Author Archives: Klinton Silvey

Politics, Resumes and the Third-Person Effect

Before I get into this post, I want to say sorry to people who used to read this blog. I have disappeared from blogging for a while. I could say that it was due to working on school. But the truth is that, lately, it’s been plain-old laziness and a loss of focus on why I’ve even gone back to school in the first place. I aim to help people think, and I’ve lost sight of that. 

Have you ever watched a campaign commercial that smears your favorite candidate or praises one you dislike and thought something like this?:

“That’s a load of garbage. I know most of that isn’t true. I’m not falling for it. It just makes me mad that there are some people out there who will believe these lies and vote accordingly. I mean, I can see through this nonsense, but not everyone else can.”

Thoughts like those demonstrate the “third-person effect.” This error in thought occurs when you assume that most people are gullible, prejudicial or ignorant in ways that you are not. It often involves assuming the worst about a large group’s motives or intelligence. If you find yourself feeling like an “exception to the rule,” (whatever that rule might be), there is a good chance that you are making this mistake.

Political and social issues trigger third-person effects. And sometimes, if we would just really stop and analyze ourselves we would find that our thinking is absurd.

I’ve been guilty of third-person-effecting lately. At least, I hope I have been. Right or wrong, I’ve decided to be more self-aware and assume the best I can about people.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been applying for various non-religious editing and writing jobs around the Houston area. While my educational credentials are pretty good, the word “Baptist is prominent in my work history. I have been having this nagging feeling that somehow that hurts my credibility in the secular world and is why I am having little luck in the job hunt. After all, Evangelical Christians are not exactly portrayed as geniuses in mass media (and often by other sects of Christianity).

Now, of course, know that there are lots of hard-working, honest, intelligent people who come from a variety of religious (or not), ethnic and educational backgrounds; and wouldn’t pass someone up just because they had some religious organization I don’t agree with on his or her resumé. But that’s just me. Right? What about all of these potential employers? They might think I’m stupid without ever speaking to me just because I’m a Baptist.

I’m not saying prejudices of all sorts don’t exist. I know they do. However, what I am saying is that I should not assume these prejudices in others.

Can you imagine how different the political conversation in this country would be if we stopped assuming that the Left/Right, Democrats/Republicans wanted to oppress us/take our money/rights/religious freedom/guns/sexual freedom/make us a theocracy/force us to violate our religious beliefs/etc.? I’m sure there are plenty of people who do actually want to do some of these things, but I highly doubt they are nearly as numerous as purported by either side. Usually, the motives and desires of people are misunderstood and then demonized in a third-person effect sort of way.

A prime example of this is the labeling of pretty much any person/group of people who believe that marriage has a definition that has to do with male and femaleness or disagrees with the nature of reality as it is described by the LGBT community as “hateful.” It doesn’t seem to matter how kindly one expresses disagreement, they are still hateful/bigoted etc.

Hateful? Really? As I understand it, hatred is wishing the worst for someone. It is wishing for their destruction — literally, that they would die.  Should I assume, then, that the LGBT community is hateful towards me? That they wish for my destruction? I disagree with them in their beliefs about a lot of things, so certainly they disagree with me and mine.

What I should do is give the benefit of the doubt to those with whom I disagree — more specifically, I should assume that they disagree out of true belief and are not motivated by a sinister plot to destroy me. After all, if sincerely don’t wish evil on people simply because they think I am wrong, shouldn’t I grant that ability to others?

“But Klint, there are some people who really do think/believe/desire terrible things about you/others/this group/that group.” To that I say, so what? Becoming cynical is not going to help nor change anything. And, besides, I am a Christian after all. I’ll let God worry about it. (At least I’ll try.)


Responding to Responses

Category : Uncategorized

Klinton will be on Periscope (@KlintonSilvey) today, 11/20, at NOON (CST) to address some of the criticisms of “What Christian Millennials ‘Don’t Get.'” Join in! And please be civil.

If you don’t know about periscope, check this out: http://www.cnet.com/news/getting-started-with-the-live-streaming-app-periscope/



Something Christian Millennials “Don’t get”

Category : Christian , Church , Culture , Politics , Truth

I should probably be working on one of my three term papers right now, but something is on my mind. Also, this one is just for the Christians. If you’re not a Christian, go ahead and read it, but it’s not really directed at you.

As I am writing this, 17 state governors have declared that they will not accept any Syrian refugees. I’ve seen a lot of praise over this, largely coming from Christians.

I understand the fear. Really, I do. It is, I admit, quite plausible, as we have seen from Paris, that ISIS operatives can and will sneak in with the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from certain death or worse. However, there is a holocaust going on, and speaking for myself and I am sure many others, we cannot understand the coldness toward refugees coming from other Christians. If you will please stick with me for a few paragraphs, I will explain why we just don’t “get it.”

