Fighting from the Low Ground

To fight from the low ground is to fight at a disadvantage. Having the higher ground means having a better view. Being higher means having gravity working for you and against your opponent. Would you prefer to start from the higher or lower ground?

Christians have gotten into  a bad habit over the past 1000 years. Ever since Christianity became part of an empire, we’ve been used to having enough power and authority to be able to leverage people into the kind of life we think they should live. That time is very swiftly drawing to a close. Christians are losing the high ground politically.

We’re coming to a time when legislation and power plays in politics will be harder to come by. What then, brothers and sisters, shall we do? We relearn how to function from the political disadvantage. We relearn the principles that Jesus laid out when he warned and encouraged his followers that in this world we will have trouble, but take heart, Jesus has overcome the world.

Consider that Jesus, through his disciples, was capable of turning the Roman Empire upside down to the point where governors are having to write letters to the emperor to figure out how to handle these nutty Christians. What was the early Christians’ biggest sin in the eyes of the Roman Empire? They refused to take part in politics, which were tied to emperor worship. Because of this, they were labeled traitors and “atheists.” (I’ll continue when you finish chuckling over that point.)

How did Christianity spread so quickly? Well, besides the Spirit of God moving powerfully, persecution was the biggest mover. Persecution broke out in Jerusalem, so the Christians spread out into other cities. Then those cities got frustrated and drove the Christians on to even further-flung cities and villages. Even struggling from the disadvantage proved to be an advantage for God and his mission.

For a while, we as Christians have been struggling with how to use power. We like the phrases in Genesis “fill the earth and subdue it.” And, yet, we also see that our own sinfulness has made power a very dangerous weapon to wield.

Paul makes clear that God makes the wisdom of the world seem like foolishness, and that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. Perhaps it’s about time we begin bringing up a generation who understands how to fight from a disadvantage.

We always bring up the Civil Rights movement when discussing power, weakness, and change. Even though many who held power resisted that movement, the quiet strength and disadvantage of the marchers and peaceful protesters was nearly unstoppable. Consider what Jesus could accomplish if we stopped depending on our own power and began acting out of our weak points so that God’s strength could be made perfect through us.

Does this mean raising a generation of weak men and women? Of course not. It takes an indomitable spirit and willingness to face danger and anger and power itself. It’s being Paul listing his suffering, it’s being Peter sitting in jail, it’s being Jesus shutting out the mocking by asking God to forgive his tormenters. These people aren’t weak, they’re strong, but their power isn’t one of violence and privilege. Instead theirs is a power of peace, determination, perseverance, and trust in a God bigger than the current suffering.

How do you and your family talk about change that needs to happen? When culture seems to be lashing back at Christians, how to you react? In what ways are you preparing your family to act boldly from the lower ground.

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Something about Pigs and Jewelry

Congratulations, you’ve found yet another blog talking about the recent issues springing up in the Southern United States concerning the current thoughts around the construction of gender, sexuality, and identity. If you’re hungry for more amateur commentary, please continue reading. If you’re sick and tired of it already, you’re free to click to this video to see some adorable pigs.

Ok, so I’m going to take the unpopular opinion here concerning the new bathroom policies. I’m going to be riding the middle of the road here (fancy that) and attempting to get back to how we should handle this.

First, I’ll quote Jesus. Seems like a good place to start, yes? Here goes, “Don’t give holy things to dogs. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they will trample them under their feet – and then turn around and attack you.” (Matthew 7.6 Kingdom New Testament) Am I calling people dogs or pigs? No. Honestly, you could insert the animal of your choosing there and the principle will still work.

Jesus is pointing out a basic rule of life. If you can’t use it, you usually don’t want it. Animals don’t have a need for jewelry or sacred objects. They need food. Animals are generally very pragmatic and only seek out things they need. I take naps because I enjoy them. Bears hibernate because their body chemistry and genetics drive them to. I eat a large variety of foods because I enjoy the act of tasting and chewing. Wolves eat because they are hungry and need to survive. I wear a watch because I enjoy the feeling of knowing the time. I could just as easily find a clock or check my phone, but I do have a preference. A robin doesn’t wear a watch because it doesn’t need to, it has a biorhythm that keeps it in check.

Those examples are to illustrate a point – most people don’t turn to God because they don’t see a need for him. Think about it, if a person is trying to survive meal to meal, their mind is generally going to be on meeting their biological needs before tending to their soul. If a person is seeking an identity that helps them understand the world better, they’ll find something concrete that they can put their finger on.

