The Well-Adjusted Jesus- CS Lewis

from The Four Loves, referring to the problems he saw with classifying all human problems as psychological or pathological and how “normal” should not necessarily be our goal:

“We have only seen one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen.  You can’t really be very well “adjusted” to your world if it says you “have a devil” and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.”

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“Dare to be a sinner…” from Bonhoeffer

Finished reading “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer with my wife recently.  I hope to add some more quotes from it in the near future (though I will probably have to re-read the book since we don’t underline when we read together!).

from chapter 5- “Confession and Communion”…

“He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.  It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness.  The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners.  The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.  We dare not be sinners.  Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.  So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.  The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you.  He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone.  “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26).  God has come to you to save the sinner.  Be glad!  This message is liberation through truth.  You can hide nothing from God.  The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him.  He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you.  You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.  Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.”

“Under-program Your Church”!

Came across a great post yesterday called “10 Reasons to Under-Program Your Church.”  I’m considering writing a follow-up called “You might be in an over-programmed church if..” (Foxworthy-esque).  This is a topic I’ve thought about often, have lots of opinions on, and am waiting for the right time to share them some day.
Anyways, check out the original post by pastor and author Jared Wilson.  One of my favorite points in it is:

8. Over-programming reduces margin in the lives of church members. It’s a fast track to burnout for both volunteers and attendees, and it implicitly stifles sabbath.”

Some good things to chew on…

One Vast Need…

from CS Lewis’s ever-quotable “The Four Loves”:

“Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.  But man’s love for God, from the very nature of the case, must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a Need-love.  This is obvious when we implore forgiveness for our sins or support in our tribulations.  But in the long run it is perhaps even more apparent in our growing–for it ought to be growing–awareness that our whole being by its very nature is one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose.” (italics mine)

Sabbath Psalm

I took note that this was a Psalm dedicated for use on the day of rest. Note the focus on God’s work and consider how that relates to our rest.

Psalm 92

A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.

1 It is good to praise the LORD
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 to proclaim your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,

3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.

4 For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

5 How great are your works, O LORD,
how profound your thoughts!

6 The senseless man does not know,
fools do not understand,

7 that though the wicked spring up like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they will be forever destroyed.

8 But you, O LORD, are exalted forever.

9 For surely your enemies, O LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.

10 You have exalted my horn [a] like that of a wild ox;
fine oils have been poured upon me.

11 My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries;
my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes.

12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.

14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,

15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

25 ways to make sure your End Times chart isn’t Left Behind…

Disclaimer: Whether you’re Dispy pre-mill or panmill or amill or whatever, I hope you can appreciate a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the ridiculous things done in the name of the End Times.  I think you’re all good people, so join me in a laugh.

We all know End Times charts are at an all-time low.  Some might even view this as a sign of the times.  Sure, Christians have End-times movies starring C-list celebs and even video games now.  But perhaps like me, you’ve never stopped believing in the power of good chart.  So to spur on a new generation of eschatographers, I’ve created a helpful list of 25 ways to make sure your End Times chart isn’t “Left Behind.”

1. Make sure it’s not an outline.  Outlines are what liberals use instead of charts.
2. Use a “Classic Darby” font.  It’s size 6 and resembles Ulysses S. Grant’s handwriting.
3. 1 word, 5 syllables—monochromatic.
4. Don’t include the word “apocalyptic.”  The term is “bible prophecy.”
5. Seamlessly weave a chart on Daniel, a chart on Revelation, and “Trail of Blood” into one unstoppable “Mega-Chart.”
6. Write portions of chart in invisible ink that can only be read by 700 Club members.
7. “Cup of wrath” illustration mysteriously resembles Goblet of Fire bookcover.
8. Subtly include character names from Left Behind series but only from the later books so people know you didn’t quit after Nicolae.
9. All Bible references must be in original 1611 KJV.
10. Chart available in “overhead transparency” form.
11.  Appendix includes “Y2K Survival Guide.”
12.  Only sell chart in bulk amounts of 144,000.
13.  Develop a side market for chart with hippies trying to hallucinate.
14.  Manage to cover all of history from eternity past to future in a 8.5 x 14” page.
15.  Print chart on cellophane glasses so one can literally “read the newspaper through the eyes of prophecy.”
16.  Small musical notes allow chart to be sung to tune of “I’ll Fly Away.”
17.  Pretend you’re Legolas and cover that chart in arrows like it’s the army of Mordor.
18.  The web address on bottom should be hosted by GeoCities.
19.  Sneak an American flag into the hand of saint being raptured.
20.  Print chart on ink containing water from the Jordan River.
21.  Include a subchart showing the amills, postmills, and post-tribbers winding up in a sub-basement of Heaven…
22.  Hide Waldo somewhere on the chart for the kiddos.
23.  Make sure pyramids are somewhere on the chart.  It doesn’t matter whether they’re Mayan, Egyptian, or ziggurat.  People love pyramids on charts.
24.  Encrypt secret code on chart that can be uncovered to reveal another secret code.
25.  Have the Antichrist illustration’s eyes follow people around the room Mona Lisa-style.

