Christianity’s Gift to the World

thinkingI’m currently reading a book by Steve Brown titles What Was I Thinking? Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew It All. Brown’s books are wonderful. Like me, he is a conservative Christian who believes in the inspiration of Scripture. Doctrinally, I think we are fairly similar. Yet, his writing takes you to new levels of reflection. The first time I read anything by Brown I remember thinking to myself that he was either a heretic or a genius – and it took me a while to figure out which. I’ve settled on genius. Brown writes in a way that is provocative. It’s like he is intentionally picking on the scabs conservative Christians walk around with. What he says makes you angry until you slowly start to realize it’s not Brown that is angering you, but rather God’s Word. And faced with that realization, there is nothing left to do but repent.

Basically, Brown makes me think. I’m sure some people find him annoying – some may have even settled on heretical – but I appreciate him. Here’s a quote from What Was I Thinking? that I currently can’t get out of my mind:

“Our gift to the world is not one of anger, judgment, or condemnation. Our gift to the world is to find where the Holy Spirit is creating beauty, speaking truth, and manifesting goodness—and when we find it, to identify it, enjoy it, affirm it, and get involved in it” (p. 64)

It’s that’s first sentence that has stuck with me … “Our [Christians] gift to the world is not one of anger, judgment, or condemnation.” Too often, that’s the face we present to world around us – anger, judgment, and condemnation. When, in reality, the Church should be an extension of God’s gift to the world – grace, mercy, and salvation through His Son.

Brown makes the further point that because of our anger and disgust with the world around us, Christians often retreat to the Church. We take safe haven in our churches and our Christian subculture because we are convinced that’s where the Holy Spirit is. We do it because it makes us feel safe yet our safety comes at the expense of the culture around us. We create a divide between the sacred and the secular and then refuse to cross it for fear of sacrificing our own righteousness. But it’s important to understand that this divide is man made. From God’s perspective there is no “secular”. The gospel of John makes that clear:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)

All things came into being through Him. It’s this fact that gives God the authority to speak into the hearts of every man and into the core of every situation. It’s that fact that gives Jesus the authority to forgive our sins. It’s that fact that gives God the right to determine that salvation must be accomplished according to His plan rather than our own. It’s that fact that is the foundation of grace. And when we retreat in disgust from the world around us and take refuge in our Christian subculture we are failing to take that gift of grace to the very people that need it the most. Jesus understood this. That’s why He hung out with sinners. That’s why He said,“It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Even the Great Commission, our marching orders from Christ, instruct us to take His message of grace to the world, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). 

When Christian present nothing to the world but anger, judgment, and condemnation and then retreat back to the safety of our own Christian subculture, we are forfeiting the one gift we have to give the world. It is imperative that Christians refuse to forfeit our input and voice to the culture we live in. Music, arts, literature, science … all of these things stand to benefit from the input of Christians.

If we want to deliver Christ’s grace to the world, we must be engaged in the world. Jesus once prayed for His disciples, “14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:14-15, emphasis mine). Notice that Jesus didn’t pray for His disciples to be taken out of the world; rather, He prayed that they be kept safe from the evil one as they engaged the world for Him. 

Christ’s prayer should be the strategy of the Church. Rather than withdrawing from the world and drawing imaginary lines between the secular and the sacred, we should engage the world. We should deliver Christ’s gospel to the sic and refuse to sacrifice our voice while tending to our own safety.

Genius.

Are You Lucky or Blessed?

image from genius.com

On the way home from work the other day, driving through a dense morning fog, I turned left without seeing an oncoming car. The car was coming at me pretty fast and, thanks to the fog, I didn’t see it until it was right on top of me. A collision seemed pretty imminent, but the cars missed each other by only a matter of inches.

That event has caused me to reflect on matters of luck verses matters of blessing.

