How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

The “Fine People” Hoax

February 15th, 2021

Pursuing the truth is a difficult venture. Not because of some postmodern shibboleth that “there is no such thing as truth; it is all a matter of perspective”, or something like that. But I can think of two reasons I may not speak the truth, though it is my intention. One, I have biases that may cloud my truth-seeking, and two, I may honestly think something is true, only later to realize I was wrong.

This is why Jordan Peterson’s Rule #8 is so helpful in “12 Rules For Living”-

“Always Tell The Truth or At Least Don’t Lie.”

Lying is intentional and destructive. It is no accident that lying makes the top ten in the commandments. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” It is no fluke that Christ himself gives a nickname for the devil, “The Father of Lies” (John 8:44).

I am a prude when it comes to lying. I don’t always tell the truth, but I don’t lie. Lying is my number one pet peeve of sin. My “life vision statement” or whatever we called it back in the 90′s has been, and is, the same in 2021.

“Seek the truth at all possible cost, with courage and consideration, and lead others to do the same.”

With  this personal disclosure, you can understand why I am slightly perturbed by the state of public discourse. It is, perhaps, irredeemable. Corporate media has the goal of making money. Politics has the goal of getting elected and re-elected. Social media has the goal of making money if you are monetized, or at least being popular if you are not. It’s not evident that any of these goals has much to do with seeking the truth.

So, what is the most destructive lie repeated in recent time? For me, without a doubt, it is the “Fine People” Hoax of 2017. President Trump was speaking of the protest rally in Charlottesville, VA over whether a statue of Robert E. Lee should be removed or not. Historians, and those who considered Robert E. Lee an important historical figure, were protesting against the removal. Other groups, some self-identifying as KKK, neo-Nazi’s, Antifa and such, were there, as well.

President Trump voiced his condemnation of the violence that was perpetrated. He clearly said there were fine people who were on the side of keeping the statue in place, and fine people who wanted it removed. “Fine people on both sides”, in other words. He clearly condemned the “hate” groups like neo-Nazi’s, KKK, and Antifa, and made it eminently clear none of them were part of the “fine people.”

Then the Democrat Party intentionally lied about this, saying President Trump really calling neo- Nazi’s and KKK, fine people. Corporate media supported them by lying about what the President said, and doctoring the video evidence, leaving out his condemnation of the KKK, neo-Nazi’s and other hate groups.

This lie was perpetrated from that point on. It is one of the most destructive public narratives concerning the racial unrest in the US from that point until now. This lie was continually used to try to cast aspersions on President Trump’s racism, and more importantly to me, the alleged racism of all those who supported him. As one who seeks the truth, this was the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. The Democrat Party and corporate media were attempting to spin that people I love and admire, people of integrity and good will, were racists and “haters” because they were Republicans.

Disclaimer: As a registered “Democrat” at the time, I was troubled by many of the party’s positions. I remained Democrat, though I would simply vote for some Republicans when I thought they were a better choice. But, in a large part, due to the “fine people” hoax, I formally left the Democrat Party. I didn’t become a Republican, nor did I vote for Trump, but I could no longer be supportive of this deceit.

Now fast forward to the latest election. According to President Biden, this lie was what launched him into seeking the Democratic nomination for President. President Biden knew it was a lie and still spoke of it as a call to seek the Presidency. As a pastor, speaking of one’s call takes on powerful meaning, and to purposely use this lie to make oneself look noble, this was beyond the pale.  Then the President used this lie in his campaign speeches. Kamala Harris joined him in repeating the lie, as well. I was outraged. Then it continued in the Presidential debates.  Actually, I lost respect for anyone who continued this lie to try to split people apart on racial grounds, in particular during such a sensitive time in our country. Yet, this continued all the way until the second impeachment proceedings of last week.

The Democrat House Managers of the impeachment proceedings used doctored evidence, troubling enough, but then they included the “fine people” hoax. They showed the standard doctored videotape of President Trump commenting on Charlottesville that corporate media continued to show.

Then, the truth was finally exposed because the defense team of President Trump showed the authentic, unaltered video of what the President actually said.  As this was an impeachment proceeding, corporate media was compelled to broadcast the truth for the first time. Along with other doctored false evidence, the Democrat House Managers were exposed for all to see.

