Hey Christians: No One Cares About Your Diet

All you healthy people that don’t use sugar: your homemade Christmas cookies are not as good as you think they are.
@FailingPastor

 

 

There is a segment of Christianity that is obsessed with diet. I’m not saying they are synonymous with the homeschoolers, but there is massive overlap. They are under the impression that we are justified by food alone. Sola Cibus. (I don’t know, I just looked up “What is the Latin word for food?” And cibus came up as the answer.)

Romans 14 and 15 tells us to please our neighbor and do things that edify them. Don’t force your weird scruples on people if it causes problems. I feel that diet evangelists need a refresher course on this passage.

At every casual gathering of Christians there is food. The lady who has to bring her health food along with recipes and detailed reasons why her treats are better than anything else anyone else brought are in violation of brotherly love. They just are.

Furthermore, your food sucks.

No one likes it.

There’s a reason why people like salt and sugar: because food with salt and sugar tastes better. Throw in some butter too, maybe just lard.

Continue reading “Hey Christians: No One Cares About Your Diet”

No One Cares About Your Theological Opinions

Whenever I’m tempted to spout theological wisdom, I just remember: Nobody cares.
@FailingPastor

 

Social Media has taught us that success depends upon branding yourself. You have to produce content, get followers, retweets, and likes. Get your message out there. Effectiveness is measured by how many people you can prove bumped into your content.

This mentality has come into the Christian world as well. Pastors feel this pressure constantly.

We are told to follow the Big Name pastors out there and we’re basically taught to envy their numbers. John Piper can put some cheesy good morning poem on his Twitter feed and by noon it has 2.5k likes. I put out one finely crafted Tweet succinctly summing up justification and it gets zero response.

I then feel pathetic and dumb. John Piper, bolstered by the 2.5k people who liked his poem, continues to write weird poems as though people need such things for sanctification to continue. He Tweets away, then occasionally lectures people for spending too much time on social media.

Sigh.

I did a theologically minded blog for over 15 years. There were about five people who regularly read it. There used to be nine, but I banned four of them from commenting anymore, so they eventually left.

I put out all kinds of stuff for my church people to use. I speak three times a week, yet hardly anyone shows up. I put out, what I think, is good theological content. Really helpful and inspiring stuff.

No one cares.

Continue reading “No One Cares About Your Theological Opinions”

Preach Your Thoughts, Not Other People’s Cliches

Along with “yes,” “no,” and “maybe,” God also answers prayer with “get a job” and “suck it up, buttercup.”
@FailingPastor

 

 

I have no idea if God answers prayer with “get a job” and “suck it up, buttercup.” I kind of hope He does! But I get nervous about putting words in His mouth. I’m no “Jesus Calling” author over here.

The basic point of this tweet was to challenge our flippant answers about biblical subjects.

Prayer is a subject discussed with much goofiness. When I was a kid I remember hearing the “yes, no, and maybe” deal about God answering my prayers. What kind of teaching is that? That’s how anyone answers a request. That’s not really teaching anything; that’s just pointing out reality. That’s what my mom will do if I ask her if I can have a cookie.

Plus, how does that answer the statement of Jesus Christ that if you ask anything in His name He will do it? “No” and “maybe” don’t seem part of that verse. Perhaps there are larger issues at work.

“Does prayer work?” has been a long standing question. There’s only one reason this is even a question: because prayer doesn’t work. If prayer worked then no one would ask this question. Therefore, simply by the existence of the question we can know that prayer does not work.

Now, answering why it’s not working has a manifold answer that would require a 65 point sermon, which is not the aim here. I’ll let you preach that one!

My point is that pastors are up against much bad teaching. In order to teach people what the Bible says, you first un-teach what Christians have heard from other Christians.

Don’t know if you know this or not, but what most Christians believe is based on other people’s opinions, not the Bible. I’ll let you pause and recover mentally and emotionally from the shock of that statement.

