The Internet's favorite Unkle.

"Don’t make the mistake of assuming that God is waiting for you on the other side of the finish line. He’s sitting there on the ground next to you when you stumble and fall right out of the gate."

- Unka Glen (unkaglen.tumblr.com)

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I’m on the road again, and I’ll be passing through my home town of Houston, and I know I’m overdue to do some meetups with blog followers and Say That Podcast Superfans.

If you’re in the Houston area, or can get there, I’d love to hang out on the evening of October 12th, or the evening of October 13th.

You can click the icon at the top of my page to follow me on Twitter, and message me there. Or you can message me here on Tumblr, but if I don’t respond, do the Twitter thing, Tumblr occasionally loses messages sent my way.

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young-hypochondriacI know we can’t expect to understand everything about the Bible and God, and that it’s best to just have faith. But over the past few days I’ve been beginning to believe that although the Bible can contain spiritual truth, it doesn’t contain all truth. I believe that because the thought of eternal damnation of people who haven’t accepted Christ clouds my view of God. 

My faith seems messy and I’m terrified that I’m getting this all wrong. I’m terrified that I’m ignorantly rejecting truth in order to help me sleep better at night - that I’m creating a faith that caters to my own needs instead of being truthful, and this makes me panicky. I know this is long, and I’m sorry, but these thoughts are like eating me alive, and I think you give great advice, so please deal with meeeee.

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Unka Glen answered: Okay, breathe, I’ve you on this. Believe it or not, this is closer to being a good thing than a bad thing. Your walk is progressing beyond a mere pretending to believe a set of doctrines, and choosing to believe nothing more than what you can live with. That’s actually a good thing, as long as God Himself is in the process.

So let’s take this step by step, shall we?

“I know we can’t expect to understand everything about the Bible and God, and that it’s best to just have faith” Actually, no. When we don’t understand things, the virtue we’re looking for is wisdom, not faith. After all, you have to know what it is you’re supposed to have faith in, and how do you know, unless you ask these kinds of questions?

“The Bible…doesn’t contain all truth” Well, of course there are many more specific truths that the Lord would like to tell you, about the world, about yourself, your calling, about His great love for you specifically, etc., than what’s written in the Bible. and again, how are you to hear those things unless you engage Him in conversation?

“The thought of eternal damnation of people who haven’t accepted Christ clouds my view of God” Nobody goes to Hell because they haven’t accepted Christ, the Bible is talking about people who knowingly reject Christ. That’s a huge difference. In fact, the Bible even talks about people who never have a chance to hear the word of God, but they follow God nonetheless, because they follow the things that God puts on their conscience, and “they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts” (Romans 2:14-15).

So obviously God isn’t sending those people to Hell.

“I’m terrified that I’m ignorantly rejecting truth in order to help me sleep better at night” Well, it is a fact that one does not arrive at the truth by staring into space and deciding what’s true. Two plus two equals four. Believe it, doubt it, it’s still four. However, in this case the truth is easy enough to sleep on: Your concern that God is a) bound by a technicality of Scripture, b) less understanding that you, and c) less compassionate than you, turns out to not be the case.

“My faith seems messy and I’m terrified that I’m getting this all wrong” What’s wrong with messy? Messy is good. Messy is REAL. And what, exactly, are you terrified of? You came to a place where you weren’t willing to believe something that turns out to not be true. That’s a good thing as far as I can tell.

In fact, if I could say one last thing about all this, it would be to take these concerns and doubts, and build them into your walk with God. To present them, one at a time, and listen for His answers. (That’s what I do). 

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"2 Corinthians 11 says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light and his servants as servants of righteousness. So if we were to develop a profile for that kind of creeping evil, it’s something that looks super holy and Jesus-y, but is essentially hollow inside, lacking in love and grace."

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Unka Glen Fitzjerrell on episode 137 of Say That

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

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(via thebridgechicago)

Source: thebridgechicago

An amazing article well worth checking out. Where else can you go to get writing like this?
thebridgechicago:

BridgeBox is delighted to share this piece by Jeremy Nicholls from Cornerstone Community Outreach in Chicago. Jeremy is a world-class expert in working with homeless and disadvantaged people, and helping them transition to the next phase of their lives. Don’t miss this touchingly intimate piece about transitioning through life phases as a Christian.
(Just click to image to download the PDF for FREE)

An amazing article well worth checking out. Where else can you go to get writing like this?

thebridgechicago:

BridgeBox is delighted to share this piece by Jeremy Nicholls from Cornerstone Community Outreach in Chicago. Jeremy is a world-class expert in working with homeless and disadvantaged people, and helping them transition to the next phase of their lives. Don’t miss this touchingly intimate piece about transitioning through life phases as a Christian.

