What Ticked Jesus Off? (And Why Are Some Christians So Angry?)

What Ticked Jesus Off? (And Why Are Some Christians So Angry?)

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We Christians (and I include myself in that group) are too easily offended at times. We are a passionate people given to strong feelings and even stronger opinions. Few in our culture are confused about what matters to us. Frankly, believers are known for what we are against, and the list is long.

Certainly, many of the issues we fight for are significant. However, and let’s be honest, some of the things we get irritated about have nothing to do with Biblical truth and are far more about personal preferences.

For the record, I’m an evangelical, Bible believing pastor and Christian.

I believe the Word is clear about what matters to God.

  • Mercy and grace

  • Forgiveness and eternal life

  • Injustice

  • Abuse

  • Truth

  • Discord within the Body of Christ

And the list goes on . . .

Without question, there are a lot of things that absolutely matter to God. However, there are many things that matter to some Christians, but not so much to Christ.

  • The volume of the worship music

  • When and how often a church should take communion

  • The appropriate translation of the Bible to be used in a message

  • Guys wearing hats in church

And again, the list goes on . . .

Rather than get all spun-out over our pet peeves, perhaps we should consider one simple, yet important question: What made Jesus mad?

As Christ-followers, it would seem obvious that what upset Jesus ought to disturb us. If it mattered to Him, it should matter to us. Conversely, if it didn’t seem to matter much to Jesus, perhaps it shouldn’t matter to us.

As a pastor, author, and blogger, on a regular basis I get an email from someone “deeply concerned” about something. The long emails usually have a bite, and they are generally written by a person who is extremely upset (the CAPS and !!!! are a dead give-away).

Yes, being corrected is a good thing when you’re wrong. In fact, I welcome constructive criticism. I never want to be above rebuke because I want to live a life that is above reproach.

Rarely, however, is their “issue” related to a doctrinal concern or Biblical error on my part. Typically, it’s about a matter of style or church practice.

I get it. People have opinions, and that’s fine.

I know that not everybody sees things the way I see them, and that’s to be expected.

What continually amazes me, however, is the mean and vile nature of some who call themselves Christ-followers.

I just listened to a phone message from someone who is, at best, an infrequent attender at our church. She called to complain about something that “really bothers her.” I can deal with the fact that she’s upset. I appreciate that she is attempting to communicate with me.

The problem? She was caustic, rude, and unkind. Not at all like Jesus.

How sad.

I recently attempted to point out to another parishioner how important it is to be like Jesus when you’re outraged. He blurted out, “Yeah, but Jesus got mad! There’s such a thing as righteous indignation!”

I looked at him, and said as gently as possible, “Yes, Jesus did get infuriated at times, but perhaps it would be a worthwhile endeavor for you to study what actually ticked Jesus off.”

So, what did upset Jesus?

  • Hardness of heart (Mark 3:1-5)

  • Selfish ambition (Mark 8:31-38)

  • Spiritual arrogance (Luke 9:51-55)

  • Self-centeredness (Matthew 23:10-12)

  • Hypocrisy and fake religiosity (Luke 11:37-54)

Try as you might, you won’t find any passage in which Jesus got mad at sinners for being sinners. You will, however, find Him very angry with the so-called righteous.

You won’t find Jesus spouting off about Rome or the Emperor. He simply reminded His followers that His kingdom is not of this world.

You won’t see Jesus venting about people wearing hats in the Synagogue (they all did), or about the volume of worship (the Jews tend to like it loud, check this out).

Let’s own it: the stuff that ticks a lot of us off didn’t matter at all to Jesus.

Have your opinions. Be passionate. Express yourself.

But please stop being an angry Christian, unless it’s about something that also made Christ mad.

I love this quote by M.R. DeHaan, “We need not all agree, but if we disagree, let us not be disagreeable in our disagreements.”

What a concept. Rather than disdain, contempt, and scorn for others, let’s do our best, especially with our brothers and sisters, to live in humility, harmony, and peace.

In the words of one of my favorite NEEDTOBREATHE songs: be more heart and less attack.

“Dear brothers and sisters,

I close my letter with these last words:

Be joyful. Grow to maturity.

Encourage each other.