Continue reading “Preach Your Thoughts, Not Other People’s Cliches”

The Frustrating Work of Helping Sinners Not Sin

THEM: I’m not growing any fruit, what should I do?

ME: Pray. Stop sinning, Pursue holiness.

THEM: What else ya got?
@FailingPastor

 

 

This was a real conversation I had with a guy. Through our entire relationship he was adamant that good works were not necessary, and that sin wasn’t that bad because Jesus had forgiven him. Yet I’ve never met anyone so burdened with guilt. He was constantly beating himself up and depressed.

“How come I don’t have any spiritual fruit? Why doesn’t sin just stop?” he asked.

“Because you don’t think sin is that bad and you don’t think good works are that good.”

“Yeah, my good works are just filthy rags and all my sin has been dealt with in Christ. But I just don’t understand why I’m not growing.”

“You should do good things. Paul says in Titus to do good works so you are not unfruitful.”

“Yeah, well, there you go slipping into legalism again.”

We got nowhere. He later left the church.

People are suckers for get rich quick schemes. We all want the shortcut to success. This is just as true spiritually as it is monetarily.

I think most Christians admire Jesus Christ and would be cool with being more like Him. I really think most Christians have a desire to be better people. In fact, most people desire that.

Continue reading “The Frustrating Work of Helping Sinners Not Sin”

I Preach the Word and People Don’t Come

PASTORAL ADVICE: If you preach The Word, people will come.

ME: When The Word came, people crucified Him.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I had a guy tell me “Preach the Word and people will come.” I preached on a passage of Scripture that contradicted one of his favorite doctrines and he left the church. I love the irony.

If you preach the Word, one thing you will never preach is “If you preach the word people will come,” because the Word never says that.

What the Word says is stuff like: God’s wisdom is foolishness with man. Men hate the light and love the darkness. They will not endure sound doctrine but will heap to themselves teachers who will scratch their ears. And, of course, the chief example is when the Word Himself became flesh and dwelt among us–He came unto His own and His own received Him not.

Are we aware of what that means? It means people who think they wanted the Messiah didn’t really want Him once He showed up.

John describes Jesus as being the Word of God made flesh. There is much depth to that statement and I don’t pretend to be plumbing its depths here, but at least it means Jesus Christ is as much a revelation of God’s righteousness as the Scripture is, if not more. If people didn’t like Christ, what makes us think they will like His Word?

Try it sometime. You know the passages people in your church have agreed to ignore. You know the ones that will get you in trouble.

Maybe it’s Paul telling women to be silent in church, or wives to submit to husbands. Maybe it’s stuff about repentance and the necessity of good works in faith in James 2. Maybe it’s the Sermon on the Mount or the book of Revelation. I don’t know what it is for your church, but you do (if you don’t know your church’s weirdness, ask people outside your church that are familiar with people in your church! They know!).

What you’ll find is that people, in general, are not at all interested in what the Bible says. That’s why we defend our accepted niche of church tradition. As long as I can quote old, dead guys it doesn’t matter what the Bibles says. And they are OUR old, dead guys! They can’t be wrong!

Preach the Word, in season and out. Do it all the time and watch the people leave. Be prepared to take a pay cut, maybe even be prepared to eventually shut the doors of your church.

It’s not sad to shut for good the doors of a church that promotes terrible doctrine, this might actually be the best thing you’ve ever done for the Body of Christ!

There are way too many churches today and way too many pastors and way too many people pretending at Christianity. Start preaching the Word and weed out the pretenders. Stake your career on it. Go a Sunday without getting paid because there’s no money. See the embarrassment on the treasurer’s face when he tells you not to cash your paycheck. I’ve seen it.

If you preach the Word, I guarantee you your church will shrink. Guaranteed to happen every single time it’s tried. Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you. Do you have the faith and the guts to do it?

 

 

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness
–1 Corinthians 1:23

Can You Truly Count How Many Got Saved?

