Pet Peeve Month: Christians Who Are Always Peeved About Something

I once lived in a glass house.

It was pretty nice at times, lots of sunlight, but it tended to be drafty in winter and taking showers was awkward.

One day it shattered when a rock hit it.

February is over and I am done. It’s been fun. It has indeed made the month go faster and I enjoyed it but am also glad it’s over. It’s better to be for things than against them.

To all those who were offended that I was peeved at something you do, don’t worry about it: I’m peeved with myself on a daily basis and as I’ve learned over and over, my opinion matters very little. I get peeved as a source of entertainment. Life goes on. Relax, plenty more serious things to worry about out there, like people who buy bottled water. Seriously? You don’t have faucets and reusable containers near you?

Oh wait, there I go again. Relax.

March onward and upward!

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Ranking Sin
Sin
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
Coexisting
Christian Parents
Christian Success
Creationism
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: Pastors and Sex

Couple things on this subject.

1) Lately it has been a fad for pastors to talk about having a better marital sex life. I really have no idea what this has to do with anything, but it has swept the country in the last year or so. The Bible does indeed talk about sex, but usually as incidental to the story. There is no sex advice in the Bible, nor is your sex life used as any sort of a point for anything remotely close to a measure of the health of your marriage or your faith. The Song of Solomon is not advice about sex. I preached the Song of Solomon and, quite frankly, it’s just a weird book. It was not written for you and your spouse to have 30 days of great sex.

2) On the flip side, there are the pastors who view all sex as bad and if it does come up it’s in relation to homosexuals and teenagers. A classic example from Church History is Augustine who said our sexual desire was, “a disease–a wound inflicted on nature through the treacherous counsel given by the Devil–a vice of nature–a deformity–an evil that comes from the depravity of our nature which is vitiated by sin.” Augustine saw all sex as bad. This has created many a conflicted person who can’t figure out what to do with those weird sensations welling up within them that can’t be thwarted. Am I merely evil scum who shouldn’t be feeling this way? This “sex is evil” or the denial of the existence of sex is as equally unhealthy as an obsession with enjoying it.

3) What is up with pastors always talking about their “smoking hot wives?” I mean seriously. What do you hope to achieve with such statements? Do you want men checking out your wife? Do you want other women to hate your wife? Do you think others are not aware of the smokingness of your wife already that they must be informed? I mean, seriously, everyone knows if your wife is smoking hot or not, and generally it just makes everyone uncomfortable. Name for me one other profession where you have heard the professional discuss the relative hotness of ones wife? You can’t. Pastors: shut up about your hot wife.

4) Your sex life is not a major issue with God. Your sex life is an outflow of your spiritual health. If you are spiritually healthy more than likely you won’t have sex problems. Focusing on the sex issue because you know it will make you seem cool, attract more attention to your otherwise boring sermons, or whatever fleshly point you are hoping to achieve, is missing the point. Focus on the spiritual health of a relationship and the physical aspect will generally take care of itself. Don’t put the cart before the horse. Don’t treat the symptom over the disease.

5) There are kids out there in the audience, which means be respectful of the subject. Don’t turn it into a standup routine. At the same time, most kids have seen more sex during one hour of watching commercials during football games than you did the first 15 years of your life. They are rather well informed. Don’t treat them as if they don’t know what’s going on. If the world is screaming at them, there is nothing wrong with respectfully dealing with the subject and giving the Bible’s take on it. Treat it with respect and dignity, the exact opposite of how the world treats it.

6) The world makes sex the point of any male-female relationship as though it’s some sort of nirvana state. At the same time, they treat it as worthless and cheap. It’s an odd combination. Sex is for marriage. Marriage sex is for making babies and for enjoyment. When I was first married, a married guy explained the sexual part of marriage to me like this, “It’s like going to the beach–It’s one more enjoyable thing you can do with your wife.” It’s not the all and end all of marriage. It’s one part of a whole. Keep it that way.

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Ranking Sin
Sin
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
Coexisting
Christian Parents
Christian Success
Creationism
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: Christians and Alcohol

Alcohol can be a nasty thing, but it is also just a thing waiting to see what you’ll do with it. Christians take up two annoying camps on the issue of alcohol:

Camp 1) Alcohol is horrible! If you even go to a grocery store that has a liquor department you are supporting the antichrist and are destined for hell! Jesus didn’t turn water into wine, because wine back then was just grape juice, it was impossible to get drunk on it. If you drink alcohol, you can’t be filled with the Spirit, Bible says so.

Camp 2) Alcohol is the bomb-diggity! I drink alcohol so much that alcohol is practically my middle name. Alcohol alcohol alcohol. I talk about alcohol. I dream about alcohol. I have alcohol in my pocket. I have alcohol in my fridge and alcohol in my basement and when I go to eat with other Christians I purposely order mixed drinks of alcohol so I make everyone feel as uncomfortable as possible as I talk about my mixed drink of alcohol as though it’s no big deal and aren’t you all dumb for staying away from alcohol. Alcohol. Alcohol. I love me some alcohol.

Both camps are highly irritating. Camp One is irritating because alcohol is not forbidden in the Bible. Jesus did indeed make wine and drank it at the last supper. Wine was not merely grape juice and it was capable of making you drunk, which is why the Bible says, “Be not drunk with WINE.” Alcohol back then was much safer than water. It’s what they drank.

I admire people who have standards and avoid alcohol. I admire people who try not to do business at places that offend them. God, in fact, specially blessed a family for their commitment to avoid drinking wine. At the same time, personal standards should be kept personal, not bragged about and used to bludgeon others.

Some of the least cited verses in the Bible are Proverbs 31:6-7, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” The Bible is giving sanction to let certain people get drunk. Apparently we skip these verses to more quickly get to judging women for not being Proverbs 31 women.

On to Camp Two. Although Proverbs gives the OK to let certain people get drunk, the Bible is filled with commands not to get drunk. Not getting drunk is different from not drinking any alcohol. Drinking alcohol appears to be just fine, as long as you are in control, so Camp Two has a point.

However, they do the same stupid that Camp One does and turns their liberty into a flaunt before others. What is it about alcohol that turns people into joking like junior highers? I’ve seen this so many times to know it’s not coincidental. Otherwise mature and respectable people will turn into joking, dorky 13-year olds upon seeing a bottle of beer. What gives?

Paul said he wouldn’t eat meat ever again if he knew it offended someone. People know alcohol is a touchy subject, that being the case, keep it to yourself. Keep it at home. Don’t flaunt it. When you’re with other Christians, don’t turn into a dork, shoving your umbrella drink under everyone’s nose.

To both camps: Be like an ice cold beer and chill.

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Ranking Sin
Sin
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
Coexisting
Christian Parents
Christian Success
Creationism
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: Holy Spiritless Christianity

God is a spirit. The Holy Spirit is not an off-shoot of God, He is God! The Holy Spirit is also not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is not a force or an energy; He is the person of God.

