Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 6.30.13

Here are the notes from Sunday's sermon on Ephesians 5.18 and 1 Corinthians 6.19-20.  On a personal note, I struggled with how to communicate and respond to the SCOTUS ruling the previous week on the federal Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 in California.  As always, you can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also find the audio via our podcast iTunes.  It may take a couple of extra days as our webmaster extraordinaire is at youth camp this week.

When we’re filled, one thing related to SCOTUS ruling this past week:

We have a proper understanding of our bodies (1 Cor 6.19-20)

Culturally, we have defined our “authentic selves” as equal with the sum of our desires. 

The proper view:  our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, filled with Him.

The definition of marriage is determined by ownership and intention


Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Sharing the Good News

Keep Pursuing True DOMAs

Thursday, June 27, 2013

SCOTUS, DOMA, and other letters

I had one reaction to the ruling yesterday.

Just one.

Don't freak out.

That was it:  don't freak out.  I hope people who claim Christ don't run around screaming like they just saw a ghost or a spider or a clown with sad eyes and smiley lips.  Don't freak out.


First, there are narrow legal non-losses for traditional marriage.  SCOTUS didn't declare it constitutionally necessary for all states, for instance.

Second, Jesus knew that it was going to get worse before it got better.  Something like, "In this world you'll have trouble..."  I remember reading that somewhere (John 16.33 maybe?).

Lastly, the church tends to thrive when it faces opposition.  Lives become saltier and lighter.  Focus becomes sharper.  Witness becomes more credible (not less).

Besides, the real defense of marriage act happens in my home when I love my wife as Christ does the church and she encourages, affirms, and follows the godly leadership of her Jesus-following husband.  What better apologetic is needed today than actual living examples of a biblical marriage?  So I offer this idea of a sacrificially loving husband and a supportive, affirming wife as the root of a new hashtag:  #TrueDOMA.  By all means, spread the word.

In a biblically rooted home.  That is where the defense of marriage takes place.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

If a Pastor could speak to Christian songwriters...

If I could speak to Christian songwriters, and particularly those who are worship song composers, this is what I would say.  If you are one of those, you get what you pay for with this advice, etc., etc. etc.  Take it for what it's worth, but take it from a man who is for you, your craft, and the content as it's used in the church today.

I offer three humble comments.

First, please write songs that are singable.  Not just in lyric (because supralapsarianism doesn't really have a catchy rhyme), but mostly I'm thinking about in music.  One of the struggles that I think most congregants struggle with is singing along to some of the more difficult melody lines.  That includes those that I call "octave songs," those that start low and then hit the octave above it.  Need an example? The current song-of-the-moment example is One Thing Remains (which I like and worship to personally).  Those kinds of more difficult melodies work in younger settings but are hard to grasp in the larger church and often when they're tried they struggle to connect.  So write songs that are singable.

Second, write just as many "We Songs" as "I Songs."  I'm for "I Songs."  I like confessing things to God where I lose focus on those around me and do business with Him.  But I also know that the Gospel of Jesus didn't just create a new person but a new people.  Therefore "We Songs" are crucial to the expressions of the church and reinforcing to the theology of the New Testament.

Lastly, the more closely you tie your lyrics to the text of the Bible, the more you help in the disciple-making process of the church.  I don't think you need to quote Scripture in the lyrics (although that's awesome if you can).  But tying lyrics to the text puts them in the memory of those who sing them.  So when you write about liberation from the body of death because of no condemnation, you're writing about the last part of Romans 7 and first part of Romans 8.  And when a congregant picks up the Bible and reads that part of the Bible, they think about your lyric.  And the next time they sing that song, they think about Romans 7-8.  See how that's wonderfully cyclical and reinforcing of the disciple-making process?  A close tie between text and lyric takes work, for sure.  It also comes from a heart that doesn't want to be a worship leader but a worship pastor, a person who pastors the church through the worship and music ministry.  That's a mindset shift for a lot of people but one that is so healthy for churches.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When it's time to quit praying...

