Thursday, November 29, 2012

When the promise seems unlikely

“I am the Almighty God, able to fulfill your highest hopes and accomplish for you the brightest ideal that ever my words set before you.  There is no need of paring down the promise until it squares with human probabilities, no need of relinquishing one hope it has begotten, no need of adopting some interpretation of it which may make it seem easier to fulfill, and no need of striving to fulfill it in any second-rate way.  All possibility lies in this: I am the Almighty God.” [Gen. 17:1]

-- Marcus Dods, The Book of Genesis (New York, 1902), page 161.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Read the Bible (and How Not to)

from Ray Ortlund, Jr....

“Against those forms of Judaism that saw the law-covenant not only as lex [law] but as a hermeneutical device for interpreting the Old Testament, Paul insists that the Bible’s story line takes precedence and provides the proper hermeneutical key.”

-- D. A. Carson, “Reflections on Salvation and Justification in the New Testament,” JETS 40 (1997): 585.

'There are two ways to read the Bible.  We can read it as law or as promise.

'If we read the Bible as law, we will find on every page what God is telling us we should do.  Even the promises will be conditioned by law.  But if we read the Bible as promise, we will find on every page what God is telling us he will do.  Even the law will be conditioned by promise.

'In Galatians 3 Paul explains which hermeneutic is the correct one.  “This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.  For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise” (Galatians 3:17-18).

'So, if we want to know whether we should read the Bible through the lens of law or grace, demand or provision, threat or promise — if we want to know how to read the Bible in an apostolic rather than a rabbinic way — we can follow the plot-line of the Bible itself and see which comes first.  And in fact, promise comes first, in God’s word to Abram in Genesis 12.  Then the law is “added” — significant word, in Galatians 3:19 — the law is added as a sidebar later, in Exodus 20.  The hermeneutical category “promise” establishes the larger, wraparound framework for everything else added in along the way.

'The deepest message of the Bible is the promises of God to undeserving law-breakers through his grace in Christ.  This is not an arbitrary overlay forced onto the biblical text.  The Bible presents itself to us this way.  The laws and commands and examples and warnings are all there, fulfilled in Christ and revered by us.  But they do not provide the hermeneutic with which we make sense of the whole.  We can and should understand them as qualified by God’s gracious promise, for all who will bank their hopes on him.'

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Conversion: a total turning to God

“The whole proclamation of Jesus…is a proclamation of unconditional turning to God, of unconditional turning from all that is against God, not merely that which is downright evil, but that which in a given case makes total turning to God impossible…." [cp. the 'rich young ruler' -- Matt.19:16-29; Mk. 10:17-30; Lk. 18:18-30]

--"Repentance (metanoia)" in “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament” (Kittel)

Monday, November 26, 2012

"The only reason I can sleep well at night"

My conscience does not render a positive verdict in God’s courtroom when I look inside myself. The only reason I can sleep well at night is that even though my heart is filled with corruption and even though I am not doing my best to please him, I have in heaven at the Father’s right hand the beloved Son, who has not only done his best for himself but has fulfilled all righteousness for me in my place.

— Michael Horton
Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church
(Grand Rapids, Mi.: Baker Books, 2008), 88

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spurgeon: 'Unbelief a Great Sin'

“Beloved friends, let us never look upon our own unbelief as an excusable infirmity, but let us always regard it as a sin, and as a great sin, too. Whatever excuse you may at any time make for others—and I pray you to make excuses for them whenever you can rightly do so—never make any for yourself. In that case, be swift to condemn.

"It is a very easy thing for us to get into a desponding state of heart, and to mistrust the promises and faithfulness of God, and yet, all the while, to look upon ourselves as the subjects of a disease which we cannot help, and even to claim pity at the hands of our fellow-men, and to think that they should condole with us, and try to cheer us.

"It will be far wiser for each one of us to feel, ‘This unbelief of mine is a great wrong in the sight of God. He has never given me any occasion for it, and I am doing him a cruel injustice by thus doubting him. I must not idly sit down, and say, This has come upon me like a fever, or a paralysis, which I cannot help; but I must rather say, This is a great sin, in which I must no longer indulge; but I must confess my unbelief, with shame and self-abasement, to think that there should be in me this evil heart of unbelief.’”

—Charles Spurgeon, “Unbelievers Upbraided” (a sermon on Mark 16:14)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Sense of God's Holiness

Cornelius Plantinga reflects on the story of Jacob's ladder (Genesis 28) and what it teaches Christians today about the fear of the Lord:

"It's a great tragedy that, in an age of instant friends and popular democracy, many Christians are losing the sense of God's holiness.

