Archive for the ‘apostasy’ Tag

Interview with Ted Minkinow   1 comment

Today, I am welcoming back Ted Minkinow. I interviewed Ted a while back on  his book The Apostasy and his work in progress Bones and Bagger, both Christian horror novels. I asked him to stop back by because he has a new website, so I’m re-running the interview with updated links … and I think I fixed the glitch with the photos from the first interview. 

Ted MinkinowThanks, Lela.  I am thankful to you for providing an opportunity to chat about The Apostasy and some work that hasn’t been released.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself, Ted. 

 

I’m married with five children (ages 9 to 15), and am an IT guy.  I grew up in a military family–was born in Munich, Germany while my dad served in the U.S. Army.  As a kid, I mostly grew up in Georgia and Alabama, and that’s where we waited on my father to complete two tours in Vietnam as a chopper pilot.  I attended the U.S. Air Force Academy for college and spent seven years on active duty and another sixteen years in the Alabama Air National Guard.  I was a fighter pilot, and  I’ve flown in a number of combat operations from Southwest Asia to Kosovo.  In civilian life, I’ve most recently been assigned to Germany and have lived in Singapore for the past year.

 

 

How did you come to be a writer?

Good question.  I’ve always loved reading and telling stories.  I completed my first short story in the 5th grade.  It was about a World War I German fighter pilot who was shot down and returned to haunt his friends.  So from about eleven years old forward I was hooked on writing. My first short published a couple decades ago.  But none of that answers your question because I didn’t consider myself a writer as I was scrawling the stories.

I tried to become a writer by learning as much as I could about the craft.  Everyone is filled with enough imagination to write stories.  That’s what I grew up thinking and that opinion remains.  To differentiate myself from every human on earth, I studied and I read.  I read the authors I enjoyed and worked to understand why I liked what the wrote.  I also read from authors whose work did not appeal to me.  And I parsed the reasons.  I studied book put out on the craft by successful writers and editors.  I even named my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Perkins, after the great editor Maxwell Perkins.

I harangued several of my friends into reading early versions of The Apostasy and entered the rough draft into the Sandhills Writers’ Conference Fiction Contest–Augusta, Georgia–where I was flabbergasted when they called out my name for third place.  All those hundreds of other folks around me looked like writers…I didn’t think I did.  Within a couple of months, I was fortunate enough to get a detailed critique from a NYT best-selling fiction writer (we had a very remote connection through school, I reached out to him, and he responded with great kindness).  That relationship led to a rework and my manuscript–The Apostasy–and it placed at the Maui Writers’ Conference Contest.  Another shock.  And because of that, I again was blessed to work with a former editor for one of the large houses.  He’d collaborated with a couple fiction icons and I soaked up all he said and everything he wrote to me.  After about six months, I ended up with The Apostasy as it is.

So do I consider myself a writer now?  Not sure.

 

 

ApostasyYour book, The Apostasy, tells a dark tale of generational hatred on a spiritual level.  I would class it as Christian horror, somewhat in the vein of Ted Dekker. Tell us about it.

In the vein of Ted Dekker is a good start, though I think it’s a tinge more on the Gothic side than Dekker’s outstanding work.  The Apostasy is set in Northern Alabama during three eras: The War Between the States, the 1920’s, and the late 1990’s.  I know the area, the people, and the history, so all my characters felt comfortable. I didn’t consider the racial makeup as I was writing The Apostasy, though since it’s been out it’s been included on some African-American reading lists.

Most people have heard of generational sin.  I wanted to explore the opposite: generational goodness.  What would that look like and how well would it hold up when faced with attacks from the spiritual world?  I also wanted to dig into the complexities of southern society, where many of my friends grew up in families that formerly owned slaves.  So what about all that that, and how many of my white friends were blood relatives to the black families that lived mostly in their own area of town during the waning days of Jim Crow?  And while I was delving into that evil spiritual world where no human should venture, I found an ancient demon standing at the precipice of lunacy.  Leland Graves.

The thought of insanity among demons frightened more than just me, it also scared the evil masters of Leland Graves.  If Leland Graves went too far in his collection of souls, then he might just break the Great Unsigned Contract.  And should that happen, how fierce a retaliation could the demon world expect from heaven?  As far as demonic annihilation? Not wanting to find out, the demon masters banish Leland Graves to a spoiled creek in Northern Alabama…and not for the first time.  He’d spent time sequestered there from time to time over the millennia.

