What Your Reaction to This Kid’s Lie May Just Reveal About Your Christianity

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“Nearly five years after it hit best-seller lists, a book that purported to be a 6-year-old boy’s story of visiting angels and heaven after being injured in a bad car crash is being pulled from shelves. The young man at the center of The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven, Alex Malarkey, said this week that the story was all made up.”
-NPR News

After much prayerful soul searching, I have arrived at a deep, heartfelt reflection to this gut wrenching story . . .

 

 

 

 

 

. . . So what?

I mean seriously, who cares?

From hearing all the buzz, there seems to be two groups that have made the biggest deal about this: Atheists . . . And Christians.

For the atheist, this is of course a chance to pounce on the, “See! I told ya so! The supernatural is bogus!” train. But then you have Christians saying, “See! I told ya so! The supernatural is bogus!” riding the caboose.

Believers, denying the extraordinary? Well, unless you’ve been living in a protective bubble your entire church life, this should come as no surprise.

 

Gut Check Time

 

Late last year I wrote a piece that challenged the Body of Christ with a very difficult question: do we really believe the Bible?

Our reaction to this recent story, I’m afraid, adds more evidence to the contrary.

How so?

There are some severe inconsistencies in how we are treating the testimonies that we hear from other Christians. If a guy claims God delivered him from fifteen years of drug addiction we celebrate and shout, hallelujah. If someone else gets up in front of the congregation and says they had to go in for minor surgery with a 98% success rate and came out of it alive, we say, praise The Lord!

But . . .  If someone claims they went to heaven—  we get all puffed up like a toad fro1g, holding our Bibles in one hand and the world’s largest microscope in the other and the interrogation begins.

“Hmph! Well, it’s because their experience of what they saw in heaven does not match the biblical description.”

Sigh.

I don’t want to be offensive or rude here so I’m going to attempt to say this nicely . . .

Can we all stop pretending like the Bible gives any real expository description of heaven?  The idea of these experiences, “largely not aligning with what the Bible says” is baloney and we all know it.

Now, if you want to attempt to make an argument from silence by claiming these stories give descriptions of things not mentioned in the Bible, I can at least respect that. But this is where we run into the inconsistencies.

There is no Bible verse that mentions God delivering anyone from drugs. Nor anything about God, “guiding the physician’s hand” during a routine surgery. Yet we accept these stories without giving them a second thought.

So . . . What’s going on? How do we condemn a story in one breath because it’s, “not in the Bible” but then very clearly accept others?

Let me introduce one thought here that will cause all of this to come into crystal clear focus: The question of whether or not a story will be scrutinized and rejected among Christians does not depend on it being biblical, but supernatural. If it sounds like something that you would read in the book of Acts, it’s criticized and largely dismissed. If it sounds like something you’d hear at a Tony Robbins’ convention, we welcome it with open arms. “Wow it’s so normal and boring. It could have happened in any other religion on the planet. What a great testimony.”

 

Ugh . . .

 

Can you imagine replacing all the supernatural events in the book of Acts with the testimonies of today? “Good news everyone. Brother Philip passed his last kidney stone. And finally, after two weeks, The Lord saw fit to heal James of that nasty flu. Praise be to God.”

 

Ugh, again . . .

 

So . . . What does all this have to do with a kid who lied about going to heaven? Simply that if his story had been more, “normal” we wouldn’t even be talking about it. If we discovered that someone had lied about being delivered from drugs or someone else had never really had hand surgery, how many of us would gasp and say, “well, there you have it. God doesn’t do that stuff. All these others must have been lying about it too”?

None.

The double standard in our treatment of these things is so glaring, it literally hurts to think about.

Here’s the thing . . .  I can’t read people’s minds or hearts, but I suspect that there are folks in our ranks that, regardless of what the Bible says, do not believe in the supernatural today. And rather than admit it, they cover it up with long, drawn out explanations that really just amount to excuses.

If you’re one of these people—–and again I’ll attempt to say this nicely— please just own up to your true beliefs and stop adding confusion to the Body of Christ with wonky justifications for them.

You’re making the rest of us look bad.