I wrote about Jeremiah yesterday, and I'll stay there today because it's fresh on my mind.  One of the things that's so surprising to me in Jeremiah is that more than once, God tells Jeremiah to quit praying for the people of Judah who are heading into captivity.

Quit praying.

How bad must it be?  Bad enough that God was bringing judgment and it didn't matter what kind of intercession Jeremiah brought to the table because God was having none of it.

Quit praying.

I can think of maybe one time where I heard the Lord speak to me in such a way.  Maybe once.  I'll leave it in the "I think it was the Lord but if I'm wrong then I'm wrong" category.  And I can think of two reasons why the Lord might have you to quit praying.

The first is when it's time to get up and do something.  Quit praying because it's time to act.  That's probably more accurately stated:  pray as you act, rather than praying as your act.  If you see someone in a wreck in front of you, pray and act simultaneously.  You get the idea.

The second is more like Jeremiah's case - when God is going to do what He's going to do and He's not going to have His mind changed by our intercession.  That's so rare, though, that I think Jeremiah is the only biblical character to whom God speaks as such.

Typically, in regard to the second situation, we need to pray until it's either over or God intervenes.  I tell our folks at church that if we go down, we need to go down swinging rather than looking.  I'd rather get a "No" praying in faith than fail to persevere in prayer.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lying pens

This verse came up in my Bible reading last week and I thought about you, dear reader, and myself and plenty of others who write consistently and for people's edification.  It's a brutal one, but what a warning.

How can you say, "We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us"?  But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. (Jeremiah 8.8)

Did you see that?  Did you hear their claims?

We are wise and the law of the Lord is with us.  We've got this figured out.  We know what we're talking about and what we're doing.  We've read the Bible.  It's on our shelves and coffee tables and iDevices.  Oh.So.Flippant.

And what's worse is that the scribes, the ones who are supposed to handle the text with care and teach others to do the same, have made it into a lie.  When they write blog posts, they twist the Bible to mean what they want it to mean.  When they write books about living the Christian life, they add a heaping scoop of opinion to the revelation God has already given.  When they compose articles for magazines or other outlets, they're sure to make the Bible look like the crest of the cultural wave-of-the-moment.


As a pastor, I know that reading the Bible "by yourself" can get you into trouble in a hurry.  Individually, we're prone to make it say what we desire for it to say.  So the believing community (including those who have gone before and have passed down a tradition to us) has to have a voice as we read.

But as a pastor, I also know that you can basically pick up a good translation of the Bible and read it and understand it.  There are some hard sections, but for the most part it's pretty plainly understood.  You don't need a new book (though I'm a fan of books) or a blog (though I'm a writer of a blog).  You need the Bible.

And then you need to obey it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why I love the Lord's Prayer

Why do I love the Lord's Prayer?

First, it came out of a question in Luke 11 and in the middle of teaching new disciples in Matthew 6.  People don't necessarily know how to pray.  I think preachers have a tendency to say otherwise and talk about how there are no atheists in foxholes, but really praying (set over against crying out) does not come naturally.  Why?  Primarily I think that's because we are bent toward our own self-sufficiency.  Teaching on how to pray keeps us in the discipline of it and helps us to be shaped by it.

Second, it came straight out of the heart of Jesus.  He knows something about praying.  He's been doing it incessantly for a couple of millennia now (Heb. 7.25).  Right from His heart.

Third, it aligns my heart with His will.  When I pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done, I'm tracking along with His best for not just my life but the whole earth, even the whole cosmos.

Lastly, it's full of His compassion.  He lets me pray for daily needs.  He knows I'll need forgiveness and the restoration of relationship that comes along with it.  He knows I have a real Enemy and lets me pray about that.  He doesn't overlook my humanity but provides for it.

I've used the Lord's Prayer for my personal framework for years now.  Far from getting more rote, it actually blossoms with meaning, significance, and power.  If you'd like to try it, let each statement guide you and see if you don't grow.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are you taking vitamins or needing surgery?

