To Whet Your Appetite: 05/30/12

  • While I’m not that into politics, I do understand that they are important. The Barna Group has just published an interesting study on the 2012 election and how people of different religions and viewpoints will most likely vote.
  • How do you normally respond when someone tells you that the Bible is untrustworthy and full of errors? The Resurgence has a few responses to such a claim.
  • “In the UK, Christians are protesting new regulations that would force doctors to prescribe treatments and perform procedures—such as abortifacients and gender reassignment surgery—that go against their consciences.” The Gospel Coalition gives its take on the situation.
  • Although Christians have traditionally opposed homosexuality (which is a good thing), Christians have also traditionally not spoken about homosexuality with grace, love, and restraint (which is a bad thing). Kevin DeYoung offers 10 commitments the Church should make in how to speak on the issue of homosexuality.
  • Quite a few have said that once gay-marriage has been legalized then the next logical step is polygamy. This article argues that very point.
  • The complete audio from the 2012 NEXT Conference, put on by Sovereign Grace Ministries (C.J. Mahaney), is now online for free, featuring speakers like Matt Chandler and Kevin DeYoung.
  • Pastors may very well be the weirdest breed out there (possible reason why I am one). This video demonstrates that some can take that weirdness way too far.

The Great Love Hoax

A famous philosopher once said, “What is love?…Baby, don’t hurt me….don’t hurt me. No more.”

I think he was asking one of the greatest questions that is on our hearts.

We want to love and we want to be loved but do we really know what that means? Can you chart that out for me or give a precise definition? Have we even thought it through?

The world has its own ideas of love and portrays them through the media. For the most part, I think we give profess that Hollywood’s display of love is not all that accurate but as I talk to more and more Christians, I am finding that their definitions of love are more in line with the movies than the Bible.

Is this a problem? Yes. Since the two greatest commandments (Love God with everything and love your neighbor as yourself; Matthew 22:36-40) are wrapped up in love, then we ought to be certain we are loving rightly.

Here are the three most common misconceptions of love among Christians and Hollywood:

1.  Love is intense feelings and overwhelming emotion. 

Yes, there are certain feelings that can go along with loving someone but love is so much more than emotion.

If love is all about the positive emotions we feel toward someone (whether a friend, girlfriend, or spouse) then what happens when those emotions are there no longer? Or if we are married, what happens if you begin to feel attracted to someone other than your spouse? Does that mean you have fallen out of love with your spouse?

If love is emotion, then when the emotions change (they always do), you no longer love that person. You can say you don’t agree with me, but it is fairly sound logic (I love you anyways).

Instead, the Bible says that love is a choice and love is action. At the risk of sounding excruciatingly cliche, love is a verb.

The greatest example is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son.” It does not say, for God so loved the world that he felt butterflies in His stomach, gained a skip in His step, and doodled your name in His journal. It says He gave. He acted.

True love is not stationary and passive. True love does something. If you look at Paul’s vivid explanation of love in 1 Corinthians 13, you will notice that it is all made up of verbs. If you were to look at the original Greek of the passage you would see even more clearly that these are active and continual verbs. There is a striving, a bearing under, a fighting for the one you love.

If love is all about positive emotions, we would never be able to obey the commandment to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Instead, we should choose to love and act on that love whether we feel like it or not. If we do that, the feelings will follow. But if a bad happens and those good feelings leave again, our choice to love still remains.

2.  Love is about acceptance. 

Yes, we accept others unconditionally and love unconditionally, but most people think of acceptance as approval. As in, if you truly loved me you would approve of and support all my choices.

They say, true love doesn’t judge. It shouldn’t confront someone or correct them. You should love them enough to stay out of their business and let them make their own decisions.

Instead, the Bible shows that true love is willing to strongly rebuke—because true love seeks the highest good. Yes, we do not dictate people’s lives but when we see someone living their life contrary to the Bible, we should love them enough to steer them the other way. We should love enough to tell them, you are heading in the wrong direction and it is going to hurt you.

