Author's details

Name: jm
Date registered: March 10, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Disciple Dojo - Hagee says Ebola could be God’s judgment on America for rejecting Israeli settlements — October 15, 2014
  2. Disciple Dojo - Thayer Thursday – Naked and Unashamed — October 2, 2014
  3. Disciple Dojo - Thayer Thursday – Who are you? — September 25, 2014
  4. Disciple Dojo - Ruth’s Chris Bible Study – Gen. 41 (vid) — September 23, 2014
  5. Disciple Dojo - Avoiding cult-like groups that use Biblical-sounding language — September 18, 2014

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  3. Disciple Dojo - Guns, Satan, mental illness…who do we blame? — 2 comments
  4. Disciple Dojo - Christians and same-sex discussion – Round 2: My response (continued, 2) — 1 comment
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Oct 15 2014

Disciple Dojo - Hagee says Ebola could be God’s judgment on America for rejecting Israeli settlements

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Hi Dojo readers,

I came across this video shared on a friend’s Facebook feed today. It’s an interview with Christians United For Israel Founder John Hagee…and it is probably one of the worst examples of terrible “folk-theology” I’ve ever seen.

Judge for yourselves…



I’m sure the Christian medical missionaries from SIM and nurses who have been infected with Ebola while trying to save those who have died from it sure are deserving of such “judgment”, huh?

This type of eschatological fantaticism is nothing new for Hagee. It was only a few years ago that he and CUFI publicly called for America to preemptively bomb Iran with NUCLEAR weapons because he believes they may try and attack Israel…



As I’ve said before here in the Dojo, theology matters…and BAD THEOLOGY really matters! People who follow Hagee’s error are saying that such “judgments” are falling on America because President Obama doesn’t support Netanyahu and the Israeli far-right in their ongoing land-confiscation and settlement enterprise in east Jerusalem and the West Bank…both of which adversely affect Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land.

Let that sink in, readers.

According to John Hagee, God is sending Ebola to America because our leadership doesn’t support a secular political movement that often takes land and resources from a number of Jesus’ followers in the Middle East in order for it to come under the exclusive control of those outside the Body of Christ.

How does that in ANY WAY reflect the message of Israel’s Messiah?

Hagee is not alone, unfortunately. I regularly interact on social media with many people whose committement to a selectively-literal and Futurist reading of Scripture results in such a worldview. If American doesn’t “stand with Israel”, I’m told, we and our secretly-Muslim-President-who-is-probably-the-antichrist will get “what we deserve.” This nationalistic theology is not only intrinsically fear-based and counterproductive in terms of working for genuine peace in the world, it is also Biblically unfounded.

Regardless of one’s view of the politics in the Middle East, or even one’s eschatology (both of which genuine followers of Messiah can disagree on…as my good friend and I did publicly this Spring at my alma mater!), pronouncements like this by Hagee are AT BEST callous and irresponsible.

I don’t know the state of John Hagee’s soul. That is between him and the One to whom he will have to give an account of every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36; Romans 14:12) while being held to a higher standard (James 3:1)…just as I will. But I believe that words like Hagee’s in the videos above do not serve the Prince of Peace, the God of Israel or the Spirit of Truth. Rather, whether knowingly or not, they serve to forward the agenda of the one who seeks only to kill and destroy (John 10:10).

John Hagee, if you by some miracle end up reading this, I urge you to as strongly as I can to repent of such nationalistic, fear-based, exegetically unsound sensationalism in the name of the Lord we both seek to serve.


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Oct 02 2014

Disciple Dojo - Thayer Thursday – Naked and Unashamed

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Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.



A couple of weeks ago, I shared how sex often has an unfortunately negative (and theologically inaccurate!) connotation within the church. For various reasons, many of which can be traced back 1,600+ years, sex has been seen as either bad or in some way “lesser than” being single & celibate. I also mentioned how this has sadly been flipped in the modern American church where being married is the norm and being single and celibate is seen as “lesser than” being married. Human beings, for some reason, have a tremendous capacity for polarizing views on subjects. The church’s view on sex and marriage is one of many examples of this.

Having said this, as I was reading through today’s scriptures from the Song of Songs (blushing the entire time!): I was immediately struck by an example of this polarity within the Bible itself; one that points to redemption, however, rather than our capacity for extremes.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden – one of the first things they did was cover themselves because they were naked and ashamed. In fact, one of the first acts of God’s graciousness after their sin was making them clothes out of animal skins to cover their bodies. In Genesis, Adam and Eve’s realization of their nakedness immediately led to shame. However, when we read Song of Songs we find a completely juxtaposed story. Rather than being naked and ashamed: nakedness is celebrated.

