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I am disappointed that I was so ignorant about reading the Bible in context for such a long time. That is not to say that at present I am learned and competent. Not at all. I have such a long way to go. Should I blame that early illiteracy on my teachers who quoted scriptures out of context when they preached? I can’t blame them for my laziness and inattention. It’s all on me. As for them, the Lord is their judge, not me. My elders didn’t teach me to be a foolish Christian. I was able to do that all by myself.

Quoting scriptures out of context in not necessarily bad in and of itself. For instance, this verse from Isaiah is well-quoted out of context: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).1 However, this one, taught to us in our early years, is potentially dangerous when quoted out of context. “And no inhabitant will say, ‘I am sick’”; (Isaiah 33:24a). Can you imagine how you would censor your speech about your physical illness if you were in the presence of an influential pastor who taught this? This verse engenders bondage and was part of the positive confession nonsense—perhaps it still is. However, if one reads the portion of Isaiah in context from which this verse is taken, he or she will discover that it speaks of a glorious time to come. “Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken” (Isaiah 33:20). In other words, there will be no sickness in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.

There are many examples of verses that have been taken out of context from the Bible, and some are so common that even the secular culture has appropriated them; and they have the same meaning for unbelievers as they do for Christians. This is a famous one: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6).2 I have addressed the false understanding of this verse before, but I invite the reader to investigate it himself. It may not mean what you think it means.

It’s sad when we bungle along in ignorance of the precious words of God.

Another truth that the world has appropriated—part of it, anyway—is in these two passages: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

So, quick quiz. Which one of these verses can be applied to keeping our bodies in good health and used to admonish people to lose weight, exercise, or stop smoking because their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?

The answer is, “Neither of them.” Why, then, we should ask, do so many Christians believe this untruth? I don’t know. Me-centered, evangelical Christianity? The passage from 1 Corinthians 6 is perhaps less vital to our growth in understanding God’s Word because the Lord is commanding men to “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18) and not to join themselves to a prostitute because he becomes “one body with her” and the two become “one flesh.” I say it’s less vital because Christians are commanded in other places not to be sexually immoral, and Proverbs is packed with warnings about prostitutes.

Our ignorance about the other, from chapter 3, however, is much more troubling. Do you know what Paul was addressing in those early chapters of 1 Corinthians? Believers attaching themselves to dynamic speakers. Paul told the Corinthians that because they had done this, they were “infants in Christ,” “people of the flesh,” and “merely human.” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 4). They were boasting in men (vs. 21). The price for this infantile behavior is that it was dangerously possible that they were destroying God’s temple and in danger of being destroyed themselves (vs. 17).

I trust I don’t need to explain to the reader how pertinent this is for evangelicals today. It’s not enough that many of us have skimmed over these texts in 1 Corinthians 3 and 6 like a flat rock skipping over a smooth pond, thinking that the Bible was telling us to take care of our physical bodies because we are temples of the Holy Spirit, but that we have been blind to the danger of boasting in and attaching ourselves to dynamic speakers and leaders.

Lord, please open our eyes to see the truth of Your Scripture.


1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, unless otherwise noted.

2The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Gif courtesy



Perhaps you’re surprised I would ask the question in the title.

Please allow me to explain myself.

Jesus was and is God Almighty incarnate. The Creator of everything: time, space, gravity, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, and all creatures that exist—in the body of a human being. This Creator God, innocent and holy, chose to come to Earth to be mocked, sacrifice Himself, and suffer punishment to free from slavery and sin the people He had created.

Yes. The Creator of all things purposed to be hated and die.

The birth of Jesus is a wonder-beyond-words event, unlike any other in the history of the world. How would you have announced it? Don’t hurry to answer this question. To spur your thinking, how would you announce that a famous speaker was coming to your church? Would you drive out into a rural area and tell some people who were harvesting strawberries or picking apples? Who were wrangling cattle? Well, that’s something like how the Lord did it. After an angel appeared to a group of shepherds out in a field and said, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10–12)1, this happened:

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:13–14).

