Celebrity-driven religion is one of the reasons why today’s Christianity is so shallow. So much so that it’s a profound challenge to drown a gnat in it.
The marks of a celebrity are twofold. They are overexposed and inaccessible. (And very often, they’re underdeveloped.) Try reaching Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, or Taylor Swift with an email or Facebook message. Inaccessibility creates a certain mystique that gives the impression that someone is a VIP. This is true regardless of the person’s intent.
On the flip side, here’s an easy way to detect a celebrity-driven Christian.[Continue Reading…]
While traditional sermons produce little change (as I’ve argued elsewhere), Spirit-inspired spoken messages can move continents in your spirit and soul.
However, it’s rarely enough to hear a message once. The same with reading a Spirit-inspired book. But if you listen to that same message a dozen times, it will renew your mind and get into your soul. And if you read that book five times, a shift will occur in your brain, and something lasting will be deposited in your heart.
I’m talking about the “drip drip effect.” More exposure to the same content over time equals greater transformation.
With modern technology, we have the unique blessing of being able to listen to audios as we drive, walk, run, wash dishes, and put away clothes. And books now come in audio, digital, and print formats. In other words, we can take full advantage of the drip drip effect.[Continue Reading…]
Last week, I pulled out a DVD I’ve had in my possession for a long time, but had never watched. It was filmed in a living room where Brennan Manning, N.T. Wright, and I were all listening to Richard Rohr give a presentation. At various times, the camera panned all of us one by one.
Wright, Manning, Rohr, and I all spoke at this particular event together. (For the both of you who have theological issues with any of those names, calm down. I’ve never spoken at a conference where I jotted every theological “T” with any of the other speakers. Okay? Okay.)
As I watched the DVD, it occurred to me that the video was shot in 2007 — 10 years ago! I paused for a second in disbelief. 10 years? That event felt like it occurred only 3 years ago. With few exceptions, everyone in the room looked different than they do today. Brennan Manning has since passed, and I’ve lost touch with many of those who attended that conference. But looking back on it, I’m glad I said “yes” to that opportunity.[Continue Reading…]
According to experts, manipulation is the exercise of undue influence through mental distortion and emotional exploitation, with the intention to seize control over another human being.
It’s important to distinguish between healthy persuasion and psychological manipulation. Healthy persuasion seeks to influence someone to do or believe something that’s for their benefit. Manipulation seeks to influence someone to do or believe something that’s not for their benefit, but for the benefit of the manipulator.
Was Paul of Tarsus a manipulator? Not at all. He was certainly persuasive and employed savvy, socio-rhetorical methods in his letters to influence his readers. The motivation, however, was always for their benefit.[Continue Reading…]
We’ve all seen it. The belligerent smackdowns where Christians take the gloves off with fellow believers over doctrinal, theological, and political differences. Many of them can’t walk away from a fight or “lose.” Instead, some pour coals on an already roaring fire. Others bring in the gasoline trucks.
It’s time to recover the art of “agreeing to disagree.”
The enemy gloats when God’s children are at one another’s throats over their petty disagreements. Forfeiting a relationship over a disagreement effectively dismantles the words of Jesus,
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:35
That they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me … John 17:23
John Wesley was the first to put the phrase “agree to disagree” in print in the 18th century (applause for John). George Whitefield was his sparring partner, and Wesley attributes the phrase to him. Here’s the quote:
“If you agree with me, well: if not, we can, as Mr. Whitefield used to say, agree to disagree.”[Continue Reading…]
If you’ve spent any time in evangelical Christianity, you’ve been exposed to legalism in one form or another. And as a result, you struggle with guilt. The irony here is Jesus Christ destroyed guilt by His death, so no Christian should ever have to live with it. (I’ve explained the difference between guilt and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit through the conscience elsewhere.)
Psychologists rightly tell us that guilt is the most powerful motivator in the universe. Even greater than sex, money, and power. That’s why it’s a favorite tool of preachers. In fact, most of the pastors I’ve talked with have admitted their own constant struggle with guilt.
This is one of the reasons why so many of them lay guilt trips on God’s people. It’s because they themselves are living under a pile of guilt. But thank God, there is freedom. Freedom from guilt is one of the first steps to increasing your love for the Lord.[Continue Reading…]