Category Archives: YIBWIB

Should Christians worry about the Poor? Gospel Driven Poverty Work…YIBWIB

 A definition of “the gospel” that I like a lot comes from a pastor named Alistair Begg:

“Because Christ died for us, those who trust in him may know that their guilt has been pardoned once and for all. What will we have to say before the bar of God’s judgment? Only one thing. Christ died in my place. That’s the gospel.”


I remember myself that salvation only made sense when the gospel was brought to me. It was not when I saw friends ‘go forward’ at youth camps. It was not when I felt emotional songs that stirred me at church. It was not when preachers would talk about hell (though that is a part of the gospel). When the news of Jesus dying in my place was brought to me, that is when I began to understand all of this other hoopla. I realized that we goto church because he has done that. We shout because of joy, not because of boredom. I finally was understanding why I was doing this whole “Christian thing”. Until then, I was religiously seeking to get right with a God who I knew was good. When I was told that I couldn’t get right with him (of my own work), then I had my ‘a ha’ moment. The light bulb was lit, the matrix was explained, the fog had cleared. 

At that moment I understood that Jesus death was for me. He stood in my place, he took the cross designed for an awkward, 6 foot 2, white guy from Kentucky. That cross was specifically designed to carry my blood and flesh. He took it for me and when God the father looks at me, he sees not my life of hellish living, he sees the perfect life of Christ. When this all clicked, then I knew how to go forward. Until then, everything I had done was done in a sporadic attempt to appease a God that I knew deep down I was unable in pleasing just in my works(I am not saying we can’t please God, but that our attempts alone are not sufficient).  

When I was 17 years old, I went with our senior class to New York City for a senior trip and a week of enjoying the Big Apple. I had a blast, but like any person that visits New York, I was saddened to see the depth of poverty that was in the city. You couldn’t ride a subway, walk a sidewalk or ride a bus without seeing it. It was all around. I had seen poverty in my life up to that point. I had volunteered at homeless shelters and grew up around different levels of american poverty though I had not grown up impoverished myself. While in NYC, God had made a clear calling in my life that I have not and will not forget, to remember the poor. 

Since then, I have worked in Urban ministry around different levels of american poverty, worked in different impoverished countries and have been blessed to have met many many different people that are fighting against poverty, christians and non-christians. 

Who are the Poor?

Now when talking about the poor and or poverty, it’s important that I define my terms. These are the poor that I am referencing. This is a quote from Tim Keller in an extremely helpful outline of  The Gospel and the Poor

“the weak, elderly, mentally and physically handicapped, refugees, new immigrants, working poor, natural disaster victims, unemployed, single parent families and orphans.”

So when i reference the poor or working with those in poverty, I find this to be a sustainable definition of who I am directly speaking of. 

Who works with the poor?

A good friend that worked with me with youth and at a homeless shelter for three years.


Through my experiences in my short life of working with poor, I have made several observations and here are a couple. These aren’t absolute but they are things that I have generally noticed through my experience:

  • Very few people who work with the poor continue working with the poor through their lives(High turnover rate).
  • Many people who work with the poor have the poor “figured out” and have “absolute solutions” to the continual problems of poverty.
  • Many people who work with the poor are spiritual.
  • Very few people who stay committed to working with the poor are theologically conservative (very general statement that I expect disagreements about).


Through my spiritual journey, I have seen the importance in doctrine(expressed in previous post) and as well have seen the need for my own well-being to be merciful, gracious and generous towards the poor. When you come to understand the cross, you should understand working with the poor. What happens many times though is that people work with the poor to find spiritual enlightenment. This leads to many horrible doctrinal conclusions of people who are extremely generous with their time towards the poor but are not realizing that their good deeds will not be enough to appease God. This does not mean that non-Christians should not be working with the poor but more so that Christians NEED to be working with the poor. 

Who we should help?

I read a post by a pastor that I highly respect, Kevin Deyoung in a series he was writing on social justice. The post was referring to the idea of Moral Proximity. In it, Mr. DeYoung notes that “the closer the moral proximity of the poor the greater the moral obligation to help.”

The idea is simple, you help out those inside before you help out those outside. Meaning, your

I was fortunate to have met Mr. DeYoung a couple of years ago.

family, then your church, then those outside of the church(ie the world, your city). In this simple understanding of this concept, I whole-heartedly agree. How can I be a good Christian if I have a hungry daughter while I’m feeding poor children on the other side of town? In the same token, how can I donate $50 to Africa while a couple in my church is in dire need?

My problem with this concept is not what is being said, it’s what will come out of a post like this. Many people who are consistently negligent of the poor will read this and continue to ignore and avoid working with the poor. Many of us who are theologically conservative have a reputation for neglecting the poor.