Jesus is pointing out that tossing out verses without context, arguing harshly, and thumping the Bible doesn’t tend to lead to life change. If you read Matthew 7.1-5, you’ll notice that arguing with someone to prove them wrong often leads to a more heated argument, not changed minds.

So how did Jesus handle it? Well, he met the need first. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, gave hope to the poor and oppressed. Once he did that, he met the spiritual need, unless he noticed that the spiritual need was more pressing. (See Mark 2.1-12) Instead of shouting and arguing, what if we used Jesus method? What if we showed with our lives that an identity in Jesus is more unshakeable than one rooted in gender, sexuality, or culture? What if we sought to meet the need and transform the life instead of only warning against consequences? What if we sought to meet people where they are instead of judging them by a standard they don’t even understand?

Second, the pragmatic, “What to do now?” As far as seriously considering the safety of children in public places, I do understand that sentiment. I will say, though, that the fear of someone lurking in the bathroom to snatch people up has been in our minds long before this legal issue cropped up. I remember being told hundreds of times as a child to be careful and watch for danger in bathrooms.

Bathrooms are a place where we feel vulnerable. And we are concerned about literally “being caught with our pants down.” But precautions can always be taken.

As far as your children are concerned, take advantage of your local Child Advocacy Centers. Get yourself educated on how to prevent child sexual abuse. The more you know, the better prepared you and your child will be. Have conversations with your child about appropriate touch and general safety. Accompany them to the restroom where possible. A good resource for education and prevention is Darkness to Light, a program that explains and seeks to prevent child sexual abuse. (The training is excellent and thorough, but it does not shy away from the issues or details, either.)

For yourself, trust your gut. If you don’t feel comfortable in a situation, get out of it. Try not be be alone with another person in the restroom when possible. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure you have a way to get out, if needed.

Consider that the practical suggestions above can apply whether or not your state has changed its restroom policies.

If we want to change hearts and minds toward Jesus, then we need to focus on the individual level. Laws and secular morality are no longer going to be much of a help. Many of these groups have learned that face-to-face interactions make a huge difference in swaying others to their point of view. What if people who follow Jesus began to talk to their friends, neighbors, coworkers? There could be an exponential explosion of new followers ready to seek out their own friends, neighbors, and coworkers!

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has pointed out that what we’ve all been taught concerning the onward march of secular culture could be false. Secular culture has prided itself on one victory after another, claiming that religion as a whole is on the decline and has been since the 1700s. Look around today, with the amount of times we hear about religions in the news today, it doesn’t appear that religion is going anywhere. In fact, it seems like religion may be on the rise globally.

Are Type-A’s Killing Us?

Have you ever felt guilty for taking a break? Have you ever kept your own exhaustion quiet for fear of disappointing someone? Have you ever kept on doing something even though you knew you didn’t have enough energy?

So here’s the kick back moment to my last post. Perseverance is important, vital to being human. You know what else is vital to being human? Rest.

I just got done reading in Exodus, chapter 31 to be precise, where after giving the meticulous instructions for the tabernacle, God points out some skilled, inspired individuals to head up the work. You’d think God would stop there. “All right, you’ve got the instructions. Get started!” But God has one last thing to say. God commands the Sabbath, the day of rest, to be kept… and not keeping it would be a capitol punishment. Yikes!

So what’s that got to do with us? Well, considering that we are a people set apart for God’s purpose of restoring creation… making sure we set aside a day of rest is part of what makes us who we are. That particular bit didn’t just apply to Israel and modern Jews, we’re expected to keep it as well.

Why? One, because we model God when we make sure to stop and rest. Two, we show our trust and dependence on God when we rest – we’re accepting that the world will continue to spin without our efforts. Three, human beings need rest, plain and simple. You want to be more productive? Take a day off.

Our culture, however prides itself on overwork. We work overtime, plugging away as hard as we can, and many business models applaud this behavior and reward it. But it leaves people burned out husks, broken and depressed, sapped of all joy that used to accompany their work.

As a minister, I feel this pull all of the time. I’m doing the Lord’s work, right? That means if God’s going 24/7, that I go 24/7. Wait… that doesn’t sound right. God doesn’t need me. God chose to use me, and if I burn myself out, then I’m not much use to anyone. It takes a long time to recover after burnout. I should know, since I’ve hit it several times. After some good counsel, though, I am very protective of my day off.

