Jesus Isn't Looking For Perfect Music (Or Musicians)

by Jamie Brown (Used with permission)

Several years ago I read the book Music Through the Eyes of Faith by Harold Best, and for me, it was one of those books that I couldn’t stop underlining, re-reading, and devouring.

In particular, I loved the point Harold made with respect to the ramifications of Jesus – as the perfect Son of God on earth – singing songs and hearing music written by sinners.

He wrote:

“Let’s concentrate on something that almost never comes to mind: the music that Jesus heard and made throughout his life – the music of the wedding feast, the dance, the street, and the synagogue. As it turns out, Jesus was not a composer but a carpenter. Thus he heard and used the music made by other, fallen creatures – the very ones he came to redeem.

The ramifications of this single fact are enormous. They assist in answering the questions as to whether music used by Christians can only be written by Christians and whether music written by non-Christians is somehow non-Christian. But for now, it is important to understand that even though we don’t know whether every piece of music Jesus used was written by people of faith, we can be sure that it was written by imperfect people, bound by the conditions of a fallen world and hampered by sinfulness and limitation.

So even though we do not know what musical perfection is, we do know that the perfect one could sing imperfect music created by fallen and imperfect people, while doing so completely to the glory of his heavenly Father.”
The Fall, Creativity, and Music Making, pgs. 18 and 19

Jesus sang imperfect music written by imperfect people when he walked the earth. This is good news for us!

So let’s not try to impress Jesus with our perfect music this Sunday. Let’s thank him for making our imperfect music and imperfect worship acceptable through his perfect sacrifice. What a Savior!

Worship In Grief by David Santistevan

If you’ve ever experienced tragedy, you know how difficult it can be to count it all joy. To sing. To have faith.

Maybe you received a terrifying diagnosis. Or you lost your job. Or the offering plate passes by as you wonder how you’ll pay your bills. Maybe you and your spouse are disconnected and feel like it’s over. Maybe a family member has died. Maybe Orlando, Dallas or France.

Whatever the case, as worship leaders we need to be sensitive to grief and lament and make it a regular part of our worship gatherings.

Many have a hard time with this. They feel worship should primarily be a place where we celebrate and declare and proclaim. I mean, I can understand. We receive enough bad news during the week. We don’t need to weep, moan and wail on Sundays.

But I’d go so far to say that Sunday morning is the best place for our grief. The presence of God in corporate worship is the best outlet for our anger, confusion and sadness.

Consider the Psalms—the great hymnbook of every generation. Here’s a portion of Psalm 88:

From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood;
they have completely engulfed me.
You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
darkness is my closest friend.”

That isn’t how the Psalm begins, but how it ends. No happy ending. No triumphant close. It’s just pure lament and sadness.

Why would the Bible include this? It’s actually fairly common within the Psalms to cry out for justice, to weep over transgression, to be overwhelmed by darkness.

I think it’s because King David knew pain. And Christ knows our pain because He lived it. I believe God wants us to know the place suffering has in our fallen world and to show that He is more than able to heal, comfort, bring peace and restore what is broken.

He’s not just the God who heals but He’s the God who is present in our pain. He knows it because He tasted it for us.

The Presence of Pain & the Presence of God

As worshipers, we’re not called to deny our pain for a happy-clappy faith. We’re called to offer that pain to the only One who can do anything about it.

And this a high calling for worship leaders. Every Sunday people are experiencing grief. We have no idea the depths of suffering they are experiencing. And especially in more recent times, hurt is everywhere.

Think of the alternative for our people:

• If not the church, where?

• If not our songs, what songs?

• If not our gatherings, what gatherings?

When we bring our grief into God’s presence we gain perspective. It’s a perspective that rises above the storm. It’s a perspective that sees the Son of Man standing alongside you in the fire.

Circumstances may not change. There may not be a swift answer to prayer. There may not be an instant healing. But you’ll develop a closeness with the Savior that is the sweetest experience on earth.

How to Lead Grieving Worship

What does this mean for you as a worship leader? I can see it affecting a few areas of your ministry:

1. How You Lead – Good worship leading has a lot to do with empathy. Being real with people and knowing where they are. When you have empathy for the people you lead, they trust you and follow you. So lead in such a way that people know you’re real. That you’re a worshiper.

2. Your Song Choice – A well-balanced diet is never just one food group. We receive nutrients from many different sources. The same goes for our song diet. Songs of victory, yes. Anthems of celebration, for sure. But also include songs that speak to suffering and Christ’s closeness.

3. How You Live – Don’t expect people to worship in the midst of their pain if you refuse to. Part of what makes you a great leader is worshiping when it hurts. Your own doubt, suffering and grief make you a believable worship leader … if you’re living it off the stage.

6 Bad Reasons To "Go To Church"

By David Fitch


David Fitch presents good and bad reasons for participating in the life of a local church community.


The phrase “go to church” is a “no-no” in missional circles. Some 20-something chastises me every time I let that phrase slip from my mouth at our church.

Church is not a place we go. It is a way of life we live as being God’s people in the world participating in His Mission.

Acknowledging that, why get up and go on Sunday to the gathering of His people? I must admit to often awakening Sunday morning and experiencing the inertia of getting going to the Sunday morning gathering. And I am a pastor! Why go to such a gathering?

To combat this inertia, I think we can get into some bad habits for “going to church.” If we got rid of these habits, we might actually be able to see the gathering as a more natural part of the rhythms of our life with God in His Mission.

Here are six bad reasons to “go to church.”

Don’t go to church…

1. Out of Duty/Obligation

Spiritual disciplines are good if they are openings for God to work and shape our lives into His life and Mission. Too often, however, disciplines become duties, devoid of the life to which they were meant to connect us. Don’t go to church out of duty or obligation. It should be a regular spiritual discipline that shapes us into His life and Mission.

