10 Ways to Not Grow In Christ

There are many things a person can do to grow as a Christian, most are rather straight-forward and common sensical. If nothing else, read your New Testament; every page will give you insight into how it’s done. What doesn’t get as much play are the things you can do to thwart growth into Christ.

Perhaps you can look at these as the weights to be set aside in the race of faith. Stuff that just isn’t helping. Maybe others can do it, and maybe that’s fine, but honestly, if you want to grow, it would help to get rid of these things:

1) The Bubble
Only hang with people who believe exactly what you believe. Leave your church when you realize there is 4% of doctrine you disagree with. Surround yourself with people who agree with you on everything.

2) Isolation
After you’ve church-hopped a lot, trying to find the place where the pastor tells you exactly what you want to hear and nothing else (the “itching ears” syndrome), you’ll get tired. Eventually you’ll discover that church doesn’t exist. Give up. Stay home. You know everything already, who needs church anyhow?

3) Lead
One of the most terrifying aspects of “church leadership” is you begin to believe you know what you’re doing. You get a little full of yourself. You answer questions. You solve problems. People look up to you. If you change doctrinally, you’ll let down lots of people. Who knows who will leave the church if you admit your reservations about a doctrine? Better just keep repeating the same old lines. Whenever you’re with other Christians: lead them!

4) Dismissing Growth
Embrace the doctrine that growth isn’t necessary. At least conclude that you don’t have anything to do with your own growth. Let go and let God! Then it’s all His fault!

5) Hero Worship
Find one guy, make him your all in all, and dismiss all others. Amputate your favorite part of the Body of Christ and ignore all the rest. Just keep your nice little fingernail of the Body.

6) Narcissism
Make sure everything you do is about you. Don’t take any interest in anyone else. Stay distant. Dominate every conversation. Keep your money and build your barns. Tell yourself the poor are only poor because they are all on drugs or drunk. Make sure you accomplish all your goals. Wrap yourself safely in your hobbies. Remember: You’re the center of the universe. No one else matters.

7) Prioritize A Sin
Focus on one huge sin and make all of your faith about not doing that one huge sin. You will either beat it, and thus conclude you have arrived spiritually, or else continue to battle it, ignoring all other aspects of faith.

8) Elevate Experience
Make sure emotions are everything. Expect every church service to lay you low or raise you high. Always go for the chills. Go for the high. Not getting the high? Go somewhere where you get it. Keep looking. Keep searching. Try everything once. Get the feeling, keep the feeling, settle for the feeling.

9) Make it Academic
Study. Work. Read. Take notes. Don’t feel; be cerebral. Learn Hebrew and Greek and judge others faith by how well they know those languages. Get a doctorate or four. Have lots of bookshelves with huge books. Quote dead theologians ad nauseam. Argue about everything. Make sure everyone knows how smart you are.

10) Concentrate on Growth
Be so obsessed with “how you’re doing” that you rarely have time to think about Christ. Beat yourself up for mistakes; brag about successes. Dwell on the past. Remember the times you nailed it; be bitter about those who made you mess up. Stare at your navel. Make it all about your growth.

G. Campbell Morgan on Asking Questions

Do not believe any preacher, or any man who claims to be a prophet, who tells you that you have no right to ask questions. You will never find bedrock for religious faith until you have learned how to ask questions.

It is equally true that the right to ask questions involves the responsibility of considering the evidence. You have no right to ask questions and then imagine that there is no answer. You must listen to the answer. You are not bound to accept it, but you must listen to it.

That is to say, the man who asks a question does by such action indicate the fact that his mind is open, and that he desires an answer. If not, then the man who asks questions is a trickster, and we have no time for him, and no patience with him.
–G. Campbell Morgan
Has Man Anything to do With God?

8 Results of Being a Judgmental Person

The Bible tells us not to judge people. The type of judgment we’re addressing is a superior, fault-finding kind of judgment that condemns others. The Bible also tells us to be discerning and even tells us to turn people from their sin, so clearly all judgment is not thrown out.

Pride-filled judgment is what the Bible tells us not to do. Judgment that makes you feel superior and makes others inferior is out.

The Bible gives us many reasons not to judge: we ultimately judge the law, it takes over the job of the Lawgiver and Judge, it does not mix with brotherly love, you need to deal with your sin first, who do you think you are? and some other reasons.

The problem with judging is that it does weird things to the judger. Here are a few ramifications of being judgmental.

1) Keeps you dumb
As long as you see yourself as better than others, you will not learn. When people try to correct you, your immediate response will be revulsion. “Who are you to tell me?” Once you have that mindset, you become unteachable.

2) Makes you paranoid
People who judge others are constantly wondering what others are thinking of them. I really don’t know which comes first, but I do know paranoia and judging go together. Since we know what bad things we think about others, Lord knows what they think about us! And since we know they’re all jerks, we know what bad things they think about us! Judgmental people are always wondering what others think of them.