The Holy Spirit gets muddled with lots of “stuff” so that, in general, most believers get uncomfortable even talking about Him. One branch of Christianity sees the Spirit as being present or absent based on emotions. Another branch sees the Spirit present or absent based on head-knowledge.

In the end, both pick an element and make it the whole.

The Holy Spirit is what makes Christianity unique. No other religion claims that God takes residence in a person. The closest some heathen scum get is to say we become gods, but this is actually vastly different. It’s not that we are raised up to be gods; it’s that God humbles Himself to indwell us to live through us!

If we only had a clue what it meant to be “partakers of the divine nature!” Of what it means that I am crucified with Christ, it is no more I who lives but Christ who lives in me!”

The Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in you, He is the divine nature. He is the newness of life. He is the embodiment of the law written in our hearts.

Manifestations of God in you are varied, from emotions such as joy, peace, hope to practical applications of God’s divine power in the exercise of gifts and the growth of fruit. There is no hope to teach or learn from the Word of God apart from the Spirit.

We are ever dependent on the Spirit, yet He gets so little playtime in our churches, unless it’s the breathy worship leader trying to “bring us into His presence,” whatever that means (what happened to omnipresence and us being the temple of the Holy Spirit?).

Are our prayers in the Spirit? Are we asking to be filled with the Spirit? Are we calling on the Spirit to mortify the deeds of our flesh? Are we relying on Him to teach, guide and direct us? Are we getting us out of the way, so as not to grieve and quench His work?

We are comfortable being the captain of our own ship, we don’t like someone else being the pilot (which is why Jesus has usually been relegated to co-pilot, this makes it sound like we still have the wheel).

But it is my contention, based on my reading of Scripture, that we can do nothing apart from the Spirit, but with the Spirit all that God asks of us is possible.

You’re not on your own! Don’t cut off the Spirit’s work because you think God’s commands are impossible, impractical, annoying, outdated, or whatever other dumb excuse your flesh is using to war against the Spirit.

There are two things that the Bible says God promises to give to all who ask for it: wisdom and the Spirit. Ask for more! Be like Elisha and go ahead and ask the impossible: ask for a double portion! You can never have too much of the infinite God.

Pet Peeve Month: Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself

Over my years around Christians I have heard many long to “go deeper” with God or “go higher” with God. In all honesty, I do not really know what this means. I don’t even know if those who say it know what they mean.

I have no particular thing against those who would like more of God, I’m all for it. I am, however, against those who have to tell everyone about it. (In my experience it is usually college age people who say these things, this may be for any number of reasons).

It seems to me those who blather on about “wanting more of God” and desiring to “seek His face” and various other Christianese phrases, really don’t want more of God, they just want you to know they think they are better than you.

Now, right off, let me state that I am casting a judgment here. The Bible doesn’t tell me not to judge, it warns me that I’ll be judged the same way. I am setting myself up, no doubt. However, I can confidently say I have never publicly uttered these phrases in my life, so I feel I am one who has not crossed this line so am in a position to share my judgment.

I could be wrong. someone will undoubtedly inform me.

It seems to me someone who truly desired to want more of God wouldn’t pause to tell everyone and would just go straight to God with it. Why talk about what you want with God instead of going and getting it?

I don’t have a problem with someone telling me this, as in a personal conversation, but general, for the public statements, things like “I can’t come with you guys on Friday, I’m setting my heart to seek God” are what I’m referring to.

When Jesus said to look happy when you fast, to give so your right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing, or to pray in a closet, He meant not to do religious looking things for show.

I’m glad you want to go deeper or higher, wherever it is you think God is in relation to you, just keep it to yourself and go do it. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him; those who make a show of seeking Him get a reward too, and it’s not more of God.

Pet Peeve Month: Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others

Some of my pet peeves of the last month have been a bit facetious, a tad opinion-based rather than actual, real problems. I assure you, I am not equally stirred up about each of these!

That being the case, I can assure you the pet peeve of today legitimately gets me fired up. The reason why is because actual eternity hangs in the balance with it.

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This is one of the central verses I repeat all the time in my sermons. The Scriptures are our source of faith. We walk by faith and not by sight, which means our eyes are not our guide.

God’s Word is heard with the ears (unless, of course, you are reading it to yourself, but come on, work with me). This means that our one standard for living is God’s Word and cannot then be anything we see.

If God had never said anything there would be no reason for faith.

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because we can only please God if we know what God wants. He has told us and faith is what we use to figure it out and do it.

OK, the last 7 sentences have all said the same thing so that we are clear on this point–faith is evidenced by how we listen to God, not by anything our eyes show us.

So, when God’s Word says to flee fornication and worldly lusts, to give away our stuff and money, to not be entangled with the affairs of the world, to put off lying, covetousness, slander, gossip, that all who live godly will suffer persecution, and so many other proofs the Bible gives of whether you are saved or not, do we hear this?

I have heard many Christians respond to such notions with the idea, “Well, my mom never did that, and she died and went to heaven, so I’m good.” Or, “No one in my church does that and they’re all saved.” Or, “I never went through any of that and I know I’m saved.”

We compare ourselves to others, rather than God’s Word.

It’s easy to see why we do this–God’s Word is a steep standard whereas other people are pretty easy to surpass in our minds.

But who is the Judge? As Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

What is your salvation based on? It is ingrained in us that we are saved by faith, sola fide. Yet we continue to base our salvation on so many other things.

This dooms people. “But to this man will I [the LORD] look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Do we tremble at His Word or do we console ourselves by comparing ourselves between ourselves?

I can’t let it go without saying–hear His Word and tremble and run to Him for grace to help in time of need.

Pet Peeve Month: PMS and the Gospel

There is a commercial on TV with a pleasant enough looking woman saying, “It’s time to get real about what goes on in the bathroom.” No, my dear, it isn’t. It is never that time.

I have noticed an upfrontness with women concerning their “women issues.” PMS is the frequent subject of jokes. Menopause is mentioned to me more often than I care to hear.

More than likely I am setting myself up for attacks as being a prude or something, but I really would be just fine if I went the rest of my life without hearing women talk about their PMS or menopause. There are three women in my house, I understand the issue just fine.

I don’t just say this as an opinion, I would like to make a biblical point, one I’ve never heard made before, but in all honesty, someone has to do it.

If you read the Pentateuch, the five books of Moses, you will come across laws about PMS. A woman is unclean while going through it and isn’t supposed to touch stuff. There are things she is to do (sacrifice and washing) to return to ceremonial cleanliness.

Now I would like to point out that I do not believe women are bound to these sacrifices and washings any longer. Christ’s death on the cross has made a huge difference as far as our priest, temple, sacrifice and cleanliness go.

What I would like to point out is that PMS is one of those things on this planet Christ died for. Anytime there is a sacrifice for something, it is pointing to redemption in Christ needed because of that thing.

Just as we now take a light view of sin, our sexual desires, alcohol or other unredeemed common things, I think PMS/menopause flippancy is the same manifestation of the general crude nature of our society.