Immediately after narrowly missing the other car I began praising God and thanking Him for sparing me from the accident. In my past life, I would have reacted differently. Before I was a believer, I would have attributed my good fortune to simple luck. However, I now know better. Proverbs 16:33 provides a solid principle for believers concerning matters of luck:

“The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord.”

It’s every decision is from the Lord. From our limited vantage point, it may seem like we’re rolling the dice, but God is in control of the results. I’m not suggesting that God controls every roll of the dice during our game of Monopoly, but it is important for us to remember that the results of our dice roll is a matter of His providence or control. If I roll double snake eyes, it is only because he directly caused it to happen or because he allowed it to happen. Either way, God is in control. All things are a matter of God’s active or passive will.

When we attribute our good fortune to luck, we are failing to recognize God as the source of our blessings. In Christ, however, we know better. When we praise God for our good fortune it reflects a significant change of heart.

This is a pretty easy concept to grasp when we consider our good fortune but it becomes a little more difficult when we consider the bad things that happen to us. When something that seems bad enters our life (a job loss, relationship issues, disease, etc) it is still a matter of God’s providence. He has either caused it to happen or has allowed it to happen.

They key question we need to ask God amid such circumstances is, “Why?

James, the half-brother of Jesus, offers this thought:

“2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). 

When a Christian faces a significant event in life, be it a blessing or a trials, she should understand that God is in control of all things … and this understanding should have a huge impact on our response! When faced with good or bad fortune, we should seek God’s counsel and ask Him how we are to respond and grow and what we are supposed to learn from the situation.

I’ll conclude my thoughts with more from James Chapter 1 as it seems to apply well:

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously andwithout reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8). 

 

 

 

Lessons from Genesis: Mastering the Sin in Our Lives

cain-and-abel1So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:3-7, NASB).

Both Cain and Abel made offerings to the Lord, but there was something critically different in those offerings. Of Abel, it is prominently said that his offering was “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” (Gen 4:4); he brought the best part of his flock as an offering to God. The same can not be said of Cain’s offering. Cain simply brought an offering with no regard or seemingly any consideration of the quality of the offering. When God rejected Cain’s half-hearted offering, Cain became angry and his countenance fell. Cain’s anger and bitterness were of his own making and God tells him so:

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Gen 4:6-7).

Had Cain simply done well and made an offering from the best of his crops all would have been fine. There would have been no cause for his anger and resentment. It was in that moment of Cain’s half-hearted devotion to God that sin took its advantage. According to God, when you’re not doing well sin is crouching at the door. Peter put it this way, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When we’re neglecting our devotion to God Almighty, we are running the risk of allowing our emotions, bitterness, and circumstances to get the best of us. In Cain’s case, he allowed his sin to blossom into murder. But God tells us there is another way. We can master our sin. How? By doing the right thing to begin with.

God’s Word says if do well our countenance will be lifted up. This advice is amazing in its simplicity. If we want to guard against our sinful inclinations we should focus our lives and order our lived around the God who gave us life. This is the simple kind of advice that can apply to our spiritual walks in countless ways:

  • Is your prayer life suffering? Pray more.
  • Not spending enough time in the Word? Open your Bible more. 
  • Neglecting fellowship with other believers? Go to Church more regularly. 
  • Sin getting the best of you? Devote your life to God and live your life well according to His instructions.

It seems so simple yet we tend to disregard it. We moan and groan when our spiritual lives aren’t where we want them to be, but we don’t examine our lives to see if we are living as we should. All Cain had to do was repent and devote his life to God. He could of had a change of heart and brought an acceptable offering to God, but he chose instead to allow his anger and resentment to grow and blossom.

God’s Word tells us how a person devoted to God should live their life. If we do well, our countenance will be lifted up. We are not helpless in the face of our sin. We can live our lives proactively, according to God’s Word, and master the sins our enemy puts in our path.

We should live like Abel … not like Cain.

Read other posts in Lessons from Genesis.

