It’s Far More Complicated

. . . . 

After reading an insightful article (link) written by a young lady who lost her father to Covid, I was again reminded that the Christian life is far more complicated than some display they actually understand. Beautifully and genuinely, Shobana Vetrivel disclosed the complexity of Christian living in real-life terms.

Her article is such a contrast to ministry and church leaders who speak to issues in simplistic and/or unsympathetic ways —

  • “Worry is a mild form of atheism” — reposted by John Piper

This is an all too common example of simplifying and pontificating in ways that expose the ivory tower mentalities of those who live in a ministry or church bubble — no less in an American church bubble.  Such comments announce how disconnected some pastors are from the complexity of living the Christian life in a broken world.

It might be worth remembering that . . . .

√ The complexity of Christian living might not be obvious until you run into them — When your loved one is seriously ill, in the hospital, and even dies!

√ The details of life experiences are often not immediately visible until you are faced with them — When a son or daughter abandons the direction you have pointed them all their lives.

√ The daily orderliness of Christian living can become far more messy and noisy than you thought while watching others on the sidelines — When ministry leaders, missionaries, and pastors engage in actions and/or make decisions that go against all you understood was taught and believed by them.

√ The Christian life disciplines can be a source of increasing frustration because it isn’t working like you were told or believed it was supposed to work — When praying or reading and holding onto the promises of Scripture, do not seem to be accomplishing anything meaningful.

By the way, Shobana Vetrivel lives in New Delhi, India,
far removed from anything like the American church bubble.



P.S. Reminded of the poem “The Stone” by Gibson

. . . .
I went to break the news to her;
And I could hear my own heart beat
With dread of what my lips might say.
But some poor fool had sped before;
And flinging wide her father’s door,
Had blurted out the news to her,
Had struck her lover dead for her,
Had struck the girl’s heart dead in her,
Had struck life, lifeless, at a word,
And dropped it at her feet:
Then hurried on his witless way,
Scarce knowing she had heard.
. . . . .

Eisegesis or Exegesis? & Don’t Vouch For Him!

. . . . . 

I listen to A LOT of sermons throughout the week.  After listening to one this week, I was alerted once again about an all too common preaching practice — a menacing practice — the dangers of bringing in assumptions, from our personal and cultural perspectives, into a sermon.

Let me exemplify this.

While preaching on the passage typically labeled “David and Bathsheba” in II Samuel 11, some preachers inject their assumptions and/or cultural thinking into their sermon — even into their interpretation of the passage.  It is often stated that Bathsheba was a willing sexual partner and purposefully exposed herself on the rooftop to potentially be seen by King David, if not at least others.  When contacted by King David’s servant, she consented because she was a willing accomplice in the adultery — a sin against her husband and her God.

There is nothing in the passage that states or argues such a viewpoint.  If that was true, the Lord chose not to include it in the Scriptures and/or warrant such an exposition.  It is eisegesis, not exegesis.  A preacher or teacher injects their own thinking into the passage and makes the account teach something that is not the focus of the passage!

If the Lord wanted to teach sexual complicity and responsibility, He could have simply included but a few words or a sentence to make that point.  Bathsheba’s morality or thinking that was behind her response to the servant’s request is not included.  What is included is that she responded to David’s messengers to come to his palace.  What is included in the passage is “he took her” — which does not on its face speak of complicity!

It is possible to bring our own personal or cultural perspectives into the understanding of a passage, and in contrast to that, to not bring in our own cultural perspectives when understanding a passage of Scripture!  That may seem contradictory, but let me try to establish that point.

#1) We can fail to understand how different historical periods are to our present-day.  There was no “Me-Too” movement during Old Testament days, the Gospel period, the Middle ages, or during various ruling empires.  Power was used and abused, and especially towards the poor, the powerless, and women.  Whether Bathsheba had any idea of why such a meeting was requested  — I rather doubt she was told that King David saw you bathing and wanted to know if you would be willing to eat dinner with him tonight. — is unknown because it is unstated.

#2) Let’s bring in our own cultural perspectives and realize that the rich, powerful, positioned, and protected abuse and use their power the same way even today.  Today, there is the same tendency to assign some level of blame towards the innocent — “She should not have dressed that way if she didn’t want to have someone take advantage of her.”

The point of the passage is David’s actions.  He is the story’s focus, and his actions are confronted by the Lord through Nathan, the prophet.  Nathan held no marital counseling session with David & Bathsheba!  In fact, she was described in Nathan’s story as an innocent ewe lamb.  Nathan could have designed and constructed the parable many other ways that did not include that imagery!

As probably you are, I am often taken back by the assumptions that creep into a sermon but are not founded on the text.    I have attempted to lessen those tendencies by framing such comments with the statement . . . . “Now, if that were me, I might be thinking / responding / remembering / saying / shouting out . . . . ”

Don’t try to save David, or any other man, pastor, missionary, ministry leader, staff member, or church member by improperly injecting assumptions, presumptions, speculation, preconceptions, or theories into an account — biblical or contemporary.

“Don’t vouch for him, pastor!”  Those were but a few of my words to a pastor who has repeatedly gone out on a limb and defended sexual misconduct in the church.  That may be one of the biblical accurate and practical truths that comes out of the passage — a truth too-often unheeded even today!

. . . . 

. . . . 



i.e.
Vouching For David & Blaming Others: “Bathsheba’s beauty and love of pleasing were her snare. Beauty is a great temptation to many women; they are intoxicated with admiration; but O, what dangers lie in this! ”
https://www.blueletterbible.org/comm/baxter_mary/witw/witw21_bathsheba.cfm

Please Clap!

