Judging

In your Christian practice, do you find yourself drawn more toward law-based living or more to grace-based living?

Students in a class I teach deal with that discussion question.  I always look forward to their answers.  Nearly all of these students are pretty seasoned in their faith, so the overwhelmingly most popular answer is grace-based living.  After all, that’s the “correct” one, right?

Nobody ever gets misty-eyed in church singing, “Amazing Law, how sweet the sound…

There are, of course, some brave souls who cop to law-based living.  Some do it as an aw-shucks-pray-for-me kind of confession.  Some try to reframe the question.  “I prefer to think of it as obedience,” one student said recently.  I like that.

Others crawfish a little more and ask questions like, “Now what do you mean by that?”

See, nobody wants to admit they’re a legalist.  [click to continue…]

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Six Signs of a Spiritual Attack

“Well, how did it go?” Robin wanted to know.

“I just want to be teachable,” I said in a hollow, measured voice.

“What did he say?” she asked – getting ready to rise up in my defense.

What did he say, indeed?  The scene happened during my first pastorate.  Our church had grown quickly and had experienced changes, which is never an easy thing.  Now we were trying to establish our annual budget and define our biggest priorities.  And a man I’ll call Joe wanted to know if he could meet with me.

When we got together, the first words out of Joe’s mouth were, “It is obvious that you aren’t here to help our church grow, but to make a name for yourself.”

Ouch.

I listened mostly (although I did tell him I didn’t appreciate him judging my motives).  I listened as he talked about church’s former days.  I listened as he talked about troublesome people.  I listened as he offered his version of a solution to our problems.  I listened (and stared, frankly) as he “led” us in prayer – weeping all the while.

And I went home, still listening.

I Hate Criticism.

For years I hollered to whoever would listen that “there’s no such thing as constructive criticism.”

I was wrong. [click to continue…]

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