Tag Archives: faith

The Elephant in the Room – Week 2 Text Messages & Notes

Continuing our Jacob’s Well series on “The Elephant in the Room.”

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Here are the text messages and notes people sent in during the service yesterday (11/17). See the input from last week’s service here. Leave comments or more ‘elephants’ below.

  • Is the Bible to be taken as literal truth or parable stories to learn from?
  • The entire book of Revelation x2; do we apply it today?
  • How does the Bible fit into today’s world – in whole or in part?
  • Do you need to be SMART to interpret the bible or ACCEPTING?
  • Heaven and hell – can we take it literally that it exists? Is there a heaven?
  • Justin mentions the bible was written by goat herders. What about revisions (with bias) made overtime by monks/priests through handwritten translation?
  • Since the bible is written by “man” is it ok to view the bible as flawed as “man” is flawed?
  • Are you unchristian if you have sex before marriage? Even when ur young?
  • Is it our job to evangelize or lead by example?
  • Is there only one religion of god (Christianity? Related: Is Jesus the only “son” of god?)
  • Can Christianity exclude anyone (x2), and if it did, is it still Christianity?
  • Is Atheism bad?
  • If I tell someone I’m a Christian, it associates me with a lot of people I don’t like. How do I deal with that?
  • How to reconcile what the Bible teaches about Jesus being THE only way into God’s kingdom and a personal belief or conviction that people outside of Christianity are welcome, too?
  • Christians can’t “accept” other faiths/religions as full truth as well.
  • Why do people feel a need to tell others that they are wrong?
  • If God created everything – both good and bad – it’s my belief that then everything is for a reason. With that said, what is the reason that there is such a divide in the Christian faith? Are those with another opinion of God wrong? Is there a wrong? If not how do I deal with those that call themselves Christian, but don’t align with what I believe God is?
  • I have a hard time truly grasping that Jesus was truly the son of God…really? And came back to life? Really? I sometimes wonder if I can really be Christian if I struggle to believe this.
  • Why is it necessary to define oneself as a Christian? And how does the culture of worship interfere with Truth?
  • Did Jesus become the son of God? What if God is a human construct and what is wrong with that?
  • How did god impregnate Mary from heaven?? How is Jesus the son of god if Mary and god didn’t actually have sex? I’m confused.
  • How is Jesus’ death and resurrection any less “fantastical” than old testament stories that work best as a metaphor?
  • If Jesus was born Christ, isn’t it impossible to be life him? If he became Christ, the shouldn’t we expect ourselves to live better lives. If god is all that is, isn’t god more like quantum physics? How do you love quantum physics?
  • So many wonderful questions, so little time. Thank you for the chance to wrestle with them so openly. I’ve wondered why we don’t talk about the Holy Spirit more here. I could talk about/listen about Jesus & God forever, but I’m not sure what to think about the Holy Spirit. Such a minor point, really, but it keeps niggling at me…P.S. I find it easier actually to be loved by the stars in the sky?
  • Why do good Christians have to suffer in health areas? What is God’s purpose in sickness?
  • Disease. Famine.
  • Why do bad things happen? Suffering, war, hunger…
  • I don’t understand war! It’s been around since the beginning. What does it ever prove?
  • Why do the people with the least often receive more than their fair share of hardship? (i.e., Philippines)
  • Why does God allow for so much suffering in the world?
  • Sometimes love and grace can be so big that sin and injustice almost become irrelevant. What the hell happens with Hitler?
  • Why do bad things happen if god can control almost everything?
  • Who goes to heaven, the afterlife or whatever it is after the death of the body. What about your Jewish, Muslim, Atheist friends
  • We don’t pray together every day. If I don’t pray in the morning or evening I feel undisciplined and not a good Christian.
  • I wrestle with my sins in Galatians Chapter 5: 13-15. Will we be forgiven for our sins? Or not?
  • Hearing God’s voice – how to decipher it it’s God.
  • I’ve been spiritual and in tune to God up until now. Now, in middle age God is completely gone to me. I’m pretty much a non-believer. Why would God “go?”

Thanks for all the thoughtful and honest questions. We responded in some way to many of them, but certainly can’t say we resolved them all. That is a lifelong task. My hope isn’t to answer them all, but to let everyone know that questions and doubts are healthy. They can build faith. They are dangerous, not when they are thought, but when they are buried away.

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Do you see it NOW? from church to not-church

Laurie Goodstein reported on the Pew Research findings in the 10/9 New York Times (read it here) that protestants no longer make up a majority of the US population. What’s more, it is a rapidly changing trend. And it isn’t because people are switching churches. They are simply opting out.

The clanging bells and flashing lights of this warning might just get our attention this time. So, in case you couldn’t see it, hear it coming before, well… business as usual is coming to an end. We are staring face to face with the fact that what churches are doing is connecting with and engaging fewer and fewer people every year. And it isn’t because God has changed. People simply have not been experiencing sufficient relevance or value in churches to make them orient their world around them.

It’s time to get out from behind the safety of our institutions and doctrinal checklists and start being what we tried to define, describe and defend. It’s time to be the church. It’s time to make mistakes, build less, love more. It’s time to stop worrying about the orthodoxy of what we believe and how we do things, and to start risking the extravagance of living out love no matter what it looks like.

Maybe people aren’t leaving the church because they don’t believe in God, in fact the study showed that only a minority of those who have given up on church have also given up on God. They are leaving because they don’t see the church being big enough to hold what they believe God is. So they have left hoping to get a peek of God out in the immensity of the rest of life.

In case you were wondering, it looks like the stop arm is descending from the semaphore. It isn’t when or if things really need to change; it is time. Time to let God be BIG again. So big that God bursts the seams of church and we go spilling out all over the place. Those places all those people are. Those places where God already is.

Folks, this article… the way I see it, it’s good news.