Thursday, May 31, 2012

Who Said 1K Can't be Done?

May was a big month for We Talk of Holy Things, we received over 1,000 hits for the month. That's a big jump! Here are the most popular articles both of the month & all time. Enjoy!

May's Popular Posts
May 14, 2012
45 Pageviews
May 22, 2012, 2 comments
38 Pageviews
May 4, 2012
35 Pageviews
May 24, 2012, 1 comment
30 Pageviews
May 9, 2012
26 Pageviews
All Time Popular Posts
Mar 16, 2012
115 Pageviews
Dec 20, 2011, 1 comment
68 Pageviews
Sep 26, 2011
58 Pageviews
Apr 13, 2012, 1 comment
47 Pageviews
May 14, 2012
45 Pageviews

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kingdom Come: A #BTSermon

The Kingdom of America

The Premise

What do you think when you consider the term: kingdom. Chances are, your mind travels to a scene from Robin Hood or King Arthur. You think of Kings, Ladies, Knights & horses. Maybe you think of imperialism or some other form of modern expansion of influence.

Ron Ward continued with part three of his message series analyzing the Lord's Prayer. This time, he focused on the little phrase, Thy Kingdom come & its implications for the Christian's life. These implications are truly revolutionary to today's sedentary Christian.

The Quotes

All for His glory

All for His glory

The Lord's prayer is all about expressing your dependence & submission to God's will. The natural outcome of that attitude should bring glory to Christ's name & exalt Him in your own consciousness.

I say exalted in your consciousness because He does not depend on your homage, though He requires it. In essence, He wants us to realize just how great He is. When we follow the design that He has laid out for us, we invariably bring honor to His name. At its base level, that is the goal of the Christian--to follow & imitate the lifestyle that Christ instituted.

Was Jesus a Republican?

Was Jesus a Republican?

When discussing the way that God's kingdom comes, Ward pointed out that God's program was not a political agenda. It certainly is not a democracy (or republic or a capitalistic system). He also stated that, When Christians get political, they find themselves with strange bedfellows. We have certainly seen these effects with the Religious Right, a group that tried to legislate the kingdom of heaven. We now have drawn-out wars, gay marriage & legal abortions. Wait, what? God's kingdom is not about forcing a political agenda, it is about a change of heart. Until that change of heart comes about, we will not see the kingdom of heaven manifested in this world.

Heaven in the real world

Heaven in the real world

Is the kingdom of heaven an inevitable fixture of eschatology, or is it something more immediate? Will God simply wipe out this earth in favor of something that has not experienced the fall? Clearly, this is the revolutionary part of the sermon. Thy kingdom come is an every-day event! Every single day, we should pray that thy kingdom come into our lives & bind ourselves to live our lives under his legislation. Are we not citizens of eternity? Why do we go about our lives as though we were citizens of America, or Russia, or the Netherlands, or Germany (all places where I know I have readership, thanks for reading!) when we should be children of a King. We should live in purity. We should exercise charity. We should be vectors of God's grace, like little viruses spreading Christendom throughout our little world.

If I was ever certain about a thing that was God's will for my life, this would be that thing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

There's the Beef

Life Goes On Graffiti

The Bible

Exodus 23.1

You must not pass along false rumors. You must not cooperate with evil people by lying on the witness stand. -- NLT

An outcry

Yesterday, Pusha T & Exodus 23:1 was trending on twitter. Apparently this guy has beef with Drake or something and they are battling with their songs. Stupid, I know. It's explicit too, so I'd be careful about looking it up. If you're, you know, curious.

Where's the beef?

I don't know what the beef is about, but I do know what the verse is about--false witness in the context of social justice. I suppose Pusha T is accusing Drake (or Lil Wayne) of lying in a court of law in order to protect one of his boys or ganstas or something.

This is a very specific verse with grave implications. This is not just a simple lie about what you were doing last week. This is an explicit, intentional obstruction of justice. God is concerned with the oppressed & the ultimate vindication of the just. Why else would we be reminded that our sins would find us out? God does not find pleasure in evil, but works to bring about justice. 

