I was going to write a blog about how busy life is, but I didn't have the time to do it. Sorry.
A couple blogs back I tortured you with a detailed version of the birth of my “illustrious” drumming career. This time I’d like to discuss some random observations I’ve made over the years.
I was twelve years old when my big brother graciously gave me his drum set. Actually, I think he initially let me "borrow" it, but I kept it and eventually sold it. Thanks, Bro! Anyway, it was a junker kit with cymbals that cracked easily and drumheads that were slightly better than notebook paper. But it was something to hit. Even more important than the drums was the advice that came with them: “Don’t just mess around; work at it!” I took those words to heart, and I’m glad I did. Thanks again, Bro!
Over the years, I’ve been blessed to play in a wide variety of musical situations (from pit bands to wind ensembles to chamber orchestras to bands ranging from country to rock, blues, and jazz) with a broad range of people (beginners to internationally-acclaimed artists).
Here are some observations I have from my experiences:
NOTE: Before you read this, I have to confess that I wore out not one, but TWO devil costumes as a kid. I can’t believe my mom bought those…
Today is one of my least favorite days. My family and I have chosen not to celebrate Halloween. If you want to know why, the short answer is that we are Christians, not Wiccans, Pagans, or devil worshippers. Obviously most people who celebrate Halloween aren’t those things, either, but like I said, that’s my short answer.
If you want a longer answer, I encourage you to do some research. Here are some links to get you started:
My purpose in this blog isn’t to discuss the history of the holiday or reasons for either celebrating or boycotting it. Instead, I’d just like to write about the experience of living outside the norm.
The fact that that my wife and I didn’t celebrate Halloween wasn’t a big deal before we had kids. Back when I was a classroom teacher, kids would sometimes ask what I was gonna dress up as for Halloween. I just said “myself.” Well, sometimes I said, “as a totally cool guy” or something and then clarify that I was only dressing up as myself. This was good for eliciting eye rolls from my teenage students.
The whole issue was slightly more problematic for my wife when she taught general music classes. She chose not to do Halloween songs in class, unless it was something particularly benign that the kids really wanted to sing. She simply chose not to sing songs glorifying the creepy spiritual aspects of the holiday.
It’s been trickier (no pun intended) since we had kids. We’ve often been asked what our kids are dressing up as, or if they’re excited for the Big Day. People have asked them the same questions. We just politely reply that we don’t do Halloween.
We’ve been chastised by other adults who have accused us of robbing our children of a treasured holiday institution (same thing with telling them the truth about Santa. We explain that we celebrate the Jewish holiday Purim instead (yeah, I know that’s kind of weird, but it’s actually less weird than Halloween if you think about it). Part of celebrating Purim is dressing up in costumes and eating yummy treats. Also, our kids continually have a couple buckets full of candy from non-Halloween occasions, so what are they really missing out on? Going to strangers’ houses and asking for candy?
Thankfully, our kids are almost beyond the trick-or-treating age, so we can avoid some of those awkward conversations.
Halloween makes me uncomfortable. I don’t like it. However, I’m not offended by those who celebrate it. If someone says “Happy Halloween” to me, I’m not offended. I realize they’re just being nice, and I appreciate it. If people put up Halloween decorations on their property, their business’ property, or even--gasp--public property, I don’t really care. I don’t like it, but I’m not traumatized by it, either.
I don’t think people are going to hell if they celebrate Halloween. I don’t think Christians who let their kids dress up and go trick-or-treating are bad parents. I don’t judge them, but I just choose not to participate.
Frankly, it would be easier to just go with the flow and celebrate like everyone else, but my conscience won’t let me. If you want to celebrate Halloween, that’s fine. Two things I ask: don’t come down on me for not celebrating, and don’t come down on me for saying “Merry Christmas.”
NOTE: I was planning on writing a blog full of "brilliant" observations about music, but I ended up writing about how I started playing drums. Oh well, I hope you'll enjoy it anyway!
One of my greatest joys in life is music—both listening to and playing it. I owe this in large part to my mom. She loved music and passed that love along to my siblings and me.
The summer before I turned eleven, I started school band, following the example set by my aforementioned siblings. The previous spring, the band director at my school held listening tests to help gauge musical aptitude in the kids my age. This helped him determine who got to play which instruments.