2. If This Is What It Means to Be a Christian

If you think being a Christian is what happens in this hour-and-a-half, stop going to church and ask what it means to follow Christ when you don’t go. This is where we gather to encounter the living God corporately, respond to Him, be shaped by His vision and His work, and then be sent out to continue this life into the world.

3. To Get Your Needs Met

If you think some problem in your life will be solved or some need met by “going to church,” don’t go! Because more than likely you’ll be disappointed. Sometimes needs, physical and otherwise, get met at the cross (or around the prayer bench) in instantaneous fashion, but most often there’s some suffering that needs to be walked through in the death and resurrection of Christ. Most of our needs are ministered to over time as we submit them regularly to Christ and what He is doing.

4. To Feel Good, Get Inspired

I recognize a lot of times I come away feeling inspired and good after the gathering.

But I try to check myself on this. For if I get addicted to a certain “feeling good” worship experience or some inspiration from the sermon, my relationship with God starts to look like an addiction to a feeling that has become narcissistic. It stunts the growth of my character into God and what He is doing. Maybe I’m too uptight on this?

5. To Perform

Occasionally I will notice I’m going off to the gathering to perform. I’m going to go preach, or teach, or guide the children’s ministry.

I feel like other people can get into this rut too. I’m going to sing, play guitar, be cool, whatever (BTW, I haven’t played the guitar in 20 years). We’re getting a buzz from performing. Something subtle occurs and it’s about my self-accolades. I feel better about myself after doing something for God.

I suggest, if this is happening, don’t go to the gathering. Shrink back. All our service in the gifts and to the world should be out of our life with God. It should be an offering unto Him out of the gifts He keeps giving.

Of course, we need affirmation in order to recognize what God is doing and calling us to. But that’s a different dynamic. After I preach a sermon, I discipline myself to leave that sermon in God’s hands. I offered it to Him. If and when I receive feedback, it is for the furtherance of His work in my life and the community.

6. To Get Something From the Expert

If we go to church to get something on the Christian life from the expert in a sermon or something, I think we miss the point. The so-called expert is most likely gifted to proclaim. He/she has been recognized for God’s work in this regard in his/her life.

But the real formation happens in the response and the working out of that proclamation among a people. The expert, on his own, often disappoints, or worse starts acting like he/she is the only one who knows Scripture, which breeds distrust of any authority in the community. The thought process of getting something from an expert defeats God’s work in community and should be discouraged. Don’t “go to church” if this is the way you think it works.

Over against these reasons not to “go to church,” I still believe the church gathering is just a part—albeit an important part—of the rhythm of Mission.

For it is at the gathering we come as broken people in order to submit ourselves to what He is doing to be shaped for Mission. Here we are led into His presence, the reading of Scripture, the liturgies of submission, affirmation of truth and confession, the proclamation of the Gospel and the feasting on His forgiveness and new life at the meal, in praise and thanksgiving, and finally into the sending out into Mission.

Can you think of any more reasons “not to go to church” that might actually prevent church from becoming a part of a Missional rhythm for a people of God? 

Christians Need To Stop Cussing

By Erik Raymond

“So let me give you a couple of four-letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: ‘luck’ and ‘fate.'”

When I first became a Christian, I had a bad mouth. I am thankful that over time God worked to change my heart, and as a result, my mouth. I knew right away that talking in a particular way was offensive to God and others. It does not have a place among those professing faith in Christ because it does not give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29). This is pretty straightforward.

But I’ve noticed that many Christians are still plagued by a foul mouth. They say things that are offensive to God and to others. I suspect that many don’t even realize it either. Like a new convert who remains fluent in the sailor’s tongue, the Christian may not realize what they are saying or its theological impact.

So let me give you a couple of four-letter words that Christians should mortify with quickness: “luck” and “fate.” These words and their concepts are unbiblical and atheistic. Luck communicates randomness while fate describes a inevitability of something happening without a purpose. Both are blind and impersonal.

Undermining and Obscuring Who God Is

I say they are Christian cuss words because they undermine the key biblical doctrine of God’s providence. This word providence may be a new word for you, but it is an important word. It is a word that we as Christians need to know and delight in. We are often so quick to simplify and redefine words, but in doing so we can be losing something of our identity as Christians. At one time this word was so prevalent that people named cities and churches after it! This is a very important word.

What does it mean? Providence is God’s infinite power that upholds and governs all things that come to pass.

As the Heidelberg Catechism says,

“God’s providence is his almighty and ever present power, whereby as with his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth and all creatures and so governs them so that: leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed all things, come to us not by change but by his fatherly hand.”

The main thing you need to know about this is that God is not disconnected from what is happening in the world today. There is no such thing as chance or luck or fate or karma. Rather, God is upholding, governing and ordering all things as with his very hand.

“Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.” (Psalm 135:6)

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:3)

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

“But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:30)

As Charles Spurgeon observed,

There is just this difference between fate and providence. Fate is blind; providence has eyes. Fate is blind, a thing that must be; it is just an arrow shot from a bow, that must fly onward, but hath no target. Not so, providence; providence is full of eyes. There is a design in everything, and an end to be answered; all things are working together, and working together for good. They are not done because they must be done, but they are done because there is some reason for it. It is not only that the thing is, because it must be; but the thing is, because it is right it should be. God hath not arbitrarily marked out the world’s history; he had an eye to the great architecture of perfection, when he marked all the aisles of history, and placed all the pillars of events in the building of time.

Am I Splitting Hairs?

Some might say, “Why are you nitpicking? Why squabble about these things?”

The answer is simple: We serve a precise God. He is to get glory in all that we do. And this includes how we think and speak about him. If we are saying things that attack, undermine, blur or otherwise detract from a truth that God means to get glory from—shouldn’t we stop? Don’t you want to stop these things?

If you get a new job, is this God’s providence or a lucky break? Do you think the God who orders and upholds all things means to get glory from the new job? What about when someone’s disease clears up or is healed? Is this luck? No! It is God who smiled upon them.

