I didn’t quote the Bible in this article. I have biblical reason as well that reinforce my pro-life beliefs, but I wanted to share my thoughts from a neutral framework where mutual understanding and tolerance is a bit more likely. Aside from this I am also convinced that the pro-life position should not be seen as a viewpoint only for those of a religious orientation, but rather can– and I believe should– a position for all who defend Human Rights around the world.

The Supreme Court, Idols and The Ruining Grace of the Friday God.

MB PostsThe original Good Friday was not so good. In fact it was downright a punch in the gut followed by a brisk boot to the head. By the end of the day a pagan government flanked by a corrupt religion had managed to kill God’s Son, instill fear in God’s followers and give the illusion that God’s plans were buried in the dirt. As night fell on the angst-ridden apostles they found themselves lamenting the end of their movement along with the inevitability of their demise. Yep, it wasn’t exactly a Good Friday from anyone’s perspective: except God’s. For on that Friday many things yet to be seen were transpiring and one easily overlooked reality is that more than one “god” was slain that day.

Part of the angst of the Apostles on that Friday evening was rooted in a problem they were unwittingly blind to at the time. The problem? They had the right God, but they saw Him in selectively wrong ways. They thought Jesus was to be their partisan judge in an earthly court, their commanding general in a Roman invasion and their kingly monarch in a not-really-so-new-but-at-least-Jewish global empire. In short, they believed in a politically empowered messianic idol more than understood Jesus the Messiah who stands outside yet over all human rulers. Therefore when things fell apart, their idol – by way of God’s ruining grace – was slain. So while every part of it looked like a really bad Friday, it was the beginnings of the first truly Good Friday.

In thinking about this, as it pertained to the SCOTUS decision this last Friday, I couldn’t help but run through some parallels of how we too as Christians may have idolized certain things within our country. For a while I have noticed how we have slipped into a form of idolatrous doublethink regarding political powers. In one sense we have generally affirmed that government is not the solution to our problems, but then every election cycle we roll into sounding like politicians or parties are the key to curtailing the very problems we are certain government can’t fix. Now in saying this please don’t take my words further than I intend. I believe that every American Christian has an important public responsibility to be involved in the political process and some even running for office, but my suspicion is that we have gone further than mere civic duty; we may have set our faith and fear in it. We appear to have gone beyond casting our vote to placing our hope and trust and anxiety and distress in the outcomes of the civic arena; making idols out of platforms, methods, legislation and their aftereffects. Some idols we feared so greatly we made a point to desecrate them as often as possible, alarmed that they will rise up and overpower our rights. Other idols we opted to venerate in the hopes they would stem the tide of the idols we feared. Hence we played a game of “my idol can beat your idol,” and now we sit dismayed at the fact that “their” idols are shoving “our” idols butts in the cultural dirt. Yes, the political arm of Christianity is getting a beat down, but oh what a glorious beat down it will be if we are willing to endure it.

In relationship to times of opposition the Apostle said, It is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.” While some may speak of the need for God to judge America, we must remember that Peter here says judgment comes first to us. The difference however is that for the Christian God’s judgment is not to dole out sinful penalty, but to forge spiritual maturity. In light of this…

Perhaps the events of Friday, and the feared future consequences of those events, are actually the beginnings of a spectacular grace designed to filter out the worldly contaminates that have inadvertently mixed with what is to be an other-worldly faith.

Perhaps God is stripping us of our power, our privilege and our position specifically so all that remains is living by His Power, His Privilege and His Position.

Perhaps the best way we were ever going to love others selflessly was to be stripped of our ability to resist others socially.

Perhaps what our prayers most required, what our faith most desired and what our thankfulness most needed was being socially humbled so as to display Spirit-filled humility.

Perhaps because our idols have fallen, all other idols will eventually follow in suit so that Jesus reigns in the lives of an eternal multitude secured specifically because of the witness of our temporary discomfort.

