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Archive for the ‘Insipidity’ Category

I’m teaching on 1 Cor. 1:18 through chapter 2, where Paul speaks about the ‘foolishness of the Gospel’ and how God uses the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Paul was determined to preach not with human wisdom or eloquence but “Christ crucified.”

Oh, come on Paul, couldn’t you preach on the latest plays making the circuit in your area, or relate the Gospel to whatever was the equivalent of Dr. Suess in your time?  Couldn’t you take the songs that were popular in your time and glean some nugget of wisdom?  Couldn’t you tell the folks in Asia Minor how to have better sex?

The world will think you foolish to preach Christ and him crucified.  Oh, yeah, you anticipated that:

1 Corinthians 2: 1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Really, what could be more relevant to our culture than our need to be saved by God’s grace through faith?  No message in Spiderman 3, Van Halen or Dr. Suess can compare to that.

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Talk about bad timing.  I could have used this survey as a sermon illustration.  Let me explain: I just preached this weekend on the fact that Truth is under attack, specifically the truth about God, the bible, sin and Jesus.  No surprise there, the Truth has been under attack since the Garden of Eden when the serpent began the war of disinformation.

The gist of my sermon was that the Truth about God is being attacked by those who say there is no God and that we all just got here by accident.  Therefore, the bible is questioned, since if there is no God then the bible is not God’s Word, by definition.  If the bible is not true, then there is no scriptural basis for right or wrong and we have no standard as Christians to base our faith.

And finally, that means that the truth about Jesus is under attack.  The truth about Jesus, according to the bible, is that he is the Son of God, the one and only way to be saved.  You can believe this or not, but it’s what the New Testament teaches.  We’ve seen that truth being attacked more and more, not only from unbelievers, but from those who claim to be Christians yet are so gracious as to assert that he is not the only way to the Father.  A lot of the guys who are “big names” in the Christian world today are not willing to claim that Jesus is the only way to be saved, yet they are speaking at our conferences and are best-sellers in Christian bookstores.

Some people call this “tolerance”.  No, tolerance is respecting other people and not persecuting them for their beliefs.  But it’s not intolerant to assert that what the bible says about Jesus in John 14:6 is true.

Now this survey comes out, as reported on the Fox News website.  The results are astonishing.  57% of evangelicals believe that other religions can lead to eternal life. Evangelical Christians.  That’s astonishing because that goes against basic evangelical doctrine.  83% of mainline Protestants believe that, which doesn’t surprise me, but 57% of evangelicals does.  59% of black Protestants responding and 79% of Catholics also believe that other religions can lead to eternal life.

Should we in the evangelical church be alarmed when even folks who are in the evangelical church believe this?  I should think so… it should make us look a little more carefully at what we’re preaching and who we’re reading.  I’m not a big fan of the tactics that the discernment ministries use, but this survey kind of makes you wonder if their cries about the erosion of the Christian faith in the evangelical world are not on target, even if their methods are a bit grating.  57% of evangelicals think that Jesus is not the only way to be saved– doesn’t take a lot of discernment to see that this is a problem.

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The Great Easter only got better after the Sunrise Service.  Everyone was in a great mood and there was wonderful fellowship and laughter during the breakfast and hour before the service.  Churches go through cycles: sometimes there is strife and the tension in the air is palpable.  Other times there is such a sweet, sweet feeling of love and joy that you can’t help but feel good just to be there.  It’s a shame it can’t be all good all the time, but we are humans and I’m reminded that even the NT churches had their strife and trouble.  But for this year, this week, this day, all was great.

The service just hit in all the right ways.  A man whose wife had been very sick got up and thanked the church for all their love and care during her recovery.  He said that we should be proud of our congregation.  Indeed.  Then a lady who was baptized last week had me tell everyone that she knows that she finally made the right choice to make Jesus her Lord.  Indeed.

The music was perfect.  “The Old Rugged Cross”, “How Deep the Father’s Love”, “He arose” and two specials, “This is my body” and “My Redeemer Lives”.  I could have gotten up for the sermon and dismissed everyone and it would have been great (and people might have been happier in the end!).

But even the sermon went well.  This week proved my theory that when I think a sermon stinks it normally comes out as better than normal.  I guess when think it’s bad we rely on the Spirit more and He shines more than we do.  When I think it’s a wonderful sermon it falls short.  This week I didn’t feel good about it, and no amount of tinkering could get it good.  Even when it was done I didn’t feel that great.  But person after person thanked me for the great sermon– so they are either kind or the Spirit took the ball and ran with it.