Pusha T may want to expose Drake, but God truly brings the ultimate exposure.

More Reading

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ya, It's Kosher

Walls are built with bricks!

The Bible

Nehemiah 6.9

They were just trying to intimidate us, imagining that they could discourage us and stop the work. So I continued the work with even greater determination. --NLT


I just read the book of Nehemiah. If you plan to do something like that, I suggest you use the YouVersion app or something like that. I was able to have the program read the passages to me. It really helps when you encounter one of those chapters that list name after name.

Grant me perspicacity

I came across this passage referring to the opposition to the rebuilding of the wall & it really struck me. I am amazed at the wisdom which Nehemiah held. His wisdom was on display throughout the book, but this particular instance is pungent.

If I were Nehemiah, I would have over-thought the situation & probably ended up taking the easy route (give up). I would have considered the plausibility of the opposition being a warning from the Lord that I was in the wrong. I would have repented of my good deeds & vowed to stop doing them. But not Nehemiah.

Nehemiah could see right through those serpents. No doubt, it helped that he was steady & secure in the fact that he was a) doing God's work with b) the King's consent, but what wisdom to calmly reassure those around him that their activity was kosher.

I only pray that God grants me that kind of discernment as I seek to follow Him.

Read Some More

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

All the Little Things #2sdayriff

More Than You'll Ever Know


Watermark is not my favorite band. I generally do not listen to them. How did one of their songs get into an edition of #2sdayriff you ask? Even a broken clock is right twice a day! BTW don't comment on how insensitive I am to this artist. They are supremely talented, but their style does not jibe with mine. However, this song resonates with me.

My wife played this song last night on the way to birthday dinner at my grandmother's house. It was beautiful. It was a summation of the way I felt towards her for the amazing birthday weekend she painstakingly planned for me. Not only that, it also describes the amount of support she provides me with. I asked her recently if I was weird, she calmly reminded me that she married me, so I couldn't be that strange. She is a great comfort to me.

She also prays for me. She prays constantly, and I know it. She is a supportive wife who does all the little things to ensure my success. I am grateful for that. This illustrates the power of relationships & the impact you can make in your own home. Are you making the most of that opportunity?


Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it's okay to cry with you.

Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I've been near God
And that's the way it ought to be.

'Cause you've been more than a friend to me 
You fight off my enemies
'Cause you've spoken the Truth over my life.
And you'll never know what it means to me
Just to know you've been on your knees for me.
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you'll ever know.
More than you'll ever know.

You had faith when I had none,
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn't think I could find the strength to sing.

And all the while I'm hoping that I'll
Do the kind of praying for you that you've done for me.
And that's the way it ought to be.

You have carried me,
You have taken upon a burden that wasn't your own.
May the blessing return to you
A hundredfold.
A hundredfold.

Your Turn!

Make an impact

Do something for your family today. Let them know how much you appreciate them & pray for them specifically. Don't just throw away a prayer, make an intentional effort to talk about them to God. Remember that the home is your first mission field.

Read some more

Here are some more articles. Perhaps they will be an encouragement to you.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Defeatism in the Church #BTSermon

The Browerstache

The Premise

The Browerstache

Jonathan Brower wrapped up his week-long series on the role of unbelief in a Christian's life. Basically, Unbelief should have no role in the believer's life, but I think we will explore exactly how difficult that truly is as we discuss the quotes from last night's message.

Missed Troubles mean missed opportunity

 The Quotes

Missed troubles mean missed opportunity

At a very primitive level, man desires self-preservation. We fret about every little issue in life & how it causes discomfort in our own lives. However, trouble is very often used in scripture as a channel of blessing.

God uses man to accomplish His purposes. God uses any man, but the greatest weapon in His arsenal is a willing man. He only asks for complete trust in the midst of the inevitable storm. Perhaps our fear of the unknown (to us, not to God) keeps us from trusting Him fully. Why would you hold back from God?

