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The Explanation and The Excommunication

(part 1 of 2)

The Explanation

I wanted to wait awhile before I posted this series of posts because I was pretty ticked about something that happened recently (more on what actually happened later) and wanted to make sure I wasn’t writing this from a knee-jerk reaction of being ticked – however, this specific post was inspired by what actually happened. And after waiting, processing what happened, and reflecting back I think I’ve reached a good point of levity to spell things out honestly and objectively while intertwining my own take of what went on – as weird and off-base as it was…but most of that is in the second part of this post that I will post in a couple days.

This post is an explanation of why I write and post about what I write and post.

Some thing compels me, therefore I write. 

Provoking a reaction isn’t the same thing as saying something significant.

– Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbes

Let me dispel any myths, or incorrect assumptions, about why I write, tweet, and post, right off the bat: I’m not a bitch-and-moan type of person and I’m not bitter towards the church or towards Christians. I’m not. Bitter and negative people actually annoy me…alot. Plus, that type of an attitude or mindset gets you nowhere other than being cynical and focusing on the negative things in life. If you surf the internet or flip on the TV you will be flooded with all kinds of information about what’s wrong with this world. Bad things happen where we work and there are things that happen in our families that we can’t control, and I choose not to waste my time focusing on those things because that would just beat me down. I don’t ignore the negative things that happen – it needs to be fixed or corrected if possible, but I choose not to focus on it being bad and instead choose to see what is possible – how things could be better. Another way to look at is, if I was apathetic to an issue I wouldn’t be voicing any concern, because it wouldn’t matter to me – but I actually care about what I write about. You won’t see me writing about the WNBA or NASCAR or gardening tips because mainly I don’t care about those things. You won’t see me giving fashion tips, or hair-styling ideas (honestly, have you seen my hair?…or lack thereof). Again, because I don’t care about those things.

I just don’t care.

I mean, I care to some extent in the fact that NASCAR is a sport and I like sports, and in regards to fashion I don’t want to dress like a slob; but that’s the extent of those examples. They don’t interest me enough to delve into. So I write about things that truly matter to me.

I deeply care about Christianity. I care about how we as Christians have withdrawn from culture and taken an “individualism is king”/evacuation theology approach to our faith. Also, I think it’s rather important that we as the church examine how churches are appropriating our money (that is another post I’m writing that is coming in the near future and I’m pretty sure it’ll piss off some people; but if some people get pissed off I’m not that concerned about it considering there are people dying in the streets while churches spend umpteen millions of dollars on buildings, lights, and audio/video equipment – that wastefulness and ignoring of what Jesus told us to do really brings out Grumpy Derek; and Jesus was just kidding about that whole “Feed my sheep” idea, wasn’t he?). All that stuff matters to me so I write about it. But I’m not bitter. I don’t bitch and moan. I don’t say things to solely provoke a reaction and piss people off. I would like to think I provoke people to action. Or if nothing else, if that action is to solely think about what we as Christians are doing or what we could be doing then that’s a-ok with me. That’s a step.

“He who begins by loving Christianity more than Truth,will proceed by loving his sect or church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself better than all.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I’m not a SAD person.

A couple weeks ago I went to North Central Arkansas for work and on my drive back home to Little Rock I was talking to a friend on the phone. I wasn’t paying attention to how fast I was going but to my chagrin the police officer coming from the other direction was paying attention to my speed. He turned around and pulled me over and thankfully this fine officer of the law only gave me a warning (and a racing heartbeat), when he definitely could’ve given me a healthy sized ticket (I might have possibly been going 67mph in a 55mph speed limit). But the funny part was before he handed me the warning he needed to write down my license plate information and his comment to me was, “Ha, that’s funny! I haven’t seen a license plate that spells “SAD”. I told him that I was very disappointed when I went to get my license plate and just by dumb-luck my license plate actually spelled “SAD”. I told him I was an optimist. He laughed. I laughed. I drove home with my eyes glued to my speedometer.

