Liberty and Christian Cynicism

I applaud my brothers and sisters in Christ who stood firm in Ukraine against oppression and earned with their blood the right to now rebuild their nation.

Cynicism and retreat are popular today among some Christians who have never suffered national tyranny, corruption and malaise, but enjoy the ease of privileged comfort because of past sacrifices by others.

They have not earned the right to criticize those – in Ukraine or elsewhere – whose faith is big enough to redeem cultures, affirm virtue, and establish liberty.

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Repentance

In the New Testament, repentance means to change the way that we think and act. Without the Lord, this would be impossible. However, when we bring, and then surrender, our thoughts, beliefs and actions to the Lord, He replaces them with peace, truth and hope. True repentance brings transformation.

gardenI love to work in my garden. Have you ever dug a large hole in hard clay to plant a bush? I think repentance requires many of the same steps.

When I dig the hole, I expend a tremendous amount of energy. Being willing to openly expose my sins and faults to the Lord also requires much effort.

Sometimes my feet hurt from stomping down on the shovel as I try to break through the hard soil. Likewise, there have been times when my body, soul and spirit ache as I struggle and my heart can feel like heavy, solid clay.

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The Prophets?

German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

Where the world seeks gain, Christians will renounce it; where it exploits, they will let go; where it oppresses, they will stoop down and lift up the oppressed. Where the world denies justice, Christians will practice compassion; where it hides behind lies, they will speak out for those who cannot speak, and testify for the truth.

Do we really want virtue, justice and truth – especially when they challenge the status quo of our settled lives, churches and ministries?

Do we really value virtue, justice and truth – even if they challenge any self-affirming relationships with Jesus and each other?

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)

May God send prophets among us yet again.

~ Jim

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Gentleness

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… Gal 5:22-23 NIV

Webster lists the characteristics of gentleness as being soft, meek, passive, mild, delicate, kind and docile. In Psalm 18:35 David says that the Lord’s “gentleness has made me great.” This seems to be a contradiction. How could the characteristics of gentleness, as defined by Webster, make someone great? Perhaps the Lord’s definition of gentleness implies much more.lion and the lamb 2

I believe that the Lord wants us to be gentle, but His gentleness is not a wishy-washy docility. Gentleness has a hidden core of strength and this core is what makes someone great. Gentleness’ strength runs deep, like the molten lava in a volcanic magma chamber. Tremendous heat transforms hard rock into a flexible, moving force.

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Goodness

god is goodThe fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… Gal 5:22 NIV

When reading fairy tales or watching movies, good usually triumphs over evil by the end of the story. Often in real life, our desire is for the happily ever after fairy tale ending. But even in movies or fairy tales, the hero or heroine has to overcome many obstacles before they achieve goodness.

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Patience

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… Gal 5:22

The King James Bible calls patience long suffering. Somehow to me patience sounds like a virtue to desire, but long suffering… well that sounds tentjpgtoo much like Job!

I think everyone would love to be able to say that they are patient, but probably none of us enjoy the process of long suffering that is required to actually become patient.

I believe the only way to grow in patience is to experience times of trials, disappointments, frustrations and failures. It is during these difficult stretches that the Lord enables the fruit of patience to grow strong.

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Slaying Giants

Slaying Giants

On Christmas eve, Marianne and I spent time with about thirty brothers in the jail. During our time of fellowship, one of the men read the poem below. Here’s the story behind the poem, then the poem….

Earlier in December, I had shared with those men how our journey in the Lord is like Israel’s journey from slavery in Egypt, through the desert, and then into the promise land.

God takes us out of the bondage of Egypt, but then uses the wilderness to burn Egypt out of us.

In the wilderness, God prepares us to take possession of the promise land – that place where we are able to own and responsibly manage the things He has created us to both be and do.

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Postmodern Idolatry

Does God do what is right, or is it right because God does it?

Many think God is subservient or subject to external standards – that He does what is right because there is a higher moral code that even He obeys.

This denies God’s sovereignty, and as a result many today seek to hold Him to the standard of their own sense of right and wrong.

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I Want More Religion (Part 2)

I’ve heard privately from some who were offended with my use of “lazy-assed” in my blog, I Want More Religion (Part 1).

In my own defense, I was going to say “stinkin’ white-washed sepulchres” and use a whip to toss some tables, but I thought I’d tone it down and used “lazy-assed” instead. ;-)

Seriously, if we don’t get out of this post-modern, introspective, insular, Jesus-is-all-about-affirming-my-own-sensibilities funk, then there is no hope of redemption and wholeness – for ourselves, for those He calls us to tangibly love and bless with real deeds, or for our culture.

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Feeling God’s Pleasure

Feeling God’s Pleasure

This scene from Chariots of Fire helped define my life when I saw it as a young man in 1981.

In it, Olympic runner Eric Liddell explained what motivated him: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

What a wonderful way to feel, know and experience the Lord and His purpose.

Most of my life has been guided by the sense of His pleasure as I’ve been the man He created me to be and done the things He created me to do. Even when there’s been adversity, I have felt His pleasure as I serve the King of Kings with whatever gifts He’s given me.

There is no greater joy, no greater fulfillment, no greater purpose.

Peeking Through the Cracks

Peeking Through the Cracks

Being the Church!

“Church” – as a platform for the gifted man and his anointed ministry – is crumbling all around.

