Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Here’s another quote I saw that rankled me:

I don’t wanna hear ‘well done good and faithful servant.’

I just wanna hear, “yup, you’re in.”

This one bothers me on several levels.

First, who in their right mind would say they don’t want to hear God say to them, “well done, good and faithful servant?” I mean, why would you not want to hear that?

Second, the context of this biblical phrase is instructive here (imagine that).

His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
–Matthew 25:21,23

What do you notice about both passages?

Here’s what I noticed:

Every one he said “well done good and faithful servant” to, he then told them to “enter in!”

In other words, the only ones God says are “in,” are ones who were good and faithful servants!

I mean, I don’t know. There are days I wonder.

But this is typical Christianity today. People don’t think what they do matters. That salvation and subsequent living have nothing to do with each other.

There’s a sanctimony here as well. I’m too good for doing good. As long as I’m in is all that matters; I don’t need praise, and certainly not reward.

That is asinine.

I’ve heard many people talk about the selfishness and materialism of serving God for reward. That’s just dumb. The Bible says many times God wants to and will reward service. It’s not wrong to want God’s praise and reward.

Again, this is another effort to make what I do a minor issue, and yet the Bible is so consistent and repetitive on this: what we do matters.

The only ones who get in are the ones who do what God has created them to do. This isn’t rocket science. Not is it legalism, nor works righteousness, nor telling people to work themselves into salvation.

It’s the power of the Gospel to transform sinners into saints!

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
–1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Substitution and Transformation

“The foundation and focus of the Christian faith is Christ’s substitution not our transformation. In other words, the language of Christianity is primarily substitutional not transformational.”
–Tullian Tchividian

When I read this quote, my brain went “Wait, what?”

Tullian is a hip pastor with a large church in his past. He was fired from said church due to an extramarital affair. He says things like this quote above that get a lot of applause, but probably also lead to extramarital affairs.

I really don’t get the statement. I have no larger context to judge his words by. All I have is this quote. So, I’ll examine the quote.

He seems to be saying that The Gospel is all about Christ. What happens to me is at least distant second, if not almost irrelevant.

I’ll grant some truth here. Christ’s Gospel is the foundation of everything. Me changing does not save people. So, if that’s all he means, then fine.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s all he means.

I think what he means is that transformation should hardly be talked about. That any talk of transformation is probably detracting from any talk of Christ’s substitution.

Transformation is a biblical concept. It is mention a number of times. Romans 12:2 would be the primary passage no doubt–be not conformed to the world bu transformed by the renewing of your mind.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says we will be changed into the same image of Christ from glory to glory. “Changed” is the same Greek word as “transformed” in Romans 12:2. The Greek word is metamorphoo from which we get our word metamorphosis.

Galatians 4:19 says that Paul labors until Christ be formed in them. “Formed” is the Greek word morph.

Transformation is a thing. It is also implied in many passages–we are now servants of righteousness not unrighteousness, we are new creations in Christ, old things are passed away and all things are new, put off the old and put on the new, raised up to newness of life, etc.

Meanwhile, substitution is mentioned zero times in the New Testament. It is mentioned twice in Leviticus concerning animal sacrifice.

In all honesty, I don’t see the substitution of Christ mentioned much at all. Substitution means in the place of.

Yes, Christ died for us, but nowhere does it say He died in the place of us, or instead of us. What it does say is that He died for us, and by faith we were crucified, bruised, and raised up with Him. “With” is different than “instead of.”

Tullian is emphasizing what Christ did to the exclusion of anything we do. Paul doesn’t put it that way. Transformation is the only way to know you are part of what Christ did.

Granted, my transformation is not as earthly significant as what Christ did for the sins of the world, but it’s pretty big for me! It lets me know if I’m in or not.

Tullian is not alone in this emphasis. Everyone wants everything to be about Christ, with no responsibility, transformation, or anything about me. But read the New Testament! It’s talking about what you do quite frequently!

Don’t make a false dichotomy where there is none. Everything Christ did, He did for our transformation. It’s the reason there is a Gospel.

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
–Titus 2:14

Moral Chimps, Sort Of, Not Really, But Still

Perhaps you saw this story the other day:

Chimpanzees can tell right from wrong: Apes’ reactions to violent video footage may give clues to how human morality evolved

Whenever evolution stories are reported on, know that the headline has almost next to nothing to do with actual findings. Also note that when a topic is covered and always appears that they’re trying too hard, something is amiss.

