Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Rhinoceros Party (Canada)

The Parti Rhinocéros, commonly known as the Rhino Party in English, was a registered political party in Canada from the 1960s to the 1990s. Operating within the Canadian tradition of political satire, the Rhinoceros Party's basic credo, their so-called primal promise, was "a promise to keep none of our promises" (at least they were honest about their lies). They then promised outlandishly impossible schemes designed to amuse and entertain the voting public.

The Rhinos were started in 1963 by Jacques Ferron, "Éminence de la Grande Corne du parti Rhinoceros". In the 1970s, a group of artists joined the party and created a comedic political platform to contest the federal election. Ferron (1979), poet Gaston Miron (1972) and singer Michel Rivard (1980) ran against Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in his Montreal seat.

The party, which claimed to be the spiritual descendants of Cacareco, a Brazilian rhinoceros who was elected member of São Paulo's city council in the 1950s, listed Cornelius the First, a rhinoceros from the Granby Zoo, east of Montreal, as its leader. It declared that the rhinoceros was an appropriate symbol for a political party since politicians, by nature, are "thick-skinned, slow-moving, dim-witted, can move fast as hell when in danger, and have large, hairy horns growing out of the middle of their faces."

Some members of the Rhino party would call themselves Marxist-Lennonist (a parody of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada), in reference to Groucho Marx and John Lennon.

Another Gospel

“Evangelism must start with the holiness of God, the sinfulness of man, the demands of the law, and the eternal consequences of evil.”
Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.”
A. W. Pink

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Are You At Peace With, Or Under The Wrath Of God?

"What peace can you have when God is your enemy, when the wrath of God is abiding upon your poor soul? Awake, then, you that are sleeping in a false peace, awake, ye carnal professors, ye hypocrites that go to church, receive the sacrament, read your Bibles, and never felt the power of God upon your hearts; you that are formal professors, you that are baptized heathens; awake, awake, and do not rest on a false bottom."

George Whitfield


A sermon excerpt from: Are You At Peace With, Or Under The Wrath Of God? Read it here at Truth Matters.

Unoffensive Humor

Too many people are way too overly sensitive these days about humor. Everybody wants to be offended about something. Political Correctness has rendered almost all humor (except jokes about conservative, fundamentalist, working white men) off limits.

It's like we are NOT ALLOWED 2 LAFF anymore.

So I have created this comic strip that shouldn't be offensive to anyone.









I hope you got the punch line.
Ralph M. Petersen

Child Discipline

Most Americans think it is an outrageous act of child abuse to spank children. In fact your responsibility to correct your children (if you happen to be one of us who employs spanking) is again under attack. There is new proposed legislation to outlaw spanking.

But take heart; there are other methods of controlling kids when they have one of "those moments." I found one that looks interesting and it might be very effective. Just take the precious little darling out for a car ride and a chat. He or she usually calms down and stops misbehaving after a little car ride together. I've included the helpful photo below in case you are interested in trying this technique.






Scroll down for the picture!



























All I Ever Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten

Some will remember this very popular piece from the late 1980's. Robert Fulgham's works are On Line. He was a teacher in the lower grades...and he was certainly a wise man too. There are many parallels with Bible Truth in this.

All I Ever Really Needed to Know


I Learned in Kindergarten


"Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school. These are the things I learned:

Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you are sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.


Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup - they all die. So do we.


And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and sane living.


Think of what a better world it would be if we all - the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and cleaned up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together."

Robert Fulgham

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Great Equalizer

“The gun has been called the great equalizer, meaning that a small person with a gun is equal to a large person, but it is a great equalizer in another way, too. It insures that the people are the equal of their government whenever that government forgets that it is servant and not master of the governed. When the British forgot that they got a revolution. And, as a result, we Americans got a Constitution; a Constitution that, as those who wrote it were determined, would keep men free. If we give up part of that Constitution we give up part of our freedom and increase the chance that we will lose it all. I am not ready to take that risk. I believe that the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms must not be infringed if liberty in America is to survive.” —

Thursday, April 24, 2008

There's A Rhino On The Bus! (an allegory)

There's a RHINO on the bus!
There's a RHINO on the bus?
I don't see all the fuss because

There's a RHINO on the bus.

Now you're trying to tell me

That he's sitting next to us?
I really think it's something

That we've all got to discuss.