I REALLY wanted to play percussion, just like my big brother. I remember taking the rhythm portion of the listening tests with a great deal of anxiety. I kept second-guessing myself and checking with my classmates to see how they answered each question.
When the results came back, I did quite well on all the tests…with one exception (I’ll let you guess which). I was distraught. The band director recommended I play trombone, but my parents went to bat for me, advocating that I get to try percussion, and he reluctantly gave in. I was relieved more than anything.
On the first day of summer band, the new percussion recruits gathered in the band room at Lincoln Elementary school. I don’t know how many of us there were, but my memory suggests there must have been upwards of twenty eager wanna-be drummers.
We took our places in a large circle, with each of us positioned behind a metal music stand. The director used masking tape to mark a square target area on the stands, which were tilted flat as makeshift playing surfaces.
I clung carefully to my new pair of size 2B drumsticks. My brother had previously taught me how to play using the “rudimental grip,” where the left hand holds the stick at an angle, different from the right hand. I was mildly dismayed when the band director instructed us to use “match grip,” in which the grip is the same in both hands. I thought rudimental grip was way cooler.
The clamor that erupted when we played our first exercise caught me off-guard. I can only imagine what it was like for the director, standing in the middle of the ring of cacophony.
Over the course of the coming days, the group was whittled down, and we were able to enjoy more personalized instruction.
I can vividly recall my pride at receiving the director’s evaluation at the end of lessons: “Watch out—gonna be good!” I was happy not only to avoid playing trombone, but to know my parents’ efforts were not in vain.
I was on my way.
I recently returned from a family trip that included visits to Glacier National Park in Montana, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and Devils Tower National Monument (also in Wyoming), along with several other places. I offer some random thoughts inspired by this trip:
God is real, and He loves you! Seriously.
A while back, I had a dream. Not an MLK-type dream, but the kind one has while sleeping.
As is usually the case with something like this, many of the details have been lost, but the main point remains. In the dream I was attending a reunion at the school we taught at in Ukraine: Kyiv Christian Academy. I remember I was playing volleyball, and one of my former students (we’ll call her Sally) was there. This is already weird, because I don’t remember the last time Sally crossed my thoughts.
I asked her if she was doing okay, and she responded that she was having some sort of problem. I don’t remember if it was a physical problem or something else. I asked Sally if I could pray for her and she said “Sure,” but she thought I meant later on, when I was at home. However, I meant I wanted to pray for her right then and there!
She was a little freaked out, but I prayed for her anyway. That’s all I remember.
I woke up and thought, “Wow, that was weird!” I think I prayed for Sally and left it at that.
A few days later, Facebook told me it was Sally’s birthday. I thought maybe I should tell her about the dream, so I sent a private message describing the dream and asking if she would like prayer for anything.
Her response gave me goose bumps.
Sally wrote back that she had gone through an “emotional breakdown” a few days earlier because of peer pressure and insecurities regarding her future. She continued, telling me she didn’t have a dream (the other kind) so she didn’t know what she was living for. Sally felt like the Holy Spirit told her she was feeling insecure because she didn’t have God in her life.
She continued to share that at that point it hit her that she couldn’t remember the last time she prayed and did devotions. Sally wrote, “I’ve been away from God for too long and it was the time to come back to him. Now I am in the process of trying to build a relationship with God again.” She recognized that my dream was one way God was speaking to her.
I could hardly contain myself! Jesus loves this girl so much that He gave me a dream about her. Sally and I hadn’t communicated in over two years. This was no coincidence. What an honor to be a part of something like this!
And a crazy as it may sound, this should be normal for those of us who call ourselves Christians. Let’s start expecting God to use us in this and other awesome ways!
Very little happens in a vacuum (no space pun intended), and this is true of my perspective on Star Wars. I’ve always been a fan—the first movie came out when I was five, and though the only one I remember seeing in the theater was Return of the Jedi, the films were part of my youth. I had some action figures, and I always thought Star Wars was cool. It wasn’t until I introduced my kids to it in 2012 that I entered the ranks of Star Wars nerd-dom. I blame it on my son, who quickly became obsessed with it.
With my “back story” out of the way, here are my thoughts on Star Wars, circa 2016.
Back in the early ‘70s, a young director named George Lucas wanted to make a movie of Buck Rogers, but was unable to get the rights, so he decided to make up his own space movie. He said he simply wanted to make a “fun, wholesome action movie.” I love the fact that he only had a vague idea what it would be about when he started laying the production groundwork for the first movie. He continued to modify it, making major plot/script changes even while filming.
