A Culture Worth Defending

We have successfully endured the months and months of campaigning for the office of president. President Obama may have been the first president to utilize social media but President-elect Trump (yep.) has taken social media over. I have never enjoyed pictures of food, videos of everything minus politics, and Jaguars fandom as much as I have these last couple of months. They have been sweet pockets of sanctuary from Trump vs. Clinton talk.

On Wednesday nights I have been leading a series called “Church Life”. Our young adults have been discussing what our role is as the “bride and body of Christ”. One of the most recent points we discussed was our need to know truth so we can stand on truth so we may ultimately proclaim truth. The issue is that far too many Christians are content with not learning. We cease to hold onto the desire to learn about our faith. Wrestling with our faith is too much work. Searching truth is tedious and that process may take some time. So, christians sit back and grow complacent in their walk and allow errors to take root all around them. Unable to tell the difference because they do no know the truth. Unable to defend their faith because they do no know the truth.

Why does this connect with our recent political season? Well, if you are capable of knowing your candidates policies, vision, and desires but can not give a solid defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ then you have revealed to yourself and others who you worship. (Hint: It isn’t Jesus as much as we might hope.) If you know your opponents talking points, errors within their policies, etc. then you are without excuse as to why you are unable to defend the truth of who Christ is, why he came, and what he desires for each individual.

That is probably what bothers me most about the church during a time like this. Myself included perhaps more than I would care to admit. We have little issue with defending my political view, my candidate, or whatever else might fall under the umbrella of politics. We believe it matters. Our social media feeds are filled with men and women of the church fighting for and against policies and politicians. I would offer though that in the midst of those discussions let the church fight not for the culture at hand but instead, fight to present and display a radically different culture. A culture of men and women who fight for the truth of the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. A culture that fights for her brothers and sisters because they are men and women who have been redeemed and partakers of a new nature. A culture that fights for the least of these. A culture that serves and loves because the One we follow has demonstrated a service and love that will forever go unmatched. That is the beauty of the bride and power of the body. That culture is one worth defending. That truth is worth knowing, defending, and proclaiming!


Being His Bride In This Political Climate

Politics. Trump. Clinton. #NeverTrump or #NeverClinton. It has been a consuming world, this one we call the American political system. Consuming in all the worst ways imaginable. The rhetoric of our candidates and their campaigns have led much to be desired and many of us with a hint of nausea. It is with no surprise that this season has brought many to verbal attacks, criticisms, and outright dismissals of peers. No verbal sparring is more concerning for me than that which has taken place between brothers and sisters of the Father, Christ Jesus, who hold different positions on the current political affairs.

The bride of Christ is beautiful. She is eternal. She is what Christ died for (Acts 20:28). She is a body made up of many yet moving as one. The very gospel she was founded on has been afforded her victory over Satan, hell, and death. She is the picture of Christ, called to put on display the gospel, grace, and refuge found in Christ alone. Oh, I implore you and me to truly understand just how beautiful His bride is. Yet, we seem to forget this the moment a dissenting voice within the body speaks. We are His bride. Intended to be satisfied with Christ alone. Nothing else will do.  Not even your “perfect” president. We would do well to remember this when we encounter a brother or sister on the other side of the discussion.

If anyone knows my brother and me you would know that we didn’t always have the “brothers who are truly best friends” type of relationship. We competed. Hard. We did so at everything and so much so that it often forced us to concede areas of our lives just to escape the competition. I played sports. He was athletic but walked away after some time. He enjoyed performing musically. I was an international sensation (thanks Word of Life) but walked away. All of this to say that while our relationship was not always one that viewed life from the same perspective, nothing, and I mean nothing, separated the bond that was created from us being family. He was my brother. He was mine and I was his. No circumstance changed that and when others might attempt to create genuine strife for him I would not hesitate to defend him.  Fight for him. When he wronged me or I wronged him, we would forgive and reconcile. We were brothers.

Church, remember we are family. When a brother/sister has stepped in error let us not run to twitter or Facebook. We might be successful in creating armies for our angst but we create an even larger chasm within the body of Christ. When a brother/sister articulates a position you can not understand, fight the urge to spit fire. Remember, Proverbs 12:18 is still in your Bible, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”.

Brothers and sisters, this political season will end. Empires will grow. Empires will crumble. Those is power will rise and they will fall. Why be so quick to cast all your cares on the very things we know will exist for such a fleeting moment? No, in the midst of all the noise, let us not lose our voice or our focus. We are His bride. We are beautiful. We are eternal. We are brothers and sisters. Let’s act accordingly.

Redemptive Suffering

“When we find a redemptive perspective in our suffering, it ceases to be suffering.” Victor Frankyl

Yesterday, my wife posted a picture of me on Facebook as I was beginning a new course of treatment. It is that post which has even led me to write anything at all about my R.A. Many people expressed concerns, asked questions, and offered “get well” and prayers as a way of comfort and encouragement. (All of those were overwhelming to say the least and for each one my wife and I were very grateful.) So, here is a little insight into my R.A. and hopefully a word of encouragement to you or someone who may have moments of “suffering” which can appear at any time and in many forms.

