Sky Links, 9-27-17

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.
-1 Peter 4:8

These are clips from Darren Wilson's new film, Questions With God.


Darren Wilson, Chad Norris, and friends: Questions With God.

Hypocrites who call out heresy

Scot McKnight wrote about hypocrisy vs. heresy.  Today, we have so many Christians who call out other Christians on the heresy charge, when the real issue is hypocrisy.

Put together, Jesus accuses the Pharisees for “hypocrisy” because (1) they had abused their teaching authority by teaching false things, (2) not living according to what they taught, and for (3) their desire for power and control. In addition, (4) their teaching was a focus on minor issues to the neglect of major issues.

They flattened the Torah into a listing of God’s will while Jesus saw love of God and love of others as the center of that Torah. If the Pharisees saw love as one of the commandments, however important, Jesus saw love as central and everything as expressive of that love. This reorients all of the Torah, all of teaching, and therefore all of praxis.

To be “hypocrite” is to be a false teacher who leads both self and others astray from the will of God. The term should not be limited to “contradiction between appearance and reality” (the classic definition of hypocrisy).

Scot McKnight, Heretic vs. Hypocrite

The Deleterious Effect of Smartphone Addiction on Teenagers 

Jean Twinge wrote about the negative effect that the constant use of smartphones & tablets has been having on us:

Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.

Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy....

...One of the ironies of iGen life is that despite spending far more time under the same roof as their parents, today’s teens can hardly be said to be closer to their mothers and fathers than their predecessors were. “I’ve seen my friends with their families—they don’t talk to them...
Jean W. Twinge, Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?

Hope For Gen. Z

I found this 9 minute film on YouTube by Maggie Fuller, that was optimistic, positive, and inspiring:

Sky Links, 9-19-17

Photo: Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0


Are you discreet?  Charles Pope wrote an article about priestly discretion.  Should you speak out or remain silent?  Or, should you just be careful?

"To be discreet most commonly means to be careful, prudent, or circumspect, especially in terms of speech. The word discreet comes from Latin discretus, meaning separate or distinct. To be discreet is not to be secretive; it is to make a prudent discernment about what to say to whom and when to say it. Personal, private conversations ought to stay that way."

On Priestly Discretion, Charles Pope.

Unreforming Leadership

Mike Frost asked the question, "Can the seminary produce visionary leaders?"  The answer is "no".

"Recently, I was teaching a class on missional church when, in a moment of unguarded clarity, one of my students said, “I like hearing about all these new ways of doing church, but I don’t know if I could do them because I’ve grown up in church and I love it.” The unspoken end of that sentence was, “the way it is.”

Don’t you love the honesty of some young people? Without knowing it, he had just spoken a mouthful.

Can we expect people who have grown up in church and have enjoyed their experience (hence they’re still in the church) to renegotiate the church contract, to rethink how church could be done in a new era?

Can the seminary produce visionary leaders?, Mike Frost

Growing Old is a Good Thing

David Rice wrote about the joy and challenge of aging with God.  The last chapter of your life should be the capstone and a bridge to eternity, where you have increased awareness of spiritual things and reflect those back to the younger generations.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Shortly after my diagnosis I heard the Lord say to me ‘you are moving from visions to dreams’. I immediately thought He meant I was moving from young man status to old man but as I reflected on it I appreciated why the scripture says your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams. (Joel 2v 28 & Acts 2 v17) Young people may see a vision from God and go forward in Him to accomplish it. For older people they are not called to finish anything for God, rather to be the dreamers who can clearly see in the spirit and in their lives and conversation enjoy what they see without feeling they have to bring to pass what God has already finished. It may be that younger folk may catch the dream from them as a vision which becomes a motivating force in their lives.

I believe that the weakness of age often allows us to see more clearly the heavenly realm. If we know His love we can rest in Him, even in the most challenging situations of physical weakness or infirmity and let Him open up the heavenly realm to us. We become those whose dreams become reality in our lives, in our conversation, and in our attitudes. We rest in what we see and become more and more aware of His priorities and less concerned with the cares of this life or even trying to do things for Him.

