Monday, March 19, 2018

Pray the Change You Want to See

Back in the day when the picture at left was both current and accurate, God taught me some very important, practical, and paradigm-shifting things about prayer and “stepping up”.

Towards the end of my second year of Bible college, I found myself in multiple conversations with fellow students where the Question Of The Day could be summed up:
“Is it just me, or does the spiritual atmosphere in our college kinda, well... suck?”
It had been a very different year than my experience as a freshman the year before. The spiritual vibrancy we had enjoyed now appeared lacking, and there seemed to be some kind of spiritual malaise that was throwing a good chunk of the student body into a funk.

During one of those conversations, I was reminded (probably by the Holy Spirit) of the late-night prayer sessions that I’d seen happening in the college chapel every night around 11:00pm during my freshman year.
(All freshman were required to do “student service” to help defray the costs of the school, and I had been assigned the ‘night watchman’ role. Hence my noticing the late-night prayer time.)
“Does anyone remember that prayer meeting that used to meet in the chapel last year?” I asked my friends. “Is it still happening?”

Actually, we discovered — NO. The guys responsible had all graduated. As far as we could tell, student-initiated prayer had fallen by the wayside.

Hmm. Lack of prayer + a spiritual funk… It wasn’t hard to do the math. My illustrious roommate, Ritchard, and I decided that — even if nobody else joined us — our dorm room, at 11:00pm, would be devoted to a time of prayer.
And I dropped by the Dean’s office and asked if I could become an RA for the next college year — leading a weekly small group of my peers.
And all through my junior year at Bible college, intercessory prayer was a nightly occurrence in our dorm room. Sometimes, it was just Ritchard and I; other times, the room was jammed full of guys praying together for each other and for God to move in our school.

More than once, other students would drop by to ask us to pray for specific situations happening elsewhere in our dorm. As the year progressed, we learned that God had been speaking similar things to the rest of the student body, and there were actually numerous prayer groups meeting, late at night, in both the men’s and women’s dorms.

No-one was surprised at the change in the atmosphere in our college. The spiritual vibrancy was very noticeable, particularly in the areas of worship and community. There was a sense of expectation, and an awareness that God was doing something remarkable in our student body.

A popular slogan in recent years has been a quote from Ghandhi: “Be the change you want to see”. There’s a lot of truth in that saying; it’s why I became an RA at college, “stepping up” so I could be part of the solution.

But ultimately, we’re following a Savior who tells us:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
And if we’re wanting to have a spiritual impact, then we need to paraphrase the slogan slightly, and PRAY the change we want to see.

Because, as it turns out, the old saying is true: “Prayer changes things”. Starting with us.

“Stepping up” = Pray the change.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ministry DNA -- One Shot Only

photo source: Wikicommons
“Whatever you hook ‘em with,
“Ya gotta feed ‘em.”

George Mercado taught me many crucial lessons in ministry during our six years together. One of the many pithy proverbs that summed up important values was the saying above.

The “spiritual DNA” — or the foundational building blocks of ministry — are the most important first steps in launching a new ministry of any kind.

That’s not exactly news, I’ll admit, nor is it rocket science, but it’s true. You get one chance — just one — to set the culture, ethos, values and “vibe” for a new ministry initiative. It’s really, really difficult to change a culture once it’s established. Hence the need to go slow in order to start well.
(And by ministry “vibe”, I simply mean that as a leader, you set the example by demonstrating the ministry values and practices — “more is caught than taught”, as they say. You can’t direct from behind; you have to lead the way.)
Another saying that I have begun using in recent years (perhaps not as pithy as George’s, but I’m working on it): “It’s too late to build the foundation if you’re already living on the first floor.” It’s just another way of pointing out that it’s far wiser to put in the (however long it takes) patient work of building and communicating and demonstrating the DNA clearly and repeatedly before launching a new ministry initiative (or church plant, or whatever).