Full of nothing

Full of nothing

God loves using contrasts in His word. He takes the weak & befuddles the strong. He takes the ignorant & astounds the wise. He takes the empty & fills it with blessing. A broken & contrite spirit is not rejected. The meek inherit the earth. The only problem is in the process. We are not going to like the process of being emptied any more than we like being broken, contrite or meek. But sometimes we must go through pain because without it we will never learn.

Woe is Joe

Woe is Joe

We know that we are messed up people. I know that I am a messed up individual. But there is a psychological trick that we play on ourselves which excuses our bad behavior. The trick is to say, "Woe is me" & then point out the flaw in our neighbor to make ourselves feel better. That is not true repentance. That is called passing the buck. We must take ownership of our own lack of faith & ask God to help us rely on Him more. Stop playing the blame game, it has no lasting value.

Know the enemy

Know the enemy

The enemy is unbelief, because it fabricates a limit on God's control in your life. God sets a standard which is always more marvelous than we can conceive, but it's never something more marvelous than we can attain in this life. Beware of false humility & false emptiness, those are only excuses to stay in your comfort zone. There is no place for defeatism in the Church. We are to be victorious in our lives. Unfortunately, unbelief is not a dragon that stays slain, it is a nightmare that keeps recurring. It haunts us. It plagues us until we step out of this shadowy life into God's very presence. Fortunately, unbelief can be defeated in the same way a nightmare is dispelled; open your eyes & take a look at Jesus.

Your Turn

Have you ever experienced God's blessing after going through a fiery trial? I would love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below. If this post touched your heart, share it with your social groups! Here's some more reading on the topic:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

What Do You Want?

Lost the Plot

The topic of this song is that age-old battle between the Old Self and the New Man. Periodically, we fall into an apathetic lifestyle where things are expected but not anticipated. We expect Jesus to come, but it's not something urgent in our lives. We expect to be perfected, but we don't care to go through the process of sanctification. As a direct result of this mindset, we form an opinion of who Christ is which seems to me more of a butler for our own purposes than a Lord with an agenda. We become the benefactors in our own minds, when we were actually redeemed for His glory.

In the Christian, this cycle should be broken on our knees. We should fall before a thrice holy God in repentance and brokenness in light of our failures. I know I have. I remember falling to my face in my room while listening to this song--specifically the bridge, where John James & the Newsboys really get honest & blunt.

What do you want?  If it is anything less than what God wants, then you are in need of forgiveness.

And I know He will give it to you.


When you come back again
Would you bring me something from the fridge?
Heard a rumour that the end is near
But I just got comfortable here.
Let's be blunt.
I'm a little distracted.
What do you want?

Headaches and bad faith

Are all that I've got.
First I misplaced the ending
Then I lost the plot.

Out among the free-range sheep

While the big birds sharpen their claws.
For a time we stuck with the shepherd
But you wouldn't play Santa Claus.


Let's be blunt.
We're a little distracted.
What do you want?

Once we could follow,

Now we cannot.
You would not fit our image,
So we lost the plot.

Once we could hear you,

Now our senses are shot.
We've forgotten our first love.
We have lost the plot.

When I saw you for the first time

You were hanging with a thief
And I knew my hands were dirty,
And I dropped my gaze.
Then you said I was forgiven
And you welcomed me with laughter.
I was happy ever after.
I was counting the days
When you'd come back again.
We'll be waiting for you
When you comin' back again?
We'll be ready for you
Maybe we'll wake up when...
Maybe we'll wake up when
You come back again.


Let's be blunt.
We're a little unfaithful.
What do you want?

Are you still listening?

'Cause we're obviously not
We've forgotten our first love
We have lost the plot.

And why are you still calling?

You forgave, we forgot.
We're such experts at stalling
That we've lost the plot.
Lost the plot

When you come back again

Would you bring me something from the fridge?
Heard a rumour that the end is near
But I just got comfortable here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What's Behind Your Mustache?