David Rice, The Joy and Challenge of Aging With God

The Discord of The Nashville Statement

The Nashville sound, that was released in October, was not a good sound.  It was the sound of discord.  Wayne Jacobsen wrote this about The Nashville Statement:

This statement re-draws the same lines of exclusion that has plunged evangelicalism into irrelevance over the past half century and does nothing to invite people into God’s reality. This is a statement the Pharisees might have generated when Jesus was spending too much of his time with those they regarded as sinners. It has more in common with their agenda for the culture, than it did for Jesus, who was bent on winning people into Father’s love as the conduit into a transformed life, rather than laying out the rules and compelling people to follow.

Now we have a new statement to wave around as a litmus test of Biblical morality that Christians will have to pledge allegiance to or be judged as soft on sin. Well, as a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and one that embraces the moral safety of Scripture, I reject this Statement on the following grounds:

  • It packages God’s desire for humanity as Law to obey instead of a Loving Father to embrace. As such it repudiates the Incarnation of Christ to win by love and affection what law and obedience could never win. Left to itself, this Statement distorts how God rescues people from their own brokenness and restores them through love and transformation.
  • As a political statement it confuses the differing role of government and the faith community in matters of marriage and sexuality.
  • It smacks of religious arrogance by calling its conclusions “essential” for faith, and attacking those who see it differently as “foolish” and “bent on ruin.” It overstates the conclusion of Scriptures to support their own prejudices and fears and there is no humility that admits even those who believe these things have a difficult time living true to them. Shouldn’t we clean our own house before telling others how to clean theirs?
  • It assumes that Christianity has a handle on masculinity and femininity when religious environments are notorious for stereotyping those distinctions to selectively distribute power rather than embracing the revelation of God.
  • It offers no compassion, kindness, or hope for people who do not conform to their view of morality. Instead it will embolden those whose animosity and fear seeks to hurt those who disagree with them and it will add further condemnation and despair to those who do not yet know God’s love for them.
Wayne Jacobsen, Nashville Statement Takes Evangelicals in the Wrong Direction

My Vacation Taught Me About Community

Live in harmony with one another.
-Romans 12:16a

I just got back from a family vacation.  We all lived in a condominium together for a week.  We had two sets of people who don't normally live together, so we had to learn to be together.

Every vacation time puts us into a different routine, in a different place sometimes with different people.  This one was just like that.  No one or no thing completely ruined it, but there were challenges and joys.

Even though it was completely predictable, I was was caught off guard once by the difficulty in choosing what to watch on television.  Four out of the five of us are first borns, who like to dictate what tv shows will be watched.

After the first disagreement, I realized that I don't need to control what we watch.  And I was immediately set free.  The next time there was an issue, we discovered the second tv and split into two groups.

You don't have to do everything together.  This is stating the obvious, but I think being able to not only have good times all together, but to also be alone or in two's or three's; is all about freedom and gracious diversity.

In fact, the best times I had during the week were alone times with each of the other individuals.  The special one to one times, that went deeper and where there was undivided attention, sharing and conversation were gifts that deepened each of these relationships.

The all together times were great too!  We played charades together and we prepared food in the kitchen together (two at a time).  Sounds silly, but I told my brother in law, who made me my toast one morning, that it was so good, and that it was a special moment of the week; because he's a guy who doesn't cook, and he's never served me food before, in all the years I've known him.

One of us was delayed because of an emergency at work and we adjusted.  We had to rearrange our packing of the trunk plans, because we changed who was driving with whom.

We got lost finding the grocery store to get supplies the first night.  And taking 'the scenic route' for our day trip to the mountains, led to a couple of wrong turns and about an extra hour in the car.  

One of us got sick and had to go home early.  Three of us got back aches from the severely firm mattresses.  

But we had a great time.  We went through each small problem together.  We grew as people and we moved to a deeper place with each other, because we now know and respect each other more.

All these positive things are little.  But little things make for big things.  

A little bit of kindness.  A little change in loving others.  A little bit of bridling the tongue.

Little 'I forgive you's', saying you're sorry, putting others first, not taking offense, listening, having fun, being patient, serving others, talking to and meeting strangers at the pool, living in and being one who creates an atmosphere of unconditional love, and saying 'good morning' and meaning it.

