Archive for the 'pastorboy' Category

When I read how Rick Warren was misrepresented in the press I wondered how our old friends would react. I was not too surprised to see one of them twist the story (much like the original reporter did) into yet another opportunity to attack a brother.

On his blog, Wittenburg Church Door, Pastorboy takes Warren to task – again. What I found interesting was the headline – Rick Warren Retracts ‘Chrislam’ Statements made to OC Register.

I read several clarifications written by Rick Warren and none of them can be called a retraction. A retraction is a public statement, by the author of an earlier statement, that withdraws the original statement. This is not what Warren did. Warren did not say anything that needed to be withdrawn… and I believe Pastorboy knows this full well. Yet he posts a blog that implies that Warren promoted a synergism between Christianity and Islam.

In the blog post that precedes the one linked to above, Pastorboy makes blatantly false comments and accusations against Rick Warren, a brother in Christ. This shameful, it is deceptive and dishonest, but it is not unexpected.

The original article that began the controversy was wrong – either accidentally or otherwise. The same can be said of Pastorboy.

    UPDATE – May, 2012

In checking the links above I see the articles in question have been removed. It would have been better if Pastorboy posted an admission of the error and false treatments about a brother in Christ – but even his removing the false accusations and twisted gossip is better than I expected.

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Oops!  Wrong Tale…

While it was nice to have a long vacation, in some ways, it is always nice to be back home.  Another nice thing about taking a break is that it tends to recharge your batteries and help you see some new and old things in different lights.  And speaking of lights…

yep- it's VegasMy son Jordan and I were in Vegas last Saturday night, at the end of our 19-day journey, and we had the evening to do a walkabout up the LV Strip, just for the sheer spectacle (and to have a couple more conversations, along the lines of lesson at Caesarea Philippi).  So, with the temperature in the triple-digits and the humidity nonexistent (with the sun going down), we headed up the strip.

Early on, we passed a line of young latino men and women wearing signs advertising “LIVE GIRLS TO YOUR ROOM IN 20 MINUTES OR LESS”, clicking business cards together, trying to hand them out to all the folks passing them.  [We'd already discussed the importance of using the "Suzi rule" - my wife's long-time advice to me that when you walk around in a big city, you avoid making eye contact or answering folks on the sidewalk who are trying to get your attention.]

Just past these peddlers, there was a man, probably in his mid-40’s, with a T-shirt that said (in big letters) “JESUS LOVES YOU”, and beneath it, in smaller print “and I do too…”  He also had a small stack of paper in his hands, though they were booklets which had on the cover “You don’t have to live like this“, along with a smaller logo and print identifying them as being from the Central Christian Church of Las Vegas.  I smiled at him, and gave him a small nod and wink, which he returned to me.  He actually stood out, somewhat, because he wasn’t trying to push his fliers into peoples’ hands, but he handed one to people who stopped by him and at least seemed to be paying attention.

child abuseA couple blocks later, we crossed the street to take a look at the fountains in front of the Bellagio.  Unfortunately, much of the corner was clogged, with people spilling out into the street, because there was a small entourage of street preachers with megaphones, hollering at folks (who did their best to walk around them, since they were blocking the way through what was probably the busiest intersection on the strip).  In addition to the bullhorn guys, they had four or five little kids with them, with “repent or perish” shirts on, shoving tracts into folks’ hands as they walked by (not all that differently from the guys in the “LIVE GIRLS” shirts).  The guys with the megaphones were doing a great job shouting the Roman Road at folks, along with all of the great $10 words like “propitiation”, “substitutionary atonement”, “salvation” and every other Christianese phrase that would do a Dutch Reformed heart proud.

I later thought it was funny that my son chose the caption for our photo (above) in Flickr: “Sometimes you wish folks would stop being on your side…”  It was sad, but true – and it didn’t require an 18-year-old to notice the stark difference between a Christlike witness and those just being “Jerks for Jesus”.

