How Advice On Blogging Resembles Church Growth Strategies And Why Both Demean You

Head Stick Pics 007As a blogger, I’m supposed to understand that you readers can’t read lengthy paragraphs. Just like church growth strategists understand that you can’t listen to sermons over 20 minutes long.

You need easily readable blog posts and digestible worship experiences for a few critical reasons.

  • You have short attention spans
  • You shouldn’t have to use Dictionary.com or learn Biblical doctrine
  • You need bloggers and pastors to quickly tell you how their material immediately benefits you

According to a blog I read on the art of blogging, I apparently expect you, my readers, to read with more maturity and engagement than you can muster. Reformed pastors have the same unrealistic expectations of people in their pews.

If I want more readers, I should dumb down my blog, just as my pastor should dumb down his sermons to gain new members.

Okay, I’m ready to stop writing this parody of the blogging advice blog (although I certainly entertained myself by imitating his writing style and implementing some of his suggestions). Having majored in English Continue reading

Giving Thanks Should Have A Direction

2004_0810Plymouth0052Does anyone seriously deny that America has become a secular society?  On the local news this morning, for instance, reporters had difficulty concealing their celebratory attitudes as the first shops to legally sell recreational marijuana opened at 8:00 a.m. today. Two of them. Only shops on the East Coast. Right here in Massachusetts! I grieved over the obvious disregard for God’s standards of sobriety.

Not long after running the story showing the massive amount of people lining up to buy their legal pot, the station ran another story predicting the massive amount of people who will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe I have a quirky way of viewing things, but it struck me as odd that Americans thumb their noses at the God of the Bible as they flock to celebrate a holiday originally intended as worship for His care and provision.

The Christians who celebrated that first American Thanksgiving (right here in Massachusetts, by the way), called for the feast as an expression of thanks to the Lord for sustaining them through that harsh New England winter and for the abundant harvest that ensuing Fall. (Do public schools still teach that part of American history?) Their thankfulness was more than a nebulous gratitude directed at nobody in particular, but heartfelt thankfulness to a personal Lord Who had lovingly taken care of them.

It’s important to count our blessings. Absolutely! In some ways,  I suppose it’s good that secular people step back and recognize the value of being grateful to something beyond themselves.

At the same time, I feel troubled that so many Americans have such enthusiasm about the Thanksgiving holiday when they demonstrate a total lack of interest in God Himself. As I see it, their nebulous gratitude lacks the beauty and depth of praising the glorious Lord Jesus Christ.

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
    nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
    and worship before you, O Lord,
    and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
    you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. ~~Psalm 86:8-13 (ESV)

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Saturday Sampler: October 28 — November 3

Symetry Sampler 03

Did you celebrate Reformation Day on Wednesday? Sadly, many evangelicals (if they even know what Reformation Day is) don’t see the Reformation as having any bearing on their lives. Thankfully, The Cripplegate features Clint Archer’s 3 Ways October 31, 1517 Affects You Life Today as a means of showing us that history really does impact our daily lives.

I usually wince a little when I read Growing 4 Life because Leslie A applies truth like an antiseptic. Of course, antiseptics are necessary in halting dangerous infections. The Expedient Lie forces us to examine how we answer awkward questions. Her observations sting only until they bring the sweet healing of repentance.

Reformation21 features The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 9, Heresy by Justin Peters. Demonstrating the deterioration of mainline denominations due to egalitarian beliefs and practices, Justin warns that a seemingly minor relaxation of Biblical principles now can have devastating consequences in the future.

Who wouldn’t want Free A’s And No Homework? SharaC writes about the harmful consequences of such policies on Into the Foolishness of God.

You’ll find that Michelle Lesley has more than one interesting perspective in Throwback Thursday ~ Band-Aids vs. Chemotherapy: Why Suffering Women are Drawn to False Doctrine and 7 Things We Can do to Help. I love her practical application of Scriptural principles.

Jason K. Allen’s 3 Questions for Christians on Social Media appears in For The Church as a welcome challenge to think carefully before we click or tap that “Send” button. Oh boy, do we need to implement his advice!

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Jesus As The First And Greatest Being Created By God?

Have  you seen The State of Theology survey put out by Ligonier and LifeWay (strange bedfellows) last week? While not the most scientific poll ever conducted, most of its findings probably reflect the general spiritual condition in the United States of America.

