Thursday, May 24, 2012

Be Bold, Humble, and Full of Joy


1 Peter 3:9-17
Suffering for Righteousness Sake

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

Crossway Bibles (2011-02-09). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (with Cross-References) (Kindle Locations 40562-40566). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.

We've been studying witnessing and how to witness effectively.  1 Peter 3:15 is one of the texts from that study.  In verse 15 Peter tells us to always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.  Also, you should do it with gentleness and respect.

The three abilities we have to have to share Jesus with others is boldness, humility, and joy.  If we don't have boldness, fear is going to get us.  Fear of what others think.  I am trying to get over this myself.  Even here in the blog or on facebook, when I proclaim the gospel of Christ, fear still tries to get me.  Be bold. 

If we don't have humility, we will be talking down to people (the sin of pride) and can not communicate the love Jesus has for us effectively.  People have to see that I need the gospel every day in my life too.  The Christian life is not one of once saved your set.  It is a life of daily preaching the gospel to myself to recognize just what a lousy sinner I am even on my best day.  God's grace is needed by me every day.  Remembering that makes me a humble witness to share what Christ has done to change my life.

If we don't have joy, then what is the point.  The joy of the freedom from sin and its condemnation should be effervescent (thanks spell checker) out of us to get the lost to see the hope that is in me.

We need to be ready with a defense.  This is as simple as, "I met Jesus, He changed my life.  You should meet him too."  That is where I am starting with my witness.  I don't have it all down yet, that is why we are working on it together. 

The next step is to have the outline of the gospel memorized.  It is simple and can be put on five fingers to help remember.  The steps are:

  1. God
  2. Man
  3. Sin
  4. Jesus
  5. Faith

Remember the order of the Bible.  First comes God.  Remember His holiness.  He creates all things.  He created man.

Man blew it with sin.  We are all born with a sin nature, a propensity to sin is engrained in us.

God's plan has been to send Jesus to live the life we can't, then sacrifice by death on the cross, to be a substitute for our punishment.

We have to repent and have faith in Jesus to save us.  Repentance and faith are opposite sides of the same coin.  Repentance means to turn away from wanting to sin.  Faith is putting your trust in Jesus to do what He said He would do.

You should not have this outline as an agenda when witnessing.  This outline can be discussed in steps or parts and pieces as you have different conversations with folks.  We have to listen to the other side of the conversation to be effective, otherwise we are just going thru a checklist.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

We have been listening to the sermon series on being a better witness from Pastor R.W. Glenn from

Monday, May 21, 2012

Secular Humanity and the Fight to Normalize Homosexuality Within Marriage. Why Christians Must Hold to the Biblical Worldview

OK, that is one cool title for a blog post. 

Biblical Truths

  • Marriage is for a male and female, two become one flesh Matthew 19:4-6
  • Sex that is not with your marriage partner is sinful. Exodus 20:14
  • Looking on others with sexual desire on your mind is the same sin as adultery. Matthew 5:27-29
  • All homosexual behavior is sinful. Romans 1:24-27
  • There isn't one of us reading this that hasn't already committed some sort of sexual sin for which we need redemption. Romans 3:23

God created sex for a married couple.  One man and one woman.  Being the easy target for temptation, sin is rampant in humankind as it relates to sex, orientation, and sexuality.  It is so easy to point our Christian fingers at an effeminate man or a gay couple or a pregnant unmarried teenager and look down on those lowly sinners.  When we do this, pride is taking over the Christian into a different sin. 

I ask you what is the difference in their sin and my sin?  Mine is worse.  I need the gospel preached to myself daily to keep it in my head that "I am a wretched sinner saved by grace."  My sexual sin leads me to miss the mark of perfection too, and I need a savior from my sins.  All of us do. 

Don't look down on folks that are parading their sin for the world to gawk at.  Don't stand down from the fight to judge sinning.  Just remember that Jesus teaches us to take the beam out of our eye first, then we can rightly judge others in love.