Bottom line: if you read the article and the actual findings, chimps have no concept of right and wrong. Here’s an analysis of the findings.

It is somewhat ironic that as our culture increasingly decides morality is nothing but bondage, we feel a need to make animals moral.

Animals aren’t moral. They do not know right and wrong. Animals may have instincts that appear moral, but they are not guided by morality, they are guided by instinct.

God has put his law in our hearts, all people have a sense of God’s right and wrong. All people have a conscience, a thing in their brain that bugs them when they do wrong, sometimes shown by guilt, sometimes by brazen flaunting.

Animals can’t violate morality, carry guilt. If they did, they would need forgiveness and thus an animal messiah to save them. Animals are breathing piles of dirt just like people. The main difference is in our morality, conscience, will, and intellect.

He Sees You When You go to Church

Some churches are very concerned about your attendance. Some are apparently hyperly-concerned and have begun to use facial recognition software to keep track!

I find this amazing.

Using a church’s video cameras, it can identify who is coming. Who cares?

I mean seriously, if you don’t actively care enough to know who is there in person, what is spying on people going to do?

This is obviously a tool for mega-churches, I understand that, but still, seriously, what is done with this information?

If I went to one of these churches I would wear a hooded sweatshirt just to mess with whoever it is keeping track. Either that or sneak out and come back in 15 times.

I don’t know people. I don’t think I belong here.

Exorcism Donkey Ride

Although American Christianity is one messed up place, it’s at least comforting to know we don’t have a monopoly on crazy. At least I think that’s comforting.

The video below shows an orthodox priest attempting to exorcise a demon possessed man by riding him like a donkey. He told the man he would ride him all the way to Jerusalem if need be.

Apparently there was no need, for by the end the rather heavy priest is standing on the flattened man. My favorite part was watching the little kid. You’re not the only one confused by all this, me dear.

Slinging Stones With Jesus, Literally

jesusslingYou can now purchase a Jesus slingshot for all your slinging of stone needs.

From the catalog:

You’ve tried church. You’ve tried prayer. You’ve even sacrificed the fatted calf, but God still won’t smite your enemies. Get The Jesus Slingshot, new from My Left Behind Toys! The Jesus Slingshot will help you do unto others before they can do unto you!

Number of “Sinners” Is Declining

You’ll be happy to know there is a decline of “sinners” in America!

Wow! What great news! This must be evidence of some new revival, a new working of the Spirit!

Actually, it’s not a decline in the bumber of sinners, but a decline in the use of the word “sinner” in Christian song and writing.

Sinner-Sinned

 

The brief analysis concludes that modern Christians don’t like to call anyone a sinner.  It’s much safer to talk about people who have sinned.

“People who have sinned” describes a past act that was done. Sinner is much harsher, describing what a person is. No one wants to be defined by what they do, come on, give us a break.

So, we just stop calling people sinners and instead refer to them as people who make mistakes and suchlike. You can read the entire analysis here.

Churchy Newsy Thing

I haven’t been blogging for a while. This is a new thing I’ve been pecking away at: church/religion news, interesting links, and funny stuff.

Back to the roots of what the blog used to be, before I got all serious and annoyed everyone with picky doctrinal pet peeves.

The Churchy Newsy Thing

Psychiatric Christianity

Many people think we come to God’s Word to find out how to be better people.

God isn’t concerned with you becoming a better you.

God’s desire is that your YOU gets out of the way and is replaced by Christ.

God does not want a really good you; He wants to see His Son in you.

Much of the modern church is focused on this sort of self-help theology.

“The entire focus of the church service seems to flow toward that one goal: to make a new me.  The songs are focused on my dating relationship with God (with no thought if the song is biblical or not).  The prayers are for those who had a tough week and need grace just to make it through.  The sermons are focused on my felt needs and what I need to hear from God to make me a better person.”

You can read the rest of the article this quote is from to get more on the subject. It’s well said.

Monster Energy Drinks, 666 and Growing Up

I remember as a kid joking around with my buddy at church about the Antichrist and the number 666. As we were sitting in the church kitchen waiting for our youth group, we would look at bar codes on boxes and add or subtract numbers to come up with 666.

