Book Review By A BadChristian Reader

A BadChristian reader shares his thoughts on our forthcoming book, BADCHRISTIAN GREATSAVIOR.

 

I have had the privilege of reading through an early copy of a book titled, BADCHRISTIAN GREATSAVIOR.  And I do mean “privilege”.  This book was written by Pastor Joey Svendsen and his close friends Matt Carter and Toby Morell, from the rock band “Emery”.  Most importantly, it was written by three hearts that are fully surrendered to God, which is made apparent through their complete humbling of self and the complete praise given to Jesus for what He’s done in their lives.  They discuss certain sin issues that I have never heard mentioned behind a closed door, let alone in a public space.  What I read blew my mind into a thousand pieces, not because of some age-old mystery that has now been unravelled thanks to the authors, but due to the heavy veil of iron that their insights allowed me to remove from over my eyes.  And I cannot wait until you all are able to experience that for yourselves.

“Enough of that crap, tell us about the freaking thing!”

Alright, so here’s the deal, from a random Christian dude who loves God and is excited about what’s happening at BadChristian.  

If my first few sentences weren’t clear enough, I loved the book.  First of all, every page is brimming with honesty.  No attempts were being made to sell me on the idea of becoming a super happy and healthy Christ follower, or to lure me into a weird marketing ploy where I could subscribe to their junk and hopefully send them twenty bucks a month so BadChristian can make me the best Christian I can be!  Each one of the authors digs into the very fabric of their sinful nature – our sinful nature - and as a result, I feel more connected to them and their lives than I do with most folks at my church.

If you are a Christian, you need to read this book.  You need to see the incredible picture that is painted of what a Christian life looks like, according to the Bible.

If you are the most staunch and un-moving non-believer (since Paul), you need to read this book.  You will see every reason you hate bible-thumping Christians exposed, and you will see that every Christian, both those highly praised and publicly sinful, is a lot more like you than you might think.  

The ideas presented here are not flimsy or soft.  This book has challenged me.  It’s been a catalyst for the Holy Spirit to work in me in a different way than I ever thought it could.  It’s challenged my marriage.  I have felt a conviction for my sins, stronger than I’ve ever experienced before as I’ve opened up to my wife and begun to make myself more transparent about my failures.  And It’s challenged my relationship with God.  

It also challenges the church.  A lot.  The church criticised in this book might look an awful lot like your church. It certainly looked like mine.  But the criticisms were exciting.  I never once thought, “Dang, these guys are dicks who really don’t like churches.”  Their enthusiasm and love for the body of Christ was apparent throughout the entire text, and I felt like I was being led side-by-side, never preached at or scolded.  By the end of the book I saw an amazing picture of the church.  It was the church I wanted to attend, not because they served the best coffee or had the best worship team, but because it was a church of people who follow God the way the Bible tells us to.  

The movement BadChristian presents has lifted up a mirror, the mirror of God’s Word, and shown me that I’m not all I crack myself up to be.

 

We wrote a book. It is totally scary, totally ugly, and it is totally true.

bad christian cover_darkerOur first book, BADCHRISTIAN GREATSAVIOR, is coming.  
Here are 10 reasons why you should be psyched about that.  We hope you’re ready for a dose of honesty and a shot of truth.  Everything is better in context, so don’t forget to pick up the book to get the whole picture.  It’s going to blow your socks off (and expose that one crooked toe of yours.)
 
1) “No matter how much good fruit we produce there will always be a few rotten pieces as well.  Remember, it’s Jesus who grows the fruit.”
 
2) “But look different how?  By not sinning?  Since when were Christians not hypocrites?  Since when were we not pathetic?… …Let’s be blunt.  The very definition of hypocrite fits every Christian.” 
 
3) “Meanwhile Toby, unable to reach either Joey or me, drove around Greenville that night in his Mercury Sable crying and crying, not knowing what he was doing anymore.  Joey was his best friend and now that he was gone the Seattle thing was surely over.  What was he supposed to do now?”
 
4)“I don’t know how I responded, but I literally wanted to punch the hell out of my best friend.  In my mind, I was thinking something along the lines of, “Oh yeah?  That’s how it’s going to be?  Well, I don’t need you as a friend anymore.”
 
5) “I spent the next 16 hours in pain, throwing up, and unable to move, but the shame I felt didn’t even really kick in till after the hangover.  A few days later Toby and I were on a living room tour talking about God to believers and non-believers.  A few weeks later on Sunday morning I was on stage at a large church, shoulder-to-shoulder with the pastor, leading the congregation in worship, and I was ashamed.”
 
6) “How is anyone supposed to get that when all we do is pretend that we have our shit together?  Many Christians would respond to this by saying that before we became Christians, admittedly we were a disaster, but now that we are saved we do in fact live righteous lives.  I disagree, and I believe the Bible disagrees.”
 
7) “What’s even worse is that all my Christian friends thought I was doing great in my “walk” because I could say I had quit some of my bad habits.  I had the look.  God had changed me, but despite having a new heart, I still had a great deal of nasty mess inside.  1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 tell us that God gives us gifts and even gives us our faith.  My faith was 100% real, but it was clouded by the things that I thought were marks of a “good Christian”.  That is exactly what I wanted—to be, and to be seen as a “good Christian”.”
 
8) “My most spiritually active and eye-opening moments occurred on tour.  We prayed with each other and asked for God’s will when we didn’t know where we were headed or where our next meal would come from.”
 
9) “Now, here’s where people get the wrong idea of BadChristian.  They think we’re saying, “Who gives a shit.  We can’t stop, so why would we even try?”  On the contrary, we “try to stop sinning” by drawing closer to Jesus.”
 
10) “Church attendance is going up, but are our churches simply gaining more people who are consumers, who idolize their pastor, who enjoy being entertained?  And why wouldn’t they do this, if the church gives them permission?  It’s easy.  It doesn’t require too much commitment.”
 
Read it.  It’s going to hit you where it hurts.  It’s going to be honest, full force, and make you think a little bit harder about what you believe and how you live.
BadChristian presents it’s first book,  BADCHRISTIAN GREATSAVIOR .
bad christian cover_darker

Let’s Tell the WHOLE Story about the Church

The Whole Story

I was initially thinking about titling this post, “Christians ARE Doing Sh**,” but I didn’t want to offend people.  Then again, I guess I just worked it in there,  so I’m sorry if I ended up offending you anyway.  ”They are so ‘middle school’ sometimes,” some of you are thinking.

But on to my point.

The church is up to some good stuff.  That should make sense, considering Jesus is in charge.  <—–That’s “tweet worthy” right there.

Those who aren’t a part of the church often have a lot of derogatory things to say about it.  I can honestly understand some of the criticisms, but then some of it is just plain old foolishness.  Opponents of the church often have a double-standard in the way they evaluate people groups, as if all Christians are responsible for the actions of a few.  We dug a little deeper into that topic in a previous post entitled, “P.E.T.A, Punk Rawk, Christians, Old Navy, Germans, and Atheists.

Now, all joking aside, I really don’t lose any sleep over what people think about the church.  I wouldn’t sleep much at all if I did.  I do wish it was different though, because I want more people to hear what the church has to say.  To put it simply, I just don’t have the time to be offended.  Plus, Jesus is the Head of His church, so I’ll let Him be concerned about what He’s in charge of.  In the meantime, I’ll just do what He’s asked me to do.

I do want us to think about something though:  Due to some of the dumb things that Christians do, we’ve got a bad reputation.  Even Christians don’t often like the church, which is why many of us refer to ourselves as “Jesus followers” instead of Christians.

Well, can we please tell the whole story about the church?  Those of you who don’t like the church, please at least admit that it isn’t an altogether bad thing for the Earth.  C’MON, man!

Take a second and run these ideas through your head:

1.  What about the fact that American slavery was eventually abolished based on Christian convictions and biblical principles?  Please stop taking scripture out of context to “prove” that God loved slavery.  Are you kidding me?

2.  What about the huge organizations that have been founded by Christians–like A-21–that are doing all they can to rescue people who are caught in human trafficking?  We might not be as badass as Liam Neeson in Taken, but at least we’re trying to do something.

3.  What about the millions of dollars given world-wide by the church planting network called ARC?

4.  What about Reginald Denny forgiving the guys that almost killed him during the LA Riots in ’92?

5.  What about Pastor Rick Warren partnering with homosexual organizations to fight against AIDS? And let’s not forget that this dude wrote the best-selling book of all time, and gives 90% of all his money away.

6.  What about the many Christians who are involved in getting clean water to 3rd World Countries through Water Missions International–One of the world’s deadliest killers is dirty water!  That’ll make you think twice the next time you want to complain about your tap water.

There are so many things that I haven’t mentioned, like the millions of people being served and sheltered in Christian homeless shelters, the many doctors that give up wealth in order to serve those in poor countries around the world, and the many mega-churches that literally give millions to non-profit organizations.

The point of this isn’t to gloat or pat anyone on the back.  Folks outside of the church are killing it too in order to make this world better.  I just want you to know that Jesus is at work through His people.  Jesus doesn’t save people so they can continue to wallow in their own shittiness (did I just make up a word?).  As Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church reminds us, “We aren’t saved by good works, but we are saved to do them.”

At the end of the ages there will be crowns of glory cast at His feet to represent the good works that have been done in His name.

In the meantime, it sure would be nice for the good stories about Christians to make the news and get the same publicity that the bad ones get.

Oh, well.  I guess this might have been what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5:10 when He said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Steven Furtick’s House (Joey vs. Toby)

We are just (3) dudes that love Jesus and the church.  Please don’t mistake our views shared on this blog as views that are necessarily congruent with our church’s views. 

So Toby Morrell and I (Joey) were watching the Clemson Tigers destroy the Ga. Tech Yellow jackets last night, and as always, talked about everything.  I’m sure my wife, Pricilla, loves when Toby comes over because there’s some one else in the house that just does not stop talking.  Pricilla is way sweeter to listen to though.

The topic came up of (you guessed it) Steven Furtick’s house.  For those of you that do not know who Furtick is, this guy started a church 8 years ago and today, and there’s currently 14,000 attenders and one huge celebrity leader named Steven Furtick.  Pastor Furtick has spoken at my church, addressed our staff numerous times and I love the guy.  Great, dynamic, charismatic speaker that can make the vegan put down some ribs.

To be sure, I don’t agree with everything Pastor Furtick says in general but I haven’t found one person on this earth who I agreed with on everything.  Which leads to my discussion with Toby.

You see, Pastor Furtick is building a 1.7 million dollar, 16,000 square foot house.  Read more here.

Toby basically stood his ground throughout the conversation that there’s no way of slicing this thing.  Pastor Furtick is in the wrong.  For a myriad of reasons:  he needs to be above reproach, he doesn’t need that house, its excessive, it’s a bad example to his flock (and the world), etc.

I’m not going to argue against the fact that Furtick is probably and  likely making an unwise decision, but I stand on the fact that one cannot make a black/white, right/wrong, moral/immoral issue out of this.  Only God can do that because only God knows His little boy, Stevie’s, heart.

He needs to be above reproach.  Many people say the same thing about us, concerning this blog.

He doesn’t need that house.  I don’t need my 1500 square foot house or the computer that I’m typing on.

It’s excessive.  Anyone from Ghana Africa would probably say the same thing about the majority of our readers’ (yeah, you) houses.

It’s a bad example to his flock.  Don’t even get me started on all the times I’m a bad example to my flock.  I TRY not to be, but often unsuccessful.

 

We as Christians need to be able to talk about these sorts of issues and we need to be motivated by love and not mean-spirited criticism.  We need to remember our planks and all along proclaim that Jesus is the savior of the world.  Last time I checked, everyone needs this Savior.  With that settled, let’s talk about this.  As the universal church, we have to.

Here are some questions i want to leave you and Toby with.  We really want to hear what you think.

Could God have told Pastor Furtick to build this house, maybe having a greater purpose in mind for it?  What if He later asks Pastor Furtick to give it away so it can be used for huge non-profit headquarters? 

What if this brother of ours is giving 75% of all his money away to the poor and still has the excess to build this house? 

What if three members of his church gave him $500,000 each and implored him to build this?

I personally don’t think this is a wise move on Pastor Furtick’s part.  I could also be speculating, but had he sought more counsel, maybe he wouldn’t have built a mini disney world?

I just don’t think one can make a definitive stance on this being a wrong–or sinful–thing.  It’s a heart issue and we don’t know his heart.

What say you?  We love Steven Furtick by the way and would prefer loving (iron sharpens iron) responses.

 

Tony Responds.  I MEAN, TOBY!

I agree with everything Joey says here. I also want to clarify that I think God is using Steven Furtick and Elevation Church to do amazing things. The dude had been given a gift and we thank God He’s using it to share the Gospel. With that said, a 1.7 million home is excessive. I think if you took out the million and just used 700,000, you’d still have a killer house for God’s glory. I also agree that I’m a hypocrite, and that I don’t need what I have.

I’m typing this on an Iphone from my very comfortable, climate-controlled apartment. I’m not about the poverty Gospel (we should all be poor like Jesus, for the glory of God) anymore than I am the prosperity Gospel (God intends for us all to be rich, because of the cross of Jesus).  Both are dangerous. My point is that this house is too much. We should be able to ask this “what if,” just as much as the, “what if God is going to use this house for greater purposes,” right?  I am all about working hard and enjoying the benefits of that hard work, but there’s a reason everyone is talking about this house. It clearly borderlines “too much.”  Otherwise, no one would be talking about it.

I also think we hide our own finances from each other because somehow, we see it as personal and something that shouldn’t be known to others. I think some things can and should be private, but we all need to be at least a little more open about our own finances.

Lastly, i would say this is a good topic for me personally and does cause conviction in my heart concerning the little bit of wealth I have. I truly believe Americans are about the richest people that have ever lived. Even the poor in this country are wealthy when considering people throughout the history of the world.

Lastly, it’s just good for us to at the very least question the purpose of our excess, right?  Do we own things or do they own us?

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You Might Be A Bad Evangelist If…

evang_combined

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Picture an Evangelist in your mind.  What are you thinking?

Chances are you’re picturing a red-faced, possibly pudgy dude who’s wiping off his sweat-drenched brow after warning you to either repent or burn for eternity.

Most of us have the wrong idea of what a true evangelist is.  Does the above description sound like the kind of Christian you want to hang with? Exactly.  Hence, not a good evangelist.

Now, let’s look at Jesus who was perfect in all ways, including evangelism. The sinners wanted to hang out with Him!  He was literally the life of the party, in more ways than one.  You remember his first miracle was to keep the bar open, right?  Heck yeah.  Evangelists have a knack for connecting with the world, they’re excited about understanding culture, and they typically aren’t easily offended when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain.  They don’t have time for that.  They are driven by an insatiable desire for people to know Jesus.

I want to make a distinction here.  We all have the responsibility to spread the gospel, but not all people are naturally good at it.  Likewise, we all have a responsibility to teach the gospel (1 Peter 3:15), but many of us aren’t naturally gifted in that way either.

So what about you?  Are you a natural evangelist?  

You probably are not if…

  1. Most people don’t like you.
  2. You can’t reply to an unbeliever with, “Good point.  I don’t really have a good answer.”
  3. You say, “How could you be so dumb?” to people who believe the bible is a fairy tale.
  4. You think Jesus would never go into a bar and hang out with the prostitutes and swindlers. Obviously, He’d have to invite them to the temple for bread and unfermented wine.
  5. You think Billy Graham is irrelevant.  This is just being dumb.  
  6. You spout “christianese” all over your Facebook page.
  7. You size someone up according to their sin, rather than whether or not they’ve been made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
  8. You make a big stink about Christmas having pagan roots and refuse to join the Yuletide singing. What does “yuletide” mean anyway?
  9. You think Tebow is legitimately one of the best QB’s around. This is being way dumber.  
  10. Someone asks you what it means to be a Christian and you talk for twenty seconds without bringing up JESUS.

If none of these points speak to you then you might be a natural evangelist.  You also might be a liar.  

These questions should be used as a gut-check for all Christians.  Whether you are naturally gifted in evangelism or not, 1-10 each deserves serious consideration in the ways we approach others about Christ.  Especially #9.

Yo, That Junk’s Just COLD, Bro! (including an official statement)

 

Honestly, every cutting, mean-spirited, and belittling comment we get from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ only further demonstrates why BadChristian exists.

We’ve asked these questions before:  What if we really are wrong?  What if we really are in err?  The approach they take to “help” some of their fellow believers?  Belittling attacks that are entirely impersonal, delivered on a public forum.

Why not a personal email or direct message to our Facebook inbox that expresses love, along with a plea to rescue us?

Check this out:

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24-26, ESV)

In all fairness, some of you have taken the above approach and we appreciate it.  You’ve truly processed and thought through your cautions.

For the rest of you that take a more self-centered, “put us in our place,” attack-mode approach:  We are trying to hear you out.  But to be honest, it’s starting to sound a lot like a clanging cymbal.  Maybe that’s because there’s no love.

But we ARE righteous,” some of you say.  ”The bible says we are a new creation.  Quit this ‘BadChristian’ stuff because it’s going to promote carelessness in Godly living.

We get it, we really do.  And we understand what you’re saying.  But here’s the deal, we are indeed righteous, but it’s Jesus’ righteousness.  He gave it to us.  It wasn’t manufactured by us, it was freely given.  And what do we do?  We still sin.

And even when we do do the right thing?  It’s still all about Jesus (LOL.  I just said “do-do.” Sorry, but that’s just funny).

Last time we checked, our name was BadChristian.  That says nothing negative about Jesus.

Last time we checked, regardless of our efforts, we still sin.  So, that makes us….good?

Last time we checked, our boasting needs only be in the cross of Jesus (Galatians 6:14).

Last time we checked, most Christians aren’t being real with one another, nor are they transparent to humanity about their struggles.

Last time we checked, there’s a lot of skepticism towards the church, and arguably 60% of all unchurched people will never take a step into a church building.

Last time we checked there’s been an invigorating response from hundreds of Christians (and even some agnostics/atheists) who have given us some messages of their own:

This is it.  This is what I’ve been thinking but wasn’t able to articulate.

This is what I have to be a part of.  It’s the only thing that’s rang true in a long time.”  Maybe that’s because we try to make it all about Jesus and He IS the truth.

How about this quote on www.badchristian.com:

amazing name!! for all those concerned with the type of “labeling” one is going to receive, get over it! the name speaks to what is happening today in the christian world, teens and adults a like. finally someone has the stones to speak to the truth and not hide behind all these Christian self help books flooding the book stores. i cant wait to see what is coming for you guys. God bless you all and ill be praying for you guys.

Or this one that really represents hundreds more just like it:

“This is amazing. Thank you guys for everything you’re doing. I can’t even express how much I agree with what Bad Christian is about and how excited I am about what God is doing.”

We are excited.  And that “we” isn’t just Matt, Toby, and Joey.  ”We” includes all of you that are in this thing with us.

We’d like to make an official statement:  We are done trying to convince our fellow brothers and sisters.  Time is too precious and there’s too much to be done.  Explaining ourselves?  Sure.  But no more convincing.  We have pastors that we answer to, so rest assured, these BadChristians will be kept in check.  

What about you?  Who keeps you in check?

We already know you bad, bro.  You best figure out how to open up more and receive some loving, ass-whipping words of rebuke every now and then from a community that you’ve entrusted yourself to.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, He wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Pro-Church and Damn Proud

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We have a feeling that many people have specific visions of who we are.

Some see us as this group of guys who are God’s gift to the punk-rawking, non-conforming, “down with the mega-church” bad-ass crowd.  Others think we encourage using the gospel of Jesus’ grace as an excuse to “let grace abound,” and not try to resist sin while we shout “legalism” at everyone who disagrees with us.  While we are at it, we obviously cuss for the mere sake of ruffling feathers in an attempt to distinguish ourselves as an elite squad of progressive Christian super-soldiers.

Those who are close to us know that these things could not be any further from the truth.

Our motives aren’t completely pure by any means.  But make no mistake about it, we love the corporate church.  We’ve seen first-hand the impact that mega-churches, as well as smaller churches, make in people’s hearts and in the communities they serve.

Above all other reasons, we love the mega-church because it is filled with many of God’s people — which is, by the way, the true definition of the word “church.”

As Toby said on his Facebook page,

“You didn’t go to church this morning, you are the church.”

Bad Christian is not our solution for the church.  We are part of the problem.  Jesus is the solution, and He continues to work on us, little by little, making us more like Him.  He’s got His work cut out for Him and we are constantly thankful that He keeps at it.

Now, make no mistake about it: we believe that God has given Bad Christian a voice and we absolutely aim to use it for His purposes.

This voice can help mend many of the broken and dysfunctional practices of “church.”  The practices that foster the feelings that Christians need to “save face” at the expense of bringing attention to the face of their great Savior.  The practices of the church that fuel a permissiveness for self-proclaimed “Good Christians” to consume on Sunday mornings, stay busy for themselves during the week, and not to even try to do anything that Jesus did.

But, we have no interest in rallying together a group of behind-the-keyboard rebels whose only aim is to gripe, complain, and “female dog” about the corporate church.  The group that blogs about them being judgmental, ineffective, and accuses them of being more concerned about big buildings with cool cafes.  Or about how they are so proud that their pastor has tattoos and so psyched for the visitors to hear the worship team’s cover of that new Killers song.

We don’t have time for this.  The gospel is the gospel.  If a church preaches it, then we are your home-boys cheering you on, not spectators picking you apart.  And we’re sorry that we are such a group of goofy-looking cheerleaders.

We want to help.

We believe God gave us, with tens of thousands of others, a vision for the future: a vision for a major shift in which the church will take.

Honestly, there are pioneers who were way ahead of us who have been approaching “church community” in the same light we’re advocating.  Our contemporary churches had to break off from traditional services in this exact same way in order to preach the same Gospel to a different generation.

We all need each other.  God has created each of us to have different functions in order to make a complete body. (1 Corinthians 12: 12-19)

 

“The church has to change,” as Matt says in this video. It has to figure out how to do things differently.

 

The Bible is a collection of stories that all revolve around a great God and an incredible Savior using seriously jacked up people to accomplish His glorious will.  This is the model He laid out for us and we believe God can use us, regardless of our brokenness, in order to affect an entire culture of broken people.

There are pastors and leaders within the church, including those in corporate and/or mega-churches, who are also vocal about the need for change.  Matt, Toby, Joey, and the Pastors whom we serve under, are among them.

True change will not happen at the hands of a rebellious group of extreme, standoffish know-it-alls.  That kind of attitude serves to drive wedges between potential relationships, and only separates us from one another. (Yeah, God has a plan for you guys too, but check your heart and realize that you don’t have it all figured out, either).

Change is going to happen if we all listen to each other.  We’ll gladly accept the ears of leaders in successful, well-established churches.  These guys have had our ears for most of our lives and will continue to have them for many years to come; we are grateful for you.

What the Hell is a Blessing, Anyway?

The most sensible thing for me to do right now would be to update our readers on the campaign.  I’d rather watch the Carolina Gamecocks win the national championship on a bed of nails. It’s SO yesterday anyway.

But really, we get it.  Some of you are excited.  You are 100% with us and we are as excited as all get out.  Some of you don’t actually read any of our stuff, but ask really crazy questions.  We actually had someone ask if we were atheists…seriously.  Some of you think that we are dangerously leading people astray.  That’s a little weird considering all we talk about is Jesus being the hero that we need so desperately.

Putting all of that aside, we truly are appreciative of the support.  It’s been incredible to see how many people not only say they are with us,  but have showed it by volunteering and/or giving.

But, I don’t want to talk about that anymore.  Can I take a break?  I’m going to take a break.

 

Blessings. What the Hell Are They?

Christians mention blessings constantly. Look at these common “blessing” statements.

“Lord, bless us.”

“Man, I feel blessed.”

“Wow, dude you are blessed and highly favored for sure.”

“Wow.  What a blessing!”

I don’t want to try and provide answers right now.  I want to ask you a few questions.

Think on this for me:  James 1:2-3 and 1 Peter 1:7 both make it absolutely clear that trials are blessings.

So, with that in mind why don’t we look at those “blessing” statements again. . . . . .

Okay, did you check them out?  I really want you to.  Read them again.

All of these would be said after something really good had just gone down.  That dude found himself a great spouse.  This girl landed a new job.  My brother bought a new house.  I made a ton of great friends.

I certainly don’t want to allude to any of these not being blessings, but…

1.  What if the marriage ends in divorce?

2.  What if the job takes too much time away from her family?

3.  What if the new house straps you too thin financially?

4.  What if some of your friends turn out to become enemies?

Do all of those things cease to be blessings?  I personally think it would become more of a blessing.

I think we see “the things of this world” as obvious blessings because this world is what we know, see, touch and experience. God clearly has other thoughts on this matter when you realize His disciples proclaim profound blessings throughout their lives of torture, persecutionand martyrdom.

Only God knows what a blessing is.  Sometimes, hindsight allows us to see them after the fact.

 

Two last thoughts:

1.  God promises that He would bring good out of everything we experience (Romans 8:28).  Thus, having millions of dollars can be a blessing that God uses to further bless others.  Or, it could be a terrible curse that God eventually brings good from.

2.  God used Peter to tell us that we actually already have everything we need just by knowing Jesus (2 Peter 1:3).

Guys and girls, I have to apologize.  I originally said I wouldn’t provide any answers, but I can’t help myself.

Those that know Jesus ARE blessed.

We sinned,  He saved us.  We still sin, He still loves us.  He works good out of all things (Romans 8:28), and we have an eternal existence waiting for us because of His great sacrifice.

What in the hell else do we want?

We have very warped views of our lives on earth.  Something that we call a blessing might actually be the worst thing to ever happen to us.  Maybe those trials that we cry out against are actually major blessings.

The most spiritual growth I’ve ever experienced was through deep clinical depression, and I imagine soon, I’ll see the personal blessing from the recent tragic loss of my friend.

Let’s not forget that the greatest blessing (our salvation) was a result of the worst curse in the history of mankind, when God died on a cross (Galatians 3:13)

Buy Heavenly Stock When You Help Bad Christian

BadChristian Logo 1Wouldn’t that be SO messed up if we really claimed that? Well. We. Are. Want to be richer in heaven? Want a bigger mansion than the widow that only gave a dumb fraction of what she had? Do you really want to sit at Jesus’ right or left side? Want a golden street named after you? Donate to Bad Christian and donate big. J to the slash to the K.

All joking aside, though: it’s on. We are asking for your help and there has already been a big response. Know why?

You guys–from Christians to Atheists–recognize the need for change!

You understand that we need to listen more and talk less; do more, talk less. We at Bad Christian believe that Jesus is the answer to all the problems of this world, and we want everyone to know this. But we believe that we can work together with and love people that don’t believe what we believe. I know we can do better. Let’s stretch one another. Let’s be honest. Let’s be the church. Let’s be humans.

We’ve already got volunteer teams of graphic designers, editors, social networkers and many more that just want to do anything they can to help. Why?

It’s NOT because we are these original dudes with a fresh idea and brand new expression of what it means to be the church.

This stuff is burning inside your hearts, too.  For some of you, it’s been burning a long, long time.

We’ve done this online community for almost two years for no money in return. We did it because we had to do it, whether there was financial return or not. Now it’s time to take this to the next level, and we are asking for your help.  Click here.  And/or just watch the video right here:

We love you guys and are excited about what is to come!
The @xBadChristian Team,
Matt, Toby, and Joey

Bad Christian Music, Book, and New Website. Help us build Bad Christian.

We believe in what we are doing as Bad Christian (Read the following for a deeper explanation). The positive response from you guys confirms this.  We can’t’ forget about those that say, “Emery, you just lost a fan” or “Stop this religious bullshit and play music.  We love your music but we don’t care about you guys as people!”  We love you guys too.

We can’t change the world without you, our reader.  And for those of you that have shared your excitement and expressed interest in supporting, we truly see you as “in this” with us.

 

We are announcing a crowd-funding campaign in order to launch Bad Christian.

This includes:

the new interactive site:  www.badchristian.com.  It will contain everything Bad Christian: BLOG, MUSIC, PODCAST,and more. We really want to hear from you too and give you a voice on the new site.

Podcasts of Matt, Toby, Joey and  guests: we love to talk and it usually goes really deep, really bizarre, really Seinfeld-ish, and it has the potential to be an integral part of our listeners’ journeys and walks with Jesus as we all experience great connection-time and pour into one another (had to throw in some Christianese).

a Bad Christian e-book: the book contains a lot of personal stories and vulnerable info about ourselves including our many failings as humans. There is also an in-depth look at the “what” and “why” of Bad Christian.

