For Pastors & Normal People

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When I see the phrase politically correct, I first focus on the word ‘political.’ Then I think of politics. Then I think of politicians. From there I think of things some politicians do or say in order to get elected. There is a dishonesty associated with it and a manipulation of the electorate.

I asked a group of pastors how they would define ‘politically correct.’ Only one of the 53 responses to my question came close to mine: “Whatever phrasing or actions that will gain you the most (or cost you the least) votes.” Many of the comments were similar to these:

  • To go along with what the masses say instead of what is the truth.
  • The willingness to cast truth aside in order to not offend someone.
  • Not speaking truth
  • Setting aside all personal convictions to appease others.
  • It is a thought control tactic used by the liberal left which on the surface has the express purpose of not offending the disadvantaged and those who oppose Christian values, but which the unexpressed undercurrent is to silence truth and erode religious freedoms.

On the other side there were definitions such as:

  • Being kind and speaking in love.
  • Using language that isn’t offensive.
  • Choosing vocabulary for referring to people that is not based on prejudice nor intended to hurt or demean.
  • Choosing alternate, often unfamiliar language or practice, in an attempt to minimize actual or perceived offense toward a particular group.
  • A term that only people of privilege use to describe with disdain those who think differently about the power of language than they do.

I found it interesting to trace the origins of the phrase ‘political correctness’ or ‘politically correct’. I thought of sharing with you the history of PC and how it has evolved in meaning over the years, but that would digress from my point. When you have the time Google it, I think you will be surprised.

My point is that many Christians today are accusing other Christians of being PC. This indictment is usually accompanied by an air of contempt and belligerence. The claim is that certain believers, churches, and entire denominations have caved in to social pressure and have knowingly walked away from the truth of scriptures in order to better fit in to the non-Christian culture. Are there PCers like that out there? Probably, but I don’t know any of them…and I know a lot of Christians and Pastors and churches.

What I see happening is that there is a growing group of Christians who are trying to walk out their faith as closely to the example of Jesus as they can. As they attempt this they are becoming kinder, more accepting, more tolerant, more loving. They want to avoid offending others as much as possible. They love God. They believe in the Bible. Theirs is a different kind of PC, not ‘politically correct’ but ‘people compassionate.’ Do they get it right in every area of doctrine and practice? Of course not, but neither do those who are on the other side. Nobody gets it completely right.

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Few would argue that the apostle Paul was not afraid to speak the truth, confront sin and doctrinal error. His letters are filled with examples. Recently while reading through I Corinthians I came across two passages that made me see how balanced Paul really was.

I Cor. 9:20 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  (NASB)

I Cor. 10:32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.. (NASB)

They say, “You can’t please everybody.” but is seems that Paul tried. Paul didn’t want to offend if he didn’t need to. Paul was trying to build bridges rather than walls in order that he might win people to Christ. I could imagine that if I said the same things Paul said in the above scriptures that some would accuse me of being too PC, a people-pleaser, that I’ve caved in to societal pressure.

I don’t want to call someone PC too flippantly, especially if my words accompanied by contempt and belligerence. I don’t want to accuse someone of being PC without talking to them and seeing their heart, their motives, their convictions. And if I happen to actually take the time to get to know the person I’m concerned about and end up not liking their motives, convictions and heart, if I still strongly disagree with them…I don’t want to attack or be offensive, I don’t want to be belligerent.

I think there is more PC out there among Christians than we imagine but it is not political correctness, it is people-compassion.

When I read the words of Jesus and the authors of the New Testament, I find myself challenged to evaluate my reactions to those who I disagree with. For example:

Because Jesus, in the ‘High Priestly Prayer’ of John 17, prayed three times to the Father that his followers “may be one”, I ask myself, “Are my words, attitudes and actions creating oneness or two-ness? By ‘two-ness’ I mean a division, my group versus their group.

One theme from the book of Hebrews is that Jesus is a different kind of priest than those under the old covenant. Did you know that the Latin word for ‘priest’ means ‘bridge-builder’?

Peter calls us a ‘royal priesthood’ (I Pet. 2:9), I must ask myself, “Are my words building bridges or building walls?

Three times Jesus told us to ‘love one another’ (Jn. 13:34, Jn. 15:12,17). Do my attitudes towards those I disagree with reflect love…or something less than love, or even contempt and judgment?

Paul added to Jesus’ reminder to ‘love’ by saying in I Cor. 13 that love is patient. I must ask myself if my words and actions and attitudes towards those I disagree with reflect patience or impatience? Do I rush to correct, judge, or label someone who is different than me?

Paul said in Gal. 5 that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I must ask myself if my words or actions or attitudes towards those I disagree with are filled with that type of fruit? I fear that sometimes I have fruit but it is rotten, worm-filled fruit.

Peter said (I Pet. 2: 17to show honor all people. Does my life reflect showing honor to those I disagree with?

Because Paul told Timothy, “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…” (II Tim. 2:24-25), I must ask myself if my words or actions or attitudes towards those I disagree with are quarrelsome in nature, unkind, impatient, lacking in gentleness?