Live in harmony and peace.

Then the God of love and peace

will be with you.”

2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

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20 Responses to What Ticked Jesus Off? (And Why Are Some Christians So Angry?)

  1. Well said Sir!! I appreciate your techniques to keep it friendly & loving & joyful…. so the other person “hopefully” mimics that… I LIKE that. I will remember to employ that myself in my daily routines to hopefully make my surroundings a better place…& it can’t hurt my attitude if I attempt to be at peace & joyful myself.

    • Thank you, Kelly. I’m always reminded it’s better to be a thermostat (affecting our environment) rather than a thermometer (just reflecting it). You are loved.

  2. I love this, as I find myself in a work situation where there was under handedness and disrespect, I was being made fun of and the work environment was volatile at times, I had files thrown across the desk at me and was told this is stupid, I was yelled at by a coworker who blamed me for her troubles at work. Yesterday (3 days before my last day of work)I found out that some of my policies I wrote where stolen by this coworker where she received monetary benefits. I was furious. Before I reacted in outburst I sat at my computer and asked God what to do..I kept feeling this just leave and it over took me..I clocked off and walked off the job…whether right or wrong I didn’t want to be the volatile one or react in a manner I would have to take responsibility for. I do know there needs to be an explanation & I will be talking with HR in the next day and they are opened to what I have to say. I am very angry, hurt and upset that this has gone on in the work place in a place that prides itself doing what is right…

  3. Well said, Kurt. Reminds me of something I read reminding me that in this life journey, I will never ever look into the eyes of another human being that God does not love outrageously and respect, even if he or she is living far, far away from God today. Tomorrow there could be the beginning of a radical change…if they encounter God’s love through one of His own.

    Vicious anger won’t work to change the world or another person, but rather builds a high and wide wall between people instead.

  4. Hi Pastor Kurt. Good blog. Reminded me of Brant Hansen’s “Unoffendable”. Similar points that as Christians, we’re really not entitled to get offended or stay angry. Lots of bible verse references, including James 1:20, “The anger of a man does not produce the righteous of God.” Makes you think about your reasons for feeling the way you do. A good read I’d recommend to others. Have a blessed day!

  5. I love this Kurt, and could not agree more. In fact I was just about to post something on Facebook about people who call themselves Christians ranting and raving about the faults of other people – calling them prejudice, intolerant, judgemental and so on. The irony of it was that they themselves were showing their intolerance and judgement of others. Thank you for shining a light on this topic!

  6. Oh, wow, Kurt! I just penned a blog which will post tomorrow, and although very different from yours here, the ideas expressed are much the same. I love God-incidences like this!
    And what a great point you make about what made Jesus angry. He is the model we should be following, not making “idols” of our particular preferences.
    Blessings!

  7. You know what ticks me off Kurt. When people are critical of the music, hats in church, shorts, cutoffs, and, above all Pastors. I say that because my son is a pastor and some of his “good Christian” members have been so hurtful. Sometimes, I wish he was not a pastor. Anyway, that is my vent for tonight. Oh, stupid truck drivers and 4 wheel drivers tick me off too and I have to pray for them when I encounter them so I pretty much pray continually.

  8. HERE’S TO ALL CAPS

    WELL SAID!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU’RE WRITING KEEPS IT REAL AND TO THE POINT.
    TURN IT UP AND THROW THE HATS ON.

    LOVE MY KMART PASTOR

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An Open Letter to President Obama

An Open Letter to President Obama

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As I write this, you are giving your final speech to the American people as our 44th President.

I feel compelled, maybe even driven, to write a few things to you (even though they are words you’ll probably never read). Perhaps, what I have to say is just for me; writing tends to be therapeutic. Maybe it’s for my friends who need to hear what a white, Republican, evangelical Christian pastor has to say.

First, I need to say “thank you” for all of the sacrifices you have made to serve our country. Thank you for facing the unbelievably challenging task of leading this great nation. I lead a fairly large church, and the stress is unbearable at times. I can’t imagine how you ever sleep.

Thank you for staying dedicated to who you are and what you believe. Frankly, I haven’t agreed with you much, but I respect a man who is true to his convictions.

