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It has been just under a month, and I am still whirling from all of the SHINEtasticness that took place on March 11!  For all of you chicks who took time out of your busy schedules to join us, thank you.  We trust your day rocked as much as you do!

Over 400 teen girls and women, together in one place in small town America made for a pretty awesome event.  But, I'm not ready to call it "finished" just yet.  Yes, I know weeks have passed!  Last week, I met with our planning team, again, to discuss how we can continue to help young ladies make progress in their faith.  We started our follow-up process and it has been super exciting!

So, a couple of things.

1.  The date for SHINE 2018 will be announced SOON.   We want you to know early so you can plan well, get your girls fired up and be as involved as you'd like.

2. Inquiring minds what to know...ok, maybe just me...how is your SHINE?  Let's review.  (if you missed the event, this will be new to you, but so worth the next two minutes of your life.  Consider these...)

S - STOP IT.

What needs to go so that there is room for what needs to grow?

Since SHINE, I have made a decision myself to STOP making excuses.  I know there are some things in my business/ministry life I need to do differently, but I've gotten comfortable...too comfortable.  So, I'm moving ONWARD.

H - HONOR JESUS.

No matter what, Jesus must be first.  First.  Seated at the right hand of the throne of God, He holds the highest position of honor.  How exalted is He in your heart? Mind? Life?

I - INCREASE LEARNING.

How much Bible study time have you had this past week?  If we don't make time to learn it, we will never know Him and never understand how to apply His wisdom to our life.  His words are LIFE to us.  LIFE.TO.US.

N - NEVER QUIT. 

Feel like giving up?  Don't.

Throughout the planning of SHINE, I clung to a verse that has so often pushed me to press on and I found it — once again — to be true:

"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."  Galatians 6:9

E - EXPERIENCE GOD.

Personally, as the Lord moves me forward in my calling to minister through speaking and teaching, I continue to be humbled by God's goodness, grateful for His provision, awed by His faithfulness and in desperate need of His grace.

I just want to encourage each of you to take a moment to ask yourself if you are making progress?  Not just in life, but in your relationship with God.  Are you holding back or are you giving yourself fully to Him?  We only get one shot at this life.  Don't waste it.

Shine on!

While the Cookies Cool

Our sugar cookies are cooling.  It’s super fun to make cut out sugar cookies with two children and a toddler.  And by fun, I mean, possibly never again.  Flour and dough literally flying.  I’m not sure they understand correctly the concept of making the dough “go as far as possible!” I had to chase my nine year old son through the house and drag him onto the balcony for a cool down before the cool down, giggles all the way.  Don’t mess with mama.

Anyway, while I am waiting with great joy and anticipation for shenanigans surrounding the decorating part, I wanted to write a quick note of encouragement and share quickly what is on my heart this morning.  Simply this:

We have such a worthy Savior.

A couple of nights ago, I rediscovered an old journal I started writing in back in 2004.  As I reminisced page after page, I was blown away by the goodness and faithfulness of God.  Nathan and I were newlyweds and the entries took me through the ups and downs of our life together.  Crucial life decisions, financial stress, pregnancy scares, prayers for people God had placed in our lives for various reasons and time after time answered prayers.  I cannot believe how far God has brought us and how much He has changed me.  If you had asked me then, I would have thought I pretty much had my “Christianity” all figured out.  How wrong I was!  The truth is God, through His word, has worked miracles and moved mountains in my heart, broken me down and transformed my mind over these last twelve years, and even longer.  It almost frightens me sometimes to think of how much more work He has to do to make me like His son, but I want Him to keep working on me.  I grow more desperate for Him year after year.  Truly, life in progress is my anthem.

But, I’ll tell you, what He has done in me and for me is NOT why He is a worthy Savior.  He is a worthy Savior because of who He is.  That GOD HIMSELF would choose to come to this broken world, broken because of the sin of mankind, and suffer and die for us is completely unfathomable when you pause for five minutes and let it soak.

Let.it.soak.

