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Posts By CJ Bowen


Don’t Be “That Guy” at Church

Sure this is a blog post and not a “Dude Perfect” YouTube video, but in the spirit of that goofy group of friends who poke fun at “that guy” stereotypes everywhere from the basketball court to the movie theater, here’s a list of caricatures of characters that can be found wandering into churches and inflicting their clueless ideas and suggestions on unsuspecting saints. As you read this field guide to these rare (or not-so-rare) birds, you should start by laughing at the over-the-top descriptions, but then you should make sure that these stereotypes don’t describe you deep down. The Lineup. . .
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5 Ways to Judge if Good Activities Have Become Sinful

Any amount of sin is too much. Any slander, drunkenness, covetousness, or lust is over the line for God’s people. But on a whole host of issues that aren’t sinful in themselves, it isn’t spelled out in Scripture how much is enough and how much turns an innocent pleasure into an occasion for repentance. The Bible doesn’t tell you how much money you should spend on yourself before giving the rest away, but it does warn against greed. The Bible doesn’t tell you how much time it’s acceptable to spend on Netflix, Facebook, or Twitter, but it does condemn sloth. . .
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The Merits of Saying Nothing

A ten year old boy with a new pocketknife takes it out of his pocket many times throughout the day for no specific reason. He isn’t necessarily planning mischief, but after admiring it and waving it about for the fifteenth time, something ends up getting cut. You are that ten year old boy. Your tongue is that pocketknife. You don’t plan to say something hurtful or thoughtless or dumb, but as the words come tumbling out, some of them get away from you. The worst part is that in many cases there was no reason for you to open your. . .
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The Impossibility of Lonely Christmases

Lonely Carols There is no better way to respond to Christ’s birth than with singing and over the centuries the Church has amassed a wealth of carols and hymns that is the envy of the world. This has led to all sorts of crooners and warblers without a religious bone in their body recording Christmas albums, interspersing sentimental seasonal fluff alongside forthright carols of Christian joy, topped off with an original or two to try to make their collection distinct. Sometimes this results in a beautiful voice singing beautiful truth, in a plundering-the-Egyptians, blind-squirrel-finding-a-nut sort of way. Other times, we’re. . .
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No One Wins at Whack-a-Sin

Lessons from Whack-a-Mole Those clever little electronic moles! Just when you prepare to whack the one in front, he disappears and the rascal in the back pops up. You prepare to smite him and now he’s gone too. Look, over there! That’s the mole you should focus on now! Wait, no, that one! Mostly you just pound empty holes. The moles try to survive by alternating and distracting you, blurring your vision and confusing your aim. As a carnival game, it’s great fun. But when a sinful world adopts the same strategy and convinces you to play along, no one. . .
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Contention: Poison in the Field of Righteousness

Growing Righteousness Where does righteousness grow? This is an important question for everyone who wants to reap a harvest of righteousness like James 3:18 talks about. But a harvest is an outcome and not every field contains the right kind of soil to produce that outcome. Many Christians sow seeds of righteousness only to find that the expected harvest never comes. James addresses this frustrating state of affairs by reminding us that soil matters just as much as seed, that righteous convictions must be combined with peaceful wisdom in order to produce fruit. Christians who share the same high opinion. . .
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Grass Rooted Politics

Fading Like Grass The years of our life are seventy or eighty if we have the strength. A president’s years are four or eight if he has the votes. A supreme court justice has served anywhere from one year to thirty-six years, half a lifetime at most. From the Apostle Peter’s perspective, all of our politicking is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. Our candidates wither, our parties fall, but something far more important remains and it is far more important precisely because it remains. Maybe you can complete the quote from 1 Peter 1:24-25,. . .
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Don’t Give Evil a High-Five

Avoiding Approval of Evil Evil demands your approval and it does not rest until it finds your level of complacency. It utterly ignores your disavowals of members of the evil genus and continues to press for approval at the species level. Evil doesn’t mind your hatred of categories as long as you make allowances for instances; “I know you’re against abortion, but surely not in cases of rape, right?” Evil loves to empty words of their meaning. Evil keeps changing the subject. Evil constantly blurs the lines. Evil will quickly stoop to deception, as long as it can get you. . .
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5 Ways to Use an Elder

Why Do We Need Elders? Many Christians know that 1 Timothy 3 is the place to go to look for the moral qualifications for serving the church as an elder. But sometimes we overlook the full reason why these criteria are there. Elders need to live godly lives, not simply to qualify for office, but in order to carry out the office. It is shameful when a church leader fails to live up to the standard of life that God expects, but God’s main concern isn’t avoiding embarrassment. He wants more people living lives that reflect His glory and so. . .
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Jesus Wants You Dead

Christianity is Harmful Christianity harms women by teaching wives to submit to husbands. Christianity harms children by brainwashing them into a closed-minded system of beliefs. Christianity harms people by setting forth oppressive standards for sexual activity that result in crippling guilt when those standards go unmet. Christianity harms people who identify as gay or transgender by demanding that they change something intrinsic to their self-understanding. Christianity harms society by asserting a fundamental distinction between the saved and the lost, the righteous and the ungodly. And if this were not enough, Christianity is down in the basement right now, boiling and. . .
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Discipleship Isn’t Just for the Pros

Don’t Be a Bench Warmer When we fill out the roster of a congregation, sometimes we see a star-studded lineup: the prayer warrior, the hymn expert, the family worship specialist, the theologian, the missions maven. Most of us are bench players compared to those guys. And while it’s true that God’s Spirit has distributed different gifts and passions throughout the body, we can often run the risk of using that truth as an excuse for making a comfortable career out of benchwarming and leaving the work of discipling others to the pros. God may not be calling you to become. . .
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What to Do When Sheep Act Like Wolves

Are They Sheep or Wolves? It’s easy to distinguish in our minds between wolves and sheep: Wolves are the ones attacking and eating sheep, sheep are the ones eating grass and listening to the shepherd’s voice. It becomes complicated though when we have to reckon with the reality of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Having been whacked a time or two or twelve by the shepherd’s rod, a wolf covers himself for a time in behaviors and actions designed to help him blend in with the sheep so that he can devour them on the sly. Thankfully, shepherds know to watch. . .
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Don’t Be a Careless Pray-er

“Will you pray for me?” or its slightly more urgent cousin “Please pray!” are phrases that should flow freely throughout a church family. It is a high privilege of God’s sons and daughters to bear one another’s burdens and remember each other in our prayers. But what happens after a prayer request is born? All too often, we are very bad mothers to these nursing children, leaving them to fend for themselves for long stretches or even forgetting them altogether until we see the person we’ve promised to pray for, or when we encounter a faithful prayer request babysitter who. . .
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Ministry isn’t Just Your Pastor’s Job

Imagine a lazy man who never gets anything done. He’s full of good ideas and noble intentions but his arms and legs stay pretty much right where they are. When you point this out to him, he responds that he has a fully functioning nervous system, thank you very much. Isn’t listening to the signals passed on from the brain enough? Or, if the brain really wanted things done, wouldn’t it do them itself? Hopefully that doesn’t describe any real people you know, but unfortunately, it is the attitude of some real churches. In Ephesians 4, Paul fires up his. . .
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CJ Bowen

CJ Bowen.

CJ is husband to Lisa, father to Maggie, Lissie, and a soon-to-be born son, and pastor to Christ Reformed Evangelical Church of Annapolis, Maryland. Ever since moving to Maryland, CJ has a hard time thinking of other parts of the good life that are as simple, separate, and deliberate as cracking and eating blue crabs with friends.
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