That’s where the nugget of wisdom that George shared with me provides a helpful grid for what kind of “ministry DNA” will get infused into the ministry.
“Whatever you hook ‘em with, you gotta feed ‘em.”
  • If we seek to attract people through entertainment, we will reap people who expect to be entertained.
  • If we call people to a discipling community, we will attract people who want to be part of a discipling community. (And discipled people understand that the Great Commission is part of being a disciple.)
  • If we cast a shallow vision, we will reap shallow people. (As noted above, it’s notoriously difficult — if not impossible — to attract people through entertainment and expect they will later morph into spiritually mature people with a heart to serve others.)
  • If we call people back to their first love (Rev. 2:1-5), encourage them to rekindle the use of their spiritual gifts for the good of others (2 Tim. 1:6-7), and call them to Jesus-style serving (John 13:12-17), we will reap a community of believers that, while not perfect, will at least be heading in the right direction.
You get one shot — just one — to install the DNA that will shape a new ministry for years to come. Once it’s embedded, it’s bedrock — which can either be an encouraging word or a sobering warning. That’s why George’s proverb should give us all pause.
“Whatever you hook ‘em with, you gotta feed ‘em.”

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Awkward Continuationist: the ‘Doom Seed’

Within every electronic device
There lies a seed
Dormant and waiting to be released
Somewhere between 18 months and two years
It will sprout and begin to choke the life out

The Doom Seed has germinated
Your iPod shall not be resuscitated
~ Dead iPod Song (Rhett & Link)

The Dead iPod Song is a funny example of how people feel and respond when something that was good & enjoyable betrays them. What makes the “doom seed” so — well, doom-ish — is that what was once a very good thing has now become a very bad thing.

And it doesn’t take much, at times, for things to go sideways. The fictitious ‘doom seed’ is tiny, but given time, it will — like yeast — work its magic (good or bad) and affect the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle.

The adage an older generation might have used to describe a similar situation would be:
“One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”
The same can be said for churches, denominations, and church renewal movements. A lot of good — and potentially great — things can be derailed and thrown into disrepute by the doom seed of one rotten apple spoiling the rest.

I was recently privileged to attend a church renewal conference with my wife, Wendy. The weekend conference was organized and run brilliantly by the host church, and a sea of smiling, hard-working volunteers. And there were a lot of noteworthy things that Wendy and I were delighted to see.
  1. A very high value placed on the discipline of Bible study, and allowing the Bible to be the grid by which we evaluate both teachings and experiences.
  2. A church culture that practices regular confession, repentance, and mutual accountability.
  3. A continuationist approach to the present-day ministry of the Holy Spirit (and spiritual gifts) that was rooted in Scripture and non-theatrical.
  4. They took seriously the realities of spiritual warfare, but not in a “the devil-made-me-do-it” excuse for sinful behavior.
  5. Monthly ‘concerts of prayer’ (to use the old phrase for it) where the congregation gathers to worship and pray as a community.
  6. Prophetic ministry that was deliberately low-key and practiced among/by the laity.
  7. In general, a decidedly non-hyped environment.
In other words, a lot of good fruit in the ministry. And the potential for a much wider impact for the good of the Body of Christ.

And yet, even during this brief weekend, we observed several ‘doom seeds’ which — if not dealt with — possess the destructive potential to derail, or at best impede, what God is doing there. One potential ‘rotten apple’ was something that perhaps just needs to be nuanced better, while the other was a ‘doom seed deluxe’.

First, the Need for Nuance

Most of the material from the church renewal weekend was based on Neil Anderson’s Victory Over the Darkness, coupled with some teachings from John & Paula Sandford’s Healing the Wounded Spirit.

Anderson’s writings emphasize a ‘truth encounter’ when dealing with spiritual strongholds and inner healing, and this is where a better nuance is needed.

Anderson emphasizes finding our identity in Jesus Christ, as the antidote to believing lies from the devil.

In other words, repenting and renouncing the lies of the enemy is part of the battle, but needs to be coupled with internalizing the truth about our identity in Christ. The church renewal conference paid scant attention to the identity in Christ piece, choosing instead to focus primarily on confession, repentance, and renunciation. (There was also no acknowledgement of the sources for their model of inner healing/deliverance, an oversight that could be easily corrected.)

This was also reflected during the concert of prayer evening, where the congregation gathered to celebrate a month of prayer and fasting, and to share their answers to prayer with each other in small clusters throughout the sanctuary.