He did not have to come.  He did not even need us.  God is God.  He is completely HOLY, separate from all that is mortal and flawed.  He needs no man.  He needs no Jaclyn Rowe.  The most amazing truth and why my heart so celebrates and worships Him — especially at Christmas — is that while He did not and does not need us, He chooses to WANT us.  He chose to want me.

Mind.blown.

AND HE WANTS YOU.

That’s what Christmas and the Bible is about.  God wants a family and He wants a relationship with YOU.  Not a relationship with you through someone else — like a pastor, priest, speaker, teacher, friend or family member.  He wants YOU.  All of you.  This year.  For Christmas.

And He is worthy of all that you are.  He has done EVERYTHING necessary to make that relationship and everything that comes with it; forgiveness, love, joy, peace, hope (blessing upon  blessing and grace upon grace) possible for you here and now.  The only thing between you and Him is a choice.  Leave your sin and turn to Jesus.  That’s it.  Receive His gift of salvation.  His death paid for your sin, but YOU must choose to believe and put your faith in Jesus alone, giving Him yourself.

From personal experience, I can tell you, there is nothing like doing life with Him because there is no one like Jesus.  No one.

Have such a beautiful Christmas my friends.  I pray your 2017 is like no other!

Now, pray for me as I go collect two children, a toddler, cookies, icing and sprinkles.  Lord, be near me now…

 

He is a Lying Pervert; Why America May Never Be Great Again

It’s a big day. We, the people, are obsessed with figuring out what to do, who to blame and how we will move forward together when this day ends. Our anger has been fierce, obvious and aimed in so many directions it has made my head spin. The amount of confusing information we have had coming our way — meant to clarify — has been overwhelming. Nonetheless, we have a choice to make today.

Like everyone else, I have an opinion and I have cast my vote; but today, my heart is surprisingly not consumed with election results (although I’m sure about 9:00 tonight, that will change).

Maybe traveling to the Middle East changed me more than I realize, because leading up to this historic election I cannot focus on politics. This is new for me. When I participated in mock elections as a kid, I used to try to figure out my own path to the White House. Seriously. In my early twenties, I was debating myself in the shower and determining the likelihood I could speak my way to a win in the Missouri House, then Senate seat, then Governor, then, yep! I should be on my way to Washington by now.

Ironically, by God’s grace, the current state of my mind and heart are driven by a need to fix my own house not the White House.

I, like most of you, am worried about my kids and their future. But, my obsession has become how to communicate to them that presidents are important, but they don’t dictate how we actually live.  We make those choices everyday regardless of who occupies capital hill.  How do I help people in my sphere gain a perspective that will change the way they view the political climate and ultimately impact their life on a real and personal level? I don’t have a perfect answer, but nonetheless, here are some things to ponder today. Maybe this will help entertain your mind between now and final results.

My choice today is to clarify whom the real corrupt, lying, pervert enemy actually is. He is a liar no doubt and has likely deceived you. And me. In fact, he is the chief of all liars. He is a pervert in the worst of all ways and his corruption runs so deep we cannot fathom its depth.

He takes things that were and are meant for our good, things that should be meaningful, beautiful and sacred and twists them into the very things that destroy your life, mine and threaten our children’s future.

For example:

The emotion of fear, a positive inner force meant to protect you from walking over a cliff, becomes a crippling emotion for which you now have to find a means to cope.

Medicine, meant to serve as an instrument of healing, becomes an addiction to cope with your…oh, I don’t know…fear?

Relationships, meant to give you support, accountability and earthly companionship, become a source of aggravation and stress.

Marriage, meant to be a picture of the redemptive love of Jesus, becomes a scene of jaded love and a “trap.”

Sex, meant to be the seal of a covenant and a commitment to another person of the opposite sex becomes a self-centered pleasure that knows no satisfaction.

Children, meant to be a blessing, become a burden.

Work, meant to be a task of fulfillment and purpose, becomes a curse.

Food, meant to nourish the body, becomes an obsession and a thorn in our side.

The body, meant to be a temple becomes a house of defilement, disease and distress.

A baby becomes a choice.