I was raised in a small-town Baptist church. I was taken there Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. I don’t care how much you like to goof off, if you spend that much time in a church, you’re going to pick up on major themes whether you want to or not.

One of those major themes is that we should be courageous. Another is that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Another is that life is eternal.

These themes are all over the Bible. “Be strong and courageous,” God told Joshua. “Perhaps you are here for such a time as this,” Esther’s uncle said. “Do not fear those who can kill the body,” Jesus said. Jesus also told a story that would be, on the danger scale, the equivalent of a Native American carrying a bloodied and beaten white man into an Old West town saloon for help in the pioneer days. (The Good Samaritan)

And the stories didn’t just include Bible stories. Just about every evangelical (especially Baptists) know and praise the Jim Elliots of the world and their wives. If you don’t know, Jim Elliot was a missionary to somewhere in the Amazon. He and several others were killed by the natives. Later, their wives evangelized the same people who killed their husbands!

We were taught to admire people like that. The idea that nothing, and I mean absolutely NOTHING in this world is more important than expanding the Kingdom of God — not even my own life — has been drilled into me since I was a small child. And, you know what? I believe it’s the truth still!

Am I not supposed to actually believe all that stuff?  I find myself today witnessing some Christians who seem to want to be as not like Jim Elliot as possible. I do not understand this. This is what I do not “get.”

For years and years and years it has been nearly impossible to get missionaries (even sneakily) into parts of the Middle East. It’s so dangerous, some, assuming they can even get in, are likely to be killed so quickly they can’t do much evangelizing. And now, hundreds of thousands of beaten, hurting, orphaned, widowed (google “pure and undefiled religion) and broken people are trying to come to US.

Is it possible that a small percentage of them want to kill us? — Let me counter that question with another question:

Does it matter? 

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a post Columbine, post 9/11 world that we youngsters think this way, but refugees or no refugees, some folk are getting murdered in the United States today. Refugees or no refugees, there will be another school shooting somewhere. Refugees or no refugees, terrorists will find a way. Life is terminal. You WILL die.

I find it astonishing that many people want America to be recognized as a Christian nation. God forbid!

“Dear Syrian refugees,

We, the Christian nation of America, do not want you. There are some bad eggs mixed in with y’all. We’ve seen the photo of the little boy who washed up on shore. We’ve heard from Christine Caine and the A21 people who talk about how desperate the situation is. But we also have some news sources that told us that it’s all men and the women and children aren’t even there! Whew! You almost had us fooled! Have a nice life in that land of opportunity you just floated to, the bankrupt and socially troubled country of Greece. We’ll send some food over for a while. Please, steer clear of the human traffickers and report all suspicious activity to the police.

God Bless.”

Maybe I’m just wound up. I suppose it’s possible to be too wound up or emotionally stirred at something like this. But if you want to curb my youthful enthusiasm, here’s all you need to do:

Open up a Bible and make a convincing argument that Jesus wants us all to be safe more than he wants us to reach the lost and help the hurting. I was taught, after all, that Jesus trumps all — even those teaching me that Jesus trumps all. Am I supposed to believe that or not?

It’s not like I’m declaring all of us must quit our jobs and go. But not only will we not go, we don’t even want them to come to us? I am genuinely confused. Somebody help me out here.


The Marriage of Faithfulness and Effectiveness

Have you ever heard this line? “We are not called to be effective, we are called to be faithful.”

I disagree.

Faithfulness to God and effectiveness for the Kingdom cannot be separated; and that is a truth that we should find terrifying.

In the parable of the minas in Luke 19, the faithfulness of the servants is judged on the basis of their effectiveness.

“…(verse 20) Another came saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in a bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest? Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away…”

I used to think that faithfulness meant attending church services, tithing and following the rules/behaving morally. Now, I think that if that is the extent of my definition of faithfulness and therefore, my actions, that I am the “worthless slave.”

The problem with that view of faithfulness is that we serve a God who wants to acquire. He’s out for more.

The worthless slave actually had some correct beliefs about his master. Unfortunately, his beliefs lead him to fearing his master in such a way that he thought that the best thing to do with what the master had given him was to keep it safe. He took no risks with his mina and happily returned it in pristine condition.

I wonder how many churches are so focused on keeping the church “pure,” that they render themselves ineffective? The passed-down traditions are kept. The convictions of the faithful are respected. The focus is certainly on the holiness of God. After all, God will bring the people in to the church as long as he is honored. Right?