When Christian women sink to the level of joking about their PMS or menopause to another man, especially a man they aren’t related to, dignity has been chucked.

I do not in any way mean to demean women or the particular physical struggles of womanhood. It is a result of the pains of the curse Eve received and it is yet another manifestation of the results of sin Christ died to redeem. Men have their own issues they need to shut up about–farting, for instance.

As a Christian man, I beg you Christian women to please, please, please, restore biblical femininity and dignity in this area.

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Ranking Sin
Sin
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
Coexisting
Christian Parents
Christian Success
Creationism
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: Ranking Sin

Christians are under the impression that certain things we do are wrong.

This is somewhat amazing that this message has been communicated!

Modern Christianity is more about love and grace, usually long before anyone has talked about why we need love and grace, and how it’s actually a miracle that God offers such things to us.

Sin required the sacrificial death of the Son of God. It’s kind of a big deal.

So, even though we’ve tried our hardest to ignore sin and pretend people are actually pretty good, the message has snuck through–sin is bad.

Well, that’s hardly any fun! But since the sin-filled cat is out of the bag, we sort of have to deal with it. OK, so sin is bad. But, what is “bad”? Surely my bad is not as bad as your bad.

Well, it is and stop calling me Shirley.

Instead of dealing with that, Christians rank sins, focusing in on the worstest ones, barely mentioning the more “innocent” brands of sin we do, and particularly only bashing the sins I am never tempted to do.

Homosexuality, abortion, holocausting, forms of music I don’t listen to, games I don’t enjoy playing, forms of entertainment I do not find amusing, addictions I am not tempted by, etc.

We take the sins we don’t have a proclivity for and prop those up as The Big Ones. All that stuff about lying, gossip, covetousness and course jesting, well, that might not be exactly right, but it’s not like it’s sin sin.

We rank our way into innocence, justifying our little sins that barely make a squeak next to the world’s roaring offenses.

The main problem with minimizing your sin is that you end up minimizing grace and forgiveness, love and mercy, and the cross of Christ becomes incidental.

Homosexuality, abortion, holocausting and all those other things you don’t do are indeed sin because the Bible says they are (unless, of course, God is doing the holocausting, as in the case of the Assyrians, but why muddy the moral waters?), but so is all that other stuff we skip over in our haste to bash the heathens among us.

Sin is bad. They may have degrees of effect on others, but sin is sin. Remember, creation suffered the Curse because Adam and Eve ate a piece of fruit! It’s not like creation fell on account of homosexuals painting the garden rainbow colors.

Nope, it was for eating a piece of fruit. Disobeying a command of God is bad, no matter how bad you think it is.

“Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?”

Pet Peeve Month: Sin

At the root of my pet peeves is sin. Sin either in what is going on that annoys me, or sin in me that is riled up for some selfish reason. I do not deny either cause.

Sin, then, is the author of all pet peeves.

If sin were removed from my life, I’d totally be cool with that! If all my sin were sucked away and no sin was allowed to exist in the known world, wow! What a life!

It is, in fact, one of my main desires in going to heaven–to enjoy righteousness forevermore.

Or so I like to say.

But if all sin on earth were gone, perhaps that would be annoying too!Adam and Eve found sinless perfection on this planet annoying–God is holding out on us! Lack of sin became a pet-peeve.

If sin were removed, that extra cookie I really don’t need would go uneaten. I doubt the NFL would be in existence. More than likely the music and entertainment industries would be eliminated. The preservatives and chemicals that make Doritos and Dr. Pepper oh so good might be eliminated as being destructive to creation, thus disabling Doritos and Dr. Pepper manufacture. The horrors!

We are inundated with sin. We’re immersed in a sinful system, one that has taken root in who we are. If it were gone, I don’t even know that you and I and life would be recognizable.

The only way we can truly live free from sin is if our bodies are free from this fallen, sin-corrupted world. Resurrection is supposed to be a main theme of our Christianity, yet you’ll find it gets very little air time.

Sin is annoying. Resurrection is our only hope. I know someone who rose again who has the power to raise you up, too. You need Jesus Christ very badly. I only wish we knew how badly.

Pet Peeve Month: Paul, Grace and Law

Grace and Law are two sides of the same coin. Law points out God’s standard of righteousness and was revealed so that every mouth would be stopped. You can have your mouth stopped on judgment day or you can voluntarily stop it now by admitting your guilt and asking for grace, freely provided through Christ.

There is a notion that Paul was so fixated on grace that law was of no importance to him. That Paul brought in new teaching about law and grace, so much so, that your dealing with law makes people think you have fallen from grace.

This is not true. Law and grace have been working together for a long time. People under the law were never saved by works of the law. People have always been saved by grace through faith.

Everyone who has been saved has been saved as Abraham–by faith. Our job is to be children of Abraham, children of the promise.

Paul says that the law is holy, just and good. Paul says we fulfill the law. Paul says we have been made the righteousness of the law. Paul says the man of God rejoices in the law of God.

When Paul was preaching, Jews accused him of being against the law. Over and over again Paul refutes this accusation by saying that no, what he does is preach the fulfillment of the law, he preaches fully what the law hinted at–Acts 24:14; 26:22; 28:23.

Paul is not inventing a new way of salvation. He is emphasizing Christ’s fulfillment of the law’s types and prophecies and the fuller understanding of righteousness and salvation that Christ brings.

Paul is also mainly speaking to a Gentile audience. He is explaining how and why the Jewish Messiah holds importance for Gentiles, who largely were ignorant concerning Jewish Messianic expectations and their law.

Does Paul reveal new things? Absolutely, namely the mystery of believers joined in the body of Christ. But he does not reveal a new way of salvation.

As Paul says, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.”

If anyone could be saved by works of the law, then there was no point for Christ to have come. The law’s point was that no one could do it, Christ was the fulfillment, not you and your awesomeness, and salvation is not by works of the law but by the hearing of faith.

It is only by faith, which works by love, can we fulfill the law. Love is the fulfilling of the law. Christ was the embodiment of love. He fulfilled the law. Believers are placed into the Body of Christ, becoming embodiments of love and thus fulfill the law!

The notion that Jews were saved by works, so thank God Paul told Gentiles we only have to believe, is off the mark. Belief is all that anyone ever had to do! Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved–this was originally written in the Old Testament and is quoted in the New! It applies for all time.

Faith then always leads to people fulfilling the righteousness of the law. In the OT this was seen primarily by the externals of their sacrificial, priestly worship and in the New it is seen specifically by the fruit of the Spirit, summed up with love.

Pet Peeve Month: Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away

Young people have no idea what they are doing. To make matters worse, while they go about not knowing what they are doing, they think they know everything. This is a recipe for disaster.

Your kids might leave the church. It’s not the end of the world necessarily. As I said yesterday, I left church for several years and I turned out just fine. That should make you feel better!

It is tempting to blame others for your struggles. Often I have heard the church attacked as the reason someone’s kid went off the deep end.