Plans to tour more: we will continue to crash living rooms and get wasted from a high dose of community, baby!

A new record label: we just signed Kanye West and Sandi Pattie for a collaboration album.

World change:  none of us should be after any thing more or less.

Our regular blog posts: “Un-learning”  will now be under the umbrella of Bad Christian.

New emery album: um. can i simply get a “hell yeah!”

 

This all costs a lot of money and time.

We really need your help with both.   Many of you have expressed your belief in what we are doing and have a desire to help.  Well, here’s a chance to put your money and time where your mouth is because we can’t do this alone.   You are a part of Bad Christian.

The money we earn/receive is  NOT going into our pocket. Maybe someday it will, but as of today it goes to web design, domain name, publicity, promotional and travel expenses, graphic design, book editing and publishing, music production, and yea, maybe if we get all that covered we will split a case of beer.

Here’s how you can help: volunteer, share, or donate
Go to:  badchristian.com and…..
1.  volunteer: Did you know we are looking for volunteer writers/editors, social networking geeks, and graphic designers?
2.  share: make a covenant with Jesus, mother earth, or your conscience to retweet our tweets, share our posts, invite people to our Facebook and tell them about our site.
3.  donate:  We are all single-income families.  We work and volunteer on church staffs and on top of that, work tirelessly on Bad Christian.  Sob story?  Not at all.  We believe we don’t have a choice.  We just won’t be able to go this full-throttle (and effectively) without help.  We need to hire out help, pay for publishing, pay for our website, editing, etc.  We also would be working additional “paying jobs” to support our families if we had time; but we don’t, unless we chose also to be dead-beat dads and distant husbands.  
Here’s how you can donate.
a.  donate on our crowd funding page. (coming later this week) www.badchristian.com
b.  buy a BC t-shirt to wear and support us:  Are you proud of being a “Bad Christian?”  You shouldn’t be, but wearing this shirt will highlight Jesus’ grace and demote you to your rightful place.
c.  preorder our book:  Man, talk about MAJOR help.  Just take the time to order our book.  Skip a latte at Starbucks and you are almost there!
 
Here’s what we are NOT promising.
-We are not promising to report statistics on how many people get saved through our mission/music/blog etc.  Although we want everyone to know and love Jesus, we are simply gonna trust him with what he does in people’s lives.

-We are not promising to change the face of Christianity,  nor that your money and time will be well-invested, or and that what we are doing is even right.

-We are not promising that if you buy something from us or donate that you are “giving to God.”  You are in fact giving to Matt, Toby and Joey, and we will do the best we can to honor God with the money we are given/earn.

We would love to guarantee all these things,

but we aren’t, because we just don’t know whether this will be the case.

You in?

Sincerely,

The BC Crew…

Matt, Toby, Joey and all of you that are already IN.

 

we FREAKIN’ don’t . . . . .

 

1.  have all the answers.

2.  think we are always right.

3.  want to be prideful but will often be.

4.  want to offend people.

5.  want the same old same old surface talk.

6.  want the same old same old political correctness for the purpose of WHAT?? offending our bro’s and sis’s that are probably too comfortable anyway (including me).

7.  give enough. do you?

8.  do enough. do you?

9.  know for sure if what we say is right.

10.  want to be quiet.

11.  ”in all we do, honor You.”

12.  ”every day, it’s you I live for.”

13.  think community and honesty is a waste, even when what’s said is wrong.

14.  think ANY ONE is always right except Jesus.

15.  take the cross of Jesus for granted.

16.  keep from taking the cross of Jesus for granted.

17.  like the Carolina Gamecocks

follow us or just joey on twitter.

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We’re Trying to Figure Out the Whole “cussing thing” for our NEW EBOOK.

Our ebook is almost finished and we are pretty excited about it.  Let me say this.  It’s been pretty established in the past that our definition of a “potty mouth” is pretty different from most Christians.  If you don’t believe us, read the comments in this old post right here.  We certainly sympathize with the various opinions in the church concerning what is and is not appropriate forms of communication.  So, we are thinking about putting out two versions, one G and one M, for mature.  Matt by far cusses the most but all of this is really besides the point.  

We want as many people to read this book as possible.  It could perhaps be the only “Christian book” ever written, that takes such an abrasive approach to this particular angle.  Our angle?  Don’t sugar coat.  Tell the truth about ourselves, how sorry we are about our sin and exalt Jesus as savior.  

You’ll hear stories about:

1.  Matt’s shame about getting drunk (unfortunately not that long ago)

2.  Matt’s account of Joey sinfully abandoning his friends and being a coward by running away from his problems.

3.  How the majority of Toby’s Christian walk has been about himself and not about Jesus.  

4.  Toby’s analysis on Matt’s fear of emotional closeness with people.  

5.  Joey’s account of overhearing Toby’s reckless and abusive verbal tirades to a girl he was dating at the time.  

6.  How Joey sometimes uses his depression as an excuse to not love.  

Are we trying to make ourselves look cool?   Are you serious?!  Did you just read the above descriptions?  Are we glorifying sin?  No way.  All of us would prefer not to print these things about ourselves.  That’s just the point.  Most Christians, including us,  want to “look good,” “appear to have our act together,” and offer advice rather than humbly needing it from others.  

This mindset is deeply entrenched in the very fabric of church community, making it pretty fruitless church community (if community at all).  This is one of the reasons we are doing Bad Christian.  This has got to change.  It’s not biblical.  It highlights people and not the gospel.  It’s not attractive to those that are lost.  The church is losing on account of our pride.  Many within the church are trying to do something about it.  We want to help too.

(3) excerpts from our new ebook coming out in November:

FROM “CHAPTER PERSONAL STORIES”:  MY CHECKLIST BY TOBY MORRELL

Now I do want to make clear that my church and my Christian friends truly loved me and helped me, but the problem was that we all focused on symptoms and not the sickness.  It was like I had a works checklist that I mentally filled out and as long as I had some checks then I was going to be just fine.   It looked like this:

Go to church? Check

Pray at least once? I did that at church. Check.

Read the Bible? I did that at church. Check.

I talked about God? We did that at church and even discussed how the evil homosexuals and atheists are lost!

 As you can see this list wasn’t about God. It was about me and I was pretty lazy.

If it had been about God it would have looked like this:

 Masturbated while looking at pornography? Check. Lord I am so weak to this and I want to control my sex life.

Did not control my eating habits? Check. I over ate and abused my body which you call my temple. I do it to fill voids that I don’t want to face. I do it for the pleasure my taste buds give me. I do it out of laziness.  God why can’t I fill my self up with your truth?

 

FROM CHAPTER 2 “WHAT IS BAD CHRISTIAN” BY MATT CARTER

It’s a big problem that we try to appear “good” when the core of our belief is that we are by nature, and choice, f***ed up, so much so that we require the supernatural God to save us (Romans 8:3-4).  How is anyone supposed to get this truth when all we do is pretend that we have our shit together?  To this, many Christians would respond that before we become a Christian, admittedly, we were indeed a disaster, but now that we are saved, we do in fact live righteous lives.  I disagree, and I believe the Bible disagrees.  While its true that we are “declared righteous,” and seen as “spotless” “washed, white as snow,” it is clear that when God looks at us he sees Jesus’ righteousness, NOT OURS.  This is why Paul resorted to boast only in Jesus and the cross (Galatians 6:14). 

 

FROM CHAPTER 4: “WHY SO MANY LOVE WHAT WE ARE DOING” BY JOEY SVENDSEN

Make no mistake about it.  Realness, humility, transparency, community, and the simplicity of the gospel is far from a “new thing” that people are starving for.  It’s all the church was ever intended to be.  The church has gotten away from this simplicity, but it never ceased to be God’s intention for people.  Just as Adam and Eve did in the garden, we daily want it our way, which includes “us looking better than we are,” “us hiding our sin,” “us being selfish with our time and resources” and “us making the gospel about what we do for God and not about what He’s done for us.”  When people are truly pointed in the direction of Jesus and the simple approach to His truth, deplete of all the other church-fluff, it’s hard not to get intoxicated.  (intoxicated as an analogy of delight.  I didn’t mean, “it’s hard not to go get wasted.”)

keep up with the progress of this book:

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The term ‘Bad Christian’ is just offensive. You guys should be ashamed of yourselves.

It certainly IS offensive.  Think about it.  Jesus, who was fully God, had to die for my sins.  Think of it this way.  We are dudes on death row.  The jury miraculously grants us complete acquittal.  We are free men, offered the most amazing amount of grace, and yet we wake up the next morning whining about the weather, worried about money, disappointed about the Green Bay Packer loss, annoyed with our wives for not getting milk the previous day so we can indulge in junk cereal, and take second looks at married women who don’t belong to us.  Yeah, you are right.  That’s pretty offensive.

The dude that died next to Jesus.

This guy was being crucified for committing murderous crime.  He was never able to “redeem himself,” make things right, or live a fruitful life that people could celebrate and esteem.  But Jesus said “Today you’ll be with me in paradise.”  What did that mean?   It meant that Jesus had perfected Him.  He was no longer declared “sinful,”  but righteous.

Here’s the million dollar question.  When was this guy no longer a “bad guy?”  When did he show the whole world that he was no longer bad?  You think about that for a second……………………………………………………………………..ok.  times up.

Now, let me tell you this.  No matter how many times you’ve read your bible, no matter how deep of an understanding you have of it, no matter how high you are esteemed at church or at your job or at the bar, no matter how many times you’ve pointed out others’ sin, no matter how many mission trips you’ve been on or how “missional” you are in your neighborhood; you have never been more righteous than the criminal who died next to Jesus.  And He did NONE of this stuff.

For those who have put their faith in Jesus, you’ve also never been less righteous.  Both of your righteousness has solely been dependent upon the finished work of Jesus.  At the very second of Jesus’ declaration over this man, his record of wrongs was no longer taken into account.

You and I both sin.  We both sin every day.  We have the power of Jesus that could keep us from doing so and yet we still choose to sin.  If this isn’t a description of a “bad Christian,” I don’t know what one is.

It’s so crazy how quickly we forget the truth of the gospel.  We aren’t good people.  If we were, we could save ourselves.

More on Bad Christian, click here.


 

In the Name of Jesus, Please Trim the BS.

DRAMAIt’s just a crying shame for the whole world that people don’t just handle their business with one another.  And then when some one dares to try and handle some business that happens to require some confrontation, the person involved responds with a “how dare you” type attitude.  People are prideful, they want to run their own lives, be respected and the last thing they want to swallow is their pride.  I get it because I struggle with this too.

I’m going to make a bold statement.  There is absolutely no way that these prideful attitudes should be rampant in the church.  Here are a handful of scenarios.

1.  “That leader in the church pissed me off.  I’m out of here.  No one is going to talk to me like that and I don’t have time for drama.”  Huh?  Let’s get some things straight.  You are a sinner.  This person you are mad at is a sinner and the church has got to learn to talk things out.  Are you saying that Jesus’ Great Commission needs to take a backseat to your ego?

2.  “I’m going to give him  a piece of my mind.  That’s just me.  That’s what I do.  I keep it real.  If they don’t like it, I don’t give a damn. I don’t have time for drama.”  Well, when Jesus had insults hurled at Him, he said “father forgive them.”  Sure, there should often be conversation, but Christians are called to be loving and oh yes, gentle (2 Tim 2:23-26).

3.  I don’t respect my leader, but I am a peace-keeper, so there is no need to talk to him/her.  I’ll just talk to 4-5 other people so they can hear my pain.  I’ll just be humble and plus, I don’t have time for drama.  What if your leader could really benefit from what you have to say.  Also, do you have the church’s unity in mind when your talk to 4-5 other people?  You are actually supposed to go straight to the source, dumb head (Matthew 18).

4.  ”If they don’t like it, they can get the heck out of dodge because I don’t have time for drama” (Leader/Pastor).  What happened to actually pastoring people.  Sure, there is a time to part ways, but if you do 2 Timothy 2:23-26, you may win your brother back.  If Jesus reflected this attitude, there would have been 11 less disciples to spread the gospel after He rose.  They were all ridiculously messed up dudes, but Jesus was a true Pastor.

See my point?  See how the most dramatic people are the ones that claim to have no stomach for it?  Just like middle school boys that are infatuated with girls and demonstrate their infatuation by constantly verbalizing their hatred and disgust of them.  One of the most common ways that boys flirt with girls is half-hearted violence (punching the arm, antagonistic bear hugs, and hair pulling).

Christians, I exhort you! (I just wanted to sound old school)

1.  Protect the unity of your local church and of the universal church.  You can’t do this without talking crap out.  The world will know us by our love for one another (John 13:35).  To truly love one another, we have to have hard conversations.

2.  Lay your pride aside and don’t be so offended, even if your brother or sister does not approach the situation lovingly.  Regardless of how they approach you, maybe they still have a legitimate point to make.  If not, you can teach them a great deal by refusing to be so concerned about yourself and by loving them through being so ugly to you.   Continue reading “In the Name of Jesus, Please Trim the BS.” »

Bad Christian Hasn’t Accomplished Anything and Jesus is Pissed.

Some people still don’t get it.

It just doesn’t matter what we say.  Where ever we go, whatever we write or however we try to explain ourselves, the same question always comes up in one of the various forms:

1.  Do you guys even care about “being good?”

2.  You guys are ridiculous.  Don’t you know what the bible says about striving for holiness? 

3.  ”Bad Christian?”  Isn’t that an insult to what Jesus accomplished on the cross?  He died to make us spotless.  We get to claim His righteousness now and He was perfect; thus, we’ve been perfected.  

Paul calls himself the least of the apostles, the worst of sinners, and a wretched man.  If you don’t consider yourself a “Bad Christian,” welcome to the “better than Paul” club!

So let me break it down.  For all you sports fans, hopefully this hits home.  Jesus is 1 – 0.  We are 0 – 1, and that’s actually a pretty generous pronouncement for believers.  Most of us are like 0 – 1,101,798.

I’m like 0-17, but that’s besides the point.  I’ve sinned 17 times.  I’ll write a post on all 17 at some point, but the worst one was when i mumbled under my breath, “no, YOU do YOUR homework” to my teacher in the 3rd grade.

As humans, our  record never changes in the win column.  I just keep losing and losing and losing.  But, that record doesn’t matter anymore.  The only record is Jesus’ “undefeated season” and the fact that He lets me claim His record as my own.

So, now that I’ve claimed His righteousness as my own, I am considered good, right?  Little problem here.  Last time I checked, I haven’t gone a day without sinning.  This certainly doesn’t qualify me as good.  In fact, it seems as if it makes me bad.  Jesus won everything, gave me His victory and the strength to overcome but I still sin (intentionally and unintentionally).  So, let me personally answer the three questions I’ve listed above.

1.  YES I care about being good.  No offense, but that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  Jesus gave me everything.  Hell yeah, I want to do good. Continue reading “Bad Christian Hasn’t Accomplished Anything and Jesus is Pissed.” »

God, Suicide and Community (Reflections on the Bad Christian mini Tour)

house showMatt, Toby & I (Joey Svendsen) spent last week traveling to three southern cities for some hang-out time in living rooms packed with folks of all ages, backgrounds, and faiths.  People came in, most of them mixed with excitement and nervousness to be in close-knit quarters amongst strangers and the prospect of potentially having to talk in front of others.  Each person knew of existing common ground they shared with the rest:  they all were fond of Matt and Toby’s music and would risk feeling awkward in order to experience a living room show.  They left, realizing and embracing more common ground amongst their fellow “living room show mates.”  All of them experience pain pretty regularly, some to the point of wanting to die.  All are wanting more out of life.  All of them need community. 

How do we know these things about our new friends?  We point blank asked them questions.  Personal questions.  

We shared as well.  Personal things.  Things that aren’t too fun to admit.  It sucks being honest, especially when you care so much about your image.    

One guy, caring nothing about Jesus, gave us major props and was tickled to death about the intimate and slightly bizarre environment that was initiated amongst strangers in mere minutes.  But, bizarre?  My question is, why shouldn’t this be the norm?

Making this type of environment normal is exactly what Bad Christian is setting out to do.

At the beginning of each night:

1.  we let the peeps know about a our goal. We want to change the world.

2.  we told them what we believe.  We personally believe in the bible and the work Jesus can do in all of our lives. Simultaneously we don’t see ourselves as better than anyone, nor as having all the answers.

3.  we tell them what we love.  we love them, the church in general, and our local churches more specifically.

4.  we tell them something that we know. people in the church are jacked up just like everyone else and it’s okay to admit that.

Thank God we have a great savior.

Southern Baptist pastors mixed with agnostics and folks that didn’t give a rat’s ass about purity.  Church-staff hung out with pot-heads.  Suicidal, self-aware sinners rubbed shoulders with self-righteous saints unaware of their pride.  Come to think of it, the three of us should probably tell God we are sorry for personally being prideful through this whole trip.

Each night was awkward, intense, sad, joyful, and redeeming; and it felt like it was all for the glory or God. At least two dozen people admitted, perhaps for the first time, to have undergone seasons in their lives when they wanted to die.  Three siblings shared with a group of strangers their current season of mourning over the year anniversary of their dad’s suicide.  Matt lovingly exposed to a wonderful young lady, blindness to her own pain and her continual pursuit of hiding it underneath smiles and laughter.  Many people cried.  More people laughed.

One kid admitted to reading his bible now.  He was originally motivated to read it only to convince himself that our posts at Bad Christian were BS.  Now he is reading regularly, and even though he probably found that some of our posts were indeed BS, he’s reading his bible regularly now, rather than just talking about it.  It doesn’t seem like much but it’s huge when the people defending the Gospel loudly struggle to even read it themselves.

One dude said that the night was “tasteful, real, and not too preachy or Christian.”  He admitted to having walked away from his faith, but after experiencing the night of open honesty and community, a hope had been reignited.

It’s easy to become alone in this life and say things like:

“The answer is in ourselves.”

“The answer is world peace and harmony.”

“The answer is in hard work and self-improvement.”

“The answer is in pleasure and whatever feels right.”

“The answer can only be arrived through intellect and science.”

These things can be a part of the answer but they cannot fill the void in us that longs for more connection and to be known.

Here’s what we know.  Humans need community.  Humans want to be honest.  Humans want each other to be honest.  Through community and honesty, what if more people can find truth?  I’d say it’s our only shot.

This is where we start.


 

 

WHAT IS BAD CHRISTIAN? Emery to leave Tooth and Nail and start new label, controversial blog, podcast and more

 

 

Emery to leave Tooth and Nail and start new label, controversial blog, podcast and more

If you are familiar with Emery, then you know the lyrics from the song “Listening to Freddie Mercury.”

We are all the sisters and the brothers

Until we find we don’t believe the same, like

 

Gary’s getting drunk to forget Sarah.

Sarah’s stealing money from her parents.

Aaron’s lying straight to Jon

About Megan and the things that went on.

Jessica’s a gossip, Laura’s a slut.

Derrick hits Bridget and Ben deals drugs.

Seth spends all his money gambling.

Joey stopped praying. 

It’s all the same.

We are all the same people.

With sinning hearts that make us equal.

 Here’s my hand, not words said desperately.

It’s not our job to make anyone believe.

Like Charles Barkley said, “I am [We] are not role models.” We (Emery) are messed up guys who play music.

As a band, we have always strived for transparency and honesty. While this has made for good music and lyrics, it has also brought forth much controversy. We have purposely steered our music careers away from churches in favor of playing in what Christians call “secular bars and clubs”—what we call “normal places.” Yet we have always and will continue to sing about our lives and who we really are. So naturally our lyrics will include Jesus. This pursuit of being real has resulted in a lot of anger from those that see us as squandering our platform of positive influence and from those that simply want us to stop talking about all this “religious bullshit,” as they put it.

In short, a common theme and belief of ours is that the pursuit of being a “good Christian” is a flawed goal, as it circumvents and distracts the pursuit of Jesus Christ himself. We liken the pursuit of being a “good Christian” to what the Bible would label as being a good Pharisee. We prefer to label followers of Jesus as Bad Christians who fortunately have a Great Savior. We also believe that Jesus grows, changes, and makes people better. As Jesus pursues change in our hearts, our most effective response is BEING HONEST and transparent with our weaknesses and struggles. Through Bad Christian, this is what we intend to personally do—and encourage others to do the same.

We will continue to be ourselves while we also entertain, love, and serve others through our music. Our plans are to continually branch out from there.

We strongly desire to share the perspectives and experiences that we’ve acquired while traveling hundreds of days each year for over ten years. In those ten years, there has been an amazing shift in music culture and we’ve been fortunate to have seen up close and been a part of this shift. One of the many changes from this shift has been an increase in music fans’ openness to Christians and Christian artists. And as a result, Jesus. This has occurred because of bands’ willingness to actually get involved with the culture at large and authentically build relationships with people who don’t believe the same.

We believe this change can certainly extend beyond the music scene to alter spheres of culture around the whole world. Yes, we believe that we can change the world. Our use of the word, “we,” means all of our supporters, fans, and readers, not just Matt, Toby, and Joey.

This is how we are going to start…

  • With Emery’s original bassist, Joey Svendsen, Matt & Toby will continue their controversial blog, UN-learning, but it will be rebranded as Bad Christian. ( www.badchristian.com)
  • Emery will no longer be on Tooth and Nail Records, as they will venture out with side project Matt and Toby, as well as other artists (TBA) to establish the label, Bad Christian Music.  (NOTE: Tooth and Nail is and always will be AWESOME. We love them but we just want to do our own thing)
  • We will begin a weekly podcast, featuring raw and honest conversation, including guests and various interviews.
  • We will self-publish an eBook full of revealing personal stories and a detailed outline of our beliefs and philosophy.
  • We will not be a church. We will support and help the church by serving at our own churches and by helping plant Bad Christian groups that will exist within and alongside local churches. Hopefully these groups can support churches that already have effective Sunday gatherings, but are ineffective in their pursuit of fruitful community.
  • We will be traveling to speak, teach, perform, and build communities.

 

Will you join us?

Matt, Toby and Joey


 

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Don’t you just love that “Worship Sound?” (including Record Review on Dispatch)

mtI know a LOT of worship leaders.  Even your very own Toby Morrell of Emery is a worship leader at the campus I lead, and he’s like my best friend ever, and Matt leads worship at his church as well. This is not a “bash church worship” or “bash any specific church’s worship” post by any means. BUT…

After attending many mega and/or contemporary churches around the US,  it seems as if the “universal contemporary church” is creating their own genre of music that we as Christians tag as “worship music.”  Honestly?  Why are so many talented and potentially creative musicians all going for that same “worship sound?”   Are we really trying to make a genre of music that fits into a “christian mold?”  If so, why?

I’ve already lost some of you.  Let me back up.

Here are some scenarios that have happened in real life.

1.  A worship pastor that regularly branches out and plays an unorthodox style of “worship music” was approached afterwards by a visitor who asked, “Hey, I loved the music, but do you guys ever play worship music?

2.  In a church that plays that “Matt Redman/David Crowder” standard sound, a guest worship team played a set with more of an urban/soulful approach to worship songs.  Afterwards, a group of worship leaders from the host church were asked what they thought, and their unexcited response?  ”It was interesting, I guess.

Its bad enough that we have our own language, Christianese, but we also have to have our own exclusive music style? I hope not.

The weirdest thing is that this musical style has been developed in the name of  relevance. Im afraid it may have the opposite effect.  @MattTCoNP nails this point here in his post, “Why Relevance is Completely Irrelevant.

The worst thing that occurs is when the music sounds “Christian” but the lyrics  barely, or don’t at all reference Jesus. Trust me, this happens, and clearly  is the worst of BOTH worlds: bad music with absolutely no purpose. Fortunately, there are a great deal of people getting this right as well, one being the record label, Mars Hill Music.  Their singular focus is on the message of the Gospel of Jesus, and it is unmistakable.  The music varies, but the exultation of Jesus and his work is always central in their releases.

DP

As I write this post, I’m jamming an EP from one of Mars Hill Church’s (in Seattle) bands, The Dispatch.  It’s a simple and beautiful approach to worshipping Jesus through lyrical praise and creatively crafted melodies.  Its a cross between Sandi Patty and The Gaither Vocal Band.  That’s a joke people.  We can’t take ourselves too seriously.

This 4-song EP has two originals, “By His Grace” and my personal favorite on the album “The Word.”  Also included are remakes of “Solid Rock” and “How Deep the Father’s Love.”  Musically, this album is pretty much “guitar rock” with some piano and such, and includes male and female vocals, fast and slow tempos.  It also has some of those “gang worship vocals” that so many of us have come to love and embrace.  Lyrically, it’s solid theologically and as they should be, the songs are focussed on our Great Savior.  In my humble opinion, it’s one of those albums that boasts of immediate quality during first listen, but as you keep it bumping in that iPod, you slowly but surely find yourself not being able to get enough.  Here’s to Jesus!

15 Things that Jesus DID NOT Say. (What do you think?)

What do you think of this post by Jim Palmer?

Good points?

he’s on twitter RIGHT HERE.

Conversation Between a Christian and an Atheist (the sequel)

What do you guys think?  Our buddy @CrispySea brought up some good points, but obviously we think he/she is wrong.  You guys?

 


 

 

Being Gay is WAY Worse Than Not Loving

Joey:  Me, Matt and Toby are gay.  Can you believe it?  All this time, you thought we were straight.

Reader:  But, you guys have wives and kids.

Joey:  I know but that’s not the first time a gay guy has had a wife and kid(s). Duh.  

Reader:  But you guys never said anything about this.

Joey:  Yeah, we were scared.

Reader:  This just makes no sense.

Joey:  Ok, you are right.  We aren’t gay.  We are heterosexuals for sure.

Reader:  Why are you being so weird and trippy?

Joey:  To make a point.

Reader:  What kind of dumb point are you making?  It’s kind of offensive and bizarre.

Joey:  Did you just call me dumb?

Reader:  No.  Just calling your point dumb.

Joey:  Oh.  Ok, so my point?  Let me ask you some questions, friend.

Reader:  We are not friends but ok.

Joey:  Dang.  That’s cold.  Ok, here we go:  Are you a Christian?

Reader:  Yes.

Joey:  But, I don’t think you are in community with other believers are you?  Which means that you really aren’t accountable to anyone.

Reader:  I know but life is busy so it’s just really tough to make time for it.

Joey:  So, you are a Christian?  Do you give money to a good cause, outside of your personal car payments, house upgrades, or hobbies?

Reader:  Not really.

Joey:  Hmmm.  What about serving others and giving up your time in order to do so.  The founder of Christianity was said to have come for serving others and not the other way around.  Do you spend a significant time living for others, or is most of your time spent doing what you need/want to do for you and your family only.

Reader:  Well, my family is important.  I want what’s best for my kids.

Joey:  Wow.  No offense and nothing but love, but you have a lot of excuses not to be like Jesus.  It seems as if it makes just as much sense for you to say you are a Christian as me saying that I’m a homosexual.  Right?

 

It amazes me how many Christians claim Christ as Savior and are so quick to point out all the problems in this world and……do very little in contributing to solutions through giving money, resources and/or time.  I for one can do more for sure.  Also, this isn’t just a “Christian problem.”  There’s a lot of folks outside the church that talk the same talk with very little walk. Continue reading “Being Gay is WAY Worse Than Not Loving” »

It’s Funny that Churches Are Named After People, eh? What About “ChurchToby of Fatter-Day Saints?”

It’s funny that churches are named after people.  There are certainly GOOD churches that are named after saints, apostles, etc.  At least, I think so.  I can’t say from experience, but my assumption is that there is. But, let’s think about it.  If a church names their community, building, or Sunday morning gathering after anyone besides Jesus, here’s the type of person that they named their church after:

  1. Some one whose sins put Jesus on the cross.
  2. Some one who probably lusted after women.
  3. Some one who returned to his vomit every time he sinned (2 Peter 2:22).
  4. Some one who was hypocritical, teaching one thing and yet doing another; we all preach against sin and yet, we all sin (1 John 1).
  5. Some one who needed the mission of the very church they were named after, in order to hear about the grace that they so desperately needed for salvation.

 

So, the point of this post?  Considering the above description, if you really want to name your church after some one, what about MTJ (for Matt, Toby and Joey) Church?  It’s got a good feel to it.  “Matoey Church?”  ”Jatoby Church?”  ”To-attey Church?”  Actually, please don’t.