I'm not the type of boy to

Stamp his feet and cuss.
But don't you people realize

THERE'S A RHINO ON THE BUS!

by author/illustrator Brian Yanish

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Relationships Not Rules

There is a new “bumper-sticker phrase” (well maybe it isn’t new; maybe I just haven’t been aware of it) being indiscriminately thrown around in Christian circles that really bugs me. The phrase goes something like this, Christianity is about "relationships, not rules.”

I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. I would hope that it is intended to describe our relationship with Christ as a result of His unmerited grace through saving faith and not dependent on our own attempts to present ourselves justified by our good works. That’s what I hope. The problem is that I have tracked it back to Rick Warren. In his C.L.A.S.S. Seminar 101, he makes this statement regarding the nature of the church, “The church is a family. We operate on the basis of relationships not rules.”

Now I have been in family relationships and, believe me, that statement would never fly. When I was growing up, my parents had rules and when I broke the rules, I severed the fellowship and I learned that this relationship had rules. As a husband, I know that there are some rules that cannot be ignored; to do so would definitely result in the end of the relationship.

Sometimes I hear people ignorantly misuse that statement in the context of their supposed liberty. “We are free from the law,” “all our sins are forgiven,” and “Christians are under grace and not under law,” they say. In a simple, anemic, four-step process of easy-believism, people are invited to repeat a magic prayer, invite Jesus into their life, and then they are told that they are safe and saved and heaven bound and they never need to worry about their sin again. One man arrogantly challenged me, “show me in the Bible where it says I have to (blank). And don’t bring up the Old Testament; we are in New Testament times.”

The new birth is NOT a license to sin with a get-out-of-hell-free card. It is a transaction where God transforms us. We don’t get to just ignore all of God’s laws just because we get saved. That’s insane! In his first epistle, John tells us, “…by this do we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (1 John 2:4).

Dave Daubenmire, a veteran 25-year high school football coach, in his post titled, Born Again, at Pass The Salt Ministries, said it far better than I could:

My coaching career was spent mending broken programs. I remember walking the halls and inviting young men to come out for the team. I assured them that the team was open to anyone who wanted to play, and that the team needed them in order to be successful. That "football evangelism" over the years produced a great amount of fruit.

But here was the catch. The team was open to anyone, but once you were on the team there were certain expectations you were required to follow. No drinking, smoking or drugs, no long hair, keep your grades up, respect your teachers, and represent your school with honor. Isn't it amazing? Today you have to follow more rules to be on a football team than you do to be on God's team. God doesn't care how you behave, but your football coach does? Give me a break!

John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."


So, where do you stand? I'm not interested in whether you walked an aisle and said a prayer. I don't care how much money you give to your church, if you sing in the choir, or if you have been elevated to the role of pastor or deacon. Is Christ your Lord?
Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?


Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Everyone loves that Savior part....few can swallow the Lordship requirement.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is there will your heart be also. ....24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.


Born again, huh? Accepted Christ as Savior, did you? On your way to heaven...despite how you live? Living your best life now, are you? Jesus said our best life would be later.
Who do you serve? Who do you follow? Who is your Lord?

That's how you know if you are "born again".


Monday, April 21, 2008

Let's Have A STRAIGHT DAY OF SILENCE!

The trouble with public schools is that they even exist in the first place. Here is one more good reason why no Bible-believing Christian, no true conservative, or no self-respecting thinking person should ever cede to the state, his responsibility to educate his children.

Friday, April 25th students all across America will be forced to participate in a Day of Silence sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The nationwide campaign encourages students to refrain from speaking during the school day to protest the discrimination of homosexuals, transsexuals, bisexuals and transgenders.

Capitol Resource Institute reports that many schools are colluding with this political agenda. According to traditional values organization Liberty Counsel, schools are actually intimidating parents who seek to protect their children from the indoctrination. One father was told his son would receive a school year failing grade if he missed school on April 25th. Some school officials told parents it was against the law for their school to not participate in the Day of Silence.

It is interesting to note that this day of silence falls in the midst of the “Great TV Turn-Off Week!” (Apr. 21-27). Daisy at Lesser Roads Academy notes in her post, Garbage In, Garbage Out, the evil, vacuous and unhealthy nature of habitual television viewing. Given the flood of homosexual content on television, it seems appropriate to just “silence” all "unstraight" programming by leaving it turned off all week.

Frankly, I don’t think GLSEN is fair with this day of silence. By their very name, one would think they should also be concerned about straight people. But this day gives no recognition to straight people. How about all homosexuals just “shutting up” for a whole day out of concern for straights? I feel victimized and neglected. Where is MY day? I WANT MY DAY!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Calvinism Is The Gospel, and Nothing Else.