So…like I mentioned, some people have misunderstood things I’ve written or moreso the manner and reason behind why I write about topics on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, in regards to the Church-at-large and because of that I’m writing this post to explain some things. Let me also remind you, you can ALWAYS ask me for clarification. Don’t just assume I mean something if you’re not exactly clear what I mean. Again, this is what happened recently and it honestly ticked me off (it brought out Grumpy Derek) because these people who I had been in a community group with for more than two years conferred with each other, not with me, and formed their own wrong conclusions about my intentions, made a decision, and gave me an ultimatum, instead of asking me what I actually meant. Going to the source for clarification..what a novel idea. Grab a beer and hang out with me and you’ll get to know me and what I’m like…but if you want to draw your own assumptions I can’t help that. Unfortunately, that’s what happened, and I thought these guys knew me. Nope. (I hope all this foreshadowing will compel you to read part 2 and continue to read my blog in the future. 😉

Seriously, I’m actually a pretty cheery kind of guy.

…ok, but not over the top like Jim Carrey in “The Truman Show”.

“Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”/The Explanation.

So…due to this recent confusion (read crazy-ass assumptions), I have felt the need to clarify topics that I write about, and more importantly the manner/attitude in which I write them. I write, post on facebook, and tweet about alot of different topics: theology, politics, books, culture, the Church, trends in Christianity, world-views, KU sports, cigars, beer, and more. But when I post, tweet, or write things about the Church 97% of the time (I have no idea of the actual percentage, but I would imagine 97% is pretty dog-gone close) I write about the “church-at-large” – Church with a capital “C”; not about individual, specific churches. The only time I will single out a specific church is if I know they’re doing something so egregiously bad it’s reprehensible…or if they are doing something amazingly good.

Let me share my background briefly. I moved to Little Rock in 2008 and from day one I have had a hell-ish church experience for many reasons I won’t go into right now; I have attended 4 churches in Little Rock and am currently church-less. Going back a bit further: since I graduated college in 1999 I have lived in 5 metropolitan areas and have seen the Church trends I talk about happen all over the country.  But the one thing I hold onto that gives me hope is I attended 2 churches (one in Kansas City, Beggars Table, and one in St. Louis, The Journey) who  have given me hope of what church here in Little Rock can look like and I guess I’m just crazy enough to believe I can help to be a part of the change that needs to happen. But again, I bring up my background in all of the cities to say that I’ve seen the trends that I write about happen all across the country. I’m not picking on any one church in Little Rock. Like I mentioned before, unless there is a specific issue happening at a specific church (egregiously good or egregiously bad) I try not to single out any one church by name – most of the time it’s not beneficial and just not necessary. If I did that it would be akin to when a cop sees a group of 10 cars speeding on the highway and pulls over just one person and only gives them a ticket while the other 9 cars continue speeding down the highway without getting in any trouble. Even though the person who got the ticket is guilty of speeding it sucks that they were singled out and given the ticket, while all the other speeders were not pulled over. Many churches in the area are all guilty of the same thing so why pick on one individually? Bring up the issue and take action to make things better. Don’t just bitch and moan about things that go wrong. Do something about it. My hope is to help start a new church in Little Rock similar to Beggars Table and the Journey and some good things are starting to happen.

Wrapping up

I write because I enjoy writing.

I write about things I care about.

I write out of deep conviction.

I write because it is cathartic.

I write because I believe things can be better than how they currently are.

I write because I believe some things we as Christians currently do/believe, in Christianity, are not how Jesus intended them to be.

I write because I see how things can be different and better within Christianity.

I write because I hope to make a difference.

I’m writing this post to hopefully dispel any assumptions.

I write because I am hopeful.

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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in spiritual, theology

 

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A New Civil War…Minus the Civility

It is less important to ask a Christian what he or she believes about the Bible

than it is to inquire what he or she does with it. – Lesslie Newbigin

What the hell is going on in the Christian community?!