The odd piece here was how the sharing began: the lead pastor — speaking to people at a prayer gathering at the end of a month of prayer and fasting — told them that they weren’t praying enough. They were given three options to explain their lack of prayer: (A) pride, (B) laziness, or (C) unbelief. Now, said the pastor, turn to each other and confess which sin you are guilty of.

And all over the sanctuary, everyone picked one of the options and confessed to each other.

It was an odd beginning. Remember, this was a group who had come to a prayer meeting after a month of praying and fasting, and they were greeted with “you’re not praying enough”. And then forced to pick an arbitrary option to confess, provided by the lead pastor.

A helpful nuance here would be:
  1. Acknowledge their sources for ministry (Anderson, Sandford), so that people could read the books for themselves, and especially in Anderson’s case, get the balance of finding their identity in Christ to counteract the lies of the enemy. In other words, focus as much (or more) on the “life” side of the Cross, as on sin and confession. The two go together.
  2. Give space for the Holy Spirit to convict people about any lack of prayer, rather than assuming their guilt and then require praying people at a prayer event to confess their lack of prayer.
Root out the Doom Seed

During the ‘self-guided facilities tour’, I stopped by the church library to see what books were available (to the surprise of no-one who knows me — I love to read!).

There was a wide collection of titles, but what caught my attention was the “Featured Author” table in the entrance.

As someone with more than a passing familiarity with the Shepherding Movement and its modern-day successors, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), I was intrigued by the number of books by a noted NAR author that were prominently displayed.

“I should perhaps ask about that,” I mused to myself, and filed the thought away.

During the Sunday sermon, the lead pastor trotted out — as part of his ‘finding balance in the prophetic’ advice — some classic Shepherding teachings on submission to human authorities. To be fair, he never uttered the notorious “touch not the Lord’s anointed” slogan, but he did cite Hebrews 13:17 — “Obey your leaders” — coupled with David’s refusal to murder King Saul in his sleep as an example of submitting to human authorities. His conclusion was ‘don’t ever confront a leader, just pray’. His explanation — “this is not about control, it’s about God’s order” — is a slogan often used to defend the NAR’s embrace of Shepherding teaching about submission to leaders.
If you’ve had any experience with those who espouse the teachings of the Shepherding Movement, you are probably hearing the same alarm bells that I did. “I should probably ask for clarification on that one, too,” I thought to myself.
During the final session of the conference, there was a “Q&A” session, and apparently I wasn’t the only one with similar concerns. One delegate asked some insightful and pointed questions about the New Apostolic Reformation and whether it had any influence in this particular church.

The lead pastor never actually answered the question, although he did chart out the functions of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher on a whiteboard, pointing out which staff member of their church was in charge of each area. Again, to be fair, he didn’t say “I am the apostle”, but there was little doubt from his org chart about who held that distinction.

There was also a pervasive aura of secrecy about certain topics; “you'll have to sign up for online mentoring if you want to know more...” But only senior pastors can sign up for personal mentoring, and therefore, answers to some of the troubling questions was restricted. Functionally, there’s no way for Joe Average or Jane Anybody to practice the spiritual gift of discernment (that qualifies as a big red flag of warning).

My grandfather used to tell us: “If you can’t lay it out on the table, for all to see, you’re hiding something.”

Uprooting the Doom Seed:
  1. When it comes to the unbiblical teachings on submission by the Shepherding Movement (aka Culture of Honor), follow the wise counsel of Gump: “Run, Forest, run!”
  2. Maintain a healthy distance from the New Apostolic Reformation. Aside from promoting Donald Trump as “God’s Champion” (as does the ‘featured author’ in the church’s library), there’s a raft of Latter Rain-influenced stuff best left alone. Some of these teachings include ‘Joel’s Army’, the ‘Tabernacle of David’, and the ‘Manifest Sons of God’, among others (here's a brief Wikipedia synopsis). Whether or not this particular church fully embraces the New Apostolic Reformation was left unclear during the Q&A session, which leads to a third point:
  3. Eradicate the culture of secrecy. It does nothing to increase credibility or trust — in fact, just the opposite. As St. Paul says,
    “We do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor. 4:2)
As a friend reminded me (having also attended this conference — twice), in any church renewal ministry, there will always be a mixture of solid teaching & sketchy proof-texting, genuine Spirit-initiated ministry, and stuff that is best filed under “other”. And sometimes the “other” can poison the well, despite the genuine work of the Holy Spirit. The need for a weeding-out (discernment) process is what prompted me to write Post-Charismatic in the first place.

