How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life

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.

7 phrases Christians use just to confuse you

May 4th, 2009
stayin' alive...

stayin' alive...

It’s tough to learn a new language, but then there is the bonus of realizing a word may mean one thing to one group of people and quite another thing to another group.

British English and American English come to mind. The classic phrase, “Do you have a torch so I can look under the bonnet of my lorry?” comes to mind. If you haven’t been through this drill, in England this means,

“Do you have a flashlight so I can look under the hood of my truck?”

Words can also decline in usage quickly  in certain circles. Just when I was ready to “spit” truth and get “krunk,” rappers have moved on to something else. In case you missed it,

“Spit” means the processing of “rapping,” itself, like “crooning” is to “singing” a couple of generations ago. “Krunk”, well, either “crazy drunk (crazy + drunk, get it?),” “high,” or ?

In Christian circles we have fun with language, too. There are the normal “Christianeze” words like “sanctification,” “atonement,” and such, that “normal” people don’t use. (come to think of it, “Christianeze” is “Christianeze,” isn’t it?).

Then there are those phrases that use “normal” words but translation is still necessary. Here are seven.

7 phrases Christians use just to confuse you

1.    Father God- As opposed to Mother God? No, it’s just that there are only so many ways to address God in the Bible (Almighty God,  Our Father, LORD God…),  so we just decided to invent one that isn’t in the Bible and this becomes our favorite prayer phrase.

2.    Christianity is not a religion;  it is a relationship- When you hear the word, “religion,” you think of a bunch of rules and rituals people follow. So, we differentiate ourselves because being Christian is having a relationship with Jesus. Except that this phrase isn’t in the Bible. Jesus never says, “Have a relationship with me.” But, you get the gist, right?

3.   Bible-believing- This is a little dig that Christians use against each other. It means, “I am really serious about the Bible being God’s Word and you are not as serious.” Maybe it will catch on with other faiths.  “Q’uran- believing” mosque, anyone?

4.    quiet time- No, this isn’t in contrast to our “loud time.” it is a phrase used to say, “I am spending time alone with God.” It is supposed to be a daily time of prayer and Bible reading, and Christians use this phrase to check-up on each other. “How’s your quiet time going?”

5.  spiritual warfare- Another term we use that is not specifically in the Bible. It is alluded to, however, in the struggle that we have with Satan and forces of evil.  Using military metaphors for living out our faith is a powerful technique the biblical authors use, but connecting faith and potentially violent-sounding language with a public that doesn’t know our metaphors, especially in the present cultural climate…it may be time to give “warfare” language a rest for a while, at least in public settings.

6.    how’s your walk?- Related to “quiet time,” it is not asking specifically how your gait is going when you move from one location to another, like this, for example. “Walk,” here, refers to how you are presently living out your life as a Christian. As in, “If you talk the talk you better walk the walk.”  Confusing though, as “talking” in  this context is not what God is looking for in the first place (see Isaiah 29:13).

7.    love on them- I agree, I have no idea why Christians use this phrase, either. I think I get the meaning, as in, “Christians have to stop judging people and start loving on them,” and so forth. Yet, if I am “loving on you,” it sounds a bit creepy, don’t you think? Like something The Bee Gees wanted to do to the  ladies in the 70′s.

“Let me love on you, baby…”

Oh well, It does help me learn graciousness though, because this is my current “drives me crazy,” phrase of choice.

no comparisions

May 1st, 2009

When we realize we are judging someone else, we can realize we are not in a place where God settles down. We take our cue from the Trinity.

A scene you will not see…

“Hey Jesus, look at my abs. I am really getting a six pack, don’t you think?”

“You, da’ man, God the Father! (though you are a non-physical reality) Really getting pumped!” “Whoa! What was that? Holy Spirit, was that you again?!”

“Got you, Jesus! You are never gonna be quick as me! You don’t know when I’m coming or when I’m going…”

Or something like that.

