My Journey

Posted May 3, 2015 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Christian, Faith

Tags: , , , ,

Walking


It’s time for a little update, not much, but I am no longer new to blogging. I have been at it a few years. Not that I have gained any particular stature. I simply can’t claim to be new at it. I still write as part of my profession, but blogging is more interesting. Blogging is my way of sharpening ideas and fleshing them out. I know I don’t always “get it right”, but it’s the journey that counts.

I have been on a journey for truth since I emerged from the haze and confusion of adolescence, much of it self-induced. Stepping out of that myopic existence I began to get an inkling that a world of truth lay in front of me to encounter, and so I set off. I didn’t realize, then, how much faith is required to seek truth. Read the rest of this post »

Where Is God in the Messiness of the Church?

Posted January 17, 2019 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Christian, Faith, Fellowship

Tags: , , ,


Toward understanding and healing the wounds of the church, I write this blog piece. The context is the very public struggles of two mega-churches in the Chicago are where I live. Last year, Bill Hybels resigned as the head of Willow Creek Church, after allegations of misconduct came to light. Just today I read about James MacDonald deciding to step down from leadership of the Harvest Bible Church in the wake of a lawsuit and allegations of poor leadership.

The two situations are different, though they both involve allegations against longtime leaders of two of the largest and most prominent churches in the Chicago area. Bill Hybels is accused of inappropriate relationships with women in the church. MacDonald is accused of mismanagement of money, heavy-handed leadership and related allegations. Both situations expose the nature of the human side of the church and the prevalence of sin in the church, even at the leadership level. (The Catholic Church is not alone in this respect.)

In the 1980’s, I became involved in a church that I thought, at the time, was the “perfect” church. It was a vibrant engaging church community. Worship was spirit-led and dynamic. The leadership was charismatic and inspiring. The church community was tight-knit and familial. This church had planted many other churches that were also thriving and growing. I spent 6 years there and knew the church intimately.

It wasn’t as perfect as I first thought, of course. People are people, even people who go to church. Within a year of my leaving to pursue what I believed God was directing me to do next, the church was splintering, disintegrating and falling apart. My pastor, the man who married my wife and I, divorced his wife within a few years of our leaving. Neither he nor his wife are involved in a church today (as far as I know).

We were devastated. This was over 25 years ago, and it still puzzles me. The coming apart at the seams of this church that I viewed as a model of what churches should be impacted me more than I would care to admit.

I realize now that I had invested more of my spiritual capital in the church and its leaders than I should have.

A friend of mine, a fellow church-goer, has been struggling with issues in his church – the leadership in particular. I have listened to him, recognizing the disappointment and disillusionment in his voice. Though I don’t know the details of the issues he has had with the leadership, I do know that he feels cut adrift; he is hurt; his faith is shaken. He has stopped going to church. He isn’t sure he can trust Christians anymore, and he is struggling to make sense of his experience. I can relate.

We left the last church we attended because of leadership, trust and personality differences that affected the people to whom we were closest in that church. Our friends were financially and personally hurt by leadership in the church. We felt we needed to stand with our friends and support them as they drifted away from the church, unable to remain in a church led by people who could not be trusted with their spiritual well being.

These are just the experiences I have had, but I don’t think I am alone in having difficult and painful experiences in churches and with the leadership of churches. Church is a messy business.

Many people turn away from the church and even from Christianity because of similar experiences. How many times have you heard someone say they don’t go to church because Christians are hypocrites? And the fact is that Christians are hypocrites!

But that shouldn’t be the end of the story.

Read the rest of this post »

From Islam to Christ

Posted January 10, 2019 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Christian, Islam, Religion

Tags: , , , ,

nabeel


I have been “collecting” the stories of people who became followers of Jesus from all sorts of different backgrounds, including different religious backgrounds. Some of the more interesting and compelling stories are from former Muslims.

The sheer number of former Muslim testimonies is amazing. In fact, Muslims turning to Christ in the 21st Century is a global phenomenon. It’s happening all over the Muslim world. Whole communities are turning to Christ and becoming followers of Christ. This phenomenon is unprecedented over the 14 centuries since the birth of Islam.

In previous centuries, Christian areas were turned wholesale into Islamic areas by conquest and coercion. Even today, the Muslim religion is growing faster than Christianity, but that is first and foremost a matter of demographics – Muslims have more children than any of the other major religions in the world.

In addition, the same coercive practices that grew Islam in the previous centuries are in operation today. While conquest isn’t broadly practiced as it was in previous centuries, strong prohibitions exist in predominantly Muslim countries and areas that inhibit people from leaving Islam. Families disown former Muslims and, in extreme cases, kill them. Those same inhibitions extend even into the west where the same cultural influences discourage leaving Islam or denouncing Islam.