Now, I am not naive enough to think President Biden and the Democrat Party members who perpetuated the “fine people” hoax for political gain will admit they lied and ask for forgiveness. But, I do expect my friends and colleagues who were caught up in this lie, and publicly supported it, to do just that. This lie has brought untold damage to racial relationships in our country, communities, and families.  Yes, politics is not pure, and you can continue to support President Biden and his policies in spite of this lie, but you are also compelled to tell the truth about it if you publicly supported it.  And please, for your own integrity, and the sake of all people, if President Biden ever lies in such an egregious and damaging way again, I hope and trust you will call it out.

Bearing Fruit=Making Disciples=Bearing Fruit=…

June 3rd, 2014

 

Jesus says, “Bear much fruit.”

What does it mean to be fruitful?

John 15:8 speaks of “bearing much fruit.”

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

People can see we are following Jesus because they see the results of what we are doing. But, what is it that we are doing? What is ”fruit?”

“Fruit” is:

  1. Bringing joy
  2. Helping out
  3. Connecting

Bringing joy to people where they are at, helping out people who are having problems, and connecting people, who are receptive, to Jesus and his followers.
Your fruit then, is measured by the joy you start in others lives, the help you give, and the invitations you make for someone else to connect with and follow Jesus, too.

We bear fruit best when it is within the context of living life with the people who are already part of our extended family. Who do you ”do life” with? This could be called your,

“Who?”

We bear fruit best when we have a shared mission together. Your mission could be called your,

“What?”

So, the way Jesus designed it, within any congregation, you have smaller communities of people (The ”Who’s”) sharing life together and bringing joy and help in specific settings where they live and spend their time.

Your setting will be the neighborhood you live in and/ or the networks of people you connect with. The network can be a workplace, school, your kid’s little league, etc.

Examples:

Neighborhood
In Capernaum, Jesus joined the extended family (“oikos,” in Greek) of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They even lived in the same family compound.

Network
When Matthew met Jesus in Capernaum and chose to follow him, he immediately had Jesus and the other disciples meet his fellow tax collectors at his home.

So, Christians grow best at bearing fruit when they are living life within an extended family, and intentionally sharing a mission together.

If you want to grow best as a follower of Jesus this starts with two questions:

1. Who’s your ”Who?”
2. What’s your ”What?”

Now, how does a typical church function?

Not like this.

The typical church functions in another way. There are four stages in increasing opportunities for fruitfulness, and we will see that most congregations stop after stage two.

Stage One
Someone else does mission and ministry and members support it with prayers and donations. They are not directly involved.

Example: Supporting missionaries

At this stage we start thinking beyond ourselves.

Stage Two
Church leaders (and sometimes in cooperation with other churches) plan projects of ministry and mission and invite members to get involved in the projects.

Example: spiritual retreat movements like Cursillo

At this stage we think beyond ourselves and personally get involved, on occasion. This is good stuff, but almost all churches stop their fruit-bearing opportunities here.

Other congregations will begin to form into communities of people on mission together locally moving into,

Stage Three
Church leaders invite members and others to join them in doing mission and ministry outside the congregation on a regular basis. The congregations provides support.

Example: Group from church that works at a local public school providing tutoring and mentoring.

At this stage we are personally involved in an ongoing opportunity to bear fruit and grow in our faith right where we live.

Stage Four
Members themselves who have been trained in leadership, join together in their neighborhoods and/or networks to do mission and ministry, working out of their own resources.

They have a “who” and they have a “what.” This is the primary model of Jesus and the early church.

Example: House Church type group with a mission to reach out to neighborhood teens.

So you see, all four stages are going on all the time in fruitful congregations. In order for Christians to grow in their fruitfulness, stage one is a start, stage two is learning to get “hands-on” experience, stage three is experiencing this “missional” lifestyle under the congregation’s leadership and support, and stage four is the tipping point, exponentially expanding the reach of the Lord in people coming to faith and in the needs of the city being met.

Stage four is the church Jesus envisioned. He knew you don’t just start there, and so he trained his disciples to move through these stages and eventually lead the movement into neighborhoods and networks. His training followed a similar pattern to the four stages of mission and ministry.

Stage One: I Do/ You Watch
Jesus brought healing, cast out demons, and proclaimed the Kingdom of God while living with his disciples and they watched what he was doing.

Stage Two: I Do/ You Help

Jesus would have the disciples watch what he was doing and invite them to participate behind the scenes like when he had them figure out how to get food to feed the crowds.

Stage Three: You Do/ I Help

The disciples are sent out to bring healing, cast out demons, and proclaim the Kingdom. Jesus gives them evaluation and insight when they return.

Stage Four: You Do

Jesus ascends to heaven, the Holy Spirit fills the disciples, and they begin recruiting others to invest in and disciple, doing the same things as Jesus did with them. The influence of the church grows exponentially.