God Actually Counts Hairs

God is involved in the details of life. He is the God who said that he numbers every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30). As Spurgeon noted, even the most committed of earthly moms can’t pull this off. He’s right. Go ahead and walk to the nursery this Sunday at church. Ask the moms about how many teeth their children have. Ask them if they are crawling or trying to walk. They will give you a quick and clear answer. Then ask them how many hairs are on their heads. They will laugh. No one knows this. But friends, God does. Even the hairs on your head are numbered. He is the God who upholds and governs all things; he orders the cosmos and knows the number of hairs on your head. God is intricately involved with the affairs of your life.

We mustn’t dare to carelessly speak in terms of fate or luck. These are offensive and insulting terms that Christians should cast into the sea along with other inappropriate speech that characterizes our immaturity. And as we throw them overboard, remember to delight in the truth of God’s providence and the God who upholds and governs as with his very hand.  

Why Attending Church Is So Important

by: Matt Brown

“Don’t let excuses stand in the way of what you know God is calling you to do.”

A few weeks ago an online post from a major ministry struck a nerve when it stated the necessity of church attendance for your growth as a believer in Christ.

It’s surprising to me how many Christians struggle with the idea of church attendance. We are at a crossroads in our nation on the importance of going to church. According to research, church attendance has remained virtually the same percent of our national population for the past 70 years, however, this still means there are a huge number of American Christians who are not active in a local church—in the tens of millions.

Of course, this isn’t a new problem. Since the beginning of Christianity, the early leaders had to challenge this mindset, saying, “Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

A popular Christian social media catch-phrase is, “You don’t go to church, you are the church.” While I get the sentiment in some ways, this is an unhealthy view, pitting “being the church” and “going to church” against each other. If we are truly “the church,” then we will surely get together with other believers regularly. We cannot “be” the church, if we don’t “go” to church. Not fully anyways.

The “church” never connotes a single, individual, lone ranger Christian just going about his Christian duties and never gathering together to worship with other believers. The “church” by its very nature means multiple believers: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20).

This is both the biblical and historical pattern set forth for us by the first followers of Jesus. They would get together weekly to worship God together, and at times even daily. They would also share community together in each other’s homes. Paul and the other Apostle’s letters were actually sent to these church communities that gathered in various cities to be read aloud together. Church means getting together with other believers to worship Jesus Christ, and hear the Scriptures together, and encourage one another in the faith.

Craig Groeschel shared recently, “There is something better. To worship God together and be committed to worship Him together, to hear His Word together. Do not reduce church to listening to a podcast. It’s so much more than that. It’s community. It’s worshiping with other, praying for others, hurting with others, serving others, being involved in the lives of others.”

And here’s the reality of the biblical call to gather with other believers. There are many options for going to church for each of us. You can look for a church that is right for you. I’m not telling you to go to a certain style, type or denomination of church—I’m simply challenging you to gather with other believers regularly to worship and hear the Scriptures.

The biblical pattern for church is this:

  • Every Christian should gather together to hear the Scriptures and worship Jesus together with other believers weekly (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Romans 16:5; Acts 20:20; James 2:2; Psalm 84:4; Psalm 37:17; Psalm 92:13).
  • It is also good to meet for smaller groups of Christian community in each other’s homes regularly (see Acts 2:46).
  • It’s good to have leaders overseeing the work and needs of each local church—this is the biblical pattern—not all of us are called to church leadership, and so we should submit to and serve whoever God has called to lead at the place we find ourselves (see Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 13:7, 17; 1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Philippians 1:1b; Ephesians 4:11-12; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Peter 5:1-2; Acts 20:17).
  • If there are believers who are unable for physical reasons to attend a church weekly, they should find a church or believers who will gather together with them regularly for worship in their own home (see James 5:14; James 1:27).

Here are four powerful reasons why you should attend church weekly, and why church attendance can change your life:

1. God Said So

God tells us in His Word to “not give up meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25).

The Bible even goes so far as to call the church the “Bride of Christ.” If you love Jesus, you will love the things that He loves, and there is no one a good man loves more than His bride. The church is this important to God, so it should be ever-important to us.

God didn’t call us to gather and worship to burden us, but to bless us. Church attendance can become one of the greatest blessings in you and your family’s life!

2. Worshipping Jesus Together Is Powerful

Jesus lives inside of us by His Spirit when we believe in Him—this is a profoundly incredible truth!

But there is also something biblically powerful about gathering together with other believers to worship. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). So He not only lives in us by His Spirit, but He is in the “midst” of us when we gather to worship Him.

3. We Need Christian Community

All of us long for community and connection with others. God has given us this gift in gathering together for church, and in smaller groups in each other’s homes. It fulfills something inside of us to do life with others, encourage each other and be authentically involved in each other’s lives.

Christian TV, podcasts, books and conferences are wonderful additions to our spiritual lives, but nothing can take the place of consistent Christian community through the local church.

4. We Grow More Together Than Alone

It can be messy when we step into each other’s lives. We are all human, and no one is perfect. So it requires effort and intentionality and grace from God to do life together, even as believers.

Gathering regularly with other believers becomes a refining process whereby we help each other, pray for each other and encourage each other to want to follow Christ more wholeheartedly. It is a truly beautiful thing.

Don’t let excuses stand in the way of what you know God is calling you to do. God will strengthen you and empower you to do what He has called you to do. I am praying for you—if you have encountered past wounds from leaders or from church members—that God will bring healing and grace to you, as you seek to follow Him, and love His Church.  

5 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2016


By Carey Nieuwhof

There’s little doubt culture is changing rapidly.

The question is, are you ready as a church leader?

If the change inside the church isn’t equal to or greater than the change outside our walls, irrelevance is inevitable.

While that thought can be somewhat depressing, think of the flip side.