Hattie Jackson is the African-American matriarch that holds not only her family together, but is also the link that entwines small-town, Vienna, Alabama African-American and white societies.  And like so many deep-south towns today, those cables wrought during the slave era and great Civil War remain vibrant and humming just below the surface of what we see.

And thus we meet Tom Brunson, a young, medically-retired former fighter pilot.  He’s son-of-the-south, partially raised by absent parents and mostly raised by Hattie.  And Tom is who Hattie phones when she suffers heart palpitations on the night she senses Leland Graves’ return.  Tom falls for the emergency room doctor–beautiful, upper-crust from Birmingham, and African-American.

Leland Graves decides to benefit from exile.  He’ll replace that perfect soul that eluded a hundred and fifty years prior with Hattie’s.  He has a score to settle with her anyway.  And with that perfect soul, perhaps he can break with the masters and open his own operation.  That’s what his disintegrating mind thinks.

 

What’s the final takeaway you would like readers to get from the book?

I want readers to know that the love of family is a metaphor for a greater love that overcomes all travails, and that there are some attributes instilled in people that cannot be destroyed by evil or addiction.  Take courage and self-sacrifice, for instance.  I also wanted to provide a quick glimpse under the covers of what southern society is really like.  Folks up north don’t understand how the Civil War still impacts the south on many levels.

 

 

What are your plans for the future? Tell us about Bag of Bones, which is a series you’re working toward publication. Gaius the vampire finds himself in the middle of a huge and adventurous mystery.  Tell us about the series and when do you expect the first book to come out?

Now you’re delving into secret places.  But that’s OK, I like you.  Gaius Teutoberg is a 2000 year-old vampire…and a twenty-year-oldish dude who packs groceries for tips at the U.S. military commissary in Wiesbaden, Germany.  Again, I’m in familiar ground.

Gaius, Gare to his bagger buddies, just wants to live out his life in obscurity…and in drinking good German beer and chasing chicks (his words, not mine).  And I use the word live intentionally.  Vampirism is a condition, not a state of being.

But obscurity isn’t what Gaius gets from life.  In Bag of Bones, he’s forced by a demon into a scheme that includes breaking into the Aachen Cathedral and doing a bit of grave-robbing.  Seems his bagger pals are being held hostage on the canvas of a demonic painting of hell.  And if Gare doesn’t come through with the goods, that’s where his friends will remain for eternity.

So while Gare can’t ever seem to get so much as a second date, he’ll now have to somehow secure a national treasure from under the noses of the German people.  And the Polezei. Along the way he’ll deal with demon he calls No Face, a pygmy cannibal vampire, a hot-looking, chain-smoking angel, a roommate who’s the ghost of  a World War II German soldier executed by the Americans for being a spy, a Hungarian Warrior-woman vampire who’s in love with him, and a ghost dog who constantly leaves steaming, transparent piles of poop in his flat.

I spent seven months writing about Gare, his adventures, and his friends, and have completed the first three manuscripts (400+ pages each).  In the second of the series, Gare intentionally finds his way into hell on a rescue mission to spring that blonde angel from a demon prison.  In the third section of his autobiography, Gare travels to Singapore to face one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.  Seems hell wants to kick off the end times a bit early.

When will they be coming out?  I’ve not established any milestones.

If The Apostasy is Southern Gothic, Gare’s story is light-hearted.  Gare comes across as a bit of a scoundrel, but in the end, all three of my test-readers–all women–confess they’ve fallen in love with him.  One of those ladies is my wife.  Darn it.

Find an excerpt on Wattpad 

And I’m not done with Hattie, Cassandra–the young African-American doctor, and Tom–the ex-fighter pilot.  In 903A Romar House, we find them in Gulf Shores, Alabama, recovering from their ordeal with Leland Graves.  Several of my readers have asked for more detail on Tom and Cassandra’s relationship.  We’ll get to that in 903A, and we’ll delve into what happens when decent people hold heart-breaking secrets throughout their lives.  And of course, there will be departed souls and demons.

 

You and I know each other from a Christian writers’ thread. It’s largely uncharted waters — Christian horror doesn’t get a lot of play time in the Christian bookstores. As a Christian who writes outside of the Christian mainstream, does faith play a part in what you write? 