As I read various posts and tweets, I am reminded of how unartful in communication, or lacking in humility, people in ministry are.  It is even rather breadth-taking when you read such words that are so marked with self-applause — maybe not — applause is not part of church services as well!

Whatever the cause, a lack of modesty is so obvious when you read such statements from ministry leaders and local church pastors in both large and small venues.

  • “I want to thank “The Large Church” for inviting me and the opportunity to preach to hundreds this past weekend!”
  • “Join us a “My Baptist Church” this week to hear an exciting message!  . . . . “
  • “Just got the first box of my latest published book on growing a church ministry to reach your community.”
  • “I had the great opportunity to share the pulpit with Pastor “Well-Known” this week, and it was a blessing!”
  • “Another great week at Word of Me Camp with 100’s of young people responding to my message.”
  • “Pray for me as I speak to 1000’s of young men and women at this week’s retreat.”
  • “Tomorrow, I will be speaking at Historic Baptist Church, in Forth Worth, Texas.  Hope you can join me!”
  • “Not that I need the affirmation of men, but I want to thank those who supported me in this decision.”
  • “I want to thank the Lord for the most recent award presented to me by the “You Are Good” seminary.”

How about this one . . . .

  • I felt a leading to spend 2 days in silence. During that time, I simply read my Bible and sat in God’s presence. Maybe He was depositing something in me to sustain me over the next two weeks. The Lord prepares us for what he puts us through.” [1]

[Audience Applause At This Point Please]
Vintage Live Studio Audience APPLAUSE Light Up Sign at 1stdibs

It is not that all such announcements or information are not warranted. There is a place and a need to rejoice in what the Lord has been and is doing in His plan and program on earth, through situations, circumstances, and people.

Nevertheless, these posts and tweets often expose the obvious reality that it is really about us!  If it was worded in a way that reflected a genuine humility, without an all-too-obvious focus on self, it would speak of a sincere humility and would sound less braggadocio.  But too often, such is not the case.  Instead, their words shout the need for recognition and affirmation.[2]

So often, the point is made that the focus of all Scripture should be on Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation, the story is about Him.  We are not the story.  We are part of His story.  That doesn’t seem to be the reality when it comes to humility in ministry!

May I suggest some wisdom from Solomon . . . .

— Proverbs 27:2 —
“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; 
a stranger, and not thine own lips.”

It’s an example of what the Scriptures mean when it speaks about “the pride of life.” “The Pride of Life” is knowledge and feeling that we are important and/or have accomplished something. [2]

. . . . .



. . . . .

1. Regretfully, I’m not making these up!  They are all too present in the Twitter world of self-promotion!

Note:
It was a series of posts by Robby Gallaty that reminded me of how lacking in humility some well-known Christian pastors are!  Add to that the many other Christian leaders and pastors who seek to imitate his singular emphasis on prayer and/or mimic this spiritual-fad in their ministry.
July 9
@Rgallaty

“Silence has been a hallmark of my own Spiritual transformation over the past 16 months. By creating times of silence, you make an effort to foster exterior silence to cultivate interior listening to the voice of God.”
Then Robby Gallaty announced he was lead by the Holy Spirit to pray and anoint Chris Swain. Apparently, the decision and post were apparently based on . . . .

James 5:14
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
July 11
@Rgallaty

“As I sat in the first service, the Holy Spirit prompted me to go pray and anoint Chris Swain with oil, believing Gods going to raise him back to life. He needs a miracle. I know this is a big Ask, but I’m asking you to join me in PRAYER at 2pm/c today.”
Following this post, a few days later, Chris entered into glory.
How do we explain that post?
Finish the passage . . . “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”
Then, this post, a few days later, promoted this response.
July 20
@Rgallaty
Leading up to the day Chris was found, I felt a leading to spend 2 days in silence. During that time, I simply read my Bible and sat in Gods presence. Maybe He was depositing something in me to sustain me over the next two weeks. The Lord prepares us for what he puts us through.

2. Yes, we are all guilty throughout our ministry.  But some may lack sufficient self-awareness and/or possess a tin-ear about how terrible they actually come across, and thereby stay on that road.

It’s part of “the pride of life,” feeling that we are important and have accomplished something.  It is the reason for most monuments, building titles, hospital wings, endowments, designed & named scholarships, etc.

2 Ways The Credibility Of Church Leadership Has Been Tainted!

Are you frustrated when watching the various interviews of those in position and power being a question?  It doesn’t matter your personal opinions or vantages; it happens almost anywhere there is a quest for understanding and/or transparency!  Either the question is never answered, or the person engages in double-speak!

While we see this happen all the time in the political arena, disappointedly, it has been learned by those in position and power in ministries and local churches.

What is
“the coin of the realm”
when it comes to being heard in ministry?

Credibility

Numerous current articles address the decline in local church attendance. Some of them are frank enough to admit that one of the significant causes is the lack of credibility among ministry leaders and local church pastors. [1]. We don’t “sit and listen” to people who aren’t credible!  We flip the channel!

#1) Deflect: There are ways to deflect from the point which is being made.    They never really answer the question asked or the point being made.  Instead, they deflect!  It is a control tactic to move the conversation in a different direction.

Regretfully, it is also a means for avoiding legitimate issues, arguments, points, and criticisms in the world of local church operations.  All too often, you have to “ask 20 questions” [2] to reveal what has taken place, or what is the actual position of ministry leaders or pastors.