Cussing Christians: What's the Big Deal?

cussing
credit patheos.com

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend that can be easily observed by simply plugging into to any form of social media. People have grown more accustomed to using and hearing foul language. Words that were taboo just a few years ago are now quite common place. And this trend has even begun to surface in some Christian circles. Heck, Mark Driscoll once made a name for himself as the cussing pastor (something I think he now regrets) and I’ve witnessed other Christians actually defend the use of foul language (warning: link contains foul language). It seems cussing is becoming more and more common place with Christians, especially the younger generation. This is a trend that needs to stop.

Before I examine the issue I should share my own battle with my tongue. I’ve worked in a prison system for over twenty years. As you might expect, prison culture sports its own, distinct colloquialisms – and most of them aren’t very pleasant. You would almost have to invent a new cuss word to find one I haven’t used or thought in my lifetime. When I first became a Christian in my early thirties, cussing was a major issue for me and had a big impact on my spiritual growth. I began to notice that I would only cuss when I was at work. I was fine at church, home, and other places, but at work I instantly reverted back to my old self. The problem reached critical mass one night when I slipped up and cussed in front of a coworker I had been trying to witness to. He responded in shock and said, “I thought you were some kind of big Christian or something!” In the blink of an eye it took me to utter one foul word, my entire testimony was damaged. And I suspect it remains damaged with that guy to this day. I knew then that I had to change and with God’s grace I have. God has given me the experience and the wisdom to know better, but I also know that old guy is still inside of me just waiting to rear his ugly head should I be angry enough. I share this with you so you will know where I’m coming from. I’m not speaking down to anyone … I’m speaking from experience.

What does the Bible say about cursing? It is obvious from Scripture that God considers words important. Think about this for a second, God spoke the world into existence! I once wrote an entire post about the power of God’s spoken word. I challenge you to read Genesis 1 and count how many times God speaks. God spoke into existence light, water, ground, vegetation, the atmosphere, birds, water creatures, and land creatures. I think it’s safe to assume His words impacted our world with their importance. And then God chose to inspire mankind to write the Bible, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). Of all the ways God chooses to communicate with us, His primary vehicle is the written word. Words matter to God and they should matter to us! 

Our words are important and they leave a mark of the people we are speaking to. Ephesians 4:29 makes it clear we should carefully consider the words we speak, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” In other words, we should build people up with our language rather than tear them down. Not every thought that enters our sinful minds should be spoken. The Apostle James spoke the clearest on this issue:

With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

When we curse men and women who were created in the likeness of God we are disrespecting the God who created them. The same God who values the spoken and written word. Quite frankly, this notion should trump any right we have to use foul and inappropriate language. God’s word says that even when we must confront someone with the truth we should do it in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Christians who justify foul language and insist on using it are putting their own needs ahead of God’s Word and God’s people. Romans 12:2 instructs us not to conform to the pattern of this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and when it comes to using foul language Christians need to renew their minds, quit conforming to the language of the world, and stand apart as God’s people.

When Christians cuss it instantly reveals certain facts about them:

  1. They evidently spend little time in God’s Word.
  2. They spend little time in prayer.
  3. They value fitting in with the culture more than they do obedience to God.
  4. They take little time to consider their words before they speak them … a trend that inevitably spills into other areas of their life.
  5. Their faith hasn’t changed them at all. People will not believe the Gospel has saved us if we haven’t allowed it to change simple things like our language.

We will not reach a dying world with inappropriate and foul language. It is time for us to stand apart from culture and become more like Jesus than the world.

Related Posts: The Power of the Spoken Word: The Voice of God

Do Christians Have to Read the Bible?

bible1If the numbers are to be trusted, Christians, by and large, do not read the book they claim is the divine and inspired Word of God. A recent study suggests only 45 percent of those who attend church regularly read the Bible more than once a week. Overall, four out of five self-described Christians read their Bibles only occasionally or not at all.

Four out of five Christians read the inspired Word of their God only occasionally if at all. 