"I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor."

C.H. Spurgeon

J & J Bible Ministry has posted C.H. Spurgeon - A Defense of Calvinism in a four part video series at Truth Matters.

Missing Body Parts

I left my crew on the job one morning to go out of town on errands. When I returned, I noticed that my young apprentice, Eric, was missing. That’s when I learned that he had cut off his finger in my cement mixer and was in the emergency room.

I rushed to find him still waiting for treatment after nearly three hours. Finally, the doctor unwrapped the stub and then asked if we had the severed finger. I told him it was probably embedded in the cement somewhere and the chances of recovery was unlikely. He urged me to go back to the jobsite to try to locate it.

Back at the job, the men told me that Eric had been cleaning the mixer when the accident occurred. I looked inside and saw that most of the cement had been washed down and was still in the bowl. By then it had started to harden and was pretty stiff. I cranked it up to break the set and loosen the material so I could sift through it. Then I found a piece of metal screen, laid it over an empty bucket and began to pour out the material through the sieve.

Suddenly the stucco stained finger plopped onto the screen. I picked it up, hosed it off and placed it in a Carl’s Jr. soft-drink cup with some ice and headed back to the emergency room. About an hour later, the doctor announced to Rick’s mother and me that he had successfully reattached the finger. Today Eric’s finger, although slightly disfigured, is in tact, and fully functional.

We all just assumed that, once severed, the finger was unsalvageable and that Eric would have to adjust to his new handicap and get along without it. It never occurred to us to locate the finger until the physician told us to find it and bring it back.

The apostle Paul refers to the Church as the “body of Christ” where every member is a unique and special part of the whole. "Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” ( 1 Cor.12: 27 NLT).

Sometimes, one of our “parts gets wounded or cut off and we act as though it is irrecoverable and that we will just get along without it. But every member is important to the Great Physician and has a vital function in the body. When one of our members is wounded or disconnected, we should go out to recover him, heal him, and restore him to his right place and purpose in the BODY.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Philosophy of Dressing and Grooming Standards for Christian Ministry

A rebellious and arrogant young pastor I know resigned from his church a few years ago, took several families with him, and started a new “fellowship.” What was his reason for splitting the church? It wasn’t about doctrine. It wasn’t about immorality in leadership. It was about a necktie. The deacons and pastor asked him to wear a tie on the platform on Sunday mornings in corporate worship. He offered some lamebrain, disrespectful retorts like, I ain’t wearin’ no ties,” and “Show me in the Bible where it says I have to wear a tie.”

There is no argument about it; a person’s attire, his grooming, and his personal appearance all contribute to his own personal image. But we do not exist in our own little worlds. The way Christians dress impacts the public image of Christianity in general. For those who are employees in churches or other Christian ministries, it is reasonable to willingly submit to the dressing and grooming expectations of leadership because the general image and attitude of the whole ministry is reflected by its employees.

Although styles in fashion and grooming change and taste is subjective, the goal for establishing principles and guidelines regarding personal appearance in a ministry is to present an overall image that shows respect for God, that is appropriate, modest in taste and style, and relatable and inoffensive to the majority of the members or the Christian community.

Some who will argue that they should not be judged by outward appearances, often quote, “Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.” The misapplication of that verse as a defense is a foolish, and ignorant argument for several reasons.

First, it is sloppy hermeneutics. That verse was never intended to provide biblical justification for any fool’s deliberate disrespect, obnoxious offensiveness, or self-uglification.

Second, it is a poor interpretation from a grammatical point of view. The construction of the sentence is similar to a mathematical equation. In an equation, everything on one side of the equal sign is equal to everything on the other. The order of an equation can be reversed without changing, damaging, or affecting the outcome. So, 2+2=4 just as 4=2+2. In the construction of the sentence, the word “but” affectively creates a grammatical equation. So, without damaging the integrity of the sentence, it could be stated thus, “God looks on the heart, BUT man looks on the outward appearance.” While it is true that God sees the heart, man has no other resources for discernment but the outward appearance. And even though we cannot know the heart of a man, we can discern volumes about his respect for others, his attitude toward authority, or sense of morality by the way he dresses.

Third, there should be no contradiction or discrepancy between what a man appears to be on the outside and what he is on the inside.