  • They were less than above-board!
  • Their credibility was questionable!
  • They mislead the audience!
  • They left out what was relevant!
  • They deflect away from the question being asked!

The point, question, or criticism may be well-founded.  Nevertheless, the control tactic of deflection can be used to avoid responding or answering the original question.

The FBI uses the phrase . . .
“Lack of Candor.” 
That means they misdirected, deceived, or lied!

. . . . . 

#2) Double-Speak: At other times, you may say to yourself — “This is theological double-speak!”  They say one thing, and it contradicts what they have already said. It sounds like they hold one position and also an opposing position — at the same time!

Just add the word “And,” “Nevertheless,” or “However” to your statement. You can sound like you agree, while you disagree.  At a later time, you can point to either statement as needed! You will be able to make the point you actually hold, while at the same time, you are able to include the point of view which is in alignment with that of the questioner, even if you disagree.

It is possible that the point, question, or criticism is well-founded.  Nevertheless, double-speak can be used to cloud and fog up the issue so that the person is able to sound like he does believe in this, while denying it as well!

♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦

Let me suggest that some ministry leaders and pastors may ultimately realize that what they see happening is the result of a battered & bruised respect & credibility
at best — .

. . . . . 



Other Information and Links:

1. RZIM / Dave Ramsey / newly elected President Ed Litton / multiple church and mission board coverups of immoral behavior and activity of its pastors and members / “me, not thee” / refusals by church leaders to address sinful behavior of their own children  / et al. — as Julie Roys reports

2. Hypothetical Example:

Question:

Pastor, we all understand that the Bible speaks of “the elect” and clearly used the word “election.”  Some argue that the election is based on God’s foreknowledge of all events in the future.  Others argue that to foreknow means to have an established relationship from eternity past.  Question: What points do you hold regarding what is called the 5 points of Calvinism  — Total depravity, unmerited favor, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints.

Answer:

I hold to the doctrines of grace which state that no one would ever find the Lord on their own, and it was only by His grace that anyone would ever be saved from an eternity separated from God.

Question:

I understand that!  We all agree on that, But what is your position about those 5 points?

Answer:

Well, I don’t believe that God elected anyone to damnation.  Everyone is on their way to an eternal separation with any action of God.

Question:

No, we agree; God does not elect anyone to eternal damnation.  That is already our condition in Adam.  But would you identify yourself as a 5-point Calvinist?

Answer:

Well, I can tell you this, I am not a hyper-Calvinist.

Question:

Well, probably no one would claim to be a “hyper-Calvinist.”  But that is not answering the question.  What points do you hold to in regards to those 5 points?

Answer:

Total Depravity: I believe that men are dead in their trespasses and sins.  Mankind would never have found the Lord if he had not sought us and that it was by Grace alone, the unmerited favor of God that anyone is saved.  God worked in our hearts and in our lives in such a way that He sought us out and spoke to our hearts in such a way that our blind eyes were opened, and we found His grace irresistible.

Question:

Yes . . . .? (pause)?
You and I know that most would not disagree with that.  You know it is the other two most disputed points that have the greatest implications — theologically and practically.

Answer:

I am not a hyper-Calvinist!  My positions on limited atonement and perseverance of the saints are in the historical mainstream of biblical theology!

Question:

And what do you believe to be the historical and biblical mainstream positions?

Answer: 

Like most Bible-believing churches and pastors, we hold to the clear teaching of Scripture regarding those two points.  Really, I am not a Calvinist, but a Biblicist.  We need to be careful when we explain our positions else we can create a lot of misunderstanding.  These are difficult and complex issues to answer without the time needed for an extensive presentation.

Question:

Yes, I would agree and . . . . ?  What do you actually believe about the position of limited atonement and the perseverance of the saints.

Answer:

Limited Atonement:  While he came to seek and save all men, not all men would respond.  Whosoever will, and those that will, have been saved by His work in their hearts from the foundation of the world.

Perseverance of the Saints:  We both agree that if one is truly saved, he will persevere to the end.  Once saved, always saved!  And we also agree that there are false believers, those who thought they were believers but were not — as taught in the parable of the soils in. Matthew 13.  There will be those who have failed the test and trials of being a true disciple and proven themselves to be actually lost.

Question:

I will come back to limited atonement.

But let me ask, didn’t the perfect life of Jesus — His perfect record — and the death of Jesus for the sins of mankind to those who exercised faith in His work — didn’t that cover those failures.  Didn’t Jesus pay for those sinful failures in life as well?

Answer:

Absolutely, Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.  Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.  Don’t misunderstand me. Let me be clear, I believe that all true believers will be saved.  No one can lose their salvation!  That is not what I am saying!  But we both agree that the new birth will show itself!  And if there is NO FRUIT, we should not assume we are genuine believers.

Question:

We both agree that if there is NO FRUIT — in as far as we can tell — that something is wrong with a salvation that does not include a change in thinking and living.  But does NO FRUIT mean no failures throughout our Christian life?  No back-sliding?  No repeated inabilities to overcome sinful habits?  Failing the tests and trials of life?  Doubts and misgivings about the power, work, and ability of God to work in our lives?  Failure to have a consistent life of Bible reading and prayer?  Waywardness and wandering?  Isn’t that all paid for on Calvary, by the righteous life of Jesus placed on our account?

