The Church Bully

I just came across an insightful post from Thom Rainer. In his post, Rainer lists nine common characteristics of what he labels “church bullies”. Read through the points below. Have you ever had to deal with a church bully? Have you ever been a part of a church that had a bully? What was done or what should have been done?

Here is Rainer’s list:

  1. They do not recognize themselves as bullies. To the contrary, they see themselves as necessary heroes sent to save the church from her own self.
  2. They have personal and self-serving agendas. They have determined what “their” church should look like. Any person or ministry or program that is contrary to their perceived ideal church must be eliminated.
  3. They seek to form power alliances with weak members in the church. They will pester and convince groups, committees, and persons to be their allies in their cause. Weaker church staff members and church members will succumb to their forceful personalities.
  4. They tend to have intense and emotional personalities. These bullies use the intensity of their personalities to get their way.
  5. They are famous for saying “people are saying.” They love to gather tidbits of information and shape it to their own agendas.
  6. They find their greatest opportunities in low expectation churches. Many of the church members have an entitlement view of church membership. They seek to get their own needs and preferences fulfilled. They, therefore, won’t trouble themselves to confront and deal with church bullies. That leads to the next issue, which is a consequence of this point
  7. They are allowed to bully because church members will not stand up to them. I have spoken with pastors and church staff who have been attacked by church bullies. While the bully brings them great pain, they have even greater hurt because most of the church members stood silent and let it happen.
  8. They create chaos and wreak havoc. A church bully always has his next mission. While he or she may take a brief break from one bullying mission to the next, they are not content unless they are exerting the full force of their manipulative behavior.
  9. They often move to other churches after they have done their damage. Whether they are forced out or simply get bored, they will move to other churches with the same bullying mission. Some bullies have wreaked havoc in three or more churches.

If you want to look at the original post, it is here.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Church Growth, Church Issues | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Who Are the Covenant People of God?

Ok, help me understand something.

I often hear fellow Christians speak of Israel as God’s covenant people. I understand that God made a covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai. We refer to it as the Mosaic Covenant.

However, in the New Testament, we are told that Christ has made a new covenant that is superior to and renders the old one obsolete (Hebrews 8). This new covenant is not for a nation, but for all who believe (Jew and Gentile).

So, are we wrong to say that the Jewish people today are God’s covenant people? Why or why not? If they are God’s covenant people, in what sense?

Note: this is not to deny the special place in history that Israel and the Jewish people have. They were the recipients of the Mosaic Covenant, Jesus Christ was a Jew, and I believe God has a specific plan for the nation of Israel in the future. But this is not the same as saying that they are God’s covenant people.

Your thoughts?

Posted in Bible Study, Old Testament Law | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Discounted eBooks from The Gospel Coalition 2015

If you are interested in The Gospel Coalition, you will probably be interested in some of the ebooks that are on sale during the conference.

Gospelebooks.net has a listing of all of the special deals. Many of these titles are also available at logos.com or vyrso.com if you are using Logos Bible Software.

There are some good discounts, so take a look!

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The 15 Year Plan

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that it is my goal to write through the Bible before I die. Well, it may surprise you that I had not actually calculated how long it would take if I continue to write about eight verses per day. I just assumed that was a good pace.

I have analyzed it now though and if I write an average of eight verses per day (5 days per week), I will finish my goal in 15 years! If God grants me an average lifespan, I should be able to finish and have a few years left to add some notes or something! Now, if I can only stick to the plan.

So far, I have finished the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and 1 Peter. I am looking forward to working on the Psalms next.

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Pastor Halts Gay Funeral: Some Observations

A pastor in Colorado halted the funeral of a gay woman that was taking place in the church where he serves and, according to Yahoo Parenting, there are many people upset. Click here for the article.

Apparently, the reason for the pastor halting the funeral was because of the pictures that were being shown in a slideshow. There were pictures that included moments of affection between the deceased and her partner.

Here are some observations and questions I have:

  1. If the church is opposed to homosexuality, which seems to be the case, why did they agree to allow the funeral to be held there in the first place?
  2. Was there an agreement between the church and the family of the deceased concerning the content of the service? The comments about the church wanting to “edit out” details of the person’s life lead me to think there were discussions about this before the service.
  3. If there were discussions and there was an agreement, what responsibility does the family have to actually follow the agreement?
  4. If there was an agreement and the family broke it, the church was put in a very difficult situation. To ask a church to violate their conscience is not a minor thing.

It seems this could have easily been avoided by having the service at the funeral home to begin with or by holding the service at a different location where there was no conflict of worldviews. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Posted in Church Issues, Gay Marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

The NET Bible: A Great Free Resource for Serious Study

netbibleThere are many study Bibles available and many of them are very good. I have a few that I like to recommend to people who are wanting to gain a better understanding of Scripture.

