“Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part . . . Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.”
~ Paul in I Thessalonians 5:13-15 (The Message)
See also Jesus and Paul Under Fire
I realize that “the media” is not a monolith. So I’m using the word generally here. However, over the last year, I’ve seen the following narrative played out in scores of interviews, commentaries, and pundit discussions across the TV news networks, magazines, and the Internet.
So while there are certainly exceptions, I’ve identified nine common lies perpetuated by people in the media. Granted, there are enough vocal evangelicals to bolster each of these stereotypes, so the media isn’t completely responsible. But nuance is necessary here. Thus this post.
Lie 1. Evangelical Christians are intolerant. “Intolerance” is the new clay word that is used to strong-arm an entire group of people who dissent from the conventional wisdom. Thus if a person believes that Jesus is the only way to receive eternal life (as most evangelicals do), they are deemed “intolerant” because the conventional wisdom is to believe that eternal life doesn’t exist. Or if it does, Jesus is but one way among many ways to obtain it. In short, “intolerance” has been redefined by many in our time to put pressure on those who dissent from the status quo. Granted, some evangelicals are (unfortunately) intolerant of anyone’s beliefs but their own. But many are not.[Continue Reading...]
Andrew Jones blogs at TallSkinnyKiwi. He is one of the pioneers of Christian blogging. For those of you who may not be familiar with Andrew, you may recall his name from his endorsement of Pagan Christianity. I caught up with Andrew for a full-on interview about blogging in the Christian world. His insights are fascinating.
Frank Viola: Andrew, you are one of the pioneers of the Christian blogosphere. Tell us the story of how you first learned about blogging and what motivated you to begin your blog.
Andrew Jones: Around the end of 1997 I started “Andrew’s Tea Salon” on a free Geocities webpage. I used it as an online journal and for each entry, I added the date above it. It was just a way to record my thoughts, link them to a place and time, and make them public. The word “blogging” was not yet used and most web sites were static vanity sites rather than dynamic interactive journals.
A few years later, Blogger.com came out and I saw an automated way of date-stamping my thoughts, as well as sorting them into monthly sections, and I was hooked. That was the birth of Tallskinnykiwi in 2001. Amazingly, it made number 3 in the world in 2003 according to Blogger Forum, even beating the political blogs. It’s not as popular today and I don’t have the time I used to have to blog, especially with all my travels and non-wifi zones that I spend time in. But I still enjoy blogging and sometimes get to teach it at conferences and universities. [Continue Reading...]
We recently added a new episode to the podcast. In this episode, I explore 8 mistakes that are commonly made when reading the Scriptures. I’ve made all of them at one time in my life. Click to the links below to listen to it on iTunes, Podbean, or RSS.
Media expert Phil Cooke recently put out a remarkable book called One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do. Most of the books that fall into my hands are skimmed. However, I read One Big Thing word-for-word. I even marked in it (something I rarely do). I liked the book so much that I brought Phil onto the blog for an interview about the book. Enjoy the interview and order the book.
For readers who aren’t familiar with the book, what is the premise and the overarching idea?
Phil Cooke: For more than 30 years, I’ve helped churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. In case after case, I discovered the organizations who really get noticed, funded, and valued are organizations who do one big thing extraordinary well. All the organizations that are average at many things never seem to get noticed. So a few years ago, I started applying that idea to individual people. Who are the artists, pastors, writers, filmmakers, or leaders that get their message heard?
It’s people who are known for One Big Thing. And for the record, your One Big Thing isn’t necessarily about a job. It’s not so much about discovering your One Big Thing is to be a pastor, salesman, or secretary. Your One Big Thing is really about the over-arching purpose for your life. What you’re “wired” to accomplish, and what you were born to do?[Continue Reading...]
“I am looking for the fellowship of the burning heart. I claim the Methodist and the Baptist as mine and I claim everybody that loves Jesus Christ as mine; but I am looking for the fellowship of the burning heart. Men and women of all generations and everywhere that love the savior until ‘adoration’ has become the new word and they do not have to be entertained or amused. This Christ was everything. He was their all in all . . . I am looking for men and women who are lost in worship, those who love God until he is the sweetheart of the soul.”
~ A. W. Tozer in Reclaiming Christianity
I’d like to hear from those of you who work from home. If you work from home, what do you do exactly? Do you work for someone else or do you have your own business? (This is also a chance to promote your home-based business.)
Tell us about it . . .
My friend Mick Mooney is the author of the new novel called God’s Grammar. I caught up with Mick to interview him on his new book. Here it is:
Summarize the main story in your new novel, God’s Grammar.
Mick Mooney: The main character’s name is Sam, a semi-committed agnostic who wakes from a strange dream where God offered to teach him grammar. When he gets out of bed he is startled to discover God actually in his apartment, ready to start the lesson. While the grammar lesson begins at Sam’s kitchen table, inwardly an epic journey also takes place, a journey out of Sam’s inner Fortress and into the greater realm of his soul. While God seeks to liberate Sam, the General—a dark co-inhabitant of Sam’s inner Fortress—is determined to keep the revelation of God’s unfailing love from finding a permanent home in Sam’s heart. Ultimately, God’s Grammar is an imaginative tale of loss, love and redemption that digs much deeper than just a conversation about grammar; it dares to answer one of life’s biggest questions: Can love last forever?
What provoked you to write the book?
Mick Mooney: I moved to Germany five years ago with my wife. I had just finished three years of Bible college and had expected to work in some kind of full-time ministry capacity; however, at this time I was also going through a major paradigm shift regarding the notion of full-time paid ministry in an institutional setting. I decided not to go down that path and was left with a situation of being in a foreign country with no job prospects. The only job I could get was as an English language teacher, and so began a year long journey of learning my own language’s grammar rules and teaching them. It was a hard process, and I found myself asking God why he had led me into learning grammar when I could be of much better use to the kingdom of God if I was preaching. This led me to think, perhaps God is teaching me more than just grammar in this time, which when I thought about it he most certainly was; and this realization was really the starting point that provoked the concept for my novel God’s Grammar.[Continue Reading...]
“If Christians cannot extend grace through faithful presence within the body of believers, they will not be able to extend grace to those outside.”
~ James Davison Hunter
Recently, someone asked me the following question.
“Frank, if I had to summarize your ministry, it would be that Jesus is more than we ever imagined and we can learn to live by His life which is evidenced by treating others the same way we want to be treated. Would you say that this is accurate?”
My answer: “Yes, that sums it up well.” These two themes are underscored in many of my books and blog posts.
I once wrote a piece for a periodical explaining why I am a Christian. And I ended the piece by asking why those who aren’t Christians have decided not to follow Jesus (yet, at least). Here’s what one person wrote:
“I’m not a Christian because of how most of the Christians I’ve known treat each other. Not loving like their founder taught but just the opposite. I like that your list wasn’t apologetic or combative but personal and I respect that. Rare but nice to see.”
This harkens back to Gandhi’s famous line,
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” . . . “If it weren’t for Christians, I’d be a Christian.”
Take a look at this graphic which shows how people search for “Christians” on Google in comparison to “Muslims” and “Jews.” (Credit goes to my friend John Saddington for this analysis).[Continue Reading...]