It was 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Being 25, an expectant father for the first time, I was not exactly thrilled to hear that sort of diagnosis. I had witnessed my mom fight the disease for years. She never seemed defeated. She always participated in life with a smile. But there were days when R.A. just won. I thought of a neighbor I had who was also diagnosed and after years of battling she reached a point where walking to her mailbox became a near impossible take. Instantly thoughts of being feeble, weak, and unable to move ran through my mind. Sure, modern medicine is better than ever before. Yes, science has learned more about the disease than has ever been known. Yet, it remains uncured. I was 25 and was being told I had an incurable disease.

No, it is not cancer. Nor is it immediately life threatening. Those truths are comforting for sure. R.A. is an autoimmune disease that essentially tells your white blood cells to attack all cartilage in the body as though the cartilage is a foreign substance. Doctors are not sure what causes R.A. If untreated, a persons’ hands and feet would be drastically distorted and essentially all movements would cease or exist at a minimal level. This was my diagnosis, my disease, my future.

I came across the Victor Frankyl quote I shared above a few years back. I remember being forced to stop what I was doing and just think about how BIG that quote is, what it means, how it can be applied, etc. I instantly thought of my disease, the personal pain from it when it is flared up, the depression that always seems to be knocking, and the myriad of thoughts one might experience when suffering through a physical ailment. How could this suffering be redeemed? How could there be a purpose for it?

I might not have realized it then but what I was really wrestling with was my personal belief in the sovereignty of God. Did my diagnosis surprise God? Did he plan for this to be a part of my life? Big questions with even larger implications. It was not until recently though that I was able to answer those questions with confidence. It was no accident that I was diagnosed with R.A. It has a purpose and beautiful purpose, no matter how painful it must be to fulfill that purpose.

Humility. That’s my understanding of my R.A. and its’ overall redemptive purpose in my life. The disease has forced my hand in numerous ways to stop relying on myself, whether it is in getting dressed some mornings for work (Thanks Charity for the help) or learning how to share grief and hardship. In multiple arenas I have learned that “Ryan Frontz” is not invincible, unbreakable, nor self sufficient. That is a big lesson for a man like me to learn. I am not quick to differ to others, depend on others, or make myself open to others. R.A. has forced my hand in this area. When I allow myself to not see R.A. as a disease that is transforming my joints and muscles but as a disease that is also transforming my heart and my mind, I become thankful. My God did not give me this as some curse, nor as some accident, but he gave it to me for me to rely on him even more. For me to rely on others more and ultimately less on myself.

I am not sure what type of suffering you may have gone through or be going through. Suffering appears in many ways and can appear at any time. I would just encourage you to rest in knowing that God is sovereign and whatever suffering you are encountering, it is no mistake. Your suffering can be redeemed to serve a greater purpose! So redeem it! Through what appears to be that toughest moment, the darkest hour, allow God to reveal to you your sufferings purpose and let that purpose be fulfilled.

Thanks for letting me share some scattered thoughts on my R.A. and the perspective I am learning to adopt when dealing with it.


First treatment using Rituxan.

This is the Day…

It almost seems impossible that some teenager could go through today with no actual recollection of what took place on 9/11/01. For anyone who can remember it will surely be a day and moment forever etched into our minds for as long as we are capable of remembering. The emotions that swelled up within everyone were unparalleled to any we had experienced before. Fear gripped us all in some fashion. A loss for words was obvious in a silent but crowded room. The need to clinch ever so tightly to the ones we held dear reigned supreme. The planes hit. The evil of that day laughed. God was still in control.

That is the interesting truth of 9/11 for myself to remember. God was in control that day. Did the lyrics of the children’s song “This is the Day, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it” lose their truth? Did God take a break from accomplishing His will? Absolutely not. God was and is in control. My prayers on 9/11 were filled with questions, fear, and even the occasional “Dear Jesus come into my heart” just in case (on that day I fully expected Nicolae Carpathia to walk on a TV screen and the end times would be upon us). Never did my prayer thank God for being in control. Never. Yet, He was. He is.

So on this day where we mourn what took place, reflecting the lives loss due to extreme evil personified, allow us to rejoice. Not only for the sacrifice of men and women who risked their lives for the good of others or the soldiers who fought in wars immediately following this act of terrorism. No, rejoice also in knowing that God was in control that day seated on the throne. God is in control today seated on His throne which means that for today we can sing with confidence “This the Day, this is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it”

Convert or Die (thoughts on ISIL and grace)

   I read this past week the comments made by our Duck Dynasty brethren concerning the terrorists in the Middle East. In full disclosure, I read some but not all of what was discussed between Phil Robertson and the interviewer. The comment was made “we should tell them to convert to Christianity or kill them”. It seems simple enough. The message is simple and clearly communicated. The choice is theirs. Convert or Die. 