Perhaps we will find a new found anguish for people who are estranged from God’s grace more than be agitated that they break God’s rules.

Perhaps by not being as focused on winning the culture wars for Jesus we will now be more focused on winning a war worn culture to Jesus.

Perhaps because we gladly pass through the fires of reviling with only blessing on our lips the embers of revival will settle around our country.

Perhaps we will be freed from the fear of all earthly calamity and rejoice in certitude of our eternal certainty.

Perhaps we will now know with steely assurance that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Perhaps what we least wanted we most required to be holy as God is holy.

Perhaps with less and less we will realize more and more Jesus meets every need.

Perhaps with all our idols broken down that is when His Cross, His Gospel, His Church and His Glory will be most lifted up.

Perhaps what feels like a very bad situation will be the beginning of a very good opportunity. It wouldn’t be the first time world changing things sprang from the ruining grace of the Friday God.



Things To Consider In Assessing How Much To Pay A Pastor

MB PostsThis is not for all pastors (though I am sure they will appreciate this). Nor is it for all parishioners (though they may find it interesting). It’s really for the group that sits down to consider a pastor’s salary. Yes that ominous board, committee or senior leadership that is commissioned with the task of sifting through the cultural aggregate to discern the answer to the ultimate question, “What Do We Pay A Pastor?”

Now to be sure, there are more than a few resources that provided formulas rooted in “How many years in ministry?” “How many degrees on the wall?” “What is the national/regional average of pastors in a church our size?” and the like. Yet I believe we need to look at the issue as a philosophy of compensation: developing a set of thoughtful layers to ensure – as much as a church can – health, longevity and expectation. In this three aspects should be considered.

Consider What You Are Asking For On The Familial Front

Pastoring is the only job I’m aware of where the entire family is explicitly highlighted in the job description. No other vocation in the totality of American culture hires and fires based on one’s marriage. No other trade requires one’s home or kids to be a part of the assessment for both initial and continued employment. Perhaps this is why we don’t hear of dentists’ children growing up to reject oral hygiene or the kids of contractors being referred to as CKs. Now in saying this I don’t want to diminish the standard, but equally it should be considered when evaluating compensation. A church is doing more than merely paying a pastor; they are subsidizing an example that others are to emulate.

With that said, everyone knows that financial instability places incredible stress on families, so imagine how much more stressful it becomes when your family’s spirituality is being measured as it faces those woes. This is where healthy compensation can alleviate some of the overall burden. Instead of thinking, “Ministry is a calling, and thus should be compensated less.” churches would do well to think, “Ministry is a calling, and thus should be insulated more.” When a pastor is financially freed-up to focus on the business of the church (because he is not burdened by figuring out how to get to the end of the month) he is also freed up to be a focused and thoughtful pastor.

Consider What You Are Asking For On The Longevity Front

The less a church pays its pastor, the shorter his stay will be and consequently the weaker a church will become. I know this swallows like a jagged pill, but don’t reject the facts merely because you don’t like them. If your church wants to recreate a honeymoon period every 2-3 years, intentionally elect to pay a pastor considerably less then the median income of the community and you will all but guarantee a revolving door.

If however you hope to keep a pastor for the long game, the more generous you are the more focus he will exhibit; particularly when things are hard. When a pastor knows his board will fight to financially care for his family (which is one of the reasons you hired him in the first place, because he displays biblical care for his family), the more he will fight to stick out the hardships and invest for the long haul.

Consider What You Are Asking For On The Education Front

This one is a distant third, but if you want a person who has both a Bible College and Seminary degree, then realistically you are choosing a person who’s sitting on educational debt. Institutions that train theologically are private, therefore there is no such thing as an inexpensive Bible College or Seminary. If you expect to have a pastor who has made this level of academic investment, then consider how you can help them recoup the fiscal sacrifice that made it possible. This is especially important when dealing with younger pastors who typically start off low on the salary scale while possibly juggling the full force of student loans.

