How Extroverts Die


Recently I read a great post from Tim Challies about how he (an introvert) learned to embrace the “stand and greet time” at church.  And it inspired this post, so allow me to paraphrase his for a second:

In Challies’ post, he posed the question of why do you go to church?  It’s either for yourself or for others.  If it’s for yourself, it’s easy to hide on the back rows and in the corners and justify that it’s because “I’m an introvert.”  But Challies challenges us in this way: we are called to die to ourselves as followers of Christ.  That means, from his post, introverts need to die to what makes them shy for the good of the church.


What about extroverts?  How do they die?  Probably from high blood pressure, but how do they die theologically?  How does someone that talks loud, moves fast, and always sweats die to themselves during the church “stand and greet time?”

Like this: stay with one person.  It is SO easy for us to try and shake as many hands as possible in the 150 seconds we’re given.  We blow right past people, look through people, strategize our “route” as soon as announcements start.  We do all the talking and rarely listen (and then say, “Oh, I’m just bad with names.”)  Spoiler alert – you won’t be bad with names if you stay with one person.  Slow down (seriously – I almost knocked over one of our oldest founding members last week because I was on a mission).  Talk.  Plan your “route” but make sure it’s just from point A to person A (and not B, C, D, E, e, F, F#, F#m, G, 11, squirrel, you know?)

Also: not everyone likes a bear-hug.  Remember, there are introverts in the room.  You can OVERWHELM them with your enthusiasm and this can be unloving.  Be aware that not everyone wants to be picked up and swung around.  Be aware that a hearty slap on the back could just as easily be a boot out the door.  Be aware that some people do have a hard time making eye-contact.  Die to yourself and tone it down a notch.  Greeting is not about you.  It’s about connection.

So if you’re an extrovert, I’m proud of you.  Love the church enough to be mellow for Jesus…but just for a moment.  If you’re an introvert, I’m proud of you.  Love the church enough to give extroverts someone to talk to; let them in so you can be known.

It’s not about handshakes, high-fives, or ha-ha’s!  It’s about connecting.  Who will you connect with this Sunday?  Who will you die for?

Another Level of Leprosy


One of Judah’s kings, King Uzziah (pictured above; 2 Chronicles 26:23), was stricken with leprosy.  And if you are a moderate student of the Bible, you understand the severe separation that was required and imposed partly from fear that lepers had to go through.  In 2 Chronicles 26:23 King Uzziah died a leper and it says he

was buried near [his ancestors] in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, for people said, “He had leprosy.”

He didn’t rest with his ancestors.  He wasn’t laid in a tomb.  Even in death his leprosy excluded him from community.

Can you imagine being a leper at the time of Jesus, then?  King Uzziah was buried separately, as a leper, almost 900 years before Christ.  Just imagine the severity of the stigma after each generation.  This makes Jesus’ embracing lepers all the more remarkable.

Our culture has these people, too.  Maybe not people actually afflicted with leprosy, but there are social outcasts that believe there is no hope in life.  Ours is a culture that will reject someone if their glasses aren’t in style.  Ours is a culture that dedicates websites to laughing at people at Wal Mart.  Ours is a culture that is so bored we bully people to death.

I wonder if our Kingdom is supposed to look like our culture?

When Are You Dead?

When Are You Dead

Do you go to Heaven when you die?  It depends on what you mean by “die.”

One common law medical definition of death is

… the cessation of all vital functions, traditionally demonstrated by “an absence of spontaneous respiratory and cardiac functions.”

Medically, you can die and be revived.  It happens all the time.  But do you go to Heaven and then get sucked back down to earth?  Probably not.

There is a medical definition of death that has to do with the physical world.  But there is also a spiritual world.  I contend that death is final only when your spirit is taken because when God created man, He gave him a spirit (unique to all other creation) and breathed life into him.  All of creation is covered by the word of God.  But only mankind has the breath of God, the life of God, the spirit of God in him.  That makes the spirit uniquely essential for life.  Consider:

When Jesus died, he gave up his spirit.

When Stephen died, he offered his spirit.

Proverbs 20:27 says: The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being. (Lamps in the Bible were oil and flame.  When the oil ran out, so did the light.  Therefore, when the spirit is gone, so is the life.)

That’s why I think books like “Heaven Is For Real” are a fraud.  I believe Heaven is real.  But I don’t think God would bring us to His side and send us back after a few minutes of CPR.  How unfair would that be?  How unloving?  The Christian life joins in the groaning of all creation for the time we get to see Jesus face-to-face; when He comes back as the conquering king to re-establish shalom on the earth and make everything as it always should have been.  It is our hope to look forward to being with Jesus.  It would be cruel on a cosmic level to give us a glimpse of the perfection and peace that awaits us in our final home before damning us back to our mortality.  It would be like making my daughter sit and watch me eat her birthday cake when she turns 5 this Fall.

Heaven is real.  Jesus is there.  And when we die we will know the full and final joy that comes when our spirit meets His Spirit.


Sweaty or Bloody?

sweaty or bloody

I am a recovering legalist.  I grew up with the kind of conviction that severely ruined my CD collection after every church camp I went to.  So my temptation in dealing with sin/idolatry has always been to try real hard to live better.  I’ve been motivated by guilt and a very strong work ethic most of my life (my grandpa gave me a shovel as a gift one time.  I was 7).

Because of this, I believed my sanctification, my justification, and my glorification relied heavily on me.  I was covered in the sweat of my effort.

But the Gospel says we are covered in the blood of Christ.  And that blood purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  All of it.

I’m reading a book by Randy Pope in which he describes the Gospel like this:

1.  We lost it all
2.  He did it all
3.  We get it all

By “we lost it all,” I simply mean “we” (all humankind) lost it “all” (our perfection and everything else good) at the fall of Adam and Eve.