Freedom becomes bondage.

Shall I continue? Everything originally designed by our Creator in perfection and beauty is broken because of this enemy. What might happen if we, the people, identified him, exposed him — I mean I wish wikileaks would release some scripture about this or something — and united our efforts against HIM?

He can be identified.

He is Satan. Known as Lucifer or “shining one.” The devil. He is the known enemy of God. And he is real. Don’t think so? Look around for a few minutes. Consider it. It is pretty easy to see that there is good and there is evil. How do you explain that? If you think all people are good, look again. If you believe all things are bad, look again. How do you define good and evil? How do you know what is OK and what is not? These are big, important questions. You know it and I know it. The struggle is real.The war is raging. If you want to be angry, be angry with Satan. His desire is to find you, steal from you, lie to you and destroy you. He will stop at nothing. He will use every tool at his disposal to poison your mind and heart and to lock you into defeat. He will and has lied to you. You have been deceived. If you can’t admit your deceit reading this, then you can know it is true. He will do everything in his power to keep you from the only one who has defeated him.

Jesus.

Want to know why America may never be great? America doesn’t want to acknowledge the evil that exists in us and among us. America does not want to talk about sin or evil. (Unless of course it is the sin of someone we don’t like or don’t want to like, then we just can’t believe how awful he or she is.) Perhaps YOU do not want to talk about sin. I don’t need to explain to you what sin is. If you speak English well enough to have read this far, you know. Deep down, you know. You have experienced the struggle, the guilt, the pain and the effects for years, as have I.

We will never be “great” until we are willing to agree with God about what sin is and who is guilty. God does not ever wink at sin. Not yours and certainly not mine. He doesn’t brush it under the rug. He doesn’t accept it under some circumstances and He doesn’t ever agree to it. Rather, He exposes it. He brings it to light and He deals with it justly. In fact, He dealt with it fully.

I sincerely pray you know of the cross of Jesus Christ for it stands alone in history as the event that changes EVERYTHING.   The cross holds the key to our real victory. Jesus, God in the flesh, chose to die for us to satisfy the Father when we could not and to defeat the enemy and his power over us.   It is what Jesus did then and continues to do now that reverses the curse and the perversion. He redeems everything and brings real change in the lives of all people who have faith in Him.  Our government is meant to restrain evil, but only God Himself can defeat it.

Greatness comes through righteousness and righteousness comes only through Christ. Jesus alone takes what is broken by sin and sets it right. He makes it great again!

It’s a miracle and a mystery, but if you observe, you can see Jesus as clearly as you can see the enemy. Consider lives transformed by the power of Jesus. I know it is true, because He has changed me.

So, what do you want? What do you believe? Who do you follow? Who is your choice?

I’m choosing to focus on who the real enemy is. No, scratch that. I’ll not focus on him. I merely choose to identify him. I will fix my eyes, mind and heart on Jesus, for He is the only one and the only way in which America will ever stand a chance at greatness.

Why I Trust God Today

I should be working right now.  I have two keynotes, a personality training, three Bible classes to teach, a radio interview and serious preparations for a trip oversees in the next week, but, instead, I feel inspired to write.

This message is for you if you are a discouraged, unsure or insecure follower of Jesus Christ.  Yes, I realize we wouldn’t normally list those adjectives to describe our Christianity, but can we just be real for five seconds?  Listen, I have been there.  Hear me, I have done that.  But, what I hope to communicate to you so that you KNOW it with every fiber of your being, is that God IS faithful to what God IS doing.

Even if you don’t see it.

Seven years ago, I knew the Lord was leading me to teach a Bible class at my church for young women.  I was raised in church and had led many Bible studies.  I had been speaking at that point for five years before live audiences and had done years of television hosting and radio spots, so the “talking to people” part didn’t phase me.  Even the Bible part didn’t scare me then.  (Although, let me say, the more I study the Bible, the more I understand how little I knew and how scared I should have been and how little I still know even today!)

Nevertheless, a year later the class was launched for women 18 – 30 years old.  Just refer to a flyer posted around church!  Come one, come all!