Bashing the church is easy. Much of the bashing is well-deserved; much of the bashing has been handed out by me. Judgment begins with the house of God.

But no matter how awful things may be, everyone is accountable for what they do. We will not stand before God with all those we point fingers at. Adam was confronted and he pointed to Eve, and Eve pointed to the serpent and all three got cursed. Why? Because all three are responsible even if there were grains of truth in each accusation (note this all occurred when things were perfect!).

This recent blog post lists ten reasons why your child has left the church. I actually like this post and agree with every point (with the possible exception of point 2, but I might be missing his point there).

But note that nowhere in the list of top ten reasons why your child left church do we see anything about your child! In other words, your child leaving the church has nothing to do with the child, but it all has to do with the church.

Now, I will grant that the post is to note things the church can do to help (and also note it’s about the reasons those who left gave for their leaving! They all see themselves as the victim), and again, I do agree with his points. But let us not forget that people are sinners. Never forget that people in their teens and 20’s basically have no clue, while assuming they have every mystery solved. I was there and most honest adults will admit the same.

Kids are going to grow up and make mistakes. They will do things not the way we want them to. The best church in the world will still have a percentage of youth going nuts.

What those who have walked away don’t need is

1) Being given excuses as to why their rebellion is actually virtuous by blaming everyone but them.
2) Complete freaked-out-ness by parents badgering them to come back, as this will fantastically drive them further away.
3) Impatience with their uncertainties.
4) You demanding conformity with all your pretty notions.
5) You supporting all their strawmen they have made to justify their own sense of guilt.

What these people do need is

1) Grace and love, mixed in with a timely metaphorical kick in the teeth with truth,
2) A steady example of faithfulness, your own steady growth on display
3) A constant emphasis on Christ, His righteous, compassionate life, His sacrificial death and His powerful resurrection and the promise of resurrection life now to all who believe to set them free from sin
4) They need your time and your openness so they feel free to ask questions, and it’s helpful if you know answers spoken with grace
5) They need to be reminded that everything they do is their responsibility and that they will stand before God someday.

This is not an easy subject and contains many variables. A person’s wandering from church because of sexual abuse by a pastor needs different treatment than the guy who is merely annoyed because the pastor’s daughter didn’t go to prom with him.

Be discerning enough to know what’s really going on. In my experience growing up with and knowing many youth who have left the faith, most young people leave the church because sin is great fun and they’ve not been allowed to try it. That’s it. It’s a rampant selfishness that we see in ourselves as well.

There’s only one answer for that: By faith be crucified and raised up with Christ, and we’re each accountable to respond to that message.

Pet Peeve Month: “The Call” To Ministry

When I left home for college, I did not go to church for two years, and that might be generous. The reason I did not go to church for several years (probably more accurate than “two years.”) is because I was sick of church.

As a pastor’s kid, I was in church constantly. While at church I had to talk to people and sweep floors and set up tables and babysit people’s kids who peed on me, and all manner of other things, while football and baseball games were going on that I never got to enjoy. And, to top it all off, I saw my dad get put through the ringer for it all.

I have a love/hate relationship with church. If you had asked me in high school, “Jeff, what do you want to do for a living?” My stock answer was, “I’m not sure, but I know I don’t want to be a pastor.”

Yup, I actually said that. Then, after skipping church for a couple years and pursuing majors in broadcasting and Bible, it hit me, “Oh no. No. Please no. I have to be a pastor.”

It was a horrible thing and yet I can remember it clear as day. I remember talking to my dad about it. I went home for break and he took me out to breakfast at a little restaurant near my bank and I said, “Um Dad, I think I’m supposed to be a pastor.”

He looked up from his biscuits and gravy and said, “Oh Jeff, don’t do it.”

As we talked about it, he eventually said, “Don’t do it Jeff, but if you have to, you have to. I understand”

Well, I had to. I changed my major and made plans for seminary.While at seminary we all had to take a personality test to see what denomination we would best fit into (yeah, I had many pet peeves about seminary). Later we met with a counselor to go over our results. I remember the guy looking at my test and then saying, “Well, Jeff, you do not have the personality of a pastor.”

I believe my answer was somewhat along the lines of, “Oh praise God!”

One summer break from seminary my wife and I, who was a teacher, stayed with my grandparents while my grandpa was sick. During this time, people from his church he was pastor at, asked if I would fill in for him.

I did and preached four times or so. That fall my grandpa died and the church asked if I would come be their pastor. I was ready for this and totally done with school. So, here I am, 13 years later, still pastor of the church my grandpa started.

I’m a vastly different guy from my youth in church, my church-skipping days of college, my seminary days and my early pastoring days where I thought I knew what I was doing.

Over the years people have asked me if I “Had a call to the ministry.”

I don’t know what that means really. I had no Damascus Road moment, no vision of God’s back while I hid among boulders, or anything like that. I know what happened in college and the absolute assurance that I was going to be a pastor.

Was this God’s call? Was this more to do with the fact that the broadcasting major intimidated me too much? Was this the easy way out? A nice way to get a job by nepotism?

Part of me half-expects when I stand before the Lord, He’ll say, “Um, Jeff? What was with the pastor thing? Did you not hear your dad or the counselor from seminary?”

Why do pastors get a “call” and mechanics and hair dressers don’t? What is this notion of vocational calling? Where is this in the Bible? What do non-pastors think pastors should experience that lets them know pastors should be pastors?

I don’t know. I’m doing what I’m doing, and by the grace of others, I continue to get paid to read the Bible and talk about it. I am forever grateful and I hope my understanding of things can be of use to others.

I’m not the world’s greatest pastor. I’m too impatient. Too shy. Too pet-peeved. But I’m also growing. Paul tells Timothy, “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.”

I’m an idiot, but not as big of a one as I used to be! I’ve learned some things and I desire to live them and share them that others may know Christ. That’s it. That’s “my call.”

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Ranking Sin
Sin
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
Coexisting
Christian Parents
Christian Success
Creationism
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: Coexisting

A number of years ago my wife and I worked for a guy who was a pretty slacker boss. His business eventually was run into the ground by his mismanagement. After working for this guy for a couple of years, we got to accept his slacker ways.

But one year a new employee started working with us who drove a car with one of those “Coexist” bumper stickers with the religious symbols on it.

The first time her paycheck was a couple of days late, a very common occurrence with this boss, she had a fit. The second time it happened she was threatening to quit and carry on with legal proceedings.

I found this amusing. Coexist, eh?!

People who want to coexist are generally people who don’t have a dog in the fight. Sure, they’d like all the neighborhood dogs to quiet down so they can hear the tv better, but if it were their dog and you told them to keep it quiet, coexisting is out the window.

I am not a proponent of coexisting. I am not ecumenical. There are reasons why. I will show you my two biblical reasons and then my one pet peeve reason.

1) The one time in our world’s history where coexisting and coming together swept the planet, God followed with judgment.

