State of the Blog 2012

February 24th, 2012 marked the third anniversary of Blogging Theologically (I wrote a little bit about its origins in a post last June). In internet years, that’s the equivalent of being 1,000, I think. Anyway, since the blog began and more readers have found there way here, I’ve noticed I’ve started getting a lot of emails with the same kind of question: What advice can you give to help build my blog?

First, it’s really nice to be asked a question like this. I want to be able to help others as much as I can. But this is also a really hard question for me to answer. Honestly—and hopefully this isn’t false humility talking—I don’t know that I’ve done anything particularly special that other bloggers aren’t already doing. The advice I see most frequently given usually amounts to post daily (or at least on a regular schedule). But even then, that’s not necessarily the case—Scott Stratten (author of UnMarketing) usually gives the following advice: Just post something awesome. Doesn’t matter if it’s daily, monthly, annually… if you’ve got something awesome to say or share, post. If you don’t, don’t.

I (obviously) post daily, and my biggest goal is to post worthwhile content, whether it’s an original piece, a quote I’ve appreciated from a really good book or sermon, or the occasional video. But aside from content—because, honestly, I think everyone gets that whatever you’re posting should be great—I want to give to offer a few pieces of advice (much of which comes from an interview I did with Darryl Dash earlier in February) and look at how I’ve been trying to apply these things over the last year:

First, and most importantly, be who you are. Don’t try to be Tim Challies, Trevin WaxJustin Taylor or whichever big name bloggers you read because you’ll only be frustrated and disappointed (and really, no one wants to read a copycat, it’s no fun).

This past year, I think/hope I managed to find my “voice” as a writer. I’m not super-skilled, I’ve never taken a course in journalism or anything like that, but probably the best thing I’ve done is made sure I’m reading more broadly. So even though I’m reading a large amount of contemporary material, I’m also trying to get into the riches of the past as much as possible, as well as reading a good deal of material that falls outside the Christian realm. It’s like D.A. Carson’s advice to young preachers—if you listen to a lot of different men, you’re more likely to actually start to sound like you, rather than a bad imitation of your favorite preacher.

Second, contend well. There is a great temptation to chase gossip and controversy like so many watch-bloggers do and it’s just wicked nonsense. God is not honored by that sort of behavior. Don’t shy away from addressing a difficult subject if you have something of merit to say, particularly on a pressing issue, but try your best to be known for what you’re about rather than what you’re against.

This past year—indeed, even this calendar year, I’ve worked very hard to practice this and in recent weeks have written a fair amount on it. It’s always tempting to go there because, let’s face it, controversy generates traffic (as Tony Jones rightly pointed out on his blog—and yes, that just happened). But if I even considered chasing every controversy, two things would happen: one, my wife would rightly rebuke me and so would my pastor. Which brings me to my next point…

Third, get some accountability. Probably the biggest danger for bloggers is not having any visible form of accountability. Anyone who doesn’t have this needs to get it. Now.

Not that I ever really ran without some form of accountability (Emily is always in the loop on what I post, and I have a number of friends who are always willing to ask questions), but up until last year, I didn’t have anything formal in place. So in 2011, I asked our pastor to keep an eye on things and speak into anything that he finds questionable and it’s been a weight off my shoulders. The idea of not being under any authority makes me extremely uncomfortable, so I’m grateful that he’s willing to do this.

Finally, be content with whatever influence God gives you. If you have one person reading your blog and finding it helpful, praise God. If 10,000 read it, praise God just the same. Don’t worry about things like traffic or trying to parlay your following into a book deal or any such thing. Just have fun and appreciate whatever impact God allows you to have.

Whenever I check the traffic stats on the blog, it simply amazes me. I still remember the first day I had 24 pageviews for the whole day, and I still kind of think of it a bit like that (even though I know it’s not). All that to say, I’m really grateful for you all making this site a part of your day. Thanks!

Around the Interweb

Why I Hope Real Books Never Die

Kevin DeYoung:

Perhaps I am a wishful thinking bibliophile, but I just don’t think the physical book is going the way of the dodo bird. No doubt, many scholars and students will house parts of their reference libraries on an electronic device. Some frequent flyers will stick books on their tablets instead of in their brief cases. And some techno-geeks will conclude that everything is better on an Apple product. I’m sure  ereaders will make inroads. They serve a useful purpose. But only to a point.