I have Thursdays. My phone is for emergencies and pleasantries only on Thursdays. Email sits unopened for a day. I usually do some cooking or baking, which I love and can enjoy something I’ve made – and it doesn’t feel like work. My wife and I go for a walk, or on a date on Thursdays. I protect my day off like an angry bulldog. I’m getting in the habit now, so that when kids come along, I already have a whole day carved out for family.

This is one of my particularly hot issues I have with today’s culture. I want you to be assured that keeping the Sabbath is a part of your worship life. It’s a part of your spiritual well-being. Sabbath involves rest, play, and worship.

If at any point you feel burnt out in your service, or feel like life is too much. Take a break. Refresh, reset. Whoever your serving alongside should understand if you need that time. In fact, they should encourage it.

There are inherent tension points in Christian life. Here’s one of them. Persevere, and also rest.It may not make sense now, but the more you take a Sabbath, the more you realize just how necessary it is.

How do you model the Sabbath at your house? Do you take days off? How busy is your schedule?

Righteously Disgusted

As a part of our Sunday Morning curriculum we have had a month discussing the character trait of perseverance. The whole month has been centered around people from the Bible who refused to give up when things got hard.

Don’t we all have a favorite person from the Bible who refused to give up, even when things looked absolutely bleak?

The reason I mention any of this was that our most recent lesson had three short stories, two of which ended with someone who refused to give up: a girl with dyslexia who read out loud in class despite her difficulty and a really lackluster soccer player who discovered his dream to be a coach instead of a player. These got the children excited and interested, they began engaging with me as I told these stories. And then we got to the middle story.

The middle story was about a young lad who had trouble tying his shoes. His dad bought him a fantastic pair of new shoes, but they had laces… And when I told the children that instead of practicing or working hard the kid gave up and never wore the shoes his dad bought him, the look of disgust and disbelief on their faces was surprising.

There has been so much trash talk swapped between generations since the ancient times – even the Greek philosophers talked about the “wild and crazy” youth. But lately, the jibes have been turning from “wild and crazy” to “just plain lazy.” I wonder where that comes from.

The looks on these kids faces told me that giving up wasn’t even an option. The idea of someone just throwing up their hands in defeat stunned them into silence and then argument. “What do you mean he just gave up? That doesn’t make sense!” Kids don’t give up, it almost seems against their nature.

I wonder when many adults lost that sense of righteous disgust at giving up when things get hard? Where did the younger generation pick up a habit of “it’s no use?”

If you have a rebuttal for your particular instance, this may or may not apply to you. Or, maybe you should take a moment and think about where that rebuttal stems from and where your emotions are.

Giving up isn’t in human nature. God designed us to push forward and take one more step toward our goals. Jesus himself pushed through terrible pain and anguish because he could see the victory on the other side of the struggle. And maybe that’s the key. Maybe kids have a clearer vision of the possible victory and joy. Maybe their eyes haven’t been clouded by cynicism and apathy.

So as the kids learned yesterday, “When life gets hard, remember what Jesus did for you.”

What is the culture of perseverance at your house? How do you talk about difficult situations and which ones need perseverance and which ones need a brave refusal?

Failtastic Tales: The Film Premier Outfit

In life, we often find ourselves making choices that we later regret and that come back to haunt us in the strangest ways. In some respects, forgiving ourselves is difficult… And that may be because we’re prideful, rather than humble. Perhaps we self-deprecate because our pride wants to drill into our heads the mistakes we’ve made in order to protect us from doing it again.

That said, every once in a while, I’m going to tell a story on myself. These stories are meant to be humorous and self-deprecating, but in a way that will allow me to finally let them go. Either that, or help me get my stand-up routine organized. Regardless, hopefully everyone has a good time.

This tale begins back in the days of Freshman year of college. Turns out, we’re nearing the ten year anniversary of that achievement. (And yes, I know, some of you are saying, “Whoop-de-doo, young man.”) Anyway, near the halfway mark, I was invited as a guest to a film-festival and screening for the projects made that year.

To be fair, please remember that I was a freshman. Anyway, I was unsure of what all this entailed. In my mind the whole affair seemed like a lighthearted event to showcase a few individuals’ talents in film making. So, with that in mind, the idea crept into my head that this event needed the weirdly-dressed guy. You know, like Johnny Depp, who rarely wears a tuxedo at premiers or awards shows. But I also wanted to show school spirit, because freshman life, am I right?

So I gathered up an outfit that involved khaki pants, brown shoes, a white button up, a khaki jacket that was a little big on me, and an orange trilby hat. (Orange and black are my Alma Mater’s colors, and yes, it looked like Halloween year-round.) I owned everything but the hat. I had to borrow that from someone else. Let that last sentence sink in for just a moment. I felt exceptionally bizarre and ready for anything.

