Posts

Sealing the deal. Or not.

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Most of the evangelism seminars, classes, and books I’ve read, insist our every conversation with people about the gospel, has to end with a decision. They’ve heard the gospel, and either they believe it or they don’t; either they wanna follow Jesus or they don’t; so get an answer. Have ’em make a decision now. Right now! DO IT!Which is why that’s what I’ve experienced whenever I’ve been on evangelism teams: The high-pressure tactics of proselytizers.And a whole lot of cringing pagans, who don’t wanna make a decision right now. They gotta think about it! They need time to process. Really, they need time for the Holy Spirit to work on ’em—which is exactly what he’s gonna do. Heck, some of them might have already decided, “No thank you,” but of course the Spirit doesn’t like that answer, so he’s gonna get ’em to realize it was the wrong one, and convince ’em to change their minds. And that takes time. And patience.Patience which the Spirit has in abundance. Evangelists, not so much.Henc…

Self-control: Get ahold of yourself!

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As I’ve said, many Christians assume the Spirit’s fruit just happens. Automatically, spontaneously, without any effort on our part. So just sit back and let the Spirit do his thing, and fruit’ll come naturally.Wrong. And lazy.One of the obvious proofs fruit doesn’t work that way, is the last thing Paul listed in Galatians 5.22-23—the fruit of ἐγκράτεια/enkráteia, which the KJV renders “temperance,” and most other bibles “self-control.”Yeah, lazy Christians will claim it doesn’t mean that. Suddenly they bust out their knowledge of ancient Greek… although really they’re just trying to manipulate Greek-English dictionaries to the best of their ability. The word enkráteia comes from κράτος/krátos, “strength,” which the Greeks used to describe various forms of governance—and we still do; our words democracy (“people reign”) and plutocracy (“wealthy reign”) and theocracy (“God reigns”) and idiocracy (“idiots reign”) come from it. The en- prefix comes from ἐν/en, “inside.” Your strength com…

People who love angry prayer.

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Θυμοί/thymí, “anger,” is a work of the flesh.Ga 5.19 Period.I know: For a lot of Christians there is no such period; anger is okay in various circumstances. ’Cause the LORD gets angry, Dt 4.21, 1Ki 11.9, 2Ch 25.15, Ps 60,1, Jr 10.10 and Jesus got angry that one time, Mk 3.5 and if God can get angry, we presume we can indulge our anger.Forgetting, of course, God is absolutely in control of his emotions. Whereas we suck at it. We get angry, then forget all about loving people, take our revenge, get our satisfaction. We get murdery.There are a lot of angry people in the world, and as a result there are a lot of angry Christians. And rather than get hold of their anger, fight it, and eliminate it by the time the sun goes down, Ep 4.26 angry Christians wanna embrace that anger, make it part of their character and lifestyle, and justify it as “righteous anger.” Even though there’s nothing at all righteous about how they wanna express their anger. They’re not seeking anyone’s good, nor God’s…

Jesus explains Elijah’s second coming.

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Mark 9.9-13, Matthew 17.9-13, Luke 9.36.In the previous passage, Jesus took his students up a hill, where they saw him transform into a glowing being, and Moses and Elijah appeared to have a chat with him. Various Christians love to interpret this as Jesus showing off his divinity; I prefer the alternative idea that this is a ὅραμα/órama, “vision,” Mt 17.9 of the glory of God’s kingdom, as indicated by Jesus in the verse right before the transfiguration story.Probably because this vision is so open to utter misinterpretation, Jesus decided to have his kids keep it to themselves for a while, just till the context of his own resurrection helped make it make sense.Mark 9.9-10 KWL9 As they were going down the hill, Jesus commanded the studentsso no one who saw these visions would describe them till the Son of Man might rise from the dead.10The students kept this word to themselves—though arguing, “What’s ‘to rise from the dead’ mean?”Matthew 17.9 KWLAs they were going down the hill, Jesus…

Who decides what’s orthodox and what’s not?

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I’m involved in a few different discussion groups. In one, the subject of Darbyism came up: One of the members is a Darbyist and wanted a shout-out from all his fellow Darbyists in the group. Turns out most of us aren’t Darbyist at all; in fact a number of us consider Darbyism to be unbiblical and faithless. I’m pretty sure he was surprised, if not horrified, at the non-support.Of course, among all the expressions of non-support, one newbie went even further and declared Darybism is heresy. There he went too far, and got a little backlash himself—some of it from the same folks who take issue with Darbyism. ’Cause Darbyism is wrong—often profoundly so—but not heresy. We mustn’t throw around the H-word so casually.But of course many don’t know the difference between wrong and heresy, and sometimes think there is no difference: Heresy is whenever we get something wrong, and everything wrong is heresy. Getting the trinity wrong is heresy… and so is mispronouncing “Habakkuk.”Yeah, obviousl…

Valentine’s Day acrostics.