 My writing has always been influenced by my Christian faith.  While the stories aren’t overtly Christian, themes of faith are weaved in throughout.  Like many Christian writers, I’ve taken great liberties with established Christian doctrines.  I’d say the bottom line is that you’ll see flawed people making the right decisions…eventually.  You’ll also see them stand up and face evil.

 

Ted doesn’t have a website of his own but Gaius does. Check out the dating advice!

The Apostasy can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Apostasy-Ted-Minkinow-ebook/dp/B00740FYBE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412601463&sr=8-1&keywords=ted+minkinow

 

 

Got Some Compromise?   Leave a comment

So what should Christians feel or do about those who, based on anti-Biblical ideas, promote, encourage, or condone immoral acts such as sexual immorality (in its many flavors), unethical business practices, gluttony, or false teaching? A case can be made for toleration in the greater church community for a period of time, but that time needs to be limited.

In His letter to the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18), Christ commended the brethren there for some things, but then He took them to task:

“I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess; she teaches and seduces my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time that she should repent, yet she had no inclination to repent of her fornication. Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her — into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he who searches the mind and heart: and I will deal with each one of you according to your works.” (paraphrase)

There was, within the church of Thyatira, an influential woman who is called Jezebel. The choice of the epithet, Jezebel, suggests she was similar in character and teaching to the ancient queen who corrupted Israel (1 Kings 16:29; 2 Kings 9:30). This “prophetess” doubtless claimed to teach with divine authority and was persistently seducing and teaching Christians to commit fornication and perform pagan rituals.

Despite her wicked behavior, the Lord gave her time to repent, but she ignored His patience. Judgment was now imminent.

Of more importance to our discussion, Christ strongly rebuked the brethren in Thyatira because they continued to tolerate (apheis — present tense) her false teaching.  Shouldn’t we learn something from this inspired narrative?

What can we learn?

There were those of the ancient church who, by their misguided teaching, promoted adultery and idol worship. There are those in the modern churches who are doing the same thing. The glaring example from this series are the anti-Biblical doctrines regarding divorce and remarriage that actually encourage Christians to continue in adulterous arrangements.

How long can the church go on tolerating compromising views such as these? The debate among modern churches has been going on for decades, but many congregations show no sign of changing their corrupted views and some churches are openly moving in a direction that wholly rejects the Biblical teaching on morality.  Should other Christians ignore their corrupting influence forever?

No!

Got Some Apostasy?   Leave a comment

What is apostasy?

That’s a question that has divided many churches over the centuries. Good and respectable Christians have differed over this question with regards to various doctrines. Someone is wrong on almost every issue. But does that disagreement warrant the refusal of fellowship?

  • Will Christians be here for the Tribulation or not?
  • Which English translation of the Bible should one use?
  • Can we eat meat sacrificed to idols?
  • Can Christians drink alcohol?
  • Can Christians dance?
  • Should Christians speak in tongues
  • Is it okay to baptize babies?
  • Is it okay to rebaptize previously baptized adults?
  • Do priests control our communication with God or is it more direct?
  • Can lay people argue with priests over spiritual matters?
  • Is salvation by faith or by following orthodoxy?

All these are questions that have divided churches and created new denominations as those who felt strongly on one side or another formed new congregations in a disfellowshipping.

Yeah, we don’t often look at it that way, but that is what the various church splits and particularly the denominations are all about at heart.

Some of those issues are silly (spiritually speaking) and no reason to break up a church. Some are more serious and may warrant diversification in the denominations while maintaining friendly relations. Others are absolutely critical and warrant disfellowship and use of that dreaded c-word “cult.”

How do you know which is which?

First, you have to take a careful look at the person advocating the false doctrine. New Christians sometimes teach error out of innocent ignorance. Think Apollos, gently instructed by Priscilla and Aquila. A gracious attitude that manifests itself in a willingness to discuss the subject and learn can be treated gently while a hard heart cannot.

If the person is a teacher of considerable experience who ought to know better and he persists in his error even after considerate brethren have tried to show him the Lord’s way more accurately, then that is a different story.

Second, and much more important, are the implications of the teacher’s doctrine.

Some erroneous teachings reflect upon the nature or character of the Godhead.  For example, those who teach the “dispensation” notion that the Jewish rejection of Christ was a surprise to God are reflecting upon the foreknowledge of God. This is a woefully dangerous error that Biblical Christians should not be soft toward.

Some cult alleged that Christ was initially created by God; He, therefore, does not possess a divine nature equal to the Father’s. This is a heretical concept that undermines the Lord’s claims regarding Himself.

