When Saying “I’m sorry” Is Selfish

Hmmm. Thought-provoking. 

Sometimes “I’m sorry” is a selfish thing to say.

Sounds strange, doesn’t it? After all, repentance is a cornerstone of the Christian walk, right? Sadly, I can assure you that it is indeed quite possible to spout humble-sounding words of apology more in self-protection than in real repentance aimed at real reconciliation.

The basic dynamic of phony repentance works like this: I say I’m sorry in an effort to make the “offended” person feel better about me or to make me feel better about me. Whereas Scripture calls us to seek forgiveness for sins that have harmed others, self-serving apologies aim to deflect someone’s possible disappointment in us or to soothe our own inner discomfort.

Of course, I am not intending any of this when I say “I’m sorry!” When I call these apologies “phony,” I do not mean that I realized they are phony or had any idea that I was being self-serving. But so much of our sin is that way—we don’t even know we’re doing it. Just because we don’t know we’re doing it, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t causing harm.

Self-serving apologies do their damage by functioning as relational pre-emptive strikes. A friend apologizes all the time for things that don’t need an apology; she’s trying to defuse possible critiques before they can get to her. After going long again on a sermon, a pastor says “I’m sorry about the time”; he is trying to ward off his fear that his congregants are annoyed or might even mention the length of his message. A husband says “sorry I’m running slow”; he is trying to keep his wife from raising his pattern of making the family late getting out the door in the morning.

Other times the apology is not so much trying to avoid criticism as it is an attempt to win praise that will soothe the apologizer’s internal anxiety. Thus, an employee tacks on “I’m sorry if this isn’t what you wanted” when presenting a project to her boss, even though she has already poured too much time into meticulously perfecting it. The apology is trying to prod an affirming “no, no, this is great!” from her boss which will calm the inner murmur of her anxiety that she may have overlooked something.[1]

Read more: https://www.ccef.org/when-saying-im-sorry-is-selfish/?mc_cid=e68808b094&mc_eid=ad6fcd2051

Why Singing Hymns the Traditional Way is Better than Singing the Pop Worship Way

Jonathan Aigner has some styrong opinions. Good to read and think through his ideas.


How to Have the Perfect Peace of God in Your Life

By Frank King

We are all being challenged by the times in which we currently live. As I pen this post, nearly 2000 persons are dying in a 24-hour period from Covid-19—in the United States! Moreover, many businesses are struggling to survive and so are millions of Americans. The jury is still out on what the toll of this nightmare will be when the dust settles.

It should be understandable that many people today are being shaken to their core as a result.   The question is, how can we have peace in such a turbulent world as ours?

We know that peace cannot come from this world. For everything in it that can be shaken is being shaken.

There is some good news on the horizon, however. At least three effective vaccines will be available to the public, starting as early as next month, according to the makers of those vaccines. But even in the most ideal set of conditions, we may not see a return to some sense of normalcy until the latter part of 2021.

The above scenario underscores the importance us not relying on the peace that this world may give us. Such peace is uncertain and temporal at best.

So, what is the solution? The Bible commends to us the peace of God. Accordingly, in the book of Isaiah, we find these words: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).

This verse refers to the peace of God as perfect peace. That means His peace is not temporal as that of this world. It also means, His peace is not subject to the state of the affairs of this world; rather, it is complete in and of itself.

How We Experience the Perfect Peace of God

Read it at: https://frankking.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ef3dad51ba84b72543f3a8b22&id=17203adbc7&e=835ca99655

Discovering The Gifts Of The Spirit

By Jack Wellman

How can you know which gift(s) of the Spirit you have? There is a way.

Gifts of the Spirit

The Apostle Paul has written a lot about spiritual gifts. To begin with, he says that “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1st Cor 12:4-6), and “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1st Cor 12:7). The first point is God is the One Who determines which gift is given to each person, and it is not for their own good but for the church’s sake, or “the common good.” Never are gifts given for the believer’s benefit, although it may help them develop spiritually, but they are intended for the Body of Christ. There are a “variety of activities” and “varieties of service,” but we must remember that it is God “empowers them all in everyone.” He deserves the glory for these gifts (Psalm 115:1), so both the gifts and the power are from God. We are, at best, an electrical cord…it is no good until it is plugged into something, and we must be connected to God by the Spirit, however, nothing will dampen a gift of the Spirit quicker than living in sin or being prideful. It is not we who are responsible for our gifts, but the Gift Giver. When we begin to elevate our gifts over the Giver of those gifts, then we’ve rendered our gifts useless to God. We might as well worship them! God resists the proud, but grace always flows downward to the humble (James 4:6).