About four hours later on the way back down the strip, I noticed that the gentleman with the “You don’t have to live like this” fliers was having a discussion with two of the “LIVE GIRLS” guys, and none of them paid attention to us as we walked by (they were speaking in Spanish, so I don’t know what was being said).  In some way, I wondered if the “LIVE GIRLS” folks weren’t the actual audience to which the older gentleman was wanting to speak to, in the first place.

Teller Like it Is

And it’s not just Christians who notice this.

Penn & Teller, a comedy/magic duo somewhat famous for their dark humor (their Vegas ads proclaim “fewer audience injuries than last year…”) are also famous for being atheists, as well – and fairly vocal ones at that.  Even so, I recently read an interview (language warning) with the talking half of their act, Penn Gillette, who also narrates a Showtime program that “debunks” various religions and charlatans (except for Scientology, because the network won’t let them, and Islam, because they value their lives):

You do go after Christians, though … Teller and I have been brutal to Christians, and their response shows that they’re good ****ing Americans who believe in freedom of speech. We attack them all the time, and we still get letters that say, “We appreciate your passion. Sincerely yours, in Christ.” Christians come to our show at the Rio and give us Bibles all the time. They’re incredibly kind to us. Sure, there are a couple of them who live in garages, give themselves titles and send out death threats to me and Bill Maher and Trey Parker. But the vast majority are polite, open-minded people, and I respect them for that.

And what’s funny is that he’s pretty much spot on when evaluating the Christian blogosphere, as well. Many are incredibly kind, and it’s just sad that there are a (very vocal) few of them who live in garages, and give themselves important-sounding titles (like “Pastor-Teacher”) and lie and speak eternal death threats against those who won’t follow the narrowly legalistic, eisegeted systematic theology they claim to follow. Which is probably where the saying comes from that it only takes a few bad apples to spoil the bunch.

And it’s not just Vegas.

When I got home this weekend, I saw this story which pretty much mirrored what I saw out in Las Vegas – again a tale of two witnessing Christians, but in a different city.

Apparently, there was a “gay pride” event (let’s just call it a mini-Vegas) at which a guy was simply planning on handing out Bibles and talking to folks who were interested in speaking to him.  The organizers of the event sued him to prevent him from showing up, but the court threw out their suit.

So, this guy, his wife and son showed up

wearing yellow T-shirts printed with the words “Free Bibles.” They pulled rolling suitcases full of Bibles and attracted little attention, stopping only to hand out Bibles or to engage in conversation when asked. They encountered a few challengers and bemused glances from festival attendees familiar with the court case, but attracted little attention until a gaggle of television cameras began to follow them.

“We’re not interested in preaching, and we never were,” Johnson said. “We’re not here for all that stuff in the news. We’re the ones that meet and have honest conversations with people, and we have our own rules that we go by as far as conduct is concerned.”

Johnson said he believes that homosexuality is a sin, but he insisted that he is not forceful about his message.

Meanwhile, a Jerk for Jesus decided to show up, as well.

[He] attracted far more attention than the [Bible Guy] as he stood on a box with a sign that read “You are an abomination to God, You justify the wicked,” preaching to a jeering crowd. [He] attracted shouts of disapproval and arguments from passersby. Eventually, Pride attendees stood in front of him with signs that read, “Standing on the Side of Love.”

And, just to demonstrate the inherent legalism within both his preaching and his orthopraxy, the second man “brought a decibel meter to prove, he said, that he was acting within the law by not being disruptive.”  (… and they will know we are Christians by our decibel meters not pegging out loud enough to be called ‘disruptive’.)

As I thought of both cities and both types of Christians – the humble and the boorishly proud – I was reminded of one of Rich Mullins’ favorite quotes (paraphrased from Wilhelm Stekel)

An immature Christian wants to die nobly for a cause, but the mark of a mature Christian is that he wants to live humbly for one.

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ed. Note: I wrote this last week when I first read the “April Fool” post at Wittenburg Church Door. The post and the use of “fool” demanded a response. Since it was Holy Week I decided it best to wait.

