There are certain things Christians should refrain from saying. Why? Because, well, they are dumb! Don’t feel bad. I have had my dumb moments too. Let’s make sure to scratch these three from our Christian vocabulary.
1. God told me to ______. We have to be careful here. God does speak to us through His word. He impresses thoughts and ideas into our conscience. He influences us through other people. Yet, sometimes Christians play the “God told me card.” If we are going to say “God told me too” we had better make sure that He really did, because if He didn’t that would be putting words in God’s mouth. Essentially, it becomes using God’s name without God’s consent. I have heard Christians say that God told them to do many different things, and some of the things that “God told them”, I am pretty sure, were in direct violation of His written word. So either God forgot what He said before or He didn’t tell you. Sadly, some Christians even use God’s false endorsement as a means to manipulate other people. Don’t say God told me unless you are 100% absolutely sure that He did, in fact, tell you.
2. I just have to leave it in God’s hands. Certainly, there are times in life where we have no choice but to leave situations in God’s hands. We have to trust that He loves us, is well aware of all we will experience in life, and trust His guidance. Yet, we must also remember that leaving things in God’s hands does not exempt us from doing our part. Leaving things in God’s hands is not an excuse for us not to apply ourselves and work hard. “I have a test tomorrow, and I am leaving it in God’s hands.” Awesome. So you have studied all you can, right? “I am leaving the results of my sermon Sunday up to God.” Great! So you prepared and rehearsed adequately? “I am trusting God with my kids.” Wonderful. So you have poured yourself into their lives and done all you can to prepare them for what they will face? Trusting God is working hard and applying ourselves to whatever task we are given, and then trusting Him with the outcome.
3. I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. This is absolutely correct! One does not have to go to church to become a Christian. A person is born in Christ by repenting and trusting in Christ. Case closed. It should be pointed out, however, that church attendance is a tremendous part of growing as a Christian. In fact, it is paramount. Think about how poor this logic is when applied to other scenarios. “I don’t need to spend any time with my spouse to be married.” No, but if you want that marriage to be anything special you had dang well better! “I don’t need to go to practice to play in the band.” True, but you won’t know the songs, and you won’t mesh with the rest of the band. You will be the bass player that is a beat behind the drummer, and that just annoys everyone. “I don’t need to go to school to be a student.” Nope, but if you want to pass the class you do! You get the point. Church doesn’t make one a Christian, but it is a big part if growing in Christ. We need other people. We need encouragement and accountability. We need to hear God’s word spoken (along with our personal reading), and we need to have a place to ask questions and explore our faith.
So, have you ever said “dumb things” as a Christian or heard someone else babble things that make you cringe? What are they?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
God, where are you when an earthquake swallows up unsuspecting people? Where are you God when fires ravage homes that displace thousands? Where are you when hurricanes pound the coast and inflict pain on countless lives? Where were you when tornadoes struck Oklahoma and demolished house after house? What about the kids, God? Why did innocent kids have to suffer and die? You are all powerful. You could have stopped it. Why didn’t you?
This is a big question. One that we all have wrestled with at times, struggled with, and either worked through or pushed to the back of our minds. Yet, when tragedy strikes it pulls the question back to the forefront of our minds. Why does God allow suffering? Why does he allow tragedy? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Many refer to these phenomena as natural evil, as opposed to moral evil, which requires some agent that inflicts pain. Moral evil is when a drunk driver kills an innocent child or a person abuses another. When it comes to moral evil we know that cause is due to sin. A person has the freedom to choose to abuse his free will and harm others. Yet, natural evil, or agentless evil, there is no person or agent that chooses to hurt others. It is the result of the natural order. It is a physical phenomenon that no one, per se, caused. These events happen without a causal agent. Yet, the question lingers, why does God allow it?
Before we seek an answer to this question from a Christian perspective, it is important to understand that every worldview must answer this question. From an atheistic perspective, it is bound to happen at some point. In our world, people will get hurt. It’s an accident we are here to begin with. So when natural disaster strikes, you simply lose the lottery. Someone had to get hurt, and your number was up. Incidentally, it ends there. Life is cut short. Life has no meaning or ultimate purpose. Hopefully you enjoyed the years in the sun you had. Then there are the pantheistic religions that say the tragedies we experience are the result of negative Karma. That is, the bad things you do create negative energy and you must pay off this negative energy by experiencing difficulties. So essentially, you are the reason that bad things happen to you? They might also say that suffering is an illusion, but last time I suffered it felt pretty real. None of these answers seem satisfactory or easy to live out consistently.