As people start peeking outside the walls through the cracked facades, some find liberty.

Many, however, choose to remain trapped in the ruins.

We all have a choice. Liberty and life, or bondage and stagnation.

Seek grace, find courage, embrace joy and venture forth.

You’ll be surprised at how many other brave hearts await you outside the walls.

God’s call is clear: It is time to be the church once again.

Outside the Box

For most Christians, “church” is the big box where they attend a “service” on Sunday mornings.

If they are super-committed Christians, maybe it means attending additional meetings and programs that emanate from the Box during the rest of the week.

Outside the Box!

It took me years to learn to think – and act – outside that box!

Yes, Christ can be found in the box. But He does His best work, I’ve found, apart from and outside the box.

My spiritual heritage was outside the box. I was birthed into the Kingdom of God during the Jesus Movement and was very active in what we’d now call a network of “organic” or “simple” fellowships. But as the decades passed, I allowed myself to be slowly but surely drawn into the box.

Getting back out required a radical paradigm shift as I honestly and painfully let Scripture strip away my man-made traditions and accumulated expectations.

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About Justice

About Justice

Jesus comforted the afflicted, and afflicted the comfortable.

Compassion for the Afflicted or for Evildoers?

When, through your silence or denial, the afflicted pay the price to maintain your comfort zones – in your personal life, your church, your community or your nation – watch out!

Justice, in its most basic terms, is making sure that evildoers – rather than their victims – bear the cost of their evil.

Injustice is when we impose those costs on the victims, often because we are unwilling to be discomforted by admitting to – or dealing with – the evil among us.

Jesus, because He is love, is also about justice.

And so, even today, He comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

Hypocrisy and Courage

Hypocrisy and Courage

Why is it that folks who refuse to bear witness against sexual predators who exploit young women in our churches, thus condoning the abuse, seem to be the most concerned about young people otherwise staying sexually pure?

Condoning Abuse and Predation

If those folks don’t value the sexuality of our young enough to expose and stop leaders who have become sexual thieves, then why should our young also value sexual integrity?

What stark hypocrisy!

I must add, however, how grateful I am for all who did come forward to bear witness against the evil that occurred over the last several years at a large Assembly of God church in the area. Thank you! Your willingness to step forward, even though it was difficult and it took lots of courage, is making a difference. You have shown the world that there yet remains men and women of integrity in our churches.

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Government Run Amuck

Government Run Amuck

S&P downgraded the United States last night.

I hope and pray that this will serve as a wake-up call for the Church to realize that Biblical precepts can’t be mocked if any nation wants to survive. If God’s people don’t begin to understand, articulate and follow those precepts, then there is no hope.

One of those precepts is that God has ordained certain roles and responsibilities for civil government, and Scripture has lots to say about how individuals, families, the Church, the State and voluntary associations are to function.

However, there is not a single verse or example in all of Scripture which lends any credence to the view that God has given civil government the right or responsibility to re-distribute wealth or provide for our individual health or income. See The Growing Idolatry of Civil Government.

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Being the Church

This short video brought tears to my eyes over my longing for authentic church to take root throughout our communities.

Some of us are beginning to find it, but it’s very very rare in an age when church is little more than a set of programs, performances, ministry teams, leadership structure, buildings, budgets and Sunday services centered around the vision and abilities of some gifted man.

As you watch, listen with your heart to what the Lord may want to say to you. All over the world, He is birthing in more and more people a longing to once again be the church. It takes courage and there are birth pangs, but trust me, it’s worth it!

By Kelly and Niki Tshibaka.

Abusive Church Leaders (Part 4) – Civil and Criminal Law

Abusive Church Leaders (Part 4) – Civil and Criminal Law

So you’ve tried to follow the procedure of 1 Tim. 5, as discussed in Part 3 of this series, by investigating and exposing church leaders who abused their positions of power and trust.

But what if you were rebuffed?

Or what if – despite public reprimand, confession and repentance – you reasonably fear that they may continue preying on others or the church is not providing restitution for the harm you’ve been bearing? Scripturally, do you have additional options?

More specifically, is it ever proper to seek help from the courts and secular authorities to deal with pastoral sexual abuse or churches which allowed it to happen? After all, doesn’t 1 Cor. 6 say we should not sue another brother?

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 2) – How Should We React?

How should we react to an unrepentant pastor who’s used his position of trust and power to prey on women – often after turning to him for spiritual counsel and support during vulnerable times in their lives?

All the theory in the world is great. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is this: Those who want to help these women find justice and closure, and protect others, need an unflinching resolve to stand toe to toe against these predators.

Typically, a predatory pastor is not accustomed to being questioned or challenged by anyone. He often will try to deflect accountability either through intimidation or a charm offensive – or both! These men are master manipulators, and it takes a God-given strength of will to stand firm, force answers, stop the abuse, and expose their evil as a warning to others.

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A Warrior’s Heart

I thank God for the young men and women who defend our nation, and who have dedicated themselves to the discipline and skills needed to plan and carry out dangerous missions like yesterday’s assault on Bin Laden deep in the heart of Pakistan.

May we never forget that it is God who creates the warrior’s heart: To protect the innocent and put virtue above self, and to thrill at hard things.

‘Though they often remain nameless and anonymous, may they ever be honored by a grateful nation.


When the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.” Proverbs 11:10

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