Proverbs says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (27:6). The person who loves you enough to risk their happiness and awkward-free relationship with you by telling you that you are acting like an idiot, is your friend. The one who always tells you what you want to hear is who you really need to worry about.

3.  Love is all about happiness.

Once again, this sees love as all about warm and fuzzy emotions. If I make them happy and they make me happy then we are doing well. Yes, along with love comes a bit of happiness but anyone who has been married for longer than the honeymoon knows that happiness is not eternal when you are with the one you love.

America sees happiness as the highest pursuit. Heck, it is in our Declaration of Independence as one of our three unalienable rights as humans. In everything we do and with everyone we love, we are seeking after happiness.

The problem is that getting married is not going to make you happy. Having friends will not make you happy. We may gain happiness for a little while or at least what we think is happiness, but we know there is something more.

The Bible shows that true love is not about happiness but holiness, and in holiness we can find our fullest of joys. True love always seeks the highest good and it does not settle for anything less. True love understands that happiness is not the highest good, but holiness.

Christians always quote Romans 8:28 as a banner verse over their lives, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good of those who have been called according to His purpose.” The problem is that we think we know what that good is: our happiness.

We are wrong.

Look at the next verse for what God says our highest good is: “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” That we would be like Christ. That we would be holy. In John 14, Jesus connects His love for us and our obedience to Him (9-10). This sort of holiness is so “that your joy may be full” (11). Following Christ brings true satisfaction, true abiding joy that will not fade.

Quick side note. True love cleanses, while sinful lust defiles (Ephesians 5:25-27).  If you are dating someone who wants to compromise you sexually in any way, they do not love you. They want what pleasure you can give them to make themselves happy. They have no regard for the guilt and shame that they will be bringing you for a quick moment of pleasure. They are not seeking your holiness, just your body.

Praise God that He loves us enough to cleanse us when we dirty ourselves up. He loves us enough to make us holy.

So, the most loving thing I can do for my wife is not cater to every whim of hers so she would be happy with me, but to point her to Christ, the only one who can make her holy and bring her fullness of joy.

Photo credit: “Romantic Heart form Love Seeds” by through CC 3.0

To Whet Your Appetite: 05/23/12

  • Remember Harold Camping and his doomsday prediction that the world would end on May 21, 2011? After having survived the apocalypse for just over a year, this reporter tracks down several of Camping’s followers and sees what they are up to.
  • If you follow Kevin DeYoung’s blog (which you should), then you know that he is a huge fan of comedian, Brian Regan. Recently, Kevin shared about how Brian gave him a really profound lesson in parenting.
  • Larry Bird just won the Executive of the Year award from the NBA. The Christ and Pop Culture blog examines what Christians can learn from Bird’s off-the-court success.
  • A recent study shows that more than a third of all divorce filings contained the word “Facebook.” Does the Social Network ruin marriages?
  • There is a growing division now in the African-American church over the gay-marriage issue. The question being asked is, “Does opposing same-sex marriage amount to hypocrisy—making the same arguments slave-holders made in the 19th century?” 
  • Normally, Christians get defensive around atheists—especially the “New Atheists.” Since they are out to get us, they are the enemy, right? Mitch Stokes, (author of A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists; a book I highly recommend) writes for the Resurgence that we should instead see atheists as people who need help.
  • Every month, Kevin DeYoung writes brief book reviews of books he read that month. Here is his May edition.

How to Memorize a Bible Verse in 10 Minutes or Less and Never Forget It


Since we are living in the days of Google, Evernote, and Wikipedia, do we really need to memorize anything? I already have a hard enough time remembering where I parked my car, whether or not I took my allergy medicine today, or how old I am. And I’m only 23 (I think), what’s going to happen when I get older?

Cramming more information in there seems like it would just crowd my ever-shrinking knowledge base.

And when it comes to memorizing Scripture, is it really necessary now that I have my iPhone with dozens of Bible translations and sermons living inside it?

Psalm 119:11 shows the purpose for memorizing the Word of God: our holiness.

