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Showing posts from April, 2017

12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee

I came across these 12 painfully poignant steps to overcoming pride in my Matthew commentary the other day. They are from John Fischer's 12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (Like Me) Minneapolis: Bethany, 2000. The following is not a direct quote. I have edited and changed the order of some of the steps. In order to overcome pride . . . 1) We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people. 2) We see that we have come to believe that our means of obtaining greatness is to make everyone lower than ourselves in our own mind. 3. We realize that we detest mercy being given to those who, unlike us, don't deserve it and haven't worked for it. 4) We are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character. 5) We don't want to get what we deserve after all, and we don't want anyone else to either. 6) We will cease all attempts to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves. 7) We embrace the belief that we are,


I know about the body. I know about the smell and decay and worms and shredded clothes and the crazed look you get in your eyes. I know how your thoughts turn again and again to flesh. The cravings come over you without warning, and you find yourself stalking your fellow man again and again. I know. And I know the prayers you say hoping that you’ll be better tomorrow, that somehow, maybe you can cover it all up with flowers in your hair or makeup over your pocked skin or new clothes that might hide the blood still dripping from your mouth. But it never works. Does it? So you think yourself a muddy footprint, a stupid sheep, a failed attempt, garbage. But that is not how I see you. I never saw you that way, not when you were born and not ever. So stop looking at that. Remember. You are alive. Inside that corpse of death, I have revived the cold, hard heart. It beats. It burns. It radiates.  It was rotting but now it’s alive, and I have made you fully human again. I a


It happens. Like slavery happens. However, you can't legally get away with owning slaves in the U.S. anymore, while divorce is readily acceptable both in and outside the church. But so what if it's acceptable. Is it okay? Perhaps God sees divorce and slavery similarly. Slavery—some people owning others—was never what God wanted for his people. Certainly not. Slavery was what God rescued his people from in Egypt. And slavery is the image Paul used to speak of our bondage to hard-heartedness and sin and death. Certainly, it would seem odd for a Christian now-a-days to own slaves. But it happened back then. And divorce too—the dissolution of a marriage—was never what God wanted for his people. Of course not. Marriage was the symbol of Christ's union with the church. And God from the very beginning made us to be together, not lording over one another or breaking up the union. But it happens. And God knows it will happen. He knows because he understands what

Born Deficient

We have been born deficient. Without the strength of unlimited power. Without the assurance of intrinsic value. Without the security of unconditional love. Without faith in an omniscient guide. Without the desire of real goodness.  We have been born out of sorts. In need. Incomplete. With the best and worst of parents alike, we are deficient. And we are seeking to make-up for those deficiencies. We seek it through positions that give us power. And relationships with people who appreciate us for who we are. And lovers that will never wound. And plans that will guarantee our future. And attempts at goodness that will erase our guilt. But we are failing. And it is easy to fail for we are looking for gold in the garbage and hoping to find pearls in the bowels of our prey. It’s no wonder that we’re wounded in the hunt. For we are asking our fathers to respect us when we are disrespectful. And asking our brothers to see our point of view when they are not in our heads. And a