29 responses

  1. Mr. Poet
    April 3, 2012

    Rodney Howard-Browne said some Christians are “baptized in lemon juice.” Although I did not buy a lotto ticket, I fantasized and joked about what I would do with half a billion dollars. I would hire someone to spend my money for me, for example, and I would have his or her paycheck printed on pressed gold leaf.

    I like to say, “Love your enemies. But don’t forget that they’re your enemies. They’re not your friends.” I have to remind myself of this when I start getting too chummy with, say, my unbelieving coworkers. You can apply this to your life without becoming a killjoy. My mother loves to watch Dr. Oz. But Dr. Oz, as far as I know, is not a believer. My mother is. So I have to remind her (and myself) from time to time to take what he says with a grain of salt, and don’t be shocked when he has shows on New Age meditation and transgenderism.

    The ludicrousness of the “shock” came when I was flipping channels and saw “Wishbone” on PBS. I had seen Wishbone portray Hercules. I thought it was cute when he held up the globe with his little dog nose while Atlas went to do whatever Atlas did. But when I saw Wishbone ascend into the heavens to speak with Buddha, I was offended. Why? Isn’t Greek myth just as offensive as Buddhism to God? But I had been inoculated to Greek myth, having been raised in Western education.

    I also wear XXL Christian T-shirts. I have gathered from various X-tian sources that it would be commendable if I get a tattoo to display faith, but I should ditch Christian T-shirts. But then other sources say it is commendable if I “wear my faith”, but not if I get a tattoo. I figure, of course, it would be best if I would live my faith. T-shirts and tats and “tinkling cymbals” (1 Cor. 13) are not necessary.

    • Dan Edelen
      April 3, 2012

      Poet,

      We could go a long way by just shutting our mouths before we feel compelled to comment on someone else’s wrongs. Chances are, we are guilty of the same offense. Log and speck anyone?

      And you’re also right in that I don’t understand these compulsions to perform some culturally-approved act to verify my faithfulness. I’m sorry, but all that stuff is filthy rags.

      Folks, can we get a moratorium on telling other people what to do or to think until that point in time when we’re doing and thinking the right things ourselves? Because chances are we’re going to need a LOT of time to get our own houses in order first.

  2. Arthur Sido
    April 3, 2012

    One would have to imagine that if that same dollar went into the offering plate at Bethlehem Baptist to pay for the amenities that make church-goers comfy on Sunday instead of the counter of a convenience store for a lottery ticket, John would see it as a sweet aroma wafting up to the Lord.

    • Dan Edelen
      April 3, 2012

      Arthur,

      For once, I’d like some of these people with big media connections to step back and say, “You know, I and the ministry I’ve built around me do some pretty stupid stuff in the name of Jesus. And so do you people who follow me. Right now, let’s lament our stupidity and hypocrisy and vow to do something about it. Then we can conclude by laughing at ourselves.” Boy, I think that would go a long way to healing everything that is wrong with Evangelicalism. Seriously, the excesses are driving me to not want to associate with Evangelicals anymore.

      • Arthur Sido
        April 3, 2012

        Evangelicalism is irreparably harmed. Perhaps it was always this way. In a movement marked by pride, power, money and self-preservation it is hard to catch sight of the Kingdom. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the church should be called out of evangelicalism, letting it die out and getting it out of the way.

  3. slw
    April 3, 2012

    What ho? Dire Dan going soft on us! ;-)

    How do we find the narrow way between precipitous cliffs? On one side well meaning (hopefully) legalism–graceless, joyless, powerless. On the other side liberalism–effortless, painless, powerless. The older I get the more I like Keith Green’s sentiment (although I hated it when I was younger): “keep doing your best, and pray that it’s blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest.”

    • Nate
      April 3, 2012

      Mr. Poet, what does “too chummy” mean? I really don’t think you need to worry about things like that. Don’t sin, for sure. But get as chummy as you want to. The thrust of Dan’s post applies to friendship as well. Go for it with people you hit it off with! Are we really supposed to walk around worrying about how close is too close with unbelievers? Sounds like a hangover from Christian isolationism right there. I get your point with Dr. Oz though, that’s well-applied.