"We pray against television background noise. We come into a sanctuary and yak and grin and clap our friends on the back. Our sense of God's holiness has becomes so weak that we are able to speak familiarly of 'the Lord' while stretching our limbs and chewing our gum.

"Jacob cannot worship the Lord until he has know the fear of the Lord. He has a hard night of his stone pillow, a night full of dreams and whisperings and old memories. It is an unholy night until Jacob begins to dream. For this shfity, tainted man, it may have been the turning point. It is not that Jacob is able to climb up and lay hold of God. Not at all. He never could. Jacob's God is far above Jacob's ladder. Yet by this dream and by this ladder, the Holy One of Israel descends to reach for one of his children.

"Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place -- and I did not know it!' And he was afraid and said, 'How awesome is this place!'"

-- "Assurances of the Heart" pp.30-31 (Zondervan 1993)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Where Worldliness Hides

"If we know the characteristic sins of the age, we can guess its foolish and fashionable assumptions -- that morality is simply a matter of personal taste, that all silences need to be filled up with human chatter or background music, that 760 percent of the American people are victims, that it is better to feel than to think, that rights are more important than responsibilities, that even for children the right to choose supersedes all other rights, that real liberty can be enjoyed without virtue, that self-reproach is for fogies, that God is a chum or a gofer whose job it is to make us rich or happy or religiously excited, that it is more satisfying to be envied than respected, that it is better for politicians and preachers to be cheerful than truthful, that Christian worship fails unless it is fun."

-- Cornelius Plantinga, "Not the Way It's Supposed to Be,"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

7 Ways to Kill the Thanksgiving Impulse in Your Life

from Jared C. Wilson

“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:5-7

This is an excellent recipe for what it itself describes: a Spiritual settling of the heart, thankfulness, closeness to God. But let’s suppose you didn’t want those things, you didn’t want to be thankful in all circumstances (as God commands through Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5). How would you design your system in order to crush any impulse of thanksgiving in your heart?

1. Freak out about everything.
Let your unreasonableness be known to everyone. Be unreasonable about everything. Turn everything into drama, everything into a crisis.

2. Practice practical atheism.
The Lord is at hand, which is certainly something to be thankful for. Our God isn’t just transcendent, but immanent. He wants to be known. You could therefore intellectually acknowledge God is there, but act like he’s not. Assume he has no interest in you or your life. If you pretend like God’s not there, you don’t have to thank him for anything.

3. Coddle worry.
Be anxious about everything. Really protect your worry from the good news.

4. Give God the silent treatment.
The best way not to give thanks is not to talk at all. That way you’ll never give thanks accidentally.

5. Don’t expect anything from God.
Don’t trust him for anything. Normally we do this so we don’t have to feel disappointed, but another reason to do it is so he won’t give you anything to be thankful for. If you pray for something, he just might say yes, and then you’d be obligated to thank him.

6. Relentlessly try to figure everything out.
The peace of God is beyond our understanding. He is bigger than our capacity to grasp him. The closer we get to God, the bigger he gets. An immense vision creates immense reaction. So if you want to crush that reaction before it has a chance to start, ask as many “why” questions as you can, and don’t settle for the answers Job or Habakkuk or David did. Best to think you’re better than them and deserve an explanation from God. If you really want to kill thanksgiving, act like God owes you. Leave no room for the possibility you might not know or understand something. And one of the best ways to crush thankfulness is to take credit for everything you can.

7. Focus on anything other than the gospel of Jesus.
God owes us nothing but has given us every good thing in Christ. If you’re not interested in thanksgiving, by all means, pay no attention to that. Concentrate on your problems. Don’t concentrate on Jesus, or you might accidentally end up thankful in all circumstances.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Just in time for family gatherings: "Blessed are the peacemakers"

“Blessed are the peacemakers…”

Blessed are those who build shalom (the way things are supposed to be).
Blessed are those who defer and cooperate and compromise.
Blessed are those who are reasonable and respectful.
Blessed are the joyful and the grateful and the kind.
Blessed are those who shun drama, and the only games they’ll play during the holiday are games like Monopoly, Wii tennis or Rook.
Blessed are those who are a blessing to be with, because they make you laugh or make you think or make you want to be a blessing yourself.
Blessed are the ones who tell the truth, and who face facts, but with gentleness and grace.
Blessed are the solution-seekers and problem-solvers.

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

(Matthew 5:9; James 3:17-18)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The value of faith

"To say ‘justification by faith’ is merely another way of saying ‘justification by Christ’. Faith has absolutely no value in itself; its value lies solely in its object. Faith is the eye that looks to Christ, the hand that lays hold of him, the mouth that drinks the water of life."