2) The Apostle Paul says divisions are necessary so we know who is approved. He also says what fellowship has light with darkness, righteousness with unrighteousness, etc. Come out from among them and be separate, and such like phrases.

3) I believe things sincerely and so do other people. I do not want others to chuck their beliefs to get along with me and I certainly am not going to chuck my beliefs to get along for the sake of getting along. Forced coexistence trivializes beliefs.

If coexistence follows from a joint growth into mutual beliefs, then go ahead and coexist! But coexistence should not be the goal; right doctrine and beliefs should be the goal and coexistence and unity can be a byproduct.

This puts me in a camp that others balk to join, which is deliciously ironic! I find it amusing that those who value coexisting, so frequently are irritated by my not coexisting and become demeaning and hostile! Fun stuff!

I am not saying that those who put coexistence as a priority don’t sincerely believe things, they most certainly do, they just believe different things than I do, and I personally find this to be just fine.

But if I have to change and become wrong so you can get along with me, well, it’s not going to happen!

Pet Peeve Month: Christian Parents

Let me first state that I am both a Christian and a parent. I have three children and this has much to do with why I can’t stand Christian Parents.

Now, let me explain, just because you are a parent and a Christian does not mean you enter into my pet-peeve category. “Christian Parents” are parents who think they are saved because of how they parent.

These types of parents believe they are saved because of what their kids do or don’t do. Proofs of salvation attained by Christian parenting include, but are not limited to, the following:

*My kids go to public school
*My kids have never set foot in a public school
*My kids don’t eat sugar
*My kids are all named after minor prophets, including our daughter Habakkukannie
*My kids quoted the books of the Bible on their first birthday
*My kids sit still in church
*My son started a Bible study during recess
*My daughter doesn’t even know what makeup is
*My kids only eat free range chickens
*My kids have never heard of free range chickens
*My kids have seen a tv but have never watched one
*My kids read their Bibles with helmets on
*My daughter hugs old people
*My daughter has never worn a swimsuit
*My son always runs around barefoot
*My son hunts and guts deer
*My daughter hunts and guts deer
*My kids took Communion before your kids
*My kids didn’t take Communion before your kids
*My kids were baptized before your kids
*My kids were not baptized before your kids
*My kids think Santa Claus is the Devil
*My kids think Mickey Mouse is the Antichrist
*My kids think apples are God’s special candy
*My daughter is only five and she has already stopped smiling
*My kids think our pastor tries really hard and some day he’ll get there
*My kids enjoy talking to adults
*My son is 17 and he doesn’t even know what a girl is
*My daughter is 17 and thinks babies come from Wal-Mart

On and on the list could go. All the signs that our kids are wonderful are flaunted about, proving the salvation and virtue of the parents.

Well, good luck with that. You do what you gotta do, but please just leave me and my kids alone.

One of the most brilliant things I’ve ever said in my life is, “If God wanted you to raise my kids, He would have given them to you.”

Pet Peeve Month: Christian Success

Success is a tricky word.

I recently read a book about teaching kids to be “successful,” with numerous studies showing how others achieved success and pointers to make your own kids successful.

The problem with most of these books is that they define success differently than I do. “Success” for most of these books means your kid graduates from college and makes steady, good money, and probably plays chess really well.

But that’s not success in my book. Whether my kids graduate from college is not my main concern for them, nor is a big salary. But if I follow the advice given in this book, that’s what kind of kid I’ll churn out, and to all appearances, they will be successful and the book will be right.

Seems to me much Christian advice falls into the same trap. Books are written to help Christians live “a successful Christian life.” They show studies and pointers as to how to go about achieving this success.

In the end, though, their definition of success isn’t God’s. Yeah, if you follow their steps you’ll achieve their brand of success, but is that really the point?

Most Christian living books (otherwise known as self-help books with Jesus) are based on the premise that Christian success is 1) not having financial debt, 2) wonderful marriage, 3) happiness, 4) achieving wonderful ministerial numbers, 5) saving everyone you bump into and so on.

I don’t think any of these are signs of anything spiritual necessarily.

John 3:8 is a verse that done near changed my life when I first truly saw it. Most people think it says the Spirit of God is like the wind, but that’s not what it says! Everyone who is born of the Spirit is like the wind, not knowing where they came from or where they are going. Beautiful!

We have no idea where we are going with the Spirit of God. That being the case, there are no planned steps you can take to get there! There are no formulas or clichéd advice that can let you reach your goal when you have no idea what your goal is!

Our concern with “success” is nothing more than a warmed over humanism that desires to keep things outwardly impressive. When you look at the life of Jesus and His Apostles, or the prophets of the OT, you see a lot of unsuccessful people in the world’s eyes.

They were poor. Most were killed. They were largely ignored and ended up alone. Not only did they not make money, they seemed largely unconcerned with money. Happiness is not something associated with prophets, apostles and Jesus.

Our Savior, the one we are to follow and have the mind of, was a man acquainted with grief and a man of sorrows. We are not here to live for earthly success, but for heavenly joys for eternity.

No, this isn’t very fun for the “I want it now” crowd, but it is the way of life set out for all followers of Christ. We look for another land, another, better country and we live for that.

This will not and cannot translate into success in this world. If you’re not cool with that, you’re on the wrong boat.

Pet Peeve Month: Creationism

I believe God created the world in six days because that’s what the Bible says. I know I’m backward and stupid for believing this, but I have no other choice than to take God’s Word for it.

I cannot prove to you how God did this, nor can I refute evolutionists and scientists claiming the world was created otherwise.

All I can do, when it comes to accepting as truth anything that I wasn’t there for, is go on faith. Evolutionists do the same as they weren’t there either. They are believing their science and I am believing God’s Word.

God’s Word says in Hebrews, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” There is no other way to receive the truth that God created the world than by faith.

This is my underlying thinking on this subject, and since this is my thinking, creationism bothers me.

By “creationism” I am talking not of the belief that God created the world, but to the militant camp of creationism, that believing that God created the world is akin to being saved.

Recently I read an article that said, and I quote, “In order to have a rightly ordered life, we must understand 1) God is the Creator, 2) we are sinners with a responsibility to glorify God, 3) the earth is young, 4) God created Israel to communicate His existence and essence, and 5) Christ crucified.”

I find this highly ridiculous.

Seriously? Knowing the earth is young comes before knowing Christ was crucified? This is the kind of Creationism I am talking about. The kind that sees creationism as more central than the Gospel itself.

I have no idea how old the earth is, nor what age it appeared to have when it was created, nor how long Adam was in the Garden before the Fall. Neither does anyone else, no matter what they tell you. We weren’t there! I know, we can trace back genealogies to try and get the earth’s age, but the Bible also tells me to be careful about fixations on genealogies.

It’s an issue of faith, not an issue of making evolutionist scientists look stupid. It’s not an issue based on our ability to out-science evolutionists and dismiss their theories with as much sarcasm as possible to prove our rightness.