Well, they did come, all two of them at first.

Over time, more women joined.  Some quit coming, some moved away, and one became a missionary, but several of them just kept coming back, again and again and again.  For the last six years, I have poured my heart and soul in to these girls.  It hasn’t been easy.  Consider all that comes with giving birth to two babies myself — totaling three dependents — traveling and speaking, writing a book, being self-employed with my man and building a house.  Life has been FULL.  I really cannot overstate this.  But, God made sure teaching these women was a priority.  In THIS season.  Now.  It made no sense to me.  There were many weeks I WANTED A BREAK.  A long break.  An I-will-do-it-when-my-kids-are-older break!

No such break was granted.

So, the journey continued and what a journey it has been.  Together, we experienced the joy of marriages, the ugliness in marriages, the progression of pregnancies, the blessing of babies, the exhaustion of child-care, the difficulty of parenting, the sorrow of great losses, the heart-ache of addictions, the diagnosis of life-altering illness, the sting of rejection, the mark of divorced parents, the hurt of past relationships, the sting of current relationships, the weight of conflict, the fear of cancer, the reality of cancer, the battle within decision making, the sacrifice of commitment and the weight of conflict.  I have laughed hysterically with these women, no doubt offended them, failed them, embarrassed them, wept with them, prayed fiercely for them, been scared to death of them, been frustrated by them and twice, nearly quit on them. (That will be a surprise if they are reading this.)  But, THROUGH IT ALL, God was miraculously changing our lives, changing us at our core, transforming us into the image of His son.  We will never be the same.  We have seen our God speak, work, move, heal, reconcile, restore, make new, set free, bring friendship, provide finances, comfort, teach, answer prayer, call people to His kingdom, promote people in His service and fill us with the power and victory of His Spirit! I am telling you, He has done what only He can do!  We have lived it!

And I am so grateful. Really.  Truly.  Grateful.

Yesterday — and probably the reason I had to get this into print and off my mind and heart today — it all came full circle.  At least for me.  I asked these girls, my sisters, to explain what this journey has been like for them.  To hear them share what God has done in them and for them and through them was rewarding, but more importantly humbling and glorious.  God is so so ridiculously good at what we does — REDEMPTION.  And then, by God’s timing, we celebrated together over lunch.  (A rare thing as all of us have multiple children!) But, we got away for the afternoon, high-jacked the church van and all!  Confession: I may have been the only one who actually knew a celebration was taking place, but in the private places of my heart, I was absolutely overwhelmed and overcome with joy and gratitude to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all He has accomplished as I looked around that table and thought of the others who could not attend.  I sit here still in amazement.  It took so long; but it happened so fast.

And while one journey seems to have come to a conclusion, I am so very excited for what He has in store.

You see, two weeks ago, I did quit.  Well, not really.  With God leading, I moved on.  He transferred my attention to a whole new group of women.  Younger women.  A new class.  A new group of strangers with fresh faces and fragile hearts.  I should have been thrilled, but I’ll admit, two weeks ago I was a discouraged, unsure and insecure follower of Jesus Christ.

But not now.

Teaching God’s Word, living on mission, investing in people, knowing and experiencing the one true and living God and making Him known, all of it works!  This is God’s plan.  This is discipleship.  This is the great movement of multiplication.  This is Christianity.  And this is what I live for.

As I stared into the faces of my new class, a group hand selected and chosen by God Himself, my heart smiled.  They have no idea what’s coming!  I’m excited for them because I KNOW God IS faithful to what God IS doing.

And, let me just convince you now, you want to be a part of it; because when it comes full circle, whether in six days or six months or six years, it is so very worth it!

 

4 Tips for Christian Parents with Public School Kids

Parenting is a tough job.  Throw in school, homework, sports activities, PTA meetings and extracurricular clubs and life can get wild!  It seems there are posts by the dozens for Christian parents who home school (as many of my friends do) and many posts about common core and all the issues surrounding education, but not much is out there encouraging the Christian parent who has children in public school.  So, these thoughts have been on my mind for quite some time, and I finally have a few minutes to share what’s on my heart to encourage you to stop living in survival mode when it comes to school and begin to thrive!