I know that as I make such bold statements, there are always good examples of people who were theologically conservative, yet did many great things for the poor(i.e. Jonathon Edwards, George Muller, Tim Keller) But for the majority, there are always few who work with the poor and are biblically sound.

I would say that this is a both/and. Just like missions, we bring the gospel to those in our church and we also bring it to tribes in Africa. I would say that the calling is to helping all levels of poverty. But I also would compare it to the qualifications of pastors, you can’t be a pastor of a church if you’re not leading your home. Likewise, you need to help those in your church that are poor and those around your church. Like 1Timothy 3, it starts at home. The problem is that regarding the poor, very few are making it outside of their ‘home'(the church).

The God of Social Justice

SBTS professor, Dr. Peter Gentry gave a Faculty Address on Sept 29th 2010 correcting false definitions on the holiness of God. The last passage that Dr. Gentry explained was out of Isaiah 6. In it, he explained that “We have a clear definition of the divine holiness: God demonstrates His devotion in that He is completely devoted to social justice.” Dr. Gentry spends time explaining that social justice is apart of Gods holiness. His referencing of Social Justice is referring to the way of life for the people of Israel described in the scriptures.

A slum in India.

The thought that God’s holiness is connected to his desire for social justice blows many people away. When saying Social Justice, I know I will have many different definitions and agree with Kevin DeYoung on using words loosely. Certain words/phrases cause some to celebrate and others to cringe while neither may know how you are using them,

When I say Social Justice I am referring to the just treatment of all members of society. This issue has been a hot button for a time and rightfully.

In 1907 Walter Rauschenbusch wrote a book titled ‘Christianity and the Social Crisis’. This book spearheaded a movement that would rattle the views of the church and the poor for years until today. The movement that came out is referred to as the social gospel movement. This movement applies Christian Ethics to Social problems. The results though have been difficult for many conservatives because this movement has been led by many that are theologically and biblically liberal. The difficulty in this movement is that terms like ‘Social Justice’ have become catalyst’ to move people away from orthodox teachings of scripture and into heretical understandings of hell, salvation and the cross.

This serves us as a warning to be cautious of how we use terms. But does that make Social Justice bad?

No. The truth is, social justice, like Dr. Gentry explained, is a part of God’s holiness. He cares for the struggles that man goes through daily. He cares for the pain that man feels. He doesn’t stand far and heady from his creation. He comes and meets with his creation and engages with his creation. He is not the distanced father. He is the interactive, caring and compassionate father.

And seeing his image-bearers feel the effects of their sin hurts.

Whats the point?

When the gospel of Jesus Christ is at work in my life, when I am understanding how naked and ashamed I should feel seeing who I actually am and who he is, I should be amazed to see the grace and love he shows me. When I see how poor, broken and in need I actually am before him, I should be amazed that he reaches me with love. And when I am amazed at these things(his grace, mercy and love), it should press me to seek to identify with and love on those that are broken, poor, naked, ashamed and in need. 

In one short statement, when the gospel of Jesus has been at work in my life, I will be helping and loving the poor.

Conclusion:

With the passion that God has given me for this area and the lack of time to rightly expound on this topic, I decided to leave you with a host of resources.

Here are some books that have really helped me on this issue:

  • Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life-Bob Lupton
  • Ministries of Mercy-Tim Keller
  • Generous Justice-Tim Keller
  • Let Justice Roll Down-John Perkins
  • Same Kind of Different as me- Denver Moore, Ron Hall
  • Christian Charity Jonathan Edwards
  • Evangelical does not equal Republican… or Democrat-Lisa Sharon Harper

Here are some great articles and blogs that have helped me tremendously on this topic:

Some of these are from different sides of evangelicals but I have found all of these to have been helpful to me in some way.

And lastly, since many of my blog post have been filled with scripture quotes, I decided to leave a link for some scriptures regarding poverty and the poor instead of filling the post up with tons of scriptures.

Continue reading

Can I drink, smoke and cuss and still be a Christian? In other words, Christian Liberty …YIBWIB

You know you’re not surprised.

I’m not either. It was due to happen.

It wouldn’t have been right to start this monologue in any other fashion.

After all, Braveheart is my favorite movie. It is stitched inside the bones of my soul. Every drip of sweat that comes from my pores has molecules screaming Freedom every time I ever work out.

So of course, when talking about Christian Liberty, I had to start with the essential, non-relevant, yet fully relevant statement on freedom.

Continue reading

Gender Roles in the Church, Family and Daily Life…YIBWIB

During an episode of the TV show the Office(Season 6 Episode 3), there is a situation where Oscar is commenting on the recent power-shift at the Office. Jim had been promoted to be a co-manager alongside Michael. In a sarcastic tone, Oscar say’s,

“Look, it doesn’t take a genius to know that every organization thrives when it has two leaders. Go ahead, name a country that doesn’t have two presidents. A boat that doesn’t set sail without two captains. Where would Catholicism be without the Popes?”