Old books are like old friends. They love to be revisited. They stick around to give advice. They remind you of days gone by. Books, like friends, hang around.

And they prefer not to be invisible.


Also Worth Reading

What kind of men does God use?

Nostalgia Is the Enemy of Faith: Learn from Your Heroes’ Warts

Friday Questions: An Interview with Ted Kluck

Saved By Jesus, Not Doctrine


In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

The Problem with Labels and the Need for Clarity (and Charity)

D.A. Carson: Do Not Adopt a Pollyannaish View of Things

Walter Marshall: The Strange Forgetfulness of Urging Others to Practice the Law

Making Assumptions

R.C. Sproul: Sheer Madness

Book Review: A Cross-Shaped Gospel by Bryan Loritts

 

The Strange Forgetfulness of Urging Others to Practice the Law

We are all, by nature, void of all strength and ability to perform acceptably that holiness and righteousness which the law requires, and are dead in trespasses and sins, and children of wrath, by the sin of our first father, Adam, as the Scripture witnesses (Rom. 5:12, 15, 18, 19; Eph. 2: 1-3; Rom. 8:7, 8). This doctrine of original sin, which Protestants generally profess, is a firm basis and groundwork to the assertion now to be proved, and to many other assertions in this whole discourse. If we believe it to be true, we cannot rationally encourage ourselves to attempt a holy practice, until we are acquainted with some powerful and effectual means to enable us to do it. While man continued upright, in the image of God, as he was at first created (Eccles. 7:29; Gen. 1:27), he could do the will of God sincerely, as soon as he knew it; but, when he was fallen, he was quickly afraid, because of his nakedness; but could not help it at all, until God discovered to him the means of restoration (Gen. 3:10, 15). Say to a strong healthy servant, ‘Go’, and he goes; ‘Come’, and he comes; ‘Do this’, and he does it; but a bedridden servant must know first how he may be enabled. No doubt the fallen angels knew the necessity of holiness, and trembled at the guilt of their sin; but they knew of no means for them to attain to holiness effectually, and so continue still in their wickedness. It was in vain for Samson to say, ‘I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself,’ when he had sinned away his strength (Judg. 16:20). Men show themselves strangely forgetful, or hypocritical, in professing original sin in their prayers, catechisms and confessions of faith, and yet urging on themselves and others the practice of the law, without the consideration of any strengthening, enlivening means – as if there were no want of ability, but only of activity.

Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (Kindle Edition)

Do Not Adopt a Pollyannaish View of Things

About two years ago, I heard Dr. D.A. Carson give a series of lectures on Christian faithfulness in the last days, which have recently been compiled into a little book for Christian Focus called From the Resurrection to His Return. I’ll be posting a review on March 13th, but I couldn’t resist sharing one of my favorite passages:

Christians should never, ever, be surprised by evil. While we should always be horrified by evil, we should never be surprised by it. Do not adopt a Pollyannaish view of things. Do not be surprised by evil. Hold few illusions about the world. There are many times we should be horrified – surprised, never. . . . This world is constantly trying to convince itself that we are all pretty good, that we are all saying the same things, that evil is not an endemic and systemic part of us, and that if we are nice, everything will be all right. Certainly there is no merit in being un-nice! But to hide the disagreements, idolatries, greeds, injustice, God-defying arrogance, materialist hedonism, unbelief, and just plain malice of the world is worse than naïve – it is blind. Christians will look at the rawness of history and the prevalence of evil people who become worse and worse, and they will hold few illusions. This is an essential element of faithful living in the last days

D.A. Carson, From the Resurrection to His Return (Kindle Edition)

Immanence, Transcendence and Assumed Knowledge

Today, I had the pleasure of filling in for my friend Matt Svoboda (one of the pastors at The Bridge in Spring Hill, TN) in his Theology Thursday series. Here’s an excerpt:

There was a time when if you used the term “God,” the vast majority of people would know who and what you were talking about. Generally speaking, the West was “Christian;” people had at least a passing familiarity with the Bible and the majority of the population went to some form of Christian church (it was, after all, expected of polite society). But today, things are very different. While the studies show that the majority of Americans profess to believe that there is some sort of “other power,” it cannot—and must not—be assumed that we’re talking about the same thing anymore. “God” could mean anything today—it could mean the God of the Bible, the god of Islam, the earth… it could even be you. The existence of a personal God, and specifically as described in the Bible, is no longer an assumed concept in our spiritual-but-not-religious world.