So what does Christianity have to say about natural disasters? Every now and then someone like Pat Robertson will pipe up and say that God directly causes natural disasters as a punishment for sin. We see evidence of this in the Bible in limited places. Yet, we are not qualified to make such judgments, and to do so is completely insensitive and downright narcissistic. Furthermore, God using natural disasters as punishment seems limited to a specific socio-cultural context, that is, theocratic Israel.
While God does not cause natural disasters, the question still must be asked why does He allow them? Many question, if God is all-loving and all-powerful, then why doesn’t he stop tornadoes from ripping across Oklahoma? While I believe God is both all-loving and all-powerful, does this mean that God is under compulsion to shield us from all pain and suffering? To fully answer this question man would have to assume the mind of God. God has knowledge of every possible contingency and our knowledge is limited. As Charles Spurgeon once explained, “When we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.”
Though we cannot assume the mind of God, we can make some observations. First we know that when God created the world, it was good. Suffering and evil were not present. When sin entered the world, death and suffering also did, and this applied to creation itself. Paul reminds us of this, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” (Romans 8:22, HCSB). So natural disasters are tied to the fall itself.
We could also discuss how God uses pain in our lives, though this is often less than satisfying when we are in the middle of tragedy. Yet, sometimes God uses pain our lives for multiple reasons. At times it is to get our attention, build character, or to keep us from greater pain and suffering by exposing us to a smaller amount of aversion. Again, we do not know the mind of God.
This question has been examined from many different angles, but I would like to approach it from a different perspective. Often natural disasters are referred to as “acts of God.” We must ask ourselves, however, are “acts of God” limited to natural disasters? Might we remember that the very fact that we have life to begin with was an “act of God”? Creation from nothing was an act of God. The suffering of Christ was an act of God. The daily sustaining of the universe is an act of God. The very fact that my lungs continue to breathe in and out at this moment is an act of God. Let us not limit acts of God to the tragedies that strike.
We must also ask, is death underserved? Due to the effects of sin, everyone has an appointment with death. We think that we get some say on when that appointment should be. We deem it unfair when people die before the average age, but say nothing when people live past the average age. Every day we get is solely due to God’s grace. We have no claim on our lives. Because God is the creator of life He can give and take when he sees fit, often for purposes that are beyond our immediate understanding.
Death will come to us all at some point. While it is hard for us to let go in this life, death is not something to be feared for those that know Christ. Death is hard on the survivor, but for the person that dies, they enter into bliss. Yet we forget this when disaster strikes because our emotions are greatly shaken, and rightly so. Yet we blame God for something that would happen at some point regardless, and when it does happen the person lost is in a better state than before. It is hard for us, the survivor. Yet, God gives us the capacity to overcome our grief.
Many would say that natural disasters are undeserved. Again, when we make this appeal we also forget about the good things that are undeserved. Do we, as unrighteous people, deserve anything? Yet, God is faithful to allow good things in our lives. If we make the argument that the bad is underserved we must also be consistent and say that the good is underserved.
In other words, the good that God allows in our lives we accept without thought or question. Yet, when tragedy strikes, God has allowed undeserving bad things into our life, and He is horrible for having done so, and even then, we don’t know His reasons for doing so.
Is it perhaps possible then, that in a fallen world that groans under the weight of sin, that God works in a way where the best possible and loving outcomes result? Is it possible that we focus too heavily on this life at the expense of remembering we were created for another world? Is it possible that we miss all of the blessings and provisions of God and focus only on the seeming injustices and tragedies? Is it possible that amidst tragedy, God is right there with us? Is it possible that God holds our hand through the eye of the storm?
God created the world knowing that we would botch it all up. He knew as a result of this that He would have to send His Son to die for the sins of mankind, that all of humanity might be restored. Would a loving father make a decision that would involve the death of His Son? In the midst of loss we might remember that God is no stranger to our plight.