Others attack the credibility of the Bible as an infallible revelation from God. There are teachers who allege that the Bible contains contradictions; that there are jars and clashes between the Gospel accounts. Genesis 1 is promoted as mythological; the Bible and the theory of evolution are said to agree on almost all issues. Biblical Christians cannot support or commend doctrines that radically undermine the Bible.

The above are instances of apostasy that I believe seriously undermine salvation. Biblical Christians should find no fellowship with those who teach the above doctrines.

On the other hand, there are those who argue for miraculous gifts and continued revelation for this age, contending for a form of subjective religion that ignores the completed, authoritative New Testament. When this is accepted, virtually anything goes in religion.

Then what do you say about those who deny the Lord’s clear plan of salvation and who obliterate the concept of the distinctiveness of Christ’s church?

Similarly, some teachers have publicly advocated that Christians should extend fellowship to those “baptized” as infants, to those who have been sprinkled instead of immersed, and to those who endorse the idea of salvation by “faith alone.”

Others have announced that the “church of Jesus Christ” is but one of many sectarian groups, hence active association ought to prevail across denominational lines.

While these second set of doctrines are concerning to me and I would seek membership at another church if they were taught at the one I am currently a member of, I have some degree of fellowship with those who hold to them. Why? Because they don’t affect salvation and our interaction gives us an opportunity to learn from one another and hopefully move toward a more Biblical Christianity.

But, absolutely, the churches need to be prepared to stand for God even when other churches do not?

Shunned   Leave a comment

Shunning is the English translation of the German word the Amish use for disfellowship. It sounds harsh — and the way the Amish do it can be very, very harsh — but there is a reason a church body might consider it. The New Testament teaches that certain spiritual conditions can require a limitation of fellowship as a part of church discipline. The collective teaching of the New Testament regarding church discipline clearly make the case for what I’m talking about.

First, “discipline” covers a wide range — from simple “teaching” to the ultimate “withdrawal of fellowship.” This means it may be administered by degrees, in keeping with the needs of the individual.

Examples are always nice, right?

An impenitent drunk, abusive to his family, disruptive of social fellowship, quickly sliding toward rock bottom may need to be disfellowshipped formally (1 Corinthians 5:11). I know someone this happened to and it made the bottom come a lot quicker and probably saved his life. Conversely, another person with a drinking problem who is sincerely struggling to conquer it, may not need withdrawal but may need to be restricted in class teaching or serving in a public capacity. Both are a form of disfellowship, but they vary in degrees.

It’s not, nor should it be, one size fits all. Church discipline can take various forms. Most Christians, and most churches, understand this. My objection is that we don’t do this very often anymore and we don’t do the withdrawal method at all.

The act of withdrawal is a congregational process which takes place in the public assembly of the local church (1 Corinthians 5:4). This bothers a lot of people. How dare you air someone’s “private business” in public!

I beg to differ. There is a reason baptism is done in public. Jesus said “If you are ashamed of Me before men, I will be ashamed of you in Heaven” Our Christian lives start with a public acknowledgment of our faith through the act of profession and faith. Why do we assume that our struggles are thereafter private?

Beyond that, it needs to be understood that fellowship certainly can extend beyond the borders of a local congregation. The notion that a rogue brother may not be chastised beyond the boundaries of the local church without that church’s “autonomy” being violated is foreign to Biblical truth. Paul “judged” the fornicating brother at Corinth from Ephesus, hundreds of miles away (1 Corinthians 5:3; 16:8). How did Paul know about it? Someone from Corinth communicated it to him.

Disfellowship should not be taken lightly and because we don’t like someone in the congregation. The New Testament provides guidelines for who may be restricted and why.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul clearly stated that unrepentant immoral persons (fornicators, drunkards, and extortionists) are worthy of church discipline. Such characters are to be “delivered unto Satan” (5:5), or “put away” (5:13), for their own soul’s sake (5:5), and for the protection of the church (5:6-7). The church of today is woefully remiss in this duty.

Those who “fall away” (Luke 8:13) or who “depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1) were subject to some degree of discipline in the early churches. Formal withdrawal of fellowship may not be appropriate for a  newborn Christian who almost immediately leaves the faith, because that person may not even understand the significance of the act, but for those who have matured somewhat, and then depart, discipline surely should be exercised (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15).