It is all the little good things that make life better and it really reflects and connects back to God.  God is there with us, when we gather; and we can commune with and participate in God's goodness, even though that goodness runs counter to the popular me-ness all around us.

Tozer Quotes on Worship

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
-Exodus 15:2

My first memory of worship was when I was a little boy, and all the people were in the sanctuary singing The Lord's Prayer.  I can still hear the roar of all the voices, in unison, singing, "For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever!"  There was a pipe organ that did not overpower the voices of the congregation, but seemed to guide and blend with our words, towards heaven.

Everything I have learned and everything I have seen and experienced about worship starts with that childhood memory.  Christians have been offended and put off by different styles of worship.  How we worship has been in contention for a long time.

I recently picked up a book, Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, which is a compilation of thoughts from A.W. Tozer, by James L. Snyder; published in 1997.  Around 1987, I read a similar book, a Tozer compilation, by Gerald B. Smith, called What Ever Happened To Worship?, that I enjoyed.  That was my first Tozer book.  As I read through this Tozer book, I realized that a big part of my spiritual formation was guided by A. W. Tozer.

These are quotes and notes from "Tozer on Worship and Entertainment", a compilation by James L. Snyder.  All are from the first half of the book.  This book is a compilation or sermon quotes and quotes from other Tozer books like, What Ever Happened To Worship? , That Incredible Christian, The Root of the Righteous, The Pursuit of God, and Knowledge of The Holy.

  • Admiration is an essential ingredient to worship.
    • We can not worship the one we do not honor.
  • We can only worship that which fascinates us.
    • There is an astonishment about reverence.
    • There is a mysterious fascination that carries the heart beyond itself.
  • We cannot worship without loving.
    • love without restraints becomes adoration.
  • Worship seeks union with its beloved, and an active effort to close the gap between the heart and the God it adores is worship at its best.
  • God has been saying to me, "I dwell in your thoughts.  Make your thoughts a sanctuary I can dwell.  See to it."
  • We are saved to worship God.
  • Jesus did not redeem us to make us workers; He redeemed us to make us worshipers.
    • And then, out of the blazing worship in our hearts, springs work.
  • Worship is unnatural only in the sense that so many people really do it.
    • But it is natural in that is is what God created us for... to worship Him and enjoy Him forever.
  • If worship bores you, you are not ready for heaven.
    • Every glimpse that we have of heaven shows the creatures there worshiping.
  • God is infinitely more concerned that He have worshipers than He have workers.
  • One of the ingredients in worship is boundless confidence in the character God.
  • Mystery always baffles the understanding and stuns the mind, and we come before God in speechless humility in the presence of the mystery inexpressible.
    • I feel that we should always leave room for mystery in our Christian faith.
    • When we do not, we become evangelical rationalists and we can explain everything.
  • Mystery runs throughout all the kingdom of God just as there is mystery running throughout all of nature.
    • And the wisest and most honest scientist will tell you that he knows practically nothing.
    • And the Christian who has seen God on His throne with the eyes of his heart has stopped being an oracle.  He won't pretend to know everything any more and he won't condemn another man who might take a different position from his.
  • You are not worshiping God as you should if you have departmentalized your life so that some areas worship and other parts do not worship.
    • This can be a great delusion- that worship only happens in church or in the midst of a dangerous storm or in the presence of some unusual and sublime beauty of nature around us.
  • Cain's worship in the OT was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man.
    • Cain did not understand that man's sin was eternally important to God.
    • Cain mistakenly assumed a relationship with God, denying the alienation that sin brings.
    • Cain was mistaken as some people are today, that sin is not a serious thing.
    • Cain's type of worship is inadequate, without real meaning; in today's NT context, because it bypasses the necessity of blood atonement for sin.
  • Consecration is not difficult for the person who has met God.
  • Our religious activities should be ordered in such a way as to leave plenty of time for the cultivation of the fruits of solitude and silence.
    • (But) Our mediation must be towards God; otherwise, we may spend our time of retiral in quiet converse with ourselves.  This may quiet our nerves but will not further our spiritual life in any way.
  • When we lift our eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us.
  • Our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence.
  • Whatever else it embraces, true Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God.
  • The presence of God is the central fact of Christianity.
  • The presence of God in our midst- bringing a sense of godly fear and reverence- this is largely missing today.
    • You cannot induce it by soft music, beautiful windows, or holding up a biscuit and claiming it is God.
  • True worship is to be so personally and hopelessly in love with God that the idea of a transfer of affection never even remotely exists.
  • I believe in personal communion with God to the point of incandescence.
  • The fellowship of God is delightful beyond all telling.  He communes with His redeemed ones in an easy, uninhibited fellowship that is restful and healing to the soul.
    • He is not sensitive nor temperamental.
    • He is not hard to please, though He may be hard to satisfy.
    • He expects of us only what He has first supplied.
    • He loves us for ourselves and values our love more galaxies of new created worlds.
  • The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through washing and regeneration.
    • He first reveals Christ to the penitent heart.
    • He then goes on to illuminate the newborn soul with brighter rays from the face of Christ and leads the willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion.
    • Remember, we know Christ only as the Spirit enables us and we have only as much of Him as the Spirit imparts.
    • Gifts of power for service the Spirit surely desires to impart; but holiness and spiritual worship come first.
  • Perhaps the most serious charge that can be brought against modern Christians is that we are not sufficiently in love with Christ.
  • The more perfect our friendship with God becomes the simpler will our lives be.
  • God is not satisfied until there exists between Him and His people a relaxed informality that requires no artificial stimulation.
    • The true friend of God may sit in His presence for long periods of silence.
    • Complete trust needs no words of assurance.
  • We should never forget that God created us to be joyful worshipers, but sin drew us into everything else but worship.
  • For myself, if I couldn't have the divine power of God, I would quit the whole business.
  • The simple truth is that worship is elementary until it begins to take on the quality of admiration.
    • We begin to grow up when our worship passes from thanksgiving to admiration.
  • Reverence is a beautiful thing, and it is so rare in this terrible day in which we live.
  • You can worship God anywhere is you will let Him work in your being and suffer no rival.
  • It is true that for each one there must be a personal encounter with God.
  • We Christians should watch lest we lose the "Oh!" from our hearts.
  • The music of heaven is adoration.
  • When we've known God enough and come to have faith in Him, when we have boundless confidence in His character, and when we come to admire Him and love Him for His excellence, when we become magnetized by His beauty and adore Him we will want to pour ourselves out at His feet.
    • Consecration is not difficult to someone who has met God.
  • Christian believers are called to be burning bushes.