At least I was ready for anything until I saw the person who had invited me (and encouraged my goofy idea.) My future wife and her friend, who had both worked on one of the short films as make-up artists, were dressed in full-length dresses and both looked lovely. Suddenly, the situation began to dawn on my half-developed freshman brain that I may have accepted an invitation and suggestion without knowing all of the rules. I suddenly felt like I was playing a game where the rules had been explained before I arrived and I was left to play and figure things out as I went. As I didn’t have time to change, I arrived at the dinner looking remarkably under-dressed.

Dinner was fine, and I received my fair share of strange looks during dinner, even though I composed myself with all of the grace a scared rabbit would have in the face of a den of foxes. The conversation was fun and the food was good, if I recall correctly.

After dinner we all went to one of the larger auditoriums on campus and viewed the short films. Honestly, they were well made. And on a positive note, I realized at that moment that film makers are a very rare, special breed with their own particular taste in what constitutes an enjoyable film… It was not my cup of tea. Why is that a positive note you ask? It certainly exterminated whatever tiny shred of curiosity I had about exploring film making. Throughout the films I sat awkwardly in my seat confused and wondering what each project meant or referenced. Many in attendance laughed or nodded agreement… The only experience I have had like this since then was watching Hail Caesar with two film buffs. I laughed, but in all the wrong parts.

So, we come to the moral of the story being… uhm… it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed? Maybe, don’t wear the orange hat to a formal event? Oh, perhaps, check with the person who invited you about what’s ok to wear? Or even, if yo don’t understand the art form, second-guess accepting that invitation – no, that’s not it…

Well, take your own moral or lesson from this. I personally learned to overdress for everything. So, if you ever see me in a full suit at a kickball tournament, you’ll know the reason why.

Defying Destiny

Ok… I will hedge this a bit and say that anyone of a particularly Calvinist bent may find a lot to argue with on this post.

Anyway, in the West, we are the recipients of an ingrained belief in “destiny.” We have an endless fountain of tragic stories where the protagonist is destined for failure but can’t see it himself or herself. And we cringe and wince as each choice brings that person closer and closer to their own demise, even as they struggle and fight against it.

And, oddly enough, Americans really like the idea of being “destined.” Well, we like the idea of being destined for greatness. It’s even built into the American ideal of being the exceptional people, a new Israel, if you will.

But we often overlook all of those young people or families “destined” for failure. We tend to write them off as lost causes or stubborn. And we watch the tragedy unfold as each choice leads them closer to their own suffering one step at a time.

Do we ever stop to wonder if destiny is really a thing?

I only bring this up because I have seen so many people, by the grace of God, manage to break free of their bonds and find freedom from their “destiny.” I have watched people destined for tragedy manage to eke out a comedy at the very end. What might have been a Eurydice becomes a Comedy of Errors, if you will.

Consider what we call prophecy in the Hebrew Bible. It’s not prophecy in the Greek sense. Biblical prophecy always has a choice. It’s almost as if there is a giant, “but” standing over each pronouncement of catastrophe. God sends a prophet with a message of destruction, and leaves room for a big ole “but if you repent, this could all be avoided.” The biggest case-in-point Jonah. He flees from Ninevah not because he was scared of the people, but, because he knew God would forgive them. (Jonah 3.10-4.3) Jonah’s message to the city had been, “You people have 40 days left, you’re toast!” Sounds pretty definite and concrete. And yet, when Ninevah from the top down repented, God removed the punishment. The pronouncement had an implied “but” that repentance would change the outcome.

Now, is this how it works in every case? No. But we have all seen people shake off what weighed them down and found peace in God’s forgiveness and strength.

So what’s this got to do with your family? Well, many of us have something called family curses. These are behaviors or issues that plague generations because they are passed on from parent to child. These are things like anger, bitterness, apathy, perfectionism, alcoholism, poverty, abuse… In some ways we’ve all internalized that if you come from a background with these things, you’re almost “destined” to repeat them.

How do you break free? Well, let’s learn from the Ninevites… A phrase that even I wouldn’t have seen coming. Anyway, first, the Ninevites recognized their problem. They realized that Jonah was right – their lifestyle did justify their downfall. The Assyrians, by all accounts, were ruthless conquerors and quite violent. Then, the Assyrians turned to God, they showed through their actions and words that they acknowledged their situation and asked for forgiveness. Then, God acted and forgave, leading the people to change their actions.