The numbers were great too: we were up by half as much, or to put it another way, we had 150% of average.  That gives us a good goal to reach on a consistent basis for next year.  And most of the folks were not C&E worshipers or out-of-town guests, but regulars who have slackened up.  There is great hope that we will see these guys more in the months to come.  Let’s hope so.

Even the horse pastures were lively: the foals are out there running and playing under the stern eyes of their mothers, prancing around on stick-like legs.  I love to look out the office window and see them just plain ol’ having fun.  The lilies and daffodils are coming out and the trees are getting their buds.  It’s a great time of the year.  Each day gets a little warmer, it will soon be disc golf weather every day of the week.

Praise God for times when all is well.

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We had a great Easter out here in the horse pasture. The weather was good- sunny and chilly the way that Easter should be. The Sunrise Service went well: about 50 people standing out in the 30 degree weather, wishing their preacher had less blubber and was thus more susceptible to cold. The sun rose right on cue– and we even had the chairs facing in EXACTLY the right direction. It came up right in the middle of “He Lives” and was breath-taking. Or maybe it was the cold. Still, we caused a lot of damage to our retinas staring at it poking over the horizon. I was afraid that it would come up behind the farm house across the street, but it obliged by finding a clear place to rise. Of course I could have come out a few days earlier and staked out where it would rise, but one sunrise a year a year is enough for me to witness.

We all had a good Spirit, we rejoiced that “He is Risen”, and had a good laugh at our musical shortcomings. More people than normal were yawning as I did the devotion, but it was from the early hour, not my message, and the breakfast following was great (including a great spinach and mushroom quiche and a rotating donut stand that I admired but avoided).It seems that Sunrise Services are becoming less common. What a shame.  It sure was a blessing in the corner of the world.

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Iggry! Read this!

There are actually 12 words that end in “gry”, but none of them are common or in use, so “phlugry” will be the 13th.

Here is the info from Snopes if you are so inclined to read up on it: http://www.snopes.com/language/puzzlers/gry.asp

If I weren’t so phlugry, I’d be angry.  As it is, I’m just hungry.

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Phlugry

I got another one of those emails which passes on the “riddle” about what English word ends with “gry” other than hungry and angry.  Supposedly it’s a common word and that the answer will pop up on your screen when you send it to 5 people.

Of course, there is no third word that ends in “gry”.  It’s just a silly trick to make you think.

So, I’ve decided to end this riddle from now on.  I’m inventing the word “phulgry”.  It means insipid melancholy.  You know the way you feel when you are sitting in front of a fire on a rainy day, kind of dreamy, kind of sleepy, just content with the world for no good reason?  That’s phlugry.  If someone comes along and asks why you are wasting the day, just say, “I’m feeling kind of phlugry.”  If we all use the word, it will be accepted, entered into the dictionary, and that riddle will be gone for good.

It’s my contribution to squashing Internet riddles and adding to the lexicon.

I would have done it yesterday, but I was feeling kind of phlugry.

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I remember reading a John Donne poem about a man who was sitting in church. In front of him was a very rich woman, dressed in the finest of clothes, radiating class and beauty. She was very much the bees knees and thought very highly of herself. But as he sat there he could see a louse wriggling around in her hair. She thought she was “all that” and here she was covered in vermin. The punch line of the poem was something along the lines of, “If only we could see ourselves as others see us.”

I’ve thought of that a lot lately. Have you ever had one of those times when you find out that someone that you thought liked you really doesn’t think much of you? Maybe you overhear them talking, you get an email that you weren’t meant to see, someone else tells you something they said, or they tell you themselves that they don’t really think highly of you? That can be very devastating. You’re tripping along, thinking that you are a pretty decent person and then find out that others don’t really see you the same way that you see yourselves. It’s like a kick in the gut that you didn’t see coming.  But it’s just the truth coming out.

I wonder: if we could invent some sort of mind-reader that would show us how others REALLY think of us, when they get beyond the social masks that we all wear, would we want to know? It might help us to see our deficiencies and make improvements but it might just make us defensive. Or it might just devastate us and make us wonder what we’ve been doing wrong all along.

You’re a lucky person if you have someone in your life who can lovingly tell you how you really come across in such a way that you can fix the things that are lacking. You’re a good person if you are honest with people, because one day the mask will come off and people will know how you really feel about them.

Oh, to see ourselves as others see us.

I don’t know what kind of application to leave here. Most of us can’t see the lice on our heads (the personality faults that are so obvious to others). I guess all I can say is that we should be as honest as possible with others, gently telling them if they come across in a bad way (and hoping that they don’t get hurt, defensive, or apathetic to you). It’s funny, people who value honesty will carry on like they like a person long after they have written them off. Is that one of the times when a “white lie” is acceptable?

Soul-searching is hard, you often don’t like what you find.

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