Archives For Tim Harlow

What Made Jesus Mad?

Jesus told a story one day to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt” (Luke 18:9 ESV).

Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11 NIV84).

Notice the list, from robbers to tax collectors. Seems like some kind of progression, right? The bottom line is when I want to think better of myself, it helps to have a list of all the things I’m not. Let’s be brutally honest…this listing exercise is a diversionary tactic. As long as we can keep the focus on them, no one is looking at us.

It’s hilarious that the Pharisee would pray this way, and that he “stood up” to do it. What an obnoxious sense of pride and arrogance. Probably cleared his throat, “Eh hem.” Then he proceeded to “pray about himself.” Jesus is making this story up, and it’s dripping with sarcasm.

I’m pretty sure he imitated…

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What Made Jesus Mad?

There’s a bumper sticker that sarcastically cries, “Lord, save us from your followers.” Think about this. Jesus could have had the same sticker. “YHWH, save me from your followers.”  Of course, no one saved him. They killed him.

They didn’t like Jesus for many reasons, but, for sure, one was that he was always mad at them. Jesus’ anger was always directed at the religious people of his day. Well, usually the leaders of the religious people. If I put that into perspective, that would be the category I’m in today, so that caused me to take a serious look at what made Jesus mad. He was mad at the people who supposedly speak for God. He was angry because they were blocking the little people: children, non-Jews, women, tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners. Access denied.

It’s very easy for the current church of Jesus to fall into the same bad behavior that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and religious teachers exhibited back in his day. The problem is that we have less excuse for blocking access to the love of the Father because we are supposed to be learning from the…

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What Made Jesus Mad?

Jesus was mad at the church leaders of his day because they were shutting the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces (Matthew 23:13).

In any study of the anger of Jesus, our minds are naturally going to go to the big one. When Jesus “opened up a can” in the temple.

He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and he would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts (Mark 11).

Keep that “door shutting” idea in your head as we think about what Jesus was mad about. As he was throwing stuff around, he said, (maybe even yelled):

“Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’” (Mark 11:17 NIV).

When I was growing up, the interpretation of this incident had given rise to a rule that you weren’t allowed to sell things in the church building. No bake sales, no youth group t-shirts, etc.

Which is ludicrous on so many levels. For one, the church is not the temple – we are (1 Corinthians…

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What Made Jesus Mad?

We’ve got a magnet on our kitchen refrigerator that says, “If Momma ain’t happy… ain’t nobody happy.” It’s funny because we all know it’s true. If the person in charge is upset, we should pay attention.

I want to make one for the church that says, “If Jesus ain’t happy…”

We learn more about a person from the things they don’t like than what they do like. When you were a kid, did you ever do something that made your parents mad? Yeah? And the next time you thought about doing it, did you hesitate for just a minute?

Don’t try to pass over the red, red letters in your Bible and pretend they aren’t there.  Jesus made a whip and overturned tables; Jesus was “indignant.” Jesus told people they might be better off with a rock tied around their necks and thrown into the sea! It’s hard to call someone a “Son of Hell” with a smile on your face. Go ahead; try it.

Let’s keep our chill, hippie version of Jesus on the wall of your childhood Sunday School class for a second and take another look.  In my case,…

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I can’t decide if my title is too corny or too obvious, but I have to go with the Star Wars theme, one way or another. When something’s hot, you go with it. That’s why I’m married to Denise (bah dum, dum)!

If you didn’t know there was a new Star Wars movie coming out, welcome out of your barn, Brother…I hope you got your buggy fixed. It’s the highest grossing launch of a movie ever!

The reason a movie like Star Wars can be so epic is because it’s actually based in reality. Not “giant dogs that can pilot a space ship” reality, but the reality of a light and dark side.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

It’s an actual truth. There is a light side and a dark side. I think we get it. Everyone isn’t good! Too many people have thought that for far too long. If anything, deep down inside, everyone is not good!

Our world is jacked up on the dark side. It just seems to keep getting darker! But it’s not new.

Was there a dark side in the Christmas story? Who…

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When you look back in life you realize that there are some moments that literally changed your trajectory. The birth of a child; your wedding; Steve Bartman interrupting the 2003 Cubs playoff game, etc.