For the record, I voted for you in 2008 (sadly, some of my friends are shocked and looking for the unsubscribe button right now).

I didn’t vote for you because I agreed with all of your political positions. I didn’t vote for you because you were a great orator. I didn’t vote for you just because you were black either (although I’ll explain how that fact did influence my vote).

I voted for you because it was a personal act of repentance for me.

As a child of the 50s, I was raised with “an attitude” toward African Americans. I remember very well attending an all-white school in Abilene, Texas. I remember being told and believing that it was “best for Negro children to go to school together” (implying that they wouldn’t be able to keep up with white kids).

I was eleven years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. I remember watching the story on the news and hearing, “It was only a matter of time; he was a trouble-maker who brought this on himself.”

My vote for you was my way of saying that “white privilege” and American racism must stop. I voted for you because I desperately wanted to contribute in some way to what I pray will be a lasting shift in our country.

If the trend continues, by 2045 most of those who are US citizens will have African, Asian, or Latin American ancestors. We will no longer be a white majority nation, and that fact demands a profound change in attitude and action if we are to thrive and survive as one nation, under God.

I know we still have a long way to go, but by voting for you, I was willing to sacrifice my political passions to see a little bit of that change in my lifetime. I am honored to say that I had an extremely small part in helping the first black man become President.

President Obama, I apologize for my brothers and sisters in Christ who spoke about you with so little honor and respect. I’m sorry for the vile things that were said and written by men and women of faith.

We Americans, and we Christians, too often allow our moral compass to become a weapon of hate. We also conveniently ignore the Biblical mandate to show respect and honor to those in leadership, regardless of their politics.

I’m sorry for the way you have been treated by some who profess to love God.

Some of my Christian friends will say, “NO true Christ-follower would ever vote for a man who supports the LGBT agenda and abortion!”

I would humbly remind them that no true Christ-follower can say they love God while maligning, belittling, or hating a leader, a race, or any group of people, no matter how much they disagree with them.

We can disagree, but we should never throw any human under any bus. In doing so, we dishonor our Maker.

Sometimes, sadly, we have made “being right” an excuse for being malicious rather than being gentle, kind, and loving peacemakers.

Forgive us. Forgive me.

I’m not sure how history will recall your presidency in a hundred years. I have no idea how you genuinely feel about the past eight years.

I recognize the ebb and flow of American politics will always be unpredictable and volatile. I’ve been around long enough to know that policies and presidents come and go, and yet my faith in God is still secure.

So I pray tonight that you know there’s an old, white, Jesus-loving, generally Republican preacher who hates some of Obama’s policies, but loves Obama as a man, and honors him as a president.

Because of Him, you are loved,

 

 

 

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56 Responses to An Open Letter to President Obama

  1. Being a former Calif Liberal and now a North Idaho conservative follower of Christ, I understand your rational in this. It is very, very hard for me to separate the man from his politics of divisiveness

  2. I have always wondered how you felt about our President mainly because you’re a Pastor and leader of our congregation. I have the upmost respect for you especially after reading this blog. You’re true to your word, true to your church and true to your family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. I want you to know I look forward to reading your blog whenever you post…I may not always write my reply or opinions but I do like/enjoy what you have to say. I tend to shy away from posts that push buttons or hot button topics but I respect your stance on quite a few issues that I felt comfortable to weigh in, as it were…. I chose not to watch the President’s last address to the nation. I have not cared for this Presidency nor his policies….but on the other hand being the Leader of this country is something I would not want nor wish it on anyone I like/love. I cannot imagine the stress/pressure/responsibility…Your compassion and willingness to still love the human while not judging is something I try to aspire..and hopefully teach my kids..and yet I know I fail more often than not. Its something, Lord knows, I am working on…I DO like hearing your perspective on these hard things…mostly because you try to be mature/what God wants…I try to work towards that as well…I am just truly glad God has patience and understanding for us all and love us still.

    • It is “risky” to write about something that may or maynot be understood by others. Like you, I’m just trying to do my best, Kelly, to be like Jesus. Thank you!

