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Jesus cures a demonized boy.

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Mark 9.14-29, Matthew 17.14-21, Luke 9.37-42.First time I was ever taught this story, it was called “Jesus heals an epileptic.” At the time I didn’t know what epilepsy was; now I do. So I object to that description every time Christians bring it up. This isn’t epilepsy whatsoever. The boy was possessed by an evil spirit.Matthew and Luke go so far as to identify it as a demon, a “guardian spirit” ancient pagans believed in, much like Christians believe in guardian angels. If you were sick, sometimes pagan “physicians” (really witch doctors) would try to put demons in you, hoping they’d root out the illness. Instead these critters would take you over and make your life miserable. That‘s why there were way more cases of demonization in Jesus’s day than in ours: Our physicians don’t do that. (I don’t know about your favorite “spiritual healers” though.)Christians have misidentified this boy as epileptic for centuries… making life miserable for epileptics all that time, and even today. Peo…

Shrovetide: Getting ready for Lent.

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Christmas definitely gets all the secular attention, but Easter is most definitely Christianity’s biggest holiday. ’Cause Christ is risen. Jesus is alive. His being alive, confirms everything. So we Christians put a lot into it……and kinda go overboard. That’s what shrovetide is about. You may already know before Easter we have that fasting period which English-speakers call Lent. Well, before Lent there’s a whole other season called shrovetide, in which Christians prepare for Lent.Shrovetide starts the ninth Sunday before Easter. Since that’s 63 days before, western Christian custom rounds that up to 70 and calls it Septuagesima Sunday (from the Latin for 70, of course). The Sunday after that is 56 days before, so round it up again and it’s Sexagesima Sunday (for 60); and the Sunday after that is 48 days before, so Quinquagesima Sunday (for 50), and that’s today. Although more Christians simply call this day Shrove Sunday, the Sunday before Lent starts. And the last day of shrovetide …

TXAB’s 2020 Presidential Antichrist Watch.

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As usual for every presidential election (and for that matter, many a congressional election), we get doomsayers claiming this or that candidate is likely the Beast of Revelation 13, or as popular Christian culture calls it, the Antichrist. Certainly they act mighty Beast-like.And I guess this is now my usual thing: I’m here to tell you there’s a way we might confirm someone’s the Beast, in case you’re seriously worried. (I’m not.) It comes from Revelation, in which John told us how to identify the Beast in case we’re wondering.Revelation 13.18 KWLHere’s some wisdom: Count the Beast’s number, those who have a brain.It’s a person’s number, and its number is 666.Only problem is, your average person doesn’t know how to count the Beast’s number, and do it through various illegitimate methods. Just the other day I saw someone assign numbers to our Latin alphabet (i.e. A is one, B is two, C is three) and try to figure out some names thataway. Nope, not how it works. Latin letters don’t have

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 …