3) Insecurity
Since you know how judgmental you are, you can only assume others are judging you. This makes you insecure. What will others think? becomes your motivation for everything. The more your insecurity ramps up, the more you will ramp up your judgmentalism. You have to work even harder to belittle all the jerks thinking bad things about you!

4) Loneliness
Since you’ve concluded that you are better than others, you will have a hard time finding anyone who deserves to be with you. Your judgmentalism will show itself at some point and people get really tired of it. If you always tell people how dumb their favorite book, movie, food item, etc is, they’ll just stop saying stuff to you. No one likes a judgmental jerk.

5) Lack of charity
Your judgmentalism immediately dismisses anyone’s needs. You know they only have those needs because of their stupidity. Judgmentalism does a great job of excusing your non-helpful attitude. When you see a need, your judgmental brain immediately gives you five reasons they don’t deserve your help. You proceed not having helped, but still feeling good about yourself.

6) Worry
Since you are a lonely, uncharitable, know it all, going through life proving your superiority, you will always fear failure. You will be dreadful of people seeing a crack in your foundation. You fear failing in front of others so much you will stop doing much of anything. You can’t enjoy anything because you’ll be consumed with how reality might shatter your delusion.

7) Lies, lies, lies
You have to keep up the facade. You have to exaggerate everything to keep yourself appearing superior. Your victories are even more victorious. Your defeats can be worked into victories by coming up with excuses. No matter how much you lose, you will find some way to belittle your opponent, or the one who succeeded more than you, to give you the presumptive high ground.

8) Unrestrained sin
When we consume ourselves with other people’s sin, at the same time we give ourselves a pass. Our conscience becomes seared. We’re never responsible for our sin. We’re a victim. We can’t help it. Plus, my sin isn’t as bad as all those sinners over there, get off my back.

The list could go on. But, in my experience, this is what judgmentalism makes you. It’s not pretty. It’s why the Bible tells you to let God, the Lawgiver, the Final Judge, do all that work. He’s perfect. His pride won’t mess with His judgment, nor will His judgment mess with His pride.

If you take on God’s job, your pride will get the best of you one way or another. Stop judging everybody and everything! Lighten up. Let God sort it out.

“The Great Physician” Is Not in the Bible

Many times I have heard people call Jesus “the Great Physician.”

In fact, the reason I bring this up is because in yesterday’s post, I called Jesus that.

I consider myself someone who knows the Bible pretty well. I won’t regale you with all I’ve done to get to know the Book, but I know it pretty well.

I went over to Bible Gateway to do a search for the phrase “Great Physician,” because what an awesome way to end that post: with a fine verse about the Great Physician, our great Savior who can fix people!

Bible Gateway returned one verse for Great Physician, 2 Chronicles 16:12

And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.

Hmm, that’s weird, I thought. Maybe it’s a phrase a non-KJV version uses. I looked up the English Standard Version: 0 returns. New American Standard: 0 returns. And, Lord help me, I even searched the NIV: 0 returns.

I then went to my preferred search engine and typed in “where does the phrase ‘Great Physician’ come from?” It was decidedly unhelpful. It came up with a bunch of links to pages about what Jesus thinks about doctors and people calling Jesus “the Great Physician,” but nobody would tell me where this title comes from.

Perhaps this sort of thing is not interesting to you. It fascinates me. I love how we take things and assume the Bible says it, only to find out it never does. There are verses that imply that Jesus is a physician

They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus “said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself.”

That’s it. Certainly Jesus is comfortable with the metaphor, so I don’t think there’s any problem using it.

I just find the absence of the title in the Bible fascinating since, no doubt, 98% of believers would swear it was in the Bible (while ignoring the verses in the Bible telling us not to swear!). Maybe I’m weird that way, I don’t know.

So, based on this, here’s a theory:

Our desire to call Jesus “the Great Physician” might have a sinister motive. Perhaps in referring to Jesus as the Great Physician, this leads us to believer we’re physicians too, just a little more minor than the Great One.

Saying He’s the GREAT physician implies there are lesser ones. But the Bible doesn’t rank physicians. Christ calls Himself, “Physician.” As in: the only one! Not just better than the others; the ONLY ONE.

I prefer to keep things the way the Bible says them. Some people think I go overboard with this, but I think the Bible uses words fantastically and uses them for a reason. He’s not the Great Physician; He’s THE Physician. I like that.

Can Christians Fix People?

Young pastors often approach their new job messianically.

Perhaps I should rephrase: As a young pastor, I approached my new job messianically.

I viewed my role as “He who fixes messed up people.”

I felt as though one should run before me at all times announcing, “Hark all ye messed up folk! Behold, he who can fix you.”

Funny thing happened on the way to fixing people: I realized I was messed up.

