Thursday, August 31, 2006

God's Power for Forgiveness & Peace is Real

August 18 Gavin Coffee, a 43-year-old father of 4 was tragically killed in a car accident on Interstate 5 in Seattle. Brian Campbell was driving in front of Coffee when allegedly his unsecured load in the back of his pickup truck flew backward causing a chain-reaction car crash. Coffee’s vehicle swerved in order to miss the falling debris and his car was T-boned by a Lincoln Town Car, probably killing him instantly.

Gavin and his wife Heidi are devout Christians and members of Seattle’s City Calvary Chapel. Gavin volunteered and worked with the church’s youth. In fact, he was on his cell phone talking with his pastor, John Aydelott, when he suddenly said into the phone, “Whoa! Whoa!” Then came the sound of metal crunching. Pastor John overheard the car crash and Gavin’s death.

About losing her husband Heidi said, “I don’t have any regrets. We expressed how much we loved each other. We lived life to the fullest that we could.” God’s peace was so powerful and prevalent in Heidi, who is pregnant with their fifth child, that she instantly offered forgiveness to Campbell. She said, I don’t want the man “to be blaming himself all his life” for the crash. “It was one of those freaky things that happened.”

What’s more, Heidi contacted Campbell and invited him to attend the memorial service.

I’ve been a Christian for several years and though I’ve seen God’s power bring forgiveness and peace many times I’m always in awe of God’s gracious work in our lives.

Heidi will still have grief and sorrow over her loss. She will still have tremendous challenges raising her four children. Giving birth to her fifth without Gavin at her side will be bittersweet. But God’s power is real and Heidi gives every indication that she will continue to lean into Him and find the grace she will need to face the challenges of each day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Oscar Winner "Chariots of Fire" 25th Anniversary

It’s been 25 years since the release of one of my favorite films, Chariots of Fire. The story about two British athletes preparing to compete in the 1924 Olympics was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and won 4 including Best Picture.

The movie is based on the true story of Englishman Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell known as the flying Scotsman. Both were competing in the 100 meters but Liddell dropped out as a matter of Christian conviction when he discovered that the race was to take place on the Sabbath. Liddell was allowed to compete in the 400-meter race instead where he won a gold medal.

If you haven’t seen the movie do yourself a favor and rent it this week. It is not a “sport’s film” as much as it is the story of men who follow their passions and live their convictions.

There are many memorable scenes. Allow me to highlight just one. Liddell was a devout Christian whose parents were missionaries. His sister Jenny had serious doubts about the appropriateness of Eric’s racing and the fame that accompanied his success. On one occasion she challenged him that he should quit racing and get on with becoming a missionary.

Liddell responded, “Jenny, God made me to run fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.” My friend, God has made each of us to do and be something and when we are faithful to that we “feel His pleasure.” What a profound joy that is.

The film doesn’t go on to tell the rest of Liddell’s story. He did become a missionary to China where he served the poor and worked as an educator. During the Chinese-Japanese War his mission was taken captive by the Japanese army. Liddell became a leader in the prison and helped the others to survive the ordeal. He died in prison in 1945.

The Virgin Mary, Turtles & God Sightings

Shirley McVane is 81 years old and lives in Chicago, Illinois. She has a couple of little turtles in a bowl. As one of the turtles has grown over the past year the underside of the turtle’s shell has developed an image that Shirley says is the Virgin Mary.

In the past couple of weeks there have also been reports of the Virgin Mary seen in chocolate drippings in a Southern California candy factory. Perhaps you remember the story from several months ago of the woman who saw the image of the Virgin Mary on her grilled cheese sandwich. Later she sold that sandwich for $28,000!

This blog is all about God sightings. I believe that God can be found in many ways and in many places every day. I want to capture that and reflect on that and share that with others. I want to hear about such sightings from you.

But honestly, I don’t know what to make of turtles, chocolate and grilled cheese sandwich sightings. My fear is that skeptics see these stories and solidify their skepticism about God and confirm their conclusions about people of faith as superstitious and silly.

Hebrews 11:6 invites us to believe that God exists and to believe that God will reward those who seek Him. What’s the reward? If you seek God your reward is that you find God. Finding God is an invitation to experience God. May this be such a day for you.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Is Jose Miranda Jesus Christ?

Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda is an evangelist, a television and radio personality, claims to have a following of millions, and says that he is Jesus Christ.