For that reason, the testimonies of Muslims who become followers of Jesus Christ are remarkable and poignant. Afshin Ziafat’s story is such an example. His father disowned him immediately when Afshin admitted that he has become a Christian as a young man in Houston. The decision cost him his father and his family.



One of the hallmarks of the Muslim turned Christian phenomenon of the 21st Century is the way in which so many former Muslims become Christians. A very high percentage of those stories include experiences like visions and dreams of Jesus. Even Islamic radicals and ISIS jihadists have had these experiences that changed their lives. You can watch them tell their stories in their own words on the Muslim testimony page and Muslim/ISIS testimony page.

A Sure Fire Way to Know and Follow God’s Plan

Posted January 7, 2019 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Christian, Faith

Tags: ,


This blog post is inspired by today’s sermon: God Has A Plan. As I was listening, my mind took off in different directions from the various points that were being made.

To begin with, I need to note that I am an attorney, and I do estate planning. That is relevant because it explains the first place my mind went. Probate.

Ok, sorry. Let me explain, and I beg your indulgence not to jump off at this point. I know that it may seem a bit boring!

The thing is that I often tell people when explaining estate planning that, “If you don’t do your own estate plan, your estate will be controlled by probate.” That may sound more ominous than it really is (only because most people don’t know what probate is), but the point is that estate planning puts you in control of your estate, rather than leaving your estate to the default rules of the probate statute.

Enough of the legal stuff! (It’s Sunday after all) The reality is this: even when people do estate planning, things don’t always go as they planned. I’m here to testify that they don’t. We don’t foresee changes in circumstances, and we don’t always accurately assess the way things really are. One of the worst family fights I was ever involved in began with a family meeting in which they told me how close their family was!

We put a lot of time, effort and confidence in our own planning. We don’t want to trust that planning to anyone else – not to the state, not to others, and not even to God.

Did you know that God has a plan for you? Don’t you wish you could know what it is? Have you considered that it might be helpful to row with God rather than against Him?

It turns out there is a pretty sure fire way to know and follow God’s plan.

Read the rest of this post »

The Importance of Relationship, Trust and Commonality

Posted January 3, 2019 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Christian, Current Events, Evangelism, Faith, Gospel, grace, Jesus, Love

Tags: , ,


This morning I have listened to a podcast and read an article on the same theme: Christians who desire not to be defined by the things they are against. I didn’t go searching for themed material today, these things came together organically as I went about my daily habits of listening to a podcast first thing in the morning and reading throughout the day.

Early this morning, I listened to Justin Brierley interview Christian evangelist, Kevin Palau, and Sam Adams, the gay mayor of Portland, OR, on their unlikely friendship.  Later in the morning, as I was waiting on hold on the phone (for along time I might add), I read an article in Relevant Magazine: Don’t Be Defined By What You’re Against. I will add that the verse of the day on the Bible app is Psalm 90:12 (“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”)

While these three sources of material may not seem like thematic material, I assure you they are. Beginning with the interview, the evangelist, Palau, explained the motivation for engaging with the City of Portland in civic service. Palau recognized that Christians were known in the community primarily as people who were opposed to certain things, and not anything positive – let alone as followers of Jesus.

Palau also recognized that Christians were distrusted by the community, and so he set out to regain the community trust. The first thing Palau and his church did was to respond to the needs of a local public school that was failing. Not only did they show up; the showed up in such force that people took notice. What was supposed to be a day of work turned into an ongoing labor of love.

Palau and his church were so successful in making a positive impact that they inspired churches around the community to adopt schools, and the schools, in turn, embraced the church involvement. The involvement caught the attention of the mayor of Portland and his chief assistant, Sam Adams, who would later become mayor himself.

Palau and Adams are an unlikely pair to become friends, but that is what they are today. Adams is the first openly gay mayor of Portland. Palau is an evangelical evangelist. Adams confirms Palau’s concerns by agreeing that he previously only knew evangelicals for what they stood against, but now, he says, there are more things they agree on than disagree on.

Adams recognizes that they have some fundamental disagreements on key issues for both of them, but those areas of disagreement are no longer the defining characteristic. They now join hands on addressing areas in which they agree and have formed a long-term friendship as a result.

Palau has built a bridge without compromising his faith. As a result, Adams and the community no longer view evangelicals only for what they stand against; they also see what evangelicals stand for.  The community now knows that the Gospel means more than calling out sin. It means meeting peoples’ needs, loving people and offering hope. The Gospel isn’t primarily a what, but a Who – Jesus, who transforms people who follow him.

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From Abandonment to Acceptance

Posted January 2, 2019 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Faith, Hope

Tags: , , ,

Abandonment


I began posting the stories of people whose lives have been dramatically changed from a myriad of different backgrounds when they entered into a personal relationship with God. That was 2015, and I have continued to post these stories from time to time as I came across those stories thought to seek them out.

