Category Archives: Leadership

General thoughts about Christian leadership.

Please, Church, Reject Trump (Transcript)

Leadership Politics Video

Today, I posted a video to my YouTube Channel imploring Christians to stand in opposition to Trump even if you choose to vote for him as the “lesser of two evils.”

Here is the full transcript of my video.


Good Morning Church!

In today’s video, I’m calling on Christians to give up on Donald Trump.

If that’s going to make you mad, turn it off right now.

If that’s going to make you cheer, double-check your motives.

If you are willing to seriously consider whether God is pleased by you voting for Trump, I invite you to stay and hear me out.

The Church in America is at a major crossroads.

It is a racial crossroads. An economic crossroads. A cultural crossroads. And it has become a political crossroads.

COVID – AHMAUD ARBERY – GEORGE FLOYD

But preparing for Sunday in 2 Peter 2… I was overcome by the character traits of the false teacher

  • v.1 Secrecy • Do you know anyone who hides damaging information? They just might be a false teacher.
  • v.1 Denying Jesus • Do you know anyone who uses Christian language without any Christian substance? They just might be a false teacher.
  • v.2 Shameful Ways • Do you know anyone who has engaged in shameful behavior and is leading others? They just might be…
  • v.3 Greed • Do you know anyone who indulges in the accumulation of wealth through any means? …
  • v.3 Exploiting • Do you know anyone who takes advantage of others for his own benefit? …
  • v.3 Stories they Made Up • Do you know anyone who tends to have his own version of the truth? …
  • v.10 Despising Authority • Do you know anyone who is unwilling to let any authority have say over him? …
  • v.10 Bold and Arrogant • Do you know anyone who has no filter and is supremely confident? …
  • v.12 Blaspheme in Matters they don’t understand • Do you know someone who pretends to be an authority on everything? …
  • v.13 Carousing in Daylight • Do you know anyone who flaunts in public his own adulterous exploits? …
  • v.14 Adultery • Do you know anyone who is a repeated adulterer? …
  • v.15 The Way of Balaam • Do you know anyone who will say anything so long as it benefits them? …
  • v.17 Springs without Water • Do you know anyone who makes grand promises that turn up empty? …
  • v.18 Boastful • Do you know anyone who talks about how great he is? …
  • v.18 Enticing • Do you know anyone who appeals to individual human desires and entices immature believers? …
  • v.19 Promising Freedom • Do you know anyone who promises people freedom while himself living in depravity? …
  • v.22 Dog returns to vomit • Do you know anyone who will not learn from previous mistakes? …

I didn’t mention names. You might have thought I was talking about Pelosi, or Trump, or McConnell, or CNN, or FOX, or another politician, public figure, or media outlet… Well, one reason I didn’t mention names is that I was talking about perhaps all of them.

Signs of false teaching have risen up in all of the politicians and the media around us, and we have done so much finger-pointing and blaming that we have come to accept the false teachers who are on our side because they oppose the false teachers on the other side.

But following a false teacher because they are saying what you like to hear is the definition of following a false teacher.

You can’t trust them, and since they are saying what you like to hear, you can’t trust YOURSELF either.

I was probably going to leave that topic alone, until I saw this photo on the news yesterday.

PHOTO OF TRUMP HOLDING A BIBLE

And I realized that I could no longer remain “ambiguous” about this topic.

So Good Morning Church, as in Wake Up. President Trump is a false teacher, and I beg you to end your allegiance to him.

Listen, I have heard many Christians give Donald Trump a pass because they voted for a president and not a pastor. But then, those same Christians have been unwilling to speak up loudly against all the things he has said or done to denigrate the name of Christ.

Can he be a false teacher if he isn’t claiming to be a Christian teacher?

Well, I’ll just read one verse…

(18) For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. (19) They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” — 2 Peter 2:18-19 NIV

Does this passage sound like Trump? Does he boast? Does he appeal to your desires? Does he entice people? Does he promise freedom? Is he himself a depraved individual? Does this sound like Trump? If so, you must conclude that he is leading people into slavery. And his enticement of Christians is that much more insidious.