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Probably the first time I saw one of those John 3.16 Valentine acrostics was back in 2012. It’s where somebody took all the letters in “Valentine,” found ’em within an English translation of the verse, and arranged it so we can “see” John 3.16 is God’s valentine to the world. Like so.
The gospel according to graphic designers. PinterestAww. Now I don’t need syrup for my waffles.I see internet posters like this all the time. I even make some of ’em. Some of these things are inspiring or clever or well-designed. I also appreciate it when Christians quote the bible properly.But some designers aren’t so conscientious, and some Christians are mighty gullible. They don’t read their bibles, y’see. They’re not gonna read their bibles, either; they’re never gonna fact-check an internet poster, find out the scripture’s been misquoted, or that the sentiment or inspirational saying actually isn’t biblical. They leave that to killjoys like me.I don’t have an issue with laying out John 3.16 so it …

Tracts: How to share Jesus with handouts.

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TRACTtræktnoun. Short written work in pamphlet form, typically on a religious subject.By “tract” I mean any booklet, broadside, brochure, card, handout, invitation, flyer, pamphlet, or poster, which introduces the gospel to people. And there’s nothing wrong with using ’em to share Jesus.Certain Christians object to tracts. Commonly because of the contents of the tracts themselves. I’ve seen plenty which are ridiculous, inaccurate, or even offensive. I certainly don’t wanna hand out those types of tracts; I don’t wanna be associated with foolishness, error, and slander, or make people think Christ Jesus has anything to do with such things. Plenty enough of that in Christendom as it is.One argument I’ve heard against tracts, is they’re impersonal. These folks claim the way to share Jesus is to make personal connections with fellow human beings, then introduce them to the person of Jesus. But a tract does no such thing. It kinda reduces a living relationship with our awesome Lord… to an …

Spiritual maturity, and spiritual morons.

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Years ago I had a boss who was seriously immature. Same age as me; we were both in our thirties. But he was completely unreliable, had serious lapses in judgment, couldn’t be trusted with private matters, lied to cover up even minor mistakes, and did some really inappropriate things and told inappropriate jokes so he could impress the teenagers we worked with.How’d he get put into any position of authority? He was a pastor’s kid. There’s a whole lot of nepotism in churches; our word nepotism even refers to the various popes giving a “nephew” (Italian nipote) a significant job in the church. I have no problem with nepotism when the kids are qualified and gifted like their parents. I have a big problem when the kids assume—exactly as many a Christian does when it comes to our heavenly Father—their patronage means they needn’t bother trying to be a person of good character.And character is Paul’s one requirement for leadership: You only put mature Christians in charge. Do otherwise, and …

Angry prayers.

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IMPRECATE'ɪm.prə.keɪtverb. Call down evil upon.[Imprecation ɪm.prə'keɪ.ʃənnoun, imprecatory ɪm'prək.ə.tɔ.riadjective]Yep, there’s a whole category of prayer which is all about people letting loose their rage as they pray. Not because they’re angry with God—although sometimes they might be! But commonly they’re furious at other people, at human behavior, or at Satan itself. So they call down God’s wrath, or put curses on people and things, or otherwise condemn ’em.I started with a definition of the old-timey word Christians use to describe such things: Imprecatory prayer. (Not everyone knows how to pronounce it properly.) It’s a nicer way of saying “angry prayer.”And lest you think God doesn’t allow, or listen to, angry prayer: Nope, he permits it. Angry prayers are in the bible. There’s a bunch of ’em in Psalms. ’Cause sometimes King David’s enemies would piss him off, so he’d declare God was gonna do all sorts of savage things to ’em. God didn’t necessarily, because God’s…

The transfiguration of Jesus.

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Mark 9.2-8, Matthew 17.1-8, Luke 9.28-36.Jesus’s transfiguration refers to the day he took three of his students up a hill for prayer, and started glowing like a space alien, two Old Testament prophets showed up to chat with him, and the Father Almighty ordered the kids to listen to him—freaking them out, as it would pretty much anyone who saw such a thing.It’s a story which confuses a lot of Christians. We teach Jesus is totally God, yet at the same time totally human. Problem is, Christians read this story and ditch all the ideas about him being totally human. I’ve even heard one pastor call this story “When Jesus took off his human suit”—as if his humanity is just a costume Jesus could unzip and climb out of, like aliens in certain Doctor Who episodes, or the devil in this one extremely stupid End Times movie.Theologians call it “God incognito.” It’s not just a Latin word; we have incognito in English too. When you’re incognito, you’re going by a secret identity, like when Batman d…