The following message is from Albert Mohler downloaded from defending contending at:

...This controversy will inevitably demonstrate the basic worldview divide that separates the secular therapeutic community and evangelical Christians. The politicians, the mental health industry, and the media will have their own debate on the matter, but Christians now face the urgent challenge of thinking about these issues in a way that is fully biblical and theological — and thus faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, we face the fact that the Bible clearly, repeatedly, consistently, and comprehensively reveals the sinfulness of all homosexual behaviors. This truth is set within the larger context of the Bible’s revelation concerning the Creator’s plan and purpose for human sexuality — a context that is centered in the marital union of a man and a woman as the exclusive arena for human sexual activity. This flies in the face of the contemporary demand for the full normalization of homosexuality. As the joint statement of the “Just the Facts Coalition” declares, “both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality.”

The normalization of homosexuality simply cannot be accepted by anyone committed to biblical Christianity. The new secular orthodoxy demands that Christians abandon the clear teachings of Scripture, and Christians must understand that the sinfulness of all homosexual behaviors is not only a matter of biblical authority, but also of the Gospel. To deny that sin is sin is to deny our need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians cannot accept any teaching that minimizes sin, for it is the knowledge of our sin that points us to our need for atonement, salvation, and the forgiveness of that sin through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Second, we must recognize that every human being is a sinner and that every sinner’s pattern of sexual attraction falls short of the glory of God. There is no sinner of physical maturity who will be able to say that he or she has never had a sinful thought related to sex or sexuality. Taking the Bible’s teachings about sin and sexuality with full force, we understand that every sinful human being is in need of redemption, and that includes the redemption of our sexual selves.

Actually, the Bible speaks rather directly to the sinfulness of the homosexual orientation — defined as a pattern of sexual attraction to a person of the same sex. In Romans 1:24-27, Paul writes of “the lusts of their hearts to impurity,” of “dishonorable passions,” of women who “exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” and of men who “gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.” A close look at this passage reveals that Paul identifies the sinful sexual passion as a major concern — not just the behavior.

At this point, the chasm between the biblical and secular worldview looms ever larger. The modern secular consensus is that an individual’s pattern of sexual attraction, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is just a given and is to be considered normal. More than that, the secular view demands that this pattern of sexual orientation be accepted as integral to an individual’s identity. According to the secular consensus, any effort to change an individual’s sexual orientation is essentially wrong and harmful. The contemporary therapeutic worldview is virtually unanimous in this verdict, but nothing could be more directly at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament reveals that a homosexual sexual orientation, whatever its shape or causation, is essentially wrong, contrary to the Creator’s purpose, and deeply sinful. Everyone, whatever his or her sexual orientation, is a sinner in need of redemption. Every sinner who comes by faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved knows the need for the redemption of our bodies — including our sexual selves. But those whose sexual orientation is homosexual face the fact that they also need a fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions. About this, the Bible is clear. At this point, once again, the essential contradiction between the Christian worldview and the modern secular worldview is clear.

Third, Christians understand that sinners are simultaneously completely responsible for their sin and completely unable to redeem themselves from their sin. Sinners may improve themselves morally, but they cannot mitigate to any degree their need for redemption. Indeed, moralism is a false gospel that suggests that we can please God by moral improvement. As Isaiah warns, the only righteousness of which we are capable amounts to “filthy rags.” [Isaiah 64:6] The law reveals what is good for us and what is sinful, but the law is powerless to save us. [Romans 8:3]

The law of God reveals our sin, and our sin reveals our need for a Savior. Paul’s own testimony about the law, his knowledge of his own sin, and the redemption that was his in Christ is clear when he writes to the Romans: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [Romans 7:24-25] This is every Christian’s testimony.

Thus, we recognize that, without redemption, there is no eternal hope for the sinner. Even in terms of moral improvement in this earthly life, the non-Christian lacks union with Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the means of grace that alone can conform the believer to the image of Christ. Thus, for the non-Christian, the most that can be hoped for is a responsible determination to cease practicing an immoral behavior. The Bible holds no hope for the sinner’s ability to change his or her heart.

In other words, a biblical Christian will have no fundamental confidence in any secular therapy’s ability to change a sinner’s fundamental disposition and heart, and this includes every aspect of the sinner’s life, including sexuality.

