Posts tagged Andy Stanley
So yesterday Andy Stanley preached an amazing sermon at North Point Church (as usual). He is doing a series called “Christian” and what that term means. My wife is convinced Andy read my book because some points sound so similar. I even have a chapter called “Christians” in which I challenge the Christians to not call themselves a Christian for a short season. You can read excerpts in my post called “Lose Your Religion, Christian.” I assured my wife I probably stole my ideas from Andy or someone else.
In any event, yesterday (Part 2), as an illustration Andy spoke about the famed vampire novelist Anne Rice becoming a ‘Christian’ and then leaving ‘Christianity.’ Clarifying, Andy highlighted what Rice wrote:
“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me…But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”
Who could disagree? Being a Christian is different than being a follower, or disciple, of Christ. Rice is correct.
>But Andy Stanley left something out about Anne Rice in his sermon.
Rice’s comments are nearly 2 years old and, subsequently, the core illustration is incomplete. Rice has since gone a step further.
Anne Rice is no longer even a follower of Christ as defined in the Bible. In a recent interview regarding her new book The Wolf Gift Rice admitted:
“Everyday, I’m asking myself that, because my faith in the Christian belief system totally collapsed. I realized a lot of what I believed about Jesus was rooted in lies and falsehoods. What I’ve tried to preserve is a love for and a trust in God. Jesus coming here is the most beautiful love story I’ve ever heard.
I know I feel a palpable God — with a human face. I can’t really tell another person what I believe that is. I believe that there is a maker of the universe that knows every hair on our head — and has made this entire universe and is very aware of us and I hope and pray this maker of the universe loves us and — and I think he does.”
She says she remains “committed to Christ.” While I respect her views I’m not sure what that means anymore. It sounds a bit more like the Christ consciousness that New Agers speak of. This all-roads-lead-to-heaven spiritual vanilla is not what Jesus lived, spoke of, or died for. Jesus spoke of following Him and a narrow path (or road), but I guess if you don’t believe the Bible anymore, it is irrelevant.
Although I would not judge Rice’s heart, based on her comments, I question if she is still a follower, or disciple, of Christ. No, that is not essential to the sermon illustration, but it is some information that is important to know.
There are a few elements of Christianity that often get avoided. For obvious reasons, we don’t like talking about some strange areas and elements of our faith. Perhaps, rightly so. I mean who wants to talk about sin, Hell, or the Devil? No one.
If you don’t know, I attend North Point Community Church. Yesterday (Sunday), my church ventured into the weird zone of Christianity and talked about Hell in the series Shocking Statements of Jesus. Of course, it was done very tactfully. I’ve been attending there 6 years and listening to their messages for 9 years, and I can’t remember this subject ever being breached so clearly. I’m probably wrong, but at the moment that’s what I seem to remember.
Now, I understand why. Weird Zone Christianity doesn’t help a church grow, make friends, or make for good marketing. But it needs to be talked about. Why? Because it brings the gut-level perspective we so often need.
I’m not saying we need to talk and learn about that stuff all the time. But if we don’t ever talk about these things, it gives the impression that we have to apologize for God or be ashamed of what He says? We have to be familiar with and be willing to talk about the full council of God (as I call it). That includes the harder issues (like hell even), but apologize, hide, avoid, or feel ashamed? No. It’s all part of the territory. Otherwise it also gives the impression that those areas of Scripture aren’t all that valid or worth defending.
We need to keep in mind what’s really going on here, because it can even affect our day-to-day. For example, perhaps a fellow Christian has a habit or personality trait that drives you nuts, maybe you even think it’s a negative trait that needs to change. No one’s perfect, after all. As time goes on, you never talk about this trait with them and eventually decide to end the relationship because you deem it ‘unhealthy’. Sure, you pray about it and for them, of course. That’s the spiritual thing to do, right? Not really. You’ve lost perspective of the big picture and what’s really going on here.
