[STUDY] TEACHINGS 8-
(1285) Yesterday I had some time to read my latest issue of Christianity Today, was kinda surprised that they had a few articles on the Prosperity Gospel. It’s really been a while since I dealt with it myself, but I always felt that the effect of the more extreme teachings from the movement had more bad influence on many good believers than the average pastor/preacher understood. To have entire groups/generations of Christians thinking that Jesus and his men were rich and that those who rejected extreme wealth were ‘old traditionalists’ these major distortions have had a terrible effect on biblical Christianity. But it usually takes a generation or 2 before people can really see the mistakes and grow in their understanding, most times people will defend to the death their positions with proof texts that ‘prove I’m right’ and that the other guy is wrong. Well anyway I thought it interesting that they covered the subject. I mailed off a package of tapes/materials to my friend who converted to Islam, I included the latest posts I wrote on the Ft. Hood tragedy. It really is a sad situation, I don’t mean to sound like I am defending the actions of the Major who committed the crime; we just need to realize that these radical ideas exist on the internet sites and they do have an effect on unstable people. Many Christians hold to violent militaristic views of the Old Testament in a way that they view the fulfilling of prophecy thru the lens of killing non Jews. These believers think that it is the purpose of God to involve himself on the side of the military of Israel and that current successful missions are a testimony to God’s grace. These views can be just as off base as those embraced by the Muslim extremists; they view God and his kingdom thru violent means that has one side killing the other and thinking that this is God’s will. Christians and religious people as a whole need to reject all types of killing scenarios as being from God. Yes nations and countries will fight and war, I am not advocating national pacifism, but when we mix in the wars of nations with the kingdom of God we err. Well anyway I felt like I should share these few thoughts today, it’s a rainy Sunday morning and I had a good early prayer time and got a little wet. But I like quoting the verses ‘let your doctrine drop down like rain and your speech distill like dew’ when praying in the rain, it ads texture to the prayer. Hopefully will do another chapter of 2nd kings tomorrow, I plan on doing Galatians after that. I will do both radio and blog when teaching Galatians, I haven’t done a new radio teaching in over a year! Just running old studies that have never aired yet. Try and read up on Galatians in the next few weeks and familiarize yourself with the text before I teach it, I will probably ‘correct’ some off balanced prosperity teaching on the ‘blessing of Abraham’ and some stuff like that. Okay that’s it for now, God bless for today and try and remember to pray weekly for us- check out the prayer request section on the blog and pray thru it weekly, it helps.
(1286) ISAIAH 53- This chapter is without a doubt the most Messianic chapter in the Old Testament; I find the character of Jesus described in this chapter to be a challenge to many modern concepts of ministry and leadership. Jesus is described as a ‘tender plant’ who grew up out of dry ground [type of virgin birth] we a have tendency to want well watered ground, we do all we can to create a favorable environment around us, Jesus thrived in ‘dry ground’. He is described as someone who had no outward flash that would attract us to him if we saw him; he was not the type of personality that sucked all the air out of the room when he showed up. I was listening to a testimony of a minister who attended a ‘preacher’s convention’ he shared how he felt being in an environment where everyone spoke in a baritone type voice, putting on a preachers garb/persona. How when the pastor/preacher of a group showed up amongst the regular crowd, that there was an expectation of the leaders persona to take over and become the central voice in the group. While there are many well meaning men who fall into this category, yet Jesus was someone who when you saw him was unpretentious, there was no ‘beauty- outward persona’ that would attract you to him. Isaiah says he was acquainted with grief and was not respected, as he bore the problems and failures of others he remained faithful to intercede for the transgressors. God would give him a portion with the great men because he was faithful in obscurity; many judged his difficulties as being a sign that God rejected him. He would make no effort to hide his trials, contrary to the media image that the modern church presents. Jesus was truly a Lamb led to the slaughter who would not open his mouth or defend himself when maligned, his entire style of leadership goes contrary to what we see in the modern day. You read in the New Testament that certain authorities were excited when they found out that Jesus would appear before them, thinking ‘wow, here’s my chance to see him perform’ type of a thing. Yet they would be let down because Jesus didn’t play that game, he was not seeking an audience. I like this chapter a lot, it makes us re-think many of the things we do in our day, things that we associate with ‘successful ministry’ I think Jesus’ pattern is the way to go.
(1287) 2nd KINGS 21:18-26 Amon takes the throne and has a short 2 year rule, he does wicked stuff. Verses 23, 24 say that the kings own servants conspired against him and ‘killed the king in his own house’ and that the people rose up and executed those who killed the king. This week/month the big political story is the health care debate, though there have been other major world events; the political story is health care. The ‘kings own party’ are divided over a few major points; abortion funding is one of them. Basically the Democrats seem to be doing themselves in and ‘killing’ the political hopes of their own ‘king’. Now, the recent elections in N.J. and Va. were a tell tale sign of things to come, both states went Republican with their governorships. The independents voted 2 to 1 for the Republicans, not good at all for the Democrats. The current health plan, after hearing the pros and cons, looks like it probably should be scrapped and start over again with real reforms that both sides agree on. The goal is noble, it’s just this plan seems to be a bad deal. Why? There are lots of reasons, let me just hit one or two. This plan will mandate by law that all people must buy insurance; this group will include many young single college kids who honestly can’t afford insurance. The plan includes language about doing PRISON TIME [up to 5 years] if you don’t buy the insurance and don’t pay the fine to the IRS if you don’t purchase insurance. It is probable that some Americans will do prison time as a result of this bill. Many Americans do go to prison every single year due to IRS violations, this is no joke. The president stated during the campaign that his plan would not do this; he contrasted his plan with Hillary’s plan and emphatically said he would not have any punishment for those who did not participate. He also criticized McCain’s plan because he said he might tax current health plans to fund it. Both of these options are now on the table under the current plan and it seems as if the media are treating the president like a ‘child king’. They do not hold him responsible for any of his actions. If you said you would not do these things and are now trying to do these things then you should be held responsible. The current plan will not control costs, they estimate that the public option would only be used by around 2 % of the uninsured and that the govt. option would cost more than private coverage. It is wrong to thrust 30-40 million people into a federally mandated plan, to threaten these people with possible prison time, and at the same time not lower the cost of insurance. After the kings ‘own house’ did him in, the people then rose up and kicked the whole house out of office, I think the country might be looking to do some house cleaning in around a year from now.
(1288) 2ND KINGS 22- Josiah takes the throne at the age of 8; he institutes reform among the people. He begins a restoration of the temple and finds a hidden copy of Moses law. He reads the law and realizes that they need to repent. It’s probable that the wicked king Manasseh destroyed all the copies of the law and one was hidden in the temple by Solomon. Either way the finding of the law sparks reform. This chapter says they did not take an audit of the money that was given to the builders because they could be trusted; it’s too bad that this standard wouldn’t work in our day. Josiah does some great stuff and God tells him he will honor his repentance and humility, but the nation has gone too far down the wrong path. The course for the nation was set in stone and judgment was still going to come, yet under Josiah there was a season of mercy. As believers study the history of Christianity one of the most well known events/times is the 16th century Protestant Reformation, it was a reform/time period that truly could be credited to a rediscovery of the Christian scriptures. Though there were learned men who knew scripture [like Erasmus and his efforts to get ‘back to the sources’ and his love for the Greek original New Testament] yet the populace at large did not have the availability of owning their own copies of the bible. But this time period produced the Guttenberg printing press and an aggressive effort to publish English versions of the bible. It would not be an understatement to say that the Reformation period was the single greatest upheaval and change that the church would go thru in her 1500 year history. Of course Catholics and Protestants would disagree on the value of these changes, but the reality is that the restoring of the bible into the hands of the common people was revolutionary. Josiah was this type of reformer, he sought the Lord after the discovery of the missing copies of the law and he acted upon Gods word- two basic principles that could apply to all of us. I want to note that historians sometimes make the mistake of discounting the ‘dark ages’ of the church, the term itself is misleading. There were many noble believers and movements that took place prior to the reformation period. The Christian mystics, the great thinkers like Anselm and Aquinas, the tremendous value that comes from reading the fathers of the church. The creeds and councils of this period. It is a wrong view to say that everything that was going on in Christianity prior to the reformation was darkness, there were some bright spots, but without a doubt putting the English bible into the hands of the common people would have reverberations that the world has yet to overcome.
(1289) 2ND KINGS 23:1-28 Josiah institutes the reforms that he learned when ‘re-reading’ the lost law of God. He tore down all remaining vestiges of the idolatrous high places. He reinstituted the Passover celebration and he dug up the bones of the false prophets and burned them on their own altars [ouch!]. A few things; in the New Covenant the Passover represents the new community life that we all share in Christ. In Corinthians Paul says ‘Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us’ and when he teaches the Lord’s supper he does it in a communal way, it’s not just a liturgical Mass type of a thing [or a Protestant time for grape juice servings!] but the Lords meal was more of a buffet type atmosphere and the idea was based on a community model. So I think one of the lessons we learn from the reforms of Josiah is God wants to restore ‘the communal Passover- meal’ or that God is challenging many current concepts of church and as we ‘re-read’ our New Testaments we are seeing the church [ecclesia] again ‘for the first time’. Number 2- it sure seemed a little drastic to have dug up the bones of the false priests and to have burned them on their altars! As we went thru this Kings study we covered the fact that Israel permitted certain wrong things to exist for various reasons. Many people eventually associated their worship of God with these idolatrous practices. These were good people who received these wrong ideas from previous ‘leaders’. Josiah fulfilled a prophecy given 300 years earlier that someday the bones of the false priests would be burned on their altars. To me this represents the need for believers in our day to be willing to look at some of the erroneous doctrines of past movements [remember, idolatry in the new Testament is covetousness, people who love and seek wealth!] and to realize that many of these un balanced teachings came from wrong things that were taught and accepted in the past. Things taught by good people, people who meant well, but wrong never the less. The ‘digging up of the bones’ represents the process of going back and doing a little history on some of these things and finally once and for all setting the record straight. All in all Josiah instituted more reform than any other king before him, he was the only king to restore the Passover, he had the courage to see things for the first time and to act in a righteous way before God. His reforms were great, but they came too late in Judah’s history to prevent final judgment, as a nation they dug themselves too deep of a hole and they were going to suffer for it whether they liked it or not. God is merciful, his mercies are new every morning, but when nations go down long paths of disrespecting human life; of mocking God and Christian principles [not right wing stuff!] then we can’t keep thinking that all will go well, that the recession will turn out just fine. No, there are many things not ‘just fine’, as an economy it is foolish to think that we can have 10.2 % unemployment and still have a jobless recovery. When the jobless rate is that high, and going up, then who are all the people that will be buying and spending and working and doing all the things that are part of a recovery? We are kidding ourselves when we think like this. Josiah did some good stuff, but the people needed to change course a long time ago, it was too late to avoid some national consequences.
(1290) YES, I DID IT AGAIN! I have a confession to make, yes I’m gonna come clean- last night I committed an act that I vow never to do again every time I engage in it- I channel surfed the religious stations. It’s not totally my fault, I woke up at around 12:20 and I am trying not to get up until at least 2-2:30. For a few years [yes years!] I was getting up every night and praying most of the night. After that time passed I stuck with getting up early, usually try to lay down till around 3, then the clocks went back an hour and I’m all messed up. So that’s why I channel surfed, I caught a few good teaching shows but then surfed and saw the ones that are so outrageous that the viewing public usually watches as a joke. One brother was quoting Zechariah [Old Testament book] and using a verse about a plumb line [measuring rod, line- a type of judgment and God bringing his people into alignment. I had a friend who wrote an entire book on these passages from Zechariah] and the brother was teaching how the plumb line represented a 7 fold return on money and church members and all types of stuff- I mean he was teaching stuff that when the true plumb line shows up, these are the things that need to be corrected by the plumb line! Then I surfed a few prosperity guys, and I finally settled on the Catholic station, they were doing a documentary on a catholic nun who started a ministry to the Italian immigrants coming to N.Y. and how she helped them and stuff. It was peaceful enough to leave on. So as I opened the bible to Matthew 13 to share some stuff, I saw the verse in chapter 12 ‘the men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment day with this generation [group] and shall condemn them, for they repented when Jonah preached and yet a greater than Jonah is here’ it seemed to fit. Okay this week I read some from Matthew 13, from the message bible, it really spoke to me. A few entries back I shared how I tore out the ignition from my classic 66 Mustang and had to get some parts, well I wound up ordering them on line and it took 2 days to figure out a minor detail, it’s sort of a trick you do to get the ignition cylinder to fit into the ignition switch- a secret locking pin and all, any way I thought ‘geez, I am spending too much time stuck at this place’. But when I wrote the entry I shared a little about going to auto parts stores and all, and then I read one of Jesus’ parables ‘the kingdom is like a general store owner, he knows how to get just the right part at the right time- either a new or old part’ I liked that. Sometimes we [leaders/pastors] go thru stages where we grasp hold of some ‘new part’ and we spend years stuck at that spot, it’s not so much that the part is bad, or wrong, but it’s just ‘a part’. You might go thru a stage where you find out biblical principles of finances, that’s fine- but don’t go and change the whole bible into a money manual! Or the house church movement. Good part, but people still need to grasp justification by faith and the other ‘old parts’. A good auto parts store will get you the right part, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s the latest technology [any part for a 66 mustang is not new] what matters is for it to be the part that works for you- sometimes we need the old parts!
(1291) I LOVE THAT COW! 2ND KINGS 23:28-37 Pharaoh, king of Egypt, sets up one of the sons of Josiah as a puppet king and gives him a new name. The people pay taxes to this new king and to Pharaoh, but their dominator does not totally dismantle their self rule. I have mentioned this before; that one of the primary ways one kingdom would take over another was to allow them the freedom to run things on their own, but let them pay tribute to their new ‘world order’. In the New Testament you see the kingdom of God grow this way, Jesus and the disciples were making followers of the king. But they did not see this as a means to make people totally co-dependent to the point where they did everything for them. In modern church planting scenarios we see ‘church planting’ as setting up places where people will meet. Providing a regular weekly preaching service. The ‘church/corporate entity’ will meet the needs of the people and the people in turn will ‘pay tithes to the storehouse’ we really have a very limited idea of church planting. It would be more effective if we led people to this new kingdom of God, but didn’t make them so dependent on a particular system, let them grow and govern themselves under the reality of them being servants of the king, this style allows people to experience God in a greater way. Okay, as I have been reading some of the parables of Jesus from the message bible, the one on the treasure hidden in a field spoke to me. The message bible says the kingdom is like a person accidently stumbling across a buried treasure in a field, when he realizes what he’s got he sells everything else and buys the field. At the risk of being crude this reminds me of a joke from the King of Queens, Arthur [Jerry Stiller] is dating Doug’s aunt [Doug- Kevin James] and Doug doesn’t like it. And obviously they are sleeping together and all. So Arthur falls in love with the aunt and informs Doug that he is going to propose marriage to her; Doug is furious. Arthur tells Doug ‘I know you’re wondering why I want to buy the cow if I’m getting the milk for free, well I love that cow, that’s why!’ Arthur was willing to give up everything for ‘the cow’. In essence he wanted to commit to the new found treasure, in a way this is what happens to people when they find the kingdom, you don’t have to set up systems to make people loyal to the kingdom [modern concepts on church membership that have all sorts of ways of trying to instill loyalty into people] when people realize the true value of the kingdom they are willing to give up everything in their pursuit. They will continue to function in society, you don’t have to go build places for these people to meet, let them meet wherever they were meeting before they were brought to the kingdom [homes, etc.] Just do your best to present the kingdom to them in its truest form, let them see the true riches that come with the kingdom. Don’t worry about gaining their loyalty, once they see the treasure they will sell all for it.
(1292) I HAVE CREATED THE SMITH [blacksmith] THAT BLOWETH THE COALS IN THE FIRE AND BRINGS FORTH AN INSTRUMENT FOR HIS WORK, AND I HAVE CREATED THE WASTER TO DESTROY- Isaiah 54. God made the man who figured out if you get the steel hot enough you can shape it into a tool that will be effective. If God made the man who figured out this ingenious process, where do you think the man got the idea from? God will turn up the heat, so to speak, so he can re-shape some stuff in us. This last year I have tried to read up on some of the trends that go on in the world of Christianity. Sometimes I wonder if after all the great ideas, new ways of seeing things; lots of talk about the church needing to get back to social justice issues, all types of stuff I agree with, but at the end of the day I wonder how many of us are actually doing the stuff. Have we been duped into a system that enables articulators to have a forum, that produces a class of professional hearers of the articulators; but at the end of the day a great majority of us have not really been moved to act? Sort of like I can tell you how important it is to reach out to the poor and hurting, you might really belive me when I tell you this [in all sorts of ways- books, pulpit, etc.] but if all we have accomplished is to have come up with another subject to talk about, and for people to listen- then have we really accomplished anything? God wants ‘instruments’ for his work; tools that really function! It’s okay for the church to have great articulators and for people to have an attentive ear to hear- but it doesn’t stop there. After so much hearing and so much speaking, we then need some volunteers to get into the action! And this means more than just finding some ‘mission to the poor’ ministry that we can write a check to. I fear that the thing that’s lacking with most of us is the willingness to act, to get involved, to be the tool that actually works. Over the years I have bought tools that looked good, but were not well made. They might have been priced cheap, but they did not function well. Like buying the pens from the dollar store, what good is it if you got 50 pens for a dollar and none of them work? So in the kingdom God will often allow the heat to turn up because he wants to fashion some instruments that work, that do more than just speak or listen, but instruments that really get the job done. I have learned over the years that lots of people mean well, but if you want the job to get done you need people that don’t blame everything on others. People who are not professional victims, who find their whole identity in faulting others for their lot in life. I hired a guy to do a small job, to remove some wood from behind a rental house I owned years ago. It was maybe a 20 minute job, he had a truck. He was one of the guys I knew from working with addicts and ex-cons. I made the mistake of paying him the 25 dollars before the job was done. After a few weeks would pass I’d ask him ‘did you move the wood yet brother’? He would have some excuse why he didn’t do it. Finally I drove by the alley and saw the wood was gone. Great! I then found out that the renter got tired of the wood in the alley and hauled it off himself. We need people in the kingdom that act, that function and do what God tells them to do. We already have enough able articulators; enough people willing to buy the books and read about how the church should do more. We simply need some brothers who will actually move the wood.
(1293) 2ND KINGS 24- Babylon finally takes Judah captive, there is a specific sin mentioned in this chapter that said ‘God would not pardon’. It was the sin of King Manasseh and his introduction of the pagan rite of sacrificing babies at pagan altars. As I mentioned before, all sins can be forgiven by God, but there seems to be an inescapable national judgment on the sin of abortion. When nations willfully shed innocent blood on such a large scale, these nations cannot escape judgment. Around the year 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, began taking people from Judah to Babylon. It was in this early group that the prophet Daniel and his 3 companions went. Then around 597 BC Jerusalem fell. All the nobles and influential people were taken captive, only the poor remained in the land. In a strange way ‘the meek would inherit the earth’. God’s principles are inescapable, often times we think that strength and influence come from wealth and nobility- we feel if we can attain some level of outward success then we can change the world. In Jesus’ kingdom the poor in spirit, the downtrodden, those who suffer ridicule and difficulty- these are the ones that ultimately inherit the promises. This week the president is on an Asian tour, he is trying hard to present a good picture to Japan and China; they are having doubts about lending us any more money. The political line that is given to the American citizen doesn’t cut it with these countries. They know full well that the money our nation is spending is way over the limit of being considered a low risk borrower. They basically don’t swallow the line that a country can initiate all these new programs and have them deficit neutral. So they are checking us out very closely, and if they don’t buy our debt like in the past, we really don’t have many choices. We can just print money, but that would make the problem worse. Israel’s final collapse was due to her national sin of shedding innocent blood, and her pride and arrogance. The ones who suffered the most were the well to do, the poor actually got blessed! They would inherit more under the judgment of God than they did when the nation was running well. I believe there is hope for our country, but I fear that the average American really does not see some of the major hurdles that we are facing, both on an economic and global scale. If we ignore the voice of those who are defending the rights of the unborn, we will suffer. If we continue to worship at the altar of wealth and success, God will ‘remove the wealthy’ from the land and exalt the humble [remove= slashing that 401 K!]. Right now some of the wealthy think all will go well- after all the Dow Jones just went up to 10,400! This indicator is not always what it seems. Sometimes stocks go up because they believe the fed will keep interest rates low, the reason the fed keeps them low is because all is not well yet. So sometimes these signs are not what people think. All in all there are some bright spots, I’m not saying all the signs are bad, but many are. God allowed his people to be judged by his Divine decree. Even in captivity there were still some noble stories to tell [Daniel and his friends]. But Psalms says as a nation the people hung up their harps, how could they sing the songs of Zion in a strange land?
(1294) EVERY ONE WHO IS THIRSTY, COME TO THE WATER AND BUY WITHOUT MONEY AND WITHOUT PRICE. HE THAT HAS NO MONEY, LET HIM BUY AND EAT FOR FREE! Isaiah 55:1 my own paraphrase. Last night I caught Larry King interviewing T.D. Jakes, I always liked brother Jakes. Larry did ask him about prosperity preachers and Jakes rejected being associated with the movement. He said his ‘good news’ was that Jesus rose from the dead- bravo for Jakes. King did say that Jakes was ‘selling God’ and Jakes did a rare mild rebuke, he flatly said he does not ‘sell God’. Many years ago I was a fan of the late Keith Green [still am]. I love Keith’s music and read his book and used to send money to his ministry in Lyndale Tx. Keith was one of the original Jesus movement brothers, though he was a musician he really saw what he was doing as ministry and you could tell he meant it. Keith struggled with whether or not he should sell his music, or just give it away. He read this verse from Isaiah and began offering his albums for free, something unheard of in the business. He would eventually settle on a policy of making his music available to those who couldn’t afford it. One time I went to a ministry site that I liked, I saw the on line teachings and thought ‘great, I’ll listen to a message’ after the first minute of listening, you were cut off and if you wanted to hear the rest you had to cough up money- what a shame on the gospel. Though I like brother Jakes, I have come to reject the entire media sensation type personality that comes with the territory of modern ministry. Many modern scenarios have huge budgets and often times ‘the ministry’ becomes a clearing house for the highly charismatic personality; millions are spent on broadcasting the personas of the talented leaders. The whole scene violates the New Testament concept of servant leaders and selfless living. If any of the churches in scripture were becoming platforms for one single personality in the group, this would be rebuked. Paul actually does rebuke this in Corinthians. So anyway Isaiah said let those who have no money come and buy and eat, we need to offer the gospel for free, we need to make Gods truth available for free. I realize that these concepts are often overlooked in today’s world, and people like Larry King sincerely view what we do as ‘selling God’ I think too often we are to blame for this perception. NOTE- If you go to U TUBE you can find a bunch of Keith Green stuff, if you never heard Keith I suggest you give it a shot.
(1295) FOR AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGHER THAN THE EARTH, SO ARE MY THOUGHTS HIGHER THAN YOUR THOUGHTS; AND MY WAYS HIGHER THAN YOURS Isaiah 55:9 the other night I caught an interview of Frances Schaffer on the Rachel Maddow show. Frances is the son of the famous Frances Schaffer senior, the prolific author/speaker of the 20th century who dealt with Christian worldviews. He wrote Christian Manifesto and How shall we then live, among other titles. Frankie and his dad were key leaders in the rise of the religious right and the moral agenda type groups. Frankie eventually converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and is now a vehement opponent of the religious right. First I want to commend him on his conviction of not being willing to abandon Christianity all together; some children of famous Christian leaders have taken that route, but Frankie [he calls himself Frances now, but for this entry I’m using the old title] has chosen a great Christian tradition to place himself in and for this he should be commended. But he is so vehement against the religious right that he equates it with the Muslim extremists. Now I believe that there are dangerous ideas that the religious right holds to, and that there are extreme elements that shoot abortion doctors and stuff like that. But to lump all the religious right with the radical Muslims is going too far in my view. Just like it would be wrong to lump all Muslims with the few who commit acts of terror. There have been Muslim Americans who have died on the battlefield defending the American side, we should not forget this. But Frankie just tore into all the religious right in a way that does more harm than good in my view. One of the reasons his father was so popular was because he dealt with Christian worldview issues, he was filling a void in the Evangelical world. After the Fundamentalist movement of the 20th century many Protestant believers were lacking a stable diet of ‘higher learning’ [to be nice about it]. There was this religious angst against many types of higher learning. The history of Protestantism in America shows a period where many of the great Protestant theologians [Edwards, etc.] accepted the idea that the mind and faith went hand in hand, but Protestantism for the most part would walk away from this heritage and begin seeing higher forms of learning as bad. The one bright light in the migration from Europe to the Americas was the teaching of the Dutch Reformed theologian Abraham Kyper; he wrote extensively on the Christian worldview and gave Protestants a good foundation to build upon. Well anyway Frances Schaffer also labored in this field. Isaiah said Gods ways are on a higher plane than ours, we often think and function for years at a certain level, and then God comes in and causes us to rethink the whole platform. It’s not so much more information at the current level, but it’s an overall paradigm shift from a previous way of seeing things to a whole new view of things. The philosopher William James describes it like this- He has a study much like my own, with maps and globes and books all over the place. He says when his dog comes into his study the dog sees everything that James sees, but the dog has no ability to understand what these things mean. Even though he ‘sees’ the stuff, he really doesn’t ‘see it’. Sometimes God opens our eyes to the things we have been staring at for years, when this happens we then see more fully what it means when Isaiah says ‘Gods ways/thoughts are higher than ours’ it’s like seeing stuff again for the first time.
(1296) 2ND KINGS 25- The ultimate fall of the city takes place around 587-86 BC, the king of Babylon sets up a governor [Gedaliah] and this is how one nation would rule over another and bring her into submission. The governor tells the leaders who came back to settle in the land to not be afraid of serving under the new empire [Babylon]. But they will kill the governor and this act brings on the final destruction of the city of Jerusalem. Okay let’s do a few things, the other night I caught the Rachel Maddow show, they did a story on how some Christian company is selling ‘anti Obama’ stuff. Teddy Bears with words that say ‘pray for Obama’ and then the verse given is from Psalms ‘let another take his office’. This is a famous verse that the apostle Peter quotes in Acts when discussing the replacement for Judas. The show pointed out that the following verse says ‘let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow’. As I close our study in Kings I want to stress that all the teaching and ‘tongue and cheek’ stuff I do, that we need to clearly point out that talk about ‘assassination’ and one king killing another, we need to reject any real time scenarios that use this language when speaking of the president. I realize that the company that is using the verse obviously does not want to suggest the killing or death of the president. But there are unstable people in the world, both from Muslim and Christian extremes, as believers we need to discern between honest ideological differences and a flat out conspiracy type mindset. Now, has the president opened himself up to guys like Glenn Beck? Yes, when you have people working for you that say they respect General Mao, then yes the right wingers will play into this mindset and present you as some type of Manchurian candidate that has secretly risen to power to undermine the govt. These right wing ideas are obviously loony, yet there are a percentage of people that believe in them. The governor told the men ‘don’t fear serving under the new administration’ Judah was in trouble, they lost their freedom and the nation was in a bind, but to disagree with your president on real issues is different than instilling real fear in people, telling them that the president is a dangerous man. I disagree with the president on some political issues, I wrote an entry a while ago that said how the cash for clunkers program and the free 8 thousand dollars given to first time home buyers, how these things don’t really help the economy, they give an inflated view of the economy. Then yesterday I read how the economic numbers for October were worse than expected. Both home prices [actually new home starts] and used and new car prices actually went up and the sale of these items went down. Why? They blamed it on the free money programs and the fact that destroying all the used vehicles under the clunker program reduced the inventory of used vehicles and the prices went up. The new car prices rose because so many people took advantage of the programs that this created a shortage. The point is I have real disagreements with the president on some things, but don’t take these real differences and stoke the fires of conspiracy, people should not ‘be afraid’ to serve under the ‘new king’.
(1297) LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS MAN HIS THOUGHTS AND LET HIM RETURN UNTO THE LORD- Isaiah 55. Yesterday I took my daughter to the doctor and they admitted her into the hospital, she possibly has swine flu and a bladder problem. They won’t tell us if its swine flu because they say the treatment is the same for swine or regular, sounds fishy to me. Then the nurse tells me that the whole family should get checked. This is the second time in the last month that I’ve had to explain that I personally don’t have a doctor because I don’t have health ins. They seem surprised that a retired fire fighter does not have insurance, when I retired I asked the city how much it would cost to cover my family. They told me a figure that was equal to half of my check; there was no way I could do it [I do have insurance for my kids]. So sometimes I have to reject ‘my thoughts’ and simply return unto the Lord. The bible says ‘thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on him’ ‘I hate vain thoughts but thy law do I love’ meditating on God’s word like this does help, it’s good to read the bible like a book, but there are times for Christian meditation- focusing on specific scriptures and practicing a form of contemplative prayer. I hope my daughter gets home today but please keep her in your prayers. Thanks, John.
(1298) THEY ARE GREEDY DOGS WHICH CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH AND THEY ARE SHEPHERDS THAT CANNOT UNDERSTAND: THEY ALL LOOK TO THEIR OWN WAY, EVERY ONE FOR HIS GAIN… THEY SAY TOMORROW SHALL BE MUCH MORE ABUNDANT- Isaiah 56:11-12 In the mid 18th century we had what is commonly called ‘the industrial revolution’. In Europe there arose a new class of people that never existed before, these were the capitalists that were making lots of wealth and the laborer was drawn from an agrarian type lifestyle [country/hamlet living] into the strong industrial cities like London. These poor workers were thrust into a system of profit that consumed their days and surrounded them with a new atmosphere of industry/factory. The invention of the steam engine by James Watt was one of the catalysts of this new era. Men like William Booth [founder of the Salvation Army] would see the hopelessness of these Londoners and start a ministry to help them. Even in our day the effects of the industrial revolution still impact us, as a boy growing up I listened to Black Sabbath, Ozzy came from an area like this. Contrast his songs with Kiss and you can see the difference! There was an observer of this scene who would write a document and launch a revolution as a result of what he saw as the encroachment of capitalism on the common person- His name was Karl Marx, his document was called ‘the communist manifesto’. Many people resent the western mindset because of its seeming inability to never be satisfied with finally having enough, we are a consumerist nation. I caught a quick few minutes of religious channel surfing the other day and of course I heard the normal preaching on ‘this year is the year of more abundance than any other year’. Have we ever asked ourselves when we will have enough? Seriously Isaiah is pronouncing a judgment on ‘greedy dogs- those who are never satisfied’ one of the condemnations in Revelation is to believers who say ‘I am rich and increased with goods’ yet they were spiritually poor. Jesus challenged his followers on many occasions to forsake all to follow him. Now I am not advocating irresponsibility, but I am challenging our western mindset and our inability to say ‘that’s enough’. We preach a message that never seems to leave this option open; we create an insatiable desire within the church to live each day with an obsession to gain more. The bible condemns this attitude over and over again, yet we as westerners never seem to get it, if we ever want to truly have peaceful relationships with the rest of the world, then we will have to change our mindset in these areas. Many Muslim countries see our materialist arrogance and use this as an excuse to reject ‘the Jesus of the west’ [though he was technically from the east!] We as the people of God need to return to our own ‘manifesto’ [the gospels] and live them out in reality, if not there will always be a Marx waiting in the wings with his own.
(1299) Last night I had a rough night, couldn’t sleep and dealing with lots of stuff. I wasn’t sure what to read [Isaiah or start Galatians] and I felt the Lord leading me to read John 14. Right after I read it I put the Catholic station on and they were quoting from it. In John 14 Jesus tells his men that he is leaving them for a purpose, that in his Father’s house there are many mansions. If he doesn’t leave them they will never become what he wants. In the New Testament [and old] ‘house of God’ refers to Gods people, in the Old Testament you did have the temple, but when referring to ‘the house of David’ it speaks of community/dynasty- so the ‘house of God’ are the actual people groups that God is bringing into his kingdom. We corporately make up ‘the house of God’. Now Jesus is not telling the disciples ‘I am going to build a room for you in heaven, and when I come back I will take you to heaven’ he is saying something more along the lines of ‘I am leaving you to make room for you to learn to function and grow on your own, when I leave the Holy Spirit will come and indwell you- you will become the new habitation of God’. In essence ‘he goes to prepare a place for us’ is speaking more along the lines of us becoming this corporate dwelling place as opposed to building a room in heaven. And his ‘coming again to receive us unto himself’ in this context is speaking of the Holy Spirit (one just like unto himself) being sent back after Jesus leaves, so this Comforter will dwell in us- he ‘receives us unto himself’. Thru out this chapter Jesus is speaking on a higher level than what the guys are hearing ‘where I go you know and the way you know’ what! We don’t know where you are going and how can we know the way? The disciples seem to be saying ‘hold this ship up Jesus, we are feeling a little intimidated, you’ve been telling us that we will have what it takes when the rubber meets the road- we sense that you are ‘pushing us out of the nest’ and if we don’t fly we will crash!’ Jesus knew that his departure was needed for them to become this house of God, this great community of diverse people groups [many mansions]. The disciples would become recipients of the Spirit and sure enough everything Jesus told them would come to pass, but at the moment of trial/decision they felt inadequate- they weren’t really sure they were ready. I know I can identify with them, can you?
(1300) HE KNEW WHAT A SHAPE-SHIFTER WAS! Isaiah 57- This chapter contains a strong rebuke against God’s people for their ‘working knowledge’ of idolatry; the people were well taught in patterns and ways that were empty. I was watching an episode of Scare Tactics and they did a scenario where they had some oriental kid in a trailer out in the boonies and they set up a fake meteor crash. Part of the skit had the pranksters asking the kid ‘do you know what a shape-shifter is’ and to their surprise the kid answers yes! He then explains that shape shifters are humans who have the ability to transform themselves into animals; the kid knew the definition to the fake word! That’s funny. God rebuked his people for knowing wrong things, in Revelation one of the churches are commended because they were not familiar with the ways of satan. Over the years I have found it troubling that many young believers were taught things that were flat out wrong, it was plain to see that the interpretation of the scriptures that they were taught were wrong, and yet many of them clung to an obvious mistake. The problem was the teachers were continuing to propoagte a wrong view, even though they were told time and time again that the view was wrong. I am not talking sincere differences of belief, but blatant false stuff. In some ways we have trained God’s people to know and understand and believe definitions of stuff that do not exist! They know what shape shifters are for heavens’ sake! In this chapter God rebukes the people and also offers mercy. He says he will raise people up who will remove these stumbling stones, who will clear the way for God’s people and lead them back into paths of peace. When God’s people return to a trust and dependence on him once again, they will feel less troubled when the economy tanks. But when the people of God trust in material riches, they too feel a loss when the things they trusted in begin to fail. Jesus said ‘you believe in God, believe also in me- peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid’.
(1301) THEY CRASHED THE PARTY FOR HEAVENS SAKE! Last night on the news the big story was how some couple managed to crash the president’s party at the White House. They showed this reality couple posing with Biden for pictures and all, the good looking woman dressed in a flashy red dress, hugging Biden and all- to be honest Biden looked a little too happy about posing with the woman. As I am watching all the speculation on how they snuck in, and they keep showing all the shots of them with various officials [Rahm Emanuel] I wanted to give this poor team the benefit of the doubt, thinking ‘hey, they know what they are doing’ but then this image in my mind of the Keystone Cops kept creeping up. I don’t totally blame the president for these types of things, but can you imagine the outrage that would have been expressed if Bush and his team allowed such a stunt to happen? SNL just spoofed the president on his Asian tour, they did a skit that had Biden sitting in the Oval office and musing [or gaffing!] about stuff, they spoofed how Obama would sign any stack of papers that simply had the words ‘health care’ written on top. And most observers believe that China ‘managed’ the president in a way that no other foreign leader would have allowed, they managed to get their points across while making the president look weak. All in all it’s been a rough few weeks. Jesus said the kingdom was like a big wedding feast where all these people were invited, but someone snuck in without an invitation [the proper wedding garment] and they were confronted and tossed out! In our pluralistic society we don’t want to allow for the fact that some ‘get tossed out’ or that there is a requirement to gain entry, his name is Jesus. Hey, don’t get caught at the party without the proper credentials, it could get you [and Biden] in trouble.
(1302) Isaiah 58- This is one of the chapters that I quote from a lot when praying. God rebukes his people because they were fasting and practicing religious functions but were neglecting the ‘weightier matters of the law’. They forgot about the poor, doing justice and showing mercy, the same themes you hear in Jesus teaching. But God does say if his people will return to acts of charity, to lifestyles of humility and not trying to ‘get their voices to be heard’ [seeking fame and promotion] then he will exalt them, he will allow their ‘light to rise in obscurity’ [great influence with little personal fanfare and glorying over men]. We will be like ‘a well watered garden and a spring of water whose waters fail not’ God will cause us to ‘ride upon the high places of the earth’ [positions of influence]. This chapter is a great chapter, but it comes with some strong correction- if we heed the warnings the blessings will follow, but sometimes we keep looking for the blessing and never receive the correction, this my friends will never work.
(1303) A few hours ago I caught a prophetic conference on TV, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to watch it but the brother opened up with talking about ‘high ways’ from Isaiah. This past week that has been a theme I have been focusing on. ‘Prepare a high way in the desert for our God’ ‘my ways are higher than yours’ ‘I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth’ Isaiah. Here in my office I have old model battleships and WW2 planes and stuff; in my yard I have signs that say ‘N.Y. C.C. port’ ports, waterways and highways are all familiar themes. The brother was also sharing about battleships, so the themes seemed to fit. So I get up to pour a cup of coffee, as I turn the light on there is this book sitting on my kitchen table, never saw it before- don’t know who brought it home. As I read the title it’s simply a dictionary on interpreting dreams, I was thinking ‘who brought this new age book into my home’ I open it up and the first word I see is ‘Port Authority’ the definition is having authority in new places/highways/ports, you can’t make stuff up like this [there are Christian books on dreams and also non Christian ones, sometimes the definitions are the same- I do not advocate looking for signs in non Christian books]. Well anyway in Isaiah 59 the Lord rebukes his people for believing and trusting in lies, things they know are not true. Sometimes people convince themselves of their own lies. I hate to harp on this but I want to be clear that as of today [11-09] I believe that many people simply do not fully grasp the major economic troubles that face us. The government is talking about another stimulus and I read the statement from a Ca. Democrat, she was incensed ‘we need to do something about jobs’! Well we all know that, and you agreed with others that you would not spend the trillion dollar stimulus on real jobs growth, sure it was an honest difference of opinion between a conservative versus liberal economic model- but you chose the liberal model [spend most of it on federal spending and programs] and you got the result. How you can now be mad about not having jobs is beyond me! But people believe ‘in lies’ that is they make choices that have certain real effects and they still believe their choices were right- even in the face of the truth on the ground. As we close 2009 I foresee a bad year for 2010, as well as the next 5-10 years. Now I’m not saying the world will collapse, but there are long term decisions our country has made and we are not going to escape by trying to manipulate the value of the dollar or by the fed acting in cooperation with the White House. We have run up very unrealistic debt, we are trying to pass some stuff that all honest economists know will cost lots of money, and the global markets are very worried about the possible collapse of our dollar. Some serious people are seeing this. But as a nation we have a tendency to ‘believe in lies’ not mean people who are partisans, just we reject the reality of the fiscal situation, we think we can simply survive by doing ‘jobs summits’ and extending unemployment insurance. This is not going to work, never has- never will. Now, the Christians who have ‘built upon a solid foundation’ will survive and even thrive thru these times, but many churches/ministries who depend upon million dollar budgets and high income will suffer. When underground churches in China function without owning property, paying salaries and having no ‘corporate identity’ these churches thrive during times like this, they are not dependant on needing lots of money to operate, they simply function like the churches in the bible. So we need to be clear about how we are building our churches/ministries, we need to be able to have a witness to society that we as Gods people survive because we don’t put our trust in the economies of men. And this does not always mean that our bank accounts won’t suffer, just ask any Christian 401 k holder! But it means that God’s people value their membership in Christ’s body and they will help one another out when in need. I don’t want to be an alarmist but I believe we are in denial, I read an article on ‘the jobs are coming back’ [something to that effect] the article said the number of those filing for unemployment was ONLY 400 thousand, a drop from the previous week of 450,000. Are we kidding ourselves or what? I have never seen the media speak about growing jobs and how many thousands were saved by the stimulus, if since January we have lost 3.5 million jobs, that means we have not ‘created/saved’ jobs, it’s that simple. But we want to ‘believe in lies’ we want to tell ourselves we can build an economy on free handouts without helping private business. Sure taxing millionaires sounds great, but most of these ‘evil millionaires’ are small businesses who file as individuals, you can’t consistently do the actual things that kill jobs and then say ‘lets have a jobs summit’ okay I don’t want to rant too much, we as the people of God live by different standards than the world [I try!] and we will not be immune to the economic difficulties that lie ahead, but our response and trust in the Lord will be a witness to those in need. Our willingness to help our neighbor, free of charge, will be a sign of the gospel to them. All in all we are going to have some great opportunities in the next few years, let’s just stop believing in lies.
(1304) ARE WE REALLY IN THE 2ND GRADE BUT JUST DON’T KNOW IT YET? As I was praying this morning I was thinking about the various ministers and testimonies I have heard over the years, many have spoken on/experienced a process where they went from ‘church/ministry’ as being some type of business enterprise, to transitioning and seeing themselves as humble servants in Gods kingdom. Both hearing and seeing these types of stories would make me wonder if there was an entire ‘body of people’ who have gone thru the ‘childhood stage’ and have learned the next stage of true discipleship. Are these people willingly withdrawing their images from the public forums? Are there whole groups of them who have been chastened over former ‘fame/glory’ seeking and now realize that they were really in the 2nd grade- doing things and acting out of the excitement of being entrepreneurs, versus true kingdom building? Are many of these believers possibly the ones that we have looked at thru out our lives and tagged them as ‘lost traditionalists’? Jesus gave examples of the kingdom often being something that we don’t see at the beginning, we are looking for ‘outward signs’ and it’s coming another way. I remember hearing a very gifted prophetic brother sharing some stuff along these lines, how he felt the Lord telling him that those who would reject fame and the lime light would be the ones God was going to use in a great way. Over the years I tried to Google him, find his web site- anything about his ministry and what he was up to! I found nothing, I then began to wonder if he actually implemented what he felt God was saying, that he left the entire atmosphere of ‘rubbing shoulders’ with the movers and shakers and actually began living his life without the fame and recognition of professional ministry. Every day we drive past schools full of children, great kids- but children. Many of them have dreams about life, all good goals and all. But as we see them we realize that at one time we ‘were them’ and they still have a long way to go and much to learn. We don’t despise their ‘childishness’ but the reality is the grownups all know they are children. I fear there might be a ‘secret group’ of grownups that see all the ‘children’ running around at the playground, trying to outdo their fellow playmates. Needing lots of attention, wanting to impress their peers. And I fear that there is another group, those who have ‘grown up’ and these don’t really despise the younger ones, they have simply learned it was time for them to grow up.
(1305) I’M USING YOU FOR THEIR SAKE, NOT YOUR’S! Isaiah 59:21 says ‘this is my covenant WITH THEM’. I have been quoting the last part of this verse for years, I am sure I have said it in prayer at least 10 thousand times over my life- ‘ the words that I have put in your mouth shall not depart out of your mouth from this time forth and forevermore’ God says your ‘seed’ [offspring] and your seeds seed will quote and teach them. Good promise for church planters—but when I recently read it I felt like the lord was saying ‘leader/pastor- listen up- I am going to consistently use you and speak thru you, not out of some favor to you, but as a promise TO THEM!’ In Isaiah God says ‘I will give him as a covenant to the people’ [Jesus]. God takes people and uses them to fulfill his promises to nations/people groups. He has covenanted with these people groups, made promises to them that he would teach them and show them things that they never saw before. The Message bible says when Jesus preached in his hometown, the people said ‘we knew he was a preacher, but we didn’t know he was this good’! God promised that the people who sat in darkness would see great light. That kings/leaders would ‘shut their mouths’ because they were learning things that they never saw before. Jesus told his men ‘many people wished they were seeing the things that you are seeing/hearing, yet they never had the chance’ [Message bible again] God used Jesus to reveal truths that were hidden from the foundation of the world, he promised this to the people. When God uses leaders/prophetic people to reveal things that were previously hidden, he is doing this out of faithfulness to the people. He is keeping his promise to the people, he has made a covenant with them and God does not break his promise.
(1306) DARKNESS SHALL COVER THE EARTH AND GROSS DARKNESS THE PEOPLE… BUT GODS GLORY SHALL BE UPON US AND THE GENTILES SHALL SEE THIS LIGHT/HOPE AND BE DRAWN TO US- Isaiah 60:1-3 Tonight the president will give a speech at West Point and tell the nation that we will be sending another 30 thousand troops to Afghanistan, pretty serious stuff. But the news media has been stuck on another story, the couple who crashed the White House party the other night. Oh how they have mused about the fact that even though they passed thru metal detectors, they still could have hurt the president. Some have espoused that they could have picked up a fork and gouged his eyes out- others said they could have spiked his drink with Anthrax; the theory I found the most amusing was they might have been trained in Martial Arts and could have had the purely human ability to kill or mame the leader of the free world. Sort of like if the woman with the red dress was a black belt that somehow this would have enabled her to decapitate the president with her bare hands! Like what Will Farrell did in the highly acclaimed movie ‘Glory Blades’ the plot was Farrell was banned from the Olympics but they found a glitch in the system- he could get in as this top ice skater if he registered under the couples rule. So he and his partner [Napoleon Dynamite] get on the team. One problem, the famous move that they need to perform has been tried in the past by their coach- as they show the clip of what happened in slow motion, the skater does this move where as he jumps in the air and flips he accidently decapitates his partner! So you can see the serious dilemma that the movie engages in. I just thought it too funny for the media to have spent so much time on this story. Isaiah said ‘gross darkness’ shall cover the people, they would be consumed with stuff that has absolutely no value [like watching Glory Blades] but that the people of God would be this worldwide community of people who had purpose and hope in the midst of a fallen world. Yes the world system will get worse, but the kingdom of God and its witness in the nations will grow brighter. As the world obsesses about whether or not the woman in the red dress might have been some secret mixed martial arts expert [Royce Gracy in drag?] we have true things of value to share, hope and light and peace; as the Christmas season is upon us let’s do our best to share it.
(1307) CHRISTMAS- being I mentioned Christmas the other day, let’s talk a little. First, does the bible give us [in the New Testament] any special memorials to celebrate? Yes, the New Testament teaches us that when believers celebrate the Lords supper that we ‘show the Lords death’ until he comes back. This is the only explicit memorial given to New Testament believers. Does this mean it’s wrong to celebrate other days? Not really. The early church, contrary to popular opinion, did celebrate ‘Christmas’ before the days of Constantine in the 4th century. They celebrated Christ’s ‘birthday’ on January 6th. But they also celebrated ‘Easter’ as well, and Easter played a more significant role in the church. But in the 4th century the church was grappling with different issues, one of the main ones was the nature of Christ [Christology] some questioned his true humanity. So as a result the celebration of the Incarnation [Jesus being born and taking on real human flesh] took on special importance, the church wanted to stress the ‘birthday’ of Jesus as a theological event. Now the story of Constantine and his conversion to Christianity is famous and many different groups see it in different ways. Many see him as the enemy of true Christianity and as a Roman Emperor who paganized the church. Many associate Catholic Christianity as the false religion set up by Constantine in the 4th century- I do not hold to this view myself. But the fact is that Constantine did legalize Christianity and he did ‘change’ the celebration of Christmas day from January 6 to December 25. Everyone knew that 12-25 was the official pagan holiday of a pagan god. Rome had Sun worship going on and December 25th was a pagan celebration day. So why did the church allow for the change? In reality Constantine was trying to bring a degree of stability to his empire and the fact was that many of his citizens [and soldiers] did practice the pagan holiday of 12-25. So as a compromise move, with the churches new found emphasis on the humanity of Christ [new found in that they willingly wanted to emphasize Christ’s birth in a greater way because of the theological controversies going on] they changed 12-25 into the celebration of Christ’s birth. It really was not some type of secret pagan takeover of Christianity. It was more along the lines of how in our day many believers celebrate ‘Halloween’ by calling it ‘fall festival’ and simply are redeeming the season for God. If in a thousand years Christians are all celebrating ‘fall festival’ instead of Halloween, I think that would be a good thing. But if you went back and found out that it started as a pagan thing, then would you consider all the ‘fall festival’ folks as pagan? So that’s the dilemma. Many serious minded believers do not celebrate Christmas and that’s fine, the scriptures don’t mandate it. But many serious believers do, I think it’s wrong to simply make the connection of the pagan roots of the day and to see this as a reason to reject it. Like I just showed you, you can look at it in a way that sees it as the church ‘taking over’ the pagan day and redeeming it back unto God.