You get the point.

Either name your church “Jesus Church” or name it after a biblical passage like “Mars Hill Church,” your geographical location like “Seacoast Church,” something that sounds really cool like “The Net Church” or “Mosaic Church.”

Or maybe go cheesy.  “Salvation Station” or “Holy Ghost Bustuz Church?”

Or maybe go random.  “Hand, Mouth, Foot Church” or “Barney Killed Big Bird” church.

The choice is yours, church planter.  Don’t blow it.

Sex Addict Wife and Pushover Husband

Photo on 8-21-13 at 5.43 AM

Here’s a true story for you.

I run into many interesting situations as a Pastor.  Some can seriously trigger major depression for me.  Some anger me; some amaze me; some situations make me feel guilty because I can’t believe how bizarre the situation is.  Not to mention I get distracted by the bizarreness.  I get “front row seats” to the most profound tragedies, the most evil sins, and the greatest acts of service to others.  The greatest glory is always given to God.

Many years ago, I once met a couple that had been married for 10 years or so.  I really loved this couple and thought their family was cute.  They had two older kids and a sweet baby (who really took to me, by the way.  Just sayin’.).

This couple seemed to be pretty cool…until they told me their story.

You see, the wife had been unfaithful to her husband with a guy from her past, whom she had been involved with before she got married.  In fact, she was a sex addict.  Her mind was also antagonized by a myriad of mental issues.  To top things off, she was not attracted to her husband.  Thus, she would have occasional “break-downs” in which she would get in the car (much to her husband’s dismay) and go to this other guy for the sex that she craved.  In fact, her baby was not conceived with her husband – it was the other guy’s.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “what kind of husband would stay in this situation and remain married to this crazy woman?”

I will tell you what kind of man: a dude who loves God more than anything and through God’s love, strength, and power, loves his wife and is committed to her – through good times and bad times.  This is a dude who gave up his life for his wife and until she leaves him for good.  He is in it for the long run.

While we are at it, this woman isn’t so crazy either.  She actually keeps coming back to her husband even though her “heart’s desire” is to be with this other guy.  She continues to surrender to the precious love of Jesus which keeps bringing her back to His will and plan.  The fact is, she could leave her husband at any time, yet she hasn’t.

Does God ever show you patience and grace despite a particular recurring sin?

We can learn a lot from this couple.

The world says to “follow your heart.  If she did this, she would have already left her husband to start a new life with the man whom her heart gravitated toward.  The husband would have beaten the hell out of this dude and then gone on with his life after divorcing his wife.

The world says to “do what feels right and feels good.”  If she followed this advice, we know what she would have done by now.  The husband would have thrown in the towel years ago.  That would be way easier, way less stressful, and way less humiliating.

The world says “divorce is always an option.”  This couple says “No, it’s not.”  They are still together, and to my knowledge, through Jesus’ strength, have weathered the storm.

This couple represents all marriages: two sinners who have to learn selflessness.

Jesus is the real hero, but I can’t help to think of the word “heroes” when I think of what this couple has battled, endured, and persevered through.

We’re Going on Tour and No One’s Going To Be There

 

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For three days in September, Matt, Toby, and Joey are going to do a test tour.  From September 11th-September 13th, we will sit in 3 different living rooms and do a lot of talking… and listening.  We’re calling it a test because it (and we) might actually fail. We have a serious vision for the future, but there is a huge obstacle in the way.

 

We might be alone.

I’m not sure people want to show up, sit beside each other on a stranger’s floor to be vulnerable and real. It’s no fun to tell people you don’t have all the answers or that what you place your hope in might actually be totally different than everyone else in the room.  It’s not easy to disagree adamantly while using your ears to listen without all the preconceived B.S. that we’ve clung to for years.  But we have to do this.  We’ve at least gotta try. We love you guys too much to just write music and collect money from you. We need to share our lives too.  We need you. Not just as fans, but as cliche’ as it sounds, we need you to help us change the world.  But it’s still hard to know why.

 

  • Why three days?  Because we’re not sure this will work.

 

  • Why in the south? Because everybody and their sister are Christians in the south, but honestly what in the hell does that even mean?

 

  • Why does it cost money?  Because we don’t have enough money on our own to do it. We need you to join with us so that, like any tour, we can actually put gas in the car to get there.

 

  • Why now?  Because we all know that this world isn’t working.

 

In America, we can’t talk about Jesus or politics or beliefs without feeling like we are enemies to those who disagree.  This world is shouting at us to be alone in our convictions and if someone disagrees with you, you have to hate them and what they stand for?? This has to stop. We are going to disagree but why can’t we disagree while loving and respecting at the same time?  Why can’t we be passionate without being angry?   We all know that something’s gotta change or we’re going to kill each other.

We all know that we are each longing for authenticity and deeper relationships with our fellow humans, but it seems almost impossible.  To be honest… it is impossible.  This life comes at us too fast and too hard for us to handle on our own.  We need each other and that’s the reason why we are doing this.  Out of honest conversation comes ideas and people that change everything.  You can change everything.  But not without getting together and figuring out what we have to do.

Now be sure, this isn’t going to be three dudes showing up with all the answers.  We don’t have them.  Not even close. We just want to bounce some ideas off of you, disagree, share some stories, and you all do the same.  We basically want to be like Jesus and be friends.  We’ll probably say things you don’t like…especially if you are not a Christian, but I guarantee, this will be fun…and probably awkward.  The truth is, I hope you’re there. I hope you want to share your life and ideas with a small group of people that want to do the same.  But, I’m just not sure we’re there yet.

If I haven’t scared you off yet, you can reserve some space on some one’s living room floor  right here.

 

Coolest Video Ever?

If You Pray, Do You Pray Like This?

here’s a prayer that a friend showed me, after he wrote it in his journal to God.  Doesn’t sound like God is his Yard Boy at all.  Sounds like He’s talking to….God.  

Emery Albums, Emery Fanatics, Facebook Unlikes, and Love

Toby’s favorite Emery album is “In Shallow Seas We Sail,” followed by “I’m Only a Man” and his third favorite is “The Question.”  Matt’s favorite is “The Weak’s End,” followed by “We Do What We Want,” and his third favorite is “The Question.

Toby wants to be a good husband and uses the bible as a framework to help him.  He gets frustrated when he falls short of being a good husband, he loves the church, tries to worry less, and thinks Christians should think more about Jesus and less about themselves.

Matt is excited about being a new daddy and will learn from other men in his community group, some biblical pointers in doing so.  He probably has a whole new vantage point of His heavenly father by being a father himself, he loves the church, he almost blew it with his wife before they got married but God woke him up to the blessing he was overlooking and poorly stewarding.

Now, some of you were with me when I was talking about Matt and Toby’s favorite Emery albums, but the bible?  Being a good husband? The church?  All hell is breaking loose as you read this. We’ll be reading comments along these lines:

“WTF.  More religious bullshit?”  ”I’m out!  Un-like.”  ”More music.  Less bullshit.”  ”You. Just. Lost. A. Fan.”

Ok.  So, i get it.  Some of you are just about good music and could not care any less about who is behind the music.  That’s truly your prerogative and many people approach music this way.  For those of you that claim to take this approach and simultaneously get bent out of shape by Matt and Toby’s personal beliefs, I think there is more truth to the story than your simple, “I just care about your music” conviction.

If you truly only cared about these guys’ music, you’d ignore the “religious posts” and crank up some “We Do (read) What We Want.”  Your “flip out/freak out” response, however, shows that you really do love the guys in emery, have more invested interest than just good music, and because of these emotional ties, you can’t stomach Matt and Toby expressing beliefs that you are uncomfortable with.

Christian Emery fans, some of you are no better.  You read a post that rubs you the wrong way and you post comments that sound like you are losing your best friend (or favorite football team) to Satan.  Some of you just resort to anger, mean-spirited criticism and scriptures translated into the original Greek to throw us all for a loop.

So we get everything from “Emery is losing their faith” to people that want “religious censorship.”  All of you have something in common, though.  You all could stand to simply be bigger fans of humanity.

Christians, this means that you live out the Jesus you preach.  He loved humans and knew that all truth was in Him.  He was the only savior and the complete fulfillment of the law.  Thus He could relax, ditch religion, and be comfortable around all sorts of people with all sorts of beliefs and backgrounds; and simply love.

“Religion is bullshit” type people, this means practicing the tolerance that you so vehemently claim that Christians need to have.

Are you such big fans of people that you forget to love them?

Matt told me that Emery’s Facebook page daily gains 100 fans (likes) and loses 50 fans to unlikes.  The “50 unlikes” probably means a couple of things:

1.  You want the guys in Emery to be more than they really are.  You’ve made them heroes when they are just men.  It would be crazy to “unlike” a regular dude that’s done nothing against you personally.  But, a hero?  That’s a whole different story.

2.  You need to figure out how to love people.  We all get so busy with our beliefs, our agendas and our feelings that we forget about truly loving our neighbors.

follow Un-learning blog on twitter.

follow Joey Svendsen on twitter. 


 

The Way Way Back (Movie Review)

Definitely one of my favorite (if not favorite) movies of the year.   You guys remember “Wild Bill” on The Green Mile?   As a child rapist and murderer, Wild Bill’s character is perhaps one of the most unlikeable characters in any movie.  In The Way Way Back, I can honestly say, Sam Rockwell may play the most likable character I’ve ever encountered in any movie.

So basically, you have a young boy (Duncan) whose dead-beat dad is out of the picture while his mom is dating a overbearing, verbally-abusive, dishonest man, played by Steve Carell.  This group of three, joined with Carell’s daughter, go to a vacation house and interact with Carell’s “summer vacation” friends.  The interactions amongst these folks are so real and so relatable as they take your emotions on an emotional roller-coaster.

Duncan, who is already burdened by an absent father, finds himself unsure of himself, his confidence plummeting, and with no one who understands him;  he is also emotionally tortured by his mother’s boyfriend, while his mother is uninvolved, unaware of, and perhaps content with being naive to the abuse.  The summer could not get any worse.

Until Duncan discovers the “Water Wizz Water Park” where this awkward, endearing, adolescent, underdog finds friends that love him, profound acceptance and popularity, unexpected fun, purpose, and most importantly a “fatherly figure” in the sharp-tongued, sarcastic, lazy, care-free and yet loving and wise owner of the park, Owen (played by Sam Rockwell). Words can’t describe just how hilarious and likable Owen is and how you’ll find yourself excited, along with Duncan, by the acceptance and boost of morale that he receives through the friendship and new job opportunity to work at the park.

Brought to you by the same folks that brought “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Juno,” this one is a must see.  For us folks that call ourselves Christians, we definitely need to find a hidden “christian message” to justify watching a “secular movie,” right?  Ha! Wrong.  Can you say……entertainment is a gift from God??

However, I can’t help but consider the implications here, for every person ever, of how important finding community is.  This boy finds community and as a result, profoundly changes the trajectory of him and his mom’s jacked-up life.  Go see this movie.  Thank me later.

Aaron Rodgers’ Grandma and Bad Christians

a-rodChristians have been given Jesus’ righteousness. We don’t have our own.

We have been declared righteous. We aren’t righteous people.

Think of an MVP Super Bowl Quarterback, like Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.  (He’s the best quarterback in the league by the way). What if he gave his MVP Super Bowl trophy to his elderly, wheelchair-bound grandma? No offense to Mr. Rodgers’ grandma.  I do not even know if he has one, much less whether she is feeble and in a wheelchair.

So back to the original question; if she accepts her grandson’s trophy, does that trophy make Grandma Rodgers an MVP caliber Quarterback?  The answer to that question is a very simple “no.”

Just like you receiving Jesus’ righteousness as your own does not make you a good person. If you think that you are a “good Christian,” please also explained how you saved yourself and acquired the ability to resist sin. If Jesus rescued you from a spiritual death that you had no power over—one that you were born with—then, you aren’t the hero. You were some one in crisis that was rescued. Oh hail, King Jesus.

There will be many who will misunderstand our approach to the gospel here on unlearning. God has hardened our hearts to this conviction, however, and we can’t shake it.  This is the gospel that Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John spread. This is the gospel that is still setting people free.

We aren’t formerly bad people. We used to be “bad people without the righteousness of Christ.” Now we are bad people who have been given Jesus’ righteousness as our own. We’ve also been given the honor of being called saints.  In fact, God is so gracious, He nicknamed us “the righteousness of God.”  Bad Christian. Great Savior.

(NSFW) Matt Want’s Girls With Bikinis to Come to Warped Tour to See Emery

Matt asks a question.

Last week I was standing around with the guys at my community group when one of them shared his experience of playing at Warped Tour with a local band.  He said he had a good time but was horrified and sad about how vile the environment was. All the bands had sexual innuendos and profanity on their merchandise, and there were tons of 15-year old girls wearing short shorts and bras or bikinis. He also reported that there was a Trojan Man handing out condoms.

“Would you let your daughter go to Warped Tour?” instantly became the conversation topic.

As you could imagine, one of the guys quickly asked me, “How do you feel about that stuff?”  With Emery having been on Warped Tour for several years, I have spent well over 100 days living inside the proposed “festival of iniquity.” Those days were easily some of the best days of my life.  Great memories.  It occurred to me that I, my band, and our label, had spent considerable amounts of time and money to get young teen guys and girls to attend Warped Tour.  It would be hypocritical of me to say they shouldn’t be allowed to go, right?

My stance is this, While I AM concerned about the safety and well being of my daughter, and will act accordingly, I  do not wish to shelter her from knowing and seeing what the world and culture is really like.  Yes, I would allow her to go. I would hopefully go with her, and of course I would have her dressed WAY more modestly than the pictures below.

Before you look at these pictures that serve as examples of the “Warped Tour Environment,” let me say this.  I don’t want to be hypocritical and label all of this as terrible and condemn this festival and the people that go.  We love all these people and had a blast every time we played.  Also remember that the bands and or festivals are not held accountable for what people choose to wear. The question remains. Would you let your daughter or son go to a festival like this?  As a parent, how do you keep your loved ones safe, guided on the right path, but also encourage them to be a light to the world? We’d love to hear from you all.

Before proceeding, let me caution the reader by saying that these pictures represent PG-13 pictures out of a plethora of photographs that are just completely over the top.  My selection barely scratches the surface, but if you’d rather not expose yourself to girls in bikinis, please click here to skip to the rest of this post w/o viewing pictures.

So here are some pictures that highlight some of the concerns of my friend.


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Joey Answers. If I were in your shoes, I would certainly not feel comfortable with trying to get youngsters to come.  I think there is even a possibility to make a moral issue out of it.  Let me explain.  We all know that there are many kids whose parents do nothing to steer them in a good direction.  Lord knows, when I was 21 years old, I personally thought that I knew everything about everything when in actuality, I knew very little about very little.  But 13 to 17-year olds?  They just got done with their pacifiers and just now started driving.  And we want to encourage them to be part of an environment where they are encouraged to “let loose,” “experiment,” “rebel against their parents,” and “F the system?” When my kids are this old, there’s going to be a problem with me and whoever is trying to get them to go to Warped Tour.

Emery playing a show at Warped Tour?  Totally different story.  The kids are going to be there, whether we like it or not.  Why not have a band there with a positive influence?

As far as Christian kids going to Warped Tour in general, I’ll leave that to the them and the Holy Spirit.  Do I think that some could handle it and be a “light to the world” in that situation?  Sure.  Is that a general rule of thumb?  No way.  Most Christian guys are going to struggle with lust in these situations and could perhaps fall to the peer pressure of hooking up.  Most Christian girls struggle with their body image, want to be accepted and desire attention from guys.  If I had the opportunity to preach at a strip club while the girls are stripping, I’d do it in a second as long as the club manager would be fine with me looking up the whole time or having a blindfold on.  I’m not going to be trying to get a bunch of men from my church to come and have a fellowship there to hear me though.  That’s just me.

Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church

aloneWe love the church.  We love big churches and all three of us are even involved at some level in a mega-church.  When many of our readers  think “church,” they think about this gathering that Christians have on Sunday mornings.  When we think “church,” we think about the bro’s and sisters around the world that worship King Jesus as savior and Lord.  For those of you that truly read our blog posts, you can discerned our hearts well.  We have not set out to church-bash.

For those of you that only read the titles of our posts, you think that we like to cuss, drink beer, and compromise the integrity of the gospel.  You may be right about the first two, but on the contrary, we have only set out to truly depict who Jesus is and who the church is.  Jesus is the hero, savior and redeemer of all things.  The church is who He rescued, saved and redeemed.  Sure, we are declared righteous, but it is Jesus’ righteousness that He has given us; hence why Paul said that we have nothing else to boast in other than the cross (Galatians 6:14).

The message of the cross is the gospel, which is the good news that the church offers to the world.  This message hasn’t changed since Jesus ascended. Culture does change, however.  If Christians really care about the never-changing message of the gospel, we will also be inclined to deepen our understanding of culture and adapt the means of spreading the same gospel message that Jesus taught.  Here is a start.  Read the hundreds of comments in this former post by former professing Christians who currently do not even consider themselves people of faith.

Here is a dang good article that was featured on CNN that gives us insight into adults who were born after 1980 and why they are getting the hell out of church.  I sure do believe this article gives great insight into how we present the gospel to this group of people that I am older than by 3 years.

Read article right here.

Here are some quotes from the article if you are too lazy to read:

“…the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.”

“Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.”

“We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.”

“You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.”

We salute Rachel Held Evans.  Great insight.  Thank you.

Here’s a book that you can purchase, written by Rachel:

My Pride Reminds Me of Satan

JOey“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Well, I want Christ’s power to rest on me, so here I go:

One of the things in heaven I am most looking forward to being freed from is my pride. (right up there with my fear of roaches).

I hate admitting this, but I can even have a hint/split second of regret that in heaven, I won’t stand out, be unique or anything special; like, I don’t want to lose my identity; I want to stand out and be special…some crap like that.  Obviously, I don’t want to split theological hairs here; I know that I will indeed be completed in Christ and thus more special than I’ve ever been.

Here on Earth, though, I at least have a shot at standing out and being one that people can be impressed with.  Selfish ambition and totally worthless and deadly desires? Absolutely.

I can’t wait to be freed from a sense of self.  Have I said that yet?  I can’t wait to be in heaven and truly/fully lose myself in my new identity that is directly linked to Jesus and His righteousness.

As long as I am still on Earth, I want to continually be freed from it more and God, as gracious as He is, answers this longing little by little.  However, being the dummy that I am, I still have major set-backs:

1.  ”I should have received more complements on that sermon or blog post.”

2.  ”I can’t believe ‘so and so’ doesn’t recognize how impressive I really am.  They had the nerve to doubt my decision-making? 

3.  ”I can’t believe they didn’t ask me to lead.  I’m like the bomb and can lead a group of Pittsburg Steeler fans to kiss the ground at Cowboy Stadium and worship the legacy of Emmitt Smith.”  

I’ve recognized, as much to my chagrin,  that as long as I’m here on Earth in this unredeemed body, I will always have a natural lean towards self, my importance, my way, and my desire to be esteemed.  You know who this reminds me of?  It reminds me a lot of Satan.

Satan thought more about what was important to him, his way, and he desired to be esteemed more than God.  We are so quick to say “I try to be like Jesus” and that’s great.  It’s not great, however, that we fail to realize that are natural drives are more kin to Satan’s.  Our only hope?  Realize, embrace, expose and proclaim this vice of escalating self above all other things.  It’s through our weakness and willingness to expose this sin that Christ can work through us and be glorified through our feebleness.

Last time I checked, the only thing we need to be boasting in is the cross of Jesus.  Considering “the cross of Jesus Christ” was necessary because of my sin, I don’t know what else I have to realize, embrace, expose, and proclaim.  My sin.  His greatness.  I’m the bad guy.  He’s the good guy.  I get to be represented by Him and He chooses to use me where He sees fit.  I decrease and He increases.  Amen

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What about you?  Do you want to be something special or do you not care, as long as you are something that Jesus can use for His glory.

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Was God Asking Us to Walk Away from the Church?

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When we first started Emery, we decided that we’d be okay with any label people decided to place on our band.  People described us as rock, emo, screamo, hard-core, post-hardocre and the most unique label of all? christian. That last label changed us forever. (here’s our take on “secular/christian” music). We quickly found that through using the word “christian” to describe our band, we were able to play some really great shows at churches. On one particular tour, we actually played all churches. It was great in almost every way.  The people were nice, the venues were clean, the sound was pretty good, our hosts bought us hotel rooms, and the food spreads were killer. The only weird thing was, it felt completely wrong.

One night, halfway through this “church tour,”  I walked out into this giant field and started crying out to God from sheer confusion,  asking what in the world was going on. I felt like a whiny, complaining cry-baby, considering I was getting to do everything I had ever wanted.  Nonetheless, these shows felt completely awful. I was hoping I could just suppress these feelings; forget about it, and get back to the provided bowl of skittles with all the red ones picked out.  But God wouldn’t let me shake this.  

We weren’t real.

Playing at church felt like we were just baby-sitters for kids, allowing their parents to drop them off and go on, comfortable with what would go into their kids’ ears.  That felt wrong on so many levels.  First of all, just the thought of parents dropping their kids off with some serious cash at church and entrusting them to some dudes claiming they are christians just wasn’t cool.  

Secondly, the majority of these kids and their parents only seemed to care that we were christians. The music was just for entertainment and “cool effect.”  I am the biggest fan of our music, so this all was killing me inside.  I had to ask if we were lying to ourselves. Were we doing this for money?  Was this all just too easy to pass up?  

Should we quit churches all together?  Was God asking us to walk away from church?

I gathered the guys together and told them what I was feeling.  They all cussed me out. Mainly Josh because he looks like Jesus. Just kidding. They were all feeling the same way.  It was a tough decision to make, but we dropped off that tour.  We immediately realized that churches weren’t the problem;  God had simply called us to do something different, and we hadn’t been listening. Many bands are supposed to play churches, using their talents and songs that way. It’s totally right for these bands, and we believe they are listening to God.  We just were called to leave that scene in order to go towards the uncomfortable unknown.

From that point on, we decided to play bars and clubs and we knew that every gig we played, it would be because we chose to play there.   There would be no more “just playing shows.”  We could still play a church or christian festival, but it would be our choice and it would be real and not just to have a good gig.

Six albums later and it’s still one of the best decisions we ever made as a band, because it was what God wanted for us.  Weird huh, that some christians aren’t supposed to play churches.  I do miss the bathrooms though compared to CBGB”S. That was a whole other hell.

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Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse

YLWhen my brother, Joey Svendsen, asked me to contribute to the Un-Learning series of record reviews, I began to take mental inventory of those albums from 2013 that have made the greatest impression on me thus far.  In short time, I fondly settled on the first record that truly wowed me this year:  Youth Lagoon’s Wondrous Bughouse.

Significantly different than the bedroom pop minimalism of his 2011 breakout record The Year of Hibernation, Trevor Powers (the artist behind Youth Lagoon) offers Wondrous Bughouse, a beautifully composed listening experience that warmly envelops the listener with lushly produced layers of sonic wizardry—whooshes, blips, and crazy effects galore.  But amidst the gorgeous craziness of all the sound, Youth Lagoon never neglects the fine art of songwriting.  Each song ebbs and flows from delightful movement to glorious crescendo.

Though initially some might find this to be a bit too “sugary” in its sonic beauty, after repeated listens, one will find complexity in mood matched only by the complexity of the album’s sound.  There is an unmistakable sense of nostalgia, wistfulness and dare I say optimism that permeates each of the ten tracks.  The patient listener is rewarded as the tremendous depth of Powers’ art gradually unfolds.  This is an art rock record of the highest caliber.  Finally, the vocals, which may take a little getting used to for some (I enjoyed the performance from the get go), serve as an integral layer to the overall sound of the album with its ostensibly processed and trebly sonic texture.

Admittedly, this album may not be for everyone although my 11-year-old daughter has whole-heartedly embraced it.  But I recommend this without hesitation to anyone that is the least bit open-minded about exploring new music.   It is an infectiously challenging album that will leave you humming along long after the laptop has been put back in its carrying case, the iphone has run out of juice or the car’s audio system was shutoff when the keys left the ignition.  Check it out—I dare you.

Being “Salt of the Earth” Doesn’t Mean Talking Weird.

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Christians have delighted themselves in coming up with cute little Christian sayings.  Is this sort of thing a big win?  I’d say it’s actually been harmful.  Being the “light of the world” and “salt of the Earth” doesn’t mean talking weird.

 

May I demonstrate?

  • Give God what’s right– not what’s left!
  • ‘Pray’ is a four-letter word that you can say anywhere (except in a public school).
  • Make your eternal reservations now— ‘smoking’ or ‘non-smoking’?
  • Jesus built us a bridge, with 2 boards and 3 nails.
  • Count your blessings! Recounts are OK—

Can we have a little fun here and make fun of Christians?  Let’s not take ourselves so seriously and be willing to laugh at the things we say, so….

 

Every one bring down the sensitivity level, ok? Not wanting to step on toes here, but the problem I see is that Christians really think these little sayings are cool.  I know this because they end up on T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers and on church signs.  We are supposed to be “salt of the earth.”  I think these weird “Christian sayings” qualify more as ant poisoning, dog poop, or rotted false teeth.

Here’s why:  It further encourages and promotes Christian bubbles, which is in complete contradiction to Jesus’ example of being relevant to surrounding culture.  The world doesn’t get these phrases, they don’t think they’re cool, and many are laughing at us for them.  Many readers right now immediately respond in their heads, “I don’t care what they think,”  but seems like Paul had a different perspective (1 Corinthians 9:20). Many who flaunt this sort of “Christianese”  focus more on presenting their Christian clique than they do on loving those that do not know Jesus.  So anyway, enough of my whining. I truly love the church with all my heart and I say some stupid stuff also, although I try not to.  I’ll take the last portion of this post to share some phrases just. made. up. just. now.

“You Are Making Jesus Look Stupid.”

“A Christian Saying a day Keeps the Unbelievers Away.”

“Sprinkle salt on food and it usually doesn’t stand out visually, but it sure makes things taste yummy.  A pile of salt on your plate tastes yucky and may kill you.”

“Jesus’ Disciples Did a Good Job Spreading the Word, Without the word ‘Jesus’ on Their Robes and sandles.”

“Christians Aren’t Perfect.  We Are Really Actually Bad.”

“Know God?  Know Peace.  IF you Don’t Know God, You Won’t Like the Rest of This Motto.”

“His Pain.  This picture is Funny.”

“Satan is an Asshole.”

When you pray, angels kick demon ass.”

“Quit being a whiny _________(insert profanity).  Pray Instead.” (Philippians 2:14)

 

For more info on this topic of Christianese by theologian and Christianese researcher Dr. Toby Morrell, read here.

 

HELL NO: 19 Questions You May Ask Me About Hell

hell

Let me preface by saying that when it comes to my faith, i have done a lot of doubting, soul-searching, and studying. After all of this studying, I have concluded two things:

1. there has to be a creator. For more thoughts on this, read this old post.  

2.  Jesus is God.  After studying the historicity of Jesus, I have concluded that He is who He said He was. Therefore I believe the words that are in the Bible because Jesus validated them. Won’t go into that here, because it’s not the point of this post.

According to God’s word, it seems as if there is indeed a place of torment called “hell.”  I hope there isn’t.  I hope everyone gets a second chance when they die or at the very least, get annihilated.  It just doesn’t seem that way, according to the Bible in which I believe.  

So here we go.  Here are some questions I reckon that many people have about hell.

1.  ”Do you struggle with the concept of hell?”   Yes.  The concept of hell actually crippled my faith on and off for at least 5 years of my life as a Christian.

2.  ”Do you believe in literal flames?”  No.  I think the “flames” are figurative of God’s judgement.

3.  ”Why would hell be such a bad place then?”  You have no idea how much everyone, including unbelievers, benefit from God’s presence on this earth.  He is still involved, especially through the movement of the church.  None of our minds can comprehend a place where God is no more.

4.  ”Are you glad there is a hell?”  NO.

5.  ”Do you wish every one went to heaven?”  YES.

6.  ”Don’t you think God is pretty cruel for sending people to hell?” I believe the God of the Bible is true, mainly through the historicity of Jesus and by God’s spirit revealing Himself to me.  Thus, if Jesus is Lord,  it doesn’t matter what I think.  But, no I don’t believe He is cruel.