  4. As a child of the 60s, I had parents who had that “attitude” you speak of, which seemed to contradict the awakening anti-racism all around me. Needless to say, I was a little confused, but generally agreed with what I was being taught in school: a superiority attitude is not okay. But I was on the west coast (Cali, to be exact) & I know that region was a little more progressive in their thinking. Interestingly, our parents moved us to Oregon in the late 60s, the year before Bay Area schools had decided to desegregate and start busing black kids to white schools. My mom was relieved at the timing of our departure, but when I asked her why, she couldn’t really explain what she was afraid of.

    • I think the generation before us was afraid. Frankly, fear is still now an issue too often in our relationships with people of color. thanks for adding a bit of your story to the conversation!

  5. Nicely stated. If more of my Republican friends and friends-of-friends saw things the same way you do, my Facebook feed would be a happier place.

    We should treat politics like a speck of sawdust in the eye. Love of another’s true heart matters far more than any human-conceived policy.

    May God continue to bless you.

    PS You’re not missing much on social media, so continue to enjoy 2017 without it. 🙂

  6. That was an elegant and strong letter. Thanks for approaching this very politically divisive topic from a Godly perspective. I also haven’t agreed with much that he did in the last 8 years, and I’m very happy that his time is about to conclude. But maintaining a Christlike perspective is crucial no matter whether we like, or voted for whomever is in office. From Abilene, huh? I always knew there was something about you that connected with me. I was born there and raised in San Angelo, and I know we’re pretty close in age. I’m a pastor myself, near Houston, TX, and I always enjoy reading your blogs and posts.

    • Thank you, Bryan. Fortunately, a lot of things have changed in Texas (and elsewhere), but we do still have a long way to go. Appreciate you brother. Stay the course.

  7. I agree with most of your opinions concerning Brock Obama. That he became our first black president was inevitable, not only for our country, but for history going forward. While we did not vote for him , he won fair and square.We are required, as it says in the bible, to honor our leaders.Now I feel the same about our president elect. While sometimes watching his comments through hands held to face ; we pray his behavior will not follow him into the presidency as past presidents ! With his supposed immoral past,comments and tweets unbecoming to our president; we can only pray that he will reach out for guidance, listen and accept advice. Hard to watch and read the constant negative reporting , and unwillingness to give him a chance to prove himself.

    • I share your concerns, Chris, for our soon-to-be President Trump. I will continue to do my best to pray for him and to honor the office no matter what. Love and appreciate you!

  8. Do you believe repentance could have been achieved, first and foremost, before God and secondly, before close family and friends? Can we effect change (which I agree needs to happen) by not voting for someone with Mr. Obama’s dangerous policies?
    Love you and the blog Kurt!

    • Hi Adam, I think, at least for me, this act of “repentance” was also an act of obedience. I would never tell anyone how to vote. Until this blog, I’ve never spoken publicly of my decision. My hope was to use my experience as a statement of how passionately I feel about the issue of race relations and the need for healing in our country. Truth be told, whether someone/anyone agrees with what I did or not by voting for Obama, genuine repentance is always a “public” experience. When we repent and become Christ-followers, we do publicly. Though it is a private and personal decision, it is professed to others and even publicly demonstrated in public water baptism. That being said, again, it was necessary for me to demonstrate a change of heart through a very radical change of action. Hope all is well with you my friend. Love you guys too!

  9. Thanks, Kurt!
    Wow!!! Thank you for reminding us that we need to love and show respect no matter what our views. I see and hear so many negative comments and bad behavior on many issues and against many people that I have to disconnect myself from T.V. and Facebook. I appreciate your letter and the expectations of Christ followers. May we all become a little more like Him and show love, kindness, tolerance, and compassion for one another.
    🙂

  10. Excellent work, Kurt. Growing up with my dad in the military gave me more exposure to other races and Dad made sure I understood there was no difference. When we had just moved to central California in 1961 I was in the 8th grade and someone asked me if I favored segregation and I honestly didn’t understand their question. Now the big word is “hate” and I’m afraid this might be a distraction from the real problem I find in me which is self pride. I don’t hate people, I just like things my way and I don’t like people who get in my way. If I want to know what is wrong with the world, I have to quote G.K. Chesterton “I am.”

  11. Hi Kurt, your letter to the president is great and it caused me not to write a letter to the Spokane paper about how glad I am to see his administration come to an end. I have prayed for him but not as often as I should have. Anyway, I appreciated your letter and will continue to read your blog.

