For the Ones Who Have a Hard Time Fitting In

This one’s for all my younger friends out there (Middle school and High school, specifically). I won’t endorse the advice about parents at the end of the article, but the rest of it is perfect. If you’re having a hard time and don’t do the social thing well, this is for you.

If you DO do the social thing well and you think it’s ok to knock down people like this, there’s a good word in it for you, too.

It’s ok to be weird. In fact, it’s probably better…

The “Christian” sub-genre within music and movies needs to end

For as much music and art I enjoy from the "Christian" genre, and as much as I am (what I HOPE to be a good example of) an "evangelical" Christian, our tribe tends to be a little self-absorbed and weird. Speaking from an ancient tradition of "critique from within" (thanks NT Wright for turning me on to that idea), I’ve made no excuses for our foibles or for my own failings in an attempt to be honest and improve as a human being.

Whatever you think of the commercial genre, there are plenty of artists of the Christian faith who attempt to practice their vocation with integrity, and I salute them and support them, just as I salute and support great art when I see it.

But in the spirit of critique from within, I’m saddened and disappointed that Steve Taylor (a respected and long-time musician and artist within the Christian scene) had to write the following post. It sickens me that people who would call themselves his Christian brothers and sisters would act in such a disingenuous way.

If you have ever wondered why I tend to be so snarky about "Christian" music and movies, this is exhibit A.


From Tim Chester’s A Meal With Jesus:

“If your church stopped celebrating communion, what difference would it make to your life?” (p.102)

What a telling question. Communion should be at the center of our worship time, and it should make bold statements about the inclusion of people in the family of God. Should we not gather and celebrate in such a way that this is the central and most holy act we do together before we go into the world to be the hands and feet of Christ?

Laugh. It’s funny.

Are we seeing pride going before destruction?

I think I’m done ripping on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill. My heart was sick today after reading this account (part 1 and part 2) of that church’s idea of “discipline.”

Instead, they need prayer, and a lot of it. The article puts it from the perspective of the one who left, but if that kind of abuse is true, they’re headed for a fall, and it could be a big one. One might wish to write this off as gossip or the ranting of an unrepentant person, but there are others who have similar stories.

The behavior described has more in common with cults that maintain strict control over their captives than the kind of mutually loving community that is supposed to identify Christ’s people in the world.

There are far too many who have left churches and turned their backs on Jesus because of the abuses they’ve suffered at the hands of legalistic abusers. I really do hope and pray this is an exaggeration, or that the abuse will stop. I seriously doubt this is what the Young, Restless, and Reformed want to be. (I hope it’s not what they want to be.)

Martin Luther King

Here is a link to the famous Letter from Birmingham Jail. Go read it.

I cannot think of anyone alive today in the public sphere who could write or speak with such moral, logical, and rhetorical force. I’d love to be corrected on that front, but I’m at a loss.

How did English get to be the “common” tongue?

Learning other languages is easy compared to this:

Gnostic bad. Orthodox good.

A little too much Greek philosophy may be the cause for evangelical Christians embracing Gnostic ideas. To my non-Christian friends, I’ll probably get back to music, tech, and martial arts posting soon enough. I’m still on break between seminary classes, and I’m getting caught up on a bunch of reading.

The author has a follow-up at:

Some unnecessary overthinking on “cussin’”

When studying languages, you eventually come to this issue:

I’m no prude about cussing. I’ve been known to drop an expletive on occasion. I’ve worked enough blue-collar jobs with salty people that if I wished, I could weave a string of obscenities strong enough to shock and offend the hardiest soul. But here’s the thing: If you can’t communicate without that, you’re lacking in imagination. Go read a book or something and learn how to use words. Being loud and vulgar doesn’t make you right or intelligent. When you can speak without profanity, it makes a far greater impact if and when you choose to use it.

I may have some friends in churches who are surprised and offended by this. Don’t be. A case can be made for the acceptability of using strong words when warranted. See this exercise in overthinking an issue for more information:

Regarding the article, in the section "To Cuss Or Not To Cuss?", the author may be committing a linguistic mistake. Yes, the Greek word for shameful speech has its root in two other words, but to say that there’s a 1-1 correspondence between the new word and its parts is false. The word has its own meaning that carries with it the meaning of its parts, but it could also mean more. How’s that for pedantic?

Why am I wasting time thinking about this? Simple: I’m training for pastoral ministry, and right or wrong, we get put on pedestals on which we don’t belong. One must have "crap" like this thought out ahead of time.

A Pastor Is Not A Counselor

An inner resolve began forming within me: I was not going to wait to be asked anymore. In the secularizing times in which I am living, God is not taken seriously. God is peripheral. God is nice (or maybe not so nice) but not at the center. When people want help with their parents or children or emotions, they do not ordinarily see themselves as wanting help with God. But if I am going to stay true to  my vocation as a pastor, I can’t let the “market” determine what I do. I will find ways to pray with and for people and teach them to pray, usually quietly and often subversively when they don’t know I am doing it. But I’m not going to wait to be asked. I am a pastor.

– Eugene Peterson, The Pastor, p.142

Peterson recalls how a local psychiatrist called together the pastors in his county to spend Tuesdays learning about counseling and diagnosing a host of mental and emotional issues. The point was not to train the pastors as professional counselors, but to assist them in identifying issues that could be referred to mental health professionals in times of need.

What he discovered was that the temptation grew to view the people of his congregation as problems to be solved, rather than souls for whom Christ died. Not that it was bad to help people in need, of course – far from it – but he had to remember that his primary vocation and calling was as a pastor, a shepherd of souls. Rather then focus his efforts on mental health counseling, as appealing as the idea was and is, he had to stay true to his calling to guide people of the Resurrected Christ toward life as God’s people.

This kind of life has far more to do with spiritual discipline and living, with prayer and holy living, than it does with the diagnosis and cure of mental and emotional issues. I do not take lightly what lessons I learned in my pastoral counseling course. Nor do I take lightly that pastors are often the first point of contact and first line of defense for people who need help. That said, this chapter provides needed focus to understand that I am primarily a pastor, not a mental health professional. My role is to be present, to listen, to pray, and to teach people to live in dependence upon God as disciples of Jesus. The times will come when people seek counsel, but I must take care to discern what my role will be. Of course I will help when I can do so with compassion and competence, but it is a good reminder that a pastor should be a pastor, a doctor should be a doctor, a counselor should be a counselor, etc.

Know your calling and vocation, and live it. Do not attempt to live the calling and vocation of another.

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