I’ve never matched Peter’s success at Pentecost,
but I did save the same kid at youth group 3,000 times.
@FailingPastor

 

 

Pentecost was by far the most productive evangelistic meeting in the Bible, outside of Jonah in Nineveh. It is certainly the largest revival in the New Testament.

Pentecost is often held up as a model, a comparison to make you feel pathetic about your terrible ministry.

There are reports from time to time about massive evangelistic revivals and thousands coming to the Lord. I am skeptical. I just am. I can’t help it. I wish I could believe that your thousands of people who got saved at your revival truly got saved, but I’ve been around awhile now and I’m skeptical.

I know 3,000 got saved when Peter preached because God said so in the Bible. God did not make any pronouncements about how many got saved at your revival. The test of time makes those numbers look ridiculous. Does Christlikeness show up in those lives? Usually it doesn’t.

People are fixated on numbers. I think we love hearing about Peter’s great success at Pentecost because it feeds our numbers obsession. We think the effectiveness of a revival or an evangelistic opportunity is proven by how many got saved.

If no one got saved then “the Spirit did not move.” If many people got saved then you know “the Spirit was moving.”

I disagree. The Spirit moves all the time. Even “failed” evangelism, by which I mean no one got saved, is still better than no evangelism, and quite frankly, still might work for a more non-obvious reason.

Bottom line is this: the guy I lead to the Lord 3,000 times is just as important as the 3,000 individuals Peter saved on Pentecost. The Spirit may be moving in both cases.

Most ministers will skip the opportunity to talk with the guy who has been saved 3,000 times for the brighter lights of revival crowds. We base the expenditure of our time and energy on what the payoff is. It’s like the priest of Micah’s who took off when the tribe of Dan came calling. Why serve in a guy’s house when you can serve a whole tribe? (That’s in Judges 17-18 by the way.)

I think we hold up Peter’s response on Pentecost as our goal, anything short of that is a failure. Here’s the thing: Peter never duplicated that event. In fact, none of the apostles did. Pentecost was a special event; it was the coming of the Spirit with power. It created a big response.

The bottom line is that I don’t know who is saved. If you claim to have saved 3,000 souls, I don’t know. How do I know that? If I claim to have finally saved the guy after the 3,000th time telling him the Gospel, I still don’t know.

God is the judge. Don’t compare your supposed results to other’s results. Don’t fixate on numbers. Preach the Gospel. Love people. Pray. Let God do the judging. He’ll do His job; we should do ours.

 

 

And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?
–Judges 18:19

Why Do We Rely on Church Tradition?

Do something stupid in church long enough and it becomes infallible, authoritative Church Tradition.
@FailingPastor

 

 

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” Those are the alleged words of Vladimir Lenin, one of the greatest propagandists of all time. Lenin used his propaganda skills to gain power and wield it authoritatively over a helpless people.

One would hope only blatantly evil people would use such tactics to gain power. Unfortunately, hoping this would require you to be unfamiliar with human nature.

I’m stunned by people who believe things based on “church tradition.”

I mean, seriously, have you ever been to church? Have you ever hung around one for years, knowing its intimate details and goings-on? For the love of all things beautiful and good, why would you base your beliefs on what comes out of there?!

This is especially glaring for those who emphasize Sola Scriptura, the notion that Scripture is our sole authority for life and doctrine. Sole authority. “Sole” there means something. “Sole” means the only one!

“Well yes, but Scripture is hard to understand, so we need to get help. Relying on those who came before us is a safeguard for knowing what Scripture is saying.”

So, I need 2,000 years of insane people doing insane things in the name of Christ to properly understand the Scriptures? How about the Holy Spirit? Is He enough, or do I need all kinds of dead guys?

“Well, we test what the Spirit says by seeing if He said the same thing to others in the past.”

So, the only test of whether the Spirit is teaching me is if the teaching lines up with people I have no guarantee had the Spirit?

Continue reading “Why Do We Rely on Church Tradition?”