7.  ”Why doesn’t He do something to keep people from going there?”  Well, He died in our place so they wouldn’t.  I’d say that is “doing something.”

8.  ”But, many people do not believe.  Why doesn’t God just make it more obvious that He is God?”  Was Jesus rising from the dead not clear enough?  Those people back then refused to believe.  People don’t believe because they refuse to, not because they can’t.

9.  ”How can God be loving to send people to hell?”  People chose to be their own God.  He doesn’t force them to serve Him and He grants them the right to be their own God throughout all eternity.

10.  ”What about people who have never heard about Jesus?”  God knows every thought of every person.  I think He can discern some one’s heart.  You also really think that the God who made all things can’t reveal Himself to His own creation?  That’s weird.

11.  ”What about little babies?”  I don’t believe they go to hell.  They get special treatment.  Read how God deals with children differently in Deuteronomy 1:37-40.  No reason to believe it’s different for the destiny of one’s soul.

12.  ”How can you serve a God that abandons the people He supposedly loves?”  Don’t forget He died for those He loved.  Also, I do not worship God based on what He does.  I worship Him because I believe He’s God.  He also tells me that I won’t understand why He does what He does because His thoughts are way more advanced.  I think when we get to heaven, we’ll see just how gracious God is, and things will make way more sense than they do now.   Continue reading “HELL NO: 19 Questions You May Ask Me About Hell” »

Swearin’

SOhhhhhhh.  You thought we were going to talk about cussing again.  WRONG!  I want to tell you about this unbelievable album that came out last year.  A lot of you read my “Story of Emery,” where I talked about that good old school sounding emo.  Well, there are bands that are bringing that old school sound back and Swearin’ is one of them.  When it comes to that old emo sound, you had bands that went for a beauty/epic emo sound, bands that went for the screamo sound, bands that went for the pop-emo sound (pemo), and bands that went for the punk-emo sound.  Get Up Kids were the best at the punk emo sound, and Swearin’ picks up where the Get Up Kids left off.

Here’s the beauty of Swearin’s album, “Swearin’.”

1.  The songs are an average of 2 minutes each, so for you impatient, A.D.D music listeners, you never get bored.

2.  You have melodic guitars with an edgy, punk-rock approach.

3.  You’ve got female and male vocals that complement each other wonderfully.

4.  The hooks are catchy.

5.  The production is raw and yet very accessible.

6.  Some songs are slow and beautiful while the others are fast and beautiful.

7.  You’ll want to high-five your old college friends after listening to this one.

 

For those of you that were big into the indie/emo scene back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, get ready to reminisce.  For those of you that are too young to remember, get ready to fall in love.

Buy or preview here:

Should “Spiritual Experience” be Counted for Evidence of Jesus being the Truth?

tonguesIf Christians say YES to this question, who’s to say that other “spiritual experiences” that others have experienced can’t act as validation for their faith?  In my opinion, Christians’ use of this apologetic tool (a means of defending a belief in the biblical God) is quite limited. At the same time, I’d say it’s helpful for us not to discount this “testimonial evidence” altogether. Here are my random thoughts on this issue.

DISCLAIMER: I personally believe in Jesus as my savior and feel that I have experienced His love and His presence in my life.

1. Sometimes, true Christians have experiences that, contrary to what they claim, had nothing to do with Jesus. Sometimes,it’s straight up “you’s just gone cuh-razy, boi!”

2. Human emotions have the power to give experiences that have nothing to do with the supernatural. You should have seen me when the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2011. I was truly convinced that I had a near-death experience and was in heaven for a little while.

3. If some one of another spiritual faith (i.e. not faith in Jesus) does indeed experience something from the supernatural and through this experience, is convinced that some one or some thing, other than Jesus is God, there is a good chance that this was a “demonic spiritual” experience.

4. Because personal experiences are just that, personal; a Christian probably won’t get too far in using this as evidence for Jesus, unless there is an established personal relationship of trust and friendship with the person you are telling your story to. So, yes, this means you guys shouting to college students, “burn your Led Zepplin albums or burn in hell,” you probably aren’t very effective because of your lack of relationships with the pass-bys.  Remember, Jesus said, “Zacchaeus, I’m coming over.”  He didn’t say, “Zacchaeus, you are a cheater and are all about yourself” until he had already hung out with him and demonstrated some love.

5. For those that find very offensive my conclusion of your “non-Christ” experience being demonic, I understand your offense completely and don’t mean to offend.  That’s just what I believe.  I could be wrong.

6. I for one think that people should be very skeptical of spiritual experiences. Otherwise, people become obsessed with “experiences” and this diverts attention from a genuine relationship with Christ.

7. John 4:24 says that we are to worship the Lord in “spirit and in truth.” Here’s a question to ask yourself:  Can you personally worship in the Lord’s truth or do you always need an accompanied experience?  We should be able to worship through experience and through just knowing truth, and I believe God sometimes hides Himself spiritually/experientially,  so we’d learn to do the latter.

8. I believe in works of the Holy Spirit, but remember, Jesus’ life?  He demonstrated what a Spirit-filled life should look like.  I’ve seen a lot of examples in the church that don’t really resemble Jesus at all.  See an old post called “WTF” about this.

9. Pretty hard to argue against “the experience” of  historical figure, Paul the apostle. A Christian-killer turned greatest evangelist of all time. And most honest historians are on board with what the Bible says about Paul’s life, background, and story. Pretty convincing, I must say.

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Why are “Church Folks” so mean?

CBGB

Hey, guys.  Want to take a second to thank you all.  The dialoguing amongst people from so many backgrounds here on this blog, from atheists to evangelical Christians to everything in between, has been really encouraging.

It amazes me, however,  how many “church folks” read our stuff only to get out of it a message of us encouraging the freedom of stuff like cussing, drinking, and listening to Kanye West amongst Christians.  Really?  That’s what you got out of it?  Here’s a couple of posts that a lot of y’all did this with:

1.  Jesus Saved My Ass

2.  The Bible Says “Don’t Be a Stumbling Block,” But I Disagree.  

We know that in some peoples book we are “bad Christians.”  Instead of arguing, we will just go ahead and directly cop to this and agree with you. In the Bible, the Apostle Paul asserted that, of sinners, he was foremost. We also see Peter, who after being with Jesus for his entire ministry, made some serious blunders. We also see a condemned criminal on the cross next to Jesus who was assured that he would be “in Paradise” with Him that very day.  Well, we certainly fall into the same group as these guys.  They were all “bad  Christians.”  With that being said, I don’t think our beliefs are “way out there.”

So, let me break down 5 beliefs that we have here at Unlearning for all you guys that just don’t get it.  Maybe it will clear up some of the smoke.

1.  We believe that the “bizzle is the shizzle.”  This is Snoop’s way of saying, “we believe that the Bible is true.”  There are things in the bible that are very clear (all humans are born into sin, all need Jesus’ grace, Jesus is the only hope and He’s the only way to God). There’s other things that are not.  The issues that are clear, we choose not to budge on.  I mean, we’ll straight up take a bullet for them things.  Call us crazy.  That’s fine.  Unloving? That’s your prerogative, but it’s a dumb one.  Seems sort of silly and immature to call us hateful just for believing something that you don’t understand or embrace.

2.  We believe everything the bible says is sin, IS SIN.  We just don’t believe that’s where emphasis needs to be placed on.  All emphasis needs to be put on Jesus.

a.  If the focus is on sin, we’ll get frustrated when we lose to it and prideful when we kick it’s ass.  If the focus is on Jesus, we’ll rest in Him when we lose to it and thank Him when He kicks sin’s ass.

b.  If the focus is on sin, we’ll have less patience and more frustration with other Christians.  If we focus on Jesus, we’ll have more love and understanding.

c.  If the focus is on sin, we’ll fight hard for a political agenda that makes certain sins illegal, we’ll hate homosexual rights, and not even consider legislating rules against sins that are dear to us personally (like 2 extra slices of cheesecake after 3 plates of fries at Red Robin).  If the focus is on Jesus, we’ll just want every one to see Him for who He is, so the world can change; one changed heart at a time.

3.  We believe any one who talks about rules or moral convictions that are not in the Bible needs to stop expecting all of God’s children to fall in line with another god (you).  This is legalism.  Why in the world would you have the time to make up rules anyway?  Shouldn’t you be spending your time just telling people about Jesus, how much you need Him, and just enjoy your freedom in Him?

4.  We want Jesus’ name to be great and one of the ways this will happen is if our names become crummy.  That’s why you’ve read whole posts on Toby’s worrying, Matt’s pride, and Joey’s depression.   In fact, this is all we’ve got.  And we are extremely convicted to have this approach in our communication.  We are always the losers and Jesus is always the Victor.  We need rescuing and Jesus is always the rescuer.

God says to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” and Paul responds by saying, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Boast in weakness?  My, how we overlook this.

5.  We really don’t want to argue with people.  If people disagree with Jesus being Lord, that’s one thing.  If you really are disgusted about what we are saying, that’s another thing, and you aren’t forced to read it, right?

If you are a Christian that thinks we’re heretics, perhaps remember that we believe in the same savior as you do, and maybe you can just rejoice in our mutual belief that Jesus is supreme; and compared to Him, we are both nothing.

 

Don’t you agree that’s a good starting point for any brother and sister in Christ, regardless of how many times we mess things up?

How Joey Started Emery (By Joey)

**FOR A FULL CATALOGUE OF THE GREAT ALBUMS MENTIONED IN THIS POST, CLICK HERE.   THESE FOR SURE ARE SOME OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS THAT LED TO THE BAND, EMERY.  ALSO SUBSCRIBE UNLEARNING HERE 


 

History Lesson:  

Toby and Joey meet in 1997.

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Toby was only listening to stuff like R. Kelly, Mase, Bens Fold Five, and Counting Crows.  Not a bad start, right?  That all changed when Joey introduced Toby to “The Whole EP,” by Pedro the Lion.  The rest was history.  Toby was convinced that he wanted start a band with Joey that went for that “emo sound” such as found on albums like “How it Feels to Be Something On” by Sunny Day Real Estate, “Static Prevails” by Jimmy Eat World (their old school sound), and “End of the Ring Wars,” by Appleseed Cast.

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Then, Toby and Joey met Devin and Matt (Devin above with acoustic guitar ’98 and Joey is to the left of bass player.  More later on the girl to his right)  Matt and Devin were listening to Silverchair, Deftones, Korn, Nirvana and the like.  Pretty bad start, except for Nirvana, right?  And then came the day when Joey introduced Matt and Toby to “How if Feels to be Something On,” by Sunny Day Real Estate.  Those guys kept listening to their B.S. music, but they expanded to that good ‘ol “emo sound,” found on albums like “Fallen Star Collection,” by Brandtson, “This Afternoon’s Malady,” by Jejune, and the stuff mentioned above that Toby started listening to.  Oh, I forgot about the “Power of Failing,” by Mineral.  That was another favorite.

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So, Matt and Devin’s band, Simply Waynes started playing show with Joey and Toby’s band, Joe 747 (pictured above-their first show in Oct ’98).  They all also became really good friends.  The bestest of. . . .

Joey tells Toby that Joe 747 ain’t gonna go anywhere in Rock Hill, SC (where they were all living).  Toby agreed.  Where could they go?  Uh, duh.  Seattle.  Joey and Toby ask Matt and Devin out to lunch and they make the BIG ASK:  ”WILL YOU GO WITH US?”  I’ll never forget what Matt said after we were laying on the persuasion very thick:  ”Well, we definitely can’t say no.”  It was on.

Now, remember that girl that was sitting to Joey’s right?

well….this…….
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turned in to this….

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The news was tough to break to Matt, Devin and Toby.  So tough that Joey did it in a snail-mail letter.  That’s real friendship right there.  When Toby got the letter, he drove around his home town of Greer crying while listening to the two songs that Emery had already recorded (early versions of “The Secret” and “Shift.”)  Sept. 11 2001 rolled around.  Bin Laden sent some planes into the Twin Towers and Emery hit the road, picking up Joel Green on bass guitar.

Then, all the guys from emery stopped by Cedar Falls, IA for the wedding a year later and within a year, “Weak’s End” was recorded.  You know what happened from there.

FOR A FULL CATALOGUE OF ALBUMS MENTIONED IN THIS POST, CLICK HERE.  THESE ARE SERIOUSLY SOME OF THE BEST “TRUE EMO” ALBUMS OF ALL TIME.

Our View on “Secular Music.” You’re Welcome.

devil

Here’s (10) Questions that I’d like to ask you.

First of all, let me say that I know for most of our readers,  this is a non-issue.  However, I often am still pretty surprised by folks who try to place on others their personal moral conviction of listening only to “christian music.”

Let me say this.  For those of you that just flat out prefer listening to Christian music, you go on with your bad self.  That’s quite fine by me and if it wasn’t, I’d need to mind my own business.  I’ll say this too.  I totally get when people don’t want to listen to anything but Christian.  I won’t get into it here, but I would also bet a million that your approach to music is just plain different than mine.

I also think that when a lot of people think of “secular music,” there minds go straight to radio/pop culture crap that obnoxiously celebrates sin in a very “middle school-like” fashion.  Although I certainly wouldn’t agree with some one’s position of deeming this stuff universally sinful, I don’t spend a lot of time listening to it, just because I think it’s pretty dumb.

For those of you that find “secular music” as something that Christians should avoid, I guess I’d like to give some healthy push-back.  So, without further ado, here are my questions for you to reflect on:

1.  Does God own all humans and all music or just the Christians and their music?  Do unbelievers get talent from God too?

2.  Think of some one approaching Jesus and saying, “Here is a link to my band.  Will you check it out?”  Could you imagine Him saying, “Is it Christian music?  Otherwise, save yourself the effort. I only listen to music that is about me.”

3.  What makes Christians Music “christian?”  What if Beyonce sings a song about old-timey baptism and Jeremy Camp sings a song about romancing his wife after a week-long argument? Which one is more “Christian” in that case?

4.  Are all the best song-writers and musicians Christian?

5.  Are there such things as the “Christian NFL” and the “secular NFL?” Are you a Christian that watches the NFL?  Whoa. You are supporting a lot of greed, sexual affairs, pride, idolatry, and just evil teams in general (i.e. Cowboys, Vikings).  You may want to start a “Christian NFL” so you can keep watching pro football.   Continue reading “Our View on “Secular Music.” You’re Welcome.” »

I Don’t Want To Be A Good Christian

 

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Sometimes I get jealous of bands.  Like, maybe it would be better to be in a band rather than in my band Emery.  I’m being a little bit of a crybaby but hear me out.

It would be so freeing to be in a radio band like Mumford and Sons or even a band like U2. These bands do whatever they want musically and lyrically, and their fans just love them and support them regardless. They can be honest within their lyrics and no one questions them when they use words like  ”f-ck,” or when they talk about things like sex, abortion, or other sensitive social topics.  What’s really crazy is that these same bands can also talk about God, even Jesus himself, and nobody gets their panties in a wad. In fact, if they do talk about God, Christians claim them as their own, faster than Peter sinking in the sea.  Bottom line? If you never claim to be a Christian, a Christian band, or the popular, “Christians in a band,” then you can say whatever you want.

But what if you do say you are Christians?  What are the implications of that approach? 

Christians seem to flock to bands from the “secular world” just because they did a cover of “I’ll Fly Away” or “Amazing Grace” on a B-Side album. This loyalty is so surprising to me, because at the same time, I’ve seen Christians seemingly wait to pounce on a band who claims Christ yet merely falls short of one religious standard held by the fan. Ultimately a Christian band will certainly do something that their fans wouldn’t;  something that’s not sin or a lie about themselves. And in the case when the band was sinning, how are Christians supposed to handle this kind of stuff?

Here’s some examples.  What would you do?

Toby from Emery is seen smoking after a show.

Matt from Emery responds harshly to people that are bashing our new record on the internet.

You see Dave from Emery out at the local bar with other bands drinking beer.

You read about a lead singer of your favorite band trying to kill his wife.

 

That last one is definitely okay to be upset and even angry about! But how do you respond in love and grace?.

Answer these questions:

Is this the time to call them liars?

Is this the chance and opportunity to say they aren’t or never were Christisans?

How quickly can you read something on the internet and know every true detail of a person’s heart?

Can Christians have freedom that others don’t and still be Christians?

W.W.J.D man?!?

 

Are Christians really thinking, “These bands aren’t Christians because they don’t live their lives like me?” 

It’s tough because I realize all entertainers or sports figures are held to higher standards.  We are automatically put into the position of role model as a result of a certain level of success, but the problem is that it’s still a set-up for failure.  I am a Christian and I try to bring glory to Jesus everyday, but I really am bad at it.  For that matter, I don’t even want to be a good Christian.  When people talk about me, I want them to say “that guy loves Jesus,” not that I am good at being a Christian. I truly hope that people see my life and see the amazing things Jesus has done and is doing with this lump of clay. It sounds like semantics but it is so important to focus on Jesus and never on what we do as Christians.  We aren’t saved by our good works or condemned by the bad ones.  We are saved by Jesus. The “good works” are for others to see His glory. Our works aren’t about proving we’re in the club.

So maybe we could be given a little slack.

It’s tough to hear or read other Christians tell us really hurtful and untrue things.  We’ve been told we are heretics, that our faith is not real, that we are evil sinners (kinda pegged us there), and even that we are leading people away from Christ.  That hurts.

If I’m honest with you about my sin, if I let you in on the real me and my personality, if I like beer, if I say damn, or shit, or what the hell, my identity is still in Christ. Christ is my identity and not the things I do or the things that I do that you disagree with.  We poorly follow Christ.  He does the works and helps us to love others and change the world for the better. We don’t mind that people disagree with how to live life, but don’t say we aren’t Christians when you find out we’ve done something you wouldn’t do.  We’re all different and Jesus has us at different places as well. We might feel freedom in areas you don’t and vice versa. But let’s discuss, not crush.

Jesus is real.  He does the work.  We’re sinners. You all are sinners too.

I’m in a kick-ass band and I love making music that honors God.  So let’s keep it about Jesus and then it won’t ever be about us failing at being hero’s that we could never be in the first place.

Picture Courtesy of:  Wallpapers Craft

Christian Vocabulary: I can’t understand an eternal damnation word you’re saying

 

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Photo Courtesy of www.JustCor.com

Something interesting and a little funny occurred to me a few years ago while attending a church service. I discovered “Christian words.” Christian words are those that are only understood by “Christians.”  

Since that day, I have been aware of a certain dialect that leaders in church use and if new members of the church aren’t using this dialect when the arrive on day 1, they soon will be going off in no time at all.  Some call this phenomenon that is sweeping the nation, “God Talk” or Christianese. It can be likened to the specific wordage that is unique to corporate America, such as productivity quotients, hyper-tasking, and pace setter.  It’s a whole new way of talking, like slang amongst are youth; only it catches on just within church buildings and between church folk. These words certainly have a shelf life though, just like slang words (who uses the word “phat” anymore) and usually die out when a cool white guy comes up with a new zinger.

Here’s an example: 

Bill:  Steve, I love our church and how we do life together.

Steve: Brother, I echo that and I’m astounded by the way we are shepherded and poured into.  I have a holy hunch that we are about to see a revival.  It will totally be a God thing.  I’m psyched.  

Bill: I know!  What’s so cool is that we are in serious rhythms of life, living in community, being prayer warriors, on mission together.  I’m passionate about being missional.  God is so in this.  

Steve: Let’s get inside, Pastor Mike is bringing it.  He’s going to cast some vision today and unpack some serious techniques for us to come against and push back against the enemy.  I’m ready to be molded and shaped as the Holy Spirit brings spiritual bling to our crib.  (I made up that last one.  Hopefully, it catches on.)

Also here’s a great article by Mark Driscoll about the Christianese

Now Steve and Bill know what they are saying and I totally see how having a way to articulate goals and mission is helpful.  It is even fruitful to keep things fresh and new with our words, just like singing a new song to God.  This is because we should always be searching for new avenues to bring Him glory. Even though you’ll find me using Christianese every now and again, my only problem is this;  if someone doesn’t know this vocabulary, they are screwed because the will likely be weirded out, intimidated, or even scared. (What exactly are you pouring in me?)

The Bible was translated into English and tons of different languages, so that Non-Hebrews could understand the text more clearly.  We need to take the same approach, shying away from presenting ourselves as a clique that uses special lingo that identifies us as the “in crowd” of the church, even if this isn’t our intentions. It’s a turn off.  We are to be salt of the earth.  Salt enhances and complements the taste of food.  I don’t see how Christianese complements and enhances a world that simply needs Jesus.  

Be careful making fun of Christianese though, because Christians will pursue you.  

 

 

 

Does God Cause Evil? (theology lesson of the day)

hungryHere’s what we know:

  1. God is all good.
  2. God is sinless and does not tempt others to sin.
  3. God did not create evil, but rather created life that had the potential of creating evil.
  4. God will eventually put an end to all evil, proving that He is all-loving and all-powerful.

We also Know:

  1. He is sovereign – He can do whatever He pleases, He is aware of everything that will happen (sin included), and easily has the power to stop something from happening (yet chooses not to).

 

Isn’t it hard to distinguish “allowing evil” from “causing evil,” when looking at God through the lenses of His sovereignty?  For example, from a strictly human perspective, you would never expect me to suffocate a baby with a plastic bag.  That would be unbelievably evil.

What if I watched a baby struggle with a plastic bag after inadvertently covering its head with it.  Wouldn’t that be just as evil?  Of course it would be.

Here’s where I think Christians often go wrong.  Many people always think they know what “bad” is and they say, “Since God is good all the time, anything ‘bad’ is not from God.”  Are all things that WE view as bad, really bad, though?  The loss of a child, for example, is a horrible thing on this side of existence, but if it leads to the salvation of the parents and a happy family reunion in heaven, is that really a bad thing?

God’s original intent for the world was for no evil to exist, nor sickness, nor pain.  However, he can certainly use sickness, pain, and even evil spirits in the lives of BELIEVERS for their greater good.

So, yes.  I believe that “God is good…all the time.”  I also think that we cannot determine what is good for all people in all places at all times.  So if I fall and break my leg, don’t tell me that God didn’t want that to happen.  He let it happen (and I trust Him) and better yet, He possibly wanted it to happen so He could bless me with more time to read nerdy theology books and  view DVDs of the Green Bay Packers mopping up the NFL.

epilogue to this post

“I used to be a Christian, but…” (real confessions from Facebook friends)

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In ten years of touring with “Christian bands,” I’d say one of the most common–and surprising–paths I’ve witnessed so many bands take, goes something like this:

new band on fire for God, praying before every show, no drinking, no cussing, praying with and meeting fans every night.  And 4 years later?  living with girlfriends, no longer involved in the church, still in the band, but believes everything from hardcore atheism to agnostic to just been burnt by the church and doesn’t really know anymore.

In a recent series of posts on Emery’s Facebook page, I was reflecting on the last ten years of our career and how much has changed for us and our fans during this last decade.  In a particular post I asked this question,

“How many of you were “on fire for God” ten years ago and now no longer believe?”

I’d like to share a few of the 379 answers that we received.  I want you, the reader, to try and feel these comments in balance with how much we celebrate new believers and baptisms and other things churches count and boast about.  Each comment below represents a person that was once celebrated as a new brother and sister in Christ.   What you’ll read below is the tiny subset of the small world known as “Emery fans on Facebook.” Try and imagine the real epidemic this represents.  

I don’t want to draw too many conclusions or explain this; I mainly just want to share it.  I do want the reader to be clear on some things.

  • These comments are heartbreaking, scary and sad to me.
  • I too LOVE to celebrate new believers and Baptisms.
  • I am not claiming to know if any of these folks are or were definitely believers
  • There were also many encouraging responses to the question along the lines of, “I was an atheist 10 years ago and now I am a believer.

The worst part about all this is that this group of disenfranchised people is now going to be the HARDEST to reach as they quite logically have been in our shoes already and have as they say, “moved on.”  We (the church) do a pretty good job of attracting “seekers,” the un-churched, skeptics, and those who have yet to decide what they believe, but we severely under report and fail to care for those who have left the church.  This is especially sad considering the likelihood that these people never truly encountered Jesus in the first place and yet think they have, “been there, done that.

 

How many of you were “on fire for God” ten years ago and now doesn’t really believe anymore?

 

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One of Many Problems for the Typical Atheist

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In one breath, you (atheist) refer to God and His Old Testament practices of violently wiping out evil on Earth; and you accuse Him of doing evil.   In the next breath, you accuse Him of being evil for allowing evil to exist; but I thought you were just pissed at Him for doing something about it. I think you may want to pick a side and stick with it.

Better yet, if one is an atheist, he can’t even believe in the concept of evil and remain consistent with his beliefs. Without God, there is no such thing as evil.   If there’s no God, there’s no inherent value to anything.  ”People,” “animals,” “plants,” etc are just complex, developed bundles of highly-functioning molecules.  And if there is no higher ground of morality to defer to, the atheist cannot legitimately point to wrongdoing in anything. Unfortunately, this includes the serial rapist, child molester, and terrorist.  These actions are not evil if the “things” doing them are just molecules!  One of your comrades in the atheist faith, Nietzsche, was at least consistent with his beliefs.  If no God exists, then, Nihilism makes sense.

Read the definition of Nihilism right here.  According to this philosophy, life is meaningless.

Christians, on the other hand, can at least identify evil for what it is, pronounce Jesus as the victor, and know that all of it (evil) will soon reach its demise; for God IS all-powerful and He IS all-loving.  The end is near.

*For any atheist reader, if you’ve been following us at unlearning for long, you’ll know our hearts isn’t to win an argument but to truly point all of us to what we believe as truth.  We consider you our brothers and sisters in humanity and feel certain we can learn from you in this life.  To be frank, all of us would be much better off if we did a lot more listening to each other.  Here’s a post that depicts a real discussion in which a Christian and Atheist did a great job at this (hearing one another out) in my opinion.

Will Chris Farley be in Heaven?

I’m gonna say……. YES!   If you’ve seen the photos of his death scene (and I recommend that you don’t look at them) you’ll see in his hand, a rosary being clasped. While this does not guarantee salvation in itself, (no where in the bible does it say, “If you die with a rosary in hand, thou art saved, you and your household.”) it does mean that Chris was thinking about God. Could he have called out the name of Jesus?

Here’s what I think. I think our minds are going to be blown away in heaven when we see just how simple the gospel is and how gracious God has been from generation to generation in the many people that simply received from Him. Remember how simple it was for the guy that died next to Jesus and how gracious the King was to him?

And if Chris Farley called upon His name, He’s in heaven (Romans 10:13) and if he’s in heaven, when your name is called up yonder from the book of life, for some comic relief, you just may hear this:

Miss you, Chris Farley
February 15, 1964 – December 18, 1997

You Can’t be a Christian and Wear a Nirvana Shirt

kurtI’ll never forget the day at Youth Camp when camp leaders reprimanded some kids for wearing Bob Marley, Pearl Jam, Kurt Cobain R.I.P., and other similar t-shirts.

Kurt Cobain was the singer and song-writer for the band Nirvana who committed suicide in 1994 (pictured here).

I get it. These bands weren’t Christian and they supported some “bad” things.  I wonder though, would these same camp leaders have opposed the wearing of a King David shirt?  What if it even had scripture on it?  Would that be ok, even though David lusted after a woman to the point of killing her spouse?  Did Bob, Eddie, or Kurt do anything as crooked and evil as that?                                                                                      

Isn’t Jesus the only “thing” that purifies us and sets us apart from the world? (Romans 3:24)                             

Isn’t He the only factor that separates King David from these rock stars? (1 Samuel 16:7)

Aren’t we supposed to love everyone? (Matthew 22:37-40)

I could see Jesus wearing the same shirts that some of the hoodlums in youth group were wearing and hear Him early in the morning praying for them.  Can you?  If not, you might need to un-learn some things.  

Start by remembering that the scripture that’s pictured here with Cobain is just as true for him as it is for you.  Jesus is the only thing that separates Christians from the rest of the world.  Our common ground?  The common thread that remains constant with every human being who ever lived?  We all need Jesus in order to be saved.

Have you been judged or judged someone for their clothing or how they look?

I’ve Got A Candy Crush

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Picture Courtesy of: arabaoyunu

In the last couple of weeks I have developed a slight crush. Well, maybe a little more than slight. It’s more like I feed this infatuation whenever there is a free second. Wait. What? How did I let this happen?  I’m married with kids. I’m a christian for goodness sake! I just need to confess this to you all and let the healing begin.