How To Pay vs What To Pay

You’ll notice that nothing in this addresses “what” the magic number is. My goal isn’t to answer the final question of what the amount is, but rather “how” to work through “what” to pay. With that said here are some useful reflections as you come up with that number in light of 1 Timothy 5:17-18 which says, 17 Let the elders who lead well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

#1. Error on the side of generosity.

When Paul speaks of a paid pastor he uses the phrase “double honor.” Now while this is open-ended in terms of dollar value, the spirit of the phrase communicates that a recipient should feel extra honored by the givers.[i] Therefore in the most general sense, the double honoring of a pastor financially is an expression of grateful generosity. Now I know the push back on this may be to point out the handful of examples where pastors are paid exorbitant salaries, but in all reality for every one over-paid celebrity pastor in a megachurch somewhere there are thousands of other pastors who are under-paid (both in megachurches  as second-tier pastors as well as in standard size churches).

#2. Don’t have a huge gulf between the highest and lowest paid pastor in the church.

In the New Testament there is not a top paid senior pastor and then a distant associate, worship, youth and children’s pastor; there are simply “elders who lead well, especially in preaching and teaching” who are worthy of compensation. If you are the senior staff leader you particularly should be going to bat for the rest of your team in order to inch their salary closer to your own. No place in Scripture do we see where staff pastors are employees of the senior pastor, rather they are fellow elders who shepherd collectively. If you are in pragmatic doubt on this point as a senior leader, think you work harder than your team and thus you deserve way more than everyone else; go run the youth ministry for six months and get acclimated to reality.

#3. Pay at a level that expects hard work and measures results.

Pastors are to be paid because Paul says they “lead well.” Having a degree or years in ministry isn’t the standard, quality biblical leadership is. By compensating well you are acknowledging that people should lead well and thus they should be held to a high standard.

# 4. If you are a lay leader who is deciding on salary, don’t let your own personal pay cloud what you think a pastor should be paid.

Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” If your pastor makes more than you, be happy he does. Most of the time we are happy for others when they do well financially, the same should be true when it comes to those in ministry.

#5. Match or exceed the median household income of your community.

Make sure a pastor and his family can be engaged in the same activities and social structure as the community you expect him to engage with. Again, the goal is to free up their family to engage people, not strap them to keep up with the Joneses. Additionally, pay him enough that if his wife works it’s because she chooses to, not because she is required to.

#6. If your church can’t provide at a solid level – at this time – make it a future goal.

Churches have several material goals such as expansions, remodels, technology and the like, but they don’t typically plan for raises with the same level of aggression. This is perhaps one of the bigger financial mistakes a church can make. We are called to invest into people far more than stuff, not the least of which are those who equip us in the things of God. There is no shame in not being able to financially support a pastor at a healthy level because the resources are not there, but it is altogether a different matter (and perhaps sinful) if the conscious decision is to not do so.


P.S. Thank you to the elders and people of Redemption Church for being a true example of love, care and generosity. You are amazing!







[i] The New Testament often forgoes speaking in terms of percentages or dollars because it is pushing us toward a deeper generosity of heart. Thus while Paul doesn’t tell us how much constitutes a cheerful, bountiful, non-reluctant and non-compulsive giver in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we get the sense his encouragement is more, not less. The same attitude applies to double honor.

Boycotts, Persecution and Embracing Our Christian Exile

MB PostsFor as long as I can recall the Christian majority and uniquely my clan of conservative evangelicalism, has enjoyed a seat at the table of cultural influence. We have shaped policy, mentored presidents and maintained a moral status quo that was generally accepted or at least tolerated by the overarching populace. Yet much of this was not particularly gospel oriented or even biblically saturated. Sure, the moral expectations flowed at times from biblical passages, but the means and spirit in which they were communicated were guilty of a pretext without a context. With the regularity of a high-fiber diet, a new protest, petition or picket would be announced to drive back the intruding woes of society. For as soon as a group or corporation would push Christian boundaries, the word “boycott” would bellow from the religious empowered like a Christianized Bat-Signal; threatening financial penalty toward any entity that did not keep their whitewashed tombs looking white. Never mind if the immoral were going to hell just so long as they embraced our façade of ethical propriety.