Admire Your Husband and Save Your Marriage

To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
-Ephesians 5:33

Did you know that there is no verse that says, "Wives, love your husbands"?  Most wives do love their husbands, and I would imagine, do not need to be admonished to do so.  But, husbands do need to be admonished to love their wives.

At least that's what it seems like.  Husbands need to get better at loving.  Husbands have the high calling of loving like Christ loves.

Wives seem to not need to be called to love better.  We are all called to love and to grow in loving.  Husbands get a special or particular command to love their wives.

Wives get a different command, direction or calling.  Wives need to be admonished to respect their husbands.  The wife is called out to respect or give admiration to her husband.

Many husbands, after a period of time in marriage, strangely, do not feel like spending time with their wives.  What happened?

I am reading Gary Smalley's book, For Better or For Best: Understanding Your Husband.  In chapter seven, "How To Increase Your Husband's Desire To Spend Quality Time With You", Gary's advice is for wives to admire their husbands.

You can view this article, based on Gary's book, as being for women.  But for men, this book and this particular chapter help answer the question of why you don't want to spend time with or be around your wife.  If you feel repelled, you may have a wife who does not respect you or does not know how to show her respect or admiration for you.

Gary Smalley makes the argument for women admiring their husbands to have a better marriage.

Many wives either do not admire their husbands, or do not know how to show it.  They do not know that being admired is a huge deal for men.

Gary Smalley died in 2016.

These are my notes from chapter 7: How To Increase Your Husband's Desire To spend Time With You.

Admiration.  Husbands need admiration.

Admire means:

  • to respect or to honor
  • to place a high value on.  
Smalley says that people are attracted to those who admire them and are repelled by those who belittle them.  Belittle means to look down on.