The New Testament instructs us to “turn away from” those who teach divisive doctrines contrary to apostolic truth (Romans 16:17). A heretic, after proper admonition, should be rejected (Titus 3:10).

Hymenaeus and Alexander made “shipwreck of the faith,” and Paul “delivered them unto Satan”, meaning he severed fellowship with them (1 Corinthians 5:5) that they might be taught not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:19-20).

But how do we, who are not Jesus and who are so far from the 1st century Christian experience, to determine which teachings are significantly erroneous to warrant disciplinary action? When brethren hold opposite viewpoints on various points of Bible interpretation, quite obviously someone is in error, but a simple question is —

Does that error pose a threat to the eternal welfare of others.

Why Church Discipline?   Leave a comment

What is the purpose of Christians in a church body withdrawing fellowship from the sinning church member?

Are we just judgemental and mean? Do we think we are better than them? Is it an act of revenge toward those who have fallen from the faith? Doesn’t it show a haughty or malevolent attitude?

No!

Well, if done right, no! NO! NO!

The Scriptures suggest that church discipline serves both a corrective and a protective function.

First, discipline is designed to save the erring child of God. If I seem to return to the church in Corinth a lot it is because we have one of the best examples of church discipline there. Paul demanded that the Corinthian fornicator be disfellowshipped so that he might be motivated to destroy “the flesh.”

What does that mean? Well, it’s pretty clear that Paul didn’t advocate suicide or stoning, because we know from 2 Corinthians that the sinner repented and Paul said to refellowship him. “Destroying the flesh” didn’t involve death, so it’s can reasonably be assumed it mean setting aside (turning from) his ungodly fleshly passion so that “his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). Discipline is designed to “gain” the wayward (Matthew 18:15), to make him “ashamed” (2 Thessalonians 3:14), so that he would seek be restored (Galatians 6:1).

The church at Corinth was reluctant to do this. They apparently were proud of their forgiving attitude and Paul had to be rather harsh with them before they finally did withdraw from the sensuous offender. Their action brought him to repentance, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:6.

Discipline is not merely for the welfare of the rebel. It is also for the protection of the church. When Paul admonished the congregation at Corinth to take care of the problem of the immoral brother, he warned: “Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6). If you’ve ever baked bread, you’re familiar with the concept, but in our modern age, so few people bake bread that I find this medical example easier for them to grasp. the church as a whole is affected by the sin of the individual because the church is like an organic body that can be affected by disease in a single cell.

Sin in the church is as cancer in the body.

Paul dealt with it in other churches as well. In Romans 16:17, he declared that those who cause divisions and occasions of stumbling “by their smooth and fair speech beguile the hearts of the innocent”. Two false teachers in the early church, Hymenaeus and Alexander, had made reflected badly on the faith, so Paul “delivered [them] unto Satan. ” He disfellowshipped them (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 1 Corinthians 5:5) for the welfare of the brethren. False teaching, if allowed to go unchecked within the body of Christ, can eat like a cancer and cause the faith of some to be overthrown (2 Timothy 2:16-18).

Discipline is also important in preserving the integrity of the church before the eyes of the world. Society has enough bias against us without having the legitimate complaint that we harbor evil within our fellowship. We should never give occasion to the adversary for reviling (1 Timothy 5:14). Had the Catholic church disfellowshipped some priests who were sinning, the churches under that denomination might not have been the center of a firestorm. It is imperative that the conduct of the church be such that “the name of God and the doctrine be not blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1), and that the way of truth not be called “evil” (2 Peter 2:2). Note that it wasn’t just Paul who urged church discipline. Peter did as well.

What attitudes or conduct warrants the extreme measure of withdrawing fellowship? The Bible addresses this matter in several ways.

  • A brother who has sinned against another, but who refuses to repent of his transgression, could ultimately be disfellowshipped (Matthew 18:15-17).
  • Those who cause occasions of stumbling and who initiate division are proper subjects for church discipline (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10).
  • Those who are practitioners of such sins as fornication, covetousness, extortion, idolatry, drunkenness, reviling, etc., could certainly be candidates (1 Corinthians 5:9ff).
  • Advocates of soul-threatening doctrines must not be allowed to continue in open fellowship with the church (1 Timothy 1:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:16-18).
  • Those who walk “disorderly” are to be refused association by the faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Wait!

What is disorderly conduct?