The first movie was unlike anything anyone had ever seen, and it was a sensation.
In some ways, I wish he would’ve left it at that. But there was more to the story, so he made two more. The movies changed the film industry and popular culture itself. The original Star Wars trilogy fulfilled Lucas’ vision: they were fun, wholesome action movies.
But as is often the case with people, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. By cryptically numbering his movies as episodes IV, V, and VI, Lucas left the impression that he had a much larger story in mind. It was rumored that there were nine (or at one point even twelve) parts to this epic.
Yet, for all that, there were no more movies. Again, a part of me wishes Lucas would’ve left it at that. Those three movies would’ve remained as mandatory viewing in pop culture, and its characters and iconic moments (“I am your father”) would have passed into legend. Besides, Star Wars was cooler than Star Trek. The latter was for nerds, and had such a sprawling, complicated universe that only die-hard fans could really follow it.
Star Wars wasn’t like that. It was more hip, because one didn’t need to devote themselves to learning all the minutia of its world to appreciate the films.
That all ended in November 1994, when George Lucas sat down to start writing episode I (the movie wouldn’t hit theaters until 1999). At that point, Star Wars moved from fun pop culture phenomenon to geeky super-fandom institution.
Lucas wrote and directed episodes I through III, with the last installment released in 2005. He then said that was it—no more Star Wars movies. The common take on these movies (the “prequels”) is that they’re bad. The storylines are complicated and hard to swallow, the acting is terrible, and the dialogue is worse. The most hated aspect of the prequels is the character Jar Jar Binks, a clumsy alien with a prominent role in episode I.
Although I much prefer the original trilogy over the prequels, I don’t think they’re that bad. They’re still generally fun, entertaining movies with creative characters, locales and stunning visual effects. And while Jar Jar is by no means my favorite character, my kids love him and think he’s hilarious. Take that, critics!
Despite any shortcomings of the prequels, I was happy with six Star Wars movies. I did often dream of what it might be like if they made episodes VII, VIII, and IX. However, Lucas insisted it was over, and that was that.
Then suddenly one day in late 2012 came the galaxy-shattering news that George Lucas sold his company, Lucasfilm, to Disney, and that they were indeed going to make episodes VII-IX, which would include many of the same beloved actors from the original movies! I actually felt a little light-headed when I heard this. I was in the middle of teaching a class when I first heard the news, and had trouble thinking of anything other than Star Wars the rest of the day.
As exciting as it was, George Lucas’ decision to sell the franchise to Disney marked the death of Star Wars as we knew it.
If there’s anything Disney isn’t known for, it’s restraint. Not only are they making a new trilogy, they’re also making “spin-off” movies focusing on individual characters and events outside the main episodes. A few years back, Lucasfilm gave us a computer-animated TV series called The Clone Wars, which takes place between episodes II and III, and now they’ve moved on to a new one entitled Rebels, that takes place five years before the original movie (episode IV). I’ve really enjoyed these shows, but now I think they’re just the tip of the iceberg. It seems inevitable that the slew of upcoming feature films will be joined by more television series.
If following the Star Trek storyline is roughly the equivalent to a graduate-level course (thanks to numerous movies and TV series), then Star Wars may well take a PhD in nerdology to understand.
I thoroughly enjoyed the newest movie (episode VII), and will probably watch all the upcoming films, but I also mourn what we are losing. Some of the iconic characters, lines, and music from the original movies will gradually become lost in a sea of new movies and characters who, no matter how good they are, just won’t be the same. It’s like ice cream: it can be a delightful treat, but if you eat it every day, it’s not so special any more.
We’re now being told that there will be a fifth Indiana Jones film, and that Harrison Ford will reprise his role. He’s currently 73 years old. I understand that movies like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Indiana Jones are cool, but sometimes you’ve got to be able to say enough’s enough.
I don’t think Hollywood will ever figure that out.
One of the best things about living where I do is the wonderful variety of weather. There are four distinct seasons here in Minnesota, and while each certainly has its drawbacks, I’d like to focus on the positive aspects of each.