What does your mustache say about you?

The Premise

Our very own mustachioed preacher, Jon Brower, spoke last Sunday morning & evening on Obedience to God's Will. While his message had nothing to do with mustaches, he sports one & that is why I decided to devote the first paragraph of this post to the hair between the lip and the nostril. And now, without further ado, the quotes from my live tweet hashtag: #BTSermon.

The Quotes

Obedience because of absolutes

Obedience because of absolutes

Brower began the meeting with a defense of absolutes. We believe in a God who has established a certain order in the universe & expects us to follow His commands. This reasoning reminds me of the epistle of James, which reminds us that if we refuse to do what we know we ought to do, we are sinning. Also, later in 1 Samuel, the book's namesake reminds Saul that God prefers obedience over sacrifice.

How are we different from the world? 1) We do the things God commands 2) because God commands it. There are a lot of people who obey the Lord by accident. We are supposed to do it on purpose, with the intent to please the Lord. That second part changes the dynamic entirely--it makes things that much harder. We need to watch the motivations of our heart.

Which prayers are heard?

 Which prayers are heard?

God sees through the pretense. God knows more than just what is said out loud. God is spirit and communicates on a spiritual level with us. Therefore, just because a man prays audibly, it does not mean his spirit is right with God. Conversely, a woman may pray silently to a greater effect than all the men in the assembly combined. We should strive to maintain a pure heart through self-evaluation and confession that we may keep in constant communion with God.

All we are

 All we are

When we conduct our self-evaluation & confession it results in immediate cleansing. God is faithful & just to forgive (1 John 1.9). This constant remembrance of how far we have come & how far we have to go should keep us humble.

Christians can be a proud people. It is this issue which is at the center of the two books I just reviewed. We are either to proud to let people into our club, or we are too proud to give to others. The truth is, we are all lepers. We are all just a decision away from getting stuck in the mud. It is by the grace of God that we are where we are. Keep that in the forefront of your mind and you should be kept sufficiently humble.

Unto the Lord

Unto the Lord

Not only should we be humbled when we honestly evaluate our flaws, we should also be humble when we consider the good works we do. All we do should be as unto the Lord. We can be present at all the meetings & use our resources for God's work yet continue to hold back in the department of devotion. Our motivations can get in the way of our obedience. God can use our deeds despite of our disposition, but we will still be in the wrong.

Our desire should be to finish well for the Lord. In this view, it does not matter where we are now. We could be doing well now or not. What matters is not the past, it is the future. We cannot change what we have done, we can only confess, learn & proceed into the future.

Your Turn

In addition to joining the conversation on twitter, you can look over to the sidebar of this very blog and see the most recent tweets with the #BTSermon hashtag! There are plenty of quotable nuggets from Brower in that list which may enlighten you. Feel free to discus below or shoot out a link to this post.

More Reading

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Hole in Our Gospel: A Book Review

The Hole in our Gospel | Richard Stearns

The Book

This book was given to me as a birthday present last year. (Literally 330-odd days ago!) I started reading it on-&-off a few months back and decided to churn through it in recent weeks. I appreciate the gift & plan to use this book as a reference source since it is fully indexed both with scriptural references & topical references. In fact, this book (published in 2010) calls out Joseph Kony & his Lord's Resistance Army, which went viral this year. World Vision (the organization Stearns works for as the president) has been at the forefront of relief efforts in Uganda for a while now.

Technical Merit

Stearns as an author is fairly dense. He does a nice job interweaving anecdotes with scriptural references and statistics. The chapters in the first few sections are long, and they slowly shorten as his goal changes from information to transfiguration (he ends with a call to action). I give him 3.5 points on my 5-point scale as this read is engaging more because of the real tragedy of his topic than for his ability to weave a story. The illustrations he uses are humble & self-deprecating, while he lifts up positive examples of others.