It seems to me that Jesus is making the point that the master (who seems to be Jesus himself in this parable) is honored by people taking what they have and investing it — always a seemingly risky endeavor — with the goal of acquiring more for the master while he is away. He does not seem to be impressed in the least, and is made quite angry, by the fact that the mina he had given had been returned to him safe-and-sound.

Does this not scare you? It scares me a lot. If it doesn’t scare you, then I hope it is because you are an outwardly focused, effective Christian who is part of an outwardly focused people-reaching evangelistic, relevant church.  But if you are comfortable thinking that your attendance and tithing and not sinning makes you “faithful,” then you need to be worried.

“Klint, surely you aren’t saying that those dying churches who have God-fearing members who are ‘fighting the good fight’ aren’t being faithful. That’s awfully judgmental, especially coming from someone so young.” 

We should not be nearly as concerned with being faithful to the church as we are concerned with  being faithful to the purpose of the church. Meeting 1-3 times a week (or every single day of the week for that matter) and does not equal being faithful. Being moral people does not equal being faithful. Investing in growing the kingdom, does; and, in the most scary part of all, results are expected.

Most Baptist churches are either stagnant or dying, but I bet every single congregation has been reassured at one point or another that it is being faithful. Faithful to what? Of course we need to be faithful to the message of what the gospel is. But that is not enough because part of the gospel message is that it is for all people and we must be the kind of people who will actually go and love all people. I’m afraid that faithfulness to preferences is trumping faithfulness to kingdom-advancing.

I have never been to a church that was outwardly focused, mission-oriented and willing to set preferences aside (i.e. sacrificial) for the sake of reaching people that wasn’t growing, much less dying. Maybe that’s just my experience, but if the early New Testament church grew in a period of time where believers were literally dragged away and killed, then I really don’t think we can blame our culture or the world out there if we are failing to advance Kingdom.

The time has come to not only put preferences aside, but to put excuses aside and give ourselves an honest evaluation. Read Luke 19 for yourself and judge what I am saying. Which servant are you?


Sex Symbols

Sex and Trees

In light of recent events, I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I am going to write something that specifically addresses the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. I think anything I write would just be “white noise” at this point, but I wanted to repost something from a few years ago that might give you a different perspective on Christian sexual ethics in general.

(However, if you would like a pretty good *quick reference with responses to a lot of the common arguments for SSM, this link is pretty good: http://www.compassdistributors.ca/topics/homoargs.htm)

Below is the original article:

Sexuality is one of the most difficult topics for Christians to dialogue with the rest of the world about.  In fact, it might be one of the most difficult subjects to discuss within the Church.

Usually, the conversation is geared toward what is permissible.  Generally, homosexuality, adultery and pornography are right out and on the obvious “bad list” for most of the evangelical world.   Sadly, I am afraid I must use the word “most” in this case as there is certainly a movement of gay-marriage acceptance as a totally Biblical concept within Christianity.

But I’m not here to talk about that.  I think that the Bible is pretty clear on what God has intended marriage to be, and if a person has come to a conclusion that there is no Biblical issue with homosexual activity, then I really don’t think I could reason them out of it.

What I want to talk about is the root of our sin, especially in the sexual world.  This might be a perspective you’ve never thought of before, but hang with me.

Open your Bible to Genesis 2, and you’ll find paradise.  God has placed man and woman in a perfect, lush, wonderful garden.  They are free to roam around in the buff, in perfect relationship with each other and nature and God.  But in Genesis 3, it all falls apart.  Why?

“Read More”

The serpent convinces Eve that God is holding out on her.  I’ll bet in some way you are tempted to sympathize with her a little bit.  But just think of this for a moment.  God has given Adam and Eve free reign over PARADISE.  There are literally thousands, if not millions of wonderful non-thorny trees and bushes with all kinds of perfect fruits and berries to have their fill of.  But Eve is tricked into focusing on the one tree that she is restricted from.

If you are a parent, have you ever heard your child say something to the effect of, “You never let me do/have/get anything I want!” all while they have a room and back yard full of toys?

I bet you see where I’m going with this.  But have you ever considered that God didn’t have to make existence enjoyable in the first place at all?

As a man, I think women are just great.  They are beautiful, sweet, graceful creatures.  Never mind sexual attraction, they are great friends.  Long before I was married, I had girl friends and girlfriends whom I still think very highly of to this day.  I had the pleasure of knowing them as people.  It is a part of human experience to have meaningful relationships with other people and when those relationships are healthy, they are enjoyable.

God didn’t have to make it like that.  Look at the animal kingdom.  Many animals live solitary lives, only coming together to mate.

And speaking of mating, God didn’t have to make that enjoyable, either.  He could have made it purely instinctual.  He could have made that process completely devoid of meaning, pleasure, intimacy etc.  (I don’t want to write the details here, but Octopi are a prime example.)