And if you still don’t believe me that he is a false teacher, consider this:

PHOTO OF TRUMP HOLDING A BIBLE

This man holding a Bible is secretive.

He has paid people off to keep his personal life secret and is going to court to prevent the country from seeing his tax records.

This man holding a Bible is denying Jesus.

Because he is holding this Bible right after declaring that he will send out the military to help governors “quell” the violent protests.

(A President may have the right to use military force at times, but to do so while holding a Bible is to completely deny what Jesus stood for.)

Allow me to make this point just a bit more clearly:

(15) On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, (16) and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. (17) And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ ? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ” — Mark 11:15-17 NIV

EXPLANATION OF THE TRUE MEANING OF THIS PASSAGE AS AN ACT OF JESUS’ OPPOSITION TO RACISM

This is Jesus deploying violence because the forces of the Jewish majority had been displaying racism against the Gentiles.

Again, Jesus was violently protesting the racism of his day.

So, I’ll say it again: This man holding a Bible is denying Jesus.

This man, holding a Bible, has indulged in shameful behaviors.

Access Hollywood Tape, and his own Twitter Feed!

This man, holding a Bible, has lived a life of greed and exploitation.

He is donating his Presidential salary, but his fraudulent school and Trump Foundation along with his practices as an employer continue to bear this out.

Further, he fires people as soon as he is done with them even if that means the firing comes a day before their pension is secured.

This man, holding a Bible, is addicted to false stories and his own version of the truth.

This man, holding a Bible, despises authority unless he wields it.

He rejects the notion that Congress or the Courts have any authority over him.

This man, holding a Bible, is bold, arrogant and boastful.

NOT A SOUL can deny that.

This man, holding a Bible, is a blasphemer in matters he doesn’t understand.

Listen to his speech during and after the 2020 National Prayer Breakfast.

This man, holding a Bible, is an adulterer.

This man, holding a Bible, promises greater freedom…

… while also declaring an unwillingness to consider the freedoms of George Floyd or any other oppressed people in our country.

This man, holding a Bible, is a purveyor of the Way of Balaam…

… because he will SAY ANYTHING as long as it is advantageous to him.

“But 2 Peter 2 doesn’t apply to him!”

But, wait, I hear you say. So what if he meets all 27 characteristics of a false teacher. If he hasn’t claimed to be a religious teacher, then Peter’s passage doesn’t apply to him!

And I counter back, but he’s standing in front of a church, holding a BIBLE as if he is a Christian leader.

His appeal to Bible believing Christians is part of his central claim to the Presidency, and if you want to defend his policies at least have the Christian courage to decry his abominable and oppressive personality.

If you think Conservative policies are the way to go, and if you think the only way to get them is to vote in this election for Trump. Then go ahead and do so, but please, SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE MAN and those who ENABLE his abusive, dangerous, and blasphemous behavior.

Some Christian Defenses of Trump

Now, some Christians I know will defend Trump with one or more of the following statements:

1. But Trump has appointed Pro-Life justices.

Listen, that’s great from a certain perspective. I want to live in a country where abortions never happen, and so it makes sense to me that abortion should be generally illegal.

However, making abortion illegal does not make us a pro-life society.

  • We are still a country that uses the death penalty.
  • We are still a country that will not provide universal health care or day care.
  • We are still a country that makes adoptions expensive and difficult.
  • We are still a country that treats refugees as illegal aliens.
  • We are still a country that treats black people as threats.
  • We are still a country that blames homeless people for their homelessness.

Are conservative policies moving us toward a pro-LIFE society that sees an end to any of these things?

And is Donald Trump doing anything to move us toward a pro-LIFE society other than trying to overturn Roe v Wade?

2. But Trump is improving the economy.

There was a time, when I could have believed that. The past three years SEEMED to be economically strong for America. However, the wealth gap, the national debt, the scourge of homelessness, and the incidence of medical bankruptcies have been skyrocketing through all that time.

Additionally, the 40 million who are currently unemployed prove that our great economy was an illusory bubble. It was an economy of corporations not individuals. Once the lockdowns happened, the corporations ensured their own survival by laying off millions.

And, anyway, since when did Christians start using the stock market to determine if a society is just?