      • Nate
        April 3, 2012

        oops, sorry this was meant for Mr. Poet’s comment above.

      • Dan Edelen
        April 4, 2012

        Nate,

        Obviously, no one should be indiscriminate with the friends one chooses. As noted in Hebrews, bad company DOES ruin good morals (though I will make an argument that it is the smug “Christian” who is often the more insidious, damaging companion, possibly more so than the biker gang member). On the other hand, Christians can’t afford to keep unbelievers at arms’ length, and more of us need to hang with pagans in their native environments. We don’t have to take our spiritual pulse every second when we do enter their realms, but we can’t be stupid either about what we do once in them.

      • Nate
        April 4, 2012

        I would agree, I suppose, when it comes to that point. I mean, I certainly have had to re-evaluate things when people start trying to rope me into insidious things. Like you say though, I’d hate to make a habit of evaluating how close I should be every few minutes, simply because they’re not believers, or have some evident flaws. as a general rule, anyway

    • Dan Edelen
      April 4, 2012

      slw,

      Humility goes a long way in this. I am dust, and so are you. Our slightness is one reason we can’t take ourselves too seriously.

      Humility also has a way of diminishing the importance of every tiny thing that happens to us. As the saying goes, Don’t sweat the small stuff. And most of it is small stuff.

      When it’s NOT small stuff, have faith in God. Just how big is He? Does He redeem or not? Is He capable or not? Is His word sure or not? Needless to say, the answers are not the nots. ;-)

      Simplify. That’s the best answer of all. We’ve constructed overly complex religious cages that we lock ourselves inside of. But Jesus didn’t come so we could live in a gilded cage. The cultural and traditional trappings of Evangelicalism are turning into a prison. We’ve got to jettison that stuff.

  4. David
    April 3, 2012

    I bought a ticket. A ticket. I figured that, as God is the Lord of the lot(tery), then one was enough. If God chose to curse me with riches, then that was my lot. So to speak. He apparently loves me, however, and so my money was spent in vain. Hardly the first time I have spent money in vain, and won’t, I’m sure, be the last. Was it a sin? Who cares? Every breath I take is done in sin. We need to stop worrying about sinning and just start living. I am saved through grace, not through lack of sinning. The question is, do I live for Christ, or against everything else? Like our politicians, it is easy to define ourselves by what we are against. It’s not so easy to define ourselves by what we are for. Especially when what we should be for is our abject devotion to God.

    • Dan Edelen
      April 4, 2012

      Well said, David.

  5. Diane R
    April 3, 2012

    I think Piper was probably considering the lottery in the same category as gambling and perhaps he was referring to people who spend much of their money on such things when they really cannot afford it. Since I only read an excerpt of what he said in another place, I don’t know what his larger context was. If, on the other hand, he said people shouldn’t buy lottery tickets without any good explanation or referent, he then ventured into legalism.

    • Dan Edelen
      April 4, 2012

      Diane,

      Speculation is speculation, whether it’s gambling, the lottery, or investing in the stock market. We sanctify one form and rail against another. Ask me sometime how much money I’ve lost on the approved, sanctified forms of speculation. :-\

      We can rail about poor people dropping cash on the hope of a jackpot via a lottery ticket, or we can ask how the church is failing to reach the poor. The former is far easier and asks nothing of us but to yell a lot and make righteous-looking faces.

  6. Oengus
    April 3, 2012

    Cross reference with the Bloke Katzbalger Thesis, written back in 2009. Things haven’t changed much since that time.

    • Dan Edelen
      April 4, 2012

      I reread it, Oengus.

      • Oengus
        April 6, 2012

        I guess my point is that the crankiness has always been there, but with the coming of Internet infodemics, it has been amplified to a higher decibel level.

