Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pharisee In A Millennial Body

I dedicated an entire chapter in Better Off wihtout Jesus to the idea that there is a Pharisee within every one of us. It looks different from Jesus' day and we hate it, but it is true.

For Boomer generations and possibly some Gen-Xers the Pharisee comes out in self-focus. Rather than looking at gifts as a means of God's grace expressed toward the life of others (Ephesians 4:11-16), we tend to think of it as something we are good at or skilled in. This small tweak causes it to be about us rather than God ministering to others through us.

Small tweaks, but one's that send us on a different trajectory of perspective. Now, I'm sure it reveals itself in a number of different ways for each generation, but there is one way I see the Pharisee subversively surfacing in Millennials.

It shows up under the umbrella of "gifts." Let me explain.

Out of a unique desire to find the specific thing that God wants them to be doing, there is a distinct focus on making sure they are using their gifts. It isn't malicious (just as the Boomer perspective is not), but it is becoming more obvious. It is often a generational spiritualization of self-focus.

So here is one thought I think Jesus would have for all generations: It's not about what you do or how your gifts are used, but about who you love. Here are a couple of thoughts from scripture as to why I say this:

  1. In Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus answers a question the Pharisees asked. They're question was, "What is the greatest thing we should be doing?" They were concerned about doing commandments. However, when we understand the context of Deuteronomy 6 and all that plays into that for a Jewish mindset, Jesus essentially responds by saying, "It's not about you do. It's about who you love."
  2. 1 Corinthians 12 and 13 talk about both gifts and love. Chapter 12 is clearly laying out gifts of the Spirit. But then when we get to chapter 13 Paul is saying that all of that is void without love. In other words the only eternal thing, and thus the only thing worthy of our focus, is love. This makes a lot of sense since God is love (1 John 4:7-10). God has always been a self-giving loving relationship (that is referred to as the "Trinity"). God as a loving relationship of 3 Persons is what our Christian faith is founded on.

So, as Millennials ask and wrestle with how they are gifted my encouragement is that we help them through it by helping them embrace the facts: it's not about you, but about who you love.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

God is NOT Creator

I recently taught this message as the kick-off to our current series titled, "God: a relationship of Persons"

It's not that we are denying the fact that God created heaven and earth. It's actually about making a much more specific point.

It's really about how we think of and define God in our own minds.


Colossae WFR Retreat Message 2015 from Colossae Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

3 Tensions Employers Must Get Over With Millennials

Business and organizations of all sorts that are being led by Baby Boomers (and now even Gen X'ers) all seem to be trying to nail down the nuances and balances of hiring and working with Millennials.

This post is far too short to address all the existing tension points and the reasons behind them, but here are a few quick expectations employers need to get over being frustrated about and figure out how to work with. Because, well, they are NOT going to change.
  1. To have a voice. Think about it. Millennials have never been without a voice. Ever since they can remember they can post their opinions. Blogs. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. They have always been able to make known and share what they like or disagree with. They know nothing other than being able to express their opinions. From their perspective, it's a way of contributing. Employers, get over your frustration with this and provide avenues for younger employees to voice their opinion. Sure, they might not have the best ideas all the time, but they are sure to have some. If you cannot provide these avenues you are sure to lose your most gifted younger employees. It's that simple.
  2. To have flexibility. We all realize that certain jobs require rigid hours and limitations to freedoms. However, if flexibility is not offered where it can be employers will be the ones who lose. Employers, realize that Millennials want to devote their lives to something greater than themselves and they would love nothing more than to do that where they work. Many (of course not all) will work late at night on their own initiative or wake up earlier than they ever would for social activities to do their job. When employers are able to provide flexibility with schedule they will likely find the productivity increase among their Millennial employees. And, most, will also see creativity and and overall collaboration increase as well.
  3. To have responsibility. Too much has been written about how Millennials avoid responsibilities. Sure, there are clearly chasms in how generations think about certain things but they are not afraid of assuming roles that have impact. If they want anything, it's impact. Impactful roles within any organization come with weight and responsibility. Employers who draw up "areas of responsibility" rather than "job duties" or even "job descriptions" experience the beauty of hiring Millennials. They provide avenues for Millennials to contribute to the daily operation and overall strategy of a company. 
It's in these ways that smart employers are working with Millennials (versus against) and are therefore experiencing the benefits of having them on their team.

Monday, July 13, 2015

14 Thoughts: SCOTUS Decision

I wrote these thoughts out a few weeks ago for the people part of Colossae Church. I thought I would also post it here. Hope you find it helpful.  Here is the post:

I feel like I need to say a few things for our church regarding the recent SCOTUS decision.