These questions are not easy, yet; only Christianity offers an explanation that comes close to satisfying. Either the universe is indifferent when tragedy strikes, we brought it on ourselves, suffering is an illusion, or God is in control even when we don’t complete understand it. He loves us, blesses us, and seeks our ultimate good. So much, that He suffered greatly be sending His own son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. We should point out that the reason this answer does not seem fully satisfactory is because we don’t allows get to know the why or connect the dots. We have a low tolerance for cognitive ambiguity. Yet, at this point, we simply have to trust that God is all powerful and all loving and He is in control.
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny?Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31, HCSB)
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Road Trip! Many people hate piling in the car and staring at the road for hours on end, but I happen to enjoy it. Sure, flying is great at times, but road trips are conducive to great conversations and opportunities to reflect on life. It had been several years since we hopped in the car and drove across the country so my wife and I decided to drive to Atlanta this week, with our starting point being close to Houston. As we mapped out our route, we just so happened to notice that passing through West Monroe, Louisiana, was only about thirty minutes out of our way. What’s in West Monroe? Don’t you know? The bearded boys from Duck Dynasty, who else?
My wife and I began watching the show in season two, and quickly caught up by buying season one (which we watched in a night). We have been hooked ever since. We tune in every Wednesday night to see those friendly, fuzzed up faces.
When I stop to think about the show, it’s hard to say what drew me in to begin with. Sure it’s funny, but there are a lot of funny shows I don’t watch. I have never gone duck hunting (which I am not opposed to if anyone wants to give me an invite) a day in my life. I don’t even own a rifle. I have never even shot a deer, or at one for that matter. I really don’t even watch much television period, so it is interesting that I tune in faithfully every week this show airs. I even watch reruns from time to time, despite the fact that I own the seasons.
As we rolled up to Duck Commander, that’s the dynasty headquarters for those not sucked into the cult of duck yet, I was amazed. The facility wasn’t some huge corporate operation sprawled out over acres. It was a modest warehouse with some offices and a newly added gift shop. It is located right beside a small town car wash with some houses just down the road. To be honest, it looks smaller in person than on television. It is fascinating that the network, A & E, took a bet on the beards in the first place.
The gift shop opens at nine in the morning, and we arrived about eight-thirty. To my surprise, we were not the first ones there. We took some pictures while we waited for the gift shop to open. People continued to arrive by the minute. When the gift shop opened there were probably fifty people inside. The place was bustling with beard enthusiast by nine-thirty. I was amazed that this place attracted so many people.
This season, Duck Dynasty attracted an average of 8.4 million viewers per episode. It was the number one rated reality show this year. Just a bunch of guys, with beards, that make duck calls for a living. What is the appeal? It is something very simple, but so counter cultural that it almost elicits shock value. The success of Duck Dynasty is wrapped up in faith and family.
The show promotes a very family oriented lifestyle that flies in the face of our individualistic society. Each episode ends with the extended family sitting around a dinner table and some kind of moral is presented to tie the show together. There is also a healthy slice of faith served up with every episode.
It is my opinion that these two things, faith and family, are what pull people in (though Uncle Si’s antics also help). Why are people so drawn by these two things? Because it is what everybody wants. Who doesn’t want to have a close family? Most people want to find something that guides their life and instills a sense of purpose as well.
The sad fact is, much of our society is lacking in these two areas. So many people feel they can’t have what is seen in the lives of the Robertson’s, but they can. Anyone can have a life devoted to family and faith. Now this may be to varying degrees because, for many, the past plays a part in the present. Families don’t immediately change over night, but they can start the change process in a night. The Robertson family has what it has because it is willing to do what many people are unwilling to do, which is making faith and family a priority.
One of the cleanest shows on television right now is at the top. How does that happen? Because many people want to be a part of something good (not perfect). Maybe it also serves to show that there is a bigger desire for wholesome entertainment than some would have us think.
We were made for community. We find that fulfilled both vertically and horizontally. We need one another and we need God to feel fulfilled, have purpose, and be healthy. We long to be in community with God, family, and friends, whether we are cognizant of it or want to admit it. Somewhere, Duck Dynasty gives us a taste of what that feels like, and it feels nice.