YEAH, BUT…

There’s always a ‘YEAH BUT.’

Yeah, but what about orthodoxy?
Yeah, but what about heresy?
Yeah, but what about bringing correction?
Yeah, but what about loving the sinner but hating the sin?
Yeah, but what about defending the truth?
Yeah, but what about Jesus turning over the tables in the temple?
Yeah, but what about holiness?
Yeah, but what about obedience?
Yeah, but what about speaking the truth in love?
Yeah, but what about balance?

What about it?

I believe there is a place for all the ‘YEAH BUTS’ but I also believe that we’ve been giving too much of a place to them.

Believe me, if I choose to not correct others or act belligerently towards those I think are in error there will still be enough correction and belligerence out there to get the job done. The ‘YEAH BUTS’ are alive and well, they aren’t going anyplace. Those who feel an obligation to fight are alive and well, they aren’t going anyplace. I’m not worried about a lack of the ‘YEAH BUTS’, correction, or belligerence. I want to be part of something different.

In 2020 I decided to limit my reading to female authors, writers of color, and authors of people-groups other than my own. This was such a great experience even though I caught some heat from a few Christians who felt I should not even be reading certain books…I’ll leave it up to you to guess which books these were.

I’m certain I’ve missed a couple, but here they are and not in the order in which I read them. Let me know if you have read any of them or if you think I’m a heretic for having done so.

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Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations by Chua, Amy

Angela Davis: An Autobiography

Does the Bible Condemn Gay People?: A Close Look at What Scripture Says About Homosexuality by Grant Andrews

The Shift: Surviving and Thriving after Moving from Conservative to Progressive Christianity by Colby Martin

Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture by Angela Y. Davis

Soul Care in African American Practice by Barbara L. Peacock

The Bible, Christianity, & Homosexuality by Justin R. Cannon

Sermon on the Mount: A Beginner’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven by Amy-Jill Levine

The Martyrdom of Thomas Merton: An Investigation by Hugh Turley

Seeing Jesus in East Harlem: What Happens When Churches Show Up and Stay Put by José Humphreys

After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity by David P. Gushee

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown

The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan Rah

Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism by Deborah Jian Lee

“All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans (Myths Made in America) by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker 

Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes Du Mez

Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God by Kaitlin B. Curtice

Becoming by Michelle Obama

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Womanist Midrash: a reintroduction to the women of the Torah and the Throne. by Wilda C. Gagne

Does Jesus really love me? by Jeff Chu

Strength to love by Martin Luther King Jr.

And indigenous peoples history of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi

Failing is different than being a failure.

“John, you’re so good at trying.” – Moira Rose

To fail is the inevitable and reoccurring result of being human. There is an important difference between failing and being a failure. 

Thinking of oneself as a failure is the embracing of a false narrative that ignores or misses one’s true identity in God.

“I can’t do anything right.” = false narrative

“I’m so stupid.” = false narrative

“I screw up everything I set out to do.” = false narrative

“I’m a failure.” = false narrative

I have to push back against this false narrative in my life. I’ve failed in so many ways and so many times that it is easy for me to identify as a looser, poor excuse of a Christian, a failure. However, my friend Henri Nouwen, (Life of the Beloved) has helped me see my true identity as being “The Beloved of God.”

Do yourself a favor sometime. Get out a concordance, or find one online, and search for all the times the word “beloved” comes up. You will discover two things. First, Bible authors often referred to their readers as “beloved.” And, Bible authors often reminded their readers that they were the beloved of God.

You may have failed as a parent, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed as a wife or husband, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed in some area of addiction, but you are the beloved of God.

You may be a pastor and have failed to grow your church, despite having tried all the things the “experts” have told you, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed in developing a consistent devotional life, but you are the beloved of God.

You may have failed at imitating Jesus to the people around you, but you are the beloved of God.

Stop the false narrative. You are not a failure, you are the beloved of God. And even if you fail at stopping the false narrative, you are still the beloved of God.

Rather than Simon & Garfunkel…imagine Jesus singing this over you today.

When you’re weary, feeling small.
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.
I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough.
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street.
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you.
I’ll take your part, oh, when darkness comes.
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend.
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

The ‘Walk a Mile in His Moccasins’ quote is often contributed to various native American tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. Lathrap, was an American poet, preacher, suffragist, and temperance reformer. For 20 years, she was identified with the progressive women of Michigan. The original title was Judge Softly.  

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,  Or stumbles along the road.  Unless you have worn the moccasins, he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And its only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and me.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

For the last 10 years I have had a policy of not speaking publicly about my personal opinions in regards to controversial topics that Christians and churches disagree on. The reason I have held this policy is that I believe God has called me to be a peacemaker. I have never wanted to alienate myself from others because of our differences but rather join together around those things that we have in common and do my small part in attempting to unite the divided church. My approach has worked well for me over the last decade but I’ve had a growing sense that the Lord wants me to be more open and transparent.