So let’s talk a bit about God in the way the Bible does for a moment as we discuss his nature.Consider the psalmist’s joyful proclamation, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens”(Psa. 8:1). David gives praise to God because his name is “majestic in all the earth” and his glory is “above the heavens.” In theological terms, he is describing the transcendence and immanence of God—that is, he is both far above and beyond us and yet he is intimately involved with us.

Head over to The Bridge’s blog and read the rest.

Making Assumptions

Generally speaking, it’s unwise to make assumptions about a person or situation. While on occasion, our assumptions turn out to be correct, they most typically wind up being hurtful or creating an unrealistic expectation.

And about no one is it more critical to not assumptions than God.

Yet, we do it all the time.

When we understate our sin, we make an assumption about God—that being, that He doesn’t really care all that much.

When we do what God commands out of obligation or fear of punishment, we make an assumption about God—that He’s capricious and mean-spirited, looking down on us and just waiting for us to screw up. And when we do, oh, boy…

Reading the parable of the ten minas in Luke 19:12-27 reminded me of this:

A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, “Engage in business until I come.” But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us.” When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. The first came before him, saying, “Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.” And he said to him, “Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.” And the second came, saying, “Lord, your mina has made five minas.” And he said to him, “And you are to be over five cities.” Then another came, saying, “Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.” He said to him, “I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest?” And he said to those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.” And they said to him, “Lord, he has ten minas!” “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and a slaughter them before me.”

There’s a lot here, but take a look at this: “Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow’” (v. 20-21).

What is this servant doing? Making assumptions about the character of the nobleman (he who represents Jesus in the parable). [Read more...]

Sheer Madness

I have committed many sins in my life. Not one of my sins has ever made me happy. None has ever added a single ounce of happiness to my life. Quite the contrary. Sin has added an abundance of unhappiness to my life. I stand amazed at those famous personalities who, in the course of television or magazine interviews, declare that if they had their lives to live over, they would do nothing differently. Such foolishness staggers my imagination. There are multitudes of things I would love to have the chance to do over. Now it is quite possible that with a second chance, I would make the same foolish mistakes, but I’d still like the chance to try.

My sins have not brought me happiness. But my sins have brought me pleasure. I like pleasure. I am still very much attracted to pleasure. Pleasure can be great fun. And not all pleasures are sins. There is much pleasure to be found in righteousness. But the difference is still there. Sin can be pleasurable, but it never brings happiness.

Now if I understand all this, why would I ever be tempted to sin? It seems silly that anyone who knows the difference between happiness and pleasure would continue to trade happiness for pleasure. It seems utterly stupid for a person to do something that he knows will rob him of his happiness. Yet we do it. The mystery of sin is not only that it is wicked and destructive but also that it is so downright stupid.

I smoked cigarettes for years. I never really kept count, but my guess is that during those years, hundreds of people called my attention to the fact that smoking was not a good thing for me to be doing. They were merely pointing out to me the obvious, telling me what every smoker in America already knows. Before I was ever converted to Christianity, I knew full well that smoking was harmful to me. I knew it before the surgeon general ever put a warning label on cigarette packages. I knew it from the first cigarette I ever smoked. Yet I continued to do it. Sheer madness. That is what sin is.

R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Kindle edition, location 1615)

Book Review: A Cross-Shaped Gospel by Bryan Loritts

The last several years have seen numerous books asking the same question: What is the gospel? Some maintain a clear distinction between the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and how the gospel works itself out in our lives, where others wind up confusing the gospel with those implications. Given how important this question is, it’s no surprise that another author would attempt to offer an answer. In this case, it’s Bryan Loritts with A Cross-Shaped Gospel: Reconciling Heaven and Earth. In this book, Loritts covers a lot of ground at a break-neck pace as he strives to show the inseparable nature of the vertical aspects of the gospel with it’s horizontal outworkings in our lives and communities.

Throughout the book, Loritts does a wonderful job reminding readers that the vertical and horizontal aspects of the Christian faith go hand-in-hand. “When love for neighbor (orthopraxy) is tripped away from love for God (orthodoxy), I will eventually fail to genuinely love my neighbor,” he writes early in the book (p. 36). And again, “without a vertical relationship with God, our horizontal relationships with others are devoid of power and any eternal meaning” (p. 38).