There’s historical evidence to suggest that this may be talking about those who simply grow weary of the Christian life and decide to “resign” from the church. When approached about their neglect, and warned of possible discipline, they raise a voice of protest, claiming: “What am I doing that is wrong? I am not committing adultery; I am not a drunkard. The church cannot withdraw from me.” An appropriate response would be: “Are you faithfully serving God? Do you meet with your brethren to sing, pray, observe the Lord’s supper, etc.? What would be the fate of the family of God if every member were at liberty to do as you have done?” Spiritual neglect is disorderly conduct which may require a response of discipline. Whether that would be a thorough going disfellowshipping may be up for debate, but discipline itself should not be.

A person’s disposition is frequently the determining factor for when, or whether, withdrawal of fellowship is appropriate. Wise church leadership would not hastily disfellowship a sincere Christian who, through weakness, had fallen into a sinful situation. If the offender demonstrates humility and a genuine effort to overcome the problem, patience and forebearance would be indicated. On the other hand, a surly, rebellious attitude would require a swifter and more drastic response.

This is where faithful elders come in. I’m not just talking about pastors, but actual elders in the church who have been involved a long time and exercise some form of social supervision. Every church ought to have a body of wisdom such as this. These elders would need to make it known that if a person wants to identify with the congregation over which they exercise supervision, these Christians will be expected to live rightly, assuming a healthy responsibility in the areas of Christian growth and service. Lack of responsibility for one’s own discipline would require some form of church discipline.

This isn’t done very much any more, which is why we Christians need to discuss it and start structuring our churches to move in this direction. First, congregations would need to develop eldership — which does exist in many churches. In every congregation where qualified elders serve, these men and women (yes, I believe women can be elders and mentors within the congregation) would lead the church in the withdrawal of fellowship from the unfaithful. This shouldn’t be done behind closed doors by some privy council, but as an activity of the entire church. I’ve only seen it done once where a formalized procedure was enacted in the public assembly … and, yes, the sinning Christian repented … eventually.

The Elephant in the Churches   3 comments

Matt and Molly had a huge truth to consider. 

Sexual immorality in the church is a symptom of a root issue. Matt and Molly and countless other Christian couples who are having sex without benefit of Christian marriage are suffering from something other than the enjoyment of sex. (And, yes, suffering from something you enjoy is a paradox, but an important one to recognize).

Our society has lost the concept of giving ourselves to a concept greater than ourselves. The churches have been affected by that. We no longer see the incredible adventure of serving Christ with all of our passion as a good thing. We no longer see Biblical rules as existing for our ultimate benefit. We think we’re being denied physical pleasure, which is held up by our society as a primary goal, because God is mean rather than because God wants what is best for us.

The divorced couple, the teenagers on a date, the homosexuals, the partners of two marriages who feel themselves attracted to one another, the adult who finds him or herself attracted to a juvenile — all these people want the enjoyment of intimacy in the way that they define ultimate pleasure and none of them will ever successfully say “No” unless they have a higher reason to claim their allegiance.

Church – HEAR WHAT I AM SAYING!

We sin because we don’t have anything better to do. I’m not just talking about sex. There’s a whole panoply of evil inclinations and behaviors that capture our attention when we’re bored. We will justify anything we can think of simply to keep ourselves occupied. David sinned with Bathsheba because he didn’t have anything better to do at the time (read 2 Samuel 11 before you disagree). We focus on the adultery, but the real issue was his boredom. My husband Brad drinks when he’s bored and he becomes bored when he stops doing what God has called him to do. He’s got time on his hands, so why not fill it? (Because he becomes a jerk when he drinks). The same goes for the churches and the collective individuals who make up the myriad congregations. We have time on our hands; how can God deny us some pleasant distraction from our spiritual boredom?

Because Christians are called to do something greater than the world. Be honest! The world is dying around us. Terrorists are lopping people’s heads off in the Middle East. About 10% of the American population is addicted to alcohol and about 25% are addicted to some other substance. Our kids are committing suicide. We are aborting babies. How many wars in the United States involved in now?

The world needs Jesus and it needs Christians to bring the gospel to hurting people. Instead, we kick back in our comfortable homes and watch the latest cool television show while the world is dying. When we get bored, we scratch that itch, thinking it doesn’t matter because the world says sex outside of marriage (or gluttony, or cheating on one’s business partners, or looking at pornography, or … name that sin) is normal, but on a much deeper level, it matters so completely. What you do impacts your walk with God, your relationship with one another, the standard you set for your children, and — OF GREATEST IMPORTANCE — your testimony to other believers who may be struggling in the same area of sin and the world, which is indeed watching to see if what we believe makes a difference in the way that we live.

