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Three Faith Viruses to Watch (and how not to get infected)

There are three theological viruses floating around these days that concern me.

My concerns are two-fold: 1) They have wide appeal 2) I can see why they have wide appeal.

The first virus is the idea that God exists for us. God’s function is to make us happy, give us what we want and make our dreams come true. I truly get the appeal of making God a means to worldly prosperity but the message of Christ actually stands antithetical to this notion. Jesus taught that true happiness is found in submitting our dreams for ourselves to the dream of God for our lives. Jesus taught that we live by dying to self, become great by serving and our lives are defined by what we give away, not by what we have. In fact, Jesus said clearly that until the grip of material things is broken in our lives we invite an existence of anxiety and worry (the diametrical opposite of happiness). Here is the deal; God does not exist for us, we exist for God. God is not a means to our ends, God is an ends in Himself.

The second virus is the notion that Christian people should spend their lives in waiting for some great thing God may ask of them. The idea is to say “no” to the good in hopes of the very best. I get the appeal of the notion to worn out and discouraged church and charity volunteers but the bible does not support the premise. Waiting for a “burning bush” call that only has occurred once in the history of humanity seems like a bad use of the limited years we have on earth. In sharp contrast, the bible teaches that being faithful in small things is actually what qualifies and prepares us for a call to greater things. I am convinced the true greatness of a person is not defined in a single heroic act but in the grind of daily faithfulness and obedience to God. I don’t think “burning bushes” or “for such at time as this” moments are the inheritance of those sequestered in wait. Here is the deal; if you hope God will use you to do one thing big, be faithful in all things small. There is a lot right and not a thing wrong with living a simple life of love, faithfulness and obedience.

The third virus is that we are suddenly smarter than everyone else who has ever read the Bible. Such “enlightenment” is historically short-lived and never serves the Christian faith well. In this shift from classic liberalism, the focus is not “the Bible is wrong” (that one didn’t work); the focus is that “we have been reading the Bible wrong. Everybody.” These pseudo-theologians begin with socially popular outcomes and then steer the Bible their direction in a game of isogetical gymnastics. It would honestly be comical, if so many people were not taking it seriously. The harm will not be to the Bible, it will be to our culture who will lose its power, witness and critique. Surely, creating God in our own image will not stand (it never has) but we are worse for it. My default is that if the clear and consistent teachings of the Bible are in conflict with my way of thinking; it is me who stands in error.

If you see God simply as a means to your ends of your bank account moving up and to the right, you are missing the point.

If you are sitting around doing nothing in the midst of infinite opportunities to serve Jesus, you are missing the point.

If you think the Bible is something to twist and shape into your way of thinking, you are missing the point.

Contentment is found in sacrifice, calling is found in obedience and truth is found in God’s word.

Period.

Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.

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My Social Media Pledge for 2018

My Social Media Pledge for 2018

  1. I will always keep things upbeat and positive
  2. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say anything at all
  3. I will choose to not be offended (unless that is impossible)
  4. I will not squirt “weak sauce” in the eye of humanity with my whining
  5. I will temper my innate sarcasm (except when I deem it too hilarious not to share)
  6. I will not pass along “chain letter” kind of stuff on Messenger
  7. I will never add someone to a group unless they ask to be added
  8. I will celebrate the gift of life anytime and anywhere
  9. I will celebrate the beauty of God’s creation
  10. I will try to have some thoughtful and helpful things to say
  11. I will celebrate the faith that fuels and empowers me
  12. I will celebrate my family and joyfully share in your family celebrations as well
  13. I will be sensitive and prayerful before I post anything
  14. I will not be drawn into on-line arguments
  15. I will not get political (others seem to have that well covered)
  16. I will have fun (lots of fun)

Anyone care to join me?

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-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church,  has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.

10 Game Changing Choices for 2018 (That Non-game Changers Won’t Make)

1. Choose to be happy

That is right, happiness is a choice. It is not a natural disposition or a matter of favorable circumstances. Choosing to be happy has no down side. It makes things better for everyone…including you!

2. Choose to not be offended

Make people work really hard to offend you this year. After all, why should you have a bad day because someone ELSE is an insensitive idiot? Don’t let other people’s problems become your problem.

3) Choose to control impulses

Often the things we DON’T say, post or tweet are our best decisions of the day. Just let it go. You don’t have to respond. You just don’t…

4) Choose to not do dumb crap

For me, this comes down to a simple question, “Could anything good possibly come from what I am about to do?” If the answer is “no” or “probably not,” don’t do it.

5) Choose to forgive

Forgiving does not let the people who hurt us off the hook. It frees us from bitterness and hate. Forgiving someone gets them out of your head and breaks their control over you.

6) Choose to dream

Dreams keep us engaged, fill us with hope and keep us working hard. Remember to differentiate between a dream and a pipe-dream. A dream is something achievable through sacrifice, planning and hard work. If your dreams do not fit this definition, recalibrate them…and then crack at it!

