Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Church History 101: Justin Martyr

Read the introduction to this series – 50 people you need to know: Church History 101

Justin (100-165) was born to pagan parents, but never felt satisfied with any of the irreligious philosophies he learned. It was not until he heard a humble, older Christian man teach about Christ, that Justin knew he had found truth.

In his new found faith, not only did he find truth, but Justin found a truth worth living and dying for –– as he was beheaded for his refusal to denounce Jesus. In his life, Justin sought to demonstrate how the Christian faith was consistent with reason and logic. In his death, he earned the surname Martyr.

Justin Martyr is someone you must know.

Stained glass window of Justin Martyr

Who was Justin Martyr?

Born at the turn of the second century, Justin grew up under two pagan parents and early on began to seek after knowledge. According to Justin himself, he studied under several of the most important philosophical systems of the day, but found them all wanting.

Around the age of 30, however, he went out into a field near the sea to be be alone with his thoughts and had an encounter that would change his life. An older man began to follow him at a distance. Justin turned to speak to him and before he really knew what was happening, the man was presenting the gospel.

Finally, Justin had found the true philosophy for which he had been searching. Of that moment, he wrote:
"A fire was suddenly kindled in my soul. I fell in love with the prophets and these men who had loved Christ; I reflected on all their words and found that this philosophy alone was true and profitable. That is how and why I became a philosopher. And I wish that everyone felt the same way that I do."
Justin spent the rest of his life defending this true and profitable philosophy. He even went to Rome itself to found a school at which he taught Christian philosophy. He wrote several defenses of the Christian faith, even writing apologetic works directed to the Roman emperor and the Roman senate.

After contending for Christianity with a cynic philosopher, he was turned in to the government as a heretic and false teacher. They arrested him and six of his disciples. When asked to reject Christ and make a sacrifice to the Roman gods, Justin boldly replied:
"No one who is rightly minded turns from true belief to false."
He was then led away to be beheaded, thus garnering the surname of Martyr.

Why do you need to know Justin Martyr?

Before there was William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Norman Geisler, John Lennox and any other of the large number of Christian apologists and philosophers today, there was Justin Martyr.

He recognized that Christianity was the true philosophy. It wasn't simply a religious system for some. It is a life changing philosophy that is, above anything else, true for everyone at all times.

Along many other Christian leaders of his day, Justin countered the false teaching of the Gnostics and Marcions. He also sought to present a clear defense and explanation of Christianity to the government officials of his day.

Living under an oppressive government that often sought, and occasionally took, the lives of Christian leaders, Justin boldly defended the faith to the highest officials in the land. He did not, however, do so with a threat or in an insulting manner. He sought to use reason to convince the leaders of their mistake.

Justin wanted to explain how Christians should make the best citizens of Rome. He did not threaten the emperor or the senate with an armed rebellion. He did not insult them, but rather played to their best interests in defending Christianity.

In confronting the lies of those defaming the Church, he used the best weapon he could – the truth. In his First Apology, he explained the worship practices of local Christians to dispel vicious rumors circulating about what went on during church services. This gives us a glimpse at the worship practices of early Christians.
On the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a given city or rural district. The memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits. Then when the reader ceases, the president in a discourse admonishes and urges the imitation of these good things. Next we all rise together and send up prayers.

When we cease from our prayer, bread is presented and wine and water. The president in the same manner sends up prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people sing out their assent, saying the 'Amen.' A distribution and participation of the elements for which thanks have been given is made to each person, and to those who are not present they are sent by the deacons.

Those who have means and are willing, each according to his own choice, gives what he wills, and what is collected is deposited with the president. He provides for the orphans and widows, those who are in need on account of sickness or some other cause, those who are in bonds, strangers who are sojourning, and in a word he becomes the protector of all who are in need.
From very early on, Christian worship services consisted of reading from the Bible, having a preacher expound on the reading, singing songs, taking communion, collecting offerings, which would then be used, in part, to care for those in need.

Justin left us a record of what services were like in his day, but he left us an example of how we can live out our faith regardless of what governments or popular opinion may say in our day.

Trivia Fact: Justin was a prolific writer, with his works being mentioned by numerous other early Church leaders. We have at least pieces of eight works, while three of his major works (First Apology, Second Apology, Dialogue with Trypho) remain intact.