If we live like the world, how will the world ever see the life-changing power of Jesus?

Matt and Molly got married some weekend last summer. They spent their honeymoon working with Worldbuilders in Alaska. They were able to afford to do that because they sold Molly’s house and thereby eliminated those “financial considerations”, but more they were able to it because they eliminated the previously unrecognized (but still felt) Holy Spirit’s conviction in their lives by aligning their own interests with God’s will.

The Weeds in the Wheat   1 comment

InMatthew 13:24 – 30 gives the parable of a landowner who has his servant plant a field with wheat. An evil man comes at night and sows tares among the wheat. Tares look like wheat when they are young, but they produce poisonous seed heads. The servant offered to remove them from the field, but the landowner recognized that the crop would be damaged by the weeding effort and told the servant to wait until both were mature and then remove the weeds from the wheat.

I love the parables when rightly interpreted. In this parable, God is the landowner and the field is the church. The wheat represemts true Christians and the tares are hypocrites and apostates within the church. The servant might be church leaders or observers from various denominations who see heresy and apostasy in the pews and feel they must DO something right NOW to purge it from the ranks.

The Southern Baptist Convention tore itself apart for almost 20:years. What were they fighting about? Heck, I’m a Southern Baptist affiliated church member and I’m hard pressed to explain it adequately to any reasonable person. There were some legitimate concerns in the 1980s with moderate theology slipping intointo SBC educational institutes. There were professors, particularly at Southern and Golden Gate semaries who were teaching that the Bible was not trustworthy and others who were passing students who were far-wide of the Bible. Something needed to be done about the false teachers … and it was. And then things went crazy. The problem with dealing with heresy and apostasy in the church is that you can become so focused on side issues that you form a circular firing squad to shoot your allies.

A friend of mine with doctorates in New Testament history and textual criticism was asked in a job interview if he believed the Bible was inerrant. He answered “I believe that the original writers faithfully communicated what God guided them to write and that the large body of New Testament manuscripts show that the modern translations of the Bible are mostly correct. However, there are some questionable sections due to translation drift and some translators, particurly prior to the discovery of eastern manuscripts, translated with a heavy bias toward personal agendas.” That was an honest statement meant to be entirely accurate. He was then asked if he “favored” the King James Version or the New International Version? He answered “neither, because the KJV is a result of a translation by ill trained translators with access to a limited number of manuscripts while the NIV is a product of belief that anything even slightly variant should be removed.” He was not hired by Southwestern SeminarySeminary in the 1990s, the school he graduated from, because of those answers. Ten years later, after working on the New English Translation (NET), he applied again and was hired. Why? Because the hiring committee had come to realize that a translation is a representation of the word of God filtered through handwritten copies and translator’s interpretations. The original manuscript was infallible and inerrant and the better translations today are trustworthy for determining theology and doctrine, but not wholly accurate because of small errors in punctuation and occasional uncertainties about word transmission. What Alan said 20 years ago.

So was that worth nearly 20 years of argument?

The fact is that the Bible is trustworthy and we can know what God has said to us, even if some commas are not in the right place. To argue over that was ridiculous. Now, can we move onto a discussion about something of true theological importance – like how many angels can dance onmthenjead of a pin?

Or how about this ….

Does God exist and can we know Him through the Bible?

Is Jesus Christ God stepped down into human flesh or just themson of God?

Are human beings sinners in need of a savior or are we essentially good people undermined by society?

Is salvation through faith by God’s grace or by our works?

If salvation is by faith, why can’t Christians live as if there is no God?

Now there are some truly me a fun theological questions.

Not to strain the analogy too far, but arguments over the KJV versus the NIV we’re chick-weed while we ignored the tares being down among the wheat. Now we want to dig up the weeds while ignoring that kudzu is overtaking parts of the field. What if we took Jesus’ advice and left the tarès? Stop freaking out over arguments with little bearing on salvation and actually strive to obey God? Stop judging other denominations harshly on side issues and focus on what is truly important – Christ crucified for ourmsins and rsen on the third day for our salvation as amgirft of God, not of ourselves lest we think we’ve earned it by our own efforts.

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

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