Most of the world lives in extreme poverty. A vast majority of the world centers their daily activities around the things we take for granted. Basic necessities become hazards. For instance: clean water. In order to get enough water to live, families must travel up to 2 hours per day, lugging 10 pounds of water. They exert much more energy than simply turning a faucet. This water is used for everything--drinking, bathing, cleaning, etc. If the physical labor was not bad enough, there is a high likelihood that this water could be tainted, leading to diseases that would threaten the livelihood & lives of family members.

The main question that Richard Stearns tackles is: What does God expect of us? Does God expect anything? Does God care about the plight of the poor, or does He only want the gospel preached to them? Clearly, Stearns argues that God wants us to have a whole gospel, complete with sound doctrine & real assistance to the poor. Without both, we are just hypocrites who are no better than the Pharisees. When we debate over faith versus works we lose sight of the fact that they are not mutually exclusive. If you are missing one, then you have a hole in your gospel. If the illustration of the tree holds up, we know that good faith is like being rooted in doctrine and works are the fruit. They should both be present in a healthy tree!

Finally, Stearns also tackles the question: I am only one person, what can I do? The answer is, You are God's tool. You can yield yourself to Him. That is all that anyone can do. That is all anyone has ever done. He argues that God wants your Time, Talent & Treasure. Give to Him, it is your responsibility.

My Takeaway

This one thought came to me while reading this book. It has been stuck in my head and I think it sums this title up well. It is this:
Sometimes having a few extra ordinary men is more important than waiting for that one extraordinary man.
Bodies is what God wants. He wants each person to be committed to Him. He wants us to lay down our own perceptions & prejudice so we can see things as He sees them. I can make a personal difference in someone's life today. I do not need to wait for a Billy Graham or Mother Theresa to rise up, I can do something now.

I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book. Even more so, I recommend living in a way that reflects the WHOLE Gospel, and not just the parts we find easy to swallow.

More Reading 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fall to Grace: A Book Review

Fall to Grace - Jay Bakker

The Book

Author: Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker)

I found this book on a Borders liquidation sale shelf. I picked it up for a couple bucks and have been meaning to read it out of curiosity's sake and see if it really was a bunch of heresy or if there was anything salvageable about it. What is unfortunate for Borders bookstore became my own good fortune. Now that I have a "Summer Break" from school, I decided to give it a read.

Technical Merit

As you know, I am a huge Donald Miller fan. Suffice it to say, Jay is not another Miller. I actually give this book 2 out of 5 possible stars for writing savvy. He tends to get stuck on one example and clobber you with it. It took me a total of 4 days to read the book, so the language is pretty straightforward. The chapters are short and easy to take in, that is a very convenient & a great positive for this work. A few sections, called grace notes, are anecdotes submitted by others used as illustrations. Those are fine, but some of the examples provided by Jay seem to be laced with bitterness. This furthers the rule of thumb that grace should also be applied to your illustrations because tone is difficult to nuance in print.

The Good

Jay uses the epistle to the Galatians as his scriptural point of reference. The overarching point in the book is that grace knows no bounds and Jesus is willing & able to accept people as they are. This is a noble point. He rages against fundamentalists who insist that people must clean up their act to be loved by God. Another main point that Jay makes is that in Christ we are free. One of his thesis statements is as follows:
By definition, freedom makes room for mistakes. We have the freedom to do good, yes. But we also have the freedom to screw up royally. Or to do nothing at all. That is the price of being free. It's up to us. (129-130)
Our works do not earn favor with God. Our works only come after we have been set free. In fact, we would not be able to do anything good without being set free first.

The Bad

Jay runs the risk of Antinomianism--freedom to sin--with this book. He quotes Luther a lot and even goes as far as casting the apostle James in a negative light for being legalistic. (Remember that Luther wanted James stricken from the cannon of scripture.) Rather than working with the balance of scripture, Jay states that it is unfortunate that James speaks up to provide nuance to the grace & love that should flow from the Church.