One of those moments for me was a text I received inviting me and Denise to join Rick Warren and their team on a journey to Rwanda. It was short notice and not great timing, but it felt like a God idea.


I’ve written about the journey and the incredible experience of being in Rwanda. (Rwanderful and Where Did $500 Billion Go?)

We have worked in Kenya for many years and been there several times. So we thought we had an idea of what to expect in Africa. Especially in a country only 20 years removed from a national genocide that eliminated 10% of the population.

What we found was a country that was unified, beautiful, orderly, and only a few months away from being the first orphanage-free country in the world. A country where the top members of every major denomination and church organization not only worked together…

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Life on MissionThe front page of USA Today read, “Protestants lose majority status in the U.S.” It just happened to catch my eye as I walked past a newsstand. I thought to myself, “Okay, but what could have taken its place? Catholicism is dying – is this about Mormonism?”

The article explained that Protestant numbers are down from 53% in 2007 to 48% today.  But these Protestants didn’t switch to a new religious brand. They just let go of any faith affiliation or label. According to the Pew Forum, one in five Americans now claims no religious identity. None. That means there are now more “nones” in the U.S. than any other protestant denomination.

Warren Bird from Leadership Network concludes that: “More than 1 out of every 3 adults (33%) in America is unchurched. This means they haven’t attended a religious service of any type during the past year. This represents some 125 million Americans. That number alone would be the 10th largest country in the world!” (September 9, 2012,

Does that mean the U.S. is now a mission field? I think the more appropriate question is WHEN WAS IT NOT?

In Acts 1, Jesus charged the first disciples with the responsibility of…

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Parkview Christian On Mission

“Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it.”

Every kid growing up in my generation longed to hear those words from the television series, “Mission Impossible.” The agency would send a super secret tape player to the secret agent, who would listen to instructions (usually involving a dangerous trek to some communist country), and then the tape would self-destruct so no one else could ever know what the super secret mission was.

Interestingly, there was never an episode where the agent said, “I’m not feeling it, I think I’ll go get a beef sandwich.”

The assumption here is that if you are an agent, it’s your job to take the mission. If you want to sit around all day and play Candy Crush®, you can work somewhere else. Maybe the DMV. But if you’re an agent—you accept the mission. That’s the whole reason you took all those Kung Fu lessons.

Guess what? Every believer is an agent. Every believer has a mission.

The Life on Mission curriculum is about how to help your congregation realize that they are on mission. Not just the Pastor. It’s written to help them understand…

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Culture Wars

By Tim Harlow

Life on MissionI believe that God puts us where He wants us. I know that’s an obvious opening statement, but that means that I actually believe that God put me in Chicagoland in 2015 because He gave me certain gifts and abilities that He wants me to use.  I don’t think I would have fit in as a preacher in Mayberry in the 1960s. I just could not have dealt with the legalism. I would have probably opted for Woodstock.

I was recently at an event where I heard a lot of well-meaning Christian leaders talking about “taking our culture back.” There are many church leaders who would love to bring back the “moral majority” to America. And while I hate what immorality does to people’s lives and also to the heart of God, my study of church history shows me that Christianity is usually most potent when it comes in from the outside. Jesus didn’t call us to be the majority of the earth.

He called us to be the salt and light.

I want to lead the Christians who are cellphone lights in a movie theater. Do you know what I…

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Life on MissionMatthew was a tax collector. The Jews hated tax collectors because they were usually swindlers and “sell outs” who worked for the Romans. You couldn’t get any lower than a tax collector. They even had their own category. There were “sinners” and there were “tax collectors.” Like there are normal sinners, and then there are tax collectors.

So Jesus and the disciples came upon Mathew one day and Jesus says, “Why don’t you quit your job and follow me?” (Matthew 9) Matthew says “yes,” and the next thing you know Jesus is at a party at Matthew’s house. There are no details about what happened next, we just know that Matthew throws a party and Jesus is there.

So who would Matthew invite? MORE SINNERS!

Can you imagine the scene? Put it in modern day context. I can only imagine Matthew running back and forth from the kitchen, making sure everyone was being looked after as he listened to the conversations that took place around the table and out in the hot tub. He’s restocking the beer cooler. There is NON–Christian music on the stereo. You know Naughty Matt had a…

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