This statistic is earth shattering. And it seems we are full of excuses:

  • “I’m not much of a reader.”
  • “If you only saw my schedule, you’d understand.”
  • “The Bible doesn’t seem relevant to my life.”

Let’s get real for just a moment. It’s because Christians don’t read their Bible that that they don’t know their Bible; and because they don’t know their Bible there is often a disconnect between what they profess to believe and how they live their lives.

As a Church, we need to tackle the epidemic of Biblical illiteracy head on. Jesus Himself said that not everyone who declares “Lord! Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven because they never knew Him (Matthew 7:21-23). King Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7), yet many of us walk through this life neglecting the very Word of God which is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 

The great challenge before our preachers and teachers to inspire their congregations to fall in love with the Word of God. If the Church in the United States were to fall in love with the Word of God we would experience a revival like no other! Yet many of our churches (and even whole denominations) are moving away from being Scripture-focused and becoming more secular in their appearance. As a result, the Church is losing influence and is no longer distinct from the culture that surrounds it.

Our Church leaders need to continually confront their members with the Word of God. We need to preach it, teach it, sing it, and encourage and exhort our members to study it in their own quiet times at home:

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

We need to destroy the excuses that separate Christians from the Word of their God. Not much of a reader? No problem, their are countless reading plans and daily devotionals that will allow you to encounter the Word of God in just a few minutes each day. Have a busy schedule? You will make time for what is important to you. The Bible doesn’t seem relevant? Really? Did you encounter any stress, problems, jerks, sin, people, pain, obstacles in your day today? The Bible can help with all of that.

Does a Christian have to read the Bible? Make no mistake, Jesus died for your sins and is your one and only path into an eternal relationship with God. But a hunger for God’s Word is a clear sign that you have entered into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The Apostle Peter urged his readers to “[put] aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, [and] long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it [they] may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:1-2). And our churches must do the same. 

If the Church wants to stand as a beacon in this world, it must reclaim the power, beauty, and mystery of God’s Word and pass it along to His people. That is the challenge that stands before us.

The Abundant Life

abundant
Image borrowed from Sparkpeople.com

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (NASB)

Jesus came so that you and I may have life, and have it abundantly. I suspect that to understand exactly what Jesus meant by this statement would take years of study. To properly understand, we would have to put His words in the proper context … to have life in abundance would mean to live our lives in the manner prescribed by Scripture, to love others to the fullest, and to love our God with all our might, with all our souls, and with all our strength. We would have to understand that living life in abundance would impact us eternally as well as in the here and now. There’s no doubt no one knew how to live life better, and more abundantly, than Jesus Christ Himself. He stands as the ultimate example of how we should live our lives.

I certainly haven’t mastered the intricacies of living the abundant life, but I have begun to understand that far too often I allow the sin in my life to sabotage it. For all I don’t understand about living life in abundance, I am an expert in screwing my life up! Years of neglect while I pursued my academic interests left me me tired, overweight, and out of shape. In two short years I was forced to have my gallbladder removed, was placed placed on high blood pressure medicine, and learned I was diabetic. To use the words of John “The Penguin” Bingham, I was living a life of sedentary confinement. Such a life is anything but abundant.

So I am pursuing changes. Bingham calls it adult onset athleticism. I simply think of it as pursuing life in abundance. I’ve started a walking program to become more active, I eat less and move more, and I’ve lost about seventy pounds (with more to lose). What I’m doing isn’t simply about diet and exercise. I’m not moving more and eating less simply to lose weight. It is all part of a grander scheme to pursue life in abundance.

What I’ve come to realize is that whatever the abundant life is, it isn’t sitting in front of the television eating pizza and Doritos, gaining weight, and withdrawing from the world. I’ve gone on diets for less noble reasons in the past and I have failed every single time to keep to weight off. The life I’m pursuing now isn’t about diet or even about fitness … it’s about equipping myself to live the life God has planned for me.