This is where the Gospel-centeredness of the Christian worldview points us to the cross of Christ and to the sinner’s fundamental need for redemption, not mere moral improvement. The Bible offers no hope for any human ability to change our sinful desires. As the modern secular worldview generally acknowledges, the alcoholic who stops drinking remains an alcoholic. The secular world affirms that this is so. The Bible explains why it is so.

Fourth, the Christian cannot accept any argument that denies what the Bible reveals about the sanctification of believers — including the sanctification of our sexuality. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ receives the forgiveness of sins, the gift of eternal life, and the righteousness of Christ imputed by faith. But the redeemed Christian is also united with Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and given means of grace through, for example, the preaching of the Word of God. The Bible reveals that God conforms believers to the image of Christ, doing that work within the human heart that the sinful human himself or herself cannot perform. The Bible reveals that believers are to grow into Christlikeness, knowing that this is a progressive process that will be completed only with our eventual glorification at the end of the age. In this life, we know a process of growing more holy, more sanctified, and more obedient to Christ. In the life to come, we will know perfection as Christ glorifies his Church.

This means that Christians cannot accept any argument that suggests that a fundamental reorientation of the believer’s desires in a way that increasingly pleases God and is increasingly obedient to Christ is impossible. To the contrary, we must argue that this process is exactly what the Christian life is to demonstrate. As Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

The Bible is also honest about the struggle to overcome sin and sinful desires. Paul writes about this in Romans 7, but the exhortations of the entire New Testament also make this clear. Christians with same-sex sexual desires must know that these desires are sinful. Thus, faithful Christians who struggle with these desires must know that God both desires and commands that they desire what He wills for them to desire. All Christians struggle with their own pattern of sinful desires, sexual and otherwise. Our responsibility as Christians is to be obedient to Christ, knowing that only He can save us from ourselves.

Christians cannot avoid the debate over reparative therapy, nor can we enter the debate on secular terms. We must bring to this conversation everything we know from God’s Word about our sin and God’s provision for sinners in Christ. We will hold no hope for any sinner’s ability to change his or her own heart, and we will hold little hope for any secular therapy to offer more than marginal improvement in a sinner’s life.

At the same time, we gladly point all sinners to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. [Romans 10:13] We hold full confidence in the power of the Gospel and of the reign of Christ within the life of the believer. We know that something as deeply entrenched as a pattern of sexual attraction is not easily changed, but we know that with Christ all things are possible.

And, even as Christians know that believers among us struggle to bring their sexual desires into obedience to Christ, this is not something true only of those whose desires have been homosexual. It is true of all Christians. We will know that those believers who are struggling to overcome homosexual desires have a special struggle — one that requires the full conviction and support of the body of Christ. We will see the glory of God in the growing obedience of Christ’s redeemed people. And, along with the Apostle Paul and all the redeemed, we will await the glory that is yet to be revealed to us.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Quiz: Are you Loving or Unloving?

Reposted from Defending Contending at:

Posted on by Pilgrim

Here’s a quick and simple six-question quiz to determine whether you’re loving (“tolerant”) or unloving (close minded and “intolerant”).

1). You’re sitting in a coffee shop when a woman at another table gets up–leaving her coffee unattended–to get a napkin. As she does, a man walks by her table, pours a powdered substance into the woman’s coffee and quickly exits the shop. You immediately warn this woman of what just happened. Your reaction is:

A. Loving

B. Unloving. This is none of your business. Quit interfering with other people’s lives.

2). A small child runs toward a bush to retrieve his ball that rolled into it. You know that the bush contains a rattlesnake nest. You yell out for the kid to stop. Your yelling at this child is:

A. Loving

B. Unloving. Who are you to impose your beliefs onto this kid. His parents have a right to raise him how they see fit without your close-minded “snakes are bad” views being forced down his throat.

3). You are woken to the sounds of fire alarms and the smell of smoke in your apartment complex. As you hastily exit your apartment you notice that no one has alerted your elderly neighbors who are  deaf. You bang on their door (and even kick it in if necessary) to alert them of the pending doom. This action that you’re taking is:

A. Loving.

B. Unloving. Have you considered that perhaps this couple is happy where they are? Why wake them from their slumber? If they’re happy, then leave them be.