The actions of the last five decades have won us no audiences, built us no bridges and as we are seeing today secured us no power. But what it has done is build a societal pressure that has grown weary, even vengeful, toward God’s moral referees and now is their season to set things right. And in a feat, almost Belichickian, the other side has stolen our playbook and now suddenly we don’t like how the game is being played. But this is precisely how we prodded them to play. Instead of modeling the appeal of a transformed life and the supremacy of the implanted word we leveraged the power of politics, embargoes and rhetoric to force moral capitulation without spiritual regeneration. So now what has been good for the Christian goose is even better for the cultural gander. This brave new world that is rapidly cycling before us is not exclusive of our doing, but we have contributed to spinning it up.

So how shall we then live? That is the real question before us. Not, “How can we get back to how we used to live?” That season has passed and it’s fruit has been both seedless and tasteless. The world around us has no want of, nor fear regarding the moral arbitrators. But more importantly, it’s not what they need. Our world doesn’t need wittier, pithier more provocative Christians who score points with the choir, paint cross hairs on their chest and agitate the culture. That is a law of diminishing returns. What our world needs to see, and will find hard to reject in the long game, is a people un-phased by the ebb and flow of shifting norms. People who embrace biblical convictions so deeply, they graciously live above the turbulence brought on by media, rhetoric and misguided reforms. For every time we have been rejected by a culture, it has been our role as the joyfully persecuted that has produced systemic cultural transformation.

Unfortunately it is this swelling persecution for which we are unprepared as American Christians. We sensationalized it for those who would be “Left Behind”, but we didn’t actually prepare for sticking around. We were not ready to become the slighted voice. We were not primed to be the distrusted. We were not braced for our community’s growing suspicion and condemnation. We littered the fruited plain with consumer savvy churches that spoon fed good advice to make life good and pleasant (some of which will simply embrace the current culture to sidestep earthly rejection), but we did not prepare Christians for the bad seasons that would require them to stand up, suffer ridicule and be counted among the cultural transgressors. Yet this is precisely where God flexes through his people; when they receive retribution with rejoicing. For the current conditions are not new conditions, but they are the consistent conditions in which God wields the grace of revival if we let go of our heritage of social controlling and embrace what it means to be spiritually compelling. And by compelling I do not mean cooler, looser or quieter. I mean clearer, godlier and bolder than we have been. Our error was not that we were too committed, but rather we were too committed to the wrong things. We boycotted over matters of the Law at the cost of the Gospel. Yet now is our opportunity to set our house in order, to embrace our exile, to set our vision on an eternal culture who’s maker and builder is God and thus elevate here and now the one thing that changes everything: the life-transforming message of Jesus.

Decapitating Jesus

MB PostsChrist is the head of the church, His body, and is himself its Savior.    Ephesians 5:23

I recently wrote a pragmatic response to the alleged reasons people are leaving the church. I call them alleged because I suspect there are just as many sin-inspired or self-satisfying reasons as there are “justifications.” But my goal here is not to re-pound that sand. My purpose runs deeper. I want to target the biggest problem exiters (those who are officially rejecting church all together while still claiming Jesus) face, “How exactly does one go about decapitating Jesus without killing Him in the process?”

In the western mind everything can be segregated for personalized appeal. “Selection” is the optimal word in marketing. “Customization” beckons us to put the “ME” stamp on everything from phones to diets and cars to cloths. Individuality, personalization and particularity dominate the landscape of American life, and that slams straight into Christian attitudes about spirituality, ecclesiology and theology. Specific to this topic, it laces people with the illusion that one is free to retain Jesus and their Christian spirituality, but to reject the church and all it’s irritating fragility. It’s customized spirituality at consumerism’s finest, but is such a division biblically permissible? Can a Christian separate the head of Jesus from the shoulders of His body and still follow Him in the way the New Testament specifies?