Would you like to write a guest blog for the Church History 101 series? Check out the list of 50 people, find one you would like to work on, then contact me via emailTwitter or Facebook.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dangerous Grace

Amazing grace. We know all about it.

Sweet. Melodious. Enchanting. In a word ... amazing.

But is grace simply amazing? Is that all there is to grace? What if I said grace was dangerous?

Our attitude toward grace will only reflect God's, when we recognize just how dangerous grace was and is. We begin to lose grace when we fence it in, instead of acknowledging how wild it can be.

God made grace dangerous. It's His plan.

Danger sign
Photo from
Grace is absolutely amazing. It is inconceivable that the Father would love us in such a way as to send the Son to redeem us, who in turn would send the Spirit to seal us.

There is nothing we did or could have done to earn grace because that's exactly what it is – unmerited favor. God has turned his face toward His children simply out of His love. In fact, He has transformed us from rebels and traitors into children and joint heirs with Christ.

Grace frees us to choose Christ, where as that option was never available to us before. That is nothing if not amazing, but there is more and this is where grace gets dangerous.

God has openly poured out His grace for us, but He has done so on such fickle creatures who often choose poorly. As Screwtape tells Wormood in C.S. Lewis' classic Screwtape Letters, "He cannot ravish; He can only woo."

God's wooing leaves us open to reject Him and choose our own path that leads away. Grace gives options and this is dangerous.

We can choose to worship and obey God in His power, reject and turn away from Him in our own power, or attempt to worship and obey Him in our own power.

The most subtle temptation is to do the right thing outwardly, while relying solely on ourselves to accomplish it. We do this through legalism. It's what Jesus constantly condemned the Pharisees over.

Legalism recognizes the dangerous nature of grace, so it seeks to place protective fences all around to keep us in line. We don't want to use our grace as an excuse to sin, so let's add all of these rules to help us avoid temptation.

If legalism were the best way to grow us into worshippers of Him, God would have used it. If the risk of grace and freedom were too much for God in the long term, He never would have given them to us. If He could have used safe grace, He would have do so.

None of those things, however, are the case. God, in His infinite wisdom, chose dangerous grace. He chose to grant us freedom in our relationship with Him.

Grace brings freedom and freedom is dangerous. It has been since Adam and Eve and it continues to be today.

In his summation of the Christian faith, Mere Christianity, Lewis wrote, "Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk."

The proper response to this is nothing short of complete and absolute devotion to a God who went the dangerous route, the route that cost Him Jesus.

He didn't send down a list of rules to stay "safe" in heaven. He sent down His Son to a dangerous world to display dangerous grace.

Grace is amazing, but it is also dangerous. Dangerous to our way of thinking. Dangerous to our legalistic solutions. Dangerous to our ordinary lives.

This dangerous grace that saved you is calling on you to step outside of average and easy to exceptional and dangerous. Grace would have it no other way.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Top 5 features Sony rejected for the PS4

Sony has announced the holiday 2013 release of the new PlayStation 4. Apparently there is no truth to the rumor (which I personally started) that it will be called the Wii1080, just as an attempt at cutting off both of their competitor's next move.

They did unveil some interesting new features that will be included in their next generation gaming console. They also rejected many possible add-ons. I've managed to secure a list of some of those that were turned down.

Here are the top 5 features Sony rejected for the PS4.

PS4 controller
This is the new controller for the PS4, but what could it have looked like with these five features?

5. Special speaker for new players:

In trying to appease both hardcore gamers and the newbies that console companies need to grow, PlayStation tried to pitch the idea of a speaker that was only active for those players brand new to the game.

The problem? It screamed out "Noooooob!" every time the new player made a mistake, which may have been satisfying for gaming veterans, but it turned off potential gaming converts.

4. Attempt to unite nerd groups:

Sony wanted to use some of the buzz for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by making a special edition version of the PlayStation Eye called the PS Eye of Sauron.

You can guess the unfortunate results of having a flaming, mind-reading, all consuming evil eye in your living room. The prototype was melted in a volcano in New Zealand ... or was it?!?