This dangerous flirtation with Antinomianism has lead Jay to accept all kinds of people into his church with no intention of correcting sinful behavior. Jay states that he would show how Homosexuals can be accepted into the Church without needing to change a thing about them, so long as they remain in a monogamous, loving partnership. Unfortunately, his arguments are just hyper-rationalizations of scriptural texts and standard rebuttals like: shellfish is also forbidden in the Old Testament & the word is not Homosexual, it is a male prostitute. In addition, he presents his church in contrast to such a closed-minded, fundamentalist, judgmental church as to amount to a straw man.

The Takeaway

Are there harsh, judgmental, fundamentalist, homophobic Christians in the Church today? Yes! Do they need to learn what grace is and how to use it? Yes! However, we should not focus so much on grace that we lose sight of holiness. Would I recommend this book? Yes, to certain people who will not be offended by it. I certainly would provide the warning that there is nothing in this book that should change your position on sin. But there are lessons to learn about dealing with people. People, no matter what they have done or are doing, should be treated with love, dignity and respect. 

In essence, Jay is asking that we not condemn each other. We should be open and honest with people. We should listen to people's stories and build relationships. Relationships are the key to the gospel. Jesus had real relationships with real people--even some grave sinners. 

More Reading

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bubble Boy Faces the Real World

I've always had an issue with the tendency to form cliques while in Church. I don't know why, I just do.

I do it all the time. I find a group that I enjoy talking to and whamo I shut out the rest of the world. I do it on a social level.

I also do it on a spiritual level.

A friend of mine calls it forming a holy huddle. A group of like-minded sensibilities come together to form a mortally beneficial coalition to stroke each other's egos. We reaffirm that our dogmas are right. We effectively drown other opinions out. We become the only filter for the Truth.

Sounds like another group of people I know: Pharisees.

The movie Blue Like Jazz prompted me to write & post an apology for something the Church has done to misrepresent God to the world. I have chosen to apologize for "Not letting you inside my bubble." I have literally excluded people from my circle because of some sort of prejudice or another & that's just wrong.

I'm not saying that Christianity should confirm to Buddhist principles. But a Christian should never exclude a Buddhist or think they have nothing to learn from another person.

Christians that are following in Christ's footsteps will build relationships, not shun them.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Life & (End) Times of the World

The Day of the Lord Cometh...

The Premise

Mike Attwood delivered three messages this week: Wednesday Night, Sunday Morning & Sunday Night. Due to Sunday School, I was only able to attend two of them. He spoke on the End Times with a focus on the Rapture. He provided hope to the assembly in the imminent return of the Lord.

The Quotes

The Life & Times of Jesus Christ
Like any good series on prophecy, Attwood began by affirming the accuracy of God's Word in predicting future events. Practically all that you need to know about Jesus can be found in the Old Testament, written hundreds of years before He was born! How's that for accuracy?

Fancy that! The Church lost the teaching on the Rapture & didn't rediscover it until the 1800s. Scripture definitely talks about being "Caught Up" together with Christ in a way that denotes a rapture-esque  experience.

Our Life & Times
Knowing that Christ is returning, we should strive to avoid being caught doing wrong. But more than being motivated by fear, we should be motivated by love. We have a Savior who loved us first, we should reciprocate His love to us by obeying Him in service.

Good gifts
A good God gives perfect gifts. If I ask Santa for a pony and wake up on Christmas morning to find a pony in the living room, would I not think it was the perfect gift? If we reject God, how can we expect Him to take us to be with Him forever? He will give us what we want. Draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. The converse is also valid.

More Reading

4,000 & Still Going

Four thousand-plus hits on the blog was reached either last night or this morning. Too bad I didn't have a contest or something. I pray that someone, somewhere was encouraged by my thoughts.

So here's to you!

If you have been reading this blog, please tell me in the comments section. If you feel especially daring, post a link to your favorite article. I'd love to hear from ya'll!
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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