So here we are, living on a planet where we can have many different kinds of meaningful relationships we enjoy, but only because God is good and made it that way.  We can have intimate physical and emotional relationships we enjoy, but only because God is good and made it that way.  And yet, when it comes to sex, and most all other sins for that matter, we look at God and say, “You tyrant! You won’t let me have any fun!”

From my perspective as a man (ladies, I understand what you get in a man isn’t all that great compared to what we men get in a woman), I must realize that God didn’t have to give me the opportunity or pleasure of knowing, loving or caring for anyone.  Let alone anything so great as a woman.  Let alone allow me to marry and be intimate with one!

Do I dare shake my fist at God and be angry that he says I should be faithful to the one?

Perhaps we need to remember God’s goodness.   Perhaps we need to remember that God made us for a purpose.  Perhaps we need to remember, “the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord.”  Perhaps we need to remember that it is God’s business what we do with our time, talents, money, mind and, yes, our genitals too.

If you don’t believe me, please read 1 Corinthians chapters 5 and 6 and see if what I am saying is true.   (It won’t take long)

We are not merely animals, PRAISE GOD.

By Klinton Silvey


Why College students are Really Leaving the Church

I’ve read several articles on the subject of  “Why the youth leave the church.”  Usually the articles give reasons such as, “They were never really saved,” or “they were never taught the importance of fellowship,” or “they weren’t discipled,” and the lists go on.

While I don’t think the points made in the articles are incorrect, I do believe most of the lists are incomplete and do not adequately address one of  the biggest reasons people leave the church after high school. 

It may be that, because they grew up in a culture that was friendlier to Christianity, church leaders don’t realize the need to prepare students for the intellectual challenges to Christianity in a deep way. Regardless, as someone who is much closer to college age than middle age I need to point out a harsh, possibly offensive reality:

Most churches — probably yours — have done and are doing a terrible job teaching people, especially youth, why they should believe Christianity is true. A lot of churches do a great job of teaching what the Bible says, but that does no good if a person does not believe or is later convinced that the Bible is not a supernaturally inspired book!

Now, this is article is no attack on my pastors or youth pastor. I imagine they did what they knew how to do and taught what they thought was important and followed the examples that they had.  I would imagine that a lot of what I will say might be “greek” to you. But times have changed and I promise you that your under-30 crowd is dealing with these issues.

Your youth-group kids are going to enter a college-world (if not a high school) that is openly hostile to the Christian faith. Be assured, your students will be challenged to defend — using evidence — every aspect of their faith. And most Christians, regardless of age, don’t know what the evidence is; and many of those who do, don’t know how to explain it.

As I see it, there seem to be two options which are regularly tried:

1. Try to convince students and parents (for those youths in your church who are lucky enough to have Christian parents) to go to private Christian high schools and colleges where they will be sheltered for a few more years or home-school.

2. Try to convince the youth of your church who choose to go to secular schools to avoid the parties and find a church. Hope and pray for the best even though statistically 60–70% won’t be seen in a church again. 

I would like to suggest to you a third option:

3. Give them the strong, battle-tested armor they need so no matter where they go they will be prepared to withstand all attacks and be effective witnesses for Jesus Christ.

Greg Kokul — a great defender of the faith — compares learning Christian apologetics (rational, clear and complete arguments like a lawyer would make) is like putting on a bullet-proof vest. However, the only way a company or a police officer can put complete trust in that vest is to put it on a stand and shoot bullets at it. If a bullet gets through, then that area of the vest needs to be examined and reinforced.

Too many times, Christians only listen to teachers or learn from those with whom they already agree. We like to feel like the smartest people in the room and we like to be confirmed. That is just a fact of life. For example, I would bet almost everyone reading this who watches cable news has a particular news channel that they watch almost exclusively because “the other news people are biased.” What you really mean is that you disagree with the political point of view of the commentators on the other channel and you don’t want to hear what they have to say.

We have the same problem in Christianity, only worse. There is often strong opposition to listening to speakers or teachers who are decidedly for us and for Christ and for the gospel just because they are part of another denomination! If we won’t listen to allies, then we certainly won’t listen to opposition, and, therefore, will be wholly unprepared to teach others why they should believe that God is real, what the Bible says is true and why our interpretation of it is the best doctrine.

It’s easy to be confident in your own rightness when you shut out all disagreement.

You can’t shut out disagreement in the college classroom.

You can’t shut out disagreement in the workplace.

We equip students with vests made of all sorts of “what we believe” materials, but the armor plating of “why we believe it” is missing. Then we send them off, heads held high, into a battlefield of intellectual snipers who are great at finding any weakness in the armor. Next week, I’ll discuss three major “weak spots” in Christian education.