The spiritual thing to do is to talk to your fellow Christian right away as is modeled in Matthew 18:15. Go to him or her, because there is a real enemy here–and it’s not that so-and-so is too sarcastic or talks too much. The real enemy wants to get a foothold via some stupid trait and ruin your relationship and ruin all the peripheral relationships as well.
When something as simple as a personality trait never gets talked about it can lead to gossip (as you’re likely talk to other people about this problem, but never talk to the actual person you have a grievance toward), pride (as you become oblivious to your own flaws), and religiosity (since you’re ‘praying’ for and about this, but never actually doing what the Bible says and go to the person). And by the way, ‘going’ to the person does not include dropping a bomb on them and listing all the things wrong with them as reasons for ending the relationship. That’s mean and cowardly–and not spiritual. And the enemy wins here as pain and destruction rain down on these relationships.
If we don’t talk about sin, Hell, and the Devil then we don’t really understand the good stuff of forgiveness, Heaven, and God. And we won’t understand reconciliation and how important it is to handle relationships correctly.
So I am trying to learn to talk about the weird zone of Christianity tactfully in order to keep the big picture in perspective.
I’m convinced most human beings are innately curious about spiritual things. We recognize there’s a spiritual element to life that can’t necessarily be explained; yet, it’s there nonetheless. We can even be drawn to it unknowingly.
After all, being part of a playoff baseball game in a stadium full of people is a spiritual experience of sorts.
That’s how I felt when the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004. I’m not even their fan, but I was rooting for them with my friend Bob, who’s diehard, and who told me they hadn’t won it since 1918. I was moved to my core with the rest of the fans when their team finally broke the “Curse of the Bambino.”
Getting a sneak peak at a highly anticipated movie in a packed theater can also be a spiritual experience.
In 1997, when my wife and I were dating, we got tickets to a preview showing of Titanic. It was intense, and the theater was silent the entire three hours. We all walked out quiet and somber. Without a doubt, it was spiritual like no other movie, which is why it’s still the highest grossing release of all time.
Watching your favorite band at a sold-out show can be a spiritual experience too.
It was for me when I saw U2 on their Joshua Tree tour at the Orange Bowl in Miami back in 1987. It was amazing. It took hours for the stadium to empty out because no one wanted to leave. We were moved deep down and didn’t want it to end.
Most people are interested in spiritual things on some level and curious to understand them more. And many of us recognize that church at least should be a nexus and catalyst for spiritual matters.
Just as joining a gym keeps us accountable in our health, church can keep us in check spiritually. It can help us attain healing and wholeness deep down. It seems to function much like a combination spiritual gym and hospital. It challenges and trains us to grow beyond who we are, so we can be better equipped to go out and meet the world each day. Doing life can be draining, so we need help in refueling. Doing life can be confusing, so getting a little guidance doesn’t hurt either.
That’s why I think church continues to play some part in many peoples lives. Certainly, you don’t have to go to church to be spiritual. But it’s hard for me to separate regular church attendance from my spiritual health over the years.
What do you think?
This post is of a very personal nature. No lesson or thought today. I simply need to tell this story, because the events of yesterday will stay with me for the rest of my life. So although this is long, I hope you’ll stay with me. I have a feeling you’ll want to.
Sometimes something happens that burns in your mind in such a way that you know it will stick to you forever. It’s sears into the wall of your memory and affects you. When the experience is fresh–like it still is for me right now–you’re not really sure if it is good or bad. That’s what church was like for me yesterday.
On any given Sunday, you will see my wife and I walking into the 9 o’clock service at North Point Community Church with our four boys. Since this is a church of thousands we are very strategic about where we park, sit, and the routes we take to pick up our four kids afterwards in order to navigate the crowds. We split up. We each take two kids. This Sunday it was my turn to handle the two youngest: Carson who is 4 and Ethan who is 4 months.