I have a colleague who appreciates modern art. He really really appreciates it. I like it, but I’m not sure I always appreciate it. Whenever I question the value, or worse, the talent of the artist of a piece, the response is inevitable; “This says more about you than the artists/art.” He may very well be right.

This response is what came to my mind when I read a blog questioning John Piper’s decision to invite Rick Warren to fill the pulpit at Desiring God 2010. I believe the angst says more about the blogger than Piper. If you have read the comments here for any length of time you are familiar with both the blogger and the arguments against Warren… the sad, tired arguments.

For the record, this is not so much a defense of Warren as it is a critique of this brand of discernment, of Christ and culture, logic, and tiresome accusations. In a recent blog Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk took Warren to task for suggesting Easter can be leveraged for church growth – I think I understand Warren, but it sounds bad. I agree with Chaplain Mike, and if you read his blog you will see the difference in approach.

Apparently the blogger at Whitenburg Church Door does not agree when Piper says “…I don’t think he’s emergent. At root I think [Warren] is theological and doctrinal and sound.”1 That he disagrees is obvious by the first question the blogger suggests Piper ask – “What is the Gospel ? Be as complete as possible with your answer.” Clearly Piper promotes the true Gospel, which is designed to imply that Warren does not… so it makes sense that this would be the first question. But Warren better pay close attention to the condition – he best be as complete as possible. As we have seen, if he assumes anything, is he leaves out a word, if he uses the wrong words – his Gospel will be rejected. If the blogger really wanted to know the Gospel which Warren believes all he need do is read it.

The rest of the list shows a lack of cultural discernment and questionable logic. The list of questions is not supposed to be “an exhaustive list” – oh but it is… it is very exhausting. It is exhausting to see, yet again, the tiresome arguments of “Issa” and “Murdoch” and “Ecumenicalism.” The latter point best illustrates the real issue – guilt by association. Whether it is associating yourself with Arabs, or associating in person with a President, or associating with Catholics – it’s all about outward appearances, about associations, about some perceived endorsement. Fortunately, Piper is not so worried about such tangential things. Piper wants to get to know Warren, to see what makes him tick, because (like many of us) he likes Warren but is frustrated by some of his stuff. This is the respect one servant of the Lord should show another… the respect one brother should have for another brother.

1 Piper quotes taken from Wittenburg Church Door blog transcript.

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Duct Tape - Use Some

Ah, the silly season has arrived, yet again.

Over the past several years of blogging, I’ve noticed a number of trends in topics, discussions and general attitudes which seem to cycle with the calendar. For example, it seems that July is the month for a large uptick in seeing commenters, cited articles and site authors (including myself) to lose patience and get ultra-snippy and personally petty about one another.

Christmas season settles down (from a personal-tone standpoint), but conflicts about personal preference (of all orders – music/worship style, dress, drinking, etc.) come to the forefront.

January/February seems to foster a bit more focused theological debate (often with systematic theologies in the crosshairs), etc.

It’s not that these things don’t happen other times during the year, it is just that they tend to “spike” at certain parts more than others.

Early fall, though, seems to be a season where a lack of basic reading comprehension and any sense of charity toward ones theological “enemies” seems to ratchet up. And this one, like last year, (or previous years) is gearing up to be no exception to the rule.

For example, we have a frequent commenter in one thread who is so blinded in his hatred for another brother in Christ that he reads/hears his brother say and explain one thing (”early Christianity was a subversive movement in the Roman Empire, which hijacked its symbology to declare Jesus as Lord of all, not Caesar”) and accuses him of saying the opposite (”early Christianity was just a cheap knock-off of Rome”).   It is like either A) basic literary comprehension or B) any guise of honesty has taken a holiday…

And then, we have this example, submitted to us by M.G., where a similar “perfect storm” of hatred, ill-will and an utter lack of charity or comprehension (or, possibly, tinfoil-hattery) has led tinpot ODM’s to accuse Rick Warren of trying to merge the church and state – completely misunderstanding (or misappropriating) “reconciliation” to mean something it does not…

And then, there’s the frequent purveyor of misapplication and miscomprehension, Mike Ratliff, who apparently has no clue about what orthopraxis is, or, apparently, that ’systematic theology’ and ’sound doctrine’ aren’t synonymous.  (Though, once again, I think ODM criticism has led me to want to purchase a book subjected to their criticism).