Let’s go chronologically from the first of the year. January is notorious around here, but I think it’s beautiful. I read somewhere that it’s the sunniest month of the year (November is the cloudiest). I’d take a bitter cold sunny day over a mild dreary day any time (well, most of the time). God could’ve made snow ugly, but I think He gave us its beauty to make winter easier to handle. And while it can get pretty cold here in January, it usually doesn’t last too long. There was a stretch in 1936 where the temperature never once got above zero degrees Fahrenheit for over a month, but I’ve never experienced anything like that.
By the time February comes around, one can feel the change in the air. While it may still be pretty cold, temps gradually start to rise, and if you pay attention, the light starts to look different as the days emerge from the darkest two months of the year. This continues through March, when our hopes for spring grow as we typically get a few tantalizingly warm days.
If I have a least favorite month, it’s probably April. I know I said I was gonna stick to the positives, but April can be downright cruel. One day it’s sixty degrees and glorious; the next it snows. I remember in 2008 we seemed to have a blizzard every weekend, with a doozy the last weekend of the month, which actually closed lots of things down. By this point I’m tired of winter and just want warmth.
But by May those cold, yucky days give way almost entirely to spring. It’s so exciting to see buds start to open up, smell lilacs, and spy the first robin of the year. Another favorite spring experience (usually occurring in March) is the smell of EARTH. It’s amazing how one forgets the smell of wet dirt, and how enchanting it is to re-discover it each year.
Spring around here is often very windy, as winter seems reluctant to give up its dominion, and summer has to fight to return. June can be pretty tempestuous, but by the end of the month, summer finally reigns supreme. There’s almost a violence to the intensity of the green bursting forth as summer dawns. The sky also takes on what I call “That fourth of July look,” which is a happy, fresh, light blue. The days are so long that it’s light by 5:00 a.m., and sunny until after 9:00 p.m. I love it!
July is usually hot (for a Minnesotan) and humid, but whenever it gets real sticky, I just remind myself what’s coming in a few months. Like January’s cold, any hot weather around here usually doesn’t last long. With a well-insulated house surrounded by trees, we don’t have air conditioning, and that’s just fine (although there’s usually a couple days a year when we wish we did).
By August, things have settled down, and while the days may still get plenty warm, the nights usually start to cool off. The wind that wouldn’t quit finally loses its breath, as if caught up in the spirit of the dog days of summer. It’s this month that the light again starts to change, and the green of the trees is dark and rich, but fading. We’re coming to my favorite time of year.
For my money, you just can’t beat September in Minnesota. The days are warm and sunny, while the nights are cool and crisp. The first “frost warning” of the season sends panicked gardeners into action, laying out tarps over their delicate plants in hopes of staving off the coming cold. The deciduous trees turn, usually reaching their peak of colors around the last week of the month. I always wish it could last longer.
October can be anything from a wonderful continuation of September’s beauty to a soberingly premature return of winter. It can be pretty depressing to get measurable snow that month, and not just because annoying people start blaring Christmas music the second it starts snowing. But overall it’s not bad to feel a biting wind, because it feels good to be cozy again, wearing a warm sweater and eating hot soup.
November is brown and dark, but all that sun and warmth wasn’t long ago, so it’s okay. It’s also exciting to look forward to the holidays and the excitement that winter activities can bring. The late afternoon light is weak, but has that “Thanksgiving look,” as we gather to count our blessings.
I still get excited by the first snowfall of the year (even if it IS in October), maybe because it was always so fun as a kid. I love sledding with my kids and playing hockey, which helps make winter more tolerable. The dark days of December are a great time to snuggle up with a book or movie, or to play board games on the floor next to the Christmas tree. And yes, it’s even nice to listen to Christmas music.
There’s a lot to love about Minnesota’s four seasons, but that doesn’t mean I won’t someday want to spend my winters somewhere warm!
I remember quite a few years ago when Gospel singer Sandi Patty was on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He was trying to get her to admit swearing, but she wouldn’t. Finally, he asked, “What would you say if you hit your thumb with a hammer?” She replied, “I’d probably yell my husband’s name very loudly!”
I’ve been around a lot of swearing in my day. There was no swearing around home (okay, there were a few instances with my dad and big brother), but I never heard much until I started school. In particular, riding the bus gave me quite an education in the fine art of cussing. I don’t know how Bus 19 compared to other school buses, but as an impressionable little elementary kid I learned a lot of new words while riding to and from Lincoln School. Once at school, the playground was another source of fertile ground for four-letter words kids couldn’t say around adults.