After service I picked up Ethan and was annoyed right away. Sure, it was amazing as the nursery volunteer handed him to me and he smiled right away when he saw me. Unfortunately, the joy of that little moment was muted by the embarrassment of calling him the wrong name, especially considering I did the same thing signing him in before service. There’s nothing like feeling like a bad Dad.
She handed him to me, then his car seat, and then his diaper bag. I was fumbling and wondering why he wasn’t sleeping. He should have been in the carrier out cold, per our instructions. So I asked, “Did he take a nap?” “Oh yes, a whole 30 minutes. And he has a clean diaper too. We just woke him up to change it.”
I appreciate the policy. When I ran a children’s ministry it was my policy too. I wanted to make sure all visitors knew how much we cared about their children, so we didn’t want any parent to pick up a child from our nursery with a butt load of poopy diaper. Here’s the thing, I’m on number four, so a sleeping baby in a poopy diaper is way better than an awake baby who should be sleeping but is awake with a clean diaper. Why? Because the baby being awake now would change the rest of the day–and not for the better. I know I’m a jerk–and I know it was wrong–but I was getting more annoyed.
I mustered up a hollow “thank you”, since deep down I know these volunteers are wonderful and generous for watching children on Sunday morning when they could be sleeping in. With Ethan in one had, I clumsily put the carrier on the stroller and dropped his bag in it. I decided to try to defuse my annoyance by carrying my smiling baby and doing the “proud papa” walk.
About halfway out of church I realize I totally forgot the other one. Carson was still in his classroom. My heart sank. I felt terrible. How could I get forget my child? I’ve never done that. Proud father no more.
I quickly placed Ethan in his carrier, turned the stroller around in the crowd (no easy feat, mind you), and picked up Carson from his class. About halfway out again, Carson looked up at me and let me know, “We forgot the picture I colored!” I said we’ll have to leave it this time. He responded, “But we have to go get it, Dad!” Not this time. He was mad. And I was further annoyed. Not at him. Just at the small amount of chaos going on.
With relief we broke free of the crowded hallway and reached the light of day. While waiting for the other half of my family next to the main entrance, I decided to strap Ethan back in his carrier hoping he’d fall back asleep. So I turned around and proceeded to straighten the straps, click the chest piece, fasten the bottom harness, straighten his arms and head, and pull the shade down. He was content. I was starting to relax again and took a breath.
All the while, people were walking out of the church laughing. I barely noticed. What do I care? Except one lady peaked my attention. She was crazy with belly laughs walking all the way down the walkway to the parking lot. I looked to my right down the sidewalk wondering what everyone was laughing at. That’s when I turned to see what I was oblivious to a moment ago.
Carson had his pants and underwear down at his ankles and was in full peeing mode on the tree right in front of the church.
The horror. The embarrassment.
I was mortified. Hundreds of people were walking out seeing this, and many were likely first-timers. Plus, the church has visitors from around the world every Sunday–many who are leaders and pastors–trying to glean wisdom from how North Point does ministry. Perhaps this was not the best first impression for them to have.
I bolted to him with arms stretched out yelling, “What are you doing? You can’t pee there! Stop peeing! STOP PEEING!!!!” I pulled his pants up in midstream. I lectured him about “not peeing in front of church.” I saw my wife in the corner of my eye and abruptly blurted out, “He has to pee hurry up and take him to the bathroom!” She rushed inside with him.
While in the bathroom he let her know, “I don’t have to go, Mommy.” “What? Daddy said you need to go so keep trying.” He let her know, “I already went pee.” “What?” “I peed on the tree outside.” That’s when she become mortified with me.
In shock, we get it together and get in the car. Leaving the scene of the crime, I told everyone the story. As we all laughed hysterically, my 7-year-old let’s us all know, “Peeing is not the Big Idea!” You’d have to go to North Point to get how funny that was. You see, the team at North Point teaches the kids a main point every Sunday they call “The Big Idea.” And peeing is not the Big Idea, for sure.