In addition Miranda has announced that sin no longer exists and there is no devil. However, there is still the call to give offerings and his followers give huge contributions. Some hand over their entire paychecks while at least one follower gave him a $1 million home. He says that God wants him to have gold, diamonds and drive BMW’s.

What do you think? Upon what basis would you make a decision?

I think Miranda is seriously deceiving his followers. Whether he is being deceptive because he is deluded or deranged or devious, I don’t know. What I do know is that he is neither Jesus Christ nor correct about his theology.

How can I make such a conclusion? Who am I to say Miranda’s wrong and I’m right? Let me briefly state three things. 1) I believe the Bible is a trustworthy guide to knowing God and knowing what God is like. Miranda is not in step with the Bible. 2) I have had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for 30 years. I’m His follower and servant. Miranda is not Jesus. 3) The Bible teaches that God gives to His followers discernment about whether matters are true or false. Miranda is a false prophet and teacher.

My point with this reflection is that you face issues and decisions every day. You need divine guidance, wisdom and discernment. Most issues are not as obvious as Miranda. If you’re going to grow in confidence of knowing God, knowing what God is like and discerning God’s guidance for your life then you will be greatly helped by these three things. 1) Pray to God and learn to have a conversation with Him. 2) Worship God privately and publicly with a church body. 3) Read the Bible and discover what it says for yourself. Having a community of faith with those who become trusted friends will provide a safe and encouraging context for experiencing God.

Friday, August 25, 2006

McGavick Senate Race & Confession

Washington Republican Senatorial candidate Mike McGavick released in the news this week a list of past "sins" including a 1993 DUI. In the somewhat unusual campaign move McGavick said he didn't really know if Maria Cantwell, the Democratic incumbent, was planning to use these matters against him during the campaign but he thought he should be the one to bring them up and talk about them rather than his opponent.

Campaign strategists were quoted as saying, this "looks like a good move." We'll see if it is a good move or not.

My point of reflection today is, "Why would anyone confess to past sins?"

There are very powerful reasons that have nothing to do with whether it is a good political move. The Bible tells us that when we confess our sins to God, "He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from our iniquity." There's a lot to be said about forgiveness and cleansing.

I've made a lot of mistakes. I've received a lot of forgiveness. I live daily in the freedom that comes with forgiveness. I don't have to be afraid of who might find out what about me. I don't have to waste a lot of time and energy with "image maintenance". Because of God's forgiveness I've been able to be open and real with trusted friends with whom I've shared similar confessions. I live a life of being "known". I highly recommend it.

Those in AA and other recovery circles have a saying that is right on the mark: "You're as sick as your secrets." Maintaining an image and hiding things from God and others keeps you in bondage, in hiding and in distress.

Jesus said, "If you're weary, come to Me and I will give you rest."

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Paramount, Tom Cruise & God's Perspective

Tom Cruise and Paramount Pictures are parting ways according to news reports yesterday. Movie industry analysts have described Cruise as a “cash cow” for Paramount, with his films having earned them $2.5 billion over the last 14 years. While his latest film, Mission Impossible III, was a domestic disappointment with $133 million, it has taken in more than $390 million internationally.

What’s the problem? According to Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone the problem has been Cruise’s behavior, which has included the Scientologist’s public criticism of antidepressants and his very public courtship of star Katie Holmes. Redstone said, “His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.”

As with most things Hollywood this is all about externals and marketability. There are plenty of big stars with outrageous behavior including drug abuse, prostitution, rape, DUI’s, imprisonment and so much more. Cruise looks like a “boy scout” in comparison.

So, don’t misunderstand Paramount. They are not taking some “high road on conduct” and raising the bar on behavior. If Cruise’s Scientology and courtship with Holmes had been well received by the public all would be well in Paramount land.

All of this brings me to God. He’s not interested in public opinion polls and doesn’t care about what is marketable. His focus is never on the externals, no matter how awful or how meritorious. God is all about the internal, the heart.

A sick heart produces sick behavior. A redeemed heart produces life-giving behavior where we have capacities beyond ourselves to love, to give, to forgive, and to bless others. There is considerably more “heart disease” in our world than ever reported by the American Heart Association because so many hearts remain disconnected from God.