Here are 4 things to consider: (in completely random order)

(Massive Disclaimer:  I am so not even close to the perfect parent.  My son is starting third grade and my daughter is starting first grade.  So, I’m learning too.  I will say — so perhaps you’ll keep reading — that I have had the opportunity to speak to over 100,000 students and several hundred teachers in public schools throughout the mid-west over the last few years, so I have had a great deal of experience interacting with all kinds of different schools, administrators, counselors and students.  If that helps!)

1) Set-and-Stick-to Realistic Boundaries – The idea that you and your children can “do it all” is a lie.  I am amazed by how many parents are running themselves absolutely ragged and nearly killing their kids in the process.  OK, that may be an exaggeration, but seriously.  We need to prayerfully consider each decision we make in terms of the activity level for our kids.  Is there time for homework?  Is there time for family?  Is there time for devotionals?  It’s our job to create margin in our schedules so that priorities remain priorities and our kids aren’t so exhausted they can barely function, much less learn well and excel.  So, how do you do that?  Well, in our house we set firm priorities and make decisions about our schedule based on those, usually seasonally.  For us, being at church and having time to study God’s word is A-number-1, so activities that would infringe are out.  If we are going to be too tired to attend, something has to go; but it’s not going to be Bible study or church attendance.  Time as a family unit is important.  If we are always split up running from activity to activity, something has to go.  Bedtime and sleep are important.  We know our kids and we don’t ignore the fact that they need downtime.  They NEED good sleep and un-rushed bedtimes to talk and read and pray and reflect.  It is our responsibility to make sure the schedule doesn’t prevent this from happening consistently throughout the week.  Don’t ignore your child’s limits.  They may be awesome, but they are still kids.  If you fail to set boundaries, you and your kids will both be overwhelmed and no one has any fun.  And that ain’t no way to live!

2) View School as a Tool – As a Christian parent YOU are instructed to teach your child.  You are responsible for their learning.  So, have a proper perspective about the role school and your child’s “teacher” has in the educational process.  I am so grateful for the school my children attend.  They learn like little sponges that can’t get enough.  My children have both had and are getting ready to start a new year with teachers who are amazing people and so, so good at their jobs.  I admire and respect what they are capable of immensely.  But, I’m not counting on them to make my kids smart.  I’m not counting on them to make sure they can read and write and do math and understand science.  No, no, no, I’m using them to help me.  (sneaky huh?) I’ll make sure they get it.  I’ll work alongside educators, as a team, to make sure my children are educated and educated well, but I won’t fall into the trap that THEY are responsible for my children’s success or failure.  That’s on me (and Daddy).  This makes relationships with teachers so much easier.  (They’ll love you for this.)  I encourage you to spend some time learning about the school your child attends.  Talk about amazing resources!  They have so much to offer your child; and, trust me, the SCHOOL WANTS YOU to be a huge part of your child’s education.  You’re not just turning them over to the system.  You are actively a part of what goes in each kid’s brain.  Teach.  Do homework together.  Read together.  Be hands-on and involved in projects.  Enjoy seeing your child develop and learn new things.  It is SO EXCITING!  Your kids will thrive as you grow and learn with them.  (And, hey, chances are they’ll even love school too!)

3) Live on Mission – A huge part of the decision to send our children to public school is this:  we are on a mission.  Public schools need Christians because people need Christ.  As a Christian parent you have a unique opportunity and command to BE LIGHT and to share the gospel as you go.  The best way to do that and to have influence is to BE INVOLVED.  Attend meetings when you can, volunteer when you can, go to the class parties, meet other parents and be known for your faith.  (Of course, your availability will depend on your success with number 1.) There are endless and countless opportunities to be light in a sometimes dark place.  So many children walk through those halls everyday who need a friend, who need a hug, who need a safe place and an adult who is honest, polite, warm and loving.  You can be that person.  You should be that person.  Be encouraging to the teachers and administrators.  Be positive.  Take time to have conversations that matter and build relationships.  Ask God to give you chances to talk about Him and to share His truth.  And at the same time, teach your child to do the same.  Our children are to be light as well.  Teach them, by example, to be an example.  As you instruct them at home on kindness and love and grace and service, they will have the opportunity every week to put those lessons into practice.  Talk about training ground!  Put your faith into practice by being on mission in school.

