Showing posts with label Christian Testimony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian Testimony. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Blessed are the Hated

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”

What? “Do not be surprised?”

Well, that is kind of surprising in our age. After all, we’re the “let’s get along” society. No culture in the history of the world has been so omnitolerant, so permissive, so inclusive and so welcoming of everyone and everything as modern, Western society. We are so morally earnest to make sure that nobody’s feelings get hurt, nobody gets excluded, nobody is marginalized or oppressed, that we bend over backward to accept absolutely everything.

And given that many Christians have also bought into the mindset that we must always be liked by our society and must do everything to be seeker-sensitive, welcoming, open, all-loving, and always, always of good social reputation, should it not surprise us if the world turns around and suddenly expresses hostility and hatred to us?

How could they do that? We’re so nice!

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Difficult Choices

Some necessary background for anyone not up to date on the latest evangelical brouhahas. From Fox News: A Christian radio network recently dropped the daily broadcast of an Ohio pastor over advice he gave a questioning grandma. Alistair Begg says he is “not ready to repent” for telling her she should attend her grandson’s wedding to his transgender fiancé as long as she had privately advised him that in making an appearance at his celebration, she was not affirming his life choices.

Hey, bad advice is everywhere, and some choices are more complex than others.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Things NOT Done in the Body

One night in my late teens I found myself facing a temptation that is probably better not described in excruciating detail. Let’s just say it was a temptation common to young men. The other party was ready and willing and very much to my taste, there were no adults around to complicate matters, the situation was intimate and comfortable, and there was every natural reason to carry right on with what was already well underway.

For reasons I was unable to adequately spell out at the time, I didn’t. I’m not sure there’s a heavenly reward for that exactly, but I can tell you without even a shred of doubt that I did save myself a great deal of earthly emotional distress, guilt, ongoing complications and probably several courses of antibiotics.

If you must know, I blame my parents for that one. There’s probably a reward coming for them, if not for me.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Getting to the Truth

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

— English Common Law
Oath of Testimony

The fight outside a club was broken up by police; but a man was stabbed. Inspector Thomas has been assigned to find the assailant.

When the perp fled, the crowd scattered, but four witnesses remain: a bouncer, the girlfriend, the bar manager and a local cabbie. Inspector Thomas knows procedure; that each must be interviewed separately in order to get a complete picture.

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Retro Christianity

“In a post-Christian society, all faithful people begin to look a little Amish.”

— Ken Myers, host of Mars Hill Audio

Nice quote, Ken. Love the way you put that.

He’s got a point, though. In the ongoing moral and cultural decline of modern society, there must surely come a point at which the difference between how Christians live and how their neighbors live becomes too great to escape notice any longer.

And then, in a sense, we will all be “Amish”. I mean those who actually care to be Christians will be.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Holiness and Vision

“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

What is the writer to the Hebrews saying in the latter part of this verse?

A casual reading might leave us with the impression that it’s something to do with salvation. We might paraphrase that sort of interpretation this way: “Without being holy, nobody will be able to enter the presence of God and enjoy heaven.”

That’s perfectly true, but I don’t think it’s the writer’s intended meaning.

Friday, November 04, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: Outspoken Faith or Poor Judgment?

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

You may not have heard of him, but Kelvin Cochran was Fire Chief in Atlanta up until last week when he was terminated by the mayor. He was also a Christian. You can read about it here if you’re interested.

There is some disagreement as to precisely why he was fired, but the bottom line is that if he had not published a book entitled Who Told You That You Were Naked?, in which he expressed his understanding of the biblical view of homosexuality, he would still be employed.

Tom: Immanuel Can, former Fire Chief Cochran is not the first and won’t be the last Christian to lose his job as a consequence — whether it’s a remote or a direct consequence — of taking the Bible seriously and saying so publicly. We are both Christians with opinions who still work for a living. What’s your take on this developing trend?

Friday, October 07, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: Public Image Limited

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

I’ve been reading Brad Wright’s book Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told. It’s a sociological survey of attitudes of non-Christians toward Christians.

Immanuel Can: What interests me is his section “What They Really Think of Us”, “they” meaning non-Christians. He’s talking about another book, based on another survey, called UnChristian. It’s a book about how the public image of Christians needs to be spruced up. In this study, Wright notes, “Scientologists receive the most negative feelings. After them, however, the most negative feelings are held toward Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. One-half of the non-Christians have negative attitudes toward each of these two groups, with fewer than 20% having positive feelings.”

Thursday, June 16, 2022

I Want to Die

I was baptized young.

Not so young that I did not know what I was doing. After all, I believe in believer baptism only … just like the scriptures tell us.

I was around ten, I think. I asked for it to happen. No one pushed me. And at that time, I had a ten-year-old’s faith, and a ten-year-old’s understanding. Nothing wrong with that … it’s just not where I am today.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Testimony in the Twilight Zone

I’m becoming a believer in snowblower evangelism.