Now it would be easy to make this matter complicated by raising all the emotional and practical baggage that is associated with the discussion. However, I want to make this as simple as possible, not because simplicity makes it easier to swallow, but because some truths should be communicated to professing Christians with a simple matter-of-factness, minus the sentimental caveats that are designed to soften up the listener. And yes, I am aware that last sentence is beginning to sound a little harsh, but I would maintain that we are discussing truths here and truths are not inherently harsh. Opinions are harsh, people are harsh, circumstances can even be harsh, but truths are just truths. They may feel like cold comfort in that we don’t like certain truths, but they endure unabated precisely because they are fixed regardless of our feelings, situations or opinions. And so here is the simple truth, it is biblically impossible to decapitate Jesus, stick His head under your arm and move along with your own disembodied Christ. One must take Him head and body or – by default – He is rejected altogether.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12 & 27 Paul unequivocally highlights this truth when he writes, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.

Notice that Paul does not advocate a distinction between the Person of Christ and the Body of Christ as though they are complementary partners with distinct boarders of independence. He says that just as the body is one, so it is with Christ. Do a double take on that. The fullness of Christ isn’t isolated from the church (neither the church universal or local – remember 1 Corinthians is written to a local church after all); rather the church is an extension of what constitutes the fullness of Christ’s glory revealed. As one set of commentators put this, “Christ may be said to be a body with many members” therefore “to dishonor any part of Christ’s body is to dishonor Christ himself.”* Now we should not read this as some weird quazi-Christian-pantheism, but we must read it in the sense that the Body of Christ is ultimately indivisible from the Head of Christ because together this displays the Glory of Christ. I know this all sounds very mysterious, but truths are no less true simply because they are filled with mystery (Ephesians 5:32).

In the big picture, to reject the church – locally or universally – is to reject how Christ chooses to display His very own self. You may not want to accept that. You may attempt to reduce what you are rejecting to a frigid political institution of religious jargon and entertainment saturated marketing, but you rejecting far more in the process. For in leaving the church entirely you do more than divest yourself of a governing board, philosophy of ministry or group of people; you are also leaving that which Christ identifies as part of Himself. Therefore the raw reality is that any wholesale rejection of Christ’s Body, driven by personal hurts or biases, will not hold up as legitimate before Christ who is the Head. Jesus will not allow individuals to enthrone Him as their decapitated king. He cannot be divided against Himself for the fulness of His glory is shown through His unification as Head and Body (Ephesians 4:1-6). The gospel brought this together (Colossians 1:24-29) and no disgruntled, disenfranchised or discouraged Christian has the authority to tear it asunder.

Now are there some wonky local churches and jacked up denominations? Yes! But there are also a great number of them getting far more things right than wrong.

  • Churches that are filled with people who also have been hurt, but don’t give up.
  • Churches that are struggling with how to love a pluralistic culture while still maintaining a biblical vision of life.
  • Churches that are fighting to pursue a healthy blend of what it takes to reach consumers while still developing true disciples.
  • Churches that are proclaiming the fullness of the Bible while still admitting the ongoing battle to become everything Jesus seeks.
  • Churches that are replete, not with judgmental hypocrites, but imperfect people who are imperfectly trying to “be perfect as their Father in Heaven is perfect.”

So come back! We all agree that the church at times can seem like a saggy, broken, out of shape body with stretch marks and a few scars, but it’s Jesus’s very own Body which is indivisibly and gloriously joined to His headship (Ephesians 5:25-30 & 32).

[*] Vaughen & Lea, 1 Corinthians BSC, p.150 & Ciampa & Rosner, 1 Corinthians PNTC, p.609

Dear Church, We’re REALLY REALLY Leaving You Because You’re Too Sinful And Not Worthy Of Our Grace.

