Did Jesus Have Bad Habits?

the-bad-habits-of-jesusBook Review: The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing us the way to live right in a world gone wrong, by Leonard Sweet

Far too often, the way we talk about Jesus tends to sanitize him and remove the revolutionary edge from his teaching. We refer to him as “gentle Jesus meek and mild,” and only talk about his instructions to “love one another.” As a result, we miss seeing the “rebellious rabbi” who demonstrated a number of bad habits. This is the conviction and thesis of author and speaker Leonard Sweet in his latest book, The Bad Habits of Jesus: Showing us the way to live right in a world gone wrong.

Sweet’s premise is that we need to fully understand Jesus for who he is if we are to follow him wholeheartedly.

Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he had habits and behaviors that were considered bad in the eyes of the culture of his day. Some of them seem wrong even today. All of Jesus’ “bad habits,” however, reveal truths about God’s love and message that are vital for us.

From a human perspective, Jesus demonstrated what we think are bad habits. Jesus offended people, especially those in positions of authority. He was constantly disappearing and going off by himself. Jesus told stories that didn’t make sense. He loved to party and hang out with the “wrong crowd.” Jesus broke the rules of the day. Jesus enjoyed the company of women and children in a culture that valued neither.

As the author explains the purpose of the book, he says that

This is fundamentally a book about the Incarnation. Where does the Incarnation fit in terms of theology? Most see it in terms of soteriology (salvation) or eschatology (end times). But I think it properly belongs within the framework of Creation. The consummation of the original act of Creation was the once-for-all-time incarnation in Jesus and the ongoing incarnation of that once-for-all-time incarnation in each and every one of us. If Jesus had not left but stayed, he would have kept inside him what was in him. That Jesus left us and sent us the Holy Spirit meant that what was inside him was let out and now is inside us.

That meant Jesus left us both his good and his bad habits. And in Jesus’ day he was most known for being bad, not good. The religious establishment of Jesus’ day were good—no, they were great. In fact, there was nobody better at keeping a list than the Pharisees were. The problem was they were so good, they ought they had it all wrapped up. Today, too, far too many churches are filled with people who are unrecognizable as Jesus’ followers due to their lack of Jesus’ bad habits!

Jesus was a master at challenging convention and the status quo. But he was also a master at healing brokenness. If you want to incarnate Jesus in your life and in your church, you need to quit tallying up your “good” behavior and try a few of Jesus’ bad habits!

Perhaps if Christ followers were less afraid of offending people and more concerned about letting people see Jesus in us, we would have a greater impact on our world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on October 28, 2016 in Books, Jesus, Quotes


Seek guidance from the right source


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Posted by on October 28, 2016 in Quotes, Tim Challies


A mixed bag of encouragement

Someone designated the month of October as “Pastor Encouragement Month.” I suppose it is the evangelical equivalent of a Hallmark Holiday. As a result, I’ve received a number of cards and notes thanking me for my ministry. I am grateful for each and every one. They encourage me to keep pressing forward. 

However, I’ve also received a fair amount of criticism during the past month for various things including my personality, actions—both done and not done, preaching, and ministry philosophy. The most recent was an anonymous note that came in today’s mail telling me I needed to read an article entitled, “Epidemic: On The Creeping Hollow Within a Pastor’s Soul.” Since the individual only gave me the title, I had to google it to discover it was a blog post about burnout. I don’t know if it came from someone within my church or from a random person. I don’t know if the individual was genuinely concerned about me or whether they were taking a veiled shot.

If you want to encourage your pastor, send a card, note, or email, and be sure and sign your name. Don’t send anonymous notes! They are discouraging. If I have a hollow in my soul (and I don’t think I do and I don’t think I’m burned out), anonymous notes only serve to widen and deepen the hole rather than heal it.

All of this reminds me that I am in a spiritual battle and the enemy doesn’t want me to succeed. It’s probably not coincidental that our elders’ & wives’ Bible study tonight is on how to ensure that our church leaders are staying healthy. Ironically, the book we’re reading is written by the author of the blog post, Carey Nieuwhof.


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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Ministry, Personal growth


Life philosophy


My piano teacher used to say that if you make a mistake, keep going, and no one will ever know. As long as you make a good recovery and stick the landing, no one knows you made a mistake!

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Posted by on October 27, 2016 in Calvin and Hobbes, Fun


Standing against the flow of culture

the-daniel-codeBook Review: The Daniel Code: Living out Truth in a Culture That Is Losing Its Way, by O. S. Hawkins

We live in a culture that has drifted from its moorings. Violence abounds. We tolerate and even praise what would once have been spoken of in embarrassed whispers. There are new assaults on religious liberties every day. How do we live out our faith in a culture headed the wrong direction?