(Just click to image to download the PDF for FREE)

Source: thebridgechicago

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Anonymous asked: Hi Unka! Thanks for all your advice. I have a Christian friend with benefits, and I’m really enjoying him as a friend, and I’m enjoying the benefits. The only problem is that he said he can’t progress into a relationship, due to past relationship issues that he’s healing from, and I told him that I was totally cool with it… except now I’m falling for him hard, and feeling angsty because I told him I was cool with it. Do I keep enjoying what I got or walk away? 

Unka Glen answered: Wait, you mean you did the “friends with benefits” thing, and it didn’t work out? Huh. I thought that always worked out. Oh wait, no, okay yeah, it’s that friends with benefits NEVER works out. That’s it. I remember.

There is one simple order to these events that has worked, time and again, over the course of many years, with many millions of couples. It’s smart, it doesn’t violate scripture, and it doesn’t need to be improved upon. That simple order is:

  1. Get to know each other over coffee/ice cream/fruit smoothie
  2. Go out on an actual date like an actual person (wherein one of you actually says, “I’d like to take you out on a date”)
  3. Then go out on many dates
  4. Decide to date each other exclusively
  5. Maybe enjoy some of the bore basic “benefits”
  6. Become engaged 
  7. Maybe enjoy some of the other “benefits” (if the Lord should grant His permission on that)
  8. Become married
  9. Enjoy the big benefit. A lot. 
  10. Babies

You’ll notice that the benefits increase as the intimacy and depth of commitment increases in the relationship. This is for one simple reason: no matter how much we try to separate sex from emotional intimacy, we can’t. Either the sex simply becomes stale and meaningless, or the intimacy goes up, (as in your case) and there isn’t a committed relationship in place that can support that intimacy.

Let your friend know that you understand his need for “healing” from his past relationships, and that you wouldn’t dare rush him through that process, and that furthermore you won’t subject him to any more emotional confusion by having the physical intimacy of a more committed relationship. 

Let him know that you’re happy to wait for him to come around, but of course you can’t promise to wait forever. And that when he’s ready to ask you out on a date, with flowers, and holding doors open, and walking you to the door at the end of the night, and if he’s lucky, down the line, maybe enjoying a minor benefit here or there, he should go ahead and ask you out before someone better looking comes along and beats him to it.

Now, I know you’re scared that you’ll chase him off with an attitude like that, and if he’s on a course that would break your heart, then talk like will chase him off, and thankfully so. But keep this in mind: SOME of the people who have high standards for dating will find the quality relationships they’re looking for, but ALL of the people with low standards get exactly what they aim for, and pity them for it.

"Your relationship with God is totally unique. No one else is a Christian in the exact way that you are a Christian. That dynamic is a personal and sacred thing into which nobody else is invited."

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Unka Glen Fitzjerrell on episode 136 of Say That

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

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(via thebridgechicago)

Source: thebridgechicago

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 asked: Hi Unka Glen, I used to have a good walk in Christ, then I got involved in a relationship, and doing sexual immorality. I really feel dirty, then numb. I feel so far, and so unworthy of Him right now. What should I do? Right now every time I look in the mirror, I don’t see any beauty at all, but defilement. [edited for length]

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Unka Glen answered: Okay, whoa there Cupcake… defilement? Really? Sounds like someone’s heard more judgement than grace on this subject, and it’s time we sorted that out.

You say that you feel so unworthy of God, and that word “worthy” sure does mess a lot of Christians up. So let’s make this much clear: you never were worthy of God’s love, you were a sinner before you did this wrong thing, and you’ll be a sinner on your deathbed. God knew every wrong thing you would ever do, and He paid for it all, because of His great love for you, not because you were worthy.

Sex isn’t dirty, it’s beautiful, and it’s meant to be shared in the right way at the right time. You sought pleasure, and you found it. You’re not alone in that. But the deeper wisdom that guilt isn’t letting you see, is that this pleasure doesn’t quite work right, outside of a meaningful, committed, long term relationship like marriage. 

The enemy knows that smart people will eventually realize that less meaningful sex simply loses its appeal, and thus people will eventually seek something more meaningful, even if that means they have to wait until the time is right. No, sex never was the temptation, guilt was the whole point.

You don’t have a problem with sex, you have a problem with guilt. 