3. But Trump supports my freedoms.

Hey, promising freedom. That sounds exactly like something Peter said in his second letter.

Usually when people mention this, they are talking either about religion, guns, taxes, or required public health measures like mandatory vaccines or wearing masks.

“My body, my choice” say the protesters in Michigan forgetting that the same slogan has been used by pro-choice advocates for decades.

Okay so now, I’m really going to make some people mad. Because speaking as a conservative myself, I have come to the painful realization that the conservative / Trump notion of freedom is terribly, illogically inconsistent:

a. You can’t be pro-life and against mandatory vaccines (or against any other public health measure).

Pro-life says the government should regulate the medical establishment to ensure the life of every child.

And mandatory vaccines have been demonstrated conclusively to reduce infant mortality.

Therefore, if you believe the health of every child is precious, you will be against abortion, and you will be in favor of mandatory vaccines.

b. You can’t be pro-life and against gun regulations.

Pro-life says the government has a vested interest in controlling the means of ending a life.

Well, if that’s so, the government has a vested interest in controlling ALL the means of ending a life.

People say, “Guns don’t kill people.”

The truth says, “People holding guns kill people all the time.”

Can I say, Ahmaud Arbery? How would he have been treated if he had been running down the street of that white neighborhood with a gun strapped to his waist? Giving Ahmaud a gun wouldn’t have solved anything, but taking the gun away from that white man would have kept Ahmad alive.

If you claim to be pro-life, you must also be for limiting access to weapons.

c. You can’t be pro-life and against sensible taxation that provides health, housing, and welfare to people.

Pro-life says the government should spend extra money to enforce new laws against abortion and thereby allow the population to increase especially among the poor.

If you believe the health of every child is precious, you will also support government interventions that ensure that child’s HEALTH and WELLBEING even if it costs you more money in the process.

So pro-life Christians who talk about personal freedoms in these ways are not being consistent with their own beliefs.

And icing on this cake, since when did “my personal freedom” become a Christian value?

And now, religion. The main reason I have heard people recently declare that Trump is a great man. They say…

4. But Trump supports religious freedom!

Does Trump support religious freedom? Let’s take a closer look.

  1. In the midst of a dangerous pandemic, Trump just told Christians they should go back to church… because hey, Christianity can’t exist unless it’s happening with lots of people singing and talking in small buildings with poor ventilation for over an hour at a time… and because hey, if more Christians die, that’s not a problem right? That’s religious freedom right?
  2. Trump’s first act as President was to outlaw travel to the US from predominately Muslim countries even if the traveler was a US citizen. That’s not supporting religious freedom. Nor is that supporting national security. That’s supporting Christian bigotry.
  3. Trump is threatening to attack social media companies, has already issued attacks on peaceful protesters, and demonizes anyone who ever says anything against him. And wouldn’t you know that the First Amendment to our Constitution, the one that ensures the right of religious freedom says this:

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.

Granted, this is directed to Congress and not the President, but it is the President’s sworn job to uphold the Constitution which means to recognize these rights.

Freedom of religion is connected to these others:

  • Freedom of speech, press, assembly, and…
  • Freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances — that is, protest

These words were written by men who participated in or endorsed the Boston Tea Party!

Good Morning Church. It’s time to wake up.

Trump and all who enable him are false teachers for while they pretend to support the Christian agenda, they are actually appealing to the lustful desires of Christians who are willing to dispense with moral integrity for the sake of earthly power.

Again, I read the words of 2 Peter.

(18) For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. (19) They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” — 2 Peter 2:18-19 NIV

No matter what good you think Trump has done for this country, I declare that he has enticed you by appealing to your lustful desires.

He appealed to your desire for influence and exploited your pride by offering anti-abortion rhetoric.

And I fell for it! Even though our narrow-minded emphasis on anti-abortion policies is actually naive, unsympathetic, and illogical when considered in combination with other conservative policies.

He appealed to your desire for security and exploited your fears by offering pro-Christian rhetoric even though he cares nothing about real religious freedom or freedom of speech or any Christian values at all.