3. An anti-social button:

One of the most talked about features included on the new PS4 is a social button that lets you share achievements and gaming video on social networking sites. But, as Andy Levy tweeted isn't that the exact opposite experience video gamers are trying to have.

Their proposed anti-social button would have sent out the following social media update from the player and saved it as their voice mail message: "I'm playing the new Sony PS4 and you'll never see me again. Ever! Hahahahahaha." Focus groups, however, found it a tad creepy.

2. Significant outreach to senior citizens:

Video game makers have long sought to get in on the senior citizen market. They have lots of free time on their hands (as long as they start playing before the early bird dinner specials at Cracker Barrel) and often have plenty of disposable income.

Initially, Sony thought they could connect it with phones to make it easier for them to play on the go (in golf carts in a Florida retirement neighborhoods), but they found out this could be a problem, as a large percentage of them still use a rotary phone. (For those of you too young to know, here's a link to a photo of rotary phone. Weird huh?)

1. An actual touch screen:

Sure, the new DualShock 4 will have a touch screen in the center of the controller, but PlayStation originally thought of pushing the envelope and giving gamers something they've never had before – fresh air.

The screen was going to let gamers feel the outside world. The screen would blow real outdoor breezes in the player's face and touch real, not computer generated, grass. Eventually, however, Sony decided that gamers had no desire to ever feel what it is like outside.

What are your favorite real features of the new PlayStation 4? What fake feature should they have included ... or rejected?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Church History 101: Polycarp

Read the introduction to this series – 50 people you need to know: Church History 101

A disciple of the apostle John, Polycarp (69-156) is perhaps the most important link between the age of the Church Fathers and the New Testament era.

He was appointed by some of the apostles as bishop of the church at Smyrna, a pivotal church in modern day Turkey, and was one of the earliest defenders of the faith against the new heresies that rose up along side orthodox Christianity.

Polycarp is someone you absolutely should know.

Polycarp's martyrdom
A mural of Polycarp's martyrdom can be found in the Catholic church near Smyrna.
The man to the far left is believed to be a self-portrait of the artist, Raymond Péré.

Who was Polycarp?

Much of what we know about Polycarp's life comes from the writings of other Church Fathers, like Irenaeus and Tertullian. We know that he met with and was converted by apostles who had personally been with Jesus. In particular, he studied under John. Later, the apostles appointed him as pastor at Smyrna.

As a leader of the church during the transitional period after the deaths of the apostles, Polycarp helped to provide steady, humble leadership to a growing movement which faced many challenges and difficulties.

He traveled to Rome to discuss disagreements over some issues, including the date of the celebration of Easter. According to Irenaeus, Polycarp and the bishop of Rome, Anicetus, came to quick agreement over core doctrinal issues, while agreeing to disagree over the proper time to celebrate Easter.

In Rome, Polycarp helped to confront heresies, particularly gnosticism and those following Marcion, who held heretical beliefs about the nature of God and rejected the Old Testament. Polycarp was able to convince many of those in Marcionism that they were in error.

The story of his martyrdom in 156 is relayed in a letter written to the church in Smyrna, which survived as is known as, appropriately enough, The Martyrdom of Polycarp. In it, the bishop is described as bravely facing his fate and boldly responding to his persecutors' request to deny Christ and worship Caesar: "For eighty and six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?"

Polycarp was put to death for his King.

Why do you need to know Polycarp?

Outside of the New Testament itself, Polycarp's epistle to the church at Philippi is one of the oldest Christian documents we possess. From it, we can gather that Polycarp was a man of immense humility, despite his sitting under the feet of John and being an important leader in the early Christian church.

We also find that he was one who greatly valued Scripture. Some have suggested that it was he who first set out to gather and distribute what would become the books of the New Testament. In his letter, he quotes frequently from the Bible, even referencing Paul and his letters "from the study of which you will be able to build yourselves up into the faith given you."

This lets us know that it did not take years and years for the New Testament books to garner reverence and become regarded as inspired pieces of Scripture. It happened, if not immediately, almost immediately.

His leadership in the Church helped it move beyond the lives of the apostles to everyone else. He held fast on core doctrinal issues, while being gracious over less essential matters. His humility through out his life, regardless of the circumstances, can be of great encouragement to those who follow after him.