We have to remember though, to have what most people don’t have, we have to do what most people don’t do. Invest in our families and make faith a priority, each of which require a certain amount of sacrifice, but the reward is worth the effort.
You were made for community. I was made for community. We were all designed with a void that only God and family can fill. How are you doing at filling your void?
Seek God. Invest in family. Live in community. Enjoy life. And if you want, grow a killer beard.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Recently, I was having an initial conversation with a fellow believer. We were doing the usual guy-get-to-know-one-another chat. Inevitably, when two guys meet for the first time, the question always comes up, “What do you do and what is your background”? I explained I was a minister and psychotherapist, and that I was studying Apologetics. “Oh, your one of those”, he said.” I was confused, “One of those, what?” “You are one of those guys that feel like God has to be defended, but He doesn’t. God doesn’t need anyone to defend Him.”
Is that true? Is apologetics just a waste of time? Well, my newfound friend is right. God does not need anyone to defend Him. I am pretty sure God has it covered with his legions of angels, not to mention all of His attributes like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and the like. God holds the market on power and can easily defend Himself. He doesn’t need me to do anything for Him, but He does allow me to be a part of His plan.
God does not need defending. His truth also stands on it’s own. God’s truth is true regardless of whether a person wants to accept it or not. Yet, Apologetics is not about defending God. I will let God take care of Himself. Apologetics is about giving reasons for the hope that we have. Apologetics is about tearing down false ideas that obstruct people from coming to know the truth about God. Essentially, apologetics is about removing blindfolds that keep people from seeing who God is.
I am often dumbfounded when I hear Christians make the statement that Apologetics is an unnecessary discipline because God can take care of Himself. Of course God can take care of Himself. That is not up for debate. Yet, if apologetics is unnecessary, then why does God command the Christian to engage in Apologetics? Notice what scripture has to say about giving reasons for what we believe.
I Peter 3:15 is the hallmark verse commanding an apologetic lifestyle, “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 we are commanded to “demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God.” One must be able to give reasons why Christianity is true instead of the many false ideologies. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus states that we are to love God “with all of our minds.” How does one do that? By being informed about competing worldviews and employing logic to show why Christianity is the most compelling belief. We should also note that Jesus and the apostles employed Apologetics. Jesus repeatedly gave evidences and reasons, such as miracles and fulfilled prophecies, as to why people should trust His claim to be the messiah. The apostles did the same. Paul’s address at Mars Hill in Acts 17 is a brilliant apologetic!
We are commanded in Matthew 28 to go and share our faith with those around us. We are directly commanded to evangelize the world and present the good news to all we can. Apologetics is pre-evangelism. It removes obstacles so the good news can be heard!
God doesn’t need defending, but people need help making sense of the many competing ideas. We have been commanded to give a reason for the hope we have. It is only the lazy Christian that cannot give reasons for his faith. Evangelism doesn’t happen within a vacuum. It happens amidst many different subcultures. People’s background, experiences, history, education, etc. effects how they relate to the gospel. While we can never be completely prepared, we can do our best to have an understanding of our own beliefs and be able to offer a reasonable explanation of them.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Moms are a big deal. We should make sure they are celebrated more than one Sunday a year because moms (Most moms that is. I work with mother’s every now and then that don’t deserve any celebration.) shoulder incredibly responsibilities. So to all the mothers and soon-to-be mothers we salute you. Let’s have a moment of silence for all the amazing mothers……….Alright, moment over.
My wife is no exception. She is an amazing mom to our two kids. If she got a nickel for every hour of missed sleep because of our kids, she could buy us a small island in the tropics. This mother’s day was her third one to celebrate. For her first mother’s day I bought her this amazing leather bound photo book of our son with captions to her from him on each page. When she got it, she went straight to ugly cry. It was a case of daddy success!
Each year you have to step up your game a little. So guess what I got her for mother’s day last year? You ready for this? Absolutely nothing. In retrospect, I don’t know what I was thinking. I wish I could say I forgot about the holiday, but I new it was coming. I wish I could say I had the flu, but I was as healthy as a Clydesdale. I wish I could say anything other than the flimsy excuse I gave. Here was my excuse “I didn’t get a chance to do anything.”