There are other gifts of the Spirit, and it may be that some have more than one gift, but everyone who is born again has at least one gift. Paul says that “to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit” (1 Cor 12:8). For another it could be “faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:9), but notice that Paul repeats after each sentence that it is “by the one Spirit,” as if to remind us that it is all from God. I thing I’ve noticed is that when God dispenses His gifts, He has evenly distributed them throughout the Body of Christ. For example, there are not 15 teachers and no one with the gift of mercy. As Paul concludes, again he reminds the readers (and us) that it is “by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11). Paul thought this was worth repeating a few times, indicating it’s importance, saying it is as God wills and not man, and it is by One Spirit that He distributes these gifts, not we who do it. There is not even a hint that we can choose these gifts or pray for these gifts, or make God change His mind. God has not given everyone the same gifts (1 Cor 12:3), and He hasn’t made a mistake giving you the gift you have. Some think 1 Corinthians 14:1 says we can pray for spiritual gifts, but that’s not what it says. It only says, “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” The word “earnestly” means sincerely, and the word “desire” simply means we should genuinely desire or have a passion for these spiritual gifts. It does not say we should earnestly pray for these gifts or some other gifts because we’re not happy with the gifts we have. Maybe God is telling us to genuinely desire the gifts you and I have for the Body of Christ…and not to covet other people’s gifts. God knows best which gifts go with each of us…better than we do. Remember, Scripture says that it is at God’s discretion, so He knows which gifts fit best with whom.

Other Gifts

First Corinthians 12 is not the only place where Paul mentions gifts of the spirit. There are other gifts like teaching, exhortation, giving, and mercy (Rom 12:6-8), but these may not be all the gifts there are. I know some people who do things that are not listed under any gift. That’s because God’s Spirit is not limited. He can move in many different ways through many different people by gifting, but it is God’s choice, and it is intended for the building up of the church. Remember that “just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). Other gifts include the gifts of administration (1 Cor 12), Teaching, (Romans12; Ephesians 4), Helps and Service (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12), Hospitality (1 Peter 4:9-10), Leadership (Romans 12), and possibly more than these. Paul wants us to recognize the source of the gifts, but also that it is the Giver Who determines which gift(s) are given to which person. As the Scripture says, “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose” (1 Cor 12:18).

Discovering Gifts

Having been asked numerous times how someone can know what gift they have, I say just jump into something and you’ll know in your spirit whether it’s right or not. I like asking them, “If you didn’t have to work for a living, what one thing would you most desire to do if you had the time and the means?” This may point to their giftedness. What’s their passion about? What is the “one thing” they would like to change or help make a difference in? That may be a clue as to what a person has a gift in. There are numerous ways to tell which gift of the Spirit you have, but I know not all teachers make good preachers, and not all preachers make good teachers. If they’re not gifted in that area, they will usually find that out in time…or from others. Time, chance, circumstances…all these things can work together into a “perfect storm,” and somehow, you’ll just know. Like Eric Liddell, the runner in Chariots of Fire, he felt God’s pleasure when he ran. By the way, he also said, “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ.” [1] Amen!

Continue at: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2019/02/22/discovering-the-gifts-of-the-spirit/

Is God’s Existence Known Inferentially or Directly?

When it comes to God’s existence, one common approach to this issue is to utilize what is called the inference to the best explanation model which  takes into account the best available explanation in our whole range of experience and reflection. For example, when we look at these features of reality, which provides a more satisfactory explanation:

  • How do you explain the Origin of the Universe?
  • How do you explain the Mathematical Fine-Tuning of the Universe?
  • How do you explain the Terrestrial Fine-Tuning of Planet Earth?
  • How do you explain the Informational Fine-Tuning of the DNA molecule?
  • How do you explain the Origin of Mathematical Laws?
  • How do you explain the Origin of Logical Laws?
  • How do you explain the Origin of Physical/Natural Laws?
  • How do you explain the Origin of the First Cell?
  • How do you explain the Origin of Human Reason?
  • How do you explain the Origin of Human Consciousness?
  • How do you explain the Origin of Objective Morality?
  • How do you explain Ultimate Meaning in Life?
  • How do you explain Ultimate Value in Life?
  • How do you explain Ultimate Purpose in Life?

Abduction can operate when people on both sides of an argument agree on what needs to be explained (certain features of reality) but they disagree on why this feature of reality exists.   Why does this feature of reality exist? Is it the result of nature itself or something outside nature? An inference is an idea or conclusion that’s drawn from evidence and reasoning or an inference can be an educated guess. But also remember that inferences can be based on observation and background knowledge.  Remember, when we look at the questions above, if you are committed to philosophical naturalism (the idea that nothing exists outside the natural realm of the material universe), you’ll find a way to interpret every piece of data to confirm your naturalistic presuppositions, even if the best inference from evidence points to something else. Of course, nobody directly knows past historical events. Much of it is inferential as well.