The husband and wife throughout this book stand before each other naked and remarkably unashamed. In what is certainly not allegorical language but euphemistic language, the husband and wife describe and delight in each other’s bodies. Naked. Unashamed. Celebrated.

Why do I point this out? Because it’s a wonderful example of God’s redemption of humanity in spite of and through our remarkable failings. What was one of the first signs of the catastrophic failures of mankind – is now, appropriately, seen as one of the most beautiful expressions of love between a husband and a wife.

When we read Song of Songs not as an allegorical example of Jesus and His church, but for what it is (a blushingly honest & graphic writing about love, relationship, and sex): the foreshadowing of redemption that comes 900 years later through the work of Jesus shines through. If the shame of nakedness is redeemed & overcome within the confines of marriage – how much more will the shame of sin and brokenness be redeemed through the work of Jesus on the cross. How much more beautiful will God’s divine love for His bride shine through His tremendous act of grace and mercy: sending His Son to die on a cross, raise again, and giving His followers His Holy Spirit!


Chris Thayer

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Sep 25 2014

Disciple Dojo - Thayer Thursday – Who are you?

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Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

If somebody asked you who you are: how would you answer? Most would answer by giving their name. Suppose, however, that this questioner wasn’t satisfied with your name. They want you to give them your identity. What makes you who you are? At this point, we might start to go a little deeper. We might share where we work, our hobbies, our likes, dislikes, or even about our family. We might define ourselves by past experiences, present realities, or future hopes and dreams.

Now, in one sense: all of this is true. Your personality, your past, your hopes, and your family: they all make up who you are. However, what strikes me about 1 Corinthians 6 & 7, and one of our verses from this week’s sermon (7:39) is that Paul radically redefines people’s identity away from themselves and into Christ. In 1 Corinthians 6 & 7, Paul teaches the Corinthian church to see everything through that new identity – the lens of their belonging to Christ. Their situation in life (slave or free, married or unmarried) is not what defines them – but a place for them to live out their true identity: a follower of Christ. Paul shows remarkable leeway in how this is practically lived out – but when people do have a choice in the most intimate relationship a person can have (a spouse): he gives them a command: they must marry a fellow Christ follower. He doesn’t give them any other criteria. He simply says: they must belong to the Lord. When he could have talked about compatibility, romance, attraction, or any of the other plethora of criteria we think of when choosing a spouse he gives them only one. This, of course, doesn’t imply that the others are unimportant or to be ignored. It does, however, (along with the rest of chapters 6 & 7) show that Paul’s primary concern for the Corinthians is that they be rooted in Christ in every possible way they can. That is of the utmost importance.

This is deeply counter-cultural in 21st century America. We live in a culture that tells us to surrender to our impulses, to assume our identity in our possessions, our status, our power, or our sexuality. 1 Corinthians, however, this teaches us that our identity is found in Christ. Every other part of our being must surrender to that reality. When we root our identity (either knowingly or not) in anything other than Christ – we lose our foundation. Everything we do – including choosing our spouses – is inextricably linked with who we are. Our very identity is fundamentally and inextricably linked with Jesus. To live in any way contrary to this reality is the antithesis of what it means to be a Christ follower – to be In Him. The real question for any Christian is not who we are, but whose we are.


Chris Thayer

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Sep 23 2014

Disciple Dojo - Ruth’s Chris Bible Study – Gen. 41 (vid)

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Hi Dojo readers,

After a month of dealing with a camera that kept shutting off halfway through the sessions, I’m happy to announce that a generous couple who support the teaching ministry of Disciple Dojo were kind enough to donate a brand new camcorder so that the Tuesday sessions can once again be recorded! Supporters like this are what make it possible to offer this teaching free of charge and available online to the entire world. Thank you so much to that couple (who will remain anonymous) and if others out there would like to support this ministry in a very needed and tangible way, please consider becoming a Dojo Donor!

Here is today’s session from our ongoing study of the book of Genesis…

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Sep 18 2014

Disciple Dojo - Avoiding cult-like groups that use Biblical-sounding language

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Hi Dojo readers,

I wanted to share the following quick thought today:

Beware of people and ministries who know just enough of the Biblical languages (particularly Hebrew!) to mislead those who don’t.