It’s certainly true that I was extremely busy at that time. I had a lot going on. There were dozens of irons in the fire that I was juggling. Yet, Mother’s day comes around the same time every year. I knew it was coming. I had good intentions. I planned to do something, at some point, eventually.
My wife doesn’t particularly care about having expensive gifts. She just likes to feel thought about and cared for. She likes to know that I took a few seconds of my time to think about her and communicate that I care for her. So when Mother’s Day came last year, she was naturally disappointed. She felt underappreciated, and rightly so! I had good intentions, but never acted on them.
Have you ever noticed we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions, but we usually judge others by their actions? In our marriages (and every other facet of life) our intentions don’t cut the mustard (whatever that means). Good intentions are pointless. Wives don’t feel appreciated by our good intentions. Romance doesn’t flourish through our good intentions.
Its’ so easy to give ourselves a pass because our intentions were good, and then get upset with our spouses when their actions fall short. So what am I saying? We need to be fair. We need to stop using our intentions as an excuse for not acting. We also need to cut our spouse some slack at times when their actions don’t meet our expectations. We need to judge ourselves by the same standards we judge our spouse. As the truisms go, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions and actions speak louder than words.” So how are your actions talking? Are you being intentional?
This year has been even busier than last year. Work has been extremely busy. We added another baby to the mix. We are close to finishing a house. The end of school fell right on Mother’s day for me. I could whine on and on, but you get the picture. It’s busy. You can relate. You are busy too. Right? Yet this year I decided not to cop out with my “good intentions.” I decided to act. I even tried to go the extra mile and redeem myself. This year she got another photo book and some Vera Bradley (which I hear is like Lisa Frank for grown ups).
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Have you ever paused to consider the importance of words? We take them for granted, don’t we? Thousands of words pour out of our mouths on a daily basis. Sometimes they are well crafted and seasoned, while other times they are impulsive and frivolous. The use of language plays an immensely important role in our daily lives.
Language flows out from God. The world was brought into existence by divine fiat through the spoken word of God. The Genesis account repeatedly says, “Then God said.” Whatever God spoke came springing into existence. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Later, the Word, the second member of the Trinity, would become flesh and walk among us. The Good News itself is communicated to us through language. Words are the vehicle for understanding and communicating truth.
Yet, in our postmodern times, the deconstruction of language is one of the greatest ways that truth, good, and morality have come under attack. In fact, the dismantling of language is the hallmark of the postmodern worldview. We are told truth can’t be known and words carry no meaning. Mankind has used language in attempt to eradicate God, personal moral culpability, and attain autonomy and sovereignty over his own life.
Think about the ways language is twisted, distorted, and mutilated in attempt to redefine morality. Think about the ways people use language as a means to mask their agenda and motives. Hitler was a very skilled lingual craftsman. Government has used language as a tool for manipulating people throughout history. For example, taxes are redefined as “sacrifice” and health care a “universal crisis.” Hitler redefined murder as “ethnic cleansing” and it was justified as being a “health issue” for the rest of mankind. Words are powerful and they help define the way we think about ideas.
What about morality? The twisting of words is commonplace here. Suicide has become “death with dignity.” Murder is simply “a woman’s right to autonomy” or “terminating a pregnancy.” Prostitutes are “sex care providers”. Homosexuality is “an alternative lifestyle” or “being true to who one is.” Pornography is labeled as “adult entertainment” or is said to be “provocative.” Sex outside of marriage is always called “an act of love.” My, how language can be sanitized to mask mankind’s moral transgressions. We have become good at twisted words.
Under Sharia law murder is called an “honor killing.” Terrorists are often called “freedom fighters.” Illegal aliens are now “undocumented residents.” The cavalier teaching in many universities is redefined as “academic freedom.” The trend in culture to replace the sacred with the secular is called “democratic liberalism.” Even the atheists now want to be called “brights”. We have become good with toying with the meaning of words.