“Ooooh, Oreo cookies are a tool of the antichrist!”

We were being goofy, and, in our own way, even then picking on stupid Christian culture.

Lo and behold, bored youth group kids have come up with another one:

monster666

To decipher, because you need someone who is trained at doing ridiculousness to fully grasp what ridiculousness is being pointed out here:

the Monster logo, allegedly, is three Hebrews symbols for 6, in other words, the Monster logo says “666.”

Then, elsewhere on the can, it says “unleash the beast.” The “beast” is another word for the Antichrist.

Therefore, Monster energy drinks are facilitating the antichrist. It is also pointed out that there is a crucifix in the “O” of “MONSTER.” Proof positive there.

Of course, Christians will now boycott Monster and be freaked out, “Don’t think this is coincidence, this is an organized effort to turn on Christianity and facilitate the Antichrist.” More than likely facilitated by the Trilateral Commission and so forth.

Yeah. Don’t. Just don’t. Life has too many in your face evidences of antichrist to worry about inventing others.

Actually, if you examine the Monster logo, the top of each mark has a bump to the right, which makes it look more like the Hebrew symbol for 7, it could just as easily be 777, the number of God and perfection.

God is the one who will remove the restrainer who will then usher in the Antichrist, so one could just as easily say Monster energy drinks are rooting for God.

Don’t. Just don’t.

When you become a man, you put away childish things.

Roger Olson on “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism”

“We have come with some confidence to believe that a significant part of Christianity in the United States is actually only tenuously Christian in any sense that is seriously connected to the actual historical Christian religion.

“It is not so much that U.S. Christianity is being secularized. Rather, more subtly, Christianity is either degenerating into a pathetic version of itself or, more significantly, Christianity is actively being colonized and displaced by quite a different religious faith”

“The religion that is replacing “actual historical Christian religion” in America, especially among young people, is labeled “Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism” (MTD for short). Dean, a professor of youth culture and ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, summarizes MTD with five beliefs:

“1) A god exists who created and orders the world and watches over life on earth,
2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions,
3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself,
4) God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem,
5) Good people go to heaven when they die.

“I am afraid that it is becoming increasingly harder to find the gospel in America. It is either wrapped so tightly in the flag as to be virtually invisible or relegated to a footnote to messages about “success in living,” being nice and including everyone.”

Read the whole article here

Bible Trivia and Biblical Literacy

As we all know, biblical literacy is at an all-time low, even though they’ve only been testing biblical literacy for about 20 years. Kind of like global warming statistics, how do they know how cold winter was in Wisconsin 200 years ago?

Pastors like to badger their people for how little they know, because this makes pastor’s feel special because we like to think we do know. So we flop out ridiculous Bible trivia questions to prove our point.

Is quizzing people on Bible trivia the best measure of Bible literacy? Probably not.

“And here’s my real concern. If we tell people that biblical literacy is a problem (which it is) and then equate biblical literacy with Bible trivia, many will conclude that it’s not really a problem because they can just get the trivia answers online. That may work for trivia, but not for real literacy.

“A Google search can’t immerse you in the story, helping you reflect on the bigger themes, gradually transforming you into the image of the Son, changing the way you view the entire world as a result. Google can do many things, but it can’t do that.

“If you know the trivia, great. The devil isn’t in the details, it’s in the way that we sometimes use the details to neglect the story itself. Biblical literacy is far more than Bible trivia. And suggesting otherwise contributes to the problem, not the solution.”

Click here for more.

Jesus’ Facebook Movie

Facebook users were recently given the opportunity to create their own Facebook retrospective movies. The movies became so popular that spoofs arose.

One of the spoof movies is about the life of Christ, and, to be honest, it’s not bad. Better than I expected, even though all the pictures show a well mannered white guy as Jesus.

Can True Christianity Ever “Go Viral’?

Jesus said if you want to be the greatest, serve. Serving gets little attention in our world. Few, if any, celebrities have achieved celebrity status because of their high levels of service to others.

Generally, people become celebrities by looking out for themselves, playing the necessary games to get known and then milk it, milk it, milk it. Once celebrity is achieved, then they do “service,” as long as cameras are around.

