Archive for May, 2010


Ben Stein wrote a book called How To Ruin Your Life. In a sarcastic fashion, he suggested these ways among others:

  • Don’t learn any useful skills.
  • Don’t learn any self-discipline.
  • Keep score
  • Use alcohol and drugs freely
  • Remember that no one else counts
  • Know that the rules of reasonable, decent conduct don’t apply to you.
  • Convince yourself you’re the center of the universe.
  • Think the worst of everyone.
  • Do it your way.

Writing his first letter to Timothy, his younger colleague in ministry, Paul mentions two men who have “ruined their lives” so to speak – Hymenaeus and Alexander. “This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1 Tim. 1:18-20)

In the style of the great Mr. Stein, here are a few ways you can shipwreck your faith:

  • Never read the Bible. Who needs a book that’s two thousand years old – at its earliest, anyway? How could it ever be relevant to my life? Besides, God speaks to me directly.
  • Never pray. It doesn’t do any good most of the time because God doesn’t always give me what I want. Aren’t you just talking to yourself?
  • Spend no time with other Christians. Fellowship, schmellowship! None of those people understand you and they’re so judgmental. They might even want to get to know you better!
  • Skip out on church as much as possible. You may not like the music or the sermon or any number of other things. You’re better off staying home and doing the giant Sudoku puzzle.
  • Don’t do anything for anyone else. In other words, don’t ever be caught serving or ministering. That kind thing can energize and jump-start your walk with Christ because you’re thinking about other people and not just yourself.
  • Never take the opportunity to learn. Make sure you don’t read any biographies of Christians, especially missionaries – your life could be radically altered. Besides, don’t you know practically everything already?
  • Don’t tell anyone you’re a Christian. If you do, they might not like you anymore. Not only that, they would hold you to a higher ethical and moral standard than their non-Christian friends.
  • Don’t share the Gospel with anyone. It could be embarrassing for you and them.
  • Always believe everything everyone teaches you, especially if they say they are a Christian and use a Bible verse. I mean, how bad can it really be? They couldn’t be mistaken, could they?

Making shipwreck of your faith involves these things, but also many more – not knowing what you believe and why you believe it, a misunderstanding of the Gospel, caring more about the opinions of people than the opinion of God. Remember that it doesn’t happen all at once – it’s gradual. It takes time, sometimes lots of it, to shipwreck spiritually.

The shipwreck does not have to be inevitable, however. Do all of the things listed above and the chances of shipwreck will be very low – not non-existent, but low.

May we heed Paul’s admonition to Timothy (and by extension the rest of us who follow Jesus Christ) and wage the good warfare.

Before the face of God, brothers and sisters, fight on!

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Should Christians be on Facebook?

Obviously a lot of Christians, including myself, are on Facebook – so you already know our answer. But how should we be on Facebook may be the better question. R.C. Sproul, Jr. gives some excellent food for thought. Read it and see what you think.

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Quick Take

In Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

How can I build God’s kingdom when I spend so much time building my own? Just something to think about.

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I’m Back!

I’m back to posting – at least I think so!

Due to a move (in-town), busyness, and lack of Internet access (due to a certain Internet provider who shall remain nameless), I’ve been offline.

Thank you for your patience. It’s good to be back!

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I’ve been critical of worship songs and music – not all, but some. I’ll readily admit that I’ve been overly critical at times, too. The core issues for me are whether or not the song is appropriate and the lyrics. Stephen Altrogge has written two excellent pieces on worship songs that were helpful to me. I hope they’ll be the same for you, too.

“How to write an awful worship song.”

“Why words matter in a worship song.”


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The Worm Turns


Remember this Newsweek cover?

Well, here’s the latest news – the magazine is up for sale. Readership and revenues are down sharply. Does it have a future? Read what Howard Kurtz thinks here.

The worm turns, doesn’t it?

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Missionary stories always have a way of inspiring, encouraging, and steeling us. The true stories of martyrs have the same effect.

Consider Polycarp, a late first-century and early second-century Christian.

Hearing his captors had arrived one evening, Polycarp left his bed to welcome them, ordered a meal prepared for them, and then asked for an hour alone to pray. The soldiers were so impressed by Polycarp’s advanced age and composure that they began to wonder why they had been sent to take him, but as soon as he had finished his prayers, they put him on a donkey and brought him to the city.

Brought before the tribunal and the crowd, Polycarp refused to deny Christ, although the proconsul begged him to “consider yourself and have pity on your great age. Reproach Christ and I will release you.”

Polycarp replied, “Eighty-six years I have served Him, and He has never once wronged me. How can I blaspheme my King, who saved me.”

Threatened with wild beasts and fires, Polycarp stood his ground. “What are you waiting for? Do whatever you please.” The crowd demanded Polycarp’s death, gathering wood for the fire and preparing to tie him to the stake. “Leave me,” he said. “He who will give me strength to sustain the fire will help me not to flinch from the pile.” So they bound him but didn’t nail him to the stake.

As soon as Polycarp finished his prayer, the fire was lit, but it leaped up around him, leaving him unburned, until the people convinced a soldier to plunge a sword into him. When he did, so much blood gushed out that the fire was extinguished. The soldiers then placed his body into a fire and burned it to ashes, which some Christians later gathered up and buried properly.

 Praise God that He steels us by His grace. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

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A growing number of people consider themselves “spiritual” but not religious (in the sense of identifying themselves as part of a specific religion or denomination). I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve heard make the claim that they’re a “spiritual” person or that “spirituality” is important to them. Some Christians will even proclaim themselves to be “spiritual” before they use the name “Christian.”

Here’s the problem, though: what is spirituality? How do you define it? The answer is as varied as the people who say they’re “spiritual.” Without a definition, the word can mean anything anyone wants it to mean. Alice in Wonderland anyone?

Alan Jacobs of Wheaton College said:

There is no such thing as “spirituality.” Doesn’t exist, has no meaning. It’s just a name for “doing what I want to do and feeling that the universe somehow smiles on me for doing it.” (HT: Justin Taylor)

Excellent point! There is such a thing a true spirituality, but it means something far different from its current connotation.

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