This is the system Jesus designed to transform the world. If it’s good enough for Jesus…

 

 

Grace? She gets it…

September 13th, 2013

I started reading this book, by Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, Nadia Bolz-Weber, the moment it arrived today. Now, I am done. I can think of no reason why you wouldn’t want to read this book.

Why wouldn’t you read a book where:

- someone honestly wrestles with the self-absorption we so often combat as pastors?

- a “liberal” Christian actually admits that not being a jerk towards a “conservative” who is being a jerk to her is actually a good working model for the Gospel? You see, we have had confessions of jerkiness from “conservative” authors for quite a while, now. Not much has come form the smarmy, holier-and-cooler-than-thou “liberal” camp, however. Refreshing. O, and smarmy, holier-and-cooler-than-thou folks? I embrace you!

- you will laugh, cry, cringe, pray, thank God, and open up to the Holy Spirit, all in an afternoon?

- when you finish it, you just want to say, “I thank God for Pastor Nadia and everyone whose lives God touches through her.”

Thank you for reading this review and now, please buy this book.

The End of This Journey

May 8th, 2013

It is beyond coincidence that this is the last blog post on my series “Inside Out,” which recaps the teachings of Dallas Willard.

 

Dallas died this morning and is now fully healed and at rest with the Lord. Prayers of love and support go out to his wife, Jane, son, John, daughter, Becky, her husband, Bill, and their daughter,Larissa.

 

A great warrior is receiving a hero’s welcome in the heavenly dimensions!

 

Here then is the end of my series.

 

We have spent much time examining a vision of what it can mean to live a transformed life. As we have the intention to make our renovation a reality, we have been given the means to follow through.

 

Dallas Willard connects us to God’s path of transformation as recorded in the Bible. Neither he nor God himself can force us to take that path, but we will not see transformation without it.

If you have been following the progress of change of the five parts of who you are as you have been practicing what you are reading, you are well on your way.

 

If you haven’t begun yet, you are invited to return to the beginning and actually try living this out. God’s desire for you since before the beginning of time is that you would come to him in complete transparency and say, “Yes,” to him and his ways.

 

I leave you with these words from a song:

Just like King David I cry out to You
Create in me a clean heart

I’ve grieved You again I need Your release

From patterns that keep me in sin

But there’s only one way I can finally break free

Change me on the inside…

“Change Me On The Inside” CCLI Song No. 2956367
© 2000 Vineyard Songs Canada (Admin. by Music Services)
Brian Doerksen

 

God is in charge of the results

May 8th, 2013

One of Dallas’ key teachings is we are not in charge of outcomes. We partner with Jesus, arranging and rearranging our lives to learn from him, and we work with him any way possible. But, when it comes to outcomes, these are solely in Jesus‘ hands

This is such a freeing way to look at life, like the biblical parables of farming. We plant and wait.

 

No manipulation.

 

No, “Come on seed, get growing!”

 

We simply follow the faithful work Jesus is working through us and we watch and wait.

 

This takes a large dose of humility.

 

1 Peter 5:5-7 (NLT)

You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for

“God sets himself against the proud,

but he shows favor to the humble.”

 

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.

 

Dallas likes to comment on why so many pastors dread hospital visits. The reason? They pray with patients, but rarely do they see “healing.” At least healing the way they think healing should happen. So, they become discouraged. Dallas reminds us all, “We are not in charge of the outcomes.”

 

Pray for someone’s healing in a way that expects the healing to already be happening.

 

The first day of the rest of your life?

May 2nd, 2013

God is not doing great things in the world to make it possible for us to receive accolades. It’s not as if God starts his day saying,

 

“This morning I am going to make sure that everyone knows how wonderful Dana is. I want all eyes on him. Let’s see, what can I do to make him look better?”

 

It is enough to know God has me in mind, at all. Yet, it is more than that. I know he does think I am precious, regardless of what others think. I know I am the “apple of his eye.” His confidence in me makes me want to give my life to him. Sinful as I am, it is in bits and pieces, but I am moving in his direction, yoked to Jesus.

 

How about it?

 

The essence of the transformed life is where God’s Word is taken into your very soul and becomes a way of life. Are you ready?

 

It is not as if the Bible is simply one of many sources for all that is necessary to lead a healthy and complete existence, fully immersed in the reality of God’s Kingdom. The Bible is the only source. It always fascinates me when even the most conscientious people seek other paths rather than Jesus and his Word. They don’t even give him a try.