Yes, that was all very cynical, but still, it’s about right.

I don’t think following Christ fits in with celebrity. Even Jesus fought against the celebrity He was getting–constantly told people not to tell others who He was, he left when they tried to make Him king, He kept His mouth shut when questioned about His kingship.

Which takes me to this article:

“On Sunday night, I had the great privilege of seeing my grandfather cross the finish line. Like so many pilgrims before him, he crossed the river of death and met the Savior on the other side. One moment he was sucking stale air through an oxygen mask; the next moment he was inhaling the glories of heaven.

By worldly standards, my grandpa wasn’t great. He didn’t have a single Facebook friend or Twitter follower. He never wrote a book, never spoke at a conference, never created a viral video. He didn’t have a popular blog. He never played a Super Bowl halftime show, never participated in the Olympics, never was featured in an inspirational segment on ESPN.”
READ THE REST HERE

Pastor’s Kids, Katy Perry, Church and My kids

Pastor’s kids have long had a bad reputation. Living in the home of a pastor presents various troubles for a youth. Pastors are human and react humanly to things other humans do.

Kids take this all in. Church can be a PK’s biggest enemy in life, and Christianity can be the worst group of people in the world, since that seems to be the group that is ruining their parent’s life.

I am a pastor’s kid and had much resentment toward the church and the “Christians” who made my dad’s life miserable. Thankfully, I was also taught reality about sin and the need for the Gospel. Rather than whine and quit, I became strengthened to try to help out.

Not all pastor’s kids respond this way. Katy Perry is the latest famous PK who has walked away from the faith, saying she no longer believes in God.

As I progress through my career as a pastor and attempt to raise three kids into adults, I fear for them as well. The biggest things I try to do for them is to be honest about church stuff, be upfront about the problems, but also upfront about forgiveness.

I spend time with them, maybe too much. I talk things through and try to help them think. I also try to develop a life for them outside of church, let them be in the world and let them see that the world is way crummier than your church!

I am also blessed to have great people in my church who my kids can honestly look up to. In the end, a church made up of phonies is going to turn kids off, whether they are related to the pastor or not.

My desire has always been to have a real church doing the real ministry of the Body of Christ, not just a group of people who pat each other on the back for our good acting skills, while stabbing each other in the back.

You’re Not Right All the Time and That’s OK

There has never been any person on this planet whose thoughts have all been true, except for John Piper, I mean, except for Jesus.

Some people honestly think all their beliefs are true and all their thoughts are 100% true, but these people are delusional.

To know that some of your views are wrong, and you might not even know which ones, may seem unnerving, it bothers many a person. “How can I know anything then?” is the typical overreaction.

Knowing that not everything you think or believe is true is humbling. It keeps you from bashing others into the ground. It keeps you out of the sphere of being like Job’s friends. Knowing you might be wrong keeps you from being a jerk.

We’re all fallible. There is a freedom in that, but mostly there should be humility.

truth

So If We Have the Mind of Christ and Christ Was a Man of Sorrow. . .

There are many laments in the Old Testament, wonderings about why life is so rotten, why the wicked prosper and hey God, what are you waiting for? Make it right!

Many of the Psalms contain complaints and laments. There’s a whole book called Lamentations. Many of the prophets can be described as nothing short of depressed. Our Savior was described as a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief, while His church is a place of happy and acquainted with entertainment.

But, I guess due to societal evolution, American Christianity is happy, happy, happy. Our songs tend to be all upbeat. Our sermon applications are about happy things. People want to feel good when they leave church.

Do we lament? Do we care that we are surrounded by hurting people, or do we want to sweep all the tears under the carpet of happy?

There’s nothing wrong with happy, but there is something wrong with happy when you’re supposed to be weeping.

There is “A time to weep, and a time to laugh.” I think James’ advice could do well to be taken by the American Church, “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.”

Things really aren’t going that well down here for so much hilarity on our end. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

“I once observed a pastor telling a distraught widow to stop crying over the death of her husband. Why? She was ruining her testimony and distracting others from Christian hope. In effect, the pastor was saying, “God is working all things for good, so suck it up.” No lament, no grief allowed. Lament is taboo.”

I’ve seen the same thing. The notion that God’s will is being done in everything eliminates weeping, makes the church very callous and completely misinterprets God’s will and sin.