Why do I say this? Well, yesterday I came across a gentleman in a Christian discussion group on Facebook who posted the following picture with no comment to go along with it…

I responded by asking: “Which commandments and at what point in redemptive history?” and linked to the video my colleague Chris Thayer and I did on the relationship between the Old Testament commandments and followers of Jesus:  “Do Christians Keep the Ten Commandments??”


Instead of answering, the gentleman continued to post a series of pics…


This person was very zealous but would not engage in any actual discussion. He simply kept repeating warnings and telling people (in this Christian discussion group) to “come out of Babylon” and that “Many are coming to the feast of tabernacles to be obedient to our Father! Many are being baptized in the Name of Yahshua! The Great Awakening Has Begun! HalleluYah!

In response, a friend posted a link to another discussion forum thread about “Yahweh Restoration” cults:

The links shared on that thread were helpful and I recommend them to anyone who’s come across such people as the gentleman above or have been influenced by such teachings which place a heavy emphasis on using Hebrew (or Hebrew-sounding) terms. One of the commenters who had firsthand experience with such groups shared the following:

I am familiar with them and once was influenced by them but never actually joined it. They are one of many fractitious sects of the Sacred Name Movement (SBM), which believes we have to call the Father Yahweh and the Son Yahshua. They’re an offshoot of the adventist movement that believes in keeping the OT Torah and Feasts, that the NT was written in Hebrew rather than Greek, and avoiding “pagan” words to the point of saying Yahweh is an Elohim not a God (b/c “God” sounds like “Gad” in Hebrew, and that means luck!), and Jesus is at best a second-rate mistransliteration, at worst a word meaning “Heaing Zeus” (seriously!)

Some other unorthodox beliefs

  • The Messiah is a created being, not truly divine
  • Salvation is found only in calling God Yahweh, in addition to following the Torah and believing in His Son
  • The Holy Spirit is Yahweh’s powerful force, not a person
  • The Messiah was impaled (not crucified, since a Cross looks like a Tau and Yahweh could never execute his son on a pagan instrument!) because He pronounced the Father’s name

YRM [Yahweh Restoration Ministry] is a breakaway from Yahweh’s New Covenant Assembly/Yahweh’s Assembly in Yahshua; the leader of YRM is the son of the leader of YAIY. Both came out of the aforementioned AoY. Other groups include Yahweh’s Assembly in Messiah, PaleoTimes, and various Congregation of YHWH assemblies. The “House of Yahweh” is an extreme (even for these guys) offshoot of the SNM.

Most SNM groups have published their own “translations” of the BIble (usually taking the KJV, ASV, or Rotherham and changing it to fit their theology).


Now obviously as someone whose teaching ministry often focuses on the Hebrew Bible, I love it when people discover the Biblical languages and the Hebrew roots of our faith!

I smile when people call Jesus’ Disciple as well as his half-brother “Jacob” instead of “James” (after all, that’s what the Greek NT ACTUALLY calls him!) and when people use the name “Yahweh” or “YHWH” instead of the made up mishmash of a name, “Jehovah”.

I love pointing out the nuances and semantic treasures found in the Hebrew text of Scripture which shed new light on so many passages and stories.

In short, I think the Biblical languages are essential for understanding the meaning of Scripture and I lament the degree to which they are ignored by the majority of church leaders (including seminaries that, unbelievably, don’t require both Greek and Hebrew as core classes for their graduates who are going to be preaching and teaching the Biblical texts to others!).

That being said…I repeat the thought I began this post with:

Beware of people and ministries who know just enough of the Biblical languages (particularly Hebrew!) to mislead those who don’t.

Back when I finished my first full year of Greek at Gordon-Conwell, our professor said to the class, “Congratulations! You now know enough of the language to successfully start your own cult!”

We laughed…but he was absolutely correct. There are teachers and preachers out there who get so enamored by just the tiniest bit of Biblical language knowledge that they end up taking a prideful and antagonistic stance toward anyone who doesn’t know what they do (or think they do!).

Some end up simply becoming quirky or obnoxious, yet remain within their churches…daily testing the patience of their pastors or small group leaders, no doubt. :)  Others, however, join up with or start their own cult or cult-like movement apart from the overall Body of Christ.

