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Tag Archives: friendship

“Why Don’t You Mind Your Own Business?” – A great commercial!

Great commercial! But I wonder if we followers of Jesus are being told by our culture “Why don’t you mind your own business?” The problem. Our business is sharing the gospel with them! And we answer to a Higher Authority!

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Posted by on June 15, 2021 in evangelism

 

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Please Consider an “Unlike Jesus” Seminar – Session #3 Video! Conclusion!

Friends: As you know, my most recent book is Unlike Jesus! Let’s Stop Unfriending the World.  I’m convinced many of us believers meet only with other Christians, watch only Christian movies, and eat only Christian casseroles. We make lousy friends because we’re not sure we’re supposed to be a friend of sinners!

In the next few posts, I’m going to hammer pretty hard on this idea of being a friend of sinners — like Jesus was! I have one goal in mind — to get you (and me) much more serious about the unbelievers we know and to challenge us to develop deep, committed friendships with them.

Just so you know, I’ve developed three videos which cover the basics of my book and can be used in a Zoom kind of church study. I would gladly lead the discussion (live) after your church group watches each video. All we have to do is schedule the meetings.

We’ve looked at the first two videos and a bunch of short pitches for the book. Let’s finally look at the third video in this series — our conclusion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Please Consider an “Unlike Jesus” Seminar – Part 14

Friends: As you know, my most recent book is Unlike Jesus! Let’s Stop Unfriending the World.  I’m convinced many of us believers meet only with other Christians, watch only Christian movies, and eat only Christian casseroles. We make lousy friends because we’re not sure we’re supposed to be a friend of sinners!

In the next few posts, I’m going to hammer pretty hard on this idea of being a friend of sinners — like Jesus was! I have one goal in mind — to get you (and me) much more serious about the unbelievers we know and to challenge us to develop deep, committed friendships with them.

Just so you know, I’ve developed three videos which cover the basics of my book and can be used in a Zoom kind of church study. I would gladly lead the discussion (live) after your church group watches each video. All we have to do is schedule the meetings.

We’ve looked at the first two videos and a couple of short pitches for the book. Let’s look at a twelfth pitch, about the central question — Was Jesus a friend of sinners?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Happiness)

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2021 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #46 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 18

Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.

We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, and to live in harmony with one another!

Let’s continue our multipart study by looking again at verse 16.The eighteenth critical imperative is —

18. Believers are to REACH OUT TO OTHERS REGARDLESS OF THEIR STATUS (v. 16)!

How we relate to other believers is really important! And the Apostle Paul gets at our heart attitude which underlies the way we associate or don’t associate with others.

Pride often keeps us from connecting with those who would value our friendship and encouragement. If we are trapped in what one writer calls “the terrible squirrel cage of self,” we will miss opportunities to show Christ’s love, especially to those of a different economic or educational or racial background.

Conceit frequently lies at the heart of the problem. If I find my deepest significance in myself and my talents and my background, I am forgetting my new life in Christ! My pride is to be in the Lord and in what He is doing in my life. Sinful, self-serving, self-focused conceit ruins relationships. And that’s not what the Lord wants from us!

Today’s Challenge: Think of a specific person as you meditate on verse 16. How does your pride or conceit inhibit you from reaching out to them?

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2021 in Romans 12

 

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The Theology of Calvin . . . and Hobbes (Friendship)

What a perceptive cartoon! Down South here where I live, older homes have large porches so neighbors can come by and sit for a glass of ice tea. New homes appear to be built with a drawbridge over a moat filled with hungry alligators. Almost.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2020 in Calvin & Hobbes

 

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A Concluding Email to “Mike”

[Some of you might remember my post back on June 2 regarding my dialogue with my friend “Mike.” I believe the Lord led me to write the following. I’m always open to your comments.]

Hey, Mike!
Always good to hear from you.
Just a couple of thoughts:

1. I appreciate your honesty in not accepting my understanding of God and the human person. I’ve never been in the dark about what you believe. And I thank you for your candor.

2. I must admit I’m sad to read that you said “the two of us will never come to a common understanding.” So I guess we’re done with our “religious” discussions. It is interesting that you sent me your essay on truth.