Simply put, Polycarp provides a great example to anyone who seeks to stand firm for Christ during an age that challenges the central tenets of the faith, while being loving to those inside and outside the church.

Odd Trivia Fact: The Martyrdom of Polycarp (16:1) records that the fire that had been set to burn the bishop alive would not touch him, so an executioner was sent to stab him in the chest. After this, it says a dove burst from his chest and so much blood came out that it put out the fire.

Regardless of the specifics, it seems clear that Christ provided an evident difference in the way Polycarp lived and died.

Would you like to write a guest blog for the Church History 101 series? Check out the list of 50 people, find one you would like to work on, then contact me via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Downplaying your gifts hurts others

It seems so humble to shake off compliments of our work with, "Oh, that's nothing."

When someone speaks highly of what we did, we often feel as if our Christian duty is to downplay achievements and abilities.

We believe that in doing so, we are not placing ourselves above others and living with humility. It is for the benefit of others that we don't accept and acknowledge our gifts. Except it's not.

In reality, we offend the Giver of the gifts, cultivate false humility in our lives, and hurt our relationship with others. This was never more evident to me than a recent interaction with my son over school work.

Just because painting may come easy to you,
does not mean it will be similar for others.
Being a writer, reading to my children and generally have a very literate and well-read house, it came as a surprise to me to hear my oldest son's teacher talk about his struggles with motivation for writing at school. She went through how far ahead of schedule he was on his understanding and application of math, but he just didn't seem to enjoy writing.

Not long after that, he had a writing assignment from school that he did not finish during the class time, so he had to finish it at home. Believing that he was simply being absent-minded I scolded him over his inability to manage his time and write what he was told.

We went around and around over his not writing. He finally broke down in tears, revealing his needs, but also my insensitivity to his struggles and different gifting. He, at least at this point, needed help with prompts to help initiate his writing.

Once I sat down and listened to him talk about why it was he wasn't writing, I was able to help him think through some things that could help him get started and finish his work.

Writing is and has as long as I can remember come easy to me. It is a gift of mine that I enjoy.

God has blessed me with that ability, but for so long I spent my life speaking as if it was insignificant. Writing, I told myself, was just putting words on a page. Anyone can do that. It came easy to me, so it must come easy to everyone else.

Obviously, that's not the case. I can write. You can do things that I cannot do. Math and cooking come to mind as abilities that do not come naturally to me.

Each of us has been gifted differently by our creative Creator. He enjoys the diversity within His creation. It is his intention to have people with vastly different abilities and skills serve Him through those various means.

When you downplay the giftedness you have, however, you begin to assume that others should be able to do those things as easily and as well as you. Like my son with writing, you get frustrated that the other person struggles with something you find so easy. It can be your child, your friend, your coworker or your spouse.

For so long you have looked at your gift as if it was nothing special, with the intention of trying to cultivate humility. Instead, you have cultivated frustration and anger within your relationships, by holding others to a standard to which they were never meant to live up.

Albert Einstein is purported to have said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Whether the scientific mastermind actually said it or not, the statement still contains truth. I cannot judge my son on whether he can write like me. God has gifted him in his own unique way.

You have your own special gifts, but when you downplay them you wrongly teach yourself that others should be able to do all that you can as easily as you can. You are only setting up them for failure and the relationship for trouble.

Real humility can acknowledge, without pride, a personal gift or achievement, while never doing so at the expense of others.

Recognize your gifts. Respects the gifts of others. Do both in reverence to the Giver of all good gifts.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Top 5 Christian break-up lines

If anything is more awkward than trying to get into a relationship, it's trying to get out of one. Especially for a Christian.

Last year, I gave you 10 Christian pick-up lines, but what if things aren't working out now? You need to end the relationship in the most Christian way possible. How can you do that?

Well, you could be honest and treat the other person with respect and dignity and in doing so display maturity and Christlikeness in a difficult situation, but seriously, how would that help?

You could sing one of the top 10 Christian break-up songs or top 5 break-up hymns, but unless you live in a musical, it would seem a bit ... odd to actually sing the ending of your relationship.

What you really need to do is make up some overly spiritual sounding lie in a desperate attempt to dump the other person in such a way that you seem like the Mother Teresa of break-ups. OK, a lady who was single her whole life is probably not the best comparison for relationship issues, but you get my drift.

