Scanning my social media feeds today I made note of several encouraging and helpful posts that help advance a Christian biblical worldview. These four items prove that God can and does work in all things for the good of those who love Him, having been called according to His purpose.
A social media friend shared her experience of visiting Freedom Inn and seeing the refugees and volunteers at the reconverted motel that brought refugee families together in a way that resembles the Burmese villages that are familiar to the people. As a result, they are able to flourish as an extended family, cooking for one another, watching each others’ kids, and living life together. Volunteers described through tears how their lives were richer with the love they experienced from the refugees, and how much better this arrangement is than what is offered by the inner-city social workers provided by the government.
The very next post I saw provided a link to a page that reminded everyone, “The voice of God will never contradict the Word of God.”
Today I also stumbled upon this old post, titled “A few thoughts on the meaning and practice of Lent”.
Duke Kwon shared that in the early centuries of the Church, Lent was a time of preparation for Resurrection Sunday. It was observed as a season of repentance, nourished with the practice of fasting, and designed to increased one’s spiritual hunger for the Cross and Resurrection. This description of Lent is quite different from the way it is commonly practiced today. He then broke things down further:
(1) Lent is season of repentance—not self-denial or austerity per se. Lent is a season of pondering the reason for which Christ died, which is our sin. Put another way: The goal of Lent is not to give up chocolate; the goal of Lent is to give up sin.
(2) This how the spiritual discipline of fasting “works”: the hunger of our body serves as a visceral analogy for the soul’s hunger for Christ, who is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). In principle, then, a fast is the temporary refusal of that which is good—even necessary for life—in exchange for that which is ultimate. The power of saying “no” to food for a time is that you’ll die without it. Do you believe you’ll die spiritually without Jesus? This is what fasting is intended to communicate to our souls. So, abstaining from chocolate isn’t really a spiritual “fast”—it’s a diet. Denying yourself social media isn’t in principle a “fast”—it’s called a good idea. Even breaking a habit of sin isn’t a “fast”—it’s called obedience. Something vital is lost when our “fasting” morphs into abstinence from “bad” things (whether real or imagined) or drifts from the denial of things needed for survival. The oldest Lenten traditions involved fasting from food.
(3) The ultimate goal of Lent isn’t to give up sin; it’s to gain Christ and give praise to Christ. The empty-tomb-centeredness of Lent is critical. Lent is for repentance? Well, we cannot repent truly (or sustainably) apart from the hope of the Resurrection. It’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, after all (Rom. 2:4). The point of the Lenten fast is to increase one’s spiritual hunger for the Cross and Resurrection. When you observe Lent, will you be thinking more about what you “gave up” or what Jesus gave up for you? Disconnected from Resurrection Sunday—which is to say, disconnected from Jesus—Lent simply devolves into a religious season of late-winter New Year’s resolutions—which is what it’s become in American pop-spirituality (and, too often, in the Church). It has the appearance of wisdom in promoting asceticism and “severity to the body” but has little or no lasting spiritual value (Col. 2:23). However, it can have great value—perhaps, if practiced as a season of repentance nourished with the practice of fasting with the goal of increasing one’s spiritual hunger for the Cross and Resurrection.
What’s better than God’s Word? Here’s a short but sweet (and powerful) post from a longtime friend:
The Bible says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Here’s a bonus item for today. A friend posted some concerns about Joel Osteen – particularly related to how much money he has. I chimed in with this thought in the comments section:
“In fairness to Joel, he does not take a salary from Lakewood Church. He’s made his millions mostly through being a best-selling author. However, he is said to live in an 11 million dollar mansion, which raises lots of eyebrows. As a Christian myself, I’m more concerned with the message he preaches. It falls more into the category of “prosperity gospel” or the “word of faith movement”. When I’ve heard him speak he’s always seemed a little fuzzy about the true gospel. He’s a very gifted speaker and talented encourager. So, he definitely has that going for himself. But he preaches what the Apostle Paul would call “another Gospel”, so he’s a heretic who needs to repent.