History belongs to the innovators. It belongs to the leaders who dared to dream, to try things no one else was trying, to experiment, to push the boundaries of what everyone else believed was possible.

As Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Or as Steve Jobs put it, “A lot of the time people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

If you are prepared to tackle change with a fully engaged heart, you can help not only your church but maybe even the church better accomplish the mission before us.

So what’s changing before our eyes? I see these five things becoming major players as 2016 unfolds.

1. Church online will become an advance, not just a supplement to or replacement for church.

You can make the argument that online options that churches offer—everything from message podcasts to social media to full online streaming of Sunday services— have too often played the role of a supplement to or replacement of church for many Christians.

For a growing number of Christians, online church has become like TV preachers were to some Christians in the ’70s and ’80s who decided Sunday morning viewing at home was better than participation in a local church. Too tired or disengaged to go on Sunday? Just watch online.

Watch for church online to become far less of a supplement or replacement and far more of an advance into the lives of people who don’t attend church at all.

Churches will get innovative and more intentional about reaching out into their communities using digital options as a point of first contact with unchurched people.

Think about it: Everybody who wasn’t in your church last Sunday is probably on Facebook. And everybody who wasn’t in your church last Sunday is probably online.

So go connect with them.

More than ever in 2016, online church will begin to open a door into the lives of people who will never walk through yours.

2. Preachers will preach less often.

I’ve noticed that preachers are both getting better at communicating and speaking less often.

It wasn’t that long ago that some preachers were writing 100 to 150 messages a year between Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.

Many Sunday evening and Wednesday night services have disappeared in the last decade.

But a growing number of preachers are realizing that preparing 52 excellent Sunday messages is increasingly difficult. Personally, I’ve cut back from writing 70 messages a year a decade ago to about 35 a year today.

The result? I’m a much better communicator.

What’s creating all this change?

Simple. It’s the wide availability of digital options. (See point #1 above.)

A decade ago, people who attended your church only really ever listened to you. Now they can hearanyone for free. And they do.

As a result, the local pastor is often being listened to alongside today’s best communicators, and local pastors are opting for quality over quantity.

At some point, quantity and quality compete. And in today’s digital landscape, innovative leaders are opting for quality.

3. Experience will trump content.

Technology has made world-class content both portable and affordable.

Anyone can listen to the best communicators and best bands in the world for free or next to free on any device they own.

And they do.

The attractional churches of the ’90s and 2000s built their congregations by offering excellent preaching and amazing music.

The challenge, of course, is that technology has disrupted that model.

What used to be both exclusive and something you had to experience personally is now portable and affordable thanks to your phone.

Why? Because more people are asking this question: If I can watch and listen on my phone, why would I come? 

If you don’t have a good answer to that question as a church leader, you lose.

Churches that cultivate a great experience will win.

What makes for a great experience?


—Serving one another in love

—A sense of mission and movement into a city or region

—Amazing kids experiences

—Actual caring, prayer and human interaction

Church leaders will have to sift through what can only happen in person and what can happen online.

Those who do will continue to grow. Those who don’t, won’t.

It’s not that you shouldn’t have an online presence. You should have a great one.

But you should also offer something in person you can never get online. This year, the most innovative leaders will get better at figuring out what those differences are.

4. Passion will beat polish.

For many years, growing churches focused on doing church better. 

Better music, better preaching, better buildings, better design, better everything drove much of the growth of the last few decades.

But as every leader knows, eventually better gets you diminishing returns.

One more moving light is probably not going to bring another 1,000 people to Jesus in the same way the first moving light did. (OK, moving lights never brought people to Jesus. But church was often so stale and bad in the ’80s and ’90s that moving lights were a hallmark of churches that innovated and as a result collectively baptized millions.)

The effective churches I’ve visited and seen recently by no means had the best lights, stage or production. Some had almost no stage and no lights, while others had a pretty decent package, but not nearly the level you see at some churches.

What did they all have in common? Passion.

When it comes to reaching the next generation, passion beats polish.

It’s not that polish is bad, but I think it’s increasingly trumped by a raw authenticity that exudes from leaders who will do whatever it takes to reach people with the Gospel.

In the churches I’ve seen doing a superb job with young adults, smaller facilities and stage sets were more than compensated for by preachers, worship leaders and team members who exuded passion for the mission.

Passion beats polish.

5. Only the most engaged and the curious will attend.

There is a shifting attendance pattern happening in every church, including growing churches and megachurches: Even people who attend church are attending less often.

In the past, if you were Christian, you went to church on a Sunday. It was almost automatic.

But it led to many disengaged Christians filling up seats on Sundays. They attended, but they didn’t serve, didn’t give and didn’t invite anyone to come with them. They simply attended.

That group is increasingly disappearing, opting for online options (see point 1 above) or has dropped out all together as our culture becomes more and more post-Christian. This trend will only accelerate in 2016.

As a result, your weekend gatherings will increasingly be attended primarily by two groups: the engaged and the curious.

The engaged are people who are on mission with you. They give. They serve. They actually have unchurched friends they’re bringing to church. They live out their faith far more than they sit in a back row and ‘absorb.’

They’ll be joined on the weekends by the curious. The curious are people who haven’t made a decision to follow Jesus but they’re open. They’re exploring. They’re asking questions. They’re probably there because a friend invited them or because they found you online and wanted more.

When I look to the future, I see those two groups forming the core of the people who will continue to fuel attendance at your weekly gatherings.

So what does this mean for church leaders?

It means you need to stop valuing attendance more than you value engagement.

Ironically, if you value attendance over engagement, you will see declining attendance.

And if you want to raise attendance, raise engagement.

What Do You See?

Those are five big trends I see emerging in 2016.

I call them disruptive because they will ensure that things never stay the same. And for leaders, that should be exciting. It gives us the chance to innovate and actually advance our mission.

By seeing the trends clearly, you can respond to them.