(1308) I caught an interview last night of an Indian author who wrote a book, the title is ‘truth and transformation’ it deals with how India and much of the Eastern world has a great degree of economic dishonesty and hiding of money from the govt. and so forth. But that the Western world has less of this dishonesty going on in a large scale. It was interesting to hear the point of view that because the west still had a degree of Christian morality that this had a lasting effect on society. You rarely hear this view from Easterners. But the brother warned how we are fast approaching the rest of the world in the area of economic/corporate corruption. Any way he mentioned how in the book of Revelation the church is described as ‘a city’- the city that comes down from God out of heaven. I always liked this imagery, in Isaiah we read how this city of God has it gates open ‘day and night’ that there is never a moment where life and transactions are not happening. How can this be? Recently as I have been praying over stuff, and also have posted various requests on the blog I realized that we have people praying and reading and ‘partaking’ of the stuff we are doing, this happens on a 24 hour basis because we have friends from around the world who are connected to us. So Gods ‘city’ is one that consists of believers the world over. There are Christians ‘in church’ 24-7, you don’t have to start a 24 hour prayer service to accomplish this, God has done it by having a worldwide community of people who he describes as ‘my House of Prayer’. This house/temple is open all the time, Isaiah also says that the city will have ‘no walls’ because of its great size, the multitude of men and cattle within is so large that it doesn’t need to wall herself off from society! As a matter of fact a river flows from this temple to the nations and all the kings of the earth will bring their glory and riches into her. I like the city imagery a lot, Revelation says this city has no need for a sun or moon, because the Lamb is the light of the city. No need for a temple either, we are the temple! [as well as Jesus, we as his Body join with him in the temple imagery] When reading scripture it’s important to see things thru a correct lens. I am half way thru the book by Carl Olson ‘will Catholics be left behind’. Carl is an ex Fundamentalist who converted to Catholicism and he gives an excellent overview of the history of Eschatology [end time stuff] much of my teaching agrees with Carl’s view. But reading thru it reminds me of some of the silly views that people hold about end time things, how some see the city ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ as an actual physical city that will be suspended above the earth during the Millennium and that believers will be living in ‘the sky’ while having access to the planet and interacting with Millennium citizens. Silly stuff, the city is called ‘the bride, the Lambs wife’ it’s quite obvious that John is using prophetic imagery to describe the church. But this is a problem among certain Fundamentalists and this view is quite popular in our day. When we grasp the ‘better’ view of these things then we can apply them in practical ways that effect society in a positive way- Gods people/city being open/available for light and help and mercy to all the ‘kings/nations of the earth’ Jesus who is our light can also enlighten the nations who are willing to hear. Stuff like this is helpful, while also recognizing that there are real/literal things that Revelation deals with, like the 2nd coming and resurrection and final judgment. Well anyway we are all part of this 24-7 community that has things happening all the time, we belong to a great worldwide church, the city of God, let’s let our light shine to the nations as much as possible.
(1309) Got up early today, around 1:30, I usually try and lay down until around 2:30, but this morning I felt like the Lord was saying ‘no, today you need to start early’. So as I went outside to pray it was barely drizzling, but it’s really cold. I do pray in the rain often, but when it’s cold I adjust my prayer schedule. Right when I was wrapping up the prayer time at around 4 it started raining, I’m glad I started early. This morning I read ‘your people shall all be made righteous, they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting the work of my hands’ Isaiah 60:21. I felt like the Lord was saying to leaders/pastors ‘these people are my work, my planting. When I made Adam I put him in the garden that I created. He had responsibilities to take care of it and be a faithful steward over it; but it was my garden, not his’. We often worry about ‘the garden’ [the work/people that God has called us to] but the lord says they are his people, his ‘branch’ the work of his hands and he simply allows us to enjoy the field/garden with him. Paul told the Corinthians that they were God’s field, that some water and others plant but God alone makes it grow. Jesus said the kingdom was like a man who planted some seed and when he ‘slept’ God made it grow. ‘What, you mean I was sleeping when the thing was really productive’? Yes, humbling isn’t it. Isaiah said ‘I was in difficulty, oppression, going back and forth and then I said “ who are all these children that I have born, where did they come from?’” sort of like when you are at a stage in life where you can’t micro manage the thing, God says ‘there we go, now I can do a thing thru you that you can’t take credit for’. God said the people would ‘all be righteous’ that the garden was his responsibility and he simply put ‘you in the garden’ sometimes your most productive seasons are when you’re sleeping! [when your hands are off the thing].
(1310) In Isaiah 61 the chapter starts with the famous scripture speaking about the Spirit being on Jesus to preach and proclaim to the people. At the end of the chapter Isaiah says ‘as the earth brings forth the plant/bud, and the garden causes the things that are planted in it to grow, so the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before the nations’. In the earlier verses it also said ‘they will be trees of righteousness’. Those who were in mourning, those who were oppressed and suffering, they are the ones who are given beauty for ashes and the spirit of praise and joy in return for the garment of heaviness. Jesus said ‘blessed are they that mourn/suffer’ these things are the currency of the Kingdom; you can trade them in and ‘buy’ the true riches. Notice also how the earth/garden causes the things that are planted in it to spring forth; as Protestants many times we emphasize the importance of the ‘preached word’ sort of like the art/profession of preaching is the vital thing. To be sure it is important [how can they believe unless one is sent- Romans, as well as the first verses of this chapter] but the chapter closes with the ‘ability’ of the garden itself to bud, to cause the things that were preached/sown to become reality. The field/garden is more important than we think [that is the people groups are the ones causing the things taught/preached to be fleshed out, in reality we can’t just ‘preach’ and be successful anywhere, sort of like the gift/talent itself is the important thing. In these verses the important thing is the garden/earth]. So for all of our leaders/pastors, your role is important, but God is the one cultivating and taking care of the garden [John 15]. You [me!] are expendable, God is the one who is going to make the praise spring up before all nations- we either partake of it or not [woe is me if I preach not the gospel- Paul] but the praise is going to come!
(1311) FOR YOUR SHAME YE SHALL HAVE DOUBLE [PORTION/BLESSING] AND FOR YOUR CONFUSION THEY SHALL REJOICE IN THEIR PORTION, THEY TOO WILL HAVE A DOUBLE PORTION IN THEIR LAND – Isaiah 61:7 In the book of Acts Peter says God has highly exalted Jesus and he has received the promise of the father [Spirit] and because of this he has poured out ‘this which you see and hear’. I like that, God gave 2 types of testimonies; things you see and things you hear. That spoke to me because I do both radio [hear] and blog [see]. I was watching a prophecy brother the other day, he’s a good man, comes from the strong Dispensational school. As he was reading the declaration of the angel in the book of Luke- that Jesus will sit on the throne of his father David, the wife said ‘gee, I never saw that before, Jesus has never yet sat on David’s throne’. And the husband said ‘see, your theological training is kicking in’. If you actually read all of Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts, you will see that the apostolic witness sees Jesus as presently ruling on the throne from the exalted right hand of God. They do not see an idea that the promise from the angel about Jesus has yet to be fulfilled. I am familiar with the distinctions that dispensationalist’s make, I just think they go too far in postponing the ‘actual/literal’ rule of Jesus to some future date. The apostle’s language includes the fulfillment of the Davidic rule with the present ruling position of Jesus at Gods right hand. I do not totally discount the reality that at the Second Coming there will be literal future aspects to that rule, but scripture already ‘sees’ Jesus ruling in Gods kingdom. Well anyway Jesus received this high position because of the shame and confusion [agony] he went thru. He now has the right to pour out things both ‘seen and heard’. He poured out the promise of the Father on his people and they became this great kingdom of Priests and Kings unto God and his father [Revelation and Isaiah]. In this present kingdom we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the Lamb as it were slain sitting on the throne- he’s not waiting for some future date to receive the throne, he’s already there!
(1312) THE INCARNATION- The most influential philosopher on Western thought is probably the philosopher Immanuel Kant. Kant wrote the influential work ‘In critique of pure reason’ at the close of the 18th century in response to the pure rationalists [David Hume] of the Enlightenment. Kant read Hume’s works and was said to have been ‘aroused out of his dogmatic slumber’ and dispatched his response. Kant espoused that you had the physical and metaphysical worlds, and the 2 are completely separate. He refuted the argument for God made by the apologists and said it was impossible for man to ‘know God’ thru rational/physical means. Kant did not totally reject ‘the idea’ of God; he simply said the efforts of the Christian philosophers to prove God were futile. Was Kant right? Yes and no. In the 13th century you had another great Christian thinker by the name of Thomas Aquinas, Thomas is considered one of the greatest [if not greatest] thinkers of the Catholic tradition, Thomas wrote extensively and re-introduced the Greek philosophers back into Christian theology. Sometimes referred to as ‘Aristotelianism’ [Aristotle]. Thomas taught that it was possible to obtain true knowledge of the existence of God from the natural world, but that to have particular revelation from God you needed the church and tradition [revelation]. Some feel that Thomas was teaching a ‘secular/sacred’ division that hurt the work of the church. But if you read Aquinas in the context of his time he really was not doing this. Thomas ‘rescued’ apologetics [proof for God] from the philosophers of Islam who were teaching that you could have 2 types of truth- religious and scientific. They taught that religious truth could ‘be true’ by faith, but that it could be false by science, and vice versa. Thomas was refuting this idea and was showing us that real truth, whether from the natural sciences or from ‘revelation’ never contradict, it’s just science can only go so far in arguing for the existence of God. But the influence of Immanuel Kant on western thinking has many believing that God and ‘religion’ are okay things for people to believe, but that ‘real truth’ is found in the natural sciences and God is excluded from this ‘secular’ realm. This is a false view. God can be ‘proved’ by studying the natural sciences, like Aquinas said. Now this doesn’t get you all the way to the God of Christian theology, but it can take you up to the point where God’s existence is proven to be reality. The main point is it is wrong to think Christianity is relegated to the realm of faith while ‘real truth’ is in the realm of science. The Incarnation was God’s divine act of breaking into the physical world thru the birth of his Son. God became man and dwelt among us, you can study all the history of the time and find many historical proofs of the reality of Jesus and the fact that he died and rose again, these ‘truths’ are not only religious in nature, they are factual in history. So while I appreciate the work that Kant put into his book, I will stick with the other ‘Immanuel’ the God who is with us.
(1313) GOD WANTS TO MARRY YOU! Isaiah 62- This chapter uses a lot of marriage imagery, the bridegroom rejoicing over his new bride and ‘all your sons being joined to you’. In the New Testament Jesus himself uses this imagery when speaking about Gods people and the relationship God had with Israel. Now, it’s important to see that the New Testament [especially Paul] uses the imagery of the bride and bridegroom when speaking of the church; Paul will teach that both Jew and Gentile are making up this bride that the Lord ‘is married to’. Some dispensationalists [end time beliefs] make a distinction between the language used concerning Israel [Gods wife] and the language used concerning the church [bride] but if you see the mystery that Paul is speaking about you see that the fulfillment of this bride [both Jew and Gentile] being joined unto Jesus includes both people groups. What I’m saying is the New Testament teaches us that all these Old Testament promises of God rejoicing over his bride are being fulfilled thru the ‘eternal purpose’ spoken of by Paul in the letter to the Ephesians. God has his bride! This chapter also speaks of the sons coming to this new land [the church-people of God] and being joined to her as a bridegroom is joined to his bride. Recently I have had some good brothers express a desire to ‘join up-team up-partner with us’ in some way thru the ‘ministry’. These are Pastors from Pakistan and are doing a great work reaching out to Muslims. They are doing a very dangerous work, pray for them [they just got out of jail; they were thrown in jail for preaching the gospel]. Anyway somehow they found this site and really like it, that’s great. But I gave them the same response that I give to everybody who contacts us with the well meaning intent to ‘join up’ with us; I simply told them that there is nothing to join, no money to ‘partner up with us’ we are simply a voluntary group of Christ followers who are trying to spread the kingdom by doing what the Lord tells us. In essence if you are blessed by the teachings, just do your best to follow our example and let the work grow on its own, no need for me to come and preach, take offerings, or anything along those lines- just take the word of God and run with it! The point is sometimes ‘our friends/sons’ [those we are reaching out to] are so excited about the stuff they are learning that they want to be joined to us. It’s our job [and yours] to lead them in a way that they are joined to Christ and find their identity in him. God promised his people that he would ‘marry them’ Jesus spoke about the great marriage supper of the Lamb. These are intimate images; Paul said this was a great mystery when speaking of marriage and how it was a sign of our union with Christ [Ephesians] we need to remind ourselves that we are joined unto the Lord- not to men and their well meaning organizations.
(1314) IN DEFENSE OF THE HOMELAND- As a young boy growing up in New Jersey I had the privilege of having many different ethnic friends, but at times I found it difficult to defend the homeland [Italy]. I mean the Brits could appeal to the heroism of a Churchill, the Russians could even have their Rommel, but I was caught between a rock and a hard place. Sure I could resort to ‘what about that El Duce’ but I was grasping at straws man! This week Italy has been in the headlines, they convicted an American exchange student [Amanda Knox] on murder and she got 23 years in prison. As I listened to the news media berate the Italian judicial system I realized that they weren’t upset about the high probability of the girls guilt, they were upset that the standards of the American system of justice were not applied. The case involved 4 students who were involved in some type of sex game and one of the girls did not want to do it. So one of the boys killed her. After the initial arrest Amanda Knox admitted to being there at the time, she told the prosecutor and police that she was there. But after a while she claimed it was a false confession and the Italian courts actually threw out her first confession on the grounds that she wasn’t properly represented at the time. The jury convicted her based on the high probability that she was there and she was seen as an accomplice. The person who murdered the girl confessed and it seems like a very sad case all around. But the American media portrayed it as an unjust conviction, even though common sense seemed to be part of the jury’s verdict. They did not claim she killed the girl, just that she was present. I remember a case a few years back where a neighbor was being tried for the kidnapping and murder of a little girl. During the trial at one point the defendant was in negotiations with the prosecutor about getting a lighter sentence if he showed them where the girl’s body was. These were private discussions that the jury was not aware of. Instead the body was found and the deal was off. The trial proceeded and the defense dragged the history of the parents into the case, they were swingers and the defense tried to say that one of the swingers could have done it. The problem with this type of justice is everyone behind the scenes knew for a fact that the man raped and murdered this little innocent girl, but according to our rules it would be ‘unjust’ to tell the jury. In Isaiah 63 the prophet says the Lord looked down and realized that no one was standing up for justice, so the Lord himself rode thru and set things in order. He used ‘the right hand of Moses’ and delivered the people. He put on Salvation and took care of some things. Over the years I have seen how it is so easy for the people of God to allow for wrong stuff to take place over long periods of time, things that everyone knows in their heart are wrong. But we become desensitized, we believe in the fair market and if religious TV networks continue to pump out blatantly false stuff, so what- it’s a free world. But yet Gods standards are different than ours, even if society as a whole has accepted lower standards, it’s still wrong to do/teach false stuff year after year after year without ever truly dealing with the stuff. The American church has infected the world with these materialistic teachings to the point where we have whole nations being sidetracked thru these networks and quite frankly the network leaders couldn’t ‘give a rip’. God got tired of the inability of his people to deal with stuff, the mindset that says ‘even though we all know he molested the girl’ yet our view of justice is it’s all right to legally allow for the defense to try and convince the jury that the parents friends did it, even though the judge and prosecutor and defense all know it’s a big game! God looked down and said ‘enough’ I am going to bring some things into alignment that have been crooked for too long. God is merciful, but when we refuse to honestly deal with stuff, he will step in.
(1315) NATIONAL HEALTH CARE- As of today [12-11-09] it looks like health reform might pass, but it’s not certain. The CBO [congressional budget office] is ‘scoring’ the bill and they need to see how much it will cost. I can’t imagine it being deficit neutral, it is going to extend Medicare to millions of more people between the ages of 55-64, I personally need it but I don’t know if it will fly [I’m 47 now]. Let’s talk honestly about the country and the president. As of today the country is more polarized than it has been in a long time. How is the president doing? The president is a good man that has absolutely no experience in the business world. Many democrats [Bill Clinton] felt that the nomination of a first term Illinois senator with as little experience as Obama was- quote ‘a joke’. When he said this he was not demeaning his race [I hope!] but was speaking political reality. Most of the people who the president has surrounded himself with are academics and well meaning ideologues who also have no real world business experience. I am not saying they are wicked people, it’s just they come from this background. So the fact is the president has not done a ‘good job’ up to this point- sure the republican obstructionism doesn’t help, but the man is really learning on the job. Then why did the nation elect the man? Much of it had to do with a national guilty conscience of racist sins of the past, many felt it was time for the nation to do ‘penance’ and this was how it would be accomplished. Those who expressed real concerns about nominating [and electing] the most inexperienced person in the history of the country were tagged as racists, yes this is a fact. So today we have to pray for the man and his family, we recognize that he did inherit many fiscal problems when elected, but it does absolutely no good for the democrats to continually harp on this. I mean some news shows [MSNBC] act like the campaign is still on, they can’t get enough of Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney- please give it a break for heaven’s sake! Palin wrote her book and the AP [associated press] had 11 reporters assigned to the book to go thru it with a fine tooth comb looking for discrepancies. The president has written 2 books, the AP had no reporters looking for discrepancies. The media [both right and left] does an extreme disservice to the country when they play these types of games. So the reality is we need to support as much as possible our president, when we have real disagreements then we need to speak out [like abortion funding in the health bill] but also understand that the basic premise of insuring all Americans is a noble, yes even Christian principle. That is to try and help as many people as you can. There are many Americans who have lost their jobs and have no insurance and yes they can still access the health system but many of them have gone into bankruptcy and lost their homes and been left on the street, so to do nothing about this is wrong. So there are real problems that need to be dealt with and there are sincere differences of opinion on how to accomplish these goals. Republicans have some ideas as well as democrats, we should try and pull together and come up with a solution, to simply want the thing to fail for political purposes is wrong, and to brand the opposing side as racists is wrong too.
(1316) I LIKE FREE STUFF! ‘FOR SINCE THE BEGINNING OF TIME MEN HAVE NOT HEARD, NOR PERCIEVED BY THE EAR, NIETHER HATH THE EYE SEEN, O GOD, BESIDE THEE, WHAT HE HATH PREPARED FOR HIM THAT WAITETH FOR HIM’- Isaiah 64:4 Last night I caught a story on the news, it showed how terrorists were using an ingenious way to communicate; instead of sending electronic emails thru the internet, they would share a common email account and paste their messages to the saved drafts, then the other guy would simply read the drafts. The FBI/CIA could not detect the message. Over the years I have heard how people really don’t value teaching unless they pay for it, and the more they pay the greater the value. Some Christian motivational speakers have actually charged many thousands of dollars just to share a word from God. Paul wrote the greatest letters known to man [the New Testament] and circulated them freely and encouraged their duplication- we need to reevaluate the standards we live by. Isaiah said God would reveal things that were secret since the world began. In the gospels it says that Jesus fulfilled this verse thru his teaching. In Corinthians Paul said the Spirit is continuing this ‘revealing’ ministry thru the church. In Revelation chapter 5 you have the vision of John seeing God on the throne with a scroll; no man is worthy/able to reveal the things in the scroll. But Jesus, the Lamb who was slain earned the right to walk up to the throne and take the scroll and open it. Jesus continues to reveal things to the church based on his righteousness, not ours. He specifically instructed his men that the things he was freely giving to them [spiritual gifts and insights] should be shared with others free of charge [thus Paul’s unwillingness to charge for his very valuable insights]. We need to get back to the basic reality of scripture; no speaker/teacher was to become rich off of the revelation of God that was purchased by the Blood of Jesus. These spiritual gifts were not to be used for one preacher to gain authority over others, that is the idea that the most gifted one in the group would ‘be over’ the others was rejected. Jesus explicitly taught this to his men. The false teachers at Corinth were saying of Paul ‘sure his letters are weighty, but he’s not even on the scene, wait till he shows up’ in essence they tried to devalue the ministry of Paul because he was communicating thru letters as opposed to having some regular office where he was exercising authority over them. The important thing to remember is Jesus is the one who has earned the right to open the scroll, we simply freely receive the gift of communicating it as the Spirit wills. We should value the free things, on the news story about the emails they said how this tool of the internet and the free access of the emails were accomplishing more than the older ways that cost thousands of dollars to get the message out. As the people of God lets value the free stuff, don’t teach people that ‘the free stuff’ has no value. Don’t tell them that we are charging them for their good and not ours, these arguments fall on deaf ears as the media exposes the million dollar mansions and 5 thousand dollar a night hotel fees. Let’s use the wisdom of the terrorist, communicate the stuff for free, I don’t know how many lives have been changed over the years thru a free Gideon’s bible placed in the hands of some soldier or in the drawer of a hotel. These bibles are the free gift of revelation that Jesus poured out on Paul and the other writers of the New Testament, thank God that they never copy wrote the thing!
(1317) A DIFFERENT LAKE OF FIRE- Isaiah says ‘Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens and come down…like when a fire makes the water to boil, that you would come down’ [Isaiah 64] the imagery of fire and water are both used as pictures of the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost God ‘ripped open the heavens and came down’. Jesus said he came to set the earth on fire and how he wished it was already burning! Since the day the Spirit of God has been poured out on ‘all flesh’ these ‘fleshed out ones’ have been stirring the waters and making it boil. Psalms says why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? Why do the kings of the earth try to rise up and resist Gods anointed ones? In John’s gospel Jesus said the religious leaders were going around trying to kill him. Why? Because when he came and did the works that no one else was doing, it took away their cloak of an excuse. In essence the reason the ‘waters’ [nations/peoples] are boiling [tribulatin’] is because we as the people of God are a natural thorn in the side of society who wants us to just go away. I watched a news show this week interview an ex-gay man who started a ministry and who is now married and lives a good life. I know for a fact that the woman interviewer is a lesbian [she says so on her on line profile] and of course she was upset that any person would claim that they were once gay and now have left the life and are happy. The man’s ministry was not ‘anti gay’ he said his ministry simply works with those who want to leave the lifestyle, but that still offends the mind of modern man. The presidents ‘school czar’ [Jennings] is an open advocate for the gay agenda in the public school system. He has praised men who were affiliated with ‘NAMBLA’ [the North American man/boy love association] and he does advocate for the public schools to teach the gay lifestyle as a perfectly legitimate way of life. Now I’m sure there are many gay/lesbian people who sincerely have seen and experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation. I’m sure many of them feel that teaching this agenda to kids would be helpful in combating future discrimination against kids. But those who have this agenda can’t stand any group who simply says ‘being [acting out!] homosexual is a sin’ this simple reality causes them to be upset and in a way ‘have no cloak for their sin’. If ex-gays have left the life and are now happy, then their life is a rebuke to homosexual acts. Yes, it’s like starting a fire that causes the water to boil. We are liquid Napalm for heaven’s sake! Christians should avoid stereotyping gays/lesbians; there are many sincere people who struggle with various things. Many people out of a good motive feel like pushing the gay agenda would be helpful; but at the end of the day homosexual acts are physically more harmful than heterosexual/monogamous relationships, even if you put aside the religious convictions of many people, it is still dangerous to push this agenda in the public school system. Obama needs to fire his ‘school czar’.
(1318) PROTESTANT/CATHOLIC RELATIONS? Those of you who have read this blog for any length of time know that as a Protestant believer [though I prefer simply Christian] I write often on the Catholic tradition and I also see them as fellow believers in the Lord. I do realize that I have lost readers over the years because of this. Recently there has been another effort among Catholics and Evangelicals to join together in common cause; the name of this effort is ‘the Manhattan Declaration’ it’s a simple statement amongst Catholics and Protestants stating our common belief in areas of life and morality. It’s a good statement that I signed. Since the 16th century Reformation [the beginning of Protestantism] you have had varying approaches to these things. Some see the Catholic Church as a ‘non church’ they see her as a false religion who might have some Christians within her but for the most part it would be like saying Mormonism might have some believers in it despite the false beliefs. Others see the Catholic Church as a good church that has certain beliefs that Protestants don’t accept, but never the less she is part of the Body of Christ [this is my view]. So for the sake of unity amongst the various groups of Christians in the world today, I write on both traditions. Okay, during the Reformation the Catholic church had what some refer to as a ‘counter reformation’ the 16th century council was held at Trent and the church for the most part came down strong on retaining most of the Catholic tradition that existed for centuries; they reaffirmed the 7 sacraments, stuck with papal authority [though the doctrine of Papal infallibility would not become official doctrine until Vatican 1 in the 1800’s] and history tells us that the Catholics came down on the side of very little change in the area of doctrine. They even retained the doctrine of indulgences that is very questionable indeed. But they also dealt with corruption in their ranks to some degree and this was noble. They also had some good points to make in refuting what they felt was not enough emphasis on ‘good works’ amongst the reformers [Luther]. So the church in no uncertain terms rejected any idea that the Reformation was a move of God, they saw it as a rebellious split. Now in the 19th century you had Vatican 1 [the name of the council] and once again the church affirmed her stand on coming down strong for the traditional Catholic position; this council officially recognized the infallibility of the Pope [only when speaking ‘Ex Cathedra’ which means ‘from the chair’]. The church does not teach the infallibility of the Pope unless he is making a doctrinal statement in his official capacity as Pope. This teaching has a special importance for today’s Catholics. Pope Benedict was a prolific writer/theologian before becoming Pope and he has written extensively on doctrinal issues and it would not be difficult to find some of his teachings coming down more in favor of a strong Christology than previous Popes- a good thing in my view. So anyway it wasn’t until the last few centuries that some very difficult doctrines would become official; Immaculate Conception, the assumption of Mary and the infallibility of the Pope. These are all fairly recent developments that would make it more difficult for outward unity. But in the 20th century you had somewhat of a change in attitude from the Vatican [at least from Pope John the 23rd]. From 1962-65 Vatican 2 was convened and you had somewhat of a division between the conservative Catholic Bishops and the more progressive types. There were a couple hundred Bishops from the U.S. alone that would attend; it was really a worldwide council. The more liberal minded wanted less of a hard line position in some areas while the more conservative stuck with the old hard line position. When all was said and done there was a more open spirit towards change and acceptance of other Christian churches at the end. Many of the changes were seen to be too much from the conservative Catholic view; things like saying the mass in the common language, moving the altar forward in the ‘church building’ and the Priest facing the people during the mass [the old mass had the Priest facing the altar along with the people] so anyway lots of Catholics did not like the change and there was a dispute among many conservative Catholics. Then in 1968 Pope Paul issued an encyclical [official paper] called ‘Humanae Vitae’, which rejected the use of contraceptives and it was a step back towards the old hard line church. Some Protestants go a little too far in praising Vatican 2, they might refer to it as a revolution in the Catholic Church, this might be going a little too far. I recognize and appreciate the new attitude of Vatican 2, and I believe some of the more hard line Protestants [Reformed] should show a little more tolerance because of it [some of the older reformers still hold to ALL the beliefs of the Westminster confession, which officially teaches the Pope is the Antichrist! Ouch] But as a realist myself I still see some real doctrinal differences that I still have major problems with. But in some areas I am in more agreement with the Catholics than with Protestants- especially on some of the end time teachings that American Fundamentalists hold to. So all in all I appreciate some of the changes, I think some Protestants need to be more willing to come to the table, and I personally would not go so far as to actually become Catholic [which many good men have done, and I do not reject their convictions at all, they did have personal reasons for doing so]. All in all I agree with the Catechism of the Catholic Church that states ‘Christ is the unique word of God in scripture’ this is something we should all be able to agree with.
(1319) Isaiah 65:1-10 Isaiah says that the Lord was ‘found’ by those who were not looking for him, and that those who were looking for him [thru religious actions] were not finding him. He rebukes his people Israel because they developed a religious mentality that took the true revelation of God and exchanged it ‘for a lie’. But the lord says he still saw a remnant of value within her; she was like a cluster of grapes that went bad but had a few ‘good apples’ left. When Jesus appeared to Israel in the 1st century they were waiting for Gods promise to them to be fulfilled. They were ‘waiting for the kingdom’. If you were to encapsulate any singular idea in the preaching of Jesus that was the most prominent, it would be his declaration of the Kingdom of God being now present as he preached. Israel saw the kingdom thru natural eyes, they believed that the restored temple played a major role in Gods coming kingdom. Understand that the restoring of the temple by Herod [the one before the Herod of Jesus day] was a spectacular event; the temple was grand and the Jewish people regulated their life around its rituals. It was only reasonable for Israel to believe that the next step would be the restoring of her national sovereignty by a coming Messiah. They had their temple restored first and were waiting for the national independence to follow- a reverse of what many modern dispensationalists believe. But instead Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that their understanding of the kingdom is wrong, that the kingdom will not come by observing outward events, but it was already present thru his appearing. In Jesus parables he speaks of the values of this kingdom, forgiveness, laying down your rights for others; he is talking about a spiritual kingdom. When the disciples show him the temple and its grandeur, he states flatly ‘there will not be left one stone upon another when all is said and done’ huh? So Jesus without a doubt challenged their understanding of the kingdom and how it would outwardly manifest in society- it’s not about temples and homelands! He gathers a ‘few grapes’ from the cluster [The 12 disciples] and uses them as the foundation stones of a new kingdom and temple. These apostles would launch the great new movement/kingdom of God thru the proclamation of the gospel. They would write some harsh things about the temple and old law economy of Israel as a nation. The disciple John would refer to the synagogue as ‘the synagogues of satan’ ouch! [Revelation] Paul would say those are not Jews who are Jews ‘outwardly’ [it wasn’t an ethnic thing anymore] but those who had the ‘circumcised heart’ would be counted as the true Israel of God [Romans/Galatians]. And the overall language of the 12 Jewish apostles was not one that would fit in with a scenario of a restored Jewish temple with restored sacrifices and a national homeland. I mean you can’t get much more clearer than this! And yet in our day you have many well meaning believers looking for all these outward signs of ‘when the kingdom will come’. We bypass the main writings of the New Testament [like the things I just quoted] and we go hunting in Daniel, Ezekiel, Revelation- we find all types of prophetic words that seem to support our obsession with some outward restoration of these things in order to justify our system, we basically have fallen into the same error of first century Israel, we are looking for the kingdom in all the wrong places. I understand that many believers who hold to these beliefs are sincere and well meaning, many of them have a genuine love for the Jewish people and this is commendable. But we need to heed the words of ‘the few good grapes in the cluster’ they did not exalt Israel’s natural status nor did they see the kingdom of God thru the lens of restored temples and homelands, they believed that all who would receive the Messiah were presently being built into a temple made without human hands, the ‘true Israel of God- the heavenly New Jerusalem that is coming down from God out of heaven’.
(1320) Isaiah 65:17-19 ‘I create a new heavens and new earth…the former has passed away and shall not come into memory…rejoice in my work, I too joy in it’ [my paraphrase] When God does new things, he allows the former things to fade and eventually pass. Hebrews says the old things are fading quickly. Often the transition period from the old to the new is difficult; we become accustomed to certain patterns of thought and action and if these old structures are being challenged we have a natural tendency to resist, often in the face of irrefutable evidence! When Jesus challenged the religious concepts of his day the leaders made an effort to refute him. He of course would win all these theological skirmishes, but this made no difference to those who did not want to accept the truths he was speaking. As time went on they simply hated him and decided to stop him, it was no longer a matter of truth- they hated what he stood for and that was that. A few years ago I bought a book on the case of the military doctor who was convicted of murdering his family. The book is ‘fatal justice’ the made for TV movie was called ‘fatal vision’. The movie did portray the doctor as evil and it was easy to hate the guy. But the book brought out some real questions about the case and it did put doubts into my mind. Well anyway I was telling this to a person who has seen the movie many times and has a real hate for the man. I tried to present both sides of the case and in some way defend the doctor. The person was mad; they even said that they didn’t care anymore whether he was guilty or innocent, because he was such an ‘SOB’ that he deserved to rot in prison anyway. The religious views that the people held were more important than the actual truth, the enemies of Jesus got to a point where they really weren’t open to truth anymore, they had their view and they simply wanted to kill him. We are truly creatures of habit and when ‘new things’ are presented to us, things that we never really considered before, we have a tendency to harden in our position and it no longer becomes a sincere search for truth. In essence we want the guy to rot in prison whether he’s guilty or not!
(1321) WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL COPENHAGEN! Today the president jets off to Copenhagen for the closing of the world summit on global warming. He originally was going to go at the start but the politicos figured if he went at the end he might be able to undo the last failed Copenhagen venture- getting turned down for the next Olympic Games at Chicago. But what has happened instead is the summit has been a disaster. Why? First you of course had the nuts in the streets destroying stuff, but more importantly you had some major disagreements between the nations attending. The poorer nations actually walked out at one point because they want the industrialized world to fund them at 100 billion dollars for their part in cutting greenhouse gases, the rich countries are pledging 10 billion. China and India, 2 of the greatest polluters on the planet [they make up a total of 80 % of all the pollutants] are not willing to sign a binding agreement which can be verified. Why? These countries are at the beginning of their own industrial revolutions, they still have many years of rapid growth ahead before their overall population benefits from their growth. India has many people still in the extreme poverty class and for all practical purposes you are asking them to trade much of the future of their country for a possible fraction of a degree of global warming over a hundred year period. I mean it’s really a cost/benefit scenario. Now, am I a global warming denier? No, the science seems pretty clear, the nations of the world have gone thru an industrial age and the effects of burning coal and other dirty energy have produced lots of green house gasses that get trapped in the atmosphere and cause the heat to stay in. Not too hard to understand. So what’s the problem, well we don’t really know for sure how much of an overall effect we can have over the long haul. For instance our planet has gone thru at least one ice age and we have only been keeping global heat records for a short time. We don’t know if the earth goes thru thousand year cycles of cooling and heating that we could have little effect on. For instance if we are on a warming trend, and say the planet is going to warm so many degrees over the next thousand years, well maybe our efforts at cooling it less than one degree in the overall scheme really doesn’t count for much. Then there is the real cost/benefits analysis- I’m not talking profits for industry, but real questions on whether or not the global community should sink trillions of dollars over many years into this project, which might not save too many lives; or sink the money into these 3rd world countries who have hundreds of thousands of kids dying because they simply don’t have the money to feed them or provide them with cheap vaccines. This same money today can save so many lives. A serious global warming believer has done the analysis and believes it simply is not feasible to spend the money on the global warming efforts. If we had the extra billions to spend, sure let’s do it. But if we are doing it at the expense of real time lives, then it’s simply foolish. Last night I watched a documentary on the logging business in the Amazon, how so many poorer areas have learned the trade of tree chopping and have lifted themselves out of poverty by cutting down the trees. Now lots of the Amazon has been destroyed and it is an environmental disaster to some degree. So they started this fund that pays the tree choppers more money to not cut the trees. As they interviewed this brother who seemed to be on the lower income scale of society, they showed you him with his used chain saw and his truck and all the ‘blessings’ he has reaped from his new found job; they asked him why he won’t stop chopping the trees. He said they don’t want to get paid for doing nothing. Ouch! They rather cut the trees and feel industrious than take the free welfare money that the west wants to appease them with. What a lesson for the victim hood mentality of the west. The reporter drove down the road to an Indian tribal area that never cut the trees; they always respected the land and lived off of fishing and hunting. What did their chief say? That they are not getting money because they have always preserved the trees, therefore they will start chopping the trees so the west will pay them to stop. What’s going on here? We have many well meaning people on both sides of all these issues, overall we have to be realistic about this stuff. Poor countries are not going to sacrifice their people on the altar of global warming science when they are not sure their efforts will really pay off in the long run, many of them attended the summit because they were simply hoping the rich countries would give them money. Rich western nations can’t expect to impose these types of restrictions on developing nations, it’s just unrealistic. And last of all the president just told us the country will go bankrupt if we don’t pass the latest version of health reform; you know, the version with no public option, no Medicare buy in, no real control over what the insurance companies will charge us. This bill has now become a bad bill as far as I can tell, then what in the heck are we doing making the second trip to Copenhagen in the last few months? The president used to say he was not like the last administration, he could walk and chew gum at the same time- I’m beginning to wonder about that.
(1322) RACISM- As I was reading my hometown news paper over the last year [Jersey Journal] I followed a story about a racist right wing radio/web guy who finally got thrown into jail. The guys name is Hal Turner and the thing that caught my interest was he was from my hometown of North Bergen. Why do people like this attract an audience? A while back I was watching MSNBC and the host that day was Lawrence O’Donnell, he was talking to someone about the Sonya Sotomayor nomination to the Supreme Court. He mentioned how the fact that the judge was accepted at Princeton under the affirmative action program, that even though she scored lower than some of the other applicants, she eventually had high grades down the road. He then said that this is proof that we shouldn’t accept kids based on their score or achievements, but that this proves that the institutions should be able to pick people because they prefer their race. The point of course is this is blatant racism; everyone knows this. But yet those who espouse this view in public forums also accuse those who disagree with them as being racists. Now, the average White person sees right thru this, they know that if O’Donnell’s kid was rejected in her life based on race that he would be fuming, yet he publicly accuses others who would have the same response as racist. These double standards are seen for what they are. They just recently promoted the fire fighters who took their case to the Supreme Court because the city threw out their test scores because no Blacks passed the test. They won their case and finally got promoted. When the firefighters who passed [not all Whites, there were some Hispanics] sued for what was right and just, those representing the Black firefighters went to the Hispanic candidate and tried to talk him out of suing, so they could portray the White guys as being racists. The Hispanic guy said he was agreeing with the White guys because they were simply right. As I listened to the tortured defense of those representing the Black guys, it was absolutely nonsensical. I mean you can argue forever why the Whites and Hispanics passed and the Blacks didn’t, but to actually accuse the ones who passed as being racists is racist itself. These things are what causes there to be an audience for the Hal Turner’s, the liberal minded elite media feel good about themselves when they side with obviously racist views. They think it good to say ‘if a university rejects you because your White, that’s good’ they feed into the hate mongers and allow themselves to be fuel for the Hal Turners of the world.
(1323) WHERE IS THE HOUSE THAT YOU ARE BUILDING FOR ME? Isaiah 66:1, leaders- think on this for a moment; what is it exactly that you are building for God? What are the main themes of scripture that you are communicating? Verse 2 says ‘all these things hath [past tense] my hand made and all these things HAVE BEEN, says the Lord’. In Ephesians 2 Paul says that we are ‘his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that he chose for us before the world began’. We are simply fulfilling the pre-ordained destiny of God. That is if we are proclaiming and doing what’s right. Yesterday I read a news article on a mega church out of Ohio, they broadcast a plea that they immediately needed 3 million in donations or they were in trouble. The plea was looked into and it seems like they ‘fudged’ on the seriousness of the appeal- basically they used ‘disaster’ language for a problem that was not as urgent as you might think; sort of like what our country did with TARP and what we are doing today [12-19-09] with saying we urgently need to pass health reform before Christmas, a false deadline that is being used as a political tool. Why do well meaning ministries/preachers often focus so much on money? Why is it common for many sermons and messages to be centered on this? In the first century when the Apostle Paul was circulating his letters, he would write about 95 % on real theological truth, maybe a few % of the letters would deal with giving, most of that small percent was in the context of giving to the poor. Then you had an even smaller % of that deal with giving to help Paul on his way to the next town, or giving to meet the needs of laboring leaders in their midst. So if you were a first century church receiving the letter you would not see Paul’s main message being one of always appealing for funds. But over the first few centuries of Christianity the church collected these letters and put them in a book [our New Testament]. This has enabled people to scour thru the corpus of Paul’s writings and to pick this small percentage of appeals for funds and to basically present them in a way that says ‘look how important it is to always speak about money, after all the bible is full of it!’ Which is really a distortion of the actual themes of the letters; much of Paul’s writings taken in context actually reprove what the modern preachers have done with this proof texting tool [read 1st timothy 6]. So you find many well meaning brothers seeing the need for more and more money, for a never ending series of good projects, and this causes there to be a general focusing on a very small percentage of actual New Testament teaching and presenting it in a way that causes the average believer to think that this is the main thrust of scripture. So what are you building? Have you never really seen this before? If not then ask the lord to help you re-focus on the important stuff. Pastors, leaders- most of you brothers mean well, just allow the Lord to bring forth out of you the things that he has fore ordained for you. One of those things might have been stumbling along and reading this blog.
(1324) THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY- Ephesians 3:9. One of my favorite historical persons is Einstein; I like him because he was sort of a rebel for his day. In the university he did bad, missed class and scored low. He could not find a job in his field of physics so he took a job in Berne, Switzerland as a patent approver. During his spare time he wrote a few papers on theoretical physics and these papers were circulated but had no good response. Why? No one took seriously the writings from a patent worker! Then one of his ‘letters’ made in into the hands of one of the top scientists of the day, Max Planck, and he would make history. Planck recognized the genius that others couldn’t see. In Ephesians 3 Paul says the Lord gave him [and the apostles and prophets] the gift of being able to ‘see’ and understand truths that were hidden in God since the beginning of the world. Now, it was good to have the gift, to be able to see the truths that others could not yet see; but this gift would be useless unless it came along with the ability to effectively ‘make others see’ it too. So Paul prays for the churches that he is writing to that they, by the Spirit, would have the gift to comprehend the mysteries that he was writing about. In essence the Spirit was Paul’s Max Planck! In time others would see the great things Paul was teaching but there needed to be the Divine work of revelation both on the part of Paul as well as those who were reading his stuff. Paul would call this dynamic ‘the fellowship of the mystery’. In the book of Acts there were those who willingly rejected this revelation and that was their own choice. Paul says they themselves made the choice to cut themselves off from eternal life. Today we don’t have ‘revelation’ [new truths] in the same way Paul and the apostles had, but we certainly have gifted ones who the Spirit is communicating truth to, but we must not make the mistake of Einstein’s peers, they saw him as a layman and initially missed out on the revolutionary truths he was seeing. They chose to cut themselves off from the ‘fellowship of the mystery’ how bout you?
(1325) BEFORE SHE SUFFERED SHE GAVE BIRTH, BEFORE HER PAIN SHE GAVE BIRTH. WHO EVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING? SHALL I BRING YOU TO THE POINT OF BIRTH AND NOT FINISH THE JOB? FOR AS SOON AS YOU SUFFERED WITH BIRTH PAINS THEN YOU BROUGHT FORTH WHAT I WANTED- Isaiah 66:7-8 [my paraphrase] In Johns gospel Jesus said when a woman is going thru birth pains it’s difficult because her time has come, the moment of accomplishing the purpose. Jesus says ‘she has sorrow’ but after she gives birth she forgets the sorrow because a man is born into the world. Jesus makes this statement as he himself is entering into his time of sorrow; he prays ‘Father, if it’s possible for me to not have to go thru with this, if there is any way you think we can do something about this situation, then please lets go another route’! The agony was very real, he wasn’t afraid of death, but he dreaded the fact that he would ‘become sin’ for us; he would be separated from the Father and experience extreme turmoil. He sweat great drops of blood, a physical act of excruciating anguish that causes this to happen. Jesus told us that we too had to be willing to carry our cross. I know some feel Jesus was talking about his cross and death, but in context he was talking about the difficulties that would come along with following him and denying ourselves. Peter said that when we go thru fiery trials that we should take comfort in the fact that other brothers are going thru the same things, even worse things than us. A few years ago a prominent local figure was arrested and sent to jail for soliciting a minor over the internet; he worked for the parks/beach dept. and was active with the Fire Dept. and EMS. Of course the news shocked people; he seemed to be a good person who gave of himself to help others. A year or so later I read an article that he had died in prison, though the article did not go into detail there were enough hints to tell that after he went to prison he rededicated his life to God and tried to make amends. It also said how his kids attended his funeral but his ex wife wanted nothing to do with the man. I thought to myself how hard it would have been for him and his family to have gone thru this tragic thing. I put his family on my prayer list for a few years, a time where I pray for fellow believers who have messed up and are in jail, whenever I read these stories they become part of this prayer time. Or people who have terminal illnesses, don’t you think it would be hard to pray and continue to do God’s will knowing that you only have so much time left? There are times in life when the purpose of God must take precedence over the things we are going thru. I am not saying these examples are the only types of ‘cross’ experiences people go thru, but they give us some insight into the difficulties that can happen. In Hebrews the scripture says that Jesus endured the Cross, despising the shame and has been seated at the right hand of God. Make no mistake about it, the shame and agony of the Cross were not things that ‘felt good’ to go thru, they were things that were despised, but they were things that needed to take place in order for a greater purpose to come forth. I mean whoever heard of a woman giving birth before the pain, and likewise we believers will go thru some tough things before Gods purpose will be fulfilled.
(1326) FOR AS THE NEW HEAVENS AND EARTH, WHICH I WILL MAKE, SHALL REMAIN, SO SHALL YOUR SEED AND NAME REMAIN- Isaiah 66:22 Well the senate finally passed health care reform; they still have some hurdles ahead, but they got the 60 votes needed to move forward. I do find it utterly corrupt that any single party would actually pass something that took away benefits from Republican states and not take them away from Democratic ones. And then have the audacity to make the ‘losing states’ underwrite the ‘winning states’. I can’t imagine the uproar in the country if Bush did this. Nebraska [Ben Nelson] cut a deal where they will never pay for the extended costs of Medicaid, ever. The ‘Federal govt.’ will forever cover their new costs. They are the only state that gets this deal. The Federal govt. pays stuff by taxing other states; in essence the rest of the country will be underwriting Nebraska, simply because they needed the Democratic vote. Florida, under Bill Nelson, another Democrat, will be the only state that will not lose Medicare Advance. This is a very popular program with senior citizens and every other state will lose this program. Why not Florida? Florida has lots of retired seniors, they need to keep the senate seat Democratic, so to get the seniors votes they did this deal. These deals are fundamentally corrupt, we are doing this at a time in the nation where we will be forcing families to pay a yearly 750 dollar fine if they don’t get insurance [or a 2% fine of their income, whichever is higher!] and many average income earners are really going to be in a bind. Much of the money will pay the profits and salaries of multi millionaires; this is wrong. In the 1960’s Harvey Cox [professor at Harvard] penned the book ‘the secular city’ it was a play on words from saint Augustine’s ‘city of God’. Augustine, as a true Amillennialist, wrote about the influence of the church/kingdom of God on the nations of the world, and how you could not separate virtue from public/political life. Cox would challenge this idea and teach that you could have a separation; you could run a nation apart from the morality of the church. Harvard would also produce the philosophy of ‘Pragmatism’ you govern by what is expedient, do what it takes to get the job done- don’t worry about what’s right or wrong type of a thing. God says his word/standards don’t go away, the things he states/creates are there for good. The Democratic Party ran rough shod over some very basic principles of right and wrong, when Harry Reid was asked about these insider deals, he said that’s the way they do business. In essence he said if your state didn’t get to do some under the table deal, then that’s your senator’s fault. The senate leader was being very pragmatic, doing what he needed to do to get the votes. I think they might have traded for a few votes today, at the expense of a bunch of them tomorrow.