4) Pray like Crazy – Not one single thing about this is easy.  There ARE many challenges you and your child will face in public education.  Pray.  Pray for wisdom and discernment.  Pray for protection for your child. Pray that God would keep them from the evil one.  Pray that they will in fact remember those spelling words!  Pray. Pray. Pray. and then don’t worry.  Trust that God loves your child more than you do and that He is there, everyday, caring for them and meeting their needs.  Be in constant communion with your heavenly Father and experience the joy of seeing Him at work in the life of your child, in your home and in you!

Politics, Resumes and the Third-Person Effect

Before I get into this post, I want to say sorry to people who used to read this blog. I have disappeared from blogging for a while. I could say that it was due to working on school. But the truth is that, lately, it’s been plain-old laziness and a loss of focus on why I’ve even gone back to school in the first place. I aim to help people think, and I’ve lost sight of that. 

Have you ever watched a campaign commercial that smears your favorite candidate or praises one you dislike and thought something like this?:

“That’s a load of garbage. I know most of that isn’t true. I’m not falling for it. It just makes me mad that there are some people out there who will believe these lies and vote accordingly. I mean, I can see through this nonsense, but not everyone else can.”

Thoughts like those demonstrate the “third-person effect.” This error in thought occurs when you assume that most people are gullible, prejudicial or ignorant in ways that you are not. It often involves assuming the worst about a large group’s motives or intelligence. If you find yourself feeling like an “exception to the rule,” (whatever that rule might be), there is a good chance that you are making this mistake.

Political and social issues trigger third-person effects. And sometimes, if we would just really stop and analyze ourselves we would find that our thinking is absurd.

I’ve been guilty of third-person-effecting lately. At least, I hope I have been. Right or wrong, I’ve decided to be more self-aware and assume the best I can about people.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been applying for various non-religious editing and writing jobs around the Houston area. While my educational credentials are pretty good, the word “Baptist is prominent in my work history. I have been having this nagging feeling that somehow that hurts my credibility in the secular world and is why I am having little luck in the job hunt. After all, Evangelical Christians are not exactly portrayed as geniuses in mass media (and often by other sects of Christianity).

Now, of course, know that there are lots of hard-working, honest, intelligent people who come from a variety of religious (or not), ethnic and educational backgrounds; and wouldn’t pass someone up just because they had some religious organization I don’t agree with on his or her resumé. But that’s just me. Right? What about all of these potential employers? They might think I’m stupid without ever speaking to me just because I’m a Baptist.

I’m not saying prejudices of all sorts don’t exist. I know they do. However, what I am saying is that I should not assume these prejudices in others.

Can you imagine how different the political conversation in this country would be if we stopped assuming that the Left/Right, Democrats/Republicans wanted to oppress us/take our money/rights/religious freedom/guns/sexual freedom/make us a theocracy/force us to violate our religious beliefs/etc.? I’m sure there are plenty of people who do actually want to do some of these things, but I highly doubt they are nearly as numerous as purported by either side. Usually, the motives and desires of people are misunderstood and then demonized in a third-person effect sort of way.

A prime example of this is the labeling of pretty much any person/group of people who believe that marriage has a definition that has to do with male and femaleness or disagrees with the nature of reality as it is described by the LGBT community as “hateful.” It doesn’t seem to matter how kindly one expresses disagreement, they are still hateful/bigoted etc.

Hateful? Really? As I understand it, hatred is wishing the worst for someone. It is wishing for their destruction — literally, that they would die.  Should I assume, then, that the LGBT community is hateful towards me? That they wish for my destruction? I disagree with them in their beliefs about a lot of things, so certainly they disagree with me and mine.