Fourth, just in case the first three points are missed or rejected, there are clear commands from Scripture on the subject in addition to the one above. God has spoken so there can be no mistaking His prohibitions and expectations for His children in regard to markings, mutilations, piercings, adornments and what is appropriate and acceptable attire as pertains to men and women.

Christian ministries (including this home for the elderly) must be careful regarding fashions or styles that are considered extreme. On this point, it is important to note that one size does not fit all and that rules may not necessarily be applicable in all cases. For example, a female receptionist may wear a dress but a maintenance man cannot. I have an older female employee with blue tinted hair who is very relatable to our elderly residents. But a young teenage boy who shows up for work sporting a new, blue spiked Mohawk is not relatable anywhere in a Christian home for the elderly and will be sent home. Any of my employees who may be considering experimenting with fads or extreme changes in personal appearance are encouraged to first discuss their plans with their supervisors.

An ideal dress and grooming policy should be respectful of the ministry’s objectives yet, unrestrictive and flexible enough to allow for freedom, variety, personal preference and comfort. However, the Apostle Paul warns us to be careful with our liberty that we do not offend a weaker brother (1 Cor. 8:9).

For those who lack discernment or cannot make right decisions concerning dress or style, the ministry’s leadership should insist on the right to define what the appropriate and acceptable biblical standards will be.

“I (would that you) dress modestly, with decency and propriety…, appropriate for (those) who profess to worship God.” 1 Tim. 2:9 (paraphrased by me.)

THE SHEPHERD AND THE WILD GOATS

ONE cold stormy day a shepherd drove his flock for shelter into a cave where a number of wild goats had also found their way. The shepherd wanted to make the goats part of his flock; so he fed them well. But to his own flock, he gave only just enough food to keep them alive. When the weather cleared, and the shepherd led the goats out to feed, the wild goats scampered off to the hills. "Is that the thanks I get for feeding you and treating you so well?" complained the shepherd.

"Do not expect us to join your flock," replied one of the wild goats. "We know how you would treat us later on, if some strangers should come as we did."

"It is unwise to neglect old friends for the sake of new ones."
Adapted from Project Gutenburg ebook, AESOP for Children with illustrations by Milo Winter

Are You Chasing Goats Or Tending Sheep?

(This article was first posted on my blogsite on 10/31/07. With a few changes, I am reposting it here because of its relevance.)

According to Rick Warren, "Relationships are the glue that holds a church together. Friendships are the key to retaining members."

That's a cute bumper sticker sentiment but is it true? I guess the answer to that question really depends on whether your church's purpose is to raise goats or sheep.

Over a century ago in Europe, Charles Spurgeon wrote an article titled, "Are We Feeding Sheep Or Amusing Goats?" It is well worth reading. It is an amazingly parallel description of the church growth movement in contemporary American churches.

Is your pastor a shepherd or a goatherd? I found this definition of a GOATHERD in Wikipedia. It provides some very interesting and insightful correlations to the contemporary ideological deviations from fundamental orthodox worship in the Christian church.

A goatherd or a goatherder is a person who herds goats for a living. Similar to a shepherd who tends sheep for a living, the drover here herds goats. Goatherds are popular in countries where goat populations are natively high; for instance, in Africa and South Asia. Herding a goat is much more difficult than herding sheep as, unlike sheep, goats do not have a herd mentality and each goat will tend to stray farther in search of better foliage and grass. It is for this reason that, in these areas, goats are costlier than sheep.

From that definition, I offer the following observations and comments:

  • Shepherds “tend” sheep; goatherds “herd” goats. The biblical pastoral work of a shepherd is to lead, guide, guard, feed and protect the sheep. The more arduous task of goatherds is to relentlessly chase after the goats, round them up, herd them, drive them and contain them.

  • Herding goats is much more difficult than herding sheep…goats do not have a herd mentality. Regarding sheep, Jesus said, ”My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” I think the fact that a flock of sheep tends to stay together is noteworthy (If all the sheep follow The Shepherd, then all the sheep will naturally be together). Shepherds are charged with tending the flock (a flock is singular entity, a cohesive group, a herd). So shepherding is relatively easy in comparison to herding animals that have no herd mentality.

  • Goats tend to wander and stray farther in search of better (or different) foliage and grass. They are continually seeking more fun, more stimulation, more programs, more variety, more adventure, new relationships, new truth, new revelation, strange fire, more, MORE and MORE garbage to sate their insatiable appetites for anything and everything that is new or different.

