Armchair Weed EatersFollowing on the heels of Tim Challies, Michael ‘iMonk’ Spencer has truly outdone himself with a beautiful metaphor that I wish I could just steal and claim as my own.  Weed eaters.

Spencer writes:

There’s nothing quite as empowering to a middle school boy as to be given a weed-eater of his very own. Armed with the machine, safety glasses and an orientation, they come marching across the campus taking on weeds and untrimmed grass like Sherman’s march to the sea.

If there was ever any tentativeness in these weed-eating workers, it all vanishes when they get their first taste of the power of the weed-eater. With a squeeze of the trigger, the power to eliminate weeds replaces the fear of what might happen in using such a dangerous device. Lazy middle school boys are transformed into the scourge of weeds and untidy lawns everywhere.

As I read the article, I can remember my own days as a freshman at a Christian college, incredulous that there could even be a Young Democrats chapter at a Christian college.  What an oxymoron, right?  And the zeal with which I argued and debated friends and rivals, alike, on the evils of alcohol – because teatotalling is right next to godliness.  And the folks who believed in anything other than literal 6-day, young earth creationism?  Make way, you godless heathens, wolves in sheep’s clothing!

There is, unfortunately, a not so charming side effect of this transformation. In the ensuing attack on weeds and sidewalk scruffiness of all kinds, most of the other flora and fauna of the campus is put at some risk from overenthusiastic weed warriors.

So in addition to a tidy campus and well attended faculty and staff lawns, there are frequent attacks on flower beds, gardens and much loved decorative hedges and bushes. Small fences are no obstacle to a boy convinced that some stray sprig of wayward grass is attempting to survive the Day of the Weed-eater.

Flowers and other decorative plants are at real risk when the power of a gang of boys go out into the neighborhood to do good. They are armed and dangerous. The neighborhood will be improved.

Zealousness is not at issue, which I believe sometimes I (and other writers at CRN.Info) am mistaken to be against.  We are called to have zeal for the Lord and to do His work with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Where that becomes a problem is when we start assuming the place of God, in judging the hearts of others, or the Holy Spirit, in convicting them.  We may effectively ‘whack some weeds’, but who knows how many beneficial plants we damage in the process.

Spencer acknowledges this dark side of ‘zeal’ -

So as I get older, I see many of my zealous brothers and sisters armed with the Bible, heading out into the church to do what they believe is a good work of killing weeds.

The results are predictably predictable.

Be less enthralled with your ability to trim the grass brothers, friends. Be less certain that you are qualified to tell the difference between a weed and a flower that has yet to bloom. Learn to use your power equipment carefully. You can do a lot of damage. All does not depend on you cutting down every unknown and out of place plant. You are not saving us from the arrival of the jungle.

And this is where I often find myself.  Reminded of Jesus’ admonition to serve and to love his bride – even the parts I may not personally like.  In a place of a concerned steward protecting gardens and flower beds from undiscerning, yet possibly well-intentioned youths, armed with their shiny new weed-eaters.

iMonk concludes:

It was the Pharisees that Jesus criticized for their weed-eater mentality. They were obsessed with separation. They were tithing their spices. They were experts in staying on the case until the weeds were revealed.

Jesus wants us to be gardeners, but we do have to deal with weeds. Did any gardener ever say “Let the weeds grow” except for Jesus?

Some of us have set our sights (sites) on being full-time weed eaters and we’re having a very good time. The body of Christ needs a few. But only a few. And be careful, please. Very careful.

And I would wholeheartedly agree.  This is why we support true, professional discernment ministries like Reasons to Believe, Christian Research Institute, and Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.  While we recognize that these ministries may not always agree with one another, nor always we with them, they are managed by Christians who understand that there’s a place for weed eaters, and there’s a place for more careful trimming.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 1:37 pm and is filed under Chris Pajak, Chris Rosebrough, Church and Society, Commentary, Devotional, Dwayna, Ingrid, Ken Silva, Mike Ratliff, ODM Responses, ODM Writers, pastorboy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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52 Comments(+Add)

1   Phil Miller
April 10th, 2009 at 1:58 pm

You know I was just remembering when I grew up I spent quite a bit of time mowing our church’s lawn. We used call the machine mentioned in iMonk’s article a “weed-whacker”. Maybe’s that actually a better name given your picture… ;-)

2   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

A great mental picture and object lesson. The same can be said for spraying Round-Up. Indiscriminate spraying, or using a wide spray nozzle, can and does do damage to plants and flowers.