I have friends, in real-life, (which these days seems so passé and out of touch)…so I’m going to start over and try again…how about…

I have friends I “follow on twitter and facebook” who are conservatives, liberals, moderates, progressives (not a fan of this word), fundamentalists, emergents, emergings, atheists, creationists, evolutionists, and many other political and religious categories from the whole spectrum of people-groups. It seems that recently I see so much bitching and bickering at each other within the christian community over theological differences. I’m not talking about normal disagreements – that happens when you are deciding what pizza to order. I’m talking about disparaging, nasty attacks on theologies that people hold so dear.  It seems as if when we hear somebody has a different viewpoint we go to our phones, laptops and social media outlets to say how wrong and how stupid they are, and sometimes if they’re really different and wear dark-rimmed glasses we’ll break out the heretic label and sit back and feel comfy in our piety. We seem so focused on proving how “my theology is right and your theology is wrong”.  I just don’t get it. I mean I understand (but don’t agree necessarily) about the machismo aspect in not wanting to back down from our own beliefs; and that if I said I believe it then I have to defend myself so as not to look weak, but why do we do so at the expense of embarrassing our christian brother?

 

 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about I’m referencing some of the relatively, recent comments from John Piper to Rob Bell, from creationists towards evolutionists (and vice versa), and from the litany of emergent thinkers who spit vile towards Mark Driscoll on a number of topics.

So everybody……….stop……….take a breath……….and freaking relax.  Cue Frankie.

 

 

I am very much aware that I am as guilty of these attacks, or at the very least a similar attitude, as anyone…although I try to be an equal opportunity offender and maybe someday I can get to a point where I’m much more gracious and less offensive…although that’s also a two-way street.

Maybe in time we all can learn to relax and engage in quality, respectful conversations with each other and not passive aggressively attack each other via twitter, facebook, or other electronic outlets. In other words, can we try to go out of our way not to piss each other off?

2 Timothy 1:12 – I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.”

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“Secondly, the phrase “until that day” reminds us that this is not a claim to possess final truth but to be on the way that leads to the fullness of truth. I do not possess the truth, so that I do not need to be open to new truth; rather, I am confident that the one in whom I have placed my trust, the one to whom I am committed, is able to bring me to the full grasp of what I now only partly understand.” Lesslie Newbigin, “Proper Confidence”

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Ecclesiastes 7:16 – Be not overly righteous, and do not make yourself too wise. Why should you destroy yourself?

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“In our interpersonal relations, we would never make such a claim for our knowledge of another person. How absurd to make such a claim with respect to God!” Leslie Newbigin, “Proper Confidence”

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Isaiah 55:8, 9 – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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“Sometimes it (certainty) leads toe a refusal to reconsider long-held beliefs in the light of fresh reflection on the witness of Scripture.” Lesslie Newbigin “Proper Confidence”

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Galatians 4:21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?

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“But we are now entering a postmodern period, a time in which the seemingly assured assumptions we have inherited from the Enlightenment are being deconstructed.” Lesslie Newbigin, “Proper Confidence”

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Lamentations 3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.

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“Hold to Christ, and for the rest be totally uncommitted.” Lesslie Newbigin “Proper Confidence”

Now, here’s the deal, over the next couple of months (I actually have no idea what the timeframe is) but I am re-dedicating myself to posting blogs on a more regular basis. I have about 10 posts that are in a final draft phase and just need a little touching up before I hit publish, and then I have about another 50 that are in the works so hopefully they’ll be up in a more consistent time-frame.

