Category Archives: News/Current Events

Political Fervor & Christian Apathy

This is a timely repost from about 5 years ago when MainStreet was just getting launched. It was during another local election season where people were passionately campaigning for and against a school referendum. You can sense my urgency and deep burden for this community.  Regardless how we vote on November 8, may we vote Jesus leader of our lives each day and make his Kingdom our primary obsession. Enjoy! -JB

We’re moving closer and closer to another general election season. As I write this, our community is in heated debate over the school referendum vote only a couple days away. I’m amazed to see the passion people have toward both national and local political parties and their agendas.

The local paper is glad to fill their pages with impassioned letters to the editor, urging citizens to make their vote count, and stand up for what’s best for our community and schools. There are signs in every yard as I drive through town. People are glad to go door to door, leaving a pamphlets and doorknob hangers. Thousands of dollars are spent on mass mailings.  Websites are created to champion their agenda, and chain emails are spread widely. Rhetorically savvy YouTube videos are circulated to rally support.

The bottom line is this: people care and are committed to championing their cause — especially when their kids’ education and/or property taxes are at stake!

I’m grateful to live in a democracy. I encourage people to exercise their civic right and go vote. But as a Christian trying to “seek first the Kingdom” and a church planting pastor trying to rally a community around a far greater cause than a school levy, I keep asking myself the question:  Continue reading Political Fervor & Christian Apathy

VIDEO: Is Environmentalism a Religion?

I’m reposting this from 2010 in light of my current series called “Going Green.” -JB

I’m an “environmentalist” — but of a certain kind. I’m a Christian whose worldview holds that the earth is God’s good creation and human beings were created in the image of the wise, creative, caring God who gave us the responsibility to be good stewards of the planet we call home. When we trash the earth we dishonor God. When we care for the earth we obey and honor it’s Creator. Thus, I have no problem with the Green movement per se. We need to listen to their pleas and make necessary lifestyle changes in order to foster more sustainable living habits, etc.

Yet, unlike the spiritual world of the movie Avatar, Christians do not worship the environment, make it our number one obsession or turn it into a full fledged religion. A dictionary definition of “religion” does not necessarily require supernatural belief in a particular god.  An anthropological definition of religion at it’s core refers to any “pursuit or interest  to  which someone ascribes supreme importance.”  Religions deal with the beliefs and convictions about such ultimate issues as the origins of the world, the meaning of human existence, the problems evil, the right way of living, and some pathway toward salvation.  (See video below). How many of these elements are present in the ethos of environmentalism?

I firmly believe we were created with the impulse to worship something.  If we don’t serve the true God as Lord, we will find some other object, person, purpose, or cause to invest our souls in — whether it be our career, our relationships, our children, our hobbies or some noble socio-political cause. The Bible calls this “idolatry.”  To paraphrase Tim Keller: Idolatry happens when we turn good things into ultimate things.

In this video best-selling author Michael Crichton uses his background in anthropology to explain why he believes environmentalism is based more on religion than science. Do you agree? And how do you think the church ought to respond to the popular green movement?

EPHESIANS 16: Biker Gangs at the Cross (2:14-18)

This morning’s news headline reads:

9 DEAD, 270 CHARGED IN TEXAS BIKER BRAWL

WACO, Tex. — In the denim-and-leather world of Texas motorcycle gangs, the Bandidos and the Cossacks are warring tribes in an unforgiving landscape. Both originated in Texas in the 1960s. But the Bandidos were first, in 1966, with the Cossacks forming in 1969….The feud formed the backdrop of the shootout here on Sunday afternoon, when a gathering intended to discuss bikers’ rights and how to work on issues of mutual concern erupted into gunfire that left nine bikers dead and 18 others wounded.

On Monday, about 170 bikers were charged with engaging in organized crime linked to capital murder….The shootout provided a glimpse of the sometimes competing agendas — power and influence, a desire to avoid public confrontations and a code of never backing down in a fight — that turned the meeting of hundreds of bikers into a blood bath.

You would think the human race would eventually grow up and get beyond the toddler-like “I had it first” macho-macho turf war mentality. Sadly, many bearded men still act like little tikes fighting over toys in the sandbox — the sandboxes have just gotten bigger and they’ve traded plastic shovels for firearms and switchblades.

But such stories are good reminders of just how stubborn, prideful and destructive our grudges and divisions can be. We need this level of hostility in view when we read Paul’s bold declaration today in Ephesians 2:14-18:

Jesus has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father” (2:14-18 The Message).

The cross has a way of disarming our misdirected animosity and unmasking the evil in our own mirrors. Jesus came to show Jew and non-Jew alike that the other gang was not their true enemy. Rather the sin in every human heart was the real enemy to be defeated. As its been rightly said, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross” and “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Imagine Jesus coming to Waco on a Harley on the day of this brawl, and just before the first punch was thrown he stepped in between the gangs, pulled out a notepad and said: Continue reading EPHESIANS 16: Biker Gangs at the Cross (2:14-18)

CNN: “Is Monogamy Realistic?”

purity-ringOriginally posted October 2009. -JB

The following paragraphs are taken from CNN.com.  This issue is not going away and the slide toward the normativity of sexual promiscuity is only growing steeper by the day.  How can Christ-followers show the world the beauty of God’s design for monogamous sexual fidelity?  

Here’s the message the pop culture and even social scientists doing university research are feeding the emerging generation:

In the age of hookups, friends with benefits and online dating, and as human life expectancy grows, is it still reasonable to expect people to pair up and stay monogamous until death do them part?

“It’s realistic that some people can mate for life in the same sense that some people can play the Beethoven violin concerto or other people can ice-skate beautifully or learn a new language,” said psychiatrist Judith Eve Lipton.

Added evolutionary biologist David Barash, “It’s within the realm of human potential, but it’s not easy.”Lipton and Barash, who have been married 32 years and are the co-authors of “Strange Bedfellows” and “The Myth of Monogamy,” said serial monogamy may be more realistic — a model in which people move from one committed long-term relationship to another and choose partners for different reasons at different stages of their life.

What do you think about people pairing up and staying monogamous until death do them part?  Scott McKnight at Jesus Creed asks us: What can we do to show, teach, and pass on marriage as permanent and the significance of fidelity? Continue reading CNN: “Is Monogamy Realistic?”

Thank You Brennan

Brennan Manning has died and gone home to his Abba at last. Thank you Brennan for your life of painting pictures of God’s relentless love and scandalous grace toward all of us ragamuffins. I had the opportunity to hear Brennan speak several times in person. It was always refreshing to see someone older than me preaching in hole-y jeans. :)

The Tebow Factor

Jen Floyd Engel’s article at FoxSports.com on Tebow is worthy of consideration:

What if Tim Tebow were a Muslim?

Imagine for a second, the Denver Broncosquarterback is a devout follower of Islam, sincere and principled in his beliefs and thus bowed toward Mecca to celebrate touchdowns. Now imagine if Detroit Lionsplayers Stephen Tulloch and Tony Schefflermockingly bowed toward Mecca, too, after tackling him for a loss or scoring a touchdown, just like what happened Sunday.

I know what would happen. All hell would break loose…..

What this whole repeating cycle of Tebow — rip his game, mock his faith, rise to his defense, repeat — has revealed about religious discourse in America is ugly. We have become so enamored of politically correct dogma that we protect every minority from even the slightest blush of insensitivity while letting the very institutions that the majority holds dear to be ridiculed. And this defense that Tebow invites such scrutiny with his willingness to publicly live as he privately believes calls into question what exactly it is we value…. Continue reading The Tebow Factor