 

Actually, there are many teachings in modern times that come directly from the Bible that are quite helpful, but people don’t always know the source. When you see some teaching out there that proves very helpful, you don’t have to dig too far to discover it comes out of biblical principles.

 

 

For example, the recovery movements, like AA, are based on biblical principles. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey? Biblical principles. Business books by Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell? Bible. Yes, even Dr. Phil.

 

 

I am not saying that all of these, and other resources, are 100% pure Bible, I am just saying that they have actually proven helpful in the long term. People make progress because biblical principles are being lived out. They don’t even have to know this!

 

 

Here’s a test. Intentionally and honestly follow just one teaching of Jesus for an extended period of time, let’s say, six weeks, then he will draw you to all that is necessary for you to come to confident faith in him. You will begin to learn from him to have faith in him . Start anywhere. One teaching.

 

 

Have you actually tried to live one teaching of Jesus? Have you actually incorporated this into your life? Until a conscious, obedient effort is made to let Jesus guide you in a specific arena of your life, it doesn’t make sense to say, “I can’t,” or “It won’t work for me.”

 

Spend some time reading Psalm 119. Soak in the rhythm of respect given to God’s ways.

 

When Jesus says, “Take my yoke…”

April 25th, 2013

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light.”

A yoke is a wooden harness that is used in agriculture to put two oxen together so they can work together pulling a load or plowing a field. The system works best when you take an experienced older ox and yoke him to an inexperienced younger one. The younger ox learns to follow the lead of the older, and the older teaches to share the load. After a while, the oxen work together as one.

Jesus invites me to yoke to him. In this way he can teach me to live my life as he would live it if he were me, and he actually guides me as I am yoked to his lead. I am no longer working on my strength, but his; not my direction, but his. In this way I am able to succeed in the way he desires for me in every area of transformation.

Who would actually make a yoke? A carpenter? Interesting…

The soul can be repaired

April 24th, 2013

Ultimately, it is the renovation of the soul that God desires to accomplish in you. If I am to make any headway in transformation, and the soul is at the center of who I am, my operating system, then it is critical to think deeply about my soul.

The key starting point is to realize I am not contained in my body. I am not only a physical being. I am a spiritual being who has a body.

You see, it is tempting to think that scientific understanding is the sign of greatest intelligence. If this is not the case, if the spiritual world is actually the real world, then we will miss out on the most important aspect of reality. True intelligence is not measured by lab instruments. True intelligence starts with realizing the physical is not all there is.

And just like the physical body, the soul needs proper care. The soul lasts forever. It is not a ghost that leaves our body and floats around after we die. The soul is a non-physical entity that isn’t limited to our body’s boundaries.

Caring for the soul centers on spiritual disciplines which bring refreshment to our existence. Our souls are grievously damaged over the years. Abuse, betrayal, abandonment, and other destructive forces in our lives chip away at our identity. We need God to “renew” us. We need God to make us new. We need to give ourselves over to God’s care.

Think about these words from Psalm 23. “He restoreth my soul.” (KJV)

What Michael Jordan can teach us about the soul

April 19th, 2013

If I choose to live by my own desires, my life is headed for ruin. Unfortunately, as a human being, this is the natural path I will take. If I am young and single, Especially if i am young and single, I won’t even think of another way.

 

But, when other life circumstances kick in, things change. If I am married, I begin to see that my way isn’t always the way it is. If we have children, this is even more evident. When I learn that I am not in charge of my life, it is a good start.

 

It isn’t a shock that research shows that “married with children” brings about greater physical and emotional health than any other social arrangement. Without living a deliberate path of self-denial and moving-toward-God transformation, from a human standpoint, this is the best chance we get. Yet, marriage and parenthood are not enough.

 

To live intentionally, focusing on renovation of all the parts of who I am, is the means to long-term health, and through Jesus, the means to eternal significance. We don’t have to wait to get married and have kids to begin this process. It can start any day at any time in our lives. The soul is at the center of the whole endeavor.

 

We join Jesus in transforming our hearts, minds, bodies, and social relations. The soul integrates all of these and makes our life, “our life.” For the first time, we can actually live life the way we are designed. It may be a stretch, but compare the soul to Michael Jordan.

 

The Bulls had Michael Jordan for a couple of years before they started winning championships. They didn’t become the world famous Chicago Bulls until Michael learned to involve the other four players and integrate them fully in the game. When all five were working together toward the common purpose of winning a “ring”, things clicked. Many times! Michael functioned like our soul, making sure everyone was involved and contributing in a healthy way. Yes, even Luc Longley!

 

Think about the similarity of soul work and team work.

 

How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life