Just another night in shepherd paradise, right? Can you imagine? This had never happened before and would never happen again. A whole bunch of angels standing and praising the Lord right in front of the bewildered shepherds.

So, in our I-wouldn’t-do-it-that way scenario, the ranch and orchard laborers would be standing in a field or in a copse of trees seeing perhaps hundreds—we’re not told the number—a multitude—of angels praising God. That might change one’s perspective. You might lay down your work gloves, or climb off the ladder, or stop moving cows, and just let your jaw drop open.

This marvelous, beautiful, heaven-sent announcement and praising was in front of a few dirty, probably not-so-good-smelling shepherds.

Nothing wrong with shepherds. Scripture is full of positive examples, most notably David and Jesus. But, let’s be honest—these shepherds were poverty-stricken nobodies. They had voices, but they were small. They did not have the power to issue decrees, announcements, or proclamations. Just some guys with a boring job punctuated by moments of terror from the attacks of deadly beasts.

Why didn’t God choose a better method—from our way of thinking—of announcing this stupendous, world-changing event?

Really, Lord? Shepherds?

Yes. You’ve already thought of the answer. His ways are not our ways.

However, we should bring to mind the words the Lord put in Mary’s mouth when the fetus of John the Baptist leaped in his mother’s womb. Her praise included scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, bringing down the mighty, exalting the humble, filling the hungry with good things, and sending the rich away empty (Luke 1:46-55).

Is it safe to say that scattering the proud in their thoughts might include powerful economic, religious, and political leaders not being told their Creator was born?

So, where does this put Christian believers this Christmas?

In humility’s place, I hope. In understanding that the people the Lord chooses are rarely those of high esteem and more often people like poor, unknown shepherds. He didn’t want nor need the high and mighty for this task.

He wanted the nobodies.

That’s just the way He works.

Really, Lord? Shepherds?



1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy


Was Jesus happy?

Oh, I know, I know. Recent video portrayals of Him show Him laughing, joking with the disciples. Only problem is, no biblical evidence for this exists.

Ok, Jim, so now you’re going to advocate for a humorless, somber Christianity. Great, Jim. Just great.

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I know it’s hard to hear—but Jesus doesn’t trust you—or me. Or anyone. We shouldn’t feel bad. If we stop and think about it, scripturally, why should He trust us? He knew what was in man: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man” (John 2:23–25). 1

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This may seem like an odd title for a post, I suppose, but I’m endeavoring to add a note of truth to the beautiful account of Jesus’ birth in the stable; a fuller understanding of who this Baby was, in His immense glory. The impotent infant Jesus we read about in those accounts in Matthew and Luke left His home in heaven, more magnificent than we can imagine, possessing more power than we can imagine, to this dark, rebellious planet, so he could…die. He has called all Christians to enter into that self-denying-I-will-die-for-God-and-others life, as well. Please keep this in mind when someone tells you that you should live a purpose-driven life.

But I digress.

This God-in-the-flesh Man is called, among many other things, a Prince of Peace. Why is that?

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Last week, the question was asked, “Does everybody need a king, even one that some might consider oppressive?

The answer I offered: Yes, and no.

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Everybody needs a king.

Why would I say such a thing? Kings have been largely disasters throughout human history. In fact, their pervasive and often evil existence is one of the reasons representative democracy sprang into flower. You might have a good king once in a while, but then the sons and daughters who follow may be wicked and vile. The same can surely be said of most dictators, rulers and despots. As Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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This is an interview that Frank Viola did with Scot McKnight concerning his book, The King Jesus Gospel. Worth the read.


The Bible is full of amazing statements. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the Bible is amazing from cover to cover. However, at different times in our lives, some portions are “made real” to us. They stand out. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and causes the truth of those verses to crash into our understanding about the nature of God.

Here is one such passage, and it just absolutely, completely astounds me. At different times when I have shared it with others, I can barely keep myself from crying. It’s from Luke 12, and Jesus has been talking for some time about money, possessions and the things of this world. He tells us to give to the poor and store up treasure in heaven, not on the earth—this is in verse 33. In verse 34 He says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

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