4). On a dark and rainy night you observe a family in a car heading home in the direction of a washed-out bridge. You holler and flail your arms, making every effort you can to get their attention to warn them. Your behavior is:

A. Loving

B. Unloving. All roads lead to their house. Who are you to tell them that the road that they’ve chosen to go home will lead to their deaths?

5). While sitting in your car waiting for your friend in a bank, you observe a man walk into the bank wearing a stocking on his face and carrying a gun. You call 911.This judgment of the man’s intentions is:

A. Loving

B. Unloving. “Judge not lest ye be judged!” Who are you to judge this man’s heart. Maybe his intentions are good and he will do no harm to those inside. You’re always so negative and have no faith in other people. You’ve condemned this man already. Jesus would have never done that, He would have befriended him. You need to be more like Jesus.

6). Your friend is going to die in his sins, and when he wakes up on the other side of eternity, will find himself in Hell. You share with him the fact that his unrepentant sin will condemn him before a holy God and that he deserves God’s wrath (just like everyone else) because he’s transgressed God’s laws. You further explain that any of his attempts to purchase God’s forgiveness by his own obedience to the Law or good works is futile because not only are we saved by faith apart from the works and the Law, but God’s grace is not earned, it is a gift. You share with your friend that through the death of one Man, God has provided forgiveness to sinners, but this unmerited favor for sinners is only found in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who ransomed us with His own blood. God’s only Son took our sin upon Himself on the cross and, in turn, imputed his perfect righteousness to us. You tell your friend that Jesus became a propitiation for him in order to absorb the wrath of God that he deserves. You urge your friend to repent and put his trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. This discussion with your friend is:

A. Loving.

B. Unloving. Insert any of the above “B” answers (or all of them) here: __________.

Friday, May 4, 2012

What's wrong with Joel Osteen?

Pastor, Christ Reformed Church

On Sunday night, 41,000 fans packed Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., to hear a message of hope, inspiration, and encouragement from Joel Osteen. Most paid about $20 (including fees) for the privilege.

Osteen sold out the stadium — a feat the Nationals rarely accomplish. But did he have to sell out to do so?

Osteen is the latest embodiment of the American Religion — Revivalism. For centuries now, preachers have known how to fill stadiums or circus tents and send people home with hope in their heart and a skip in their step. Osteen promises you will leave a transformed person — at least until his tour comes around again next year, when you can be transformed again.

Osteen’s message is a positive one for a difficult time. Every one of us has seeds of greatness inside, potential that has not yet been released, buried treasure waiting to be discovered. If you were a car, you would be the fully loaded and totally equipped model — “with pin stripes,” he says, gesturing to his suit.

Before God created you, he planned great things for you. As you stretch your faith, “God is going to show up, and show out, in tremendous ways. … If you don’t step into your destiny and release your gift, then this world will not be as bright as it should be.”

That’s a pretty positive message. What could be wrong with that?

The biggest problem with Osteen’s message about God is that it is really a message about me. God is a potential, a force, a co-pilot, waiting to be tapped and deployed. I may have a net below me, but I am the one that has to take the first steps on the wire:

Taking steps of faith is imperative to fulfilling your destiny. When I make a move, God will make a move. When I stretch my faith, God will release more of his favor. When I think bigger, God will act bigger.

God is as big as I think him to be.

Yes, this is the American Religion: a program, a plan, five simple steps to help me be all that I can be. This is the religion of the bootstraps, where “God helps those who help themselves.”
By the way, an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that is a quote from the Bible. It’s not.
And that’s the second problem. Osteen’s message is not biblical. His promise that his audience will be taught the Bible — from a preacher who has admitted that teaching the Bible isn’t his strength — is fulfilled with a smattering of verses. These snippets are at best torn out of their context, at worst fabricated.

