Why You Must Always Exaggerate

MegaphoneOver the years, many teachers and preachers of God’s word have shaped the way I understand the Bible, the world, and myself. Easily the most important have been those who pastored me personally – who led the churches or ministries of which I was a member. People who knew me, invested in me, and shared their lives with me.

But there have also been many teachers and preachers outside my local ministries – authors, conference speakers, and various other leaders – who have played an enormous role in shaping my thinking and my life. Some are people I’ve come to know well; some are people I’m yet to meet. Some are the ‘big name’ authors and speakers that everyone knows; some serve in relative obscurity.

As I look back and consider why people I barely know have influenced me, a number of factors emerge. But for now, I want to mention one common characteristic among those who’ve impacted my thinking: a willingness to state the truth in bold and challenging ways. Put another way: a willingness and ability to exaggerate. Continue reading

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The Top Ten of 2013

Top TenIt’s that time when, apparently, bloggers post ‘best-of’ lists from the year that’s past. So here we go. These are the top ten most viewed posts from Every Thought Captive in 2013.

10. A Breaking Bad Idea: I took some heat (some of it justified) for this rumination on whether or not Christians should watch shows like Breaking Bad. I’m glad it raised questions for people.

9. Depression and the Christian: A collection of resources for people dealing with (or helping those dealing with) this massive issue. Continue reading

Jesus on healing broken relationships

We should always take the first step to fix our damaged relationships, no matter which side of the breakdown we’re on

Healing RelationshipsThere’s an old cliché in Christian circles – often said half-jokingly, but through quietly gritted teeth: “I love everything about Christian ministry apart from people.” It’s a cliché laced with bitter irony because, of course, so much of the Christian life and ministry is about people and relationships. Yet it acknowledges the painful reality that relationships are always difficult, because people are always flawed and sinful. We all make mistakes. We hurt others, and we get hurt.

The Bible is the most realistic of books, dealing directly and honestly with the reality of our sin. And that means it contains forthright, practical wisdom on handling broken relationships. Continue reading

How to poison your relationships in one easy step: Always assume the worst

Why assuming the worst about other people’s motives is so deadly – and how we can break the cycle.

Keep Calm Assume NothingFew things are as complicated, contentious or corruptible as our motives. French thinker Francois de la Rochefaucauld captured the reality of the human condition when he said, “We would frequently be ashamed of our good deeds if the world could see the motives that produced them.” Samuel Johnson summed up the heart of the problem even more succinctly: “Actions are visible, but motives are secret.”

The Bible is littered with warnings about our motives. When informing Samuel that David was his choice for King of Israel, God told him: “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) Much of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is spent warning his hearers against doing outwardly impressive acts with inwardly corrupt motives (Matt 6:1-18). And in Paul’s celebrated (but often misunderstood) chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, he tells us that even the best actions are worthless if done without love. Continue reading