Category Archives: Christian Life

A Limitation of Christian Verbage

Anxiety is my number one nemesis. I don’t consider myself to be a very creative person, but when it comes to worst-case scenarios I turn into Tolkien. As a Christian who works in full-time ministry I’m well versed in throwing a Bible verse at someone when they have an issue, and I do the same to myself. After all it’s God’s inerrant word. However, despite its sufficiency and its inerrancy I’m still a man who struggles to understand and apply what is sufficient and inerrant. Let me offer an example.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV) – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

This is simply one of many verses dealing with anxiety/worry in the Bible. But, I want to focus on this one for a minute because it’s a common “cure” for anxiety sufferers. The conversation goes like this:

Person #1: I’m really anxious about … I know God is in control, but I’m still so worried.

Person #2: You just need to cast your anxieties on God because he cares for you. Bam.

It is biblical, and I agree, but what does it even mean to cast anxieties on God? Sometimes we just throw out a verse and have no idea how to practically explain it if someone answers, “Sounds good. How do I do that?”

My point here is not that we should all know exactly what Peter meant when he said “cast your anxieties on God.” But, it is to say make sure we aren’t just giving “biblical” advice to people that is little more than an exercise in scripture recall. I know it’s easy to do because I do it. I need to understand better before offering up a verse or, at a minimum, be honest and state I have no idea what it means and invite them to join with me in better understanding it.

So, I’ve looked up the Greek word for “cast” in this verse, as well as, the Hebrew word found in Psalm 55:22. Both basically mean to throw away or place upon someone/something. How does that practically look for you? How would you explain it to someone else?

 

 

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Weekly Rewind – 7/16/11

I’m contemplating if I want to take this blog in a different direction. I still don’t know what direction that would be, but I want to narrow the focus a bit. Until I figure that out here are my links and memories of interest for the week ending 7/16/11:

Does The Word “Evangelical” Mean Anything Anymore? – Randy Alcorn asks if we’ve lost site of what the word “evangelical” really means? A good post in light of Love Wins, et.al.

 I feel like right now among evangelicals—including authors, musicians, speakers and pastors—there’s a runaway train of unbiblical and unclear thinking.

We are improvising theology on the fly with little regard for the Scriptures or the historic orthodox Christian faith. We act as if the Christian faith began with us, and we are perfectly free to modify it in light of the latest cultural winds. To put it bluntly, there is not only more and more false doctrine in churches, there is also more and more of it coming from evangelical pastors and authors and publishers and colleges.

The Spirit Led Me To: This is from a blog I recently started following on the subject of what it means to be led by the Spirit. We’ve all heard someone say or said ourselves, “I just felt led to…”

On the other hand, it is without Scriptural or theological foundation and thus entirely invalid to say, “The Spirit is leading me to sell my house and just step out in faith,” or “The Spirit is leading me to preach in your pulpit this Sunday.” Though the person might be sincere, this really is just scrambling for some authority to validate one’s own subjective gut-feelings and impressions. Instead, we should call them what they are: gut-feelings and impressions.

And if you disagreed with me, what if I told you that the Spirit led me to write this blog post? What could you do? You’d be entirely stymied by my appeal to the authority of the Spirit with no objective means of evaluation. You most certainly wouldn’t want to resist the Holy Spirit by disagreeing with me, now would you?

The God In Our Heads: This states the primary thing I struggle with personally in my view of God. Always glad to know I’m not alone in this flawed thought process.

He finds something I love and then asks me to do something I’d hate. He knows I love writing and hate math so soon he’s going to make me teach Calculus.

Heaven Is For Real…Well Duh: Commentary on the bestselling book, Heaven Is For Real which recounts the story of a 4 yr old boy who went to heaven and met blue-eyed Jesus. In case you’re wondering if this review is positive or negative, I give you the first paragraph of the post:

This annoying little book is not going away.Upon hearing his 4-year-old claim that he had visited heaven and met Samson and a blue-eyed Jesus, Pastor Todd Burpo encountered the same challenge all parents of toddlers frequently face. When my boy claims that he is actually Superman I wrestle with an identical dilemma: Do I just smile and play along til he grows out of it, or do I write a book sharing the claim with the world? What to do, what to do?