It was G.K. Chesterton that once said, “When somebody wishes to wage a social war against what all normal people have regarded as a social decency, the very first thing he does is to find some artificial term that shall sound relatively decent.” He captures the spirit of our day remarkably well. Truth itself is under an attack and is being murdered under the knives of our words.
People no longer use the word “sin”. It has become obsolete as well. Instead of sinning, people make “mistakes.” We are no longer sinners, simply “mistakers.” If we are no longer sinners, then we no longer have anyone to answer to. We have become our own God. Sin itself has become sanitized in attempt to free ourselves from answering to a higher power. But surely deep down we know that a mistake is forgetting to pick up that item from the grocery store, not carrying the one when handling numbers, or knocking the vase of the counter. Sin is our moral transgressions. Sin is what we do wrong. Sin is all the evil we act upon which ultimately ends in death.
The Christian must be honest. We must call things what they are. A spade must be called a spade. Sin must be called sin. We must be honest in our use of words. We must speak truth in the context of love. We must look in our own lives and not attempt to sanitize the most hideous facets of our sinful nature. Instead of trying to deny the problem, as Adam and Eve did when they covered their naked bodies with leaves, we must look to Christ to cover our sin with His blood.
We must also be reminded that another attack on language involves those that say “words have no meaning.” That is, words don’t carry their own meaning. Instead we give meaning to words. In this sense, language becomes pointless.
I was recently watching a question and answer session with a well-known academic. He has published extensively and has had several best selling books. He stated that, “Words don’t mean anything, people ascribe their own meaning to words. Truth is thus unknowable.” Then someone with some sense in the audience asked, “Then why should we buy your books if truth is unknowable and words don’t carry any meaning. What could they possibly tell us?” That is the price my fine, academic friend. Your words have killed your very argument.
Words have meaning. We don’t get the luxury of defining words in a way that is convenient for us. Language carries with it an original meaning whether we understand it or not. Scripture communicates truth to us. The original author is presenting a specific meaning. The author transmits the meaning. It is not the reader that applies his own meaning to the text.
When we attempt to deconstruct language and reconstruct it in ways that suits ourselves, we do so at a price. We are paying the price now socially, morally, and spiritually. We have torn down moral fences without giving pause to ask why they were put there in the first place.
Words have meaning. Let us not toy with them. The Christian must stand firm on truth.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Alright, admit it, the title to this blog made you want to come read it, right? What could this post possibly be about? Kill your wife? Seriously? Yup, it’s the best thing for her. Well, how do you kill someone more than once? Isn’t that impossible? No, but it’s a necessity for a healthy marriage. But it doesn’t come naturally to us guys (at least it doesn’t for most men I have known, including myself).
You see, men are hunters. We like to chase things. We are up for a good challenge. We like to set goals, devise plots plans, execute those plans flawlessly and drag the trophy home. Its just how we work. We get laser-focused intensity on a single target and we go for it with gusto. Carpe Diem!
Ladies, let me ask you, how many different hobbies has your husband had? More than one? Several you say? Why is that? Because we get interested in something, read every detail there is to know about it, try to do it as many ways as possible, make sure we are better at it than any of our friends, perfect it, and then we are done. Once we make the kill, that is, once we master it, we move on. As an aside, the reason guys play golf for decades without ever losing interest is because it’s so incredibly difficult to master the game. The challenge keeps us going back to get frustrated that we can’t put a tiny, two inch, white ball into a four inch hole.
So how does this relate to marriage? Think about the first time you saw your wife gentlemen. Your radar went off, you focused, and you accepted the challenge. She became the hunted. It became your mission to catch this wonderfully beautiful (I am assuming she was beautiful, I understand that some ladies just have good personalities, and that’s alright. But she had better be beautiful to you. Get me?) creature. So you began to study her. You spent late nights on the phone. You spent money on frivolous items. You did things that you never expected to do. You did whatever it took to “catch” the person you are married to. Congratulations, you made “the kill” and you “dragged” her home (hopefully not kicking and screaming) to live with you.
The question is, what happens next? Now that the thrill of the hunt is over what are you doing? For many men, once they make “the kill” they move on to hunt something else such as a career, hobby, or having the nicest manicured lawn in the neighborhood. This is not how it should be, however. Marriage isn’t a one-time kill. That is, the hunt never ends. Think of marriage as a catch-and-release-then-hunt-what-you-let-go type of endeavor.