Her name is Candy Crush Saga.

If you don’t know, Candy Crush is a simple game where you match three alike pieces of candy to make them disappear. This game is hugely popular and is close to becoming a publicly traded company.  The graphics are simple but eloquent and that damn music is almost hypnotizing.  I’m pretty sure the game developers in Hell worked overtime and built this beautiful, mind numbing trap.

It all started one day when I was scrolling through Facebook and a couple different people said they were stuck on a certain level of the game. Then a little later I saw a commercial for the game on television. I knew I was missing out on something, so like Eve to the apple, I bit. It was an easy game at first and I let my male ego tell me I was probably one of the best to have played.  Then it got harder…and harder…and harder.  Now I have to spend all my lives on one level and then just wait, because you only get a limited amount of lives. When they are gone you actually have to wait twenty minutes to get a new life or actually purchase more by credit card.  Brilliant.

So here is why I want to repent.  I sneak this game in between being a husband, dad, and professional.  I look forward to playing the game and just vegging out during nap time, when my wife and kids are busy with something else, before I go to sleep, or (and I have to be honest here) in the bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, playing a game is not bad. Life is stressful, and a little entertainment is important to relax and relieve some of the pressure, but I think this game right now is actually helping to making my life MORE stressful.

Instead of dealing with some of the things I need to get done I push them off  so that I can get past level 35.  I actually have been letting various jobs and tasks, like writing my blog posts for UnLearning, build up and I have gotten behind.  I could also use that valuable extra time reading, praying, or spending it leading my family.

The truth is, it’s not the game, it’s me.  I want to control my life and be able to escape when I want. I want to play some dumb game all by myself, then justify it by telling myself that I deserve a game here or there.  That’s a lie. I’m so blessed that the only thing I deserve is some work to appreciate what I have.

I love my responsibilities and I’d have it no other way, but just because they take some work doesn’t mean I get to treat myself to avoiding them.

It does suck though that I’m probably like Top 5 all time.

Football Would Be Boring If There Were No Losers

football popcorn                                                                                  

I love football more than I love most people. Bad start here. Sorry. Not a good confession, but it feels that way sometimes. I’m really excited for football season to come back around, and not equally excited about certain acquaintances or my neighbors. Some of you may wonder why I like a dumb game so much.

The answer is actually pretty simple.

It is brutally real right in front of my eyes. I get to view the mistakes, the worry (mine included), the plans, the schemes, the anger, and the heroics all in a just a few hours. It’s like regular everyday life complete with winners and losers; and boy is it popular in America.

Why is this game so successful with these things, but general Christian-living can appear so boring?

 

We don’t show people the whole game when it comes to our lives.

The truth is, people want to belong to something bigger, and we were created to worship. So as you know, along the way, in trying to find “something bigger” and “something to worship,” we turned from God to ourselves and each other. But why can’t non-christians be as excited to “watch christianity,” join us, and give it support? Because we don’t give them the “whole game.”

We want them to study the Bible, (the playbook if you will) learn it and follow it. The problem is, we don’t study it ourselves and then we try to hide that with “Scriptures of the Day” and by diligently attending the Sunday Service(team meetings). We are full of stories about our bad, sinful past,(espn classic reruns) but very rarely are we being honest about the secrets we have when we’re alone today. Why don’t we let non-christians in?  Why don’t we let them see more mistakes, weaknesses and just plain reality? I know this is crazy, but hear me out:

Non-Christians are just like us, except they don’t have Jesus. So, why not show them we aren’t Him and reveal what He is doing in our lives today?

I heard a Pastor on the radio this morning saying he struggled with eating ice cream a lot! Surely he has bigger losses (sin) than that.  Why in the world would a non-christian listening to this pastor think that this leader in the church, or themselves for that matter, need Jesus?  The truth is that without Jesus, our lives are only about us, and we become alone in making decisions. We were built for community and for sharing our lives; with our God and with each other.  The wins and the losses.

Brett Favre (I used to be a fan, but can’t anymore because I’m a Christian)

aaron rodgers

Why are people so deflated when one of their heroes fall into sin?  Did they really think that their hero was above…………………………………………………………sin?

I would imagine that some of our readers were concerened back in 2004 when one of the best song writers of all times, David Bazan, went from singing the most real, vulnerable, intriguing and moving songs about living for God to singing the most real, vulnerable, intriguing and moving songs about cursing God (most specifically “Curse Your Branches”).  You older readers remember Jim Bakker?  You can check out this quick YouTube video of what went down with him in perhaps one of the biggest scandals of all time.  How about Tim Lambesis from the “Christian Metalcore band,” As I Lay Dying, who tried to get his wife killed?  Read the story right here.

A lot of you know that I am a huge Brett Favre fan.  After the sexual allegations came out (while he was with the stupid Jets) and it was obvious that they were legit, I was confronted with a gut check.  First, I had to accept the fact that he really was stupid enough to text pictures of his little guy down there.

But, here are the most important thoughts I pondered and some conclusions that I made.

“Well I guess I don’t like him as much now.”  Why not? Because I found out he wasn’t perfect?  Do I not like King David any more, nor read the Psalms, because he got a husband killed off in order to have his wife in bed?

Remember this is the same guy that wrote one of the most quoted passages in the Bible, “The Lord is My Shepherd.”  And, come on.  Let’s not forget that Brett brought the “Vince Trophy” back to Titletown after 29 years, baby!

“Well, I just don’t like him as much as a person.”  Well that’s pretty lame.  Didn’t Jesus genuinely love the lowliest of sinners?  What good is it for Brett Favre to exist “blemish-less” in my mind, anyway?  So, he made a mistake, and I don’t like him as a person anymore?  Hopefully, my personal family and friends treat me better than that.

“Well, it definitely shows that nobody’s perfect.”  Did I really think that he was?  Why do I place humans on some sort of pedestal that no one belongs on?  It’s probably healthy for all of us (right now) to make sure we don’t have an unhealthy fondness for anyone other than Jesus.

I’m not saying we should never look up to people nor esteem highly those that we honor and respect.  However, when we write these same folks off because of some moral failure, it reveals some things in our own hearts and proves that we had them in a place we shouldn’t have.  I’ll close with some of these heart issues for you to ponder.

We sometimes look for earthly  heroes and leaders to make  us to be happy.   This is idolatry.  Taking joy in Jesus’ perfection should suffice. This is similar to Israel’s desire for an earthly king. God said He would be their king, but they wanted an earthly king.  Sure enough, being a human, Israel’s king failed and caused the people significant harm, time and time again.

We aren’t as keenly aware of our own sin as we should be.  If we were, we would see ourselves  “in the same boat” as the person that disappointed us, rather than seeing ourselves as the “more righteous observer.”

We sometimes need those that we admire, to remain above reproach in order for us to have soundness of mind.  We should have our own walk with Jesus and not depend on others’ righteousness to motivate our living for Jesus.  Oh yeah, no one in themselves is righteous anyway. (Can you say, “It’s all about JESUS’ righteousness and not ours?”)

We sometimes lose respect for our leaders/bosses when we see their imperfections.  This is crazy, considering none of them acquired their leadership role for being perfect in the first place.  We should instead brainstorm how our strengths can mitigate their weaknesses so that their work is “a joy and not a burden.

Next time you put people on an unhealthy pedestal, remember this.  Their resume starts with the fact that God had to die for their sin.  That’s not a good start.  I might add that your resume has that same “accomplishment.”  That’s not a good start for you either.

The Good King by Ghost Ship (music recommendation)

 

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Ghost Ship leads music at Mars Hill Downtown Seattle. Their leader and singer, Cam, is a friend of both Toby and I.  (As you know, Toby was the Worship Director at Mars Hill West Seattle, and I lead music at Mars Hill Ballard.) Their keyboard player, Shay, lives 2 houses down from me and he left a Little Caesar’s Pizza on my doorstep a couple of days ago. That alone warrants my support. But, you ask, “What kind of music does Ghost Ship play?  Is it worship music??”  Well, that can be a tricky question.

I have spent over 10 years making records and touring the world, playing music in bars, clubs, festivals, and churches.  After ten years of extensive research on the subject, I am now prepared to answer this tough question.

What is the difference between Christian music, worship music, church music, secular music, and youth group entertainment?  

Continue reading “The Good King by Ghost Ship (music recommendation)” »

You Consider Me an Enemy Because of my Beliefs? (a letter to those who hate Christians)

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Not every “non-spiritual” or “non-christian” person, atheist, agnostic (or person from any other religion) is a Christian hater.  That’s why this post isn’t called something silly like “letter to the atheist.”  How ignorant and judgmental it would be for me to assume that all atheists hate what I stand for.  For more thoughts on this stereotyping, read this old post.

This letter is to the person that really does hate what I stand for.  It’s to the person who hates my beliefs, is disgusted with the bible and labels me as inhumane for “brainwashing” my own children with the Christian faith.  This is to the person who writes all Christians off as exactly the same breed, even though it’s quite unfair to do so.

This is for you, dear “Christian-hater.” Continue reading “You Consider Me an Enemy Because of my Beliefs? (a letter to those who hate Christians)” »

Patton Oswalt vs Sammy Rhodes (@prodigalsam) vs Trolls

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In case you missed it, there was quite an interesting eruption on Twitter concerning Patton Oswalt and Sammy Rhodes.  The short version is this: A comedian called another comedian a hack and a joke thief.  Not much of a story.  It happens all the time and most people don’t “keep up” with comedy, they just occasionally laugh at it. But wait a minute.  This one is a bit more interesting.  Here’s why:

Who is Patton Oswalt?

He’s an accomplished and successful writer, actor, and comedian, the voice of Remy from the movie, Ratatouille, and a character on the TV show, King of Queens. This is just the tip of the iceberg as he’s also been in dozens of other movies and TV shows. He has several stand-up comedy specials, and oh yeah… 1.3 million Twitter followers. @pattonoswalt

Who is Sammy Rhodes?

He is a campus minister at the Reformed University Fellowship at the University of South Carolina, and he tweets jokes.  He has amassed over 130,000 Twitter followers, (@prodigalsam) which is no small feat.  He has no comedy, acting, or entertainment industry background, but apparently took to Twitter and has been relatively successful.

What was the big fiasco?

Rhodes had been accused of stealing jokes.  There was a Tumblr account made that compared many of his tweets to other people’s previous tweets.  Many were strikingly similar. Oswalt (from his Twitter account) called Rhodes a “thieving hack” and then in a string of tweets, began to engage with followers of both he and Rhodes.  There were many people both defending and attacking Rhodes and Oswalt’s account and as you can imagine, with 1.3 million followers, there was a huge amount of negativity directed at the unsuspecting Rhodes, who did not fight back or attack, but defended himself by saying that he never intentionally stole any jokes, and was sorry if he inadvertently did. Since then, Rhodes has done a couple of interview notably this one at salon.com.  He also has said that some friends who love him well have asked him to pull back from twitter for a season for the sake of his family, ministry, and soul.  He has agreed to do so.

 

This was very interesting for the following reasons: Continue reading “Patton Oswalt vs Sammy Rhodes (@prodigalsam) vs Trolls” »

Do you really want to get involved with those who suffer (Addiction, Abuse, Shame etc.)?

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click to buy on amazon

By:Matt Carter

Do you often find yourself in the path of those who are suffering?  Are you a pastor that has a lot of hurting people in you care?  Do people think you are a “good” or “serious” Christian” or a “leader,” and as a result perhaps avoid sharing their real struggles with you? Let me put it this way, Do you really want to get involved with those who suffer (Addiction, Abuse, Shame etc.)? 

I would like to recommend a book to you.  In fact we are going to start sharing books that we feel will be helpful to you, given the amount of influence they’ve had on us.  This one is called Redemption: Freed by Jesus From the Idols We Worship & the Wounds We Carry. I am honored to be friends with the fellow who wrote this one, Mike Wilkerson. Pastor Mike is the Redemption Groups and Counseling Pastor at Mars Hill Ballard.  I want to be perfectly clear, that I am not doing him a “advertisement favor” here but I’m doing you a favor by recommending it.  So, let me ask you again, do you really want to get involved with those who suffer?

If you do, it is important to first get a grip on your own sin and suffering, acquire an understanding on how the two are related, and gain a Biblical frame of reference of how God’s people suffer as well as how God interacts with them.  This is an area in which I spent the vast majority of my life  in TOTAL ignorance of.  I wrote about this in a previous post, where I explained how I vehemently avoided the topic of both others’ and my suffering, to a level of complete denial.   My avoidance of the concept of suffering exposed what I would consider to be an extreme amount of selfishness and lack of love and care for others on my part.  Through traveling the country, meeting Emery fans, hearing their stories, reading their emails and messages of brokenness, abuse, rape, addiction, in addition to God himself forcibly bringing my sin into focus, I am glad to have come a long way in this area.

One of the biggest milestones in my life was participating in something called  Redemption Groups , founded by the author of this book, Mike Wilkerson.  A Redemption Group is a small group (a group of 6-12 people that meet regularly for community) that deals with seldom discussed areas of life; deep stuff like addiction and abuse. These groups are really useful for connecting your life and story to Jesus, regardless of your background.  It was in this sort of group where I, for the first time, truly confronted  my own suffering and brokenness. Ironically, I thought I was there to “learn” about how these groups function and better equip myself to “help others.”  As it turned out, I was there to get my ass kicked, (by the Holy Spirit, not an aggressive group member/leader btw). Continue reading “Do you really want to get involved with those who suffer (Addiction, Abuse, Shame etc.)?” »

The Bible Is So Boring

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Sometimes I can go a long time with out reading my bible. I’ve gone weeks. I mean, I work for a church and I still sometimes am completely unmotivated and just plain apathetic to reading “The Good Book.” I’ve asked myself a thousand times in my life why can’t I just “be better” and then I follow through for a little while with reading it, only later to sink back into my old habits.

You ever go through this?

I’ve thought a lot lately about this and here are some observations/questions I’ve landed on.  Maybe you can relate:

  1. I’m not really a great reader of anything. I like reading, but I have to get alone to even take in whatever I am reading.
  2. The bible is hard to relate to or understand sometimes. The “eth’s” at the end of the words sometimes is overwhelming…and kinda funny. See The KJV Romans 14
  3. I want to really get something immediately applicable out of my time spent reading, and many times I don’t even remember much of anything I just read.
  4. Some things are hard to digest and explain. The Old Testament is full of murder, rape, and evil; and many times, this is at the hands of the good guys!
  5. So many people post scripture on their social media, I can just check Facebook and feel like I’ve done my “quiet time.”

Any of these scenarios sound familiar? Well I’m here to help!

Continue reading “The Bible Is So Boring” »

EVIL ME?

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Picture Courtesy of: Living Wellness

Why do people immediately blame God when bad stuff happens? Non Christians say, “If God was good then He wouldn’t let this happen.” Christians say, “God we just don’t understand what You’re doing!” or “God is using this or that to destroy the evil.”

I’d like for us ALL to take a little blame. God is the hero and these “evil things” are a result of us wanting to know good and evil. Did we all really think that the knowledge of good and evil wouldn’t lead us to try evil things? To hurt ourselves and others? To hurt the creation that God gave us to steward? We wanted to know what it was like to feel shame, lust, hate, unrighteous fear, worry, and death. We wanted to hurt someone else and to have power over them. Don’t claim ignorance. We all took a bite. Continue reading “EVIL ME?” »

So Blessed to Have a Perfect Marriage

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It was a “good call” for this particular couple to approach my wife and I about their marital issues.  As Matt Carter was fine-tuning the Monday post, “I Can’t Tell My Pastor That,” my wife and I were counseling a younger couple through some of their marriage stuff.  They picked the right couple!  You see, my wife and I are far beyond the season of misunderstanding each other, having arguments, wanting to throw things at each other, and being selfish.  We’ve learned that as long as we both put God first (and we always do this), marriage just clicks like the second-hand of an old-school swatch-watch.  As the night closed in prayer, this couple left with a complete marriage make-over and my wife and I bowed in silence to the Lord of the Universe while praise music played in the background. (from the sky! It was a miracle)

Ok, for those of you that missed my sarcasm, here’s the truth.  When this couple discussed their issues, they were discussing them to a couple (me and my wife) with more experience and perhaps even more wisdom, but certainly not to “the better of the 2 couples.”

They didn’t pick the “right couple,” as far as us being “marriage superstars.”   However, considering God has intentionally placed us in their lives and them in ours, knitting our hearts together, sure; we were the “right couple” in that regard.

My wife and I are hardly beyond the season of imperfections.  In fact, it hasn’t been more than a year that we’ve sought out the same help our friends were seeking out tonight.  (Rest assured that our problems that we sought help for were all my wife’s fault, but that’s besides the point).   Continue reading “So Blessed to Have a Perfect Marriage” »

I Can’t Tell My Pastor That

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There is something in people that makes them want to share their personal stories, sin, and suffering with other people.  There is also something inside that makes them afraid to share with people they know well.

There is also something about art, music and lyrics specifically, which allows people to share their own stories.  Every day on the road and on the Internet, people share with us their stories, events, traumas, their own sin, brokenness, and pain.  We try to be gracious and thank them for sharing, and then I’ll usually ask something like, “Do you have people to help you deal with this?  Have you told anyone else?”  All too often the response is, “No, I can’t tell my family.  They wouldn’t understand.”  Then I’ll ask about their church and many will respond, “I can’t tell my pastor that.”

This statement troubles me for the following reasons:

  • Maybe you CAN tell him, you just don’t think you can.

Most pastors are actually more caring and compassionate than some think, but unfortunately they are often merely seen as “authority figures” or “bosses”.

Pastors are really more like shepherds.  Scripture explains this in 1 Peter 5:2-3.  Pastors are shepherds and are not to “lord over” their people but to “be examples to their flock”.  Jesus is the chief shepherd and is perfect.  His followers know to approach Him with troubles.  In fact, Jesus is the advocate to the Father.  If your pastor sees his role in this light, similar to Jesus’ role with all Christians, perhaps you CAN talk to your pastor after all.  However, it is also possible that your pastor doesn’t understand his role this way, and if so…

  • Then your church culture is very sick.

Sadly, there are many local churches that are sick and don’t even realize it.  There are many pastors and communities in which true confession and openness are not welcomed at all.  “Keeping up appearances” seems to be valued above openness.  This is especially common in older churches as well as more rural, suburban, and conservative areas.  But, lets not put this problem all on the pastor.

  • You should probably be telling people other than your pastor.

While pastors are to be imitators of Jesus, so is everyone else in the church.  We do not believe that information comes only from the teachers, nor that help is given by only the counselors, nor that conversion is handled by only the preacher.  All believers have the Holy Spirit, God’s written word, and direct access to God himself, through prayer.  WE as the COMMUNITY of believers are equipped to do all these things in Jesus’ name.

If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:15-16).

COMMUNITY is the big idea here.

In our recent post, It Sucks being Honest, Especially When You Care About Your Image, we were greatly encouraged at the willingness of people to share their stories, personal suffering, and struggles with sin.   At the same time we were very sad to know that many of those sharing are NOT able to do so in person with a close Christian community.   We believe that this continual openness among Christians in true community is one of the most important functions of the church.

When we talk about “Christian community” what we mean is being involved with other believers and not just “going to a church”.  We mean really being involved with people and being intentional in doing so.  This includes things like Bible studies, small groups, meeting the fellas for beers and wings, helping neighbors move, and setting up times to get brutally honest about what is going on in one’s life.  We all need this.  It isn’t even possible for us to make it alone.  The idea here is to build genuine relationships with multiple people at a deep enough level where it is safe to be open and honest.  I have no idea where I would be without this in my life; I couldn’t imagine the feeling of having no one that I could tell what was really going on.

If this concept of community sounds foreign to you and your local church is really lacking in this area, you have two choices:

  1. You need to be an agent of change in your community.  Seek this out and start within your existing community.
  2. You may need to seek a new community.  Perhaps you are in the middle of dealing with some very difficult stuff in your life and the church around you is letting you down by not obeying, trusting, and lifting up Jesus together as the only hope.

There are tons of churches where this type of community is supported and executed well, and yet there are not nearly enough of them.

We want this to be clear:

BadChristian loves and supports the local church.  We belong to and believe everyone SHOULD be at, serve, and support a local body of Christ.  Find a place that you can commit to and be under the authority of.  We do not endorse freelance Christians doing their own thing.  We are glad that many support this site, but its function is not to replace or undermine the local church, but rather to support and feed it.  In fact, it is one of our main goals to connect you guys with one another and the local church.

With that being said, here are just a few churches that we feel really get the importance of community.  If you are looking to connect with other brothers and sisters, check these out:

(list to be added to…)

Seacoast Church (North and South Carolina)

Mars Hill Church (Pacific Northwest, Orange County, Albuquerque)

Soma Communities (multiple US locations)

Acts 29 network (a network of over 400 churches worldwide)

Norman Community Church (Norman OK)

Bridgeway Church (Oklahoma City)

Grace Midtown (Atlanta)

Heritage Fellowship (Medford OR)

If you belong to a strong Christian community and would like to share it with us, please e-mail the name and location of the church/community to us at info@badchristian.com

follow Matt Carter on twitter @zodcarter

follow BADCHRISTIAN on twitter @xbadchristianx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should My Kids Go To Private Christian School?

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I have many friends and family members that go to a private Christian School. I don’t really know what I think about it. I am definitely not here to say it’s bad. Parents should decide where their children go and I believe that these schools are trying to honor God with their service to the students. But I’d like to express a few thoughts I have had concerning the subject and see if I can provoke a little conversation with some of my questions…

DISCLAIMER: I am not talking about better education, class size, or teacher quality here. I know that is the case for many or most private schools. I just want to get behind some of the easy reasons and see if there is more to the story. Also, there is at least a decent chance I will try to get my own children into a school I am discussing here on this post.

1. Why send your kid to a christian school?

  • Is it for safety? Are we afraid that the world will overpower the Holy Spirit and we’ll lose our christianity?
  • Are we lazy? Do we want to send our children off and let someone else get our child to Jesus?
  • Do we have fear of man and actually mistrust the strength of Jesus and our abilities in Him and through the Holy Spirit?

2.Would Jesus go to private school?

  • Where would Jesus be if he were a student today? Would he only be with those that loved him?
  • What kind of education did Jesus get? Would he have used his money for himself to learn more about the bible?

3. Are we more worried about our kids than the students that they could be influencing?

  • Do you truly care about people who don’t believe in Jesus?
  • Do you courageously trust Jesus with your own children?
  • Do you think that your children’s faith is weak and they will give up on Jesus?
  • And if so do you fear your own faith will be tested and that could get hard or ugly?

4. What do you learn at a private Christian school?

 

We’d love for you guys to respond and start some conversation.

Spreading the Gospel is not always spreading the Gospel

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Let’s drop in on Frank and Lamont’s convo:

 

Frank:     You really need Jesus in your life.

Lamont: Why?

Frank:     Because He can make your life better and worth living.

Lamont: But my life is actually great right now.

Frank:    That’s what you think but your wrong. It’s a tool of the enemy.

Lamont: The enemy seems kinda like a cool dude then, making my life good and all. Which by the way you told me the invisible guy you want me to talk to in my head would do as well.

Frank:      No. Satan wants you to spend eternity in Hell.

Lamont:  So we are now not talking about this present life, but after I die?

Frank:      Both my friend.

Lamont:  Well I just don’t believe that if there is a God he’d do that to me. I try to be agood person and I want to help others. You’re telling me that I’m wrong for that and I deserve punishment forever.?

Frank:     Well…yes…kind of…I mean…you’re good and all, but you just need to say and believe Jesus is Lord.

Lamont:   No thanks,  I’m cool.

 

 

Why do people need Jesus?  Why do you need Jesus?  Don’t answer with only an inspirational quote like, “He is my hope.” That is hard to recite when it all hits the fan. Also, don’t preach to others here, but really just talk about you and JC for a minute.  Think on this for a while and then share your thoughts.

 

Why You are too Dumb to Handle Powerball Money

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Imagine someone gave you a car that has a rocket engine; when you touch the accelerator on this car, as lightly as you can, it zooms to 90mph, and pressing firmly blasts it to 590mph. There is no seatbelt or airbag, and the brakes are no better than the ones on your Camry. Would this car be safe for you to drive around the city?  It wouldn’t even be safe to drive in the Utah Salt Flats! All this said, I think you would be better off with this car than having won the Powerball Lottery.  YOU CANNOT HANDLE THAT MUCH MONEY. Wielding the great force of instant lotto money is simply not one we were designed for to handle well.  No one would give this sort of money to your toddler or even to a 16 year old, but due to having a job and experience dealing with relatively tiny sums of money responsibly, people actually think they are equipped to handle something of this magnitude.

I hope you are at least aware of the stories behind lottery winners who lose it all. Here are just a few:  NY Times , 10 Who Lost it All.

Even if you don’t go bankrupt after winning it all, I believe you’d still be better off never having bought the ticket.  Immediately after winning, the nature of all your relationships will change in an instant.  This is because of sin; not only yours, but also everyone else’s.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs (1 Timothy 6:10).

A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished (Proverbs 28:20).

In other words, Biggie was right when he said,  “mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

I’m sure you’ve already cooked up in your head how you’ll use the money FOR God and/or for many various good causes.  I’ll get back to that, but for now, lets look at WHY we even want this absurd amount of money. Continue reading “Why You are too Dumb to Handle Powerball Money” »

You Can’t Prove That Jesus is God (Yeah, I Said It)

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But, there are a lot of things one cannot prove and yet they move forward through life accepting the most likely reality, based on logic and a genuine desire to live by the most probably truth.

For example, one gets in a car and turns the ignition with no proof that there’s no bomb connected to the ignition.  One drives down the highway with no proof that the car’s breaks aren’t going to fail.  One drives through Chick fil-A with no proof that the coffee they just purchased isn’t poisoned by a crazy, disgruntled employee; and yet, we all drink it without even a second thought.

Must I continue? One rides the elevator to get to his office on the eighth floor, having no proof that the elevator isn’t going to fail. You’d obviously take the stairs if that were the case.

A person works for the rest of the week, having no proof that the company will actually have the money on payday to give him.  We don’t even think about the possibility of not getting paid, but it’s certainly happened to some in the past.

One goes to sleep with no proof that some one isn’t in the back yard, ready to break in and kill everyone in the house.

See?  We don’t live our lives with ongoing “proofs.”  In fact, we even base most scientific logic on presuppositions that can not be proven.  Last time I checked, laws of thermodynamics and gravity are applied to the whole universe and yet, no one has explored the universe to confirm this assumption.

It’s safe to say that all of us live a huge life of “chance.”

However, no one in their right minds would really call the above-mentioned routines as unlikely, risky or dangerous.  No one worries about poison being in  the Chick Fil-a coffee, because the vast majority of Chick Fil-a employees don’t poison people. Continue reading “You Can’t Prove That Jesus is God (Yeah, I Said It)” »

Jesus Is For Losers

loserLanguage is everything.  It’s important how we use language to depict our predicament as Christians.  I’ve heard many people say that they need to “have a higher self-esteem,” “believe in themselves more,” “not focus on weaknesses.”  Kids are even learning to “believe in themselves” at school. I couldn’t disagree more. Last time I checked, here are some things that are true:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).  We should boast all the more gladly in our weaknesses, for His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  My gains are like losses in comparison to knowing Jesus (Philippians 3:8). 

See a pattern?  It’s “through Christ.”  With God.”  It’s about “His Strength.”  It’s not about knowing ourselves more, but knowing “who we are in Christ” and how everything else is worthless in comparison.  

Satan Tells Us the Truth about ourselves (kind of):  Our flesh and/or the enemy will want us to believe “we can’t do it,” “we are weak,” and “who we are is ridiculous.”  Can I say something that you perhaps have never heard?  This is a time when we can agree with our adversary!  It’s just that the enemy’s thought about us is an incomplete thought, which….still makes it a lie, but….half-way true.  See?  Watch.  

1.  Satan and our corrupt minds say, “We can’t do it.”   This is true,  but Jesus can.

2.  Satan and our corrupt minds say, “We are weak.”     This is true, but Jesus is strong.

3.  Satan and our corrupt minds say, “We are powerless and worthless.”  It’s true that we are powerless, but Jesus is strong and our identity in Him makes us priceless.