You can follow my quest to lose weight and become more fit on my Tumblr blog that compliments this one. But, if you do, please remember it’s not about diet, exercise, or fitness. It’s about pursuing and adapting a new lifestyle. It is about living an abundant life!

Christ's Yoke is Easy, His Burden is Light

 

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭11‬:‭28-30‬ NASB)

When I read this passage I can’t help but believe we fallen humans too often make our faith walk with Jesus more difficult than it really needs to be. Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light, yet when we get ahold of it, we add so much unnecessary weight to the gospel that it’s hardly recognizable as the life-imparting message Christ preached.

My desire is for Christ to change me from the inside out. I want to be transformed by Christ into a new person. There is no amount of will I can exert that will inspire such change … It is purely a gift of His grace. It is a gift that will impact my outward behaviors … my speech and actions … but those externals will be a mere reflection of the change that will first begin deep inside my heart.

I’ve been fooled in the past by the lie that a mere change of behavior, a white-washing so to speak, would somehow cleanse me on the inside. This change was all dependent on my own effort to be better or to act better. That sort of change all depends on my own strength rather than Christ’s. And it stands in stark contrast to the change he can deliver to my innermost spirit:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. (‭Matthew‬ ‭23‬:‭25-26‬ NASB)

When we quit trying to save ourselves and stop being content with a slightly better version of ourselves and submit ourselves to the transforming power of Christ, we start to realize that the change He desires in us is far greater than anything we could imagine and realize on our own. This is the transformation I am hungry for.

Prayer: Change me My Savior, for Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. Clean me from the inside out as Your Word promises only You can. Remove the burden that I inflict upon myself by living in my strength rather than Yours.

Loose Lips Sink Ships: Why Christians Should Guard Their Tongues

gene-simmons-tongue-206x300
Gene Simmons and his likeness is in no way associated with this blog. All rights to his image belong solely to him and no infringement is intended.

Christians have a reputation for speaking out against the things they disagree with. We are quick to ban amusement parks or chain stores that exhibit beliefs contrary to the wisdom found in the Bible. I suppose these types of stands are merited every so often. Many times, however, I am chagrined by the level of rhetoric that is exhibited by my brothers and sisters. It seems to me that when we speak up for God’s Word using the careless speech of the world we are doing God an injustice. I’m not exempting myself from this mistake as I often engage my tongue before engaging my brain. It’s for this reason I was convicted last night as I read the Bible.

James writes, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body” (James 3:2). I stumbled over that verse and then went back and read it again. I then underlined it and put an asterisk next to it. James is saying that a mature Christian recognizes he must control the speech of his tongue if he hopes to conquer the more advanced sins of the body. Too often we place the cart before the horse. We attempt to adopt godly and pious lifestyles in every area except the speech of our tongues! Nothing is more unbecoming than a Christian who claims to believe in Christ yet spreads rumors, engages in gossip, or, worse yet, espouses false doctrine. As Christians we need to conquer our tongues first!

James explains that the tongue directs the rest of the body much like the bit guides a horse (James 3:3). If we truly want to be more like Christ, it must begin with our speech. James is very explicit. He teaches that even the smallest of sinful speech can ignite like a forest fire (James 3:5-6). How many times have we been drawn into webs of deceit by the smallest of lies? One small lie often leads so a slightly bigger one that is followed by yet a bigger one – eventually, we find ourselves in the middle of a big sham.

James makes it clear that it is a travesty that so often Christians “… bless our Lord and Father” and “… curse men who are made in God’s likeness” with the same tongue (James 3:9-10). It shouldn’t be this way. We should guard the words that come out of our mouths.

The Apostle Paul writes that it is necessary to silence deceivers and idle talkers with false tongues before they damage the reputation of Christ to others (see Titus 1:11). Ultimately, our speech is a matter of salvation for others and ourselves. We can use our tongues to advance the Gospel of Christ or hinder it.