Ok, so it may not be that easy. Breaking free of something ingrained is difficult. But we don’t have to walk down life’s road with the tragic finality of Oedipus or Julius Caesar. We can look to God for deliverance, for hope, for strength to break the chains.

Take a moment to think. Are there any behaviors or attitudes that you don’t want to pass along to your children? Are there any family curses you’d like to break? Talk to God about it. Then, find some fellow believers and discuss how they can help you change the future.

For further listening/reading:

Strand, Robert. The B Word: The Purpose and Power of the Blessing. Mobile, Alabama: Evergreen Press, 2005. Print. 

Lord Rabbi Sacks, Jonathan. “On Not Predicting the Future.” Vayechi, Covenant and Conversation 5776. iTunes, 2016. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.

Success Doesn’t Equal a Deal with the Devil

I’m starting to understand how highway truckers must feel retreading the same highways over and over again with very little changing with each pass. So, we are going to retread some familiar territory, with a slightly new twist today. (See this post and this one, for similar topics.)

So I did an internet search yesterday, and I’m finding myself starting to get sick with the number of Christian bloggers who feel it is their job to “protect” the flock from what they consider false or flagging teachers. Brothers, sisters, we have a society that is all to eager to bring the Church down, why are we giving it the satisfaction of watching us tear it down with our own hands?

For all of my harshness there, I can see the good intention underneath the knee-jerk reactions and misunderstandings. I’m sure many of these writers are truly looking out for the best for those that read their work. On the other hand, I don’t often see any of these writers reach out to the people they criticize to ask for any kind of further information or clarification.

One of these I recently read was this article by an author named Josh Buice on www.deliveredbygrace.com. He wrote clearly, and succinctly, on the topic at hand, and I admire his ability to communicate clearly and effectively. (If you want succinct, though, I have a hard time with that aspect of writing.)

Andy Stanley has been coming under fire lately for several statements that may not have been as clear as they were intended to be. I could write page after page on how often I’ve had to pause to clarify something I’ve said myself after watching the faces of friends and family wrinkle in confusion. Being able to say the phrase, “I’m sorry, that came out wrong. Let me try that again” or asking the question, “What did you hear me say just then?” are wonderful tools in any person’s communication box.

Stated Problem #1 – Andy Stanley Doesn’t do Verse-by-Verse

Now, personally, I prefer this method… However, I also understand that not everyone learns the same way I do. Andy Stanley’s goal is to make Jesus as accessible as possible, and sometimes that means not going through verse-by-verse, but rather focusing on the big topic or main story. Andy Stanley also talks about the idea of the “sticky thought.” He wants people who hear him speak to come away with one idea that they can put into practice the second they walk out the door. I’m ok with this. Jesus taught this way – using stories and illustrations that all focused on one point, but could be unpacked and delved into for even greater meaning.

Stated Problem #2 – Andy Stanley Designs Church for Unchurched People

Ok, real talk. If Jesus showed up at our churches with his friends, we might turn him away. We’d be able to smell cigarette smoke and wine on him from a party the night before (Matthew 9:9-13; 11:18-19) and maybe a few days of unwashed sweat and road dust. You’d take a look at his hard-living, sea-and-road-hardened followers and note thieves, revolutionaries, and a not a few fishy (pun) fellows with him. Not the dressed-up, showered, middle-to-upper class people we’d expect in a suburban church environment.

So, no, Andy Stanley doesn’t want to make church for church people. His goal is to get out there and get a hold of those people who are hurt by, scared of, or even hateful toward the church by giving them something they’ve never gotten – a warm welcome. There’s a phrase – I’m not sure who said it – that says, “Any system is perfectly designed to get the results it is currently getting.” If you notice that a church isn’t having many baptisms and seems to attract people who are simply finding a new church – then that church may be designed to draw “church” people.

Jesus didn’t hang around the traditionally “religious” people, he hung around the sinners, drinkers, cussers, and morally confused. Are our churches a place where these kinds of people would feel safe, like they could re-orient and heal in the presence of Jesus?