It’s this emotion of guilt that has you feeling dirty, feeling unworthy, and ultimately feeling “so far” from God. And here’s how the lie of guilt works: since you’re “defiled” now, and far from God, you can’t exactly go to Him and ask for peace, or joy, or forgiveness… all you can do is just have some more sex.

You wanna know why guilt is so hard to get rid of? It’s because getting rid of that guilt means getting rid of our excuse to keep doing the sin driving it.

The negativity of guilt drives a cycle that keeps you from realizing one simple truth: forgiveness, grace, love, and healing are available to you RIGHT NOW, in infinite supply. Don’t tell me how sick you are with the medicine sitting right next to you.

Sex didn’t create this mess, guilt did. Confess it all, accept forgiveness (without wasting any more time on guilt), and get busy making the changes needed to keep all this from happening again. God is never far.

Psalm 139:7-10 "How can I get away from your Spirit? Where can I go to escape from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth, you are also there. Suppose I were to rise with the sun in the east and then cross over to the west where it sinks into the ocean. Your hand would always be there to guide me. Your right hand would still be holding me close."

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 asked: Hello! First of all I just want to thank you guys for working so hard on the Say That podcast and everything you do. They’ve been a big help in my walk. My question is,  I want to purchase a new bible, but I’m torn in between versions. On one hand the NKJV is supposed to be closer to the original, but things like NIV and NLT, are the ones I understand the most. I was wondering what do you recommend?

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Unka Glen answered: Well, considering that you’re a Say That superfan, I’m prepared to take this answer to another level… Quick, to the Bible Nerdatorium!

Okay, so let’s break down all the noise an confusion over Bible translations into a very simple and clear perspective. We’ll start with a dude known as Erasmus, who decided that he would collect all of the New Testament, in it’s original language (Greek), into one Bible.

He gathered the oldest and most reliable manuscripts he could find, and put it all together. It was kind of a rush job, and there were more than a few spelling and grammatical errors, but he put out new editions with corrections as he went along. This collected New Testament eventually became known as the Textus Receptus.

Now, to me Textus Receptus sounds like something you get from eating spoiled seafood. “If you suffer from Textus Receptus, ask your doctor if prescription strength Biblemax is right for you.” Anyway, this Textus Receptus was used to translate the King James Bible.

But then something interesting happened… Scholars found Greek New Testament manuscripts that were even older and more reliable than the ones that Erasmus used. This caused a bit of a ruckus. 

Now, to you and me, we’d simply say, just update it, especially since it’s just a teeny, tiny, little difference anyway. Erasmus made corrections, so can we. Simple. What’s the big whoop?

Well, ya see, some people decided that the Textus Receptus/King James Bible are holy, as is, and to change those translations with more accurate info would be to CHANGE THE BIBLE, and so no thank you, we’re sticking with The King James because:

"it sounds more Bible-y" (actually the Bible was written in the more common form of Greek used in the marketplace and on the streets (Koine), as opposed to the more scholarly and poetic form of the language (Attic).

"It was the first English translation" (in fact William Tyndale published his English Bible nearly a century before).

"It’s old, so it has to be more accurate than these modern translations that are all modern-y" (as explained above, newer translations actually incorporate the oldest texts). 

Beyond those facts, we can say this much for sure:

  • The difference between the Textus Receptus and the latest editions of the Greek New Testament from the United Bible Society are so small, that they don’t warrant any real attention from non-Bible scholars like you and me.
  • Where those differences are even semi-significant, translations like the NIV and ESV will add a footnote saying something along the lines of “some earlier manuscripts don’t include…” and then they’ll show you a word or phrase that is different. So that way they’re covering all the bases.
  • Therefore the notion that one translation is more “accurate” than another is pretty much the work of people who like to stir up controversy. The real difference from translation to translation is the translation approach they take, so let’s look at those approaches:

Types of translations:

Word-for-word translations (NIV, ESV, NKJV) try to find one right English word for every Greek word in the original text. That sounds like it would be pretty accurate, but it should be said that English can often be sloppy and vague, compared to the much more specific original Greek. 

Matthew 5:48 says “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.  But the English word “perfect” has more than one meaning: 1) lacking nothing essential to the whole, complete; 2) being without defect or blemish.

The Greek language, thankfully, has two whole different words for these two definitions. “Amomos” means without defect or blemish, and “Teleios” means lacking nothing essential to the whole, complete. Most people think Jesus is telling people to be without blemish (amomos), but He isnt! He’s telling them to become whole and complete by being joined to the Father (teleios). 