Answer:

Don’t misunderstand me.  Again, I am not saying that we don’t sin and fail after we have called on His name.  But we must not assume that one is saved if there is a pattern that is not consistent with our profession of faith.  You can’t say a little prayer at some point in your life, or walk an aisle in a church, and think that something magical has happened in regards to your eternity!

Question:

But being born-again happens at a point in time, just like natural childbirth.  Calling on the name of the Lord is also compared to a wedding — there was a point in time that the commitment took place — when you called on the name of the Lord and were saved — like in the book of Acts — the Philippian jailer, the Ethiopian eunuch.

Answer:

Don’t misunderstand me.  We are told to call upon the Lord, and I believe that.  But nothing magical happens by repeating some prayer or walking an aisle in a church service of evangelistic campaign.

Question: 

Do you think that when the Bible says in Acts that 3000 and 5000 who were added “to the church,” that those who professed Christ had real struggles then, and throughout their lives — having far less knowledge and understanding than we do today! — No less Old Testament saints who failed and floundered many times — Lot, Samson, Saul, David, Solomon?

Answer:

I am not saying . . .

Question:

Sounds like you are saying. . . .

♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦ ♦♦♦♦♦

— — https://www.theodysseyonline.com/whataboutism-the-fallacy-of-deflection-arguments

Willful Blindness & Ministry

If you have not read the account of the FBI investigation into Larry Nassar, who was the former USA Gymnastics Physician, you may not want to!  It will be a painful revelation of how some of the most prestigious institutions of the American justice system failed.  It also contains information that is painfully horrifying and sickening!

As most know  . . . .

“Rachel Denhollander, one of the first to come forward in 2016, is the final survivor to speak in the Larry Nassar sentencing: “They did not listen. In 1997. or 1998. or 1999. or 2000. or 2004. or 2014.” — Fox2 Detroit


“Her courage inspired other survivors to end their silence, and we all know the result . . . the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of sexual abuse” — VOX

 

“Willful Blindness” is what repeatedly marks inappropriate behavior, terrible decisions, and wrong-doing on all different levels, whether it be . . . .

  • the FBI
  • human trafficking via immigration
  • judges sitting on the bench
  • drug trafficking
  • the Holocaust
  • the Roman Catholic sex scandal
  • science & medicine
  • politics
  • sermonic plagiarism
  • the Boy Scouts of America
  • sexual abuse by missionaries

AND, it may be sad to lift up this rock,  but willful blindness when it comes to ministries and local churches!.  Ministries, mission boards, and local churches can also, and do, cover up the unethical, immoral, and shady actions of its membership, staff, missionaries, and pastors.

I was again reminded of this when I saw a social media advertisement posted by one of the paid staff members and the director of a local church.  The church member and director promoted their secular business endeavor using a business name that is a “double entendre,” [1] with clear sexual overtones.  

While those who might want to justify the name of the business by pointing to the literal wording, those words have unmistakable sexual overtones!  That is how “double entendre” works.  You can always say . . . . “Well, that is what it is.  It must be your thinking that reads it another way.”  That’s how the game works in the world, and among those who are game players!

If you repeated the business name to any ordinary adult, they would say — “What!  What is the business called? Whose business did you say that was?”

Just another example of willful blindness, of a “contrived innocence,” of seeing only what you want to see!

No, not the grade of what Rachel Denhollender has been addressing.  This is “only” about a church leader.  It’s on a far lower level . . . .

. . . .  but just as real of an example of willful blindness!  

Willful blindness is not the inability to see or recognize; it is the refusal to see what is obviously there!  It is stubbornness supported by justifications, explanations, and cover stories. 

I have often said when dealing with that level of persistence and stubbornness . . . . 

“How many people do you want me to line up to tell you the same things I am saying before you will face that reality?  Because it will not be hard to find them.  In fact, you probably have had others tell you what I am telling you already!” 

Over and over again, there is no question as to what the intent is and any 10 people would easily understand what was being said  — unless you have a dog in the fight.  Then the ridiculous arguments being to show up that only reveal how invested one is!  And too often, in the end, no one takes responsibility — “It was ust an innocent mistake.  That was never intended!”

If there is knowledge that you could have had,
should have had
but chose not to have,
you are still responsible.” [3]

. . . . . 

Willful blindness is the currency of politics, and too often, ministries and churches have learned the approach all too well.

 



“The POINT of double entendre, a half-French phrase meaning “two intentions,” is to leave it ambiguous as to which meaning you intended.”

 

1.  “The POINT of double entendre, a half-French phrase meaning “two intentions,” is to leave it ambiguous as to which meaning you intended.”https://11points.com/11-business-names-accidentally-bursting-innuendo/

2. Example:
“Once upon a time, I did a list on businesses whose names were intentionally dirty puns. Well, I think most of them were intentional. Also, looking back, I feel like a couple of them were fake. It was 2009. I was far less discerning or experienced at sifting out the Photoshops.

But what’s better than a business name intentionally filled with innuendo? One that got there accidentally.

Here are 11 real businesses from around the world that chose names without, it seems, realizing the filthy minds of the Internet might deduce a secondary interpretation.”

“#2 – I’m not sure how this name made it past committee. It should’ve struck out there.”

 

3.  “Willful blindness: When a leader turns a blind eye”

This is an excellent article about willful blindness!