Stated Problem # 3 – Andy Stanley Isn’t Hard on Homosexuality

See paragraph above. Also, if Andy Stanley prefers to handle this issue in a personal way, without blasting people with a sermon, he’s approaching the situation like Jesus did on occasion. Take John 8:2-11 for example, when Jesus doesn’t say anything to the adulterous woman until everyone has left, and then says, “Go, and sin no more.” As a church, we should see that picketing and shouting has done nothing but anger people we want to save. Sure, we have good intentions, we want people to see where they’re outside of God’s will, but when has anyone ever changed their mind and life by being shouted to deafness? Relationship and time are the tools to address deep seated issues. “Wounds from a friend can be trusted […],” is what Proverbs says. If we want change to happen, we have to begin at a personal level and not try to wage some kind of culture war.

Stated Problem # 4 -Andy Stanley Won’t Say, “The Bible Says…”

And I agree with him. I cannot tell you how much damage has been done by the phrase, “the Bible says.” Whenever I hear that phrase, my immediate thought is, “Does the Bible say that, or does this speaker say that?” I also go to this scene in Fiddler on the Roof. (Scroll to timestamp 2:32 for the long version or 5:16 for the punchline.)

I understand that there is always interpretation involved when speaking about the Bible, but all Andy Stanley is doing is giving his listeners the ability to go back and see if the Bible really does say that. How? Well, Andy Stanley, instead of saying, “the Bible says,” gets more specific, saying, “Philippians 2:3-4 says…” He’s not questioning the authority of the Bible so much as he is giving people the option to be like the Bereans and, “examine the scriptures daily to determine whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11b)

Stated Problem # 5 – Andy Stanely Questions the Bible’s Truthfulness

Ok, here’s one where it’s much harder to defend the quotation used from Stanley, but I’ll try to explain his reasoning, at the very least. Here’s the point: the Bible cannot mean something that it never meant originally. So, to use the Bible as a scientific textbook is to look at God’s Word in entirely the wrong way. There are also many places where we have had issues in translation or copying that have made life difficult as far as interpretations are concerned. (Just research the King James Version and its translation and copying errors, including one of the first printings that excluded “not” in “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”) Historical-Literary Criticism (which isn’t as bad as it sounds) helps to better understand the worldview and mindset of those who wrote down the words we have in the Bible, so that we can better understand what it means for us today. I could go into this deeper, but suffice to say, high-level biblical training does come in a variety of methods and practices, and it can be used to bolster belief, or crush it entirely. It would be beneficial for Christians to better understand the Bible: who wrote it, who read it, and the copying and transmission methods that got it from the original pens to our hands today.

Stated Problem # 6 – Andy Stanley Said Small Churches are Bad

See this post…

Stated Problem # 7 – Andy Stanley Wouldn’t Use the Bible as a Starting Point

If you read the original post, here again, Mr. Stanley’s phrasing is poor. What I hear Mr. Stanley trying to say is that immediately jumping into the “Roman Road” may not be the best method for convincing someone of the truth of Jesus’ Kingship. Stanley says something about there being thousands of Christians before the Bible – by which he probably means the New Testament, in which case he’d be correct. The Bible that Paul refers to in many of his letters would have been the Hebrew Bible, because the New Testament was written several years after the Resurrection. This means that the stories about Jesus and his resurrection would have been passed along by word of mouth until they were written down.

So, in effect, Paul, especially when speaking to Gentiles, who for the most part would have been unfamiliar with the Hebrew scriptures, would have begun with the idea of the resurrection. (Acts  17:16-31, for example) So many people in today’s world view the Bible as a book of rules and laws that would hamper their life and remove all joy and happiness. And looking at the way some Christians have used the Bible, I cannot blame them. So, maybe, taking a leaf out of Jesus’ playbook and announcing the Kingdom of God with stories and illustrations that lead back into the Bible and its great story of God working to right the world might be a good idea for some situations.

Tl;DR:

Maybe instead of just pointing out one another’s flaws, we should first contact that person in question (or at least PR people) and ask for clarification before writing our thinkpiece. Also, can we as a Church please avoid making broad sweeping generalizations about people and listen more?

To wrap up: words are so important. Words were a part of creation.  Jesus is called the Word, who began a new creation at the resurrection. We are a part of that new creation, being called onward and upward by the transformation and renewal of our minds. We are, in effect, messengers, ambassadors of a Kingdom that stretches backward and forward through time, and we serve the King that is above all. Why then are we seeking to bring down others? As the title suggests, sometimes success does not mean that someone has sold their soul to the devil, or to secular society. Perhaps, that person has been blessed with some manner of clear vision and the ability to make it a reality. But remember, to place any human being on a pedestal is a recipe for disappointment. So let’s work to support one another, offering personal correction  and clarification when it’s needed. And, really, we’ve all had a day when we said something the wrong way and managed to anger or disappoint someone.