(1327) GALATIANS; INTRO- Okay, finally made it, been wanting to teach this letter for a while. Let me overview some church history that I feel would be helpful in understanding the book. During the 16th century Reformation you had an explosion take place within Christianity, though the official ‘schism’ dates back to the year 1054 between the western [Catholic] and eastern [Orthodox] expressions of the church, yet in reality it was the 16th century upheaval that really split the church. A few centuries before [14-15th century] you had rumblings within the church that had well taught Catholic men challenging many of the institutional concepts of the church; men like John Huss, Wycliffe and others. These men were extremely influential and had an effect on the church. Then in the 16th century you had Catholic writers who remained within the Catholic Church, but they too challenged the status quoi. Men like Erasmus of Rotterdam, these intellectuals would call for the idea of going back to the original sources of study [Greek New Testament and also other renaissance ideas] and this too would lead to the historic Reformation. But without a doubt Martin Luther [the Catholic monk out of Wittenberg, Germany] would be the firebrand of the movement. Martin was a well trained Augustinian monk who struggled with the guilt of sin for many years. Not normal guilt, but extreme. A fellow Catholic leader would encourage Luther to trust in the grace of God for his forgiveness. While reading the book of Romans [whose themes relate strongly to Galatians] he would come along the famous passage ‘the just shall live by faith’ and in Luther’s mind this was a total release from the bondage of trying to appease God thru all the religious works that he was going thru. In essence Luther discovered the historic gospel of grace thru the reading of Romans and was set free. Now Luther had no intention of leaving the Catholic Church, but as a very influential teacher/scholar out of the university city in Germany, he had lots of influence. The Catholic church at the time was worldwide and you had differing views of the church in various states. Many saw the state of the church in Rome as having given in to materialism and become too worldly. Rome was at the time trying to raise money for the restoring of the religious buildings at Rome and one of the priests going around selling indulgences was named Tetzel. The abuse of selling these ‘get out of purgatory early’ things was offensive to many Catholics, and Luther had ‘no small stir’ when Tetzel reached his area. These things would lead to the famous nailing of the 95 questions on the door of Catholic academia and would be the beginnings of the historic split. While it would take way too much time to go into all the theological differences between the Protestants and the Catholics, one of the main issues deals with how we as Christians view ‘being saved’. The historic Protestant position is called ‘justification by faith alone’ [Sola Fide] the Catholics counter with ‘the only time ‘faith alone’ is mentioned is in the book of James, where it says a man is not saved/justified by ‘faith alone’. Ouch! The main point I want to make is this letter deals with the early church’s belief that man is accepted with God based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Paul will challenge the ‘Judaisers’ [those who believed you needed to keep the law in order to be saved] and will argue that the law itself [Old Testament books] teaches that men are justified/accepted with God based on believing in the free gift of God thru Christ. Make no mistake about it, the New Testament clearly teaches this doctrine. Catholic and Protestant theologians BOTH agree that man is freely saved by the grace of God in Christ. But at the time of Luther’s day these glorious truths were lost in the morass of religious tradition and works. As we read thru this letter in the next few days, I want all of our readers to see the argument Paul is making from this basic theological view point. Is man saved by works [keeping Gods law] or grace? The bible teaches grace. Now I don’t have the time to also introduce the modern controversy between the ‘new view’ of Paul between Protestants [called new perspective]. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not the historic Reformation view of Paul is correct [men like N.T. Wright and John Piper are hashing it out] and I do think there are some merits to this discussion, but before we can delve into that aspect, we first need to see the historic question of works versus faith, and this letter is one of the best to deal with the issue.
[Just a comment I left on Trevin Wax’s site- good site by the way- Trevinwax.com] Good article Trevin. As somewhat of an advocate for teaching a biblical worldview, I too feel that we might be missing the boat at times. In Galatians Paul tells us ‘when the fullness of times came, God sent forth his Son…’ In context this ‘fullness’ was speaking about the time period God gave to man under the Old Covenant in order to bring man to a point of helplessness, knowing he could not justify himself thru works. Then after this preparatory time he introduces the New Covenant and man is now ‘ready’ for the Messiah. Some worldview concepts seem to say that the ‘post modern’ man is not ready! That he needs another ‘fullness of time’ in order to prepare him for the gospel, C.S. Lewis’ pre-evangelism. Anyway the article was good. God bless from Corpus.
(1328) GALATIANS 1- Mark Twain said ‘the classics are books that everyone loves to praise, but nobody wants to read’. As we begin this study I can’t emphasize enough the need for Christians to read the bible! Many of the current problems in Christianity would be solved if we simply got back to reading the bible in context. Okay, in chapter one Paul defends his authority as being one who was sent by God, not man. He explains how after his conversion he spent years receiving direct revelation from God; he was not taught the gospel of grace by consulting with man. Paul was in a unique situation compared to the other apostles, Paul was the first apostle to have had a strong intellectual background in both Judaism and philosophy; he knew his stuff. This ‘allowed’ God to reveal things to Paul FROM THE SCRIPTURES that revealed Gods grace and the reality of how men are justified by faith and not thru the law. In essence Paul wasn’t out in left field receiving Divine revelations about things that nobody ever heard about. They were new things in the sense that they were hidden in God until the time that God chose to reveal them [Ephesians 3]. Paul rebukes them for forsaking the true gospel and being drawn to another gospel ‘which is not another’. Okay, what’s the true gospel Paul is speaking about? It’s not only the definition given by Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 [the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus] but it includes being justified by faith and not by the law. The Judaisers did believe in Jesus, but they were rejecting justification by faith alone. The false gospel that Paul is refuting is the gospel that said the Gentiles must ‘keep the law in order to be saved’ [see Acts 13 and 15]. In no uncertain terms Paul condemns this message; there was no compromising the reality of Gods free grace given to the elect. The actual faith itself that is deposited in the elect is a divine act of God [Ephesians 2] the unbeliever is dead in sins with no ability to ‘resurrect himself’ and the new birth is Gods sovereign act of raising a person from the dead [spiritually] and giving them faith. This is the gospel of grace. Paul was adamant about rejecting false gospels! In our day there are so many ‘gospels’ going around it’s not funny. I caught a few minutes of a TV evangelist the other day quoting verses from all over the bible in order to entice people to vow money to him; yes he used these words in no uncertain terms. He told the people they must quickly pick up the phone and dedicate the money to him, because it was this act of faith that would release the harvest. Now I don’t know how much longer God is going to allow stuff like this to go on, how much longer networks will continue to air this stuff, but we as believers/preachers need to condemn these false gospels in no uncertain terms. Paul will use strong language when defending the gospel; we need to get back to defending it too.
(1329) GALATIANS 2- Paul recounts his meeting with the apostles at Jerusalem; some feel he is talking about his first visit [Acts 11- before AD 50] others think he is discussing his Acts 15 meeting [right at around AD 50] I’m in the latter camp. Paul is basically telling the churches of Galatia that he already went thru this whole discussion with the main apostles at Jerusalem [Peter, James and John] and that they had already agreed that the Gentile believers did not need to get circumcised and come under the law in order to be saved. I do find it interesting that out of the 4 decrees that were made [read Acts 15] that the only one Paul recounts here is ‘to remember the poor’. The only decree worthy enough for Paul to recount is the one on charitable giving; those of you who have followed this blog for a while know how much I emphasize this point. If the early church was teaching tithing to the Gentile churches, surely it would have come up at the Jerusalem meeting, but it didn’t. This chapter has some important verses that all believers should commit to memory ‘if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain’ ‘the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me’ etc. I really want all my Catholic/Protestant readers to pay attention to the verse’s that I just quoted; the bible clearly teaches that if men could ‘be saved’ by keeping Gods law, then Christ died in vain. Paul will go on to teach [chapter 3] that if there had been a law given that could have given men eternal life, then ‘being saved’ would come that way; but he then goes on to say that there never was a law given that men could keep in order to be saved. Paul always gives the caveat ‘does this mean we go out and break the 10 commandments’? And his answer is always a big NO! The point of this chapter is we as believers are saved because Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin; the proof that the penalty was completely paid is in the fact that Jesus rose again [Romans 5]. All who believe in this reality are now the children of God, indeed ‘we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’.
(1330) GALATIANS 3- The main point of this chapter is God made a promise to Abraham that he would ‘bless’ all nations thru one of his kids someday [Genesis 12). This promise was given to Abraham 430 years before God gave the 10 commandments to Moses. Therefore the promise that men would be justified/saved by faith cannot be ‘undone’ by a later act of giving the law to Moses. The point being that Paul is arguing with the Galatians that their new view that they need to keep the law in order to ‘be saved’ [the blessing of Abraham IN CONTEXT!] is false because God already told Abraham it would be by faith in the coming Messiah. Paul then asks ‘is the law then against Gods promise’? No, it was given to man [Israel] until the time came for the promised child to be born [1st century], but now that the promised child is here we are no longer under the ‘schoolmaster’. The schoolmaster term can be confusing; the word in Greek means the person who walked the kids to school [truth] and then dropped them off AND LEFT. Paul is saying the law period served its purpose; it revealed mans sinful nature to him and then ‘dropped him off at the Cross’. Paul is saying the law fulfilled its purpose and we are now under grace. As new creatures in Christ we walk in love and fulfill the righteousness of the law by our new nature, it’s not a legalistic thing. There is some confusion today on this chapter; some were taught that ‘the blessing of Abraham’ was speaking of the promises in Deuteronomy on financial blessings. And that the curse is speaking about the curse of ‘poverty’. Though it is true that the bible does speak about this in the Old Testament, in context Paul is not saying this here. Paul explains what he means about the ‘curse of the law’. He says it’s the curse of never being able to do enough to appease God, the man that is under the law puts himself under this mindset of perfectionism and lives under this constant feeling of never being able to do enough. This was Paul’s previous experience as a Pharisee. When Paul teaches that we are delivered from ‘the curse’ so the ‘blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles, that we might receive THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT BY FAITH’ he is not saying Jesus died to make us financially rich, he is saying Jesus delivered us from the old law mindset of legalism and we now have forgiveness and acceptance as a free gift- ‘being now justified by faith we have peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Romans 5].
(1331) GALATIANS 4- Paul says there was a time period before the promise would be fulfilled thru Christ; that time has come to an end [the law] and we are now in ‘the fullness of times’. When we were under the law we were no different than servants, but now in grace we are mature sons, people able to inherit the promise. Paul says why do you desire to go back under the ‘restraint’ phase, the time of discipline and legalism, we are now in a fullness stage thru the New Covenant and we don’t need the old mentality anymore. Once again Paul really ‘spiritualizes’ the Old Testament in his teaching, he says that the law [Old Testament] taught this difference between law and grace. He uses the story of Abraham having 2 sons [Ishmael, Isaac] and he says ‘cant you hear what the law is saying’? One son was born by promise [Isaac] the other thru the works of the flesh [law]. And just like it was back then, the one born after the flesh persecuted the one born after the Spirit, so today [1st century] those after the flesh/law are persecuting those born after the Spirit. It’s important to see that Paul DOES NOT use this analogy to describe Jewish/Muslim [Arab] relations; he actually refers to natural Israel as ‘Ishmael’! He says the Judaisers [Jews zealous of the law] were fulfilling the type/symbol by persecuting Gentile believers. We need to keep these distinctions in our minds, because when we don’t rightfully discern the truth we do damage to the non ethnic testimony of the gospel. Paul says the law relates to natural Israel/Jerusalem who is under bondage with her children, but the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is above is the mother of us all, and this Jerusalem relates to the church. The New Jerusalem is not referring to a physical city that will ‘hover over the earth during the millennium rule’ [EEK!] But it refers to the new community people of God, the church. I have written on this before and these references in the New Testament [Revelation, Hebrews- us being the new Zion, etc.] are speaking of the church, the people of God. Paul once again speaks of ‘natural Jerusalem’ in a negative light, in the sense that he teaches those who are under the law are not walking in the fullness of the promises of God as come in the Messiah. The New Testament spends no time engaging in the glorying of any ethnic group [whether it be Israel, Gentile, etc.] It’s not that the apostles were being anti Semitic, it’s just the emphasis is on the new kingdom of God and the new people of God [the church made up of both Jew and Gentile]. Its striking to compare the writings of the first Jewish believers to the current trends amongst many evangelical preachers, the two don’t mesh well.
(1332) Been doing some reading on church history/philosophy, it’s interesting to see the role that theology/Christianity played in the universities. Theology is referred to as ‘the queen of the sciences’ and philosophy was her ‘handmaid’. They saw the root of all learning as originating with the study ‘of God’. Many modern universities have dropped the term ‘theology’ and call it ‘the study of religion’. The study of religion is really the study of how man relates to God, his view of God; this would fit under anthropology/sociology, not under theology. Modern learning has lost the importance of the study of God and the role it plays in all the other sciences. The classic work of Homer [8th century BC] called the Iliad, has Achilles debating whether or not he should ‘stay and fight along the city of the Trojans’ and attain the legacy of a warrior; or to go ‘back to my homeland and live a long life’. He chooses to fight and lay his life on the line. The themes of the classics [courage, heroism, etc.] are biblical themes, even if God is not directly mentioned. The point being to try and exclude God from learning is silly, you can’t do it. Around the 17-18th century you had the philosophy of Existentialism rise up, as an ‘ism’ it really is a misnomer; ‘ism’ is a suffix that you add to the end of a word that makes it a system- ‘humanism’ ‘secularism’ etc. but existentialism is a word that means ‘anti-system’. Nevertheless the person who popularized this belief was a Christian, Soren Kierkegaard. The system he was rebelling against was the dead institutionalism of the Danish church, he felt that Christianity devolved into dead orthodoxy and lost all of its passion for true living and experiencing God. Nietzsche would pick up on this philosophy and apply it to atheism, and in the 20th century men like Albert Camou and John Paul Sartre would also embrace it from an atheistic worldview. They would say things like ‘man is a useless passion’ or write books titled ‘Nausea’ summing up the human condition. Though the 19th century atheistic humanists tried to give value and exalt the state of man, in their rejection of God and Christianity they were taking away the foundation for mans value. If you tell society that they arrived on the scene by some cosmic accident of evolution, and when you die you dissipate into nothingness, then how do you at the same time glory in his natural abilities to reach some point of Utopia? As the late Frances Schaeffer said ‘they were philosophers who had both feet planted firmly in mid air’. The point being when you neglect the reality and role that God and Christianity play in every sphere of life, you are then removing the foundation that these spheres were built on, true science and learning derive their basis from God. The greatest scientific minds of the past were either Christians or Deists, they were too smart to try and reject the reality of an eternal being.
(1333) THE CHRISTMAS DAY PLOT [12-09] The talk of the town this past week has been the failed bombing attempt of an airplane over Detroit. The Nigerian man [looks like a young boy!] came from a well to do family and was radicalized while attending an upper class school in London. He made contact with Al Qaeda in Yemen and did some training there before boarding an American bound plane from the Netherlands to Detroit. The mans father had previously contacted our U.S. embassy and informed them that he felt his son was a danger, that he had embraced radical Islam. When the man boarded the plane he paid cash [around 3 thousand dollars] he had no luggage and bought a one way ticket. He was on a terrorist watch list [with some half a million names] and never made it to the smaller ‘no fly’ list. The plot failed because the man was unable to light the explosive, just like Richard Reid, another terrorist. The initial response from the white house has come under lots of criticism; it took the president 3 days before responding to the public from his Hawaiian vacation. The head of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, made the statement ‘our system worked’ and also has been criticized. Okay, the administration’s response has been lacking and defensive. They still dragged out ‘the Bush card’ in their defense. The president said the security policies that have been in place for years [Bush] failed and he would do all in his power to fix it. Why did it have to wait till now? The president ran on a platform that accused the previous administration as utter failures in all areas and that if elected he would go in and fix the failures. The fact that he now says these failures were Bush’s policies is simply an immature excuse from someone who is in over his head. If you thought there were problems to begin with, and stated this ‘thought’ publicly many times, then you can’t now say we didn’t fix it, and it was Bush’s fault! It’s been a year since the inauguration and they need to stop doing this. One of the president’s top security guys, John Brennan, made the Sunday rounds on the talk shows. He said ‘there was no smoking gun that we missed’. What! You have to be kidding me. The Republicans are not without fault, some have used this event as a political tool, that’s wrong. One of the main problems as I see it is the president did run on a platform that said over and over that he would take a different ideological approach than the previous administration. The approach would be less of a ‘war on terror’ idea, and more of a war against individual groups who are trying to harm us, this is a real difference, if he is now coming under criticism for his approach, he can’t keep saying ‘we’re doing everything Bush did’. If that’s true then he lied when he said he would not operate like Bush. The fact is we just bombed the actual camps that this young man was trained in, in Yemen. A few weeks later he was bound for the U.S. with explosives. The reason we gave this man a lawyer and allowed him all the rights of a U.S. citizen, is because the president believes this approach is more noble and would bring better results in our image with the world. Some have brought out the fact that Richard Reid was also prosecuted in U.S. courts under Bush [there goes that card again!]. The fact is Reid was not given a lawyer until many months after being interrogated. So the president has chosen to not interrogate, but to treat him like a criminal. The problem with this approach is this man might have easily been killed by our predator drone attack a few weeks earlier, attacks that our country regularly engages in, in Muslim countries. Many of these bombings have killed innocent Muslim/Arab women and children. Yet he could have been killed on the spot by the current administration without judge or jury. Why, well because we are ‘at war’. Yet this same person, who was at the risk of being bombed for simply training in a camp that wants to attack us, this same person- if he makes it on to a plane with actual explosives and actually attempts to detonate the thing, he is protected by the U.S. constitution, will get to ‘plea bargain’ and will have his day in court where he can espouse his radical beliefs. Gee, it seems to me that we are simply encouraging these guys to make it to the U.S.
(1334) One of the most important finds of the 20th century was a little book called ‘the Didache’, it is either a first or 2nd century document that encapsulates a short instruction for new comers who wanted to be a part of the church. It is important because it gives us a glimpse of how the early Christians viewed the faith. For instance it puts much importance on caring for the poor and doing works of charity, it goes so far to speak about fasting for the purpose of saving up some extra money to feed the poor. It warns strenuously against greed, it calls people false prophets if they stick around town too long and ask for money. I mean it’s strong. It also shows us how disconnected we have become from what the early believers valued. Yesterday I had a good day with my homeless buddies; I ‘heard’ that Buck had died. Buck was a good friend who struggled with alcoholism, many of the guys drink, but Buck was what you would call a ‘falling down in the street’ drunk. But when he was sober he was a good guy. I guess he was around 60 or so. I remember one time he showed up at the homeless hangout and he was all beat up, black eyes and stuff. The story was he went thru an ‘initiation’ at the camp, 2 of the other guys ‘initiated’ him by beating the hell out of him and taking his wallet, Buck said it was a voluntary thing that he agreed to go thru for ‘protection’. I said that’s funny, we used to call that ceremony ‘getting mugged’. All in all Buck was an all right friend, with many struggles. He did attend the local street ‘church meetings’ and made attempts to go to some of the retreats they hold for the guys. I spent some time with Henry; he is a very knowledgeable brother who always asks great questions. I mean he knows the bible by heart, studies the original Greek and Hebrew meanings of the words, he is a real pro. He has been living in an old run down RV for a few months. The people let him stay in it and he does some work around the property. They have a beautiful horse and a bunch of fruit trees; I filled up a bag with lemons and had a good time fellowshipping with Henry. My friend John David has been clean for 6 months now and is living up in Austin, that was great to hear. John was addicted to Cocaine, I told you his story around 6 months ago [in the homeless section]. His other brother Andy went to Mexico, he’s the brother I lent one of my good study books to, O well. All in all the guys are doing as well as can be expected, it’s pretty cold right now, that’s why some of them come south for the winter. My good friend Dirk is back, I have known Dirk for 20 years, he lives in an old beat up van and survives on a disability check, he’s legally deaf. He is a good friend, he comes for the winters and heads back to Michigan in the summer, he really is homeless but tries to pass himself off [to the cops] as a retired tourist, it is funny. And old Roger has been in jail since last Christmas, he walked into HEB [grocery store] and saw Tommy Nichols [a cop who the locals hate] Roger has been arrested many times by Nichols and Roger was drunk and told him ‘I’ll kill all you cops’ they arrested him and charged him with making a terroristic threat, he’s still got some time to do. I want to encourage you guys; do you spend any time reaching out to the hurting? Maybe fast a day or 2 and send the money to the feed the children groups? I just renewed my own effort in sending money to the kids, I was reading Christianity today on line and the screen kept asking if I would send some money, I kept clicking it off and then realized I need to send some. So I started sending $22 a month, not much, but it helps. I just want to challenge all of us to become involved in some way, maybe you won’t make as many homeless friends as I have, that’s fine- but try and make at least one! Make an effort and see what the Lord will do, it will be well worth trying.
(1336) Just a comment I left on Christianity Today magazine- ‘Many good points- I think we need to distinguish between those who see ‘organic church’ as a vessel of transformation, and those who are seeking a historically/biblical understanding of the Ecclesia and exactly what the word means. The New Testament clearly speaks of ‘church’ as an organic community of people, to understand and come to terms with this reality might take different forms and have various ways people express it, but to understand the biblical basis of ‘organic church’ is more than just a new movement/way of ‘doing church’’.
(1335) GALATIANS 5- Paul’s main theme is if we possess the Spirit as believers [being indwelt by God’s Spirit] then let us also walk in/by the Spirit, as opposed to trying to please God by the law and being circumcised. Paul will use the somewhat controversial term ‘ye are fallen from grace’ which simply means that these Gentile believers started by faith and went back to the old Jewish system, much like the themes in the book of Hebrews. Paul says when you go back to the law you have left grace. Christ has ‘become of no effect to you, you who are justified by the law’. This is a good example of how words and certain phrases can develop over the centuries of church history and develop a different meaning over time. In essence the bible does teach that a person can ‘fall from grace’ but this does not describe what the modern reader might think. The first church father who attempted to formulate the Christian doctrine of the Trinity was a man named Tertullian, he lived in the second century and was what theologians refer to as one of the Latin fathers [as opposed to the Greek ones- Origen, etc.] Tertullian was famous for the sayings ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’ and ‘I believe because it is absurd’ he was resisting the influence of Greek philosophy on the church, he felt that Greek wisdom was influencing the church too much. He was trained in law before becoming a theologian [like Luther and Calvin of 16th century Reformation fame] and he used the words ‘God is one substance/essence and also three persons’ later church councils would agree with this language. But the word ‘person’ at Tertullian’s time was the Latin word ‘personi’ which was taken from the theater and meant a person/actor who would put on different masks during the play; the word had a little different meaning then what we think of today as ‘person’. Later centuries would come to condemn certain Christian groups who seem to have formulated language on the Trinity that expresses the same thing as what the original developer of the doctrine meant to say, but because words and their meanings change over time we get ourselves into disputes that might be getting us off track. Paul also tells the Galatians that if they become circumcised that they are obligating themselves to keep all the law. Of course the medical procedure that many have done in our day is not what he is speaking about, but in Paul’s day getting circumcised was the religious rite that placed you into the religion of Judaism, and this is what Paul is refuting among the Galatians, he tells them not to go down that road. This chapter has lots of good ‘memory verses’, the famous lists of the works of the flesh versus the fruit of the Spirit are found here, and it seems pretty clear to me that Paul identified circumcision with the moral law of the 10 commandments, that is he saw being circumcised as an act that obligated you to ‘keep all the law’ some theologians are discussing whether or not Paul meant the law of Moses when speaking about going ‘back under the law’ some think Paul was speaking only of the ceremonial law and the system of animal sacrifices when he was telling the gentiles that they should not go under the law, I believe if you read Paul in context both in this letter and the book of Romans, that he is speaking of the moral law too, not just the ceremonial law. All in all Paul exhorts these believers to fight for their right to be free from the past restraints of religion and bondage, he tells them to not desire to go back under a system of bondage, that Christ has made us free from that legalistic way of life and he has liberated us by giving us the Holy Spirit- if we ‘walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, for the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these two are contrary one to the other, so that you cannot do the things that you would’ amen to that.
(1337) IS THERE MORE GOING ON WITH THE CHRISTMAS DAY PLOT? While not a conspiracy theorist myself, if you pay close attention to the last few statements from the white house, there seems to be a bigger problem than the president is willing to admit. There have been some insiders who have floated the belief that the president believes that the CIA and other intelligence people might have purposefully allowed this tragedy to happen. In one of the last speeches the president made on the plot, the lead up to the speech was the president was going to drop a bombshell, his people said this. Yet during the speech there was no bombshell, yet he really rebuked the intelligence agencies and said he would not tolerate such incompetence. Then Richard Wolf, a regular on MSNBC who has inside access to the president [he has written a book on the president and is writing another one now] said on MSNBC that the president and his people believe that it’s possible that the intelligence agencies purposefully withheld information as some type of political vendetta. In the second hour he came back and ‘corrected’ his statement, he then said ‘well it’s a theory that is still 10 steps down the road’. It’s obvious that someone from the white house contacted him and told him to shut up. How could something like this be possible? When the president appointed Leon Panetta to head the CIA, as a democrat Panetta was furious over the way the democratic liberal agenda was going as it related to his agency. Nancy Pelosi would accuse them of regularly lying all the time to congress, other democrats/liberal politicians also went so far as to say it was possible that those who carried out the interrogations using the accepted practices that they were told to use, that these employees might now have committed war crimes! And last but not least the attorney general, Eric Holder, opened up investigations into the employees that might lead to convictions and imprisonment. What exactly were the crimes these govt. employees engaged in? They simply followed the orders of the previous administration, orders that were approved by the previous attorney general [Alberto Gonzales]. Do you know what this does to the morale of these agencies? You now have govt. employees going home to their wives and kids, and not just worrying about their jobs, but real fears that our govt. might do some outrageous thing and who knows, maybe turn them over to the world court in the Hague to face a war crime tribunal. This stuff is not funny, this is why Leon Panetta and other democrats who know how these communities work were outraged over our politicians regularly accusing them as being lying criminals. Now, as someone who worked as a firefighter for 25 years, the truth is if you feel your superiors are going behind your back and accusing you of dereliction of duty, if they told you to do things and later said that these orders you carried out are now making you liable to do prison time, this would affect the inner working of the community in a terrible way, no one would want to go out of his way and speak up and say ‘sure, I’ll be the one to go out on a limb and turn this possible bomber in’ no, you clam up because you have created a political environment that has people walking on eggshells, this is the real world my friends. Now with all this as the background, you can see how it ‘slipped out’ that the president and his people believe its possible that these agencies didn’t act on purpose, this might very well be an in house war that is affecting the nation in ways people don’t know. I do not know what the ‘bombshell’ was that the president was supposed to say, but he changed his mind and did not say it. But it’s very likely that he was going to say something along the lines of ‘I will not tolerate the purposeful holding back of information because of political vendettas’ or something like that. I in no way blame this incident on the president or our people, but when you play politics with people’s lives, like going after your own employees as criminals, by publicly accusing them of always lying to congress, it’s inevitable that this creates a non cooperative work place environment, everyone with real world experience knows this.
(1338) GALATIANS 6- Paul closes this short theological treatise with some practical stuff; help each other out with their burdens, if you see a brother struggling, restore him in the spirit of meekness. Those who are teaching you Gods word, ‘communicate’ to them in all good things [share with them financially and materially]. Good advice that Paul gives to all of the churches he writes to. As we close our study of this letter, I want to emphasize that the majority of what Paul is teaching [over 90%] is great theological truth, it would be silly for preachers/teachers to grasp hold of any single verse and to exalt that above the main body of truths that we have discussed. It isn’t hard for any preacher/teacher to go thru this letter on a few Sundays and teach the main truths of the letter. We desperately need to get back to doing it this way in many Pentecostal/Protestant/Evangelical churches- and yes, the ‘organic church’ guys too! We all have a tendency to pick out pet doctrines out of the New Testament and then to make the side issues the main thing. I think the main thing [justification by faith, the blessing of Abraham in context, etc.] is good enough without us having to try and find some type of ‘Rhema word’ that is not the main word of God. Recently a good man died, Oral Roberts. A few weeks have passed and I think it is okay to mention a few things. The media reported how many preachers showed up to the funeral in Cadillac’s and expensive cars, there have been various articles written about the legacy he will leave behind. Some wrongly said he was the father of the ‘Word of Faith/prosperity movement’ [E.W. Kenyon was the real father, and Kenneth Hagin and others lay claim to the title]. The point I want to make is Brother Roberts was a good man who did good things, but his way of doing doctrine is not my cup of tea. He was famous for popularizing the ‘seed-faith’ teaching. It comes from Paul’s letters when he does tell believers that if they give in faith God will bless them, true enough. But when we read the New Testament there are many warnings against greed and materialism, and when we take a simple practical truth from Paul, even though it’s true, and when this truth becomes our main message, then we err. In this last chapter of Galatians Paul gives practical advice about giving financially to those who are teaching you, good. But this is one verse in a letter filled with other main teachings, the important stuff if you will. For believers in our day to have built ministries/churches and to have as the foundation of these ministries the few practical side verses, is wrong. We need to focus on the main thing, and keep the main thing the main thing! [Redemption thru Christ’s Blood, eternal life to those who believe, etc.] I don’t want to speak bad about brother Roberts, he was a good man who went home to be with the Lord, it’s just the discussion that has happened after his passing shows us how easy it is for good men to get sidetracked with a verse or 2 and then to exalt it out of context. As I conclude this brief study on Galatians, I think I will go back over a few main verses in the next week or so and give you some ‘practical’ things that I have gleaned these last few weeks. In a sense I will show you how God can speak to us in a personal way thru these letters, yet at the same time not losing the original meaning of the letters. One of the distinctions of the early church fathers was this Christ centered approach to the scripture, they looked for Jesus on every page. I’ll end with an example from Saint Augustine; he shared a thought on the story of Jesus walking on the water to the land, and that the disciples needed a wooden boat to ‘cross over’ he then applied the wood of the boat to the wood of the Cross and said how the Cross allows us to cross over to God, just like the boat let them cross over to the land. Now this is a simple example of applying scripture in a sort of symbolic way that is not in context, but nevertheless it’s okay to do. So I will do a few things like this in the next few posts. But while doing this, we want to not forget the main meaning of the letter, a good ‘side example’ should never negate the main body of truth.
(1339) In Johns’ gospel, chapter 3, John the Baptist’s disciples tell him ‘look- Jesus is baptizing more converts than you and you are losing the crowd’. John tells them that he is fine with losing the limelight, he says his joy is in the fact that the bride [believers] is heading towards the bridegroom [Jesus] and he is glad that he can at least hear the interaction. I find it interesting that John did not find his identity in how many people he was personally ministering to, he did not need a large audience [or any!] in order to feel fulfilled. But he did need to hear the voice of Jesus; he had to at least have that. Over the years of ‘doing ministry’ I have always found it troubling that so many men in ministry seem to be in a race to get people to show up at some meeting environment, if you can ‘pack the parking lot’ you feel fulfilled. Now, God is concerned about numbers, don’t get me wrong, if you ‘pack the parking lot’ fine. The point is we should be able to ‘feel fulfilled’ by simply hearing the voice of the bridegroom. When the church gives in to the pressure of class and status, she loses her prophetic voice to society. In 14th century England you had a general distaste for the church, the people resented the wealth and class that the church achieved, many voices [John Wycliffe] spoke out against these abuses, even the great English poet Geoffrey Chaucer would write about it in his famous ‘Canterbury tales’ [how many of you still remember English Lit?] The church achieved numbers and wealth and fame, but lost her prophetic voice and influence to the world. To all you Pastors/leaders, are you more focused on big numbers and how many need to attend in order to bring in enough tithes to accomplish certain goals? If so then re-focus, don’t let your emotions go up and down based on stuff like this, one things is needful, John said that’s what made him happy, his ‘joy was fulfilled’ in hearing the voice of Jesus, how about you?
(1340) GALATIANS AFTER-THOUGHTS: As I said the other day I will try and go back over a few verses and share a few more things on Galatians. One of the things I wanted to mention was the fact that I purposefully chose to teach the letter in the classic Protestant way [mostly] I avoided getting into the ‘New Perspective’ ideas on Paul and ‘what he really meant’. So let’s talk a little on it; as of the date of this writing there is a theological debate going on [mostly in the ivory towers, but seeping somewhat into mainstream thought] that re-looks at Paul and what the context of his day was. For instance when the Reformers of the 16th century spoke about being Justified by Faith and not by works, many of them were speaking about the works of tradition and the things they felt were wrong in the Catholic faith. Were they wrong in applying Paul this way? No. In context was Paul talking about the works of ‘Catholic tradition’ when saying men are not justified by works? No. So it’s good to point stuff like this out. The problem I see with some of the New Perspective theologians is they can explain stuff and when you’re done listening [reading] it’s possible to miss the heart of the New Testament doctrine on Justification by faith, we don’t want to lose people in the weeds when trying to peel the layers of the onion. So I purposefully chose to teach this letter in the plain way that most Protestants would understand it, but I do think that N.T. Wright [Bishop of Durham, Church of England] has good things to add to the debate [as well as John Piper- the Reformed Baptist preacher who has taken the New Perspective group and rebuked them]. It’s good and profitable to engage in these types of theological discussions, but we need to once again ‘keep the main thing the main thing’. I also avoided getting into the debate on exactly what ‘works of the law’ meant. Some think Paul was only referring to the rite of circumcision. In some verses [both here and in Romans] this is true. But some [N.T. Wright] apply this in a way that says the act itself was simply an ‘identifying badge’ that brought you into the community of God, while this is true, they get a little off track by not fully seeing that in Paul’s writings these things go hand in hand. Paul mixes in the ‘work of circumcision’ with the idea of keeping the moral law/10 commandments. When saying ‘we are not under the law’ Paul includes all of it, not just the ceremonial law. How do we know this? Because whenever Paul makes this argument he always adds ‘does this mean we go out and sin’? And his answer is always no, but instead of saying ‘no, don’t sin because we are still constrained by the 10 commandments’ he says ‘no, how can we who died to sin still live in it’. To be frank about it, many of the Reformed guys have problems with this as well, they teach a kind of theology that says the N.T. believer is under the law, I disagree. So as you can see this debate can go on for a while, that’s why I chose to avoid it in this study. I want all of our readers to be grounded in the basic truths of the letter before launching into a deeper level. Okay enough for now, tune in the next week or so and I’ll try and do some practical stuff from Galatians.
(1341) MEDIA BIAS- This week the big story is the statement from Harry Reid, when discussing Obama’s chances at becoming president he said ‘he’s light skinned, and doesn’t speak with a Negro dialect, unless he wants to’ OUCH! Okay, the Black leadership has for the most part forgiven him and he admitted he was wrong. Everyone knows that if a Republican said it he’d be run out on a rail, but that’s politics. The media bias I want to talk about is more serious than this. A few weeks back I watched a news show that profiled a business woman who owned a bike store and they showed how she had customers with all this money to buy, but she couldn’t get a loan from ‘the evil banks’ and because of this she had no money for inventory or expansion. And then they showed a guy who owned a scooter store and he faced the same problem. The media has been trying to portray the economies problems on the fact that some businesses are unable to obtain loans and that this is why the recession is lingering. This is fundamentally not true, then why are they saying it? It’s because they are such strong advocates for the president that this story line sort of gets him off the hook. The majority of small businesses are not in trouble because they can’t secure loans, many of them are feeling the heat of customers who are not purchasing because of loss of jobs and an overall sluggish economy. Many businesses are facing a very anti business environment from this president, that’s just a fact. Businesses will not hire new employees in an unstable atmosphere where they don’t know what their costs are going to be. They are facing the huge cost of having to provide health care to their workers, or pay steep fines if they don’t. Cap and trade [the president’s way to appease his environmentalist constituency] will be a disaster for an ailing economy; it will raise the cost of business all around and even raise the cost of energy for every homeowner in the country. You simply can’t follow these types of policies in an economy that is weak like ours. So the problem is not that businesses can’t get loans, it is the other major factors that are anti business that play a bigger role. A few years ago the well meaning political lobbying groups who advocate for the rights of minorities put pressure on the politicians to force the banks to make more loans to minorities, though they meant well, the banks said if you force us to not use the simple credit standards that we have always used, regardless of race, then we will have problems. Nevertheless the pressure on the banks was ‘you guys must be racists because you are not lending enough money to minorities’. So men like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd oversaw the policies that forced the banks to lend money to many innocent blacks who were in over the heads. These are not the scams that were done by crooked lenders, these were simple home loans to people who normally would not qualify, but because of politics they ‘qualified’. During the Bush administration there were a few people who raised the red flag and began saying ‘we are going to face a huge problem if we don’t fix the problems with Fannie and Freddie’ [the governments insurance for home loans] Barney Frank and other democrats actually said that these Republicans who raised the red flag were trying to create a crisis environment where there was none. In essence Frank and Dodd ignored all the real warnings and this led to the financial disaster the country faced. Now you would think that after this almost criminal negligence [Dodd did get a sweetheart deal from these same banks that he was working with] these guys would be removed from these positions and never have their influence felt again. But instead they led the charge in blaming everything on Bush and the evil bankers who were always out to get you. So now we are demonizing the banks, after all it’s their so called unwillingness to lend that’s behind all the problems. The media tells this story over and over again until we believe it. Sure, the banks were part of the problem, and the fact that AIG operated like a bank, but without the regulations of a bank, these things added to the problem. But today the overall policies of the govt. can either be realistic or ideological; you can say your plan is to pour tons of money into ‘green jobs’ but this is a joke, to be honest about it. The govt. just admitted that all the billions that were poured into ‘road ready’ projects did not create any jobs, most of the other bailout money that was sent to the states was simply used to pay bills and payroll for the states, and it too did not create jobs. If the president does not seriously see the problem, then no matter how much more ‘stimulus’ you put into the economy, it will fail, it is simply creating a bigger debt which in itself is a drag on business. While the Harry Reid stories are fodder for the media, the media does a greater disservice to the country when they advocate so strongly for a president to the point where they play along with the skewed story line, they need to stop blaming everything on the evil bankers and the fat cats on wall street, they need to seriously get back to reporting news.
(1342) WHEN THE SEED SHOULD COME TO WHOM THE PROMISE WAS MADE- As I was teaching thru Galatians this verse ‘spoke to me’ in a personal way [will explain it in a second]. I felt like the Lord was saying that there are long term promises/destinies that he has planted within us, both as individuals and communities, and that often times he is waiting for the ‘seed to come to whom the promise was made’. In the parables of Jesus the seed speaks of a few things. Most of us are familiar with ‘the seed as the word’ imagery- ‘the sower sows the word’. But Jesus also speaks of ‘the seed’ as the children of the kingdom that his father has planted in the world. And of course in Galatians Paul is specifically referring to the singular seed, who is Christ. Every few years I go thru our radio messages and will adjust the programs I air. I often find that the messages that I marked as ‘o.k.’ are not o.k. anymore, it’s not that they are bad, it’s just I notice a tone/level of ‘seed’ [spoken word] that is not mature enough, it seems like as the years roll by the later messages just sound better. God has all of us in a maturing process; things that we thought were ‘deep revelation’ at one time, now sound quite silly. As I was marking off the programs that sounded too immature, I felt like the Lord was saying ‘the seed has come to whom the promise was made’ sort of like the lord was saying ‘son, I was waiting for your level of maturity to catch up to the promise’. Also in Romans it says ‘the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now’ I also felt like the Lord was saying the seed, as it pertains to all the people groups we relate to, were also in a ‘birthing process’ that too had to mature to a point where the promises could be inherited- ‘when the fullness of times was come, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, made under the law’ [Galatians] God has ‘fullness seasons’ times [Kairos] when he says ‘okay, the promises I made to you at the beginning of the journey are now ready to be experienced’ in essence the seed has come to whom the promise was made. Now, this sort of spiritual/symbolic way of hearing God, is it a good way to develop doctrine? No! Never, ever! Pope Benedict critiqued the ‘historical, critical’ method of liberal theology in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ the method developed out of the liberal universities in Germany in the 19th- 20th centuries. Men like Rudolph Bultman would popularize it. It was a way of reading scripture thru an historical/archeological lens. Some of the ideas are good and profitable, but some are not. Many would reject the supernatural aspects of scripture and come to deny the resurrection. Not good. The Pope also warned against this way of ‘dissecting’ Jesus and Christianity to a point where you really don’t see the true Jesus anymore. The real Jesus of Christianity and history, the Jesus that we all have a relationship with by faith. The point being we want to go to scripture with an open heart and expectancy to ‘hear God’. While doing this, we also want to recognize that the scripture had the SAME MEANING to the first century church as to us today, the meaning never changes, the applications do. That’s the main point I want to make, so today the Lord might be speaking to you about certain ‘seeds’ coming to maturity in your own life, things that you have been waiting for and maybe the lord was saying he needed a maturing process to take place, both in you and the people you relate to. The ‘whole creation’ if you will.
(1343) One of the other themes that spoke to me from Galatians was the idea that Israel and the world were under a ‘schoolmaster phase’ until the fullness of times arrived. This phase was the whole economy of Old Testament law and rule. I felt like the Lord was saying that many of us have been led, and actually have arrived, at places and purposes the hard way; i.e. – the ‘tutor’ phase. That is God allowed the process of trial and error and discipline to work in us until we arrived at the purpose and goal. Isaiah says that ‘I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction’ yes, this way of ‘arriving’ is much more painful, but it still gets you there. Now the entire discipline phase for the world was the time period before the Cross. The law and the Old Covenant were the only way to ‘get there’ so to speak. If people wanted to have a relationship with God, they were either born Jews, or converted to Judaism. Today of course we have access thru the Cross. One of the earliest ‘cults’ of Christianity was a sect call ‘Gnosticism’ these early adherents mixed Greek dualism [material world bad, spirit world good type of a thing] in with Christianity, they taught that the God of the Old Testament was the evil God who created the material world, and that thru Jesus we can come to know the true God of the New Testament, the God who gives us salvation by delivering us from the material world. Though it seems like there are verses in the New Testament that teach that the ‘world’ is evil and that God wants to ‘deliver us from this present evil world’ [Galatians] yet in these contexts ‘the world’ is simply speaking of the lost system of man and the ‘way of the world’. In Christian theology matter is not inherently evil. The Apostle John would deal with the Gnostics in his first epistle by saying ‘whoever denies that Jesus has come in the flesh is not of God- they are anti-Christ’. Because the Gnostics believed all matter to be evil they would reject the humanity of Jesus, John was targeting them in his letter. As I mentioned before the controversy over the Trinity was settled at the council of Nicaea [a.d.325] but the church still battled with the nature of Jesus. Nicaea said ‘God is one essence/substance and 3 persons’. But this did not fully deal with the nature of Jesus, various ideas rose up [Monarchianism, Dynamic Monarchianism] that challenged the nature of Christ. In 451 a.d. the church settled on the language that ‘Jesus is one person with 2 substances/essences [natures]’, though to some this looks like a contradiction to the earlier language of Nicaea, this council in 451 [Chalcedon] was simply saying Jesus was ‘fully God and fully man’ so anyway we were all under the discipline phase until the ‘fullness of times’. I am believing God to get us to the destination with less ‘tutoring’ if you will, less trial and error. Sure, we will never fully get to the point of not making a few mistakes and stumbling along the way, but as we get older hopefully we will ‘stumble less’.
(1344) THE WEEK IN REVIEW- Okay, we had lots happening this past week; the tragic earthquake in Haiti, estimates are that there might be around 100,000 deaths, tragic indeed. The firestorm from MSNBC over the comments made by Pat Robertson, he said Haiti made a deal with the devil to get free from French rule and that all has gone bad since, not to smart of a statement. And there is a possible upset for the democratically held seat of former senator Ted Kennedy, the Republican [Scott] might beat the Democrat [Coakley] this would be a major disaster for the Democrats. First, Haiti is a real tragedy and we need to pray and send help and support and get behind the presidents efforts to help. Now, the statement from Pat Robertson, did it deserve the apoplectic response of the MSNBC talking heads? Not really. There is a story that Haiti did ‘sign a pact with the devil’ and that because of Haiti’s majority religion of choice, Voodoo, this has affected the country. Do we know for sure about ‘the pact’? No, but the demonism practiced by many does have a negative effect on Haiti. The nonsensical argument made by the critics of Robertson goes like this ‘Robertson, and all other adherents to right wing conservative Christianity suffer from a collective arrogance/ignorance because of the choice of their religion- their religion has effected them for the worse in a corporate way- i.e. made them ignoramuses’ and then they say it is reprehensible to even think about the possibility that the religion of Voodoo could have a corporate negative impact on Haiti. Am I missing something here? Now to the Massachusetts race, why is the Democrat having so much trouble [besides the fact that she ran a terrible campaign]? The Republican candidate has made health care the number one issue in the race, the state is 3 to 1 Democratic, with a large group of Independents. Like I said before, many well meaning, elderly north eastern liberals/moderates voted for the president, these voters have for the most part turned against the health care debacle, they have been told ‘you will lose 500 billion from your main insurance provider [Medicare] you will pay higher taxes in general for these reforms, many of your current premiums will go up, you might have to deal with adding 30 million people into a hospital system that can’t handle the overflow- and we are asking you to make all these sacrifices at the ending stages of your life so we can insure 30 million or so people, the majority of whom are lower wage workers’. These efforts are not even providing universal care, you will still have around 20-25 million uninsured when all is said and done, and the ‘political incentive’ for all these scared elderly citizens is ‘you need to sacrifice because it’s right’. Now, realistically these voters are not saying publicly ‘you got to be kidding me’ but they are saying it with their vote. Yesterday the unions- of which I was a member for 25 years [AFLCIO- firefighter] made another ‘special deal’ with the president, they will get a special 5 year exemption on the extra taxes being added to the expensive insurance policies that are held by many union workers. Now, I believe we should not tax any health care policies at all; after all we are trying to make it more affordable for people to obtain insurance! But the fact is this is another way the president wants to raise the money needed for the program. But you have many other working Americans who are not part of the union constituency who Obama needs, these people will simply foot the bill for the president’s ‘friends’. This whole thing from the Nebraska deal right down to the final secret deals being made right now is a totally corrupt process that the majority of American people are against. As an advocate of a single payer system myself [yes- call me a liberal if you will] this white house and congress are a total disaster when it comes to health care, sorry, that’s just telling the truth. And let’s end with the outrageous article that the New York Times did on congressman Bart Stupak, the congressman from Michigan [Democrat] who has been heroic in his stand against the funding for abortion that is in the bill. The times did a story on how his son killed himself a few years back with the congressman’s own gun, and how Stupak still achieved a high rating from the NRA by his ‘pro-gun’ votes. This is absolutely despicable, the congressman gets high ratings because he believes in the rights of Americans to own firearms, in no way is it right to connect blame, or cast dispersion on the man because of what happened to his son. All in all it’s been a bad week for the media, and a tragic week for the innocent victims in Haiti, pray for our country and the world, we all need it.
(1345) BUT BEFORE FAITH CAME, WE WERE KEPT UNDER THE LAW,SHUT UP UNTO THE FAITH THAT WOULD AFTERWARDS BE REVEALED- Galatians 3:23 Over the years I have grown in my understanding of ‘church/ministry’ and have come to see that God requires of us to ‘do justice, love mercy and walk humbly’- that is we often begin the Christian life [especially minister/pastor] with a bunch of noble goals and dreams and we become fixated on the finances and buildings and all the outward stuff that we think is needed to ‘reach the world’. All well meaning men with noble goals, but often times the whole thing devolves into ‘if these parishioners would be obedient and tithe 10 % of their income we could do great things’ and behind the scenes there begins to be an accusatory spirit by the leaders/pastors towards ‘these rebels’. As someone who does not receive offerings or money I have been freed from this whole scenario. Now, how does ‘faith come/ be revealed’? In contrast to the above picture, God will often speak to us and use us when we do not have the cart before the horse- when our time and efforts are not always consumed with building ‘our ministry’ or getting the funds needed for what we think is Gods purpose. In the parable of the great supper, Jesus says a man prepared this great meal/table and he sent his servant out at suppertime to call the guests, and out of the first 3 groups he goes to, 2 out of 3 couldn’t make it because they purchased stuff [land, livestock] then the master gets mad and sends him to the poor, blind and maimed [do justice] and there is still room so he is told to go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in. The point I want to make is those who were preoccupied with stuff missed the true riches, it’s not that they meant to be rebellious; it’s just the nature of the beast. I want to encourage all of our leaders to re-focus as the New Year begins, sure- you are going to have to deal with practical things [money, etc.] but don’t become so consumed with ‘the ministry’ that this becomes the driving factor of your life. I have had ‘minister friends’ who were always talking about, or trying to ‘build up the work’ some times when we would interact [run into each other] if I had a homeless guy they couldn’t wait until I would ‘lose’ the brother so we could talk ministry. I know they mean well, but they are so consumed with ‘the stuff’ they couldn’t see the true riches; they were missing the ‘great supper’ and didn’t even realize it. ‘In as much as you did it unto the least of these, you did it unto me’.