There were a lot of good things to commend about the recent conference — things that might tempt me to keep my mouth shut about some of the needed nuances and/or warning about the doom seeds. But if we truly value the genuine work of the Holy Spirit, we need to both recognize and deal decisively with anything that might derail or corrupt the good things that the Spirit is doing.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Pride & Brokenness

If it’s true that the humble in spirit
In the end are the ones to be blessed,
Then I’ll trade in the token of my human pride
For the treasure of brokenness.

If those who forgive, be forgiven,
Let me show mercy wherever I may.
And if pure is the heart, that will see Your face,
Oh Lord, purify me, I pray.

~ Norm Strauss, The Beatitude ~

Praying can be dangerous.

Well, not dangerous in the sense of being threatened with harm. But if living a comfortable, untroubled, unreflective life is your goal, then be careful how you pray.

During a time of corporate worship and prayer, God showed me something that I didn’t understand. Much like Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah, I saw a mental image that came “out of the blue”, so to speak, and it wasn’t immediately clear what it signified.

It was very similar to the picture at the top of this post, except that instead of a capillary system, it was a dead tree, bone-white and rotted, and its branches, twigs, and roots stretched throughout my body.

So, just as Jerry, Amos & Zeke did in the Old Testament, I asked the Lord what it meant.

God didn’t miss a beat. “It’s PRIDE, Robby, and it’s everywhere.”

Ouch. A core issue. Quitting smoking would have been easier (especially since I wasn’t a smoker). And I was prepared to argue, because I knew a fair number of people whose arrogance was legendary. Compared to them… Yes, I know, it was a feeble attempt to deflect.
When you ask God to speak, and He does, it’s best not to try to tell Him how to do His business.
And so began the deeper work of learning — and choosing — humility.

A few months later, I was at a Worship Festival in Langley BC, and one of the workshops I attended was led by singer/songwriter Brian Doerksen. He spoke on a range of issues specific to worship leaders, but his main focus was on character. Brian ended his session with an inspirational and stirring challenge to all the worship leaders in attendance to — as he called it — “enroll in the school of brokenness”.

The picture that God had shown me just a couple of months earlier was foremost in my mind as I joined about half of those present at the front of the room to receive prayer and ‘enroll’.

And God has been faithful to answer that prayer as my journey continues to unfold. I can be stubborn at times, and as much as I want to embrace humility & brokenness, it’s not a ‘default setting’ (not yet, anyway). And the pervasive allure of social media — ‘look at me! look at me!’ — is just one area where I have to regularly check my heart ’n’ attitude: “why am I posting this?”

And in each situation in life where something goes sideways, I get another opportunity to take the high road by choosing the low road.

It’s a work in progress, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this:
God is more interested in our character than our success.
And as Brian taught us, years ago, isn’t becoming more Christ-like our goal?

Hence my continued enrollment in the School of Brokenness.

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018: Pressing On

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)

It’s not so much about making a “New Year’s resolution” per se.
It’s more about resolutely devoting my time, energy, and attention to what I already know is truly important.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The Devout Life: a Review

Our church recently completed a sermon series on the book of Ephesians, and one of the repeated bylines for this series was the phrase:
“Bringing our behavior in line with our beliefs”.
And in a nutshell, that is precisely what Roger Helland’s newest book, The Devout Life, is all about — the eager desire to have a rich, full-life engagement with our faith that informs, encourages, invigorates, and challenges us in every area.

The subtitle of the book, reflected in the cover artwork, is “Plunging the Depths of Spiritual Renewal”, which aptly describes the attitude that Helland wants his readers to cultivate as they dive deep into their faith. This is a not a treatise on apologetics (defending orthodoxy) — it is a rallying call to a living, vibrant orthodoxy. It is an invitation to “go deep”.

Today, as many Christians wrestle with whether to defend the term ‘evangelical’, or write ‘Ichabod’ (the glory has departed) over its doors and abandon it, A Devout Life calls us to recapture the spiritual vibrancy that was at the heart of early evangelicalism. To that end, Helland has done a great deal of research into the Pietist movements, to (re)discover the spiritual practices that shaped their devotion to follow Jesus whole-heartedly.