Here is just what you need: the top 5 Christian break-up lines.

These are OK, but they aren't Jesus-y enough.
5. I really need to spend more time with God, especially on Friday and Saturday nights or any other time that you are available.

4. I'm looking for a knight in shining armor and I couldn't help but notice you haven't been putting on the whole armor of God lately.

3. That WWJD bracelet you are wearing reminds me. We both are trying to be more like Christ, so I think we should be like Jesus and be single.

2. Right now, I just want to make Jesus my boyfriend. You can't be upset with me wanting to be with Jesus more, can you?

1. You know how I told you that God you to go out with me? Well, He just told me that you'd make a much better friend than girlfriend.

I know, unfortunately, that some Christians have used the horrible pick-ups lines. Have you heard (or used!) any of these break-up lines? What might be some other Christian break-up lines?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

50 people you need to know: Church History 101

“My task in this class is to convince you that there was someone between your grandmother and Jesus and that it matters” – Timothy George, church history professor.
There have been a lot of people since the time of the New Testament and before our grandparents who have made a tremendous impact on Christianity and the world. Unfortunately, to our detriment, we refuse to take the time to get to know them.

The ideas we have about our faith and the way we practice it did not originate in a temporal vacuum. They have been influenced by all of those who have gone before us.

Seeing the grand historical scope of Christianity allows us to better appreciate its grandeur and the glory of its Savior. It also can encourage us, as we recognize that we are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses, both living and dead. Many of them died defending some of the very doctrines you hold.

Just as Christ walks with us, others have walked before us. We do ourselves a disservice by not investigating their lives and contributions to the faith as a whole and our faith as individuals.

Recognizing that, with suggestions from friends on social media, I developed a list of 50 influential individuals within Church history. There are 50 men and women you, as a Christian, should know. Starting next week, once or twice a week, The Wardrobe Door will feature a profile of one of these 50 people in a new series called Church History 101.

Photo from
Before you see the list, you should know what it is and what it is not. This list is not the 50 most influential people in Church history. I would not be qualified to make that judgment. This is merely 50 influential individuals whom I feel should be recognized and, in some cases, more widely known.

I have intentionally left out individuals from the New Testament and those who are alive today. Obviously, Billy Graham has made a significant impact on Church history, but his contributions are not yet completed.

Also, recognizing my ecclesiological background, I have focused mainly on those within my own frame of reference (Protestant, Evangelical and Baptist). This means I have left off popes, as influential as many have been, and the founders of Pentecostalism, despite its rapid growth in the last two centuries.

I have also not included those with whom I have major, central theological differences, as well as individuals outside of Christianity who may have impacted the church from the vantage point of a spectator. I want to speak positively of each one and how Christ worked in and through them.

This is a group who is entirely flawed and imperfect, but they made a lasting impact by simply obeying what Christ had called them to do. I hope in the coming days, weeks and months, these men and women will make an impact on your life and inspire you to your own life of obedience and impact.
50 Influential Individuals in Church History
1. Polycarp
2. Justin Martyr
3. Irenaeus
4. Origen
5. Tertullian
6. Athanasius
7. Aquinas
8. Anselm
9. John Chrysostom
10. Augustine
11. Patrick
12. William of Ockham
13. Francis of Assisi
14. Jon Huss
15. John Wycliffe
16. William Tyndale
17. Balthasar Hubmaier
18. John Bunyan
19. Martin Luther
20. John Calvin
21. John Knox
22. Thomas Cranmer
23. Thomas Helwys
24. Isaac Newton
25. Blaise Pascal
26. Roger Williams
27. David Brainerd
28. Charles & John Wesley
29. Jonathan Edwards
30. George Whitefield
31. George Lisle
32. Andrew Fuller
33. William Carey
34. Adoniram & Ann Judson
35. George Handel
36. William Palely
37. Isaac Watts
38. William Wilberforce
39. George Mueller
40. Timothy Dwight
41. Charles Finney
42. Dwight L. Moody
43. Charles Spurgeon
44. Lottie Moon
45. C.S. Lewis
46. J.R.R. Tolkien
47. Jim & Elizabeth Elliot
48. Corrie Ten Boom
49. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
50. Charles Colson
What do you think of the list? Who would you like to see included that I left off? Are there some names that you don't know? Do you see someone here that you are particularly interested in?