    • Hi Gary, I think we are always free to express our opinions and views. What concerns me is how some do so in such a nasty and unChristlike way. It’s all about tone, words, and our hearts. Thanks for reading my blog. Thanks for your friendship! Be safe out there on the road. Love you buddy!

  12. Hi Kurt,
    Your letter is awesome. It made me cry. I know so many people who hate and have really badmouthed the president. It has saddened my heart. I don’t tolerate badmouthing in my 2nd grade class. Maybe some of those people need to come back to 2nd grade and learn something! I did not vote for Obama, but when he was elected, I thought Wow! Our country elected a black man for president! At that, I am thrilled for all black people. I don’t agree with most of Obama’s politics, BUT God didn’t tell me I had to agree with the leader He put in place! He did tell me, as you said, to honor and pray for our leaders. Hopefully, we will pray for our president elect and quit the badmouthing. Love you. God bless you!!

  13. I agree with you on many points Kurt. I have always disliked when people disrespect the President. Whether one agrees with his policies, decisions or stances I have always believed that you should honor the role he has. I for one would not want that job, nor do I wish or pray for Ty to become President. I do not post about politics and generally try not to comment on post regarding them, like you I have been off social media and it’s nice not to be bombarded by the negativity that can be posted about our President and President-elect.
    Our job is to pray for them and our leaders, to teach our children respect for the position they hold and to continue to live our life in a manner glorifying our Lord. Good job Kurt.

  14. I also voted for Obama and never felt like he didn’t do or say what was in his heart. I am so sorry our people show so much disrepect for our leaders who are taking on the hardest job anyone could have. Hopefully we can start acting like adults and support who ever is our president and make this nation look great again. Thank you for posting your letter.
    Diane

  15. Pastor Bubna,
    I appreciate your using your own platform to demonstrate what the tangible manifestation of God should look like in this world. As a pastor, chaplain and adjunct religion professor, I wish I could meet you and dialogue about the poison that has become political discourse in America. I wish we had advanced as a nation as you’d hoped. Blessings and peace my brother. Soli Deo Gloria!

  16. oh, kurt…. thank you so much for taking the time and thought, to put to words what i have so deeply wanted to hear. i grew up on an indian reservation, and most of my friends and neighbors were something other than white. i didn’t really think about race issues, nor did i understand them. so, although i didn’t vote for obama, i was excited to see that our nation was finally able to see people past their color, and imagined that to be progress in the right direction! however, my upbringing also taught me that whether or not you agree with the person, … you respect the position,…. and although i did not agree with many of our presidents policies, i certainly have respected him as a president and a person. sadly, i believe it will be harder for me to “feel” respectful of that position over the next 4 years than the last. but i will “choose” to continue to pray for our president, and respect his position, and incredibly difficult job.
    may we all feel an urgency to pray for our nation and our leaders passionately, not because we agree with them, or even like them…. but out of obedience to the One who can truly change hearts, and love people into wisdom! 🙂
    thoughts of an old, white, mostly republican grandma

  17. Thank you Kurt for speaking truth and love. Truth that is needed today as much it ever was. Jesus walked and lived in times like ours full of judgement, hatred, hypocrisy and division. We have so much yet to learn from him. Thank you for saying what needed to be said! Love you brother!

  18. Wow. Just wow. Clearly we didn’t have the same experience growing up, and we aren’t from the same generation, but this physically made me I’ll. Not because I am a racist, or that I agree with what you were protesting. Just like I don’t understand racism, I also don’t understand feeling guilty for the color of your skin.

    As I look around at the mess this president has made (not just in our country, but around the world), I am profoundly disgusted by the fact that you would celebrate voting for someone based on the color of their skin! Is that not racism?? I would proudly vote for a black man or woman, but I cannot imagine voting for one who would spit in the face of Isreal, promote the killing of the unborn, incite violence against law enforcement, give money to terrorist nations that want to kill us, and honestly I could go on forever, but I won’t. I’m sad that he was such a disgrace. Not because he is half black, but because for the past 8 years I have been living in fear. Before you point your finger at a lack of faith, take a look around at our current state of affairs. Never in my life have I seen our nation so broken, and truly divided. Obama has promoted class warfare, incited racial division, and terrorism is not only rampant around the world, but right here on our shores.