Chapter by chapter, Helland explores the spiritual practices/disciplines of the early Pietists — each reader will no doubt find their own favorite topic — and each chapter concludes with thought-provoking questions for either group study or personal “how how will I incorporate this into my life” application. Some of the topics include: Continuous Christian Conversion, Transformational Use of Scripture, and A Peaceful Spirit, among others.
(I can’t pick a favorite chapter, honestly. I found so much in this book to be exciting and challenging, and you can’t really rip one chapter out of context and say, “Here, just read this one”.)
If I were a church-planter, this is one of the books I would work through with my planting team — right at the beginning.

If I were leading a church that felt a need to (re)discover the life-giving practices that first caused them to fall in love with Jesus, I’d challenge the leaders to invest significant time in a careful, unhurried book study.

I’d do the same for a home group or a house/simple church.

And as an individual follower of Jesus, wanting to go deeper in my spiritual walk but recognizing that magic-wand, fast-food-drive-through, just-add-water approaches simply don’t work, I’d read The Devout Life.

More than once.
One of the best books I’ve read in quite a while. Highly recommended.

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Tale of Two Attitudes

Have you ever had the experience of reading a familiar passage of scripture, and suddenly noticing a nuance here, or a tidbit there, that you’d somehow missed before?

It’s almost Christmas, and so I’ve been re-reading the accounts of Jesus’ birth in Matthew and Luke — a great idea that the pastor at our church suggested a few weeks back.

The other day, I got on a bit of a roll in Luke's gospel, and kept reading several chapters into Jesus’ early ministry, as well.

In chapter seven, there is a familiar story of a Roman centurion, whose faith impressed the Messiah:
At that time the highly valued slave of a Roman officer was sick and near death. When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave. So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said, “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.” So Jesus went with them. (Luke 7:2-6)
Okay, let’s pause there for a second. This is where a nuance I hadn’t noticed before began to stand out:

First, the centurion was smart: he sent Jewish elders to appeal to the Jewish Messiah.

Second — and this is the part that stood out — was the rationale that they used to try to convince Jesus to come: “he deserves this”.
He’s entitled. He’s earned it. Quid pro quo.*
*something that is given or taken in return for something else. (
The good news is, of course, that Jesus willingly went. But then the story gets even more intriguing:
But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed…” (Luke 7:6-7)
Let’s pause again.

The centurion’s friends were using a “he deserves this” kind of entitlement approach. But the centurion, speaking for himself, says, “No, actually, I don’t deserve it… But I believe. Just say the word.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to the crowd that was following him, he said, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” And when the officer’s friends returned to his house, they found the slave completely healed. (Luke 7:9-10)
No quid pro quo. No entitlement. No merit-based appeal.

Just faith in Jesus’ character, and faith that He had the authority to heal.

And the centurion was right, on both counts.

Monday, December 18, 2017

No Cheese, Please, It's Christmas

Sometimes, writing a blog post near Christmas can be a tough gig.

As a song-writing friend remarked recently, there are two traps to avoid: sappy sentimentalism or excessive cheesy-ness.

(Or a noxious combination of both, perhaps?)

We are a society obsessed with “Christmas cheer”, and yet some aspects of the Christmas story contain a strange combination of joyful celebration, and dark foreshadowing.

The shepherds were blown away, and multitudes of angels rejoiced (Luke 2:8-20), and yet when the Magi showed up a couple of years later, an evil king slaughtered babies in an attempt to murder the Messiah (Matthew 2:16-18).
In other words, heaven and earth rejoiced, and evil began sharpening its long knives.
Even when wise old Simeon, waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the Messiah, finally held the baby Jesus in his arms, he was overcome with joyful celebration, and yet prophesied to His mother that “a sword will pierce your soul” (Luke 2:25-35).