So I got home and decided to put a blurb about it on my Facebook and Twitter status, of course. I shared: Caught my son PEEING on the tree right in front of CHURCH as everyone was coming out. Slightly embarrassing.
I got the cursory “likes” and such. And then I get the kicker toward the end of the day from an old friend down in Florida:
You’re not going to believe this, but my boss (our senior pastor) was visiting NP today from down here in West Palm and texted me a picture of a kid peeing on a tree after service. The text said, “Only in Atlanta”. How crazy is that!? Now to read that was your son is hilarious!
Funny? Yes. Embarrassing? You bet. Ironic? Unbelievably. This puts the whole ‘6 Degrees of Separation’ to shame–literally.
Believe it or not, I managed to get the picture forwarded to me. Here it is. It looks like I am helping him pee on the tree. Not so much. That’s me trying to stop the stream.
Lastly, in the evening Lisa asked Carson, “Why did you pee on the tree?” What did he say? “Because I had to go and I can’t go to the bathroom by myself.” In a strange way, it was so sweet. He had to go, so he looked around to see who could take him. He didn’t see his Mom or brothers, saw that I was busy with the baby, and decided to take matters into his own hands–literally.
Looking back I have to wonder why no one said anything to me for the minute or so Carson spent emptying his tank? Were they enjoying my shame? I suppose I am very glad no one from the church walked up and said, “Excuse me ‘sir’, but these trees are purely decorative and not meant to be used as proxy toilets for little boys,” or, “Sir, would you mind having your son use the restroom and not the tree in front of our church.” And I agree. Will I need to change the service we go to or look for another church? We won’t. But the thought did cross my mind since we’re in front of the church every Sunday at the same time and everyone will think I meant for it all to happen. Ugh.
The real irony in all this is that I just submitted a resume for a job at the church hoping to put my writing to work.
What are the chances?
First, if you don’t know, Andy Stanley is one of the most influential pastors, church leaders, and communicators in America today. He founded a church called North Point Community Church, which is one the biggest churches in America today. It’s also the church I have been going to for the last 6 years.
Anyway, back to the bitches and whores thing.
He is currently teaching a series called Love, Sex, & Dating. It is very good. He’s been saying some very serious and politically incorrect things that need to be said.
Yesterday (Sunday) he was talking about how woman are treated. This was part 2 of the series that was directed to men.
He made the point that women are often treated like a commodity in our culture today. In other words, they are something to be acquired, something we can do with as we please (use them), and then done away with. And then, it’s on to the next one.
Obviously, this is wrong–and that was Andy’s point.
He emphasized that Jesus elevated the status of woman with his words and how he treated them in his day. In fact, he spoke to women at a time when they were treated far worse than a commodity. They were second class citizens at best. They were property, and many were slaves. The point is, they were treated in an inhuman way. But Jesus set a course that began changing that perception, which is one of the reasons Christianity caught on. And that is to be our model today.
At one point, he got very direct. He said something to the effect of:
If you have any music in your iPod that refers to woman as bitches and whores, you need to get rid of it.
Anything, even a song or entertainment, that devalues woman and relegates them to that inhuman place again needs to go. He also went on to say how terrible pornography is and actually dulls a man’s appetite for a real woman and sincere relationship. It’s destructive, creates dysfunction, and has to go too.
Pretty powerful stuff. So I guess my early Beastie Boys songs must go. Oh well. It’s worth it. And it’s the right thing to do.
First Lady Michelle Obama is invading my church (North Point Community Church) today. Okay, that was a bit of an overstatement (and it sounds like I am trying to stir up controversy). Today is the 1-year anniversary of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and she asked if she could come talk about it and celebrate the program at our church. From their own website it is: America’s Move To Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids. Of course, our church said yes. I probably shouldn’t comment on this, but, well, you know me…
Am I going? No.