Warning: This blog post starts out a little dry, but fairly soon you’ll be screaming, “Yo mama — Continue reading

Flashback Friday: The Offensive Side Of Love

Originally posted July 31,2015

Love and truthNo sane person takes pleasure in offending others. And no sane person relishes the backlash from people they offend. We want to keep all our relationships amicable, and Scripture enjoins us to do just that whenever we possibly can (Romans 12:18). People, quite reasonably, expect Christians to behave lovingly, displaying gentleness and humility…and they readily point out our hypocrisy when we fail to do so.

To our shame, sometimes their accusations are valid. Sometimes our sinful, obnoxious behavior reflects anything but the fruit of the Spirit, exposing our stubborn determination to revert to our carnal natures (Galatians 5:19-23). In Romans 2:17-24, as a matter of fact, the apostle Paul says point-blank that non-Christians use our hypocrisy as a justification for slandering God’s character. So we absolutely need to behave in ways that demonstrate the Lord’s love.

His love, however, doesn’t always fall in line with the world’s concept of love. In 21st Century America, “love” requires an uncritical endorsement of any lifestyle (except one that favors Christian morality, of course). In particular, “love” rejects Christian ideas concerning sexual conduct, demanding that society approves of any consensual relationship. The post-modern person shakes a fist at anyone who dares to suggest that God intended sex to be enjoyed only within the context of marriage between one man and one woman.

21st Century “love” also insists on subjective worldviews rather than believing in objective and absolute truth. The idea that Jesus is the only way to heaven has no place in post-modern thought. Indeed, all talk of sin, judgment and the wrath of God contradicts the contemporary concept of a “loving” God.

Contrast the world’s definition of “love” with the Bible’s best known description:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

At first glance, this passage seems innocuous enough, but then verse 6 messes it all up by introducing the unwelcome ideas of morality and truth. Both these ideas imply standards that determine morality and truth. And that implication, because it draws on the rest of Scripture to establish and explain these standards, shows a side of love that offends 21st Century understanding.

Christians want, more than anything else, to display all aspects of our wonderful Lord to a world that desperately needs His love. But part of displaying His love requires us to also uphold aspects of truth that the world (including people who falsely profess to be Christians) find offensive. We don’t enjoy offending people, and we hopefully take care not to offend by being hypocritical sinners. Yet love commands that we compassionately tell God’s truth, even when it it hurts.

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Saturday Sampler: July 1 — July 7

Pretty Things Sampler

Except for a few minor points not worth mentioning, I think Stephen McAlpine is onto something. When Ground Floor Projects Are Pushed One Floor Up delivers intriguing insight into secular culture. It also challenges a horribly compromised Church.

So, how many people asked you to tell them about Jesus this week simply because you behaved nicely? Uh-huh. Evangelism by example doesn’t work that well for me, either. Perhaps reading Is Being Nice Enough? by Leslie A of Growing 4 Life will help you rethink that approach to evangelism.

If you read Elizabeth Prata’s blog, The End Time, you’ll know that her mission is Speaking up for prophetic scriptures. I think you’ll benefit from reading why she recommends reading prophetic passages in the Bible just as eagerly as you read other passages.

I didn’t see Josh Buice’s post, Rejecting the Sufficiency of Scripture Results in Cultural Chaos in Delivered By Grace when he posted it last week, but I definitely believe it needs our attention. Responding to the “woke” movement pervading evangelical circles lately, Buice explains the demands of the “woke” movement and then calls us back to God’s Word.

While correctly maintaining that some sins carry greater culpability than others, Tim Challies has us look at The Utter Horror of the Smallest Sins. Talk about a  reality check!

I promised myself I wouldn’t include any articles related to Independence Day in this edition of Saturday Sampler, mainly because the holiday happened three days ago. But Michelle Lesley makes such powerful points in Top 10 4th of July Twisted Scriptures that I simply had to break that promise. Please read her careful treatment of these Scriptures for an excellent example of rightly dividing God’s Word.

Co-authoring Learning to Hate our Sin without Hating Ourselves for Public Discourse, Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield argue that same sex desire, even if it’s not acted upon, is sinful. Interestingly, they trace the current debate on this issue back to differences between Roman Catholic and Reformed Protestant theology.

We need to remember that the Obergefell decision legalizing same sex marriage has accelerated persecution against Christians. Steven Ingino, writing for The Cripplegate, documents this growing problem and provides Biblical answers to the question: Would Jesus Bake the Cake?

Those of you who follow my Monday Bible Studies on the resurrection will will want to read 5 Things You Need to Believe About Jesus’ 2nd Coming by Dennis E. Johnson in Core Christianity. It wonderfully supplements the passage we’ll study Monday.

Steven Lawson explains and defends Divine Sovereignty on the Ligonier blog with his characteristic passion for God. Oh, that more Christians exhibited such passion for truth!

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