This kind of argument is not the kind of "apologia" mentioned in scripture.  God always backed Himself up with evidence.

This kind of argument is not the kind of “apologia” mentioned in scripture. God always backed Himself up with evidence.

Cracks in the Armor:

While the motivations of those doing the questioning varies, it has been my experience that Christianity is tried in three major areas; and the truth is, a lot of times the skeptic has valid points that deserve deep, caring answers and not clever one-liners.

Area #1: The problem of evil.

If you cant sympathize with people who find this to be a problem, then you just arent thinking or youve never had any real tragedy in your life. The argument is usually something like this:

“Christians believe in an all-loving, all-powerful God, and yet we see horrible suffering around the world. Infants and children starve to death every day. Innocents are slaughtered. Babies are stillborn. Natural disasters kill thousands. Groups like ISIS rape, kill and enslave. Now, if God is so loving and so powerful, why does he let this continue? You say it has to do with free-will and people choosing to do wrong things, but God didnt have to make a world like this in the first place. Didnt he know how terrible it would be? And then, some of these people, after living horrible lives and never even hearing about Jesus, God then sends them to Hell for enternity!? It seems to make a lot more sense that if there is a god, at best he doesnt care or at worst is actually malicious.

Area #2: What we observe in science contradicts the Bible.

I would say there are definitely some valid points made in these arguments, especially against particular schools of creationism. All Christians ought to learn, with an open mind the strengths and weaknesses both scientifically and textually, of young-earth creationism, gap theory, day-age creationism, framework theory and theistic evolution. However, if you are not willing to learn from the proponents of each view, then dont bother. Belief systems should be judged fairly by the best they have to offer and not just by their critics. At any rate, the argument that what we can clearly observe contradicts the Bible usually contains elements such as:

“Doesnt the Bible say that the universe is only 6,000 years old? We can easily disprove that! The only reason cell phones, space travel and atomic bombs work is because we have calculated the speed of light. We know that galaxies really are millions of light-years away. We saw a star explode that was 114,000 light years away. When was that supposed to have happened if not 114,000 years ago? You say God can make anything look like anything He wants? If that is how He operates, then no evidence counts for the Bible any more than it does fo the Quran or the Book of Mormon. Is outer space just a big illusion? Am I really supposed to believe that the megaladon giant shark, the deep sea creatures with razor-sharp teeth and the tyranosaurus all lived 6,000 years ago and that they were herbivores! No death before sin, right? I cant look at evidence because sin messes up my logic? Well what about your logic? We are about to land a satellite on a comet that is 219 million miles away and hurtling through space at 64,000 mph. Obviously, we can calculate something correctly using our minds.

Would any of these questions make you uncomfortable? I know they certainly struck a chord with me. How would you answer them? Do you need to do some studying?

Area #3: Christians are immoral and judgmental.

These arguments are the ones we see most commonly in the news media and pop culture, and like the others, they should be taken seriously. Sometimes they sound like:

“Why are you Christians so against two people who genuinely care about each other spending the rest of their lives together just because they are of the same gender? Why cant people just be who they are inside? It isnt hurting you, so why dont you just stay out of it? Why should we all have to abide by morals written thousands of years ago? Even you Christians have changed. Men and women used to wear robes to the floor to be modest. You certainly dont do that anymore! You talk about things prohibited in the Old Testament, but you eat ham! Also, how many people have been killed in the name of Christ? Jesus said not to judge.

I Peter 3:15 (NASB) says, always being ready to make a defense (apolgia: a legal term like the defense a lawyer would make) to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…”

This verse needs to be fulfilled now more than ever. I beg you to honestly consider how prepared you are to address some of the arguments Ive listed. It could be that you are very unprepared. It could be that you might need to learn from people with whom you think you disagree.

But I would ask you to put yourself in the shoes of your young people and imagine being faced with these sorts of questions.

My freshman year at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, I thought I knew why people ought to believe the Bible. I had watched Dr. Dino, and he made minced-meat of the arguments non-believers would have. I was in a BMA church every time the doors were open since birth! I was prepared.

Wrong.

I wasnt prepared at all. I had only been given a caricature of what other people believed, thought and felt. I had only been taught from a narrow perspective and didnt even know that other schools of interpretation existed within conservative, Bible-believing Christianity.

The worst part is, I am pretty sure I drove people further away from Christ by my ignorance-fueled arrogance and the apologeticsI had been taught. I wish I could go back in time and do it all over again.

What will you do to make your youth more prepared than I was?

Under the leading of the Holy Sprit, I have dedicated my life to contending for the faith in the arena of thought. I have a great list of resources on these subjects and would love to talk with you or your youth. For more information, visit lifeinprogressministries.com.


come back to church

American Easter: A letter to Easter-only churchgoers.

