Hey pastor, calm down

As I’m preparing for Easter weekend, I was thinking about my fellow pastors who are doing the same all across the country and around the world. It caused me to want to send them a note, but since I don’t know all of them personally, I thought I’d just put it out there and let anyone willing to read listen.

So, here we go… pastor or not, here I come.

For my personal devotional time, I’ve been cycling through the book of Romans. Many of you in the theological “know” will recognize that portions of this book are a battleground for certain theological camps regarding issues of predestination, free will, determinism, free agency of man, Calvinism, Arminianism, reformed… if there’s a title to make you pick a side, it can be applied somewhere here in the book of Romans.

I’ve also thought about all the strained friendships I have over these issues. I tried to recount the endless hours lost in friendly (?) debates. And I remembered numerous side conversations where invisible lines were drawn around people and groups saying so-and-so belongs to ‘that’ school of thought and so-and-so was lost to ‘this’ way of thinking.

Honestly, I was praying through that study and taking a walk around a pond thinking about these things when the Lord put in my mind an image from the not-too-distant past. It was a couple of school-age children at camp who didn’t realize I was overhearing (because eavesdropping sounds too creepy).

They were arguing with one another about God, one struggling to believe and the other confident in his faith. The childhood skeptic had weak arguments that you could tell were repetitious banter heard from some adult that he admired. And, the childhood believer offered unsubstantiated proofs that offered no philosophical underpinnings as to why he believed what he believed.

I wanted to jump in and correct them both, show them the error of their ways… but, I controlled myself since they were children… and it was Rec time at summer camp.

Again, as I’m walking around the pond, this was the image that popped into my mind. I didn’t have to wonder why very long.

The foolishness of their arguments and the silliness of their debate seemed so obvious to me. And, to an infinitely greater degree so must our tiny theological squabbles appear before the enormity of God.

We argue, brood and fight over a 6-inch gap on a theological spectrum that’s a football field long. In no way shape or form can I ever think that the God of the universe is pleased with us. In fact, we probably looked like small children arguing about something they know relatively little about sitting on a wall looking at a pond eating grape snow cones.

This weekend pastors, as we think about what we’re going to share with those crowds who come filing in for the annual remembrance of Easter Sunday, let me remind you of one small verse from Romans that should keep us all in check:

“So do not become proud, but fear.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ro 11:20.

Paul was speaking of Gentiles grafted into the vine that is the kingdom of God. He warned that instead of thinking much of themselves they should remember that broken off branches don’t do anything on their own.

Only the Gardener can save them from the brush pile. So, instead of arrogance… tremble .

I would offer us the same advice.

Don’t worry about astounding the crowds with our theological prowess. Don’t determine that this is the weekend we should establish our doctrinal purity. And, whatever we do, let us not think that we have to impress the crowds this weekend. It’s just like every other weekend when we only have an audience of One.

Instead, drop the pride and come to the podium with some fear and trembling working out your own salvation. Share the message of broken humanity rescued from itself by a loving and amazing God.

Reject the urge to “pull off” a service to make them think that you have the best church since the apostle Paul retired, your worship band is the most gifted crew this side of heaven, and that you are the best preacher they’ve ever heard.

Instead, remind them God is great, even if we must play the fool to make sure they see it.

May this Easter we be the blessing that God wants us to be for those who have yet to hear.

May He increase. May we decrease.

Happy Easter.

Mission Improbable

As a professional member of the clergy (I get mail addressed to Reverend Addis… it’s still funny to me) I have developed some mad skills at conference attending.

It’s a little known fact that there are varying levels of ability, not just among those on the platform presenting, but those of us who are skilled, invested and experienced professional listeners. Let me just outline a few for you:

1) Appearing Interested – while every session is good for someone, not every session is good for you. So, to keep from being rude by distracting others with accelerated, involuntary nostril emanations (AKA snoring), a skill set of forced eye contact, meaningful head nods and well placed nonverbal affirmations are essential.

2) Ninja Texting/Surfing – everyone knows you’re not reading your Bible on YouVersion, or taking notes for future references… you’re Tweeting, Facebooking, or looking for ‘Epic Fail’ pics to replace your profile photo. It’s ok, just learn the art of secretive cell phone use. Under the desk, inside the conference program, pushed into a coat or sweater on your lap are all good camouflage techniques for hiding the phone. Just remember, if you are in a darkened seating area, your face will glow no matter how well hidden the phone is, so, use at your own risk.