Not too long ago someone left my Small Church Pastor group page on Facebook that Ellen and I moderate, and private messaged me saying the reason he was leaving is because our group is “obviously a welcoming and affirming group” in regards to LGBTQ+ Christians. I have previously had some people leave the group because of this assumption. I tried to assure this pastor that our group page is neither affirming or non-affirming. The purpose of this group is to be a place where these differences are not discussed, but our similarities in Christ are what unite us. To my dismay, the pastor still left the group solely because he believed I might welcome and affirm LGBTQ+ Christians. My public position on this subject has been intentionally vague, because the issue is so polarizing and divisive within my group. I feel God is asking me to stop being vague about it.


In my thirty years of pastoring (I retired from pastoring in 2006), I have always held the traditional Evangelical non-affirming position. However, after many years of studying the scriptures and listening to both sides of the same sex marriage debate and LGBTQ+ issues, if I were pastoring a church today, it would be a welcoming and affirming church with no restrictions for gay Christians’ involvement in the life and ministry of the church. I came to this position many years ago. This is not a recent development.

  
Recently, I had the opportunity to appear on the 200churches podcast to share the story of changing my position. If you want to know more details of my journey and how I, as an Evangelical pastor changed my mind, go to, https://www.200churches.com/podcast.html and look for: Season 2 Episode 01 – Deep Love In Spite Of Differing Doctrine with Dave Jacobs.

Your friend, Dave.

Both the ‘open-minded’ and ‘close-minded’ demonize one another. This represents a closed-mind no matter which group is doing the demonizing.

Being ‘close-minded’ does not mean you will never change, it just means you will be less receptive to change than the one who is open-minded.

It’s dangerous to be open-minded because if you are, you might change your mind and that might get you into trouble with the close-minded.

Being ‘open-minded’ does not mean you don’t have strong convictions. It means you are willing to challenge those convictions and listen objectively and respectively to those who do not share your convictions.

Close-minded people don’t think they are close-minded, they think they are right. Open-minded people do think they are open-minded… and they think they are right. This can indicate a closed-mind regardless of who is doing the thinking.

Being ‘open-minded’ can be a slippery-slope…but that’s no guarantee that you will slip.

Do you know anyone who you would describe as close-minded? Do you know anyone who you would describe as open-minded? Are you more open-minded than closed-minded? Is it clear to you what you need to be close-minded about and what you need to be open-minded about?

by dave jacobs

The temptation in pastoral work is to react instead of reflect.

Suddenly there is a fire to put out, a problem to solve, a person who needs correction. The urgency of the situation fires like a starting pistol and we leap from the block rushing towards the finish line. 

Sometimes the situation is not so urgent as it is familiar. We’ve been there before and assume that our response in the past will work in the present. 

Francois Fenelon, in a letter to his nephew, had this wise word of advice for those who lead others.

“Do not be over-hasty, but learn from God, in peace and silence, what it is He wishes you to do and then, in all simplicity, do it. You will then see that things which appear to be of momentous importance will diminish in size and those of little or no importance will be recognizable as such and thus you will be, by God’s grace, enabled to achieve without hesitation a balanced outlook.”

Some things demand immediate action but most are not as urgent as we might think. The cautious seldom make mistakes while the over-hasty often do. Learn to reflect before you react. 

The other morning I was meditating on Matthew 16:1-12 and stopped after Jesus said, “…beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” It’s not unusual for my scripture reading to lead me into journaling. My entry for that day was:

“You have to be careful, or purposeful, as to who you listen to and allow to influence you. Pay attention to a person’s tone, their focus, their emphasis. Do you want to be like that? Maybe you do, maybe not. This does not mean we shelter ourselves from those we disagree with, everyone can teach us something. But if I listen too much to those who are angry, judgemental, legalistic, or prejudiced…there is a good chance that I will become that way. What type of person was Jesus? What type of person does my Jesus want me to be? Find people like that. Read people like that. Listen to people like that. Expose yourself to the rest, but only listen to, really listen to, only allow yourself to be influenced by those who you want to be like. And it is probably helpful to once in a while ask Jesus, “What kind of person do you want me to be?“

I have some Facebook friends, well to be honest, most of them are more acquaintances than actual friends. Ellen and I moderate a rather large Facebook group page made up of pastors, so we have many friends, semi-friends, and absolute strangers. Some are ‘stranger’ than others. There is one who stands out, I will call him…Pastor Bummer. I have called him other things but I don’t want to give you a heart-attack so let’s just leave it at Pastor Bummer.

Pastor Bummer is always correcting others, challenging others, irritated with those he disagrees with. Pastor Bummer, or so it seems, feels he alone knows what is orthodoxy and what is heresy. I know far more about what Pastor Bummer is against than I do what he is for. If someone in my group posts something that PB disagrees with it is impossible for him to ignore it and move on. Nope…PB has to try and set the person straight. PB has no respect for or patience with anyone who thinks differently than he does. Unfortunately, Pastor Bummer is not alone.

I don’t want to be that kind of Christian. Do you? I bet not. If so, then be careful about all the PBs out there because they can rub off on you.

What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of person do you think Jesus wants you to be? Hang out with those types, read those types, listen to those types, be influenced by those types.

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