  7. Nate
    April 3, 2012

    I have long thought that the Christian pre-occupation with evaluating whether or not they can do something is really just a bunch of sin-management/avoidance. It’s assumed by many that this is the primary way to holiness, and that purity is basically a matter of refraining from sin. But there’s really no basis for this as a sweeping paradigm for the faith. The Gospel generates not avoidance and attack, but primarily love & enjoyment & fascination in believers- for Jesus, life, and all that is in Creation. Which then, indeed, drives us away from evil. But the urge to “separate” from the world (cause we might stumble!) is not Christian, it’s gnostic and therefore heretical.

    To answer your question, where is the grace in any of this, I find the answer is too often something like “down the street in the weird neo-pagan collective where people aren’t afraid of offending soccer-mom Christianity, and therefore have liberated imaginations and are producing truly great works of art.”

    To fear sin is sin itself, I’m afraid.

    • Dan Edelen
      April 4, 2012

      Dead on accurate, Nate. I wouldn’t say there is no sin avoidance to consider, but we give it WAAAAY too much credence. Some sects within Christianity verge on idolizing sin by virtue of the amount of time spent talking about it, especially when that time crowds out every other aspect of what it means to follow Jesus.

  8. Keith Brenton
    April 5, 2012

    I can’t lighten up, Dan.

    The eternal fate of the entire world rests upon my ineffable wisdom in judging others and condemning their wrongs and professing my inarguable rightness.

    How dare you use a phrase like “screwing up” without reference to a vertical screwdriver in the context?

    How can you justify attacking those wonderful movies made just for us’ns and them what believes all the right stuff like us’ns?

    And the very thought of bringing the best wine to the party! Why, it’s reprehensible! It’s unscriptural! It’s … it’s … unCHRISTIAN!

    • Dan Edelen
      April 5, 2012

      Keith,

      I’m a bad man.

      ;-)

  9. Josh B.
    April 8, 2012

    I struggle with our stewardship of money. On the one hand, we should get legalistic about it, but on the other we shouldn’t be antinomian about it either! Money I spend on ice cream could be better spent, so why isn’t it?

    • Oengus
      April 8, 2012

      “I spend on ice cream could be better spent”

      Go buy an ice cream. Enjoy it. Thank God for it.

      • Josh B.
        April 9, 2012

        That’s certainly one perspective. But the question is, what right do I have to ice cream when there are some people that don’t have any physical nourishment at all? Shouldn’t my money help them instead of simply fattening me?

      • Mr. Poet
        April 9, 2012

        This is the kind of issue where you really need not to condemn yourself. Most books about American Christians giving money to the poor, here or abroad, use as a whipping boy the “daily coffee” purchased at the local coffee shop. Americans tend to spend billions on it a year.

        Okay, so what if we did divert billions from the coffee industry into domestic and foreign aid? I’ll tell you what: thousands and thousands and thousands of people, from the local coffee shop to the coffee packagers to the coffee growers, would lose their jobs.

      • Oengus
        April 9, 2012

        The Scrupulous Josh B: “Shouldn’t my money help them instead of simply fattening me?”

        Hey, if you want, give to a charity. There are hundreds of worthy ones to give to. Nobody is stopping you. God loves a cheerful giver, as the scriptures says.

        And every so often, you also can buy a pound or so of some “fair trade” coffee as well. Lots of hard working 3rd World coffee farmers will benefit. Get a mocha too. The cocoa growers can use the commerce.

      • Sulan
        April 11, 2012

        I don’t care for ice cream, but I do all I can to help the coffee farmers and the cocoa growers also. I even entice friends to join me in this endeavor.

        As and we enjoy the fruits of the labor of others, we talk about God, how He is moving in our lives.

      • Josh B.
        April 12, 2012

        I think my point may have been missed.

        Why should I spend any money increasing my pleasure and entertainment when there are people who cannot afford to even survive? Indeed, as I spend money on my pleasure, it might lead to their detrimental conditions (e.g., buying toys that are ultimately manufactured in sweat shops). However, using the sweat shop example, if those are closed down, the workers are inevitably forced into even more demeaning working conditions, sometimes scavanging for garbage.

        Sin has certainly corrupted societies just as thoroughly as individuals, but if we going to take a stand against sin, how can we take a stand against the American appetite for pleasure and entertainment without checking ourselves as well?

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