It’s an issue of faith, taking something on faith implies not being able to see it. When the Bible talks about creation it speaks matter of factly about God doing the creating and that it occurred in six days.

The Bible does not tell us how or when this happened, it just says it did, and that’s good enough for me.

My kids go to public school, they get taught evolution, just as I did when I was a kid. I don’t mind this at all. I constantly tell my children that public schools are filled with heathen scum people, don’t believe everything you hear. I want them to know evolution and what the world thinks.

I remember one person telling me as they were worried about their teenage son, “I just want him to understand creationism before he leaves my home for college.” Seriously?

I want my kid to know the Gospel.

Creationism is not the Gospel, not should it be prioritized above the Gospel.

I am not interested in the reply telling me that we need to know God’s authority, His right to judge because He’s the Creator. I know, that’s why I believe God created the world. But to be able to refute evolution properly is no indicator of salvation, nor is this more important than understanding the Gospel.

Even if it were possible to irrefutably prove that God created the world (which you can’t, by the way, because it’s an issue of faith–faith is not seen), and even if all the world came to see the plainness of God’s creative act, they would still need to believe the Gospel!

I will be misunderstood on this point, but seriously, the hyper-creationist movement bothers me. It reminds me of the hyper-eschatology movement. People don’t mind talking about the beginning of the world or the end of the world, what people seem to mind is talking about themselves and their relationship to the Gospel.

Hm, wonder why?

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

Christians who are Always Peeved about Something
Pastors and Sex
Christians and Alcohol
Holy Spiritless Christianity
Keep Your Seeking God Statements to Yourself
Basing Your Salvation on Being Like Others
PMS and the Gospel
Ranking Sin
Sin
Paul, Grace and Law
Blaming Church for Kids Wandering Away
“The Call” to Ministry
Coexisting
Christian Parents
Christian Success
Creationism
I’m Spending time with God so I won’t be blogging, Facebooking, etc
Oh, I Don’t Watch TV
If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: I’m Spending Time With God, So I Won’t be Blogging/Facebooking/Emailing/LinkedIn-ing/Tumblr’ing/Doing Any of the Things You Are Currently Doing

Yeah.

OK, come on now. You know you’ve read these things.

Some guy starts a blog. After two months he notes that no one really seems to care and frankly, he’s run out of ideas to write about anyway, so he quits the blog. The reason given for no longer blogging is, “God is leading me deeper. He wants me to come apart and be with Him. So, I’ve decided I won’t be blogging anymore.”

Approximately 87% of all now-defunct Christian blogs end with this sort of post. Then there are the number of people who do this with Facebook and all the other social media outlets.

“Sorry oh lay-people around me, thou whom hath not desired to seek His face, God wants more of me so I wilt not be sharing myself with you any longereth.”

Oh, please.

I mean, that’s fine. I have no problem with people wanting more of God and having this revealed in a practical demonstration of priorities, all for it. Wish it happened more.

What I do get tired of is the guys who quit to be with Jesus and feel the need to lecture the rest of us still blogging/facebooking/etc, who, quite frankly, just like to write.

Anytime you have to explain your next move with Jesus, check to make sure Jesus has anything to do with it.

Remember the Sermon on The Mount? All that stuff about what you do in your practical workings of faith, do it privately? Yeah. He meant that.

Just go do it. Having to explain your planned spiritual growth is merely a way to feel good about yourself by letting other people know about your intention to spiritually grow.

This is much easier than actually growing and waiting to see if anyone notices. Since real growth is harder and takes, like, forever, we don’t do it. So, we give our alms before men and we have our reward.

That reward is not worth it in comparison to the rewards God gives for humble, quiet dedication to Him. Do this and whether you blog or Facebook or not is entirely irrelevant.

Pet Peeve Month: Oh, I Don’t Watch TV

In a never ending quest to prove our moral superiority, Christians lie.

It seems odd that we have to lie to prove we are more moral than the heathen scum riffraff around us, but indeed, we do.

One of the most common “I’m righteous and I know it” lies Christians tell is, “Oh, I don’t watch tv.”

Please.

This comment comes right after a guy talks about some television show he saw and asks “Did you see. . .?” And then everyone braces for the one guy to say it because you know it’s coming, “Oh no, I didn’t see that, I don’t watch tv.”

What’s up with so many Christians claiming to not watch tv? I know there are some who honestly don’t, but they are a real minority. Something like 80% of Americans claim to be Christian, so if none of them watches tv (because I’ve yet to meet one who says, “Oh yes, television, I watch that all the time),” who is watching this stuff?

I watch tv. Here are the things I watch: reality tv shows such as American Pickers, Shark Tank, Amazing Race and such like. I also watch sports–mainly football, baseball and hockey. I have been known to watch The Simpsons and The Middle.

From what I’ve seen in statistical averages, I don’t watch as much tv as the average guy, but I certainly can’t say, “I don’t watch tv,” for the primary reason that, I do watch tv.

Next time someone asks you if you saw some program, just say, “No, I did not happen to see that, what was it about?” Instead of jumping on your self-righteous moral stallion and trotting off into the sunset like Gary Cooper in High Noon.

What? High Noon? What is that? You’ll have to tell me because I don’t watch television.

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!
Not Agreeing with Everything a Theologian Says
Christian Compliments After Arguments
The Man Upstairs
The Inoffensive Gospel

It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: If God be for Me, Who Can be Against Me?!!!!!

Many biblical phrases have taken on a life of their own. Romans 8:31, is one that has evolved to mean any number of stupid things.

When the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl is the last time I heard it used in a classic stupid way. Ray Lewis, who was once very weirdly involved in a stabbing murder and obstruction of justice problems, has been going on for years about how God is using him.

I have no idea if Ray Lewis stabbed people or if God is using him. But he has the idea that he is a prime instrument in God’s toolbox. After winning the Super Bowl, he was interviewed by Jim Nantz and good ol’ Ray said, “If God be for you, who can be against you?” in triumph.

Which begs the question, why haven’t I won a Super Bowl? Is God not for me? Do I need to go stab a couple people before God can use me?

Romans is a book about righteousness, being made just. Romans 8:30 speaks of God predestinating, calling, justifying, and glorifying His people. Once God has done this work there is no place for accusations against His people.

Romans 8:32 shows God’s total involvement in this by basing it all on the sacrifice of His Son. Romans 8:33 says no one can lay a charge against God’s elect.

If God is for us, who can be against us means no one can thwart God’s work in predestining, calling, justifying, and glorifying His people. No one can un-justify whom He has justified.

Ray Lewis, and many others, think God being for me means I win a lot, that I triumph in all things, that I’m better than you so back off, loser.

What Paul meant by God being for us so no one can be against us is that Christ completely justifies and there’s no undoing this. There is security in not being separatable from God’s love in Christ.

Ray Lewis makes Romans 8:31 about him–I just won because God makes me a winner.
God makes Romans 8:31 about Christ.

Guess who’s right?