Colonel: This is another new blog I was exposed to via a guest post on Adam McHugh’s Introverted Church website. The notion of “mature cynicism” stopped me in my tracks. It’s a good read, and a good thing to examine in our own lives.

When we visit Colonel, he reminds us that we are young, inexperienced, naive, and silly. Once you see evil, once you get out there in the world, once you see that you can’t save everyone, he says, you’ll quit. Once you get your head on straight and get a little maturity, you’ll lose that ignorant passion.

And then what? Settle into a life of “mature cynicism”? Is that what maturity is? Losing any fire that you have and giving up on the world? Complaining that the world is the way it is, but doing nothing about it?

As always, questions and comments are welcome.

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Driscoll: Point & Counterpoint

If you’re hearing about some new Driscoll controversy and wondering what is going on here are 2 links to help you:

1) Mark Driscoll Is A Bully – Gives an overview of what prompted this current controversy (FB posting) as well as articles on past controversies. Contact information for Mars Hill is also provided so that you can make it known that you too think Mark Driscoll is a bully.

2) Defending Driscoll (Not That He Needs It) – A measured response to the current controversy.

For the record, I don’t think it was wise for Driscoll to post what he did. If you’re going to make waves at least make waves for something you can back up scripturally. Making fun of effeminate worship leaders probably doesn’t fit that category.

But, I also don’t think he’s a bully for saying something he probably shouldn’t have on a social networking site even if it offended quite a few people. If that’s the definition of someone being a bully, Driscoll needs to be one of about a billion people you need to set your sights on. I’m not defending or excusing what he said, but if you don’t like the guy, avoid reading what he writes and listening to what he says instead of waiting to devour every suspect comment that he utters.

What I take away from this is: Driscoll needs to be wise in what he says. So do I. So do you.

 

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Weekly Rewind – 7/9/11

I am very excited about this week’s line up of articles. I found them all to be encouraging, convicting, or thought provoking and hope you will as well. Here are my links and memories of interest for the week ending 7/9/11:

Christ Is The Point – Our response to Christ is not the main thing. To elevate our response leads us down a path where we have a man-centered Gospel as opposed to a Christ-centered Gospel.

Faith is recognizing the reality of our situation and the deeper reality of our Savior. Faith is the drowning man grasping the outstretched arm of his rescuer. Faith includes a response, but our response is not the main thing. Christ is.

Failure Is Not An Option: I linked to the article from The Atlantic a few weeks back regarding children and “the cult 0f self-esteem.” This is an excellent take on that article from a Christian perspective.

If you don’t teach them that Christians sometimes fail, then they’ll conclude Christianity has failed. But by the grace of God they’ll add to the numbers of bitter adults who grew up in the church and rail against its destructive influence. Yet when they see us fail, repent, and ask God’s forgiveness, they’ll see in action the most glorious truth of all, that God himself took on flesh and walked among us, failures all, so we might walk with him in heaven forevermore. They’ll know that when they fail, too, God’s grace abounds to even the chief of sinners.

10 Pitfalls When Plugging Into A Church: Great tips on how to avoid pitfalls when plugging into a church from a church planter in Raleigh, NC. I’ve had the opportunity to dialogue with him a few times and recommend you check out Fellowship Raleigh if you are looking for a church home in that area.

The Subjective Power Of An Objective Gospel: Great article on looking at the objective Gospel as the only thing we have to offer.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:3-4is good news, however, and good news for people with real problems. And it does tangibly address the subjective realities of suffering people – thank God – which is where most of us actually live. But it is helpful because it is true, not the other way around. One comes before the other. The Gospel is an objective word that has subjective power.

Is The Life You’re Living Worth The Price You’re Paying To Live It?: The question alone is powerful and worth considering even without reading the article from our good friends at Harvard Business Review. There are also some helpful tips on how to calm down during the day to make sure you’re at your cognitive best.