Disclaimer – I am probably going to post something that crosses the conservative or liberal limits of your theology and honestly, I quite possibly could cross both edges within the same blog-post as I often oscillate between diametrically-opposed camps on different topics. I will have some posts that will be humorous, insightful, dumb, profound, and maybe completely meaningless…to you.  I will have some posts that are in story form. Some of my posts will be solely about our culture (which is not divorced from being theological as some fundamentalists might think).  Some posts might be political. Some might be about sports. Some might just be about a new cigar I smoked, but what I ask is no matter if the topic is theological, political, cigar-ical or whatever, that you do not automatically discount what I say just because you think you disagree with me. Maybe somewhere in the post is a nugget that can help us progress forward to quality conversations, respectful discourse, and redeeming our Earth just as God has called us to do.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done ON EARTH, as it is in heaven. – Jesus

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in cigars, culture, politics, sports, theology

 

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Narrow Angle Lens

Right-thinking (discernment) can sometimes be tough. Sometimes we are too close to a situation to be able to fully understand what is going on, or to see other possibilities that might exist. We can be blinded by our present reality, and sometimes a bit narcissistic, in thinking we have “it” all figured out. I think this thought can apply to relationships, theology, philosophy, religion, mating habits of the duck-billed platypus etc.  When the “it” applies to theology and our beliefs about god it might be wise to tread lightly in claiming we have “it” all figured out.  When we become too close to a situation it can cloud our sensibilities for proper discernment.  Sometimes a step back can offer the proper wider angle lens we need to see rightly.  Just my four half-pennies.

Here’s a link to Mike Metzger’s most recent post which also speaks to this: Leading the League in Assists

Here is a poem which also speaks to the idea I was mentioning above. I heard from listening to a podcast  of Jon Bowles at Beggars Table Church.  It’s the church I attended when I lived in Kansas City.

“Looking For Mt. Monadnock” by Robert Siegel

We see the sign, “Monadnock State Park”
as it flashes by, after a mile or two
decide to go back, “We can’t pass by Mondnock
without seeing it,” I say, turning around.
We head down the side road – “Monadnock Realty,”
“Monadnock Pottery,” “Monadnock Designs,”
but no Mt. Monadnock. Then the signs fall away –
nothing but trees and the darkening afternoon.
We don’t speak, pass a clearing, and you say,

“I think I saw it, or part of it – a bald rock?”
Miles and miles more. Finally, I pull over
and we consult a map. “Monadnock’s right there.”
“Or just back a bit there.” “But we should see it –
we’re practically on top of it.” And driving back
we look – trees, a flash of clearing, purple rock –
but we are, it seems, too close to see it:

It is here. We are on it. It is under us.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in theology

 

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1 Bourbon, 1 Scotch, and 1 Beer. But Not Here.

“Ain’t no beer around here. You want beer you gonna have to git back to Missouruh.”

Dan (a life-long friend) and I are both originally from NE Kansas and we were driving on our way for a weekend of primitive backpacking back in 2003.



The “no beer here” declaration were un-welcomed words we heard from a toothless, female gas station attendant after driving quite some time through the ever-winding hills of the Buffalo National River Park in North Central Arkansas. We were driving in an area, unbeknownst to us, which was a “dry county”. I had heard of “dry-counties” before but I didn’t think they actually still existed. I knew that Jack Daniels which is distilled (or whatever they do to whiskey) in Lynchburg, TN, was located in a dry-county, but I thought that was more of, “Yeah, yeah, we sure are a dry county.” (wink wink nudge nudge).  We had stopped at this gas station in hopes of buying some beer to enjoy around our campfire but we were quickly informed by the not-so-eloquently spoken and unkempt service station caretaker that if we really wanted some beer our shortest drive was an hour and half back up through the hills of north Arkansas.  My buddy’s response, “So, that sign 100 miles ago that said, “Last chance to get the beer!”, really wasn’t kidding.” We got back into our car and headed to our trail inlet.

That was my first experience with the south’s “disdain” for alcohol. But I also quickly learned while some people truly are tea-totallers I also learned these jokes hold true.

Jews don’t recognize Jesus as the son of God.