7) Choose where you expend energy

Before you allow yourself to get angry or become frustrated, ask yourself, “Why would I allow this person or situation steal my energy?” Just because people might behave badly, the line isn’t moving or you have been on hold for 20 minutes, really isn’t worth your energy. Save your best energy for the people that love you!

8) Choose to believe

Faith is a wonderful thing! Having something to believe in nurtures our spirits, gives circumstances context and reminds us that the cosmos is bigger that “us and ours.”

9) Choose to live healthy

Things like eating smart, getting plenty of exercise and living more simply add both quality and quantity to our lives. Health is not just the absence of illness; it is a lifestyle.

10) Choose to love

Unconditional love does not necessitate unconditional approval, nor does it require you to enter the dysfunction or drama of another person. Love is choosing to have people in your life; speaking truth, staying at the table and sharing the journey. Love gives and receives. If you are only giving (and giving) and not receiving anything, that is the definition of a host and parasite, not love.

The arrival of a new year is an opportunity to think about our choices. By making some great choices in 2018, will accentuate our joys and lessen our burdens. Ready or not, a new year is here! Choose well.

-Rev. Shane L. Bishop has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, IL since 1997. He is the author of the book, “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.” and the blog “12 Things I See Happy People Do (That Unhappy People Do Not).”

Resting in Christmas

One of the greatest life-challenges for me is moving past “things are not all as I wish they were.” The main reason is because “things are not all as I wish they were.”

Especially at Christmas.

I think the hack here is to focus on what you do have and not what you don’t.

To focus on what you have gained and not what you have lost.

To focus on the blessing and not the curse.

In the past, I regularly tried to “fix” things.

Situations.

Conflicts.

People.

Often I tried to fix things whose complexity I did not even begin to understand. Heaven knows plenty of things seemed broken. Looking back, I made things worse far more often than I helped. These days, I try to mind my own business (for the most part), pray more, keep my opinions to myself and attempt to see the good in situations and people.

It is freeing.

For everyone.

I can breathe.

Life is certainly a mixed bag of wins, loses and draws. Some years you rock and some years you get stoned. I figure all we can do is to “love God, love people and don’t do dumb crap.” Beyond that most things are out of our control. And that is okay.

Control is an illusion.

Christmas reminds us that the arrival of God made flesh is bigger than our very best years; nor is it diminished by our worst years.

Christmas reminds us that despite our pain and disappointment, we have not been forgotten by God.

Christmas reminds us that we are relentlessly loved by the Creator of the cosmos. It is in the grip of this divine love I find respite from the painful side of living and discover true rest.

“God rest ye merry gentlemen.”

I am beginning to get that now…I hope you do too.

 

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-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois, the author of “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.” and of the blog “12 Things I See Happy People Do (that unhappy people do not).”

I Was Thinking About Mortality Today…

I was thinking about mortality today. Not morbidity. Just mortality.

I am 55. Seems shocking just to read. It’s really a pretty good age. Oldish but not old. Balding but not bald. Slowing but not slowed. That kind of stuff.

My best friend from high school died this year. No warning. Just working out and died. His name was Steve. He was such a cool guy. Now he is gone. I meant to get together with him over the years. Even sent a couple of “we need to get together” messages. But we didn’t. Now we can’t and I regret it. Mortality.

And then my friend Dan had a heart attack. We played a few hundred softball games together anchoring the infield. He was playing basketball. I was supposed to be there as well. Went to BDubs instead. Terrible. He is going to be fine. He has us all at full attention. I played basketball last week. Have felt like I was in a car wreck ever since. Clearly I need to make some changes. Mortality.

I have been thinking about how I want to live differently this week and I have come up with six things:

Keep moving

Be intentional

Be guided by best intentions

Don’t take anything for granted

Do (as opposed to intend to do)

Appreciate

This year friends from my DuQuoin days can expect to hear from me a lot more. So can my old softball buddies. I may even come out of retirement and play once a week or so. Friends from other seasons of my life can expect this as well. I plan to do all those things I will regret if I don’t do and I need to crack at it. None of us are getting any younger.  Before long I will be old, bald and slow.

I was thinking about mortality today. Not morbidity. Just mortality.

-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois and the author of the blog “12 Things I See Happy People Do” and the new book “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.” Now available on Amazon and Kindle.

https://rememberbooks.wordpress.com/2017/05/22/12-things-i-see-happy-people-do-that-unhappy-people-do-not/

My New Book is on Kindle!

We are up on Kindle! This is my first venture into the world of eBooks!
 
Here is the link:
 
I have word the book will be restocked on Amazon next week. Yes we sold out!
 
Thanks!
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop is the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois.
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My new book is now available on Amazon!

You can now order my new book “Love God. Love People. Don’t Do Dumb Crap.” on Amazon!

This collection of stories moves from death toward life with plenty of warmth, Southern Illinois grit and humor.

Here is the link:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1532360177/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_c_api_tKVjAbB0C857V

-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, a Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.