I live in an area where big snowfalls happen several times a year. I mean the kind that are a meter or so (a few feet) deep, heavy and wet. If you’ve ever tried to shovel out a driveway in those conditions, you know it’s absolutely back-breaking work.

The Lord gave me a snowblower. I don’t mean he personally went down to the local John Deere store and picked it up for me, I mean that it came cheap and unexpected, as a kindness from one of the Lord’s people. I don’t deserve it, and I’m very grateful to have it.

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Living Large

“What church do you guys go to?”

The question came out of left field. She had been poking around at her desk, seemingly preoccupied with the day’s business. Normally our exchanges were rare, light and usually practical.

I liked her as a person, but we hadn’t had many deep conversations. There was always a brittleness in her manner if any spiritual matter ever appeared on the horizon — not an uncommon happening if one teaches literature, as we both did. A lapsed Catholic, now essentially secular in all her habits, she usually avoided such topics completely. So to foray into spiritual issues so suddenly was very unlike her.

“An evangelical church up the road. Why?”

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

On the Subject of Being Subject

As this world moves deeper into secular materialism and post-rationality with each passing year, the tremendous practical and material benefits of the Christian faith become increasingly evident in contrast to the chaos, confusion and despair that follow logically from any worldview in which God is absent or unknowable.

One nine year study of over 21,000 believers showed we live on average seven years longer than those who do not know Christ. To quote the Handbook of Religion and Health (2001), faith has been correlated with “well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction.”

Sounds like great advertising, right? Wrong. Definitely wrong.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Blessed are the Hated

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Anonymous Asks (68)

“Can Christians use essential oils and aromatherapy?”

Today’s question is about a couple of modern trends, but could well be about almost anything that is not intrinsically evil. “Can Christians dance?” “Can Christians listen to popular music?” “Can Christian girls wear Lululemons?” “Can Christians eat pork?”

The same biblical principles will help us with answering just about any “Can Christians [fill in the blank]?” question.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

I Want to Die

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Anonymous Asks (45)

“Do I have to be nice to everyone?”

It very much depends on what you mean by “nice”. Christians often confuse being nice with being good. But the word “nice” is never used in our English Bibles.*

There are solid reasons for this. “Nice” is an awkward word, very much open to being misinterpreted. I can understand why Bible translators would make an effort to avoid its potential ambiguities. Its original meaning (now obsolete) was “wanton” or “dissolute”. Later, it came to mean “fastidious” or “exacting”. (For example, to make a “nice” distinction was to make a distinction so subtle that a lot of people would fail to grasp it.) All these historic ways of using “nice” are various degrees of negative.

Today, “nice” has come to mean “pleasing”, “agreeable” or “polite”. That is probably the way you are using it. Let’s go with that.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Getting to the Truth

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Knocking Over the Hurdles

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about how important it is not to put barriers to Christian faith in the way of the unsaved. I certainly don’t want to do that, and I’m very sure you don’t either.

Archaic language and holy jargon can be hurdles. Arguing about the age of the earth can be off-putting, as can paternalism, denominational conflicts, smugness, and a host of other far-too-common attitudes and practices that needn’t and shouldn’t get in the way of the knowledge of Christ.

These things are unnecessary, and it’s shameful to see someone shake his head and retreat into the darkness of ignorance and eternal loss over the bad manners and misplaced priorities of the messenger, over mere tradition, or over form.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Living Large

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Retro Christianity

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Anonymous Asks (11)

“How can I help a non-believer friend who is extremely struggling?”

I’m going to assume (with no evidence) your friend is a girl, since writing “he or she” a thousand times is tedious, but almost everything I’m about to say applies to young men as well.

I too have unbelieving friends who are struggling, so I feel the same deep concern for them you do. I think most Christians will relate to your question.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Testimony in the Twilight Zone

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Too Hot to Handle: The Greatest Threat

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Immanuel Can: Wow. Brian McLaren. I’m not the biggest fan of his work, to be sure. I read his book A New Kind of Christian, and thought it touched on quite a few important issues, but made the most unfortunate hash of them imaginable. But for charity’s sake, let’s assume that’s the ancient past, so full steam ahead.

“The greatest threat to Christianity is ... misguided Christians, just as the greatest threat to Islam is misguided Muslims and the greatest threat to Judaism is misguided Jews. Religious insiders can do harm to their religion in ways that outsiders never could. This is especially true in a pluralistic world, where religions are credible to the degree they bring benefits to outsiders.”
— Brian McLaren

What does he mean?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What’s Our Excuse?

We’re getting away from it now, in the kangaroo courts of Human Rights Tribunals and college campus inquisitions, but due process used to be a thing.

Built into the Law of Moses were several important procedural provisions designed to ensure that justice was done, including the oft-quoted “On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.” First century Jews applied this principle across the board. It was the essence of fairness.

Yet we have it on the authority of several gospel writers that in the case of the Lord Jesus, the rulebook went out the window, as it did at Stephen’s trial and in Jewish attempts to get their hands on the apostle Paul.

