Category Archives: Church & Culture

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Out of Africa (Some Exciting News about My Latest Trip)

Out of Africa (Some Exciting News about My Latest Trip)

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I recently returned from an incredible trip to the continent of Africa. People said Africa would change me. I had no idea how true that statement was until I visited Botswana.

As we flew into the airport in the capital city of Gaborone, I fell in love with the land and its people.

Some points of interest regarding Botswana:

  • Botswana, located just north of South Africa and surrounded by four African nations, is about the size of Texas. It has a relatively small population with just over two million inhabitants. Interestingly, cows in Botswana outnumber people!

  • Over one-third of the inhabitants are under fifteen years of age.

  • This small country boasts the world’s largest concentration of African elephants.

  • HIV is a serious problem (as it is in much of the continent), but Batswana (what the people of Botswana are called) are full of joy and proud of their country.

  • It has one of the most stable and long-term democratic governments in Africa, and though poverty is still a serious issue, Botswana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

Why did I go to Botswana?

Eastpoint Church is partnering with the Church in this country to train leaders and implement the Purpose Driven (PD) Church principles first taught by Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church. I and others from our church will serve as mentor-trainer-coaches presenting the PD church model to hundreds of churches during five trips in the next fifteen months.

When I say partnering with “the Church” in this country, I mean the entire Church, nationwide. We will be working with all three of the Christian umbrella organizations in Botswana: the indigenous Church, the Evangelical Church, and the mainline denominational churches.

This opportunity to influence the whole body of Christ in Botswana and potentially the entire nation is mind-blowing. In the history of Botswana, there has never been this much enthusiasm for a common Christ-centered cause or this amount of unity in the Church.

In my last gathering with over 120 leaders in Botswana, I wept as they prayed for one another, for me, and for this new Kingdom venture.

When Jesus prayed for the unity of His Church in John 17, He said that our unity would help a watching world believe that the Father sent the Son. Like never before, the Church of Jesus in Botswana is positioned for incredible impact.

On my last day there, I asked a young woman who worked as a security guard, “Do you go to church anywhere?”

“No, not for a long time.”

I said, “Do you mind me asking why?”

In her somewhat broken English, she essentially said, “The Church has no meaning or value in my life.”

I believe that is about to change as the Church in Botswana becomes healthy, impassioned, and invigorated to move tens of thousands of nominal Christians into whole-hearted discipleship.

The Church in Africa is ready.

Ready to change.

Ready to take the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, city and village.

Ready to address the profound and devastating issues of its people (like poverty and HIV).

And, quite amazingly, ready to work together—across denominational lines—to touch the entire continent and beyond with God’s power and love.

Yes, Africa has already changed me. I pray now that in some small way I might be used by Jesus to support my brothers and sisters in this place of wonder and extraordinary potential.

Ke a leboga (thank you) for taking the time to read a bit about my African adventure.

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude

that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language,

standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:9  (NIV)

 

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14 Responses to Out of Africa (Some Exciting News about My Latest Trip)

  1. It’s a blessings to have Pastor Kurt Bubna and Eastpoint church as our mentor and coach for Botswana. Thank you Philippians 1v6. Botswana for Jesus and we are excited to be trained and to implement Purpose Driven Church Initiative and unifying the three Umbrella bodies to be trained and working together for the common goal in the nation. Pastor Kurt, we pray for you, your family and Eastpoint Church. We love you.

    • Thank you, Noah, for taking on the important role of National Coordinator. We are excited to work with you and the Church in Botswana to advance the Kingdom. Love you brother!

  2. Thank you, Kurt, for sharing this uplifting news about Botswana. It is so encouraging to know that Christians are working across denominational lines to truly make an impact on this country and its people. Wouldn’t it be great if the churches here in our own backyard would do the same?
    Blessings!

    • Hi Martha, I do pray for more unity in the body of Christ. That being said, I have a wonderful and strong working relationship with about 10 churches in Spokane Valley! We are learning to practice unity together.
      Love and appreciate you!

  3. What an amazing adventure. Thank you for sharing. The Lord’s work will definitely be felt. I look forward to what is in store for you next. Amen!

  4. Thanks for sharing what God is doing in Africa! Love how he uses you to bring unity in our Valley and in Africa! Excited for you and us as a body at Eastpoint!

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Not Everybody Likes You or Me (And It’s Okay)

Not Everybody Likes You or Me (And It’s Okay)

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The desire to be liked and approved of by others runs deep in most of us. Maybe all of us. We are wired for connection to other humans. We are made to be in meaningful relationships. And when we know or sense that someone in our sphere of influence doesn’t like us, it hurts.