The indicsriminate use of discernment can and does do damage to brothers and sisters in Christ. Round-Up is a non-selective herbacide. Some discernment sites are non-selective attack sites which means they kill everything they touch.

3   Jerry
April 10th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Last week I preached from Ephesians 4–no small challenge given all that Paul writes there. As I read and studied and prepared, I was struck by something that stands out in the passage: Christ himself gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These are very gifts of very Christ. But it gets better when we see why he gave these gifts: “So that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Even Paul wrote, of himself: “7You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. 8For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.” (2 Corinthians.)

My point is that within the church, Christ has not given the gift of tearing down and destroying. He has given gifts for the express purpose of building up the body of Christ. Even, then, the gift of ‘discernment’ must be used in such a way that it builds up the body of Christ.

4   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 9:57 pm

What is the point here? Are they suggesting that God’s love is not at the core of the atonement? Has anyone read Jn.3:16? Roamns 5:8? I will never understand the dedicated interest in minimizing the love of God.

The entire redemptive narrative is driven by God’s love, and God Himself IS love. The book of Acts gives the story of the embryonic church with all its flaws and misunderstandings. To single out one book and point out God’s love was not mentioned and by that to infer it should not be in our gospel presentation is ludicrous.

The love of God can never be fully presented and for anyone to minimize that love and render it useless in a salvation message is pitiful and does despite to the gospel itself.

And Chris L., this is one of the discernment blogs you support? Not me.

5   iggy
April 10th, 2009 at 10:13 pm


ODM’s don’t see God’s love as the core of the atonement… it is and always will be God’s wrath to them…


6   Brendt
April 10th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

From the article that C?N points to:

Acts 2:14-39 : There is no mention of God’s love or a relationship with Him.
Acts 3:12-26 : There is no mention of God’s love or a relationship with Him.
Acts 4:8-12 : There is no mention of God’s love or a relationship with him.
Acts 5:29-32 : There is no mention of God’s love or any kind of tender relationship with Him.
Acts 7:1-60 : There is no mention of God’s love.
Acts 10:34-43 : There is no mention of God’s love.
Acts 17:22-31 : There is no mention of relationship or God’s love.
Acts 22:1-21 : There is no offer of personal relationship with God or mention of God’s love.
Acts 23:1-6 : There is no mention of the love of God.
Acts 24:10-21 : There is no mention of God’s love or even of forgiveness.
Acts 24:24-25 : There is no mention of God’s love or of a personal relationship with Him.
Acts 26:1-29 : There is no mention of love or a relationship with God.

Yup, Rick, I think you surmised correctly.

7   Brendt
April 10th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Rick (#4):

And Chris L., this is one of the discernment blogs you support? Not me.

Chris cited Reasons to Believe. That article was from Stand to “Reason”.

8   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Even if God’s wrath was poured out upon His Son, it still had God’s love at its core. “God so LOVED the world” is the divine passion, the divine motive, and the divine purpose for the cross.

I find it deeply unsettling that anyone would attempt to disuade us from preaching the eternal and unsearchable love of God as expressed and revealed at Golgotha.

It is profoundly depressing that those who boldly proclaim Biblical authority seek to strip God of His love. The post on that discernment site reveals a breathtaking self righteousness and a tortured joy concerning God’s wrath.

9   iggy
April 10th, 2009 at 10:20 pm


There is a difference between Stand to Reason and Reasons to Believe. Though I admit at times Gregory Koukl has some good points, though a lot of the time I do not agree with him… he seems to take the heart and life out of the gospel and leave it totally on an intellectual level and philosophy. That is who he is trying to reach I guess.

I had a critical thinking class were we reviewed one of his articles on abortion… and sadly it was not very strong… though it was reasoned, it was more “Americanized Gospel” than Biblical…

Again, though as I stated, Greg can make a good point… I just can’t recall any at the moment. :smile:


10   Neil    
April 10th, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Rick, I just love how the Gospel being relevant is seen as a pejorative comment. And being missional – that is, basing your fellowship on the missio dei is… I’m not sure why it’s wrong… maybe you can decipher the opening statement for me.