I sent a draft of this to my sister, Jaclyn. She said it made her cry, and she said you have to read it to the end.

Easter Sunday afternoon, I wrote a Facebook post that said, “Happy ‘never see them again’ Sunday.”

I shouldn’t have written that, especially in that way. I had some family quickly point that fact out. It was written out of a deep-seeded frustration. I’m not saying that makes it right, but today I’m going to explain from where that frustration is coming. 

Usually, I try to write on some general Christian principle and speak for a larger group. Today, I’m just writing what I, Klinton Silvey, think and what I would like to say to those who maybe attend church once or twice a year for what are sure to be various motivations. Others in the Christian community might agree, but I don’t know for sure, you’ll have to ask them. Here goes:

In some ways, I dread Easter Sunday. My attitude about it generally stinks. Let me tell you three reasons why I don’t dread Easter Sunday:

1. If families want to dress a little bit nicer and match and take pictures, that is a fine thing to do. It’s fun. It’s OK to have fun and have a nice family photo. No problem there.

2. If churches want to do some extra music or decorate just a little more or do something different simply because it is Easter, which is directly targeted toward what we believe to be the most significant event in history, that’s great. Go for it. Celebrate. You ought to celebrate.

3. I am not upset that you, the unsure/unbelieving/visiting/anything, came to church as if it is some exclusive club meeting and you’re messing it up.  I want people to come to church anytime and with any motivation.

As far as I can see, the three points above pretty much sum up the American Easter experience, and taken piecemeal, it would seem that there is no reason I should be upset.

But I am upset. I’m upset because I feel like a great many people leave the Easter service believing something that doesn’t make any sense at all, and that belief goes something like this:

“Jesus is more than great guy. He is God-incarnate. He even rose from the dead to save the world from sin. This is a good thing. I’m glad I came to church to acknowledge it with all of these other people, it makes me feel good,” — this is the first part of the belief that upsets me, and I believe all of it to be true.

But when those beliefs are combined with an attitude that, without using words, communicates an idea such as, “I’ll be back next year to celebrate these important historical and/or at least culturally important events. But until then, I’ll continue to live without thinking much about it. I won’t really let it affect my life.”

Those two ideas put together are a belief system that says, “Easter is important, but it isn’t important enough to change my life,” and this is a belief that I fear many have, and it makes me incredibly sad and frustrated. And I am afraid it is perpetuated and enabled by the American cultural phenomenon that is Easter.

C.S. Lewis said it as well as anyone, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

If Jesus didn’t prove he was divine by rising from the dead, then there really is no reason to take him any more seriously than you take yourself. He was just a man; actually, he would have been a loon who claimed to be God.

If Jesus really did literally, physically rise from the dead, it makes no sense to simply acknowledge that once a year as a holiday. To say that you believe in the resurrection and then live as if it doesn’t matter is illogical, and the Christian faith is not meant to be casual. It only makes sense to take very seriously everything that Jesus taught.

If I were to ask you what you would say if faced with the kind of choice many Kenyan college students just faced of denying Christ or death, I suspect a surprising number might say, “death.” But Jesus taught that to be his disciple means to die to yourself daily and surrender your life to his will. Why would you say you would choose to die for Christ but you do not choose to live for him now?

In America, it is culturally very easy to take up the label of “Christian” to please your family or feel good about your moral standing with God without actually knowing and following him with your life.

I have a therapist friend who likes to say,”Believe whatever it is you believe with utter conviction, even unto death.” He’s right, you need to decide what you really believe and live accordingly. Don’t be fooled into thinking there is middle ground because that just means that what you actually believe is that who Jesus is and what he said doesn’t actually matter.

When I wrote, “Happy ‘never see them again’ Sunday,” it was sarcasm out of frustration. Please don’t make my joke a reality.

If you do make it a reality, I hope your motivation is because when you heard the gospel at church, it made you very uncomfortable because you felt like there was something you ought to do with that information and church became a scary place. If that is the case, I think you’ll give in to God eventually and start looking for a community of believers. At least I hope so.

If you were a casual Easter-attender, please don’t let your life make a travesty, a farce, of the gospel.

I have had more than one person tell me I ought to be happy that you came to church at least once. I have been told I should be more positive as if people score points with God by coming to church. Here is why being more positive is hard: if you came as a casual Christian/non-believer and left as a happier, more encouraged casual Christian/non-believer, then I am sad that you came because you might be further from the truth of the gospel than when you entered.

However, if a “seed” was planted in your heart that at least has you thinking, then I am glad you came. What will make me sad is if that seed goes untended.