Although I started to hear a lot of naughty words, I didn’t swear. I had been taught that it was bad, and I didn’t want to be bad. Sadly, I have to admit that as I grew up I was known to utter some of those words, though never publicly.
I’ve spent time around some people who make swearing an art. They use cusswords like Shakespeare used the English language. Okay, that’s a really bad comparison…I once worked with a guy on a golf course who found it very difficult to complete a sentence without vulgarity. I once tried keeping a tally of how many times he swore per minute, but as is usually the case with something like that, he suddenly toned it down, as if he subconsciously knew I was counting.
So why do people swear?
In adolescence it’s a sign of “maturity,” just like trying cigarettes and alcohol. It also seems to form lifelong, unhealthy habits, just like smoking and drinking. So do adults regret their swearing addictions like most do with nicotine and alcohol addictions?
Is it anger? Are these people just so mad and frustrated with the world that they have no choice but to cuss to show their disdain for the status quo?
Maybe it’s a sheer lack of creativity. Some people use the “F-word” like Smurfs use the word “Smurf”: “That sure is smurfy!” It also reminds me of the “Backyardigans” episode where they go to Mars and learn that “Almost everything is ‘Boinga!’” Some people I know could sing, “Almost everything is the F-Bomb!”
Do you ever wonder if chronic swear-ers cuss when they’re all alone? Or do they only do it when there’s an audience?
It’s one thing when guys swear, but I really don’t understand why females swear. There are plenty of un-ladylike things to do, such as belching, but swearing may top them all. Why would a girl or woman want to be as ugly and unrefined as a guy? Don’t they realize they’re taking a huge step backwards?
Ultimately, it’s my observation that swearing is almost entirely a symptom of insecurity.
Anytime you’re around a bunch of boys (grown or un-), you’ll see a pathetic amount of posing. Guys will practically beat their chests and grunt in their attempts to avoid any sign of weakness. Bragging and know-it-all behavior are a huge part of this, but swearing is one of the most popular ways to appear manly. It requires no thought or skill—just drop a few F-bombs and you’re one of the guys. What a deal!
It’s really kind of pathetic and even sad. Does swearing make people feel better about themselves?
Some Christians I know will intentionally swear from time to time. The impression I get is that they’re trying to show their “street cred,” as if to say, “Just ‘cause I’m a Christian doesn’t mean I’m some little ninny!” I think it’s the opposite. It takes a lot more strength and maturity not to use those kinds of words than it does to use them.
I’ve become much more sensitive to swearing since having kids. Throughout my adulthood I used slang words that were basically second-tier cuss words. I peppered my speech with words like crap, sucks, and so forth. When the kids came along, I started to notice this. I told them to use their mouths for good, but I realized that, even though I wasn’t technically swearing, the intent of my heart was the same. There’s really no difference between furiously saying, “This frickin’ car won’t start!” and using the “real” F-word.
In telling my kids not to swear, I’ve also felt compelled to tell them why they shouldn’t use those words. Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 8:21), and it’s true that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34). I remember a rock guitarist I admire saying he doesn’t like swearing because it sounds like death to him. That really struck me.
Our words are powerful, and I tell my kids as much. I encourage them to use their words to speak life, not death. I never realized just how ingrained some of those words can become, and it’s been a challenge to clean up even my “second-tier” cuss words.
Well, it’s time to go. I’ve got a lot of <bleep> to do today!
One of the trendiest things for evangelical Christians to do these days is decry what people call the “Prosperity Gospel.” It’s nearly as hip to rail on proponents of “Prosperity Gospel” as it is to have a bushy beard and wear plaid. I’ve been hearing an awful lot about this topic lately, from the pulpit to social media to news outlets, so I thought I’d offer my two cents.
I guess you already know what I think by my title. My observations are merely my own, and aren’t based on any sort of legitimate research.
What really prompted me to write this was a column I read in a newspaper a few days ago. It was written by a lady who writes on “Religion,” which sounds terribly boring to me, but it had the term “Prosperity Gospel” in the title, so it caught my attention. In particular, it asked the question if a well-known Bible teacher who recently held a conference in our area preached the “Prosperity Gospel.”