And as the story of Jesus unfolds — both in the Gospels and later in the book of Acts, as the apostles spread the joyful news around the known world — there is the same recurring theme of joyful celebration and evil reaction. In those who saw their need for a Savior, there was rejoicing and a desire to spread the news; in those who thought they were fine just the way they were, there was outrage and a desire to shut Jesus up.
Jesus came to offer forgiveness of sins, and that is a serious spiritual business to be in.
No wonder Satan pulled out all the stops to derail Jesus’ mission: from Herod’s slaughter of children, to the direct temptation of Jesus, the violent reaction in His own hometown, the seduction of Judas the traitor, and culminating in the blind & murderous rage of the religious leaders conspiring with a pagan government to crucify their own Messiah.
God had the last laugh, of course, when He raised Jesus from the dead three days later. There was rejoicing again, in heaven and earth (even if the disciples were in hiding when the good news came).
And from the book of Acts onward, there has been this same strange combination of joyful celebration and evil reaction. Nobody likes to be told they are a sinner in need of a Savior, even if it’s the truth (nothing new there).

In the 21st century, we are (still) a society that — like the Pharisees of old — thinks we’re fine just the way we are, and the message that we need our sins forgiven seems, well… somehow lacking in Christmas cheer.

Yet in those who have received God’s grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, there is definitely a sense of joyful celebration. Lest we forget, on the night of Jesus’ birth, the message of the angel was: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
And for those who willingly admit their need for a Savior, there’s nothing cheesy about it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

the Color of Gossip

You’ve probably heard that certain emotions have been assigned their very own signature color:

“Green with envy.”

“Red-faced [embarrassment].”

“Black-hearted [cruel].”

“Yellow-bellied [cowardly].”

Can anyone tell me: Which color is best for gossip?

I’m leaning toward a darker, murkier shade of yellow. The base color being yellow makes sense, because gossip is a cowardly attack — a verbal form of stabbing someone in the back.

But it should be darker than normal, methinks, perhaps a pool of vomitous sludge. Something that, if you saw a puddle of it on your kitchen counter, you would immediately put on a hazmat suit to avoid any direct contact while disinfecting your entire house. After all, it’s pure poison — toxic enough to destroy friendships and community.
“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends” (Prov. 16:28).
The trouble is, while nobody wants the reputation of being the ‘town gossip’, too many of us are still interested in hearing what they have to say. Let’s get real about this: if we listen to gossip, we’re participating in it.
“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down” (Prov. 26:20).
Gossip is known by its fruit. It comes in bundles, like software, usually packaged with its closest relatives:
“I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (2 Cor. 12:20).
So, if you value an authentic community of faith, the next time you hear gossip bubbling nearby — or notice a Gossip Addict on a self-righteous high oozing around the church lobby — treat it like a leaky bucket full of radioactive mucus.


You don’t want to get any on you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#metoo — WWJD?

Imagine the original audience for the Sermon on the Mount. Now, picture a furrow-browed, intense young man (sorta like the rich young ruler) debating with Jesus...

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
~ Jesus of Nazareth (Matt. 5:27-29)

Gouging out an eye? To avoid lusting? Dang, Jesus, isn’t that just a little — you know — extreme?

And Jesus, I’m not trying to tell You how to do Your job — I mean, You being God ’n’ all — but couldn’t You throw in something a little more reasonable?

I have a few suggestions:
  1. How about blame the woman for how she’s dressed?
  2. Or maybe throw in a few words to the effect of: ‘Boys will be boys’.
  3. Just say something — anything, really — that deflects the responsibility from us guys and put the blame ’n’ shame on someone else.
What’s that, Jesus? Yeah, I remember the story of Job — he’s one of our heroes in the Old Testament! What’s Job got to do with anything?

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman.”
~ Job (Job 31:1)

Is that all Job said, Jesus? Really? Nothing about how women are dressed, or…

Look, Jesus, I really don’t think You understand… yeah, You bet I’m getting angry! What else do You expect, when You keep throwing all the responsibility back on us guys?

Who? The ‘apostle Paul’? Never heard of him — wait, what do You mean by ‘spoiler alert’? What’s this Paul guy going to say?
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures...
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control...
“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

~ Paul the Apostle, on behalf of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:19-25)
Okay, Jesus, I’ve tried to be patient, but You clearly have an anti-male bias. I’d prefer to get a second opinion, if You don’t mind...

Ask Lucifer? Great idea — where can I find him?