Pet Peeve Month: Not Agreeing With Everything a Theologian Says

Any time a Christian recommends a book, sermon, or a preacher to you, they end their recommendation with, “You know, I don’t agree with every thing he says, but he’s pretty good.”

I find this annoying. I mean, no kidding. At what point have any two people anywhere ever agreed on every thing? Seems to me, if you are around people you agree with on every thing, you’re in a cult.

Have you ever heard an author say, “I know these readers talk me up big, but, you know, I don’t agree with them on every thing.” You never hear them say that, so why do we say it every time we recommend a book?

It is my contention that every preacher or theological writer should purposely put weird stuff out there, just to make sure no one is agreeing with everything he says.

Furthermore, it is also annoying when a person says, “I don’t agree with him on every thing” because they don’t specify what they mean. I think this is Recommender’s Insurance.

If you’ve ever recommended a book to someone, you know the pressure this puts on you. There are some people who, as soon as they hear you like something, will purposely think it’s the dumbest thing ever.

Next time someone says to you, “I don’t agree with him on every thing,” ask for specifics. Ask “Like what exactly?” Be a man, own up to your tremendous mental acumen in disagreeing with an author.

I hope when you read my blog, you don’t agree with me on everything. There are times I don’t even agree with myself. But I hope you have specifics, and I hope when you recommend my blog to your five closest friends, and maybe even give them $10 for taking a look at it, and you say, “You know, I don’t agree with every thing he says” you give specifics. It will make me proud to have you as a reader, even though I don’t agree with you on everything.

Pet Peeve Month: Christian Compliments After Arguments

Being around Christians so much means I have been in conflict with Christians, sometimes this is amiable conflict (logical disagreements over doctrine) and sometimes it’s been quite personal (disagreements over my perceived worth as a human being).

I have been ripped to shreds by a number of Christians, most of it rather personal. At the end of these tearing down sessions, I am amazed at how many times they say to me, “But I love ya, brother” or “Peace to you my friend,” or some such out-of-place sweetness.

I have also been in disagreements with non-Christians, some of which have been personal, and never once have I ever been told they love me afterward. There are some people I never heard one positive word from for years until after they vented all their frustration with me.

Granting a benefit of the doubt, perhaps these loving Christians truly do love me and feel they are doing me God’s service. But it’s hard to give a guy the benefit of the doubt after listening to them rip you to shreds for 10-minutes straight.

Seems to me, the Christian desire to compliment you at the end of tearing you down, is nothing more than guilt. They know they have overstepped, that what they just said is very far removed from love, so they feel a need to “soften the blow” by throwing in some fine words at the end.

I am amazed at how many people who have done me wrong continue to say they love me! I know people who love me, and they don’t do this!

If you think someone is an idiot, then tell him with love. Don’t tell him all the reasons he’s an idiot for 10 minutes and then use the “Love ya” throwaway line at the end. All it does is reinforce in the person’s mind that you are wrong in what you said.

If you’re going to argue, then argue. Be a man about it. Stay calm. Remove emotion, logically argue and then move on. Don’t try to back track at the end because you know you blew it. Just quit and move on. If you truly love people, the way you argue will reveal this.

Pet Peeve Month: The Man Upstairs

I attended a Christian college in Minnesota, where cold weather was a way of life. The college had underground tunnels connecting buildings so you didn’t have to go outside. This was a nice feature, except when you were walking the longest stretch of tunnel between Nazareth Hall and Riley Hall, next to a hyper-Christian blowhard.

And, let’s be honest, Christian colleges wouldn’t be in business unless there was a surplus of hyper-Christian blowhards out there.

One winter’s day, while walking the long stretch of tunnel between Naz and Riley, I heard footsteps approaching, footsteps that sounded like they belonged to the feet of a hyper-Christian blowhard, it had that, as they call it, “Pharisaical bunny-hop” sound.

Sure enough, Mr. Hyper-Christian Blowhard with his slightly askew derby hat and goatee, hops up next to me and cheerily says, “So, how’s your relationship with the man upstairs?”

And there was nowhere to hide.

I was initially going to make the whole question a pet peeve, because, seriously, what am I supposed to say? If it’s good, it sounds pompous and hyper blowhards won’t believe it anyway, if it’s bad I aint gonna tell you. Furthermore, how would I know, go ask Him?

But actually it’s not a bad question, it just shouldn’t be asked by most people. But alas, I’ll skip the question and go to the terminology.

“The man upstairs” takes on a new meaning if you are currently in an underground tunnel. What man are we referring to necessarily? I was unsure how to begin.

If we are speaking of the college’s president at the time, President Erickson, things are not going bad. I actually clean his office in Riley Hall and put those vacuum cleaner lines in his carpet without showing any footprints, just as he likes it.

If we’re referring to God, well, we have a different issue to tackle.

1) One of the first notions of God a person should pick up on is that God is not a man. He’s God. A spirit.

2) What’s with the upstairs bit? Where are these stairs we are referring to? Is this some sort of Led Zeppelin theology? If so, we have other issues. Ladders to heaven I can work with, but stairs?

Don’t refer to God as “the man upstairs.” It’s certainly not biblical in any way and, in my opinion, gets awful close to blasphemy, if not outright blasphemy. Using God’s name in vain also refers to vain names we give God: “The man upstairs,” “The Big Guy,” or any other title. Keep it simple, biblical and be safe.

Pet Peeve Month Recap:

The Inoffensive Gospel
It’s A Mystery!
Bashing Men
When was the Last Time you Heard a Sermon on That?
Happy Christians
AIM’s Pet Peeve Month

Pet Peeve Month: The Inoffensive Gospel

1 Peter 2:24 beautifully says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

This verse would be more palatable if it said, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Everyone likes the bit of the Gospel about what Jesus did for me. It makes us feel good about ourselves knowing that Christ saw me as wonderful enough to do all that suffering and dying for. It’s a sweet deal! Jesus gets beat and I get saved! Awesome!

This is one form of the Gospel that has made waves in Christianity lately. The “Jesus is your friend and loves you just the way you are” Gospel. Usually there is a grudging admission “later on” that “yeah, you’re kind of, sort of, you know, if you get around to it, supposed to sort of stop doing that sin stuff.”

In the business, this is known as “bait and switch.” Hit with the jellybeans up front so they won’t notice the broccoli later on. It’s also a mockery of the Gospel.

I could list several verses that make the point very clear that the point of Christ dying for you was to raise you up to a new righteous life, to create creations that do good works, that Christ cleanses to Himself a peculiar people desiring to do good. But I’ll stick with 1 Peter 2:24 here.

The reason, the ramifications, the result of Christ baring your sins to the cross is so we would be dead to sin and live to righteousness. There is no other point.

I know, I know, Happy Jesus Gospel says Jesus died so you could go to heaven to be with Him cuz He just can’t take one more minute of eternity without your blessed soul in His presence, but don’t believe it.

Jesus died to set you free from sin. It’s amazing that this is one of the more offensive notions of the Gospel, but it is. Yes, people would like the guilt to go away, they’d like to be able to sin without consequence, but to actually have sin go away? No thanks, it’s way too much fun.