Do you know how to connect your heart to the heart of God? Much could be said in response to that question but let me just mention one. You can’t connect your heart to God’s heart by first cleaning up your behavior. Being good is not the issue. You connect your heart to God’s heart with a humble admission that you can’t be good and with a simple faith request that Jesus save you from yourself and from sin. Only Jesus can change the root (heart) so that there is different fruit (behavior).

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Atlanta Braves & "Faith Days"

Professional sports want to fill the seats of their stadiums and arenas. Thus a new marriage of marketing and faith has recently taken place with the Atlanta Braves organization.

It’s not unusual for professional sports teams to have Christian athletes and several of them use their celebrity to share their faith in Jesus Christ. Is that wrong?

On July 27 the “share the faith” factor took a twist when the Braves used the Christian faith of their athletes to sell tickets and draw a crowd by having ‘Faith Day’. Lest you think it was like a Billy Graham Crusade with Bibles in the seats, it was a Major League Baseball game that featured a post-game event with players sharing their Christian testimony and Christian bands playing music. In other words, you had to make a choice to stay after the game to experience the faith part of the day.

The idea began with the minor league baseball team, the Nashville Sounds. Their ‘Faith Days’ sometimes doubled and tripled the size of their crowds. The Braves thought it was worth trying at the major league level.

This led sportswriter Dave Zirin to comment that Faith Days “mark a tremendous step backward for the sport because baseball has always been the great Americanizer for people of all nationalities. Religion belongs in Major League baseball as much as fish belong on bicycles.

Come on Dave, you’ve got to be kidding. I’ve been to professional games that touted “single’s night” which featured a dance and party for all the singles that wanted to stay after the game and enjoy the festivities. There have been other targeted groups to have special emphases as well. No one is forced to experience any of these marketing events. You have to choose to stay.

In my opinion there is an increased sensitivity about faith (especially Christianity) in the public arena. The contention is that religion is private and ought to remain private. Historically this has never been true. Faiths of all types have always been expressed and experienced publicly. It seems to me we need to relax about such things.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm Addicted To Transformed Lives

Today's phone call is one of the reasons that I love being a Christian. I'm addicted to seeing lives change. The word that comes to mind is metamorphosis. You know, the caterpillar becoming the butterfly.

I asked permission if I could share some of Kimberly's story. After experiencing a date rape as a teenager Kimberly dealt with her brokenness in broken ways. She became promiscuous and also began using drugs. Even though she later got married and had kids she couldn't shake her drug habit and Kimberly and her husband began going to strip clubs. On a whim she entered an amateur stripping contest and won. That opened the door to Kimberly becoming a stripper.

The money was good, the hours gave Kimberly flexible time to be with her kids, and it kept her drug habit going.

Then came Easter. All you can say is that God must have stirred her heart in some way because Kimberly decided she was going to church on Easter, and she did! Then she went again and again. Her heart softened toward Christ and His church and she decided to become a Christ follower. God so deeply touched Kimberly's life that she not only was able to stop doing drugs but she began telling her customers at the strip club, "You ought to go home to your wife and stop coming here!" Within weeks Kimberly not only left the business but she created and led a coalition to promote family values and to oppose the operation of strip clubs with ordinances and legislation.

It was at this point that I met Kimberly and invited her to my church to share her story. That was several years ago and we've stayed in touch ever since. Today's call was to let me know that God continues to redeem her life and change our world. She just returned from training leaders in Puerto Rico to work with family enrichment and to work for the healing of those with wounded hearts. She just received an invitation to do the same training in Venezuela and a major American organization just hired her to train thousands of their personnel.

Have you considered bringing your "caterpillar" life to God and inviting Him to birth you into a new life? I've done it. I have dozens of friends that have done it. God may be closer to you in this moment than at any other time in your life.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Postcard Delivered After 58 Years

Charles “Rocky” Rose is 82 years old and lives in Spiceland, Indiana. Recently Judy Dishman, the postmaster, delivered to Rose a penny postcard mailed in 1948. The postcard had been mailed from Rose’s mother. The mother and son used penny postcards in the 1940’s to exchange news. No one knows why it wasn’t originally delivered over 58 years ago.

The postcard said in part, “Hi Buddy, How’s my boy? Fine I hope.”

To Rose the words are priceless. “I wouldn’t sell it for nothing on earth,” he said.

It’s understandable how precious it would be to suddenly receive written words from a long deceased parent. No doubt Rose’s memory and imagination have been working overtime the last few days as he reflects on his relationship with his mother and what she meant to him.