— John Stott
The Cross of Christ
(Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1986), 187

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Atheist Philosopher Predicts Scientific Naturalism Will One Day Be Laughable

via Justin Taylor, where you'll find a link to Plantinga's entire review:

Alvin Plantinga reviews Thomas Nagel’s new book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press, 2012) in The New Republic. Here’s how it begins:

According to a semi-established consensus among the intellectual elite in the West, there is no such person as God or any other supernatural being. Life on our planet arose by way of ill-understood but completely naturalistic processes involving only the working of natural law. Given life, natural selection has taken over, and produced all the enormous variety that we find in the living world. Human beings, like the rest of the world, are material objects through and through; they have no soul or ego or self of any immaterial sort. At bottom, what there is in our world are the elementary particles described in physics, together with things composed of these particles.

I say that this is a semi-established consensus, but of course there are some people, scientists and others, who disagree. There are also agnostics, who hold no opinion one way or the other on one or another of the above theses. And there are variations on the above themes, and also halfway houses of one sort or another. Still, by and large those are the views of academics and intellectuals in America now. Call this constellation of views scientific naturalism—or don’t call it that, since there is nothing particularly scientific about it, except that those who champion it tend to wrap themselves in science like a politician in the flag. By any name, however, we could call it the orthodoxy of the academy—or if not the orthodoxy, certainly the majority opinion.

The eminent philosopher Thomas Nagel would call it something else: an idol of the academic tribe, perhaps, or a sacred cow: “I find this view antecedently unbelievable—a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense. . . . I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two.” Nagel is an atheist; even so, however, he does not accept the above consensus, which he calls materialist naturalism; far from it. His important new book is a brief but powerful assault on materialist naturalism.

Plantinga goes on to summarize and interact with Nagel’s arguments and alternatives. Along the way he excerpts a quote from one of Nagel’s books written in 1997 which offers some insights into Nagel’s rejection of theism:

I am talking about something much deeper—namely, the fear of religion itself. I speak from experience, being strongly subject to this fear myself: I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. . . . It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Everyone Needs

"It’s what everyone needs.  Everyone.  Gospel + safety + time.  A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.

"Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the endless power of the Holy Spirit.  Multiple exposures.  Constant immersion.  Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.

"Safety: a non-accusing environment.  No finger-pointing.  No embarrassing anyone.  No manipulation.  No oppression.  No condescension.  But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.

"Time: no pressure.  Not even self-imposed pressure.  No deadlines on growth.  Urgency, but not hurry, because no one changes quickly.  A lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level.  God is patient.

"This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time.  It’s where we’re finally free to grow."

-- from Ray Ortlund, Jr.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Resolved....(from J. Edwards)

"Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world."

-- Jonathan Edwards

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"...make every effort..."

 "Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence -- yea, violence -- I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of." (Jonathan Edwards) Compare 2 Peter 1:5-11.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Why your church matters"

from Ray Ortlund, Jr.:

“. . . the church of the living God, the pillar and buttress of the truth.”  1 Timothy 3:15

". . . the church of the living God.  A church is where the idols of our culture can be cogently discredited and the living God rallied around, rejoiced in, worshiped, studied, loved and obeyed.  If the church is dead or dormant, God’s own appointed testimony to his living reality powers down.  The felt reality of God in the world today is at stake in our churches.

". . . the pillar and buttress of the truth.  A “pillar” holds something up high for all to see.  In this world, the one truth that will outlast the universe needs to be put on clear display rather than submerged under all the stuff that’s demanding our attention week in and week out.  A church can make the gospel obvious and accessible through preaching, teaching, memorizing, catechizing, blogging, etc.

"A 'buttress' firms something up, makes it strong.  For many, the gospel does not feel strong.  Other things hold them together.  But a church buttresses the gospel by showing that it really works.  Not only does the gospel create the church, but a church also buttresses the gospel.  The gospel starts feeling solid and believable and urgently needed as our greatest resource in all of life.

"By divine appointment, the church makes the real Jesus seem real, it makes the truth visible to busy people, and it embodies living proof that the gospel enriches real people living real lives today.

"The church matters.  Your church matters.  In these powerful ways."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"Never the Same"

From the Desiring God website:

In 1962 Don and Carol Richardson came into contact with a remote tribe in West New Guinea known as the Sawi people. They were cannabilistic headhunters without a written language, nor any clue about Jesus.

