All can be “well” and we can STILL be blind

One of the common mistakes we make in diagnosing current times is “how things are going.” If things are going reasonable “well” for us, we can’t see what might wrong beneath the surface, or care to explore that beneath the surface.

In the U.S., we can say, “Hey, the economy is humming along (for us saying it, of course), so what could possibly be wrong?”

Spiritually, we can say, “Look at our church! It’s growing! We bring in awesome speakers and have a great band!”

For us, all can seem “well”… and we can be blind. This is Israel’s case in Isaiah (and in many of the other prophetic books). Prophetic words calling “doom” on Israel didn’t always come in “down” economic times. They often came in GOOD economic times.

So, when Isaiah comes along preaching hypocrisy, they’re looking at him and asking, “What are you smoking?”

We, today in the American Church, are struggling. We may see verses from Isaiah and put them out there with the thought of, “Well, that’s for the OTHER part of the church!” (It can be a “liberal” Christian putting it out and digging at the “conservatives” or vice versa.)

Here is the problem: these words are for the AMERICAN church. Not just one segment. Friends, WE are in trouble… and are still struggling with spiritual blindness.

20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight. (Isa. 5:20-21, NIV)

Continue reading “All can be “well” and we can STILL be blind”

Spiritual formation in the public life

“Evangelicals have often been presented with a false choice about our role in public life. We either completely withdraw from trying to influence things, or we initiate ‘takeover’ programs. There is an alternative pattern, thought, one that I believe is mandated by Scripture: in the present time, where the fullness of Christ’s kingdom is not yet with us, we are called to do what we can in the political realm, given the opportunities and abilities that God has provided for us in the places where the Lord calls us to be faithful.” — Richard Mouw, Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels

When we have power and no authority

Mark 3:20–22 (NIV): 20 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. 21 When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “[He is out of his mind].”

22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

When the religious leaders realize they can’t control or stop Jesus, and he has the true authority, all they have left is manipulation.

Those who are in power but without authority can only control by manipulation, fear, or false narratives. Be aware.

Can we say “Rise up and walk”

Quite probably an apocryphal story, but one I still find relevant in our time:

According to Cornelius a Lapide, Thomas Aquinas once called on Pope Innocent II when the latter was counting out a large sum of money. “You see, Thomas,” said the Pope, “the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” “True, holy father,” was the reply; “neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”

Cited by F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 77–78. (Found HERE in my meager search)

No wonder they wanted to shut up Jeremiah

I am working through a hard passage in Jeremiah related to some writing I’ve called “Living in Babylon.” I’ve avoided getting to deep into this passage because of the direct implications it has on the American Church… and I have no interest whatsoever in being “wacky prophet guy.” But… God has turned me into “wacky prophet guy” and I’m not very happy about it.

Continue reading “No wonder they wanted to shut up Jeremiah”