11   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Thank you, Brendt, I feel much better. :)

12   Brendt
April 10th, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Original article at S2R:

The love of God is never mentioned a single time in the entire book of Acts.

And the internet is never mentioned a single time in the entire Bible.

(Not that either observation has anything to do with anything.)

13   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

The Book of Esther never mentions God.

And your point? Does the Book of Acts ever mention the Lord’s Supper?

14   Bo Diaz    
April 10th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

It would make it so much easier if the Bible said something like, God is love, or for God so loved the world.

And as for a relationship with God, it would be amazing if the scriptures said the duty of man would be to walk humbly with your God. Or maybe, if there was some sort of metaphor in scripture where God was compared to a husband and his people the bride…..

15   iggy
April 10th, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Acts 4:33 33. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.

The Amplified translation is this:

Acts 4:33 (Amplified Bible)
33 And with great strength and ability and power the apostles delivered their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace (loving-kindness and favor and goodwill) rested richly upon them all.

Now if one looks at the Greek… they will find that “great grace” has in it the very idea of love at it’s core… so for us to have been given grace by God shows His love IS the core of our savlation… so Greg misses the point again… and really to attempt to seperate God’s loving kindness from His Grace, removes the very meaning of Grace…

Oh and this is also found in Acts 11:23; 13:43; 14:3;


16   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Or maybe if we are to refer to God as Father, or Christ as our Older Brother, or something like “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us”.

Talk about twisting Scripture.

17   Brendt
April 10th, 2009 at 10:33 pm

iggy, you’re not using the language that the Bible was written in (the King James). The Amplified version is the creation of man.


18   nc    
April 10th, 2009 at 10:37 pm


Bo! Hilarious.

19   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 10:37 pm

That post on CRN, and that link to that discernment site, grieves me greatly, for it openly reveals a cold hearted view of our Father and seeks to elevate His justice above His love. God is not willing that any should perish. That reveals His heart and desire, and it teaches us that He takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked.

I am amazed that some would attempt to contruct some design that suggests that God’s love is not at the very core of the cross and resurrection, and that the Great Commission, the missional essence, of God’s purpose is not eternally tethered to His boundless love.

20   Bo Diaz    
April 10th, 2009 at 10:39 pm

The ADMs are a classic example of missing the entire point of scripture while still using scripture. The difference between them and health and wealthers is that their not actively trying to con anyone, except for the ones soliciting donations to keep their “ministries” afloat.

21   iggy
April 10th, 2009 at 10:42 pm


It is sad that though they claim they are saved by Grace through faith, they then deny Grace as God’s loving kindness toward us…

A friend of mine explains Grace as “God’s loving feelings toward us”… I think that is rather beautiful…

But there is no way to remove God’s love and still have God’s grace… without God’s love there is only judgment… and if only judgment there is only wrath…

And they claim God is a God of wrath… and hates sinners… now you know how they back that up!


22   iggy
April 10th, 2009 at 10:43 pm


The greatest con is to con a man out of his soul…


23   nc    
April 10th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

people who pit God’s justice against God’s love are heretics.


24   Rick Frueh
April 10th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

How can any believer isolate the cross as solely a judicial event of doctrinal truth, and by that be blind to the infinite revelation of God’s redemptive love manifested upon that cross? And how can a believer be so caught up in confronting error that he directs his energy to suggest God’s love is not part of the gospel message?

I find the entire thing very depressing to see people who seem so intent on truth and yet teach such spiritual treachery.

25   Bo Diaz    
April 10th, 2009 at 11:30 pm

All the poets are coming out of the woodwork today.

Spiritual treachery, con men out of their souls.

Some one put together a sonnet, quick.

26   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 8:44 am

And here is another humanistic/nationalistic article from that same “discernment” site. Talk about a mixed message.

In this post the author suggests that America can and should be the world’s moral police. Who caaaaaares???

27   Brendt
April 11th, 2009 at 11:24 am

How can any believer isolate the cross as solely a judicial event of doctrinal truth, and by that be blind to the infinite revelation of God’s redemptive love manifested upon that cross?

Well, it is Easter, after all. What better time to miss the point about the cross?

28   Bo Diaz    
April 11th, 2009 at 11:36 am

Good Friday?

29   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 11:52 am

I could never be an emotionless Calvinist. Never. I see the doctrinal truths revealed in Scripture, but I also feel the personal impact of those truths in my own heart and life.