Protestants don’t recognize the pope as the leader of the Church.

Baptists don’t recognize each other in a liquor store.

Why do you take two Baptists with you when you go fishing?

Because if you take just one he’ll drink all your beer.

Another recent experience happened this past Sunday at church.  Before the sermon, the campus pastor opened the floor for “sharing”. One gentleman started sharing about his daughter’s troubles with drugs and alcohol. He made the statement that he now abstains from alcohol for his daughter’s sake but that he believes there is no problem whatsoever enjoying beer or wine as long as it’s done in moderation. After he made that proclamation I wanted to fist-pump and let out a hardy “Amen!” but since I was upfront banging on my congas during the music I chose not to. Needless to say my reaction differed greatly from the congregation’s corporate thought. While nothing was outright said from the congregation in disagreement from I could see all the brows furrow and the faces change shape to that of scorn. I’m sure the campus pastor’s phone was quite busy the next day.

So is this post all about booze? Well, kindof, but when you read this quote from CS Lewis (who might surprise you with what you think you know about his actual theology) I think you’ll be able to apply this quote and thought to more than just alcohol.  I originally saw the quote from Jonathan McIntosh, a friend of mine and a church planter in Midtown Memphis, who tweeted it today (Wednesday, 8/10/11) and I thought it was quite descriptive in what we, as Christians, sometimes do to things, in our attitude and actions, that we might think are taboo.  Since I’ve been living in Arkansas I’ve never seen such religious fueled opposition to alcohol, but it is not solely limited to Arkansas. Remember Prohibition?

So as not to be-labor the point, here’ the quote from CS Lewis.

CS Lewis view on alcohol

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2011 in culture, Uncategorized

 

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Agreed? Yep, we disagree.

First of all, please understand I’m random. I’m not ADHD, I can focus just fine when I want to, but sometimes the thoughts that pop in my head are just plain random. I can’t explain where the random thoughts come from other than I was the kid who incessantly asked my Dad and Mom, “Why?”. Plus, in my job I have lots of time while I’m driving or while I’m sitting in doctors’ offices to allow the randomness to pepper my brain which is why if you follow me on twitter you’ll see lots of my randomness spill onto twitter moreso than on Facebook.

All that to say, the next couple blog-posts of mine are, well…random, but they are also well intentioned to hopefully increase respectful conversations on difficult topics. I would hope they might be able to help us move beyond the stalemate of “we must agree to disagree” and move to “good men can disagree”. In the first instance there’s no room for considering another view, where in the second instance it allows for discussion. When conversations spill over into beliefs (be it political or religious) they are messy and yet also fun as long as they are combined with a heaping serving of respect.

I’ve been developing some blog posts to get back in the swing of things and hopefully post more often. Over the past couple days I’ve been re-reading some of my favorite books, some of my own writing, and also reading other people’s blogs to help spur me on. But the interesting things is that the recent stream of thought has circled around an idea of how we tend to be an “all or nothing” society. I’ll explain more fully what I mean by that when I hit the ol’ “Publish” button in wordpress of my next blog-post, but suffice it to say, for now, that what I mean is we tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater when we hear beliefs that differ from our own beliefs and not see what good can come in the grey areas of life. I love exploring the grey areas of life and I would hope we could all move to dance in the grey area a little more.

I recently came across a quote in a book I read a couple years ago that I think can help us be more respectful in our conversations – I also think that it segues nicely into my next blog-post about our “all or nothing” society.