And it’s not because I have to work today. I am home doing stuff getting ready to welcome our new son (#4) on Friday. And it’s not because I am a fatty or that I feel guilty about raising fat kids (I’m not, by the way. Raising fat kids, that is. But I am a bit of a fatty myself). I could go. So that no is an emphatic one.
I’m not going because I am very uncomfortable with the decision. Now, I love my church. My family has been serving and giving there for 6 years. And we are not going anywhere (ie. not leaving because of this). So this is not a detrimental decision. I am not going to talk trash. I support my church in all their decisions and trust them. It’s probably the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some cautionary thoughts or opinions of my own. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever said anything like this because I love “all things North Point”.
I just don’t like the idea of government officials or representatives coming into churches, especially those with a philosophy of big, centralized government. It creates too many contradictions, too much hypocrisy, breeds corruption (since power attracts the corrupt and the corrupt seek more power), leads to blatant opportunism (since it seeks to sustain it’s control/power) and often not principled (which is built on core values, and if opportunism and control is your desire there is no room for core values).
For example, you know what’s really unhealthy for children? Abortion. That kills kids 100% of the time. In fact, it kills about 1.4 million children every year and has killed about 43 million since it became legal in 1973. I’m just sayin’. [source: whitehouse.gov]
I also don’t like government officials or representatives coming into churches who come from a philosophy that is constantly trying to secularize and sanitize religion from the public square or sector (unless it is politically beneficial, of course).
For example, I wrote about a person in my small group (community group, Bible study, discussion group, or whatever you want to call it) that teaches at a public school up the street. During the holidays the school had to take the decorations off of the Christmas tree because a parent complained. I don’t really get that one (being that Christmas trees are actually pagan and not Christian, or leaving it up bare being an amicable solution). And then there are the anecdotal stories of public school teachers warned not to hand out Christmas cards or say “Merry Christmas”.
So let me get this right, we can’t say Merry Christmas in the public sector more and more, but Michelle can come into churches and say Merry Government? Woo-hoo!
Beyond that, there is often criticism of religious groups trying to affect public policy (like with abortion)–you know, allegedly trying to create a ‘theocracy’. For some reason, faith is an illegitimate source for values. But there is no problem with government coming into churches to influence public policy? Let’s be honest, that’s what this is. I guess government is a legitimate source for values?
You might be thinking, “Jason, you’re so judgmental and jaded. Isn’t this neutral ground? You’re making a big deal out of nothing. We can all agree on making our kids healthier, can’t we?”
Sure, then let’s meet on truly neutral ground–like an event center or something (there are plenty in Atlanta). Then Washington could ask local churches to partner and support the agenda. That way we have a real choice. I mean, how much of a choice do you have when the President’s wife asks to speak at your church? You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
There’s really nothing neutral when it comes to politics. And that’s the point: Politicians use political power to promise policies that will benefit certain people in order to harvest votes. Make no mistake, this initiative is about increasing government regulations and spending. As it is, speculations are that there will be more sin taxes on certain foods, salt limits in food production, and portion control for restaruants. Either way, the government is set to spend over half a BILLION dollars EVERY year on this initiative (and related ones). Read that again…$$$HALF A BILLION DOLLARS EVERY YEAR$$$
In general, this is not a legitimate use of tax-payer dollars (which is in reality being borrowed from China, by the way, so it is not even payed for), especially when we are all broke. It’s not the government’s job to tell us what to eat or what to do. I’m sorry there are so many fat kids sitting around and eating Doritos while playing X-Box. If we’re going to spend money on kids, let’s spend it something useful–like literacy, English, science, math, technical programs, marriage and family classes, etc.
I can’t help but also think that Michelle is trying to indirectly muster support for her husband with one base that is not supporting him all that much right now. Who’s that? White evangelicals. I’m just being honest, because that’s the main demographic at my church. It seems manipulative. Make no mistake, the election cycle has begun.