He appealed to your greed and exploited your bigotry by enacting policies that disproportionately helped the predominately white educated class to the detriment of the poor, the immigrant, the refugee, and people of color.

And he takes photo ops with a Bible he doesn’t read in front of a church he doesn’t attend after gassing a crowd of people he doesn’t love.

Since I recorded this video, the official record is that tear gas wasn’t used on that crowd. Video footage shows that some type of gas was used, so if it wasn’t tear gas, perhaps it was only smoke bombs that were thrown. Nonetheless, in the video footage, the people present obviously fled when the canisters started smoking indicating that they at least thought it was tear gas.

Conclusion

I don’t care if he makes America “great.”

The America he’s making is not the country I want, but more than that, the man he is fails to qualify as a man I should follow.

Trump and his enablers are false teachers.

I implore you to stop enabling them.

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Is it Discrimination to Discriminate against Discriminators?

Front Page Lafayette Leadership

My church office received an email today that called me out for what was printed in the local newspaper reporting on my involvement in the City Council meeting last Monday.

A woman named Kathy wrote this:

Dear Pastor Mikels,

Reading the newspaper Tuesday morning, I felt quite sad to read about your objections to our community protecting the rights of transgendered people and your positioning yourself as one who should judge them. I do not believe discrimination against anyone is right. Your suggestion that transgendered people are not submitting to nature or nature’s God–and therefore subject to discrimination–is highly and inappropriately judgmental and hurtful.

I hope you will refrain from this line of speaking about others.

The irony of our current social climate is that a person can say in one sentence, “I do not believe discrimination against anyone is right,” and then in the next sentence call someone’s behavior “highly and inappropriately judgmental and hurtful.” Not only is the first sentence pragmatically impossible, the accusatory tone of the second sentence invalidates the claim of the first.

Nevertheless, now that I have entered into this world, I’m committed to this dialogue. I don’t feel a burden to defend myself, but I feel a deep burden to help all of us think through these issues lovingly and rationally even if we can’t discuss them biblically.

It took me 45 minutes to craft a reply, but this is what I wrote:


Hi Kathy,

Is it okay for me to give you a phone call?

I’ve been working for months to build a dialogue with the Lafayette Pride office to express my love and concern for people in the LGBT community, and to have conversations about how the faith community can do a better job of showing that love even if we disagree with their lifestyles. They haven’t replied yet, but I’m still working on it.

Furthermore, I have friends in the LGBT community, and I think if you gave me a few minutes of human-to-human time, you would see me in a different light.

After all, that’s really what all of this debate is about between “religious freedom” and “tolerance.” I think it all really comes down to the fact that people aren’t treating each other as humans but as categories.

For example, you have categorized me as someone who believes I should judge transgendered people, and yet I do not judge them nor do I want to. You have also categorized me as someone who thinks it is right to discriminate against transgendered people, and yet that too is inaccurate.

Sadly, I don’t think you see me as a human being who cares deeply for the people around me both those who are like me and those who are different from me, and in that regard, I think you might be discriminating against me.

If we had a chat over a cup of coffee, I think you would discover some things about me.

  1. I don’t buy into statements that are given to me by other Christians without wrestling through them personally. As a result, I don’t buy the statement that some Christians throw around that gender confusion or transgenderism is a sin. Additionally, I don’t believe that granting civil rights protections to transgender people will suddenly endanger women in our society and increase the chances for sexual exploitation in our bathrooms. I firmly oppose both the fear-motivated statements and the naively traditional statements.
  2. I also don’t buy into statements that are given to me by the secular media or by the modern “spirit of the age.” As a result, I don’t buy the statement that the only way for transgender people to live is to fully express their “true gender identity” as opposed to the one they were “assigned at birth.” The reason I don’t buy that statement is that I have known VERY effeminate men who were able to find great joy in just being really sensitive men. I have also known at least one woman who lived for many years as a transgender man only to later realize that there was great joy to be found in embracing her biological femininity. She has since completely turned around and embraces womanhood as her “identity.”
  3. I DON’T oppose anti-discrimination laws for any category of people. In fact, I think there are many categories that are underrepresented. Our laws say nothing protecting the rights of people who cannot work on a Holy Day. Sure there are “religious” protections on the books, but at least in Indiana, an employer can fire an employee who refuses to work on Sundays. Furthermore, I think it is wrong for an apartment complex to refuse to rent an apartment to a biological man who is dressed as a woman.
  4. Finally, I DO realize that there are some forms of “discrimination” that are allowable (and encouraged) in a pluralistic society. For example, Hollywood is allowed to discriminate in hiring when it comes to personal appearance. More attractive people make more money. Should we outlaw that discrimination? I don’t think so. It’s sad that it exists, but it should not be illegal. Additionally, a college whose declared purpose is to educate students in the Islamic faith should be allowed to discriminate in hiring when it comes to a person’s adherence to the Koran, and I don’t think Purdue should be forced to hire professors who deny Darwinian Evolution. In other words, SOME discrimination in our society is necessary, and SOME discrimination in our society is healthy. In fact, in order to live in a pluralistic society, we CANNOT outlaw every single act of discrimination as if it were even logically possible to do so.