The blog above was first published on the original version of this website. Since then the site has been completely reformatted and upgraded. With this change, the blogs needed to be re-uploaded to correct corruptions that occurred with the transition in 2023. While doing this, some additional information is added at the conclusion of many of the older blogs in a “postscript” section that might not have appeared in the first draft that was published on the first website. Think of this as “bonus material” if it’s brand new content.
Two Observational Tidbits
“Woman Who Destroyed Durham Confederate Statue Is a Pro-North Korea Marxist”. But of course she is.
Words matter. The King James Version of the Bible only uses the word “slave” twice; “slavery” zero times!
Remember that when you read nineteenth century (KJV reading) Americans who claimed “the Bible doesn’t condemn slavery.” The word literally wasn’t in their Good Book.
Of course, the concept of chattel slavery and man stealing is condemned clearly in the Bible, and more modern translations have used the word (instead of “servant” et al) at many key junctures to make that clear. Here’s a rough count via online searches of the number of times the word “slave” appears in various Bible translations:
How All of America Seems to Be Telling Stories Lately
A person I know posted this question on social media: “Why does everybody assume God is a he?”
Predictably a debate ensued. So, he commented under his own post: “Lol. Thanks. Nobody asked for a debate though. Lol.”
To this insanity I addressed him: “You crack me up sometimes, my friend. You asked for a debate when you posted the question. If not, what sort of responses were you anticipating? Silly man.”
As the online debate continued to rage, I finally saw wisdom in wading in:
I was going to stand clear of this dialog because I don’t personally know everyone who is posting. However, there are a number of thoughts I believe could be helpful. I will not attempt to touch upon each and every stray thread, but instead limit myself to the larger themes people have brought up.
From a biblical point of view God is spirit. (John 4:24) So, God has no corporeal body and therefore no biological sex (nor ethnicity, skin color, etc.).
Comparing God to figures such as the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny is the mixing of categories. No deeply philosophical questions are answered by the existence or non-existence of the Tooth Fairy. And people are able to trace the historical origins of the Easter Bunny. With God it is different. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Does anything really matter? How did the universe come to exist? Is there such a thing as good, as evil, as love, as justice… and how can we be sure? These are all questions that have relevance in a discussion about God, but no relevance at all in a discussion about the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny.
Even if one rejects the Bible as authoritative, that still leaves open the question of what’s real and what’s not. What’s moral and what’s not? What’s true and what’s not? Those following the Bible can say, “I believe what I do because of what has been faithfully recorded in, and carefully persevered in, the books of the Christian canon; and this helps inform my imagination, experience, and training.” Those not following the Bible, by necessity, must say that they trust some other source as authoritative, and that this other source helps inform their imagination, experience, and training. So, for one trusting the Bible it is fair to ask, “Why do you trust it?” And for one trusting in something other than the Bible, it is fair to ask, “Why do you trust that?” Logically speaking, each of us is in the same ocean using a different boat. Why do you trust the boat you’re in?
Constantine did make Christianity a legal (and even a preferred) religion in the Roman Empire. However, by the time of Constantine Christianity had already been an established religion for more years than the United States has been a country. And the biblical “faith tradition” was already many thousands of years old. (Additionally, it might be important to note that there is an argument to be made that Constantine’s effect on the Christian church was more negative than positive. So, saying there’s no Christianity without Constantine is a claim that does not withstand scrutiny.)
The Bible teaches that both the man and the woman are created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:27) While there are some feminine allusions to God in the Bible, the masculine pronouns are prominent. Part of the reason for this is that the masculine forms of words help readers to better understand concepts rooted in the Ancient Near East (such as inheritance, rights of the first born, adoption, headship, etc.). Properly understanding these things in their original context helps the present day reader to better understand how they apply in today’s context.
There’s more that can be written, of course. Let me simply add that (for the most part) the comments under this post have been respectful and tolerant. It’s a pleasure to see that this is still possible on social media.
Many blessings to you,
Pastor Troy Skinner