-(1346) In Luke’s gospel the parable of the pounds [money] has the master giving 1 pound to each servant and when he returns he takes the 1 pound from the brother who hid it and gives it to the other guy who made 10 more pounds with the first pound. Moral of the story, don’t squander your capital! One of the most influential works on human government was Plato’s ‘Republic’ Plato lived 4 centuries before Christ and in the famous work he has Socrates [his mentor] having a dialogue and discussing the elements needed for ordering a just society. The leaders must be educated and put the good of the people/community above their own personal desires. Leaders should be statesman and not politicians. As I was watching the news over the weekend they are still debating health care and both sides have stooped so low as to use the Haiti tragedy for political gain. On one of the Sunday shows, the person representing Bush was trying to be non partisan and praised Obama for his actions. Then the Democrat had the gall to contrast the quick response of Obama with the poor response of Bush to Katrina, these guys are never going to learn. Why are the Democrats willing to be the first party in history to push thru major legislation in secret meetings against the majority public opinion? They have calculated the cost, politically, of not passing something and have come to the conclusion that it would be better politically to pass something and take the heat, than to not pass something. Bill Clinton and others have openly said this, they have been found out on more than one occasion to have made this crass political choice. So in the minds of many of them it’s not a matter of telling many American workers ‘you are going to pay an extra 40 % tax on your health ins.’ and then tell the other worker, doing the same job ‘you do not have to pay the tax because you are a union member and we need your votes’ this is not statesmanship, this is political expediency- do whatever it takes to get your side to win, even at the expense of the public. President Obama [who I just finished praying for, and his family!] had lots of political capital at the beginning of the year, much more than any other president in recent history; but he took the ‘1 pound’ and squandered it, he blew it by making these terrible political calculations. As this new year begins it seems as if he really hasn’t made much out of the ‘pound’ that was given him at the start. It looks like the voting public is about to say ‘take from him the pound and give it to someone else’.
(1347) IF WE KILL THE SON, THEN THE INHERITANCE WILL BE OURS! Many years ago while working at the fire dept. we had a new chief come in and the city commissioners let it be known that they weren’t happy with the way the last chief kept them informed, they wanted a more detailed update of the emergencies we had. Sure enough we had a train derailment and this was the chance for the ‘new boss’ to prove himself. The problem was the incident itself was not a major thing, we had to wait for the company’s private haz-mat crew to get there, but it was more of a stand- by situation. But most of the night was spent detailing every single thing; times, who you called, what step you did next- it was overkill of the emergency for the purpose of proving to the commissioners that ‘the new boss was better than the old one’. This week the White House put out a very detailed play by play accounting of the president’s response to Haiti, I mean it covered 4 days of intense detail. Many of the president’s people have made the rounds on the talk shows and have emphasized the fact that ‘this president is not like the last one, he acts fast to help’ type of a thing. If you listen to the ‘noise’ from these politicos there is no doubt that ‘all the president’s men’ got together and made a political decision to play this incident for all its worth. Now I am not saying they truly don’t want to help [just like my train emergency] but you can tell that they also are making the argument that ‘Obama acts fast, not like Bush’. If they simply did their job and didn’t say anything about Bush, then I would feel differently. Why would they be so crass? Many people voted for the president because they had such high hopes of change, hopes beyond all reason. Because the president did not have a long past record, and the fact that the media did not vet the man, this created an atmosphere where you could project your own image onto the man, and this then created a ‘candidate’ that was all things to all people. The first year has gone so bad that they are looking for anything to turn things around. Now the opposing side are like the care-takers in the parable of the vineyard. Jesus said the owner of the vineyard leased out the land to some guys and when he sent his workers to get the harvest they abused them. Finally the landowner sent the son, and they said ‘if we take this premier one down, surely the inheritance will be ours’. So the Republicans have decided to ‘take down the heir’. Now, I am sure there are good people on both sides of the aisle that have good motives, but this seems to be the game right now. I remember during the campaign that ‘news’ got out that Obama voted to push the gay agenda for young school children in the schools of Illinois, the gay and lesbian groups were part of his constituency [fine] and he represented their cause. The problem was when this leaked out he said he was only supporting the awareness of young children being molested by older people, that he did not support legislation that promoted the gay agenda to kids. The media backed him up and played this story line. They lied over and over again about this. The fact was Obama did back up much more than he admitted, and those he accused of being liars were telling the truth. Okay, he’s not the first to lie, I got ya. But he recently appointed the first ‘transgender’ person to his administration; the wonderful looking picture of ‘the woman’ with her hair all made up and the makeup and all looked like a woman, but it was a man. Okay, I am not here to make fun, these people are obviously struggling with some emotional/psychological problems, but to appoint them to open positions means you do support the ‘gay’ agenda much more than you previously admitted. Fine, if that’s your position then say so, don’t tell everyone you simply were trying to warn underage kids about molestation. Last but not least the president has advised people to go to the white house web site to support the Haiti situation; are there any comparisons between Bush and Obama that might be deemed political on this site? Yes, there is wording that says Obama will act fast on disasters, not like the mistakes of the previous administration. If your gonna play non stop politics, then don’t use the tragedy in Haiti IN ANY WAY to do it. You should not tell people to go to a web site, purely as a matter of helping with a tragedy, and have anything on the site like this- you are playing politics with people’s lives when you do this type of stuff, period [he should send them to the Red Cross or the many other good groups for this, or make sure you are not making political statements on the site].
(1348) HE’S FOR WATERBOARDING! Well I was up late last night and the upset of the year gave the Massachusetts senate seat to Scott Brown. Okay, the liberal media are in denial. Chris Matthews was coming up with all sorts of reasons why this happened; was it because the woman candidate, Martha Coakley [or like Kennedy likes to say ‘Marsha’] brought with her a stern prosecutors personality and Scott was a more down to earth guy? Some surmised that the state really wasn’t ready for a woman senator, and the analyses went on and on. It was quite comical to see Matthews trying to figure out what happened, while on the split screen the Brown supporters are holding up signs that said ‘Was that loud enough’- ‘can you hear us now Washington’! and things to that effect. But the liberal media [by the way, in some ways I’m liberal, others conservative- I prefer to not go by party names] could not accept the reality of a popular groundswell at the grass roots level that is going on in the country. They have tried so hard to demean the ‘tea partiers’ and even label Brown as a ‘truck drivin’ hick’ but they simply can’t come to grips with the fact that many Americans are fed up with all the schemes and secret meetings and messages from Washington elites that simply treat the popular groundswell as ignoramuses. And Norah O’Donnell [MSNBC] says that Brown even supports water-boarding, she said it in a way that made it sound like he’s a nut! Okay, now let’s do some serious stuff. First of all most Americans are not up in arms over pouring water on the faces of terrorists to obtain information, but the liberal media seems to think that this is such a hot topic. Is it fundamentally wrong to do this? Possibly, but what is one million times more wrong is flying these remote control planes [drones] over civilian neighborhoods and regularly blowing away innocent women and children. Now, like I said before I do not fault our heroic service men for this, but the president should stop doing this. I do realize we are targeting terrorists, but we are also killing many innocent women and children when we do this. Why is Obama stepping up these attacks in a much greater way than Bush? Could it be that he needs some good news politically and the death of Bin Laden would surely be an easy comparison of how Bush couldn’t get him in 8 years and we got him in one? I don’t know what the true reason is, but it is much more unjust to ‘accidently’ kill many Muslim/Arab innocent people than to water board a terrorist. I would like to ask Nora O’Donnell and all the talking heads if their families and children were taken by some group, and the group contacted them and said ‘you have 2 options, we water board your kids or drop a drone bomb on them’ how many would opt for the bomb? One night while watching a debate over this issue the ‘supporter’ of water boarding was going back and forth with the anti water boarder, who was a liberal legal scholar. The liberal was asked ‘do you think it was more unjust for us to drop the bombs on Japan and kill a few hundred thousand innocent people, to have caused years and years of slow radiation deaths on the generations of many Japanese people- was that more unjust than water boarding’? And the liberal had the nerve to say water boarding a terrorist was more ‘unjust’. Our problem is we seem to think its okay to actually kill, yes that’s part of war. If you argued with the liberals about how the actual act of killing in war is also a ‘tool’ that the other side uses to recruit, they will readily admit that yes, killing other people groups is a tool-but that’s the price to pay for freedom. But the same people who justify actual killing, also say that Gitmo needs to shut down and we need to stop the horrible practice of water boarding. Even though these tools might have actually helped in some way, yet the tool of water boarding [or Gitmo] is deemed a horrendous thing. Yet these drone attacks are not even questioned by these people. I think we should stop doing these drone attacks if we can’t direct the ‘darn’ things out of the way of innocent people, period.
(1349) THE SAGA CONTINUES- Okay, I know you guys are getting tired of my ranting, but I’m in between studies right now and you can jump to the other parts of the site if you’re not into politics. Right after the Massachusetts miracle the Dems got together and were desperately trying to figure out a way to pass health care reform before the new Republican was certified. John Kerry, the other Mass. senator was saying ‘well, it might take 10 days or more to certify’ and they really wanted to ‘fight the opposition’ to the end! They were mistaking the popular voice of the people, in one of the most liberal states in the country, as ‘the opposition’. Finally Jim Webb, the Democrat from Virginia had enough and sent word out to the networks that ‘we should not try and cast any votes until the New senator is seated’ then of course Obama came out and said ‘lets not rush anything thru’ after he realized they couldn’t. These guys can’t hear the voices of the people, it’s sad. Why did Mass. have an interim senator? After Kennedy died the state Democratic lawmakers changed the law and said ‘the Governor can appoint an interim’ the governor is a Democrat, so he appointed one of his own. Why did they have to change the law? For years Mass. had a law that said the governor has the right to appoint an interim in cases like this. Then when Mitt Romney, a Republican, became governor ‘oh no, lets change the law’ and they did. The new law said ‘no longer will the governor appoint, let the people decide in a special election’ sounds noble. The voice of the people and all. Then when Ted Kennedy announced he was dying of cancer, low and behold they changed the law back again. I mean talk about political games, this is ridiculous. So they were rushing to pass something with the vote of the interim, who was really no longer the senator, but they felt like ‘what the heck, with the cornhusker kickback, the Louisiana purchase and the special deal with the unions, this is nothing’. And finally the Democrats themselves [Webb] said ‘enough, the president and his agenda has harmed us enough, now we are trying to do crooked deals to get around the peoples voice’. I mean these guys are bad, really bad. I hope and pray that the new situation [59 Dems- 41 Republicans] will cause them to really work together and try and actually govern, the liberal agenda of ‘tax and trade’ and these other things are not going to make it, maybe we can still pass individual parts of health care reform one by one, but for the most part the idea of doing ‘huge, major things’ in the sense that Rahm Emmanuel said ‘never waste an emergency’ those days are over. The media needs to get back to doing its job, why are they not reporting more on the innocent deaths of civilians in these wars? They made that the major issue during Bush’s presidency, that is the casualty count. We have killed many more civilians in the last year thru our drones than in all the years of Bush [Bush did not regularly use drones for bombing people]. Where are the media on this? The Haitian situation is turning into a major disaster, that is the humanitarian response, there are estimates that 20 thousand people a day are dying simply because of a lack of getting medical supplies and treatment to the people, where’s the media uproar? They are silent [to a degree- Anderson Cooper from CNN is doing good reporting] because they have already decided to play along with the initial political line of ‘look how good Obama is doing, not like Bush’s Katrina’ so they are now reluctant to report on the failures because Obama made the political calculation to wed himself to the response. We need statesman, not politicians, the media needs to report, or the blogs and on line sources will take up the slack. I do not want the defeat of our president, he has made some mistakes and he has the chance to make a course correction like Clinton did, he can still do well. But he needs to do things the right way, the Chicago style deals that he is doing will not fly with the American people, you can’t promise openness and no ‘behind the door backroom deals’ and then actually be the worst administration in memory for ‘behind the door backroom deals’ stuff like this must stop, hopefully he got the message from Mass.
(1350) THE ANTICHRIST IS HERE! Okay, probably not a good heading for following the last few political posts. But I’ve been reading in the gospels and wanted to share a few thoughts. The apostle John, who wrote the book of Revelation [a popular book in today’s prophecy teaching] also wrote the epistles of John, in 1st John chapter 2 he says ‘it is the last [end] time, as you heard that antichrist will come, even now are there many antichrists and this is how we know it is the last time’. Most prophecy teachers are aware of this verse and it’s usually chalked up to the fact that ‘yes John is speaking of ‘the spirit of antichrist’ and the Gnostic cults who rejected Christ’s humanity’ while this is true, it’s also important to see that there is language in the New Testament that places antichrist/antichrists as a possible 1st century figure. I have hit on this before and just wanted to cover this concept a little. Many believers saw Nero as the antichrist, others see various Roman Emperors as fitting the title, and of course the most popular teaching in America is he is a future person [usually said to ‘be living somewhere in the world today’-even if today ranges over hundreds of years!] So we have had our speculation on the fella. I certainly believe that the apostle Paul was writing about a real man who would be a rejecter of Christ and persecute the church fiercely, and Jesus did speak about the ‘desolation of Daniel’ so I don’t want to spiritualize the man, I just wanted us to be challenged when we read John saying stuff like ‘even now there are many, this is how we know we are living in the end times’. I mean he is saying this a few years before writing the book of Revelation, it should cause us to re-think some of the ‘end times’ scenarios that we espouse today. John was exiled to the island of Patmos by the emperor Nero. Nero died a couple years before AD 70, it is possible that Johns Revelation was written before Nero died [being Nero was the one who put him on the island] and this would leave room for an early dating of Revelation and possibly a still living Nero to have been Johns target. Regardless of all the dating questions, it is striking to read the language of the 1st century apostles and see how they believed the key transition time of an ‘old age’ passing away and a new era coming, they saw it as the time of Christ and his death, burial and resurrection; they used ‘end time’ language as a description of their own day, not a bunch of geopolitical speculation of world events that would take place thousands of years in the future. Surely we are also considered to be ‘in the end times’ and I do believe in a literal future return of Jesus to the earth, I just wanted us to be open to the actual language that the bible uses when speaking about ‘the end times’ and allow our thinking to be shaped more by the scripture and not so much by the popular end times teaching of our day.
(1351) EVERYONE LOVES A POPULIST! [well not everyone] I was reading the story of Jesus and his men, how they picked the corn [grain] on the Sabbath and the religious leaders [those darn conservatives!] found fault. Jesus defends himself and his men by telling them ‘have you never read what David did in the days when he was fleeing from Saul- the days of Abiathar the priest’? The story is found in 1st Samuel and it shows David going into ‘the house of God’ and eating the hallowed bread with his men. Jesus says ‘see, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’. The moral of the story is David [and Jesus ‘the son of David’] had the right as Priests of God in this new Divine Davidic line [of Judah] to eat and to give to those who follow them as well. John wrote ‘he has made us kings and priests to God and his father’ [Revelation]. David and Jesus were populists in a sense, fighting the current of the big institutions [religion/Saul and the kingdom] and the common people were behind them. This week the president made a shift in this direction, he’s been on the stump and preaching against the big banks and wall street fat cats. When campaigning with Coakley he was railing against these enemies, even though Brown was riding a pickup! Okay, what’s up with this? The president also just released his plan to limit the banks from getting too big ‘to fail’. The reason we bailed out the banks [not very populist] was because there was this general fear that if the banks failed [and wall street] that there could be a global economic crisis like the great depression. Maybe so? But by bailing the big banks and companies out we also tried to regulate them and put limits on what they can pay out in bonuses and compensation. The banks caught on and quickly paid the money back with interest, the companies that were unable to pay the govt. off simply lost their CEO’S [A.I.G.]. So that got the monkey off their back and they made record profits and payments to their people. Obama really had no control over them anymore, or did he? He then began to go after them with a special tax that would only apply to them, and to try and prevent them from passing the cost off to consumers [too much micro management for sure]. And then he put a limit on their size, how big they could get. Warren Buffet, a strong supporter of the president, and also one of the richest men in the world loved Obama, after all Obama bailed out the banks and wall street. One of the big banks bailed out was Goldman Sachs, a bank that Buffet sunk 5 BILLION dollars into as an investment. One of the main banks that Obama is targeting is Goldman Sachs; Buffet seems to be having second thoughts. The stock of these banks will suffer, and no one in their right mind will buy these stocks for a while. Should the govt. be doing this? Tim Geithner [treasury secretary] and Ben Bernanke [fed. Chairman] think not, but Paul Volcker [another former fed. Chairman] thinks we should. So for the past year Obama listened to Geithner, and now he’s shifted to Volcker. The govt. does have the right, in my view, to tell big banks ‘if you expect us to insure your deposits- FDIC- then we have the right to prevent you from getting too big and risking people’s money in hedge funds’. The govt. could also tell them ‘no more bailouts, get as big as you want but let the buyer beware’ [the stock investors]. It would be like telling McDonalds ‘sell as many burgers as you want, but if you get into trouble we won’t help’. So it’s really a matter of opinion between how much ‘free market’ or regulation you want. The problem is the president has chosen to demonize these big banks and wall street companies in a way that’s simply a political populist message. It gives him an enemy to target while getting the message off of failed health care. He’s trying to tap into the same populist anger that led to the victory of the Republicans in Mass. But it affects the average person too- the stock market went down 500 hundred points in a couple of days because of this, many 401ks are held by average people. Then when giving an interview to ABC he explained the reason why the Republicans won in Mass, he said ‘the people are upset with Washington, not just the last year, but the last 8 years’ I knew the Bush card would be played in some way. But to say ‘the people are so mad at Bush that they replaced one of the longest held Democratic senate seats with a Republican’ is quite delusional. Okay, we all like an underdog, the David’s who are on the run and fleeing from Saul, but if you aren’t careful it can do more harm than good, it can adversely affect the ‘average Joe’ in a way that you never counted on.
[just a comment I made on a Christianity Today article] As an ‘ex-catholic’ who loves the catholic people, and has somewhat of a ministry to Catholics, as well as all believers, I do see a real need for both Protestants and Catholics to better understand the historic differences between the faiths. I quote, read and enjoy many catholic teachers and theologians [even the Pope!] but there are very real theological differences that need to be understood better on both sides. I love Catholics and appreciate the Catholic Church and voice for justice in the world; we just need to make clear where the real differences are.
[just a comment on Christianity Today’s top 10 books for this year] I Loved Kluck and DeYoung’s first book, but they did not really ‘see’ what the organic/out of ‘church’ movement is saying [theologically]. I really think their first work [why we’re not Emergent] deserved last year’s list, but would have given them a pass for this year.
(1352) ARE YOU A POLITICAL ‘DONATIST’ [what?] – In an effort to mix in a little ‘religion’ with politics, let’s do some church history. In the 4th century you had a debate raging in the church that was called ‘the Donatist controversy’ some taught that the efficacy of the sacraments were dependent on the ‘holiness’ of the Bishops/Priests, that is if your church leaders were really not regenerated then you also suffered spiritually as a result of their lack of integrity. The very influential bishop of Hippo, a city in north Africa, would refute this doctrine and argue that the sacraments and rites of the church did not depend on the spirituality of the leaders, that if you were baptized and believed in the Lord that the sacrament counted even if the Priest was an unbeliever. The famous bishop who argued against the heresy was Saint Augustine. In today’s world we often practice a form of political Donatism, we label our leaders as either liberal or conservative [or any other number of things] and we believe that depending on the tag, that they can either do no wrong or nothing good. I believe good [and bad] can come from all groups whether or not they hold to my political slant. Now, ideas do have consequences and if you are unwilling to change course and run against your own biases, then yes you will get into trouble. But like the argument Augustine made, everything does not depend on the holiness [political bent] of the leader, he might be wrong/hold different views than you and still be able to ‘carry out an effective baptism’ if you will. We need to have enough ‘faith’ in the institution of Democracy and free govt. that we can still believe it to work, even if a less than perfect bishop is running the show.
(1353) THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS WERE UNTIL JOHN, SINCE ‘THAT TIME’ THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS PREACHED- When teaching Galatians we got into the ‘Kairos’ season- that is a time period when God said ‘the old dispensation has fulfilled its purpose and the new time has come’. In the above heading Jesus says it’s a ‘kingdom time’. One of the good things about the New Perspective teaching is they bring out Gods greater world purpose for the whole creation [Romans 8]. It is easy for believers to see their entire Christian lives thru the lens of individual salvation, while this is certainly an important subject, if this becomes the main focus of the believer he can become myopic and miss the greater intention of God- the ‘since that time the kingdom of God’ intention. When Jesus turned the water into wine at Cana, what exactly was he trying to show us? Do you find it strange that there just happened to be all these water containers sitting around? The Jewish religion was very familiar with the idea of ‘washings/baptism’ the temple system was surrounded by these baths and pools and in the gospels we see people linking water with ceremonial cleansing. No one said of John ‘what in the heck is he doing baptizing people in the Jordan’ they were familiar with the rite. Now Jesus doesn’t pick any old water buckets lying around, he is using the symbol of ‘old law’ cleansing, he’s saying ‘look, I just turned your water [old way of getting clean] into wine [my Blood which will replace/fulfill the old system]’. The significance of what he did was heavy. The appearing of Jesus in the 1st century and his death, burial and resurrection [ascension too] enacted a major change from old testament economy into a new kingdom age, the water served its purpose, but the new wine has come- party on.
(1354) O FOOLS AND SLOW OF HEART TO BELIEVE ALL THAT THE PROPHETS HAVE SPOKEN; WAS IT NOT NECESSARY THAT THE SON OF MAN SHOULD SUFFER THESE THINGS AND ENTER INTO HIS GLORY? Jesus said this to his men after he rose from the dead, they were doubting and wondering about his crucifixion and he told them that all these things were written in ‘the prophets’. Jesus also said ‘Moses said this, but I say this’. Moses said- was a reference to the first 5 books of the bible [Torah, Pentateuch] and the ‘prophets’ is referring to the rest of the old testament, apart from the wisdom books [Psalms, Proverbs, etc.] The rebuke was the fact that they had the truth all the time, they were ‘slow to believe’ all of it. As I was finishing up the Galatians study a few days ago I showed how Paul was always making his case from the Old Testament, he used the stories in scripture to prove his points. When teaching on this site, I try and share a broad range of church history, from many various perspectives. In essence I try and include ‘the whole thing, all that has been taught by the church fathers’ it’s important to read and learn from a broad perspective, it keeps you out of trouble. Today’s word is simply ‘are you listening to all that the prophets have spoken’ are you hearing all the sides of the issues your church/denomination teaches? This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have convictions about your own beliefs [I do] but it does mean that we are all part of a broad community of believers, many various ‘camps’ and perspectives. In order for us to fulfill our mandate to be ‘one in Christ’ it is our responsibility to be challenged in our views and to also have the love and concern for other believers to challenge them too. This should always be done in love and for the benefit of the whole body, take some time to hear what ‘all the prophets have spoken’ it will do you [and me] some good.
(1355) ‘For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly [it’s not your fault!] but by the will of him who subjected it in hope’- Paul addressing the church at Rome. A year or so ago I read a story on a famous underground author, Hunter Thompson, who committed suicide. Supposedly he was suffering from some type of sickness and simply left the world behind; he had ‘no hope’. It reminded me of the famous author Ernest Hemingway; he too shared the same fate. Both of these men rejected God. In the above passage of scripture Paul is speaking about the redemption of the whole creation. God was the one who ‘subjected it to futility’. When speaking about the story of David and his men a few posts back, Jesus said ‘have you never read what David did’ and he was talking about the story of king David eating the ceremonial bread and giving it to his men- it says ‘he ate, and gave to them who were with him’. At the last meal Jesus takes the bread and wine and says ‘this is my body which is broken for you’ a type of the sacrificial death of Jesus. He too ate, like David. How could Jesus also be a partaker of his own ‘bread’ [Cross]? Paul said that he was ‘filling up in his body the sufferings of Christ’ there is an aspect of suffering that the people of God go thru, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. These sufferings glorify God and in a sense ‘Jesus too receives glory from the broken bread’ [us!] The Hunter Thompsons and Hemingway’s of the world see futility and to them there is no future hope of redemption, they chose to ‘not hope’. Paul said the sufferings of this present time were not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in/thru us. James said ‘count it all joy when you fall into various trials and tests’. Remember, the creation is subjected to futility, not willingly, but by Gods purpose- don’t blame yourself for ‘the futility’.
(1356) LET THE NATIONS BE GATHERED TOGETHER AND THE PEOPLE BE ASSEMBLED- In the gospels Jesus uses the imagery of a table to describe the kingdom ‘They shall come from the north and south and east and west and sit at my table in my kingdom’. Psalms says ‘thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies’ God has a way of ‘setting the table’ if you will. Now the church has been divided over the use of the gospels versus the epistles [letters of Paul]. Historically Protestants have focused more on the epistles, specifically Galatians, Romans- and the Catholic/Orthodox include much of the gospels in their services. When we leave out either we get into trouble. A strong focus on the gospels without the epistles can lead to a legalistic righteousness- trying to simply live up to the moral law type of a thing, without a good understanding of the Spirit empowered life. But too much of a focus on the epistles without a high regard for the gospels can lead to a view of Christianity that sees ‘right doctrine’ as being more important than ‘right acting’ [orthopraxy]. So for sure we need both. One of the other interesting things we see in the gospels is the ‘kingdom’ in action versus an ecclesiology focused on ‘church meetings’. For instance we read of Jesus sending out the disciples and telling them ‘go, preach, heal, do good- and whatever city/place rejects you then wipe off the dust of that place when you leave’ Ouch! Yet at the same time you find the crowds drawn to Jesus everywhere he goes. Sort of like a message/lifestyle that goes out into society to impact it, but not a whole lotta ‘come to my church’ type stuff. In American Christianity we see too much focus on ‘come to/support this ministry’ type of a thing, and not enough ‘shaking the dust off our feet’- that is doing the will of God and then being able to walk away. In John’s gospel John the Baptist [not the author] says ‘he must increase and I MUST decrease’ there really isn’t much of a choice. I want to challenge you today, are you [especially Pastors/ministers] spending too much time trying to raise support for ‘the church’? Do you primarily see your responsibility as filling up a meeting room? Reorient your life around the action seen in the gospels, impact people and give them leadership, but then be able to decrease, to let them see you ‘less and less’ as time goes by- and be willing to walk away from some things, not walk away from responsible leadership, but from things that center too much on our individual personas. Just because people want to hear us speak in person, or just because the crowds get bigger, this is not automatically a signal for building a bigger building! We need to re-look at lots of things, let the people be gathered together and the nations be assembled [i.e. be available to impact groups] but don’t be obsessed with forcing people to gather [come to church type of a focus].
(1357) I WILL UNCOVER THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN HIDDEN SINCE THE WORLDS FIRST DAY- [Jesus]. Yesterday I read an article in the paper that talked about an amazing dinosaur find in China; they found around 15 thousand fossils in a cave area. The amazing thing was the fact that so many dinosaurs would have been in one place right when they died. I immediately saw this as proof that would back up the creationist cataclysmic view of a worldwide flood destroying all life on the planet. As I read thru the article they explained how much of ‘fossil science’ has been done thru finds in the U.S., but over the last few years China [and the eastern world in general] have undergone their own industrial revolution and this has led to the unearthing of new ground for the purpose of construction and these new projects are unearthing these fossils. Much like what took place in the 19th century when many archaeologists were discovering ‘hidden things’ that seemed to be buried ‘since the foundation of the world’. In the 19th century it was popular for the intellectuals in theology to embrace the ‘historical/critical’ method of bible learning. Many began to reject the early dating of the New Testament [early- a.d. 50-70] and began accepting a theory that said much of the New Testament was written in the 2nd century. These ideas were promoted by men like Rudolph Bultman and were made popular at the German university which he taught at [in Marburg]. So it became ‘intellectually fashionable’ to accept this new way of critiquing scripture. One problem- as the industrial revolution took off in the west archeology rose as a new science and we now had the ability to historically search for clues. A famous historian by the name of Sir Ramsey went on this exhibition to see whether or not the bible was accurate when it spoke about ‘so called’ first century things. Our bibles do have lots of names of political characters and certain historical events that can be measured for accuracy. Ramsey found to his dismay that all the evidence leaned towards the ‘less enlightened’ view of an early dating of the New Testament. This was a tough pill to swallow by the intellectuals who had already formed their opinions on the subject, but in due time most trustworthy scholars would come to accept [for the most part] the earlier dating. So now back to the dinosaurs, as the article went on they admitted that it’s possible that a Tsunami might have caused the dinosaurs to gather in one place before their deaths- A FLOOD! It’s funny because some in the modern scientific community have argued, very convincingly, that the Geologic table and the extinction of the dinosaurs can be attributed to a world wide flood. Others have vehemently opposed this idea [most evolutionists]. And now the new evidence seems to be backing up a flood theory, they simply don’t want to admit it. Like the intellectuals of Sir Ramsey’s day, the smart thing to do is to go where the evidence leads. The facts don’t lie; these are ‘facts’ that are being now uncovered, things hidden ‘since the world’s first day’.
(1358) LOTS OF PEOPLE WOULD HAVE GIVEN ANYTHING TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE SEEING AND TO HEAR WHAT YOU ARE HEARING, BUT THEY NEVER HAD THE CHANCE- Jesus to his men- Message bible. This week we had the passing of the famed author J.D. Salinger. He wrote the famous Catcher in the Rye and around 3-4 other books. He dropped out of sight in 1965 and gave 1 interview thru out the years . Though he was considered a great writer [by some] he chose to ‘not write’ [or at least publish- some think we will find a hidden trove of his books]. He hated publishing and rejected the limelight and success. But in a strange way this added to his mystique and eventually his book would become standard reading in many high schools. In essence ‘many people would have loved to see what he was able to see/write, but never had the chance’. As I am reading thru the gospels right now it’s interesting to see ‘the Jesus model’- his men are arguing over who will be ‘the greatest’ as he is getting ready for the Cross! Come on guys, the time is short and you still haven’t learned? He asks them ‘who is greater, the one who serves or the one who is being served’? In their minds the one who is being served, the owner/master has achieved the greatness and success and notoriety. But then Jesus does the unthinkable [for a king] he takes a towel and washes the disciples feet, he tells them that he that becomes the least- walks away from the fame and recognition- this one is the greatest. Truly Jesus was the ‘small seed, the least of all seeds. But when he was planted he became the greatest tree in the earth’ He practiced what he preached. Who knows, maybe Salinger would have never gained the recognition of being a great author if he sought to be a great author. Either way he fulfilled the mystery of an enigma, he ran from the glory and it chased him till the end.
(1359) ‘Now go, write it before them on a tablet [in a table] and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come, forever and ever’ Isaiah 30:8 ‘Take a large scroll and write on it with the pen of a man’ ‘Write the vision and make it plain upon tables [tablets] that he may run that reads it’ ‘all these sayings were noised abroad, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts’ [Jesus in the gospels]. Last night I caught an interesting movie ‘the book of Eli’ with Denzel Washington. If you haven’t seen it yet then don’t read the rest of this post. Eli lives in this future apocalyptic world [Mad Max] and is on this mission to travel west, he encounters all types of obstacles on the way [lots of blood and guts] and finally arrives at his destination, it’s a publishing house stuck on Alcatraz where these survivors spend all their time copying any books they can get their hands on for the future world; Eli announces ‘I have a King James Bible’ and he gets in. The book of Eli was the bible. In the above verses God shows us how important it is in the history of Salvation for people to write and record his words. In the middle ages you had the Monastic movement [Monks, monasteries] and these Catholic brothers separated themselves from the corruption of the world and became spiritual hermits. They were experts at 2 things; farming and the copying of important manuscripts. In the middle ages secular society learned farming thru the monks. The art of copying ancient books not only preserved theological works, but also secular ones. It was their dedication to saving these works that led to the Renaissance and rediscovery of the ancient works of philosophy and Greek thought. They were like the scribes of Jesus day. Do you value the ability to have and access great treasures? Even the bible, as history, is incredibly valuable. I mean how many other First century [and earlier] documents are lying all over the place and are being read and quoted by 1st graders as well as professors? With the great library system of our day [which I used extensively over a 15 year period] as well as the internet we have the ability to truly learn stuff that past generations would have given anything to have learned. Proverbs says wisdom is lying in the streets, at the crossroads of every city- yet fools have no appetite for it. I want to challenge you guys today, especially all our Pastors and leaders, take time to acquaint yourself with the great classics of western literature, read the great Christian [and non Christian] works of the centuries, don’t spend all your time reading/learning from one group or movement [especially if it’s one of these isolated Christian denominations] God [and men] have gone to too much trouble to get these valuable words copied and distributed to the world, take some time to read them.
(1360) Lets do a little Catholic/Protestant stuff. First, those of you who have read this site for any period of time know that as a Protestant I am ‘pro Catholic’ that is I read and study Catholic scholars, believe in the ECT statement [Evangelicals and Catholics together] and for the most part am pro Catholic in that sense. I have offended more Protestants because of this stance than Catholics. But sometimes I need to state the differences and be honest about them, true ecumenical unity should never be achieved on the altar of doctrine, we should not sacrifice sincerely held beliefs while seeking unity for Christ’s church. Last night I caught the journey home show with Marcus Grodi as well as Catholic scholar Scott Hahn [EWTN- the Catholic network]. Scott was doing a teaching on the sacraments of the church and shared a common belief in the ‘incarnational’ aspect of matter. Some theologians believe [both Catholic and Protestant] that since God became man in Jesus, that this united/sanctified matter in a way that never occurred before. They will carry this thought into sacramental theology and teach a kind of ‘connection’ with God thru material things; both Baptism and the Eucharist would be major examples. I believe the historic church was well intended when they developed this idea, they were combating the popular Greek/Gnostic belief that matter is inherently evil, not a biblical doctrine. As Scott Hahn made the argument I simply felt that he gave too much weight to the idea that because of the incarnation [God becoming man] that now there is a special ‘sanctity’ to material things when connected with the sacraments. Does the bible teach that there are actual physical things in this world that carry out the truth of the incarnation in a material way? Actually it does, the bible teaches that the bodies of believers have this special aspect because Gods Spirit lives in us. In essence the idea of ‘special matter’ that is often taught by well meaning scholars can be applied to the physical church in the earth, all who believe. I do not totally dismiss sacramental theology, many Protestants who dismiss it out of hand are not aware of the strong beliefs that the reformers held too in these areas. Luther is often misunderstood when it comes to his disagreement with Calvin, many teach and think that he split with Calvin over the doctrine of Predestination, he did not- Luther’s written views on the doctrine were just as strong [if not stronger] on the subject. Calvin never wrote a book dedicated solely to the doctrine, Luther did [bondage of the will]. But they did split on the sacrament of the Eucharist, Luther’s view [consubstantiation] was much closer to the Catholic view than Calvin, and Zwingli [the Swiss reformer] was further away than both Calvin and Luther. Lutheranism would eventually be developed by a protégé of Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and the Lutheran church would bear the image of Melanchthon more than Luther. The point being many good men have held to very strong views on these matters. I believe the biblical doctrine leans more heavily on the ‘material body’ of the believer as being the major material change since the incarnation, I do not hold to the idea that ‘God becoming man’ fundamentally changed the nature of matter when dealing with the sacraments. Matter is not [nor ever was] intrinsically evil, Greek dualism got it wrong from the start- we do not need a strong sacramental theology to refute this, scripture itself will do.
(1361) EUTOPIA OR BUST- Thomas More, the Catholic churchman who was martyred for his faith by Henry the 8th because he would not assent to the newly formed doctrine of the king of England being the head of the church, wrote the Latin book ‘Utopia’ in the year 1516. Utopia was this fictional island, ruled by ‘king Utopas’ and was the ideal society where wealth and power were not the characteristics of success. They lived a communal life where each person would take yearly turns of working on the farms where the people’s needs were met. No private ownership of property- just everybody living in this ideal world. Marxists would later lay claim to this idea and prove the futility of man in attempting to create this world. Scholars disagree over what More was trying to say; but for sure he was challenging materialistic worldviews and longing for some type of communal society as seen in the book of Acts [everyone sharing in the common purse type of thing]. Yesterday I watched Judd Greg rip thru Peter Orzag. Greg is the top Republican for finances and Orzag was defending the president’s new budget. The budget includes 30 billion for ‘jobs stimulus’ basically another tarp thing for business. The reason Greg was furious is because the tarp law said that any money eventually paid back, by law would have to go to reducing the debt. Instead the president wants to use this money as an open account that could be spent on a regular basis. Why? There are various ways any president can try and boost jobs/economy, you can implement serious fiscal discipline and make it easier for small business to operate [part of the 30 billion for small business] or you could say ‘lets spend tons of federal money on all types of things- 1st time home buyers, cash for clunkers, new billions every year for the next few years until my term runs out’ you can engage in simply digging the country deeper into debt for the next few years and this would initially make things look better. Walla, Utopia is here! When the administration makes the defense ‘we inherited these problems from Bush’ it is usually presented in a way that says the failed economic policies of the past president caused us to be dealt a hand that was bad. Okay, got it. But every president has been dealt some type of hand. Bush did inherit a recession from Clinton, grant it, it wasn’t near as bad as what Obama got, but it was real. Then 911 happened and this tragic event froze the global economy in just as dangerous a way as the banking crisis. And of course we had 2 wars. The point is all these things [except the wars] were also things out of the control of the former president; he inherited things that Obama too would ‘inherit’. But the administration does not include this when they make their case; they simply say it was the failed Bush presidency that led to where we are today. That’s why the blame game doesn’t work too well. We all want Utopia [in a sense] but we live in the real world and we can’t resort to tricks and schemes to make things look better, just for now. These policies often cause the disease to linger on longer than if we let it run its course. Many real estate experts are fearing another big drop [10 %] in home prices for this year. Why? They believe that the delaying of foreclosures and giving low % money and an extra 8 thousand dollar tax credit to buyers, that all these things prevented the market from reaching a real floor in prices, and so the market will still have to balance out and finally reach its low. It would have been better to have swallowed the medicine the first time around. For any president to have a ‘slush fund’ of billions of dollars that the govt. can dole out on a rotating basis is really not playing by the rules. Politically it can make it look like ‘see, we have improved things’ but not only is this fund limited by law from being used in this way, it often delays the real pain for another year- say in a non election one.
(1362) SPANDEX! The other night my daughter called my wife and invited her to go workout at the gym, I told her ‘tell her dad wants to go too, he’s changing into his spandex right now’ she replied she can only take one guest per day. Now, were her words accurate? Yes. Was that the primary reason I wasn’t going? Highly doubtful. In the Christian world there are times when the things we say might be ‘orthodox’ but the motives might be questionable. The other night I caught Hank Hanegraaff’s [bible answer man] show. I at one time was accused of being like him [heresy hunter] but it’s only been the last few months that I’ve ever really heard him. We don’t get his radio show in Corpus and his TV show just started airing on the religious networks. But I did read his groundbreaking book ‘Christianity in Crisis’ and some thought my stand against the prosperity gospel came from that, they were wrong. I did not agree with all the arguments and style of the book. But this month’s magazine from Hank [which I also don’t subscribe to] deals with the ‘Local Church’ movement started by the great apostle/missionary Watchmen Nee. I have written on Nee before [under the cults section- not because I think their one!] and have read on the movement before. Nee started an indigenous Chinese church that has been persecuted for years by the communist govt., he died for the faith in prison and his house church movement is considered one of the most influential in the world today. Back in the 70’s during the Jesus movement on the west coast they had some influence in the area, this was at the same time the ‘counter cult’ movement sprung up. Many of the statements from Nee and his successor ‘Witness Lee’ were scrutinized and labeled as cultic, a war raged between the apologists and has even gone to the courts. The Local Church sued Harvest house [Christian book publisher] and claimed they were defamed by the cult books that included their church in them, and the Texas Supreme court eventually sided with harvest house, the Local Church is appealing. Enter Hank H., the original research done against the movement was by Hank Hanegraaff and CRI, others followed. The reason they were labeled as a cult was primarily because of their statements on the Trinity and the ‘deification’ of the believer. Some of their official statements said ‘Jesus is the Holy Spirit’ and ‘Jesus is also the Father’. These statements were deemed ‘Modalistic’ [an ancient heresy condemned by the early church that described God as having different modes as opposed to being One in 3] and thus the title cult was stuck on them. But after many years of research and fellowship with the group, Hank changed his mind and came to their defense. This made him a target for the other apologetic groups and they strongly disagreed with his change of mind. Hank said that even though many of the statements sounded questionable, that as you read further into their materials and personally interview members of the group that they for the most part accept the Trinity and do not fall into the cult category. Some of the on line stuff against them states ‘they believe that Jesus is the Spirit, this is heresy’ yet the movement quotes Paul in Corinthians ‘The Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty’. This verse actually says ‘the Lord is that same Holy Spirit’ does this mean that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ‘the same person’? No, but it does use language that is in keeping with what the Local Church movement has said. The other verse in Isaiah speaks of Jesus as ‘the mighty God, everlasting Father’ so this also is language that the movement has used ‘Jesus is the Father’. Though these statements from the movement cause some concern, overall Hank believed that they did not finally fall into the cult category. When reading some of their statements on line last night I still had some problems with the way they said stuff [that after Jesus rose from the dead he became the Spirit] but I also see how difficult it is to explain both the Triune nature of God and also declare his Unity. When Jesus was asked what the great commandment was, in Marks gospel he begins the famous answer with ‘hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one’ he is quoting Deuteronomy. So those who focus on the Oneness of God can see these verses as saying ‘yes God is Father, Son and Spirit- yet they are also one’. So as you can see we need to be careful when parsing words like this. All in all I always accepted the Local Church movement [which is not a name they have given to their movement, but it is how they are labeled when reading about them] as fellow believers in Christ, while at the same time having problems with some of the official statements that the church has made [and still holds to] but wanted to give Hanegraaff credit for his change of mind, while I have not read the article in their magazine [Christian Research Journal] I have been familiar with this debate for a few years. I appreciate Hanks willingness to say ‘we were wrong’.
(1363) THE BAPTIST MISSIONARIES IN HAITI- Okay, thought it was time to do this. As most of you know there have been 10 American missionaries in Haiti that have been arrested for child trafficking. They took a bus load of children from a devastated area and were trying to take them into the Dominican Republic to an ‘orphanage’ that their church was starting. Actually they rented a motel to house the kids until the orphanage could be built. The story seems to be that although these people did violate laws and lie along the way, that they were not stealing or trafficking with these kids. Some of the kids did have relatives that willingly gave the kids over because the Haitian govt. is such an abysmal failure thru the decades of corruption that these kids had no food or housing or anything; their relatives said ‘please, please take them- if not they will die’. Since the devastating earthquake many children have been sold as sex slaves and illegally taken from the country. The Haiti govt. has been corrupt for many years, many of the kids and adults who have just died would have survived if the leaders did not steal billions of dollars of aid over the years, money that could have been used to fix their infrastructure and developed better programs to deal with natural disasters. But their own corruption has led to the deaths and trafficking of many of their children. Haiti’s main response to the disaster has been to ask for the U.S. and other nations to come in and do the job for them, a job that they cannot do in part because of their own corruption. If your country is depending on the free will of Americans to come in, to pay with their tax dollars to help- and at the same time your own governments history of corruption has caused the expense and efforts to fall on to Americans, the last thing you should do is charge these same Americans, who were basically asked to please take these kids, with child trafficking. Why? Because the country has real traffickers that they let slip by, if you are going to do a high profile case with people who did wrong, but by all accounts were not in any way stealing kids- these same Americans who you have dumped the responsibility of your own people on, then you are acting as an ungrateful ‘friend’. The missionaries did wrong, but in no way should a govt., who has actually done much more ‘wrong’ over many years, now take the same Americans and use them as some type of test case. The reason they need to ‘forgive’ is because they have dumped all the expense and responsibility on us, you can’t then tell the same people who you are begging to come into your country that if you mess up you will be held to higher legal standards, standards that real traffickers and our own leaders have never abided by.
(1364) MANY SHALL COME IN MY NAME SAYING ‘I AM CHRIST’ AND SHALL DECIEVE MANY- Jesus, Mark’s gospel. Many years ago while reading thru this portion of scripture I saw this verse from a different angle; instead of seeing it like a false prophet claiming himself to be Christ [Sun Yung Moon] I saw it applying to many well meaning preachers who come in Jesus name and confess him as Christ, but yet are prone to propagating errors in an unconscious way. They say ‘Yes, we believe Jesus is Christ’ and yet mess up in other areas. I remember hearing a ‘revelation word’ [EKK!] on God’s creation of Woman. It went like this- Wo-Man means ‘wombed man’ and that after God made man, he then made woman [another man] and put a womb on him, thus the term ‘wombed man’. You might be laughing right now, but this silly way of interpreting the bible has been repeated over and over again on national TV networks where the network leaders agreed with the teacher and saw it as some deep truth, then the poor audience of millions is encouraged to give more millions so the word can be sent out into all the world. Basically well meaning people teaching fake stuff to the world, over and over again. Now, does ‘woman’ mean ‘wombed man’? No. Our bibles were primarily written in Hebrew and Greek, when these words are translated into English, the way the English word sounds has nothing at all to do with the actual meaning of the word. I mean this is very basic hermeneutics [way of interpreting scripture] so how can it be that a very ‘uneducated’ way of teaching would be broadcast to the whole world when even the most basic bible student knows it’s wrong? One of the great benefits of the 16th century Reformation was the return of interpreting the bible in a ‘literal sense’- now, many Protestants are confused by this term. Literal sense means the bible should be read as actual literature, like if you were reading history or poetry or any other book. So when you are reading portions of the bible that are historical narrative, you take it as history. When reading portions of poetry, you read it like you would read any poetry- in a literal sense, not taking the actual poetry as history! Like when the Psalms speaks of the hills skipping or the trees clapping their hands, you don’t take it literally in the sense that the trees have actual hands. This hermeneutic was not new, but it was a minority way of viewing scripture during the middle ages. Many teachers at the time were influenced strongly by the early Greek idea of scripture having 4 different ways it could be understood. Each passage having a moral, symbolic, literal meaning. In the third century you had the famous school in Alexandria, Egypt. This was the first ‘Christian school’ where you could learn theology and philosophy. One of the famous teachers was Origen, he was heavily influenced by a man by the name of Plotinus- a philosopher credited with the founding of a philosophy called ‘Neo Platonism’. This Greek philosophical way of seeing things impacted not only Origen [and many other Greek fathers] but also the highly influential Saint Augustine. So for many centuries you had very respected church teachers hold to this highly symbolic way of reading the bible. It’s important to note that when reading Augustine, if you are reading his earlier works they are more heavily influenced by Greek philosophy than his later works. Near the end of his life Augustine re-evaluated all of his former works and wrote a paper called ‘retractions’ in which he cleared up some of his earlier stuff. Anyway the Protestant Reformation returned the church to a more solid way of reading scripture. But ‘literal sense’ does not mean you take the portions of scripture that are poetic or symbolic and turn them into history! During the rise of ‘liberalism’ in the 19th century you had many holding to a view of scripture that rejected all the supernatural portions of the bible as ‘myth’. The story of Jonah being swallowed by the whale was considered a ‘well meaning’ story, but just a story. Was it only the ‘liberal’ theologians that rejected the historical truth of Jonah? No, you also have well grounded teachers that too take Jonah in a non historical way. Why? The book of Jonah starts out as historical narrative, but then you have portions [Jonahs prayer in the belly of the whale] that are a very high form of poetry. Does this mean the story didn’t really happen? No, but some good theologians would doubt the history of Jonah based on this [I don’t]. The whole point being when we read the bible, we should have some basic historical framework when reading it, that is how did other believers thru the centuries view these things. Be aware of the various different approaches to the bible, and for heaven’s sake, if a word sounds like it means something in English [woman= wombed man] do a little background study before proclaiming it to the whole world, for many ‘shall come in my name, believing that I am Christ, and shall deceive many’.