That is the question posed by pastor and author O. S. Hawkins in his latest offering, The Daniel Code: Living out Truth in a Culture That Is Losing Its Way. The author explains that the Old Testament prophet, Daniel,

grew up in a culture built on biblical truth and centered in traditional family values. And then he found himself living in a culture that was hostile to everything he had ever known. His value system, his truth claims, and his moral compass were challenged repeatedly at every turn. His world was suddenly a world of pluralistic thought. But Daniel had a different spirit about him. He was a man of integrity who not only engaged his culture head-on but actually was used by God to transform it. And—just in case we need to be reminded—Daniel’s God is still our God!

The author uses the first six chapters of the book of Daniel to lay out principles and guidelines for how we can stand firm in the midst of our changing culture. Based on the examples and illustrations the author uses, the book is aimed at an older generation. The cover of the book is crafted to make it suitable for use as a gift book.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Books, Integrity, Scripture


When You Haven’t Got A Prayer

You are prodded awake from a sound asleep. You glance at the clock. It is 3AM. A name comes to your mind of an old friend whom you haven’t seen in three years. You have the sense that you should pray for the individual. What would you ask God to do for them?

You are rummaging through one of the drawers in your desk. You discover an old photo of seven friends camping together. You realize you haven’t heard from two of them in quite some time. You are prompted to pray for them. What would you include in your prayer?

Your best friend enlisted in the Army. You have not heard from him in three months since he left for basic training. Something tells you to pray for him, but you aren’t sure how. What would you pray?

How do you pray for someone when you don’t know what their needs are? How do you go beyond, “God bless so-and-so”? How do you pray when you haven’t got a prayer?

That question prompted me to study the prayers of the apostle Paul. As he sat in prison in Rome, he was prompted to pray for the churches in Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossae. His prayers provide a model of how & what to pray other believers, even when we may not know their needs.

It had been 5-6 years since the apostle Paul was in Ephesus. He did not have an email update from the church or watched CNN Headline News to know their exact needs. Yet Paul asked for two specific things in regards to the Ephesian believers. Following his example, we can pray that other Christ followers will understand who they are in Jesus Christ and that they will grow stronger spiritually.

When you pray for others, pray that they will understand who they are in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:15-23). We can pray that our friends will come to know God intimately (17) so that they will know three facts—the past call of salvation that produced hope (18a), the future inheritance that God has in his saints (18b), and the present power of God that is available to those of us who believe (19).

When you pray for others, pray that they become stronger spiritually (Ephesians 3:14-21). We can pray that God will strengthen our friends in four areas—strengthened with power (16-17a), have deep roots and firm foundations (17b), comprehend the love of Christ is all its dimensions (18-19a), and be filled up to God’s fullness (19b).

If you compare these two prayers, you discover:


“that you may KNOW”

“that you may BE”




Know what Christ has done for us

Put the blessings to work in our lives

If you truly understood God chose you, God values you, and God has given you power, would it change how you live? If you became stronger spiritually, allowed Christ to be at home in your life, had a solid foundation, understood the vast dimensions of the love of God, and were filled to the fullness of Christ, would it change how you live? Knowing the difference it would make in your life, pray those same requests on behalf of other Christ followers.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 23, 2016. It is part of a series on Prayer: Moving Heaven for Earth. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


What might God do through you?

tredway_outrageous_wSPine.inddBook Review: Outrageous: Awake to the unexpected adventures of everyday faith, by Aaron Tredway

What might happen if you invite God to journey with you through life? What opportunities might occur if you open yourself to the possibility? These are the questions posed by former globe-trotting athlete Aaron Tredway in his recent book, Outrageous: Awake to the unexpected adventures of everyday faith. Tredway’s premise is that a small amount of faith has the power to move us into opportunities, events, and even adventures that we might not have ever thought possible.

The author weaves together a series of stories from his experience as a professional athlete that he uses to illustrate biblical principles. He traveled the world playing and coaching soccer and used sports as a platform to share the gospel.

On the one hand, the stories were entertaining and encouraging. On the other hand, most people cannot relate to his experience because they are not an athlete or have traveled outside of their backyard. The benefit of the book is not in the stories themselves but in the principles he uses the stories to illustrate. If you take the principle and ask how to apply it to your life, then you will benefit from the book. Otherwise you will only be entertained.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Books