The Richardsons, along with their three children, preached the gospel to the Sawi people and witnessed a remarkable movement of God. The story is told in the best-selling book Peace Child and has inspired many to take the gospel to the furthest ends of the earth.

Just recently — fifty years after they first met the Sawi — the Richardsons returned to the village they once called home. This short 15-minute film from Pioneers documents that experience. It is one of the most amazing things you will ever see.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Christian Church as Counter-culture

"The world’s illegal rebellion [against God] is illegitimate. It certainly feels real, of course—IS real—but it doesn’t change the reality that God is still Ruler of everything. Though people may think they have rebelled, they have not—and cannot—ultimately escape the fact that King Jesus still is sovereign. And though we feel outnumbered and highly unpopular at times by clinging to our Christian ideals, though we make ourselves subject to all kinds of criticism and misunderstanding by resisting the widely held opinions of our friends and neighbors, we can’t help but recognize a tension that keeps us from following where the leader of this rebellion wants to take us. As much as we may feel obligated by our family histories, or as willing as we may be to at least consider the validity of these differing viewpoints, there’s no common ground for us to stand on. Our aims are incompatible. As Christians, we don’t join an illegitimate rebellion. Instead, we live for King Jesus in contrast to those around us. We live in loyalty to the very One the world rebels against. We’re in rebellion against the rebellion."

-- Ed Stetzer, "Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation"   (pp. 5-6). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A prayer for grace to live a life of love

from Scotty Smith:

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And live a life of love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God". Eph. 4:30-5:2

     Merciful Father, mighty Holy Spirit, most compassionate Lord Jesus, I praise you today for the love with which you love us, in which you have rooted us, and by which you are transforming us. It took the whole Trinity to redeem me, and it will take the whole Trinity for me to live this life of love to which you have called us. There’s no other way I will even begin to be an “imitator of God.” So hear my cry.
     Father, I don’t want to live today just with a theoretical or theological awareness of being your dearly loved child. Let it be deeply experiential and existential—very real, very encouraging, and very humbling. Your lavish love for us is the greatest convicting power this side of the new heaven and new earth. Stun my heart afresh—show me yet again, and even more of the height, depth, width and breadth of your love for us in Jesus.
     All day long, let me hear you serenading me in the gospel, that I might be filled with joy and peace, and that I might grieve the ways I grieve the Holy Spirit—with my thoughts, with my words, and with my actions. Without the incontrovertible convicting work of the Spirit, I might seek to justify the ways I love poorly—blaming others for my bad attitude and grace-less manners.
     Lord Jesus, you are so kind, compassionate, and forgiving of me. May the fragrant aroma of the sacrifice you made for me on the cross to permeate all my relationships. You’re not calling us to change or fix anyone. You’re calling us to live as a broken perfume bottle, through whom the aroma of grace will bring your gentling and transforming presence. Show me how to boast in you and in my weakness, that I might freely and gladly live as a servant of others.
     God the Holy Spirit, you who raised Jesus from the dead, give me the power I will need today to rid myself of all bitterness, anger, rage, brawling, slander, and malice and all the other ways I love poorly. Indeed, Triune God, the life of love you live for me, please live through me. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ peerless and loving name.

-- from Pastor Scotty Smith

Saturday, November 10, 2012

One Solitary, Matchless, Divine Transaction

"Vicarious sacrifice is not only not the law of being, it is not a law at all. It is one solitary, matchless, Divine transaction—never to be repeated, never to be equaled, never to be approached. It was the splendid and unexpected device of Divine wisdom, which in its disclosure flooded the minds of angels with the knowledge of God."

— John Murray
Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Friday, November 9, 2012

As when I'm at my best....

"Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of things of the gospel, and another world."

-- Jonathan Edwards

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Relationship Idols?

“No human being was ever meant to be the source of personal joy and contentment for someone else. Your spouse, your friends, and your children cannot be the sources of your identity. When you seek to define who you are through those relationships, you are asking another sinner to be your personal messiah, to give you the inward rest of soul that only God can give.

"Only when I have sought my identity in the proper place (in my relationship with God) am I able to put you in the proper place as well. When I relate to you knowing that I am God’s child and the recipient of his grace, I am able to serve and love you.

"However, if I am seeking to get identity from you, I will watch you too closely. I will become acutely aware of your weaknesses and failures. I will become overly critical, frustrated, and angry. I will be angry not because you are a sinner, but because you have failed to deliver the one thing I seek from you: identity.

"When I remember that Christ has given me everything I need to be the person he has designed me to be, I am free to serve and love you. When I know who I am, I am free to be humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, and loving as we navigate the inevitable messiness of relationships.”

-- Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Present Power of the Gospel

"If you are not reminding yourself again and again of the now-ism of the gospel, that is, the right-here, right-now benefits of the grace of Christ, you will be looking elsewhere to get what can be found only in Jesus. If you are not feeding your soul on the realities of the presence, promises, and provisions of Christ, you will ask the people, situations, and things around you to be the messiah that they can never be. If you are not attaching your identity to the unshakable love of your Savior, you will ask the things in your life to be your Savior, and it will never happen. If you are not requiring yourself to get your deepest sense of well-being vertically, you will shop for it horizontally, and you will always come up empty. If you are not resting in the one true gospel, preaching it to yourself over and over again, you will look to another gospel to meet the needs of your unsettled heart."

-- Paul David Tripp, "Dangerous Calling"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Certainty and Openness

from Ray Ortlund, Jr.:

Some Christians seem “all certainty.”  Maybe it makes them feel heroic.  But they see too few gray areas.  Everything is a federal case.  They have a fundamentalist mindset.

Other Christians seem “all openness.”  Maybe it makes them feel humble.  But they see too few black-and-white areas.  They have a liberal mindset — though they may demonstrate a surprising certainty against certainty.

The Bible is our authority as we sort out what deserves certainty and what deserves openness.  1 Corinthians 15:1-4 defines the gospel of Christ crucified for our sins, Christ buried and Christ risen again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, as “of first importance.”  Here is the center of our certainty.

From that “of first importance” theological address, we move out toward the whole range of theological and practical questions asking for our attention.  The more clearly our logic connects with that center, the more certain and the less open we should be.  The further our thinking extrapolates from that center, the less certain and the more open we should be.  When a question cannot be addressed by a clear appeal to the Bible, our conclusions should be all the more modest.

The gospel requires us to have high expectations of one another on biblically central doctrines and strategies, and it cautions us to be more relaxed with one another the further we have to move out from the center.

Building our theology is not like pushing the first domino over, which pushes the next over, and so forth, down the line — each domino of equal weight and each fall equally inevitable.  Rather, building our theology is more like exploring a river.  We start out at the mouth of the river.  It is wide.  There is no decision to make.  All is unmistakably clear.  But then one starts paddling up-river.  As each tributary forks into the river, one must decide which way to go.  Indeed, it may eventually become difficult to distinguish between the river itself and a tributary.  But many decisions must be made along the way, not every one equally obvious.

This is why we need a map of the whole, noting the main features of the topography, such as 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 provides.  There are other scriptures that help us globalize our biblical thinking.  For example, Exodus 34:6-7 is quoted multiple times throughout the rest of the Old Testament.  Clearly, it is an atomically weighted passage that other biblical authors treated as a sort of theological North Star for guidance.  There are other passages meant to help us develop a wise sense of overall theological proportion.

A church or movement may desire, for its own reasons, to define secondary and tertiary doctrines and strategies as important expectations within their own ministry.  That’s okay.  But then it’s helpful to say, “We know this isn’t a dividing line for Christian oneness.  It’s just a decision we’ve made for ourselves, because we think it will help us in our situation.  We realize that other Christians will see it differently, and that’s no problem for us.”

May we become more certain where we’ve been too open and more open where we’ve been too certain, according to Scripture.  And where it seems helpful to provide further definition on our own authority, may we do so with candor and humility but without apology.

Friday, November 2, 2012

If You Call Jesus "Lord"...

"You can’t call Jesus Lord [= Master] without declaring yourself his slave. Does that make sense? If you hear a little girl in the mall call me 'Dad,' then she has identified herself as my daughter. When you call Jesus 'Lord,' you aren’t [just] saying, 'He’s the teacher— and I’m the student.' You are saying, 'He’s the master and I am the slave.'"

 -- Kyle Idleman, "Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus" (p. 151). Zondervan.

Fan or Follower?

It may seem that there are many followers of Jesus, but if they were honestly to define the relationship they have with him I am not sure it would be accurate to describe them as followers. It seems to me that there is a more suitable word to describe them. They are not followers of Jesus. They are fans of Jesus. Here is the most basic definition of fan in the dictionary: “An enthusiastic admirer”…

But Jesus was never interested in having fans. When he defines what kind of relationship he wants, “Enthusiastic Admirer” isn’t an option. My concern is that many of our churches in America have gone from being sanctuaries to becoming stadiums. And every week all the fans come to the stadium where they cheer for Jesus but have no interest in truly following him. The biggest threat to the church today is fans who call themselves Christians but aren’t actually interested in following Christ. They want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires anything from them….

-- Kyle Idleman “Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus”  (Zondervan)