(1365) THIS IS MY BLOOD OF THE NEW TESTAMENT- I was reading Mark’s account of the last supper. The disciples realize the importance of keeping the ancient feast day and they ask Jesus ‘where do you want us to prepare the meal’? Just a chapter earlier they were glorying in all the ‘holy buildings’ of the temple and Jesus told them ‘see all these wonderful places- there shall not be one stone left upon another when all is said and done’- ouch! But now he seems to need a building, or at least a place to sit down and eat. He tells his men ‘go into town and you will meet some guy carrying a water container, follow him into the house and ask the master where the room is, he will show you a large upper room, all furnished- that’s the spot’. Jesus didn’t need to spend any money on building his own temple; he knew the voluntary community would provide places to meet. They sit down and he tells them ‘understand, this is the New Testament, the new ‘oath’ the scroll of redemption that John will write about in Revelation, it is being purchased with my Blood’ they seemed to not comprehend what he was saying. He often made statements that went right over their heads- then he quotes another one of those obscure prophetic scriptures that nobody seemed to focus on ‘the chief one will be smitten and the sheep will be scattered’ [Zechariah] he tells them ‘see, the prophets said you guys are going to be scattered, be offended and deny me’. Peter says ‘what! No way Jesus, maybe these other guys but not me’. Poor old Peter, Jesus says ‘buddy, you will be one of the worst’. Man things don’t seem to be going good at this point, I mean when the leader of a community is about to face his toughest test yet, the last thing he needs is a bunch of offended staff! Nevertheless he takes with him Peter, James and John and they head off to the garden, you know the place where they crush olives to get the precious oil, very prophetic indeed. Jesus tells the guys ‘stay here while I go and pray’. He walks a little further and falls down and is in agony ‘Father, all things are possible with thee, I know I have come for this purpose in my life, but please, if there is another way to accomplish this, then let’s go the other route’. Who knows, maybe the father will do something that no one expects? He goes back to his men, hey maybe they will say ‘wow Jesus, as you were praying Moses and Elijah appeared to us, like before- and they told us ‘the father said there’s another way’. But instead Jesus finds them sleeping! What, you guys couldn’t even pray with me for an hour? I’m here pouring out my life for you, giving it all I got, and I was hoping that the 3 years I invested in training you might have had better results, you guys are letting me down. This happens 2 more times and Jesus says ‘enough, go ahead and sleep, I’m going to have to die and seal this scroll in my Blood- after 3 days I will be back and go before you into Galilee, but these will be the longest 3 days in the history of man’. Of course we know the rest of the story. As the church worldwide enters into Lent, let’s remember the price that Jesus paid for the New Testament signed in his Blood, as Protestants and Catholics let’s celebrate the historic churches 40 day season of fasting and prayer, you don’t have to do a ‘full fast’ maybe just a Vegan type fast, which was what the early church practiced, but let’s try and be a little more appreciative of the price that was paid so the ‘table’ could be set. Jesus said ‘this is my Blood, the whole thing rides on me’ he met the challenge and redeemed the world, may the world be grateful for it.
(1366) IT’S NOT A CHARGER! I was reading the account of Jesus on the Cross. One of the accusations that his enemies hurled at him was ‘he said that the temple would be destroyed and he would rebuild it in 3 days, wow, what happened to your big expectations’? Actually they misunderstood him, Jesus was speaking of his own death and resurrection when he said this, but the misunderstanding remained. Of course Jesus could have said ‘you fools! I am presently in the process of doing it’ but he decided earlier not to waste his time refuting all the accusations against him. Many years ago I had some neighbors who were good friends, but they kinda gave the impression ‘O no, these guys are one of those bible Christians’. Though they never expressed the thought, you could sense it. Anyway one time the wife rang the bell and asked if I could jump start her car, she was late for an appointment and had no time for a battery charge. So she expressly tells me ‘I need a jump, not a charger’. Well I have one of those ‘chargers’ that also ‘jumps’ the car [booster]. So as I was walking to her driveway she managed to start it, but not before expressing her attitude of ‘I told you I don’t need a charger [you idiot!] but never mind I got it started’. Now it would have taken around 8 words to explain why I’m not an idiot, but why waste the time. Till this day she still thinks I brought the charger. Some times in life it’s worth the time to correct and even at times defend your position, but you can also become consumed with trying to correct the record, in the long run its really a waste of time. This week the president shot back at his critics over the handling of the Christmas day bomber. He sent out one of his intelligence men [John Brennan] to defend their actions. The problem is that Brennan wrote an op-ed in the USA today that made it sound like they briefed the top intelligence officials along with the Republicans and that they had enough info to know that they were going to read the Miranda rights to the guy. But during the recent public hearings on the case, both Democrats and Republicans revealed that the top officials were not consulted, they were simply ‘informed’ of the decision that Attorney general Holder had made. Why did the FBI read the rights to the man? In their defense the administration has brought up the fact that Bush also did this with Richard Reid [shoe bomber]. Bush did this around 9 years ago, shortly after 911. Our govt. admittedly did not have the procedures in place to deal effectively with detaining terrorists. Bush and Cheney spent a few years retooling our govt. to fit the job. That’s why we built the jail and military court system at Gitmo, the ‘enhanced’ interrogation unit [water boarding] and various other tools to handle the new threat. The tapping of suspected phone calls leaving the country was a new procedure that also came under fierce criticism from the Democrats. One of the main tools Bush implemented was a team of top interrogators from the CIA who mastered the art of apprehending the suspects and interrogating them before reading them their rights. The whole system at Gitmo was Bush’s way of trying to bypass the entire American court system and have a way that these guys would be first dealt with as possible outlets of info. Of course the Democrats spent many years condemning all these new procedures, from accusing the administration as being torturers to saying we threw out the constitution in our efforts to deal with the problem. So Obama made a very conscious choice to say he would close Gitmo in a year [still not done] he ‘un-did’ the governments wire tapping program for suspects calling from inside the country- and he straight out dismantled the interrogation unit from the CIA. At the time there actually were military trials under way, Obama stopped them, read all the detainees their Miranda rights and started over. Okay, many felt that all these things seriously set back the country in its fight against terror, that’s why Cheney was so vocal. So why did we treat the Christmas bomber like a criminal? Obama never replaced the dismantled CIA interrogation unit with a new unit from the FBI [like he said he would do]. In essence they did drop the ball. But they are sending out their guys to make it sound like ‘look, we are doing the same stuff as Bush, look at Richard Reid’ but that was a few months after 911, grant it Bush did treat him like a common criminal ,because it took them a few years to develop all these other tools. But if you dismantle the tools, then yes, you are willingly going back to square 1 with the whole thing. The whole point is Obama certainly did ‘un-do’ many of the procedures put in place by Bush- fine. But don’t now defend yourself by saying ‘we are doing all that Bush did’. This new administration has made some very serious mistakes and dropped the ball on some stuff; both Democrats and Republicans agree. Lets rethink some stuff and if need be re institute the interrogation team from the CIA [absent the water boarding]. Don’t simply spend all your time trying to say ‘we did nothing wrong’ it’s about as futile as telling my neighbor ‘it’s not a charger’!
(1367) IS ‘I.D.’ DEAD? I read an article the other day on ID [intelligent design] it was written by an able scientist, Stephen Barr, and it severely challenged the science of ID. ID is a field of study that would fit under the apologetic category of ‘teleology’ the argument for the existence of God from design. That is we see design in the cosmos, in living things, etc. And all evidence indicates that design/information cannot randomly appear without an intelligent mind as the source. Many have challenged this idea; Richard Dawkins [the famous atheist] calls it ‘the appearance of design’. In the field of ID, many very capable scientists [Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, Michael Behe] and others [lawyer Phillip Johnson] have shown us that you can ‘use’ evolution as a tool to try and explain how things got here, but as a tool it is utterly helpless in showing us where design/information actually come from. Sometimes this argument is referred to as ‘irreducible complexity’. That you can simplify things down to the most basic form of life, and even at that level you have an extremely high degree of information [DNA] that evolution has no way of explaining how this information got there [this field is called information theory]. So the basic argument from the ID standpoint is science shows us that evolution is not the answer to the origin of life [which Darwin never claimed it was- he claimed it was how species got here, thus the 1859 book ‘on the origin of the species’]. Yet most average students of science [high school stuff] think that evolution is a proven theory that has answered these questions. If the truth be known the more we learn, the less likely evolutionary theory will answer these questions. Now in the article the Christian scientist challenged the other Christian scientists over the validity of ID. Science has various definitions; the actual word simply means knowledge. But some say unless you can demonstrate a repeatable experiment in the lab, that it’s not technically science. Yet evolution, in all of its efforts to demonstrate the most basic plank of its theory, has failed miserably. Science has not been able to demonstrate how one species can change into another [common ancestry] the many hundreds of thousands of poor fruit flies who have been genetically engineered in trying to get this to happen, has failed over and over again. Science can’t even demonstrate the most basic plank of evolution, never mind all the other impossible things that evolution supposedly does. So if the truth be known, according to this definition of science, neither evolution nor ID work. But this is not the only way to define science, when dealing with origins [how things get here] you can never find a theory that can be viable according to the definition of ‘repeated, observable testing’- creation itself is not a repeatable event [unless of course God decides to create something!] The article stirred up a hornets’ nest among both sides of the debate [the article is on the catholic site ‘first things’ you can also link to it from Christianity Today- it’s called the death of ID]. As you read some of the debate it can get a little Ivory Tower, but for the most part it’s a good debate to have and many well informed points have been made by both sides, I would encourage all of our readers to go check it out.
(1368) FOR HE LOOKED FOR A CITY WHICH HATH FOUNDATIONS, WHOSE BUILDER AND MAKER IS GOD- Hebrews. In keeping with the last post, let’s talk some more on the debate between Evolution and Design. When the able Stephen Barr shot the round that was heard around the world [at least the world of IDer’s] he made some good points, even though I disagree strongly with the way he represented the other able scientists in the field. One day I had a talk with a geologist, it was a happenstance meeting [friend of my daughter] and during a normal friendly conversation I brought up many of the opposing views to ‘uniformitarianism’ and the challenges to a ‘deep time’ geology. While not a young earther myself, I found it amazing that this scientist was totally unaware of any opposing viewpoints to the standard theories. In the halls of academia the majority opinion is without a doubt that of Darwinian Evolution, it is also true that many people [even scientists!] are really not familiar with all the data [lots of data!] that challenge the standard view; many have come to challenge the basic Darwinian timeline [thus punctuated equilibrium] and have admitted that the tremendous ‘gap’ in the fossil record, along with the discovery of high complexity in the most simple cell, that these scientific discoveries have made it difficult to accept the Darwinian idea. Now the adherents of Evolutionary theory accuse the IDer’s of resorting to a ‘God of the gaps’ excuse. That is they claim that all the IDer’s are doing is finding places in the record that have no explanations [information, complex machines, etc.] and are inserting ‘God’ into these gaps. The Evolutionists say ‘given enough time, maybe we will find naturalistic explanations to fit the gaps’. And they claim that any ‘gap theory’ actually hinders scientific discovery, because it has a tendency to say ‘well, might as well stop looking for a naturalistic cause, God just filled the gap’. First, the IDer’s are not saying that because we have run across unanswered difficulties, lets stick God in there. What they are saying [for the most part] is that observable data [science] show us, in every case, that when you have complex systems that are ‘irreducible’ and stored data/info at the most simple level; that these facts point to an intelligent mind having been the cause of these things. Now, Stephen Barr and Francis Beckwith [two of the main scientists/philosophers in the debate] do not reject the idea that yes, an intelligent mind is behind the design/info, what they are saying is it’s still possible that science will discover a ‘naturalistic’ explanation/mechanism to it. That is God might have created some other unknown mechanism that is simple [or complex] that can be credited with bringing into existence the design/info. They are simply arguing that it’s possible, and not in contradiction with historic Christianity, to embrace this view. Barr also seems to be saying ‘yes, it is very possible that we will never find a reasonable, naturalistic explanation for this, and at that point the IDer’s might be right, but then you jump out of the field of science [observable data] and carry the argument into another classroom’. I believe the ‘God of the gaps’ accusation is erroneous, I also believe that far too many adherents to Evolutionary theory are not giving the proper weight to the gaps, some are not even aware of them! Thomas Aquinas is sometimes misunderstood and is said to have advocated a secular/religious division in apologetics; that is some say he taught that the natural sciences and religious truth were 2 totally different fields, sort of like the thought of Emanuel Kant [Physical/Metaphysical division] but Thomas taught that science could show us many truths about God, just because you have naturalistic explanations to things, this does not discount the Divine hand- but he also taught that science could only go so far down that road- for instance it would take many years to arrive at a naturalistic proof of Gods being, while revelation [thru tradition and scripture] could get you there quicker. Also science can prove that God exists [prime mover] but for truths on the nature of God [Trinity] you need revelation. So Aquinas leaves room for science to go so far, and if it ‘hits a gap’ then yes, you have every right to carry the argument into ‘another classroom’ so to speak. It is not wrong to say ‘yes, we are searching for a city, one that has been built by God’ but to also recognize that the city has foundations [whether discovered thru naturalistic or religious truth]; both seekers can be on the right track, arriving at different times/ways.
(1369) Been reading Hebrews 11 ‘by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things we see were not made from things that appear’ in keeping with the last few posts, it seems that God himself has said we will eventually get stuck at a point of irreducible complexity- or at least we will get to a point where the actual act of God creating the physical realm will be ‘unseen’ by physical means [Physics]. Any way I wanted to mention Moses, Hebrews says that by faith his parents hid him for 3 months, by faith he forsook the pleasures/riches of being a son of pharaoh, by faith he kept the Passover and sprinkling of blood, etc… Often times Moses and the story of the children of Israel fleeing Egypt is seen thru a materialistic lens- ‘look, God gave them all the riches of Egypt on their way out, a Divine transfer of wealth’ actually God simply made the Egyptians reimburse them for all their years of free slave labor, we call that evening the playing field [reparations]. The point I want to make is Moses made a conscious decision, by faith, to not walk the path of the highly successful ‘jet setter’ he rejected a lifestyle that would have elevated him to the top of society and instead chose to ‘suffer affliction with the people of God’. Hebrews 11 also speaks of those who ‘by faith’ were tortured, not accepting deliverance- that is in today’s church world we very rarely view successful faith thru this lens- we actually give the impression of Jobs friends ‘surely Job, you must be messing up in some way, look at the hell your going thru’ but the scriptures teach us there are definite times where the cost of faith will be making the decision to not take the bait, to make the decision to make less money- or to attain less status; these are very real choices that the bible tells us about over and over again. If we were told ‘look, I am going to give you a book by some revolutionary, in it he will give you the keys to greatness and being a true follower’ and then you received a New Testament, and you start reading it for the 1st time- you would be inundated with a message and calling that says over and over again ‘unless you forsake all, you can’t follow me’ ‘whoever loves this life, can’t be my disciple’ ‘unless you take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of me’ ‘you can’t serve God and money’ ‘it’s harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom than for a camel to pass thru the eye of a needle’ I mean you would be hard pressed to walk away from the New testament with a message of wealth and luxury! Moses, by faith, chose to forsake a life of luxury and success, he chose ‘affliction’ for the sake of a higher calling- I want to challenge you guys today [especially all our Pastor/leader readers] have you been influenced too much by the modern ‘health/wealth’ message? Has the busyness of ministry and the pressures of life ‘choked these words that they have become unfruitful’ [Jesus parable of the sower]. Remember, Jesus said the enemy comes to steal the words of Jesus; he tries to cause us to forget, to ‘not see’ the actual things that Jesus said. Don’t feel guilty if this is you, just rethink what I shared in this post and by Gods grace make the adjustments- God is challenging many ministries at this season, there are good men who mean well, but lots of ministry that is focused on extreme wealth and needing millions to accomplish the mission, these are going to be challenged in the economically challenging days ahead. But if your ministry/mission is seen the thru lens of the great revolutionary [Jesus] you will do well. Hey, sometimes faith is the act of walking away from the status and limelight, sometimes it’s ‘forsaking the riches of Egypt’ and embracing some affliction.
(1370) BY FAITH THE WALLS OF JERICHO CAME DOWN, AFTER THEY WERE COMPASSED ABOUT FOR 7 DAYS- Hebrews 11. Also ‘Moses and the children of Israel went thru the Red Sea like it was dry ground, others drowned in the same attempt’. We often view ministry/serving God thru a mindset that says ‘I have this vision, this thing I want to do for God- I see myself being in ‘full time ministry’ and I am not cut out to live a normal life’. Now, many good men with noble goals have done great things ‘for God’, the point I want to make, in keeping with the previous post, is that Jesus gave us a way to approach ‘Christianity’ and it doesn’t start with ‘my big vision’ it starts with service and sacrifice. Years ago when I was pastoring I had friends who would come to our meetings, others who were members, who were ‘word of faith- prosperity’ brothers. I had one friend who was actually an ordained ‘WOF’ [word of faith] pastor. I advised him to try and get a ‘secular job’ while waiting on his ministry, he refused to work. It was common to run into brothers with this mindset. They meant well, but they were approaching the Christian life thru a lens that said ‘I am not cut out for the working world, so I aint gonna work, period!’ What can you do with these types of mindsets? In the above verses the people of God did not disconnect faith from action, real consistent action. Faith made the walls of Jericho fall down, AFTER 7 days of labor! Moses attempted something that others died attempting; he then kept the ordinances and remained faithful for 40 years in the dessert. We often say ‘well, it wasn’t Gods plan for them to wander for 40 years, they brought that upon themselves’ true; but then Jesus would have never been able to say ‘Moses gave you manna for 40 years, I am the true bread that comes down from heaven’. The point being we need to be prepared for a consistent life of faithfully doing God’s will, there will be times when the glory of the Red Sea experience will turn into a bunch of rebels whining about Quail! Much of Christianity in our day has mastered the ‘Quail request’ we say ‘give us abundance, more and more’ God said ‘okay, you got what you wanted’ and the bible says they ate Quail till it came out their nose! I believe God has some good things in store for us down the road, we are all in this together [Abraham dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob- all heirs of THE SAME PROMISE] Its just every now and then we need to make some adjustments, it seems this season is one of those times.
(1371) CAN SOMETHING COME FROM NOTHING? Part of the recent debate going on in the field of Physics argues whether or not you can get something from nothing. One of the arguments says ‘look, we have been able to detect certain phenomena that seem to show us things popping into existence from A FIELD [AREA] WHERE NOTHING EXISTS’. Now, the same Quantum Physics that supposedly shows this, also teaches that our universe has around 90 % of all matter hidden, they say that this ‘dark matter’ is everywhere, you can’t escape it! Yet at the same time we have no way of detecting it. My question for the Quantum physicist would be ‘where are you getting this pristine field, this area where ‘nothing exists’ that you are examining, that seemingly shows you things coming from nothing?’ The problem with some of these brothers is they make nonsensical statements, things that violate the laws of logic, and then they call us idiots!
(1372) JOHN 17:1-7 Jesus said his hour has come, ‘glorify me with the glory which I had with you before the world was. I have manifested your name [who you are] to the men that you gave to me, they were your men and you gave them to me. They have received the words that you gave me, and they know for sure that the things that I taught them came from you.’ There is an element in Christian ministry/teaching when the rubber meets the road, after a period of time people either say ‘you know, I believe what he is saying is accurate’ or when you say ‘enough, I really can’t take this anymore’. Now Jesus will also tell us later in the chapter ‘I have kept the men you gave me, but Judas had to fall away for the scriptures to be fulfilled’ Jesus also dealt with the pain of losing one of his guys. A while back I read an article about a famous evangelical in the UK, he made some waves by referring to the Mother of Jesus in a sort of Catholic way [I forget the exact wording] but he got some heat over it. While trying to defend his new view of becoming more open to the Catholic Church, he said ‘I am as sure about this as I was about the truth of the prosperity movement’ not too comforting for me. The point though is Protestants have a tendency to journey thru the Christian life in sort of a haphazard way, we often see a certain viewpoint about some doctrine [whether true or not] and that becomes what we teach the people, then we see another thing and that becomes the next road. Too often the individualism of the Protestant way of approaching Gods kingdom has us ‘revealing to them the next new thing coming down the pike’ as opposed to saying with Jesus ‘I have manifested thy name unto the men which you gave me’. We have all been put here with a predetermined purpose from God, we can’t say ‘glorify me with the glory which I had with you [father] before the world was’ but we can say ‘father, carry out the purpose that you gave to me before the world was, that eternal purpose that you destined me for, before I ever existed’ we need to grasp a better hold on the purpose of God for our lives. We need to stop following people, even good intentioned people, thru all their ups and downs and highs and lows of new experiences and teachings; in Ephesians Paul said the purpose of us being ‘a body/community’ was so we could be built up and not be tossed around by every whim and new doctrine that people come up with. The ‘Body’ imagery speaks of the people of God as a worldwide community, a living corporate being whom God indwells. When we hear and grow with the ‘whole church- of all time’ then we do well, when we follow too closely individual men/teachers we spend too much time going up and down.
(1373) JOHN 17:8-14 Jesus says he has given the words that the father gave to him, to his men. He is preparing to be ‘no more in the world’ but these are in the world, and I am glorified in/thru them. Jesus saw his mission thru the paradigm of having faithfully deposited Gods truth into the people that the father ‘gave him’. This group of men were planned by the father to have been impacted thru his life, Jesus did not see them thru the lens of ‘these men are here to promote/support my calling’ sort of like God gave them to him in order for them to help him reach some type of goal or personal achievement in life. Instead he realized that thru serving them and laying down his life for them, that thru these acts he would be ‘glorified/honored thru them’. That is the people of God would carry on the legacy of Jesus after he was gone, they too would be ‘sent out into the world, even as the father sent me into the world’. He would entrust to them Divine realities and they would pass these truths along to those who the father ‘gave to them’ [Paul- I do all things for the elects sakes]. I want to encourage/challenge our leaders today- do you primarily see the people around you [whether church members or simple friendships in the kingdom] as people God has brought to you in order to help you achieve your mission? That is are they simply assets to ‘the ministry/church’? It’s easy to fall into these mindsets, and it’s not wrong to see God as bringing relationships into your life for the purpose of a great goal, but I think it would be better if we saw these things thru the mindset of Jesus; he knew that his life being poured out as a sacrifice would impact his followers in such a way that for generations to come the ‘words that the father gave to him’ would continue thru the lives of his friends. Don’t be too consumed with the material aspects of the here and now [facilities, finances, etc.] they will all pass away, but those that do the will of God will abide forever.
(1374) let’s talk a little about the current church scene in certain evangelical circles. I read a news article about a church in Texas, Fellowship church- pastored by Ed Young [the son of the able senior Ed Young] the article showed how brother Young came under criticism for possibly leasing a private jet and mixing the selling of his teachings too much with the non profit ‘church ministry’. Overall it seems like brother Young is a well intentioned pastor, not in the category of ‘the prosperity gospel’ [which some seem to think] and he is a good man, who has been affected by mixing in 21st century corporate models with the biblical idea of Ecclesia [church]. All things I have written about before. Also Pastor Rick Warren [the good pastor from the west coast- Saddleback church] made the statement that the church at Jerusalem was a Mega Church, because some historians tell us that the ‘church’ grew to around 100 thousand believers. Now, I consider both of these men good men, I do not put them in the category of some who truly have lost a biblical message and traded it in for a wealth gospel. But these recent examples show us how we need to re-evaluate the way we think and function. For instance if I were to say ‘the church at Corpus Christi numbers 50 thousand’ you would take that statement to mean there are around 50 thousand believers who reside in the city. To then justify an environment [building] being built to house 50 thousand people, because after all the Jerusalem church had 100 thousand ‘members’- this would be silly. The church at Jerusalem met at Solomon’s Porch, an open space outside the temple. You did not have 100 thousand people ‘showing up for church on Sunday’ [ouch!] but some historians estimate that the ‘church at Jerusalem’ [the believers residing in the city] eventually numbered a high number. Also how should we approach the sale of teaching materials that Christians produce? First we should look at the overall view of scripture, both the basic teachings from Jesus and how the early church operated. Jesus did teach his men ‘freely you have received, freely give’ in context he was talking spiritual gifts [casting out demons, healing, etc.] Both Paul and Peter would give instructions/warnings to younger leaders [elder’s- pastors] to be very careful about mixing in money with ministry. And even though it was possible to make a good living through the profession of preaching in the 1st century [Rhetoric] yet we know that none of the early apostles/pastors did this. One time Larry King was interviewing a prosperity preacher, King asked him ‘how can you believe that Jesus was a very wealthy man, doesn’t the bible show us that he was a humble man’ and the preacher, who obviously knows much more about the bible than King, responded by quoting a few proof texts [Jesus wore an expensive coat] and dismissed Kings criticism. Now, who was right? The image that King [and most people] have of Jesus and his humble life [carpenter] is actually the correct image. The image that the well meaning prosperity preacher had was actually wrong. Now it would take way too much time for me to explain the whole thing [go read my prosperity section] but this example shows us how we can sincerely believe the views we hold are in keeping with scripture, while the whole time they are violating scripture. The purpose of this post is not to condemn Rick Warren or Ed Young, I believe these are good men who I can recommend, I would not tell people ‘don’t give to their ministries’ but I do think we need to function in the 21st century, with all the benefits of modern technology and contemporary conveniences, while also keeping our motives in line with scripture.
(1375) SOCIAL EVOLUTION- As I have been doing some blogging on other sites over the science of evolution, I thought it would be good to do a little on the philosophical ideas that spawned from it. Many sincere people do not realize the bias that comes along with a full embrace of a purely materialistic approach to life. There once was a woman named Margaret Sanger, she was a strong believer in Evolution and its sister science, Eugenics. Eugenics was an idea espoused by a relative of Darwin that taught that if you ‘quickened’ evolution by eliminating the so called ‘inferior races’ by human action, that this would advance the purer races faster and man would arrive at his Utopian state quicker. Darwin himself used the Black Aborigines tribes as an example of the inferiority of the ‘lesser races’. He looked at them as an in between race of people who were not fully human [like the white race] but were sort of a mix between man and ape. Anyway Sanger developed this idea to the point where she set up an organization that would assist the inferior races in the rush to eliminating their offspring; less child bearing, the quicker the more noble whites would advance. She received praise from another man who believed in the same principle, Adolph Hitler. After WW2 it became quite unpopular to continue to associate her organization with a megalomaniac who also carried out the same plan with the Jews, so she renamed her organization- today we know it as Planned Parenthood. Now as hard as this is to believe, the facts on this have been out there for many years. This is also why many advocates for minorities are upset that the planned parenthood clinics are located in poor minority areas, they see this as an attempt to get rid of minorities. The point today is the social construct of evolutionary theory has had disastrous effects; from biblical theology [documentary theory advanced by Wellhausen- he taught that the bible followed the ‘evolutionary model’ of mans advance from primitive religions to Monotheism, an idea espoused by the philosopher Hegel] to the public school systems embrace of evolution as the answer to all things from biology to cosmology. When Christians advocate a progressive-theistic evolutionary model, and when they do a worldwide ‘Darwin week’ [like we just did!] we need to also recognize the social effects of Darwinism as well as the scientific advances that some believe have been made thru the theory.
(1376) I AM DOCTOR AMY BISHOP! This week a Harvard trained professor shot and killed 3 of her fellow professors. As the story unraveled it seems that the woman has a history of treating ‘biological life’ with disdain; she shot her brother with a shotgun when a teenager, killed him. She was suspected of sending a bomb to another person, and she had a history of seeing herself as better than other ‘less developed’ people. One time at a restaurant another lady took the last child seat and Bishop yelled ‘I am doctor Amy Bishop’! Obviously the poor woman has some problems, but what the media is failing to tell you is this professor is no ordinary teacher- she is a biologist, a person whose main study is evolution. A while back when reading the story of the serial kill Jeffrey Dahmer, he said the way he justified in his mind the senseless taking of other human life was thru his belief in evolution. If people are truly just these overgrown blobs of meaningless flesh, then why not eliminate the ones we deem less desirable? Can you imagine the way the media would be in an uproar if this person was a creationist or believed in Intelligent Design? I mean that’s all you would hear about the case, how these ignorant tea party types have allowed their radical beliefs to undermine society at large, but they never report on the obvious effects of a belief system that says all people came from slime. While I do not label all evolutionists and see them as Amy Bishops, the truth is the way a person views the value of other people effects the way we treat them. Professor Bishop’s ideology permitted her to see herself as someone who had more value than the other less developed people she would run into thru out her life, the Christian ethic would have told her ‘no, you can’t kill or poison or shoot other people with shotguns just because you deem them less worthy’ but Bishops worldview seemed to have no problem with it.
(1377) Last night I caught a good program on Christian apologetics. Apologetics is the term used to describe the ministry of those who contend for ‘the faith’. In the early church you had men like Justin Martyr who defended the nascent church from those who would accuse her of wicked things [like cannibalism! A misreading of the Lords supper]. The show last night had a bunch of apologists that dealt with cults; they included the main ones as well as some Christian branches of Pentecostalism. They critiqued the UPC [untied Pentecostal churches] as a cult because of her unique view of the ‘oneness’ of God as seen thru Jesus. Now, I have written on this before [under the Trinity section] and don’t want to explain it again, but I do want to examine the way believers view other churches. During the program the able apologists used lots of wording from the early creeds and councils; Subordinationism, Monarchianism, Modalism, etc. These are all words I am familiar with and have used on this site, as a believer who loves to study church history I understand where these men are coming from. But at one point it seemed as if they were critiquing certain aspects of other churches, sincere believers who have certain views that they have developed thru their reading of the bible, and that these apologists were really not giving a fair shake to these other groups. You also had both the cults and some of the more extreme restorationist groups [restorationism refers to those Christian groups who reject the Protestant Reformation as being ‘the offspring’ of the Catholic church and view their faith thru the idea that we should return to the original sources, primarily the book of Acts, and start from scratch] share the view that the historic Orthodox churches [Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed] were basically pagan expressions of Christianity and their creeds and councils usurped the word of God. I believe there are real expressions of Christianity found in all of the above [excluding the actual cults] and that the Christian church should know the historic creeds and councils, but also be willing to see how these other Christian groups have come to form their opinions thru actual scripture. I mean at one point there were so many categories being quoted by the apologists to refute the Pentecostal view, that they weren’t really allowing the scriptures to be the final authority on the matter [I agreed more with the apologists, being I am one myself, but at the same time sensed too mush rigidness]. I also believe it’s dangerous for any Christian group to leave the impression that most other historic expressions of Christianity are out right pagan. Overall we all need grace when dealing with others that we disagree with, yes there are times when we need to take a strong stand on stuff and let the chips fall where they may, but at the end of the day we should be striving for unity as much as possible.
(1378) DON’T BEGIN BY TRAVELING TO SOME FAR OFF PLACE TO CONVERT UNBELIEVERS. AND DON’T TRY TO BE DRAMATIC BY TACKLING SOME PUBLIC ENEMY. GO TO THE LOST, CONFUSED PEOPLE RIGHT HERE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD. TELL THEM THAT THE KINGDOM IS HERE [NOT POSTPONED UNTIL A NEW TEMPLE GETS REBUILT!] BRING HEALTH TO THE SICK, RAISE THE DEAD, TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLES- FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED, SO DO THIS FOR FREE! Message bible/ my own ad libbing. I like this, Jesus sends his men out with a mission to declare that Gods reality is here. He even tells them not to approach this kingdom with a preconceived mindset of gathering wealth and funds. In another verse he says ‘don’t think you need a lot of equipment for this- you are the equipment’. One of the strange things I have experienced over the years is that I have had been acquainted with many pastors and leaders of ministries. Many times [some times] I would get the feeling that when they would stumble across some of our teachings, they would sort of think ‘yes, that’s what I felt all along!’ and yet thru their public statements you would have never known it [whether some teaching on the prosperity gospel or end times or whatever]. Some actually would use the same arguments from the groups that they supposedly rejected. Why not be upfront about their beliefs? Because modern ministry has lost the mandate from Jesus ‘go, don’t worry about lots of fund raising for heaven’s sake, just trust me to meet your needs each day and be like me’. We often approach ministry with the exact opposite mindset ‘well brother, how can we ever have an impact unless we have enough faith to bring in a harvest of money’? Well the way you will do it is by believing what Jesus just said, don’t start with your own preconceived mindset [God is big enough to get the money to me] but start with Jesus mindset [God is big enough to do it without all the stinking money!] Often times we simply need to re-evaluate along the way, re-tool some things. I want to challenge you today with the simple [yet great!] mindset of Jesus- yes Gods kingdom is here, he is alive and well and ruling in heaven and earth, we express this rule by being like him, not by amassing great wealth!
[just a comment I left on Ben Witherington’s site, good article on finding an early temple, go check it out] ‘The temple begat the city’ prophetic indeed. Wellhausen [Hegel] believed that man evolved religiously from Animism, Polytheism, Monotheism- any evidence that shows an early temple-worship mindset does indeed challenge modern [liberal] theory!
(1379) HOW SHOULD WE RESPOND TO UNJUST GOVERNMENTS? One of the most famous dissidents of the soviet era was Alexander Solzhenitsyn; Alexander was a simple school teacher who would serve in the military when Stalin was in power. He had written some critical things about Stalin in a letter to a friend and was put in the communist prison camps. While doing time he met believers and returned to his early faith as a Christian. In the year I was born  he wrote the famous ‘A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich’ it was a fictional account of a man in the prison camps and how he dealt with his captors. The main character would meet a Baptist believer while doing time and sort of represented Alexander’s own plight. Alexander came to fame when Khrushchev would permit him to publish his book, Khrushchev was advancing his own program of Destalinization and he underestimated Alexander’s criticism of all communist type systems, not just Stalin. He would also expose the evils of the prison camps in his other work titled ‘The Gulag Archipelago’. Eventually he was exiled to the U.S. [Vermont was his home] and received much notoriety as a prophetic voice who spoke out for justice. He gave a controversial speech at Harvard [1978?] and the western media came to dislike him; he was critical of loose morality and the evils of western society as well, he was not the sort of liberal crusader that they mistook him to be. Eventually he would return home to Russia and live to see the fall of the system he despised. History is filled with people who stood for what was right against all odds and impacted society for the better, Alexander was a school teacher whose life took a turn of events that he simply followed; he was not ashamed of the gospel and did not tailor his message to please the audience. I like that style; it reminds me of another revolutionary who gave his life to save the world.
(1380) THE KILLER WHALE- This week we had a tragic event happen when a killer whale at sea world killed its trainer. Now, as I have watched the evolving story get out into the media I believe that they are purposely portraying the story more as a ‘drowning accident’ than a whale attack. Why? First, the initial response from sea world said ‘we had a trainer that fell into the pool and drowned’. Yet every witness to the event said it was very obvious that this whale was either upset or simply decided to attack the trainer. The witnesses above ground said the whale came up out of the water and grabbed the woman by the arm and drug her under; those who were viewing from a below ground room saw the whale with the woman in its mouth, turning over and over again in a motion that killed the woman. Sea world has described the event as a woman that fell into the water and drowned, they are lying. This whale was involved with 2 other human deaths, described as accidents as well. One was a homeless man who illegally snuck into the park at night and climbed into the tank, the whale killed him. The other is described as, quote ‘someone who fell into the tank and drowned’ the same official description of this attack. It is obvious to me that both the advocates of the fish, as well as the business enterprise of sea world do not want to admit that this fish killed this woman, as well as others. The money involved in raising these animals and caring for them for many years and training them is a much bigger enterprise then ‘putting to sleep’ a pit bull that kills a human. There are obvious financial reasons to avoid describing this event as a ‘fish kill’. Then you do have a purely naturalistic mindset that is common in our day that sees man as this evil intruder into the realm of nature, and that nature itself could never be deemed as ‘bad’. The biblical story tells us that after man fell in the garden, that the earth and all things in it were cursed. Animals were not created in their original state with an instinct to kill, the scriptures teach us that this instinct came as a result of mans sin. The bible speaks of a day when ‘the lion will lay down with the lamb’ so the reality of animals having this killer instinct is a biblical doctrine that witnesses to the fact of original sin. For modern man to immediately come to the defense of the fish [animal kingdom] in a way that says ‘in no way could this animal [or animals in general] be exhibiting a killer instinct’ is naturalistic mans attempt to portray man as the pollutant to society and nature, while exalting nature to some pristine status that is in conflict with the biblical view. I believe in and appreciate all the great works that these people do; and I understand the mindset of those who don’t want a tragedy like this to hinder the future of these types of displays; but to continue to describe this event as ‘a trainer that fell into the pool and drowned’ is really a disgrace to the life of the poor woman who really did love these animals.
(1381) DON’T THINK YOU NEED TO PUT ON A FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN BEFORE YOU START, YOU ARE THE EQUIPMENT… WHEN YOU ENTER A TOWN/CITY, DON’T INSIST ON STAYING IN A LUXURY INN, GET A MODEST PLACE WITH MODEST PEOPLE, AND BE CONTENT WITH THAT- Jesus, message bible [Matthew 10] One day I was reading the Billy Graham column in the paper; the question asked ‘Dear Doctor, I am having a problem with ED [erectile dysfunction] and would like your advice on…’ I thought, you gotta be kidding me man! Then I realized it was a question to another ‘doctor’ that gives medical advice on the same page. It’s easy to confuse ‘the way of the world’ with the way of God. Notice in Jesus above words that he clearly lays down the parameters for us; he flat out tells us ‘don’t go for the luxury, the expensive ‘go getter’ lifestyle, you guys are my witnesses and it won’t help the cause’. Now was Jesus saying there should never be an expression of ministry that uses lots of wealth? No. A good example would be Billy Graham, though his organization has used lots of money over many years, yet society at large does not view brother Graham as a luxurious high thrift spender. You don’t hear messages from Graham on ‘we are the king’s kids! We are the head and not the tail!’ type stuff. Even though you can find this ‘head and not the tail’ principle in scripture [Duet. 28] yet in context we need to hear the whole counsel of God. Jesus flat out gives us up front instructions on how to operate in the area of staying in motels for heaven’s sake, the last thing we need to see is another media expose on some evangelist who stayed in a 5 thousand dollar a night luxury resort on the peoples tab, and then using these other [out of context] verses to justify it! This week we had a guy fly his plane into the IRS building in Austin, as the story unfolded he was disgruntled about the way the IRS fined him and taxed him. In his on line rant he accused the catholic church [and churches in general] as being these hypocrites who use all this money, live these flashy TV lives, and yet have IRS exempt status. It turns out that the scam he was caught up in was he and a bunch of friends started their own ‘house churches’ and would use this as a tax dodge. The IRS caught up with them and fined them for back taxes. In the rant the man sort of admitted that they weren’t really ‘a church’ but at least they weren’t using there status to connive people out of money [like the churches- in his mind]. Do we as believers have a responsibility to examine our selves and how we approach ‘wealth and luxury’ and re-tool our lives/ministries back to the Jesus mandate? I recently had a bill from one of the news papers that I run the blog ad in; it was an unexpected bill that really was a mistake from the papers billing dept. But I did have some past months that they forgot to automatically deduct from my checking. So anyway as I was discussing the situation [thru emails] I finally worked out a deal, but also explained to the paper that I’m not trying to be a cheapskate, but that I pay for all of this stuff from my retirement check and do not take offerings [or accept money in any way]. I also do not use any ministry stuff in any way to gain a financial benefit [I do not deduct my giving from my taxes]. It seems as if when they realized where I was coming from that their attitude changed somewhat. The point being Jesus wants us to approach the kingdom thru a different lens, seeing things differently. How would you feel if you saw Billy Graham on TV doing some teaching on the end time transfer of wealth and heard him justifying his Rolex watch or something to that effect? It would seem to not fit the man’s message; I would hope that we could claim that too.
(1382) IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD; AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD- John 1:1 Jesus is called ‘The Word’, the Greek word for ‘word’ is Logos. In the first century this word was common among the philosophers, it stood for a sort of overriding principle that would explain and bring together all the fields of science and learning, the same obsession of Einstein in his search for a unified theory. The philosophers believed that there had to be some type of base principle of truth that would bring together all the other fields of wisdom and learning. In essence John was saying ‘This is it, we have found the Logos- the answer to everything- his name is Jesus!’ It’s always difficult to teach these types of verses, they are fraught with only seeing one aspect of what God is saying, and then dividing lines are drawn between the Christian camps. I was having a conversation yesterday with a person who was asking questions about a Muslim friend who used to be a Christian. The Muslim said that he wanted a religion that he could understand, that God is the only God and Jesus is not God. I explained the best I could and shared this verse and a few others, but I also explained that various ‘Christian’ groups have argued over the way to express the deity of Jesus for centuries. There are groups that say ‘Yes, Jesus is the redeemer, he is Gods Son, but only God is God’. From the catholic bishop Arius in the 4th century all the way up to the Unitarians in Boston in the 20th century, people have debated the language we use. I explained to my friend that the bible clearly does teach us that Jesus is God, but I do see how people have problems with the language. But I told my friend that for a person to use the difficulty over the Trinity to embrace Islam is going way too far in my view. I mean the fact that someone has a problem with the wording of the Trinity should not mean you abandon all the realities of redemption and Christianity and embrace a movement that was started by a ‘prophet’ who killed and murdered and had ‘many women’, I mean no other prophets ever had a track record like that! As we read the rest of John chapter 1 we see how John the Baptist says he came to bear witness, to give a record of Jesus, the ‘Lamb of God’. The religious leaders come to John and ask him ‘who are you, we need an answer to bring back to the authorities, the movers and shakers of our day’ John says ‘I am the voice of one man crying in the wilderness, get ready, the lord is on his way’. John quoted Isaiah 40, he is also said to be the prophetic voice that Malachi spoke about- the Elijah that was to come. Johns only significance was in the fact that he was chosen by God to trumpet the reality of the Messiah, his purpose was not about him or his prophetic gifts, his purpose was to proclaim the last true prophet [in the sense of Hebrew messengers who came down the line- see Hebrews chapter 1] and John the Baptist said ‘this is the one, the one whom the Spirit descended on- he’s going to baptize you guys with the Spirit’ [and fire!]. John testified that Jesus was the end of the line for promised Messiahs, he was the ONE. Why look we for another?
[just a comment I left on Scot McKnight’s review of Brian McLaren’s latest book- can read it on line at Christianity Today magazine] Is it possible that Brian leaves out the atonement because the classical view seems to not fit with the more advanced [evolved] view of God? The problem with those who do theology from a sort of philosophical/historical lens is that they often find themselves in conflict with biblical theology. I like Brian [somewhat] and appreciate his stance on social issues, I just don’t think we need to ‘re-shape’ orthodox Christian theology to get to the place where he seems to want to go.
(1383) WHEN PEOPLE REALIZE IT IS THE LIVING GOD YOU ARE PRESENTING AND NOT SOME IDOL THAT MAKES THEM FEEL GOOD, THEY ARE GOING TO TURN ON YOU- Jesus, message bible. In keeping with the above comment [those reading from the ‘most recent- teaching section’] let’s talk a little. Some authors have reintroduced some of the more liberal versions of Christianity and it’s good for people to be aware of the pros and cons. Recently I received a teaching catalog from an excellent company called ‘the teaching company’ as I perused the courses they had some really good stuff; I ordered and have already started on a course on Einstein and Quantum theory [Physics] I love the course and these teachings http://and%20book are really at the university level. But I have noticed an area where the able professor is mistaken; he says ‘the universe is ruled-governed BY CHANCE’. Now, I know what he means, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is violating the laws of logic and reasoning by making this assumption [by the way this professor is also a philosopher, he should know better!]. Basically you can say ‘there are causes, things happening in the material realm that we are unaware of, as of now we have no definite identified cause’ but to say that ‘chance’ itself is the ruling agency is nonsense. The point being we should all have some background before accepting anyone’s teaching 100%. So in some of the recent Christian teaching some have resurrected the older liberal theories that arose in the 19th century out of the universities in Germany. Some teachers taught that the first 5 books of the bible couldn’t have been written by Moses because at the time of Moses writing was unpopular, and that the concept of ‘codified law’ was foreign, and that the commandment against idols was ‘too advanced’ for Moses to have written down around 14-1500 BC. So these liberal theories espoused a sort of view of God and religion that was ‘evolving’ over time. Von Harnack, Wellhausen, the philosopher Hegel all advanced this view [sometimes referred to as the documentary theory]. Well as time rolled on and we became more proficient in archaeology, low and behold we found out that 3-500 years before Moses societies were advanced enough to write down laws. The famous code of Hammurabi was discovered, it was a law code with 282 specific laws written down; something that supposedly was never done at the time. So how did the liberal theologians respond? ‘You are right, Moses very well could have written down the 10 commandments around 1500 BC, as a matter of fact we now think he copied it from Hammurabi’! Yikes! You see when people exalt their view-theory above the actual evidence, then you have problems. It’s not to say that we should blackball their ideas, it’s just we need to know that some of these ideas have been around for a while and they have been fairly well debunked by other able theologians. Just because a ‘new’ theory sounds interesting, doesn’t mean it’s correct. In the teaching course catalog that the teaching company sent me, they also have stuff on the bible and early Christianity and theology. I did not order those courses because I am familiar with the theology of the professor [Bart Erhman] and though I’m sure he is a good man, I know he espouses views that are really not in keeping with mainstream thought. Now, if I had the teachings already, sure I would work the course, but I won’t spend a few hundred dollars on stuff that I already am aware of and have rejected. The point today is historic orthodox Christianity has answered many of the critics questions over the years, it’s not ‘wicked’ for a teacher/writer to reintroduce some of these ideas all over again, but people need to be aware that these things have been floating around for a while and the historic orthodox view is really the better [more historically reliable] view. Yes, momma and daddy’s church, old fashioned as it may be, probably had it right all along!
(1384) YOU’RE NO EINSTEIN! A few weeks back my wife was getting on me for looking like a homeless guy, she tells me ‘John, why don’t you cut your hair- at least brush it’ and I responded ‘Einstein let his hair grow out’- the response ‘your no Einstein’. Humility is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. Okay, seriously I have become a little messy these last few years. I am feeling okay physically though I realize all things are not well. About a year [actually a few years] ago I noticed some physical signs that probably needed to be checked out, but I had just lost my health insurance and finally went on line and did the best with what I had. At the same time there were days where I would get off of work and barely be able to walk [back problems] and would go to the homeless mission to see the brothers and some of them are in there 20’s, doing much better than me, and yet they are on Social Security, getting medical stuff for free, and I couldn’t even get the darn VA clinic to check me out! [I was in the navy, and my wife also. Tried but failed to get approved for the clinic]. So I guess after a while you get frustrated. Okay, in John chapter 2 Jesus turns the water into wine. The governor of the wedding drinks it and says ‘wow, most people serve the best stuff first, and after everyone is feeling good- then he sets out the cheap stuff. But you have saved the best for last’. Of course we know this is a story that speaks about the New Covenant in Jesus Blood being better than the old, but the point I want to make is this governor testified about Jesus and he didn’t even know it. Later on after the leaders draw up their personal opinions of him, they will not give him the credit for ‘the good wine’ they will find all sorts of reasons to demean him, but those who simply got a taste of the wine said ‘wow, that’s some of the best ever’. Do you [I] have a tendency to reject the ‘wine’ because we have already pre judged the source? Have people ever approached you and said ‘hey, did you hear that brothers teaching, it’s really good’ and yet you felt offended because ‘that brother’ might have hit a nerve or 2 along the way. Jesus turned the water into wine, not just any wine, but some of the best stuff on the planet. Many wouldn’t access it because they were offended by his straight forward approach- they even said of John the Baptist that he had strange eating habits [locusts!] and looked a little shabby [camels hair wardrobe]. Don’t let the personal animosities keep you from the good wine, people are going to drink it whether you like it or not, might as well get in on it while there’s still some time left.