If you would like to write a guest post on an individual for the Church History 101 series here at The Wardrobe Door, email me at with the subject "Church History 101" or tweet me @WardrobeDoor with the hashtag #ChurchHistory101 and let me know who you would like to cover.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Insulting God

What did you think of when you read those words – "insulting God"?

For most of us, it conjures up someone screaming out curses at God or maybe someone forcing out wrathful words as they deal with a hurt in their life.

That's not quite what I'm talking about here. You may not have ever yelled angrily at God, but you've still probably insulted Him. Here's how.

Photo from
When you give a gift to someone, what do you expect from them in return?

If it's actually a gift, you really shouldn't expect anything, unless it is a "thank you" and their enjoyment of it. How would you feel if, part of the time, they constantly followed you around doing things for you because they had to repay you, while, the other part of the time, they ignored the gift and treated it carelessly?

They never screamed at you or cursed you, but more than likely you would feel insulted and offended.

Either they are treating you as if you were requiring them to work for the gift or they see the gift as something essentially useless to them.

How do we treat salvation? The same way those in the church at Rome did when Paul wrote to them.

In Romans, Paul is writing to a mixed audience of Jews and Gentiles, who have differing religious tendencies. The Jews misunderstood the Old Testament to teach that salvation was earned through outwardly moral actions.

The Greek influenced Gentiles saw the gods as essentially unconcerned with our moral behavior as long as we observed the right holidays and made the right sacrifices. Often times, when both groups were present, there was a mix of both.

In Romans 4:22-25, Paul tells the Roman believers that God has credited their belief as righteousness. God's gift of Jesus' death for our sins and resurrection mean that we can enter into a relationship with Him. We have been granted justification. Unworthy sinners are made right before a holy God.

You didn't earn it. You can't earn it. It is a free gift from God and can only be given by God, who does so as we follow Him in believing in the sacrifice of Jesus.

When you behave as if your salvation as something you earned because of your works, you insult God. You are telling Him that you can buy His gift with your behavior. You are telling God that He's wrong and salvation is not as special as He believes it to be, after all, you worked to get it.

That's only part of the message to the Romans, and us. In Romans 6, particularly Romans 6:1-4, Paul confronts those who have lied about his message. When he teaches salvation through grace, he is not teaching cheap grace that requires no behavioral change. He is teaching free grace that results in a new life.

Simply because you didn't pay for your gift doesn't mean it was cheap. Our spiritual freedom cost God the Father the death of His Son.

When you live your life as if if your salvation matters so little to you that you refuse to allow God to make changes, you insult God. You are telling God that you'll take His gift, but you don't really care about it. It is essentially worthless to you, unless you feel like using it.

Sure, people verbally insult God with things they say, but the more immediate temptation for those who claim to follow Him is insulting His gift of salvation through treating it as something to earn or ignore.

Are you insulting God with your life?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Humor: top 10 Christian break-up songs

With St. Valentine's Day coming up, the weekend before is also a holiday for many people in relationships. It is "We Need To Break Up Because I Don't Want To Be In A Relationship On Valentine's Day" Weekend.

Unfortunately, so many people dump their significant others right before the annual celebration of love. Even more unfortunately, Christians have not had their own break-up songs.

Secular music has a lot of really good songs to use at the end of a relationship – mostly sung by angst-y, dramatic teenagers. Christian music was out of luck. Until now.

With a little addition to the title of some popular Christian songs, we have a list of go-to dumping songs for the church folk. Don't worry, we've got all the genres covered. There is even a Christmas song on the list of top 10 Christian break-up songs.

10. Kiss me ... goodbye.

9. Stomp ... yourself on out of here.

8. I lift my hands ... and wave goodbye.

7. I can play the background ... and you can play the solo.

6. Dare you to move ... far away from me.

5. I can only imagine ... dating you after today.

4. Mary did you know ... that I don't like you anymore?

3. 10,000 reasons ... I'm dumping you.

2. Who am I ... not your girlfriend anymore.

1. Friends are friends forever ... and that's all we are.

If you had to use one, what would your Christian break-up song be? Over at The Wardrobe Drawer, you can find the top 5 break-up hymns, just in case you like your relationships to end with a piano and organ playing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What prayer have you forgotten?

Have you ever stopped praying for something because there was no answer from God for so long?

If you are like me and you are honest, you have to admit that sometimes some prayers seem too heavy to reach God.

You pray and you wait. You pray and you wait. It goes on until you've almost forgot what you were praying about and why it really mattered.

Acceptance. That's what it's all about, right?

Clearly, God is not going to answer this prayer, so I might as well accept the situation as it is and forget this request.

Maybe not.

Zechariah and Elizabeth provide an example of receiving an answer to a long forgotten prayer.

Photo from

How long do you think it had it been since Zechariah and Elizabeth had stopped praying for a child when he heard the news from the angel Gabriel?

Luke describes them as "well along in years." I guess that was Luke's euphemism for "old," or at the very least, too old to have children.

Elizabeth is barren, unable to become pregnant. Both of them were getting the senior citizen discount at the local Matzah King or Olive Hunt. Having a child was the last thing on their mind right now.

But that wasn't always the case.
"Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer had been heard."
Zechariah is, to use a modern colloquialism, freaking out. He was just selected from among the priest to go into the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. He goes in and sees an angel that tells him his prayer has been heard.

What prayer? The prayers the priests offered up for the forgiveness of their sins and the sins of the people. A prayer for comfort for his wife because she feels disgraced since she is unable to have ... children?

It couldn't be that prayer. Could it?

I mean, he's too old. She's too old. They're both too old and haven't been able to have children. They've already moved past those tears and that pain, or at least they've tried to. They had to stop praying for that a long time ago. It was too difficult for them to even think about.

It couldn't be that one.
"Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John."
What? It was almost too hard to even hear what this angel was telling him. It sounded like the angel said he was going to have a son.

The angel kept talking. He was saying how the boy was going to become a great man and prepare the way for the Messiah. But Zechariah couldn't get past that first part. He's having a son? This can't be right.
"How can I know this? I'm an old man and my wife is well along in years."
Can you hear it in his question?This one can't happen, not now. It's been too long. That prayer was long since forgotten.

That's just it. Zechariah and Elizabeth may have forgotten that prayer, but God hadn't. He was waiting for the perfect time to answer it in accordance with His will.

How often do we give up on prayer requests? Often.

How soon do we give up on prayer requests? Too soon.

Jesus tells us the same thing. We are to keep asking and keep knocking with our requests to the Father (Matthew 7:7 HCSB). In a parable, He praises a widow who pesters a wicked judge until he gives her justice.

Those prayers that seem so heavy to us, the ones that feel like they fall from our lips as soon as we speak them, often times, those are the ones that God delights in answering, but in His perfect timing.

We do not have all the answers. We cannot know exactly when and how God will respond to our prayer requests. But we can know and trust and He is a good God who does respond in a way that is for our good and His glory.

That prayer that you have forgotten may very well be the one that God is about to act on. Don't give up. Trust.

Not in a specific answer that may or may not come, but in a God who is the answer to all of our problems.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Top 10 reasons the lights went out at the Super Bowl

So ... that was awkward.

Millions, if not billions, of people watching the Super Bowl and the power goes out in the New Orleans Superdome.

This isn't the hair dryer tripping a breaker in your two bedroom apartment in the morning. This is the most watched sporting event in America coming to a grinding halt for over 30 minutes because half of the lights in the stadium refused to come back on.

There was only so many times the CBS crew could show the highlights from the first half or offer any type of significant insight. I suppose we should all be thankful that when the lights came back on we didn't find them tied up and their set looted.

Still, it all turned into a big mess. The power company is blaming the Superdome. The Superdome is blaming the power company. The NFL is blaming the New Orleans Saints' bounty program.

Regardless of who's to blame, I think I found the reason the lights went out. Here are the top 10 reasons the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl.

Photo from USA Today.
10. The old people from the Taco Bell commercial threw out a hip and a breaker.

9. We aren't sure how, but we all know it was George W. Bush's fault. He was trying to finish off what his hurricane machine left behind in New Orleans.

8. The lights, like every person living (and some not living), were frightened by Ray Lewis face mask and bionic arm, so they ran away.

7. It was all part of some elaborate Buffalo Wild Wings commercial.

6. Before they even official got back together, Destiny's Child broke up again and start throwing things in the dressing room.

5. The Harbaugh parents were tired of seeing their sons fight. They really didn't like that the older brother was beating up on his younger brother that badly.

4. One word: Bane.

3. If we learned anything last night, it's that we need farmers for things to go right. Unfortunately, there were no farmers at the Super Bowl. They were all working.

2. The question was finally answered. No, the Superdome was not ready for that jelly, Beyonce.

1. The NFL partnered with the WWE to bring some wrestling style excitement to the Super Bowl. If the lights had stayed out a few seconds longer Joe Flacco would have been found knocked out on the 50 yard line with a steel chair laying beside him.

What was the most outlandish reason you heard for the Super Bowl power outage? Where is the craziest place you've been when the lights went out?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Top 5 reasons it's OK to skip church for the Super Bowl

So ... Super Bowl Sunday is this Sunday. It's the Super Bowl, but it's Sunday. Decisions, decisions.

Do you go to church or fake BigGame-itis to stay home? You know you are wrestling with this dilemma, if your church actually has services Sunday night.

Well, some of you are debating whether you need to stay home on Sunday morning, so you can get the food ready and watch the pregame show that started some time last week.

I can't help you there, but for everyone else, I'm going to give you all the excuses you need to skip church for the Super Bowl.

Just make sure you coordinate with the other football (commercial) fans in your church, so you don't try to give the same excuse when your pastor asks you if you can help with the nursery Sunday night.

Here are the top 5 reasons it's perfectly OK to skip church on Sunday Bowl Sunday.

5. Ray Lewis wears a Bible verse under his jersey – It's like a sermon on a shirt. Of course, it's a lot shorter than your pastor's sermon, a LOT shorter. But God's word is powerful, right? Even if Lewis didn't get it quite right.

You know what else is powerful? Ray Lewis' new face mask. That might actually be a reason to go to church. I'm fairly certain I've been seeing that in my nightmares. Can we have a Super Bowl party / exorcism?

4. "When in Rome do as the Romans do" – That's in the Bible, right? I mean it has to be in Romans somewhere, doesn't it? I know the Bible talks about Rome and that certainly sounds like a Jesus-y thing to say.

OK, so that's not really in the Bible, but it could be and that's good enough on questionable calls, isn't it? People make up their own Bible verses all the time. There's a decent chance your pastor won't even be able to tell the difference. Use this excuse if you feel like gambling (it's cheaper than losing money betting on the coin toss or how many time the announcers will refer to the game as the Har-bowl).

3. You don't want to be a pharisee – If you have to, play the legalism card. It's almost like a "Get Out of Doing the Right Thing Free" card. You can just say you don't want to come across as a pharisee and you gain all types of new freedoms.

Someone asks you to teach a class at church? "Well, I feel like if I did any more I would start to be spiritually arrogant. I don't want to be a pharisee." Boom. Works every time, especially when it comes to attending questionable services like Super Bowl Sunday, your birthday, that really pretty day a few weeks back, the Sunday it was raining kinda heavy and, of course, Christmas Eve.

2. Fellowship – One word. It's all you need, especially if you are Baptist. You can excuse almost anything, if you serve food at it and label it as a fellowship.

Just invite some friends over to watch the game with you. If they are from your church, then you just call it a church fellowship. If they go to a different church, it's cross-church fellowship. If your friends don't go to any church. Easiest of all. Evangelistic outreach.

1. Tim Tebow might show up – You can't miss that. What kind of Christian would you be if you did not stay home to make sure you catch a glimpse of the Pope of Football? You will want the New York Jets (for now) back-up QB to bless you and your sport viewing experience.

Your pastor may try to guilt you, but remember that Tebow is closer to Jesus than your pastor. No good follower of Jesus would pass up the opportunity to see him, perhaps even touch the hem of his jersey through your television screen. Just don't count on Tebow to fix a flaw in your throwing mechanics. His powers don't extend that far.
Is your church having services Super Bowl Sunday night? If so, are you going? If you aren't going, what excuse are you giving?