Fixing myself, although in my moments of sanity I’d admit was necessary, I still viewed others as more messed up. Certainly that counted for something.

I realized that my desire to fix others was nothing but an avoidance of fixing myself. If I can fix others, this proves how together I have things.

As I began to attempt fixing people, it didn’t work. In fact, it went horribly wrong. Through a series of events, I was confronted with just me and my messed upness. I had no alternative but to fix myself.

I also noted there weren’t many verses about fixing people! Yes, there were some about pulling people from the fire, about saving a soul from sin, about giving a warning, about teaching people to obey God’s Word, and a few about being edifying.

But no, not any about fixing people. It’s not my job to fix people. People are not my projects. My “ministry” is not based on how many people I deemed “fixed.” Instead I began to see that I should rejoice that my name was written in heaven. All this was freeing and good. . . but . . .

since I’m human, I took this to an erroneous extreme. I got on a big “I can’t fix people kick.” I ignored people and their problems. What do you want me to do? I can’t fix anyone anyway. Go home and work it out, pal.

But I continued to double-check my conclusion and saw some other verses. For instance, Ephesians 4 says God has gifted the church with spiritually equipped people, one of whom is the pastor teacher. When these gifts are used properly, it leads to the perfecting of the saints.

“Perfecting” is a word that can mean “to set a bone.” In other words, a pastor has been spiritually gifted to fix and mend what was broken.

Uh-oh! Now what? Do I fix people or not?

Well, here’s what I have figured out so far, and this is subject to change as time and learning continue:

Yes and no. There is a time to “fix” people. There is a time to rend and a time to sew.

But, the answer is also no. I’m not the fixer, but I know Someone who is: The Great Physician.

Any attempt to fix people is only done by bringing people to Christ. I can’t fix. And if I am credited with fixing someone, my pride will merely turn that into something gross that will warp me and eventually break me, which then will lead to me breaking others.

I am an earthen jar that can dispense living water! The credit goes to the water, not to the jar. The jar can’t fix; the contents of the jar can.

The power to fix does not lie with me, my words, my counsel, my wisdom, my charm, nor my charisma. Thank God.

The power to fix is when I bring people to Christ and allow His Spirit to work in people, including me.

In the end we need to avoid two extremes:

1) Behold the awesomeness that is me, the Great White Father who can fix you all, and
2) Hey, I can’t do nothing for ya man, I got problems of my own.

Neither are consistent with Scripture. Instead know that all Spirit-indwelt believers have become ministers of reconciliation. What a privilege! But the job is not to get people to you; the job is to help them get to Christ.

This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made! Yippee!

Our local Christian radio station plays an annoying spot every morning. It’s some happy woman saying “This is the day that the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!” It’s then followed by a chorus of happy women singing the annoying happy chorus this verse was put to.

It’s ridiculously happy. It makes me want to hurt people.

I have contended that the modern manifestation of Christianity is too happy. I maintain that contention.

I wonder what people do when they read James, “Let your laughter be turned into mourning.” Or Jesus, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Or Paul, “Weep with them who weep.”

Negative emotions play a part in Christianity, they really do. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with having “negative” emotions–sadness, loneliness, mourning, depression, etc.

It’s only our hyper-happy Americanized notion (a supposed God-given right to pursue happiness) of Christianity that has a problem with these emotions. Being depressed is a sign of mental disorder in our country.

If Jesus, the man of sorrow acquainted with grief, showed up in an American church, He’d be referred to counseling right quick. “He’s always talking about death.”

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” is a verse in your Bible and it’s there for a reason. I’d like to point out its context.

Psalm 118 is a song of deliverance. Psalm 118 is admittedly happy. But allow me to point out why Psalm 118 is so happy based on what Psalm 118 says.

118:5–I called on the Lord out of my distress
118:7–my enemies are going to get it!
118:10–I will destroy all the nations lined up against me
118:11–I will destroy my enemies who surround me
118:12–my bee-like enemies will be destroyed
118:13–they just about did me in, but I will prevail
118:18–all this pain is the Lord’s sore chastening, but I’m not dead yet
118:24–this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it

The Psalmist is not saying that he is rejoicing every day. The Psalmist is particularly rejoicing this day because the Lord’s chastening, brought about by stinging enemies surrounding him, is now over.

He rejoices because the misery he previously was going through has ended.

Misery. Enemies. Chastening.

Mercy. Salvation. Deliverance.

He’s happy this day because victory has finally come.

To use this as a theme to rub in the faces of those who are struggling is not the intent. The Psalms are filled with plenty of pain-filled songs too. We just like the happy ones.

Don’t be afraid of sadness, mourning, pain, heaviness, sorrow, or grief. They have much to teach us. Don’t be so quick to throw it off for happy. The Lord can do more with people who are emotionally honest.

Feel some pain. Feel the weight of sin. True joy comes from slugging through misery.

Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.