After all, leaders who see the future can seize the future.

What disruptive trends do you see emerging in 2016?  

10 Marks of a Mature Christian


By Frank Powell

I have two boys (Noah and Micah) 15 months apart. Yes, the days are non-stop and action-packed, but that’s not the point. Here is the point: My boys are at different stages in the maturation process. My oldest son (Noah) can process thoughts and handle tasks that my younger son (Micah) can’t. And most of you would label me an unfit dad if I disciplined Micah because he didn’t understand something he wasn’t capable of processing.

At the same time, I hold Noah to a higher standard than Micah because Noah is older. He is more mature. I don’t expect Micah to be on Noah’s maturity level, but I also don’t expect Noah to be on Micah’s maturity level.

There is a maturation journey we embark on from our first breath on this earth until our last. And there are markers along the way to help us determine if we are ahead of the curve or behind it. For instance, if a 10-year-old is drinking from a bottle, we know something is wrong. If a 5-year-old is still crawling we know something is wrong. You get the idea.

Just like we develop as humans, we also develop as Christians. And just like there are markers for physical and mental maturation, there are also markers for spiritual maturation. But what are they? Well, let’s start by eliminating some things.

Spiritual maturity is not: 

Spiritual maturity is not about age. 

Similar to the bumper sticker that says, “I might be getting older, but I will never grow up.” Spiritual maturity takes time, energy and effort, but it is possible to be a 50- or 60-year-old spiritual baby.

Spiritual maturity is not about achievements.

“Dude, you read through the Bible 25 times? Oh, you memorized the entire book of James? Wow, you can say the books of the Bible in 12 languages … backwards? Are you serious? … You have a Ph.D. in Religion from Harvard?”

Those accomplishments are impressive, but they aren’t necessarily marks of a spiritually mature person. Remember, the Pharisees knew a lot of Scripture and had a trophy room full of achievements.

Spiritual maturity is not about appearance. 

There are people who “look the part.” In football, this is called “passing the eye test.” Tall. Big hands. Rocket arm. But many guys who pass the eye test aren’t good football players. Similarly, there are many Christians who “pass the eye test.” But this isn’t an indication of spiritual maturity.

So, what is spiritual maturity? There are potentially hundreds of markers. So, understand the following markers aren’t a checklist. They aren’t exhaustive. They provide a framework for spiritual maturity.

No one ever fully matures spiritually. But we must journey on the road to maturity, and while we journey, there are marks that help us determine where we are. Here are 10 marks of a mature Christian.

10 Marks of a Mature Christian

1) The highs and lows of life don’t impact your relationship with God.

I love roller coasters. My favorite part is ascending to the apex, stalling for a moment or two, then taking a free fall only to begin the next ascension. What makes roller coasters awesome is the constant rise and fall. But this is not what makes Christianity awesome. I have seen too many people live for the mountaintop experience. They are up, then down. They are all in, then all out. They have an emotional high (conversion experience, weekend retreat, etc.), but when the high wears off, so does their relationship with God.

Mature Christians don’t ride a spiritual roller coaster. They are consistent.

Mature Christians, however, do not allow the highs and lows of life to impact their walk with God. They are consistent. Oh, yes, they celebrate the mountaintop moments, but they do not rely on those moments to sustain their faith.

2) You find value in the “daily-ness” and trivial seasons of life.

Be patient in the mundane activities of life. God is still working. Whatever you do in secret, God will reveal in public. —Christine Caine

I call this the iPhone complex. It is an exhausting mentality where someone lives every day waiting for the next big thing. We love the iPhone … until the next year when the new one comes out that is basically the same phone. .

Similarly, so many people love their church or situation in life … until the church down the road is doing new awesome stuff or until their current situation loses its luster.

When nothing “awesome” is happening, many Christians leave or give up. They believe every day is supposed to be a day when God rocks the world. Mature Christians understand the value in mundane and trivial seasons.

3) You are at peace with situations beyond your control. 

I argue this is one of the most underrated marks of spiritual maturity. Just turn on the TV. Do it now. Step away from reading this post (but come back, of course), turn on the news and watch.

Glad you are back. You probably watched sensationalized stories about ISIS, the downward spiral of our country and everything in between. Are we living in dark days? Absolutely. Are the acts carried out by ISIS and other terror organizations awful? Beyond awful, they are heinous.

But mature Christians don’t allow the latest buzz on the news to derail their lives. They don’t waste time worrying and freaking out over situations beyond their control.

Mature Christians don’t worry or freak out over situations beyond their control.

They pray hard. They act on the situations they can control. But they don’t allow a second of their day to be wasted on conspiracy theories or sensationalized new stories.

God’s got this. He is sovereign over everything. That includes ISIS. That includes the apparent downfall of America. And as long as God’s got this, there is no reason to freak out.

4) You don’t allow disciplines to take a back seat.

It never fails. If I reflect on a season of my life where I did not feel close to God, there was one constant: spiritual disciplines were lacking or nonexistent.

Meditation. Bible study. Prayer. Solitude. Worship. Community. Confession. Fasting. These are non-negotiable for spiritual maturity and continued intimacy with God. People who struggle with consistency and intimacy in their walk with God are the ones that constantly place everything ahead of God. Spiritually mature Christians do not allow time or busyness to be excuses. They find time. They create space. They make whatever sacrifices necessary to live a spiritually disciplined life.

5) You maintain a childlike sense of wonder and awe.

Going back to my boys again. Noah and Micah get excited about everything. Today, Micah found a Cheerio under the couch, put it in his mouth, and screamed, “I did it, mommy.” Micah was ecstatic he found a Cheerio and ate it by himself.

As adults, we have a tendency to lose our childlike sense of wonder toward the world and our surroundings. Maybe this is why Jesus told his disciples we must become like little children to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). Children take risks. Children don’t put up walls based on skin color. Children see the beauty and joy in life. Children find joy in eating Cheerios underneath the couch.