Perhaps the most challenging and encouraging chapter for me was that on the gospel and ethnic diversity (“The Gospel and O.J. Simpson”). While the content of the chapter is really solid, particularly his challenging question, “Could it be that the reason so many churches express a desire to be ethnically diverse but fail to experience it is because they are unwilling to challenge people to sacrifice and give up their preferences?” (p. 71) I’d suspect that, if we’re being honest, most of us would have to answer “yes.” As much as we here in Canada like to pat ourselves on the back for being unabashedly multi-ethnic in our culture, we’re very good at segregation. In my city, we’ve got multiple hispanic, Chinese and Korean congregations, but very few churches are genuinely multi-ethnic. Ours, by God’s grace has become very ethnically diverse in recent years, and I’m grateful that this seems to be continuing. [Read more...]

The Problem with Labels and the Need for Clarity (and Charity)

Last week I wrote a post about reasons for not continuing to follow “celebrity” pastors and what to do instead. Little did I know that it was going to start spreading around to the degree it has. And, in all honesty, if I’d thought about that possibility, I’d have said a few things differently because there are a few things that are a tad ambiguous or confusing. So I want to take a moment and clarify a couple of issues that have been brought to my attention.

1. The problem with labels. In the article I used the label “celebrity,” forgetting the baggage that comes with it. Many, when connecting it with a pastor, suggest that this is a person who is pursuing the stuff of fame and personal glory. Others hear “celebrity” and think of those to whom God has simply given a greater degree of influence. And sometimes (given our sinful proclivities) the two have moments where they appear to intermingle. Whatever amount of influence that God gives can stroke the ego and, when left unchecked, trouble follows. This is why I’m grateful for the example of men like CJ Mahaney, Kevin DeYoung and a number of other pastors who done a fine job of modeling how to steward influence well (even, as in Mahaney’s case, in the midst of significant controversy).

Back to the problem of the label “celebrity.” I was kindly reminded that this term is too frequently used to shoot or disregard certain high-profile leaders whose methodology they disapprove of. As easily as one could call Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan or James MacDonald a “celebrity,” one could just as easily apply the term to John Piper, John MacArthur or Bill Hybels. In the end, it probably wasn’t a helpful term to use at all.

2. Am I talking about someone specific? Whenever any of us write something like this piece, we’ve always got someone in mind as an example. And there are some people that I have grave concerns about. But here’s what I’m doing in their cases: I’m pursuing opportunities to actually talk to them as God allows, not in an accusatory fashion, but out of a desire to not have ill will toward a genuine brother.

While public error does not always demand a private response (though we should always be very wary of airing our dirty laundry for all—especially unbelievers—to see), it’s better to address our specific concerns with specific people whenever possible. But even when that’s not possible (as is the case with many high-profile church leaders), I’d rather pray for them than trash them publicly.

3. The need for charity and careful (appropriate) response. In writing the post (and hopefully this came through) my goal is to help each of us think less about the actions of those we may find troublesome and more about our response. How we respond to those who come across as contentious, mean-spirited and divisive says a lot about our witness and integrity—especially in the public realm. We should not seek to tear down a professing believer, even under the guise of defending the faith. We should admonish and confront wrong thinking when and where appropriate, but we ought to be careful that our desire to defend and contend does not contribute to further controversy, folly and frustration.

Around the Interweb

O God, deliver us from this coldness!

Ray Ortlund:

The problem is not reformed theology per se.  Inherent within that theology is a humbling and melting and softening and beautifying tendency.  The problem is when that theology is not allowed to exert its natural authority.  Instead, in the name of reformed theology, our own native religiosity creates a culture at odds with that theology.  And our religious culture, whatever it is, reveals what we really believe as opposed to what we think we believe.  If we are cold, hard, harsh and ruthless — and can we say this does not occur among those who wave the reformed banner? — if we are ungracious in our relationships and ethos and demeanor and vibe and culture, then we are betraying the doctrines of grace and only using them for covert purposes of self-exaltation.


The Gospel Project for Kids

Looking forward to learning more about the Gospel Project (both for kids and adults) in about a month. Here’s Lifeway’s description:

The Gospel Project for Kids follows a chronological timeline of Bible events. Each week, these stories come to life through video, music, activities, and more as children connect biblical events to God’s ultimate plan of redemption through Christ.