In conclusion, the reason I opposed the amendment was not because I want to encourage “discrimination” against transgender people but because I think the issue in the amendment is ill-defined and unclear in two ways:

  1. The scientific understanding of “gender identity” is unclear. Psychiatrists are still trying to wrestle with what the DSM-5 calls “gender dysphoria” and the right way to treat it. As a result, the societal implications of fully embracing “transgender” as a category of human being are unclear. Some good science indicates that transgenderism is actually a birth defect of sorts resulting from low incidence of androgens in the body during gestation and infancy (see my blog article for the link). However, there is other good evidence that gender dysphoria is a condition that can be remedied either through psychological counseling or religious experience. Therefore, to categorize transgenderism as a protected class would be to completely ignore the science indicating transgender people might actually be better off if they could find joy in their assigned gender.
  2. The religious exemptions in the proposed Lafayette HRO only cover issues of employment. If a church-run school or homeless shelter wished to have sex-segregated bathrooms, showers, or locker rooms, according to the letter of the HRO, those organizations could be found guilty of “discrimination” against transgendered students. I grant that Target should have the right to desegregate its bathrooms. Much of Europe already has only unisex bathrooms, and people live there just fine. However, I think churches, mosques, church schools, and yes, businesses run by conscientious religious people should have the right to create sex-segregated bathrooms if they wish.

The media tends to always put people in two camps. Either you are pro-choice or pro-life. Either you are conservative or liberal. Either you are for love or for hate. The problem is that no one is ever one or the other. We are all real people with pains, hurts, loves, and passions.

And if we all stopped calling each other names, we might be able to understand each other. Luckily, we now live in a society where the vast majority of Christians no longer use rude and offensive language when speaking of LGBT people, but we now live in a society where people of religious conviction and a social conservative perspective are labelled as bigoted or hateful.

No matter what you believe, I will show you respect and hear you out, so again, I ask if you would share a cup of coffee with me.

Attempting to live with Grace and Truth,
Jeff Mikels

P.S. If you are interested to read my statement to the City Council in full, I posted it to my blog here: http://jeff.mikels.cc/posts/my-statement-to-the-lafayette-city-council-on-gender-identity/

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LCC Weekly :: November 4 & 11, 2012

Front Page Lafayette Community Church Leadership

This is part of a series of posts aimed at supporting and encouraging the volunteers of Lafayette Community Church.

Sunday Review

Our past two Sunday gatherings have been truly refreshing to me. For one thing, Jake Steffes has been selecting our music, and he has done a great job of not only picking songs that resonate with the theme but also ordering them in a way that encourages us on Sundays to release ourselves into God’s presence. His work has taken a load off of my mind and has given our band more time to prepare! Continue reading

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LCC Weekly :: October 28, 2012

Front Page Lafayette Community Church Leadership

This is part of a series of posts aimed at supporting and encouraging the volunteers of Lafayette Community Church.

Sunday Review

What an incredible Sunday we experienced last week! Not only did we get the weekend started right with our Volunteer Refresh event on Saturday evening, but the whole weekend we were blessed to have Brian Fraaza and his band with us.