And on… And on…

As I read this screed over the weekend, I was struck A) by how little I missed reading C?N – I’d gone a couple of months without “researching” it; and B) How right Rob Bell was in his August 16th message “The Importance of Beginning in the Beginning” , in which he laid out (in a 65-minute message that intentionally ran long) his view of how Christians fit into Creation, and how important it is that we root our understanding of Christianity in Genesis 1, and not Genesis 3.

But I’m sure there will be some who purposely “misunderstand” him, and will argue (somehow) that he is stating the opposite of what he’s saying.

But let’s not blame them for their stupidity.  It IS that time of year, you know…

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Scare TacticsMaybe I’m just unlucky, but I don’t think so.

…they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to…

I remember getting my first email account, almost two decades ago.  We didn’t even call it ‘email’ – it was just an app on the VAX that passed messages back and forth between us engineering students.  It wasn’t until a few years later that some of the usenet discussion groups I replied to got me added to some spammer lists.

Spam sucked (and still sucks, though we have much better tools to deal with it now).  But one variety of ’spam’ sprung up soon after I got my first home email account – the ‘email-forwards’ (EFs).

I don’t even remember who the first person was that hit me up, but I recall that it was about a kid with cancer who was trying to set a world record for get-well cards received.  And, like the first drop of rain believing it was not responsible for the flood, this note was just the beginning of a deluge.

Break the Chain

Science News CycleGrowing up, I remembered my Mom throwing away several chain letters that came to me from friends (in this thing we had called a “mailbox” that was made out of steel, wood and nails, not just electrons), and explaining to me why not to get sucked into these things. (See – I really was listening, Mom!)  That advice would prove invaluable as the tidal wave of EFs began to arrive.

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(Ever notice that EFs, and the people that send them, tend to not recognize that USING ALL-CAPS IS LIKE SHOUTING IN A LIBRARY?!?!?!?)  So, if I don’t forward this, does it mean that I don’t love Jesus – OR does it mean that I love both God and my neighbor, because I have spared God the misuse of His name, and my neighbor the misuse of his mailbox (the kind made of electrons and hopefully no nails)?

Now, while most of theses EFs were just annoyances, many of them contained information so erroneous that there were occasions I just couldn’t help myself from hitting “reply all” (no need to just reply – sometimes crap needs to be stopped dead in its tracks, kind of like the whacked-out doctrine of Universal Reconciliation) and sending a reply with a link to (the then pretty new) snopes.com, with an appropriate link debunking the Urban Legend/Fake Virus Warning/Misled Heretic Warning sent in some EF’s.

After a while, the EFs became fairly politically-minded, as well – whether it was a 10-meg PowerPoint with the star-spangled banner playing behind a bunch of photos of eagles, mountains and skyscrapers, or a moonbat theory about Bush being the cause of 9/11.  Ideology seemed independent of EF’s – though there was a common thread of “there is a conspiracy” and “we are the resistance” and “keep the underground movement to save us from _____ going”.  In short, just code for

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

Staging Interventions

This guy needs an intervention!Probably one of the saddest things about the EFs was that they were being sent by people I knew and genuinely loved and cared about.  Most of my resistance to the crap they were sending me was simply in the form of my “DELETE” key, and occasionally the snopes link accompanied by a kind note to please check out the claims of what you’re sending before you send it.  But, in the same way that hiding the bottle of beer from your drunk uncle at Christmastime does little to break the grip of his alcoholism, such half-measures seem to come to no avail.