MB Posts

This article will be a bit barbed, but I do this when defending a woman that is being mistreated.

Over the last several days the article “Dear Church, Here Is Why People Are REALLY Leaving You” has repeatedly cycled through my sprawling array of social media feeds (Oh Ryan Howard where is WUPHF.com when I need it most?). I have seen people I love “Like” it and people I like “LOVE” it, but I have contemplated it. Now if I were simply mining the article for anecdotal nuggets I would say there is much to be mined, but taken on the whole I feel like it’s giving me the shaft without any real gold in the mine – and yes, the double entendre is implied.

In the big picture the thrust of the article appears to be saying – as far as I can surmise – “Yes Church I’m leaving you. And yes it’s me, but it’s more you because you don’t accept me for me like you should.” Now I’m not going to argue for a minute that this doesn’t happen (though I actually think a whole lot less, or a whole lot less dramatically than articles like this make it should). However, my bigger concern is that the article itself is an exercise in the very thing criticized, and brazenly so. For as much as some churches out there may not take people where they are at, there are far more people who don’t take churches where they are at. Every week people leave a church for innumerable reasons, but the commonality is some element of “this church isn’t doing it for us.” It’s a break-up with that particular church because it lacks or does something that causes them to “find another” a bit more worthy. However, in the case of this article it appears the rejection is so deep it’s “The Church” that is left, not just a church. And at the core of that issue is far more than merely calling the kettle black, it’s sinners calling sinners sinners for sinfully not loving sinners, sinfully. Yes, read it five times and it will fall together.

So then the innate question, the “what would Jesus ask?” question is, “Who is prepared to love first, to love selfless and to love someone or a group of some ones right where they are at?” The low truth is that there is no red-letter high ground in saying, “I’m rejecting you because you are more broken than me and don’t see it.” Those who think they can love better, judge less and care more should actually model the solution for a broken church in the church. This is particularly true in light of the reality that at the deepest level, people who reject church for rejecting people are inherently rejecting people themselves. Churches are not computers run by algorithms and automation. When people leave churches they are leaving swaths of individuals. Every time people have left our church because they were hurt, I deal with others whom are hurt by the hurt people leaving. And no wonder, people who leave are not just leaving an organization. It’s people who design the programs you deem shallow, it’s people who have the attitudes you consider hypocritical, it’s people who set the priorities you reckon as greedy, it’s people who get bogged down in the biases you hold as judgmental, judgmentally and yes, might I actually say it’s people who struggle with same problems of sin as you, the more enlightened sinner, who advances the broad brushed intolerant narrative that the real problem with “The Church” is that it isn’t as tolerant as you.

  • You, the self admitted sinner who fights for the worth of other sinners you deem worthy, by condemning sinners you find to be undeserving.
  • You, who restrict your illuminated grace because you believe they express only institutional grace.
  • You, the one who has exchanged an eye for an eye, hurt for hurt and rejection for rejection by feeling slapped, slapping back and then accusing The Church of not turning the other cheek.
  • You, who stand in an ebony tower of judgment, condemning those in their ivory towers for being judgmental.

Perhaps most problematic is that the only one who is truly grieved in all of this is probably Jesus. He is working with eternal grace to present His Church – His Girl – without spot or blemish, but you keep pointing out all her flaws and inadequacy. You breed her insecurity through your criticism. She chases after new, flashy and shallow because you remind her she isn’t beautiful. Don’t keep telling her she is shallow, broken, unattractive and bitchy. Stop shamming her for not being the perfect 10. Woo her, esteem her, meet her where she is at and respect her for the sole reason that Jesus loves her and rescued her as His most treasured possession.

Yes, the Church is a Gomer, but she is Jesus’ Gomer. So start treating her like the lady Jesus endures with, not as an establishment you rate on a five star system and then tack on a review.

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