When you stop hunting your wife and fail to do many of the things that let her know you appreciate her, a natural drift occurs. Other things start to seem more important than your relationship. I get it guys, life gets busy after the “I do’s”, especially when you add some kids to the mix, but if you don’t have a good marriage it soils all the other areas of your life. As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life. Hunt her daily.
We are reminded in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The word “united” is the Hebrew word dabaq. It means to catch by pursuit or to pursue hard with affection and devotion. That is our calling guys, to pursue our wives daily with sincere affection.
How are we doing here? I am sure we have good intentions, but good intentions won’t make our wives feel loved or cherished, will they? We have to hunt daily. Continually be a student of our wives, remind them the how much we care about them, and invest significantly in their lives.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Christians say dumb things. Why? Because we are human, and humans say dumb things. Sometimes we just think before we speak, or we repeat things we have heard without taking the time to articulate the thought fully. Here are some dumb things Christians say from time to time.
1. Beginning our list of dumb things Christians say is “I am praying for you.” Have you ever been listening as someone confides in you with their current struggles or difficulties and responded with “I will be praying for you” and then went on without ever uttering a single word of prayer? Yea? Me too! It has almost become a catch word for us as Christians. We say it when we don’t know what else to say. We say it to let the person know that we care and empathize with them. We want others to know that we love them. We should definitely be communicating care, empathy, and love to others. What we should not do is say we will be praying and then fail to pray.
We need to pray for others, and we should strive to do so. It keeps us from being so focused on ourselves and we are told we can petition God for anything. Instead of simply saying “I am praying” we need to be sure we are actually praying. When it comes to praying for others we can pray on the spot with them, pray after we finish our conversation, or write down the request for later. But let’s not make the dumb statement of I am praying for you when we aren’t really serious about it. Deal?
2. “The King James Version is the only version you should read.” Why is that? If you specifically love thithers and thou’s you can certainly read until your heart’s delight, but some people struggle with the antiquated language. Now, don’t get me wrong, this version is a very strong literal translation, but at the expense of communicating the thought at times. Some treat the King James Version of the Bible as though it is the original manuscript, when it is just another translation.
There are other very good translations of the Bible as well. The English Standard Version and Holman are translations I greatly enjoy. Some translations are more literal, that is, the translation is word for word. At the other end of the spectrum is thought for thought. The translator paraphrases the original manuscript in order to get the thought across to modern readers. Both of these have their place. Some Christians get huffy about paraphrastic translations, but it’s funny when you read many of the apostle’s quotations of the Old Testament they often paraphrase the verse they quote. The point is that we actually open our Bibles and read them. So let’s do that!
3. “God doesn’t respond to email, but he does respond to kneemail.”Why does this make the list of dumb things Christians say? Well, because it is dumb. It’s cheesy. It’s cutesy. Along with this you can take about 90% of the cheesy sayings that grace a multitude of church marquees. Maybe you think I am being a little uptight, and maybe I am. But I can be a cheezy person. I like to have fun. I say silly things all the time. I make up goofy songs to the annoyance and chagrin of my wife, but I don’t do it under the umbrella of Christianity. Can Christians have fun? Well, I certainly hope so! Yet, I think we need to let the outside world see our grace in love in action instead of taking the time to come up with dumb sayings. Many people outside the faith believe that Christians are simpletons. Do we have to perpetuate that stereotype by saying dumb things or cheesy truisms? If we need to put things on church signs can we make it something thought provoking, the times our services begin, Bible verses or quotes that cause one to think? Please?
We all say dumb things. Christians are no exception. Let’s just do our best to learn from dumb things we say and not repeat them. Shall we?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
For the Christian, Apologetics is a necessity. In the pluralistic, hodge-podge-of-beliefs culture that we live in, one must always be ready with an answer. The Christian is ever presented with ideas that attempt to challenge the credibility of theism or cast Christianity in a disparaging light. Indeed, to say that apologetics is important would be an understatement. It does much to bolster the faith of the believer, while empowering them to share their faith. It also serves as pre-evangelism because it tears down false ideas that might obstruct the truth in someone’s mind.