American Christianity is too happy. Feel some pain, seek some tribulation, be disappointed with this earth to the extent you have an anticipation of joyful and blessed eternity.

Self-Centeredness and Hell

“Modern man doesn’t like to talk much about hell, unless it’s in some fanciful movie creation where one doesn’t have to worry about its reality. The reason we avoid thinking about the possibility of hell can be traced back to our similar reluctance to consider seriously our sinfulness.

“And what bothers us the most, I believe, about the idea of sin is that we know the root of it is our self-centeredness. We like being self-focused; we feel justified in rationalizing our selfishness. So hell, sin, and selfishness are a package.”

Pondering Principles has a good post on hell, tying in thoughts expressed by C. S. Lewis, who had a way with words. Click here for the whole thing.

Why People Don’t Trust Pastors

A recent poll ranked professions and how much people trust them. The medical profession ranks near the top of the list, which is ironic to me since one of the major causes of death in America today is medical incompetence.

At least pastors aren’t killing people. Well, at least they aren’t killing that many people.

There are, no doubt, many reasons why pastors are sinking lower and lower in this poll as the years go by. I came across this list of 11 Reasons Why People Don’t Trust Pastors and thought it did a very nice job, about as well as I could have done!

It used to be that pastors were the go to people in a community. They were generally viewed as being wise in all areas of life. They were one of the few educated people in many towns. Many universities had ministers as their president. Harvard, Yale and many other famous American institutions had ministers as presidents.

This trend stopped around the time Darwin got cranked up. With the Scopes Trial and the heightened default to science, ministers lost their rank in society. Now, being a pastor is akin to being a hick who hates science.

Psychology also siphoned off many people from the church. We go talk about our dreams and unfulfilled desires to people who pump you with drugs and happy thoughts and call it a day.

Pastors now tend to be salesmen, guys who are in it for celebrity and having a good time. There are few pastors any more who would even register as being wise. I know many pastors and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t go to them with my problems either!

Becoming a pastor isn’t that tough these days. You pay some money, sit through some classes and boom, you’re good to go. Paul has a list of pastoral qualifications that are mostly ignored when choosing a pastor. Instead we look at degrees, credentials, who he knows and various other irrelevancies. We’re using the wrong criteria and getting the wrong people to fill the roles. When louses take up the pastoral roles, you’ll notice people won’t trust them!

In the end, I’m a pastor. I do not mean to dump on my brothers in the pastoral ministry. It’s a tough gig. Tougher than I ever thought it would be. But it’s a worthwhile one. I need to do my part to restore some wisdom and trust in the pastoral ministry.

There is no possible way the church could be harmed by having more trustworthy, hardworking, biblically minded men using their God-given spiritual gift of pastoring more effectively.

What Does the Fox Say and The Church Being Relevant

Christianity has struggled to be relevant to the world.

There is a reason for this struggle: Christianity isn’t supposed to be relevant to the world; it’s supposed to be separate from the world.

One would think this would be common knowledge for a group of people who view the Bible as their authority. But alas, saying the Bible is your authority and having the Bible BE your authority are two different things.

So, Christianity attempts to be friends with the world and tries to be a little darker to attract the darkness, so as not to blind with light. Not only does this lead to heresy, ineffectiveness, spiritual lethargy and ultimately leaves many to rot in hell, it also creates much cringe-worthy, awful, attempts at coolness. Observe:

I’m going to go cry now.

Shortened Church Service for 49ers Playoff Game

A pastor who is a 49ers’ fan did a reduced-time church service last Sunday to be able to see the 49ers playoff game. The video of the event is making waves on the internet.

This appears to me to be a planned thing, people are too quick with responses, he gets the church’s name in there for a quick plug (how many pastors say their church’s name before a sermon?). I think he was just having fun.

I suppose each pastor needs to consider carefully what sort of fun he allows himself in and with church. I would not be able to do what he did. If anything, I’m the kind of guy who will push the service longer just to see people squirm. That’s what I call fun!

I know I’m supposed to be offended and talk about the idolatry of football in America, but I don’t know. This is a publicity stunt and I see no reason to waste outraged energy over dumb stuff. He will give an account to God. I’ll leave him in those hands.

“And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.”