3. A comment or two on your article on truth: Granted, the sum of what you or I don’t know greatly exceeds the amount of “truth” that we do know. But doesn’t this assume that quantity of information is more important than quality? You may give me accurate directions how to get to your winter cabin for a feast of venison, but there’s a world of things I don’t know about the things surrounding my trip (the area’s topography, how my car exactly works to get me there, etc.).

You know that your wife loves you, but there is a world of information about her and her inner workings that you’ll never know. But the most important point is that she loves you. It seems unreasonable to deny or denigrate the truth we do have because of the volume of truth we don’t have.

You challenge the idea of our being made in God’s image because of the evil of man. I can understand that. Man is fallen and in rebellion against God. But man is also capable of great sacrifice for others. How does one explain that?

I could go on, Mike. But there are several points that I want to leave with you (if we cease our “religious” discussions):

1. I regret I’ve not done an adequate job of presenting the best case for biblical Christianity to you. I have tried. I’ve thought long and hard about my responses to you. I do remind myself of 2 Corinthians 4:4 which gives me a bit of help.

2. As someone has said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.” Another responded, “I can! I can give him a salt tablet and he will get thirsty and drink!” I regret, Mike, that I’ve somehow not provided a salt tablet for you, for I’ve not seen any real thirst on your part to pursue the God of the Bible and find real forgiveness for your sins. God saved me as a teenager. There’s still time for you to trust him as an octogenarian!

3. I hope you won’t be offended by what I’ve written, but rather assured of my concern for you. I’m appreciative of your friendship and won’t bring up “religion” again unless you ask me to.

Blessings.
Larry

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2020 in evangelism

 

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There’s Got to Be a Better Method Than Hit-and-Run Evangelism (Patheos December 6, 2018 by Josh Daffern)

Editor: Friends, I am very interested in your response to the following article:

Let’s say you were debating on whether or not to try and lose some weight. You hadn’t told anyone, but you weighed more than you wanted to and you knew that you probably needed something to do about it. At this point, what would be the best motivation to help you achieve your goals? What if someone you didn’t know came up to you in public and called you “fat” and “obese”? No relationship, no conversation, just judgment and condemnation. Would that be helpful at all? How about if someone screen grabbed one of your social media profile pics and started fat shaming you online? How motivating would that be?

What if they claimed their primary duty was to stand for the truth and boldly proclaim that truth, even if it was offensive? Sure, they would technically be in the right that you were overweight, but how motivating would that be to actually help you change? It really comes down to the ultimate goal: is it to always be right, or is it to actually see you lose weight? If it was to see you lose weight, then there’s got to be a better approach. Tough and honest conversations might be necessary to empower your life change, but wouldn’t those conversations be much better received in the context of an established relationship where trust and love were foundational?

We are living in a Christian culture where far too often the norm is to boldly judge and condemn those we’ve never met nor tried to build a relationship with, all in the name of “standing up for the truth.” Take the recent controversy over Christian singer Lauren Daigle’s refusal to wade into the issue of homosexuality. When it comes to hot button issues, people are herded into one of two extreme camps, with any attempt at finding a middle ground labeled as ‘collusion’ or ‘compromise.’ Especially concerning the divergent paths that modern American culture and the traditional Christian church have taken on homosexuality, Christians are placed in an especially tenuous position. Called to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20) and to stand for biblical truth, the two can easily come into conflict.

One way through this conflict is what I call “Hit-and-Run Evangelism,” a horrendously ineffective method to try and win people to Jesus by shaming and judging them first. Seen especially in the culture wars and the issue of human sexuality, Hit-and-Run Evangelism consists of declaring judgment, condemnation and abomination on an entire subset of the American population from within the safety of their own Christian fortresses. Hit-and-Run Evangelists declare that they’re “standing up for the truth” and “defending the Bible,” figuring the best way to lead people to Jesus is to boldly declare how sinful they really are. While that might justify Hit-and-Run Evangelists in their own minds (and at the same time seem a little too close to something Jesus condemned), it’s a horrible method for evangelism.

Go back to that person who fat shames you and declares judgment on your overweight-ness from a safe distance. How motivating is that to actually help you change your life? Not at all! Hit-and-Run Evangelists want to check the box that they’ve done their Christian duty to share the gospel, but their primary concern isn’t the eternal destiny of those on the other side. Their primary concern is being right. The problem with that is, we don’t get credit for how many people we offend and push into Hell. The whole goal is to lead people to Jesus, so let’s be wise about our methods.