How can we identify such teachers or movements? There’s no cookie-cutter method for delineating between unlearned zeal and full-fledged cultishness. However, here are a few points I find helpful to keep in mind when encountering such people:


1. They can often be detected by their insistence on division from other believers over ceremonial/cultic titles and a veiled (or open!) antagonism toward other followers of Jesus who do things differently or use other terminology.

2. They tend to elevate their own pseudo-translations of the Bible (whose translators are either anonymous or have no formal training in ancient Near East languages) and insist that all other translations–and by extension, churches who use them–are “corrupted”, “fabricated”, “pagan” or other ominous sounding terms.

3. They often appeal to people’s desire for secret or hidden knowledge and exhibit spiritual pride in looking down upon the “blind sheep” who are “asleep” or “foolish”, etc.

4. They rely almost entirely on self-published tracts or internet resources rather than scholarly publications or peer-reviewed theological work from outside of their own tradition.

5. They have little regard for, or knowledge of, actual Church History of the past 2,000 years…except for the individuals or movements they seek to criticize or condemn (usually Roman Catholic, but sometimes Protestant as well).


This isn’t a comprehensive list. Rather, I’m simply wanting to share a few of my observations from the past 15 years or so of ministry dealing with semi-cult groups and the people who have been influenced by them.

I invite readers to add to this list in the comments below if you have other observations about such groups that you find helpful.


Blessings from the Dojo,

samurai heb text bg thumb


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Sep 11 2014

Disciple Dojo - Thayer Thursday – Sex isn’t bad!

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Chris Thayer is the Director of Discipleship at Good Shepherd Church in Charlotte, NC where he oversees adult life groups and Biblical education. On Thursdays I share his weekly “Thayer’s Thoughts” for small group leaders, which are based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Click HERE to watch or listen to the accompanying sermon.

A slightly awkward, yet telling situation I encountered while teaching children was when myself and several other teachers found out that the students had a new word they used as a euphemism for sex. Once we found out what was happening – we quickly addressed it with the children involved. As you can imagine, it was a delicate situation – and one that I was highly uncomfortable with.

Also, as a new teacher, I was less than experienced in knowing how to handle it with children. A child who was in kindergarten was one of the children who used the term. One of the teachers present took the child to the side and privately asked him if he knew what that meant. He said “sex.” The teacher (who was much wiser than me!) gently asked the child if he knew what sex was. He said: “No, but I know it’s bad.” In what was one of the most brilliant and appropriate responses I’ve ever heard (and frequently contemplate as I think about how I will talk with my own children about sex), she said: “No, it’s not bad at all. It’s wonderful. But it is only made for a husband and a wife; for mommy’s and daddy’s when they’re married. And now’s not the appropriate time or place to talk about it.”

That was it. No further explanation was given or warranted – but it was brilliantly handled.

I would have probably agreed with the child that it was “bad” (and perpetuated a terrible theology about sex!) just to teach him that it was inappropriate to talk about it in the context he was doing so; yet this other teacher, had tremendous wisdom to properly teach this child a healthy truth without over-reacting.

Sex.  It’s a topic of conversation that is, unfortunately, avoided by many Christian churches and Christian Households. This has been the case for much of church history, though. In fact, you can go back to some of the earliest and most influential Christian teachers and read their thoughts on sex. In their writings, you’ll find that marriage (and the sex entailed therein) became a lesser form of living the Christian life than being single and celibate. (Ironically, and sadly, in the 21st century American church this ideology has been largely flipped; and now being single and celibate has become to many a second class population within the church).

Because of this long history of sex and marriage being viewed incorrectly, the book of Song of Songs from the Bible has been largely allegorized to deal with what makes even the most ardent Biblical scholar blush! However, when read, there’s really no getting around what’s actually being said! It’s a book that is about love and sex.

So, what do we do with it?

Well, read it and learn from it appropriately of course!

One of the most important lessons we can start off with, though, is that it’s in the Bible. Sex is not a bad thing to be avoided. Nor is it something to be flippantly dealt with (as the rest of scripture makes particularly clear).

As we read this book – we should come at it with the wisdom of the teacher referenced above. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a wonderful thing – within it’s appropriate context.


Chris Thayer

[Follow-up note from JM: For a full translation of this most beautiful of songs, color-coded to help differentiate the speakers and characters involved, see the Dojo Blog post: Song of Songs - Now in Color!  And for a fuller introduction to the book, including a look at some of its more explicit metaphorical imagery (blush alert!) download the audio message "The Song of Songs" from the Dojo Audio Archive.]  

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