Jonathan Christopher, of Stuff Christians Like, had this to say on his Facebook this morning.

Jonathan Christopher Getting cocky about doing what you were created to do is like bragging about your natural eye color.


Spiritual maturity? The dead end of judgmentalism

May 1st, 2009

Understanding personality types and how God wires us, prevents us from making errors in judgment in spiritual matters, as well as in personal judgments. Here is how it works.

Example one. If someone is wired as a “Sensate,” where they carefully make decisions in a specific and detailed analysis of the facts and possibilities, they will have a hard time just “going for it” if God is calling them to change. This would be easy for a person wired as an “Intuitive.” They are always read to go with their “gut;” ready to try a new thing. So, here is what can happen.

“Intuitives” can quickly think that “Sensates” aren’t as “spiritual” because they don’t immediately grasp on to God doing a new thing. If “Intuitives” will just be specific and clear about what this “new thing” means, many “Sensates” who examine this vision will embrace the change, as well.

Example two. When “Thinking Judgment” people (“Thinkers”) work from their strength of logic and reasonability, and not their emotions or what other people will think, they are many times labeled, “uncaring” or “un-Christian.” Especially if they are being asked to respond to a situation where courage and consideration are called for; not co-dependency. “Thinkers” are always vulnerable when people are attempting to bring drama into their lives. If “Feelers” realize their vulnerability of acting from emotion rather than wisdom, they will have the opportunity to influence “Thinkers” if true compassion is in order.

Actually, to be too vocal or too judgmental about someone else’s spiritual maturity is a very good sign that one may be lacking spiritual maturity.

How Do I Become Less Judgmental? The Personality Key Part 2

April 29th, 2009

According to personality type teaching, we are stronger in each of the opposing areas than we are in the other. We may show both and have a hard time figuring out each one, but it is more like handedness. I am left handed, but I can also do things with my right, though not as well. If we look at all 8 attributes, we realize the individual person falls into one of 16 categories. These are usually denoted using the first letter of each. For example, my type is ENTP (So, that’s his problem…)

Here is where the judgmentalism can creep in. If I am a certain personality type and this is how I am wired, then I am tempted to make my type in all the areas the correct one. It may be as simple as a subtle description change. See if you have ever said any of these about someone else.

Extroversion vs. Introversion/ Chatterbox vs. Shy

Sensing Perception vs. Intuitive Perception/ Stick-in-the-mud vs. Risky

Thinking Judgment vs. Feeling Judgment/ Cold vs. Bleeding-hearted

Judging vs. Perceiving/ Anal vs. Flaky

Do you see what can happen? There are no good or bad personality types. They are just different. Yet, when we start labeling people who are different than us in a negative way, we see how this can become judgmental. We might even be judgmental towards people of the same personality type because we see things we don’t like in ourselves.

It is helpful just recognizing that traits you consider negative in someone else may simply be different personality types. There is much more involved in Meyers-Briggs analysis, but if you would like to begin considering your personal type, you can take this inventory online for free.

So it is easy to be critical and judging of people just because they are wired differently than you. It might have nothing to do with character, effectiveness, or, most interesting for people of faith,  spiritual maturity.ᅠ

evangelism without manipulation…what a concept!

April 25th, 2009

I have been posting on the “person of peace” principle of evangelism I learned from Mike Breen, similar to my principle of “receptive person.” We learned, just as you did, or will, this principle from Jesus in Luke 10. More from Mike.

Here is how it works:

  1. Be on the lookout for someone who is ready to receive.
  2. If they aren’t ready, don’t belabor the point. Move on.
  3. No amount of cleverness or coercion can make someone receptive.
  4. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to prepare the heart to receive the Gospel.
  5. Our job is to look for people of peace.
  6. God has already been preparing them because they are receptive at that specific time.

Be present where there are people who may be receptive to connecting to you. Be on the lookout for a person of peace.

how do I find people who actually want to listen to me?

