Author Archives: Tim Archer

When tolerance isn’t the answer

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” (1 Timothy 6:3–5)

Commenting on my post about intolerance from Wednesday, Paul Smith reminded me

But to say that everyone holds every single one of their convictions in absolute purity is also a false statement. Some of our convictions are derived from a pure motivation to be correct – and sometimes a big paycheck and a chance to present the keynote lectures all across the nation are just as compelling, as are keeping peace with one’s relatives or trying to earn a seat at the elder’s table.

He’s right. That’s not an easy thing to judge, but there are people who hold certain views for improper motives… even if they may not be aware of it.

I guess I’d argue that in such matters we have to go with innocent until proven guilty. As I said on Wednesday: “every fellow believer deserves the benefit of the doubt.” I’m going to assume that people have good motives unless I’m shown otherwise.

That said, we do have to be aware that there will be wolves in sheep’s clothing. It’s not an easy balance to strike, but if I’m going to err, I want it to be on the side of grace.

Years ago I heard a saying that has served me well:

‘Tis better to trust someone who shouldn’t be trusted than to distrust someone who should be trusted.

I’ll be aware that wolves are out there. I’ll try and watch for them. But I’ll do my best to avoid crying wolf if the situation doesn’t warrant it.

Links To Go (March 15, 2018)

Think On These Things

Spend more time with people different than you. Share a cup of coffee with someone and spend time face-to-face. Stop watching cable news. Stop spending so much time on Facebook.
Garbage in? Garbage out.

Internet Trolls in Church Clothes

How now shall we comment? Consider some examples of the kind of questions we can ask ourselves before posting.

  • Am I speaking from a soul satisfied in God or from my discontent?
  • Have I prayed for this person to whom I’m about to respond?
  • Have I labored to understand what he is saying?
  • Do I love this person (1 Peter 2:15–17) — even if they feel like an enemy (Matthew 5:43)?
  • Am I merely trying to one-up him?
  • How would I phrase this critique if I had to speak it to him face to face?
  • Can I raise my critique in private instead of in public?
  • How can I say this in a way that aims to build him up as well as the hearers?
  • Is this particular critique needful at this point in time?
  • Could I be wrong?
  • Am I sowing discord or delight?

You’re Invited to the Table

That’s why Jesus invites us to his table. He wants to see our lives transformed by providing a place to belong. When Jesus told his disciples how much he had looked forward to being with them at the Passover table he was telling them in a big way that they were welcome at his table. He wanted them there. He accepted them as they were.

Stop Giving Toxic People Your Time

So when you recognize someone who doesn’t have principles, shows nasty behavior, and has multiple personalities — step away.
Instead, surround yourself with people who want the best for you.
Not with people who are jealous, can’t see your success, and thrive off negativity. I think this is important to realize for anyone who wants to live a good life.

Greeters and Gifts: How Churches Welcome Guests

If the average pastor has anything to do with it, church guests can expect multiple greetings and may even leave with a gift.
A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research asked 1,000 Protestant pastors what their churches do to welcome guests.

7 thoughts that help me extend grace

As the years go by, I grow less and less tolerant toward the intolerant. Which, of course, slowly turns me into one of them.

To try and fight that process, I have to continually remind myself of some things. I’ll share a few. Hopefully that might help someone else deal with the same problem. And it will hold me publicly accountable.

I need to remember…

  1. that I’m wrong. About something. Or some things. I’m not perfect in my understanding. So I can’t expect others to be perfect.
  2. that I’ve changed my views over the years. Unless we’ve reached perfect understanding, we’re going to change. That should help me understand both those who haven’t made the same changes and those who have changed in ways that I haven’t.
  3. that I’ve exchanged some wrong views for right ones. If I haven’t changed over the years, then I haven’t grown.
  4. that I’ve exchanged some right views for wrong ones. Never intentionally, but I’m sure it’s happened.
  5. that nobody chooses to be wrong. People hold a position because they believe it to be true. Getting angry and accusing people of dishonesty isn’t helpful.
  6. that every fellow believer deserves the benefit of the doubt. I need to assume good motives and good intentions. I need to suppose that they are trying to please God.
  7. that only God will determine in the end who is His and who is not. My pronouncements toward others mean nothing. I can declare someone to be a Christian or not be a Christian, but in the end, that declaration will be meaningless. God gets the final say.

More could be added, but that should get some ideas rolling in my head and yours. Please offer further suggestions or necessary corrections.

Evangelism: Losing some of the fear

A lot of Christians get nervous when you start talking about evangelism. Some of that is legit. That is, we should take salvation seriously. When we are sharing our faith with someone else, that’s a momentous thing.

