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The fruit of holiness: Let’s get weird.

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Paul’s list of the Spirit’s fruit in Galatians 5 isn’t comprehensive, and isn’t really meant to be.I gotta point that out every time I talk about a fruit which isn’t on Paul’s list, ’cause there’s always some numbnut who says, “That’s not in Galatians 5.” Usually someone who doesn’t like the fruit I’m talking about, so here’s their loophole. Yeah, well, there are other apostles who wrote bible, and some of ’em talked about other fruit. Like Simon Peter:1 Peter 1.13-16 KWL13 So, “girding the loins” of your thinking, being sober,hope till the end for the grace which Christ Jesus’s revelation brought you.14Do it like obedient children, not conforming to the same old patterns of your ignorant desires,15 but like the holy one who called you.Become holy yourselves, in your whole lifestyle.16 For it’s written, “You’ll be holy, because I’m holy.”Lv 19.2God expects us to be holy, which we misinterpret as “good” or “clean,” but really means separate: God wants us to stand out from the rest of t…

Cults: When churches go very, very wrong.

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CULTkəltnoun. A religion centered on one particular individual or figurehead.2. A group (usually small) whose religious beliefs and practices are outside the norm: Too controlling, too strange, too devilish.3. A misplaced devotion to a particular person or thing.4. A heretic Christian church.[Cultic 'kəl.tɪkadjective, cultish 'kəl.tɪʃadjective, cultism 'kəl.tiz.əmnoun.]I throw this word “cult” around a lot, so I’d better define it. First, what other folks mean by “cult,” all of which are included in the above definition:Sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists whose job descriptions end in -ist, tend to use definition #1: A cult is any religion with a guru in charge. And technically Christianity falls under this definition, ’cause we got Jesus.Popular culture leans towards definition #2: A cult is a creepy religion. If it weirds them out in any way, they call it a cult. Even if it’s Christianity. If we trust Jesus a little too much for their comfort, they…

The “prayer warrior.”

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PRAYER WARRIOR'prɛr wɔr.i.ərnoun. A prayer intercessor who believes this form of prayer is spiritual warfare.[Prayer warfare 'prɛr wɔr.fɛrnoun.]As I’ve written before, spiritual warfare is resisting temptation. It’s not just that our own urges and habits get in the way of a growing relationship with God: Devils use these things to trip us up. So we resist temptation, resist our selfish nature, and in so doing, resist the devil. Jm 4.7 It’s not a complicated idea. It’s just not easy to do. We enjoy the things which tempt us; they wouldn’t tempt us otherwise! But we gotta resist.But because actual spiritual warfare isn’t easy, it’s way easier to pick something else—something we like to do, something way easier to do—and claim that’s spiritual warfare. And one of the more common claims you’ll find among Christians across the board—it’s not just a Evangelical thing—is prayer is spiritual warfare. Prayer, intercession in particular, is how we resist the devil. Not obedience, not se…

Jesus cures a man… in stages.

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Mark 8.22-26.People are fascinated by healing stories where Jesus cures people with spit. ’Cause he didn’t just do it the one time. Twice he cured blind men with it; here, and in John 9. Previously in Markhe cured a deafmute, and spat in the course of doing it—and while I don‘t believe he spat on the guy, or touched the guy with his saliva, plenty of Christians believe otherwise.What mainly gets us is the ick factor. Our culture doesn’t think of saliva as sanitary. Even though people spit-shine things all the time—glasses, phones, jewelry, shoes, their children—a number of people cringe at such behavior, because spit has germs in it. And yeah, human saliva has bacteria in it. But it also has a lot of digestive enzymes and white blood cells in it. Saliva protects us from a lot more than we realize.Whenever Jesus cured people with spit, it was reflective of the ancients’ attitudes about spit. Like us, they cleaned with spit. And when Jesus cured people with spit, it represented cleaning…

Politics, Christians, and our democracy.

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POLITICS'pɑl.ə.tɪksplural noun. Activities associated with the achievement of power, position, and status. Especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to gain it; often considered to be divisive or devious.[Politic 'pɑl.ə.tɪkadjective, political pə'lɪd.ə.kəladjective, politician pɑl.ə'tɪ.ʃənnoun, politico pə'lɪd.ɪ.koʊnoun.]God’s kingdom is entirely about surrendering our power, authority, will, even our identity, to God.We kinda have to do this. Humans, y’see, are selfish to our core. Total depravity, theologians call it: Everything we do, even everything good we do, has a self-centered ulterior motive. Makes us feel good about ourselves. Makes us feel self-justified. Yeah, some good deeds might feel self-sacrificial and miserable, but somewhere in our psyche is some “greater principle” which feels really good to make great sacrifices for. We’re just that carnal. It’s why God needs to save us, ’cause we’ll never be good enough to…