Leadership works best when one leader is held accountable to other leaders yet takes the headship of responsibility.

Watching basketball this weekend my friend commented on a player who wanted to play out of his position, he said, “Losing happens when you don’t know your role.”

Why is the team concept understood so well in business, in sports, but in the family, there cannot be one leader? In every area of life, teams do well when each participant knows their role and does it well. But then in regards to marriage, the thought of a leader in each marriage bothers many people.

What about the terminology in the scriptures regarding gender?

Do we completely disregard gender terminology in the scriptures simply because we don’t view it as being culturally relevant today?

Is the bible subjective to our opinions of truth or is it perfect as it is, not needing interpretation beyond the original meaning by the Holy Spirit through the authors? Continue reading

God’s Got This…YIBWIB

Jesus died on the cross. I will talk about that separately in another blog. But the salvation that he provides needs to be understood. I know you would think it’s not a broad subject but you can believe all sorts of thing about God and your salvation.

Did you choose to come to God or did God randomly choose you?

Were you saved because of good that he saw in you before time began?

What if you whole-heartedly became a Christian and then fell into some sort of sin, quit coming to church and ignored God the rest of your life? Would you still go to heaven?

Aren’t we all good people? What about sweet old ladies like mother Teresa?

Which Pill?

I will explain elements I see in scripture and try to answer these questions as good as I can see in the scriptures.

So like the over-quoted Matrix line:

You take the blue pill (hit the ‘back’ button) and the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe what you want to believe.

You take the red pill (hit the Continue Reading button), stay in Wonderland and I’ll show you how deep the Rabbit hole goes.

(Strong Thematic Music comes in now)
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The Trinity…YIBWIB

After having clarified that the bible is the ultimate authority for life, I will make my arguments based off of that. You will see a lot of scripture quoted because I believe that the bible is absolute truth.

I was really good at math until the end of the seventh grade. While finishing the seventh grade, we had to take a test to be in the advanced class for the eighth grade. But the teacher for this class was mean and everyone knew it. I had no desire to have her as a teacher so I intentionally failed this class and thus ended my math wizardry. My math skills were good enough to figure out a couple math problems that make no sense to me. Here are a few:

3 + Nothing = 1

1=3

3=1

I know that 1 does not equal 3 and 3 does not equal 1. That is easy to me.

That is why the concept of the trinity does not make sense to me.

How can three persons consist of one God?

The scriptures never even use the word trinity so why do people believe in this? Where did this idea begin? Continue reading

What I think about the Bible…YIBWIB

anwersingenesis.org

Unfortunately, this is how many people view the bible…

While riding on a bus with some friends I was surprised by something that had never really challenged me. I was 23 years old and had never been legitimately confronted with this question before. While discussing several hot topics with different Christian leaders, the topic of scripture came up. Is the bible inerrant was the posed question. One person made the statement that it is but was completely challenged by another. The discussion rallied through my mind for months following. My whole life I had accepted the bible to be Gods word written for mankind. But then one day the thought came up, “Is the bible really fully inspired?” “Does it hold authority?” “Does it hold fallacies or errors?” This plagued my mind.

I didn’t rest well with this convo for a while. I called former pastors and  friends who were on both sides. One side was saying “just believe that it’s true” while the other was saying “they can’t say they know if it’s truth”. I was torn. This seemed like it would shatter my world. I loved the scriptures. If I couldn’t rely on them then how would I know what really happened. If those bricks were gone then the whole house would begin to collapse. Continue reading

Y I believe what I believe…YIBWIB

I am going to start a serious of post titled YIBWIB (Why((Y)) I believe what I believe). I will go through the logical workings in my mind concerning different issues that I want my children to work through when they are older and dealing with these issues.

I hope that as I work through these issues, share my experiences and and layout evidence for each, that it challenges you, the reader, regarding many of these issues to seek absolute truth regarding each of these topics.

I know that as I write each of these they will be edited for years to come. Knowing that my theology is not final and still being worked on each breath of life that I take.

Here are some of the issues I will lay out:

The Bible (The ultimate authority for our lives that is unwavering)

Trinitarianism (Jesus is God and the only connection Man has to God)

The Doctrines of Grace (God chose those who would be saved before the world was created)

Complementarianism (There are roles for each Gender)

Freedom in Christ (You can be a Christian that drinks alcohol, smokes cigarettes and has tattoos. Why and How? I’ll get to it)

Gospel Driven Poverty Work (Working with the poor is a product of the gospel work in your life, not the other way around)

I know that some of these will be confusing and most will be controversial for our day of age. My desire though is that through these issues, it will help people to understand my beliefs and work through their own.

Take me or leave me, here I am.