In first century Judea, the kangaroos were out in force.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Children in the Marketplace

As Rachel Held Evans is always telling us, Christians in the West have it real good. And for once, she’s not completely wrong.

When we compare our current situation to that of believers in Muslim-majority countries today, or to that of the apostles or Old Testament prophets, or to saints throughout the last two millennia who have been persecuted and even martyred for confessing the name of Christ, there’s not a whole lot for us to complain about.

Still, even if it most often takes the form of generalized online carping rather than direct personal attacks, Christians in North America do encounter hostility now and again. Such occasions provide good opportunities to assess exactly what it is to which the unsaved are reacting so negatively.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Things NOT Done in the Body

The most recent version of this post is available here

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Want to Die

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Contributory Negligence

Reality is what it is, as one of my relatives is fond of endlessly repeating.

He’s right. Truth remains true no matter whether anyone believes it. God found fault with the peopleLet God be true though everyone were a liar. Etc., etc.

Truth also remains truth no matter who says it. God has communicated truth through donkeys, little foreign slave girls, and even corrupt, pseudo-religious political animals like Caiaphas.

Everyone has an obligation before God to identify truth and respond to it regardless of how that truth may be packaged. The personal failings of the messenger do not excuse us from this obligation.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Living Large

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Retro Christianity

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

I’ve Got What It Takes — Relatively Speaking

I can’t tell you what sort of ideological programming a child in Ukrainian or Polish or Argentinean or Nigerian society may be exposed to, but for years kids growing up in the Western world have been hearing that we can do or be anything we want.

“If you can dream it, you can do it,” Walt Disney is purported to have said. “If you think you can do it, you can,” confirms John Burroughs. “I don't think anything is unrealistic if you believe you can do it,” agrees Richard Evans.

In the absence of a plausible counter-narrative, children bombarded with such sentiments may absorb them uncritically.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Testimony in the Twilight Zone

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Priests Are In The Pews

The concept of priesthood did not originate with the Bible. That may be where most of us first encounter priests, but priesthood has existed in many other cultures throughout history.

Canaanite culture, for instance.

Abram met Melchizedek, king of Salem (later called Jerusalem). Melchizedek was not only a priest; he was also likely a citizen of one of the nations that several hundred years later God would instruct Israel to exterminate from the face of the earth. That’s unless Chazalic literature is correct in asserting that Melchizedek was actually a nickname for Shem, son of Noah, who we know outlived Abram. We have no scriptural evidence Shem was Melchizedek, but his exceptional age would certainly explain the respect Abram extended to the “first priest”.

And this is the very first reference to a priest in scripture.

Monday, May 04, 2015

I Want to Die

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Will You Be Considered Worthy?

A worthy successor to Queen Elizabeth?
When we use the words “worth” or “worthy” in English, we are often thinking primarily of value or merit. For instance, when we ask, “What’s he worth these days?” we are really asking “What is the total value of his assets?” When we say, “I don’t think that’s worth my time”, we mean that the activity in question lacks merit.

So when the word “worthy” comes up in the New Testament, like when Paul talks about Christians being “considered worthy of the kingdom of God”, we may initially think he’s talking about eternal salvation.

Certainly some people do.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Too Hot to Handle: Outspoken Faith or Poor Judgment?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Real Evidence

What tipped the scales for you?
I’m going to single out the New Testament for a moment, not to minimize the importance of the first 39 books of the Bible, but because without its reframing and illumination of the Old Testament we could not explicitly know salvation in Christ: we could only hope and anticipate him. We could have Judaism but not Christianity, law but not grace, shadow but not substance.

Though we can find frequent glimpses of the character and work of God in its pages, of course, we could never possess the certainty and clarity that those who meditate on the final few books of holy writ enjoy today.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: The Greatest Threat to Christianity

The most current version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Testimony in the Twilight Zone

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Worst Advertisement

This is not an uncommon statement, sadly:
“As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”
— George Orwell
I don’t know if expressing it in this form originated with Orwell, but the sentiment has, I’m sure, been around as long as there have been Christians. Why? Because there are always among us the immature, the untaught, the uncommitted, and those whose professions of faith are false for one reason or another. There will be until the Lord returns.

Small consolation that those who express the sentiment compare it to the insincerity, incompetence or general undesirability they observe in the adherents of other philosophies.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Living Large

The most current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Boy in Black Leather

“I was crazy for Jackie
I was almost ready to say
when a boy in black leather
came and took Jackie away”
— The Waterboys
Those of you who are a few years younger than I am, and most, if not all, of the men, can probably relate to that one. I don’t mean that you necessarily know the song, but you’ve almost certainly had the experience.

I had it as a teenager, and oddly enough the girl’s name actually was Jackie, though I can’t remember if the boy who took her away wore black leather or not. Those were the punk rock years, so it’s not improbable.

And, if I am completely truthful, there was more than one “Jackie” over the years, and more than one “boy in black leather”.