However, there is one study Bible that I find truly unique and especially valuable. It is the NET Bible. NET is short for New English Translation. This Bible is a joint effort of several Bible scholars who put together a translation of the Bible with the purpose of giving it away for free.

As part of their translation work, these scholars have also included over 60,000 translation notes to help the reader understand why they translated passages the way they did. There is a goldmine of information on the Hebrew and Greek behind the English translation as well as historical and cultural information. I fully encourage anyone who wants to dig a little deeper in their understanding of Scripture and Bible translation to look at this resource.

And best of all, it’s FREE!

You can find the free NET Bible here: https://bible.org/netbible/

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We Live in a “Merry Christmas” World

So here is an article about a guy who got upset when someone wished him a Merry Christmas. He let himself get so upset that he eventually got kicked off an airplane.

The man’s reason for getting upset: he does not celebrate Christmas.

News flash: the western world in general and the United States in particular celebrate Christmas. It is the most celebrated holiday in our culture and there is not a close second. A person is free to not participate, but do not expect everyone else to just stop because you choose not to participate.

I know what some of you are thinking: this man was having Christianity forced on him. I do not buy that. While it is true that Christmas is an important holiday for most Christians, it is also true that in our world, Christmas means many things to many people. Non-Christians celebrate Christmas and think nothing of its religious meaning.

So, if a person decides not to celebrate Christmas and stand against the grain of culture, that is OK. But when you stand against the grain, you can expect to get rubbed the wrong way once in a while.

Posted in Christianity, Christmas, Culture, religion, Worldview | Tagged , , , , ,

Do You Know the Bible or the Author of the Bible?

knowing the author

Um, this came across my Facebook feed today and lots of people liked it. Why? I have no idea.

The statement on the photo creates a false dichotomy between knowing the Bible and knowing God. It champions the second and looks down on the first.

The problem is that to know God, one must know his book. The Bible is an autobiography. God, the author, has told us all about himself in his book and if we want to know him, we read, we study and we do it some more.

Now, it is true that you can know all about the author and not know the author. So, you can accomplish the first without the second. However, it is impossible to know the author without knowing the Bible. You cannot accomplish the second without the first!

The picture above would be much better if it said something like:

Do you want to know God? Read his book that tells you all about him.

or

The Bible is not just any book. God wrote it that we may know him and love him.

or

Knowing the Bible is an extremely important thing, because it helps us know the Author.

Consider how important knowing the word of God is according to Scripture:

  • Isaiah 55:10-11 – the word of God accomplishes the will of God.
  • Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:18 – the word of God is the power of God for salvation.
  • Romans 10:17 – the word of God creates faith.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – the word of God performs God’s work in us.
  • Hebrews 4:12 – The word of God is living and active. It convicts.
  • James 1:18 – The word of God brings new birth.
  • James 1:21 – the word of God saves us.

I bristle whenever I hear or read statements like the one in the photo above because of the great necessity of knowing the word of God. God wants us to know him and he has revealed himself to us. He did it through his book. We need to know it.

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The Doubly Offensive Jesus

Trevin Wax has written an article titled Give Me the Doubly Offensive Jesus, Please.

The article appears at The Gospel Coalition’s website. You should take the time to read it. While you are at it, you may find Trevin’s other articles useful as well. I find him to be very thoughtful and clear in his posts.

In the article linked above, Wax explains that Jesus was offensive to both the religious folks and the non-religious folks. He rubbed everyone the wrong way in his claims. But we tend to think of him one way or the other. He is either the one who looked down on the religious and embraced the worldly, or he was the one who called the sinful world to repentance and warned of judgment for sins.

Have we lost the doubly offensive Jesus? What do you think?

Posted in Christianity, Gospel, Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Prosperity: It’s Another Gospel

In a recent sermon series on 1 Peter, I commented that I believe prosperity theology (a.k.a. “health and wealth”, “name it and claim it”, “word of faith”, etc.) is one of the greatest opponents of true Christianity in the world today. It is another gospel. It calls itself “Christianity”, but is not.

Unfortunately, it is spreading like a wildfire here in the U.S. and overseas. Here is an article from World Magazine that gives a little taste of how this false teaching is having an impact in Africa:

http://www.worldmag.com/2014/11/the_prosperity_gospel_in_africa/page1

I wish we could say that what is happening in Africa is the exception, but I see it even here in the U.S. It seems that TBN has had a far greater impact on how Christians think than we want to admit. I know of multiple churches teaching prosperity theology within a short drive from me. I know of people who have left sound, biblical churches to attend these churches. And very few seem to think anything of it.

Just look at how many people are buying everything Joel Osteen creates. You see my point.

I am saddened. I am concerned. The gospel is at stake.

Watch this video from John Piper who speaks about the prosperity gospel:

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