The choice is easy on paper yet difficult in deed. We must practice and perfect careful speech should we desire to be more like Christ!

 

Books Read in 2012: No. 20 – From the Cauldron to the Cross

In this book, author Shari Hadley shares her journey from being a practitioner of Wicca to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. What immediately strikes the reader is Hadley’s honesty as she opens her heart and shares the abuse of her childhood and the tragedies she faced throughout her life. In fact, it is in the face of tragedy that Hadley realizes her Wiccan faith has little to offer and turns to God Almighty, almost against her will.

Her story then becomes an honest account of her attempt to decipher what impact her new found faith should have in her life. Every Christian can learn from Hadley’s journey and should examine their faith under the same light.

This book is touching because the faith Hadley sought and desperately needed wasn’t just an intellectual or emotional faith. It was the practical, living faith that could only be found in the Holy Trinity. The reader can hardly resist being drawn into her story and encouraged by the means God took to orchestrate her salvation in the midst of heartache.

I highly recommend this book for all Christians. It may be of special interest to those reader who practice, or have a history with, Wicca.

Why My Fellow Christians Frustrate Me On Twitter

I love Twitter. I find it much more enjoyable than other forms of social media. It’s short and it’s sweet. Plus, no one ever sends me tweets trying to get me to play Farmville. However, my fellow Christians, I’ve had enough with your lack of Twitter etiquette. Here’s a list of the things you do that are frustrating me:

Endless Self-Promotion: You wrote a book, that’s awesome. It’s also pretty cool that you have a blog. But you don’t have to tweet about it five times every hour. Put the link to your website on your profile. Tweet when you write a new blog post. That’s cool, but I want to see you promote Jesus more and you less. Okay?

Flaming: Twitter is a wonderful place to share opinions and exchange ideas, thoughts, and etc. But we all need to watch our tone at times, especially when criticizing other Christians publicly. Remember that Twitter may not be the best forum to “speak the truth in love.” At 14o characters, we are often left with blunt truth and no love. I recently watched in dismay as a fairly intelligent pastor accidentally offended T.D. Jakes via a tweet. From where I was sitting it was pretty obviously a product of Twitter’s limited content. From where T.D. Jakes was sitting it was simply hurtful.

You Follow Me Just to Drop Me: This actually infuriates me. It happens all the time. I get followed by a Christian with a book, website, blog, radio show, or ministry and I follow back only to be dropped a week later by the person that initiated the whole thing. I must be honest, if you’re following me just to add to your numbers or to get me to buy your book or for any reason other than you find what I say interesting – don’t bother. It’s rude.

Automated Direct Messages: You’re not fooling anyone. When I follow you and immediately get an automated “thanks for following” direct message, I know you didn’t write it for me. It’s the equivalent of getting a form letter. It will never appear to be personal and I will almost always resent it. I’m trying to think of a single automated message that I thought was well done … nope, can’t do it.

My brother (@brewologist) tweets about beer. He writes a weekly beer-column for the newspaper that has become fairly popular. The last time I checked he had well over a thousand followers. Here’s what I’ve noticed about his beer crowd. They’re not trying to sell anybody anything. They follow one another because they share a particular interest in all things beer. They review different brands and share tips and brewing techniques. They seem fairly polite even when they disagree with one another. They encourage one another all the time by saying things like, “Hey thanks for the tip!” or “Nice review last week!” Basically, they are enthusiasts gathered around a particular interest. It’s fun to watch. It makes me want to know more about beer.

Shouldn’t the Christian community on Twitter resemble the beer-drinking crowd? Should we be enthusiasts gathered around our particular interest in Jesus Christ? We should be more encouraging to one another. We shouldn’t view one another as just a market to peddle our brand, but rather as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ. Our tweets should ring with the celebration of our salvation. When we disagree, we should enter into debate cautious of twitter’s limitations and an awareness that others are watching us. Our tweets should make non-Christians want to know more about Christ and the Bible.

Shouldn’t they?