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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Nothing...I'm Positive": Our Surety in Christ

"There's got to be a love that's stronger than our fear of everything being out of control." - Derek Webb

The world that we are in today leaves very little room for absolutes. However, the threats around us are constant and very real. Despite all the advancements made technologically, medically or otherwise--the overall mood of the world climate seems to be fixed in a state of upheaval. In a culture that is bombarded with fear and uncertainties about wars, terrorism, genocide, politics, pandemics, famine, crime, love, gender, religion...from Darfur to Iraq to America; it all seems to be the same. The end game to all of it seems so terribly elusive. Our current postmodern mindset only compounds the problem by telling us that there is no such thing as "truth" (at least, that is to say, of the absolute variety). Truth is simply what we make it--at least that's what they'll tell you. In a world where God, the Tooth Fairy and "Science Fiction" are all viable candidates for the salvation of mankind, it's no big wonder as to why we can't seem to find any solutions to the problems that we face in the world, right? After all, if we follow this out to its rational conclusion what can be trustworthy? Everything is convoluted. Who or what can be trusted when lies and betrayal rule the day? Looking inward to ourselves only leaves us wanting and looking to others only sets us up for disappointment and them for failure (yes, even the "good" ones)...

All of these problems can leave even the strongest person of faith distressed and distracted at times. But the Word of God promises us much better. It reminds me of the lyrics of an old hymn by John Kent:

In union with the Lamb
From condemnation free
The saints from everlasting were
And shall forever be

In covenant of old
The sons of God they were
The feeblest lamb in Jesus’ fold
Was blessed in Jesus there

Its bonds shall never break
Though Earth’s old columns bow
The strong, the tempted, & the weak
Are one in Jesus now

When storms or tempests rise
Or sins your peace assail
Your hope in Jesus never dies
‘Tis cast within the veil

Here let the weary rest
Who love the Savior’s name
Though with no sweet enjoyments blessed
This covenant stands the same

It is this that is the Christian's sure foundation and the good news that we share with the lost; no matter how grim things may get in this world, we can be sure of one thing--hope in Christ never fails. Believe on him and you shall be saved. That is saving faith. And because of his faithfulness we can rest assured that whatever may come, nothing can separate us from our eternal life in him. The love of Christ is stronger than death and everything else. Of this, I'm positive (John 6:37, Colossians 3:3-4).

Have no fear...

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV

Solo Christus,


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Evangel Lies: "This is MY Bible; it says what I say it says..." (Pt. 1)

"The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable." - James A. Garfield (20th President of the United States)

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. - Matthew 5:18-19 ESV

I ran across this video clip a few weeks ago on the Internet:

This would be really funny if it wasn't in fact true. One may say, "Sure there are many people who produce commentaries, books, and tracts on their own ideas about the scriptures, but no one would be crazy enough to edit the bible down as to not offend or to conform to their own sensibilities, right?". Wrong.

For example--the Positive Bible. That's right, you can have your very own bible that is all filler, no killer (literally). This is what the publisher's synopsis has to say about this product:

"Turn to any page in this book. You will be greeted with a Biblical passage that offers hope, help, and encouragement. This collection of advice, instruction, inspiration, assurance, and wisdom, drawn from the King James, Revised Standard, New International, King James Modernized, and The Living Bible translations by scholar Kenneth Winston Caine, has the power and beauty to teach and comfort across the centuries.

Ponder just one passage or every one; browse this book at random or read it straight through. Find a problem or question in the index of more than 250 everyday life applications of scripture-from healing to living through grief to nurturing a child- and you will be directed to Biblical wisdom that speaks precisely to you, as timely and relevant to modern culture as the evening newscast. Here is your inspirational guide to the most remarkable of all books-condensed compendium of truth and knowledge that will enrich your entire family for years to come."