There’s this stretch: “God is saying to you what He said to Lot, ‘Hurry up and get there, so I can show you my favor in a greater way.’” In Genesis 19:22, the Angel does tell Lot “Get there quickly, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.” God waiting on Lot to step out in faith so he can bless him? Not exactly. It is God telling Lot to flee to Zoar, a city of safety, so he can rain down fire on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Osteen bolsters his bootstrap religion by quoting Jesus: “Roll away the stone, and I’ll raise Lazarus.” This, Osteen says, is a “principle,” “God expects us to do what we can, and He will do what we can’t. If you will do the natural, God will do the supernatural.”

One problem. Jesus does command them to roll away the stone, but no such quid pro quo is found in holy writ. This foundational principle is one of Osteen’s own making.

It is not primarily the details of Osteen’s biblical sunbeams that are problematic. It’s the overall message. What’s missing is any sense of human sin. Osteen leads his crowd in a mantra at the opening of his performance: “This is my Bible. Tonight I will be taught the word of God. I can do what it says I can do.” Again, bootstraps.

What does the Bible say we can do for ourselves? Our best works are like filthy rags, the prophet Isaiah teaches (Isaiah 64:6); we are like sheep gone astray (Isaiah 53:6). Paul says “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and includes himself in this “all” as “the chief of all sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). The big problem is that we don’t want what’s good for us, and when we do, Paul says, “The good that I want to do, I do not do” (Romans 7:19).

Ring true? It does for me. That’s why the stadium will be full next year. Self-esteem doesn’t help me, it just leaves me with more me, digging deeper within.

How about Jesus? Surely he’s more upbeat than Paul or the prophets? Well, he does offer this simple recipe to happiness: “Sell all you possess, give it away to the poor, and follow me.” You done that yet? Yes, he does say that our faith makes us well, but he is the healer our faith looks to. He also tells the paralytic to take up his bed and walk, but only after he has healed him.

What we want is the excitement and encouragement and affirmation of the stadium — “God is waiting for you to act.” What we need is the truth and compassion of Jesus — “Come to me you who are weary, and I will give you rest.”

After the adrenaline boost, I hope some of those 41,000 find their way through the desert to some place where they can get a drink of water.

Earlier Sunday, 45 worshipers (about 0.1% of Osteen’s crowd) gathered at Christ Reformed Church in Logan Circle — and other churches in this city — to hear a message of sin and salvation, the Good News of a God who loves those who are his sworn enemies. They responded to God’s word with prayer, song, and confession, and received the benediction of a God who pardons sin full and free.
There was hope and inspiration too, but of an entirely different sort. Admittance was free.

[Note: The author didn’t make it to Nationals Stadium on Sunday; he caught the previous “Night of Hope Event” at Yankee Stadium online.]

Dr. Brian Lee is the pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Washington, D.C. He formerly worked as a communications director both on Capitol Hill and at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Billy Talks to his Pastor


John Pedersen

from The Trinity Review, July 1997

Billy: “Pastor, does God love everybody?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy” (smiles, pats him on the head).

Billy: “How come it says in Romans 9 that he hated Esau?”

Pastor: “Been reading your Bible, huh, Billy?” (still smiles). “Well, the Bible also says that God hates, but that only is talking about God’s secret decree, and as far as we are concerned, he loves everybody.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “If God tells us about his secret decree, is it still a secret?”

Pastor: “Er, well, I guess . . . not, Billy, but I meant that we should realize that there is a way the Bible talks about God’s love for everybody, and that’s what we should think about, not the one or two places where it says God hates.”

Billy: “Oh. How is it that God loves everybody?”

Pastor: “Well, he gives everybody rain and sunshine, and he blesses the people of the Earth with a conscience so they know right from wrong, and he has given them many gifts which they use to make the world a better and safer place to live.”

Billy: “Then he sends most of them to Hell?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “Is it love for God to give people good things for a few years to make them feel comfortable and worthwhile, and then send them to Hell?”

Pastor: “Well, I . . . yes, it . . . is, I think because it would have been worse if, I mean it would be, um, well, it is, I guess, because he did not send them directly to Hell, but he allowed them to experience his goodness and his provision for his creatures. . . .”

Billy: “Is it love to let someone experience something good they will remember forever and always hate God for, because that good thing they loved more than forgiveness?”