This is the way it is for many Christians with respect to the Bible. The Bible is a lot like a letter written from our Father. Along with history and theology there is a very personal message to His sons and daughters that reads similarly, “Hi son/daughter, How are you? I am committed to make it well with you.”

Rose’s postcard wouldn’t mean a great deal to other people beyond the novelty of it being old and undelivered for so long. The Bible doesn’t seem to mean a great deal to others beyond it being ancient and containing mysteries. But, for those that know God as Father, they are precious words for which “we wouldn’t take nothing on earth”.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Should Boone Pickens Give $165 Million To OSU Athletics?

Oil tycoon and savvy investor, 78-year-old Boone Pickens loves Oklahoma State University and loves OSU athletics. Just after Christmas last year Pickens wired $165 million to a school-connected account. Why? Pickens wants to make OSU athletics the best in the United States. The money will benefit all of the athletic program’s team sports since it is tied to building projects that will create or improve facilities.

A lot of people give significant sums of money to college athletic programs. But, I ask you, if you had $165 million would you give it to college athletics?

The rest of the story is that Pickens has given through the years a total of $250 million to OSU. A relatively small percentage of that total has gone to academics and the rest to athletics.

I love sports and I follow college football and basketball closely. And, let me hasten to add that I am not critical of Mr. Pickens decision. I raise the question of where or how to spend money because it reveals our worldview and theology.

How does anyone make a decision to spend any amount of money? Followers of Jesus Christ do so by praying for divine guidance. Why? Not because Christians lack common sense about spending or because we lack courage to invest. Divine guidance is necessary for believers because we hold the conviction that everything in this world belongs to God, including money.

In Psalm 50:12 God tells us, “For the world is Mine, and all it contains.”

God is very aware of what we need and don’t need. He is aware of poverty, disease, and economic injustice that devastate large parts of His world. God is also aware of the enrichment to life that college academics and athletics can provide. Therefore God stirs the hearts of people to whom money has been entrusted and guides them to give away significant portions of it to meet the needs of others and to make a difference in the experience of life.

Was it a good idea to give $165 million to OSU athletics? I don’t know. Ask God. It’s His money.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Do Americans Have ADD About Important Things?

A recent poll found that nearly three-quarters of those asked could name each of the Three Stooges — Larry, Curly and Moe — but only 42 percent were able to name the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

That's according to a new Zogby poll in which 77 percent of Americans could name two of the seven dwarfs, while just 24 percent knew two of the nine Supreme Court justices.

And while 57 percent of Americans could name fictional boy wizard Harry Potter, less than half could name Great Britain's real prime minister, Tony Blair.

Do Americans have attention deficit when it comes to the important things of life? Is our thinking dominated with the trivial?

What about God? Many claim that God and our relationship to Him is THE most important thing in life. Is it? How do you know? If that is a false claim wouldn’t you want to know?

Let me encourage you to spend 4-5 weeks legitimately seeking answers to questions about God. Read a biblical book in its entirety like the Gospel of John. Say some prayers every day just to see what happens. Attend worship services at a church with a friend that you respect. Many go to that much trouble to try a new diet or to explore a new hobby.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” --Jesus, Matthew 7:7-8

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Bono Is Seeing Christianity Redefined

Friday I had the unusual opportunity to see U2 lead singer, Bono. Of all places, I was attending a leadership conference and Bono was being interviewed by Chicago Pastor Bill Hybels. The subject was about the responsibility that we all bear to speak for those that have no voice and to advocate for those who are without power in our world.

Of special focus was Bono’s humanitarian effort in Africa and his challenge to churches to get involved and make a difference. Apparently in 1984 Bono was a part of Band Aid (he’s been a part of several other concert fund raising efforts since) where his personal encounter with poverty and disease broke and seized his heart.

Bono is out in the open that he sees his celebrity as a gift to be spent on behalf of those in greatest need. As a result Bono has been calling heads of state, film stars, rock stars and even pastors to enlist them all in the battle against poverty and disease.

During the interview Pastor Hybels asked Bono a few questions about his faith. Bono said something that I’ve heard several others say through the years. His reply was, “I really like Jesus. It is Christians that I have a problem with.”

Since Bono’s initial contact with Hybels many churches have begun to join the movement for justice for our world’s weakest people. Hybels asked Bono, “Is your opinion about Christians and churches changing?” Bono replied with an obvious smile, “Yes. Christians are really making it difficult for me to continue to dislike them.”

Christianity and the Church have often been slow to respond to need, especially in the West. But in many nations in the world Christianity has been the first on the scene to build schools and hospitals. In recent national and international disasters Christian organizations were first on the front lines providing food and medical aid and building shelters for the homeless.

If you have been like Bono (Jesus is okay but Christians are problematic) perhaps you could give it all a second look and a second chance.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Katrina Teaches Church Important Lesson

Hurricane Katrina was the costliest (about $81 billion) and one of the deadliest (1,836 deaths) hurricanes in the history of the United States. Katrina devastated the Gulf coast for over 100 miles from its center.

On the morning of August 29 2005 Katrina slammed into the Mississippi and Louisiana border and the First Baptist Church in Gulfport, Mississippi lost their church facilities.

Founded in 1896, the church had to demolish its current sanctuary, built in 1967. They plan to rebuild on a different site a few miles North of their current site. For now the church gathers and worships in the Gulfport High School auditorium.

The congregation learned an important lesson. The church is never the building. The church is a group of Christ followers who live in covenant and commitment with one another and with Christ. Why is that important?

If you have any interest in “checking out church” sometime, don’t begin your search with the newest building in town or for that matter the oldest, most historic. The building is only a resource. Begin your search with looking at the church body or church members. Do they love each other? Are they pleased that you’ve come to visit and do they show interest in you? Is there a sense of God’s presence present? Are they concerned to live and put into practice the teachings of the Bible, or do they just want to talk about the Bible?

No church is perfect so don’t let a few faults scare you off. And, you’ll do well to not approach “checking out church” as a consumer. You’re not shopping for a religious commodity. You’re searching for connection with God.

Experiencing the church of God is a passion of mine. If I can assist you in any way in your search I would be pleased to help.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

If Floyd Landis Was A Christian

Floyd Landis, the 30-year-old cyclist from Pennsylvania is only the third American to win the prestigious Tour de France. Now the title has been officially stripped from him because he has been charged with “doping” or using extraordinary substances to enhance his performance. In other words he’s been charged with cheating. If the ruling stands he would be the first competitor to have the title stripped away in the 103-year history of the Tour.

I’m not a cycling fan and I’ve only paid slight attention to the story. Tuesday night Landis appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. There were no jokes and it was not a humorous part of the show. Leno asked Landis some straight questions and Landis maintained his innocence.

I obviously don’t know if Landis is innocent or guilty. The charge was that Landis had a very high testosterone level in his system caused by an external source and not naturally produced by his system. Landis claims that he has always, naturally had high testosterone levels.

Here’s what I do know. If Floyd Landis were a Christian the Bible has very clear instructions about how he should proceed. If Landis is innocent, then he would take whatever legal means available to him to prove his innocence but ultimately he would entrust his innocence and reputation to God. When I become a follower of Christ I give Him my heart, my ambitions, my influence and my reputation. I trust Him to use and to guard these things in life enhancing and life giving ways.

There’s a story in Genesis 37-50 about a man named Joseph who was wrongfully charged, found guilty and imprisoned. In the end God vindicated Joseph and restored to him dignity, respect and influence. Sometimes God’s vindication comes in our lifetime and sometimes it comes in the next life. If Landis is innocent then to a great degree he would be “resting” in the care of God.

If Landis is guilty then the Bible instructs that he should confess, own up to the cheating, seek forgiveness and offer restitution (do whatever possible to make the wrong, right).

Becoming a Christian does not mean one never has unjust problems, nor does it mean that one never sins or fails again. Therefore, we’ve been given clear guidelines about how to deal with both scenarios.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mel Gibson Is Anti-Semitic

What else can be said about Mel Gibson? By no means do I want to add to the piling on he has experienced in the past week. Following his drunk driving arrest and his profane and prejudiced comments about Jews Mel was apparently very contrite. He didn’t pretend that he was misunderstood or misquoted. Mel admitted that he had been despicable and said horrific things. He apologized and committed himself to finding ways to reach out to the Jewish community.

I’m a Mel Gibson fan. I like his movies. I’m pulling for him to overcome his alcoholism. I’m willing to forgive him and I don’t quite get it why others feel a need to punish him.