Mature Christians have a childlike nature. They don’t easily become bored. They celebrate. They laugh. They don’t put up walls. They view life as a gift. They see opportunity where others see failure. They have a healthy naivety.

Becoming a child doesn’t mean you are immature. It means you refuse to accept the joyless, bored life that often associates adulthood.

6) You do not compare yourself to others.

You are trying to feel right by comparing yourself to others. It is ridiculous! Who told you there was anything wrong with you in the first place? Don’t you know that a human is just a human?—Donald Miller

We live in a culture obsessed with looking at magazines and pictures of others and coveting their body, looks and position in life. Our culture-wants drive us to be the next _______, instead of being the person God designed us to be. This is toxic to joy and degrading to God. Comparison produces shame, bitterness and frustration.

Mature Christians don’t look horizontally for acceptance. They look vertically.

Spiritually mature Christians understand reaching their full potential does not come from looking horizontally at the world, but looking vertically to God.

7) You listen to others who have a different viewpoint … with the goal of growing and not correcting.

Spiritually mature Christians glean insight from everyone. They have conversations with atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, Baptists and Pentecostals with the goal of learning.

This stands in stark contrast to some Christians who believe their job is to fix everyone who does not think like them. They are the spiritual “fix it” men (and women) who never leave home without their tool belt.

Mature Christians are convicted but not convinced.

But not spiritually mature Christians. They understand their perspective is limited. They acknowledge God doesn’t need spiritual police, he needs passionate followers. And followers are listeners. Followers are gleaners. Followers are convicted of their beliefs but are not so close-minded that everyone else is wrong. They understand listening to another viewpoint does not equate to condoning or accepting it.

8) Your heart breaks for the poor and marginalized.

Jesus loved everyone. But Jesus had a special love for the marginalized. Maybe more than any other mark, this mark forms the dividing wall between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus loved those without a voice. The poor. The sick. The helpless. The Pharisees only loved those who could help them.

Mature Christians understand this distinction. Their hearts genuinely break for those in the world who don’t have a voice. Their hearts hurt for the poor. They can’t stand to see kids at school get picked on. They can’t stand to think about boys and girls without parents. This is the heart of Christ. And it is the heart of mature Christians.

Mature Christians love those without a voice because they are close to God, and God is close to those without a voice.

9) You understand Christianity doesn’t have an on/off switch.

Christian living doesn’t have an “on/off” switch. Living for God is 24/7/365.

Christian living does not have an “on/off” switch. Living for God is 24/7/365. Spiritually mature Christians do not find ways to compartmentalize God because He is not part of their life … He is their life (see Romans 12:1-2).

Mature Christians are constantly aware of their surroundings. They are constantly aware of opportunities God is presenting them to disciple, share, love and comfort. Nothing is off limits. The grocery store. A restaurant. The church building. They believe God is always working, and they are not going to miss an opportunity.

10) You have a sustainable rhythm to your life.

Mature Christians are not workaholics or lazy slobs. They are not underachievers or overachievers. They believe health is important. They find value in exercise. They find value in vacationing. They find value in a regular Sabbath. They find value in hobbies.

Mature Christians root for their team, but don’t allow the result to impact their emotions or mood.

Mature Christians root for their respective teams, but never allow the result to influence their emotions or mood. They understand living for Jesus and being the most effective servant possible means living holistically.


So, there you go. Ten marks of a spiritually mature Christian. Again, these marks aren’t a checklist, but they do help us see where we are on the journey.

9 Unbiblical Statements Christians Believe

One of the greatest gifts that God gave mankind was the Holy Bible because the Bible is literally God revealing Himself, and communicating Himself to mankind in written word. Anything and everything that we know about God comes from these Holy Scriptures, and they contain the totality of what we need to know about becoming a Christian, and everything that we need to know about living the Christian life.

Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible was inspired and authored by the Holy Spirit of God using human instruments. It also believes that in its original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic; it is without error and fault.

However, there are many things that Jesus-following, church-going, Bible-believing Christians believe that are completely unbiblical. How does this happen? Often, we’ll hear someone quote a statement that sounds nice to us, and we’ll begin repeating it as though it’s biblical truth without ever researching it in the Scriptures. Several of these unbiblical statements have gained enough traction that many people believe they’re actually Bible verses. Not only are the statements unbiblical; most of them teach the opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Here is a list of nine popular unbiblical statements that Bible-loving Christians tend to believe:

1. God helps those who help themselves.

This statement is actually anti-Gospel. Self-reliance and self-righteousness, or the attitude of trying harder and doing better, actually gets in the way of the work of God. Jesus saves those who die to themselves:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

2. God wants me to be happy.

It’s a common belief that God exists to be our “personal genie,” waiting to give us our every wish. It’s amazing how we will justify our sinful actions by saying, “God just wants me to be happy.” Happiness is tied to feelings and emotions that are often based on circumstances, and those change all the time. God wants us to be obedient to Him, trust Him and know that everything He does is for our good, even if it doesn’t make me feel “happy” in that moment.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

3. We’re all God’s children.

Although God has created everyone … not everyone relationally belongs to Him. Only those who have repented of sin, placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and possess the Holy Spirit of God inside of them can claim Him as their Father:

“But you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:15b–16).

However, those who don’t have Jesus as their Savior, nor have the Holy Spirit of God inside of them, actually belong to Satan:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1 – 2).
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10).

4. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

The people around you may appreciate you staying clean, but this is not Scripture. Parents may use this unbiblical statement to motivate their kids to clean their rooms. However, I’d suggest using an actual biblical statement:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12).

5. God won’t give you more than you can handle.

Actually, all of life is more than we can handle. The point of living in a fallen world is not for us to try really hard to carry our heavy burden, but rather give-up, quit and surrender to God, that’s what faith is all about. Everything is more than I can handle, but not more than Jesus can handle:

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

6. We all worship the same God.

Yes, there is only one true and living God:

“Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39).

