Christians Behaving Badly

Christians Behaving Badly

When someone complains about Christians behaving badly a common response is to admonish them to look to Jesus rather than to human beings. That’s good advice, but it doesn’t go far enough. Often you and I are the only Jesus others will see. So what do we do about Christians behaving badly?

You could probably list your own examples, but here are some situations I know personally:

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Why You Should Throw Away Your Christian Checklist

Why You Should Throw Away Your Christian Checklist

It’s well past time for you to throw away your Christian checklist. But first, quickly, what are the things you DO as a Christian?

If you’ve spent any time in church at all, you probably immediately list prayer, Bible study, and attending church services. And if you’re a relatively new believer you may find those activities incredibly meaningful and even exciting. If you’re really into spiritual disciplines you may also think of fasting, praying in the Spirit, giving, sharing your faith with others, and perhaps more.

But too often our spiritual lives can become all about doing certain things. As long as you pray, read your Bible, and go to church you somehow check off a list in your head and feel you’re at least a reasonably OK Christian. Don’t do those things and you have to start expending emotional energy to quiet the little imps of guilt building up in your soul.

But have you ever known someone to become a believer because they just couldn’t wait to do those certain behaviors? “I’ve just got to become a Christian so I can spend 30 minutes a day reading my Bible and sit in church an hour every Sunday.” Not a chance! Any time our spiritual life becomes about a list of behaviors it quickly becomes dry, empty, and potentially destructive.

And yet there are things Christians do. Our behaviors do make a difference.

So how are we to think about our Christian behaviors without letting them become dry, empty, or worse? Why do we do the things we do? What’s the point?

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Married On Purpose: Intentional Relationship Investments

Married On Purpose: Intentional Relationship Investments

Too many people slide into marriage without much intentionality. It’s just something you do – “if we feel like it.” But for something as important as marriage, something that will affect your health, wellbeing and happiness for the rest of your life and the wellbeing of many others, “sliding” isn’t a good plan. The only way to succeed is to be Married on Purpose.

Marriage is perhaps the riskiest endeavor humankind currently engages in. Is there any other agreement you would enter into when the general failure rate is around 50%? Two attached sinners are certain to destroy each other if left alone. And even if your marriage lasts you are guaranteed a super-sized dose of frustration, disappointment, and deep internal pain.

Is it any wonder young people are frequently delaying marriage, opting for other living arrangements, trying the hook-up culture, and/or declining to get involved in serious dating relationships? That’s certainly not the case for all. But for the first time there are more single adults in our country than married adults.

Of course most people who get married believe they’re the exception. MY husband won’t get too busy with work to have time to make me feel special, or leave dirty sox and dishes lying around. MY wife will always look beautiful, and always cheer me on in whatever I’m pursuing. OUR relationship will never deteriorate into apathy, conflict, or miserable détente.

If you’re right, if your marriage is the exception, it will be because you and your spouse make daily intentional investments on purpose. Like a garden, without daily attention to planting good seeds, pulling weeds, and watering regularly, your marriage will produce thistles instead of flowers.

Here are some things to invest in daily to assure you are Married on Purpose.

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When Prayer and Bible Study are Not Enough

When Prayer and Bible Study are Not Enough

God is always enough. He has all the answers. There is no higher calling in life than to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. But in serving Him there are plenty of times when prayer and Bible study are not enough.

We as human beings too easily put things in boxes. We either over-spiritualize every aspect of our lives or separate (perhaps unconsciously) the earthly and heavenly parts of our existence. Some people believe they’re serving God more than adequately if they spend an hour or two in church each week and a few minutes a day in personal or family devotions. And other people may devote hours each day to prayer and Bible study while their marriage, children, bank account, friendships, mental and physical health, work, and home go unattended.

God made you and me as integrated, whole human beings. You cannot separate the physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual parts of you from one another any more than you can separate the flour, sugar, eggs, and salt from a loaf of bread. What impacts one area of your life impacts all the other areas. Every dimension of our lives needs adequate tending and nourishment for us to be our best and serve God with our whole being.

Failure to understand this has often led to serious problems for believers:

  • The person with diabetes or severe depression who refuses professional help while praying for healing
  • The seminary student preparing to be a pastor and seriously addicted to pornography
  • The wife spending hours alone reading the Bible while her husband starves for intimacy
  • The Christian leader whose ministry is cut short through the health effects of obesity
  • Believers frustrated when urgent matters (such as helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey) “interfere” with their spiritual pursuits.

While the greatest miracle of all is the salvation and restoration of a human soul, most of Jesus’ earthly miracles were focused on very earthly things – food, storms, physical illness. God is equally concerned about and invested in every dimension of our lives.

Here are three dimensions where we must be careful to not over-spiritualize.

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Pornography and your Christian Marriage

Pornography and your Christian Marriage

If the gospel is good for anything it must have an answer to the worst problems humans face. As believers we know that intellectually, but the body of Christ frequently hides from some of the really bad stuff. Pornography and your Christian marriage may seem like things that should not be said in the same sentence. But in 21st century culture it’s something we must acknowledge, and find God’s answer for.

I hear from people every week who struggle with this. I hear from the small-church pastor who feels he has no one to help him out of his addiction to pornography, the godly wife who just found out her husband has been watching porn for years, the young Christian woman who weeps in shame over her continued failure to stop engaging in internet pornography.

Although statistically more men than women get hooked by sexually-charged images and videos, pornography is an equal-opportunity destroyer. Men and women, married and single, Christian and unbeliever, young and old – it affects them all. Our sexualized society spends multi-billions of dollars on this. It starts young; your ten-year-old (or younger) can watch it on their cell-phone while riding the bus to school. (That’s a whole article – or book – in itself!)

Dr Juli Slattery, psychologist, author, and media professional, has stated that she no longer asks couples whether pornography is an issue for them; she asks what role pornography is playing in their relationship.

So what is a Christian to do? Refusing to address pornography is putting your head in the sand, especially if you’re married or contemplating marriage. But as with all human brokenness God has an answer – if you’re addicted, if your spouse is addicted, or if you want to proactively protect your marriage.

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