The practical effect of a Hit-and-Run Evangelist on those outside the faith is the same as if you noticed someone who had a hurt arm and you wanted to give them directions to the nearest hospital, so you decided to get in your car, proceed to hit them and run them over with your car to get them to stop, declare that they are hurt and yell directions to the nearest hospital as you speed away. You’re doing more harm than good, so please just stop.

If you need an outlet for all that righteous indignation, how about following the example of Jesus? Jesus didn’t turn over the tables in the Roman provincial offices or the nearest Roman bathhouse or brothel. He turned them over in the temple, a place of worship. Let’s hold ourselves accountable on the inside and love those on the outside. I promise you, love is a much better motivator for life change than condemnation is.

I’ll provide a few comments myself in a few days (editor).

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2020 in hit-and-run evangelism

 

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Bruce’s Response (Former Preacher Turned Atheist)

Some of you might have read my post back on February 28 entitled “Answering a Personal Attack: My Response to a Former Preacher Turned Atheist.” Bruce responded to my comment on his blog (see below) and I just responded to his response. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of this post if you wish. Thank you to those of you who have been praying for me during this conversation. Larry

Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

Larry: I’m trying to make the point that real Jesus-followers should deeply love others whether they come to faith or not.

Bruce: You say “whether they come to faith or not.” There’s the condition, whether you can see it or not. I’m going to befriend my neighbor without any such motivation. Last year, I had an across the fence interaction with my neighbor’s father. I had no thoughts of evangelizing him or converting him to atheism/humanism/liberalism/Bengalism. We talked like two people getting to know each other.

Larry:The thing is both of us have a worldview.

Bruce: I’ve never said otherwise. The difference being, of course, I don’t write books, hold seminars, or cajole atheists, agnostics, humanists, or Bengalites to “reach” unbelievers. I don’t make fake friendships with people so I can evangelize them or add them to my “church.”

Larry: You have a worldview, Bruce.

Bruce: Again, I never said otherwise.

Larry: And you spend hours immersing yourself in your former Evangelical world to find reasons to criticize Jesus-followers. You’re on a mission, right?

Bruce: I’m a critic of Evangelicalism, right-wing politics, and the designated hitter. I have countless Christian readers whom I never criticize. It is your religion’s beliefs, practices, and cultural/social influence I have a problem with.

My mission? To be a good father, husband, and grandfather; to love my neighbor; to work for a better tomorrow; to take outstanding photographs; to take road trips with my wife; to endure chronic pain in the hope that tomorrow will be a better day; to photograph 50+ high school sporting events a year; to cheer the Reds on to a World Series championship. You see, I have lots of interests now that I don’t have to concern myself with God/Jesus/Bible/afterlife/judgment/hell. All that matters is now, today, the moment.

Larry: I’m just saddened that you feel you must judge my motives without knowing me.

Bruce: Yet, you do the same. Snap. I write about what I read on public blogs, websites, news sites. Don’t want my critique, don’t write. Besides, do you really think I can’t “know” you to some degree through your writing?

Larry: Is any friendship with one’s concern about another’s eternal destiny automatically fake? Or do other factors make that friendship fake?

Bruce: By all means pray, be concerned, etc. Just don’t bother others with these things unless they ask. Just befriend people for the sake of who they are, and not based on their “need” to be won over to your peculiar flavor of Christianity. You wrongly think your “duty” and “right” to evangelize others trumps respecting them or accepting societal boundaries; that your fear of hell, love for Jesus, and commitment to the Bible supersedes the rights of others — especially the right to be left alone or not be bugged by Jesus salesmen.

Larry:You don’t believe in a God who is holy and that we’re in a lot of trouble. But I do. Shouldn’t I want to share that message with others?

Bruce: Religion is a personal matter. By all means share it, if asked. However, you are advocating befriending people so you can evangelize them; of using subversive means to gain a religious objective. That’s different, little more than a bait an switch.

Larry: Lost people often don’t want to be told they are lost. But I answer to a higher authority. And I need to do my “job” with love and care. If a bridge is out and yours is the car behind mine, isn’t warning you an act of love?

Bruce: Really? You are going to go with the lame “bridge” analogy? Just because you feel “led” doesn’t mean you should bug others. Instead of using fake friendships to evangelize people, how about letting your “little light shine?” You know, like publicly repudiating Donald Trump and his abhorrent anti-human policies and working to make the world a better place. So much good you could be doing Larry, but you waste your time trying to get people to join your club.