There are a couple of things here that are that are worth commenting on. First of all, this is a compilation of the whole of scripture (from Genesis to Revelation), yet it only covers 300 pages (if you add a concordance it is going to be less). I checked this with my own bible the other day and that only got me to somewhere in the middle of 1 Kings. This is a dead give away to the fact that there's a lot of information missing from Mr. Caine's so-called bible. Positivity is not the message of the Bible. It is the historical record of God acting on the behalf of sinful man in Redemptive History throughout time, with the center piece of that redemption coming in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Secondly, the parts of Scripture that make us uncomfortable are supposed to do just that. We must remember that all negativity that we find in scripture is brought about by our sinful nature. God made everything good. Man takes that which is good and turns it into something evil. Besides, without fully seeing the depravity of ourselves, we will never be able to fully understand the goodness of God through sending Christ into the world to save us.

"Without a firm idea of himself and the purpose of his life, man cannot live, and would sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if he was surrounded by bread." - Fydor Dostoyevsky

"Man shall not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." - Matthew 4:4 ESV

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." - Revelation 22:18-19 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tu Papa Tambien (And Your Father Too...)

Happy Father's Day, to all of the Fathers and to the rising generations of Godly young men who are aspiring to be fathers themselves someday...

May we also be thankful on this day to our Heavenly Father. May he continue to raise up men after his own heart who will walk in his statutes. May you all continue to be conformed in the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ until he returns.

Mind you, I don't really have a lot to say because I sort of ended up covering the whole thing on mother's day...so how about a movie (or two)?! Enjoy!

I thank God for all of the wonderful Christian men that have graced my path and been such an influence on me in the absence of my own paternal father. You have my deepest gratitude.

And a special thanks to Keith Kerr for putting up with me in my capricious youth (and yes, I actually talk that way, Keith).

Drink water from your own cistern,flowing water from your own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone,and not for strangers with you.Let your fountain be blessed,and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. - Proverbs 5:15-19 ESV

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her - Ephesians 5:25 ESV

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4 ESV

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. - Colossians 3:19 ESV

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. - 1 Peter 3:7 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,


Friday, June 15, 2007

And People Say Presbyterians (PCA) Don't Know How To Have Fun...

I had always heard about J. Ligon Duncan's mic skills, but seein' is believing!! Here he is at the 2006 Ligonier Ministries National Conference with John "the human beat box" Duncan kickin' it ol' school. Now if I could only find a clip his legendary Ghost Buster 3 "Bobby Brown Rap" ...

This clip had me rolling for about ten minutes. Not bad for a couple of stuffy, generic, reformed killjoys...next stop--America's Got Talent!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lost In Germany: Evangelical Eros?!

"You can make your life look good--you can do what Jesus would; but you'd be surprised what you can do with a hard heart..." - Derek Webb, A Ballad in Plain Red

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. - Galatians 5:16-21 ESV

In light of what was just stated in those verses, take a look at this excerpt from this recent Times Online article about a Protestant Church that has "Erotic" worship services. Remember, the word erotic is their word, not mine:

Yes, this really is a picture from a recent liturgy celebrated at a Protestant church in Cologne...

'A female dancer dances in a skin coloured stocking in the middle of the church in front of the altar. She crawls about on the floor and wraps herself in a hanging down white cloth. Is this a blasphemous provocation, a scoffing at the Christian religion?

'No it is only one of the items on the agenda of the Protestant Church Assembly. The six-hundred-year-old church, the Church of the Carthusians in the south of Cologne has become the stage for an erotic church service. Nearly one thousand interested people waited outside the door of the former monastery, despite a thunderstorm- but in the end there was only room for four hundred people.

'For those who managed to get in, they had to take off their shoes on a white painted church interior. Above the entrance, there was the caption, “a warm welcome to the Vineyard of Love”. The space between the benches had been overlaid with velvet and from the ceiling wine and rose leaves were strewn onto the spectators. A man came to the microphone and announced, This is an erotic church service, can you move a bit closer together, all of you. This was followed by saxophone music and dance.

'The vicar arrived in a black cassock and barefoot. He announced that eroticism and lust are not taboo areas pushed aside by God. In fact, "lust has to be lived out", said Armin Beuscher, who tempered his speech immediately, by saying, “we are of course today in this service only able to implement this in a limited manner”.

