Church Jerks

Just finished reading a biography of Isaac Newton. Newton refrained from publishing most of his works because he did not want to argue about them. In fact, most of his publishing occurred after the deaths of guys who always argued with him!

That cracks me up. Anyway, here is a quote from Newton on the manner in which people argue and what to beware of:

“What’s done before many witnesses is seldom without some further concern than that for truth: but what passes between friends in private usually deserves the name of consultation rather than contest.”

In other words: beware of guys who always argue in public.

Over my years as pastor I have seen this phenomena many times. Guys who are nice to you in private, never argue about anything, are quite pleasant even, will rip you to shreds in front of a group.

When this occurs, know that the one ripping you to shreds is not interested in truth, not interested in getting a question answered, they are up to “other things.” Newton knew it and he was one smart guy.

My pastoral advice for this situation is to not get sucked in. Let them say their piece and discreetly move on. No sense arguing when the point they are arguing has nothing to do with the point they are arguing. It’s an attempt to drag you down.

I figure, let em show their dominance, get it over with and move on. Most observers see what’s happening anyway and will grant you much greater respect for not partaking in the silliness of it all.

It’s too bad churches are filled with this sort of goofiness, but alas, they are. Even so, come quickly.

Newton’s Law Of Christian Unity

Isaac Newton once wrote, “Plato is my friend — Aristotle is my friend — but my greatest friend is truth.”

By this he meant that his teachers, although wrong on some things, were still his friends. He was willing to maintain friendship and even credit them with much of his learning, but he would part with them as truth did.

Seems like a great way to view our Christian growth. Many people help us grow and teach us bits and pieces of truth. They should be commended and respected for doing so. But people are people and we’re all wrong on something.

Where truth differs from your guys: go with truth. There is no need to conclude they are heretic scum. Respect them for where they brought you and continue to press toward the mark of what we have not yet apprehended. If this were heeded how much more unity would be in the church today?

Fear Not Every Day

There’s a new stupid illustration making its way around Christianity. This one is really dumb because with modern technology it takes about 12 seconds to verify its accuracy.

The new stupid illustration goes like this:

“The Bible tells us to fear not. In fact, the Bible says “fear not” 365 times. It says “fear not” 365 times because God knew we needed to hear it every day.”

I heard this one and my immediate response was, “there’s no way.” First of all, I have read the Bible enough to know it just wasn’t in there that many times.

Second, the Jewish year does not have 365 days in it! The calendar the guys who wrote the Bible used didn’t have that many days. A typical “we are the Western world and the universe revolves around us” attitude on display.

Again, verify your illustrations lest you undermine the authority and accuracy of The Message.

Spiritual Growth and Sin

I heard a lecture on spiritual growth where the speaker said that as believers grow they become increasingly aware of their sin. Along with an increasing awareness of their sin comes an increasing sorrow over that fact.

He cites the Apostle Paul as an example of this trend by pointing to statements made by Paul regarding his opinion of his sin in relation to when he wrote them. Observe.

1 Corinthians 15:9 (ad 59) “For I am the least of the apostles”
Ephesians 3:8 (ad 64) “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints”
1 Timothy 1:15 (ad 65) “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

The progression goes from–the least of the apostles–to the least of all saints–to the chief of sinners. This could be coincidental or it could be a pretty cool observation.

For Such Is the What Now?

I was asked the following “theological question” today:

We are really worried that God says the kingdom of heaven is made of such as these – which would be children. Which is scaring us. Really? It’s just a mental ward up there? Please advise.

The verse causing the concern is Mark 10:14, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

The answer to the question is what Jesus means by “the little children.” I think, based on the way Jesus uses “little children,” or “the least of these,” He is referring to true believers rather than kids.

Children demonstrate childlike faith, which is why they can sleep in the car when their mom is driving while dad is double checking his seatbelt every 15 seconds. That’s called “childlike faith.” That is the example for believers in how to trust God.

So when Jesus says it’s better to have a millstone hung around your neck than to offend a little one, He isn’t talking about offending kids, He’s talking about offending believers.

Therefore, the Kingdom of God is not made up of children actual, but children metaphorical. In Christ, we are the children of God. The verse that should truly concern you would be Matthew 19:29. Yikes. All the motivation I need to not forsake my kids.

Mary Magdalene and Love

Mary Magdalene loved Jesus. She was one of the last ones hanging around after the crucifixion to see where they laid His body. She was the first one to the tomb on resurrection day. Her love made her stick with Jesus to the end and keep hoping there was a new beginning.

Mary also demonstrated her love when she poured the costly perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair.

Something tremendous had happened between Jesus and Mary. Our over-sexualized culture sees this relationship and assumes it must be sexual. There’s no way a man and a woman could love each other like this without a sexual component.

I find this to be sick as well as a total misunderstanding of how great it is to have your sins forgiven. Mary had seven devils in her and Jesus healed her, set her free and Mary’s life changed.

“To whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Realizing the depth of your sin and the depth of God’s grace is the impetus of a great love like Mary’s.

Miracles and Faith

One of the most appealing aspects of miracles is that they do not require any faith to observe. Anyone can see when a miracle took place.

Nicodemus in John 3 acknowledged the miracles Christ did and knew that God was working through Jesus. But he wasn’t born again, he wasn’t a true believer.

The world celebrates miracles all the time from little kids getting rescued from wells and airplanes landing on rivers. It’s amazing, anyone can see it, it requires no faith.

As soon as a miracle is equated with faith then we have false faith. Seeing a miracle is not proof you are a believer. Seeing is not believing, it’s the exact opposite, in fact.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?