If you follow these simple suggestions, you may find your chart some day hanging on the fridge next to an autographed photo of Jack and Rexella Van Impe.

Subverting Negative Expectations in Blogging

For the record, I’m just a lowly blogger with a readership of about 2 (3 if my mom is in town).  I don’t really know the pressures of consistent blogging that many of you face.  I honestly get more hits per day often when I don’t write anything.

That said, in a recent comment thread I was in, the topic of negative expectations came up.  I’m certain that most of us probably know of some Internet sites that we read knowing that we will likely disagree with the author.  Sometimes we may even have found that previous posts by an author that we disagreed with are negatively shading something else he has written.  This combative, defensive posture we assume as readers is not always helpful for understanding another human’s ideas and arguments.  This posturing is what I mean by “negative expectations.”

But I’m not here to talk about reading but rather writing.  After some thought, I’ve come up 10 ways that bloggers and authors can subvert negative expectations from their readers. Those of you with more readers than I and who post on much more controversial issues than I might do well to chew on these ideas a bit and see if there’s anything helpful for you.

1. Name your foes. ???  No, I don’t mean “name your foes” in the sense of starting every blog off with “So-and-so come get me, you godless communistic freewill emergent traditional Calvinist who hates puppies.”  What I mean is that when any of us are writing on something controversial, be it theology or denominational politics or college football, we know that certain groups of people won’t see eye to eye with us.  Why not acknowledge this right from the start? Go one step further in fact and tell them something you appreciate about their particular viewpoint or about a specific friend you have that shares their view.  For example, start off a college football post with “I know some of you are huge SEC fans, and I want you to know that despite some disagreements that will occur later, I do share your love of sweet tea and am convinced it will be served over ice by angels in the Regeneration.”  I once heard the advice “Compliment, concern, compliment.”  Surround your disagreements with friendliness, and you may find better discussion results.  Remind your critics that you see them as real people and not just as robots to reprogram to your particular viewpoint.  Note: You must resist the overwhelming urge to be passive/aggressive in these opening compliments!

2. Use less sarcasm. That was a hard one for me to write, but let’s get it out there.  I know Amos called rich women fat cows and that Paul told the circumcisers to make themselves eunuchs.  I can’t find it in Romans or 1 Corinthians, but I know that sarcasm is my spiritual gift. Unfortunately, it’s like that gift you get for other people’s kids at Christmas—the light-up machine gun with spare batteries included. The less mature tend to enjoy it, but it gets on most people’s nerves in large quantities.  So use less of it.  There’s a fine line between mocking sin and mocking sinners.  And trust me, sarcasm is like a colonoscopy—it’s funnier to laugh at it when you’re not the one on the table.

3. Don’t be yourself.
By that I don’t mean “be fake.” (and I certainly don’t mean “be anonymous!”)  But most of us tend to default to one particular style of writing or one particular topic of interest.  So break your own habits occasionally.  Instead of always blogging about politics, talk about your family or write a sonnet about monster trucks.  Letting your critics view a window into your soul and be reminded that you are a living person who occupies space on this planet will do wonders in setting the tone for future posts that are more controversial.  I recommend posting something about your dog because not counting my traditional Emergent freewill Calvinist friend in point 1, I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t like puppies.