“When the British Member of Parliament, Adrian Sanders, asked Rupert and James Murdoch if they were familiar with the term “willful blindness,” their silence said it all. The MP defined it for them . . . “If there is knowledge that you could have had, should have had but chose not to have, you are still responsible.”  Then and now, willful blindness was a concept that should send shivers down the spines of any executive. . . . inconvenient facts can become invisible. . . . ideology is the way people deal with reality. Everyone has one.” Whether it is the belief that military intervention saves lives, or big governments are bad or the only successful company is global, ideologies are what psychologist Anthony Greenwald called ‘totalitarian egos,’ locking up incompatible ideas, suppressing evidence and re-writing history. . . .

The central irony of willful blindness is that it makes us feel safe even as it puts us in danger. As Colm O’Gorman, one of the first people to uncover abuse in Ireland’s Catholic Church, told me, “We make ourselves powerless when we pretend we don’t know.”

But just because willful blindness is endemic doesn’t mean it’s irresistible. Roy Spence, a Texan advertising executive, refused to work with Enron even as the rest of the world beat a path to its door. How did he see what others missed? He thought a lifetime of seeing through the eyes of the powerless gave him different perspectives. “My sister had cystic fibrosis and I used to push her wheelchair to school every morning. I could see people pitying us, oblivious to the richness of our relationship. It made me ask, then as now: If they’re missing so much about us, what I am missing about them?” That internal dialogue is what Hannah Arendt called thinking.”

https://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/willful-blindness-when-a-leader-turns-a-blind-eye/

 

 

5 Arguments That Don’t Pass The Smell Test


Pass the smell test

To be trustworthy, credible, authentic.

. . . . .

To a reasonable degree, I think I understand ministry.  After years of teaching in Christian colleges, pastoring, and even sitting in the pew upon retirement, there are a few ministry maneuvers that I have seen and all-too-well understand. [1]

However, some may not sufficiently realize that the members and friends of a ministry or local church have also seen them and understand them as well!  Given time, they are seen as disingenuous as indeed they are.  They also know that they don’t pass the “smell test.”

#1) Family Time: “We are canceling the service [2] because we want to encourage you to spend time with your family — to have some additional family time.”

First of all, let me suggest that if any family needs more “family time,” they can shut off the television and shut down social media.  Preach a message on that subject if you want to encourage more family time.

Second, the family is allowed to attend church together for an hour at most all churches (TIC- tongue in cheek).  Since when is going to church together as a family, not family time.

Lastly, too often, these decisions to cancel this-or-that are not about the sheep but also the shepherd.  He wants that day off — not having to tend the sheep.  Over time, the sheep get it when service after service is canceled — Mother’s Day. Father’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Christmas week, Easter week, Super Bowl Sunday, during VBS week, et al.

. . . . . . 

#2) I’ll Be Praying For . . . :  “I will be on vacation this coming week and praying for the leaders and workers at VBS as I am away.”

It is easy to purposefully schedule a vacation around an upcoming ministry or church event (And yes, that is true for church leaders, as well as members and friends).  Sometimes, that can’t be avoided because of legitimate factors that operate with all families.

Nevertheless, there are times when taking a vacation is an easy way to “kill two birds with one stone.”  If we are honest, we know and understand that!  Personally, I never left during Summer VBS.  People understood that VBS meant forgoing their vacation schedule, and it meant me doing the same!  Some even used their vacation days to work at VBS!

Over time, taking a vacation (or absenting yourself) while others work at a primary church activity or event will communicate — “Me, But Not Thee.”  God’s people do get it!

. . . . . . 

#3) There Are Other Who Said . . . : “I have had some people tell me that they really like it.”

There are numerous times in a ministry when the suggestion is made that this-or-that is not a good idea, at least not as good as it could or should be.  Nevertheless, the argument that I have often heard made is . . . .

Well, there are some people who really like/liked it.

The argument is a subtle way of saying . . . “Your opinion is as valid as that of others when it comes to evaluating that.”

That is not true!  Some opinions are better than others, and some are even informed opinions — “opinions” from those who have better insight, experience, and awareness.

I am sure there is someone, or even “someones,” who have said that they like this-or-that.  No matter how bad a presentation, event, activity, or message, someone will have liked it.  That hardly means that the ministry, event, program, series, approach, activity, or ministry direction should be kept alive and breathing.

. . . . . . 

#4) It’s All Sinful . . . . : “They are sowing discord.”

There is far too much to say about this maneuver! While “sowing discord” is a legitimate biblical issue, it is also a defensive posture.  This is the “go-to” argument of those who justify wrong-doing.  That reality is easily supported by a cursory examination of ministry and church scandals of our day (RZIM).

Check out the previous and more extensive post on this subject.

. . . . . . 

#5) I Didn’t Know: “I wasn’t fully aware of that.”

At times, we are asked if we knew about this-or-that.  Of course, if we were unaware, then we are exempt from almost all responsibility for what was happening! – ??

  • Many times, we were “aware” of this-or-that, but the comment is nuanced by including “fully” or even whatever the word “aware” means.
  • Other times, we should have been aware of it because that is our responsibility.
  • Sometimes, “willful ignorance” is the reason one is unaware. They do not want to know because they have a responsibility to act or speak to that issue if they know. This is all too typical in politics.

Ignorance by a leader as to what is happening in the operation of a ministry is indefensible!  The members and friends of that ministry or local church expect you to be on top of things while they work in the world to support you and your position as a supervisor!

. . . . . . . . . . . . 

If those in leadership and ministry believe that God’s people (and the world) don’t read what is actually happening as they hear these arguments, they are either naive, self-deluded, or disingenuous!  God’s people read it all too well!