It was also a great blessing to have Greg Shackleford, a great friend of mine and a founding member of this church, joining us this weekend as a part of Brian’s band. I also want to recognize Kelsey and Ben who drove down from Kalamazoo with Brian and Greg to bless us with their musical talents. Continue reading

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LCC Weekly :: October 21, 2012

Front Page Lafayette Community Church Leadership

This is part of a series of posts aimed at supporting and encouraging the volunteers of Lafayette Community Church.

Sunday Review

Music

http://grooveshark.com/playlist/2012+10+21+LCC+WORSHIP/78537924

What made the music for this past Sunday extra special and extra refreshing for me was that Jake Steffes took the lead on planning the setlist and coordinating the band practice. I still say it is a joy to work with Jake, and I know all the rest of the band appreciates him as much as I do. Thanks Jake!

Message

This Sunday brought the second message in my series on conflict resolution called “f.i.g.h.t.” and there were aspects of it that were really personal for me. Continue reading

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LCC Weekly :: October 12, 2012

Front Page Lafayette Community Church Leadership

This is part of a series of posts aimed at supporting and encouraging the volunteers of Lafayette Community Church.

Sunday Review

Message

On Sunday, I started a brand new series of messages I’m calling “f.i.g.h.t” to cover the five skills you need to handle any kind of conflict that may come your way.

This is a really personal issue for me. I remember as a child seeing all the conflict that arose in my home church. There were debates over whether the leaders of the church should be called Deacons, Elders, or Overseers. There were debates on whether the missionaries should get more money or the school. There were debates over whether the pastor really deserved as much money as they gave him. Continue reading

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LCC Weekly :: October 7, 2012

Front Page Lafayette Community Church Leadership

This is part of a series of posts aimed at supporting and encouraging the volunteers of Lafayette Community Church.

Sunday Review

Before I report on this last Sunday, I need to apologize for not putting out a report for the previous week. I have no excuse other than I let myself get too busy with other things.

This past Sunday, we were blessed with Andrew Johnson’s return to the stage as our worship leader. Even though I enjoy leading worship music, I was grateful to have him on stage because this past Sunday was PACKED with some really great stuff. Continue reading

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LCC Weekly :: September 16, 2012

Front Page Leadership

This past weekend was a real answer to prayer. For me, the biggest thing was that all last week, I was out of commission with some kind of respiratory sickness. It was like a cold, but I was really, really tired. I spent most of Tuesday through Thursday sleeping, and during it all, I had next to no voice. After whispering all week long, I eventually went to the doctor on Friday, got dosed up with some antibiotics, and started feeling better. Nevertheless, the mere fact that I was able to speak on Sunday and have anything worthwhile to say was a real answer to prayer! Continue reading

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LCC Weekly :: September 4, 2012

Front Page Leadership

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how to be a better leader, how to do a better job of organizing and inspiring people around a common vision with healthy relationships, and one conclusion kept coming back to me. I need to do a better job of communicating what is truly important to those who are truly important.

That’s why I’m starting this weekly post. It is my intention to write a summary of the goings on at LCC each week that will primarily be aimed at the leaders and volunteers of our church, but you can listen in to the conversation too. Continue reading

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Is Modern Worship too Simplistic?

Front Page Leadership Tough Questions

Earlier this week, a discussion among the worship band members at my church pointed to this article where Bill Blankschaen describes his frustration with worship songs sung in churches on Sunday mornings and tells us “Why I’ve stopped singing in your church.”

As of this writing right now, he has 241 comments, and he only wrote it three days ago (July 15). Clearly, he has struck a nerve—a nerve deep enough to get my worship band talking about it, and a nerve deep enough to make me blog about it.

Continue reading

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Reflections on Sin

Front Page Leadership My Spiritual Life Tough Questions

Some Context

This past week, a number of stories came out in my local newspaper reporting on and analyzing the arrest of a local pastor. He has been accused of placing and monitoring video equipment in the female bathrooms at the church. If you haven’t read the articles, don’t worry about not knowing the details. I’m not going to address the specifics of that story, but it has burdened my heart so much that I feel a need to reflect here in my semi-public space what these moral failures reveal about God, humanity, and the state of the church. Continue reading

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