4. Play by your own rules. This applies more to comment threads than to the original posting, but there is application for both.  You don’t want people using ad hominem in their comments…don’t use it yourself.  It’s almost like something this guy named Jesus said once—treat others like you want them to treat you.  Hold yourself to the same standards as you hold them to.

5. Set a specific place for critics at the table. You just posted a particularly intense critique of some End Times view.  Invite those who disagree with you to critique something specific in your post.  Rather than trying to corral the cat herd of comment directions that can come from a subject with as many different viewpoints as eschatology, say, “What about my use of Scriptures A and B do you differ on?” or “Am I fairly representing your position on these specific points?” The critics will come.  But if they know they are invited and have a specific role to play in the discussion, the conversation can be more beneficial to both parties.  This will also help you keep side topics or tangents to a minimum.

6. Keep it short. Seriously.  Nothing worse than reading someone who disagrees with you doing so for another 25,000 words.  You’re writing a blog, not The Institutes.

7. Read from the other side of the table. I know many of us don’t really edit our posts after writing them.  That’s what those squiggly lines that appear under the words are for, right?  But at least read from the other side’s perspective before posting.   If you were them, how would you take this criticism?  Does the colorful hyperbole appear more like a friendly high five or the less-friendly “high one” you see on the freeway?  Would you feel mocked or understood? Would you still say this if the people were literally in the room with you holding a puppy in their arms? If in doubt, refer back to number 2.

8. Keep an enemy close. (By the way, I use the term “enemy” and “foe” loosely here simply to mean someone who will oppose your views.  I hope you know that any brother in Christ should not be considered a real enemy. And any actual enemy of yours should be blessed and prayed for–another Jesus quote.)  Here, though, I’m thinking of having a real live “disagree-er” you can run things by or discuss things with in real life, preferably someone who’s not afraid to correct you and call you out if cross certain lines.  I have a friend from college who runs in more emergent (apparently it’s “(d)mergent” now) circles, and I often think of him when I write to keep me from being a big jerk.

9. Don’t always wear the white hat. Some bloggers act like the Internet is a saloon filled with ruffians (all drinking Sarsaparilla, of course!), and they’re the white hat-donning sheriff there to settle accounts.  Cue the song “Hero” by Skillet for their entrance theme.  Of course, anyone who doesn’t fully cooperate with the sheriff is on the wrong side of the law.  Every issue that’s important to them is pretty high on God’s list too.  If it wasn’t for their help, the Holy Spirit couldn’t get his job done.  Don’t be like that.  Acknowledge that you are a fallible human.  Admit that you may not be 100% correct on every issue.  Be upfront about the fact that you’re at the beginning stages of thought development about a particular subject and need input from everyone else.  Take the white hat off and grab a sarsaparilla and join the conversation.

10. Don’t be so shocked. If you allow disagreement from your comment thread, then you’ll have to man up a bit and learn to handle disagreement like a Christian.  No whining when someone disagrees with you.  No crying about how “everyone misunderstands you.”  Don’t sit back and wait for the responses with the token line “You obviously (being an idiot) did not understand or read my post if you can’t see that I’m 100% correct here.”  Yea, occasionally you’re going to be misunderstood, someone is going to comment without reading the whole thing, and a big hairy troll may also show up.  Deal with that stuff directly (aka…delete the trolls) and kindly (encourage the guy who didn’t read to do so and maybe even ask a leading question for him to look at in his reading –see point 5).    Listen, I as much as you would love for everything I write to be so amazing, paradigm-shattering, theologically sound, and persuasive that my comment thread is flooded with things like “you’re awesome” and “you’re like a mix of Tozer and Spurgeon and Athanasius with the combined wittiness of Chesterton and Lewis” and of course, “Hi, I’m a publisher. I know you have no book-writing experience but from what I saw on this April 21st blog, we’d like to basically pay for you to travel the world and write us a book in a few years.  We don’t even need references.” But it won’t be.  And if it is, you probably need to get another reader besides your mom.

So do you have any other ideas for helping to subvert people’s negative reactions when you’re blogging?  For pastors, how might these rules apply to your sermons?  And if you can’t see how one of these points would be helpful, I welcome your comments (just make sure to reference by number which point you’re taking on!).