Off Script

I’m [was] in my bedroom at the foot of my bed using my iPhone as a “kind-of” microphone. Reminds me of when I used to be in the pulpit and I couldn’t take back whatever I said, I couldn’t edit it, I couldn’t dig my way out of a bad comment or thought. We take chances when we speak “off-script.” I like to watch good movies and the movie is good if the script is good. I often put captions “on” just so that I can read the narrative to see if it is good. But when we go off script we’re liable to say things that are regrettable—unless of course as a preacher or pastor the passion of our hearts is somehow under the providential care of a guiding Holy Spirit.

It’s my opinion that in many ways the church is going off script. We are at times like fifth graders in the schoolyard arguing over the rules of some dumb game instead of learning our lessons. [I’ll leave it to you to apply this metaphor.]

We also spend endless hours following the narrative of the media, which incidentally is designed to control the nuance, to control our thoughts and our feelings.  The script that God wrote that should be understood through a life of prayer is not being listened [adhered] to.

God’s Script, His Word, is not the same message [as the politics]. In fact in some critical regards it is very, very different. It’s important to have our pulpit graced not only by astute men of learning but by men—and women, I apologize—who are hearing what [from] God … through times of earnest prayer and preparation.

I may sound argumentative. I may sound almost paranoid or conspiratorial but we are closing in on the last days, at least that is what we have been told to believe. And I believe it. We need to spend time listening to the true news, the prophetic news, that comes only from God.

My thoughts are commingled with the timely alert taken from “Christians In the Age of Outrage” by Ed Stetzer. Professor Stetzer speaks to the divisiveness in the civilize world that is generated and maintained by the political pundits, editorialist, journalists, and politicians who find the game lucrative and entertaining. Admittedly, we like watching a good wrestling match where the opponents slam each other to the mat. We like feeding the monster, this growing outrage, by allowing a non-biblical message to impassion us. But this is not as it suppose to be!

And now we are, or are becoming, outraged at anyone outside our tight-knit circle of interpretation, our chosen ideology, theology, or worldview.  …so, so  sad….

In his influential book “Not the Way It Supposed To Be,” theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. examines the two forces at work in our world: shalom and sin. According to Plantinga, shalom means “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.“ In other words, it is the way things are supposed to be. —  page 90.

For all those who don’t buy into a “Garden of Eden” scenario, this beautiful Hebrew term, shalom,  is filed down to a meaningless, “Hello and Goodbye.” But as Professor Stetzer summarized:

We recognize that the outrage we see around us is merely the visceral reaction of the world estranged from its heavenly Father. — page 91.

The snake is back in the “Garden” and it is “…more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD  God had made” [Genesis 3:1] This slithering apparition unseen and unimagined can see multiple moves ahead while most human intelligence is based on a single—and often desperate—play for happiness.  But the serpent’s craft is overmatched by the prudence, the wisdom, in God’s Word.

Some of us may have even “culturalized” the concept of sin.  We have all but lost site of the biblical concept of idolatry: worshiping other things in God’s stead—of lending voice to controversy and division, of promoting hate instead of christian love, of making political bias our platform instead of the gospel message. Going back to Plantinga,

“…for the Christian church… to ignore, euphemize, or otherwise mute the lethal reality of sin is to cut the nerve of the gospel. For the sober truth is that without a full disclosure on sin, the gospel of grace becomes impertinent, unnecessary, and finally uninteresting.“ Page 107

Professor Girdlestone in describing sin said it this way:

The pictorial power of the Hebrew language is seldom exhibited more clearly than in connection with the various aspects of evil. Every word … is a revelation. …. The Hebrew Bible meets us with a full acknowledgement of [the] manifold aspects of human suffering, and blends wrong doing and suffering to a remarkable degree, setting forth sin in its relation to God, to society, and to a man’s own self…R. Girdlestone, Synonyms of the Old Testament. Page 76.

This ought not be!!  I have to believe that you, as I, long for things to “be as they are suppose to be” [shalom]:

[God] will keep in [shalom: things will be as they should for] those whose minds are steadfast [fixed on Him], because they trust … [Him]. Isaiah 26:3

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