“I have stored up your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (emphasis mine). When the Word gets inside of us, it begins to master us. When we memorize the Word, we can run it through our minds constantly, bathing our consciousness with God’s truth. As we renew our minds, we allow God to transform us into the image of His Son (cf. Romans 12:2). The Holy Spirit can’t bring something out if we have not already put something in.

Ok, so you may understand the benefits but you just don’t know how to get started. You tried the AWANA thing (to my everlasting shame, I made fun of those kids) but the memorization never stuck.

How do you normally memorize Scripture? Writing the verse down, over and over, and over again? Maybe you like to say it out loud (to the chagrin of your roommates). Or maybe you even turn the verse into a song (your poor, poor roommates). Most of those methods take about 30 minutes or longer and even if you get it in a shorter amount of time, how long before that verse hides itself deep in the crevices of your brain with your passwords and the Periodic Table of Elements?

Have no fear. I might have a solution.

Here is a fairly fool-proof (I, the fool, can do it. So can you.) method to memorize a list, names, or even a Bible verse. I found this method from reading Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer, an account of how Joshua became the US Memory Champion.

As you begin using this method, it may be difficult at first but if you practice just 10-15 minutes a day, you can memorize verses extremely quick and never lose them again! (I know…I sound like some sort of infomercial but it really works!)


Joshua’s method for memorization is called “elaborative encoding” also known as the “memory palace.” It’s not some new idea, but one that people have been using for thousands of years (You ever wonder how the Jews could memorize the entire Pentateuch?).

The basic idea is that our brains do not remember information equally. There are just certain things that interest and stimulate us more and so they stick in our brains better. What you want to do is take the information that is hard to remember (in our case, written words on a page) and turn them into something that you can’t possibly forget (colorful and dynamic pictures). The more outrageous, silly, and multi-sensory the pictures are, the better.

You then take those pictures and place them in a space in your mind’s eye (such as different locations in your childhood home). The space is called a “memory palace” and this anchors the pictures to something that you are already familiar with. Then, to recall the information all you have to do is walk through your childhood home, in your mind, and the pictures should pop out at you.

This method has already helped me memorize half of Philippians 2.

One note. It may seem like this is an irreverential way to memorize Scripture. Not so. As long as you are not thinking of sinful pictures (you know what they are) and if you do not lose sight of why you are memorizing Scripture (to know God and follow Him) then you are doing fine.


Let’s memorize part of the verse I quoted earlier, Psalm 119:11, one word at a time. I want you to use your childhood home as your memory palace to place the pictures.

I: Begin at the mailbox of your childhood home. At the mailbox, think of a gigantic eyeball. Bloodshot, with veins popping out. Blinking with its long eyelashes. Pupils dilated. It’s looking all around and then right at you.

Have: Next you are in your driveway. For abstract words (which comprises a lot of Scripture) it is good to think of things that sound like the word. In this case, “have” and “half” sound alike. In your driveway, place a gigantic (big things are always good) donut that has been half-eaten. It is lying on the cement, crying (making the objects come alive helps too) because it is missing its other half. It has bright rainbow colored sprinkles on it and chocolate frosting. Imagine the smell of the donut and its glaze (try to engage more than one sense).

Stored: Go to your front door, but don’t open it yet. In front of your door, imagine a store (whichever store you would like, just pick what first pops into your mind). The products are all arranged around your front-door step. But because this is a past-tense word, think of it as a dead store. All the colors in the products and advertisements have faded. Cobwebs and dust cover every inch of the store. Maybe there is even a skeleton as a cashier.

Up: Go through your front door and into the first room that is closest to the front door. In it, imagine that the Pixar movie, Up, is happening in that room (if you haven’t seen it, you really haven’t lived yet…the ball is in your court). Technicolored balloons fill the room. The old man and the little wilderness scout are chasing the giant colorful bird, Kevin, through the room. Kevin is squaking and Doug, the talking golden retriever, is chewing on Kevin’s leg.