“He” refers to Jesus.  He “did it all” by doing everything necessary for salvation.

Then “we” (those who are his children) “get it all.”  We get everything necessary for our salvation and new spiritual life.

Sound good?  Of course it does.  But I think many of us don’t really believe this.  Instead, we believe:

1.  We lost a lot.
2.  He did a lot.
3.  We get a lot.

As he goes on to illustrate this “distorted gospel,” it’s essentially the belief that we have some good left in us, we took the little bit of goodness left in us and created some faith and repentance, and then we don’t get Jesus’ full righteousness because we have some of our own.

This makes us perform to earn God’s favor.  This makes us sweaty instead of bloody.  If we are sweaty, we appeal to the goodness we believe we have left in order for God to cut us some slack.  If we are bloody, Jesus makes the appeal for us on His behalf.  If Jesus did a lot, God’s favor is only partial and we have to prove ourselves to Him.  If Jesus did it all, we are free.

We are tragically finite in our ability to atone for the sin in our lives and appease the God who will judge (Hebrews 10:4).  But the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  The blood cleanses our conscience (Hebrews 9:14).  The blood redeems us (Colossians 1:14).  Sweat makes us think we did something to earn all that.

Are you covered in the sweat of your effort?  Or are you covered in the blood of Jesus?

Anything For Acceptance

Hipsters have some meme-worthy social quirks, but they highlight a deep need in all of us: belonging.  Many of us will march under the banner of “accept me for who I am” but we’ll settle for “you can also accept me for who I’m not.”  I want to be cool and accepted, and if that means perpetuating a lie, as long as you buy it and keep me close I’ll keep doing it.

These bands don’t exist.  These fans act like they so totally do.  Why?  Even when you intentionally ostracize yourself, you want to control how far that goes.  You keep the mainstream at arm’s length, but you can’t remove yourself from the orbit of belonging.  But it makes sense.

You’re at Coachella.  You kind of have to be a music fan.  If there’s even a whiff that you may not know every band playing (real or not) you may be ousted.  Your community crumbles.  Your identity with it.  So you perpetuate the lie.  And if the lie is the only thing keeping you connected, it’s time to rethink your relationships.

I believe we were made to desire connection with one another.  Some of us will do anything for acceptance because we don’t want to be alone.

Now here’s the switch: the Church is not a weekend festival.  You don’t have to know dress codes, code words, postures, practices, or pretend like you do (at least the Church I read about in the Bible).  You belong.  You don’t measure up to a certain status of attendance because none of us do.  And that is why you belong.  It’s why I belong.  Jesus himself is our peace.  He destroyed the dividing wall of hostility.  He made it possible for us to come just as we are.  Especially if we don’t know the difference between PremillennialismAmillennialism, Postmillenialism, antidisestablishmentarianism, aspheterism, tuism, tychism, or sarcasm.

You shouldn’t oblige the impulse to fake-it-till-you-make-it in the Church.  You belong.  You don’t have to forge your way into an acceptable caste.  Because my sin is just as offensive, my religion is just as exhausting, and my need for Jesus is just as desperate as anyone I’ve ever met.

You belong.

According to 3rd Hesitations 1:99.

Why Go To Church?

Why Go To Church

I was scrolling through a certain social media outlet and saw this post:

“Going to church in polka dot PJs is 100% okay.”

Yes.  It is.  “Church clothes” have always been a mystery to me.  So you want to go in your jammies?  Cool!

But it involves actually going.  Etymologically, “church” is a gathering of God’s people (see Strong’s # 1577– ekklesia, particularly “A gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.”)  If you watch a sermon on your laptop, did you really go to church?  Or did you just watch a sermon?

Consuming Bible teaching isn’t quite the same thing as worshiping together, as an assembly of the called out ones.

Now, technology is great because it does allow us to, in some sense, stay connected if we have to be gone.  I record my sermons so students can watch them if they’re on vacation or at a tournament.  And though I’m quick to upload and share the link, I’m even quicker to teach them the importance of coming to church, being connected in church, and living as the church.

Jared Wilson tweeted this a few weeks ago:

That really resonated with me.  American Christianity suffers from an individualistic, private-faith complex.  I’m not sure Jesus “gave Himself up for the church” so we could consume knowledge in isolation.  Community is a big deal.  And it’s hard.  So if your small group is you, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, great.  Jesus was alone some in Scripture, too.  But none of us is as strong as all of us.  Don’t rob yourself of the joy of community.  Don’t stunt your spiritual growth by trying to do it all on your own.  Don’t marinate in the mire of sin because you don’t have faithful men and/or women in your life to hold you accountable and spur you on toward love and good deeds.

If you have the flu, stay at home.  Watch a sermon.  Listen to a podcast.  Read.

If you want to come to church in your jammies, please do.  (If khaki pants equates to “giving God your best” we have a lot more to talk about.)

But guard yourself against the deception that church was ever meant to be an isolated individual discipline when in fact it is a public community of worshipers.

Unintended Consequences of a Church on Every Corner

unintended consequences of a church on every corner

When I was in college, I attended 17 different churches.  Eventually I settled down and served in one, but it took 3 of my 4 years.

When I was getting trained for youth ministry in Branson all the students in my class served at a monthly youth gathering.  But I also interned at a small local church.  But I also went to church somewhere else for worship.

So I’ve lived in the thick of what I’m writing about.  Having been working in the church for the last 5+ years I’m seeing the unintended consequences of a church on every corner.  When people “go” all over the place but never “belong” anywhere, there are issues with church discipline (which is a whole other post for another time).  But the consequence I see with church hopping is this:

There’s no loyalty. Continue reading