(1385) JOHN 4- Jesus does the unthinkable, he travels thru a bad side of town- Samaria. If you read our Kings study you will remember the history of the region, by the time of Jesus day they were considered the ‘dogs’ of society. Now Jesus meets the woman at the well and they engage is this intriguing conversation, she brings up the debate over where the true place of worship should be- do we meet in the church building or the house? Ah, Jesus says ‘woman, the time is coming and it is even here now when the true worshippers of God will do it in spirit and truth’. It really wasn’t a matter of ‘where’. Okay, she gets into this religious discussion with this strange person in the middle of her busy day, she really doesn’t have time to get into the whole thing. But for some reason she’s drawn to this person, he seems to have insight that is rare for the day. Jesus tells her ‘if you knew who it was that you were talking to, you would have asked for water and I would have given you water that once a person drinks from they will never thirst again’. Okay, another one of those strange sayings, but she’s running out of time, she needs to finish her business at the well at get back to town. What the heck, she says ‘Okay, give me the water’ well, first we have to deal with a few things- remember I’m looking for sprit and truth, brutal honesty about your life and situation. This isn’t an encounter with some ‘wealth coach’ for heaven’s sake! Here we go ‘call your husband’ what? What a strange question to interject at this point-okay, she knows how to answer questions about her past in a way that makes it sound like everything is all right, when we all know it’s not. She says ‘I have no husband’ got ya now. Jesus tells her ‘you have spoken the truth’ the man your living with now is not your husband, and you have been divorced 5 times already, so yes, you ‘have no husband’. Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road, this is what Jesus was getting at when he told her that worship is not about ‘where’ but about truth and honesty when confronted by God. At this point many walk away and stay offended for life, but she was thirsty enough to allow the confrontation/offense to happen. ‘Well, I know that the Messiah is going to come some day, and when he comes he will tell us all things’! It was really a shot at Jesus ‘sure, you know SOME STUFF about me, but the real Messiah knows everything!’ Jesus says ‘I that speak unto you am he’. At that point the disciples returned with the food, they are shocked that Jesus is engaging this woman, they must be thinking ‘thank God the Pharisees aren’t here for this one’ I mean they were always looking for an excuse to discredit him. Well the woman goes back into town and tells all the other ‘mongrels’ about Jesus, he is invited to the town and spends 2 days and this truly is the first great ‘gentile/Samaritan’ outreach of the first century. In our day there is much debate about the how and way to ‘do church’ much of what is missing from the conversation is the ‘spirit and truth’ aspect. I have noticed that when a famous preacher falls into some public sin, that when they make the rounds [Larry King, etc.] there is much interest. People want to know that the things that they have struggled with are also things that we all deal with. The ‘spirit and truth’ aspect is often missing from our modern practice of Christianity. This woman allowed the confrontation to happen; it needed to happen for her to get to the next step where she would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. She truly found the water that she asked for.
(1386) DROP THE BED [AND GIVE ME THE WINGS] – I was reading a news story about a Dominoes guy who was robbed; the brothers who robbed him found out he had no money on him, so one of them said ‘just give me the wings’, now that’s a brother that I could go easy on if I was on the jury. Recently I made a few comments on line dealing with the Emergent movement and stuff, all things I have written on before. Though I have been both critical and at times supportive of certain aspects of the movement, I felt some who also made comments were not leaving enough ‘room’ [grace] for the author of the book being critiqued. In John chapter 5 Jesus heals the guy at the pool of Bethesda and he tells him ‘take up your bed and walk’- take up my bed! That’s the reason I have not been able to get healed by making it into the water after the angel troubles the water, I mean if I could walk I wouldn’t be in this dilemma. The poor brother didn’t realize that he was talking straight to the source ‘forget about the angel thing, I am the Messiah man! Take up the bed now’ the man walks. Now that’s a real miracle, something that we could all be happy about, right? Not. The religious folk saw the man and their first response was ‘who in the heck told you to carry that darn bed on the Sabbath’? They immediately saw the perceived violation of their religious point of view, the bible says ‘they sought to kill him’. What! The same 10 commandments that speak about keeping the Sabbath has a little bit to say about killing people too. Sometimes we as believers [defenders of the faith] need to be able to look past the things we perceive as wrong- now there are times where we take a stand and say ‘enough is enough’ but there are also times where we need to ask ourselves if we are just looking for some guy carrying his bed- the person who seems to be violating one of our ideas. There is a difference between true rejecters of Jesus, and people who believe in Jesus but are coming at stuff from a different point of view. To shoot a pizza delivery boy in a robbery is a serious crime, to say ‘give me the wings’ I don’t know.
(1387) FOR THE FATHER HAS LIFE IN HIMSELF, AND HAS GIVEN TO THE SON TO HAVE LIFE IN HIMSELF; AND HAS GIVEN HIM AUTHORITIY TO EXECUTE JUDGMENT ALSO- In John chapter 5 one of the statements that irks the religious leaders is Jesus calling God his father- thus making himself equal with God. Those who doubt the deity of Christ should look at the way the religious leaders viewed him, they knew that he claimed equality with God. In some of the recent musings on the liberal ideas of ‘the evolution of God’ [those who see the church evolving in her view of God as time goes by] I want to say a few things. First, the incarnation is Gods way of saying ‘yes, your view of me was limited, the very fact that the incarnation is the full revealing of myself to man, shows that man never had the complete [full] view of me yet’. So in a sense, yes, our view of God ‘evolved’ [so to speak] from the wrathful God of the Old Testament to the merciful God of the New Testament. Now, are these contrary views of God? No. Are they views like some in the early days of the church taught- that the God of the Old Testament was a different God than the God of the New [Marcion and other Gnostic cults]? No. But our view of God from the Old Testament is a view of Gods holiness and judgment apart from the grace of the New Covenant. He is the same God, seen absent the Cross [for the most part, yet we do see Gods attribute of mercy even in the Old Testament]. Now, without getting off track too much, in the New Testament we are told that Jesus is the complete picture of God to us; Colossians says that ALL the fullness of the God head dwelt in Jesus bodily. We never had this fleshly reality of God before- the apostle John will say ‘we handled the word of life’ [1st Jn]. A few weeks back while watching an apologetic show I mentioned how some of the staunch apologists were labeling the UPC [united Pentecostal churches] as a cult because of their unique view of the oneness of God. The apologists at one point quoted the verse ‘all things were made by him’ referring to Jesus, and said ‘therefore Jesus is God’ true. But they were trying to combat the UPC brothers by using this verse, the apologists were using it in a way that said ‘see, Jesus created everything too, just like it says about God’ sort of in a disconnected way. In John 1 we read that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. In Genesis we read that God ‘spoke’ all things into existence. Jesus in the New Testament is called ‘the word of God’ to try and simplify it, when Colossians says ‘all things were made by him’ it does not mean that Jesus created things separately from God, it means God spoke and that ‘the vehicle’ of creation was the Son. The act of God’s word [also called Jesus] going forth created all things. God did not create separately from the Son, or the Son from the father. I really loathe teaching this stuff because church history is filled with names that get tagged on all the various views of explaining the oneness of God while at the same time upholding the reality of the Trinity. The main point today is mans view of God did ‘evolve’ in a sense, it became fully revealed in Jesus. Now the liberal view of the evolution of God is something different than this, but I wanted to make clear that if the only view of God is seen thru the Old Testament, then yes we are not ‘fully’ seeing God, the full view comes thru Jesus. We reject the Marcion idea of 2 different Gods, the Gnostic belief that the God of the Old Testament was the God of matter and thus an evil God, while the God of the new testament is the spirit God- this is true heresy, but as Christians we accept the incarnation as the complete picture and revelation of God to man. This in no way negates the wrath of God [eternal judgment] but it tempers it with mercy.
(1388) 1, 2 MANY BISHOPS? In John chapter 6 Jesus is confronting the religious leaders, they are always appealing to some ancient hero of the faith [Moses, Abraham] and they are doing it in a way that violates the supremacy of Jesus. Jesus tells them ‘look, you guys are always appealing to the writings of Moses, if you really believed in the guy you would have also believed in me- he wrote about me!’ In ‘blog world’ there has been a scuffle over an overseas church that many have labeled as a cult. On the site ‘religion news blog’ they have been doing an expose’. The church is led by a man who calls himself a Bishop and one of his satellite churches had a Pastor walk out and split the church. The coverage of the ministry that I have read seems to place them in the prosperity/apostolic covering type movement. I have written on this before and have always felt that there were too many independent churches-ministries claiming ‘apostolic authority’ and these well intentioned people have crossed the line when it comes to the freedom of the individual believer’s conscience. Many are famous for rebuking ‘the maverick spirit’ while at the same time they seem to be totally mavericks themselves! In the above case I think the religious site went too far in calling them a cult. I have read from this site in the past and they are run by fine Catholic Christians, but they are too quick to holler ‘cult’. I personally do not recommend these types of church movements, but avoid the cult label. I also read an article a while back written by a leader in one of the more historic churches, they were rebuking the rapid spread of these types of churches thru out the world. The leader said they were sprouting up like wild fire, all with their self proclaimed bishops, who were basically starting their own independent churches and everyone in the organization is ordaining everyone else as a bishop, the leader saw this as a major problem. What exactly does the bible teach about this? The words for ‘bishop, overseer and elder’ in the bible seem to speak of the same office. Though different Greek words are used, most scholars agree that they seem to be used interchangeably. One thing we know for sure is in the New Testament there were no Bishops in the sense of an ecclesiastical authority over a number of churches. This developed over time and my purpose here is not to get into the whys and how’s this happened, I am not ‘anti clergy’ in that I reject the modern role today [in the historic churches]. Does the bible have any office that does show an extra local authority? Yes, the apostle Paul had a very effective oversight ministry to most of the churches we read about in the New Testament. So the idea of a church planting ministry to have a number of ‘satellite churches’ is okay. The Catholic Church has Bishops in the Cathedral cities who oversee the entire region. I live In Corpus Christi; the cathedral for this south Texas region for the Catholics is located in my city. San Antonio has another region. While living in New Jersey, Saint Patrick’s was the Cathedral in N.Y. that covered the region. So you have different views and out workings of how bishops work. The thing I would warn about is when these bishops [the independent ones] seem to teach a strong type of ‘covering’ authority over people. Many of these movements [sometimes referred to as the shepherding, discipleship movement] teach a controlling type spirit that has the main apostle as the person that the community submits to, but it is done in a way that violates the freedom that we see in the New Testament. The religious folk of Jesus day were enamored with Moses, to the point where they were never fully able to move on to Jesus as being the true authority figure that they would submit to, I think we could all learn from their mistake.
(1389) THIS IS A LARGE WORK I HAVE CALLED YOU INTO, DON’T BE OVERWHELMED BY IT- Jesus to his men, message version. The other day I read some stuff from a fairly conservative blog site [Christian post] and was surprised to see that one of the blogs they recommended had a scientist espouse a sort of theistic evolutionary view. He spoke about ‘human like beings’ who lived before man and had no souls and all, he also gave a version of Noah’s flood that said it was possible that meteors might have impacted the ocean and caused a regional flood. The man is smart and gave many fine examples and stuff, I just felt like he was off the mark. Over the years of looking at the various views among believers I have noticed that often times we can believe that biblical accounts happened, but we have a tendency to want to reduce them down to size. The God of deism has no problem with a God who is ‘hands off’- that is they view God from a perspective that says ‘yes, he started things at the beginning, but it took billions of years for things to form’. Sort of like God could have created the first living cell, but in no way could he have actually formed a complete man in one lump sum! In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean there is this huge ridge, a possible crevice that broke up during the shifting of the Tectonic Plates when the continents first separated. Some scientists believe this happened when the planet spread apart in the distant past. Now, it is perfectly plausible to theorize that if this event happened in a short time [like a year] instead of a long time over many thousands of years, that this breaking up of the floor of the ocean might very well have created an effect that caused the ocean floor to rise and much of the water in the Atlantic could have ‘spilled out’ and easily covered the entire planet in a short period of time [Gore thinks a little ice melting can do it!]. The biblical account of Noah’s flood tells us that it not only rained for 40 days and nights, but that the ‘fountains of the deep broke open’. The point being there are many plausible ideas on how the earth could have experienced a global flood, much like the account in Genesis gives us. But we have a tendency to want to break things down into small chunks, and then think these ‘small chunks’ are reasonable enough for enlightened man to accept. I am personally an ‘old earth’ adherent, I do not believe the earth is only 6 thousand years old, but at the same time we need to be open to the arguments that both sides of these issues make. To be honest, many of these endeavors are ‘large’ that is God has called the church to engage in all realms of society; science, philosophy, etc. – at times it seems like a huge task, something that can be overwhelming to the average student of the bible, take heart, there are many able believers in all these fields that are doing a superb job. Don’t let ‘science’ tell you that all the facts are on the side of the atheists, that’s just not true.
(1390) THE EXCLUSIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST- John chapter 8 begins with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus refuses to judge her but also tells her to go and sin no more. Then we launch into a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Basically they claim belief in God and tell Jesus that he is their father. Jesus replies that if they do not believe that he is the Messiah, then in reality they do not have God as their father- he flat out tells them that satan is the father of those who claim belief in God while not accepting and honoring the Son. This chapter is important for the pluralistic society we live in today. How should believers approach other faiths that claim belief in God, but do not accept Jesus as the Messiah? First, we should respect the various beliefs/religions of other people groups. Now when I say ‘respect’ I mean we should give people room to form their own beliefs while at the same time challenging them with the truth claims of Christianity. We should not leave the impression ‘well, we all believe in the same God, so what’s the difference whether or not you believe in Christ’ well frankly the difference is between heaven or hell! The point being Jesus is ‘exclusive’ in the sense that you can’t really have God as your father without having Jesus as your savior. He can’t just be ‘one of the prophets in a long line of prophets’ no, he alone is the God man! God became flesh and dwelt among us thru the Son, Jesus said if you don’t hear his words, believe that he is the one sent from the father, then you don’t have God as your father. Jesus is ‘inclusive’ in the sense that he even accepted the woman taken in adultery, something the so called ‘God believers’ would not do. The religious acceptance of belief in God, absent the reality of Jesus, treats women and others with disdain [wearing veils, etc.] those who ‘have God’ and the Son, are truly the liberators of society. The world might accuse the church of being arrogant and believing in exceptionalism, but in the end we have the only answer to the human sin problem, that which G.K. Chesterton called the only Christian doctrine that has 100% empirical evidence of being true! Truly Jesus is the answer to fallen man, let’s not be ashamed of that fact.
(1391) NO MAS [SA]! Back in the 70’s us boxing fans were treated to one of those so called ‘super fights’ you know, a matchup between greats. Roberto Duran faced Sugar Ray Leonard. A few rounds into the fight Duran got so frustrated that he walked out of the ring while chanting ‘NO MAS’. Yesterday a Democratic congressman from N.Y. – by the name of Massa- resigned his seat and went on the war path against his own party. It seems like he has a history of making racy comments to other men, but his excuse for being rail roaded is that he voted against Obama Care. It’s quite sad, he is making the rounds [today he’ll be on Beck] and he’s describing all these encounters with the administrations men, he says they approached him in the showers at the gym, wearing nothing, and he describes Rahm Emanuel’s ‘tush’. He seems like he can’t escape language that pits him up against other men, while nude! All of this wouldn’t be so tragic if it weren’t happening to the most ethical congress in U.S. history! Plus, it really stains N.Y. politics, I bet Spitzer and Patterson can’t even sleep at night. Okay, in John chapter 9 Jesus heals a man that was blind from birth, the disciples ask him ‘who did sin, this man or his parents, that caused this man’s plight’? Jesus said neither, but this happened so the works of God could be manifested in him. This might be the most important verse in the chapter. This man and his family lived many years with the insinuation that they must have been children of a lesser God, sure their neighbors didn’t come right out and say it, but you could sure feel the underlying accusation. Now, the news makes it to the religious crowd and they find out he was healed on the Sabbath, a big no no, a real ‘No Mas’ moment. They question the man and his family, they can’t escape the fact that this is a real miracle, so they try and convince the man that he should thank God for the miracle, but this Jesus is not authentic. The more they question him, the more he becomes a vocal advocate for Jesus. Finally at one point the religious leaders get fed up and they say ‘who are you to teach us anything, YOU WERE ALL TOGETHER BORN IN SIN!’ There it is, that underlying accusation that he always felt from the religious crowd- you know, the group who always had their act together, they prided themselves in their upper class status ‘thank God that I am not like this beggar’ type of thing. But now, at the moment of truth, they blurt it out ‘Look at you, your whole life has been a testimony of your utter worthlessness, sure we never said it openly, but we always felt that way’ so the truth came out. I had a good friend a few years ago, New York Tony, he was a homeless brother that came from my home turf, never knew him from the north, but ran into him while making the rounds. Tony was a good friend, hooked on Coke and Crack, but a hard worker and Army vet. Tony used to always question why he was like the way he was, he was adopted and he thought maybe his real mom passed something off to him- was he like this because of what he did, or what his parents did? In the religious world we often create mindsets that say to people ‘surely if you were right with God, these things wouldn’t have happened to you’ we often violate the mandate from James ‘Don’t despise the poor’. At the end of the chapter Jesus tells the man that he came into the world to make the blind see, and the ‘seers’ blind. The religious leaders would find no help until they got to the end of their rope, the point where they could say ‘No Mas’ to the road they were on, but instead they said to Jesus ‘No Mas’.
(1392) CAN A DEVIL OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND? In John 10 Jesus defends his deity in sort of a strange way; he says ‘if those to whom the word of God came are called “gods” how much more shall it be said of him whom the father hath sent and sanctified, that he is called the Son of God’. Jesus is quoting Psalms 82, as far as I can tell this is the only attempt that Jesus makes to justify his deity thru scripture. He has said things like ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ and ‘how could David call the Messiah his Lord, if he is the Son of David’ all statements that speak of his deity, but this quote from Psalms 82 seems to be a direct reference to him claiming deity [Son ship] based on a verse that calls us ‘gods’. Over the years this verse has been used by certain camps to teach dominion theology, but I think they missed the point. The Psalm itself is a rebuttal to the religious leaders of Jesus day, it argues for the defense of the poor, the doing of justice- it is the ministry of Jesus in a nutshell, a strong reproof against those who refused to do justice and defend the poor and needy. I mean Jesus healed the crippled guy and all they could do was critique him for violating their view of the Sabbath. In this chapter they say ‘can a devil open the eyes of the blind’? Jesus purposely healed these people on the Sabbath, I mean there really were 6 other days to do these healings, why keep doing it on the Sabbath? I think he was sticking it in their faces, causing them to have to rethink their religious views. He was showing them the reality behind the law ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ the rebuke of psalms 82 ‘do justice and quit using the law as some religious measurement of class and status’. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus didn’t heal every sick person he met- I know the bible says ‘he healed them all- he went around healing all who were oppressed of the devil’ but this does not mean every person on the planet. I mean at the pool of Bethesda he healed only one, I mean that pool was like a hospice, people who were ready to die were showing up for one last miracle, yet Jesus healed only one. But these outstanding cases were proofs that just wouldn’t go away. The religious leaders kept going back to those events in their minds ‘can a devil do this’? The father testified of the authenticity of the Son by doing these miracles, Jesus even says ‘look, if you don’t believe me because you think my doctrine and claims are wrong, then at least believe for the actual works that I’ve done’ no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t deny the reality of those few outstanding miracles-‘can a devil really do this’? No.
(1393) POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY- in John chapter 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The news gets back to the religious leaders and they say ‘If this keeps going on, we will lose our influence with the people and the Roman authorities will come and take away our position’ and one of their own, the high priest Caiaphas, says ‘Don’t you guys understand that it is expedient that one should die for the nation, instead of the whole nation suffering’ and John says ‘this spake he by the Spirit, being he was the high priest he was prophesying of Jesus death’. Okay, did the brother realize what he was saying? I doubt it. But he was stating a political reality of the time, that this railroading of Jesus would play a cathartic role for the political times that they were in. I finally watched the interview with the disgraced congressman, Eric Massa. He went on Beck and the whole thing is really a fiasco. Beck was hoping to expose the hidden conspiracies of the administration, instead Massa confessed to tickling his navy bunkmates! The sad thing is, as I listened to Beck, he really believes in many of the conspiracy theories he espouses. It doesn’t help that the president, as well meaning and pluralistic as he is, puts people to work for him that have held fringe beliefs. This allows the Becks of the world to find these hidden treasures [UTUBE] and lo and behold, we have one of his people praising Mau Se Tung, or signing a 911 petition that claims Bush was in on it. What purpose do the Becks of the world [or to be fair, the MSNBC crowd] play? I see them as sort of a cathartic for the people who also hold to their views, it seems to be a necessary evil that allows people to vent, a sort of political necessity if you will. I saw Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy, rebuking the media for their coverage of Massa, while at the same time they have forgotten about the seriousness of the war in Afghanistan and the money and cost of lives on both sides, he was mad and raging on the floor. Though I am not a fan of Kennedy, yet I believe he spoke much truth. I thinks its appalling that the media has dropped the ball on this, every so often a story or so will leak out, a bunch of accidental deaths that our govt. denies being involved with, then a month or so passes and a small report comes out ‘yes, we did accidently kill 40 people’ what? The media seems to not hold the current president accountable in these things. They play sides to the point where real atrocities are glossed over. How many more stories on Sarah Palin’s daughter will they do? They trodded out the ex boyfriend onto the main media outlets to share their dirty laundry. They gave a forum to a disgruntled kid who posed for playgirl, and they keep on doing this stuff. I mean this is the daughter of a ‘private’ citizen for heaven’s sake. How much coverage did they give to the ‘partner’ of Joe Biden’s daughter who made a sex tape with her? How often have you heard the story? How many stories on Chelsea Clintons sex life? MSNBC is just as bad as Beck when they do these things to a girl dealing with all the situations that life can throw at you, and yet from letterman to Chris Matthews to the major news outlets, they have all been guilty of this double standard. Caiaphas saw the writing on the wall, he wasn’t worried about the fact that what he was prophesying was that a corrupt system was going to railroad someone thru a kangaroo court and execute an innocent man, he was simply calculating the political balances of the day ‘will this help or hurt our cause’ type of a thing. They should have been more worried about losing their souls, then their seats in congress.
(1394) THE TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY? In John 12 the Greeks come to Jesus disciples and want a meeting with Jesus, the Greeks are those who prided themselves in their wisdom. Jesus basically brushes them off and refuses to cow tow to the elites. He responds ‘unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone’ in essence- you guys ‘abide alone’ [no meeting with me] until you take up the Cross and follow me. This week [yesterday] the news has been reporting the Texas school book story. Basically every few years Texas school board members go thru the process of what the books for the state should include; basic guidelines and stuff. Texas is the nation’s number one purchaser of textbooks, so the theory is if Texas ‘conservatives’ get their way, then the rest of the nation gets stuck having to buy books that are tainted with backwoods idiots who imposed their views on the rest of the ‘Greek’ [intellectual world]. Do our schoolbooks in general steer away from the religious history and statements of many of the founding fathers? Yes. Do our schoolbooks in general avoid/edit out religious statements from their coverage of the founding documents. Yes. Why? There is a basic mistake made by many of the publishers of schoolbooks that say ‘if we show religious content, then we are violating the separation of church and state idea’. The problem with this approach is they have left out a large portion of history while trying to produce a product that will be accepted in both ‘liberal’ and conservative states. If you read the founding documents in their entirety [Mayflower Compact, etc.] they read like a ‘church covenant’ that any Christian community could adopt. Yet when the history books show quotes and portions of the documents, they never quote these sections, why? Because of what I just showed you. This has happened time and time again over many years until we have gotten to the point where many public school children are really not learning an accurate history of the country. The well meaning [but grossly misinformed] opponents simply do not know this. They see the struggle as one between ‘those darn Christian ignoramuses’ versus the enlightened crowd, they are really the ones who have no idea what they are talking about. Now, are we- quote ‘a Christian nation’? Not really. At least not in the way that some Protestant preachers claim. During the founding of our country you had the mindset of the European enlightenment affecting much of western society. Lines were being drawn that pitted a humanist form of belief in God [Deism] against the classical Christian view. Some of our founding fathers did adhere to a Deistic view. Deism said ‘we do not need tradition or religion to inform us of human value and dignity, we can hold to these principles by virtue of our human nobility and intelligence’ that is they believed these truths to be self evident, sort of like the current theme from some of the more popular atheists ‘do good for goodness sake’ [which by the way, fails in the long run- too much to explain right now]. Now, with this background, when our founding documents say ‘we hold these truths to be SELF EVIDENT’ this term smacks of the fact that some of our fathers did indeed reject the classical Christian view. So what does this show us? That some of the founders purposefully included language that would veer away from the Christian view. But you will never understand or learn this simple thing that I just showed you, if we continue to expunge from the record all the religious statements and views of the fathers! So the point is, when these so called enlightened ones try and approach teaching from a biased view, a view that they often don’t realize is biased, they do more harm than good to their cause. The Greeks said ‘we are willing to hear Jesus, let’s set up an appointment’ they went further than most of the liberals on the Texas school board.
(1395) GLTB community [might have left a letter out?] Last night I caught an interview on CNN with a transgender person. Tonight they will be doing a special on him called ‘my name was Stephen’ he has ‘transitioned’ and is now living as a woman. Then the next show [Anderson Cooper] interviewed Chas [former Chastity] Bono, the daughter of Sony and Cher who also is transgender. A few years ago I saw a documentary on a phenomenon where people had this compulsion, sometimes from as long as they can remember, to want to rid themselves of a limb. The interesting thing was many of these people came from various backgrounds and had no idea that others too grappled with ‘this feeling’. Eventually a community formed around them to affirm them and tell them there really is nothing wrong with them, after all many others have struggled with the same feelings from their youth, so it must be an identity thing. During the show they interviewed family members who dealt with the fact that many of their loved ones went thru with these desires and found ways to get their limbs amputated [freezing them to the point where the ER had no choice but to amputate the limb]. One person who finally gave in to ‘who he really was’ found out that after the first amputation, yes he felt a sense of relief, sort of like ‘well, I was told by many others that it was the answer to my problem, so I did it’ he was later interviewed and described how he eventually sought counseling and he now realizes that both his desires, and the good intentions of others who tried to affirm his desires, were actually very damaging. Others felt affirmed in their acceptance of his desires, but they really did not realize that their acceptance and encouraging was actually harmful. He said that after the first amputation, some time elapsed and he began having a desire to amputate another limb. He thanks God that a good counselor treated this disorder and he is happy he stopped at limb one. In the interview with the transgender person it showed how he went for many years without any inkling of wanting to go from man to woman, then one day he watched a show and they espoused this belief as the answer to some people’s problems. This idea stuck in his head and through the process of time he acted on it. His son and wife dealt with it the best they could, but it no doubt affected his entire life. They went thru the whole procedure of surgeries and hormone treatments and dealing with severe depression [and a high suicide rate] that many of these people deal with, and yet the whole flavor of the show was geared towards saying it was societies fault [church, morals] that has caused these people to feel unwanted. There was really no thought given to the possibility that these decisions, acting out on years of feelings, might in the long run solve nothing and actually lead to more problems. In so many words the psychologist who was also interviewed admitted that the depression rate is almost 100 % after the ‘transition’ is made. How should we as believers respond? In John 13 Jesus is with his men at the last supper, he takes a towel and begins to wash the disciples feet, Peter gets upset ‘No way Jesus, I won’t let you wash my feet’! Jesus says ‘Peter, if you don’t let me wash you, you have no part with me’. Then Peter says ‘fine, give me an entire bath’ and Jesus says he really only needs to admit that sometimes in life we need foot washings, not entire body makeovers! Some in the progressive church are trying honestly to deal with these issues by saying ‘they don’t need a foot washing, that’s the way God made them’ they are trying to be affirming towards people with struggles, but in the long run this affirmation will not work. Imagine trying that with the brother who kept ‘feeling’ that it was right to amputate his limbs! Jesus shows us that all people get defiled in life, whether a person’s struggle is with a sexual identity issue, or a heterosexual issue, we all have times where we need to go to Jesus for cleansing. It might very well be that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will struggle and stumble in life with these things. We should help them ‘get clean’ even if it’s a life time struggle. But to espouse the idea of the world that says the answer is to affirm them in their sin, this is neither helpful to them nor the biblical thing to do. When the religious conservatives brought the woman in adultery to Jesus, Jesus received the woman; he accepted and did not reject her. He also told her to sin no more, he empowered her not by saying the lifestyle she was living was okay, but by telling her ‘yes, I love you, and this lifestyle you think is fulfilling you is not- you must let me wash you from it’. I know these issues are hot button issues, and I know many well meaning Christians are presently trying to work thru these issues, but the fact is many who have been told ‘to keep resisting this desire, to not give in to it is living a lie’, they are being misled. They are told year after year that to give in to whatever temptation they are facing would be the answer, this simply is not true. Many will eventfully find the same struggles all over again [remove another limb?] and finally realize that in life there are times when yes, our feet get dirty- we might fall and struggle for many years, but Jesus said you could still have a part with him, if you let him wash your feet- if you keep coming back, 70 times 7, he will keep working with you. The tragic thing is many of these precious people are told that this struggle, to keep trying to overcome, is not being open and honest, they are told this at times by the church. My brethren, we ought not to do these things. [Just a note- last week I noticed that one of the news papers that runs our ad put us under the section for ‘metropolitan community churches’ to those in the know, these are churches who affirm GLTB persons. At first I thought I better contact the paper and tell them they have us in the wrong section, then I thought ‘what the heck, Maybe the Lord has a purpose for it’. I had no idea I would soon write this entry!]
(1396) THE NATURAL STATE IS MOTION- Jesus said there are 12 hours in the day [Jewish day] and that if we walk during the day we would not stumble. He said that he came to do and finish the work that the father gave him to do, that he had to keep moving to arrive at the final destination, he described this work as his meat- the very thing that sustained him. Ancient physics taught a theory that said the natural state of things on earth was ‘rest’. They observed that if you drop something from the air that it always finds the lowest spot and stops. But they taught that the natural state of motion in the heavens was circular, they observed the stars and moon and planets and saw that things orbit, they go in circles. The ancient view of Aristotle [Ptolemy] was the earth was the center of the universe and that there was this crystalline type sphere surrounding the earth and that the stars and moon and sun revolved around us. Galileo and Copernicus shook the world of science when they discovered that the earth really wasn’t the center of all things [Anthropic principle- man being the center of everything] but that our solar system was heliocentric instead of geocentric [we orbit the sun, not the other way around]. Isaac Newton is often said to have discovered gravity, in the sense that he observed things falling to the ground [the public school story of the apple hitting him on the head] but this observation of things falling was really no secret. What Newton discovered was that the motion of things in heaven [celestial motion] and things on earth [terrestrial] was the same- that is the natural state of things was not rest for the earth, nor circular for the heavens. But that all things would naturally flow in a straight line, unless acted upon by another force [classical view]. This ‘straight line motion’ [inertia- Newton’s first law] would be interrupted by gravity and cause the things in motion to be drawn off course. Thus when the apple falls to the ground, if it weren’t for the ground stopping the fall, it would keep going in motion- gravity is pulling it to the earth and the ground is stopping the motion. The same for the heavens. The earth’s gravity is ‘pulling’ on the natural straight line motion of the moon and causing it to deviate from a straight line path and orbit the earth. The same with stars and planets and our sun. Depending on the size [mass] and distance of one body from another, you get varying degrees of pull and this is how everything functions. During the turn of the 20th century we entered the era of modern physics, and Einstein and others would challenge many of the classical norms. Newton’s theories still hold true, but not everywhere at all times, when things approach the speed of light, everything changes. But for the most part Newton’s laws are still valuable when dealing with modern engineering and the basics of science. So what did we learn? That God created things to be in motion, not stagnant. Jesus said he had to keep moving ‘in the day’ because when the night comes no man can work. Proverbs tells us that the lazy person will not work during the planting season, and therefore will wind up begging in the harvest. The Old Testament says ‘get out of the city and dwell in the fields, even Babylon, and there I will be with you and deliver you from the hand of the enemy’. We all know the story of king David, when it was the time for kings to be leading their men in war, David stayed home and saw Bathsheba. What has God called you to do? Are you doing it? Have you organized your life around the priorities of his purpose for you? The natural state of motion on earth [and in heaven] is forward motion, what’s stopping you?
(1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from ‘other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
(1398) REV. ZEKE- [pastor from India] Brother, I accidently deleted your email, if you are reading this, email me again and I’ll put your email on our global section.
Okay, it’s a rare thing for me to take a ministry off of my blog roll. Once I put someone on our site I feel it would be irresponsible to drop them for any minor disagreement, or because they might hold differing views than my own. For the most part I add other web sites because I feel they add to the diverse conversation in the global church. Having said this, I recently deleted the site for Charisma Magazine. I originally put them on because I was blogging on their site and they eventually removed the blog section, but I felt it was okay to leave them on anyway. But after a period of time I just couldn’t keep endorsing ‘the level’ of stuff they teach- in all good conscience I hit the delete button. The other day I thought I’d give them a visit, on the main article page they had some sister sharing a vision and on the heading it said ‘I saw snakes wrapped around [something- I forget]’ and I just felt bad that a major Christian magazine would do stuff like this. In John 14 Jesus says he’s going away and will send ‘another comforter’ this word speaks about the Spirit coming, one just like Jesus. The disciples ask him how he will reveal himself to them, and not to the world. Jesus says if we keep his commandments and do his will, that the Spirit will manifest and come to us- but the world cannot see him and they will not benefit from his work. Though many Christians are divided over ‘Charismatic churches’ yet the need for the work of the Spirit is vital, I personally believe in the gifts of the Spirit and do not hold to a cessationist view. Over the years as I have read this chapter I have been inclined to see the promise of Jesus ‘going away and coming again to receive us’ as actually referring to the Spirits outpouring at Pentecost. This does not mean I reject a literal physical return of the Lord at the end of the age, but in context it seems that Jesus was telling the disciples that he would ‘come again and receive them’ in the sense that the Spirit would complete the ministry of Jesus by sealing them until the day of redemption [Ephesians]. Jesus said those who hear his word and do his will are promised the presence of the Spirit; truly God is no respecter of persons. There is a movement in the church today that appeals to the kingdom call of Jesus, versus trying to convince people of the truth claims of Christianity- to some degree I like this emphasis, it appeals to other religions in the sense that we are telling people ‘we are not here to change your culture [and make you accept ours] but we are here offering you the promise of Jesus, if you believe his words and do his will he will manifest himself to you’. There actually are some in the Muslim community who are claiming belief in Jesus [not just the ‘Jesus’ of the Koran] and yet still consider themselves cultural Muslims, this is certainly interesting. The point today is we need Gods Spirit desperately, though we have been guilty at times with confusing the work of the Spirit with people having visions of snakes! Yet we need the Spirit to work, Jesus said he would manifest himself to those who are keeping his word- a great promise indeed.
(1399) A FISH FOSSIL? I was watching a show last night and they showed the standard view of how fossils become fossils. The scenario explained how they get fossilized fish. It went like this; when a fish dies it sinks to the bottom of the body of water, it lays there for many thousands of years and eventually over a long period of time it gets covered with sediment and it becomes a fossil. Now, this stuff is actually taught today as scientific truth! How many fishermen do we have out there? How many times do you remember being out in the water and spotting a dead fish just sitting ON THE BOTTOM of the water? Then let’s say you come back to the same fishing hole year after year, would it still be sitting there, intact and waiting for the thousands of years of slow sediment to cover it? The way fish get fossilized whole, is they get buried rapidly by some cataclysmic event [let’s say like Noah’s flood] and this quick burial preserves the fish from rotting and predators, and this gives us a perfect fossilized fish. After the famous eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in the 1980’s, scientists discovered phenomena that they used to think took million-billions of years to happen. They noticed sedimentary rock layers that formed in days after the disaster, they found ravines/caverns that were forged in a short period of time- things that they used to argue could not happen unless millions of years of time slowly passed and caused these things to occur. Why make these arguments? The point is there is lots of ‘science’ that cannot only be debunked by other scientists, but that the average fishermen could spot as silly. The reason these debates are important is it gives us another look at evidence that we were taught as school children that might need a little re-tooling. I mean the stuff on a fish lying, intact, at the bottom of the ocean for thousands-millions of years until it slowly gets buried, this is absolute nonsense, it could never happen, ever! We need the courage and conviction to tell our kids ‘yes son, this is what we have learned thru the natural sciences, and this other stuff is simply not true’.
(1400) IF I HADN’T DONE WHAT I HAVE DONE AMONG THEM, WORKS NO ONE HAS EVER DONE, THEY WOULDN’T BE TO BLAME. BUT THEY SAW THE GOD SIGNS AND HATED ANYWAY… THEY HATED ME FOR NO GOOD REASON- John 15, message bible.
This is the chapter where Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches; the father is the main gardener. If we remain-abide in him we will bring forth fruit, if we do not ‘remain in him’ we are cut off and burned. In Johns other writings [1st John] he speaks about those who did not remain in the doctrine of Christ, they went out ‘from us, but were really not with us’. John was speaking of the Gnostic/Docetist groups that would reject the incarnation of Jesus; these did not ‘remain in him’. Also what about the immediate circle of disciples that Jesus was speaking to, did any of them ‘not remain’? Judas would also reject Christ, and Jesus said he too was not really a part of them from the start. In the above quote Jesus challenges the religious leaders of the day by doing the works that he did. The religion of the day viewed God’s will as religious performance, public praying on the street corners, fasting ‘to be seen’, their mindset was one of public performance. Jesus put priority on doing acts of justice, reaching out to the poor, spending time with the down and out, and also rejecting the ‘crowd pleasing’ mentality of the day. In John’s gospel his brothers tell him ‘go up to the public feast and show thyself, no man who does these things secretly will not eventually go public’ they thought there was something strange about his unwillingness to ‘go public’. I have often found it strange that we as believers put such a high priority on ‘public meetings-ministry’ to the point where we really believe that this is the main part of Christianity. A few years back I visited/stayed with some brothers in Europe, they ran a Christian community where they all lived and helped each other out [addicts and stuff]. I spent about a week with them and it was great, I immediately saw the work as a legitimate expression of ‘local church’ [Ecclesia] I even defended them to others who were saying ‘they are not church’. During the week I spent with them, the main leader of the group was just beginning to rent another building so they could ‘do church’. I went to a few of the meetings and it was okay. The point being they kind of felt like the public meetings were ‘really church’ and the actual community was ‘Para church’ a very limited view indeed. The same thing has happened with many well meaning churches/ministries thru out the years. Jesus put a priority on things that the religious crowd deemed ‘non legitimate’ they would ask him ‘where are you getting your authority from, who gave you this authority’? In today’s jargon it might be said ‘who’s covering are you under, what ‘local church’ has legitimized you’. We often err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. Jesus put such a high priority on social justice, reaching out to the poor and needy, speaking out for the widow and oppressed. This same theme runs thru out the entire teaching of the New Testament. Very little time is spent on the idea of public meetings/ministry. Yet we have exalted the idea of church and ministry to the point where we see public performance as the main thing, that’s what we usually regulate our lives around. Jesus told the religious crowd that he came and did all the things that Gods kingdom was really about [helped the poor, raised the dead, etc.] Yet they found fault with him, they fulfilled the scriptures that said ‘they hated me for no good reason’ do the things we do have good reasons, or are we just following the crowd?
(1401) GLENN BECK- Okay, this past week Beck stirred up a controversy by telling people that if their churches use language like ‘social justice’ that you should leave the church. Beck showed how many of the liberal movements of the past, both inside and outside the church, used this language and also were socialist. Is Beck right to warn people about this? 50-50. In reality most Christian churches [if not all] have some belief about social justice, that is doing good, being charitable, etc. You also have strains of theology that touch on these issues [liberation theology, Rev. Wrights church, etc.] these see the role of the church in setting up systems that would mediate ‘social justice’ programs thru the state- not all Christians accept this premise. Overall we as believers should value social justice very highly on the scale of Christian service and belief. Beck seems to mean well, but the poor brother seems to be a little unhinged at times [like between 4 pm and 5pm every day or so]. In John 16 Jesus tells his men ‘a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are serving God’. Here in is a strange thing; out of all the commands of God, one of the most important ones is not to kill. But Jesus says that men are so susceptible to the influence of the world that they can even be convinced that killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’. Now, if I were to tell you at a young age ‘little Johnny, you will walk the planet for a few short years [70-80?] one of the most important things you need to avoid, more than anything else, is don’t kill other people’ got it- I mean how hard can this be? Yet Jesus says there will come a time when people think killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’ Huh? Okay as the year’s role by people all over the world are born and have been taught some version of this natural law, often given by their own belief system in God. So you have those in Islamic countries who eventually are shaped by their nations political causes and a time comes when they blowup other adherents to their own religion and shout ‘God is great’ as they kill themselves and others with them, they think they are doing ‘God service’. But you also have little Johnny growing up in the western world, he attends church as a boy, is taught lessons from the bible, and thru process of time joins the military. He is a good man, means well, and is taught that God and country go together. He even remembers attending some patriotic religious rallies over the years. He gets sent off to Afghanistan and winds up killing a woman with child. He either mistook her for an enemy combatant, or maybe she violated a safe zone. Either way, the one main command above all other commands, the thing that you were always told was the main thing to never do, you wind up doing. You even think that it is your patriotic duty to do this, yes you think the doing of this act is not only acceptable, but in a way it is ‘doing God service’. Now, as an ex Navy person, I support and believe in our military men and women, and in no way equate the act of a terrorist with that of our people; but what I am trying to show you is that as we go through life we can become effected by ideologies that are in conflict to our base principles, we can even do things that violate our most fundamental ideals, and be convinced that doing it is from God. When dealing with all types of social justice issues, we need to put Gods will first and foremost, above all other things. The message of Gods kingdom often runs contrary to the nations and governmental systems we espouse. When we confuse the two [whether the Christian patriot who chooses a career that may involve killing people] or the radical Muslim who confuses Gods will with the advancing of his political ideas, we need to re-evaluate our motives and think things thru before we embrace any world kingdom over Gods kingdom. Beck obviously had a point about the radical liberation theologians and their mixing of liberal politics with ‘church’, but Gods kingdom is all about social justice. Isaiah prophesied of the Spirit coming upon Jesus- to carry out social justice! NOTE- As I wrote this entry I used the example of a soldier accidently killing a pregnant woman as a hypothetical situation, as far as I know this had never happened yet. About a week after posting this entry, it has happened in a very public way in Afghanistan and it has become a cause célèbre for those against the war.
(1402) THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO, ASK THE FATHER FOR WHATEVER IS IN KEEPING WITH THE THINGS I’VE REVEALED TO YOU; ASK IN MY NAME AND ACCORDING TO MY WILL AND HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. YOU’RE JOY WILL BE LIKE A RIVER OVERFLOWING IT’S BANKS- Jesus, message bible. In John 16 Jesus says the father will show us the things of the Son ‘all that the father has is mine, and he will take of mine and show it unto you’. I have been doing a little teaching on the nature of the church and how we as believers are affected by the way we ‘see church’. For instance in the bible the terms ‘where do you attend church’ ‘I am looking for a church to join’ ‘the tithe belongs to the local church’ all of these modern ways of viewing church are really not found in scripture. In the bible the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed, those in the local communities who believed were baptized and became openly identified with the Jesus movement. From that time forward these communities of believers would be referred to as ‘the church’- they were not looking for a church to join, choosing between a buffet of ‘meeting places’ in their respective locals, no, they were actually referred to as the church! Of course it’s fine for believers to meet in buildings and give money to ‘the church’ and all the contemporary things we usually associate with church, but a part of the ministry of the Spirit is he takes what is Jesus’ and shows it unto us; he reveals the nature of the church to us [the church being the Body of Christ, his Body]. Recently I did some blogging at a Christianity Today article on Scot McKnight’s critique of Brian McLaren’s latest book. I Like Scot and have read McLaren. One of the critiques of Brian by Scot [of a previous book] Is Scot felt like McLaren left out Ecclesiology while talking Kingdom. While I do not defend Brian’s works [too much rejection of orthodoxy] yet in this area I think Scot may be confusing contemporary ideas of church [ecclesiology] with the idea of church in scripture. For instance, many theologians teach that Jesus really had no ‘ecclesiology’ in his teaching [or very little] and that Jesus preached a Kingdom message that was different than the church, I think this idea is wrong/limited. It is in the preaching of the reality of the kingdom of God, and the people of God actually doing kingdom works, it is in this atmosphere that true church occurs; people are being called out of the world unto Christ and these people are becoming the church. It’s really a matter of fully grasping the nature of the kingdom alongside the reality of what church means in the bible. Now, I think modern expressions of church are okay. Much of my criticism of modern church has a lot to do with losing the real message of Jesus in the bible and having replaced it with a modern success gospel, but there are some mega church expressions that are utilizing all the modern means of communicating while at the same time holding true to biblical teaching. Mark Driscoll pastors Mars Hill church in Seattle, Mark teaches historic reformed theology in a contemporary setting. So the reality of the church being much more than we usually understand, does not mean that every modern expression of meeting in huge buildings should be condemned. The point today is Jesus wants to reveal to us much more than we have seen up until this part of the journey. When we ‘see more’ it usually brings with it adjustments and changes that at times can be difficult; I want to encourage all of our Pastor/Leaders to be open to the ministry of the Spirit in the area of him revealing to us the nature of the church, there are many learned men [Kluck, McKnight, Galli, etc.] who I think are not fully seeing what the more mature Organic church movement is really saying, we also need to be careful not to write off the historic church in one fell swoop- both of these extremes do not help the church in the long run.
(1403) SIGNS, SIGNS, EVERY WHERE ARE SIGNS. BLOCKING UP THE SCENERY, BREAKING MY MIND, DO THIS, DON’T DO THAT, CANT YOU READ THE SIGNS- Tesla. Yesterday while reviewing some old radio messages, I listened to a message made around 6 years back- as I was debating how to check it off [either good to play, or don’t play] I shared on the tape how at the time of making the program it was pouring rain and how the rain seemed to be a sign because I was teaching on the feasts of Israel and talking about the rainy season and stuff [it was record rain for Texas, like more rain than in 100 years type thing]. I also mentioned how these ‘signs’ can happen even if you’re listening years later, I basically dated the radio message for the purpose of saying ‘look, no matter when you are hearing this message on the radio, it can still be significant’ sort of like be on the lookout for weather signs. I thought ‘geez, I don’t think I will play the message, sounds too spooky’. Then as I was in my yard trying to study, the sky got dark and it started down pouring, I mean I got flooded, I was upset- too much rain! Then the hail came, ice balls all over the place, my kids are like ‘hey dad, it’s raining ice’. Now, we get hail maybe a few times a year? It’s certainly not a monthly type thing. I’m sitting in my yard on a spring like day, just planted tomatoes and am surrounded by ice all over the ground, maybe I’ll play the tape after all. Okay, the point being we need to not read too much into stuff like this, but also not be too intellectual to dismiss these types of things. The other day I was watching an apologetic show and a woman called in and asked whether or not dreams mean anything, the able teacher basically said no, that Christian theology does not teach that dreams have meaning. A few years back I was listening to another apologist, Ravi Zacharias, and he was relating an experience about this tribe of people who converted en mass to Christ. One morning they woke up and as the day went on they all found out that the same evening everyone in the tribe had dreamed of Jesus coming to them. They took the dream as a sign from God and converted. If you do a detailed study from genesis to revelation you will find many instances of God using dreams and signs, in the book of acts Paul has a vision of a man from Macedonia calling for him to come. The bible says they took it as a sign from God. Without getting into the whole debate over cessationist doctrine, the point I want to make is God can give us direction in ways that seem unorthodox. The apologist who simply answered the woman in a way that he felt was safe ‘there are no meaning to dreams’ really didn’t do justice to the scriptures by giving this type of answer. I understood his concern for opening the door to all types of problems with the whole charismatic movement, but the honest answer should have included the pros and cons. I’m glad the tribe who converted to Christ because of their dreams didn’t ask the apologist first.
