Jesus taught. He didn’t preach, he taught.
He went from synagogue to synagogue teaching people about the Kingdom.
With his own disciples, he answered their questions and explained his teachings more in-depth.
Most Christians have lost sight of this fact, that Jesus was first and foremost a teacher and that those who follow him must likewise learn to teach as he did. All Christians should be aiming to teach like Jesus.
Teaching is not preaching. Teaching is connecting with and feeding the listener, whereas preaching is presenting, like a performance. Teaching builds a bridge between the teacher and the learner that enables knowledge transfer. Performing builds a wall that separates the performer from the audience. (more…)
I was baptized a Catholic when I was about a month old. I went on to “receive” my First Holy Communion (at age 7, wearing a red mini-dress and fishnet stockings), after which I declared myself an atheist, and that was that. I was pulled from weekly religion classes and didn’t darken a church doorway again for decades.
Fast-forward nearly 30 years. I was born again on a deserted beach in South Australia. Knowing next to nothing about Christianity, I figured I was still somehow a Catholic, so I started attending Catholic mass every day (twice on Sundays) and was “confirmed” (a Catholic rite of passage) a few years later. I even considered becoming a nun.
Then one day while I was sitting all alone in a church after mass, God opened my eyes to the truth about Catholicism (that it’s not Christianity), and within a minute I was out the door. That was 16 years ago and haven’t been back since.
Here’s what God showed me that day: (more…)
I’ve been doing a deep reading of the book of Jeremiah over the past week, along with supplementary historical information.
It is very sobering stuff.
Jeremiah is the Old Testament prophet who spent his life warning his people that they had strayed far from God’s ways and in so doing were setting themselves up for God’s unique, inescapable, perfect and perfectly timed brand of punishment.
Most of the people not only did not heed Jeremiah’s warnings, but some even went so far as to imprison him and try to kill him, just to shut him up.
Jeremiah survived the imprisonments and attempts on his life, and then went on to see his warnings come true in the form of a great slaughter of his people at the hands of the Babylonians (modern-day Iraqis) and the total destruction of Jerusalem, including the first temple. Nearly 600 years later, a few decades after Jesus’ crucifixion, there was another great slaughter and destruction, this time at the hands of the Romans, who also razed the second temple to the ground. God had warned, through Jeremiah: “If they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation.”
That he did, and that he has done. (more…)
I can imagine that if Jesus went to the pubs today, he wouldn’t go there on Friday or Saturday nights, when they’re loud and crowded with people having a few rounds with their buddies and relaxing after a long week of work or classes. No, Jesus would go to the pubs on Sunday nights or Monday nights or Tuesday nights, when they’re deathly quiet and the real drinkers are there, propped up on the bar or hidden in far corners, alone, and nursing pint after pint.
Pubs are dreary places on “off nights”. As an atheist, I used to work in bars, and no-one wanted to take the “off-night” shifts. A pall hangs over the place, no matter how loud or lively the music. It echoes around the empty space and back at you as you keep yourself busy wiping tables and stocking the fridge, praying for the front door to swing open and a massive crowd to sweep in. That prayer was never answered. (more…)
Being a Christian living in a non-Christian world surrounded by people doing non-Christian things can be quite appalling at times. Try telling an unbeliever not to do something because it’s wrong, and watch the initial look of surprise turn into a snarl and the snarl turn into a spiritual lunge.
I remember snarling and lunging when I was an atheist. I took great pride in doing what I knew was wrong. Sometimes I did it deviously, so that no-one knew, and sometimes I did it “loud and proud” so that everyone would know. Then, when I was born again, all of the advice that I used to snarl at became my default position. No-one had to teach me that abortion or homosexuality or promiscuity were wrong; I just knew it, from one second to the next. Jesus tells us that we won’t have to go to believers and tell them “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”, because they will all be taught by God.
Telling unbelievers that abortion is murder or that living with someone you’re not married to is wrong is essentially swatting at spiritual flies. You tend to make yourself more of a fly target when you swat at them. They don’t go away, and they call in reinforcements to harass you. You accomplish nothing except to make yourself frustrated and fly-ridden. (more…)
We live in the world, but we’re not supposed to be OF the world.
Whatever does that mean?
When I was checking out my local Reddit forum to see if I could find any “insider” scoops on the latest approaching storm, I noticed a thread about a small anti-abortion protest. The protest has been ongoing for years outside a regional hospital where the abortions take place, but it’s mostly a silent protest, made up mostly of Christians.
The video accompanying the thread showed a nun and others being verbally harassed by passers-by. The nearly 200 comments on the thread were pro-abortion.
Two thoughts came to mind as I watched as much of the clip as I could: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do”, and “my town is turning into Sodom”.
Sodom was not Sodom because the men had a sexual preference for men over women; that was just one of many manifestations of the deep sin on the souls of Sodom residents. The “sin of Sodom” extended to all aspects of life and devoured nearly everyone living there. Sodomites were so deeply entrenched in sin, it became their default position and they couldn’t see or think or feel beyond it. (more…)
I listen to a lot of sermons in my job. I read a lot of blogs. And almost without exception, the main message I hear coming from the pulpit today – whether spoken or written – is PROSPERITY. Many Christian teachers and preachers are working overtime to get us to see God as the eternal ATM of blessings and our professed belief in Jesus as the security PIN to access those blessings.
But it doesn’t work that way. You don’t just stumble through life, treating people like crap, and then show up in church on Sunday with your hands out, expecting God to fill them with goodies. (more…)