This cannot be anything but controversial, so I will just offer a list of thoughts. Regardless where people fall on the pendulum swing of opinions/convictions/beliefs on this issue, everyone has deep feelings and even fears attached to all that is happening. So, my hope is that these thoughts will not only clearly state our position as a church, but hopefully bring some internal rest to some of us who are trying to think deeper about how we live out our faith right now.

The list is in no particular order. I only ask that you read all the way through this postSo, if you do not have time to do so at this point...please set this aside and come back to this post when you have ample time.

First, I must say that I have been so proud to be part of our church. As far as I have seen you have responded in humility and dignity to this issue. My hope for this post is that you would continue to be encouraged in the same posture.

Secondly, let me say upfront that I have dozens of friends that I love deeply who hold different convictions about this issue and dozens others that actively participate in same-sex partnerships. I maintain these relationships while being fully in line with our conviction at Colossae: We believe God's best for marriage is between a man and a woman. We hold to that statement based on both Old Testament passages (for example Genesis 1-3) as well as from New Testament passages, such as directly from the mouth of Jesus (Matthew 19:4-9).

  1. Every person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and therefore deserves to be respected as a human being, period. We believe this is true regardless of beliefs, opinions, backgrounds, choices, etc.
  2. Love and humility, NOT shame, should be our mutual aspiration in culture. We believe Jesus modeled this perfectly...which is why we desire to follow his ways. 
  3. If the bible becomes a weapon that we use against people, it is not holiness we seek but power. This is not only arrogant and contrary to the ways of Jesus, but detrimental to our passing along what we say we believe.
  4. We can easily talk about the need for holiness in our culture, but fail to realize our own unholy motivations (James 1:13-15). To hold back from throwing stones we must come to grips with our own villainous nature (Romans 3:23). 
  5. It should not be a surprise to anyone (Christian or not) that people hold different beliefs about different topics - gun control, Jesus, governmental structures, parenting philosophies...and everyone thinks they hold the correct view. We cannot react in fear but must be careful to respond with dignity toward others. 
  6. We have to manage our anxiety and become servants of those that disagree with us not opponents (Matthew 20:28). 
  7. God is not frantically pacing in heaven right now because of what is going on in the cultures around the world. As Christians we cannot react in fear of losing control of culture as if we ever had control in the first place. We believe God is the only sovereign One. 
  8. We have zero right or freedom to judge people who are not Christian (1 Corinthians 5:12-13).
  9. In the height of the Roman Empire when Caesar ruled through much corruption, Jesus never spoke up against him. In fact his perspective was the opposite (for example see Luke 20:22-25). Or later when Nero was torturing Christians in the public square because of their faith, the apostle Peter guided Christians on how to live under that government (see 1 Peter 2:13-17). The biblical or Christian response is always honoring those who govern over us. If that was true under the rule of Nero, it would certainly apply today as well. Also read Romans 13:1-7.
  10. Belittling or separating from people because they sin differently than we do is a sin in itself. This is precisely what the Pharisees did and we cannot fall into that trap. We have talked about this many times, but as a church we cannot sit around with bracelets on, talking about what Jesus would do...as his followers we must do what he did. He not only avoided belittling people, but he clearly befriended those who were outside of his "belief system." The Pharisee's had a problem with this and only because they were arrogantly focused on how much people lived different lifestyles then they did - as if they were perfect. Anyone who arrogantly separates needs to read 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 because scripture never expects followers of Jesus to separate from people who live differently because they hold different beliefs.
  11. Human beings are much more than moral agents who consistently fail and therefore just need Jesus as a remedy - as is too often the bottom line view in the evangelical world. In other words, morality is the wrong battle to fight. This was largely what I spoke on a few weeks ago in the message titled, Encounters: Who Do You Love? Life has never been about what we do or abstain from, but according to Jesus, it's about who we love (Matthew 22:34-40).
  12. Every single person living today has a skewed sexual orientation. None of us has a holy or completely sacred idea about sexual relationships or, for that matter, relationships in general.
  13. Warnings against heterosexual sin in scripture FAR OUTWEIGH the warnings against homosexual behaviors. The issue scripture addresses is not one of homosexuality, but porneia: any sexual interaction outside the context of marriage. So, to hold up homosexuality as something different or worse than anything else is really just an expression of bigotry.
  14. Culture is not something we try to "win," but rather something we want to bring the Gospel to (Matthew 28:18-20). The Gospel has always been counter-cultural...it should not be shocking to us that we believe differently then the majority of our culture.

So I hope this helps you process how you respond to this. I would also ask that you carefully consider what you say, links you share, or how you respond to things online. My hope for our church is that we would choose to be viewed as humble servants more than be viewed as right.

Thank you for your humility before God and others.
Here is a segment from video interview I did recently for the Regeneration Project - a group of people I am working with to better help the Church provide what is needed for younger generations.

Chuck Bomar: Relationships Not Programs from ReGeneration Project on Vimeo.