I haven’t really thought much about it, other than the fact that these stories are compelling, and I felt they needed to be shared. In 2018, however, for the first time one of these pages of stories was the most “read” page on the site. For that reason, I think it makes sense to began sharing the stories as part of the regular blogging that I do.

If there is one thing that stands out to me it is this: There is an amazing consistency in all these stories. Though these stories literally span the gamut of human experience, of people with widely divergent backgrounds in almost every imaginable way, they all ring true to the same theme.

The common denominator is the person of Jesus Christ. These stories are personal evidence that Jesus rose from the dead two millennia ago, and lives on through the Holy Spirit, whom He promised, who continues the work Jesus began in the flesh.

The apostle Paul told a crowd of Greeks and Romans at the Areopagus in Athens many centuries ago that God desires that we would seek Him, reach out for Him and find Him, “though He is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.'” (Acts 17:27-28) These stories are evidence of the truth of those words that are as vitally true today as they were in Paul’s time. 

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews said, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) John, the apostle who was perhaps closest to Jesus of any follower, said that Jesus was in the beginning with God (John 1:2); all things were made through Him (John 1:3); and that all who receive Jesus have the right to become children of God. (John 1:12) Jesus, Himself, said, “Before Abraham was, I Am!

He lives today, and the stories of people who have encountered him continue daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. The stories on the page linked below are of people who have experienced abandonment in their lives but found acceptance in God through Jesus Christ.

via Abandoned

Finding Quiet in the Holiday Noise

Posted December 30, 2018 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Faith

wooden cabin and christmas tree


Another Holiday season is almost past tense. We anticipate it all year, all the more as we rush through Halloween and turn the corner at Thanksgiving, as we careen toward Christmas, and then a mad dash to New Year’s Eve, before skidding to a sudden, unwelcome stop on the day after New Year’s day. So the Holidays can seem.

The Holidays can be a great time in the midst of the busyness for quiet reflection, but many a Holiday season has come and gone that I wish I had taken that time to reflect.

We need that time to reflect, not just in the Holiday season, but throughout the year on a regular basis. God ever urges us to be still, to seek Him in the quiet of our hearts when the clamor of more insistent voices is kept at bay.

Navigating by Faith

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The Christian world rushes head long into another holiday season. The horses were straining at the gate weeks ago. Christmas sales were advertised before we threw out the pumpkins. The turkey population has been reduced to survivors. The holiday season has been in full on assault. It will climax at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

How many holiday seasons have I experienced that came at me like a garish parade and left me with nothing but the sound of ringing in my ears? Too many.

My sincere hope is not to miss the deep meaning of our celebration this holiday as the clamor fades into the cold quiet of winter. The trite but true “meaning of Christmas” is not found in the holiday rush, but in warm quiet reflection on what hope arose with the birth of Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace, Lord of…

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The Innate Sin within Us

Posted December 29, 2018 by kevingdrendel
Categories: Christian, Forgiveness, sexuality, Sin

Tags: , , , , , , ,


I find something incredibly refreshing in the stories of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ. Dr. Rosario Butterfield, David Bennett, Sam Alberry and others have had truly inspirational journeys in their Christian faith. I find unique comfort and encouragement in their stories.

With that said, I’m going to be unusually candid in this piece: I’m a heterosexual male. But that is not the candid part. I have struggled all my Christian life with heterosexual lust. That’s the candid part.

By the time I became a believer and committed myself to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in my very late teens and early twenties, I was very much a product of a society that objectifies sex, obsesses about sex and worships sex.

But, to be honest, I am not just a product of my environment. Attraction to women is innate in me. All of my life, as far back as I can remember, I have been attracted to girls. My first crushes are some of my earliest memories going back to even to preschool and kindergarten.

When I became a Christian, I began to recognize that the extent of the attraction, and the extent to which I fed the attraction, was unhealthy. In fact, it was sinful at the core. Jesus says if we even look at a woman lustfully, we have sinned.

The sin of sexual lust was ingrained deep within me. I can’t wholly blame the environment in which I grew up for the sinful lust that grew within me, though it was provoked and fed by that environment. The root of that sin grew deeply and innately from the core of my being.

I can only imagine a similar experience with same sex attraction. I understand Lady Gaga’s song, Born This Way, though I didn’t always understand it. While my heterosexual attraction is accepted and even celebrated in the world in which I grew up, my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have had to labor under a general societal distaste and disdain for their same sex attraction.

When I first heard the assertion that people are born with same sex attraction, I didn’t believe it. It defied biology. It didn’t make common sense to me. I figured it is a deviation from the way things are supposed to be. It’s nuts and bolts.

I have come to realize that maybe people really are “born that way” – like me having an innate attraction to girls as far back as I can remember. I didn’t choose it. It is the way it is.

The thing is that any unhealthy attraction that is over-indulged and idolized is sin. Any inner urging that invites me to think and act contrary to conscience and what I know and understand to be God’s desire for me, if I indulge it or act on it, is sinful. I fight the struggle every day.

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