Your Christian friends like me are weak. We might be too afraid of being “pushy” to follow up with you about the sermon or invite you back. If you attended church on Easter Sunday and have questions, please forgive our weakness and ask us. Ask me. If you’re reading this, then my contact information should be easy to find.


greed

Ignored Sins Part 3: Greed

Tags :

Category : Christian , Culture , finances , Scripture

Ask your pastor how many people he has counseled about their struggle with greed. I would guess that number would be much closer to zerothan it would be to a big number like three.Have you had a heart-to-heart with a friend about how much you need to break the stronghold of greed in your life?

Are you greedy?

In my opinion, I doubt many of us would know how to answer that question even if we were being completely honest with ourselves.

When it comes to the question Am I greedy?most responses would probably be something the lines of, UhI dont think so. Maybe?Its very clear to me that I have real struggles with lust, laziness and gluttony. I dont seem to have much of an inclination toward drunkenness or unforgivenness. But greed? Who knows?

We lack clarity both in definition of what greed is and how to recognize it.

It seems to me, that according to Jesus in Luke 12, there are two major components to the sin of greed. The first is finding your security or self-worth in the abundance of posessions or money. The second is a lack of generosity, which naturally follows the first aspect.

When it comes to recognizing greed in your own life, Jesus knows it is tricky thing. He spoke about greed in a unique way:

Then He said to them, Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Luke 12:15, 34, NASB)

Regarding other sins, Jesus spoke much more matter-of-factly about what was right and what was wrong. But this language of bewareor Watch out!as some translations put it, is unique to how Jesus spoke about greed. This is because it is easy to be habitually greedy and not realize it. By contrast, no man commits adultery by accidentally going to bed with a woman who is not his wife.

But why is greed so hard to recognize? I think the answer can be summed-up in one word: comparison.

We think greed is a problem of which only richpeople suffer. And, as long as someone else is more rich than we, we cant be greedy; but they can. When it comes to generosity and giving, we believe that as long as someone else has a more luxurious lifestyle than ours, then they can afford to be generous. Were just trying to make it, right?

The problem is that according to Jesus, our ability to make itin this world and our inclinations to be generous have absolutely nothing to do with what we can or cannot afford but everything to do with the Fathers ability and desire to be our source of satisfaction and provision.

And He said to His disciples, For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifes span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.’” (Luke 12:22-33)

Greed is inextricably linked to a lack of faith that God is actively involved in your livelihood or well-being. Think about it. If you are unwilling to give in a way that creates some kind of financial uncertainty in your life in other words, you will not give to the point where there is any real risk then you cannot say that you have ever trusted God to provideor that you have ever given sacrificially. What room for faith is there?

Moreover, if we are being completely honest, the context of our American lives cannot be ignored, either. Very few, possibly none, who are reading this are destitute. As Americans, we tend to have no idea how little we really need. The truth is that our ego is wrapped up in our possessions and we feel entitled to whatever we want. Of course God gives us good things to enjoy, the question is, Would you give them up if God wanted you to?Actually, maybe the real question is, Have you even considered that God might ask you to give up your material posessions, or do you think that you have earned them and therefore have a right to them that not even God can take away?

Allow me to offer a few test questions that can give you an indication as to whether or not you have greed in your life:

1. Have you ever felt convicted by the Holy Spirit to give to someone in need, but then didnt and justified it by saying something to the effect of, That person should be more responsible/get a job/get on a government program,or What if they are just ripping me off?or I cant afford to help them right now.

For the sake of argument, lets say that the person who is asking you for help is, in fact, being dishonest or is going to be irresponsible with what you give them. What have you lost? The correct answer is ultimately, nothing. The money you gave came from God, and if you actually need it, He promises to take care of you. You have lost nothing. That money is going to burn up someday anyway. If you have given from a compassionate heart, you will have gained treasure in Heaven. Do you really believe that treasure in Heavenis better than treasure on earth?

I have battled these ideas recently. A friend who was in need but who also has terrible money management skills asked me for help to the tune of several hundred dollars. I didnt want to do it. But I knew God wanted me to. After looking for multiple ways out of it and being really frustrated at the fact that the money I had just gained by selling a camera money I had plans for was going bye-bye, I went ahead and gave it.

With a clear conscience and absolute truth in my heart, I am telling you that not only have I not missed that money, but God has surprised me with financial blessings that I did not forsee and has softened the heart of my friend who, not long ago, was a strident atheist but now is willing to talk about his need for God. 