Here are some of the ways that wives drive their husbands away (admiration deficit):
  • Expressing more appreciation or admiration for other men.
  • Criticizing your husband.  
    • Especially bad when you do it in front of his friends or children. 
    • Wives who critique their husbands in public mortally wound their marriages.
  • Nagging.  
    • Being nagged makes a man feel like a boy who is inadequate.
  • Arguing about everything.  
    • Arguing makes him feel like he is not able and not smart.
  • Questioning him, like you don't trust his judgement.
  • Complaining.  This is repulsive to husband.
  • Comparing him to yourself. 
    • Like you are expecting him to be like a woman.  
    • Saying, "you should have known, realized, or paid attention"; when he was just being a man!
Here are some ways that wives can begin to admire their husbands.  These are the opposite of the list above and will help the husband to desire spending time with the wife and will strengthen your marriage.

With each of these points, especially if doing this is unnatural or goes against something in you, you might ask, "why?"  And the answer always is, "because I admire him".  If you do not admire him, this is about cultivating admiration.  Circle back to what the words says.  Ask God to help you and give you a revelation about this.

Remember that admire means to respect and honor, or to highly value.  Admire comes from respect, and both are something you do.  These are some ways that you can respect or admire your husband:
  • Ask your husband for advice.
  • Remember what your husband's likes & desires are, and fulfill them, when possible.
  • Draw attention to or praise your husband's positive qualities, around other people.
  • Cultivate appreciation for what your husband does for a living.  
    • Help him know that you are in his corner and understand how hard he works and how valuable his work is: that he is worth-y and esteemed.
  • Really listen to what he says, with a loving ear.  
    • Don't disagree when you haven't heard all of what he wants to say. 
    • Being submissive does not mean blind obedience nor unilateral husband decision making.  
    • Let your husband be a servant leader.  
    • You can object to his ideas, while being submissive and letting him serve you. 
  • Express your appreciation for something your husband said or did.
  • Find out his goals and support him in them.
  • Non-verbally admire your husband:
    • Be attentive when he comes home.
    • Look attractive for him.
    • Cook delicious meals.
    • Be interested and ask him questions about his world.
    • Give him eye contact.
    • Don't multi-task when he is speaking to you.
  • Genuinely desire your husband's forgiveness when you offend him.
    • Cultivate a life-style of forgiveness and saying you are sorry.
    • Learn to say, "I was wrong".
      • It is harder to forgive someone and restore the relationship with them, who never admits they were wrong.
    • Learn to say, "I apologize".
  • Cultivate a positive attitude.
    • If prior abuse or brokenness hamstrings your ability to be positive, get into recovery and seek personal transformation.
  • Become someone who is desirable to be around, for your husband:
    • Find and cultivate mutual interests, that your husband enjoys.
    • Take steps to be a more desirable to your husband.
    • Make it your mission to be the most enjoyable woman to be around for your husband.
    • Be interested in his interests.
    • Make your home say, "Welcome home", to your husband.
  • Seek your husband's opinion in your areas on interest.
    • Ask him for help.
    • Need his help.
    • Never criticize the help he gives you.

Living In God's House

How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of Armies.
I long and yearn for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.

Even a sparrow finds a home,
And a swallow, a nest for herself
Where she places her young—
Near your altars, Lord of Armies,
My King and my God.
How happy are those who reside in your house,
Who praise you continually.

Happy are the people whose strength is in you,
Whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a source of springwater;
Even the autumn rain will cover it with blessings.
They go from strength to strength;
Each appears before God in Zion.

Lord God of Armies, hear my prayer;
Listen, God of Jacob.Selah
Consider our shield, God;
Look on the face of your anointed one.

Better a day in your courts than a thousand anywhere else.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God
Than live in the tents of wicked people.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield.
The Lord grants favor and honor;
He does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity.
Happy is the person who trusts in you,
Lord of Armies!
-Psalm 84

We are invited to live in God's house now in this life.  Our desire to live with God is individual and communal.  We each have to decide for and want it.  And we live in God together.

God's house is yellow.  God uses all colors, but yellow describes the place we get to live in with God.
For the Lord God is a sun and a shield.
God's house is a place of sunshine.  A color that describes God's house is yellow.  God's place we dwell in is a place of joy, warmth, inspiration and vitality.  Cheerful, happiness, strengthening, friendly and creative; are words that describe the atmosphere of God's house we get to live in now.

