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Dual citizenship… and picking a side.

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Many Christians are fond of saying, “This world isn’t my home. Heaven is.”To a degree that’s true. We’re part of God’s kingdom, with Christ Jesus as king. We recognize his reign, or try to; and follow him, more or less. Or at least we expect—despite our unloving, unkind,> impatient, fruitless behavior, he’ll nonetheless graciously recognize us as his followers when he takes over the world. Maybe he will.In the meanwhile we’re also citizens of our nations. I’m a citizen of the United States. As are many of TXAB’s readers, which is why I so often get U.S.-centric. Of course I realize the site gets readers from all over: You might be a citizen of Canada, China, France, Israel, Germany, the Philippines, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom… and that’s the top 10, so if I didn’t mention your nation you’re just gonna have to enlist more of your friends to read, and bump up your stats. Anywho as Christians we’re all fellow citizens of God’s kingdom. Yet at the same time we have allegiances…

Civic idolatry: The “Christian nation.”

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CIVIC IDOLATRY'sɪv.ɪk aɪ'dɑl.ə.trinoun. Worship of one’s homeland, its constitution, its government, or its leaders.[Civically idolatrous 'sɪv.ɪk.(ə.)li aɪ'dɑl.ə.trəsadjective, civic idolater 'sɪv.ɪk aɪ'dɑl.ə.tərnoun.]Tomorrow’s Independence Day in the United States.In 1776, the British Parliament, insisting they had the right to tax their North American colonies, had violated their colonial charters. The king had sided with Parliament and declared them outside his protection. Congress, representing 13 of the colonies, interpreted this to mean they were independent states, and officially declared themselves so on 4 July. (Or 2 July, depending on which founder you talk to.)So this week, Americans are gonna express a whole lot of patriotism. American Christians included. As we should.However, many American Christians regularly cross a line between the love of one’s homeland, and descend into outright worship of the United States. It’s idolatry, and when it’s dire…

Get in the closet.

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Matthew 6.5-6.The proper way to pray is aloud.You’re talking to God, right? Which means you’re talking to God. Not praying silently—in other words thinking at God. You’re speaking to him out loud.I know; a lot of Christians pray silently, and it’s the only way they pray, ’cause most of the time it’s not appropriate to pray aloud. If everybody in church simultaneously prayed aloud, it’d get loud. If you prayed aloud at work, people’d think you’re weird. If you prayed in public school, some idiot would complain about it. In general, we’re encouraged to pray silently, and that’s understandable in a lot of places. But Christians get the wrong idea and think we’re always to pray silently. No we’re not.Lookit how Jesus demonstrates prayer in the scriptures. When he went off to pray, even by himself, privately between him and the Father, other people could overhear him. Like in Gethsemane. Mt 26.39, Lk 22.41-42 The reason we even have records in the bible of people’s prayers, is ’cause these…

The yeast of hypocrisy.

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Mark 8.14-21 • Matthew 16.5-12 • Luke 12.1.After the most recent encounter Jesus had with Pharisees—namely where they wanted an End Times sign from him,not because they wanted proof Jesus is Messiah, but so they could shred his “sign” as bogus—Jesus decided to remind his students what sort of people they were dealing with. Not that all Pharisees were this way… hence his choice of metaphor.Mark 8.14-15 KWL14The students forgot to take bread,and they hadn’t one roll with them in the boat.15Jesus instructed them, saying “Listen. Watch out for the Pharisees’ yeast and Herod’s yeast.”Matthew 16.5-6 KWL5Jesus’s students, coming to the far side of the lake,forgot to bring bread.6 Jesus told them, “Listen and pay attention to the Pharisees and Sadducees’ yeast.”Luke 12.1 KWLWhen the crowds of 10,000 gathered together such that they were trampling one another,Jesus first began to tell his students,“Watch out for yourselves about the Pharisees’ yeast—which is hypocrisy.”Luke, which has this sto…

What’s the difference between a seer and a prophet?

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In case you’re the sort of person who skips titles (a phenomenon I’ve seen a bunch of times, and still don’t get), I remind you this article is called “What’s the difference between a seer and a prophet?”Short answer: No difference. Same thing.1 Samuel 9.9 KWLIn the past, in Israel, a man said this when he went to seek God: “Walk, walk to the seer.”For “the prophet” today was “the seer” in the past.The Hebrew רֹאֶה/rohéh, “seer,” is the noun-form of the verb רָאָה/raháh, “to see.” It means what we mean by “seer”: A person who can see. A person whose eyeballs work, so they can point ’em at stuff and identify what they’re looking at. It’s not a complicated word. When I see rainbows, I’m a seer of rainbows. Duh. But when they used this word in the bible they obviously had an attached idea that a seer saw something more than others could. ’Cause like all legitimate prophets, seers had the Holy Spirit, who’d show ’em stuff.It’s a term which didn’t entirely die out “in the past,” because we …