There seems to be one simple and clear issue with not only the sentiments communicated by Mr. Robertson but also the American within me that agreed ever so slightly. There is no grace. I am not referring to empty forgiveness. I am talking about grace. The powerful grace that I and many others have claimed after becoming aware of our sinfulness and need for a savior. The grace that says no matter what you have done or what kind of evil you are capable of doing, you are forgiven. You are redeemed and set free. 

   I forget about that grace. Not always after all, I need to remind God of it daily but when it comes to offering it to others. To preach a message to ISIL that they must convert or we will kill them is no different than the hateful graceless speech and actions of ISIL themselves to Middle Easter christians. No, our messages should never sound so similar. The Psalmist is seen crying for salvation to come from ZIon to the people of Israel in Psalm 14. My prayer should transition from one of simple “Convert or die” to “Convert and Live” for salvation is here! Our God is bigger than the darkest of evils and if the terrorist Saul of Tarsus can experience the saving Grace of Christ than the men and women filled with hate called ISIL can as well. 

  Church to pray for our brothers and sisters being persecuted. Pray for deliverance. Pray for salvation to come to the group known as ISIL. Be willing to offer the grace you so freely claim for yourself. Our God is greater. Our God is stronger. Christ is enough. 

The Reality of the Gospel

There may be nothing more hindering to the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ than the millions who claim to be changed by it. This is not some attempt at settling long disputes on whether humankind is “needed” for the spread of the gospel or not because “even the rocks cry out”. Instead, I want to take one second and focus on the truth that the gospel changes everything.

This line of thinking and truth, that the gospel changes everything, seems rather obvious and in many ways unnecessary to even articulate. The accounts given throughout scripture of men and women who experienced radical shifts in their perspectives on life after experiencing the gospel offers enough evidence for this truth. Read through Acts 9 and 10 and you encounter Saul being converted to Paul (talk about a change in ones life) and then you can read about Peter realizing the gospel is not just for the Jewish community but for the Gentiles as well. Zacchaeus was so changed by the gospel that he corrected the errors he accumulated through years of stealing and robbing people on their taxes. Stephen laid down his life because of the gospel. Andrew told his brothers to follow Christ with him. The point being, scriptures cover in depth the life change that occurs when one encounters the truth of Jesus’ gospel. It spoke to the power of the gospel. The power of Christ.

How does that powerful gospel look today through the modern church, especially the American church? The gospel has radically changed us to where we no longer have to struggle with consumerism in our culture but in our church community. The gospel has radically changed us so much that we forget we too walked on darkness once and we cut off our ability to reach a lost world with our quick words and actions of condemnations. The gospel has radically changed us so much that we are willing to give as much as 3% of our livelihood to the local church and the furthering of the gospel. The gathering of the church has been reduced to nothing more than a gathering of like minds for the sake of self appeasement. Not encouragement. Not provoking one another to love or good deeds. Just comfort. The powerful gospel has called us to much more than this.

Our lives should be radically different than those without Christ. If our culture is consumed with “selfies” (not an attempt to knock anyone who takes these nor am I stating you can’t be a Christian if you take them. Although, there should be a limit or ceiling as to how many one should be able to post in a week) then shouldn’t the Christian life be consumed not with self but with Christ and making him known? Don’t just nod in agreement but ask if you really believe that. I have to ask myself the same question. If I do then there are major changes needed. Major shifts in self perspective must take place. By any means necessary, Christ’ church should seek to make the gospel known. His church should gather with the genuine belief that the gospel is changing and transforming lives because it has changed us and continues to change us.

When the body of Christ gathers, it will demonstrate how powerful it believes the gospel to be very clearly. Is there a sense of expectation among the body to see lives changed, families restored, prodigal sons returning, blind men and women gaining sight, and souls surrendered? Or are we surprised when someone finds the light and begins to see Jesus? Are we moved not by the power of the gospel but by the atmosphere the music or the  pastor creates? My point being Paul, Peter, and others in scripture were consumed with the Holy Spirit so much that the only thing that was of any significance was seeing the power of the gospel transform lives. May we find ourselves consumed with the same passion as well as seeing the same change occur continuously in our lives. His gospel is beautiful, life changing, and satisfying.



What’s in a name? My response.

I first want to thank Todd and Quinn for sharing their thoughts on the “issue”. The problem here is that my response will differ in no way from the two of theirs. To take offense at the phrase “Happy Holidays” is truly uncalled for and I believe not the response Christ himself would have. Honestly, I observe the holiday season unfold and wonder where Christ fits into this at all. In the Christmas Tree? The gifts? The endless amounts of money being spent? Much of what we associate with this time of year is so far removed from Christ that a phrase not containing “Christ” should be the least of our worries.
If there was ever a reason that Christ seems removed from this time of year it would be because those demonstrating or called to demonstrate Christ have failed. I am guilty of this beyond belief. This season I believe if we truly desire to see Christ in this season then we need to be the Christ we want the world to see.

Quinn: do you practice Christmas in the way you said? I have never been aware of that way or traditional practice.