What I should do is give the benefit of the doubt to those with whom I disagree — more specifically, I should assume that they disagree out of true belief and are not motivated by a sinister plot to destroy me. After all, if sincerely don’t wish evil on people simply because they think I am wrong, shouldn’t I grant that ability to others?

“But Klint, there are some people who really do think/believe/desire terrible things about you/others/this group/that group.” To that I say, so what? Becoming cynical is not going to help nor change anything. And, besides, I am a Christian after all. I’ll let God worry about it. (At least I’ll try.)

Responding to Responses

Klinton will be on Periscope (@KlintonSilvey) today, 11/20, at NOON (CST) to address some of the criticisms of “What Christian Millennials ‘Don’t Get.'” Join in! And please be civil.

If you don’t know about periscope, check this out: http://www.cnet.com/news/getting-started-with-the-live-streaming-app-periscope/

Something Christian Millennials “Don’t get”

I should probably be working on one of my three term papers right now, but something is on my mind. Also, this one is just for the Christians. If you’re not a Christian, go ahead and read it, but it’s not really directed at you.

As I am writing this, 17 state governors have declared that they will not accept any Syrian refugees. I’ve seen a lot of praise over this, largely coming from Christians.

I understand the fear. Really, I do. It is, I admit, quite plausible, as we have seen from Paris, that ISIS operatives can and will sneak in with the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from certain death or worse. However, there is a holocaust going on, and speaking for myself and I am sure many others, we cannot understand the coldness toward refugees coming from other Christians. If you will please stick with me for a few paragraphs, I will explain why we just don’t “get it.”

I was raised in a small-town Baptist church. I was taken there Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. I don’t care how much you like to goof off, if you spend that much time in a church, you’re going to pick up on major themes whether you want to or not.

One of those major themes is that we should be courageous. Another is that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Another is that life is eternal.

These themes are all over the Bible. “Be strong and courageous,” God told Joshua. “Perhaps you are here for such a time as this,” Esther’s uncle said. “Do not fear those who can kill the body,” Jesus said. Jesus also told a story that would be, on the danger scale, the equivalent of a Native American carrying a bloodied and beaten white man into an Old West town saloon for help in the pioneer days. (The Good Samaritan)

And the stories didn’t just include Bible stories. Just about every evangelical (especially Baptists) know and praise the Jim Elliots of the world and their wives. If you don’t know, Jim Elliot was a missionary to somewhere in the Amazon. He and several others were killed by the natives. Later, their wives evangelized the same people who killed their husbands!

We were taught to admire people like that. The idea that nothing, and I mean absolutely NOTHING in this world is more important than expanding the Kingdom of God — not even my own life — has been drilled into me since I was a small child. And, you know what? I believe it’s the truth still!

Am I not supposed to actually believe all that stuff?  I find myself today witnessing some Christians who seem to want to be as not like Jim Elliot as possible. I do not understand this. This is what I do not “get.”

For years and years and years it has been nearly impossible to get missionaries (even sneakily) into parts of the Middle East. It’s so dangerous, some, assuming they can even get in, are likely to be killed so quickly they can’t do much evangelizing. And now, hundreds of thousands of beaten, hurting, orphaned, widowed (google “pure and undefiled religion) and broken people are trying to come to US.

Is it possible that a small percentage of them want to kill us? — Let me counter that question with another question:

Does it matter? 

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a post Columbine, post 9/11 world that we youngsters think this way, but refugees or no refugees, some folk are getting murdered in the United States today. Refugees or no refugees, there will be another school shooting somewhere. Refugees or no refugees, terrorists will find a way. Life is terminal. You WILL die.

I find it astonishing that many people want America to be recognized as a Christian nation. God forbid!

“Dear Syrian refugees,

We, the Christian nation of America, do not want you. There are some bad eggs mixed in with y’all. We’ve seen the photo of the little boy who washed up on shore. We’ve heard from Christine Caine and the A21 people who talk about how desperate the situation is. But we also have some news sources that told us that it’s all men and the women and children aren’t even there! Whew! You almost had us fooled! Have a nice life in that land of opportunity you just floated to, the bankrupt and socially troubled country of Greece. We’ll send some food over for a while. Please, steer clear of the human traffickers and report all suspicious activity to the police.