Confession:  I have several acquaintances on the whole foods, no processed anything, be completely awesome diet.  

I am not on that diet.

I'm getting older, so I'm having to watch what I'm eating more.  But I basically eat what I want to eat.  I work out on average three times a week, am in reasonable shape, and am as strong as I've ever been.  

I sure hope I don't need surgery.

Seriously.  Sometimes health stuff comes out of the blue for people, even those who eat nothing but organic spinach and pomegranates with oat flakes.  

There's a huge difference between taking a few vitamins and needing surgery.  They're both related to health.  But no one thinks they're the same.

Spiritually, the same is true.  Sometimes something pops up that demands an immediate, invasive, and possibly radical procedure.  A job gets lost.  A medical diagnosis comes.  A child walks away.  Death comes knocking.  Those all demand the kind of spiritual procedure that's gut-wrenching, calling for faith in the midst of trial and focus in the midst of a storm.  Things that pop up, emotions included, have to be handled in the right way but handled with a strong and steady hand.  Otherwise spiritual spirals are around the corner, causing some to never recover on this side of heaven.

And sometimes you need a little this and a little that, because you know it's allergy season and Vitamin C helps.  Like concentrated prayer, sustained Bible reading and reflection, fasting and Scripture memory, all vitamins which keep a soul healthy and moving ahead.

But don't miss the connection:  the latter helps the former.  Having a healthy body before surgery helps the body endure surgery.  Having a strong, vitamin-packed soul helps walk through the trials and fight off the temptations and distractions.  

So whether it's radical or simple, is there something you need to be doing today to ensure your spiritual health?

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guaranteed Trouble: Women in Ministry

I'm taking up a topic today that is guaranteed trouble.  If you like me and want to continue to do so, you should probably stop reading right now and preserve whatever friendship we have.  There's a good chance I'll offend both sides, not by splitting the middle but by thinking about the future.

Offensive to my more moderate friends:

I'm a general complementarian, meaning I believe that while the genders are equal before God, He has given men and women distinct roles (though not functions).  I think that's rooted in Creation, probably in the Trinity, and outlined in plain language in Ephesians 5 and other places.

One of the distinct roles God has given men to play is to bring humble and spiritual leadership to the two entities that matter most in the world:  the home and the church.  Wives get to...wait for it...submit to the godly leadership of their husbands because the wives love and trust Jesus so much.  In the church, everyone gets more time...submit to the godly leadership of the male leaders (aka elders/pastors, etc.) of the church.  Please insert all caveats here about how the leadership must be godly, etc.

Uniquely, I think the pastor of a church should be male.  And as a corollary, I also think the primary spokesman to the church should be as well.  That seems to be the primary prescribed role of the pastoral position in the New Testament.

Please throw your stones at my church address rather than home.  I think the church has better insurance and a lower deductible.

Offensive to my more conservative friends:

In an effort to keep male leaders as the leaders, I think we've gone overboard.  I was in a conversation with a guy the other day who, as a pastor, decided that any male over 13 in his church shouldn't be taught by a female.  Ever.  I asked him if his wife ever co-preached (as the Queen has done with me on occasion and may do again in the very near future) as part of a marriage series, etc.  He answered in the affirmative, but was quick to point out that he was preaching and she was illustrating.  Uhm...

I then asked if one of the elders at his church had a wife who came up to him with a word from the Lord from the Bible for the congregation, would he let her speak?  Nope.  But he couldn't square that with 1 Corinthians 11 and the women prophesying.  That part is a little inconvenient, I know.

Here's what I said, and the actual point of this post.

I've watched this for 20 years now.  Going to the seminary I did, we were dead in the middle of this debate and I was generally on the other side of my classmates and professors.  I survived and have continued to watch this issue in the church.

I'm worried about the future for our men, but not in the way others are.  I know that women shaped me growing up.  I had a female youth minister and female Sunday School teachers, but strangely I don't think it was setting me up for "the acceptance of women elders" as my aforementioned conversation partner argued.  He thought men would get weaker because of the influence of women in the church.