A paraphrase translation (NLT) would allow you to unpack a word like teleios into a phrase like “become complete”, acknowledging that while the word “perfect” is a reasonable and accurate word to use, it’s also prone to misunderstanding.

A dynamic equivalent translation (The Message) aims to translate the Greek in such a way that it sounds in English the way it would sound to a native Greek speaker reading the original text. As you might guess, this gets us into the world of interpretation and some (perhaps unnecessary) literary embellishments, but paraphrases and dynamic equivalents can be easier to read, especially if you’re reading a lot at a time.

Bottom line: don’t trouble yourself with the hype over “inaccurate” translations, find a translation that’s easy for you to understand, and have an NIV or ESV on hand for comparison, where needed.

"Stop projecting your feelings about yourself onto God. Don’t assume He has the negative thoughts about you that you have about yourself. God does not think the way you think. He does not see you the way you see yourself. Let God speak for Himself."

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Unka Glen Fitzjerrell on episode 135 of Say That

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

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(via thebridgechicago)

Source: thebridgechicago

A new Bridge Podcast is up! Could your Monday use a little extra worship and encouragement? We have awesome original worship songs from Jed Brewer and Alexander Webb, a sermon from The Bridge’s Matt King, and a scripture memorization track about casting your cares on God. 

Stream it above or download it Free on iTunes or our Website

Source: thebridgechicago

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 asked: Unka Glen! How have you been? By the way, in regards to your recent post about the Christian publishing industry, are there any books you would personally recommend?

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Unka Glen answered: You bet, there’s tons of amazing Christian writing out there, if you know where to look, so let me bring in some good recommendations from people around the web.

Lee Younger, who you may know from his excellent blog, and our Say That Podcast, recommends:

Virginia Stem Owens “Looking for Jesus

Mike Mason “The Gospel According to Job

Jed Brewer, my right hand man here in Chicago, and music ministry guru, recommends:

Cloud and Townsend “Boundaries” series

Philip Yancy “Where is God When it Hurts?” and “What’s so Amazing About Grace?

Matt King from my staff, who writes an amazing blog as well, and produces our podcast, recommends:

Anything by his favorite, Frederick Buechner, especially Telling Secrets

Eugene Peterson “Eat This Book

Also… if you like YA fiction, we all highly recommend anything by the supercool Rajdeep Paulus (who, rumor has it, will appear on the October first episode of the Say That Podcast, and give an interview to Matt… but that’s a secret, because I don’t know if I was supposed to mention it yet, since it hasn’t come out, so don’t tell anyone.)

Finally, my recommendations… if you’re looking to really take things up a notch and get into the deep stuff, check out this free ebook by Søren Kierkegaard, called “Provocations”, and if you’re thinking of maybe learning a little Greek to go with your Bible study, I highly recommend: “Basic Greek in 30 Minutes a Day" by James Found.

So you’ve got everything from fiction to philosophy, “Christian living” to psychology, and even some Bible knowledge reading as well. Enjoy!

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catareena asked:

How do you let go of a grudge? Especially when it’s because of a betrayal? And Is it wrong if I’m picky with the persons I want to be close with?

Jed Brewer replied:

Sis, these are fantastic questions.

Part of the reason these questions are good ones is that there’s an admission inherent in them.  In other words, by asking the first two questions, you’re saying, “Somebody betrayed me, which wasn’t cool, and now I’m holding a grudge.”

The reason this is important is that, often times, people aren’t willing to admit either of those things.  They make excuses for the people who have hurt them - “oh, they didn’t *mean* to act that way!”.  And they pretend they’re not mad when, inside, they’re ready to explode.

So, given that you’re clear that this other person *did* in fact hurt you, and that you *are* in fact holding a grudge, the answer is pretty straight forward.  The answer, as I bet you already know, is to forgive them.  That’s how you let go of a grudge.  You forgive it.

But, what does that look like?  How does that actually - practically - work?  Now we’re asking *fantastic* questions.

Forgiveness has three distinct stages, and they have to work in this order.

1) We give up our claim against this person.

So, pretend somebody borrowed a hundred dollars from you, and never paid you back.  In a very literal sense, they owe you.  Forgiveness, in this case, would start with deciding that, as a decision you are making, they no longer owe you the money.  You are choosing to erase their debt - to forgive it. That doesn’t mean you’ll loan them any *more* money, but it does mean this $100 is over and done with.