However, He only accepts worship that comes through Jesus Christ, not Muhammad, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc:

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

7. Bad things happen to good people.

Often we place ourselves in the judgment seat of what is good and bad, or who is good and bad. The most popular way to make that judgment is by comparison. For example, Bob is a good guy, because he is not as bad as Sam. However, according to the Bible, we’re all on equal ground because none of us is inherently good:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one’” (Romans 3:10).

8. When you die, God gains another angel.

Plain and simple. Humans are humans, and angels are angels. This remains so even in eternity. In fact, angels are intrigued by the interaction between God and His “image-bearing” humans:

“It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12).

9. We’re all going to the same place when we die.

There are two possible destinations when we pass: Heaven and Hell. However, only those who are in Christ will be with Him for all eternity when they physically die:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

The fact that many of us Christians believe these unbiblical statements shows our unfortunate overall biblical illiteracy. Instead of swallowing popular statements hook-line-and-sinker, may we be like the Bereans in the Book of Acts. When they heard Paul preach, they wanted to research the Scriptures themselves to authenticate what he was saying:

“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:10 – 11).

What are some more unbiblical statements that you’ve heard Christians commonly use?  

The Christmas War No One Is Talking About

by Rick Kirkpatrick

There has been a lot of dialogue in the Evangelical world in recent years about a war on Christmas. The cry was to say “Merry Christmas” in defiance to something like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” Regardless of the words we use, the war on Christmas is fed from lawsuits to remove civic-sponsored Nativity Scenes and school prohibitions about mentioning the Jesus of Christmas. However problematic the external forces of our society press against a Christ-centered Christmas, it may be our in-house disregard of Advent that sets us back. Could our fight for Christmas be a fight against Advent?

Advent traditionally is a focus on the waiting for the coming of Christ, making it even more difficult to translate to a secular world than simply a baby being born. Is the fight secular Santa with shopping versus Jesus and public nativity scenes? Or, could we be pitting a shallow Christmas glee against the poignant focus on a child born to make an ultimate sacrifice? Light set against the dark defies the sugar syrup of sentimental Christmas story re-tellings. Having produced many Christmas seasonal services over the years, the tension to deepen the idea of the Incarnation pushes back on the cry to feel the saccharine vibe of candy canes. We feed the beast ofsentimentality as a means but might be losing something vital in the process.

I actually think Santa is “way cool,” by the way. Celebrating along with our culture and society a season of hope and giving makes for a needed connection. Those who are not church goers need to know most of us like a lot of the same things and that our point is to not evangelize for a boring Christmas. However, as far as us worshippers are concerned, why would we choose to not make the season of holy days a time to contemplate for ourselves? In reality, the tradition of four weeks of Advent leads to a traditional celebration of 12 full days of Christmas! Once we spend time in contemplating the waiting and need for a God-man to save us, the festival of Christmas can be launched from a truth we experience. Truth experienced is always better than propositions regurgitated, by the way. 

A war on Advent does not appear as an outward assault but as an inward omission. Have we focused so much on what language others use for the season that we forget why we actually celebrate? The coming—or Advent—of Christ was long awaited. And the time we live in the brackets between the First and Second Coming cannot be understood in full without the Incarnate Christ being celebrated. My favorite passage of scripture makes the point this season.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. —John 3:16 and 17 (NIV)

PRAYER: May we celebrate this Christmas that you, God the Father, sent your son to pay the penalty and to save us rather than condemn us. May our attitudes toward those who are not in our Christian family of faith be a heart that follows in the steps of your son, Jesus. Those steps advocate for the powerless and poor. Forgive us, Lord. Instead of condemning and judging those around us, let us inspect our own hearts and humbly compare our lives to yours. In that introspection, let us see how forgiven we truly are. In that experience of being loved, let us learn to love. AMEN.

Merry Christmas!  

The Greatest Thing You Could Do Today by Francis Chan

Imagine walking up a mountain alone. But it’s no ordinary mountain. The ground beneath you is shaking, and the entire mountain is covered in smoke. At its peak is a thick cloud with lightning and thunder. God descends onto the mountain in fire, and each time you speak to him, he responds in thunder. This is what Moses experienced in Exodus 19.

Now compare that experience to your last time in prayer.

Distracted, obligatory, ordinary — I doubt any such words came across Moses’s mind as he ascended the mountain. But some three thousand years later, we rarely marvel that God permits imperfect humans into his presence.

How did the shocking become so ordinary to us? Is it even possible for our experiences with God to be that fascinating?

Going Up the Mountain

A mentor of mine lives in India. Last year, he called me on the phone crying, distraught over the state of the church in America. “It seems like the people in America would be content to take a selfie with Moses. Don’t they know they can go up the mountain themselves? Why don’t they want to go up the mountain?”

When was the last time you enjoyed meaningful time alone with God? Time so good that you didn’t want to leave. It was just you, reading God’s words, in his holy presence.

I was fifteen years old when my youth pastor taught me how to pray and read the Bible alone. Now, more than thirty years later, I still can’t find a better way to start my days. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t refocus daily by going up the mountain.

It is alone with him that I empty myself of pride, lies, and stress.

  • Pride: standing before a Person clothed in unapproachable light has a way of humbling you (1 Timothy 6:16).
  • Lies: speaking to an All-Knowing Judge tends to induce honesty (Hebrews 4:13).
  • Stress: kneeling before the God who causes men to fail or succeed replaces our anxiety with peace (Psalm 127:1).

Professional Gatherers

We often spend a lot of time and effort gathering believers together. We’ve become experts at gathering Christians around great bands, speakers, and events. Where we have failed is in teaching believers how to be alone with God. When is the last time you heard someone rave about their time alone with Jesus in his word? Gathering believers who don’t spend time alone with God can be a dangerous thing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in Life Together:

Whoever cannot be alone should be aware of community. Such people will only do harm to themselves and to the community. Alone you stood before God when God called you. Alone you had to obey God’s voice. Alone you had to take up your cross, struggle, and pray, and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot avoid yourself, for it is precisely God who has called you out. If you do not want to be alone, you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.