    I think your letter was nothing but a showboat. While you may have a whole group of followers who hang on your every word, just remember the vast responsibility that comes with that. As I read your letter, it appears that you are either completely politically uninformed, or your need to suppress your white guilt over rides the values to which you preach.

    I’m sorry if my comment comes off as being unloving. Your letter made me angry, and I will own that. Truly I wish you the best.

    • Dear Heather, I fear you missed my primary point: we are to honor and respect those in authority (as commanded to do so in the Word) regardless of their performance or political bent. As I said, I “hate” most of Obama’s policies, but I must love the man and honor him as President. I would encourage you to do some honest study about racism in America (you might want to read America’s Original Sin, by Jim Wallis). I would also ask you to consider why you are so angry. What’s in your heart? Is it reflecting the fruit of the Spirit? Accusing me of “showboating” is so far from my heart and my intent. That being said, I forgive you, and pray God’s blessing on you. You are loved.

    • Interesting response; having not voted for the man I still can look around and see a general sense of improvement over the past 4 years.
      I’m still proud to be an American and love praying for wisdom for all of our local and national leaders.

  19. Thanks for writing and posting that letter Kurt, I agree with all you wrote, and must say I spoke on the same things with others, but it was received with sarcasm. Thanks again, it would be great if President Obama could read that.

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Jesus at the Bus Station (Busted By Love)

Jesus at the Bus Station (Busted By Love)

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I was downtown last week, and to avoid the cold, I went through our local bus transit center on my way to get a cup of hot coffee. Many cities have stations like this, and they often are filled with the poor, the homeless, and lots of street kids.

Apparently, the loitering laws aren’t enforced in a public place designed for people supposedly waiting for a bus.

I’ll be honest; my first thought was, “Wow. This place is just a little bit scary.” On a bench an older guy was sitting by himself and having a conversation—with himself. There was a scraggy-looking woman with a cart full of who-knows-what, and she smelled so bad I choked.

Several rough-looking teens were glued to their cell phones listening to something, and when one of them looked up at me, I could see the hopelessness in his eyes. Another emaciated young woman, probably a meth-addict, stood staring out a window.

That’s when another thought hit me, and this one was far godlier, “I’m pretty sure Jesus would hang out here, a lot, and He wouldn’t be scared or put off by anyone.”

Those I labeled losers, Jesus labeled love.

Busted.

It’s funny how a change in my perspective brought about a significant change in my attitude. And attitude is one of the most important choices any of us can make.

In an instant I switched from concern for myself to compassion for others. The people in that transit building didn’t change, but I did.

Why?

Because I started to see the poor and the disenfranchised there as humans who are profoundly loved by the Father. Interestingly, these were the people Jesus felt the most comfortable with, and the lowly and impoverished always felt accepted by Him.

Of course, I know what the Word says about the poor. I understand our call to be generous, kind, and Christ-like. Good grief, I’ve taught about compassion for the marginalized many times.

But there’s nothing quite like a walk through a bus station, on my way to spend nearly four bucks on a cup of coffee, to force me to a profound realization.

Jesus didn’t just talk about the poor—He talked to them.

Jesus didn’t just teach about love—He loved the unlovely.

Recently, in my new favorite book, People of the Second Chance, I read this quote by the author and monk Thomas Merton, “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business. What we are asked to do is to love.”

Obviously, I still have a long way to go.

Maybe I should go on a bus.

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled,

the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.

Although they cannot repay you,

you will be repaid at the

resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:13-14 (NIV)

 

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13 Responses to Jesus at the Bus Station (Busted By Love)

  1. I had the opportunity to ride the bus for ~6 months last year and I loved every minute of it. Everyday I was challenged to try and talk to someone at that same stop.

    I’m hoping things work for me to hop on the ole’ STA again this year.

  2. Being in truck stops is a similar experience Kurt. Actually being on the road among drivers challenges me to have grace.