But, I reject Mel’s claim that he is not anti-Semitic.

You drop a tea bag into hot water and you’ll find out what kind of tea you have. The hot water merely releases what is already inside of the tea bag. In Mel’s case the alcohol released what was inside of him. Several Jewish colleagues of Mel’s have come forward and testified that they know him and they know that he’s not anti-Semitic. Sorry, I still contend that it was anti-Semitism that came out of Mel’s heart.

I’m not concluding that Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite in a condemning way. He claims to be a Christian. If so, I believe that following Jesus can bring a fully transforming power to his life that thoroughly changes his heart.

Mel involuntarily had his heart revealed. He now has an opportunity to let God transform him. You don’t have to have your heart revealed, but you may choose to. You see, following Christ is not a matter of just being good or moral. Following Christ is an act of courage to see clearly what is in your heart and to invite Christ to invade your heart and radically change it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

An Hour On Sunday

What are you doing this Sunday morning? Do you have plans? Have you even thought about it? What about investing an hour in drawing nearer to God?

If you are already a follower of Christ then invest an hour in worshiping God. If you are still seeking answers about faith, then invest an hour investigating Christ and His church.

Nancy Beach has written a wonderful book, An Hour On Sunday. She concludes, “I am convinced that modern day miracles can take place when people enter our churches. The hour on Sunday can be a time for wonder, a time to quiet souls, spark deep emotion and prompt turning points with eternal significance.”

I’m praying today that you might have a simple but special hour this Sunday with God and His community.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Room Service Bills & Eternal Life

Bill McGee at USA Today writes a helpful piece on tipping called: “How to Avoid the $30 Hamburger.” He shares about a recent hotel stay where he ordered a hamburger through room service so that he could get some work done in his hotel room and not have to run out for lunch.

The hamburger cost $18, room service delivery was $3.00, room service “service charge” was $3.78 and tax was $1.80. His total for a convenient in room hamburger lunch was $26.58! McGee comments, “What’s worse is that I failed to read the fine print on the bill and gave the delivery person an additional $3.00 for a tip.”

If you don’t read or understand all of the charges then you’ll end up with a “$30 Hamburger”. As it turns out the room service delivery fee of $3.00 wasn’t a tip but the room service “service charge” of $3.78 was an 18% tip. The waiter made nearly $7.00 for carrying a tray for 10 minutes to a guest room.

Thanks Bill. Truly it is a helpful reminder to those of us that travel to be aware and to read the fine print.

Reflection: Have you spent as much time reading and understanding what God says in the Bible about forgiveness of sin, end-time accountability and eternal life as you would a hotel bill for room service?

If you have a couple of minutes, click the online Bible in the right column and enter these texts for a little information concerning your soul. Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:27; John 3:16; Romans 10:13

The good news is that eternal life is a free gift. Jesus Christ paid your tab. The bad news is that if you fail to receive His gift then you’ll be responsible to pay the bill in full.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

What the Secret Service & Christianity Have in Common

Many of the Secret Service agents who have guarded President Bush at his home in Crawford, Texas have at one time or another visited a nearby tavern called Cricket’s Bar & Grill. This past Friday 30-year-old agent John Scott Lewis became intoxicated and treated staff and patrons so rudely that the Waco Police were called.

When the police arrived Lewis was trying to start a fight with Cricket’s manager. Lewis could not be talked into toning down his behavior and leaving so he was arrested. Lewis resisted arrest and had to be subdued by a Taser electronic stun gun. Lewis has been charged with public intoxication, resisting arrest and reckless damage to property.

When I read the story my first reaction was, “I can’t believe that an agent would conduct himself in such a way.” Then, it occurred to me that many a time the media has carried stories of Christian church members and clergy who have been abusive, dishonest, and criminal. Sometimes that has lead the public to conclude that “all” Christians and ministers must be hypocrites. As a result the public will frequently dismiss any serious consideration of faith and involvement in a faith community.

When one Secret Service agent is inappropriate we should not conclude that the entire agency is corrupt. The agency is honorable as are the majority of their agents. I hope that the same grace-filled conclusion can be held concerning the church.

Last night I spent two hours in a small group experience in someone’s home where in honesty and authenticity men and women shared with one another something of how God is at work in them to transform their broken ways into wholeness and sane living. There was no pretense, image maintenance or game playing. In that room we were just real people engaging a real God in ways that make a real difference.