Quite the opposite.  I think men get stronger.

I know I did.

In an effort to help men lead, not only are we pushing gifted women to the sidelines but just might be raising up a generation of men who have not been shaped by the men AND women of the church.  The fruit of our decisions today will ripen in the next 10-15 years.

How that plays out in any given local church context is a worthwhile strategy session and/or debate.  Three of the most gifted teachers at our church are women.  But they're also the most humble, thoughtful, respectful, and...wait for it...submissive women I know - first to God, then to their husbands, then to church leadership.  They have no agenda (unlike the vast majority of the women I went to seminary with).

Don't lose the point in the illustration and subjectivity.  Women are needed (by men!) in the church, and not just in the kitchen, behind the piano, in the nursery, or on the front row of the choir.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Imitators of God

How about this verse:  therefore be imitators of God as beloved children (Eph. 5.1).

You ever watched a parent feed a baby some baby food?  Outside of the airplane noises, the cutesy-wutesy talk, or any other strategy, one always caught my attention.

When dad, for instance, would open his mouth in an attempt to show the child what to do.

It's funny when you see it.  It has the pungency of significance when you think about it.

That's what God, our Father, wants us to be like.  Look what He's doing, then do the same.  We are called to be imitators, what we see Him doing we do too.  What we hear Him saying, that's what we say.

This imitation isn't based on our performance.  It's based on our identity.  We are His beloved children. So we get to grow up to be like dear ol' dad.

And what is it that is primary for us as His imitators?  To walk in love, but not amorphous, postmodern, societal love.  Jesus' kind of love.  Real, tough, tender, caring and compassionate love.

Walk in love, as Christ loved us and delivered Himself up for us (Eph. 5.2).

That's the model and the call of following Jesus.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Snakes are Scary: Get off my trailer

Posted by one who has no love for cats...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Blowing on the Embers

If you've grown spiritually cold and need to blow on the embers of the fire that once was in your heart, then this post is for you.  I've been there as a pastor.  I've been there as a husband and dad.  I've been there as a man.

I don't want to read the Bible and pray.  I don't want to serve my family.  I don't want to think about eternal things.  In fact, I may love sin a little more.  I may be a little more inclined to justify it rather than war against it.  I just want to slip into a coma and wake up sometime later, letting people tend to my needs until I'm all better.

But it doesn't work that way.

My family still needs me.  My neighbors are still my neighbors.  My job still needs my engagement and energy - and this applies to church-related jobs and non-church-related jobs.  I can't check out.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones had a term for this:  spiritual depression.  That's about as good as I've seen it described.

So what do you do?

First, realize you're not alone.  Sometimes the darkness comes.  You can blame Satan or your own heart or God.  The truth is most likely somewhere in the mix of those three.  And if you're offended about the God part, please remember it was the Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Matthew 4, Luke 4).  People go through this and it's not unique to you and there's nothing uncommon about it (1 Cor. 10.13).  As I said, Lloyd-Jones had a term for it.  St. John of the Cross wrote about the extreme version of it in Dark Night of the Soul.  Welcome to the club.

Second, blow on the embers until the fire catches.  How?

Remember what it was like to walk with God.  When your mind wanders, let it wander to the days when things were reconciled and He saw you through hard times, etc.  That's a good spiritual discipline anyway, but it will serve to paint a picture for you of what your life could be based on what it has been.

Repent of your apathy.  That's always the first step that helps me.  "Father, I know I should be connected to you but I don't feel like it.  And I may not feel like it for a little bit, but I'm sorry that I'm so apathetic toward you."  Far from despising that, God enjoys honest conversations with His kids.

Return to your normal spiritual routines.  Read the Bible, though it may seem dry and dusty.  That's the fuel that will catch once the embers start to glow red.  Remember that the dry and dusty wood tends to catch more easily on the fire.  Pray too, being honest with God and with yourself as you make your requests.