3) Tactical Seating Selection – there are several things to keep in mind here, but just start with these: aisle seating for fictitious bathroom breaks (limit 2 per daypart), outlet access for midday phone charging (let’s be honest, you’ll drain it before they drain you), support beam seating (usually sitting behind a pole is non-desireable, but the right seat behind the right pole can help you to lean one way for engagement and the other for disengagement).

There is much more that I could share, but I think you get the idea (maybe I should hold a conference on how to develop these skills… maybe not).

But, what’s the point?

A common question that I hear at Continue reading “Mission Improbable”

May God Mess Us Up

Who are you willing to die for?

I know it’s a clicheish question, and there have been a hundred movies and a thousands books with heroes willing to die for others. But, have you ever really thought about it?

For your kids? That’s probably just a given. In fact, if its not a given as a parent you probably need to check your MOM or DAD O’ Meter. You’re obviously running low on something. Like decency.

For your spouse? Most of the time. Let’s be honest, you’d die for them any day of the week that you weren’t ready to kill them. Easy now, its completely metaphorical, an exaggeration, no worries. But, just for the record, Kat has showed me the spots in the backyard where she’ll bury me if I don’t watch it. If I ever go missing someone just remember this post… please.

Extended family? Well, I guess we decide this one based on whether we’re talking about in laws or out laws. Kind of a sliding scale in this arena for most.

Would you die for your friends? For a few I’m sure, but which ones? I would guess the ones who know too much about you. You need to be a martyr for them to make sure the guilt keeps them quiet.

Truth is, most of us don’t know, and never will, because talk is cheap and we really couldn’t make that decision until an actual life is on the line.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly where the Apostle Paul found himself in Romans 9:1-3:

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

Wow, if you didn’t catch that, Paul said he wasn’t just willing to die for his fellow Israelites. He was willing to go to Hell in their place, if they would just turn to Jesus.

In my Bible, I have written a little note out to the side of these verses: “Wow, not it!”

Paul was standing on some solid ground, from heroes he’d read about in his past. For example, in Exodus 32:31-32 the story of Moses has a similar ring:

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”

These guys were the real deal. Willing to lose their lives, their ministries, their very souls for the sake of others.

I have to ask a question of the church today, who do we love like that?

Our church is considered to be quite successful. Annually we see growth rates of 10-30% and always hear stories about changed lives. But, in reality, those numbers indicate only one thing.

We are broken.

When did 10-30% start becoming good news? It’s a cop out, an excuse, it’s success by comparison only.

“Yeah, we are healthier than the other sick people!”

It may sound preposterous to some, but a real sign of a healthy church begins at a 100% growth rate. That’s when everyone in the house is reproducing themselves spiritually just like the great commission says.

Our churches should be doubling every year, not inching forward like glacial ice packs.

But, this will not happen unless one thing changes: We have to start loving the lost so much… we’d die for them.
God is able, the time is now, the harvest is ready!

But we (including this blogger) are too complacent, lazy and worst of all… satisfied.

I pray for you and I, that God would mess us up.

That we’d fall passionately in love with everyone on our block.

Or, we’d be overwhelmed with concern for every employee, every student and every parent connected to that school down the street.

Or, maybe we’d lose ourselves in another culture and even begin to feel our home is now somewhere else. In a place, with a people, for a calling that you’d be willing to die for.

God, please make us a people with so much to live for, we’d be willing to die for others just to share it with them.

Drawing the battle lines

If you really want to bring a group of believers together, talk about Jesus.

If you really want to drive them apart, talk about worship.

It really is sad, isn’t it? We have so much to agree on in the majors, but we continually gravitate to the minors and fight viciously over stuff that barely matters.

It’s kind of like two countries that share every single value, but go to war over the cost of the toll bridge between them.

Yes, I am a veteran of the worship wars (an idiotic phrase, but one that fits all too well). In the churches I have served, the music ministry was often in a state of ‘transition.’

This is the worship pastor’s way of saying, “Our worship was something, now its something else, but we hope it will somehow morph into something completely different.”

In the church we’re constantly searching for that ancient hymn, that only sounds good with distorted guitar which causes teenagers to weep with conviction while simultaneously prompting our seniors to yell at the sounds booth, “Turn it up my man, it’s just not loud enough!” Continue reading “Drawing the battle lines”


Here’s a little thought on becoming perfect (not what you think).