  • Goats are costlier than sheep. Churches that get caught up in the activity of amusing goats will require more money to fund more programs and hire more staff to keep them amused and satisfied. Someone said, “What you win them with is what you win them to.”

Here are a couple other interesting notes from a different source about the grazing habits of goats:

  • Goats do not feed very long in one place but tend to pick a bite here and a bite there moving from place to place. You can probably see where I’m headed with this. Sheep tend to stay near the shepherd and feed on the Word; goats run from morsel to morsel, from proof text to proof text and often from church to church.

  • Goats are used much more effectively than sheep for weed control. The reason is that they move into an area and strip it of everthing they see and then move on. Also, they will eat almost anything. Enough Said.

Having noted these distinctions between shepherds and goatherds, It seems to me that some churches should more correctly refer to their pastors as “Goatherders” unless or until they cease amusing goats and start tending to their sheep. When that happens, they might discover that the Word of God and the Spirit of God are the glue that holds The Church together.





"Someone who thinks logically


is a nice contrast to the real world."
unknown origin

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

INCOME TAX: YOU LUV IT!

“I would like to electrocute everyone who uses the word ‘fair’ in connection with income tax policies.” —William F. Buckley Jr.

“To tax the community for the advantage of a class is not protection: it is plunder.” —Benjamin Disraeli

“A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny.” —Calvin Coolidge

“The current tax code is a daily mugging.” —Ronald Reagan

“I’m proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money.” —Authur Godfrey

“Lord, the money we do spend on Government and it’s not one bit better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty years ago.” —Will Rogers

Unashamedly culled from The Patriot Post (08-16)

The Wooly Rhinoceros

illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull
"With pounding of feet and crashing of underbrush,
a wooly rhinoceros plunged out of the forest;
two blood-thirsty, fiend-like, bristling hyenas
leaping at his flanks and tearing great wounds,
with their fang-like teeth."
From-The Mysterious Valley
by J. Irving Crump
Boys' Life
Feb. 1925 pp 32-33, 64

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Dangers and Foolishness of Relevance - Youth Ministry Silliness

A friend of mine told me about how he tried to encourage his niece to attend his church. He thought, by introducing her to the youth pastor, she might, somehow, become “plugged in” to the group.

She attended for about three or four weeks and then dropped out of sight. When he asked her about it, she told him it was a waste of her time and was mostly a lot of foolishness. She reported an incident one evening where several of the guys were “chug-a-lugging” chocolate milk to see who could down the most before puking.

When he told me that story, I remembered several blog posts I have read recently on the subject. One in particular was written by a couple former youth ministers on their blog site, Rethinking Youth Ministry. It was titled, The Biggest Mistakes I've Made In Youth Ministry. Mistake number two is reproduced in part, here.

PLAYING “KIDDIE” VERSIONS OF COLLEGE CHUG-A-LUG GAMES - Early in my career, I came across a game in a youth ministry book that looked like fun. …invite several students to compete to see who could be first to drink their entire two-liter (soda) through a tube while the bottle is held above their heads. …a boy who was visiting that night, really made an attempt to drink the entire bottle through the tube. He drank about half the bottle when he discovered that all that carbonation was too much and he promptly puked up on the church parking lot. It was not too long after that when I discovered that this game is actually a non-alcoholic version of a fraternity drinking game!

Here is an excerpt from an article posted at one of my favorite blogsites, Old Truth that is really worth reading.

GROSS AND OUTRAGEOUS YOUTH GROUP ACTIVITIES


“Do you know if your child has ever played "Bedpan" Relay? Or been asked to lick peanut butter out of someone's armpit? Or been dared to drink what someone has chewed up and spit out? Has your daughter been introduced to a game of "Christian Strip" or a game of "feeling" the legs of five guys when blindfolded to see if she can identify which legs belong to whom? Even though these objectionable games are out of character for Christians, they are being used by some undiscerning youth group leaders with teens.”

This complete post with comments can be viewed here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How To Make The Bible Feel Good

I have noticed an odd thing about the way most churches teach Sunday school classes.

Usually, in the youth and young adult classes, the dialectic method of teaching (or thinking) is employed. The typical arrangement is to sit in circles or semi-circles which encourages a more relational and interactive atmosphere. The format is often topical and there is generally a lot of dialogue led by a discussion leader or facilitator. Everyone is a participant in the process and the class is encouraged to share about “how this verse speaks to me,” or what “I think it means.”