2. Are you giving your first fruits?

Im talking about tithing. Yes, tithing. Tithing, tithing, tithing. (I can hear the keystrokes of angry emails clicking already.) Tithing is described by God as an ordinance; meaning it is an ordinary statute. It was around before the law was given and goes on into the New Testament. It is the first 10% of your increase and is meant to be brought to the house of God for the purpose of provision. Once again, it is meant to be the first of your increase. Its not leftovers, its not, Well, Ill see if I have enough after the bills are paid.

Plan on giving it before you plan your lifestyle. If your bills are such that you literally cannot spare the money, change your lifestyle. I bet there is something you can do. Can you downgrade what kind of vehicle(s) you have? Smaller house? Eat out less? If there is really nothing you can do, bring your tithe (you cant givesomething that doesnt belong to you in the first place) anyway and put God to the test to see if He wont provide for you. I mean it. People get really worked up over tithing, and I understand that it takes the Holy Spirit to sanctify, but if there is one thing I know, it is this:

The only people who hate the idea of the tithe are people who wont step out in faith and do it. Ive never met a remorseful tither.

3. Lastly, do you always have an opinion about how much (other than tithing because that is Gods command, not mine) other people ought to be giving or what they should do with their money? Do you see richpeople and think to yourself that if they cared about the poor, they would give a lot more. Or do you see someone in a nicer vehicle than yours and pass judgement on them?

First of all, this attitude might stem from coveteousness (jealousy). Secondly, you do not know what is in his or her heart, nor how much they give, nor how much God has prompted them to give. Thirdly, youre not the first person to have these thoughts. A very famous man is recorded stating the idea that an extravagant gift ought to be sold and the proceeds given to the poor.

His name was Judas Iscariot. And he didnt really care about the poor. Do not accuse others of not being generous enough because you care about the poorunless youre willing to sell all you have and give it to them.

In summary, the battle with greed is not easily won. It requires a great deal of introspection and a great deal of pain and a great deal of real, tangible trust that God will provide as He has promised. If you are willing to trust Him with your eternity, will you trust Him with your money?


gluttony

Ignored Sins Part 2: Gluttony

I have often heard that “gluttony” applies to over indulging in anything. There is no escaping that in Biblical terms, gluttony is, in fact, about food. If you were hoping for an escape, I would encourage you to do a word-search for all passages about gluttony. Nearly all of them address eating. While taking any legitimate pleasure to excess can be harmful, talking about non food-related gluttony is usually an excuse to ignore its most literal and plain definition. Regularly gorging ourselves on food, sometimes to the point that our cravings control us, is sin. It just is. It is time to accept that fact and work on repenting.

While a sin such as gossip might go ignored in practice, gluttony is generally ignored from the pulpit. I can’t recall ever hearing a sermon that addressed the subject at any length.

Pastors and congregants seem to have no problem declaring how illegitimate sex harms the body and soul. Alcohol, tobacco and psychogenic substances are fair game for attack. How is it then that it is perfectly acceptable to destroy the body from the inside out with multiple helpings at the Golden Corral? What’s worse is that how much one can eat in one sitting is often  considered something brag-worthy!

I guarantee you that there are many people who have been flabberghasted to hear an obese pastor who has no intention of changing his lifestyle preach against the dangers of even one glass of wine at dinner. This is the very definition of hypocrisy, and the world knows it — that is the worst reality of all.

Many churches and Christians are missing a huge opportunity to share the Christian worldview. 

In 2015, fitness is a very big deal. You cannot look at a news feed on Facebook without something diet or exercise-related showing up within a few seconds. The world has never been more concerned about diet and exercise, and rightfully so. If someone believes that this life is all there is, it makes sense that they would want to prolong that life and experience it to the fullest with a healthy body. How much more should we want the same, knowing that our bodies are meant to be living sacrifies to be used in the work of advancing the Kingdom?

You want to reach a big portion of the 35-and-under crowd? It’s never been easier to literally go and “meet people where they are.” There’s no need to debate whether or not it’s good to try to go witness at a bar or pub or parties. Just go the gym. You can show repentance, get healthy, be a Godly example and witness to a lost world all at the same time!

In a culture that sometimes wants to be healthy for health’s sake and other times for vain glory, we could and should have a testimony that we try to take care of our bodies because God gave them to us. We, of all people ought to be able to demonstrate self-control in all things. Nothing of this world, food included, should master us.

Gluttony is a major cultural problem in the conservative evangelical world. “Enjoying the good gifts of God” (such as food) has been perverted into “eat everything you possibly can at the potluck.” We are raised in it and therefore do not recognize it. Gluttony is the water in the pot that is slowly being raised to a boil and we’re the frogs.

To be honest, it will take nothing short of revival and a major cultural change within our churches for effective repentance to occur.

Pastors and lay-people, we put so much emphasis on taking care of the church building as if it were “God’s house.” Let’s put more effort into maintaining the actual temples of the living God.