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Perfection from Andy Addis on Vimeo.

Bible Study Helps Card

There’s no losing, just not winning

I’m not the kind of guy who is willing to settle. In fact, when I hear someone announce victoriously, “Well, at least it’s a wash,” it literally makes my skin crawl.

Maybe its an overabundance of testosterone. Maybe I have an over developed sense of confidence. Maybe I am unapologetically competitive and can’t stand the thought of not winning (you see, there is no losing, just not winning).

In some circles I’m sure they would call it pride and arrogance, yet in others they would call it perseverance and determination. Whatever you might label it, I simply know me, and I know that unless we are moving forward I feel like we’re moving backward.  And, that is not acceptable.

I’m that way in all my relationships, work projects and hobbies. Maybe that’s why the enthusiastic tone I felt whilel reading an article on church growth kind of left me queasy. Continue reading “There’s no losing, just not winning”

A little risky business

I have a confession to make.

Many think that because I am a public speaker and a leader that that I am a bold individual. They assume the stage persona that delivers the weekly message is the same guy wandering around my house.

Well, I hope I am the same kind of man with the same kind of character both in and out of the spotlight. But, truthfully, my persona on stage is not the same as it is when “the switch is off.”

That’s why it always cracks me up to have people say to my wife, “Wow, it must be a real blessing to be married to him. You’re probably laughing all the time!”

Her response is usually a very dry, “Yeah… he’s a real riot.”

In fact, one of the secrets to my message/sermon preparation is that 90% of the lessons I teach, I am delivering to myself. I feel them because I need them.

So, what about this confession I need to make? Continue reading “A little risky business”

I’m All Out Of Love

For those who are not geographically aware of this bloggers location, the following statement won’t mean much:

It’s State Fair time!

Living three blocks from the fairgrounds is a good or bad thing depending upon what you think of the fair.

The Addis from high atop the Weenie Wheel.
The Addis from high atop the Weenie Wheel.

I get most of my fair jollies just sitting on the front porch. Watching the parade of happy people walking to the fair early in the day as they park somewhere beyond my house.

And, then, I am blessed with the occasional treasure of seeing the exact same people coming back later that night… transformed.

Tired, broke, sun burnt or freezing (it’s Kansas, you know) and almost always “less happy.”

This people watching is a little thing I have learned to enjoy in the last seven years of living here in Hutch. I do it every year as I listen to the concerts from the comfort of my porch swing.

You know what else doesn’t change?

The Fair!

That’s amazing to me.

  • They set up the rides in the exact same place that they did in previous years (although some of the rides change).
  • They do the concerts in the exact same venues as every year gone by (although some of the artists change).
  • They have the same vendors in the same booths making the same claims as they did in every year past (although some of the prices change).

And, honestly, I love it. Continue reading “I’m All Out Of Love”

So, maybe I was wrong…

 So, have you had a chance to percolate on the previous article for a couple of days?

I’ve never written a ‘to be continued’  before but I thought I would give it a shot. If you haven’t read “I knew I was right” from a day or two ago please take a minute, or none of this will make any sense.

Honestly, the way I write, it might not make any sense if you read it anyway, but it’s worth a shot.

I decided to continue the article, or at least make it a two-parter when I saw that Acts 16 (the continuation of the passage we were looking at) appeared to be a contradiction of Acts 15. Continue reading “So, maybe I was wrong…”

Bucket Theology

So what are you afraid of?

Financial issues, health concerns, family matters, ending opening sentences with prepositions…

The only people who really have anything to worry about as it relates to their fears are the ones who say they aren’t afraid of anything. Take it from me, I’m an expert in fear as one who is afraid of a multitude of things (not a positive, of course, just a statement of fact)… everyone is afraid of something.

The problem is our fears tend to camouflage themselves. We see the obvious ones:

· “I’m afraid of dogs” – Well, you were probably bitten as a child

· “I’m afraid of getting pulled over by the police” – Well, slow down genius

· “I’m afraid of tornados” – Well, you’re not an idiot

· “I’m afraid of those creepy sounds downstairs in my house at night” – Well… Well, actually, I agree. Do you mind going down to check? Thanks.

The obvious fears we get. They are easy to spot, label and either accept or deny. The problem is many leaders are leaders because they have learned to wrestle these obvious fears to the ground and knock’em out with the classic sleeper hold! Continue reading “Bucket Theology”