That’s insane. These intellectually vacuous, mush-headed, know-it-alls who think they can discover truth by pooling their ignorance, are the very ones who need to be taught truth. They need to hear the absolute, authoritative Word of God. Frankly, it doesn’t really matter how one feels about a verse; the only thing that matters is “Thus saith the Lord.” That is called the didactic method. (See the video below for a great illustration of the foolishness and error of this kind of Bible study.)

Where do we generally employ the didactic method of teaching? We do that in the older adult classes. Those are the mature Christians. They are the ones who have walked with God for years. They have knowledge of His Word and wisdom to apply it and they probably know more than the teacher.

Yet in those classes, they open their Bibles and shut their mouths. They sit in rows and listen to a teacher exposit the Truth of the Word of God with authority.

That seems convoluted to me!


Saturday, April 12, 2008

THE EMERGING CHURCH

I found this pithy little definition posted on Apprising Ministries.

THE EMERGING CHURCH— "overcoming the theology of Western European white male Christians and replacing it with the theology of Western European white male atheists."


Way of the Master

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Lesson From The Tool Box

I think most craftsmen are very careful with and protective of their tools. When I was a plastering contractor, I had one tool that I was particularly fond of. It was my finishing trowel. When it was new, it was just like any other trowel but it got better with age and use. Through years of use, the once square sides had worn down until the toe was considerably narrower than the heel. The once rough, unfinished wooden handle had become polished to a bone-like finish from rubbing against my gloved hand. The blade was honed razor-sharp from troweling and I could slice paper with it. When I used it to hard-trowel a finish, it would “sing” with a distinct ringing that only occurred in well-broken trowels.

I loved that trowel. We did a lot of work together and it served me very well. One day, while I was finishing an exterior wall, I set my tools on the ground behind me while I was relocating to a more convenient location. When I returned to retrieve my tools, at first I didn’t see them. Then I found them half buried in the loose dirt. The tire tracks provided all the clues I needed to discover what had happened. A large tractor had rumbled through the tract and had run right over my tools.

My trowel was broken into pieces. The handle was split into fractions, the cast magnesium shaft was snapped off and the steel blade was cracked and popped off its rivets. It was not repairable. My favorite tool was a useless heap of junk.

What happed next was really wierd. I don’t know why, but I sadly knelt down, almost mournfully, and carefully gathered up all the broken pieces. I carried them back to my truck and gently placed them in my toolbox. After a few sad moments of silence, I pulled another trowel from the box and returned to finish my work.

I learned a few things that day about
TOOLS IN THE HANDS OF THE MASTER CRAFTSMAN.

God is at work in this world to accomplish His purpose. Jesus said, “I will build My Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matt. 16:18. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…Eph.2:10a

The subject here in Ephesians 2 is the Church but I want to use these verses to establish the fact that it is God who is the Designer, Creator, and the Master Craftsman. He does use His people to do His work but He is not dependent on any of one of us in particular to get the job done. If we become useless or unavailable, He will still finish His work according to His plan without us.

This is important to remember lest we "think more highly of ourselves than we ought." No one of us is indispensable in God’s work. It is not our work or our ability but God’s.

We are only His tools. God has special tools for specific jobs. In verse 6-7 Paul explains, that for God to make the gentiles part of that “building,” he, Paul was “made a minister (a servant or ‘tool’) according to the gift of the grace of God (Spiritual gift) given to me by the effectual working of His power.”

So the Craftsman has the right to decide which tools He will use and how He intends to use them.

Have you ever deliberately ruined a perfectly good tool for a reason? I have. There was a time that I needed a special tool for a particular purpose. There was nothing suitable for the job except the shank of a good trowel so I broke off the blade to create the custom tool I needed to complete the task.

Sometimes God takes what seems to be a perfectly good tool and destroys it (humanly speaking) for His purpose. And people will ask, “How could a loving God do that?” Fanny Crosby comes to mind. Had she not become blind, she might never have had the spiritual sight that inspired her great hymns of the Faith.

God knows exactly what tools He needs to accomplish His will. There is a similar example in Scripture- “and as Jesus passed by, He saw a man which was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, ‘Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.’” John 9:1-3

A lot of tools, like my trowel, get better when they are “broken in.” In God’s hand, we become honed and polished through testings, trials, and hardships in our lives to make us useful and favored tools of His choice. In Eph. 2:22-3:1 Paul introduces himself as a prisoner for “this cause…” What cause was that? God was building His Church and He needed His servant to be imprisoned.