Our church is now officially on the radar of the government. That makes me uncomfortable. It should make everyone uncomfortable, both the religious and irreligious. This all begs the question, what will my church say when President Barack Obama calls and asks to speak when he is campaigning for president again? It probably won’t happen. But if it does, what do you say? Again, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Plus, I can’t help but worry if this is a jump-the-shark moment for my church with regard to political influences. It’s hard to resist the exposure, for sure.
And this tension is really what the First Amendment was all about:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
It was meant to protect the religious citizens from government, not to sanitize the government of religion or religious citizens.
Just some thoughts from a ‘religious’ fatty.
This is a zero humor day again. What I am about to share is one of a handful of the most important things I have learned in my life–more specifically, in my faith. This one is also the basis of some lyrics I recently wrote (and sang) for a band called VENIA. Listen to it here and read all the lyrics here if you’d like.
As I have said before, over the course of life and 22 years of my Christian faith I have talked to thousands of people. This has been through being a small business owner, being in a band called Strongarm, doing around 100 interviews and connecting with people regarding my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity, spending 5 years helping start a church, being involved in other ares of leadership at other churches, and just meandering through life in general. My point is, I have had a lot of conversations, especially on faith. In fact, most people do just meander through life.
Hearing stories (and subsequently, reflecting on my own) I have learned there is basically only one (of two) reasons that people either stray away or stay away from God.
One of those is PAIN, as I explained here in Part 1.
What is the other one?
There is something. Something that has a draw over you. It’s something that pulls you to itself when you are tired, stressed, depressed, have had a fight with someone you love, are failing at work, have lost your job, etc. (you get the idea.) When life sucks, you are tempted to indulge in your little hidden pleasure.
Now, this pleasure might not necessarily be bad in the right context or in moderation–like sex, eating, drinking, and shopping. But when we use it to escape life, get that rush, or generally anesthetize ourselves from reality, it’s unhealthy. Of course, it can be blatantly bad–like drug use, drunkennes, or pornography–especially when it becomes addictive.
Oh, let it be clear, dabbling in any ‘escape high’ (you know, just giving in once) is dangerous. Habits like this always progress. Yes…they always progress toward addiction, especially because there is always something sucky in life that we want to escape from a little.
Remember the lyrics I mentioned? The second part of the chorus is:
When pleasures tempt you to stray, will you stand with me?
Although the line from the chorus is from me, I often imagine these are words God says to me to keep me focused.
Here’s what I know… This is called sin. That’s not a popular word. It sounds archaic, but it is still true. When we dabble in sin it drives a wedge between us and God. Too often it’s as simple as feeling shame and not wanting to face Him. So we let the connection with him dull and fade away–all the while clinging to our imitation (or functional) god (our hidden pleasure).
Most people who stray or stay away from God don’t have some sudden epiphany that “there is no God.” Most people dabble in a behavior that they know is wrong, don’t want to stop, so they change what they believe so that it is not longer wrong in their own mind.
As I heard Andy Stanley say it once at church:
People stop behaving before they stop believing.
You can’t really say it any better than that.
So we have to learn to develop an enduring faith. If we want to finish this race (and life) well, we must do this.
Be ever so careful. Train yourself to starve the appetite of that hidden pleasure. It never goes away, but it can be muted. It’s the only way to not look back on life and see a series of small “just once” moments that have lead you down a path of loneliness, emptiness, apathy, and distance from God. When food, alcohol, sex, shopping, porn, [or whatever your struggle is] tempts you to stray when you’re down-and-out and need an escape high, what will you do?
When pleasures tempt you to stray, will you stand with God?
Sadly, most people don’t. But you can always break that trend. I hope you will. I work at it every day.
The participants have been announced for this and my pastor, Andy Stanley, will be one of them.
That’s pretty cool if you ask me. I just hope he doesn’t go with his hand out for some bail out money, especially since he’s been teaching a series on being responsible with money right now called Balanced. JOKE!
Now I may have a reason to watch it, at least this part of it.