Over time, though, I’ve held several “mini-interventions” at family gatherings, over lunch at work, and in other places I know people addicted to EF’s.  In most cases, the message got through (at least enough that I got removed from their EF list(s), though I would like to believe they were cured of their horrible addiction to conspiracy theories, monster-sized powerpoints, and wild-eyed urban legends) and I stopped getting this stuff from my loved ones, and the EFs they send me now are not of the pull-your-hair-out variety, and are things I actually would want to read.

Except…

Christians to the “Rescue”
A Miracle!

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

As with many things in pop culture, like rock music, you can expect modern Christians to be about a decade late to the party, a couple of notches below baseline quality, and about thrice as annoying as the original.  EF’s are no exception.

It started in earnest just a few years ago for me, I recall – email forwards from Christian acquaintences wanting to tell me about

TEN SIGNS THAT THE APOCALYPSE IS SOON TO FOLLOW THE INVASION OF IRAQ!

accompanied by whatever the day’s healine was, plus a good healthy dose of King Jimmy English, particularly from Daniel and Revelation.   This was soon followed up with things about

RICK WARREN IS THE FALSE PROPHET OF THE BEAST – IF YOU LOVE YOUR FRIENDS, YOU WILL TELL THEM!

And it was crap like this that led me to meet some like-minded folks who (I believe) were also being led by the Spirit to come together and create CRN.Info which, while nowhere near perfect,  I’ve been able to use (as have others) in a similar fashion to snopes.com in debunking the EFs full of sewage from such hellish sources as “Slice of Laodicea”, “Apprising Ministries (sic)”, “Lighthouse Trails”, “Christianresearchnetwork.com”, etc.

Kind of like George W. Bush refusing to sell his home to African Americans, these sites (sadly, managed by professing believers) spew forth enough untrue tall tales to keep a hangar full of gossips busy until Judgment Day, and enough conspiracy theories about the end of the world that you’re pretty sure Judgment Day is almost upon us (current predictions seems to be around Dec 21/23, 2012 – Maybe I’ll repost this on 12/25/12).

Current Events

Ken Silva?In the past week, I’ve learned via EF that (gasp) Rick Warren spoke in front of a group of Muslims to promote civility between Muslims, Christians and Jews without teling the Muslims they were headed to hell (the typical knock on Warren being more about what he didn’t say than what he did say) from some woman who seems to think Warren owes her some accountability.   Granted, this was from the same source telling me a few months ago that Rick was selling out to the homosexuals (all the while I was in a protracted mediation on his Wikipedia page, preventing a liberal group of folks from branding him as a militant homophobe).

Additionally, I’ve received at least four predictions of the End of Times (centered now on 2012), two identifications of the Anti-Christ (the Pope and Obama seem to be in a neck-and-neck race for this dubious distinction), and a whole slew of folks who seem to want my money (for Jesus, of course) to save America for God, to provide accurate prophecy based on events in the Middle East, to save the family from the rising tide of Obama-lovers, or to protect the church from those (cue foreboding music) eeeeeeevil emergents…

And last night, I received a warning from someone who may have read my Facebook profile from a couple weeks ago when I finally got around to reading The Shack and didn’t hate it. (In fact, while I went in expecting to dislike it, I actually found it to be spot on and eloquent on a number of issues Christians tend to be ham-handed with, even though there were parts with which I disagreed).  The warning, though, had the opposite of its intended effect – I don’t know that I’ve laughed so hard in awhile:  The letter was a collection of links from Slice, Apprising, CRN and Lighthouse Trails.

Kind of like getting a letter from McDonalds about the dangers of eating fresh fruit.

The Common Thread
0 N03Z!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

If there is a common bond that attaches all of the spammy EFs together it is an inherent spirit of fear – Fear of those whom we disagree with politically; Fear of the End; Fear of Christians whose doctrine isn’t 100% in line with ours; Fear, Fear, Fear.  Basically, it is porn for the mind – designed to stoke our fears while releasing our inner Eichmann.