It may take a while before the fog will lift and the darkness will be broken.  But that's not really the goal.  It's the result of accomplishing the goal.  Here's the capstone thought:  the goal isn't to have the sunshine, it's to be faithful in the night.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reflections from the (gasp!) SBC meeting

If you know me at all, you know I'm not a denomination guy on the ministry front.  But I went to the Southern Baptist Convention that is meeting in Houston yesterday and here are my (surprisingly positive, even to me) reflections.

1.  I saw plenty of old guys with preacher hair.  But I saw a ton of young people.  A lot.  Maybe the whole culture warrior ethos that has been a part of the SBC is starting to wane.  I consider that a good thing.  The problem with cultural warriors is that everything is a fight to them, including when we need to have theological discussions rather than battles.  We have plenty of problems to address internally in the SBC (a big one? how to address sexual offenders/predators in our ranks and among our ministers without violating the voluntary nature of participation in the SBC) and in our culture, and hopefully the new generation of articulate leaders can help us with those.  Warriors were needed then.  Builders are needed now.  And I think there are plenty around.  I'm actually more hopeful of the SBC's future than I have ever been about anything in particular related to denominational life.

2.  We have a ton of resources as SBC'ers.  A TON.  Education outlets.  Publishing outlets.  World-wide connections.  People who love Jesus and are willing to follow Him.  Good, Bible-preaching churches.  A TON.  God, please help us to be good stewards of them.

3.  The younger crowd seems to pal around less than the older crowd but also seems more committed to causes than to the Convention.  Again, I think that's a good thing.  As long as the SBC majors on the majors and not the minors, I think the younger crowd (of which I still include myself, though 40 looms but moments ahead) will be on board.

4.  Some conversations are hard to have on a panel in front of the room.  Some conversations shouldn't.  That's why people of old (Luther and Erasmus come to mind) had polemical exchanges in writings that were published so people could read.  I sat in breakfast yesterday that I thought would've been better content if writing had been the primary medium.  With blogs, etc., it's even easier than in the 1500's.

5.  Doctrine matters.  It's the springboard from which other cooperation (like missions) comes.  To say otherwise is to deny reality or reduce what you "do" together to social justice vacant of Gospel content. Again, I might have some quibbles with SBC as its currently constituted, but I don't have arguments.

6.  I got to go with a friend and had a great time.  Worthwhile discussion.  Introductions to others.  That part was energizing.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Problem with Venting

You know that expression, "I just need to vent a little bit?"

I don't want to go all Moral Police here, but I think there's something to hear and heed in the Bible regarding that.  See if this addresses that issue:
A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Prov. 29.11)
The foolishness of venting is easily seen in at least three ways...

1.  Its effects on those around you.  Those who are in the receiving end of your venting often end up burned from your steam, or at the least scalded and a little less trusting.  That's only worsened when you excuse your foolishness with, "I was just venting."  Precisely.The.Point.  And for those who are indirect recipients, they are sure to love and appreciate you more, showing greater honor to the one who just made himself look like the object in primary view when you are on the last horse in a trail ride.  Sure they are.

2.  The antithetical witness to the Gospel, the Good News about the One who was accused and yet did not revile, who suffered but did not threaten.  Instead, He continued to entrust Himself to the One who judges justly (straight out of 1 Peter 2.23).  Jesus turning over the tables in the Temple (the most often quoted biblical story for letting anger get out of control) wasn't just venting.  And you're not Jesus.

3.  You may not have all the facts.  I've been there.  I've vented about a particular issue without knowing everything there is to know, only to find myself embarrassed or embarrassing those around me through my ignorance (or stupidity, as it is more aptly called).  That kind of foolishness can be prevented by "quietly holding back" until you have fact-based things to say.  That includes emails.  And forwarded links from your Great Aunt Susie.  And so on.

Something to chew on today.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Anger: The Righteous (?) Kind

I've wondered if there were actually a righteous kind of anger.  James is pretty clear that the anger of man doesn't accomplish what God considers righteousness (1.20).  The counter to that is Jesus in the Temple, apparently with a strong amount of anger driving out the money changers with a whip (and I don't think it was a for show or just a deterrent).