The more time that we spend inside God's house, the more that our minds are renewed into the mind of Christ.  The more time we spend at God's place, the more we are aware of our identities.  The more time we spend in God's house, the more energy we have for life, because awake or asleep, God's place is a place of rest.

When we spend time inside God's house, we learn to see.  We get clarity about what we see.  We understand what we see better now, through the truth of Christ.

Spending time in God's house is renewing.  Restoration happens in God's place where we get to spend time.  It is a safe place to turn our lives around and get back to becoming the person we have been destined to be.

We get to grow up in the safe space of God's place, while at the same time, becoming like a child.  No matter what our age is, our youth is renewed in God's dwelling place.  We get to become wise and child-like at the same time.

God's house is a place of learning.  Inspiration and curiosity are in the air in God's space.  Creativity is bubbling in the atmosphere of God's house and imparted to those who spend time there.

The ability to communicate truth and life is imparted to people who spend time living with God.  Discovery is given to those who dwell with God.  That is the ability to look at things and discover things previously unknown.

Decision makers learn how to become wise rulers in the house of God, in the the light imparted by living with God.

Enthusiasm, confidence and optimism are imparted in the presence of God.

Being with God is a sunny place, full of warmth and happiness.

Frankincense, one of the gifts brought to Jesus, is yellowish in color.  In essential oil therapy, Frankincense is said to offer a variety of health benefits like relieving stress and anxiety, reducing pain and inflammation, boosting immunity and potentially helping fight cancer.

Yellow is the brightest color.  It is the most visible color.  It is the first visible color.  Yellow is the color of seeing.

Yellow is the color of gold.  Golden means of great value.

Yellow the color of one of the twelve foundation stones of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:19).  And the glory of God, which some people think is yellow in color, like sunshine; will be the light source in the new Jerusalem (Re. 21:23).

Healing light from God ("The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays") is the promise for those who revere and fear God (Malachi 4:2).  

Living in God's house is like the, "Yellow Submarine" song.

Jesus Never Made Speeches (Learning to Teach Like Jesus, pt. 7)

After three days, they found him in the temple sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
-Luke 2:46

Jesus never made speeches.  But when Christian leaders get up to teach, it is most always a speech they give.  We also call this a sermon, a talk, or an address.  You can actually get a doctorate in homiletics and be an expert on speechifying, in teaching the Bible.

Jesus did not teach through giving speeches, but we love to give and hear speeches, in order to teach or be taught.  If you go to almost any church, this is what we usually do.  But, it is not what Jesus did, nor what the Apostles did.

We kind of assume they did.  And we read the NT through our lense.  We impose our lifestyles, traditions and biases onto the text and see what is not there.

How would you like it if you found out that Jesus did not do sermon prep like we do and bring a sermon to people?

Some of the worst sermons you and I have ever heard were by preachers who did not prepare, but 'winged it'.  The reason for this is that to give a good speech, you do need to prepare.  They tried to give a compelling speech without preparing or getting ready and they failed.  Great speeches are thought out and written out and often memorized and rehearsed.

 You may be great at doing the speech thing and even earn your salary because you are good at it.  But Jesus did not teach by giving speeches.  When you give speeches, you are not teaching how Jesus taught.

You may love the Lord and love God's people.  You may be smart, wise and compassionate.  You have a true shepherd's heart.  And from all that, you teach.

But your teaching is speech-ing.  Monologues.  Your audience loves what you do, loves what you bring.

Jesus did not teach that way though.  You are doing something he did not do.  Why don't you think about being a pastor, being a teacher like how Jesus did it?

You don't have to wear a robe and sandals or grow a beard.  Not that there's anything wrong with doing those things.  But why not teach how Jesus taught, through dialogue: questions and answers.

The immediate objection by you, might be, "that won't work!"  You might think, 'chaotic', or 'out of control'.  'Open mic' at church?  "People come to church to worship and hear a teaching and not be questioned by the preacher!", is what you might say.

But that is how Jesus did it, so why don't we?  He listened to the people's questions and he asked questions.  He dialogued with people, and taught them that way.