The word community is thrown around quite a bit in Christian circles today. But our gatherings can be toxic if we do not spend time alone with God. I’ve been in many groups where people share their insights. The problem is not only that our insights are not as profound as we think they are, but that we’re so eager to share thoughts originating in our own minds, when we have a God who says,

My thoughts are not your thoughts,
 neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
 so are my ways higher than your ways
 and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8–9)


I want to know the thoughts of God. I want to gather with people who have been reading God’s words, people who have prayed and interacted with him. I want to fellowship with those who fellowship with God. I couldn’t care less if you have a doctorate in theology or sixty years of life experience. I would rather talk with a fifteen-year-old who has been in the presence of God.

Can You Love Sermons Too Much?

There is so much discussion around books, sermons, and conferences. I’m not against those. After all, I’ve given a significant portion of my life to preaching sermons and writing books and going to conferences. But sometimes I wonder if it’s time to shift our focus.

We have to look at the facts. American Christians consume more sermons and books than any other group in the history of the world, but consider the state of the church. Has the increase in resources led to greater holiness? Greater intimacy with Jesus?

You could argue that the state of our churches would be even worse without the resources. Maybe that’s the case. Or could it be that these resources (and even this article) has the potential of distracting people from the Source itself? Maybe all of these books and sermons about Jesus have actually kept people from directly interacting with him. It may sound blasphemous to suggest our prayer lives may be weakened by all of the consumption of Christian material. Nonetheless, I want to throw it out there.

We live in a time when most people have a difficult time concentrating on anything. We are constantly looking for the quick fix and for faster solutions. So the thought of sitting quietly to meditate on Scripture and praying deeply in silence can be eagerly replaced by listening to a sermon while driving to work. While it’s definitely better than nothing (considering all of the other messages we are bombarded with daily), the point of this article is to say that there is no substitute for being alone with God.

We must learn to be still again.

Something Has to Go

It was simple for Paul. He loved being with Jesus. “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Knowing Christ deeply consumed him (Philippians 3:8). There is no substitute for being alone with God. If you don’t have time, you need to quit something to make room. Skip a meal. Cancel a meeting. End some regular commitment. There is literally nothing more important you could do today.

God literally determines whether or not you take another breath. “He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). Could anything be more important than meeting with the One who decides if you live through this day? Could anything be better? How can we not make time to be with the Maker of time?

What plans do you have today that you think so important that you would race past the Creator to get to them?

There Is a War on Christmas, but You Won’t Find It In Starbucks

by Brian Orme

There is a real war on Christmas.

But it has nothing to do with Starbucks.

I’ll explain.

If you’re one of the Christians “outraged” at Starbucks’ new minimal holiday cups you have been duped. Deceived. Tricked… Into thinking a company that takes snowmen and ornaments off of their cups is throwing down the gauntlet on Jesus.

The over-hyped media blitz about the war on Christmas is really a war on Christian intelligence.

The real war on Christmas, which I’ll share in just a minute, is much darker than any coffee Starbucks serves up.

One quick rant: We should never expect a mainstream, non-Christian company to uphold “our” beliefs and convictions about Jesus. Starbucks is not the church and they can do whatever they want with their cups. Besides, they never had the baby Jesus or the cross on their cups—we’re talking about Snowmen. Trees. Ornaments. Snow flakes.

These symbols might mean a lot to us, but they are not Christian.

I repeat. These symbols are not Christian.

Every year the controversy about mainstream companies assaulting our right to say Merry Christmas gets stirred up and social media goes crazy with well-meaning Christians posting knee-jerk responses.

It’s ridiculous. I’ll prove it to you.

There are Christians in prison in Iran right now. People Like Pastor Saeed Abedini who have given their life for the gospel and endured extreme persecution—with no end in sight.

There are Christians in Afghanistan who worship together—risking their lives in the midst of religious extremists.

There are teenagers in Sudan who are staking their claim for Jesus at the risk of torture, banishment and death.

This is the real war on Christmas.

The one that we like to look away from because it’s horrible, dark, gruesome and evil.

These are acts of war—focused on the actual person of Jesus and his followers.

If we could bend all of this energy away from cups and holiday greetings and open up our eyes to see the real battle—remember, the one where Satan seeks to devour us? Just think about the impact we could have on the mission of Christ?

It would be astounding.

If we could bypass all of these silly arguments and get serious about Christmas—and what it really means for the world, we would never cry out about pithy slogans or decorations. We would, instead, cry out for the world to know Jesus and for our brothers and sisters in prison—and suffering from persecution—to find freedom and relief through the very power of God.

We have the Holy Spirit within us. The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and claimed victory over death and sin forever.

This Holy Spirit does not suffer silly arguments and neither should we.

This Holy Spirit is ready to be unleashed like wind all over the world when the Church prays holy prayers filled with expectancy, power and confidence in the strength of God and his listening ears.

Who cares what happens with cups and ornaments? Let’s care about what happens to people. Real people. Our real brothers and sisters who are experiencing the war on Christmas like you and I have never imagined.

Would Jesus jump on social media in outrage over Starbucks’ coffee cup color selections? I think it’s silly to think so. Not just silly, I’ll say it—it’s foolish.

Don’t fall for it. Don’t get sucked in.

Instead, let’s take our collective strength—and our social media real estate—and shoot up prayers and encouragement to the imprisoned, the persecuted and the faithful.

It’s so much easier to debate the color of cups—and call that a war—than it is to fix our gaze on real persecution and all the darkness surrounding it.

Let’s never forget about the real war on Christmas.

Jesus come quickly.