(this quote is from a “christian” perspective in regards to living life with “non-christians” but it’s applicable to living life with people of no particular “classification”)

“A Christian’s dialogue with another implies neither a denial in the uniqueness of Christ, nor any loss of his own commitment to Christ, but rather that a genuinely Christian approach to others must be human, personal, relevant and humble. In dialogue we share our common humanity, its dignity and fallenness, and express our common concern for that humanity’ (Report II, para. 6). If we do nothing but proclaim the gospel to people from a distance, our personal authenticity is bound to be suspect. Who are we? …But when we sit down alongside them like Philip in the Ethiopian’s chariot, or encounter them face to face, a personal relationship is established. Our defences come down. We begin to be seen and known for what we are. It is recognized that we too are human beings, equally sinful, equally needy, equally dependent on the grace of which we speak. …We still want to share the good news with him, for we care about it deeply, but we also care now about him with whom we want to share it. As the Mexico report put it, ‘true dialogue with a man of another faith, requires a concern both for the Gospel and for the other man. Without the first, dialogue becomes a pleasant conversation. Without the second, it becomes irrelevant, unconvincing and arrogant” (Witness in Six Continents, 1964, p. 146)

(please note there are several different talking points in this quote that could be unpacked, which I will leave for another post; instead focus on the central idea of the quote)

So before we jump into my next post I think it’d do us all some good to enjoy a song from a band who also enjoyed dabbling in the grey areas of life. Let’s relax and enjoy life together.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in culture, theology

 

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“Cognitive Resistance”

This is a great post by Mike Metzger. It speaks of cognitive dissonance and what it takes to be on mission to the wider world when we experience something that flys in the face of what we firmly believe.  How do we react?  Do we change our beliefs or do we stay steadfast in what we believed even though it is wrong?  The beauty of living my life is I’m never wrong. 😉

Cognitive Resistance

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in culture, theology

 

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alt#View post for eikon blog

When Ryan told me I could write an uncensored blog my first thought was to preach why everybody should seek to repeal the tobacco tax, or why the Kansas Jayhawks are awesome, or why Arkansas needs much colder weather, but most of you have heard those discourses from me many times over.  Instead I decided to write a parable on the relationship of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross and our limited tolerance of theological diversity. Hopefully it will make sense.

I work as a sales representative for a nebulizer company and I call on pediatricians in clinics and hospitals.  My role is to convince doctors why they need to use my company as their supplier of nebulizers.  First of all, a Nebulizer is a device used to deliver medication in the form of a mist which is inhaled into the lungs in order to improve breathing.  The bottom line for a nebulizer is to get the patient breathing better so they can live a healthier life.

In the medical industry there are many companies who manufacture nebulizers, so how do we know which one is “right”?  Well, essentially all nebulizers are the same, but there is one major non-negotiable in regards to nebulizers. The patient probably will not fully understand the pharmacological efficacy of the device so the non-negotiable aspect is the patient needs to appreciate that the treatment itself is going to make their life better; not perfect, but better. Our society sometimes places too high a value on trying to figure everything out, but there are some aspects of the nebulizer and the treatment that are beyond most people’s comprehension.  The beauty of the matter is not in knowing how the treatment works but the fact that the treatment does work.

Essentially, all nebulizers are the same and have the same desired outcome: breathing better because of the treatment.  But there are some minor differences. Some have a better treatment time, some a higher respirable fraction, and some are more portable, but in choosing a nebulizer sometimes the deciding factor needs to be what allows the treatment to have a deeper deposition with the patient.

In finishing, a sales representative with my company told me about a conversation she had with a doctor about how our company started.  She told the doctor how several years ago our owners broke off from the original company to start their own nebulizer company because of differing interpretations of the business contract. The original company sued our owners and then our owners countersued; all the while both companies are still to this day trying to gain market-share over each other. The doctor’s comment, “That’s a lot of drama over nebulizers.”

I agree with the doctor.  I want him to use my nebulizers but I realize I am biased about what nebulizer delivers a better treatment.  But all the doctors and companies agree that the main thing needed for making breathing and living better…is the treatment.

Legend:

nebulizer = denomination/religion

doctor = pastor

treatment = God’s redemptive work in a person’s life

patient = a person

breathing better = following Christ

healthier life = bringing God’s kingdom to earth

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2009 in culture, theology

 

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