Why I Hide Behind a Keyboard, Arguing Like an Idiot All Day

 

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What? You didn’t think I knew what people say about me?

One fascination of mine has always been observing people. Watching their actions, listening to their words, and trying to figure out what makes them tick. There is one particular attribute I have noticed in nearly all of them—-People are blab mouths. We love to hear our own voice. During conversations, we often value our own words so much more than the other person’s that we unconsciously find ourselves thinking about what we’re going to say next instead of listening. All we really care about is that one momentary pause where we can jump in and continue to share our, “nuggets”  of wisdom (notice . . . I put nuggets in quotes).

It’s even worse when it comes to Christians because they always seem to think they’ve got some deep,  revelational truth that God sent them to tell you.  So it becomes more than just a desire to talk— it’s a crusade. A mission from the Throne Room to straighten you out and mow you down with the, “sword of the spirit.”

God, knowing we have this tendency, spends a huge amount of time in the book of Proverbs trying to get us to shut up and listen. And James does a great job of encapsulating this thought by condensing it into a few words: Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger (Jms 1).

Christians practice this passage all the time. They just do it in reverse. Slow to hear, quick to speak, and quick to get angry. As a result, just like the book of Proverbs repeatedly warns, our decision to be disobedient is often met with destruction in one form or another.  Then you have these dear folks who were never taught properly and think that every time something bad happens in their life it’s because God has some great, magnificent reason for it. It never seems to occur to them that their failure to listen has resulted the way He warned it would—-with negative consequences.

Why I Suck at Debating

I know in my own life, nearly every time I say something on a discussion of importance without ample time to first reflect on what’s already been said,  I regret it later.  This is why I suck at debating. Debating requires immediate responses or else the audience thinks that you’ve, “lost.”

A lot of people will be surprised to hear me say this but I’m opposed to debating and arguing. I don’t know how any Christian could be in favor of that type of format when James told us to be quick to hear and slow to speak.

I’m also opposed to debating because it carries with it the idea that we’re supposed to be convincing this other person of how right we are and how wrong they are.

I have absolutely no interest in convincing anyone of anything.

See, folks are so used to loud, overbearing, obnoxious, Christians that they just assume that the only reason anyone would want to talk about a controversial topic is so they can stir up an argument.  I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, “there you go again, causing trouble. You must love arguing with people just for the sake of arguing.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. I hate debating and I hate disagreements.

But here’s the thing—- I love the truth. And that love drives me to put it above my comfort zone. So I talk about it. I ask questions. I engage in conversations that are considered, “weird” or socially awkward. Why? So I can win arguments? No. So I can learn where I’m missing it. I  want to test and see if what I believe will stand up under scrutiny. I want to hear from others with different perspectives than mine in the hopes that they can poke holes in my convictions.1

In other words, if I’m wrong, I want to know about it!

What’s with the Nerdy Online Stuff?

Although I suspect this is true of everyone, I can only speak for myself when I say that I need time to process and digest information. I also need time to allow my emotions to settle. Very important topics are often very emotional topics and in order to be objective, you have to learn to separate yourself from how they make you feel. Usually my initial knee jerk reaction to what I hear is not the correct one. It’s more defensive than it is logical. That makes having these types of conversations in person very rushed and often fruitless.

This is why written format is so valuable. It allows for ample time to think about what someone says before issuing a response. There is no pressure to just say something in order to fill dead air space or because the other person may think you’re, “losing” if you don’t.

What Christians Really Mean When They Say They Just Want to, “Talk”

Finally, the other benefit of written communication  (and this is really one of, if not theeee biggest reason I’ve restricted all discussion to this format) is you can avoid people who talk too much. Simply put, people are rude and inconsiderate. They take advantage of your manners by blabbing non stop, knowing that out of respect you won’t interrupt. These same people will often refuse to have dialogue in any other format than face to face where they’re used to dominating the conversation.

It’s actually gotten to the point now that when someone says, “we should get together and talk about this sometime” what I hear is . . .

“With your permission, I’d like to punish you with my words. First,  I’ll start by going on and on, branching off into different tangents. My plan is to keep a steady stream of words going so that you don’t get a chance to zero in on anything suspicious. I’ll be sporadically raising my voice whenever I suspect you may be attempting to cut me off.