I would offer that there are two questions to ask to see if any particular anger that you're feeling is righteous anger.

1.  Is it the Truth/Right that is being offended or is it me?

This takes some discerning since I'm often on the side of "right" (as I see it, anyway).  But if this had no personal effect on me, would it still warrant my ire?  Is it the injustice of it or my personal preference or opinion that has been infringed upon?  Like I said, some discerning is certainly needed.

2.  Does the offense compel me toward a biblically modeled or biblically commanded action?

If the answer is no, then either (a) I'm not mad enough about it or (b) I'm just mad and it's not really righteous anger.  Righteousness always seeks the reckoning and reconciling of things, the relational rightness (a.k.a. shalom) of the world.

If the answer is yes, then what can I do that is biblically modeled or biblically commanded - and can I do that in love?  I can do a biblical thing without love, but I may end up being a clanging gong or a noisy cymbal (1 Cor. 13).

Righteous anger requires a pretty high bar, one not often reached by the normal situations in our normal lives.  But it shouldn't simply be set aside.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sermon Notes from Sunday, 6.9.13

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, 6.9.13, from Ephesians 4.25-5.2.  You can find these notes in PDF and the sermon audio at  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

Part 16 – A Picture of Justice and Beauty
Ephesians 4.25-5.2

5 Commands of Ethics that paint the picture of what justice/righteousness and holiness/beauty look like

Reside in Truth
  • Remember that God is Truth (John 14.6)
  • ExtMot: lying doesn’t just hurt the other, but me too.
  • Speak the Truth to sin
  • Find out the facts before you share

Have Self-Control
  • Remember that the Spirit bears this in us (Gal. 5.23)
  • ExtMot:  giving the devil a foothold is never good
  • Are you angry about the right thing?
  • Are you angry in the right way?

Live Generously
  • Remember that Jesus is God’s generosity on display (Rom 8.32)
  • ExtMot:  the shame of not having something to share
  • Don’t steal
  • Produce something:  work is the creation of value
  • Share with others:  live as a self-limiting capitalist

Watch Your Words
  • Remember Jesus warned us about careless words (Matthew 12.36)
  • ExtMot:  you will grieve the Holy Spirit
  • Words can wound or give grace

Check Your Attitude
  • Put away:  bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice
  • Put on:  kindness, tenderness, forgiveness
  • ExtMot:  This is how God treated you
  • Remember God’s attitude toward us:  sacrificial love

Friday, June 7, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Family Adventure, Fatherly Grace

Our family is in the midst of an adventure right now, working in an area we sense called to by God.  Is it trying?  Yes.  As a super-small example of this, I normally blog 3-5 days out.  I'm writing this Wednesday night.

Is it disheartening?  It certainly can be.  Is it frustrating?  At times.  Is it gut-wrenching?  Certainly.  You know what overcomes those adjectives?


We daily depend on God to provide what we need, trusting Him for patience and endurance and wisdom and discernment and energy.  And 100 other things.

It's something I preach regularly and it's something we as a family are trying to walk in and live out and model for others.  I talk to patients about cancer.  I talk to parents about kids.  I talk to spouses about marriages.  I talk to sinners.  And I talk about grace.

Grace isn't something ethereal.  It's help for sinners and strugglers.  One of my favorite authors (Dallas Willard) points out that mature Christians are those that depend on God and burn through His grace the most because they are trying the least to accomplish something in their own strength.

Good thinking for today.  And the good way to live.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

So enlightened that they can't see

Ever stared at the sun or a light and couldn't see anything else for a while after that?  That happened recently in Venezuela, where the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America, Kathrine Jefferts Schori, preached a sermon on Acts 16.  For those unfamiliar, this is the passage of Paul in Philippi wherein he delivers a slave girl from a demon and preaches the gospel to the jailer.  But I'm astounded at the hermeneutical stupidity it took to do what KJS did with this text.

