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Tag Archives: Christ

Easter: It’s More

Every year around this time, we can count on bumper-sticker-worthy quips and sermonettes reminding us that Easter is about more than egg-laying bunnies and candy. Most people–even if they don’t believe it–have heard this. So I’ll trust that we’re all on the same page here, and move on to what’s been occupying my heart this pre-dawn Easter morning.

Easter is more.

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The Offensiveness of Truth and the Truth about Offense

Seeker-friendly. That title alone is enough to induce a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of Bible-believing Christians. While no one will argue against increasing accessibility for those who want to be saved, that goal has been pursued in a lot of unhelpful ways. Too often, churches have compromised or abandoned their message in order to avoid accidentally offending someone. Too many preachers have focused so hard on making their hearers feel comfortable that they neglect to actually say anything of substance.

In reality, there is an inherently offensive dimension to the Gospel. Self-righteous, independent humans don’t like being told they’re lost sinners who must cast themselves on the mercy of a God they’ve never seen, and thereafter obey Him. People overly concerned with being nice and inclusive chafe at the idea that there is only one Way to the Father. Naturalistic intellectuals will scoff at the idea that some God-Man will come in the sky and set up a thousand-year kingdom. God Himself, speaking of the first coming of His Son, said, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense…” (Rom 9:33). He knew that many pride-blinded sinners would not be willing to receive Him.

Thus, it is more than fair to say that the Gospel — undiluted and straightforward — is offensive to the unredeemed human heart. It may even be fair to say that a presentation of the Gospel that does not strike that chord of, “Wait… what?!” very well may have missed the way Scripture speaks of it.

Truth is often offensive. Messengers and leaders in the Body of Christ ought not to shrink back from being truthful for fear of bothering someone.

However, and equally importantly, not all that offends is truth. Messengers and leaders in the Body of Christ (especially the younger ones) do well to take this seriously. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in My Two Cents, Theology

 

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Not to Be Pitied

I was thinking about the Cross the other day, and the incredible severity of what Jesus went through. Of course, there is the physical pain that He endured — the scourging, the blows with a rod, and the slow, agonizing death of crucifixion. There is the interpersonal aspect, from being betrayed to being abandoned and denied. To top it all off, there is the spiritual trauma, both of bearing the world’s sins and of the terrifying interruption of the divine fellowship of the Trinity. No one in the history of creation has endured the kind of suffering that Jesus did.

When we see this — really see it — it is jarring. It can and should deeply impact our emotions. But there is one response it should not elicit in us: pity. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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30-Day Humility Challenge

I’ve still been thinking about body image. A lot. I just can’t shake how important it is that we declare war on the superficial, appearance-based value system that our world so loves and promotes. I’m burdened with how all-consuming this thing gets if we let it take root in our hearts, and how drastically it impedes our ability to love and to receive love (from God and others). I feel more strongly than ever that, especially as believers who value the fasted lifestyle, we have to be clear on this in order to stay safe. We daren’t spend the fast either hoping we lose a lot of weight, or else worrying that it might slow down our metabolisms and make us fat.

This is not only important for those people with diagnosed eating disorders. This is not just for people who are already “just fine” and shouldn’t worry about their looks (“unlike MY tubby/pale/pimply/wrinkly/otherwise ugly self,” we might think). This is for any one of us who ever looks in the mirror and sighs unhappily about what we see. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2010 in Heart Stuff

 

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The Great Equalizer, Illustrated

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “equality” lately. You can’t do even a cursory study of the gender debate without running across this word a lot. There are so many arguments about it — what groups are actually equal with each other; what groups need to be; what groups claim to not have equality, but really do; and, “well, what is your group to tell me that my group doesn’t need it anymore?” etc. etc. There are tons of ideas of how to achieve equality, countless articles searching for the cause of its absence, and lots and lots of finger-pointing and/or self-pity regarding those who get the short end of the stick. It is such a dicey subject.

On one hand, I definitely agree with the overall concept of equality. We in the church are supposed to love, honor, and submit to one another in Christ, so we really should not be seeing vast swaths of people who are being systematically oppressed. We need to treat even unbelievers with kindness. Defending the oppressed is biblical, and it’s a great thing.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to justify by the Sermon on the Mount how it’s okay for any of us to stand up and demand our fair and equal rights. Although it’s right for us to be treated well, it’s not our job to fight tooth-and-nail to make sure that happens. The Bible actually seems to assume that we’ll be mistreated (Matt 24:9; John 16:33; 2Cor 4:8-11; 2Tim 3:12; 1Pet 4:12…just to list a few)! And then it tells us to do ridiculous things like turn the other cheek! But shouldn’t we stand up for what’s right?

Holy ideological minefield, Batman! What do we do now?

As I was mulling over this topic the other day, it struck me how I was coming at it from completely the wrong angle. The Bible actually gives us a really clear picture of what Christ-centered equality looks like. And it looks something like this:  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Theology, Women in Ministry

 

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Best. Sermon. EVER.

I’m working on a post on Genesis 1-3 right now, to continue the series on exegesis of passages pertaining to women’s role in ministry. Hopefully that will be out in a day or two.

In the meantime, I want to highlight what is perhaps the clearest, most inspiring, all-around gripping sermon on night and day prayer I have ever heard. I’ve heard a lot of them in the past seven years. All of them have been really, really good. And I’m not exaggerating about this one.

Stephen Venable rocked FCF this Sunday with his message. Download the mp3 by clicking here. Get the notes (Word Document) by clicking here. Or go directly to IHOP-KC’s website and watch the video archive here. I was at the 6:00pm service. It rocked.

Go. Listen. Watch. Read. Get inspired to pray and worship more. And then do it more.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2010 in Intercession, Intimacy with God

 

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Friendships, Airships, Internships

(Okay, so technically “airship” is a blimp, not a plane, but I was on a roll with the “-ships” and couldn’t help myself.)

A couple of weeks ago, I had to say goodbye to a very dear friend of mine. I am not a big fan of change in general. I am an especially not-big-fan of change when it means shipping my friend and roommate of almost five years to the other side of the planet — literally — with no clear idea of when I get to see her again.

Of course, this was a day we had anticipated for a long time. International migration is not exactly something that happens on the spur of the moment. For years, it was that unpleasant necessity that loomed on the horizon — an unpleasant necessity I preferred to mostly not think about. However, in the last months, when the countdown to my friend’s departure was much more urgent, I found myself thinking about it a lot. I only had close access to this person for a short time. How could I maximize the time and connection we had together before it was time to say goodbye? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Heart Stuff, Intimacy with God

 

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