Pastor: “Could we change the subject, Billy? I am not sure my answers are satisfying you.”

Billy: “O.K., Pastor. Did Jesus die for everybody?”

Pastor: “Why, sure, Billy.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “If Jesus died for everybody, why isn’t everybody going to Heaven?”

Pastor: “Well, Billy, it’s because not everybody will accept him.”

Billy: “But, Pastor, I thought Jesus saved us. You are telling me that we save Jesus.”

Pastor (laughing nervously): “Of course not, Billy! I believe that Jesus saves us completely! However would you get the idea that I believed we save Jesus?”

Billy: “Well, Pastor, you told me that Jesus died for everybody, and that only those who accept him will be saved. So, this means Jesus’ death and resurrection, what Jesus does, cannot save us of itself, but something more is needed, and that something more is what we do by accepting him. For those who do not accept Jesus, they will perish. That means that Jesus’ dying for them cannot help them. In fact, it means that Jesus’ work for them was a miserable failure. On the other hand, those who accept him make his work effective by their acceptance—they save his work from being a failure. Without us, Jesus and his work of salvation would be doomed! If Jesus cannot save us without the permission we give of our own free will, then we are the real saviors, and Jesus is the one we save! Wow! What would he ever do without us?!”

Pastor: “Er . . . uh . . . that’s not what I mean. I mean if, it is , I said . . . no, I believe Jesus is the one who does the saving, Billy, it’s just that . . . God has made it so that we . . . are free to acc . . . meaning, we are, are . . . Billy, the Bible is mysterious. It seems to mean certain things, but it doesn’t really, like it says . . . you are using logic, Billy. The Bible is not logical and the truths are not something we can fit into our human minds.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor (now showing a slight frown): “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “When you say the Bible is not logical, does that mean the Bible does not make sense? ‘Cause you made sense when you said the Bible wasn’t logical. I think it was because you used logic that you made sense.”

Pastor (now glowering at Billy): “No, Billy, I didn’t mean the Bible does not make sense. It does make sense, but just not our kind of sense.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “Why would God give a Bible to us that did not make our kind of sense?”

Pastor: “Well, Billy, it’s not that . . . I think it’s . . . it makes sense, just does not give us the answers we like to hear, and says things that seem contradictory but really are not, to keep us from asking smart-aleck questions.”

Billy: “So, God doesn’t make our kind of sense to keep us humble?”

Pastor: “That’s right, Billy. God wants to keep us humble, so he does not let us think we can be absolutely certain about the things some proud people are certain about.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor: “Yes, Billy.”

Billy: “Are you certain about what you just said to me?”

Pastor (showing obvious irritation): “What do you think, Billy?”

Billy: “I think you just called yourself a proud person, but I don’t know why, ’cause you are so smart and know so much about God, and how much he needs us.”

Pastor: “Billy, why don’t you go out and play, like the other children?”

Billy: “Why should I go out and play, when I can stay in here with you and learn how to save God?”

Pastor: “You need to be careful, Billy. I never said we save God. You are the one who said that, remember. I simply believe our choices are significant, and God does not treat us like robots. He created us to have true human responsibility.”

Billy: “Pastor?”

Pastor (now looking quite angry): “This will have to be the last question, young man! I have important things to do and you should be outside playing.”

Billy: “When God put Abraham to sleep, was he telling him what he thought of his ‘human responsibility’?”

Pastor (seething): “I have a bad headache, Billy, and I can’t answer any more of your questions, but I can tell you this. Whoever has been teaching you has been telling you things a boy your age should not even be thinking about. It sounds like you have been learning some kind of hyper-Calvinism! You better be careful, young man!”

Billy: “I don’t know about hyper-Calintisim, but I have been reading these things in the Bible. Thanks for straightening me out. I will try to cut these bad parts out. Can I borrow some scissors?”

Pastor (rising from his chair): “Get out of here, you, you, you . . . !”

Billy: “That’s O.K., Pastor. I’ll ask Joey. He was using some good scissors when we were cutting out our ‘friends with Jesus’ pictures for Sunday school. Good-bye.”

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