RG2G 027 Since Business is Evil, Can it be Christian?

One of the famous sayings spawned by the movie, “The Godfather” is this, “It’s not personal; it’s business.” Living in Nashville, I also hear this one often: “Christian music is sometimes Christian, sometimes music, but all the time business.” We also hear phrases like this: “It’s time that big business gives back.”

The truth is, more times than not, business as a trade is something that is sinister, evil, and only obsessed on making money.  But is that the true nature of business?  And if it is, can there be such a thing as Christian business, Christian music, Christian books, Christian bookstores?

So today on our show we talk about what the Scriptures have to teach us about business.  Can business be sacred? Can it be a calling?  Can it be a good thing? And does it need to be hyphenated, whether we’re Christian in order to be good, to be righteous, and God-honoring?

There is a ton of misinformation out there about business. We disdain business.  We don’t want to be in business.  We simply want to have a job and go home and leave the dirty business to the higher-ups and the corporate chiefs.  But is this God’s will, God’s way, and most of all, God’s calling?  We’ll find out today on episode 27.

RG2G 026 Why the World Didn’t Come to an End on May 21, 2011

Once again we stand in the wake of the disappointment of those who prophesied and predicted the rapture this past Saturday.

If this were just the weird prediction of a small group, we could ignore it.  Reports say over a hundred million dollars was spent to advertise and promote this idea on this date.  Not all the intentions and purposes were good.  Maybe we need to look at what motivates these people who make these predictions.

Also, while we’re at it, let’s clear up some wrong attitudes and understandings about the second coming of Christ. Because a lot of people think that what God’s going to do is destroy the earth – not true; that God is going to come and cause wars and famine – not true; that God is going to somehow out of anger and frustration just simply pull the plug, walk away, and let the world implode on itself – not true.

On Renegade today we talk about what the Scriptures teach about the second coming of Christ, why we can’t and shouldn’t seek to know it, and how we should live in light of it.

RG2G 025 How Do You Grow a Strong and Fruitful Faith?

Millions of people attended church last Sunday.  And millions more will show up this coming Sunday. For that I say, Yea God!  If for you, going to church is going to worship, to connect to God and other messy people, I applaud you for making this a discipline of your week.  Not only do you obey a direct command of God, you also set yourself up to win.

But let’s face it.  One hour, one day a week isn’t enough to grow a strong, fruitful faith. It has to be more.  What else do you do?  How does faith grow strong?  How does faith become more fruitful with time?  How does it flourish in the fires of adversity?  What are the disciplines that you need to be working into your life?

As you listen to the episode today, you might be surprised at not only how simple these disciplines are, but actually, believe it or not, (forgive me for being vulgar here) how much fun they really are.

Let’s be honest.  If you’re having to make your faith work, if you’re having to tolerate the distance of God, if you’re having to get up and drag yourself to church, maybe it’s time you made your faith fun again. Yeah, I said “fun again”.  I know, it seems unimportant doesn’t it.  But here’s what I’ve learned.  Whenever there is high achievement, whenever relationships are good and growing, when asked, people would describe them by almost exclusively one characteristic quality: “I’m having fun out there. I’m having fun in my marriage.  I’m having fun at work.” Faith should be fun too. Our fun is joy, peace, energy, passion, a love for life, and a love for God.  It’s all yours, all possible, and we’ll talk about it today on a Renegade’s Guide to God.

RG2G 024 Does Loving God Make You Weird?

One of the most difficult things to face when you become a Christian is that not everyone who says they are a Christian, are genuine, authentic, and real.  As a matter, of fact some people are just downright wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They are not just misguided, they are evil.  Yeah, I said it.  Evil, and to be avoided.

The question is, how do you know the difference between someone who is just weird, messed up, and using religion to control and manipulate other people, and people who may be just misguided, misinformed, and well-intentioned, but have never had any information that helps them see their faith as a good thing?

If you’ve ever dealt with the harsh criticism of religious bullies, those who use the Scriptures to prove their points of view, then today’s show is just for you. Hear how to make a distinction between those who are genuine and real, who have a relationship with God that you can learn from and be inspired by, as opposed to religious bullies; those weird people who, in the name of God, try to force their views and opinions on other people.  All this today on Renegade’s Guide to God.

RG2G 023 How to Buy a Bible

At the core of every Christian’s life is the reading and studying of Scripture.  The Bible is indeed God’s word.  We believe that it is inspired by God, given by God.  It is the direct revelation of God.  It is the foundation for all that we do. It is our ultimate authority.  It tells us Who God is, what He wants, and what He expects.

Unlike any other book in the world, the Bible can be read and reread and studied for a lifetime, and still only skim the surface of the depth of its meaning.  It’s a living document. As you read it, the Scriptures promise that it reads us back.  One of the most important things we will ever do is buy a Bible, choose a verse, and make a lifelong habit of digesting its content.

On the Renegade show today, we talk about how to buy a Bible: some of the practical aspects of leather or hardbound, study or non-study, paraphrase or literal translation, which can be trusted and which others should have a warning light. How big should a Bible be?  How big should the font of the text be?  All today on the Renegade’s Guide to God.

RG2G 022 If God is So Good, Why is There So Much Suffering in the World?

One of the thorny dilemmas anyone, anywhere faces when they affirm the goodness of God, is, “How can God be good and there be so much pain, suffering, and darkness in the world?”

In talking with a young seeker several years ago, he posed that question to me.  He said, “I just can’t believe in a God that would allow so much pain in the world.”  I responded by asking, “So you can’t believe in God because of all the pain and suffering, all the things you see that are counter to the proclamation that God is good and gracious?”  He said, “Absolutely.” I said, “So you can’t live in a world with pain and God, so you’ll live in a world with just pain.”

On the show today we delve deeply into that subject and help you understand that God wastes nothing; not even our pain.  God is not bound by the sins and the stupidity of others as it relates to what He can do in our own lives.  And here’s a revelation.  He’s not even bound by our own stupidity. You’ll find out more on today’s show.

RG2G 021 You Cannot Be a Christian and Do That

One of the hottest debates, at least in American Christianity, is about how Christians behave.  What can a Christian be expected to do and not do?  What’s the actual nature of Christianity?  Is it a sin-management program?  Is it adherence to a certain strict set of doctrines? Is there a certain set of behaviors that you must demonstrate in order to be considered Christian?

Today on Renegade’s Guide to God, we talk about what’s at the heart of Christianity.  Is it the good works we do that make us Christian and justify us before God?  Or is it simple faith?  And is it faith alone, intellectual ascent to a certain set of facts that make us Christian?  Or is there something more going on that we ignore to our own detriment?

Today on the show we’ll answer the question, “Which is more important; faith or works, behavior or attitude, heart, or the actual things we do?”  We’ll talk about what sort of things are totally out of bounds in Christianity.  And this list might surprise you, because drinkin’, smokin’, and gamblin’ don’t make the list.

RG2G 020 5 Reasons Church Planters Fail

I don’t ordinarily consider myself a “church planter,” but now that I’ve planted two churches in the last 20 years, I suppose I am.

I’ve been in this long enough to know that there are some things that are very predictable about planting a new church, or even starting a new business.

The truth is, we can never have enough of the right kind of churches because we have an over-abundance of the wrong kind. The question is, “What are the wrong kind, what are the right kind, and what are the characteristics of those church plants and church planters that seem to always fail? And are there characteristics that will predict that a church plant will succeed?”  I believe there are five reasons why church planters fail.  I’ve seen it happen over and over and over again.  Even in my own life, when I’ve gotten close to the edges of these harsh realities, I can look over the abyss of failure.

These reasons can be avoided.  And actually they’re opposites of the guarantee that a church planter will not only succeed, but succeed beyond his or her wildest imagination.  And that leads to another issue, doesn’t it?  What is a successful church plant? Is it a church of 4,000 or 5,000 people with 280 acres of land, a big staff, and multiple services?  Well if it is, I’ve been there.  But I can tell you that those are poor ways to judge the success or failure of a church plant.  We’ll talk about it today on Renegade’s Guide to God.

RG2G 019 How to Know Your Christianity No Longer Is

I am of the firm conviction that you have every right to reject Jesus and all the tenants of Christianity.  But you don’t have the right to redefine the Christian faith to mean anything you want it to.

With all the confusion these days and all the books and other information swirling around that seem to redefine the Christian faith, I thought it was time to just sit down an lend my voice to the conversation.

Christianity revolves around one person; and that’s Jesus Christ: who He is, what He taught, what He demanded how He saw the world, and how His followers understood that and have implemented it over the 2,000 years since His time on earth.

On our show today I talked about some of the fundamentals of Christian faith that cannot be changed and it still be Christian.  This is important for you as you judge the books you read and the talks you hear.  If you are a speaker, a leader, and an influencer in the American church, it’s important for you to make sure you understand that you are not free to interpret the Christian faith in any way you choose.

RG2G 018 Why I’ve Given Up Trying to Win People to Jesus

All of my Christian life, I’ve heard how important it is to be a soul-winner, to win people to Jesus, to convince people that the Christian faith is the way to go.  But for the past 21 years, I’ve seen more lives transformed through the power of Jesus than I ever dreamed or hoped that I might.  And I have to tell you, in the last 21 years I have not tried to win anybody to Jesus.

Winning people to Jesus gives one or two ideas.  One, that Christianity is something that can be forced on someone through salesmanship against their will.  Or two, that I as a Christian feel I am superior to you, and feel like I need to overlay onto you my expectations.

On today’s episode, we talked about the true nature of Christianity, that Christianity is not something to be sold, but something to be lived. It is telling our story, relating where we have found hope, bread, help; being compassionate, sympathetic, and open to hearing other people’s story that goes furthest toward helping people discover the life-giving relationship that comes from opening our hearts up to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

If you’ve been made to feel guilty because you don’t witness more, or because you don’t “share your faith,” today’s episode is a must.  Gather other friends around you in a small group and listen, and see  how the practical advice will help you be more effective in your ability to make a difference.