The writer was a woman who apparently comes from a more traditional denominational background than the speaker she wrote about. In her column, she told the story of a male friend who said something to the effect of, “[This speaker] is going to be talking about ‘abundant life.’ Sounds like ‘Prosperity Gospel’ to me.” I have to admit, this set me off, and I thought, What a judgmental jerk! He’s obviously never read John 10:10! (In that verse, Jesus said He came to give us abundant life.) Now I’m not saying my reaction was appropriate, but that’s what I was thinking. Apparently the speaker in question was charging a fair amount of money for attending the conference, so that made her suspect in the columnist’s eyes as well.
Anyway, the column continued as the writer told how she attended the conference, and, though it was an “unusual worship style” for her, she had nothing bad to say. She concluded that she doesn’t know if this speaker is into the “Prosperity Gospel,” but admitted that it was an inspirational event. In case anyone is wondering, the speaker is a well-known evangelical Bible teacher who isn’t considered a proponent of the “Prosperity Gospel.”
As near as I can understand, the anti-“Prosperity Gospel” line goes something like this: People who preach the “Prosperity Gospel” have an evil Western [i.e. American] mindset that’s selfish and focused on their own comfort. They teach that if you stay close to God, you’ll never have any problems, and will be healthy and wealthy. They essentially rob poor people of their money by promising earthly riches as a reward for faithful giving.
Interesting. I’ve actually listened to a lot of preachers over the years who’ve been branded with the dreaded “Prosperity Gospel” label, but I’ve never heard anything like that from any of them. I’ve read books by some of them, but haven’t read anything like that, either. I’m not saying there isn’t anyone out there saying stuff like that, but I’ve never actually heard anyone say that.
I have heard repeated admonishments from these types of preachers to spend daily time with God in prayer and reading the Bible. I’ve heard them say that a life of faith is a lot harder than the alternative, but it’s worth it. I have heard them blame the devil for what he does (steal, kill, and destroy—John 10:10), than blaming it on Jesus, who came to give us the aforementioned abundant life (John 10:10 again).
I have heard things such as “God delights in the prosperity of his servant,” (Psalm 35:27). I’ve also heard, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2), and so on. I once did some research on the topic of prosperity, and filled up a page and a half in my notebook with the scripture references of verses similar to those, so it doesn’t appear to be a case of “cherry picking” scriptures to make it say what you want.
A lot of Christians seem to think it’s bad to be rich, and that it’s more spiritual to be poor. To paraphrase the guy quoted in the article above, that sounds like Buddhism to me. Come to think of it, that whole philosophy sounds a lot like Eastern religions I’ve studied. On the other hand, what reputation do Jews have? I’m thinking wealthy, successful business people.
Personally, I believe godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 1:6). Jesus said to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). The impression I get is that we should follow God, give as He leads us, and He’ll take care of business for us. I’ve certainly found that to be true in my own life. I’ve heard the same thing from some of the “Prosperity Gospel” teachers.
I do find it interesting that the Christians I know who seem to be the most focused on money aren’t adherents to the “Prosperity Gospel,” but tend to be disciples of people like Dave Ramsey. I observe an obsession with money—some of these people seem to be consumed with worrying over every penny that comes in or goes out. I’m not condemning financial prudence in general or Mr. Ramsey in particular; I’m merely stating what I’ve seen.
This may sound harsh, but pretty much every Christian I’ve heard speaking against the “Prosperity Gospel” is a hypocrite, because they all live in nice houses, have nice cars, own a smart phone, etc. I think that if someone really believes prosperity is bad, they should put their money where their mouth is and live in poverty themselves. Could it be that some people feel guilty for their own prosperity, so they condemn the “Prosperity Gospel” types to make themselves feel better? I don’t know, but it’s interesting to ponder.
My suggestion would be to look into something before flippantly condemning it. I know how frustrating it can be as a Jesus follower to listen to people rip on Christianity without studying it for themselves; let’s not be the same way to each other. Don’t listen to what some flaky blog says (ahem); check out some ministries and find out for yourself what they’re actually teaching. Is what they’re saying Biblical or not? Also, consider the fruit of that ministry; Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16).
I think the devil invented the term “Prosperity Gospel” to drive believers apart and prevent unity in the Body of Christ. I think it’s working very well. As long as there are two or more Christians, there will probably be at least two doctrinal viewpoints, but most of us agree on the big stuff, so let’s stop biting and devouring each other (Galatians 5:15).
It’s God’s will that we be brought to complete unity (John 17:23), so I say let’s examine how each of us can work toward that!
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