God Bless.”

Maybe I’m just wound up. I suppose it’s possible to be too wound up or emotionally stirred at something like this. But if you want to curb my youthful enthusiasm, here’s all you need to do:

Open up a Bible and make a convincing argument that Jesus wants us all to be safe more than he wants us to reach the lost and help the hurting. I was taught, after all, that Jesus trumps all — even those teaching me that Jesus trumps all. Am I supposed to believe that or not?

It’s not like I’m declaring all of us must quit our jobs and go. But not only will we not go, we don’t even want them to come to us? I am genuinely confused. Somebody help me out here.

The Marriage of Faithfulness and Effectiveness

Have you ever heard this line? “We are not called to be effective, we are called to be faithful.”

I disagree.

Faithfulness to God and effectiveness for the Kingdom cannot be separated; and that is a truth that we should find terrifying.

In the parable of the minas in Luke 19, the faithfulness of the servants is judged on the basis of their effectiveness.

“…(verse 20) Another came saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in a bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest? Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away…”

I used to think that faithfulness meant attending church services, tithing and following the rules/behaving morally. Now, I think that if that is the extent of my definition of faithfulness and therefore, my actions, that I am the “worthless slave.”

The problem with that view of faithfulness is that we serve a God who wants to acquire. He’s out for more.

The worthless slave actually had some correct beliefs about his master. Unfortunately, his beliefs lead him to fearing his master in such a way that he thought that the best thing to do with what the master had given him was to keep it safe. He took no risks with his mina and happily returned it in pristine condition.

I wonder how many churches are so focused on keeping the church “pure,” that they render themselves ineffective? The passed-down traditions are kept. The convictions of the faithful are respected. The focus is certainly on the holiness of God. After all, God will bring the people in to the church as long as he is honored. Right?

It seems to me that Jesus is making the point that the master (who seems to be Jesus himself in this parable) is honored by people taking what they have and investing it — always a seemingly risky endeavor — with the goal of acquiring more for the master while he is away. He does not seem to be impressed in the least, and is made quite angry, by the fact that the mina he had given had been returned to him safe-and-sound.

Does this not scare you? It scares me a lot. If it doesn’t scare you, then I hope it is because you are an outwardly focused, effective Christian who is part of an outwardly focused people-reaching evangelistic, relevant church.  But if you are comfortable thinking that your attendance and tithing and not sinning makes you “faithful,” then you need to be worried.

“Klint, surely you aren’t saying that those dying churches who have God-fearing members who are ‘fighting the good fight’ aren’t being faithful. That’s awfully judgmental, especially coming from someone so young.” 

We should not be nearly as concerned with being faithful to the church as we are concerned with  being faithful to the purpose of the church. Meeting 1-3 times a week (or every single day of the week for that matter) and does not equal being faithful. Being moral people does not equal being faithful. Investing in growing the kingdom, does; and, in the most scary part of all, results are expected.

Most Baptist churches are either stagnant or dying, but I bet every single congregation has been reassured at one point or another that it is being faithful. Faithful to what? Of course we need to be faithful to the message of what the gospel is. But that is not enough because part of the gospel message is that it is for all people and we must be the kind of people who will actually go and love all people. I’m afraid that faithfulness to preferences is trumping faithfulness to kingdom-advancing.

I have never been to a church that was outwardly focused, mission-oriented and willing to set preferences aside (i.e. sacrificial) for the sake of reaching people that wasn’t growing, much less dying. Maybe that’s just my experience, but if the early New Testament church grew in a period of time where believers were literally dragged away and killed, then I really don’t think we can blame our culture or the world out there if we are failing to advance Kingdom.

The time has come to not only put preferences aside, but to put excuses aside and give ourselves an honest evaluation. Read Luke 19 for yourself and judge what I am saying. Which servant are you?