RG2G 017 How to Listen to a Sermon with Your Brain

I was in conversation with the guys in my small group and we were bemoaning the sad state of sermonizing and teaching in the American church.

One guy said, “I feel sorry for people who are in the formation stage of their faith with all the muddied up opinions, compromised truths, and just really bad preaching.”

As a result, I thought it would be good today, to talk about how to listen to a sermon.  Maybe you’ve listened to a few.  I’ve actually given far more than I’ve listened to, but I’ve listened to my share, believe you me.  And I’ve learned there are some things you need to ask yourself when you’re listening, because when you’re listening to a spiritual talk, a teacher of any kind, you’re placing your trust in them.  You’re opening up your heart and your mind for what they are saying.  And oftentimes what they have to say may not line up with Scripture and ultimate truth.

So if you’ve ever listened to a sermon, or listened to a teacher, or even a television preacher; read a book, or gone through a study course and you’re wondering if all this stuff is true or not, listen to this show.  I’m going to give you some guidelines, some questions to ask yourself so when you listen to a sermon or spiritual talk, you will listen with your head and heart fully engaged.

RG2G 016 Five Signs You’re in a Shame-Bound Church

All across America, every seven days, in over 450,000 churches, people gather to worship.  And you would think that all of that collective meeting over a long period of time would produce grace-filled, energetic, life-giving faith in the people who attend.  But oftentimes the exact opposite happens.

Why?  Basically because all churches are not created equal.  Church is not a monolith of belief or behavior.  Churches are very different and you need to be as careful in choosing a church as you are in committing to attend it.

On today’s show we talk about the five signs that you might be a part of a shame-bound church.  If you go to church for your weekly whipping where you are condemned, where guilt is the motivation for serving and giving, then you might need to think about switching to a grace-based church rather than a shame-bound, religious church.

RG2G 015 Time to ReChurch Yourself: An Interview With Stephen Mansfield

All across America, on any given Sunday morning there are millions upon millions of people who call themselves Christians, who don’t attend church.  That sounds rather odd, doesn’t it, in light of the fact that that’s what Christians are called to do: to gather, to worship God.  So what’s gone wrong?

Today we interviewed author, speaker, and former pastor, Stephen Mansfield on his new book entitled, “ReChurch: Healing Your Way Back to the People of God.” In this insightful volume, Mansfield traces the journey of so many who have been hurt by the church.  He talks about why they don’t go back, what they’re looking for, and why they should face the hurt of the past and ReChurch themselves.

This is an insightful speaker, an insightful interview, and the book worth reading.  If you know anyone whose been hurt by a church, who justifies not attending church and participating in public worship because they were hurt, or betrayed and they feel bitter about what was done to them in the name of God, ask them to give today’s program a listen.

RG2G 014 Is Life a Matter of Fate, Self-Help, Destiny, or Dumb Luck?

In a recent interview, Matt Damon was asked if he believed in fate, or luck.  This was in reference to his new movie called “The Adjustment Bureau.”

The story behind the movie is that in our normal, everyday lives there is a force unseen; controlling, not only the people we meet, but the decisions we make and the opportunities that are even available to us.  In the movie this force is clandestine and unfriendly.

Damon answered the question like I’ve seen many others: thinking, pondering, considering, admitting that so many of the paths that his life had taken had looked providential in retrospect.  So today on the Renegade’s Guide to God, we’ll be talking about the different options between fate, self-help, providence, or just plain dumb luck.

I am often shocked at how many people who call themselves Christians, who have a theistic basis for their life, who embrace with seemingly no consistency the idea of luck, or fate, which takes God and providence totally out of the picture.  You’d be pleasantly surprised to know that you are not a random accident, living a life of accidents strung together by dumb luck.  There is Someone at work behind the scenes.  And this person has your best at heart.

RG2G 013 Advancing the Church in the Age of Free-Agency

There’s a great big difference between the church that’s taught in the Scriptures and the church as an organization that we see in various states of decline in health.

Today we talked about advancing the church; the church as a movement, a worldwide movement of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.  How does a church continue to advance its good work into a brand new world where we have the death of distance, and the gatekeepers no longer have the power to lock you out?

We talked about the brave new world that’s wireless, wall-less, and worn-out; a new kind of non-church-member member called a free agent; someone who no longer lives in compliance, but defies convention, that looks for a church that is dynamic and growing, not simply one that has the denominational label.

We talked about the ten ways in which the church is advancing in this brave new wireless, wall-less, world.  We discussed things like the difference between crowds and community,  the difference between members and mates, the difference between training people to do church work and going out to live to do the work of the church.  We talked about why it’s important that we go from Sunday to every day; the difference between dogma and mystery, the difference between retreat and advance.

If you have any responsibility for leading a church in the American culture, this talk is just for you.