(1404) UNLESS I AM CONVICTED BY THE TESTIMONY OF SACRED SCRIPTURE OR BY EVIDENT REASON [I DONOT ACCEPT THE AUTHORITY OF POPES AND COUNCILS, FOR THEY HAVE CONTRADICTED EACH OTHER], MY CONSCIENCE IS CAPTIVE TO THE WORD OF GOD. I CANNOT AND I WILL NOT RECANT ANYTHING, FOR TO GO AGAINST MY CONSCIENCE IS NEITHER RIGHT NOR SAFE. GOD HELP ME. AMEN- Martin Luther. This was the statement from Luther after previously questioning himself over his revolt in the church. The day before he was brought before the council and given the chance to recant his books. He acknowledged the books were his and said he needed time to think about recanting; Luther seriously questioned whether or not his revolt was going too far. The humanist Erasmus would write scathing criticisms against the Catholic Church, but would not join Luther in what he thought was a rebellious schism. It’s interesting to note that the pope of Luther’s day was actually quite a good pope [Leo] in Luther’s correspondence with him Luther regrets that the reform is happening under such a good pope. Luther will eventually call him the anti Christ! The interesting thing to note is in the midst of all the action and debate, Luther himself had questions. There were times when he thought other reformers were going too far. At one point Luther left the safety of a secluded castle hideout to return to the university at Wittenberg and reign in the radical teachings from the self proclaimed prophets who were teaching a total rebellion against the entire government of Germany; Luther said if the reformers do this, they will be siding with those who oppose law and government, things ordained by God. When the famous Peasant’s Revolt took place, Luther sided with the state and used harsh language in putting down the revolt. Many rebels saw Luther as the leader of their cause; they were shocked and disappointed when Luther would not join in their revolt. In all Christian controversies and debates there is always the danger of certain groups going too far in their view of things. While teaching on the true nature of the church [community of people] I have noticed that some mistake this teaching and embrace a radical anti clericalism and ‘anti church building’ mindset to the point where they are going to extremes at certain times. I admire Luther for his stance, after giving serious thought to whether or not he should recant and go the route of Erasmus, he chose to stay true to his conscience and lead the German reform movement till the end. In the current day, both Protestants and Catholics need to look at the past reasons for the protests, and allow room for unity where room exists. But to also acknowledge that there still exist official doctrines/statements from both sides that are quite difficult to reconcile; it is possible for Christian communions to work things out and truly achieve a greater degree of unity than what we have had in the past, but it’s also important for all sides to have a working knowledge of the differences. At the end of the day Luther sided with his conscience and what he felt to be true, the other side felt the same way- when working towards unity as believers we need to keep this in mind.
(1405) THE APOSTLES CREED
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.
HE SHALL SEE OF THE TRAVAIL OF HIS SOUL AND SHALL BE SATISFIED; BY HIS KNOWLEDGE SHALL MY RIGHTEOUS SERVANT JUSTIFY MANY- Isaiah. This past year I have been doing some reading on the Emergent movement as well as always reading some book on the ancient church; there are many moderns who long for the old days, sometimes referred to as ‘the smells and bells’ liturgy. Then you have some who are drawn to 19th/20th century liberalism- the social gospel stuff. One thing that all these groups need to keep in mind is the classic message of the Cross, that God was ‘pleased to bruise his Son’ on the Cross [Isaiah 53]. Some in their efforts to make Christianity more acceptable to modern man began to reject this doctrine, the Atonement. Many are surprised to find out that one of the great evangelists of the second great awakening, Charles Finney, embraced some of these views in his writings. Today these views are deemed heretical [the denial of the Atonement] but at the time progressive thinking believers were affected by the charge of ‘how can a holy, loving God punish an innocent person on the behalf of other criminals’? So after hearing the charge for so long, some adjusted their belief to fit the times. There are some things that the church has said ‘I believe’ about; these things are the non negotiables; it’s not that we can’t discuss them, or should be afraid of others who do question them, but to say ‘yeah brother, I hear what you’re saying about these classic doctrines and I believe you are placing yourself outside of the borders of classic Christianity, I love you and like dialoging with you, but this is where I stand, along with the ancient church’. Many Protestants disdain the creeds of the church; they feel that they are simply tradition and that all we need is the bible. This attitude neglects the importance of listening to the council of our fathers and those who have gone on before us, a rule that scripture itself testifies about [Proverbs]. As the Evangelical movement struggles in our day for a unifying voice, I think the creeds are a good place to start.
(1406) ‘Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him man. For he was a doer of wonderful works…this man was the Christ, and when Pilate had condemned him to the Cross, upon his impeachment by the principle man among us, those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive on the third day, the divine prophets haven spoken these and thousands of other wonderful things about him. And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out’- Josephus, Antiquities, 18.3.3 [1st century historian] A few months ago while surfing the internet, I stumbled across an interesting apologetic ministry, I forget the brothers name but he had a well developed radio and on line ministry. They had lots of great tools for people who wanted to learn good teaching, historic stuff and all. But I also noticed that they were very anti charismatic, to the point where I felt they weren’t being honest with both scripture and church history in their view of non charismatic stuff, it was also the time of the Todd Bentley situation in Lakeland Fla. I mean they left him no room at all, he was branded an unbelieving heretic thru and thru [I personally had lots of problems with the Lakeland thing, but still pray for Todd and his situation]. Within a week or so of finding the site, the ministry folded and the main teacher got divorced, I thought it odd that they were up and running for many years, and I just happened to stumble across them at the end of their career. One of the things that I have found troubling over the years is the inability of certain believers to ‘judge righteous judgment’ the bible says of Jesus that he will not judge by outward appearances, but he sees the true motives. Often times the charismatic expression of Christianity will write off all reproof as ‘those unbelieving intellectuals’ they see that their critics willfully reject the portions of scripture that speak of supernatural stuff, and they simply think that all the critics are blind; they don’t ‘see’ the truth. Then at the same time when trying to deal with other real problems [like the unbalanced prosperity gospel] they too think the critics just don’t ‘see’ the truth about prosperity, so they write the critics off. In general this type of thing happens all the time in the Body of Christ. Josephus gave us an historical account of the reality of Jesus and his movement; he based his account on factual evidence, not fairy tales! Josephus was a true historian who had little gain from making up a story that could be proven false; it would damage his reputation among the Roman elites if he did that. But he, like many others, looked at the evidence and was open minded, he came to the conclusion that the historical resurrection did actually take place in time, though it was a supernatural event, yet it passed the smell test of historical inquiry. The above apologist seemed to be a good man, he left no room open for the possibility of certain charismatic gifts as being legitimate for our day, he rejected the supernatural aspect of the gifts of the Spirit. And many who hold to the reality of the gifts, these often have little education in the other areas that they are not focused on, they too leave the door wide open to much unbalanced stuff. As the historical people of God, a true worldwide movement that the historians look at, they will know we are Christians by our love; as we correct and reprove each other, we need to make sure that we are doing it in love.
(1407) THESE THINGS DOES THE LORD HATE…HE THAT SOWS DISCORD AMONG BRETHREN. HE DEVISETH MISCHIEF CONTINUALLY, HE SOWETH DISCORD. Proverbs 6. Okay, the health care package passed, many are upset and some have crossed the line in their language. Even though statements like ‘reload’ [Palin] ‘he’ll be a dead man’ [Boehner] and others are talking political speech, yet in this atmosphere we all need to avoid using words that can be taken the wrong way by unstable people. Recently here in Texas we had the famous school board controversy over what to include in the schoolbooks, I have written about it a few posts ago. One of the school board people is from my home town of Corpus; she is a Hispanic woman who is involved in politics a lot. Now, I’m sure she means well, but our paper had a picture of her sitting at her office desk with a bunch of anti white slogans all over her desk. I’m sure she does not mean to be racist, I’m sure she views her opinion thru the light of standing up for minorities, but the fact is you can’t have any ethnic representative openly advocate for their own race, and to use wording that publicly says things that imply ‘whitey is the enemy’ [she has regularly used the term ‘white wash’ in describing the white board members resistance to including more Hispanic people into the history books]. Now I’m going to be honest about South Texas politics, I have been living here for 30 years, many of the prejudices against minorities have been expressed by the majority Hispanic democratic leaders [I am not saying all Hispanics are racist!] The reality is the Black minorities have been discriminated against in the political system. Some have actually said ‘when they were in power they didn’t help us, now it’s their turn’ [a prominent Hispanic politician about not supporting president Obama]. So the facts on the ground are different than what many people think. I believe we should include prominent Hispanic and Black leaders into the history books, men like Cesar Chavez are truly great examples, but when any representative publicly says her goal is to advance her ethnic groups cause, and that the ‘white washers’ are the enemy- this is unacceptable speech too. Who has opened the door for this type of stuff? Gods people. One of the most prominent themes of American preaching is a theme that is shot thru with racist overtones. The popular prophecy preaching of the day teaches that Gods end time events are triggered by a special role that ethnic Israel plays in God’s plan. This system [dispensationalism] teaches that God most certainly prefers one ethnic race over another. It is in contradiction to the ethos of the New Testament which teaches that in Christ there is ‘neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free- we are all one in Christ Jesus’. The people of God are the plumb line of society, the world around us will never display a higher level of morality than the church- when we as Gods people rise above these ethnic divisions, we will be like leaven in society that effects the whole lump. When we continually sow discord we displease God.
[Just a comment I left on an article about the camel method of evangelizing Muslims. This method uses the verses from the Quran that talk about ‘Jesus’ to convert Muslims. ‘If the verses quoted from the Quran are simply a bridge to get you to the Jesus of the New Testament, then I think we could let it slide; but if we are leaving the impression that the ‘Jesus’ [Isa] of the Quran is the same Jesus of the New Testament, then we have a problem.’
(1408) IN THE CROSSHAIRS? Last night I watched the CNN show hosted by John King, he had on a Democrat and Republican and they were talking about the rhetoric used primarily by the Republicans and how there is absolutely no excuse for the imagery of targets and battleground and other words that imply violence. As they were incensed over the face book page of Sarah Palin, she has little ‘targets’ placed over the states that they are ‘targeting’ for the upcoming election, I found it ironic that the Democrat on the panel used to host a show called CROSSFIRE; it was actually on CNN for many years. The logo of the show was the crosshairs of a rifle; week after week after week- for years, they would invite politicians on and say ‘today we have ‘so and so’ under the crosshair’s’, I mean these media people gotta be kidding me. I have written [last post] on the need for all sides to tone down the rhetoric, but the media are the ones purposely raising this to a level never seen before. How many violent acts have we seen this past year by protesters? A Black man was knocked down and beaten at a rally, he was called ‘n-gger’ by the assailants. Have you heard of an uproar by the media about this? The Black man was a Republican who was against Obama and the men who beat him were union members from the SEIU. It took months to even charge the men with public disorder, where’s the hate crime? Another protester had his finger bitten off [yes, he lost his finger] have you seen a media uproar over this- Nancy Pelosi saying she fears for the country? The man who lost his finger, well you guessed it- Republican, the ‘biter’ yes, a Democrat. The point being the media could have taken these incidents and blown them up out of proportion if they wanted to, they chose not to. Now they ‘choose’ to, they are irresponsible in their coverage of these things. Many people are upset with the health care law because it contains things that the president was against and said he would never do. During the campaign he was asked why he was against Hillary Clinton’s ‘mandate’ [to force people to buy insurance] he rightfully answered that to solve a problem by telling people ‘you must buy a product’ is ridiculous; he said it would be like saying we are going to solve the problem of homelessness by mandating people to buy homes- he said it was wrong, really wrong. When asked why John McCain’s plan to tax high cost insurance plans that currently have tax exemptions was wrong; once again he said it was wrong to penalize people who have insurance to pay for people who don’t have it. Then when asked how in the world his plan will ever accomplish universal coverage without these tools; he simply said by making insurance affordable this would draw people into the plan. He was challenged that this would never work, he insisted it would. Well the plan just passed contains all the things that he said were wrong, unfair and unjust. Where’s the media? Instead they are accusing many of those who are upset with the plan as racists; they are actually saying that is why many people are upset, not because he did what he swore he would never do, but because white people can’t accept the fact that a black man won. Many of the people who are upset voted for the president, and did not vote for the other candidates because of what he said he would not do [force people by law to buy insurance]- he has done it. But yet the people have no right to dissent based on principle. No- they are racists. When the media claims to be ‘fair and balanced’ they need to think twice before they schedule a show to critique crosshair’s on Palin’s face book page, and the main Democratic critic being the host of the longest running show in the history of the world that used the imagery of rifle crosshairs, called CROSSFIRE.
(1409) ‘THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT @$#@!’ How did you just feel when you read this title? What if I were to tell you that an anti Obama demonstrator held up a sign that said this at a tea party rally. Actually the full title is called ‘the assassination of George W. Bush’. It’s the title of a movie that came out during the Bush presidency. Many liberal moviegoers bought popcorn and took the kids for an evening of enjoyment as they watched a fictional portrayal of Bush getting his head blown off. Oh yes you would see the title in your local papers movie section; you would see it on movie marquis all across the country- you can go rent it today at your local movie rental spot. What was the media reaction to this? Zero. As a matter of fact it went over so well with the liberal media that Ron Howard just released another one ‘the assassination of Richard Nixon’ I just saw it the other day while channel surfing. Who said this ‘I could go to the White House and KILL one bird with one stone’? It was John Kerry, U.S. senator, on national TV talking about Bush. He basically said he could kill Bush, the same man he publicly accused of murdering your children because he was a liar. The lie? Bush believed the same faulty intel that Kerry believed about weapons in Iraq, the same intel that led to the war that Kerry voted for. But in Bush’s case Kerry portrayed him as a liar who killed your kids. What was the media response to a US senator saying he would like to go to the White house and kill the president? Zero. What would the media response be if a movie came out titled ‘the assassination of Barack Obama’? Congressman Bart Stupak received death threats from pro abortion candidates while opposing the health care bill, these threats were not played over national TV for the world to see. After voting for the bill he received the same kind of threats from anti abortion conservatives- the national media played the audio and showed you the transcript night after night. The media has chosen to become outraged over things that they never were outraged over before. They reported on vandalism at Democratic offices, but when a Republican had a bullet hole put thru his window, they investigated and came to the conclusion that it was a ‘random bullet’ HUH? They were able to detect the motive of a bullet- wow. The media’s acceptance of not only the language ‘assassination of Bush’ but even the defending of a movie that you could go and enjoy while viewing the fictional killing of a sitting president, to the point where they allow for another fictional portrayal of another Republican president being killed, for the media to say this is acceptable free speech, and then to be outraged that someone would simply say ‘you lie’ to the president, is the absolute height of hypocrisy. I believe all this language is wrong and should not be used, but the conscious choice the media has made in finding every use of a word that can be deemed offensive, and then to hunt down the offenders, is total hypocrisy. Especially when John Kerry got away with saying ‘I could kill one bird with one stone’ while actually talking about a sitting U.S. president.
(1410) ‘But the Jews were so exasperated by HIS TEACHING, by which their rulers and chiefs were convicted by the truth…that at last they brought him before Pontius Pilate, at the time Roman governor of Syria, and, by the violence of their outcries against him, exhorting a sentence giving him up to them to be crucified’ Tertullian, [160-220 a.d.] church father from Carthage- North Africa. Proverbs tells us that wisdom was dwelling with God before the earth and hills were brought forth, that this wisdom from God rejoices with the father in the ‘habitable parts of the earth’. Jesus told the disciples that they were clean [set apart] by the words he had spoken unto them, that he chose them before the world was made to use them to bring forth fruit. In a sense God has pre-ordained a skill set of wisdom and understanding that he foresaw us communicating in time. He pre-planned this wisdom before the actual land/earth even existed! In each generation God has ‘set people’ whose job is to deposit these words/truths from God into a set area [city, nation, world]. It is thru the depositing of these words that others will be ‘set apart’-be made clean thru the words that we have spoken unto them. Be clean- how? The word also means being sanctified, that is God setting you apart in a specific way in order to carry out his purpose. When Nehemiah started out he had a burden for the city of his father’s that was broken down and destroyed, he then embarked on a special mission to a set place to build, yes he had lots of resistance and opposition, but God called him to finish the task for a set season at a set time. Leaders, have you learned and heard things these past few years that have caused you to make course corrections? Were there things that you never saw until now that have affected the way you see God’s kingdom? These things are for the purpose of God to be fulfilled, he wants you to impact large ‘open spaces’ he has pre-planned areas for you to speak into, but he had to first set you apart, make you clean thru these words that he has spoken unto you.
(1411) DON’T MOURN FOR ME, BUT FOR YOURSELVES- In Isaiah 54 the prophet says ‘more are the children of the desolate than of the married wife’. In Galatians the apostle Paul uses this reference to speak about spiritual Israel [the church] and shows us how the spiritual people [those who did not come from natural reproduction- any children by natural means, those born not of the will of the flesh, but of God- John 1] will have much more offspring than natural Israel. Truly the church today has fulfilled this prophecy. In Isaiah 44 the prophet says God will pour water on the thirsty, floods upon the dry ground- and these will spring up like wildflowers along the water courses. Notice it’s the ‘dry ground’ the ‘desolate ones’ that have the promise of bearing much fruit. The title of this post comes from the words of Jesus when the people were broken over the fact of his being framed as an innocent man; his followers and the women were upset about the railroading of Jesus by the political manipulation of the day. Jesus warned that if they could get away with this ‘in a green tree’ just wait and see what will happen when the tree is dry! The analogy meaning if the govt. could get away with this when there still was a semblance of rule, wait until anarchy gets in the air. Many in our country are upset about many things, some feel that the recent health care law will permit federal funding for abortions [it’s really a technical argument to be honest] but the point is, would you feel better about the fact that the govt. didn’t fund your illegal execution? The fact is that we permit the brutal dismembering of children in their mother’s womb, hundreds of thousands of times over and over again, for the simple reason of convenience. This act is practiced as a means of birth control the majority of the time, and we as a people allow it. If we permit these acts to take place ‘when the tree is green’ what will happen when anarchy hits? The promises of God to those who are without children are wonderful, but he warned the women who were broken over his execution ‘don’t worry about this illegal act, because a day is coming when the women who never nursed children will be the blessed ones’ because the children themselves will experience horrendous acts against them; I think that day has arrived.
(1412) IN DEFENSE OF JEREMIAH WRIGHT- Last night an interesting thing happened; as I was channel surfing the news shows I saw that Larry King had on a few ‘ex’ conservatives who are now under fire for their left wing leanings. These are traditional white guys basking in their new found social justice beliefs. I could only watch for a minute or so, it just came off as inauthentic. Then as I scrolled thru Fox, MSNBC, and a few of the CSPAN channels I came across a Tavis Smiley forum that was being held in Chicago. I was fixated for 2 hours [or more!] The panel included many of the famous Black progressives- Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Michael Eric Dyson, just to name a few [Rev. Wright was not there by the way] and in the center of the roundtable discussion there was a simple sign that said ‘love’. The amazing thing was though these men were espousing many of the same ideas as the white liberals on the Larry King show, yet I was not offended in the least. I listened intently to Farrakhan freely quoting scripture along with the Quran, he actually only quoted from the Quran one time, and he quoted the bible more than all the others. But the bible was also quoted freely thru out the discussion; many of the questioners from the audience also were pastors and Christians. Now, I have written on the Nation of Islam before [under the cults section] and I do not accept that religion as even a legitimate expression of Islam, so don’t take me wrong on this. It was the simple reality that these Black leaders would freely see their cause for racial justice tied in with scripture. Some did express the belief that the older Black church did hinder the Black people because of their ‘wait on the Lord’ attitude; but all in all they were up front and willing to speak what they felt was the truth in an open way. Tavis Smiley also brought out the fact that many Black leaders felt like doing a public forum discussing the short comings of the president would be wrong; many on the panel challenged the presidents ‘bi-racial’ stance in political matters. Many in the Black community feel like the president has let them down because he does not hold to the more radical ideas of Black justice. Overall it was an excellent discussion that I was glued to, and to repeat, there was absolutely no feeling of offense or animosity with any of the speakers. I found it odd that I couldn’t stomach a few minutes of the white guys on Larry King, but was enthralled for 2 hours with this forum. When Reverend Wright came under fire during the Obama campaign, he obviously was demonized by the media and the repeated showing of his statements that were wrong and offensive to many people [including Blacks]. Yet Wright comes from a Black liberation theological background, it’s in his DNA to challenge the current system of government and to see strains of the gospel in communistic type systems; he isn’t the first to embrace these beliefs. Many Catholic theologians in Latin American countries hold to the same ideas; the Catholic Church officially rejects this idea. One of the tragedies of the Black people is the fact that so many young Black kids make bad choices that land them in prison, many of these young men become effected with the Black Muslim leanings in the prison system; they are sold a bill of goods that simply is not true; if we really believe as Christians that Jesus is the only way, then how can we sit idly by and not be concerned over the Black exodus into Islam? Though I disagree with many of Rev. Wright’s ideas and beliefs, yet if I had the choice between sending my Black brother to the Nation of Islam or to Rev Wright’s church, I would choose Wright 7 days out of the week.
(1413) O THOU AFFLICTED AND NOT COMFORTED, I WILL LAY THY STONES WITH FAIR COLORS, AND THY FOUNDATIONS WITH SAPPHIRES- Isaiah 54. A few weeks ago I read a story in the paper about the problems Europe is having with their new common currency, called the Euro. A few years ago Europe had a bunch of countries join together and share a common money system, the purpose was to give them more influence in the global market place. But Greece is going thru their own economic catastrophe and it’s affecting the other countries in the group. So they are debating whether or not to bail out Greece, their own TARP thing. Some of the countries are mad and are wanting out of the whole deal; Germany has criticized Greece by saying ‘well if you guys need cash, why don’t you sell one of your islands’ not a very brotherly thing to say. Greece responds ‘well if you gave us back the money the Nazis stole from us during the war, maybe we wouldn’t be in such a bind’. Like Jesus said ‘nation rising up against nation’ to be honest it’s quite funny. Okay, let’s talk the concept of reparations. I know some of you are saying ‘that’s it, this guy has just gone too far for me! I’m gonna shut this blog and go watch Beck’. Just a warning to all my readers; you will read sections on this site where you will think I’m a stark raving conservative, other posts might sound like I’m a socialist, just to be clear- I consider myself an independent and believe that Christians should not be bound to any one party or group, except the kingdom of God. Now, what does the bible say about reparations? [The idea that the sins of White America against the Blacks should be atoned for in a monetary way] Most Americans cringe at the thought, though the idea itself is not totally foreign to scripture. The bible teaches us that when people [or people groups] wrong and sin against other groups, that the groups who committed the sin should try and make things right thru a process called restitution, which includes paying back what was stolen. Now I am not saying that the current ideas on reparations fall into this category, but the concept is there. Some people feel the years of the slave trade that produced a financial harvest for the nation overall, that the generations of Black kids that never had the opportunity to have grown up in families with wealth, they missed out on building wealthy dynasties for their kids, that we as a govt. should try and make up for this sin, not by punishing whites today for the sins of their forefathers, but by seeing this reality and making things right generationally- so to speak. I do not fully hold to the idea myself, but wanted to give you an honest view from scripture. I believe that we as a people [we being all Americans] should strive for equality and a color blind society as much as possible, we should advocate for all our brothers and sisters regardless of race or creed. We should avoid seeing our positions of influence thru a lens that says ‘I am White, Hispanic, Black, etc. and my job is to advance my ethnic group at the expense of other ethnic groups’. This mindset, which I see all the time, is frankly racist at its core. Now I am not saying that an ethnic person can never try and improve the plight of his own ethnic group, he just needs to make sure that he is not doing it at the expense of the other groups he represents. Years ago while working at the fire dept we had a new group of rookies get hired, one of them was a Black brother. When a promotional test was coming up I had a Mexican friend tell me ‘well, why even take the test, so and so will get pushed to the top no matter what we score’. One day while on shift I went upstairs to the dorm area and noticed my Black friend mopping the floors, it was ‘floor day’ and it just so happened that he was the only one mopping the floor [often times the other guys might be on a run, or doing another chore]. Though I was in a supervisory type job at the time [which means I did not really have to help!] I immediately grabbed a mop and helped. I am not telling you guys this to make it sound like I am more noble, I am saying that we all need to be aware of both the things that look racist, or actually are racist. My Mexican friend was not a racist, he simply has been brought up with the reality of seeing how affirmative action [hiring quotas] has caused what he saw as an injustice to exist. The fine Black friend might have gotten the top score regardless of affirmative action, and yet he would be seen as getting the promotion because of an unfair policy. When we as Americans try and do the right thing now, to make up for the sins of the past, we need to make sure that we don’t create a new environment that discriminates against other races as well, because in the end it only makes things worse.
(1414) A SMASHING SUCCESS- This week we had the first successful test of the Hadron Collider. This is an underground tunnel/chamber like device that stretches 17 miles around in a circle and is used to smash atoms. It was built in Switzerland at much cost and when they first tried it out around 6 months ago it failed. Well this week they did a test and it worked great. They shot 2 protons at each other at 99% the speed of light and they examined the explosion, they hope to find clues to the beginning of creation by doing this test. It was the first time man has ever come close to examining an explosion of this type. Einstein would have loved it, one of his thought experiments was to see what a beam of light would look like if he were traveling at the speed of light and glanced over; for theoretical physicists this is a big deal. I would note that quantum theory and quantum mechanics has its critics; some in the scientific world doubt many of the ideas that these physicists have espoused. Einstein himself disagreed with another famous physicist of the day-Neils Bohr. Einstein had his doubts about some of the basic premises of quantum theory, ideas that said you work only in probabilities and not in the realm of fixed, certain truth. Einstein believed that all science and testing could ultimately lead to very exact equations, he himself proved this thru his own exact theories that would be mathematically proven over time. As believers we should not be wary of true science, it’s just we need to discern between what is really science and what is pure speculation. Some quantum theorists espouse an idea that says human beings have ‘alter egos’ of themselves living in another realm of the universe, these ideas not only violate common sense, but have all types of theological problems that go along with it [i.e.; If I am saved, what about my alter ego! Yikes!] So we should be careful when we are sold things under the heading of science, when in reality it is simple nonsense. I look forward to the success of the collider, it really is the future for particle physics, hopefully we can learn some things that will bring us closer to our understanding of the beginning of time. The article I read in the paper was loaded with language like ‘we can now discover what Genesis chapter one means’ and stuff like that. These were scientists talking this way in a secular news paper for heaven’s sake! Seek and ye shall find, and if you really want to know what Genesis chapter one means, then go read it.
(1415) BENNY HINN VERSUS JOHN PIPER- Yesterday I was reading some Christian news on line, I was surprised to see that the famed author/pastor, John Piper, was stepping down from his pastorate to take an 8 month sabbatical. As I read the story there was no scandal, he just simply examined his soul and felt like he saw pride creeping in and thought it good to re focus. I also read the latest from Benny Hinn, the famous healing evangelist, his wife recently filed for divorce and his web statement said ‘I will keep going, and not slow down one bit’. I would note that Benny and his wife also have no sexual scandal to deal with, it must have been the pressure and all, it caught the family by surprise when Susanne filed for the divorce. Now, many view Benny as a false prophet and an outright huckster- I don’t. I have major problems with the entire character of ‘ministry’ that platforms the Holy Spirits gifts in such a public way that draws great attention to the gifted person, the New Testament warns against various gifted people becoming the center of attention in the community of believers. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for centering their spiritual lives around the persona of any man [this would even include prominent well meaning pastors, who often don’t see this dynamic in our day-many feel it’s scriptural to have the life of the community centered around the weekly speaking gift of an individual, there really is no mandate in scripture for this. It’s okay for gifted leaders to teach, prophesy, function in some spiritual gift, but the New Testament does not show us a pattern of local churches centered around the office of any individuals gifts. One of the common mistakes church historians make is we read some of the 1st, 2nd century writings of the church fathers [Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, etc.] and we see how the able bishop rebuked the Corinthians for not submitting to the ecclesiastical office of Bishop, the letter portrays the Corinthian church as a bunch of rebels who are rising up against the authority of the Bishop and other leaders. It’s usually assumed that the Corinthian church was at it again, ‘there goes those darn troublemakers’ type of a thing. But it’s very possible that the Corinthian community was heeding the admonition from their founding apostle [Paul] and were actually resisting the idea of allowing any singular authority to take a position that was contrary to what Paul wrote to them in his epistles!]. The main point is you can have legitimate gifts being expressed thru a person [prophecy, healing, or even the pastor/teacher gift of speaking] but if these gifts are being used in a way that draws undo attention to the individual; then it is a violation of the character of New Testament ministry, although the gift itself might be legitimate. I was watching an ‘apostle’ out of Newark one day on Christian TV; they are a Pentecostal group that are heavy into spiritual warfare. The main leader was dressed in military type garb [corporal, cornel stripes and all] and they were doing the best they could. An interesting thing was they were doing a teaching on Paul’s words ‘the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty thru God to the pulling down of strongholds’ [Corinthians] and they actually taught it right! The apostle shared how many people mistake the meaning of the verse and apply it to strategic spiritual warfare prayer directed at territorial spirits and stuff like that. But the apostle explained how it was really speaking about apologetic type arguments that Christians make against the false ideas and strongholds of false doctrine. But then they went on to say that they arrived at this true understanding thru the apostolic gift of ‘revelation knowledge’ sort of like if it weren’t for the gift of the ‘apostle’ they would never have known this truth. I would venture to say that the majority of scholarly works that deal with this verse probably have it right; in the world of ‘intellectual Christianity’ [which is usually disdained by these independent type churches] most teachers knew this all along; we did not need the ‘gift of apostolic revelation knowledge’ to know this. Okay, the point being we have good people, who operate at times in true gifts, but also have a long way to go in growth and maturity. In the above example of Piper versus Hinn, I believe both of these men are good men, Piper comes from the baptist [reformed] tradition, Hinn from the charismatic wing. Maybe the Lord directed Benny to ‘keep on going, don’t slow down a bit’ and maybe Piper felt the Lord saying ‘slow down, take time off’ I just felt it striking that Piper was doing this because of what he sensed was the hidden sin of pride, no big scandal, just time to examine his soul. While Benny felt like ‘slowing down’ was not an option. These 2 examples give us a glimpse into the present day expression of church/ministry, and how we have all been affected by the times we live in.
This was a comment I left on Scot McKnight’s Jesus creed blog; it was a response to his latest Christianity Today article on rethinking the historical Jesus school of theology. I advise all our readers to go read it. As of now it’s only in the print version- ‘Scot just finished reading the article in CT on the historical Jesus, it does seem you’ve come some distance back from earlier beliefs. I remember reading you defend McLaren’s contradictions once by showing us how he uses that type of method to get his points across [the method of overstating something and then retracting it a few pages later!] Anyway I did like the article, will go read Tom Wrights response now. God bless from Corpus Christi.’
(1416) THE PHANTOM PASTOR? I read an article on multi site churches [one church, many locations] it was interesting; it showed how some were experimenting with hologram images of the main pastor being projected to the various sites every Sunday ‘for church’. I found it interesting that many of our modern concepts of legitimate local church revolve around the Sunday meeting, the main speaker, the tithe, etc. you know the deal. Many of these expressions seem to teach that the main authority given by God to a believer comes thru his or her submission to the actual meeting; if you are not in a meeting where you actually ‘see’ the minister, then you are not in ‘local church’ [limited indeed]. So Paul’s relating to the churches he planted, primarily thru letters, was really not ‘local church’. I know some will say ‘yet these churches had a pastor over them’ this simply is not true in the singular sense. They had groups of leaders [elders] who exercised oversight, but no weekly speaking office given to any one person. The point today is I find it interesting that some are seeing the validity of having a hologram of a pastor, but do not see the validity of other modes of local church expressions that do not submit to the actual Sunday church model. I think its fine to do multi site ‘church’ but we really need to define ‘local church’ more along the lines of the local community of believers, and less along the lines of a meeting [whether church building, movie theatre, home group, etc,] when we see the people of God as the actual expression of local church, then we won’t get all hung up on the different ways we communicate with one another. It’s good to actually meet, don’t get me wrong- but if a hologram pastor can be deemed ‘real’ why not other modes?
(1417) THOU HAST GIVEN A BANNER TO THEM THAT FEAR THEE, THAT IT MAY BE DISPLAYED BECAUSE OF THE TRUTH- Psalms 60:4. I wasn’t sure which way to go today; either discus the media hyped charges against the Pope or overview the Scot McKnight article in the current issue of Christianity Today magazine. First, I have the news article right in front of me over the so called comparison that the Vatican made of its current troubles with the Holocaust. The article gives the quote of the personal preacher of the Pope during a service he gave during this holy week. The Priest is quoting a Jewish friend who said he felt like the accusations against the church reminded him of anti Semitism; in that people who are anti Semitic usually stereotype whole groups of people in inaccurate ways. This simple letter, read by a Priest has been portrayed by the media [New York Times] as saying the Vatican has compared their recent struggles against accusations that the Pope knew more than he admits about covering up for Priests who abused children, the media said the Pope has compared himself to the persecuted Jews during the holocaust. This is an outright lie that the media has chosen to engage in. The Vatican did not compare themselves to Jews who were gassed during the holocaust; a Priest read a letter from a Jewish friend who said he saw the same stereotyping and group accusations against the church that he himself has seen by those who also attack Jews. That’s it. But what do you expect from a paper that reported as a front page story, weeks before a presidential election, that one of the candidates [John McCain] had disgruntled staff who were fired and also said there were rumors going around that McCain was too friendly with a female staffer. Now, there were no reports of any indiscretions, just that there were rumors that others felt he was ‘too friendly’ this ran as a front page news story! And another candidate who was known by the insiders in the media to have actually fathered a child with another woman, they deemed this story unworthy as news. The media are upset that the Catholic Church inserted influence in the health debate and they have been fabricating a scandal against the Pope when there is no scandal. When the Pope was Bishop in Munich there was a priest transferred to another diocese that was involved in a child sex scandal. The truth is the Pope did not personally oversee or know about the details of the transfer, this job was the responsibility of another administrative person under the Bishop. The Pope at the time was already involved in universal doctrinal issues that the church was engaging in, he would soon become the main person in charge of doctrine for the church. So in reality the story is the Pope did not personally involve himself with these types of decisions, yet the media is saying he was involved in a cover up, that’s just not true, they have ‘a banner’ but they don’t use it for displaying truth. Okay, I guess I won’t do the McKnight article. Today as I write it is Easter morning, God bless all our readers today, Jesus truly is alive!
(1418) IS COLSON A MODERN DAY ERASMUS? I have been re-reading volume 6 of the Story of Civilization by Will Durant; this volume covers the Reformation period. It resounds with the warnings of the Catholic humanist Erasmus to his fellow critic of the church, Martin Luther. Many good men challenged what they saw as the corruption of the church, they wrote and spoke out against her abuses, Erasmus was one of her strongest critics. He was a true renaissance man who traveled a lot during his career. At one point he settled down in Basel, Switzerland and would thoroughly enjoy the metropolitan character of the region. He loved being in a community where the classics were widely read, as well as the modern ideas on theology. Calvin himself would eventually wind up in Basel for part of his education and he too would be influenced by Erasmus’s works. One of the fears that Erasmus and others had was they felt like Luther’s protest was going too far, they feared the toppling of order in society if the nation states would throw off all ecclesiastical control. They were afraid of anarchy [the same fears that the Ultramontanists in France would feel a couple of centuries later]. In my recent Christianity Today magazine I read an interesting column by Chuck Colson [the famous brother of water gate fame- he went to prison and converted to Christ] Colson seemed to strike a tone much like Erasmus, he was speaking about the current Tea Party movement. Colson warned that a popular uprising in and of itself can be dangerous, that Christians have every right to be upset and protest against what they feel is unjust, but believers need to heed the teachings of the new testament in being good citizens who submit to earthly authorities [a theme found thru out the New testament, especially in Paul’s letter to the Romans]. Colson warned that believers need to counter what they see as bad government with positive ideas and other options; we should not simply be a party of rebels! I sensed a sort of fear in Colson, sort of like he sees a danger in the country which can lead to bad things. Luther would eventually reject the warnings of his less rebellious contemporaries and follow thru with his rebellion; Germany would divide as a nation state between catholic and protestant churches, other nations would soon follow. The actual term Protestant speaks of a technical protest over a proposed rule that would allow the catholic churches/regions to remain catholic without any interference from the protestants; this was protested by the ‘protestants’ and thus the name stuck. The point being the reformation moved forward with a viable alternative to what they saw as a corrupt system, Luther himself rejected others who did advocate for what he saw as leading to anarchy. The famous Munster prophets believed they were to cast off all control of human government and establish their own New Jerusalem as an earthly city that would be governed directly by God. Luther eventually would sound like Erasmus in warning against a total rejection of human government and would appeal to Paul’s writings as well, showing us that good Christians submit to human authorities as much as possible, this warning fell on deaf ears- they read some of the caustic language that Luther himself used against the church and they saw him as a hypocrite. All in all we as believers should voice our protests and displeasure with human government when we see its failings, but we also need to understand that the changes that we want to be made will be done thru prayer and the ballot box, not thru any actions that can lead to the things that former ‘reformers’ warned against. Let our voices be heard, but let our non violent action be a witness to the kingdom from which we derive our beliefs.
(1419) ARE WE STILL UNDER THE LAW? I am a little of course this week; one of my favorite theologians who I hear just about every day on the radio is doing a series on how the believer is still under the law. He is a great reformed theologian, but in this area I have so small dissent. Just to be clear, I consider this a major error that strikes at the foundation of the gospel of grace. Many good men have held to this idea, they are confusing the gospel of grace when they do this. In reformed theology you have the majority of believers holding to ‘covenant theology’ versus ‘dispensational’. I agree 100 % with the dispensational view of the reformed [that is they reject it] but their understanding of the covenants also has some problems with it. They see the old covenant and the New Testament as 2 covenants [true] that have an overriding covenant of grace that works independently between them both. Again, another major error in my view. The idea is that in the old covenant people believed in the coming Messiah and as they looked forward to his future coming they were ‘saved’. There is some truth to this, Paul does use this example from the life of Abraham to prove this very point, but to than develop an idea that all the old testament saints sort of had this working knowledge of looking forward to Jesus and understanding that they were all saved by faith, well this goes too far in my view. First, Paul in the New Testament clearly lumps all the law together [ceremonial, sacrificial, moral] when saying Jesus nailed the written law to his Cross and freed us from it. You can’t read Romans and Galatians and not see this [Colossians too] the New Covenant in Jesus Blood is exactly that, a new covenant! [it did not exist before!] To carry the idea that people generally knew they were saved by grace under the old covenant seems to miss this truth. The law came by Moses, but grace and truth thru Jesus. While I agree that this reality does not mean we have the right to break Gods moral law, yet we are clearly not under it in an Old Testament sense. I can’t stress enough how much I think this doctrine is a major error in the understanding of many reformed theologians, it is often presented in a way that says this is the very reason why there is so much sin in the church, because Gods people don’t realize they are still under the law. Big, big mistake in my view. I still like much of reformed theology; it’s just in these areas I have major disagreements, to say the least.
(1420) THE DOCTRINE ON WHICH THE CHURCH STANDS OR FALLS- In keeping with the last post lets overview some stuff. One of the main themes in the New Testament is the theme of justification by faith; the great reformer Martin Luther called this the doctrine on which the church stands or falls. If you go thru this blog and read the Galatians, Romans and Acts studies you will see what a major subject this is in the bible. Read Acts chapter 15 and you will see 3 specific statements made about what exactly the Jewish teachers out of Jerusalem were trying to put on the believers at Antioch; the chapter says they were trying to make them become circumcised, then it says to become circumcised and KEEP THE LAW OF MOSES, and then James will say the same in the final decree that was sent out to the gentile believers at Antioch. The point being the question very much was whether or not the gentile churches were to submit themselves under the ‘law of Moses’. In Galatians Paul says ‘if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain’ ‘I am crucified with Christ… and the life which I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God’ this theme runs thru out the corpus of Paul’s writings and there is absolutely no doubt that the apostle is saying the believer becomes right with God, by faith apart from the law. And that ‘the law’ in context means the whole law [ceremonial, sacrificial and the moral code- 10 commandments]. Paul himself told the Galatians ‘if you become circumcised Christ shall profit you nothing, for he that is circumcised has become a debtor to the whole law’ all of these statements in context would be meaningless if they simply meant the gentiles were not under the ceremonial law, but still bound by the moral law. When the decree made it back to the church at Antioch they rejoiced in the fact they they were not bound under the law, not so they could go on sinning, but because the New Covenant of grace frees us from the legalistic approach to Gods kingdom. Remember, Paul associated the ceremonial law [circumcision] with the moral law- if he were just speaking of believers not being under one aspect, but another, then this distinction would be meaningless. James said the church at Antioch were troubled by those who went to them and told them they needed to become circumcised AND keep the law of Moses, it is clear from these passages that the message of the New testament is believers are under grace and are not under the old law; once again we are told ‘does this mean we keep on sinning’? Paul’s response is always no, not based on the fact that we are still bound to the law, but based on the fact that we have been risen with Christ, we are ‘new creatures in Christ, the old has passed away’- I do not frustrate the grace of Christ, if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died in vain!
(1421) THE FOOL HAS SAID IN HIS HEART, THERE IS NO GOD- Psalms. Caught an interesting special last night on evolution; they got into many of the fallacies and false things that have been foisted upon the general population over the years. They went to a famous natural history museum and interviewed the scientist responsible for teaching one of the most popular missing links for whales. Darwin believed that whales came from swimming bears who after many years evolved into whales- stuff that today would put you into the intellectual category of believing in a flat earth! Darwin held to many primitive beliefs that are disproven today, many of these beliefs were central to his theory. He believed in spontaneous generation, that living cells can self generate from dead matter. His proof? Well look at the piece of meat that is left out and rots, sure enough over time maggots ‘self generate’. This man believed this! It took a simple test to prove this theory false; they put cheesecloth over the meat, which prevented flies from landing on the meat and laying their eggs in the meat, and Walla- no maggots. This silly belief of Darwin cannot be written off as ‘well he wasn’t perfect’ no, this belief is central to the idea of evolution; it has been proven false beyond all doubt. So back to the whale fossil, as they interviewed the famous scientist responsible for the whale fossil, they also spoke to other scientists who fully held to the belief that science has proven the missing link of the whale. They pointed to the famous specimen of a 4 legged animal with this elongated nose and, well yes, the tail of a whale! All the men interviewed used this as proof of evolution, many school text books taught it, surely it must be true! As they looked at the actual fossil [not just the pictures in the books] they discovered that the famous fossil actually has no tail. They then asked the scientist where he came up with the tail. He said he had to speculate at that point. What! The most famous evidence for the evolution of the whale, the fossil that all the other experts noted as absolute proof for evolution- it was a creation in the mind of an evolutionist. The history of fossil hunting is shot thru with these types of examples; there is actually an entire cottage industry of ‘fossil hunters’ who have been caught time and again fabricating missing links. Why so much effort? They know that many would pay much money for these fossils. Why? Because they do not exist for real. If you were finding tons of these transitional fossils, which Darwin said we would have to eventually find if his theory were true, then there would be no market for the fake ones. And the history of fake ones is quite large; they have caught people doing this a lot. Chinese fossil hunters presented to national geographic 2 so called fossils that were supposedly proof that dinosaurs turned into birds. They hired a top team of researchers to look at the fossils. The team determined that the Chinese fossils were frauds. The first fossil was shown to have been fabricated with modern day materials. Then the Chinese finders found another one- hey there’s much money in this field. The second fossil was also proven to have been ‘fixed’ by the finders. To the surprise of the researchers, national geographic went with the fossil anyway [hey they need to pay the bills too!] and it was presented as absolute proof for evolution. When the true researchers, the ones who proved the fossils fake, confronted the scientists who were on the payroll of national geographic, they responded that yes- all the fossils coming from china have these types of problems. In essence they said the standard practice of faking it was to be expected. These types of things are usually not known by the general public at large, hey we’re taught things in school, we see the pictures, and who has time to do the research? The apostle Paul said men chose to reject the knowledge of God; they have made a conscience choice to do stuff like this. There actually is a psychology to atheism. Believers need to be aware of these so called belief systems and contend for the truth. In the end many of the opponents have reprobate minds; they don’t want to really see the truth, and they will fabricate stuff to prove their points.
(1422) THE APOSTLE, THE PROPHETESS AND FIRST DEGREE MURDER- Last night I watched a dateline special on a church that made the headlines because of a series of actions that led to the murder of the youth pastor’s wife, by the youth pastor. The church started out as a nice independent church in a good community, the original pastor moved on and a new pastor came in. He felt his calling was that of an apostle and he instituted the casting out of demons and new concepts on spiritual warfare. They also had the charismatic gifts of the Spirit operating. One of the ladies was a ‘prophetess’, if I remember right I used to see some of her stuff on a fairly popular prophetic web site. Either way she functioned in what she felt was a prophetic gift and she eventually gave a prophecy to the youth pastor that his wife was going to die and she would marry him after the death. The youth pastor wound up giving his wife an overdose of Benadryl and started an ‘accidental’ house fire and she died. The youth pastor had a few affairs with some of the other church members and eventually the sister who functioned in the prophetic gift confessed. Okay, how does stuff like this happen? It is easy to come away from this story with a negative view of all charismatic expressions of the church; that would be unfair. Purely as a doctrinal issue you do find the gifts of the Spirit as a legitimate part of Christianity. The church’s emphasis on spiritual warfare techniques and the normative act of identifying demon spirits in its members, well I do have a problem with that. Christians go thru fads/phases as the years roll by, one of the popular ideas was the whole spiritual warfare thing that involved strategic level prayers and identifying territorial spirits and stuff like that. Most fads have some type of doctrinal truth; for instance you do read in the prophetic book of Daniel how his prayers were being resisted by a ‘prince’ which more than likely was referring to a demon spirit, and how God used an angel to break thru the heavens and bring the answer to Daniel. So we see glimpses behind the scenes at times. But the normative teaching on prayer does not carry with it a regular process of identifying and engaging with these demons. So you have some truth, but usually associated with error. Many who appeal to the Daniel example fail to see that Daniels prayer eventually was answered, not because Daniel did some strategic prayer thing, but because he simply prayed to God in faith. At no time did Daniel cast the prince down thru his own techniques. So basically this independent church got into the whole thing. Many years ago when I was pastoring my own independent church, I had a lady [she was a good friend and Christian] who too felt like she functioned at times as a prophetess. She was ordained by Joel Osteen’s church out of Houston and I worked with family members who were involved [married to] some of the drug addict guys I was helping at the time. She did become a member of our church and she was an able person. But at times I had to warn her off of beliefs that she felt were from God. Her previous church [a word of faith church] had a good pastor whose wife was not helping the minister; she felt like the Lord told her that some day she would be married to the pastor, that either the wife would die or the pastor would get a divorce, but that she felt God had told her this. She gave me examples from the bible that seemed to justify in her mind how God can tell people things that seem out of the ordinary [like God telling one of his prophets to marry a prostitute] but I always tried to steer her into the direction that the gift of prophecy never contradicts the known revealed will of God as found in the bible. The point today is as believers we need to be careful that our expression of Christianity does not become isolated from the broader Body of Christ, we should be reading the Christian classics, should have a basic view of the people of God as a worldwide community that we can all glean guidance from. Many independent type churches get a hold of some doctrine [even if it’s true] and make the error of exalting the teaching to a point where they get out of balance with the historic church, then they focus all their teaching and reading around a small group of authors and preachers who also hold to the same limited ideas. This reinforces in the minds of the adherents that they surely must be in a balanced group, after all look at all the other good people who follow the same path! I would advise all believers [pastors especially] build up a good library of the Christian classics, pick up Augustine’s confessions, collect some writings from the early church fathers; develop a library that spans the ages- you can read and study the current movements and all, don’t reject all movements and fads, some movements do have historic implications to them, but only time will tell. And avoid the idea that God is telling people stuff like ‘your husband/wife will die and I will marry you’ these ideas are way off the mark and should be rejected outright without any second thoughts.