Speeches or sermons are monologues.  Jesus dialogued.  Jesus taught conversationally.

Chapter seven of Horne's book, Teaching Techniques of Jesus, is entitled, His Conversations.

The four gospels contain over 100 instances of Jesus asking questions.  Think about it.  The person with the answers constantly asked questions of those he would teach.

The best sermons contain questions, not answers.  Questions make you think and are for you to learn.

The homework assignment for this chapter would be to read through the gospels and look at all the times Jesus asked questions and to notice how he taught: through dialogue, with questioning.

To me, it is mind blowing to compare how Jesus taught with how we teach.  Where are the questions and where is the dialogue?  And how come I don't see Jesus giving sermons like we do?

We imagine or fantasize that he was like us.  But we forget that Christianity is supposed to be about us being like him.


The painting above is: Giovanni Antonio Galli (Lo Spadarino), Christ Among the Doctors, c. 1620

Learning to teach Like Jesus series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Everything Does Not Happen For A Reason

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified;and those he justified, he also glorified.
-Romans 8:28-30

One of the dumbest sayings is, "Everything happens for a reason".  Some people believe that they are comforted by this idea.  When disaster strikes or a loved one dies under unfortunate circumstances, they say this.

The 'reason' that I think is false and that makes the statement false is God's will.  The belief out there is that God wills tragedy: accidents, including kids being run over or even murdered.  No.  Everything does not happen for a reason.

I just finished reading a book that was mostly a beautiful story about a tragic event of a young man.  He died in an unfortunate event, at age twenty.  Eventually, in the story, this statement was made, that everything happens for a reason and that it was 'his time'.

I think that 'everything happens for a reason' is mistakenly justified through a reading of Romans 8 and maybe the seasons verses in Ecclesiastes, where the author says that there is 'a time to die'.  There is a time or season when people die and there may be a time God determines when a person dies.

But, when someone dies early, there is another saying that goes, "She died before her time".  This statement is in the same category of human suffering that is not God's will.

The Holocaust and children being raped is not God's will or God's plan.  All bad things that happen, including untimely deaths are also not God's will or God's plan.  They are not something that he has a reason for letting happen.

Romans 8 teaches us that God works in the midst of human suffering.  This is a very different idea than believing God caused it.  This is very different than believing that since God allowed it, it must be his will.

It was not his will, but it happened, and he loves you.  God is all powerful.  But humans and forces of darkness have certain freedoms to do harm.

Accidents happen.  I met a woman a few years ago.  The love of her life died in a tree trimming accident.

Bad things happen, while God is all powerful and all good.

Many people die too soon.  It was not God's will.

There is an error, an insidious belief that God predetermines our deaths.  This belief might 'fit' and feel good, when it is an older person, who is close to God, and they say goodbye to their earthly family and then hello to their heavenly family, in glory and joy.

We get in trouble when we apply this to almost everyone else, especially those who suddenly die, die young, or die under tragic or evil circumstances.

Some Christians that believe in predeterminism believe that it does not matter really how they live and the choices that they make, because their time of death is already set.

Some people die shortly after they retire from full-time work, because they lack purpose.  Every year, people die climbing mountains, which was completely their choice.

There is a difference between God knowing what will happen and God predetermining what happens.

It is lazy to believe that God predetermines everything.  It is a terrible deception.  Actually, God has set things up in the world, so that many things will not happen unless we do it.  We must pray and we must act, or else God's will can not be done on earth.

That is how big God is on free will.  He freely gives, but then we must freely give for good things to work out.

Error is on both ends of the spectrum.  To say that life and everything that happens on earth is a script, written and directed by God, that we act in, as actors who do not have complete freedom, is false.  And to say that God either does not exist, or is detached and we do everything, including our religions and our own merited righteousness, is also false.

The truth is that we have freedom to choose.  The truth is that bad things do happen, that were not God's plan or God's idea.  The truth is that we do not know why people die or are allowed to suffer untimely deaths.

On top of all this is God who is all powerful and totally loving.  There is often no cause and effect.  Remember the story where the tower collapsed and a bunch of people died and they asked Jesus about it (Luke 13).  It was just an accident.  There was no reason.

Whitewash The Tombs