In fact . . .

Some of the arguments used by those in ministry don’t even pass the “sniff-test.”



1. Please, be assured that I am not exempt from any criticism regarding ministry maneuvering.  It is not that we are not guilty of excusing ourselves through varied manoeuvers, but that we have come to realize, more and more, the need to be above-board.  Excusing making is seen and recognized by those within and without the ministry.

2. Sometimes it is an evening service during a holiday week, on Super Bowl Sunday, a mid-week service, a youth group night, or during VBS  —  et al.

The Arrogance Of “Weight Loss”

Posted by Robby Gallaty:

“According to his biographer, Ducan Campbell
refused to believe in the religion of anyone
who was too preoccupied to attend a prayer meeting.
The place of prayer was the test of a man’s spiritual life.”

There are those who would like to make one area of Christian life and living the most important. Apparently, Robby Gallaty is one of them!

The Christian life is far more complex than any one area or Christian godly discipline. Those who seek to narrow it down to one area will have to twist the Scriptures to make Christian living the most important. “Shepherds” dishearten the sheep with such nonsense.

We can all pick an area that we are really good at in the Christian life, and exalt it to a singular and primarily place — witnessing, Bible reading, prayer, Bible teaching, discipleship, giving, missions-evangelism, service, faithfulness to church, hospitality, Bible study, morality, self-control, humility, et al.

It reminds me of those who have lost weight. They begin talking and acting as if weight loss is the foremost example of self-control. The more weight lost, the more condescending the words and/or attitudes towards those who struggle.

Some of the “singularly focused” become “Christian snobs!” They see others are inferior, not where they have concluded they ought to be. They overtly and covertly advertise their mastery of an area. At times, their advertisement is not so subtle as they chide others, and thereby imply they have it fully under their belt.

Sadly, such theological ideologues [1] have replaced “progressive sanctification” — The Lord working in individual lives, differently, and over time — with “duplicate sanctification.” You need to make the Chrisitan discipline or conduct, which I think is #1, your #1.

AND Do It NOW! — If you are struggling in an area, especially the specified area, you may not even be a Christian! Progress, struggles, mountains and valleys, dry and rainy seasons are reasons to question your salvation!

Robby Gallaty is one such example! Apparently, “virtue signaling” has moved into the pastoral tweet-o-sphere. Prayer is paramount, but evidently, humility is much further down on the list! [2][3]

. . . . .

P.S. Jesus got it down to . . . Love God and Love people! Doing that requires both a wide variety and a good number of actions, attitudes, areas of thinking, changes, and activity!

. . . . .



  1. “Theological Idealogues” are those who hold to a system of theological thought that regulates how and what they see in Scripture.
  2. Humility:  Check out the “numerous” tweets about his prayer life!
  3. Stay Humble!
    Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year’s day(s) are ahead.  Don’t get too confident that you are as self-controlled as you think or are today!  Many of us cannot even resist a “brownie,” and we think we have our weight under control — Just saying!

    Stay Humble!
    You don’t have it all together theologically or practically.  Today’s fad, trend, excitement, and/or personal “theological hobby horse” will be seen for what it is — the inability to balance out the biblical diet needed for a healthy Christian life, mixed along with a condescending attitude directed at those who are not where you are!

Note:  Told you so . . . . Link

What Happens When You Read The Same Books . . . .

If you read the same books that others are reading,
you will think the same thoughts that others are thinking!

One of the most recent and pervasive examples of that statement and of theological “group think” teaching is about today’s exhumed fad of . . .  Passive Sanctification (the link).

“The current debate about sanctification (does holiness come through personal effort, or is the best approach to sanctification to “relax” and trust God more?) is hardly limited to this age. J. C. Ryle fought the same battles over 100 years ago. Here are his comments on the idea that we are sanctified in the same way we are justified:

“I ask whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do nowadays in handling the doctrine of sanctification. Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many do that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it.

That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness; that the first step towards a holy life is to believe on Christ; that until we believe we have not a jot of holiness; that union with Christ by faith is the secret of both beginning to be holy and continuing holy; that the life that we live in the flesh, we must live by faith in the Son of God; that faith purifies the heart; that faith is the victory which overcomes the world; that by faith the elders obtained a good report—all these are truths which no well instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith. The very same apostle who says in one place, “the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,’ says in another place, “I Fight,” “I run,” “I keep under my body”; and in other places, “let us cleanse ourselves,” “Let us labour,” “Let us lay aside every weight.”

Moreover, the Scriptures nowhere teach us that faith sanctifies us in the same sense and in the same manner that faith justifies us! Justifying faith is a grace that “worketh not,’ but simply trusts, rests, and leans on Christ (Rom 4:5). Sanctifying faith is a grace of which the very life is action: it worketh by love,” and, like a mainspring, moves the whole inward man” (Gal 5:6)…

Without controversy, in the matter of our justification before God, faith in Christ is the one thing needful. All that simply believe are justified. Righteousness is imputed “to him that worketh not but believeth” (Rom 4:5). It is thoroughly scriptural and right to say, “Faith alone justifies.” But it is not equally scriptural and right to say, “Faith alone sanctifies.” The saying requires very large qualification. Let one fact suffice. We are frequently told that a man is “justified by faith without the deeds of the law” by St. Paul. But not once are we told that we are “sanctified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

. . . . .

. . . . .

Sanctification is progressive!
It is not the Lord or me. 
It is the Lord and me.
It is “Both-And.”