Now, when it’s something a bit more abstract, like a betrayal (instead of unreturned money), it’s easy to get confused about the dynamics of the situation.  But, actually, they still work the same way.  When somebody hurts you, when they betray you, they owe you, but in a emotional sense, rather than a financial sense.  They owe you for all the hurt they caused, all the tears they provoked, all the difficulties they brought forth.

So, again, to forgive starts with deciding that they no longer owe you.  You’re no longer holding this debt against them - you’re erasing it.  You’re forgiving it.

(Note: this is super hard.  It takes God’s strength to do it.  And you’ll probably need to do it 20 times before you really feel like it’s gone.  That’s normal.  ‘Cause it’s really hard to do.)

2) We stand ready, when appropriate, for a reconciled relationship.

You may note that step 1 didn’t involve the other person at all.  They don’t have to be sorry for us to forgive them.  They don’t even have to be *alive*.  Step 1 is about us letting go of the debt for our own sake.  We’re the beneficiaries of that decision, and they don’t get a say in it.  (There’s an old saying: “Resentment is me drinking poison and hoping you die.”  It’s true, and step 1 is where we decide to not drink poison anymore.)

So, with step 2, when it’s appropriate, we stand ready to have a new relationship with this person, shouldthey seek our forgiveness.

Let’s break down each of those details, because they’re really important.  

First, “when it’s appropriate.”  There are, unfortunately, relationships that have been broken in a way where attempting to rebuild them would cause further damage and do no good.  Situations that involve abuse, assault, and neglect often fall into these categories.  It’d be a great idea to talk with a pastor or counselor about the details of your situation to see if it would make sense to be open to a further relationship with the person who hurt you.

Next, “we stand ready.” Because you did the work in step 1, you’re no longer holding a grudge.  There’s no longer a sense that they owe you.  So you are open to something new, if they seek it out.

Third, “should they seek our forgiveness.”  In human relationships, the person who has hurt you needs to ask for your forgiveness before the relationship can begin to be rebuilt.  The reason for this is simple: if they aren’t sorry, they’re going to do the same thing again.  And it isn’t healthy to put yourself back into a situation that’s going to hurt you once more.

Whew, that’s a lot.  You still with me?  Good, cause here’s the last step.

3) We give out the trust that this person earns.

Provided that we’ve let go of our grudge, provided that they have sought out our forgiveness, and that it’s appropriate to rebuild the relationship, the last step is trust.

We need to be very clear here: while love is a gift, trust is earned.

In healthy relationships, we expect people to earn our trust by behaving in a responsible, consistent, trustworthy fashion.  When we see them do that, we assign them a proportional amount of trust.  In other words, when someone demonstrates that they will show up when they say they will, we trust them to keep engagements on the calendar.  But we don’t give them the PIN to our bank account.  Those are two separate things.

If you’re rebuilding a relationship with someone, and they’re behaving in a trustworthy fashion, then give them the trust that they’re due.  If they’re not behaving in a trustworthy fashion, then don’t trust them.  

It isn’t unloving or unchristian to withhold trust from untrustworthy people.  Nope.  Instead, it’s smart, responsible, and exactly what Jesus did. (John 2:24)

And that points to your last question - about being picky about your close friends.  Understand, a smart person is *extremely* picky about their close friends.  It’s an old adage, and a paraphrase of a Bible verse, but it’s true: “You become like the people you’re around.”  A smart person chooses wisely on who they want to become.

Last thing: we did a whole issue of BridgeBox on this exact subject.  Because you’re awesome, I’m gonna PM you the link.  For everyone else, they can get in depth info on tough topics like forgiveness by signing up for BridgeBox - just click the image below.

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Source: jedbrewer

"When Jesus said things like ‘let the dead bury their own dead’ or ‘take up your cross daily’ it almost seems like He’s trying to provoke people to pull up and say ‘Wait, what?!’ For me, the conversation that starts with that reaction leads to wrestling out my doubts and confusions, and that’s what strengthens my relationship with God."

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Unka Glen Fitzjerrell on episode 136 of Say That

Get it Free on iTunes or our Website

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(via thebridgechicago)

Source: thebridgechicago

The cool thing about Poolhouse Guru mixes, is how they’ll get you singing that verse all day long, and really meditating on the truth of it.

thebridgechicago:

"I am the vine, you are the branches." Chicago DJ the Poolhouse Guru takes these words of Jesus and puts them to a pulse and a beat.

Get awesome stuff and support ministry on the streets of Chicago, all for only $8/month. Sign up at missionusa.com/bridgebox.

Source: thebridgechicago