Her argument was that Paul should've left the girl alone (that is, should have left her with demonic activity in her life and in slavery to her masters) because he should've recognized that she was part of God's creation too, arguing Paul deprived "her of her spiritual awareness.  Paul can't abide something that he won't see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it."


Just to be clear:  KJS argues that being possessed by a demon is just Paul's intolerance of his own consideration of what is (or isn't) beautiful and holy.  Not liberation.  Not deliverance.  Not miraculous. Intolerant.

It'd be bad enough if she stopped there, but she goes on to argue that the following imprisonment, due to the fact that the girl's owners were mad about their profit-maker being liberated, was in fact just.  "That's pretty much where he put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she too shares in God's nature just as much as he does - maybe more so."


KJS is not my target here.  The kind of mush-minded thinking that is in love with tolerance but not with Jesus, that is the target.  And it's true in the church.  It's certainly true in culture.

Truth.  It matters these days.  Because it determines our allegiance.  Whether to tolerance or to the Lord of the Universe.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

(with a HT to Real Clear Religion)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Rebuff or Repent?

Here are some excuses that people use when convicted of sin in order not to repent of that sin but rebuff that conviction.  See if any of these sound familiar.

  • “It was only once…”
  • “I promise I’ll never do it again”
  • “It’s not hurting anyone” 
  • “God will forgive me” 
  • “It’s just not that big a deal”
  • “That’s just legalism”
  • “I can stop anytime I want”
  • “But what about them / that?” 
  • “Our culture just isn’t like that now”
What happens when we rebuff the conviction rather than repent of it?

Spiritual Callouses.

Those are terrible things, demanding a kind of surgical work of the Spirit of God in order to make the rough and tough become pliable and supple again.  You cannot play with sin like that and think it won't have consequences.  And none of them are good.  None of them.

Don't rebuff.  Repent.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Maybe just maybe God is silent for this reason...

I'm by no means a God-expert.  And I'm certainly not a parental expert.  But I wonder if those times when God is silent, it might not be a little like parenting.

You know the God-is-silent routine, right?

Prayers seems like they hit the ceiling and fall right back down.  You talk to God and it feels like a cosmic echo chamber:  empty, void, bouncing without landing anywhere.  You need some movement and some guidance - you'd take writing on the wall, a fleece on the ground, anything - but there's nothing.  On the other end of the line, nada.  Your text doesn't get a reply.  It maybe feels like not only is God not picking up, but doesn't even has His phone with Him.

You get the idea.

God could be silent for 1000 reasons.  Most of them remain mysterious to me.  But sometimes, when He is silent, I wonder if it's because He's a good father.  I have a kid who tries, at times, to draw out a reaction by stating something ludicrous or possibly even rude.  It's a childish attempt to gain attention and we, generally as parents, don't even pause in conversation to acknowledge it because we want that one to know that it's not a good communication skill, not good relationship building, and does not lead to good character.

We're just silent.

The idea is that there is something deeper to be discovered and a stronger, healthier way to relate.  And I think God probably does the same.  In order to wait us out, be patient until we discover a stronger, healthier way to relate, He's quiet.  He give us the room provided by His silence to actually listen to our hearts and see what's in our soul.

And when we bring that stuff to Him, He's always willing to talk about that.  He loves dealing with our hearts.  And so sometimes He's silent.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sermon notes from Sunday, 6.2.13

Here are the sermon notes from today's sermon from Ephesians 4.17-24.  You can get these notes in PDF and the sermon audio on our website,  You can also download the audio via our podcast on iTunes.

14 – The Danger of a Callous
Ephesians 4.17-24

The Danger:  Calloused Hearts
  • There is a kind of life marked by emptiness 
  • For unbelievers, emptiness is rooted in a hard heart
  • For believers, emptiness is rooted in a calloused heart

Transition:  you didn’t learn Christ this way if you learned Him

The Duty:  Repentance
  • Repentance begins with putting off the old self
  • Repentance ends with putting on new self