. . . . .



Other Information & Links:

One of MANY links warning about the idea of passive sanctification
https://headhearthand.org/blog/2015/10/21/five-attractions-of-passive-sanctification/

♦♦♦♦♦

Note: Men like John Piper confuse the issue further by playing games with the word “passively” — “You Can’t Passively Kill Sin.”  The article’s title makes it sound like he agrees that sanctification IS NOT passive, but he doesn’t! His “Calvinism” is part of what contributes to this twisting of the doctrine of sanctification. It is a highly nuanced article that clouds and confuses the issues even further.

If you would like to read John’s Piper’s position on Eternal Security, which is also just as nuanced, obscured, and twisted by his Calvinistic position, read this article, in Piper’s own words!

. . . . .

3 Suggestions To Avoid Sermonic Plagiarism

“Docent” [1] has become one of the focuses of the recent plagiarism scandal involving the new president of one of the largest evangelical conventions — the South Baptist Convention.

“Docent” is one of the organizations that provide preaching materials for pastors and the creation of sermonic content.

It has been rightly said . . . .

If you read the same books that others are reading,
you will think the same thoughts that others are thinking!

I might suggest that the same is true when it comes to using “sermonic/preaching services,” such as “Docent.”  This recent scandal has helped me to better understand why so many . . . .

  • sermons seem to reflect the same theological trends and fads [2]
  • preachers & teachers avoid certain theological truths
  • illustrations are retold [3] until they are worn and hackneyed
  • pastors repeat statistics that have no support in reality
  • preachers employ similar wording [4]

. . . . .

The reason is . . . .

They subscribe to these kinds of theologically inclined sermonic services!
They
all “read the same books.”

It should be pointed out that these services are theologically inclined, and that inclination is reflected in what is being said, taught, and preached (as well as seen & sung) across American churches.

. . . . .

Of course, preaching and sermonic preparation involve the use of other materials!  Commentaries are rudimentary to preaching and teaching.

I have at least three simple practical suggestions (outside of personal integrity) when it comes to preaching and the use of other preacher’s materials . . .

#1) A Course In Logic: A seminary education needs to include a course in “critical thinking.”  Too many read all kinds of theological and religious material with far too little discernment.  Too many pastors and ministry leaders lack the ability to critically evaluate what is being said, taught, or published.  [5]

#2) A Far Wider Read: Read the thinking of others and/or listen to the preaching of others, but read and listen to material from more than either contemporary writers, or from any other theological era.  The writers of the day reflect the fishbowl in which they and we all swim.   And, the church fathers, or the puritans, or . . . or . . .  were not right, biblical or accurate in all they taught or believed. [6]

#3) Work Harder & Then Smarter: Take the time it takes to make it your own!  The easy path is to “grab and run” with a good illustration, a headline statistic, or a great statement or sermonic thought.  Create some of your own unique material as you see what was done, and imitate it (not copy it.)

  • When you come across an illustration or story, do more reading and research so that you know more about that story than was originally stated.
  • Check out that statistic.  Statistics don’t lie, but liars use statistics.  Go back to the source and methodology used to arrive at the study’s conclusion.
  • Personally rework a statement (or often correct) to make it your own, or to ensure greater accuracy  — else give proper credit if used “wholesale.” [7]


  1. Links:
    https://capstonereport.com/2021/07/05/baptist-professor-accuses-former-sbc-president-j-d-greear-of-plagiarism/36499/
    https://reformationcharlotte.org/2021/07/05/jd-greear-admits-to-purchasing-sermon-material-to-make-himself-look-good/
  2. i.e. — One of the most recent and pervasive — Passive Sanctification

One of many links — https://headhearthand.org/blog/2015/10/21/five-attractions-of-passive-sanctification/

Another article:

“The current debate about sanctification (does holiness come through personal effort, or is the best approach to sanctification to “relax” and trust God more?) is hardly limited to this age. J. C. Ryle fought the same battles over 100 years ago. Here are his comments on the idea that we are sanctified in the same way we are justified:

“I ask whether it is wise to speak of faith as the one thing needful, and the only thing required, as many seem to do nowadays in handling the doctrine of sanctification. Is it wise to proclaim in so bald, naked, and unqualified a way as many do that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God’s Word? I doubt it.

That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness; that the first step towards a holy life is to believe on Christ; that until we believe we have not a jot of holiness; that union with Christ by faith is the secret of both beginning to be holy and continuing holy; that the life that we live in the flesh, we must live by faith in the Son of God; that faith purifies the heart; that faith is the victory which overcomes the world; that by faith the elders obtained a good report—all these are truths which no well instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith. The very same apostle who says in one place, “the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,’ says in another place, “I Fight,” “I run,” “I keep under my body”; and in other places, “let us cleanse ourselves,” “Let us labour,” “Let us lay aside every weight.”

