The other kind of hypocrisy

This post is being simultaneously published at the website of Leslie Vernick.

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I’ve been urged to watch 13 Reasons Why to see the 13 reasons [why] a friend hates it so much. (Though I’ve read and heard enough about it to understand it, so far I’ve been able to get through only the first episode). The bullying she personally experienced at her Christian school, she said, was pretty much everything that happened in this Netflix series, and more.

One of the most important things she described to me about her school was the dynamic of bullying. Some students there were genuinely nice people, but they lived in such an environment of fear that whenever the main bullies were around, they remained silent or even participated in the bullying if necessary, so they wouldn’t become a target. (You may wonder why no one tried to alert teachers or administrators about this massive problem, but someone did and it wasn’t believed, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog post.)

So while I was pondering the dynamics of a bullying school environment that went stratospherically beyond anything I had experienced in my own high school days of mild bullying, we heard a sermon on Galatians 2.

“Well, what do you know,” says I to myself, “there it is again!”

The story goes that the apostle Peter and the other Jewish Christians were actually welcoming the Gentile Christians and even eating with them (a truly big deal in those days) . . . until the bullies came.

The bullies weren’t swaggering studs or prima donna divas; they were Continue reading

Thoughts for the hopeless from Isaiah 40

I’ve received a few heartfelt responses from readers who read Part One in my Conscience series, about the weak conscience. The responses, though, weren’t so much about the conscience as they were about Mark Driscoll and how his teachings facilitated their abusers’ abuse.

I’m still working on Part Two, which will look at the three ways the Bible describes increasingly disturbed consciences: contaminated, seared, and jettisoned. I’m looking forward to posting that as soon as possible, but for now have another thought, from encouragement the Lord gave me in His Word this past week.

I’ve mentioned before the importance of learning to pray, before reading the Scriptures, to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes and open the understanding to receive what He wants to give. This always makes a difference as I read and meditate.

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Isaiah chapter 40 shows the God of heaven to be truly glorious. From verse 12 to the end of the chapter in verse 31, God is seen high and lifted up. So I rejoiced in that.

But my eyes came back to verses 10 and 11.

Behold, the Lord God (Adonai Jehovah) comes with power, and His arm rules for Him. 

That sounds intimidating, and appropriately so, because we’re talking about the God of heaven and Lord over the whole earth, glorious and mighty.

Behold! His reward is with Him, and His recompense is before Him.

That’s interesting. So what is His reward and His recompense?  What reward and recompense will be great enough for a God that holds the waters of the earth in the hollow of His hand and measures the dust of the earth in His scales, who counts the nations as a drop in a bucket and brings the princes of the earth to nothing (as the rest of the chapter describes)? What reward could this infinitely glorious God be referring to?

How arresting it is, then, to see this next verse, verse 11, seeming almost out of place, Continue reading

“Conscience” in the Bible: insight into abusers and their targets

Scout’s honor, I didn’t start out to make this a blog post about Mark Driscoll. I was thinking about how those with hardened/polluted/jettisoned/seared consciences take advantage of those with sensitive/weak consciences, and I wanted to study conscience in the Bible to understand it all better, and then post about what I had learned.

So I did the Bible study, learned a lot, and then wanted to see what other people were saying about the conscience. In the middle of all that, another former member of Mars Hill Church (which had imploded after the many scandals of the Driscoll debacle) decided to speak publicly about the spiritual abuse she and others endured, and in that interview she mentioned something significant about the conscience (which I’ll get to later).

Mark Driscoll Uncle Sam wants you

Mark Driscoll admonishing his listeners.

That led me down a very intriguing trail, which I have to say, made a study of the conscience a whole lot more compelling. Continue reading

Four ways teaching Christians to embrace “I’m the worst sinner I know” is harming the church

SermonTitleSome background of the teaching

When CJ Mahaney began proclaiming “I’m the worst sinner I know” somewhere around the late 1990s, it certainly wasn’t the first time this teaching had been promoted. But from what I could find, this was when it began to go mainstream.

Mahaney himself claimed it regularly, often even as a way of introducing himself when he would stand up to speak. “I’m CJ Mahaney, and I’m the worst sinner I know.”

But it isn’t only Mahaney who is supposed to be the worst sinner he knows. Each one of us Continue reading

Power over Porn

Not long ago I had the privilege of having a deep conversation with a young man who was attending an excellent local Bible school.

What made this conversation unusual was that this young man began telling me about an addiction to pornography that had gripped him since he was nine. He was one of the oldest children in a large family, so hiding his addiction had been no small feat, but he managed it. Continue reading

What does it mean to “serve the church”?

serveIn a small group my husband and I were visiting, the topic of “serving the church” came up. Tim and I both began thinking about the people the Lord had brought into our lives, listening to their stories, talking to them about the goodness of God, helping them with day-to-day needs, and reaching out to them in the down and dirty places of life.

But discussion in the group took a different direction.  They began talking about Continue reading

Don’t trust your feelings?

In Ephesians 3, Paul prayed that the people he was writing to would know the love of Christ

. . . that surpasses knowledge.

What kind of sense does that make?

The sense comes when you recognize that those two uses of the English word know come from two different Greek words.

The second is the knowing of intellect, like book learning. Paul is saying here that the love of Christ is beyond intellectual grasping.

The first one is the knowing of the senses, the perception, the experience—dare I say it? Continue reading

“You give them something to eat”

Last week I told about how this past January God used Revelation 2 to show me a danger in my heart (very kindly, of course, using the sandwich method of words of commendation both before and after).

There were some other words at the end of that passage, which I had written in my journal, but which I didn’t really think about at the time. When I finally noticed them, they jumped off the page, but that wasn’t until April. . . .

Have you ever noticed in Luke 9 when Jesus’ disciples were all worried about what in the world the crowd of 5000-plus people were going to eat, have you ever paid attention to the odd thing Jesus said to them?

“You give them something to eat.” Continue reading