From the time we start school as young children, we do whatever we can to gain the acceptance and approval of others.

  • If we’re nerdy, we play the smart card.

  • If we’re goofy, we play the fun card.

  • If we’re athletic, we play the jock card.

  • If we’re musical, we just play something, anything (even a trumpet) to fit in with others who are like us. Hoping beyond hope that others will embrace us as valuable.

As we enter our teen years, we might feign apathy and act as if we don’t care about being liked.

But we do care. A lot.

Over time, after a broken heart or two or twenty, and after rejection after rejection, we typically start to withdraw in an act of self-preservation. However, our retreat from people doesn’t stop our deep-seated need to be recognized and accepted.

Of course, there are some who seem to be liked by everyone, but even those chosen few wrestle with a latent fear of falling out of grace with their peers. These gods among us know how fickle fame can be, and they are painfully aware of the unpredictable nature of mere humans.

We all long for love.

We all want to be valued.

We all desire to be desired.

We all check the number of Facebook likes on our latest post.

For me, I am keenly aware that people are visiting our church every Sunday and that they evaluate me on a regular basis.

Every time I speak, people are appraising me and my abilities.

Is he funny? Is he practical? Is he inspiring? Is he biblical and sound? Is he too old or too young?

Do I like his style? Do I like the way he dresses? Do I relate to him? Do I understand him?

Those questions and many others are running through the hearts and minds of the new folks.

Of course, the old-timers are asking different questions.

Have I heard this talk before? Is that message going to help me grow? Why does he care so much about this topic? Why should I care? Does Kurt care about me?

Trust me; I know what’s going on. I’ve been at this a long time.

When I write, either a blog or a book, the tape playing in the background of my mind is often asking, Will this resonate with the reader?

Like you, I want to be liked. I want to be accepted. I want to be approved of rather than rejected.

But here are some realities I wish I would have learned decades ago:

  1. Everything you do is a bridge to some and a barrier to others. Some will be drawn to you, your style, and your personality. Others, not so much, and it’s okay.

  1. If you are always striving for the approval of people, you will find it difficult, maybe impossible, to be consistently faithful to God and His call. You simply won’t be esteemed by everyone, and attempting to be is an effort in futility. It’s okay that not everyone likes you. Really.

  1. Because you failed to meet expectations (reasonable or not), early fans sometimes become later critics, and that’s okay too. You’re never going to keep everybody happy all of the time.

So what can you do?

In the words of Brennan Manning, “Be who you is or you is who you ain’t!” Today, to the fullest extent possible, be who God created you to be. Be in Christ. Be real. Be true to yourself if you want to be true to others.

Of course we need to grow. Without a doubt, there are plenty of character issues that need to be addressed. I’m not suggesting that you or I just wallow in the wastelands of idiocy.

But if you are not comfortable in your own skin and accepting of who you are today, right now, then you’re destined to be a grumpy, bitter, and depressed soul.

For some, my current mental, physical, or spiritual condition may be intolerable, and they don’t like me.

It’s okay. It is what it is. I am what I am.

I’m no Jesus, and even He was despised and rejected. Why should you or I expect to be loved, accepted, or liked by everyone?

Bottom line: to live uncontrolled by the need to be liked by all is liberating and the path to abiding joy.

Live free today.

“Jesus did not fully trust them.

He knew what people are like.

He didn’t need anyone to tell him what people are like.

He already knew why people do what they do.”

John 2:24-25  (NIRV)

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16 Responses to Not Everybody Likes You or Me (And It’s Okay)

  1. Awesome message Kurt. I really appreciated this message. Going to get to my sons for them and their children to read. God Bless You, have an awesome day. I am in AZ for a couple of days.

  2. I grew up as a people-pleaser, and as time went on, I almost lost my soul in the process. Thank God for the rescue!
    No, we can never be liked by all, nor can we fit the bill for all. We must be ourselves, the selves God created us to be.
    Thanks for this inspiration, Kurt!
    Blessings!

  3. I like your blog. I believe I remember one of your sermons from years ago where you said that 10% of our acquaintances do not like us.

  4. I wouldn’t know anything about not liking you, because I do like you. You’re just so darn likable. I figure if there’s somebody out there that doesn’t like me (and I know there are one or two out there), then they are clearly in error and I forgive them their mistakes. 🙂

Your Pastor is Broken (and It’s Okay)

Your Pastor is Broken (and It’s Okay)

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An old friend, Richard, recently called me. He used to live in town and attend my church. For the past seven years or so, he’s been a member of a large church in Phoenix.