Your: Next, go to the closest location to that room, and pick something (an object or area) to place a giant chore list (“chore” rhymes with “your”). There are big checkboxes on the list and they are all empty because you haven’t done your chores yet. One of your parents is standing next to the giant list, wagging their finger at you, reminding you that these are your chores (Get it?). Their voice is loud and stern.

Word: Go to the next object or location in the house. Make sure these are all in some sort of sequential and logical order in your house so you can go back to it at any time and remember the order. At this next location, place the annoying talking paperclip from Microsoft Word. If you do not know what I am talking about, this paper clip has eyeballs and a mouth and an irritating habit to suggest useless things for the documents you are trying to create. Give him some sort of a whiny voice and have him say things like, “Would you like help with your Word document? I see you are writing a letter with Microsoft Word. Word, word, word, blah, blah, blah.” You get the picture.

So, hopefully this gave you somewhat of an idea of the benefits elaborative encoding brings. Have fun with it. I encourage you to finish memorizing 119:11 on your own and then move on to something much bigger and daunting!

For a more detailed explanation about the memory palace and Joshua’s rise to the top of the memory athletes, check out his book. Word of caution, in the book Joshua is not above thinking of or describing the sinful pictures I was talking about earlier and many of the memory athletes live quite a lascivious lifestyle. 

Love and Basketball—and God

With the NBA Playoffs rolling along and baseball season in full swing (pun definitely intended), I was thinking about our love for sports—how we can love sports too much. I was reminded of this excerpt from Matt Chandler’s book, The Explicit Gospel, which smashes me over the head with conviction every time I read it:

As I write this, March Madness is going on. It’s the greatest sporting event. (I say that because it’s also the last athletic venue in which David can still beat Goliath. There’s not really another venue like it where a college you’ve never heard of that has, say, eight hundred people in it can upset superpowers in the basketball world.) But here’s the thing about fallen men and women who love March Madness. All over our country, fans are nervous. I’m not joking. They’re nervous in their guts, they want their team to win so badly. They watch the games and yell at their televisions: “No! Yes!” Kids are crying in fear, wives are running for more nachos—it’s chaos. It’s madness. With victory comes elation and surfing a thousand websites to read the same article over and over and over again, and with defeat comes destitution of spirit and days of mourning and moping, angrily arguing on a blog and about who really deserved it or an official’s botched call.

Every bit of those affections, every bit of that emotion, and every bit of that passion was given to us by God for God. It was not given for basketball.

Where is the nervousness in our guts when we’re coming into an assembly of those pursuing God? Where is the elation over the resurrection? Where is the desolation over our sins? Where is it? Well, it’s on basketball. It’s on football. It’s on romance. It’s on tweeting and blogging.

Are you really going to believe we’re not worthy of hell?

Thank God for his response to all this blasphemous nonsense: the wrath-absorbing cross of Christ. (51)

Matt is not saying that sports or even enjoying sports is a bad thing. Sports are a good thing—a gift from God. But, as Mark Driscoll would say, when we take a good thing and make it a god thing, then that is a bad thing. It is called idolatry.

7 Problems with Theistic Evolution

Theistic Evolution is the idea that God used macro-evolution (the common descent of every species from a single ancestor; i.e. whale, oak tree, buzzard, and Dr. Phil are all related) as His means of creating life on Earth. It is an attempt to reconcile the Christian belief of a divine Creator and what seems to be “irrefutable” scientific evidence of evolution. Many Christian leaders such as Tim Keller, Francis Collins, and N.T. Wright hold to Theistic Evolution.

I do not doubt the hearts or motives of those men (they are far more brilliant than I will ever be and I greatly appreciate Keller’s The Reason for God) but the problem is that no matter how long I look at this, the idea of a Creator as the Bible presents it and the idea of evolution cannot be reconciled.

Here are the 7 biggest problems I see with Theistic Evolution (though there are more):

1.  TE inherits all the impossibilities of naturalistic evolution as a theory of origins. No matter how many times scientists or your college professors say it, it is not a scientific fact that a species (given time and chance) can evolve into another species. It is not a scientific fact because no one has ever seen it happen; and science is all about observable and repeatable processes.