[tentblogger-youtube n8GuafPsKNU]

The Gospel Project for Kids features:

  • Three versions: Preschool, Younger Kids, and Older Kids
  • Videos that bring Bible stories to life
  • Music for all ages
  • Coloring pages for Preschool and Younger Kids
  • Fun-filled activity sheets
  • Low-prep lesson plans
  • Digital or print resources
  • Customizable parent resources

Also Worth Reading

Some Questions to Ask Before You Contribute to the Next Online Controversy

Is Your Sin Bigger Than Jesus?

The Lion Who Died February 16

But I Don’t Hate Anyone

Nathan W. Bingham’s moving to America—and he needs your help!


In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book Review: Friends and Lovers by Joel. R. Beeke

Why I Quit Following (Most) “Celebrity” Pastors on Twitter and Maybe You Should, Too

Walter Marshall: The True Morality of Which God Approves

Unworthy of Assistance?

The Gospel and Marriage Explain One Another

What’s the Deal with One or Two?

The True Morality of Which God Approves

The principal duties of love to God above all, and to each other for His sake, from whence all the other duties flow, are so excellent that I cannot imagine any more noble work for the holy angels in their glorious sphere. They are the chief works for which we were at first framed in the image of God, engraven upon man in the first creation, and for which that beautiful image is renewed on us in our new creation and sanctification by Jesus Christ, and shall be perfected in our glorification. They are works which depend not merely on the sovereignty of the will of God, to be commanded or forbidden, or left indifferent, or changed, or abolished at His pleasure, as other works that belong either to the judicial or ceremonial law, or to the means of salvation prescribed by the gospel; but they are, in their own nature, holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12), and suitable for us to perform because of our natural relation to our Creator and fellow creatures; so that they have an inseparable dependence on the holiness of the will of God, and an indispensable establishment thereby. They are works sufficient to render the performers holy in all manner of conversation, by the fruits which they bring forth, if no other duties had ever been commanded; and by which the performance of all other duties is sufficiently established as soon as they are commanded; and without which, there can be no holiness of heart and life imagined; and to which, it was one great honor of Mosaical, and is now of evangelical ordinances, to be subservient for the performance of them, as means which shall cease when their end, this never-failing charity, is perfectly attained (1Cor. 13). They are duties which we were naturally obliged to, by that reason and understanding which God gave to man at His first creation to discern what was just and suitable for him to do, and to which even heathens are still obliged by the light of nature, without any written law, or supernatural revelation (Rom. 2:14, 15).

Therefore they are called natural religion, and the law that requires them is called the natural law and also the moral law; because the manners of all men, infidels as well as Christians, ought to be conformed to it and, if they had been fully comformable, they would not have come short of eternal happiness (Matt. 5:19; Luke 10:27, 28), under the penalty of the wrath of God for the violation of it. This is the true morality which God approves of, consisting in a conformity of all our actions to the moral law. And, if those that, in these days, contend so highly for morality, do understand no other than this, I dare join with them in asserting that the best morally principal man is the greatest saint; and that morality is the principal part of true religion, and the test of all other parts, without which faith is dead and all other religious performances are a vain show and mere hypocrisy: for the faithful and true Witness has testified, concerning the two great moral commandments of love to God and our neighbor, that there is none other commandment greater than these, and that on them ‘hang all the law and the prophets’ (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:31).

Walter Marshall, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (Kindle Edition)

Unworthy of Assistance?

The Law drew a distinction between God’s people and the surrounding nations, even in matters of economic compassion. God’s expectations for interactions between Israelites are entirely different. This does not mean, however, that those outside the covenant community could be conveniently ignored—only that concern and care for those within the covenant community takes precedence. (It is the same way today within the Church.) Indeed, the Law included a radical concern for the “sojourner,” the foreigner among them, (Ex. 22:21, 23:9; Lev. 19:10, 23:22) a concern that stems directly from the heart of God: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial . . . and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-19)

God loves the “sojourner,” and God’s people are to love him as well. That’s why, although we must be wise in how we help those in need, (cf. Prov. 6:10-11, 21:25, 24:30-34; 1 Tim. 5:8) we must avoid notions of anyone being “deserving” of our help. None of us deserve the grace of God, yet he freely gives it!