Tools are nothing apart from the skill and ability of the craftsman and a skilled craftsman can accomplish very fine work with just mediocre tools. God is sovereign and omnipotent. He will accomplish His work completely and with excellence and He does it with imperfect tools.

Elijah was a prophet of God. He reminds me of my trowel. Through his many years of service, he had been honed and polished to the point that he had become a favored tool of choice in God’s hands. And I can imagine how Elijah must have been “singing” the praises of God as he personally experienced God’s mighty work through him.

THE GREATEST ABILITY IS AVAILABILITY
But the time came when Elijah became unavailable. When he looked around at his circumstances, he began to lose faith, he became fearful, and he ran away to hide. God came looking for him manifesting His power and provision but Elijah was still fearful. It was like the tractor driver from hell ran over him. God wanted to use him but now Elijah was unusable.

It was time for God to pick up another tool and go on with His work so He chose Elisha. Did he still love Elijah? Of course He did and He swept him up in a whirlwind and carried him off to Heaven in a chariot of fire.

God is not dependent upon us. He is God and like a master craftsman, He has many tools at His disposal. Should we become unusable, He may lovingly take us up and carry us home.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. 1 Cor. 1:27-31

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Angry, Purpose Resistant Leaders From Hell

(Note) Some recent criticism of this post has prompted me to examine it for content and intent. And, after some introspection, I have made some alterations for the purpose of clarity. Those changes have been made in this purple font color.

The criticism was centered around the last paragraph where I wrote, "...I am an angry leader from hell." The criticism failed to understand the figurative nature of the statement in its context. That phrase was attributed by Dan Southerland to all who oppose church paradigm shifts on principle.

However, after examining it myself and subjecting it to some other critics whom I trust, I understand how easily the point could be obscured by the poor construction of the sentence. I also understand how, by the harshness of the language, some, who will not or cannot derive meaning from this in its context, might have concluded that I am a very angry, raging lunatic.

The alterations to the last paragraph have been added in this purple font color.

I wrote in another post about Rick Warren’s systematic method for dealing with resisters. At some point difficult people must be marginalized and, if necessary, vilified.

In his book, Faith Undone, Roger Oakland illustrates how Rick Warren marginalizes those who won’t go along with his program. According to Rick Warren, "...some members who are resistant to change need to either leave or die." In an article he wrote, he told pastors and church leaders to be patient because “even Moses had to wander around in the desert for 40 years until God killed off a million people before he let them go into the Promised Land.”

Dan Southerland is a pastor at Saddleback Church, the author of, Transitioning: Leading Your Church Through Change, and the director of Church Transitions, Inc. He teaches pastors and church leaders how to foist their changes on their unsuspecting members by stealth. This is how he vilifies resisters in a chapter he wrote titled, “Dealing With Opposition:”

“We have …two major sources of criticism during our transitions. The first is Christians from traditional backgrounds. Not all of our traditional...Christians have been critical – just the ornery ones. Our second source of criticism is traditional church pastors – just the meaner ones.”

[It is interesting to note here, that both Rick Warren and Dan Southerland address their instructions to both pastors and church leaders. The implication is that the transition plans may be implemented by leadership that may not include the pastors. Sometimes those traditional pastors are not favorable to the change and, when that happens, they too must be marginalized, vilified, or expelled.]

Then Southerland gets very personal about guys like me. He says that some of us are going to get very angry. He likens us to “leaders from Hell.” He writes:

“If you have read Nehemiah recently, you will remember that Sanballat is Nehemiah’s greatest critic and number one enemy. Let me put it plainer than that. Sanballat is a leader from Hell…We all have some Sanballats in our churches. THIS IS THE GUY WHO OPPOSES WHATEVER YOU PROPOSE.”

Well, just in case anyone was wondering, at least now I have been clearly "outed." According to Southerland, I too must be an "angry leader from Hell." And if that is what he thinks of Christians who oppose his stealth transition plans, then that is just one more "badge of honor" for me to pin on my sash.

Just call me!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Purpose Driven Alternative

It is no secret that I am an open, out-of-the-closet, self proclaimed and dedicated RESISTER of all things that even slightly smell like PDL, PDC, CGM, Seeker Centered, Neo-evangelical or Emergent Church happycrap. And, as a result, I have been accused of being "harmful to the body,” "distrusting of leadership" “unsubmissive to pastoral authority,” “schismatic,” and “skeptical.” OK, no problem, I consider all those, badges of honor.