Many TE’ers try to skirt around this and say, God did the impossible, which sounds a lot like the literalists (those who hold to Genesis 1-11 as literal) the TE’ers criticize.

2.  TE brings about a low view of Scripture. I have to tread lightly on this because many TE’ers love the Lord and are far more godly than I. The problem is that when you look at the Bible and begin to pick and choose what is right or wrong, literal or myth, fact or fiction, it inevitably (even if inadvertently) leads to a lower view of Scripture.

What criteria do you use? How do you know that only the creation story is myth? What about the resurrection or the virgin birth?

The rest of my points show how TE contradicts much of what the Bible presents and how TE’ers must explain that away to make it work.

3.  TE teaches that one species evolved from another species. Genesis 1 continually teaches that each species multiplied “according to its kind” (1:11, 12, 21, 25). It means exactly what is says. Bird to bird. Lion to lion. Human to human.

4.  TE implies that God is not actively involved in His Creation, but created a self-sustaining system and let it run. Instead, the rest of Scripture portrays God as actively involved in and sovereign over His Creation.

Here are just a few verses: He causes every blade of grass to grow (Psalm 104:14); He brings to lions their food (104:21); He feeds the fish and chooses the time when each one will die (104:27-29); He feeds every bird (Matthew 6:26); He opens the flower petals of every flower (6:29-30). God is an artist constantly at work in His personal masterpiece.

5.  TE confuses the imago Dei (the image of God). If humans slowly evolved from apes, when did the image of God get imparted to mankind? Some TE’ers think God chose two humans (Adam and Eve) from among a group of ancient humans and placed His image on them. Others think God imparted His likeness the moment apes evolved into biological humans. Still, these prove insufficient answers. Also, if we are all evolved from animals, what separates us from the animals?

We were called to have dominion over all creation (Genesis 1:26) and that is all wrapped up in being created in the image of God.

6.  TE confuses the Fall and its consequences. If humans slowly evolved from apes, when did the Fall occur? When the first man was born? Was there a garden of Eden and was there really a divine command to obey? When did sin nature take over mankind?

TE’ers differ on this view. One of the more common views that I have heard is that it was more of a gradual Fall, not an outright rebellion. But such a view lessens the weight of sin and the treason of placing ourselves above God. Genesis 3 is extremely clear until you begin to allegorize and mythologize it.

7.  TE sees death and sickness as a means of progress, not as a result of the Fall. This might be one of the biggest reasons why I do no think TE is biblical.

For evolution to occur, death needs to happen. Evolution and death go hand-in-hand, like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.

The weak, the sickly, and the lame need to die off so the stronger can survive, pass on their genes, and hopefully down the road create a newer and stronger species. Since the moment of God’s impartation of the imago Dei and the moment of the Fall are arbitrary to the TE’ers, it is not too hard to assume that humans were dying before the Fall.

Imagine explaining that in your next counseling session with a grieving wife who just lost her husband. Even though a TE’er may want to, they cannot tell that woman that her husband’s death is a result of the Fall. But the Bible states that death and sickness are a result of the Fall, specifically the sins committed by Adam (Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:22). We live in a broken world, marred by sin. Death is not a cog in the machine of progress but a symptom of a disease.

Here is the good news, Christ came to overturn the effects of the Fall through His crucifixion and resurrection, conquering sin and death (Romans 5:18; 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, 54-57).

For further reading:

To Whet Your Appetite: 05/14/12

  • Here is an interesting look by the Barna Group at the role of healthy families in youth ministry.
  • A recent debate has sparked between theological giants Michael Horton and Douglas Wilson on the issue of manliness. Wilson believes that Christian ministry has become effeminate while Horton believes we are reading to much into cultural stereotypes. What do you think?
  • Looking for Bible iPhone apps? Here is a list of the top Bible apps and what features they have.
  • Last week, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (an outspoken Mormon) gave the commencement address at the largest evangelical university in the country, Liberty University (I happened to have graduated from their seminary). This led to a small swirl of controversy over whether or not a Christian institution should give a non-Christian a platform to speak. I am still undecided on the issue.
  • Is there a difference between having a discerning mind and being a critic? Trevin Wax says yes and shows the importance of such a distinction.
  • Jared C. Wilson (co-author of The Explicit Gospel with Matt Chandler) has a new book coming out, Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus. This seems like a really promising book. Amazon has it on pre-order for only $7.91.
  • The only thing better than getting something for free is getting a quality product for free. Lecrae is offering his new mixtape album, “Church Clothes,” for FREE. If you don’t know who Lecrae is, in his own words, his music is “Outkast meets the words of Moses.” For the record, I actually think he’s better than Outkast. This may be the most important Christian hip-hop album to ever be released because it will put the Gospel in the hands and headphones of many who would have never bought a Lecrae album previously. It’s getting extremely positive reviews from the hip-hop world and as of yesterday, the album has already been downloaded over 116,000 times.
  • With all the talk about gay marriage in the media, last week I rounded up several extremely helpful articles on the subject from a Christian and biblical perspective.

5 Proverbs for Life from Boy Meets World

If you grew up in the 90’s then you know the TV show Boy Meets World. It was a huge show back then and one of my wife and mine’s favorites growing up. We loved it so much that recently we decided to rent (via Netflix) the whole series and watch it through again (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). We have made it to season five!

The show is centered around Cory Matthews (played by Ben Savage, little brother of Fred Savage who is the kid in The Princess Brideso you know Ben is legit), a quirky, kind, and somewhat neurotic teenager. His life-long friend, Shawn Hunter, and life-long girlfriend, Topanga Lawrence, come alongside Cory as they travel through middle school, high school, and eventually college together.

The show brought in millions of viewers for seven seasons because it accurately depicted the trials (and ridiculousness) of growing up as a teenager.

In my opinion, one of the greatest things about BMW was the life lessons that they always drew out of everyday experiences and conflicts. Most of the time the lessons were handed down by the venerable Mr. Feeny, the trio’s everlasting school teacher and neighbor to Cory—I definitely feel like Mr. Feeny helped raise me as a child. Other times Cory, Shawn, and Topanga figure out the truths for life on their own.

Usually, the lessons were pretty standard Disney stock such as, work hard and you can achieve your goals. But as my wife and I were watching the show Monday night, we realized that BMW also taught downright biblical truths!

So I thought I would pull five biblical life lessons, proverbs if you will, from the few episodes we watched that night.

1. Respect your parents

In one episode, both Cory and Eric (Cory’s older, somewhat crazy, brother) get jealous of each other’s relationship with their father. This causes both of them, at different times, to shove their father down to the ground. As soon as it happens, both are ashamed and know they have done wrong. They know that you just don’t do that because sons are called to respect and honor their parents even if they don’t agree. Cory even makes the remark that he’ll probably be stoned for shoving his dad. After coming clean and apologizing, Cory and Eric are able to end up having a more full relationship with their father.

It’s pretty popular in media today to depict parents, especially fathers, as idiots who do not need to be taken seriously. The message to kids is: your parents are clueless so it is your job to clue them in, or just defy them outright. But Cory and Eric’s parents are good people and good parents. They are portrayed as respectable people because parents are to be respected.

Proverbs reflects this notion, stating, “He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach” (19:26). It also has strong warnings for those who have strong words for their parents, “If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness” (20:20). I’m not sure what that whole metaphor means, but it sounds intense.

Better to respect those God has placed in authority over you.

2. The foundation for love is not lust but friendship and commitment

This lesson was actually one of the most surprising to see taught on television (and I wasn’t watching Fireproof). Shawn is known as a lady’s man around the high school but he is also known by the girls as a jerk. He tells girls what they want to hear, that he loves them and never will leave them, then he uses them for his own pleasure and dumps them the next day.

This is Shawn’s mode of operation until he meets Angela, a girl he truly wants to cultivate a relationship with. But on Shawn and Angela’s first Valentine’s Day together, Shawn’s past come back to haunt him—in the form of three psycho ex-girlfriends who kidnap him and lock him in a boathouse.