  3. In current society situations it IS very hard for myself personally to take that step.. while “I” know the poor & helpless & addicts are all around us…it’s just so VERY hard to not think about personal safety & emotional safety when helping others… I get defeated so quickly because there never is an absolute solution to this epidemic… but not doing anything is not a godly Christian(?) attitude/answer either..

    • Thank you for being so honest, Kelly. I know it’s fear that holds us back. I also know that not being like Jesus because of our fear isn’t the answer either. Wisdom is good (I would never want my wife to enter into a dark alley to interact with a drug addict), but love is still our call (she could talk to a homeless man at the bus station where security guards are always present). Pray for me and I’ll be praying for you. Thanks for joining the conversation.

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An Experiment in “Anti-Social” Behavior

An Experiment in “Anti-Social” Behavior

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It’s day three, and my withdrawal symptoms are raging. Shakes. Irritability. Difficulty focusing. Depression.

If you had told me I was “addicted,” I would have denied it, but apparently I am.

Okay, I’m a bit melodramatic. I’m not depressed, and the shakes are from a lack of coffee. However, it’s surprising to me how difficult my latest act of obedience has become.

I recently felt like God asked me to go without social media or television for 2017. That’s right, a whole year.

What no Facebook? No Twitter? No Instagram? No Madam Secretary or Designated Survivor?

Yup.

Crazy, huh?

Here’s a bit of the backstory.

I was one of the early Facebook users. I wasn’t, however, using it a lot or using any other social media sites until just before my first book, Epic Grace, got published. My agent and my publisher at Tyndale told me, “You need to set up an author page on Facebook and get on Twitter and maybe Pinterest to promote your book.”

I didn’t even know what Pinterest was (and it took me days to figure it out). I thought Twitter was stupid. But okay, I’ll jump in and do my best. So, I set up the accounts and downloaded all the apps on my smartphone and iPad.

Since then, I’ve posted thousands of pictures, pins, and pithy comments. Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing to admit how much time I’ve spent on social media. It was the first and the last thing I did every day, and let’s just say my time on “the throne” also increased exponentially

For decades, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the idiot box (i.e. TV). In the early years of our family, we often chose not to have a television in our home. It seemed counter-productive to a healthy family environment, and we wanted our kids to be avid readers.

Then after a while we’d break down and buy a cheap one, and end up watching it too much until we tossed it again in frustration (or at least stuck it in the closet) after about a year.

For the last ten years or so, with all the kids out of the house and a bit more free time on our hands, my wife and I found it relaxing to watch a few of our favorite programs together each week.

But then a few each week became a couple each night. It was my fault. I’d say, “I’m pretty tired and stressed, let’s just veg-out tonight in front of the TV.”

Back in the dark ages (when I was a kid), most of the TV programs were limited and awfully stupid. Of course, I watched them anyhow, but you can only take so much of Gilligan’s Island or Green Acres.

Nowadays, there are hundreds of choices and many truly entertaining programs flooding the airwaves. Fortunately, I’m married to an action junkie like me, so we’d both get excited about programs like Alias, 24, Burn Notice, or NCIS.

Then NCIS became NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans, and NCIS Spokane (still waiting for that one).

Of course, the fact that the Seahawks became fun to watch didn’t help reduce my TV watching either, and man those three hours go by fast.

Then God whispered to my heart a few days ago, “What do you think 2017 would be like for you without any social media or TV?”

“Uh, God, stupid, and boring, plus I’d probably just work 12-hour days instead of 10-hour days!”

Silence.

The next day, I see this YouTube link about Millennials on Facebook, ironically. One of the things this Brit, Simon Sinek, is talking about is the negative impact of social media on the younger generation and our culture.

Seriously, Sinek, why are you so cynical?

But God was speaking to me again (btw, if He can speak through a donkey, He can speak through anybody, even Simon Sinek).

“Kurt, imagine the relational growth you might experience with your friends and family without TV. Imagine the new things you might learn without all the distractions. Imagine how you might better use your time to write more without social media. Imagine all the books you’ll get to read without all that wasted time.”

Surrender.

And now I’m getting excited!

Just this morning I read something extremely confirming to me by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp.