We were catching up and reminiscing about old friends when he said to me, “I had coffee with my current men’s pastor yesterday, and he told me some honest things about his marriage and about something stupid he said to his wife.”

I chimed in, “That’s cool!”

He awkwardly paused, and then said with a confused tone, “How is that cool?”

“It’s cool that your pastor owned his stuff and that he’s being real with you. It’s the people who try to hide and deny their sins that worry me.”

Bob said, “I guess I expected the guy pastoring men to be . . . well . . . to be more spiritually mature.”

Without hesitation, I reminded Bob of the many times he heard me tell stories of my idiocy. I also told him we all walk with a limp, and none of us is without a soul blemish or two (or twenty).

On this side of eternity, the reality we don’t like to admit, but must, is that we all fall short of perfection.

We say things that hurt.

We do things that offend.

We think things we don’t want to think.

We go places in our hearts that are dark and terribly inconsistent with who we are in Christ.

If you can relate, then welcome to the human race.

Yes, we are being transformed into the image of Christ. Of course, we should be growing. The plan is for us to mature in our faith and to sin less.

But most of us miss the marks of purity and perfection on a fairly regular basis—pastors included.

I’ve been in ministry for nearly forty years. I’ve pastored small churches and a big church. I’ve been on large church staffs. I’ve also been close to quite a few mega-church pastors over the years.

I can assure you of this: every pastor is fractured, and some more than you might imagine.

But as someone once pointed out, it is our fractures that allow God’s light in and out of our souls.

Because I am broken, I am humbled, and God delights to work with the humble (James 4:6).

Because I am fractured, I am relatable, and people want to connect with a person who is authentic and true.

By the way, Paul, the great missionary and author of most of the New Testament, boasted about his weaknesses.

In another recent blog, I mentioned my new favorite book, People of the Second Chance. If I could afford it, I would buy a copy of this encouraging book for all of my family and friends. It’s that good!

In the book, Mike Foster says, “We don’t need to hide our flaws. We need to own them. We need to ditch perfectionism and own our imperfections. The simple truth is this: perfection is impossible. It’s not attainable. You will never, ever be perfect. Our imperfections are what make us human, and they help us relate to each other. Don’t seek perfection. Seek goodness. Wonderful, messy, love-saturated goodness.”

Foster goes on to write, “Nobody feels more pressure to be perfect than the person in the pulpit.”

Wow. When I grow up, I want to write like Mike!

Let me be clear; not for a second am I suggesting we just wallow in our weaknesses. Of course, holiness matters. I never want to use my human condition of imperfection as an excuse to keep sinning.

However . . .

I will sin.

I will fail.

I am broken.

But . . .

I am growing.

I am free from shame.

I am loved.

When we come to this place of peace despite our imperfections, we find it much easier to love ourselves, to live free of fear, and to love others as we are loved. Grace is grown here.

Yes, your pastor is broken, and it’s okay; you are too.

Welcome to the fellowship of the fractured.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts,

 but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars

containing this great treasure.

This makes it clear that our

great power is from God,

not from ourselves.”

2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

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10 Responses to Your Pastor is Broken (and It’s Okay)

  1. Thank you Kurt. Thus is just what I needed right now. What an awesome feeling to know that you’re not alone in being imperfect and to know that we can keep being loved and able to always keep going forward. Amen!

    • I love what Steven Furtick wrote in (Un)Qualified, “God knows everything about you–including the ugly parts, the broken parts, the dysfunctional parts–yet he still believes in you. He still has a future and a hope for you.”
      Glad you were encouraged today, Mari. You are loved!

  2. That common saying of You are never truly alone…it MEANS something when a person you like or look up to shows/talks about their broken parts…it really doesn’t hit home that you are NOT alone in whatever hardship going on in your life until it’s relatable with someone else. THIS is why I really like your blog… it CONSTANTLY reminds me we ALL just want love & to be loved no matter what.

  3. Thanks for the great post. What is the best way of learning, seems to me it comes from failing. I would assume learning to be pure love would require the infinite grace of God plus a lot of failure, or recognition of failure on our part, part of our learning experience. Looking forward to your next blog and sermon. Love in Christ to you.

  4. Yes, we are all broken vessels, but we can shine God’s light through the cracks.
    Thank you for your honesty and candidness here, Kurt! It’s certainly a message we all need to hear.
    Blessings!

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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