The Israelites were freed from slavery because the Lord loved them and kept the oath that he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When he gave them the Promised Land, it was not because of their righteousness, for they were a stubborn people. In the wilderness, they provoked him to anger, worshiping the golden calf, grumbling and complaining endlessly. If a people were ever completely undeserving of God’s mercy, it was the Israelites! Yet, God still brought them to the land he had promised. (Deut. 7:7-8; 9:6, 13-29; Ex. 32:9-10, 15 )

Is this any less true of us? How can we, if we have been saved through Christ, say to anyone, “You are not worthy of my help”? How we help may vary from situation to situation, but no one should be considered unworthy of assistance.

—adapted from Awaiting a Savior, pp. 44-45

The Gospel and Marriage Explain One Another

Among the many books I’m reading right now is The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Tim and Kathy Keller and (as I’m sure will be surprising to exactly no one) I’m finding it to be tremendously helpful. Here’s one reason why:

In Ephesians 5, Paul shows us that even on earth, Jesus did not use his power to oppress us but to sacrifice everything to bring us into union with him. . . . If God had the gospel of Jesus’s salvation in mind when he established marriage, then marriage only “works” to the degree that [it] approximates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ. What Paul is saying not only answers the objection that marriage is oppressive and restrictive, but it also addresses the sense that the demands of marriage are overwhelming. There is so much to do that we don’t know where to start. Start here, Paul says. Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, and the rest will follow.

This is the secret—that the gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another. That when God invented marriage, he already had the saving work of Jesus in mind. (pp. 46-47)

This is such a simple, but helpful explanation of the “mystery” to which Paul alludes in Ephesians 5. If we a framework for understanding how to love our spouses, we look to Jesus. When we want to show people how the gospel makes sense in real life, we point to a healthy marriage where both spouses are lovingly and humbly serving one another just as Christ humbled himself to serve us. Beautiful!

 

Why I Quit Following (Most) Celebrity Pastors on Twitter and Maybe You Should, Too

I don’t know if you’ve had this problem, but lately I’ve found myself continually disheartened by much of what I’m reading from a few “celebrity” pastors on Twitter, Facebook and their blogs, to say nothing of the fuss that ensues. And frankly, it’s all a little bit tiring. So, I did the most helpful thing I could: I stopped following them. Here’s why I did, and why you might want to consider doing the same:

1. The Bible says so. Seriously. Christians are to have nothing to do with those who stir up divisions (Titus 3:10). Jude calls those who do worldly (Jude 19); Paul says such a person is warped, sinful and self-condemned (Titus 3:11). While I want to be careful in saying this, if a pastor—or anyone else for that matter—is quarrelsome, constantly stirring up controversy, being contentious or otherwise consistently acting in a way that is unbefitting of the conduct of a Christian, don’t give them an ear.

Instead of giving them an ear… Pray for them, just as we are (hopefully) praying for the leaders in authority over us. Remember, they’re just as sinful as we are. If our perceptions aren’t off and they’re really as bad as it seems from their social media habits, God will deal with them in His time.

2. They don’t care what you think. Celebrity pastors don’t really give a rip what you have to say in response to whatever they’ve tweeted or blogged that’s offended you. That might be a bit pessimistic, but here’s the thing: these guys hopefully have a lot of people in their lives to whom they are directly accountable. But you are not one of them. Without question, these pastors should be mindful to steward the influence they’ve been afforded carefully. And many are less careful than they ought to be, which is to their shame. God has placed their elders in their lives to hold them accountable and responsible for what they say and do—and if those men fail or their counsel goes unheeded, then God will deal with it.

Instead of trying to hold them accountable yourself... Pray for those in authority over them. Everyone has an authority over them, including celebrity pastors. And these men have been given the hard task of overseeing someone with a great deal of influence—so pray that God would give them clarity of mind and great courage to rebuke and correct them when required.

3. Focusing on someone else’s folly will only lead you to sin. The more time you spend being offended by something a celebrity pastor says, the more opportunities you’re giving the devil to gain a foothold. You really don’t have the time to be focusing on whatever insulting, shameful and ignorant thing they say.

Instead of nursing the wound… Forgive them and move on. Again, God will deal with them in His time and he will deal with those who foolishly squander their influence, foster division among God’s people or (God forbid) lead men and women into ungodliness through their “irreverent babble” (2 Tim. 2:16). Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by continuing to focus on their folly. Instead, “let all bitterness…be put away from you” (Eph. 4:31) and forgive them “as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).