Though you will try, you won’t be able to follow or see how any of what I say has anything to do with the subject at hand.

Then I’ll move on to peppering you with quick jabs of semi dubious Bible quotes without giving you a chance to look them up (because to be honest, I don’t know where they are either . . . They may not even be in there, come to think of it).

Sure, you’ll look for a way of escape.  Maybe crashing through the nearest window or possibly even stabbing yourself with a fork (because we’ll probably be at a Denny’s or something.) But you won’t have the guts to see it through.

By the time I’m done steam rolling, and stripping you of all hope for getting a word in edgewise,  I will have broken your will—-I mean, we’re talking Bane on Batman, I will straight up, break you.

The end result? The most uncomfortable four and a half hours of you’re life. You’ll be legitimately terrified to say or ask anything else for fear that I’ll go off again.

I promise you, the sheer length of my discourse will make you wish you were never born.

Oh . . . And by the way, you better pray I bring Tic-Tacs  or else you can kiss those eyebrows goodbye.

. . . So what do you say? How about Denny’s after church,  Sunday?”

In Defense of Victoria Osteen

 

 

Okay so I keep hearing about Victoria Osteen’s statement of, “doing good for you and not for God.” I’ve watched the video clip. I’ve heard what Bill Cosby had to say about it. I’ve seen the reactions and the accusations from the Christian community (which are all done in absolute love and with the best intentions—and not at all because we just don’t like the Osteens).

And I gotta say . . . I agree with Victoria.

. . . At least in part.

Granted, I think if she had it to do over again, she may have reworded it. So far, I have not heard her issue any type of clarification, although that may be forthcoming.

Regardless, if we just take the statement she made, and think about it, there isn’t really that much wrong with it. What this really comes down to is whether its right for Christians to seek rewards by serving God.

“We as Christians need to be Christ centered. Not man centered. Selfless not selfish. Full of Christ not”—-Okay okay, we get it, Mother Theresa.

Fact is, we all serve God for ourselves. Of course, not just for ourselves. But anyone who tries to tell me they are not motivated by the promises of heaven, eternal life, or joy unspeakable I just don’t believe is being honest. A quick way to demonstrate this would be to ask ourselves a simple question: Would I still serve God, if I knew I had to spend my life here on earth completely miserable and then die and be in hell forever?

If you answer, yes, then you’re still trying too hard.

There isn’t anything wrong with seeking rewards. The Bible is full of them. And they are often stated as a means of motivation for obedience to God. Deuteronomy 28 is a good example which culminates in chapter 30 where God says, “I put before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose life therefore so that you and your children will live.” He tells Israel why they should choose life—so they will live. The promise of blessings were used as a reason to obey God.

Nearly the entire first half of Proverbs chapter 3 instructs us to keep God’s commandments because they will add riches, health, and longevity to our lives.

Honestly, I just thought of these passages right now. I’m sure if you or anyone else were to sit down and give the topic some consideration, you would realize the Bible validates man’s desire to seek things for himself.

Op!—-Just  thought of another one . . .

Romans 2:6-7(NET)
“He will reward each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek ( SEEK! that means that’s what they’re trying to get from it) glory and honor and immortality,”

I realize the, “In Thing” right now is to be critical of the Osteens . . .  Or any minister who is on television . . . Or, really . . .  Pretty much anyone who isn’t us. But Christians need to remember we are called to love.

“That doesn’t mean I turn a blind eye to the evils and deception of false doctrine that itches the ears which froths”—-hold up there, Billy Graham. I did not say it did. But what it does mean is that we must always be willing to believe the best (1Cor 13, AMP). That usually doesn’t come naturally for most of us.  So, chances are, our first reaction to things like this will be the incorrect one.

Let’s just everyone stand back, take a deep breath and ask ourselves, “Did I hear that correctly? Is there something I’m missing? Maybe they misspoke.”

I personally don’t listen to Joel because I have a hard time following what he’s saying. So I’m not at all trying to be a defender of his ministry. But I do believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt.