A Blogger Sharpened

coticuleWe cannot be sharpened if we have thin skin.

That idea has been bouncing around my head for months, since my blog started taking off.

Whenever I see another blogger criticized in a way I disagree with, rather than diving in, I take a deep breath and retreat to that idea. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Prov 27:17)…and it won’t happen if we bristle at disagreement. We’ll duck and dodge, remain dull.

So far, I hadn’t gotten a lot of adversity myself. Late last week, that changed.

My WordPress wanderings had led me to an intriguing post that I decided to reblog. The core of it was, “Don’t follow Christ for the wrong reasons.” Written in passion, the post was a warning to believers with shifting-sand motives. That was the target audience. Some of its blunt truths (dying to self, etc.) had me fist-pumping. In this era of swampy self-focus, they are badly needed.

But a side effect of that zeal was some statements that were a bit stir-the-pot-ish. Some were a matter of theology (such as Jesus turning people away in the Gospels). Others were…I don’t know about untrue, but perhaps filtered. Adjusted to lesser spiritual maturity.

One example was, “Prayers are to be reserved for miracles.” That’s not Biblical in a literal sense. Many prayers are welcome. But many pastors would make the argument that such promises belong in private teachings, not Sunday mornings. Who knows what baby Christians might just walk in off the street? They need to be soaked first, maybe for years, in a foundational milk of obedience, holiness, and poverty of spirit. Milk, not solid food.

But the real kicker was the post’s title: “Do NOT become a Christian.”

Yeah.

Now, I knew what was meant, because I clicked and read: a slightly clickbaity way of saying “don’t be a Christian for the wrong reasons”, intended for the dreams/inspiration/prosperity crowd.

And when other bloggers amiably took me to task on this post I had reblogged, that’s how I defended it. They accepted what I said and went on their way.

But…

“Do NOT Become a Christian.”

Those words still adorned my front page.

And as I went about my second job that evening, bestowing pizzas and cheesesticks upon the townsfolk, those words started to eat at me.

Those bloggers had gotten me thinking.

“Do NOT Become a Christian.”

I knew what was meant.

Many of my readers knew what was meant.

Those other bloggers might know what was meant.

But was some web-surfing drunk, desperately praying for hope, going to know what was meant?

Egads – someone’s eternal destiny could hang in the balance! I needed to be sure I agreed with what I was reblogging. Clarity matters. Delivery matters. When we blog, we also teach. James 3:1 says “we who teach will be judged more strictly.” It’s not a job to be envied. I’ve been told not to share the Gospel during foreign missions but to leave it to local believers so the language barrier doesn’t distort our precious Good News. (There are horror stories.)

That night, I had to ask myself what was stopping me from taking the reblog down. Wanting to preserve its good parts? Not wanting to people-please? Not wanting to “let those other bloggers win”, smugly shaking their heads going “What an “idiot”? Which they probably weren’t doing anyway…yeesh, this imagination of mine…

Besides. Even if they were.

I would be an idiot to distort the Gospel. And headed for a carpet.

At the end of the day, I don’t want to be the guy who’s beyond advice. That’s an awful place. We have to conscientiously work at being the other thing.

So I took it down.

That post had some really good stuff. I’ll still follow that blog. It would be great to see those truths emerge in a clearer form someday.

But that day, I needed to be sharpened. I needed to be certain.

I’m writing this, not to criticize another blogger myself, but to thank the ones who criticized me. They were decent; they had good points. It’s a blessing to be reinforced by iron. If I want to write a Christian book someday, I’d better be used to criticism. Shark-filled waters, them.

I’m also writing to tell other bloggers: don’t stop writing because someone called you out. Let it sharpen you. Celebrate someone having your back.

We cannot be sharpened if we have thin skin.

And we must not be dull.

21 thoughts on “A Blogger Sharpened

  1. Hi Brandon, I appreciated your newest post. After our friendly exchange, I decided to leave this one with God to deal with if He deemed it appropriate. “Winning” an argument is never the objective, expanding our awareness and understanding is, myself included. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I believe God determines who gets saved, when, and how it happens. So when I read the title of that post and about “counting the cost”, it seemed irrelevant to me. Did Paul “count the cost” before he got blinded by Jesus and became a Christian? No. To Timothy he said the faith and love in Christ Jesus increased above his unbelief. And it so happens with us too. What is impossible to us, God makes happen and will make happen, including the salvation of all subsequent to the lake of fire, mistranslated Bibles notwithstanding.

    Eternal destiny hanging in the balance? I don’t think so. Everyone’s eternal destiny is as secure as God himself, guaranteed by the blood of Jesus. Yes, go ahead and count the cost, and do everything else the Bible says. When you realize you’re an absolute failure, then you’re ready to saved.

    Are we sharp yet? 🙂

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      • There are all kinds of “universalism” around. I don’t subscribe to any of it. I can see clearly from reading an accurate translation of the New Testament that God is going to reconcile and save the entire universe, which includes every creature in it. God’s living water also confirms the fact to me. Some people can see it; some can’t. It sure clears up a lot of logical difficulties, such as, “If God is love and all-knowing, why would he create a universe full of creatures, knowing full well he would soon be tormenting them endlessly. Is he an insane monster?”

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      • Well, my pushback would be (though you’ve probably heard this before) that you and I do not get to slap a label or definition on God’s love based on what we’d like. It is what he decides, and for me, an accurate translation cannot avoid the clear descriptions of hell. He’s a God of love and a God of justice.

        I wouldn’t call him insane – he sent his son to die so we could avoid it all!

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      • An accurate translation can at least let a guy know the lake of fire will be temporary for chastening, not eternal for punishment. Jesus said everyone is going to be salted with fire. Paul said some fire is going to test our work. Hebrews says our God is a consuming fire, and Paul said the all is out of him, through him, and into him. We’ll see what happens.

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      • I always get into trouble when I share what I believe about hell. Still, I feel compelled to defend God. He says, “All the wicked I will destroy.” People have changed something God said multiple times into, “All the wicked I will roast and torture forever.”

        If you study, really study death, the grave, hell and the wicked you will see so many verses with the teaching the dead know nothing and feel nothing. Then there is the judgement and the wicked are raised to be judged. Then they are burned up, “leaving neither root nor branch.” “This is the second death.”

        Hell is just another word for “grave”. Death and hell are thrown into the lake of fire. They are destroyed. (Revelation) “The last enemy to be destroyed is death

        Most of the Christians I say this to get angry and offended. But honestly, how could anyone love a God who would treat human beings like that? We wouldn’t do that to a dog. Well, there is a site that explains hell; it’s called Amazing Facts org. There are other places also where you can study the origin of this teaching.

        I know the few verses Christians use to say there is a torture chamber with God in charge. But there are hundreds of verses that deny that teaching. So when Scriptures don’t agree, it means we need to dig to understand why.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s a pleasure to hear you say the dead are actually dead, not alive being tortured. From the Old Testament we read that death is a return, the spirit returns to God, the body returns to the soil, and the soul returns to the obscure, hades in the New Testament, which actually means unperceived (commonly called “hell”, an old English word that meant “hidden”).
        I also agree with you it’s good to dig, to clear up apparent contradictions. Here are some of my diggings:
        https://worddispensary.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/good-vs-bad/
        https://worddispensary.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/eternal-or-durative/
        https://worddispensary.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/forever-or-durations/
        You might notice Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 takes us to a time beyond the book of Revelation. Jesus and his holy ones are still reigning in Revelation. But in 1 Corinthians 15 we see Jesus will reign UNTIL all the enemies are nullified, the last enemy nullified being death itself. In that same chapter we see three classes of humans mentioned. The third class won’t be made alive in Christ until the consummation, when death itself is nullified. And thus “all who are dying in Adam, will be made alive in Christ.” The all (everything and everyone) is to be summed (headed) up in Christ, according to Ephesians.
        In addition, the Greek word “apollumi” (from-whole-loose) is translated “destroy” in some places and “lose” in other places. So it’s quite consistent to say that Jesus came to seek and to save the destroyed sheep of the house of Israel. And now the word of the cross is stupidity to the ones being destroyed. Salvation follows destruction. God chooses the ones being saved, the word is very clear, that no flesh may boast. “I chose you, you did not choose me.” We all believe God is a righteous judge who will do what is right with everyone. But it’s such a pleasure to dig to find what it is exactly he’s up to. I don’t see him letting people decide their eternal destiny. I see him taking creation on a ride, introducing us to himself with infinite wisdom.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Just last night in group we were discussing how it’s important to be able to receive the valid content of a message whether or not we cared for the style of delivery. We can’t control what other people say or what they hear, but we can control what we say and how we listen. Good post.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I also had to take it down for a few reasons…

    1. I don’t need the abuse or critics until I am in a stronger place. Christians and people on the web (hiding behind keyboards) can be very nasty and I don’t need to enter into debate or have the time to discuss any legalistic points of view/difference of opinion.

    2. Although I heartily agree with the essence of the blog, I am aware too, of the ramifications of being a teacher. Besides, I’ve never been about attracting readers, and I never will try. I write for my own cathartic expression.

    3. God’s truth is too important to be even slightly controversial about any of it. End of.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Darling, first of all, there is nothing wrong with referring to the other person’s post but using your own, less-misleading title, with quotes of the parts you especially like…in the manner of the post of mine which you ‘liked.’ Give links and complete reference to the other author.

    More importantly, though, is your ability to allow others, and yourself, to be ‘on the path’ toward God and truth. We, none of us, have arrived at the end of that path. None of us have perfect knowledge of God, His intentions, creation, man’s purpose, etc. …and we won’t in this realm.

    The best you, or any of us, can do is not mislead or lie. Sometimes the next best we can do is plant a seed or embed a grain of sand…and move on. My belief is God takes over from that point, utilizing other bloggers, life lessons, Scripture, etc.

    At this time in my life, I find I am the most useful as an ambassador for Jesus, when I just ‘show up’ and, following the nudgings of spirit, plant that seed, make a point (subtle or otherwise), or just bless someone with encouragement, gentle advice, or a hug.

    It is about serving: making yourself available to the Lord; open to His guidance and lessons on life and heart truth; and speaking, acting, and writing on His behalf.

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    • Good theology does matter. There is a point to which we can reliably determine what the Bible is saying.

      That said, I do believe in doing so in a spirit of love and grace, which you suggest. Each of us has a different role, after all, as 1 Corinthians tells us.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I am not disputing the necessity of good theology but none of us ‘get it’ from the get go. Our understanding and appreciation of even the best and most truthful theology evolves and deepens. Truth starts out making sense to us…and then, in time, makes a change in us.

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