With love and and some frustration…
1. The gospel is simple enough for a child to believe. And enough for a criminal in his final moments.
2. The gospel in the mouth of a content unknown preacher is a singularly powerful thing.
3. The great threats to evangelicalism are not the sins of those outside the faith but the swallowing of business principles, the alignment with political ideology, and reducing the faith to a means of materialistic ends.
4. There is no escaping the fact that Jesus seems to have a special place in his heart for the poor and weak and hard words for the rich and powerful.
5. The present peddlers of religious goods and services employ the bait and switch of grace to draw you in and then lay down the law to keep you there.
6. Those who have espoused the doctrines of grace are far too often the least gracious.
7. When Jesus said “repent and believe the gospel” he was describing the whole of Christian spirituality.
8. Evangelicalism is no longer in charge in America. How we respond to this and the resulting hostility will show the watching world if we follow the One who loved those who crucified him.
9. The shallow morality of the moralists is easier than believing the good news of what God has done in Christ to save us from our biggest problem.
10. Our biggest problem is our sin. It is not liberals, conservatives, terrorists, poverty or sickness.
11. A church full of kind people is a powerful outpost of heaven in a dark land.
12. The wealthy, politically liberal believer in the gospel has more in common with the poor redneck conservative, gun-toting believer in the gospel, than with anyone who is a unbeliever. The reverse is true also.
13. During his earthly ministry, the only privileged status Jesus enjoyed could not be seen.
14. If the world around us cannot see our love for enemies and for each other in a way they can understand, we should not be surprised by their lack of unbelief.
15. The cross is the hermeneutical center of the Universe.
16. Jesus was born into a world of far more injustice than we may ever see in our lives. And yet he came. And the government is upon his shoulders.
17. The Scriptures can only be truly understood by the weak and suffering because those are it’s writers and original recipients.
18. We will be the most thankful for prayer when it seems to be only thing we have for a given situation.
19. If you cannot follow the money, you will see something extraordinary.
20. Churches that hire through résumés have more in common with the corporate business world than they do with the church throughout history.
21. The litmus test of believing the gospel is not evangelism and anyone who says otherwise has said more than the Scriptures and might as well put on a funny Pope hat.
22. A sermon is not powerful because it is well-organized but because of the clarity of the gospel within.
23. Following Jesus does not appear to be a life of “never do this.” Sex is permitted, adultery is forbidden. Drink is permitted, drunkenness is not. Jesus told the disciples to get a sword and pursue peace. Lying is clearly wrong unless you are Rahab protecting the spies. We want clean and neat categories. But the Scriptures will not allow it.
24. When wealthy pastors ask their people to think deeply about moving overseas to do missions, the people should all respond with, “You first.”
25. Jesus prayed for those who shamed him in public. This is the difference between Christianity and other belief systems. He would not have us fight for his honor. We honor him when we love those who shame us and deride him and his way.
26. Outside of the Scriptures, there are no “must read books.” To deny this is to deny the Reformation.
27. Jesus was hard on the rich and spoke graciously to the adulterous. We are the exact reverse.
28. When Jesus’ followers asked Jesus what work they should be doing, he told them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom he has sent.” Given 100 opportunities to answer the same question, this is not the answer of American evangelicalism.
29. The availability of the Scriptures is a wonder full of wonders.
30. There is an otherness to Jesus we have rejected. We have recreated him in our image of a starched button-downed type-A business leader, with middle class family values.
31. If “simul iustus et peccator” is true, we should not be surprised to see people acting in complete opposition to what they say they believe as Christians.
32. Criticizing Joel Osteen and other prosperity preachers is like shooting fish in a barrel. Our criticisms would be better spent on jet-setting celebrity pastors on the conference circuit.
33. Only one man has lived the “Victorious Christian Life” and His intercession should make it clear our’s is one with plenty of failure.
34. The gospel is truly good news when it is the only good news you are hearing.
35. All of Paul’s outrage seems to be reserved for the Judaizers. Not Roman politicians. Not soldiers.
36. There is no room in the message of the good news of what God has done in Jesus for preaching on our potential to do something special. It is crowded out by our sin and God’s grace.