I am moved very easily. That disqualifies me from many evangelical circles where emotions are considered weakness. I look at Miley Cyrus and my heart goes out to a young girl who has been catapulted into a destructive world by the adults around her.

Others look at Miley Cyrus and see an easy target to pummel with words of judgment and castigation.

One of those views is not God.

Jesus did not come to elevate the moral climate of society, He came to save His people from their sins. We can never be blind to the enormity of our sin, and even the society of the 1950s were monsters of iniquity. But God’s redemptive grace covers ever single sin, purely by faith.

I continue to meditate on the CRN post that linked to a site that implied that God’s love was not a major component of the gospel. Just when I think I’ve seen everything I see something that shocks me.

30   Brendt
April 11th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Bo, true. I guess I meant moreso that it’s “Easter season” right now. It’s not actually “Easter” yet anywhere west of India.

31   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Hey, I can almost believe my friend Ken Silva reads my comments. Unless God’s coincidence providence is active. Read my comment #29 and then read here.

32   Brendt
April 11th, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Rick, does that make you a contributor to Apprising?


33   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 3:42 pm

They can’t afford me. :cool:

34   Neil    
April 11th, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Plus – you make too much sense…

35   Bo Diaz    
April 11th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Rick doesn’t use alliterations enough to be part of Apprising…

Now what other A word could we use to alliterate with Apprising? I think Perry Noble knows.

36   nc    
April 11th, 2009 at 4:28 pm


by evidence of such unseemly intimations, you’re clearly not saved and your wife must suffer being married to such a goat.


37   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 4:30 pm

I did notice a new description from Ken:

“man-centered evanjellyfish”

I’m a sucker for linguistic gymnastics!

38   Jerry
April 11th, 2009 at 4:33 pm

#31–giving approval to Tozer is just another way of demonstrating that theology doesn’t matter to the ADM’s. They only want allegiance. As long as people agree with them, it matters little what their theological perspective.

39   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 4:35 pm

As long as someone is castigating someone else it’s all good :)

If I’m not mistaken, Tozer comes from the same denomination as does PB.

40   rabanes
April 11th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

> “man-centered evanjellyfish”

RA: Think PB used that one in another thread here, too……the love that kind of stuff.


41   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 4:37 pm

BTW – Is that Chris Rosebrough leading those pirates off Somalia??

42   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 4:46 pm

How’s this from Tozer:

“In the Bible the offer of pardon on the part of God is conditioned upon intention to reform on the part of man. There can be no spiritual regeneration till there has been a moral reformation” (The Best of A.W. Tozer, Book 2, pg. 115-117


43   M.G.    
April 11th, 2009 at 4:53 pm

I love the fact that in a *disagreement* about the nature and attributes of God, Ken makes a point to quote Tozer on the topic of some evangelicals refusing to disagree.

It’s like settling a math debate by quoting a mathemetician who laments the dislike some people have for mathematics. That may or may not be true, but it’s definitely beside the point.

It’s like Ken has given up on actually making relevant points.

44   Brendt
April 11th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

MG, there’s an implication there….

45   Neil    
April 11th, 2009 at 5:08 pm

Would it be safe to say that it would be better to read Tozer as an author of devotionals, not theology?

46   Bo Diaz    
April 11th, 2009 at 5:33 pm

One could say that Ken never has made relevant points, so why expect more from him now?

47   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I’m starting a new club:


Semi-Pelagian Club of America

Wanna join?

48   Bo Diaz    
April 11th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Be sure to get your Calvinists spayed or neutered?

49   Rick Frueh
April 11th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Calvinists must choose to join.

50   iggy
April 11th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Ummm isn’t being relevant unbiblical to Ken and others? I mean isn’t that what we evil emergents are all about and are so wrong about?

51   Rick Frueh
April 13th, 2009 at 7:43 am

Would someone with internet skills please e-mail me with step by step instructions on how to make a video paste on a blog. I can do the link thing, but I do not seem able to make the video appear.

Thanks –

52   Phil Miller
April 13th, 2009 at 8:16 am

Most places that host videos will have a field that says “embed”. You can just copy that code and insert where you want it in your post.

For example, to embed this video, the code looks like this: [object width="425" height="344"][param name="movie" value=""][/param][param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"][/param][param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"][/param][embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"][/embed][/object]

The [ ] would be replaced with <>, though.