And I wonder if anyone will get mad at this like they have at Rick Warren for being part of the ceremonies. It’s not as high profile as Warren’s part so I’m guessing no.
Go Andy! Pray it up…
Who is Andy Stanley? He is the lead/teaching pastor of Northpoint Community Church. If you ask me, he is the best Bible communicator (in this type of forum) of his day and has managed to build the best church in America. But I’m biased. I go to that church with my family.
So why would I be mad at him? For good reason. He is in week 2 of his current series called Faith, Hope, & Luck. As usual, he’s delivering the goods and I walk out with a nugget that I chew on in my mind for days. But why would that make me mad?
1. Because, through a weird course of events involving a cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake, I gave the intro and first chapter of my upcoming book back in January to someone to read and give me some suggestions who turned out to be one of his assistants and (take a breath) some of the things he’s said sound eerily familiar, complete with a Jedi reference used in the exact same way I used it? Maybe.
2. Because he is getting my ideas from my book out before me? Definitely.
3. Because he’s delivering talks about these ideas in a way that is way better than I will ever be able to do? Without a doubt.
Truthfully, I am mad and not mad at the same time. I have come to realize there really are no new ideas out there. There are only ideas that haven’t been brought up for a while and then are repackaged in a new way that appeals to people all over again, for the most part.
To prove my point, Andy even used an idea and illustration that comes straight out my chapter 2. The thing is, no one except my wife and I has even read that chapter up to this point.
I take it as encouragement, because other people are thinking about this stuff. It just means to me that it’s time. People need to hear this. Plus, I certainly am packaging my ideas in an original way.
And don’t get me wrong, I do think my book has many, many, many new ideas in it. So I hope you plan on picking it up when it is available. Maybe even pick one up for your friend at work, and mom, and cousin Joe. And don’t forget the guy down the street. He’ll really like it.
I carry around this guilt as a Christian, like I’m not supposed to be into what’s going on in politics. And if I am, I’m some sort of theocratic nut-job. But if I was some kind of hyper-atheist communist, it would be OK. I could be into politics all I want. In fact, that would even be cool because I would be against corporate America, big oil, the man, or whatever. Well, I am into what’s going on in politics.
Let me start by saying that I have no idea who I am going to vote for. I may not even vote for the first time in my adult life. I always called people irresponsible who didn’t vote. But I’m just tired of holding my nose and pushing the button when I’m in the voting booth. I’ll be honest, I’m sure not voting for Obama or Hillary. I’m not crazy. But I have no love affair with John McCain, either. Anyway, on to my point.
Barack gave a speech yesterday denouncing his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as if it was the first time he ever heard Wright’s comments like this. All this time, Obama’s defense for attending that church with his family for 20 years is that: 1. He never heard those types of statements while he was there and 2. Wright was his pastor not his mentor.
He was his pastor not his mentor? That really bugs me. I find it completely condescending. It implies that a pastor has less influence in the life of an individual than a mentor. Somehow he got a pass by saying this. And I think it has all to do with the media’s low view on all things related to Christianity in general. But over here in the theocratic nut-job world, that defense is weak and flawed.
No one, not even a mentor, has more influence over me and my world-view than my pastor, Andy Stanley. I value his Biblical knowledge and spiritual guidance more than anyone else’s. Even further, by default my pastor is probably the most influential person in the life of my family, too. I realize that may sound crazy to many people. But if your pastor doesn’t have that kind importance in your life than why are you going to that church? I can think of three reasons why: 1. You don’t really go to church. 2. You don’t really believe the Bible or God that much so you don’t really listen to what’s taught. 3. Or it’s just a ritual that satisfies some underlying internal agenda. So thank you, Mr. Stanley, for not being crazy. Then I would have to find another church to influence me and my family.
So Barack, I am not an idiot. When you say he is not your mentor, I believe it is true. But not for the right reasons. A pastor should have more influence than a mentor. Or maybe it would be better to say a pastor should be a mentor. That’s “change I can really believe in.”