Still, I think we can lose some of the fear if we keep a few things in mind:

  • Conversion is a process. One sows, another waters, God gives the growth. We need to intentionally step into the process, considering how our interactions with the people around us will help them take a step closer to God.
  • Contrived methods are the least effective form of evangelism. Studies have shown that few people become Christians by listening to someone preach a scripted presentation of the good news. Few people are converted through door knocking efforts. (I know some people who are very gifted at sharing their faith through these means; they are the exception)
  • The best way to reach people is the most natural: share good news with friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family. When we have a baby, we’re anxious to share the good news. When we buy a car, we like to talk about it. When our sports team wins, we love to let others know of our joy. Doing the same with the gospel is a very effective way of reaching people.
  • Listening is more important than talking. The most important skill for evangelism is the ability to listen to people.

Love God. Love your neighbor. See the people around you. Think about how to best connect them with God.

I talk to people around the country and around the world about how to reach out to their communities. There’s lots more to be said. But these initial thoughts will help you get started.

I’ll go ahead and throw in a plug. My Church Inside Out books talk about these concepts and more. I also present a 4-hour seminar about mobilizing your congregation to go out into your community. Would love to share where you live!

Links To Go (March 13, 2018)

Stop Excommunicating Christians Who Disagree with You

Once we’ve done the damaging work of kicking people out our lives, are we giving them the opportunity to come back in? If we, as Christians, can’t live out the Matthew 18 directive of conflict resolution, how will anyone else in our polarized culture know how to live differently? This Lent let us resolve to “pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Romans 14:19.

Why Jewish Kids Don’t Have Peanut Allergies

It’s all a sign, according to both Sacks and Haidt, that it’s the parents who are nuts. Children raised in bubbles, not afforded the rigour of pushback, never taught bit by bit to be strengthened and tempered against a future in which their views are going to be challenged, inevitably succumb to the intellectual equivalent of anaphelactic shock.

When well-meaning people can’t see it the same way

Yes, there are a few people who are mendacious, who are not seeking what you’re seeking. And yet, most of the time, there are plenty of good people who disagree with you–they want a good outcome, but the narrative they bring insists on getting there in a very different way. They have different glasses on and are using a different map as well.

Switzerland has lots of guns. But its gun culture takes different path from US.

When it comes to guns, many sit somewhere in the middle, like Chris Völkle, who works in sales in Bern. The gun in his home would be counted in the surveys that put Switzerland at the top of global gun ownership. Having finished his military training in 2016, he still must practice shooting annually, so he keeps it at home for convenience. But following strict guidelines, the rifle is in the cellar, the firing pin is in the cupboard, and the ammunition is at a military facility. “I don’t look at it like a gun,” he says. “It’s like a long, heavy piece of metal. It’s useless.”

Industry Evangelicals vs. Identity Evangelicals

There are significant differences between the frames. The Industry folks see the changes in society over recent decades as more negative the positive while the Identity folks see the opposite. The Identity group felt that their denomination had been too cautious in responding to changes in society while the Industry group was mildly supportive.
Here’s the important point: Both groups are committed to remaining part of their denomination. Over 72% of the Identity group and 82% of the Industry group see it as important or very important to remain inside. This suggests that the changing frame is not a long term challenge to the institutional church.

Read the Bible with the Jewish Eyes of Jesus: An Interview with Lois Tverberg

I was raised in a devout Christian home. A little over 20 years ago I signed up for a church seminar on ancient Israel and the Jewish setting of the Bible, and Bible stories that were foggy and confusing became clear and deeply relevant to my life. I started hearing the words of Scripture through the ears of its ancient listeners, and it made all the difference in the world. Sayings of Jesus that were divorced of their context sounded like vague platitudes, but situated within the larger first-century conversation, their true brilliance became apparent.

Marriage Planning or Wedding Planning
Tips to Improve Your Marriage:

  • Schedule Time for Each Other
  • Pray for Each Other
  • Stop Using the Word “I”
  • Have a Devotional Together

No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?

In countless ways social touch is being nudged from our lives. In the UK, doctors were warned last month to avoid comforting patients with hugs lest they provoke legal action, and a government report found that foster carers were frightened to hug children in their care for the same reason. In the US the Girl Scouts caused a furore last December when it admonished parents for telling their daughters to hug relatives because “she doesn’t owe anyone a hug”. Teachers hesitate to touch pupils. And in the UK, in a loneliness epidemic, half a million older people go at least five days a week without seeing or touching a soul.

This House Can Be 3D-Printed For $4,000

In Austin, the team 3D-printed the first home in the backyard of a converted house that serves as shared office space for Icon and an architect and developer. Icon’s staff plans to use it as an office, so they can experience spending long periods of time in the space, and tweak the design as needed. The team will also make some engineering improvements to the printer, and test it for earthquake safety (the Austin house is already the first to be permitted to U.S. building standards). Later this year, they’ll bring the printer to El Salvador, print some test homes, and finally print a community of 50 houses.

Galveston teen receives sweet surprise after helping elderly customer at Waffle House

Her kind gesture went viral on social media, and on Thursday, it was returned with a big surprise for one Galveston teen caught in the act cutting up food for her customer at a Waffle House in La Marque.