Granted, some believers feel a greater calling to invest themselves more heavily when it comes to defending the Christian faith, but all believers should be prepared to give an adequate defense of their faith in Christ, theologically, historically, and philosophically. If one cannot articulate and defend their own beliefs, it places them on uneven, or even shifting, ground when it comes to sharing their faith with others. Worse, their own faith may be shaken when presented with evidence by skeptics or when life deals them something unsettling.
Yet, when it comes to developing one’s defense it is easy to be lazy. Giving a strong apologetic requires much study, thought, and discussion. I think we can all say that it is easy to be lazy in this area. Yet, thankfully, many Christians rigorously devote themselves to defending the truth of Christianity. It is here, that we need to be reminded that the hard working apologist that is diligent to study can also find himself being lazy, relationally lazy.
Sometimes, it is hard to find the balance. Apologetics is not just a cognitive endeavor; it is intended to be a highly relational pursuit. The idea behind apologetics is to know truth, understand that truth to one’s best capacity, grow in the faith (both intellectually and experientially), build close relationships with others, and present that truth to them within the context of that relationship.
In many ways, Christianity has gotten relationally sloppy. We make evangelism a cognitive exercise. “Just present the truth.” “If they don’t like the truth that is there problem.” “They just don’t want to hear the truth.” These sorts of phrases smack of laziness. Sure, sometimes the truth is uncomfortable, but it is bearable, even if disagreeable, within the context of a close relationship. Within apologetics, one is forced to walk a tightrope between truth and love. We are reminded in Ephesians 4:15 to present truth, coupled with love. Truth and love are inextricably linked together and find their ultimate expression within the confines of close relationships with the people around us.
The apologist will find that his efforts yield meager results outside of sharing truth with love within close relationships. As a matter of fact, 71% of individuals who come to know Christ say that it was due to the efforts of an individual, and less than .05% came to know Christ through tracts, radio, or television. We cannot strictly make apologetics a cognitive endeavor and marginalize the relational significance.
The apologist has much to overcome if he wants the precious truth of Christianity to be heard. In 1996, 15% of unbelievers said they had a bad impression of Christianity. In 2007, those who viewed Christianity unfavorably leaped to 38%! That is a tremendously large shift in just 10 years!
We should note that 85% of non-church goers view Christianity as hypocritical while, get this, of people that do go to church, 47% say they believe Christianity is hypocritical! Only 20% of non-Christians believe that churches are loving environments, while less than 50% of church goers believe their church demonstrates unconditional love! This is a problem!
No one will listen to our truth unless they first see our love lived out daily in their lives. As Christians, and apologists, we have a lot to overcome before the truth even gets a hearing. And it is interesting, because people never had a problem with Jesus’ attitude or behavior, but there were certainly those who had a problem with his teachings and convictions. Today, there are those that resist Christianity due to the moral limitations it places on their lives, but I dare say a great many people push back due to the attitude and behavior of the Christian! Is it possible that Christianity needs an attitude adjustment and a reminder that Christianity is relational to its very core?
Here we should again look to the Apostle Paul. He writes in the familiar I Corinthians 13:1, “If I speak in the tonguesof men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” We may be well versed in scripture, be familiar with the right questions, and have our philosophy perfectly logically valid, but if we don’t have love for other people then we are just making noise. If we aren’t seriously investing into the lives of people around us we are just making a sound.
A cymbal sounds wonderful when crafted into a drum solo or song, but played repeatedly by itself it becomes increasingly annoying. As Christians, if our truth isn’t crafted into the context of strong relationships and presented with love, then we become annoying and affirm what many say about Christianity. That is a tragedy.
We must walk the tightrope well. Apologetics is certainly highly cognitive, but it is also incredibly relational! People will not care what we know until they legitimately believe that we care. Invest in people and speak the truth in love.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
The Barna Group recently published some new findings that we as Christians should be privy to. While 7 out of 10 Americans identify themselves as “Christians”, one can quickly see by looking at the research that there are some deep theological and lifestyle problems. While many label themselves as Christians it seems apparent that it could be in namesake only. You can read the full article here.
What are your reactions to these figures? Let us know!
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.