Moreover, the Scriptures nowhere teach us that faith sanctifies us in the same sense and in the same manner that faith justifies us! Justifying faith is a grace that “worketh not,’ but simply trusts, rests, and leans on Christ (Rom 4:5). Sanctifying faith is a grace of which the very life is action: it worketh by love,” and, like a mainspring, moves the whole inward man” (Gal 5:6)…

Without controversy, in the matter of our justification before God, faith in Christ is the one thing needful. All that simply believe are justified. Righteousness is imputed “to him that worketh not but believeth” (Rom 4:5). It is thoroughly scriptural and right to say, “Faith alone justifies.” But it is not equally scriptural and right to say, “Faith alone sanctifies.” The saying requires very large qualification. Let one fact suffice. We are frequently told that a man is “justified by faith without the deeds of the law” by St. Paul. But not once are we told that we are “sanctified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Later, Ryle added this, which again seems so timely:

I must deprecate, and I do it in love, the use of uncouth and newfangled terms and phrases in teaching sanctification. I plead that a movement in favour of holiness cannot be advanced by new-coined phraseology, or by disproportioned and one-sided statements, or by overstraining and isolating particular texts, or by exalting one truth at the expense of another…and squeezing out of them meanings which the Holy Ghost never put in them… The cause of true sanctification is not helped, but hindered, by such weapons as these. A movement in aid of holiness which produces strife and dispute among God’s children is somewhat suspicious.”

. . . . .

Men like John Piper confuse the issue further by playing with the word “passively” — “You Can’t Passively Kill Sin.”  The title of the article makes it sound like he agrees, but he doesn’t!

Rather, it is a highly nuanced article that clouds and confuses the issues even further.   His “Calvinism” is part of what contributes to this twisting of sanctification.

. . . . .

3.It is shocking painful to hear Ed Litton (new president of the SBC) repeat an illustration told by J. D. Greear, as if Litton himself experienced what Greear had stated.

4. Here are but a few examples . . . .

  • “Let me unpack this for you.”
  • “Are you tracking me?”
  • “Good morning, church.”
  • “Bookends”
  • “_____ is a heretic!”
  • “Let’s stand for the reading of the Word.”
  • “May the Lord add His blessing to the reading of His Word.”
  • et al.

5. I, like you, are sometimes shocked by the lack of logic or critical thinking by ministries and local church leaders — “Really, you read that or heard that, and you believe that / or repeated it?”

  • Sometimes, it is a theological ideology that short-circuits logic.  It may sound biblically unsound, twisted, counter-intuitive, or even crazy — but it fits one’s ideology.
  • Sometimes, what is said by this-or-that person is just accepted and repeated because — well, so-in-so said it – even if it goes against many passages of Scripture.
  • At other times, it is easy to just believe and repeat, than to take the time to realize how unbiblical and/or illogical it is.

6. While those church fathers and historical documents which were closer to the 1st century ought to be a starting point for thought since they were closer in time, and some of the issues of the Christian faith have been hammered out historically, that does not preclude thinking and rethinking some of their positions.  You would be surprised by some of the teachings of the early church fathers and churches.

7. There are many sermonic statements that can be and should be reworked in light of what you know and what you believe the Scriptures teach!  The original statement has the potential of kicking off — generating– other similar or different useful creative statements.  Often, that rework comes from the passage because the passage actually teaches something different — slightly different, significantly different, or vastly different.  The original statement doesn’t catch the fullness of the statement that you heard or read.

It Is Easily Detected!

In a bizarre event at a professional golf championship, an interesting and perceptive evaluation was made!

What: “what will likely stick in McIlroy’s mind is what occurred as he stood on the 10th tee (his first of the day) alongside caddie Harry Diamond and playing partner Jon Rahm. As the trio chatted, a man appeared out of the gallery, grabbed the headcover off McIlroy’s driver, and took one of his irons out of the bag. He then proceeded to make a couple of practice swings. All of which provoked a classic double-take from McIlroy and bemused looks from all concerned before a pair of security guards moved in to remove the intruder.”
— Golf Digest, July 9, 2021 —

Who: Rory McIlroy

Where/When: The second day of the 2021 Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club

. . . . .

The article goes on to say . . . .

“The players laughed it off,
saying
they knew he wasn’t a golfer when they saw his grip.”

. . . . 

You can tell when someone isn’t what they claim to be! 

√ There are tell-tale signs that give away that one is not what one claims to be.
√ There are visible indicators that what is said cannot be true.
√ There are markers that disclose that it is not what it states.
√ There are detectors that reveal something is not what the label says.
√ There are reagents that publish what something actually is.

. . . . . 

Interestingly, COVID-19 has been one of those reagents, signs, indicators, markers, detectors for many a ministry and/or local church ministry.

“The members and friends laughed it off,
saying they knew he wasn’t a shepherd
when they saw how he used his shepherd’s crook
with the sheep and with those who had wandered.” [1]

. . . . .

P. S. This post was motivated by yet another call this week — from my small local storefront pharmacist
—  Oh, did I tell you my pharmacist called us again THIS WEEK!



Other Information & Links:

  1. Note: In many situations, it is not that someone from the church has not called, though some have not heard from anyone on the church staff.  Yet, Praise the Lord, some members and friends cared and called because it really is about genuinely caring!

Far too often, the lead or senior pastor has not shown any personal interest in “calling” each and every member and friend of the local church ministry!  The lead or senior pastor passed off that responsibility to other pastors on staff or the “deacons.”  They excused themselves out by such a delegation with some explanation as to why they could not.  They failed to realize that the deacons and/or other church leaders cannot do what he should be doing, and what he alone could accomplish as the shepherd of the flock.  The lack of care, compassion, love and genuine concern stand in deep contrast to the claims that one is a shepherd and the local church is a “family.”

https://www.golfdigest.com/story/rory-mcilroy-fan-pulling-club-from-bag-on-tee-scottish-open-2021?utm_medium=email&utm_source=070921&utm_campaign=hitlist&utm_content=DM19235&uuid=b12bf3fbe8fb480bbe3244c1e7db1166