You can see this approach in The Return of the God Hypothesis  by Stephen C. Meyer or Paul Copan’s God: The Best Explanation

When it comes to making inferences and saying God is the best inference,  skeptics generally cry “God of the Gaps.” See more about the abuse of that fallacy here. 

In contrast to the inference to to the best explanation model, philosopher Alvin Plantinga  concludes that “there is a kind of faculty or cognitive mechanism, what Calvin calls sensus divinitatis or a sense of divinity, which in a wide variety of circumstances produces in us beliefs about God.” So in the same way that perceptual beliefs such as “I see a table” are non-inferential and properly basic, belief in God, when occasioned by the appropriate circumstances (such as one feeling a sense of guilt, dependence, beauty, and so forth), can also be properly basic because of the cognitive working of the sensus divinitatis.  Obviously, pepole can have perpetual or introspective l beliefs that aren’t inferred from anything else (ex. “I see a tree,” or, “I feel pain.”).  Apologists and philosophers are not fully convinced Plantinga’s model is successful.

I would say it doesn’t have to be an  either/or issue. People to come to think God exists through a variety of ways.

Comment at Eric’s blogsite: https://chab123.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/is-gods-existence-known-inferentially-or-directly-2/

Six Characteristics Of Gospel-Shaped Love

Jesus said the most defining characteristic of his church should be its love. Your love for each other, he told his disciples, is how the world will recognize that you belong to me.

What convinces the world of the truth of the gospel is not simply our defense of the faith; it’s our love for each other. Francis Schaeffer said, “Love on display in the church is Jesus’ final apologetic to the world.”

There are six characteristics of gospel-shaped friendship from Romans 12 that, if the church adopted well, would attract people more than great music or special services. In fact, people would be beating down our doors to hear more.

1. Our love should be without hypocrisy (Romans 12:9).

One of the worst Southern phrases is “Bless his heart.” That means, “What I just said is really mean, but I’m going to make it OK by seasoning it with some Southern politeness.” For example: “That woman is a snake … bless her heart.”

Paul says our love should be different. It shouldn’t just be seasoned; it should be love all the way down, from our words to what we wish for others in our hearts.

That’s an easy thing to say, but sometimes people are difficult to love—and that’s where Romans 12:1 kicks in: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God …” (CSB). The gospel enables you to love someone despite their flaws because it puts you in touch with the tenderness of God for you.

2. Our love should be grounded in God’s truth (v. 9).

Have you ever seen parents who don’t discipline their child, even when it is necessary? They just can’t bear the tears or anger of their kids, so the moment their child pushes back, they cave—even if it’s not good for the child.

Parents who do this (and that’s all parents at some point, by the way, myself included) aren’t loving their children too much, but too little. They love being liked by their child more than they love their child.

The same thing applies to our relationships in the church. We have to love each other enough to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable, because love that is not based in the truth is ultimately not love at all.

3. Our love should feel like family (v. 10).

The love at work within the body of Christ should resemble the love at work in our families.

In a healthy family, for instance, if your sibling develops a problem, you don’t give up on them. If your parents become needy in their old age, you don’t say, “Well, I just don’t have space for this in my life.” No—you rearrange your life to take care of them, even if that means they move in with you.

Your relationship to the church should be like family—a family where you show up for your brothers and sisters not because it’s convenient or benefits you, but because gospel love means when one member of the family has a problem, the rest of the family makes it their own.

4. Our love should recognize the inherent worth God has placed in every person (v. 10).

The gospel teaches us to think differently about people, to recognize and acknowledge the value someone has because he or she is made in the image of God.

C.S. Lewis wrote,

It is a serious thing to … remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.

Go out of your way to lift up others. As Paul says, “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10 ESV).

5. Our love should brim with the inherent optimism of God’s promises (vv. 11–12).

Romans 12:11–12 says, “Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord.Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer” (CSB).

You are never working in a circumstance too difficult or talking to someone who is too far gone because our God brings life back from the dead. We can rejoice in the hope of God’s good promises, knowing he is relentless in his commitment to his children.

When someone is afflicted severely, we can help them bear it with patience because we know God is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28) and that what Satan and others mean for evil, God will overturn for good (Genesis 50:20).

We can be persistent in prayer because we have a God who hears and answers prayer (Psalm 103:17).

These are gospel promises that brim with optimism and on which we stand. As William Carey said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God.”

Therest is at: https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/six-characteristics-of-gospel-shaped-love/

Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #2

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 1 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:

The reason Paul’s not ashamed of the gospel is because it is God’s power to save – – anyone! But only those who believe.

Paul defines the gospel as “the power of God that brings salvation.” We in our sinful condition are powerless to save ourselves, even when we thought we could! Only God’s power can rescue and redeem lost sinners!