37. The church needs to be a place safe from the marketing world.
38. Each passage of Holy Writ, like a bottomless mine, is inexhaustible in wealth.
39. The proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit is a desire to see the fruit of the Spirit grow in us for the good of others.
40. The more you see yourself as a sheep without a shepherd apart from the mercy of the Holy Spirit, the more likely you are to be kind to the discouraged and dying. You know the territory well.
41. The Holy Spirit is a comfort for the spiritually depressed who cannot find the words for prayer beyond a groan of “help.”
42. The flesh hates the freedom we have in Christ.
43. Those who defer to the rich might as well deny the incarnation.
44. The deeper we go into grace, the more we will see how we forgive our own particular sins easier than we forgive the sins of others with which we do not struggle.
45. The cross is a place where every imaginable hurt can be seen. And understood.
46. Fundamentalism sees error everywhere but within.
47. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” and not “Blessed are the happy-clappy.”
48. Most of our unbelief is about tomorrow and where to place our trust so we can rest easy. Far too often the fears of tomorrow are eased by bank accounts.
49. The Scriptures are an unrelenting reminder of our lack and God’s day-in and day-out provision.
50. The most noble goal of the Christian is to be as gracious as our crucified King.
51. The New Testament was written in the context of intense adversity. It will be the most meaningful when our context is adverse.
52. So much of what we look to in hope will end, but the reign of our Redeemer-King will never end.
53. All the pastors who preach against the American Dream, have already achieved it and then talk about its evils using a computer or smart-phone and then go to their three-bedroom house with wi-fi.
54. The prophet Isaiah said Jesus would be “acquainted with sorrows and familiar with grief.” If we are seeking to be like Jesus, we cannot bypass this hard reality.
55. There is a profound freedom that draws us near to God when we realize how much we wish the Scriptures speak differently than they do.
56. According to the Scriptures, the dead giveaway of faith in Christ is love.
57. A church requires only the sacraments and the word preached. The luxuries of Western Civilization have lured us into thinking otherwise.
58. The glory of God is seen most clearly in the grace given in the work of our Lord Jesus to sinners.
59. The homosexual debate has two fronts. The first is to hold fast to the clear teaching of the Scriptures, that homosexuality is not God’s design. The second is to love those who will hate us and accuse us of hate for believing the aforementioned.
60. Ministry leaders who work in church offices need to be slow and careful in telling their congregants, most of whom are in the secular business world, they need to make friends with unbelievers and people of differing races. They already do this, 40 hours a week and beyond.
61. There is a hopelessness that readies men and women for the gospel.
These are tremendous. If this is the wisdom obscurity develops, bring it. 🙂
Care to elaborate/explain #60, though? Not getting that one.
Those of us in the secular business world are in daily relationships/friendships with unbelievers and varying ethnicities. Most pastors aren’t.
Ah – now I get it, and totally agree. Goodness, so much uncomfortable truth in that.
My wife agreed with you on it not being clear, so I cleaned it up.
This was just awesome. Thank you.
Maybe you should get lactose intolerant more often.
After the movie “Good Will Hunting” came out, a pastor friend of mine said it was “unrealistic” because people don’t talk that way in real life. I told him he needed to get out more.
Fantastically thought provoking. I am stunned in the best sort of ways– seeing myself on the wrong side in some of these is awful, yet drives me to Him. Thank you for writing.
Great list, great thoughts. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing these. A lot to chew on here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
“15. The cross is the hermeneutical center of the Universe.”
Love this post but gotta quibble with this one. The cross is meaningless, even hermeneutically, without the resurrection. There were other “saviors” of the Israelites crucified before and after Jesus. Most were zealots, of course. But only one resurrected.
Resurrection means so much: New life. Changed living right now. Overcoming/defeating evil in ourselves. Living out what Jesus taught… here and now. Being kingdom people.
I think I’ll stand by it.
“we should not be surprised by their lack of unbelief.”
at the end of point 14. Didn’t you means to say “we should not be surprised by their lack of belief.” or “we should not be surprised by their unbelief.”
#62: It is doubtful that any Calvinist read past #6. 🙂
Was reading this today…. My generation struggles with #55. Oh, how we struggle.
This is such a rich goldmine of thoughts