Hell hath no fury.

Through the whole ordeal, Shawn realizes how fleeting and shallow a relationship purely based on make-out sessions is. If you say you love someone, but don’t really know them at all (besides their body), how can you back up that claim? Shawn and Angela decide to take a few steps back in their relationship to first build a friendship, get to know each other, and save saying, “I love you,” for when it actually is backed up by commitment and time.

It really is easy to confuse love and lust. The emotions and the hormones are raging and all you can think about is that person. They live in your mind, day and night. This must be love, right?

Song of Solomon shows that your beloved must also be your friend too (5:16). It also warns not to rush into love before the time is right (2:7).

If your relationship and ultimately marriage is based solely on physical attraction, what happens when your sexy spouse seasons into a saggy spouse? You will not have a marriage anymore, you will have an 80 year-old roommate. When the looks have all gone away, a friendship will always remain.

3. A good friend will tell you when you’ve done wrong

Although Cory tends to walk the straight and narrow, there is one episode where he cheats on his girlfriend, Topanga, with a girl at a ski resort. They talk all night and end up kissing. To make matters worse, Cory then lies about it to Topanga.

Normally Shawn is the morally compromised character of the show, but to his credit he calls Cory out on his lies and his unfaithfulness; and Shawn does it with gusto. Shawn even, although in a humorous way, exhorts Cory to “Read the Bible!” Yes, Shawn and Cory are the best of friends, but Shawn cares enough for Cory to get in his face and let him know he is doing is wrong.

Most of today’s society would say: follow your heart; what is true for you is true for you; don’t judge other people’s choices. Instead of proclaiming truth and calling sin sin, friends are expected to sit back and be the biggest cheerleaders while the people they care about are driving their lives off a cliff in flaming glory.

Even a 90’s sitcom and the biggest womanizer (outside of Eric) on the show knows that following your heart is not always the correct thing to do. There is right and there is wrong, and a friend needs to love enough to point out the difference.

Solomon says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6). It’s the people that never confront you who you should worry about.

4. When you play with fire, you will be burned

Same episode as the previous point but different lesson. Cory’s fall from grace did not happen suddenly, it occurred with one wrong decision after another.

First it was long gazes, then flirting, then staying up all night talking, then pretending to be injured so he could spend time with her and not Topanga, then lying to Topanga, and then finally the kiss and subsequent lies to cover that up. Shawn, the ever faithful friend, warns Cory multiple times that he is “too close to the fire” but Cory does not take heed and eventually he does get burned. A couple episodes later, he loses both Topanga and the other girl.

In reference to adultery and sexual sin, Proverbs says, “Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?” (6:27-28). The obvious answer is no. You play with fire and you will be burned.

In spite of common sense, people always like to test this theory out. They first inch closer to the fire. They feel its warmth. They extend their hands out. But they do not stop there. They get closer and closer until they are in the thick of it and by the time they realize it, it is too late. Their pants are on fire.

5. Husbands and boyfriends, listen to your woman

My wife probably appreciated this episode the best. In a pretty comedic setup, somehow every main male character on the show ends up angering the woman he cares about because he simply did not listen to them. Instead, they stubbornly hold to their ideas and opinions and every guy ends up in the doghouse.

The men hold a conference to try and figure out what went wrong. They finally come to the conclusion that guys are idiots—not only that, but they are big idiots. Specifically, they are idiots because they want to make their woman happy but are unwilling to listen to them to find out how to do that. They eventually reconcile with their woman by a joint dance number to “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer.

Peter exhorts his male readers to “live with your wives in an understanding way” (1 Peter 3:7). This means to be gentle and listen. You must close your mouth and open up your ears. I am speaking from experience here—what you think you heard and what actually was said may not always be the same thing, so listen carefully. The one who is too quick to speak is a fool instead (Proverbs 29:20).

Let’s take a page out of Boy Meets World as we seek to live for Christ in the real world.