Larry: Why do you work so hard, Bruce, to prove Christians and Christianity wrong? I can’t know your inner motives, but could it be that you’re trying to justify your rejection of Jesus? Just a question. Blessings.

Bruce: No, you are making a f___ing judgment. I’ve written thousands and thousands of words about why I deconverted and why I’m a critic of Evangelicalism —a sect I think is a cult that psychologically (and times physically)harms people. Besides, “Why do you work so hard, Larry, to prove Christians and Christianity right? I can’t know your inner motives, but could it be that you’re trying to justify your delusional need and worship of a dead man named Jesus?” Your words, right back at ya, dude.

Of course, you think there are “other” reasons I’m an atheist, right? Cuz, the Bible says . . .

Only thing worse than fake friendships is refusing to let people tell their stories on their own terms. Everyone has a story to tell, and we should accept them at face value. I accept that you are a Christian. I would never question how you became one, why, or any other aspect of your “testimony.” Simply put, I believe you Larry when you say, “I’m a Christian.”

I’ve said all I can say on this matter.Maybe others will weigh in with their comments.

ReplyDr. Larry Dixon

    1. Bruce:
      You’re probably done with my responses, but allow me one more brief comment.

      1. It seems that no matter what I say, you’ve convinced I’m into conditional friendships. I’ve seen the damage done by misinformed Christians, and I’m trying to fight against that.

      2. I understand your point about simply being a friend of others. With no expectations. No message. No conditions. But Bruce, you were in Christianity for a long time. You know what the message is. You have rejected it. Forgive me, but you have no message that transcends this earthly (but important) life, right?

      3. Regarding your worldview, you challenge me for writing books, holding seminars, and trying to reach unbelievers with my worldview. Is that fair? Knowing what you know, wouldn’t you criticize me if I didn’t care to share the gospel with others? Can you give me the benefit of the doubt that I am trying to do what Jesus told me to do?

      4. I commend you for your mission of being a good father and grandfather, etc. At least we have that in common! But I’m also convinced there’s an eternity awaiting everyone.

      5. When I said I’m saddened that you felt you needed to judge my motives, I was not criticizing the research you do to combat Christianity. You accused me of fake friendships — based, I guess, on your past experiences with professed Christians. I’m fighting that same practice. Of course, you can “know” something about me by reading what I write, that’s true. But you can’t see my heart, nor I yours.

      6. I’m intrigued by your suggestion that Christians shouldn’t “bother others” with the gospel “unless they ask.” I’m so glad someone “bothered” me years ago with the gospel. I wasn’t smart enough to ask how I could be forgiven. I think if you were to ask some of my friends who are not yet Jesus-followers if I respect them or supersede their rights, you might be surprised.

      7. I certainly don’t want to be guilty of “bait and switch.” I’ve never appreciated that approach by used car salesmen. And I don’t want to be guilty of it either. But, Bruce, if the gospel is true (work with me here a minute?), then I am under obligation to love people into the kingdom if I can. Doesn’t that make sense?

      8. I thought my bridge-being-out analogy makes a good point. If you were in the car ahead of me, wouldn’t basic compassion for another human demand your warning me?

      Looks like you want to move on “to other targets.” Thanks for posting my responses, Bruce.

      Blessings. Larry

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2020 in unbelief

 

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One-on-One Online Bible Study: A Ministry Suggestion! (a new update)

Friends: How do we encourage and minister to other believers when we can’t be together face-to-face? One way that has encouraged me is to do a kind of online Bible study together. I’m not talking about buying some expensive curriculum or installing some new “app” or software on your computer. Here’s what my friend and I have done:

We read a chapter of Ephesians each week. That’s it! We read the chapter once each day and then send a brief email to each other on Sunday sharing a thought or two that we’ve gotten from our “study.” Granted, it’s not in-depth, but there is no substitute for the reading and re-reading of God’s Word!

So, just a thought — is there someone at a distance that you could discuss this idea of doing an online Bible study together? You’ve got 66 books in the Bible to tackle! Or you could follow a theme together (such as the glory of God or the parables of the Lord Jesus, etc).

I’m looking forward to the next topic or book my friend and I choose to read together. Want to try this idea with us?

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2019 in Bible study

 

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