April 22nd, 2009

How do I share my faith with someone who isn’t a Christian? Won’t they get offended? Isn’t that being pushy? Not if you actually do what Jesus teaches. It is totally natural and gracious. The key concept Jesus teaches is to be a bridge for people to know him, called, “person of  peace.”  What we call  “evangelism,” “sharing the faith,” or “outreach,” should not cause us to  break out in a cold sweat.

Mike Breen summarizes this teaching of Jesus this way:

A person of peace is someone who is prepared to hear the message of the kingdom and the King.

A person of peace is:

  • someone who is prepared to hear the message of Jesus.
  • someone who is ready to receive because God has been preparing him/her.

O.K. now, again, how will I recognize a person of  peace?

People of Peace will:

  • welcome you
  • listen to you
  • support you

In other words…Look for people who want to listen to you, like a good friend.

Do you get nervous talking with a friend? Do you have to “walk on eggshells” over every word you say? Of course not, and that is why God brings people of peace into our lives to be introduced to him and his blessing. God brings us a new friend.


November 27th, 2008

Take a breath. Take another. Actually, no one has to tell you to breathe. You do it “naturally.” This means “by nature.” You know it doesn’t. It is by God. I breathe “godly.”

which America are we praying about?

November 6th, 2008

In physics, the “observer effect” occurs when there are changes made on the phenomenon being observed by the act of observation itself.

In psychology there is a term, “experimenter bias,” which refers to the results of a study being affected by the pre-expectations of the experimenter.

In education, teachers see this at work. In elementary school, for instance, when one of your colleagues in a lower grade tells you, “You better watch out for Billy, he is a real trouble maker,” you know you have to pay close attention to your own filter, so you do not consciously or subconsciously help carry that expectation to the next grade level. You try your hardest to start with a clean slate with Billy.

 When I hear Christians praying, especially at election time, there are many interesting petitions. Some of these are based around a common theme. The theme comes out of an “America-used-to-be-a-great-and-godly-place-and-can-we-just-return-to-the-‘Golden Years’” filter. Here are a few samples:

o   “Almighty God, bring our country back to your values again“

o   “Almighty Father, we honestly repent before you and look forward to America’s return to greatness where we will again be a shining light”

o   “Father, help us to get back to the time when we were one nation under God”

 If you are actually a student of American History these petitions come with a disclaimer-

 Caution: The “Observer Effect” is in effect

 For instance, try these prayers on for size:

 Lord if we could just get back to the days of old, like the Second Great Awakening…

(around 1790-1840, when the cheap cost of whiskey helped the rate of alcohol consumption climb to five times what it is today, with alcoholism estimates as high as 40-50% of the population)

 Lord, if we could just get back to the “Golden Era” of our nation, like the 1860′s, perhaps…

(where we had the Civil War and we killed each other to the tune of 2% of the population [6,000,000 people in today’s terms])

 Are you getting the picture?

This is interesting…how about a couple more?

A Black American pastor praying, “Almighty God may it be for your people like it was in the days of the Founding Fathers…”

(where “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” wasn’t for all people, unless you “enjoyed” being a slave, of course)

or more recently, “…like in the South in the 1950’s”.

(“Colored Only” drinking fountains, and all the rest)

 A Japanese American pastor praying, “Gracious God, let us get back to times of justice and unity just like the Golden Years of the “Greatest Generation” in the 1940’s– especially in California!”

(110,000 people- 75% U.S. citizens- with as little as 1/16 Japanese ancestry, were sent to internment camps in 1942, authorized by President Roosevelt and upheld by the Supreme Court)

How about a moratorium on looking to the past for greatness? Try something like this…

“Lord Jesus, as we follow you, fill us with your Spirit that we may be beacons of hope, reflecting your light as we love our neighbor and work with you in blessing our nation and beyond. We look forward to our best days ahead because you are ahead of us preparing the way.”

What do you think?



How To Be A Christian Without Being A Jerk

Faith in real life