[just a comment on an article critiquing Scot McKnight’s recent CT article] Good response- Just a note or 2; Scot doesn’t seem to be saying that all historical studies of Jesus are wrong, but that the actual process called ‘historical criticism’ is actually flawed. Also the example in this article ‘how can we know the meaning behind the act of Jesus and the money changers without 2nd temple context’ most believers have a good grasp of the prophetic challenge of Jesus to the religious leaders of the day by simply reading this gospel account in context ‘my father’s house was to be a house of prayer. You have made it a den of thieves’. Simply reading this account from the gospels gives us enough context to glean the truth of the passage. Good response anyway. God bless, John
(1423) WHO KNOWS WHETHER YOU HAVE COME TO THE KINGDOM FOR SUCH A TIME AS THIS- The famous words to queen Esther in the book of the bible with the same name. God said to Abraham that he called him when he was alone; he had no support base, no family, nothing. God told him to go to a country that he would later receive as an inheritance, Hebrews 11 tells us ‘he went out, not knowing where he was going’ often times on the journey we end up in places that we never planned on being; strategic situations where we might influence key kingdom leaders- the bible says ‘men of stature shall come over to thee and be thine’ ‘gentiles shall come to thy light and kings to the brightness of thy rising’. God has ways of placing us in strategically important locations, places we are not even aware of! Yesterday I googled the ministry name and saw a few foreign blogs that have been posting our stuff, great! They are from Indonesia, the most populated Muslim country in the world; we have been ‘dwelling’ in a place that I knew not. Be sensitive to the people you are influencing, often times just your presence in a place can be a fulfillment of Gods calling, even if you have no idea how you wound up being there. Often times there are other key leaders [pastors, etc.] that God is raising up for a national/worldwide influence; part of your calling might be to influence them, keep them on course, so that they too will keep those they are mentoring in a straight path. I like the fact that God called Abraham when he was alone; it was really a personal calling between him and God; it’s good to have friends and supporters along the way, but in the end this thing started with you and God alone, it will be up to you and God to finish the race by faith. The bible says ‘look to the rock I have cut you out of, look to Abraham and Sarah, I called them when they were alone’ are you alone? Have people you counted on moved on? Are you feeling tempted to move on too? ‘Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee and uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness’ says the Lord- ‘endure hardness as a good soldier in Christ’ says Paul. ‘Blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life’ James. ‘To him who overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God’ Jesus.
(1424) AVOIDING THE ECHO CHAMBER- A week or so ago the president was asked his opinion about the cable news shows and the talk radio community; he wisely answered that he felt there was a sort of dynamic like an echo chamber with these shows, that people need to be careful that they are not simply spending all their time and effort bouncing their own ideas off of the walls of others who only think in the same framework. In Christianity this is a problem that we all regularly deal with. I remember listening to a tape by an ‘organic church’ brother one time, he was trying to explain where the idea of elders arose in the writings of the apostle Paul. Now he was speaking from/to a community of people that at the time were writing and teaching against the New Testament idea of leadership, many felt like leaders in the New Testament were forbidden based on verses like ‘the gentiles exercise lordship over each other, it will not be like this with you’ and other verses that speak of servant leadership. The well meaning brother went on to espouse his theory that when the Jewish Diaspora took place in the first century, many were sent to the Christian churches and they told the leaders of the churches ‘here are our people, who are your elders that they need to report to’ and that in response Paul and the others said ‘Oh yeah, here they are’ sort of like they were ad libbing just to appease the Jewish converts. Now, this idea is interesting, but there is no foundation for it to rest on. The New Testament had elders, leaders, etc. for this brother to have thought this deeply about the matter was simply a symptom of living in the echo chamber of others who also rejected elders/leaders as a normative role of the New Testament churches. But many of these brothers have brought out the fact that none of the churches in the New Testament had the singular office of ‘the pastor’ that functioned as the weekly speaking office that the believers would gather around and hear, week after week, month after month, year after year. The development of this office [often referred to as the pastor] took place over time; some ascribe its development to 4th century pagan sources, others see it as arising out of the synagogue to church model [it should be noted that in the synagogues you had a person overseeing the meeting, but anyone could take the scrolls and read as the lord led- that’s why Jesus could read from the scrolls, even though the Pharisees did not think he was ‘ordained’ by God]. The point being we all have blind spots that we need to be aware of. Most bible schools, universities teach courses on ‘pastoral counseling, finances, budgets, speaking, etc.’ and to be honest they too usually are approaching things from the echo chamber of ‘church’ as the corporate model, the actual meeting place of believers, as opposed to a community of people. Many of these courses never really question the validity of this singular role that we define as pastor, they just teach around it as a given office that existed in this way. The other night I was watching the Huckabee show on Fox news, they had on the actor Jon Voight. I liked Voight in the movie The Deliverance and of course George from Seinfeld was elated when he thought he bought Jon’s used car [though Jerry doubted it was authentic, being the name was spelled differently] as Voight was being interviewed he read a prepared letter that he had brought with him. Voight expressed many of the key talking points of Beck, Rush and Hannity; he mentioned the Olinsky method, hit a few more ideas on Obama being a socialist, you know the whole deal. When he was thru Huckabee graciously defended Obama in saying that he disagreed with his policies, but felt like the president means well. Voight is a victim of the echo chamber, seeing and hearing things on a regular basis, without a regular inflow of contrary data. As believers we need to be willing to hear both sides of the issues, maybe the critics are right about one thing, and wrong about another. That’s fine, just be willing to hear. Living in the echo chamber can be deafening at times.
[comment I left on Trevin Wax’s site] Really interesting, she seems to deal with many issues that do need to be dealt with among believers. We often do not see the inconsistencies of our own ideas. I heard a Catholic convert share how she always looked down on Catholics for having statues; she one day realized that they too had mangers every Christmas. They seemed to have no problem with ‘little’ statues of Mary, only the big ones! God bless from Corpus.
[follow up comment on Trevin’s site] Good interview Trevin/Gina. I would note that there are ‘psychological’ reasons to why people embrace atheism [i.e.; believing I am not accountable to a higher authority just being one!] but I like Gina’s openness and hope she would read some of the more recent arguments for the existence of God, Keller’s work being one of many. Okay Gina, here you can stereotype me ‘lets pray for Gina’ sorry, couldn’t help it.
(1425) SPECIFIED COMPLEXITY- In the struggle over evolutionary theory, one of the approaches used to debunk Darwinian Theory is the concept called ‘information theory’. This idea refutes a purely atheistic view of evolution. First, we must understand that the most popular form of evolution today is absolutely proven to be untrue! I know that’s a surprising statement to some, but stick with me. The current theory that most atheists hold to is the idea that at one point in time nothing existed [true]. They then say ‘by chance all things eventually came into existence’ they do not believe, for the most part, that any being existed prior to creation. This idea is blatantly false from the start, it is scientifically impossible to get something from nothing- people must know this. Now does evolutionary theory explain how all things came from no-thing? Absolutely not. That’s why some evolutionists espouse a theory called panspermia, this idea says that it’s possible that life started somewhere else, possibly by extra terrestrial beings, and that it was seeded on our planet either by accident or design. Men like Richard Dawkins [the famous atheist] have espoused this idea. If you were to ask them ‘and exactly what do you think this being is like, is it intelligent or not’ they would reply ‘oh, it’s definitely intelligent- how else could it have spawned intelligent life’ [good question!] if you then asked ‘is the being powerful, does it have the skill to do great things’? ‘Oh yes, of course, how else could it have spawned matter and life’? Another excellent question! One last thing, how old is this being, has he a starting point in history as well? Come to think of it, now that you ask, he [or his ancestor] must have been around forever, because if there was a point in time where he did not exist, then we have the problem of explaining where he came from, so logic tells us that this all knowing, all powerful, ever existing being is the only logical explanation for the existence of the created order. In a nutshell the atheistic evolutionist has come to the logical conclusion that some being, which just happens to possess all the attributes of the Christian God, must exist in order for anything to exist, after all you can’t get intelligent life from non intelligence. The evolutionist who espouses this view [and there are a growing number of them by the way] has simply replaced the idea of God with another god that he has developed in his own mind. This very dilemma, trying to explain how everything came from nothing, how information in the human cell got there, these questions can only be answered by the scientist who embraces some type of deity, that’s why the famous atheist Antony Flew finally embraced belief in God after many years of denying his existence. He realized the futility of holding on to a world view that said all things came from no-thing. How bout you?
(1426) ‘You brought us into the net, you laid affliction upon us; you caused men to ride over our heads, we went thru fire and water; but you also brought us out into a wealthy place’ Psalms 66:11-12. Yesterday I mailed off a letter to a child hood buddy who is doing time in prison. We grew up as little hoodlums, he was Greek Orthodox, I Roman Catholic- but the only ecumenical act we ever engaged in was jointly taking the Lords name in vain. This last year he has been in touch with me, I have written and been a friend. This last letter he asked if I could give a shout out to him by name and also to all the brothers in Rahway prison; his buddies think he’s making it up that we were friends as kids. He has lost all- family, business, home- he is going thru depression and all, but I am encouraging him to get with the other brothers and read and pray, I am printing relevant sections from my blog and sending them as well. I stuck a bunch of my ministry cards in the last letter and he obviously gave them to some Christian brothers from the ‘free world’ who have access to computers and stuff, that’s why they wanted the shout out. The guys in prison do not have access to the internet. If you want to write him, his address is ‘ James Dalskov 558763 lock bag R Rahway, N.J. 07065’. Sometimes in life we wind up in situations where we feel like we are in a net, others ‘ride over us’ being told what to do and what not to do. Going from the free world into these types of environments can be tuff. But God can also use these experiences to do things in us that we never thought possible. At the end of the above verse it says when the process was over ‘He brought us out into a wealthy place’. I also got an email yesterday from one of our original guys who used to be a mainline addict, spent many years doing robberies and spending years in prison; he has been out for a long time and been clean for many years. He was letting me know that one of our other brothers just moved to Corpus and wanted to get a hold of me. I gave him the cell #, but those of you who know me realize that getting in touch with me by phone is next to impossible; I never answer my phone unless I recognize the number. The point today is God wants all of us to interact with society, the lost ones! The religion of Jesus day was centered on religious performance and ritual; though the concepts of justice and reaching out to the poor and needy were engrained in the Mosaic law, yet for some reason this priority was lost to tradition. Jesus would quote the famous verse from the prophet Isaiah about the Spirit being on him to do justice. When questioned about his legitimacy ‘are you the one or look we for another’ he replied in social justice terms ‘the poor have the gospel preached, the dead are raised’ etc. The proof of his ordination was not being licensed by the religion of the day, but the proof was the works of justice that he did. Leaders, what is the environment that surrounds you? Is most of your life spent on a preaching platform or stage? Are you rarely in the environment that Jesus and his men were surrounded by? The leaders of Jesus day were offended by his closeness to the world, the crowd he hung with, the prostitutes who wiped his feet with their tears; this whole scenario was unacceptable to the religious class of the day. The only time they referenced the hurting in prayer was when they said ‘Thank you God that we are not like them’ they spent their lives in a net, a religious place of bondage, many of them never came out into the wealthy place.
[Comment on Ben Witherington’s site on his recent historical Jesus book] I like it Ben. Went to the first post and read the intro; good and balanced. I have been critical of ‘historical criticism’ and recently made some comments on Scot McKnight’s article on rethinking Jesus studies. Overall I think its okay to do historical research and harmonies like this; as long as we add the warning that these studies are not meant to challenge the canonical accounts [which warning you gave in the intro!] God bless Ben thanks for sharing excellent scholarship like this in a free format. John
(1427) THE LORD GAVE THE WORD; GREAT WAS THE COMPANY OF THOSE THAT PUBLISHED IT- Psalms 68:11 In the 14th century you had the Oxford scholar, John Wycliffe, challenge the church and publish an English bible that would be understood by the common man. His view of the true church was that all those who believed in Christ comprised the mystical Body of Christ thru out the ages; he held to the same view that many believers would later embrace. His works would eventually influence John Huss, the great Bohemian priest, and Huss too would preach a doctrine of the universal church which transcended institutional boundaries. In the 16th century William Tyndale would take up the charge to get the bible into the hands of the common man; he longed for the day that the simple plowman would know the scriptures as well as the trained clergy; Tyndale would die for the faith [as Huss] but would pray/prophesy that God would touch the heart of the king of England and make his word known. Henry the 8th would eventually place an English bible into every church building thru out his realm. The history of God getting his word into the hands of the common man is great, many divine interventions [or inventions!] came along just at the right time to aid in the efforts. Guttenberg would invent the printing press in the 15th century and Luther’s reformation would take off as his books and tracts would get published by the boat loads [as well as many other great teachers’ stuff- like Erasmus Greek New Testament bible]. The institutional church would resist the free flow of these writings, they feared that the people might teach wrong doctrine, or that the masses might interpret the bible in a wrong way. Were these fears groundless? Not really. Many did mess up in their reading of the bible, and others would start their own sects based on faulty interpretations. But for the most part God was in the business of getting his word out to as many people as possible. I have found over the years that believers have a sort of blind spot when it comes to the ‘sacred’ modes of transmitting the bible. For instance many well meaning men believe that the process of meeting in a building on Sunday, and the bible being preached to as many as you can get to come to the meeting; many feel that this expression [being only one of many] is the actual God ordained way of getting the bible taught to the people. Many who hold to this singular idea, to the point where they feel the doing of this is actually called ‘the local church’ will look down upon other means of getting the word out. The explosion of the internet has truly been the printing press of modern times. Many average believers now have the ability to reach the world from their computers; are their dangers with this process? Sure. Will some teach wrong stuff? As Sarah Palin would say ‘you betcha’. But all in all people should embrace the reality that we live in a day where once again the average saint has the ability to get the word out to the masses with little, or no cost. I don’t want people to get me wrong, going to ‘church’ to hear the sermon is fine [most of the times!] but the bible does not teach the concept that the meeting of believers in buildings on Sunday is actually called ‘the local church’. For sure this is an expression of ‘local church’ it is a way that many believers have come to practice their faith; but it would be wrong to exalt this view of church to the point where we hinder others who are getting the word out in many different ways. In the New Testament, the ‘local churches’ referred to communities of believers who lived in your city/region- the term does not refer exclusively to meeting in a lecture hall environment to hear a lecture! Psalms says God gave the word and great was the company of those that published it; lets rejoice in the fact that we live in a time where a great company of people can ‘publish it’.
(1428) THE NAME OF THE LORD IS A STRONG TOWER, THE RIGHTEOUS RUNNETH INTO IT AND ARE SET ALOFT [ARE SAFE]- Proverbs. Been reading a little in Psalms and Proverbs these last few weeks, so much of it deals with receiving correction; seeking wisdom, going after knowledge. The Christian life is a process of dealing with things that we thought were true, or that our viewpoints were the ‘best’ on a particular subject, and then we get challenged on those points and divide over those views. I was listening to a radio preacher one Sunday, comes on the same channel that we broadcast on. I listened to him, not because he was really knowledgeable [to be honest, he wasn’t] but because he reminded me of all the drug addicts/ex con’s that I have worked with for many years. He was a brother that has been down that road. One day while talking about Jesus’ baptism he described it as ‘the day Jesus got saved’. Most teachers cringe at a statement like this [for many theological reasons] but I managed to overlook it and tried to see what the sincere brother was trying to say. To my surprise I recently read some article by an able scholar, he spoke of Jesus’ baptism as ‘being baptized and washing away his sins’. Frankly, I was shocked that he would say something like this. But I understand that people see things, and use common phrases, that others are uncomfortable with, over time if these brothers are simply stating things in ways that seem highly unusual to our common Christian language, but are still embracing orthodox Christian beliefs, then we need to approach these things with much grace. Recently I have posted various comments on excellent sites that have been re-hashing the historical critical method of scholarship, I have written lots on this before and don’t want to go into the whole thing again. But I found it interesting that many of today’s most able scholars, men whose sites I have on my blog roll, have disagreed strongly with each other. Now these are good scholars, not men who are simply uninformed about the subject. As I have read some of this back and forth, I see how even some of the best men can read past each other, and not fully see what the other side is saying. We all have a tendency to put our critics in the worst possible light, and to represent our position in the most noble light. Sometimes the only way we can arrive at a ‘more noble’ understanding of the subject [whatever the subject may be] is by returning to a trust in the Lord, letting our souls be renewed by Gods grace. I have this gazebo in my yard, I built a deck on top and placed a chair on it. It’s like a loft, sometimes I’ll just sit up on top and enjoy the escape from all the things that surround me. I’ll be praying early in the morning, the stars out and the planets beaming; and I’ll climb the loft and sit in the presence of God for a while. I just want to encourage you guys today, spend time in ‘the loft’ seek the face of God- if you are embroiled in controversy, maybe have been the target of criticism; then just spend some time with God. King David said how he wished he had the wings of a dove so he could fly away and be with God. The bible says ‘our souls have escaped like birds out of the snare of the fowler, the snare has been broken and we have escaped’ we do have these wings, this ability to be free from the snares and dwell in the presence of God. Our wings are prayer.
(1429) ‘There shall be a handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth’ Psalms 72:16. Most of the time there is a portion of good truth available to believers from various sources; as believers we need to be picky at times, because if we simply consume everything from the buffet, we will get sick. The bible says honey is good, but too much will make you vomit! Years ago there was a preacher that I liked to listen to, he was from another city and I had heard him speak before and ordered some of his teaching materials. I noticed over time that though he associated with many famous prosperity preachers, yet he would make statements that showed he was not in total agreement with their doctrine. I then read a news story on a problem the church was having; the minister came under fire for putting pressure on people to give for the new building fund and yet was kind of frivolous in the ministries spending of money. One of the leaders in the church sought to expose the minister as a false prophet, they went to the courts and eventually the courts sided with the church. One of the complaints that was made was the preacher had bought a 4 thousand dollar suit for one of the church board members as a gift of appreciation. The disgruntled member thought this was wrong to do at a time when the church was putting pressure on people to give. The minister defended this act by saying Jesus wore an expensive coat, and that a woman also poured expensive perfume on Jesus [I’m not sure if he used one or both of these examples]. I have heard this defense made many times in the past by prosperity preachers, it is a lame excuse to be honest; I have explained this before and don’t want to do it again here. Let’s just say that these examples do not excuse ministries from financial indiscretions. The main point is even though this well meaning preacher, who I liked to listen to, tried to separate himself from the more extreme teaching of the prosperity movement; yet when all was said and done he resorted to the same miss use of scripture in defending himself; he could not avoid the traps of those who surrounded him. He spent time inviting these ministers to ‘the church’ went to do conferences in their churches and was doing lots of ministry things with them. In the above verse we read that there is a handful of corn in the earth, a quality supply of good meat [teaching] that God has made available to us, if we associate too much with teachers that are not really giving us the good corn, then no matter how hard we try, we will become like them. I want to encourage you today, what are the streams you feed from? Do you read the latest pop culture Christian best sellers? Things on how to get what you want out of life, or how you can succeed in some venture; or are you reading scholarly stuff, the Christian classics, the church fathers. If you spend most of your time surrounded by unbalanced teaching, it will affect you in the end, even if you think it won’t.
(1430) UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES- Okay, health care has passed and many people are surprised already with the consequences; people who advocated strongly for it, the ones who said ‘there’s nothing bad with the plan, it’s those crazy tea partiers with the false accusations of death panels’. So as I was talking to a north eastern liberal person the other day, they were shocked to find out that one of their relatives was just told that the state of New Jersey will no longer cover them for drug treatment. This person has been covered for 30 years, no longer. The person asked me why this happened. I explained that one of the things about the new law is the govt. will force the states to accept an extra 30 million people onto their insurance rolls, many of the states cannot afford the extra influx of people [the state pays a portion of the coverage and the federal govt. a portion] so that’s why the governors were against the plan. Now, the famous cornhusker kickback was a deal that was supposed to help Nebraska with the cost, eventually the administration said they will put the cost off for all the states- but someday they will pay. So of course the states are looking for ways to save costs, and those who were getting coverage by Medicare for drug treatment will no longer get covered in Jersey. My liberal friend was irate ‘how dare the state do this’! This from a person that supported the plan 100%! AT@T is the biggest private employer in the country, the plan changed the amount of money a business can deduct for the health costs of their employees; the result? AT@T lost 1 billion in the first ¼ of the year. The new health law cost them an extra 1 billion on the books. Many employees are irate ‘how dare they do this to us, threaten to cut our drug coverage’! This from the same employees that voted for the plan, they are union members who were told ‘don’t worry, it’s those racist tea partiers that are lying to you’ well maybe not. Then for the grand finale, the N.Y. times did a story on how the plan inadvertently kicked off the senators and congressman from federal insurance; there was a mistake in the plan that would forbid the politicians from keeping their coverage! The times said ‘well, if they let something like this slip in, who knows what accidental affects the plan might have on the populace at large’ to which I respond ‘DUH’. All this would be funny if it weren’t so sad. As I told my liberal friend from the north that the taxes from dividends will now go up from around 15 to 40 %, they said ‘what, do you mean to tell me that my income from my investments will go down’ yes. It amazes me that those who either supported the plan, or those who opposed it; that many of these people had no idea what they were for/against. The person whose relative lost the drug coverage told me that there is only one doctor in the area [a highly populated area right in the crowded N.Y. city area] that will accept Medicare, that this doctor has told them that it really isn’t worth the hassle to treat Medicare patients. Now, if this doctor all of a sudden gets an influx of new Medicare patients, what do you think he will do? He will drop out of the system like all the other doctors in the area, then my friend will not only lose the drug treatment coverage, but will have no doctors in the area at all. All these things are consequences that come with the new law, people should have known these things before they simply accused the opposition of being a bunch of racists. So the plan passed, let’s do what we can- hey, I will try and get insurance when I can, but for now much is still up in the air. I just finished a time of prayer, which includes praying for the president and his family by name, so we need to separate our politics from our duty to pray for those in authority. All in all let’s do our best with what we have, but be informed about the issues. Don’t be surprised if things happened that you didn’t expect, the bible says don’t answer a matter before you hear both sides of the issue. My liberal friend is distraught over their situation, they really don’t know what to do, they feel desperate, they wish that the new law never passed, yet they supported it with much vigor before it passed; they would get into heated discussions over how this plan was the best thing that ever happened to the country! Now they think it’s the worst. I feel bad for those who supported something when they had no idea how it would affect them, become informed as believers. Know the issues, don’t just listen to the right or the left, but be honest when hearing both sides and then make an informed decision. Don’t just be for or against something because it’s the trendy thing to do, that will always get you into trouble. Note- I meant Medicaid.
(1431) HE THAT HAS PITY ON THE POOR LENDS UNTO THE LORD, AND THAT WHICH HE HAS GIVEN WILL BE REPAID BY GOD. Proverbs 19:17 The other day I read an interview by an author who attended Liberty University [Falwell’s bible school] as an undercover atheist, she was on assignment to see behind the scenes of evangelical Christians. She wrote her book and some of the insights are helpful for believers to see some of our blind spots. One thing that struck me was her criticism of how Christians talk about ‘giving to God’ she found it odd that to the majority of believers; they equated ‘giving to God’ with giving to their churches. She found it strange that believers seemed to make no difference between the 2. She also noted how when she asked believers about whether or not the church was responsible in the finances; that if this made a difference when speaking of giving to God. Most believers told her that it was their responsibility to put in the offering/tithe, and that they would not be personally responsible for the decisions of the leaders. I have always found it strange that in the bible, giving to God is primarily expressed thru meeting the needs of people, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, etc. and yet most believers do view giving to God as giving money to ‘the church’ or to a ministry. Jesus said things like ‘if you did not help the least of these, you did not help me’ and the above verse speaks of lending to God when we help the poor. I wonder if we will give an account to God someday for the fact that the majority of Christian funds in the American church are used to build/create comfortable environments for us to meet in? We spend most of our money on ourselves, and we do call this ‘giving to God’. Now many churches and ministries are doing a good work, sending missionaries out, helping the poor, etc. It’s just we as individual believers seem to think that this gets us off the hook. The bible says if we see a person in need and do not help, how dwelleth the love of God in us? There are many direct portions of scripture that say these things, most of the time we do not associate giving to God with what the bible actually teaches. We have developed unbiblical concepts on what the ‘storehouse’ in Malachi means, and we take this skewed idea of the storehouse and apply it to the meeting places of believers, and then we say ‘the tithe belongs to the storehouse’ it’s too much to do the whole thing right now, but I want to challenge you, are we overlooking actual direct commands of Jesus in scripture? Do we make the mistake of equating giving to God with putting money in an offering plate? I’m glad the author went undercover and gave us a glimpse into our own shortcomings, we could learn from her insights.
(1432) WHEN I RECEIVE THE GREAT CONGREGATION I WILL JUDGE UPRIGHTLY- Psalms 75:2 Many years ago when I was the youth pastor of a fundamental Baptist church, I had a new boy join our youth group; it was common to get new comers from the navy base where the church was located. He was an older teen [17?] but would attend our little group’s outings and all. Good kid. One time he shared how he needed to recommit his life to God; that he had slipped away from his earlier time of being baptized with the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Now, the church we were in did not look upon these experiences in a good light, it would have been easy for me to have challenged the boy on his past experience with God, but that would not have been the right thing to do. As his youth pastor I just encouraged him to remain on course and stay in prayer and fellowship. There are times in our walk with the Lord where we need to simply judge uprightly, that is we need to do what’s best for the person at the time, not necessarily always win the argument or prove our point. In the Christian experience we interact with many various groups of believers who have come to the table with different backgrounds. It’s a common thing for believers to not really appreciate that other believers might have come to the table with a different background. We all have a tendency to view our particular background as the best one out of the bunch; at times we feel a sense of security ‘knowing’ that our groups particular slant is the best slant. Then we approach other groups with a less than sincere acceptance of their ‘slant’. We all have groups of people that we will speak into thru our lives, ‘the great congregation’ so to speak. God wants us to do what’s right when we receive them, when they cross paths with us at various junctures in the journey. There will be times for reproof and correction, yes sometimes that’s ‘judging rightly’ but there will also be times when we need to look past our own concerns and simply do what’s in the best interest of the other person. Jesus said the Pharisees went high and low to make one convert, and after they made him he became a ‘child of hell’ more than they were. Paul said the Judaisers were glorying in the fact that they convinced the Galatians to become circumcised; these examples show us that we can be in leadership roles with the wrong motive, we might even be fooling ourselves, thinking that ‘hey, I wouldn’t be doing this stuff if I weren’t sincere’ but in these scenarios the thing that was motivating the leaders was the fact that they were able to convince others that their group was the right one, they were winning converts for their own glory, not for the sole benefit of the people. I want to challenge all of us today, what are we in this thing for? Are we more concerned with fighting for our particular view point than we are for the people? Do we have a tendency to present our views as the only views that can be right? Are we able to actually give a fair hearing to other sides of the issues, sides that we think are wrong, but to be willing to come to the table with an open heart and mind. You and I ‘receive’ the great congregation in many ways thru out our lives, let’s try and do what’s right when it’s our turn.
(1433) THE LAZY WILL NOT WORK BECAUSE OF THE COLD, THEREFORE WILL HE BEG IN THE HARVEST TIME AND HAVE NOTHING- Proverbs 20:4 Out of all the writings I have done about the poor and homeless, over 99% is pro homeless. But every so often I need to deal with the other side. A while back I met a new homeless friend here in Corpus, his name was Nick and he seemed like a nice guy. Nick was from out of state and the rumor was that he might have been hiding from the law for some reason. Nick was around 30 or so, had a decent truck and was an able bodied person. But over time I realized his problem was he did not want to work. Now there are guys I know who are hopeless drunks, good guys, but these are the ones you usually see begging with the signs. Most of the others actually do work, and many times people pick them up at the homeless spots for jobs. But Nick just did not want to work. At first he seemed to put on a good impression, he would talk about different schemes to make money, he was smart. He even told one of the other guys ‘I’ll pick you up early in the morning and we’ll go down to the shrimp docks and make some money’ he told my buddy that he picked him because these other bumbs don’t want to work! Sure enough Nick never showed up, my buddy saw him at the mission and said ‘hey, I was waiting all morning for you’ Nick made some excuse about driving up and down the block and never spotting him, you could tell it was a story. Nick also hung out with another older drunk who was good at begging, he was sickly and you felt sorry for the man, people would give him money- Nick saw this as a good way to get some cash. One day he showed up at the mission after a few weeks of doing some painting job, his girlfriend, who was homeless too, put pressure on him to work and they both started painting. Then lo and behold Nick showed up with his arm in a sling, he even had the x-rays to show everyone how he broke his arm when some college kids stole his ice chest at the beach and he reached in and grabbed it out of their car and broke his arm. No cast, and the x-rays to prove it! I didn’t even bother to look at the x-rays, which Nick seemed to want everyone to see, to prove it was true. One day I saw Nick on the other side of town holding a sign for money, he looked like a normal healthy guy asking for cash. I had a friend tell me ‘hey, I saw some guy begging for money at the Wal Mart, he looked like he was able to work’ sure enough it was Nick. The point today is sometimes it’s our fault, if people don’t want to work during the years of their youth, when they are young and healthy, then they will beg during harvest and have nothing. Paul the apostle rebuked those who did not want to work, but caused trouble; he said they should not eat! So we need to distinguish between those who are truly in need and those who are in rebellion, Jesus said some people were following him because they knew they could get a free meal [John’s gospel] as believers we need to be discerning, we also need to help those who are truly in need, we can’t put all the homeless in the category of Nick, but every now and then you will run across a Nick.
(1434) THE WINGLESS BEATLE- Recently there has been some hot debate going back and forth amongst Christians over the concept of I.D. [intelligent design] and evolution. I want to bring out a few important points; first, why are there intelligent Christian thinkers and scientists who hold to the idea of evolution? Are all of these smart men simply being duped? Of course not. We need to understand that the breakthroughs in science since the time of Darwin have shown us the reality that species very much do ‘evolve’ over time, the mechanism called Natural Selection is real. Many Christians believed that the various types of different animals in certain groups were all created by God in their original form in the first 6 days of creation. What Darwin observed was that animals [finches] actually would adapt to their environment over time, and these changes would indeed get passed off onto the next generation. So as science advanced we have seen that this process called natural selection does work in this way. The problem with a full throttled Darwinian view is Darwin concluded that this process was the reason why we have all the different species of life on the planet. Darwin carried his idea too far. Why do I say this? As science has advanced over time we have also discovered that living cells are highly complex, animals and humans have encoded within them a sort of computer program called DNA, in Darwin’s day we did not know this, but today we know it. As a matter of fact one of the main arguments of the ID movement is the very fact that there is absolutely no naturalistic explanation to where this information [program] has come from, but in fact all observable evidence around us indicates that you can only get intelligence like this from an intelligent mind. DNA does not evolve over time, in that succeeding generations of living things are developing new information; this does not happen. In order for Darwinian evolution to be true, then you would need some naturalistic explanation to where this new information is coming from. Now to the beetles, there is a case where these beetles were observed on this windy island over a period of years, the wind would blow the beetles into the ocean and they would drown; over time the beetles ‘lost’ their wings. Yes, successive generations of beetles would be born wingless. The process of natural selection worked in a way that the species dropped off the information in their DNA that called for wings. Does this mean Darwin was right? Not at all, what happened with the beetles is over time the species adapted to its environment by losing information, not by gaining it- in essence this is what natural selection does, it mutates, adapts, drops off info. But in no case does it create new data, in order for you to have new data you need some intelligent force/being to actually program the info. Most computer people have no problem with this concept. So Christians need to be careful when they reject all the good science that has come down the pike since Charlie’s day, but the evolutionist too needs to be willing to go where the data leads, thus far we have much data that says one species has never changed into another new species, you need a programmer for this to work.
(1435) I WILLPOUR OUT MY SPIRIT ON THE SERVANTS…AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY- Acts 2. This morning I read this chapter in the Message Bible. A few things stood out; as the Spirit came to the church they spoke in such a way that all the various dialects of the Jews that were gathered at Jerusalem for the feast, these all heard the wondrous works of God in their own dialect. These Jews came from various areas that spoke in different ways, yet the message of God was spoken in a way that they could identify with. Also we in the modern church usually get the cart before the horse, we are expecting God to pour out his Spirit on those who can prophesy- we are looking for God to find gifted preachers/speakers and for God to bless the talent. God is pouring out his Spirit on servants, those who have been shaped in the community of laying down their lives and not seeking self promotion for their gifts, these are the ones who are getting the Spirit and pouring it out on others in such a way that these other groups can for the first time understand the message of the Cross in their own context. That is they are hearing things in ‘their dialect’ for the first time. This chapter has been one of controversy for many years amongst the people of God. I remember in the early days how one time the fundamental Baptist church I attended had an evangelist come and speak; he told of an experience he had when he was younger- he was baptized by some Pentecostals in the name of Jesus, came up out of the water speaking in tongues, became part of the Pentecostal church and after a few years finally got saved for real! He then went on and gave all the horror stories of people that spoke in tongues and a visiting missionary was there who understood the language and later told the pastor that the tongue talker was worshipping satan in this foreign dialect. Then you have the other side, those who were raised Baptist, and eventually had a charismatic experience and now view their entire Christian lives thru the context of the Pentecostal message as being the best thing since sliced bread. Often times this culture will truly have the expression of the gifts flowing, but many times its easy to make the Christian life all about the gifts; creating atmospheres [meetings] where people get together to hear/see someone function in the gift. Many times these believers will spend their whole lives in a charismatic environment and never really catch the vision to reach out to the poor and hurting, to grow in their knowledge of the things of God in a greater way. In this chapter God fulfilled the prophecy of Joel and poured out his Spirit on a bunch of servants, yes they did experience a legitimate expression of the charismatic gifts [no one was praising satan in some Haitian dialect!] and yet their excitement was over the message of the Cross, not the fact that the Spirit gave them some gifts. In today’s church world we value the talents more so than the service mentality. We look for talented ‘prophets’ [proclaimers] whom the Spirit can fall on and use, we have gotten the cart before the horse. Peter said what happened on this day was God found a bunch of servants that he could entrust with the gifts of the Spirit, and he chose these humble ones to speak in such a way that for the first time a bunch of various dialects/groups would finally understand and hear the works of God in a simple way, a way that they could come and identify with the message of the Cross.
[Comment I left on Trevin Wax’s site on an interview with Scot McKnight] I have noticed that Scot’s article was kinda like Stephen Barr’s recent shot against the I.D. movement! That is he seems to have stirred up a hornets’ nest. I agree with Scot on most of what he is saying, and I have noticed that many of his critics think he is against history itself, which is not what he is saying at all. Good interview Trevin, you might need to do another one with Tom Wright so you won’t be accused of taking sides. God bless, John
[Comment I left on McKnight’s Jesus creed blog] ‘I read what I said, and this is what I think I meant’ this can only be said by someone who has ruffled some theological feathers. I agree with you Scot, I never read you saying ‘historical work is wrong’ I read your criticism as being against the actual faulty method of hj [historical Jesus] studies- faulty in the sense that it ‘strives’ to present an unorthodox Jesus as its goal. Do we really want this Jesus?
(1436) COMMON CONSENSUS- The last few months believers from various philosophical/theological backgrounds have been debating various issues and there has been some good give and take in the process. Last night I caught a Larry King interview with Jennifer Knapp, the Christian singer who has announced she is a lesbian; once again you can read the debate raging in the blogosphere. Often times Christians can get a little confused when they see intellectuals debating things from opposite sides, the question comes up ‘if these learned men/women have sincere differences, then I guess that means there is no final word on anything’ and that’s where the Catholic apologists jump in and say ‘see, we have the magisterium [the teaching authority of the church] and that’s the answer’. To be honest, I have heard certain Catholic apologists use this argument a few too many times against a straw man; some have said that Protestants have a thousand beliefs on just about every subject, so that’s how you know they can’t be right. Actually most believers worldwide have come to a consensus on the main things, the things that matter. Now I do understand that there are still areas where we all fall short in our thinking, but there has been a fairly stable stream of truth coming down to us thru out the centuries. We can often look back and see how certain generations saw clearly in one area, yet might have had a blind spot in another. Then a little further down the road they correct that area, and other following generations repeat the pattern. Let me hit on just one example that I have seen a lot; as someone who likes to read/study good theology, listening to reformed and orthodox thinkers, reading the current scholars of the day, I have found that most of them come to the table with a certain view of church [this study is called ecclesiology] that is limited in perspective. They have usually been influenced by their background [as we all are] and they might have thought long and hard about many theological issues [the sovereignty of God, apologetics, etc.] but when challenged in some way [like a popular book on church government] they usually resort to arguments that are common across the spectrum, but limited in view. I don’t know how many times I have heard believers defend a certain form of church and tithing by going to the famous passage in the book of Malachi ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’ but yet have never really given serious thought to what they actually mean by applying this scripture to the New Testament church, they usually simply see storehouse as ‘the church building’. Now, it takes very little time to do a good study of this passage and see that this is a very limited view of the passage. And many scholarly men have done extensive study in the area of ecclesiology and these men have truly seen things that for the most part the other groups haven’t yet seen. But in time, as generations roll on, these realities of God eventually seep into the Christian populace at large. The problem is we all need lots of grace during the process; I have learned much good from many theologians who I know don’t fully see the truth in every area, yet many who agree with me on the nature of the church would never give the time of day to other scholars who have limited views of the ecclesia. So these will never benefit from the broader insights of the world wide Body of Christ, they only listen to those directly related to their own view of the church. Many of these believers will master the art of ecclesiology, to the degree where it can become an unbalanced focus, reading too much into the proper way to ‘do church’. I only share this as one example, you can find things like this all over the Christian landscape. But overall the Christian church has arrived at truth, has had real consensus on the major things. Yes, you will have debates about lots of stuff, but we shouldn’t resign ourselves to the hopeless excuse of ‘well, everybody has their own interpretation of the bible’ sort of like saying ‘you believe your way and I’ll believe mine’. No, this really doesn’t work in the long run. We need grace when dealing with each other, especially an issue like when a believer comes out and is dealing with sexual identity issues; we need to not set these individuals up as targets, but at the same time deal honestly with what the scriptures teach [yes, the bible is pretty consistent on the issue]. At the end of the day we can, and do arrive at a common consensus most of the times, it’s important that believers know this so they don’t fall into a snare of thinking that everyone has their own view of what the bible says- to be honest this really isn’t the case.
(1437) FOR HE HAS ESTABLISHED A TESTIMONY IN JACOB, AND A LAW IN ISRAEL…THAT THE GENERATION TO COME MIGHT KNOW THEM, EVEN THE CHILDREN THAT SHALL BE BORN; AND THEY WILL DECLARE THEM TO THEIR CHILDREN. Psalms 78:5-6 I might overview this chapter the next day or so, it covers the history of Israel and Gods dealings with them. God set a testimony among his people for future generations to come and be influenced by it. This testimony was not only the written laws and statutes, but also the great works that he did; they were to memorialize them thru their holidays and holy feasts, just like the church does when celebrating the Lords Supper. This chapter will go on and tell us how God took King David from following the sheep and brought him to a position of authority in the kingdom. The Lord brought his people to a special border and mountain that he had foreordained for them to dwell in. He set up his tent among them and he poured down manna like rain all around their camps. This picture shows us how God dwells among us; he gives us certain prophetic people/leaders who will come from places of pastoral concern [following the sheep] and they will speak/teach things that are destined for generations of people to hear; that is this testimony is not simply a word about how to deal with your current problems, but it is a word meant to be transmitted to generations of people to come. God will let this ‘manna from heaven’ drop down all around the tents and camps where the people dwell, they will see/hear the works of God and be so impacted that they will declare it to their children and their children will also speak it to the following generation. I have found it interesting over the years when dealing with various subjects amongst the people of God. The other day I mentioned how some of my favorite theologians/scholars might have great insight into certain areas of God’s kingdom, yet they might have blind spots in others [like the nature of the ecclesia]. Yet I have found that there are whole generations of young believers who are now 2nd generation ‘organic churhcers’ and these kids, for the most part, have a better grasp on the principle and nature of the church. They don’t disdain the older guys, it’s just the idea in scripture of the organic church comes easy to them; they see right thru the old paradigms that many from the older generation can’t really see. Just a humble process of one generation of organic church movement ‘fathers’ having passed off to the next generation a ‘testimony in Israel’ a specific word/teaching that was meant to have long term effects for many generations to come in specific locations [mountains boundaries]. That is the things being taught by the Spirit are not simply one time truths that fade away in a few years, no these types of testimonies have staying power and future generations to come will all be affected by it. Have you been on the receiving/giving end of this type of testimony? Pastors, do you now say/see things differently in a permanent way? That is have you been taught in such a way that the things you have seen have changed certain ways you see church and the kingdom of God to the point where you will ‘never be the same again’? We all go thru stages like that, it’s important to remember what Jesus said ‘a good steward brings forth both new and old’ sometimes the new way of seeing things can be so overwhelming that we forget to teach the old stuff as well. It’s never good to neglect the great doctrines of the Atonement, justification by faith alone, solo scriptura, etc. But we also need to remind each other of the new things, the stuff that we have been corrected on during the journey. Gods purpose was to establish a testimony among his people that would be strong enough to reach down into future generations of people to come; he would rain this manna down from heaven all around their dwellings- it was an inescapable word from God that would become imbedded in the minds of many generations to come; when these things happen with Gods people, it’s always wise to get in on it at the beginning, it will benefit you more if you do.
(1438) HE SPLIT OPEN THE ROCKS IN THE WILDERNESS, AND GAVE THEM DRINK OUT OF GREAT DEPTHS. HE BROUGHT STREAMS ALSO OUT OF THE ROCK, AND CAUSED WATERS TO RUN DOWN LIKE RIVERS- Psalms 78:15-16 The story of Moses striking the rock is found in Numbers 20, the Israelites were complaining about the lack of water and all the good things they had back in Egypt, but now thanks to this big shot Moses we are stuck in the desert without any water! So God tells Moses ‘I hear what they are saying, go speak to the rock and water will come out’. Now Moses had a temper, so he goes to the rock- preaches a short Baptist sermon ‘you bunch of no good nothings!’ and he hits the rock with his staff, twice! The water comes out and they all drink from the rock. In 1st Corinthians 10 Paul uses this story as an analogy of Christ and says ‘all our forefathers drank from the rock, which was Christ’. Jesus used the example of Moses making a snake statue and putting it on a stick [John chapter 3] as a type of his own crucifixion. One time the Israelites were complaining again and God sent snakes to bite them, so the people are dying and they don’t know what to do, God tells Moses to make a bronze snake image and stick it on a pole and when the people are bitten they just need to look at the snake and they will live. Jesus told Nicodemus that this was a type of his death on the Cross, that all who ‘look to the Son’ will live. The famous song ‘rock of ages, cleft for me’ also speaks of the imagery of Jesus being the rock from the Father who was opened up on the Cross. The above passage says God gave them drink out of the ‘great depths’; the New Testament says Jesus descended lower than any man, and that because of these great depths the Father exalted him to his right hand. I find it interesting that all these stories, written and experienced hundreds of years before Christ, just so happened to fulfill his destiny. We live in a day where we do not understand, or appreciate, the process of the cross in our own lives. Paul got to a point where he could glory in his weakness, in the fact that he died daily, he knew that it was these ‘great depths’ that would allow a river of life to flow thru his lips and pen; when God wants to bring forth some great rivers, he looks for some rocks that he can break.
(1439) WHY ARE WE STILL KILLING INNOCENT AFGHAN/MUSLIM PEOPLE? The other day I read a few papers that built up over a few days at my doorstep. One day an article read ‘4 people killed in Afghan attack’ and the article went on to say that the coalition forces shot into a car and killed 4 people; the local authorities insisted these were innocent civilians- our side said we looked into the identity of the victims using high tech fingerprinting technology and that 2 of the 4 were enemy combatants. The local authorities said not only were the 4 people innocent civilians, but one was a cop, the other a 12 year old boy. The paper from the following day said ‘the 4 people were civilians- one a cop, the other a small boy’ any explanation for why we lied? Any questioning on how we were so quick to produce high tech evidence on the guilt of these people? Any major news coverage, you know pictures of the shot up vehicle? What about any media pressure at all about the presidents promises to end these atrocities? The media does not care about reporting stories that under the previous administration were considered highly important, how many main stream news stories of bombings and deaths and burning vehicles have you seen lately? The media has attached itself to the side of an administration to the point where atrocities are not being reported. Understand, the Afghan president has been under tremendous pressure over these incidents; he has made his concerns known over and over again; how have we responded? The other week we sent some top aides to the country, they publicly portrayed the Afghan leader as corrupt [as most of them are] we then made the story about the corruption of the Afghan leader. How did he respond? He threatened to join the Taliban. These last few months many big mistakes and problems have arisen in these wars, things that would have normally caused the Democrats to go on a war path, the Harry Reids of the day going on national TV and proclaiming ‘we have lost the war’. But they have been mute on the subject, portraying any criticism as either being racist, or the party of no. Right now they are attempting to pass financial reform, some think it will do the job, others think it’s problematic. The reform would create a 50 billion dollar account to ‘liquidate’ big financial institutions if they got into trouble, sort of a bailout program that would prevent another major disaster. Some feel we should not promise any bailouts at all, that to give this guarantee to the big banks, while not giving it to the smaller ones, that this would give an unfair advantage to the bigger banks- after all people will do business with the firms that have the special bail out provision, plus these banks would be able to borrow at a lower rate than the smaller banks. In essence some think this reform bill is actually unfair and favors the wall streeters in the end. But the media simply reports that those opposed are ‘in bed with wall street’. An independent study just came out and told us that passing health care will add around 350 billion to the cost over the first 10 years, not reduce the cost as promised. The reality is when you rush things thru, in the sense that every program you pass is portrayed as an emergency that can’t wait, then you get childish government; an administration that portrays things in a wrong light, and when the facts come out- there are no questions from the media about ‘who knew what when’ no questions about our continued involvement in the deaths of many, many Afghan civilians, and our lying about it, over and over again! It’s not a onetime occasion, we will not stop doing this- we keep saying ‘the evidence shows us that these people were guilty’ and time and time again the reports later say ‘no, we killed a bunch of women and kids’ how long are we going to keep doing this? This from an administration that condemned the fallout from the previous administrations actions, a man who said we must simply get our troops out of these bad situations [Iraq] because our troops presence stir up animosity. Then why does this president insist on ratcheting up the violence? That country is eventually going to go back into the hands of the Taliban, they rule the entire country right now, all the local tribal type regions have Taliban rule, or are favored by the majority of the people. The Afghans see us as the danger, not them! So why waste any more precious lives of our boys and girls over there? Why keep killing innocent civilians, cops and little boys, and then lying about it? It’s time for us to wake up and let our voices be heard, just like the nonstop opposition on national media during the Bush years, nonstop coverage over these events, questions on who knew what and when. Instead the media has an agenda, they keep reporting on how the republicans are in bed with wall street- I could care less about all the democrats and republicans who are all just as guilty as the next guy, the president himself having taken a million from the most recent wall street firm he has dubbed as the enemy [Goldman Sachs] we need to get back to what’s really important, one of them being the disaster of our current war in Afghanistan.