Three Kinds of Christians Who Should Always Keep Their Cool

I was struck this week as I studied 1 Peter 4:7-11 as part of our Exiles series at church. I was struck particularly by this phrase: "Be self-controlled and sober-minded." (v 4 ESV). There are differing ways translators have translated this. HCSB says "Be serious and disciplined." NASB: "of sound judgement and sober spirit." NLT: "Be earnest and disciplined." KJV: "Be sober and watch." You get the idea. Christians are to be level-headed. Sober. Balanced. Mature. Of sound judgement. Wise. In control. These virtues should characterize our life, both in our speech, in our online engagement, in our beliefs. And yet there are times, many times, when virtues like this, such as balance, sound judgement, and sobriety are looked at by some as a lack of courage. Or we excuse them with things like, "I'm just speaking my mind." Or we post half-baked conspiracy theories online or fire them off via...

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Christianity, Six-Inch Headlines, and Fear

I've had several conversations with folks in the last few weeks, fearful of the state of the world. Economic downturn, failed leadership at all levels, personal tragedy, and just really bad news all around. A lot of people are starting to think that this is the worst time in history. At least American history. I've heard various versions of "America has lost its greatness." or "America is headed downward." It's interesting that I only seem to hear this from Christians when a certain party is out of power. Then suddenly, when someone we like is in the White House, suddenly things are sunshine and roses again and America is "back." I'd be lying if I said there weren't troubling indicators in America. Unsustainable debt, paralysis at the top levels of government, a culture embracing ungodliness, and a seeming decline in Christian influence. But I wonder if our fear is less about...

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Christian Handwringing – A Favorite Pastime

Along with potlucks, bad hair, and cheesy TV, another favorite past time of Christians is hand-wringing. I say this as a lifelong Christian and a pastor. For some reason, we think we’re more spiritual when we’re beating up ourselves. The easiest sermon to preach for a pastor is the one that beats up on “the Church” and points out some spiritual deficiency.

And in the last few years, we’ve had a merry band of Christian pollsters who’ve given us fresh batches of alarming statistics to prove our points. But maybe, just maybe those stats are wrong. For instance, one of the most tried and true dire warnings for the American church has been the refrain, “The divorce rate is higher in the church than in the culture.” This has been used to beat up the soft theology of the American church and call it to more robust, cross-bearing discipleship. I think the call to such radical obedience is necessary, but the alarmism is often misplaced. Expecially when you consider that those marriage statistics we’ve been spouting may have been wrong all along.