She wrote, “This is the year to engage silences regularly and retreat to the ‘back side of the wilderness.’ Because when you do not need to be seen or heard—you can see and hear in desperately needed ways. You find your true self when you look for your reflection in the eyes of souls—and not the glare of screens. Break free, break out of ruts, break idols—or they will break you.”

Hmmm . . . you find your true self in your reflection in the eyes of souls—not in the glare of screens. Wow.

So, my so-called experiment in “anti-social” behavior (at least via social media and TV) begins. I’m still using email, I’ll be on my computer writing more, and I need to enlarge my book budget, but I’m pumped to see what 2017 holds for me.

Maybe God has something to say to you about all of this?

Of course, my directive from God is not necessarily yours, but you might want to ask Him what He wants from you this next year.

It could be exciting.

Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who

hear the word of God

and put it into practice.”

Luke 11:28 (NLT)

 

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16 Responses to An Experiment in “Anti-Social” Behavior

  1. I turned off my social, except Netflix, well over ten years ago. Result, haven’t missed it one bit. Slight withdrawal but that disappeared soon after the severance. Today i get whatever news I may want from internet sources (not that they are any better) but I am not exposed to the never ending commerdials; oh how they bugged me. BTW, i never listen to the radio in my car, amazing how nice silence is, how clear my thinking can be, how in touch I feel sometimes.

    I dont physically talk to myself, do it mentallly now and hear God pretty clearly, sometimes. As I am a senior in age, dont feel it though, i seem to do a lot of thinking, dont have anyone to debate or share ideas, so i find talking to the Lord peaceful at times, should do it more often, good New Years, draw a line in the sand idea.

    Just a quick note to share that social media, for me was like giving up cigarettes, course i dont smoke but you get the idea. Thanks for your service, i searched for the right service for me, I was led to Eastpoint, i have found a home. God bless you in your challenge to continue to avoid social media,, it gets easier over time and surprisingly, you dont miss out on the news, it seems to find you somehow.

    Ciao. Bob

  2. Dad, not many people have noticed but for the last several months I frequently will go 1, 2 or even 3 weeks without getting on Facebook. I was with Facebook when it first started, back when there was still MySpace, and Facebook was created for Students. I love the connection it brings to family and friends far away, but I tire of hearing “you didn’t know?! …I posted it on Facebook!!” So, I chose a while ago to go without it from time to time. I miss out on a lot of social media “news”, but it forces me to reconnect with people in real life (IRL). To gather my news through IRL connections. I love my Facebook free weeks. I always go back to it, but I’ve learned that I can live without it, and the quality of life improves. I spend more time reading, as my wonderful parents taught me. I’ve started writing again, Kyle and I spend more quality time together, and I find myself having more time for the important things in life. Especially more God time. I probably won’t go a whole year without, but I will continue to do my Facebook fasts. This is a great post, Dad! Go you!! Proud to be your daughter! Love you lots!

  3. People wonder why I do not get on Facebook. Well, I would take it on like a “job” and I am retired. It still takes time to erase the 40 or so emails I receive each day – mostly from places that want to sell me something. But, I can get distracted by the idiot box. Even Tiny House Nation can become habit forming. I need the reminder that junk food tv is still junk food tv. If God has a plan for the remainder of my days on earth, I need to spend more time listening. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  4. Great work Kurt. I’ve been off of facebook for nearly 4 years now and I was happy on day 1, and still am today (and I’m a millenial).

    The social media culture is not quite as life giving as most would hope or pretend it to be.

  5. This is added confirmation to my own conversations with God lately. Three weeks ago I removed FB app from my phone after a long conversation with my life long best friend. I happen to believe God speaks through her all the time 🙂 – We were discussing the stress FB actually was placing in our lives… the time suck it has become and how I am privy to unwanted knowledge or information that ultimately makes me feel sad or frustrated on a regular basis. And on January 1, 2017 I aimed at giving it up altogether for 21 days and I would see how I felt going forward from there. It’s day 5.. I yearn a little to see what is going on in the cyber world but that yearning is trumped by the peace and contentment I am feeling and the ability to pursue more satisfying interests… reading, writing and talking face to face with my kids and hubby. Thank you Kurt! I don’t know if I am ready to drop TV yet, but I admire your example and appreciate your candid thoughts! Happy “freeing” New Year!

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