But that shouldn’t be what we’re about.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Indeed, we have an obligation not to live according to the sinful nature – of gossip, slander, lies and fear. Trust the Spirit, not forwarded emails trying to scare you about the End Times, or The Shack, or Rick Warren, or Rob Bell, or whatever church these devourers of widow’s houses scheme up to scare immature believers. Live according to the spirit of Sonship you’ve been given, as heirs of God, to whom the Spirit will lead and guide in community with local believers.

Stop forwarding gossip-mongering, slanderous, fear-inspiring crap to fellow believers.

Slowly … Back away form the “Forward” button … there you go…

Well, except for this article. In this particular case

“IF YOU LOVE JESUS, YOU’LL FORWARD THIS TO TEN OF YOUR FRIENDS!!!”

(just kidding :) )

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So often I’ve tried to convince those in the blogosphere that what they are printing is false or less than accurate with no success.  But I can tell you that whenever someone sends me an email from the “source” I dismiss it out of hand because…well…that source is less than credible.

Often times we here try to point out that what is being promulgated as fact is actually skewed opinion wrapped with shreds of truth. This is done with a varying degree of success.

In lieu of the following article appearing this morning on MSN I will forgo my previous planned closing of the article.   Irish student hoaxes world’s media with fake quote.

The student Shane Fitzgerald had this to say:

“I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn’t come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up,” he said. “It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.”

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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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Do me a favor. Imagine for a minute that you are back in college. You’re in the middle of midterms and your busting your tail to get everything done. Next week, you’re going to Florida for vacation.  You’re a strong Christian, who loves God and has worked hard to live a life that honors him. You strive to live a pure life that is honoring and glorifying to God. Finally, you fly down to the beach. Ahh, sweet bliss. You go out to the beach, open a cold beer and plan on having a fun day.

Now, change gears a little. You’re out of college but you and your friends have been going to Florida for years.  You fly down, slip into a bathing suit and grab a cooler and some chairs and head to the beach.

Suddenly, in the middle of your throwing a football back and forth a Muslim shows up.  Now, he’s not just trying to engage people in conversation and talk to them, he’s with a group of friends and they’ve brought a P.A. system with them.  It squeaks every five minutes or so.  He starts yelling that you’re a whore and that you are on your way to Hell.  There’s no discussing with this guy. In fact, if you come up close to him, he’ll point his finger at you and call you a whore/drunk/slut , whatever over the PA system.

Now, you could move. You could pick up all of your stuff and head on down the beach but should you have to do that? Does this Muslim, who just says that he’s doing Allah’s work when the cops show up, have the right to make you listen to him? Does he have the right to call all who don’t follow the Koran pagans? Do you have a right to some level of peace and quiet?  Should the Muslim be arrested?  Can I be honest? I think that he should be.

When the good Muslim is confronted, he points out that many of his religions earlier followers debated people publicly and openly. When you point out that happened in synagogues and other places where it was expected and not on a vacation front, our happy Muslim begins to praise Allah for the persecution he is under for sharing Allah’s good news. When you call the police and they show up and threaten to have he man arrested, he again praises Allah, and mumbles about the persecution he is under. He laments the state of our country that won’t allow him to make you listen to his “preaching.” Finally, in a desperate act you fling a football his way that knocks him out cold. One of his compatriots will later write about how blessed he almost was to have died while serving Allah.

Parenthetically, imagine if this same Muslim street preacher showed up at certain ODM’s/ADM’s vacation? Can you imagine the blog posts? After you have fun with that for a few minutes go back to your vacation…

Would you be angry? Would you just want the guy to shut up so you could enjoy your vacation? I imagine that a lot of these people felt the same way about a man preaching at them about Jesus.

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At what point should Guilt by Association warrant a fair reading? At what point should I stand up and take notice? At what point can I merely dismiss it as a witch hunt? Or at what point should I ignore the see-I-told-you-so attitude of someone with an ax to grind?

There is a subtle, nuanced difference between helpful research and self justification. Helpful research is factual with substantial proof. Self justification looks for anything and everything that would bolster your case, no matter how many logical fallacies you have to commit to get there. While it is a small difference that often goes to motivation it is an important distinction that should be made by anyone claiming expertise in an area.

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