Remember when Israel was in bondage in Egypt, life was horrible, “Please save us God.” So God did. They left Egypt and went into the wilderness. It was great! No more slavery! But then they found out they could only eat bread. “We want to go back to Egypt where they had onions.”

Freedom is over rated when you truly understand what you’ve been set free from! When you’re set free from sin your life changes and your flesh is not satisfied with all the change. It likes the old sin, “why do I have to be free from this?”

So instead, we define freedom as free to sin and get away with it. But this is not God’s freedom nor a result of the Gospel. Christ died to set you free from sin, not just the guilt, not just the bad feelings afterwards, but from sin itself.

People like the Gospel part about what Jesus did, but when it comes to what that means for what I do, we have a problem. We leave it with Christ, we even invent pithy theological sounding statements for it, “It’s all about Jesus, not about my sin!” Oh, that sounds so good! Until you see Satan’s deception below the surface.

It is about Jesus, and Jesus says when He moves in it’s not about you or what you want, but about Him living in you and Jesus doesn’t sin. This is offensive and what keeps many from giving themselves up to the Gospel. I see no point in adjusting the Gospel to keep heathens happy.

Pet Peeve Month: It’s a Mystery!

I grew up in a pastor’s house and spent way too many hours at church. I went to a Christian college and seminary, which I then left to go be a pastor. Being around this much Christianity has allowed me to be present for 4.3 billion theological arguments.

None of these arguments has ever worked, if “worked” means “convinced the other side they were wrong and changed their mind.” I don’t think theological arguments are always bad. It’s good to put your doctrine out there for peer review, bringing the potential to help you think.

One thing I have gained from being around arguments is observing the tactics used. Generally I side with the guy who stays calmest, the guy who has enough faith in God to defend Himself to not have to try and kill his opponent.

I also side with the guy who uses Scripture well, which usually is the guy who is under control, incidentally. I will immediately consider changing my views if all the guys on my side are raving lunatics, foaming at the mouth to disparage the opponent. Something must be lacking.

There is one theological argument that frosts me, that will make me doubt everything this person has just said and it’s when they break out the “Well, it’s a mystery! We’ll never know and we have to rest in that.”

This is irritating for several reasons:

1) If it’s such a mystery, how do you know I’m not right? If it’s so mysterious, one would think you would not be arguing your side at all. Yet why do these guys with their mysteries know so much about it?

2) The real mystery is how guys can believe things directly opposed by Scripture. What they mean by “it’s a mystery” is “I’m not quite sure how to continue arguing my point in light of that passage directly refuting it.”

3) There is a time for the “it’s a mystery” line, but it’s not as often as it is used. There are some things which we will never know because God has not revealed it to us. I’m good with this. What I’m not good with is chalking up plainly revealed doctrines as “mysteries.”

Use the “it’s a mystery” line sparingly. If you come to a point where your line of reasoning has been shot full of holes by Scripture, don’t try to blame it on God and His inability to part the clouds and declare you the winner, but rather, reconsider your views.

Pet Peeve Month: Bashing Men

It has become cool to bash men. To use the 25% of men who sit in their parent’s basements playing video games until they are 30 and haven’t done anything significant as some sort of rule that all men live under.

This stereotype of modern men is not true, it does indeed describe some of the population, but not the whole thing. The vast majority of young men I know are rather industrious individuals.

Modern manhood is taking shots, some of which are deserved, but most are gross exaggerations.

There has always been a manly moronic minority. It used to be, in the good ol days, that we had wars every couple of decades to purify our ranks. This is no longer true. We don’t have wars enough anymore.

During these times of war, many moronic men became heroes, others died. Either way, war has been shown to be a significant tool to shape a man or at least shape manhood.

Now that we don’t have wars anymore where significant populations of our men go and fight, men play video games and sports. I honestly don’t have a problem with this. It’s a much cleaner way to produce the same thing.

Unfortunately, in sports and video games, not enough losers are wiped out to clean up manhood’s ranks.

Now, perhaps what I just said there is offensive, perhaps sounds too much like survival of the fittest.

Indeed it does, because indeed it is. The reason for this is that our definition of manhood is also from an evolutionary standpoint, a survival of the fittest macho man. This is a worldly definition of manhood and all our blather about the sad shape of men these days is really humanism.

I know this because the answer to the problem is that young men need to go on earthly adventures, or make lots of money, or pursue some other earthly end. If we truly wanted godly men, I think our critiques of manhood would be much different.

If you want to know my critiques of manhood from a biblical perspective they go like this:

*Men need to spend more time at home in quiet reading the Bible and praying
*Men need to quit working so much and give up all the things that force you to have to make so much money
*Men should take an interest in the souls around them and use their strength to provide for the weak with no expectation of payment
*More men should give themselves to the Lord, remain single and go win some for the Lord
*More men who are married need to love their wives in biblical love creating submission leading their wives to quit whining and use their freed up resources from having godly wives to care for others.
*Men need to faithfully place themselves in a position to learn God’s word so they can teach others

Now, I’m guessing you haven’t heard this sort of man bashing much have you? Perhaps I should go play a video game and relax.

Pet Peeve Month: When Was the Last Time You Heard a Sermon on That?

Being pastor is like being president: we both get to use unmanned drones to attack people we don’t like. But also, everyone thinks they know how to do our job and they won’t shut up about it.

One of my favoritest things in the world, besides sarcasm, is when people say to me, “You should talk more about [insert hardly addressed pet issue here].”

Now, I will grant the point that sometimes I do get in a rut. There have been times when people have told me I should speak more about something and they were right. But for the most part these people happen to have a hobbyhorse they’d like me to take for a trot every Sunday.

Sorry, no can do. I prefer non-horse transportation.

If I spoke about everything people have told me I should speak about, I wouldn’t be speaking about most of the things people were telling me to speak about.

Wait, what?

One of my favoritest phrases in the world is “When was the last time you heard a sermon on [insert hardly addressed pet issue here].”

I like this phrase so much I’ve actually begun using it in my sermons, which is ironically delicious! Most of the people who come to our church have been coming to our church for quite a while, I’m the only guy they regularly hear preaching, therefore, to say this sentence is just funny!

A lot of times I laugh about things no one else is laughing about.

Hey, I’m all for constructive criticism, for taking advice and hearing people’s opinions about my speaking. I try hard to maintain an openness to what people think about what I say. I just don’t see how I can possibly hit everything everyone wants me to hit with the regularity in which they’d like it to be hit.

And here’s an idea: maybe the reason you don’t hear sermons about such things is because A) You don’t listen very well. B) You aren’t in church enough. C) Your little issue actually is a little issue, which is why it’s not talked about.

Consider those things first before blaming the pastor in being so stupid not to talk about Og enough. (Seriously, someone told me we need to hear more sermons about Og). Incidentally, when was the last time you heard a sermon about Og?

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