Finish and comment at: https://larrydixon.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/ruminating-on-romans-some-thoughts-on-pauls-great-epistle-2/

Transformed by the Word

Galatians 1:11-17

11 Christian brothers, I want you to know the Good News I preached to you was not made by man. 12 I did not receive it from man. No one taught it to me. I received it from Jesus Christ as He showed it to me.

13 You have heard of my old life when I followed the Jewish religion. I made it as hard as I could for the Christians and did everything I could to destroy the Christian church. 14 I had learned more about the Jewish religion than many of the Jews my age. I had a much stronger desire than they to follow the ways of our early fathers. 15 But God chose me before I was born. By His grace He called me to work for Him. 16 His Son was to be seen in me. He did this so I could preach about Christ to the people who are not Jews. When this happened, I did not talk to men. 17 I did not even go to Jerusalem to talk to those who were missionaries before me. Instead, I went to the country of Arabia. Later I returned to the city of Damascus.

After Paul’s conversion, he disappeared for three years, during which the Holy Spirit instructed him in the ways of God. This was a critical time for his growth as a believer.

The Lord speaks so we can comprehend and communicate the truth. What happened during Paul’s desert years was only the beginning. God renewed the apostle’s mind and worked on conforming him to the image of Christ. For Paul, that change meant applying his knowledge as a Pharisee to the revelation that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

Here was a man who knew Scripture thoroughly, but the truth that Jesus was the promised Messiah made him reconsider the foundation he’d been trusting. Everything Paul knew about God had to be reevaluated in light of this new information. The apostle’s spirit was being shaped according to the Father’s will. And long after Paul began his ministry, the Lord kept working on him. Every person who reads his letters is a witness to this process.

Like Paul, you are the Holy Spirit’s student, and the knowledge you reap from Scripture can change your life. If you let yourself be transformed by the Word of God, you will share it with others and make disciples.

Secret Service

from David Jeremiah
 Recommended Reading:
Matthew 6: 1 – 4
As we serve others, we are serving God. But if we’re eager for everyone to know how well we’ve served, how humbly we’ve helped, or how hard we’ve worked, our motivations are questionable. True humility serves quietly and finds satisfaction in serving as Jesus did.

Washington Gladden wrote a wonderful, though nearly-forgotten hymn, that says: “O Master, let me walk with Thee / In lowly paths of service free; / Tell me Thy secret; help me bear / The strain of toil, the fret of care.”

Perhaps even today, an occasion will arise for serving someone as a member of God’s Secret Service.

When we desire godly secrecy, love and humility before God will develop to the point we will not only see our friends, family, and associates in a better light, but we’ll also develop the virtue of desiring their good above our own.
Dallas Willard

Six Things to Do When Life Ain’t Perfect. A Reflection on Philippians 4.

There is sometimes an expectation that since God loves us, and since we have responded in faith, then life should be pretty much perfect from now on. But then what follows in our experience is, well, far from ideal. When we realise that things are far from perfect we might be surprised. We might even fall to pieces.

Life is a reality check. Paul’s concluding words to the Christians in Philippi are also a reality check. The reality is, that things are far from perfect.

In Philippians chapter 4 we are reminded that the apostle Paul’s life was far from perfect. Here we are given the reason for the letter. It is a thank you note from Paul for the gift the Christians in Philippians sent him because he was in prison. Yes, this encouraging letter was written while Paul was in troubling circumstances. He may even be executed! We have good reason to believe that he eventually was executed following another imprisonment. Paul’s life was far from the perfect experience we seem to expect Christians to have. His life was no picnic.

In Philippians chapter 4 we are also reminded that the Christian church is far from perfect, since Christian people are far from perfect. In verses 2 and 3 we discover that there are troubled relationships. Euodia and Syntcyche are two leaders who are evidently mature Christians. Yet they are not getting along. They are not the perfect people we seem to expect Christians to be. Getting along was no picnic.

As a side note, if you ever find a perfect church, where everyone is perfect, don’t bother telling me about it. I don’t want to wreck the perfection by showing up.

Here we have evidence, of less than than perfect people in less than perfect circumstances. In fact you could say, messy people in messy circumstances. Perhaps you can relate . . .

So how do we handle the mess?

First, we do the best we can:

I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.


Euodia and Syntyche are to iron out their differences and be reconciled. We can wonder if Paul in our day would encourage the Anglicans and the Baptists among others to iron out our differences and be reconciled. At any rate, we are to just do the best we can as individuals and faith communities and to help each other out the best we can too.

There is omore at: https://clarkedixon.wordpress.com/2020/11/24/six-things-to-do-when-life-aint-perfect-a-reflection-on-philippians-4/