 So costly that God died to purchase us.

jesusThose who have accepted what Christ truly is in their lives are the very ones with clearest realization of just how lost they are without Him (losers to be exact).  Do I promote a “doom and gloom, hang your head in shame all the time, simultaneously/sheepishly saying ‘all glory to God’” Christianity?   No way.  Do I promote a “live in reality and accept the truth about who we are outside of Christ” Christianity?  Certainly.

It’s through the truth, we are set free.

And through this “truth,” (this truth being none other than Jesus Christ), we are more than conquerers.

follow Joey and unlearning on twitter: @joeysvendsen  @unlearningdaily

 

I Judge All the Time. Facebook Helps Me Do It.

I judge all the time.  I don’t want to and try not to, but it’s a constant battle.  Many people have this sickness.  Let me demonstrate.  Look at this picture of my wife and I and tell me, what is the first thing that comes to mind? h

Some of you think, “Yay! Fun.  Such a cute picture.

Some of you that think this way do not even know us, but your hearts are just so non-judgmental.  I sincerely wish I was more like you.

Others, having zero relationship with us, think:

“Wow, they think they are so cool.” “They think they are better than every one else.” “They are trying to make their marriage way more fun and healthy than it actually is.”

If I saw this picture of a couple who I wasn’t acquainted with, I’d likely think the last three thoughts.  I hate that about myself.  The truth behind this picture?  Yesterday at Sunday morning church services, for Mother’s Day, we took complementary pictures of families to send as gifts via e-mail.  During some downtime, my wife wanted me to take silly pictures with her and because I love my wife, I complied (I hate taking pictures).  I never even thought about this picture being on Facebook.  Not mad at my wife at all for posting it, but it’s the last picture I would have personally posted, and I was a little embarrassed when I first saw it on the World Wide Web. Totally different scenario than it looks, as some dude that thinks he’s God’s gift to women on Facebook, eh?

Here’s some real-life past circumstances that depict my judgmental heart towards others:

1.   “Wow, she thinks she’s awesome and wants all the attention while she leads worship.”  Truth?  After getting to know her, I found her quite humble but unfortunately self-conscious in front of crowds.  Her flashy way of leading worship was her only means of compensating for the awkwardness that she felt while in front of folks.

2.    “That opposing coach that’s celebrating his girls’ victory over my team bothers me.  I bet he thinks he’s awesome, but in actuality is pretty boring and draining to hang out with.”  I actually felt this way about some one w/o even meeting him.  Later, he became one of my closet friends.

3.   “The dude who hangs at the Café/Wine Bar that my church office shares space with thinks he’s pretty cool and intimidating to others.  Just look how he dresses and acts in public.”  I thought this before even speaking a word to this guy.  After meeting him, I realized my depiction couldn’t have been more flawed.

Why do I do this?  I don’t know, but there’s a musician in my head right now, whose picture I saw a year ago, and regretfully, I’ve formed an opinion of without ever meeting him.

Initially before knowing anything about Rick Warren, around the time when his best-seller (Purpose Driven LIfe) came out, I mentally compartmentalized him in a negative light.  Currently, in 2013, he certainly makes my top 5 list of heroes that I look up to.

I have the potential of judging some one and forming an opinion about his or her character, based on:

1.     one encounter with them

2.     observing one action of theirs

3.     looking at one picture of them. Continue reading “I Judge All the Time. Facebook Helps Me Do It.” »

It Sucks Being Honest, Especially When You Are a Pastor

aloneI want to jump into this conversation by adding to the “confessions.”  As I’ve already told you here in an old post, I have occasional struggles with depression, sometimes to the point of feeling like I can’t make it to the next day.  I continually battle the unhealthy desire to be significant, appreciated, and respected.  Just this past Sunday, I led a group through some teachings and ate too much of the food that was provided.  I am selfish with my time and more times than not, I put myself and what I want over my wife and what she wants.

I was extremely proud of Matt’s post Monday and especially excited about the comments and transparency that came from our readers.  Honestly?  It gave me chills.  I had never seen that sort of out-pouring of humility.  THIS is what makes us Christians.  We are in need of a Savior that loves us despite our short-comings, a Savior that never gives up on us and a Savior whose supply of grace always exceeds our amount of sin.  Now, here’s the question that I am pondering.

For those of you that posted confessions on our last post, is that the extent of your accountability?  I applaud each and every one of you for coming clean, but if that is indeed the extent of your accountability, your accountability just flat out sucks.  And let’s face it, although it’s quite a healthy step to publicize your struggles, if that’s all you plan on doing, you are not going to change.  Romans 12:2 instructs believers to be transformed.  In order to do this, we have to be healed.  Our healing comes from God, through the confessing of our sin to close brothers and sisters in Christ.  Here are some reasons why many of you likely do not have these close brothers and sisters to confess sins to.

1.  You say “the church sucks and none of the Christians are cool like me.”  God is not asking for you to find a perfect community because that does not exist.  If you find one, don’t join it, because you will mess it all up.  This is the beauty of the body of Christ.  We can be super chill and love people that we’d typically want to kill ourselves after just hanging out with for 2 minutes.  We have JESUS in common.

2.  You live by the creed, “Only God can judge me.”  At the end of the age, only God will say to you “guilty” or “not guilty on account of Jesus,” but until that day, you need brothers and sisters to call you out on the crap you pull.  You better find these folks.  Just like you need close enough friends that will point out the gunk in your teeth you can’t see, you need them same folks to point out the gunk in your heart that you can’t see.

3.  You say, “Well, I am open to criticism but he didn’t approach me in love, so I’m not listening.”  Well, go figure.  That person didn’t approach you the right way.  Could it be that….he isn’t perfect and has a sinful nature as well??  If ANY ONE approaches you about a fault, I’d personally suggest for you to just give him or her the benefit of the doubt and thank that person for taking the time.  Are you so important and untouchable that some one has to approach you like royalty?  Get over yourself, maybe?

4.  Leaders in the church, you don’t let people that serve under you speak any thing against you.  My pastor has always taught, “You need people around you that love you but aren’t impressed with you.”  I for one welcome folks at my church to call me out on stuff.  I have a close circle of friends within my church family that does this, and I love them dearly for it.  In fact some of them may be calling me after reading this post to say, “Why’d you eat so much Sunday, bruh?”

5.  Many of you just don’t have the time to find community.  Ok, I’ll just say it.  You will have a hard time convincing me that you are serious about living for Jesus if you aren’t a part of His family.  It just can’t be done.  It’s like being a fireman and doing it alone.  I can’t wait to see you drive that truck, honk the horn, AND get out quickly to get all them hose out and fight the fire by yourself.

We are told never to “give up meeting with one another.”  The context of this passage was close-knit communities; groups of people that ate together, played together, raised families together, and spoke hard truths to one another.

We have to have this.

It sucks being honest, especially when you care about your image.

 

Angel-Coloring-PageMy favorite artist, David Bazan, once said in an interview that the problem with Christian music is that it tells people about Jesus without telling them why they need Him.  

I think this is true in the way we display our lives as well.  We are pretty solid on talking about Jesus and saying that other people need him, but it we often skip why we need him.  When we do share we tend to talk about our “old ways,” or, “back in the day,” and what messes we were.

I think it might be more compelling and honest if we were brave enough to specifically share why WE need Jesus TODAY.  

I am guilty of  trying to manage my image. I even say I do it for the sake of Christ, but I am not a “Hero for Christ.”  I’m not sure if anyone is, or if such a thing exists.  So let’s all use this post and the comment section to share some of the unresolved shit that we are actually in right now. Let’s do this and trust the Holy Spirit to use us as we are.

I’ll go first…

I (Matt) think I am at least a little bit better and smarter than the rest of you.  I currently want to teach, instruct, and inspire other people, yet I am currently not even reading the Bible regularly.  I am not leading my household well, as my wife carries more responsibilities than she should have to, and I am glad to have the free time that I do.  I am either too lazy or too afraid to share the Gospel with people who are very close to me whom I love, while I talk about it on the internet instead.  I am finding it difficult to not look over the aisle to the sex section that’s across from me at this Barnes and Noble while I am sitting here typing this.

I know many of you probably have scriptures and advice you’d like to share with me, but I’m asking you to instead be open about YOUR current situation.  This isn’t a call to fix things right now, it’s a call to be honest.

Let’s just for once, not immediately wrap everything up and make it look good.  Maybe the people around us can begin to see our NEED for Jesus and see that we are able to actually walk in the light because we trust Him.

Please share where you are in your life right here in the comment section below.

Don’t Be Going Around, Comparing Yourself to Job

job3Many people, myself included, have one time or another, compared their current life’s trials and circumstances to Job’s.  When doing this, I challenge you and myself to ask the following questions:

1.  Have you been living such a good life that Satan would see you as a prime candidate for using your potential rebellion to disprove humanity’s allegiance to God?

2.  Have you lost everything, including all of your children?

3.  Are you willing to learn, through all of your trials, that having a relationship with God may not always give you stuff and make you happy, but will ALWAYS be everything you need?  Job came to this conclusion.

Thus, if you compare yourself to Job, you may want to stop complaining and ask God to make Him “everything”  in your life.  I know I need to do this all the time.

The Day My Friend Died

joshua 2
When some one calls you three times in a row, within 3 minutes without leaving a message, something is up.  It was a rainy, stormy Sunday afternoon, kind of chaotic for the Svendsen family as my wife and I were getting the kids ready to spend the night out, so we could go to the Emery show in Savannah, GA.  During family time or “chaos time” (getting our 4 kids ready for bed or to go out), even my closest friends need to leave a message so I can listen and get back at a better (more quiet) time.  After the third call from my friend, I called her back to find that our mutual friend, Joshua Miller,  had likely been in a fatal car accident.  I tried motioning to my wife, who was bathing the kids, to come closer to me.  I needed to tell her what was going on, but didn’t want the kids to see the tears that were already flowing.  We needed to get to the hospital 10 minutes ago.  On the way to drop the kids off at my parents, we received confirmation from Joshua’s father-in-law, that he was indeed gone.

Huh?  This is a guy that I had just seen and talked to that morning, had plans to go on a double-date with in 5 days, was going to let borrow my bike, and hung with almost every day of my life.  Intricately connected.  Gone?

At the hospital, I saw Joshua’s father-in-law first, giving him a bear-hug, as he sobbed in my arms.

This was happening.  It was indeed real.

Down a long hall, my wife and I could see Joshua’s wife in a wheel chair.   Walking up to her, I put my hand on her shoulder and asked if I could pray.  To be honest, I had no idea where she was emotionally and actually had doubts whether or not “praying” was an appropriate request at this time, thinking she could even have been offended by the notion.  Liz was a Christian, but who knows what one’s emotional state is during this sort of thing.  I later discovered that she received knowledge of her husband’s passing about 3 minutes prior and  this whole exchange was such a blur to her, it was barely remembered.

I spent little time that night with Joshua’s immediate family as friends began to pour into the hospital.

Joshua and I shared a unique relationship.  We were friends who shared beer together as buddies.  But, God had also decided before the beginning of time that I would be an integral part of Joshua’s growth as a Christian.  Now the tables had turned and he’d be an integral part of my growth as God worked through Joshua’s unexpected/early departure.

As my personal friends poured in, all of us sharing one another’s grief, they were also looking to me for leadership.  As I encouraged everyone that “God has this,”  ”He’s at work,”  ”He loves us,”  ”is with us,”  ”is working good,” etc, etc, in my heart I was saying, “Lord I believe this stuff that I’m saying, but help me with my disbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Hours at the hospital ended with a somber drive to an empty home.  My kids were with my parents and my wife was staying at the hospital.  Unlike other times of my introverted life, I didn’t want to be alone.  It was no use, as I laid down on the living room couch, knowing the nightmare that awaited me the next day.

for a closer look at this story, read this blog, written by Joshua wife,The White Widow.

Emery Answers Some of Your Dumb Questions (video includes footage from their current tour)

So, Matt just called me to ask if I’d post this video for your viewing pleasure after writing something quick about it. After watching it, I’m at a loss for words. I’ll try to get 3 sentences out about this video you are about to watch:
1.  Emery makes a mockery out of your questions.  I guess they think they have a monopoly on “questions,” considering they named one of their albums, “The Question.
2. But, some of you really DO ask stupid questions. it’s not true that “there’s no such thing as stupid questions.”
3. We would have had to give this video a RATING of R, but we took the “bleep out words” route.   Given that we took the time to bleep stuff,  it may give you more insight into one of our previous, as many of you would call them “Christians bullsh_t” writings, “Jesus Saved My Ass.

ENJOY! and subscribe to this blog for more similar content.


 

Love, Joey

Confessions from Toby Morrell: “I’m Worried and it’s Killing Me.”

t-rellI want to say “Thank you” to each and every one of you who reads our words.  We really enjoy doing this and have been amazed at your responses and interest.  

With that being said, I want to use this post to reveal a little about us; and in particular, me.

In case there’s some crazy way on earth that you didn’t already know this, we are not heroes, nor are we anywhere close to having our lives totally together.  This website is not about us having it all figured out so we can tell how to live; we have no magical application to make your life amazing.  BadChristian is about the hope that we (Joey, Toby, and Matt) can really be honest in our lives.  It’s to show what Jesus has done for us and it really has nothing to do with anything we’ve done ourselves.  Maybe through this website a couple of you will be honest too.

I’d like to tell you all that I struggle with worry.  I am worried I am going to die suddenly or maybe have a hidden tumor I don’t know about.  I’ll get a weird feeling sometimes and immediately go into “this could be serious” mode.  I also worry about money and not having enough for my family.  I worry that my kids will get hurt or sick and I wont be able to help them or stop it from happening, and that ultimately I will be a bad dad.  I worry about the songs I write and that they are too cheesy or that no one will buy them because they suck.  

You get the point?  I worry.  I want to say that I don’t.  I really want to call these worries “concerns.”  I mean, concerns sounds like a responsible person trying to think out their next steps.  But, if I call these thoughts “concerns” then on top of all the worry, I also become a liar.

Now you ask, “Where is Jesus in all of this?”  

Well to be honest He’s right with me.  If anyone knows I’m going to sin, it’s Jesus.  It doesn’t surprise or shock Him at all that I look inward and try to do life without Him. Yet when I worry and put all these burdens on my shoulders, I actually can’t even move.  I get stuck and I get to a point where I realize I can’t go forward without a little help.  That’s when that stupid lightbulb pops on over my head and I pray.

Now realize, my worry almost never immediately subsides.  The problems don’t become miraculously fixed, but I do feel better.  I can start moving towards the answers, and at that point, that’s what I really need.  I need Him everyday.  I share the load.  Sometimes I carry a little, while Jesus carries a lot; but, more often, I carry nothing and Jesus carries it all.

His strength is fully revealed when I am weak. Actually, that happens like every ten to fifteen minutes.

Continue reading “Confessions from Toby Morrell: “I’m Worried and it’s Killing Me.”” »

Don’t Believe in the Supernatural? Ok, But SOMETHING is CRAY CRAY

cray cray
I struggle with doubt. I don’t have what the bible calls the gift of faith. I believe that all of the bible is true, but unfortunately my faith is rattled a bit when I read something that doesn’t make sense. I’ve gotten lots better in this area because I’ve just gotten so freaking smart (haha). Sometimes my skepticism was/is healthy because it caused/causes me to seek Him more. Other times, it was/is unhealthy, because I needed/need to learn my place as a child.

In my “spiritual journey as a Christian,” (there’s the one, staple spiritual jargon of this post) here’s what I’ve never struggled with: the supernatural…AKA, miracles.

I’ve heard people say, “I just have a hard time with two of every animal just ALL getting in their heads, ‘Let’s go to that big boat and just chill for a while.’” Or, “come on, that girl turned into a pillar of SALT??

For those that say, “I believe in science and so I can’t believe in miracles,” you are stupid. Just kidding, but I thought it was pretty funny to say that. There’s a lot of people that don’t believe in miracles and they are WAY smarter than me and that’s actually an understatement. However, regardless of how smart you is, (and yes, i said “is.”) I DO think you are missing the obvious.

SOMETHING CRAY CRAY HAD TO HAPPEN. SOMETHING THAT DEFIES LOGIC AND SCIENCE.

Here’s the simple truth. We are all here! The earth, the universe, living organisms, plants, people. We are all here and this is what had to happen for it to be so:

1. The Universe has always been. In other words, it never had a beginning.
2. The Universe just “popped” into existence, even though there was nothing for it to “pop out” from.
3. An intelligent being just pooped, I mean, “popped” into existence.
4. An intelligent being has always been.

Now everyone, please do me a favor. Pick the statement above that DOES NOT make your head spin.

Here’s what each of these have in common. Their plausibility can’t be studied by science, because no one was there when “things popped” or no human is eternally existent. Last time I checked, science studies the observable. You know, you were in 10th grade and learned scientific method while you were chopping up Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web. You vicious, ______________ (fill in the blank). If science only studies the natural, it can’t study any of the above, because none of them represent “natural causes.” All of them are….yeah, we’ll just say it……miracles!

I love science and consider myself scientific for sure. However, science has it’s limits. Here’s just one example:

It is unknown whether or not “there’s unknown out there.” If the unknown is unknown, what’s naturalists’ explanation for this statement? They say, “There’s no such thing as the unknown.” Huh??? It’s unknown; thus, how do you know it doesn’t exist? It’s irresponsible to say, “Because we don’t know something is out there, there’s no way anything else (besides the natural) exists.” Just because science can’t study something, does not mean it doesn’t exist.

For those of you that claim, “the unknown doesn’t exist,” and claim this in the name of science, YOU are the ones giving science a bad name. Not me, bruh. And by the way, you are the most unscientific of all, because YOU claim to have a form of omniscience by declaring you know all there is to know about all of creation.

All this said, “I ain’t mad atcha. Ain’t got nothing but love for ya–do your thing boi (2pac).

and I’m out. . .

Southern Boys Gone Wild: why We Do This Here UNlearning Shenanigans

UN

So…..heading in to the decision of doing this blog, there were a lot of thoughts in me, Toby and Matt’s head (Toby’s head is really big, btw, fyi).  We actually were so arrogant in believing that we had a unique way of thinking or at the very least, a unique way of communicating how we think.

We believed that there are a lot of people in the following categories:

a.  Christian communicators that are honorably sharing truths in a very politically correct way with a strategic filtering system (typically with very pure motives and very effective, I might add).

b.  Christian communicators that, for the sake of being “edgy” and “badass” dishonorably say things in an irresponsible way with no filer system (typically with impure motives).

What about folks with pure motives that feel the need to communicate with very little filter?  Is there a purpose for them? Can people responsibly and strategically communicate in a more raw, less politically-correct way?  Is there a purpose for that?   Do people need that? We feel that’s what we are supposed to do.

At this point in the game, we have had many comments that confirm our suspicion.  Comments along the lines of:

a.  ”This blog is very encouraging and helpful.  It’s like a breath of fresh air to my faith.

b.  ”I’m not even a Christian and I love these discussions.  I’m actually more open to Christian faith.

c.  ”You guys put in to words exactly what I think.  It actually makes me feel normal and helps me with my faith.

 

All this to say, we feel like we are doing what God would have us do, and at the same time, we realize our hearts are deceitful and thus, we need to be responsible in “keeping an eye” out for potentially wicked and prideful motives in our hearts;  we also welcome you to point these out in us, if it’s given in love. (HINT: typically, if it’s given in love, it will be in a private message rather than a public forum)

While doing this blog for close to a year now, we’ve discovered that we aren’t open-minded enough for the non-Christians and not “christian enough” for the Christians.  I guess we’ll just keep trying to be like Jesus. Thanks to all the readers for all of your support.

Here’s TEN of our most significant posts in order of when they were written.  We determined this top-ten on quality of writing and perceived impact amongst our readers.

10.  Is Obama The AntiChrist or does he just Like Pitchforks?  We put too much stock in man.  We don’t trust God enough. The government hasn’t the answers for this world.  Jesus does.

9.  Is Suicide a Free, Non-Stop, Straightway Ticket to Hell?  Do people go to hell for committing suicide?  Not if they’ve accepted Jesus as their savior. He died for the sin of suicide too.  Duh.

8.  Did Jesus Want to Hook Up With Girls?  If you answer “no” to this question, you very well could be dishonoring what He did for you.  Shame, shame, shame.  Continue reading “Southern Boys Gone Wild: why We Do This Here UNlearning Shenanigans” »

Can You Stop Sinning Without Jesus? Yes and No…

sin_284x189

 

 

First of all, if you don’t believe in the concept of “sin” – perhaps ascribing to the the belief that we are all relatively good people or maybe that we should determine our own morals – you may want to stop reading right now.  Go ahead and stop reading.  Why are you still reading?  Hey, you.  You who doesn’t believe in sin.  You are still reading.  Why are you still reading?

Ok, if you must proceed; I warned you.

 

 

If you HAVE Jesus living in your heart can you stop sinning indefinitely?  No.

If you do NOT have Jesus living in your heart can you stop a particular sin?  Yes.

NO ONE can stop sinning indefinitely.

ANY ONE, through self-discipline, accountability, and hard work can stop things like overeating, making fun of people that stutter, gossiping, tricking the elderly, and racking up debt.

Christians can make huge strides in their long-term battle against sin.  Non-Christians, unfortunately, cannot.

In light of what I just said, there are many things to look at here.

Let’s take a typical Christian who is “kicking ass and taking names” against the lies of this world.  He sees sin for what it is; it separates us from God.  As he yields more to God, through prayer and other spiritual disciplines, he realizes just how desperate he is for God’s strength, forgiveness, and love.  As this Christian experiences more of God’s grace his desire for sin takes a huge hit.  At the same time, as sin will always be a problem on this earth, his faith is in God’s grace being sufficient and abounding.  All of these truths work together for sin to have less and less reign on this fella’s life, as the Holy Spirit graciously works on his heart.

Let’s take a typical unbeliever who is “kicking ass and taking names” against “bad things” that he wants to stop doing.  He is probably not motivated to “live better” in order to draw closer to God, but rather desires to “make himself better” in order to take pride in his progress.  Now, I can say this next part because I am aware of my own struggle with pride; I have access to Jesus’ strength which allows me to fight it, yet I still struggle with pride.  As this unbeliever finds more success in “making himself better,” he’s actually worse off than before because the chances of him realizing his need for a savior becomes slimmer and slimmer.  Why would he need a savior when he can make himself better without one?

To make matters worse, this same person might encourage others to pursue a “better life” of self-improvement and life-enhancement – all of this deplete of a need for a savior.  That’s why I don’t really struggle with the whole “he’s such a good person. You are saying that just because he/she hasn’t accepted the gospel, he’s a prisoner of sin and God’s wrath is on him??” train of thought.

I’m not trying to offend anyone here, just keeping it real.

*Quick note to unbelievers who may be reading: If I truly believe in the urgent need for people to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ, you should be pissed at me if I did NOT keep it real; not pissed at me for getting the word out that what I believe is true – especially if I am sharing it in a loving way :) See the smiley face? I’m a loving person.

This unbeliever also sees “stopping bad things” as a matter of external actions, when the essence of sin actually stems from the heart.  Thus, he may not get drunk, but he might be dependent on getting a buzz every night, which means he is mastered by alcohol.  The bible says not to be mastered by anything.

He may not cheat on his wife. He may even bring her flowers and do everything on the “honey-do” list.  All the while, the Mrs. is starving for emotional connection and not just good actions on a checklist, while the husband worships the favor he has with people and the appearance of having a perfect marriage.

The believer, on the other hand, realizes just how sick his heart is.  He, unlike the unbeliever, has the ability to seek the Lord with great zeal, asking God to crucify more and more of himself.  As he wants more of God, the believer realizes just how insufficient he is to acquire more of God.  His only hope is to receive through faith, recognizing that God’s strength is made perfect in his weaknesses.

Editors note from Matt: Since I edited and posted this for Joey I reserve the right to make my comment here instead of below. Deal with it.

Christians can, and often are guilty of taking the mentioned above non-christian approach to avoiding sin.  As in, do good things under their own power, take credit and glory for it, and become less reliant on God.  This is motivated out of the sin of pride. This is opposite the gospel.  

So oddly enough, Christians can stop some forms of simple moral sin in favor of preaching a false Gospel. Yikes.

Global Warming Christians

green-earthChristians And Global Warming

Let’s imagine that it is important to me to reduce environmental harm.   Let’s also assume that I don’t have very much money, make a low hourly wage, and live basically paycheck to paycheck.  Most times environmentally friendly products are more expensive.  From laundry detergents, free range meats, hybrid cars, solar panels, to green housing, clearly I will have a little bit of a dilemma being able to pay for going green. I could afford some but not all of these products. I would also have to work many, many hours to help the environment. Am I actually going to be able by myself to create enough change?

Being gifted in the art of persuasion, I reason that it takes me a very short amount of time to convince other people that they should use their money to help the environment.  After convincing just one wealthy person to be environmentally responsible, I have made more of a difference for my cause than I ever could in a lifetime working my job and using that money.

Upon this realization I feel pretty good.  I decide to spend just a couple of hours a week persuading people for the cause.  Since I am doing so much good, I no longer need to worry about my consumption and waste, so I personally pay no regard to my personal carbon footprint.  I always buy the easiest and cheapest products.  I don’t waste time recycling or anything of that sort.  Using all disposable plates and plastic forks helps me save time and I use that extra time persuading others to recycle and reuse.  I am personally environmentally irresponsible, but in all real ways of measuring, I do more for the environment than anyone else as I am always working on getting more powerful and prominent people to cause real impact and change. It is my talent.

This is all pretty reasonable, except for the glaring hypocrisy part, yet, if my value is really the environment and I don’t care as much about character or integrity or even honesty, then am I justified?

This is exactly the type of hypocrisy that we as Christians are often guilty of, and we often take this approach to evangelism.  It is pointed out often and rightly by the non-Christian public and media that we tell people how to act, what to do and not do. We attempt to control other people, Christian and non, through persuasion, legislation, and peer pressure. We often elevate this above honesty and character. “BUT… we are helping people and it is for their own and everyone else’s good right?”  Leaders sometimes are susceptible to this, thinking from what seems like good pragmatic logic and efficiency.  ”If I can get the many who I have influence over to do good then that’s what I need to do.  I’ll need to appear a bit better than I am and I may need to sacrifice some things personally but it will help others.”

This thinking is common, but DEAD WRONG.  It reveals a few things…

1. We believe that God needs our works and cannot accomplish his goals otherwise.

2. We believe that God cares about the bottom line, not individuals and their hearts.

3.  We believe we are far more important than we actually are. 

Its not about causing team God to win.  He doesn’t need your money and works.

With the kingdom of God and the Gospel, it is our own hearts that matter, not the long-term outcomes of our calculated action and efforts.  In other words, the end never justifies the means.  See: Poor widow’s offering, self explanatory. Beware of the Scribes, No doubt the scribes told themselves that by appearing to be good and loved by God it would help and inspire others.  Jesus loves children, not for their accumulation of influence, but for their faith.

Christians, let’s do a better job, not by achieving and convincing and even evangelizing more, but by being honest, having faith, and believing in God’s power.

Please don’t let your cause be increasing good behavior for the human race. Rather let it be the Gospel, the transforming power of Jesus in you and others from the inside out.

 

 

Confessions of a Depressed Pastor

zo One day a girl called me and asked, “You struggle with depression, right?”  Following her question was a great conversation that I was very thankful for.  To this girl,  being able to talk to a Pastor – some one she respected and viewed as “normal”, but was still able to relate to her depression – lifted her spirit.  Little did I know, at that very moment she was contemplating suicide; calling me was the last potential straw of hope for her.

I’ve never considered actually taking my own life, but I’ve definitely been so depressed that I have really wanted to die.  I’m a pastor and am perceived by hundreds as having my stuff together.  But there have been instances when my depression was noticeable, such as a time at a local beach pier when I was tear-stained, huddled to the ground, and perhaps somewhat awkward and sketchy looking to passers-by.  (“Martha, what’s that youngster doing with a winter hat on? It’s hot as hell out here!”)

I joke around with my wife that I’m going to get the little “Zoloft cloud” tattooed on my arm; he’s cute and Zoloft has been helpful to me. But I don’t think I let depression define me.  I trust in God and I know He loves me.  I don’t think it’s my fault that I struggle with depression.  I know scripture and take comfort in it, but sometimes, like that day at the beach, I am dying inside with my heart crying out to God for even the smallest hint of relief.