'He talks about his family doctor who once surprised him with the question, “Do you pray with your wife regularly and do you make love regularly?” He was at first embarrassed and later became conscious of the deep meaning in this question, that both spirituality and eroticism are nourished by repetition. It is therefore certainly part of life which has been shown in the TV series “O God, Vicar” when he immediately after sleeping with a woman then went to a funeral. The speech at the grave, immediately thereafter came under the motto of the Church Assembly, “Lively, Powerful and more Spicy”. Beuscher’s conclusion was therefore “ perhaps we clergy should go more often to bed with our loved ones.”

'The faithful were then asked to take part in an anointing ritual in which they should massage the forehead and hands of the person sitting next to them. Some go further and embrace each other whilst others kiss. The atmosphere gets more relaxed. This is how most church services should be said Birgit Kruger (59 years old) from near Hamburg and the Bavarian Gertrude Schirmer (72 years old) said “I found the anointment most beautiful”. Then they all said an Our Father together and then Vicar Beuscher admonishes the parish with the words “praise God with your body, your lust and tenderness”. Judging by the enthusiastic applause, the audience fully intend to do this.'

'Lust has to be lived out'. Wow. Now that has to be a statement for the ages coming from a so-called minister of the Gospel. I stated late last night (or earlier this morning--depending on how you look at it) that I thought that the whole Clown Church business was one of the most bizarre things that I thought I had ever witnessed in a Church. Well, less than twenty-four hours later--way less, in fact--I stand corrected. But, this only follows a logical progression. If you can do 'clown church', why not 'strip church'? Just because this happened on the other side of the globe doesn't excuse the church in the West of turning a blind eye to lust within our congregations. We are culpable in many other ways. Here's one recent example:

But I digress from my main point...

Regardless of the location, the Church is to keep herself pure--to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. How are we to preserve and light the way when we have lost our saltiness and hide our light in darkness? Putting the desires of the flesh to death is hard enough without having it thrust upon you in a Sunday morning sermon. We must come to understand that everything is not permissible just because it takes place in a building that we call a "church"; nor does it become any more permissible if we say that we are doing it under the auspices of "love". Everything that we do must be done under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Even things of a sensual nature must fall under this category. There is a place for our desires for the opposite sex, but it has to be done in a proper manner and to the glory of God. Color me pessimistic (as one of my friends just did), but I don't think that mock stripteases are the way to go. Sex and sensuality are gifts from God for our enjoyment. However, when this is forgotten, they become nothing more than idols to be worshipped--and the "goodness" is ruined. All we are left with is a twisted, perverted counterfeit of the real thing. In this clip from the Desiring God conference, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Ben Patterson gives some insight on this topic:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. - Galatians 5:22-24 ESV

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:13-16 ESV

"For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." - Mark 9:49-50 ESV

"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness." - Luke 11:33-35 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,

When The Church Came to Clowns...

What you are about to witness is probably one of the most appalling things that we will ever witness in our lifetime. The clip being shown here is not a spoof; this is a real church mass being conducted...by clowns. That's right. I said it. Clowns.

This is what happens when the gospel of Jesus Christ gets watered down to the point that it loses it's power. How on earth could anyone in there right mind expect to be taken seriously about their beliefs when you are now parading around in the garments of the international icon for foolishness?! When have you ever heard of anyone taking a clown seriously, with the exceptions of John Wayne Gacy and Stephen King's It. The world may not take it seriously, but any Christian that truly loves Jesus Christ aright should. Much like the two Clowns mentioned, this too is a killer. Choking the life out of authentic worship is every bit as lethal as any serial killer clown and the stakes are much higher. The Scripture gives warnings about burning strange (or unauthorized) fires before God and this has to be one of the strangest (if not the strangest) that I've ever seen. Pray for all involved in this spurious idea of "worship"; that they would be convicted of this travesty and come to a true realization of the holiness of God.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. - Exodus 20:8 ESV

Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. - Leviticus 10:1-2 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria,


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