Personal Notes:

1) If you’re on Google+, look me up if you haven’t already. The circle idea is genius.

2) Check out Rdio. There’s a free 7-day trial.

3) As of yesterday, my Bible reading plan has taken me into the Psalms so I’m excited to camp out in that book for a while. What’s your favorite Psalm?

As always, questions and comments are welcome.

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The Exclusivity of the Gospel

From Christianity & Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen:

Salvation, in other words, was not merely through Christ, but it was only through Christ. In that little word “only” lay all the offense. Without that word there would have been no persecutions; the cultured men of the day would probably have been willing to give Jesus a place, and an honorable place, among the saviors of mankind. Without its exclusiveness, the Christian message would have seemed perfectly inoffensive to the men of that day. So modern liberalism, placing Jesus alongside other benefactors of mankind, is perfectly inoffensive in the modern world. All men speak well of it. It is entirely inoffensive. But it is also entirely futile. The offense of the Cross is done away, but so is the glory and the power.

 

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Wednesday Wondering: Baptism Age

Our church just celebrated the 4th of July like we do every year by hosting a baptism ceremony in the river here. It’s actually a great time of church fellowship complete with a cookout and the local firework celebration. The only downside is the river leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to firm footing.

Like most churches we meet with all of our baptism candidates beforehand to make sure they understand what baptism is, and more importantly what it isn’t. The question I want to throw out to you is: Do you think there should be an age requirement for baptism? Let me clarify that I’m not even getting into the world of paedobaptism. I’m talking about believers’ baptism. Here are my conflicting thoughts:

1) Jesus encourages the children to come to Him. He praises having faith like a child.

2) I meet with many adults who want to be baptized again or at least consider it because they were baptized as children and aren’t sure that their faith was real at the time.

Where do you fall on this? Is your bigger fear a) keeping someone from being baptized or b) baptizing someone potentially too early? If you chose option B, what age is old enough?

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Weekly Rewind – 7/2/11

The downside to the Weekly Rewind is that I forget half the things that happened during the week by Saturday. The other potential downside is information overload. Let me know if you think spreading some of these articles out over the course of the week would be better or if the weekly approach works for you. Here are my links and memories of interest for the week ending 7/2/11:

Is It Biblical To Choose A Job You Love? – This article may end up being one of the most influential of my life. I say that because I am prone to believe my own happiness can not coexist with God’s will at times. Odd I know. Check out the 1st paragraph:

It’s almost silly to even ask that question. It’s like asking “Is it biblical to chose a spouse that you actually want to be with?” Yes, of course it is. Why would you marry someone you don’t want to marry? Likewise, if you have the choice (and we do much more often than we realize), why would you chose a job you aren’t excited about?

Random Trivia: Apparently 1/4 of the world’s Bibles are printed in Nanjing, China.

Thoughts On The New Calamity: John Piper writes clearly about the recent gains in the pro-homosexual marriage efforts from a spiritual, not political perspective. Much like immigration, this requires a gospel response before a political response.

Cheer Up! You’re Worse Than You Think: For anyone who has been criticized, pastor or not, this is a good reminder that we are far worse than our criticizers even know.

How To Remember Names: If you find yourself forgetting names a lot check out this article  full of tips on how to avoid calling everyone “bro.”

The Enemy Next Door: Good article on how you view your unbelieving coworker, neighbor, etc. will go a long way in determining if or how you engage them:

“I truly believe, after many years of reflection, that the heart of the problem in these churches was in their attitude towards the unbeliever. The person next door was the enemy; he was a person to be feared for what he might do to the family, and the children in particular; he was someone to be regarded with distrust and suspicion rather than with love and sympathy.”
As always, your comments are welcome and encouraged. In parting on this holiday weekend I’ll leave you with the tweet of @RaeWhitlock: “Dear preachers – 2 Chronicles 7:14 is not about America. Sorry if I just ruined your July 4 sermons.”

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