I’ve struggled with depression since before High School.  In college and through my first two years of marriage it was an every-day uphill battle.  Since then, and currently, I don’t consider myself a “depressed person,” rather, I’m  a dude who occasionally struggles with depression.  As a professing Christian—someone who is supposed to sing proudly, “victory in Jesus, my savior forever”—there’s certainly been some confusion for me through the years.  There’s also been clarification of things that I have personally settled on as truths.

Here are some of those things:

1.  God’s grace is sufficient.  I call out to Him and ask, “Will you take this away, please?”  He often replies with, “No,” but assures me that He’s enough.  Sounds like 2 Corinthians 12:9. Thanks for nothing, God.  Wait, you have actually been all I’ve ever needed.  My b, G.

2.  I can’t help it.  Please don’t tell me to “snap out of it.”  If so, I’ll probably tell you to “snap out of” having an ugly face.  Not really, but for someone whose brain chemicals are truly out-of-whack like mine get sometimes, this isn’t very helpful, nor is it encouraging to hear.

3.  God’s original plan was perfect and depression wasn’t a part of it.  Can you imagine God saying, “Here you go, Adam.  Here’s Eve, here’s sex, here’s chicken wings, here’s fun, and last, but not least, here’s something I’m going to call…DEPRESSION!”  Yeah, neither can I.
(For the girls, “Here you go, Eve.  Here’s Adam, here’s emotional connection, here’s communication, here’s hummus and vegetables, here’s Pinterest, here’s fun.”)

4.  There are crappy things in this world that people go through.  Is it God’s will for me to never struggle with depression on this earth?  Should I pray for myself to never struggle?  Absolutely.  Should I pray that God miraculously gives Nick Vujicic some new limbs?  I guess.  Maybe not?  Look at the glory God receives through his story and life.  Praying that God’s will be done, regardless of our own desires, is what it’s about.

5.  This life isn’t what I’m banking on.  As long as I’m alive I have Jesus.  That’s enough.  In heaven I’ll have Jesus AND my salvation will be complete.  No more depression, no more curse, no more death, no more Carolina Gamecock victories in any sport.  Perfect.

6.  I’m only responsible for one day at a time.  I can’t be concerned about tomorrow, I can only steward today.  And sometimes, my only option for “today” is holding Jesus’ hand just to get through it and get to bed.  Is that what the bible is referring to when it talks about “perseverance”?

I’d like to think I’m a strong person.  Sinfully, I realize that I sometimes even like to be perceived as a strong person outside of Christ’s strength.  Depression is a reminder to me that this just ain’t the case.  Do you have a reminder of your frailty?

In the meantime, as far as my perception of depression is concerned, I’m open to being wrong.  However, may I tell you that I’ve been seeking God’s will in my life for a couple of decades now, so maybe I haven’t settled my convictions about depression on a whim?  I’m a stronger person for having gone through this, and every time I struggle in this area it brings me back to Jesus and the sufficiency of His grace.

Whether I am right or wrong, I’ll concentrate on being a light for Jesus, point to His glory, talk openly about my personal battle with depression, and perhaps comfort those with the same comfort that I’ve received (2 Corinthians 1:4).

In this post I’ve purposely avoided a thorough dissection of how a Christian is to deal with depression because I don’t want to simplify this into a formula when everyone’s situation is complex and unique.  Plus, I simply don’t have all the answers.  The only truth that I am willing to represent is to say that Jesus is the answer for all depressed and non-depressed people, Christian and non-Christian.  I hope this post can bring comfort to some folks who struggle like I do.

Thanks for reading.

Mental illness is a poor term, sounding like ‘it’s just your mind.’ But a broken brain is as physical as a broken bone.” – Rick Warren

Interview with Devin Shelton (part 2)

Devin gets grilled by Joey, as Joey poses as an atheist. Main topic at hand is how people can serve a God that let’s so much bad stuff happen in the world. For more reading on this sort of thing, here’s some more posts you may be interested in:

“Is God Your Yard Boy?”
“I Wouldn’t Serve a God that _________________”

Other things to click:
Here’s PART ONE of our interview with Devin.
read more from devin right here.
follow Devin on twitter.
buy his album on Itunes.

Why Matt & Toby Play House Shows

Screen Shot 2013-04-10 at 1.25.07 PM
In case you haven’t heard Matt and I have started a band called (I know it’s really emo) Matt & Toby.  Our album came out a few months back and most people think it’s the best album ever by Matt & Toby, the band.  We have also played a lot of shows, and so far they have almost all been in people’s living rooms.  Why do we do that? I’ll answer by using Joey and many pastor’s style by giving you three points and hopefully they’ll be applicable to your life.

I wish I could use some alliteration…Wait! How About:  Bathrooms, Beer, and The Bible!

Okay I’m not as good as Pastor Joey

1. Bathrooms:  Well, houses have way better restrooms than bars and clubs.  You guys that come to our shows are just really bad at aiming, or you think too highly of yourself and stand a foot away from the urinal which is just sad.  I mean come on. Also, I single out the guys because usually we, Emery, hit the girls restroom before anyone gets there, and most of the time it’s like a weird universe where people actually think to leave the restroom clean.

2. Beer:  Well people are very hospitable at their houses and usually we break bread, have a beer, and fellowship with the host.  It’s like the Bible in action.  You have food and talk and it’s comfortable.  WHAT!!!!  You can do that? (check this post on “stumbling blocks”)  Yes, and honestly many times it’s Little Caesars Pizza, which is actually endorsed by the Lord.  Try this though if you haven’t. Invite someone to your house for a meal and talk.

3. Bible:  We get to talk about what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives in somebody’s home where people are chilling.  I mean, we are not an untouchable band on a distant stage. We’re just dudes talking about Jesus and how much we don’t get right and how that’s all HE does (is get it right).  Also, people respond to us with their stories, and the show becomes an honest and vulnerable time for the people actually willing to step out.  It’s actually been life-changing.

I did leave one out.  Blow Out.  We go to Mcdonalds after every show and each spend $15 and eat everything.  Please be praying for Matt’s by-pass surgery next week.

I Never Got To See The West Coast

“I Never Got to See the West Coast.” from Unlearning on Vimeo.


 

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I have been thinking for a while I should record a video of one of our songs.  After hearing of Pastor Rick Warren’s son, committing suicide, I thought I would play the song “I Never Got To See The West Coast.”  This song is one of the toughest and most heart wrenching songs I have ever written.  When touring with Emery or Matt & Toby, we hear so many stories of attempted suicide and of people who took their own lives.  It never gets any easier to listen to or to see the hurt on people’s faces.

Just like Matthew Warren,  so many people are hurting.  This disease affects people of all classes, colors, and ages, but do not think for a second that anyone is to blame or more could have been done.  That is a lie.  It’s the same as saying that if you would have gotten peanut butter earlier then your husband wouldn’t have died in a car wreck running the errand.  It’s just a lie to somehow make us feel guilty. The truth is we can only love like Jesus and then pray.

I am having to come to grips that I cannot save my kids from everything or almost anything.  The only thing I can do is love these gifts God gave me and point them to Christ. I will fail at this but Jesus doesn’t fail and He is our strength when we are weak.

The reason I point to Jesus is because He was and is a person that knows the pain that we all go through.  He is not a concept.  He is the savior.  We can’t do it on our own.  This world is too much and we have all of Hell against us, but Jesus wins.  He defeats our fears, our sins, our weaknesses, our pain, and our death.  He took that on His shoulders.

If you are struggling to find hope please talk with your friends, family, or email us at unlearningblog@gmail.com

Where do people’s souls go when they commit suicide? Read old post.
How should you talk to people that are hurting? Read old post.
listen to this song on Itunes.
read lyrics here.

 

 

Interview with Devin Shelton (part 1)

Joey interviews Devin Shelton, former “Emery guy,” and we all get a closer look at his Colgate smile. Please excuse the character that Joey poses as and read “about Joey” here if it messes you up or throws you for a loop.

read more from devin right here.
follow Devin on twitter.
buy his album on Itunes.

to be continued . . . . when we say so.

Since YOU Struggle, I Have to Stop WHAT?

prisonWe wrote a post a while back about stumbling blocks. You can read it here.  After reading, some of you still thought along the lines of, “We STILL should not drink alcohol, cuss, or any number of things because universally, some one may be out there watching with weaker faith and struggle, due to our carelessness.  I am a huge sympathizer of this point-of-view and abided by it for many years.  I still think it’s actually valuable to think through these lenses.  If we are all about God’s glory, why wouldn’t we at the very least start here?

I just don’t think it is as simple as “if some one else MAY struggle with it, we need to avoid it altogether, plain and simple.” If this were the case, we’d also need to:

1.  Ask all of our “Christian hotties” (even some of the males like Devin Shelton) to dress like Muslim women, hiding even a hint of curve.

2.  Stop being die-hard fans of sports teams.  We all know that there are many Christians, including myself, that struggle with sports teams being an idol in their lives (an idol being anything that comes before God).

3.  Get ALL Christians to GET THE HECK OFF Facebook, once and for all.  We all know dang well that too many Christians are spending too much time on Facebook when they could be spending more time helping the needy and/or spending quality time with their kids.

4.  Refrain from pointing out the sin of your brother or sister in Christ (like the bible tells us to).  They may respond with sinful anger.

5.  Stop wearing any name-brand clothes or drive a nice car (even if it’s a graduation present or an inheritance).  You may cause people discontent or jealousy. Continue reading “Since YOU Struggle, I Have to Stop WHAT?” »

my grandma, tattoos, and drinking with my pastor

tattoos-elderly

 

THIS IS A POST BY MATT TO EXPLAIN WHY WE DO THIS BLOG

 

I have many opinions. I have many beliefs. I know many facts. So do you.

Many of my opinions are stupid.

Many of my beliefs have changed and will change.

Many of the facts I think I know for sure, as it will turn out, will be dead wrong. 

The trouble is, I do not know which opinions, beliefs, and facts I have wrong, and neither do you.   So we must listen to and consider other people and their points of view.

“You need to eat 6-11 servings a day of pasta and bread every day.  Its good for you, trust me, oh, and you better clean your plate!”  That’s the message I got from my family, school, and TV as a kid, and certainly, it was with good intentions on their part.  Most of us now know better, but it is still hard for me not to think that way when I eat.  I am unlearning deeply engrained (pardon the pun) cultural modes of thinking on this particular subject.

My grandmother, MeMe, has always strongly opposed tattoos. She says they are  “tacky” and for “criminals”. She holds this conviction deeply, because in her generation it was exactly criminals and “people with bad families” who had tattoos.  Since this was a common view, responsible people who may have appreciated tattoo art avoided them so as not to be seen in this light.  She could have never imagined her grandson and his friends would ever be all tatted up (especially Devin Shelton, who she has a granny crush on and always remarks on his beautiful teeth).   It’s easier to see now, that tattoos themselves are not bad, nor cause criminal activity, but previously the two were inherently connected.  Even MeMe, at 92 is able to unlearn in order to love people and more deeply understand truth.

Often, in conservative and small towns, alcohol use is confined to sketchy, dark, dirty bars with no windows and reckless rebellious teens.  Although the Bible is clear that it is not a sin to consume alcohol, its reasonable why people steer others away from it.  The problem is that as time goes on it becomes about the alcohol, not the hearts of the people and the truths of scripture.  In my culture in Seattle, it is common, if not very regular, that I meet with pastors, church members, and non-Christian in bars.  While I was leading worship at church one Sunday, our new lead pastor told me “we should go drink some beer together” and we did between the 4pm and 7pm services.  I was greatly blessed by his invitation and his willingness to engage with me.  It said something different than,  “As your pastor and spiritual authority, let me pray for you” It said, “I’m a real dude and would like to get to know you.”  I know this would not fly in many churches, and I do understand why, however, it is worth constantly re-evaluating our manmade rules and being willing to unlearn some of what we have may have inherited or wrongly arrived at.

Biblical truths, Jesus’ words, and God’s commands are often intertwined with moralism, legalism, and religion in that very same way.  This blog is about examining what we learn from our families, traditions, cultures, and religions, and evaluating it in light of the unchanging Word of God, the Bible.  We trust Jesus over our families, over our culture, and even over our religious traditions.  In other words, we unlearn in order that we may learn and grow in our understanding of truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

You can see in our previous posts and inevitably will see going forward, that some people will combat this line of thinking with clear cut, unloving, self-defensive, bolstered positions, that leave no room for discussion. (Unfortunately this more often comes from the ones that claim to know Jesus).  These comments and attitudes will always be red flags for self-righteousness and insecurity, but since the Gospel brings light, we are glad to receive these responses, as it exposes the heart of their authors.

We believe though humility and willingness to both be wrong and admit it, that we can create a unique level playing field and opportunity for both those of us who know Jesus and those who do not know Jesus to participate together.  If you are afraid of other’s views being heard then you do not trust Jesus. Jesus is real and HE will prove it, not you.  Our job IS to engage with other people, not shut them down.

 

Please participate with us by:

-Telling us what you think through your comments. It is an important part of this post and this community.

-Sharing with people you agree with and people you don’t.

-Subscribing to this blog.


 

Rick Warren Screws Church by…PRAYING??!!

warrenSo, Pastor Rick Warren asked people to pray for guidance within the Catholic church when they were choosing their next pope. The Protestant critics were greatly offended. How dare he……PRAYS?? Their offense is based on folks’ perception of the Catholic church not truly understanding salvation and thus needing to accept the gospel. (i.e. get “saved” up in here!)

Apparently, according to the critics, Warren’s prayer exposed a “oneness” between Protestants and Catholics that isn’t warranted due to Catholics’ heretical teachings and their current/eminent need for salvation.

They say that Pastor Warren’s prayer also negatively effects people’s eternal destination. Their rationale is that Warren’s eluding to the oneness of Catholic and Protestant beliefs results in squashed motivation amongst Protestants to evangelize Catholics; a hope in Jesus that the “Catholics desperately need.”

After hearing about all this controversy, I didn’t know what I thought of the issue, but as I took some time to reflect, I landed pretty much with Pastor Rick Warren. Here are some questions I asked myself in order to arrive at my conclusion. Continue reading “Rick Warren Screws Church by…PRAYING??!!” »

Gay Marriage and What I’m Sure About

jasongage-318x442 “Gay marriage this, and gay marriage that.” To hear some of our thoughts on this issue, check out this post Toby wrote last year called, “Let’s Cut Something Off If You Commit Adultery.”

I’ve heard what you’ve heard and read what you’ve read. Here’s a story that merits more discussion than this issue. Back in 2004, I worked at a restaurant with my friend, Jason Gage. When my wife and I first started working with him, given his knowledge of our faith as well as his homosexual orientation, he just assumed that we were “Christian assholes” who’d never have anything to do with him. This all changed when I brought him back a gift from Lambeau Field. He was a fellow Green Bay Packer fan and I’ll never forget the look on his face when I gave him the souvenir. I could just feel the tension zapped immediately. Months went by and he became one of my favorite people. My wife and I soon moved from Iowa to hang in Seattle with our friends in Emery. Within a month, I found out that Jason had been murdered, many believed this to be a hate-crime. The article my mother-in-law sent me about this murder also included a discussion about our “favorite people” from Westboro Baptist who showed up to Jason’s funeral, picketing with signs, wanting to make sure every one in attendance knew that Jason was in hell. I remember lamenting to my wife that our old restaurant friends back in Iowa probably view the two of us as a part of this “Christian message” that Westboro message was advocating. She assured me that they all knew better. I think she was right.

Is Obama The Antichrist or does he just like pitchforks?

 

Photo from UsMagazine

Photo from UsMagazine

 

Is President Barack Obama an agent of satan?  I kind of laughed when I wrote that because it seems so epic and at the same time so Wes Craven.  I have heard this question asked in conversation and have seen some prominent pastors bring up our president’s faith.  I have also heard people who are elephants and donkeys discuss our president’s worth and success. So I decided to chime in on another topic we at UnLearning should never discuss.

Christ in Politics. If Obama was actually the Anti-Christ, what would that mean to you? The Bible tells us clearly about Anti-Christs.  Go here. So, if he was the antichrist, what would you do?  I mean really.  What would you do?  Could you be the positive-christ and fix it? Noooooooooooo. What are we talking about here?  Jesus has this all handled.  Bad things are going to happen.

Bad things happen all the time.  Bad things will happen to you in a couple minutes from now.  But you aren’t going to stop reading this post to go hide in a cushion room forever. So why are people discussing this on the internet, in conversation, and even church?  Because we all want to figure it out.  And by “it” I mean what’s going to happen in this world so WE can control our lives.  Oh the evil truth:

The reason people talk about who the Antichrist is, is because they want to figure out the future and put their destiny in their own hands.  But it doesn’t work that way.  In fact that is actually the really evil part of all of this.  We doubt God.  And honestly that’s normal. But when we place our silly human judgement on others, it quickly escalates to scary situations.  If we are talking about how evil the President is rather than praying for him, his family, and the leaders around him, then we are the sinners.   Continue reading “Is Obama The Antichrist or does he just like pitchforks?” »

An Opinion Piece By Matt Carter on Student Ministry

mattThis week’s “Friday post” is late AND is more of a question for you guys. I don’t really have answers, or much to back up my views on this one, so I’ll just ask you guys to participate and see what we get.

So here we go…
Youth ministry is a weird part of the church, at its best it would train and disciple young people to trust Christ. This seems possible, but I’ve rarely seen it. In its typical form it is a morality-based, babysitting organization. In its worst form, it is a haven for all kinds of abuses of power, including sexual abuse.

Why is it this way? My main guess includes two reasons that work together. 1. The church is notorious for giving people the benefit of the doubt for the sake of “being nice” and non-confrontational. 2. The role of youth minister or youth pastor, in a large statistical way, will tend to attract a higher than average number of people that are both intentionally and unintentionally seeking to misuse or abuse. I KNOW there are many people who follow this blog that are in youth ministry, so I ask you to speak up here, and I am not accusing any of you of anything. I would appreciate your point of view here.

I think it’s like cops. You know the kind I’m talking about, the ones that get satisfaction out of giving you a hard time and being in power. Those guys who were often picked on at earlier stages of life and thus sought a job with lots of authority (including being able to carry a gun).

Youth pastors can be weird, sometimes they just aren’t comfortable around adults, and sometimes they want to be a “real” pastor but only use youth ministry as a stepping stone. And yes some of them are just creeps.

I don’t see this role in the Bible, at least not our conception of it. It seems more like we don’t know what to do with teenagers, so if that guy says he is “called to work with kids” and he has a cooky sense of humor, then we let him have at it.

I’m inclined to say that we should get an older wise academic guy to do the job, maybe a church elder who is a grandfather?

Joey is pissed.  See his response here.

Is Suicide a Free, Non-Stop, Straightway Ticket to Hell?

deadShe what?! I’ll never forget sitting in my junior year english class in 1994 when I heard that my friend had committed suicide. There’s just no way this is real. After realizing that it was indeed for real, just like Kurt Cobain a month prior, I faced the fact that my friend was in hell forever, separated from God and anything else that is good. forever. Or was she?

Let’s start with Jesus’ words:

He says on the cross, “It is finished.” Thus, there’s nothing left to be done for a person to be saved, other than accept what Jesus, and He alone, has done.

The question here is not about the sin (in this case, suicide), but rather whether or not a person has accepted Jesus. If some one commits suicide, given this person is a Christian, Jesus already made a way for that person to go to heaven.

Well, then. The next question; can a true Christian commit suicide? Answer? True Christians do a LOT of sinning. What if we start asking this about other sins (can a true Christian cheat on a spouse, fall into homosexuality, smoke weed, eat too much) and the next thing you know, we’ve defined Christianity by what we do rather than on what Jesus did. Continue reading “Is Suicide a Free, Non-Stop, Straightway Ticket to Hell?” »

Did Jesus Want to Hook Up with Girls?

maryTo answer this question with an emphatic “N-O-spells-no,” in my opinion is to trivialize and perhaps make light of the sacrifice Jesus made in coming to Earth for the salvation of all men. Jesus suffered on the cross, but part of Jesus’ sacrifice was setting aside an aspect of His divinity in order to be a human. Jesus’ “divine right” was heaven and He left this PERFECT place to dwell among sinful men, on this fallen earth, for crying out loud! Most of us wouldn’t even want to leave our middle-class suburbia to live amongst folks in the slum for even a weekend.

The question that needs to be addressed here is, “at what point does ‘struggling with sin’ actually become sinning?”

Continue reading “Did Jesus Want to Hook Up with Girls?” »

Spring Break Crowds are SOO CUTE!!

spring break

Isn’t it adorable how those college kids act on spring break?     You cant be too mad at the hipster crowds at South by Southwest this week are who just trying to get wasted and have sex with each other right?  Yea now that you mention it, I don’t have much tolerance for people who throw morality out the window, like the fake soulless people in Hollywood, Criminals, Pedophiles and such.  They get what they deserve. They don’t have an excuse, even the Bible says that.  I know It also says somewhere in there that we are supposed to love them, but I’m not sure how, because…

They willingly do stuff that irritates or even disgusts me.

They flaunt their sin in my face.

They are totally selfish.

They don’t appreciate what they have been given.

They destroy good things, including their own selves.

They refuse wisdom and help that we offer them.

Let me suggest that you do know EXACTLY how to love and treat them.  The same way you lovingly view and treat little children.  Little kids exhibit all the qualities on this list, additionally, not to be controversial, but the reality is that children for the most part ARE NON-CHRISTIANS.  We are sinful from the womb, born of Adam, we came into the world sinning.  At some point along our way Jesus stepped in, gave us the Holy Spirit, showed us the truth, and we became alive in Christ.  Before this, all we did was sin. Both our moral and immoral acts, good and bad behavior was sin.

So its not that unreasonable to view even “gross” sinners as simply older, more advanced in the art of sin, children.  They have more mental ability, freedom and resources, but their hearts are just the same as your cute little nieces and nephews, and as crazy as it sounds, your own little ones. As offensive as this can sound it gives us a hint of understanding of God’s mercy on us. We are amazingly patient and forgiving with children, somewhere along the way we stop, God does not.  I sure am thankful that He has been so patient with me.

Can Christians Learn from “bad people?”

tim-tebow-vs-steve-young

First of all, I completely understand that the title can be quite offensive for any non-christians reading. I would agree with you, but unfortunately, it’s got to be addressed with folks on “team Christian,” because some of us would answer this question with an emphatic, “NO WAY!”

To refute these sentiments then, let’s start with the very basics:
1. Can the guys in emery learn anything from Marilyn Manson about the music business?
2. Can Joel Osteen learn some jokes from Chris Rock?
3. Can Tim Tebow learn anything from Steve Young?

No one in their right man can argue against the fact that any of these folks can learn from the other, especially #3. It’s simply common sense.

However, the potential gray area (and what this post will address) is the issue of Christians learning from and modeling after behaviors of non-believers to become better people. I believe this is possible as well (with some limitations). Continue reading “Can Christians Learn from “bad people?”” »

why your small group and this blog sucks

 

Generic 1960s pic of a father and son scene.Last week I was meeting with a younger friend of mine around 20 years old, married, balanced, stable, and a leader in our church.  We were discussing his small group and its dysfunction.  He wants his group to be a place where people can grow and give/receive help. According to him, there are people in the group that clearly have issues but are hesitant to talk about them. My friend wants to help hurting people and lead others by sacrificing his time and effort for them. I asked him to express some of his personal life needs as well as what he wanted to GET out of the group.  He said things in life were going well and how he wasn’t really comfortable taking from others (receiving their help), and that he wants to give the help to others rather than be the “needy guy.”

Are you like my friend? Are you doing well, stable, prefer to help others, and think you are supposed to be a constant giver?

If so, then both you and the people you hope to help are in BIG TROUBLE. Frankly, this is the unhealthy attitude that surrounds a large amount of followers and commenters on THIS BLOG.

Christian, you want to give advice and drop knowledge on others. Why is this the way you choose to help others?  Is it so other people can become more like you? Ouch, I hope not. Yet when we say that we want to give help, but we don’t want/need to receive help from others, that is exactly what we are saying. Even worse, some of us like to GIVE INSTRUCTION to others because we like the power. (This one we especially like to do on the Internet). Sometimes it is much more subtle, like my dad never letting anyone else pay for dinner, or the lady who always cooks and has people over, but doesn’t want to intrude on others’ homes or let anyone bring stuff for the party.

Christian and non-Christians, our PRIMARY position IS NEED and it is anti-Gospel to pretend any other way.  It is selfish to have the attitude that you “just wanna help other people” if you don’t first and openly acknowledge your needs and weaknesses. Showing and embracing our need as sinners is a more useful, powerful, AND honest approach to giving.

You were not changed by advice.  If you look back on your life, you were changed by suffering, grace, the Holy Spirit, long-term relationships and role models, a lifetime of tiny shaping experiences, and maybe some intentional advice during a time when you probably asked some one for it; some one you really trusted. Why would you expect anything different for anyone else? In other words, The Gospel of Jesus Christ changed you, not advice.

How long did it take you to get the way you are? How long did it take the person you want to help to get to be the way they are? Real help and change are not usually the result of a quick fix or correction but rather a long term investment. Continue reading “why your small group and this blog sucks” »

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The Bible Says, “Don’t Be a Stumbling Block,” but I Disagree

Stumbling+Blocks
Lots of Christians say, “Christians shouldn’t cuss,” because it could “cause another brother to stumble.”  Lots of Christians say “Christians shouldn’t consume alcohol,” “go clubbing,” or “pierce/tat the heck out of their bodies” for the same reason.

Basically, their rationale which is based on false interpretations of passages like this one, goes something like this:
1. Drinking a beer may not be a sin in itself.
2. Drinking a beer could however cause temptation for a recovering- alcoholic in the church to get drunk and perhaps be an alcoholic again. Drinking a beer could also cause a Christian that esteems and looks up to you, to be disheartened and frustrated when he sees you drinking a beer, potentially even discouraging him or her to walk a life of victory in Jesus.
3. You never know when people described in #2 are watching you, thus you should avoid drinking alcohol altogether or at the very least drink at home and get your unbelieving uncle to bring the booze to your back door.

The bible DOES say not to be a stumbling block, but i disagree with the above interpretation. My main reason is this:

Jesus didn’t abide by this interpretation of scripture and thus would have been condemned by Paul’s teachings.

Ask Paul. He will disagree with you EVERY time if you say that He is holier than Jesus. Continue reading “The Bible Says, “Don’t Be a Stumbling Block,” but I Disagree” »

Rich Ass Preachers (Sorry Joey?)

hypo

 

I wanted to write this post without discussing it with Joey. He is a full-time pastor. He works his ass off and loves the congregation and community but…He’s got a salary, medical insurance, 401k and job security.  The question I’d like to discuss is this: if he or other pastors were volunteers in the church, rather than paid staff, would that be better, would it make sense with the bible, and lastly would he still be able to pastor and shepherd people?

What does the bible say:

Matthew 10: 8-9 Jesus says to give without pay.  2 Corinthians 2: 17  says that we are not peddlers selling God’s word like others. 1 Timothy 5: 17-19 says that  elders who lead well deserve double “honor” and the worker deserves his wage. John 10: 12-14  The hired hand is different than the shepherd.

JESUS DIDN’T GET PAID or did he?  When Jesus started full-time ministry in his 30′s, how did he get paid? He wasn’t a carpenter anymore because he was traveling non stop and getting death threats.  So how’d he eat?  Giving.  Christians supported him.  Shelter, food, maybe even entertainment.  They gave.  He also was in fact a laborer worthy of more than this, but people did give.  You can call this giving offerings and tithes.  The apostles were also supported financially by people in the towns they preached.

” it for the perks?  No- His ministry led to death which he knew would happen. Continue reading “Rich Ass Preachers (Sorry Joey?)” »

WTF!? (Was This For real??)

Joey: Honestly? After Toby showed me this, I watched this thing over and over, laughing like crazy. Personally, this sort of thing isn’t anything new to me. I grew up in churches where this stuff happened quite often. Where I stand on this video is as follows: I think it’s possible that God is moving amongst these folks. However, if this is the case, I don’t think they are being good stewards of that gift. If I had to be honest, I think mostly that “this movement” is contrived, manufactured and totally understand why this freaks people out. No matter what, Paul says not to do this 1 Corinthians 14: 39-41.

Matt: My first reaction is “This is NOT funny. Its very disturbing.” I did not grow up around it and have never seen people act like this. It seems clear to me that it is a messed up distorted culture and I don’t believe it is genuine. After watching a few times and thinking about it, I can say that perhaps someone outside my culture may view some of my spiritual activities as messed up, similarly to how I’m viewing these activities.

Toby: this was my life for the first 15 years of my life. I think it’s funny. I love people having a good time at church even if it is absurd. Reminds me of King David dancing in the streets. We serve Jesus, are we supposed to look good doing it?

Tell us what you think.

Christians Are Dumb (and we better own this)

dumb c“I give God 10%.  Why should I give you 18%?”  This is what a PASTOR wrote on a credit card receipt, at a restaurant, after crossing out the added “big group” gratuity to leave zero tip. Luckily for all Christians hoping for a face-lift in Christianity, this thing went viral. (See link to article at the bottom of this post. As you will read, this was actually a hoax and wasn’t written by a Pastor or even a customer for that matter) Reading this article, however, got me thinking, “What if this was not a hoax?” Should the rest of the body of Christ freak out and lament over yet “another bad example” by a Christian leader? Maybe. Let’s just look at this thing. If this story was indeed true, and many stories as these are, this pastor did so many things contrary to the bible’s teachings.

1. He forgot about generosity. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
2. He was not kind, humble or gentle. (Colossians 3:12)
3. He did not take an opportunity to do good. (Galatians 6:10)
4. He was not loving with words OR deeds. (1 John 3:18)
5. He thought of himself as better than others. (Philippians 2:3)

So for the many stories like this that are actually true, what is my reaction? Well, for one thing, I’m disgusted. I also think of this pastor as the “bad guy,” while I’m the good guy that knows how to love as Jesus did. I immediately want to defend the body of believers from horrible acts of wickedness as these. This kind of stuff actually makes me embarrassed to be called a Christian. Occurrences such as these lead me to think of other ways of describing myself, such as a “Jesus follower,” meaning that I actually DO follow Christ, walk in His ways, and validate MY faith through my works more consistently; and for this, I can be proud that I’m not like “that other guy.”

Then, I stop to think about this:
1. I’m the “good guy?” Last time I checked, Jesus (who was GOD) had to die for me, in order that I could live.
Continue reading “Christians Are Dumb (and we better own this)” »

real conversation between a Christian and Atheist (part 3)

wwjdPlease note that due to the unedited nature of this post, the language deems it necessary for us to give this post an “R” rating. If you are sensitive to 4-letter words, do not proceed. This is part 3 of a “real conversation between a christian and an atheist.” For part 1 click here. For part 2, click here.

beginning of “part 3.”

Joey Svendsen: i’ll watch the video but can’t right now. a couple of things.

-an innocent child burning in hell forever? Where did you get that?

-My thoughts on reasoning: if there is a God, he created reasoning and you are using it to disprove the possibility of Him, and claiming that because there’s holes in a belief in Him, you won’t believe in Him. i can’t think of anything stranger.

-my way of proving Christianity is not totally based on the “people that are following.” there’s many more reasons.

-Attis of Phrygia? How many of heard about that one? not many, because it’s myth! you may also want to do some more research on that one. conceived by an almond? from a hemaphrodite God? to put the gospels in any similar category is crazy.

-Ok, let’s talk about the New Testament. As far as ancient manuscripts, the New Testament has MANY more original writings left than any other, and these originals were written WAY closer to the actual events of any other manuscripts to their actual events. no matter what you believe, the New Testament is in its own category as far as evidence for authenticity. i’ll be the first one to admit that i can’t provide absolute certainty. i do a LOT of things in daily living, however, without having absolute certainty as well. for example, i put my family at risk by getting them in a plane, not having certainty that it will go down. however, because of statistics, i know the chances are quite slim that we crash. i also know the chances are quite slim that what I believe about Jesus is untrue. and, by the way, you can’t tell me with absolute certainty that i’m wrong, so i guess we are both in the same boat. i think YOU may have more faith though. because if you don’t believe in a God, i’m not sure how you can even identify what evil is or even come close to figuring how in the world we all got here.

Joey Svendsen: ok. i am going ahead and watching the video. i’ll take notes as i listen:

1. i agree with his first statement about ignoring scientific evidence and blindly supporting the bible. that’s irresponsible when Christians do it. When science and bible conflict, it’s often due to a Christian’s misinterpretation of the bible. Many times, however, scientists are wrong. Correct interpretation of the Bible, in my opinion, is never wrong. With this being said, the Old Universe/ New Universe debate poses no threat to my faith.  there are many bible-believing Christians that believe the bible supports a new universe while many of the same support old universe.  i actually lean more towards old universe. Continue reading “real conversation between a Christian and Atheist (part 3)” »

real conversation between a christian and an atheist (part 2)

wwjdPlease note that due to the unedited nature of this post, the language deems it necessary for us to give this post an “R” rating. If you are sensitive to 4-letter words, do not proceed. This is part 2 of a “real conversation between a christian and an atheist.” For part 1, click here.

beginning of “part 2.”

Joey Svendsen: Ok. Let’s say God did exactly that AND said the bible is true, follow me. Would you? Will catch you tomorrow or the next. Good-night, bitch. (For the general reader, don’t worry, this is what a dude calls another dude when he’s becoming fond of him in a dude way).

UNlearning Reader: haha good call goodnight! btw I would (it’d suck though)

UNlearning Reader: Hey Joey, I was wondering about your point of view on my argument?

Joey Svendsen: thanks for your patience. all right. so, to dispel any notion to the contrary, i AM trying to make a point. we can continue talking about this but my point is this… the conclusion that you need to come to is this….IS THERE A GOD? period. instead you are saying one of two things perhaps (and i could be putting words in your mouth. if so, sorry)

1. “If there IS a God, He is not good at it, fair, nor loving” or . . . .

2. “The God of the bible can’t exist, because He is not good at it, fair, nor loving.”

Continue reading “real conversation between a christian and an atheist (part 2)” »

real conversation between a Christian and Atheist (part one)

wwjd
Please note that due to the unedited nature of this post, the language deems it necessary for us to give this post an “R” rating.  If you are sensitive to 4-letter words, do not proceed.

So, this dude came out swingin’.  Matt posted a link to my write-up “The Slut, Righteous Judges, and Savior” on the Emery facebook page and things got nasty. Examples?  Sure, here’s one comment posted on facebook: “this is fucking disgusting.” and yet another: “Wow, seriously? Such a shame such a great band is so fucking stupid. I don’t give a shit what any of these righteous idiots want to respond with, you’re just as fucking stupid as they are. Open your eyes and get a life already.”

Well, for some of the angry folks that talk like they want you to literally eat poison and die, there’s probably no good reason to engage in conversation, so I didn’t.  However, some of the angry folks that really have something reasonable to say?  Sure.  One of the conversations that i was engaging with publicly, I decided to make private (facebook inbox to inbox instead of facebook wall).  What came from this was some valuable dialogue that spanned throughout the good part of a week.  Both of us were stretched, both of us were forced to think, and both of us are better for it.  I thank him for letting me use our conversation and hopefully this conversation exemplifies that constructive dialogue between a Christian and an atheist, although quite rare, can exist . . . even on the internet.  

 

UNlearning Reader: Hey, thanks for delivering your opinion in a clear manner.I’m also glad that you understand my perspective (doesn’t happen too often :P ). Let me also say that I understand your perspective as well. Like you said, it all boils down to believing in god or not. If it is true that Jesus existed, would you not agree that there is a lack of evidence to indicate that he rose from the dead/performed miracles? In my opinion, eye witness testimonies that were written down by anonymous authors thousands of years ago is not sufficient. As one once said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Joey Svendsen: The extraordinary evidence is that Christianity was able to spread despite the persecution and resistance. This spreading would be WAY more of a miracle if the resurrection was questionable. The authors aren’t anonymous & their writings are vastly more substantiated than those of Plato & Aristotle. Did you know that various historians in Jesus’ time wrote about him as well? If you don’t believe he existed, it’s an irresponsible approach to history at best. Since He DID exist, it’s laughable to think that there didn’t at least APPEAR to be a resurrection. Ppl died for this & the Roman government was eventually converted. Then, they botched the hell out of it up & misrepresented Christ but that’s besides the point. Paul also writes a letter about eye-witnesses & the vast majority of historians (many of them non-believers) support the authenticity. This letter would have immediately been snuffed out if it were a lie because people would have said “I didn’t see anything.” if it’s a big hoax, many people died for it & were tortured. Mighty strange extremes to take for a hoax. If these folks were mindless followers of a cult, the spread of Christianity would have died with Jesus because he would have never rose.

Joey Svendsen: There’s a LOT more extraordinary evidence but if & when one approaches it with a narrow mind, they don’t see it because they don’t want to. Continue reading “real conversation between a Christian and Atheist (part one)” »

I’m usually Glad to Hear “I don’t believe in God”

Billboard_AustinCor_HiRes

I have had the incredible opportunity from playing music and touring, to travel the world a little, and travel the United States a lot.  Like, seriously a lot. I’ve played over a thousand shows, played in every state except Wyoming, oddly, and am probably approaching 1 million miles of US interstates.  Yea, that’s a lot of truck stop toilet experience.  The most valuable thing about this travel, has been the amount of people, and more specifically the diversity of people that I encounter both on the road and online.

Over the last 10 years, I have directly observed and interacted with an increasing amount of people who plainly, publicly, and intensely espouse a position that is anti-God or anti religion-entirely.

I am GLAD that this is the case.

I am glad for a few reasons. Continue reading “I’m usually Glad to Hear “I don’t believe in God”” »

The Slut, the Righteous Judges, & Savior

harlotOh, how we forget.  There’s ONE good guy.  That’s all folks.  Have you been a Christian for a long time?  You may want to take a quick look at yourself and investigate whether you have fallen victim of becoming a righteous judge.  So, most of you know the story.  The whore was caught IN THE ACT of adultery.  That’s right, folks.  She was probably naked, most definitely ashamed, and certainly expecting death.  Does that remind you of anyone?  It should remind you of YOU.  If it doesn’t, you lost sight of grace and it would be helpful for you to admit that you resonate more with the Pharisees.  So, there she is.  Caught in sin.  Will you be caught in sin today?  Let me answer that.  Yes.  Will you deserve to be stoned today? Yes.  (pot-heads rejoicing…no, not that kind of stoned, dummy)  And the one that can judge us, the one that can destroy both body and soul says, “then, neither do I condemn you.”  But according to the law, she deserved to die.  And according to God’s law, we do too.  And yet, as Christians, we walk around thinking of ourselves as better than others.

Can you imagine this whore getting up, after Jesus says to “Go and sin no more,” then pointing the finger at all the onlookers and criticizing them for their sin.  Can you imagine them asking, “Who are you to talk” and her responding, “Umm.  Way better than you.  I’m like a real good person.”  And yet this is the very thing that I do.  It’s the very thing that you do.  It’s like once we are saved from being the slut, we seem to think we graduate to righteous judge.

Make NO mistake about it: Everyone who’s ever walked the face of the earth IS one of three: slut, righteous judge, or savior. That means every reader, unless Jesus is reading this blog post, is the whore or a righteous judge, whether you like it or not.  Here’s some sub-categories to help out.   Continue reading “The Slut, the Righteous Judges, & Savior” »

Twitter is in heaven now and UN-learning has Access to It

T2We’ll release the best of the best every now and then.  Here’s what we have for right now:

Twitter exchange #1

@Noah:  Come on, guys.  We don’t sin anymore up here, remember?  Can some one PLEASE let me taste some of this wine? Geez

@KingDavid:  @Noah,  NO ONE wants to see that big hairy butt, bro.  no offense.

@IdiednexttoJesus:  @KingDavid, are you really messing with Noah about the whole “nakedness thing?”  At least he was DRUNK.  You did it voluntarily.

Twitter exchange #2

@Mal-has-his-ear-back:  Hey, guys.  Can you tell me when @denyJesus3—I mean–@Peter_hates_roosters comes my way.  I’m going to try and cut BOTH of his ears off.

@Peter_hates_roosters:  @Malhashisearback:  Dude, I said “my bad!”  LOL.  Just think though, you wouldn’t be up here if I hadn’t cut your ear off.

Twitter exchange #3

@JesusChrist: I’m so glad @ChrisFarley surrendered to me.  He’s got us in stitches up here.

@OnceSaul_NowPaul:  @JesusChrist, read Romans 9.  He didn’t surrender nothing.

@JesusChrist: @OnceSaul_NowPaul, oh, the memories.  I TOLD Dad that your grammar was too horrible to use for 14 books of the Bible.  Dad was right though.  Nothing is impossible with Him (us).

Single Tweets

@JohntheB:  This white robe thing is getting pretty old and why can’t we eat bugs here?

@Daniel:  Oh, snap.  Packers beat Lions.  I just have never seen lions catch a break.

@balaam:  enough of the jackass jokes, please.  LOL.

@manycolors:  kind of crazy seeing what gets people depressed on earth. I was up in the pen for over a decade, baby.  Over a decade! And i didn’t touch that girl.

 

 

 

Top 10 reasons (during Christmas) that the Bible Can’t Be True

xmas-joke

  1. THE THREE KINGS brought gold frankincense and myrrh….HA!  Everyone knows that Santa brings the gifts.
  2. Better to give than to receive?  Yeah, right.  We know better.
  3. Grandma got ran over by a reindeer?  God wouldn’t let that happen if He was all-loving, even if she was a nagging, unbearable hag.
  4. Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus use magic and the bible says that magic is a sin.   There ain’t no way Santa and Frost’T need to repent. The are such good people (and snow).
  5. God apparently hates gluttony…You mean to tell me homeboy Santa lives in sin every Christmas Eve and WE all cause him to stumble by leaving the stumbling blocks of cookies?
  6. This whole “grace thing” that says naughty people can be rewarded and God keeps no records of wrongs…..  However, the songs say that the naughty people on the naughty list are NOT rewarded.
  7. I don’t care HOW KIND and meek Mary is.  Joseph would have been a dead dog for not figuring another birth location out. Continue reading “Top 10 reasons (during Christmas) that the Bible Can’t Be True” »

Not Talking About Sex is of The Devil

There he was, looking around the room thinking, “Is this for real?” (or MAYBE he was even thinking WTF). Henry, a new college student had shown up to a bible study of his peers for the first time, hoping to find accountability, encouragement, and friendship as a fellow Christian.  As he listened to the conversations for only minutes, his mind was already made up that this group wasn’t going to be for him.  He could tell right away this was a group of “poster boy” Christian boys leaving him feeling like a milk bucket under a bull.  It wasn’t that Henry was looking for some new friends to indulge in sin with.  He was looking to actually do a little more avoiding of it and thought some regular Christian fellowship would help.  A starting point for this fellowship, however, would be the very opportunity to share his own personal struggles; but this group didn’t seem to be the time nor the place for that type of sharing. These fellas were too busy presenting themselves as above reproach, self-sufficient, without blemish, Clark Kent, He-Man, “Ken doll” Christians.

That’s why when Henry showed up to my young dudes/college age bible study years later, he was quiet, stunned, wide-eyed and rejoicing inside.  Here’s what he was in the midst of:
Dudes that were his age, dudes that wanted like anything to serve Jesus, but dudes that knew the first step was NOT to make themselves look good.  In this group, most of the time was intentionally spent talking about sexual purity, which mainly included avoiding sexual lust, shunning porn, and honoring all women as more than bodies to be looked at and touched.

In this group, here’s what these guys were willing to do:

1.  delight in weakness, remembering that this is the place where Jesus’ strength makes them perfect, like Paul does here.

2.  see themselves as scum saved by grace, like this dude here.

3.  Walk in the light and admit sin like John says right here.

My new friend Henry couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  Later, he expressed how different the group was than anything he had ever experienced. “These guys are excited about Jesus and yet weren’t afraid of expressing in detail their failures.”  The question that bugs me literally to death (I’m writing this from heaven) is “why isn’t this sort of sharing amongst Christians the norm?”

Matt Responds with (5) Questions with one rule: Be loving.

1.  Do you believe that withholding truth is a form of lying?

2.  You are sinful more than you admit. What do you hope to gain from your withholding of truth? Or more, what are you afraid you will lose?

3. What do you think is the BEST thing about Jesus?  Dying for my sins is my favorite.

4. What brings him more glory, your strength or his?

5. I know you think that you are bragging for or in Him, not yourself. Could you be wrong about that? Could it be that you actually are a little biased and have that twisted, while being partially deceived? A way to test that is to really chek your reaction when hearing another confess a particularly disgusting sin,  like having sex with a prostitute or cheating on their husband.  When you hear this, do you EVER feel a little superior? Are you ever relieved when you hear it, relieved you are not that way?  Do you feel anything other than grief for them? Do you look and pray directly to Jesus in gratitude that THEY ARE forgiven and and Jesus is THEIR substitute?

Toby Responds with (5) Questions (No Rules):

Continue reading “Not Talking About Sex is of The Devil” »

Jesus Loves You. Everyone Else Thinks You Are an Asshole

 

Christian haters are often right.  There’s often zero apparent difference in the behavior between professing Christians and unbelievers.  Here’s some reasons why.

Some people claim to be Christians but they aren’t.  see former post on PETA, punk-rawk, christians, old navy, germans, and atheists. click here: old post

The whole point of the gospel is that folks are saved by grace and not by works.  It’s comical when folks try to discount Christianity by the actions of its followers when the foundation of Christianity rests solely on Jesus’ behavior and NOT on the followers. Dummies.

Many Christians are in the early stages of sanctification.  Even though we are saved only through Jesus, God still works on us after He saves us, making us better people. This process is called sanctification.  So here’s what happens when some one is “saved.” Pretend like you are a car and you go to the car wash.  The guy at the car wash says, “Partner, I can clean the inside perfectly AND put some chemicals on it that will keep it brand spanking new.  The outside, though?  That junk is dirty as hell.  I can clean it a little today, but you are going to have to bring it back every day for me to clean it more and it’s never going to be completely clean until you go to car heaven.” Continue reading “Jesus Loves You. Everyone Else Thinks You Are an Asshole” »

Better Fat Than Gay

This is written by a “non-unlearning” author and is so dead on, so I wanted to share on our blog.

“I recently heard a pastor open his sermon with a lighthearted comment about his sin of overeating at Thanksgiving. The crowd chuckled and nodded approvingly. Most had committed the same sin, but knew that their sin was ok because they are under grace and not under law. Later in the same sermon the pastor commented that when we buy coffee at Starbucks we are “supporting homosexual laws”. The crowd shook their heads in disgust. This was not a sin they had committed, and they knew the Bible is very clear about homosexuality. It is an abomination and must be stopped in its tracks. It doesn’t matter that gluttony makes the deadly sins Top Seven, nor that according to the CDC, 36% of Americans are obese, nor that “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.” Gluttony is funny and understandable, homosexuality is evil and should be illegal.

“To read the complete post, click this link: http://geoffsurratt.com/blog/2012/11/27/better-fat-than-gay/

I’m Thankful for Turkey & O.J. Simpson (We Home Boys)


Ok, so in my culture, some one may be a stranger to you, but if they are wearing a jersey of your favorite team, that’s your home boy. Some one who has the same favorite TV show? That’s your home boy. Why is this? When folks have mutual passions, there’s resonation simply because of the shared fondness towards a specific something. That’s why when your team scores while you are watching the game in a bar, you want to hug the hang out of a stranger, feeling kind of in love with the fellow fan that is a stranger to you.

For me, if some one is excited about Jesus’ death and resurrection, that’s my home boy. I may would want to kill myself before having a drink with that person, but we’re still down brothers (or sisters).

This is why O.J. Simpson is my home boy.

So, i was sitting in my education class at Winthrop University with my cinched thrift store pants, looking forward to getting back to my room for some Sonic the Hedgehog play. Then the professor stops class to tune into the final word of the O.J.hearing. Continue reading “I’m Thankful for Turkey & O.J. Simpson (We Home Boys)” »

Learning from a Naked Boy

There he was, totally naked with a look of humiliation, desperation, and shock.  The swimming trunks of this pudgy little 8-year-old boy had slipped off and despite his persistency, he couldn’t get them back up.  As I noticed him struggling, I assumed that within seconds he’d rectify the situation.  I mean, how hard is it to pull your pants up?  As I watched further, I realized that it wasn’t happening, especially while the other kids were pointing and laughing, robbing the little piglet of any concentration needed to pull those things up.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  I ran towards the little man, firmly grabbed hold of his trunks, pulled them up, asked him if he was ok and then walked away obviously feeling pretty awkward being so close to a naked little boy in public.

This past summer, as our kids played in the Charleston fountains, this crazy little story actually happened.  Needless to say, I was no hero.  I was just the only adult that noticed.

A couple of months ago, my friend Matt Carter posted a video further explaining our position on foul language.  Honestly, we enjoyed the discussion, but have no intentions of raising the issue again here.  However, the mockery and mean-spirited backlash, at the hands of Christians, was disheartening at best. Continue reading “Learning from a Naked Boy” »

Here’s Who We Are Voting For Tomorrow

We are voting for lots of Christians to do some changing.  Alright, so I’m a Patriot (not in the NFL sense. In that case, I’m a Cheesehead, and we beat up on Patriots in the Super Bowl.  Our cousins, the Bears, do too. Reference ’85 and ’96 seasons).  I do NOT like how many Christians make voting a part of their religion.  Only TWO things that the Bible commands Christians to do as far as the government is concerned:

1.  Submit to the leaders (Romans 13:1):  Does this mean carry out evil orders that are contrary to God’s commands?  No, but it certainly doesn’t entail talking about them like they are a middle school dummy + Satan.  The President is still the President.  And yet, depending on who is in office, you talk about the office in the same way you talk about your most hated football rival.  That’s not submission by any means.  I promise.

Continue reading “Here’s Who We Are Voting For Tomorrow” »

I wouldn’t serve a God who________?

Yeah, I’ve been that dummy that deserved to be squashed, the arrogant prick that critiqued God on how He runs His universe.  You? Maybe you do this, but you don’t see the big deal?  Ok, think of it this way.  What if you drew a stick figure on a blank sheet of paper and figured out how to bring it to life.  Next thing you know, old “stick man” started to yap at you, criticizing why you do what you do AND even considering to part ways to live a life on his own.  Sound ridiculous?  So, here’s my question.
What If God Were Evil?  Would you serve Him anyway? 

Matt and Toby in a Living Room

 

This is from a house show in Fresno, California.

Matt and Toby’s mash up of an Emery song (dear death) and a Santigold song (disparate youth)

Continue reading “Matt and Toby in a Living Room” »

Turbo-Nerd 3064

There have  been many comments. Some helpful. Some hurtful. There are many opinions on this subject. Some (agreeable and disagreeable) were expressed with love and intentions to build up while others were expressed with ill will, a desire to make others look stupid, and possibly even to build personal ego. The ones that were unlovingly expressed by Christians (many of these folks I’d assume also praise the Lord with their mouths) reminded me of the following scripture: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be” (James 3:10). We love ALL you guys. Enjoy the video.

Love, Joey

Jesus Saved My Ass – Part II

Feature Video By Matt Carter

It’s Joey, the writer of “Jesus Saved My Ass.” It’s been by far our most popular post yet. I caught up with Matt Carter, another writer of this blog & and asked him to follow up on the last post, touching on many of your comments. Before you watch, I’d love for you to hear me out for a second.

Many of you missed the purpose of the blog.  Some of you processed it in a, “This blog post stinks. I’d never cuss.  It’s a sin,” while others thought, “Man, my cussing IS justified,” or “I’m a Christian. Maybe I should cuss more.”  None of these thoughts represent the intended main idea.  The intention was not for us to personally evaluate our use or non-use of “cuss words,” but rather to personally evaluate how we judge or assess some one’s spiritual condition in accordance with the language that they use.  Taking a second to consider this issue will certainly not hurt your ability to be Jesus’ light.  It’s our prayer that it will actually allow your light to shine brighter.

Jesus Saved My Ass

By Joey Svendsen

If this title was written on a scroll back in Jesus’ day, the reader may read further to find how Jesus rescued a donkey. In the 21st century, many of you will read further because you are a little offended by the title.

To be honest, I understand.  I used to be just like you.  I’ll get to that later.

I want to talk about “cuss words” and the unwarranted hype that they accrue.  “Christians shouldn’t cuss” is a pretty accepted belief, but the question I want to ask here is, “what (the hell, the heck, in the world) is cussing?” I frankly do not believe in an inherently evil use of words, outside of the heart in which they are spoken from.  One of the ten commandments forbids taking the Lord’s name in vain. One can only discern whether a person has spoken God’s name in vain by having a feel for the person’s heart-motivation behind what was said. Here’s an example of how some one’s heart can determine whether or not one’s words are good:

1.  Responding with fondness the news of a best friend getting a sweet new ride for Christmas:  “I hate you.”  (not a sin)

2.  A friend made you feel really bad, so in order to retaliate and make him/her feel bad as well, you say, “I hate you.” (sin).

 

The following list represents additional reasoning as to why there is no evil in mere words alone:

Reason 1:  Synonyms’ fallacious inequality

Example: “Screw that” is relatively acceptable in Christian circles, while “f_** that” is not.

Fallacy corrected: They mean exactly the same thing. Thus, either the former is a sin to say or the latter is not a sin to say.

Continue reading “Jesus Saved My Ass” »

What Plays In My Head

 

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See Matt & Toby live in a living room near you. www.mattandtobyinmylivingroom.com

Hello All!  We are posting a video of the song “What Plays In My Head” from the new Matt & Toby record coming out November 20th! (Shameless plug noted)  I also wanted to post the lyrics and write the meaning behind the song to go along with the video.  We’ll be doing more things like videos, cover songs, interviews, and things that we think you’ll enjoy or just think plain cool in the future as well.  So come back every 5 minutes and see what we’ve done.( Shameless Unlearning plug and bad joke noted as well)

 

“What Plays in My Head” was one of the first songs written musically but the lyrics came several months later.  This song is the most aggressive track on the album and I wanted heavier lyrics to match it’s more forthright intensity.  During this time one of Joey’s (Joey who writes for this blog) best friends passed away in a car crash, leaving a wife and children.  He was in his thirties and it was and still is incredibly tough for his family and friends.  After we heard the news I went for a walk and began contemplating the overwhelming weight of losing your spouse along with all the emotions, decisions, and grieving that a person might go through. I felt heartbroken with just those thoughts, so I can’t imagine living through the loss. I in no way can or could understand the pain a husband, wife, children, family, or friends go through with the death of a loved one, but I allowed myself to think about where I would go emotionally and mentally if I were to lose Jess.   Continue reading “What Plays In My Head” »

…that awkward moment when you ask someone how they are doing…and they actually tell the truth!

Handling The Suffering of Others Like a Dumb-Ass

by: Matt Carter

I lived my first 20-something years blatantly avoiding and ignoring suffering in others.  As a result, I did some real damage to real people.  Fortunately, God didn’t see fit to allow me to continue in this way and forced me to make up for lost time too.  Over the last decade, He has put me directly in the path of countless people who shared with me truly unbearable stories of suicides, rape, incredible abuse, deadly drug addictions, loss of children (born and unborn) loss of parents and siblings, horrific war time experiences, and divorce. Although, at the time, it seemed to have been coincidental or even accidental that these stories were shared (sometimes by complete strangers), I now see that they weren’t. People want and need to talk about there pain.

 When someone would unexpectedly start blabbering to me about their issues this is what would go through my mind:

 ”What the heck?!  Its not like I can help anyway, right? I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

 “Anything i say is just going to prolong  the pain of them having to think about it and talk about it.”

 “Cooool. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to to pretend to get a cell phone call now.”

 Maybe you are better with this stuff than I was, but my experience is that most people are NOT. Also, I assure you that you encounter more people than you think who suffer, some in profound ways.  So here are a few things to keep in mind WHEN, not IF, God puts them in your path.

 

Ok, so you asked what you thought was a normal surface question, then, unexpectedly, shit got real.  Now you are faced with going forward or trying to back out of the conversation. Embarrassed that you brought it up, you are now only thinking about yourself and how uncomfortable YOU are.  If you change the subject or avoid the issue you will be reinforcing to this person that they should keep it to themselves, that nobody understands anyway, that they are on their own. Be brave here. Put their needs a head of yours just for a few minutes. You CAN do this.

WHAT NOT TO DO NEXT Continue reading “…that awkward moment when you ask someone how they are doing…and they actually tell the truth!” »