Someone asked me if I thought I should try to be less negative toward sincere, well-meaning pastors who are trying to make their churches more relevant. Would it not be more helpful or positive to locate or develop some biblically sound alternatives to the plethora of growth and discipleship programs offered by the church growth gurus.

My first response was “NO,” we don’t need any programs. But, I admit it, I WAS WRONG.

Pastor Gary Gilley has offered this sure-fire, God-ordained, and biblically sound plan in an article posted at his website at Southern View Chapel :



"
Believe it or not, there is an alternative to PDL and other such programs. It sounds simplistic and old fashioned but it has God’s stamp of approval. It is a return to the Bible. Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself.
In our local church we have dropped all commercial Sunday school curriculum -- which has been watered down to the point of uselessness and simply teach the Bible. Our 4-5 years old are being taught selected biblical stories. Ages 6-7 will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in those 2 years. Ages 8-9 will go through the Bible yet again. Ages 10-11 are being taught hermeneutics and Bible study methods and applying those methods to the study of the epistles. Ages 12-13 are taught Bible-college-level courses on systematic theology. High schoolers are taught straight Scripture with emphasis on biblical discernment. At this level many of them begin to teach children as well as their peers. All adult courses are focused on the study of Scripture, along with classes on church history, theology, and biblical living. All sermons are verse-by-verse expositions of the Word. Certainly our teachers use commentaries and Bible study aids but it is the Scriptures themselves that are studied.
I have found an amazing thing – when people are fed a steady diet of biblical truth they have little craving for cotton candy fads. Why would anyone trade in the fountain of life for cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13)? Of course many have and do, but the solution is not to crawl into the cistern, it is to showcase the fountain.

But this “return to the Bible” approach has one fatal problem – we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. If we do not believe that God’s Word is sufficient, then we will not showcase it. If we do not believe in the final authority of the Word then we will look for alternatives. What the church and the world need today are men and women of God who believe with all of their hearts in the sufficiency of His Word.
We need a church that is not ashamed of Christ “and His Word” (Luke 9:26); and who will boldly proclaim it from the housetops."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Jimmy Carter's NEW BAPTIST COVENANT

Jimmy Carter illustrates perfectly, why Christians should NOT, I repeat, SHOULD NOT vote for anyone just because he wears the name, “Christian. The real Christian’s civic responsibility is to vote right.

A lot of us bought the, “born again” ticket years ago when Carter was campaigning for President. I remember some in my own denomination who voted solely on the basis of his membership in a Baptist Church. Surely, they reasoned, he will share our conservative Christian values. Attending a Baptist church doesn’t make a person a Christian any more than eating a donut makes one a cop.

Most would agree; Jimmy Carter was the worst president this country ever elected and it wasn’t the fault of his church membership or the Christian faith. It wasn't even the fault of his "Billy Beer" drinking brother. It was the fault of his miserable, ungodly, whacked out, lunatic, left-wing policies.

And, as if he hadn’t done enough damage to this country during his presidency, he has spent the past few years chumming around with his America-hating cronies throughout the world, bad-mouthing this country and its current president all under the guise of “tolerance, world peace, humanity, brotherly love, understanding, and diplomacy.”

Now that he has managed to screw up the world, he has a new mission to "fix" the Southern Baptist Convention. He and a bunch of apostates, emergents, and other assorted liberal “CHRINOs” (that’s CHristian In Name Only), including the world’s self-appointed Green Messiah, Algore, are heading up a movement to “heal” the SBC of the dreaded diseases of fundamentalism and conservatism that have plagued their denomination and to finally end their pointless divisions over silly, non-essential stuff like the Bible.

At the close of a gathering of more than 14,000 people for the “Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant” (an event he called “the most momentous event in my religious life”), Carter said, “We can disagree on the death penalty, we can disagree on homosexuality, we can disagree on the status of women and still bind our hearts together in a common, united, generous, friendly, loving commitment,”

Well, first of all, Jimmy, we don’t need your New Covenant. The new one God made with us two thousand years ago still suits us just fine.

And secondly, we do disagree on the death penalty (which is Scriptural), and homosexuality (which God calls an abomination), and the status of women (which, according to God’s design, merits much more dignity, honor, and respect for women than most liberals are willing to allow).

Scripture is worth fighting for and Truth is worth dividing over. WE WILL NEVER BIND OUR HEARTS TOGETHER IN A COMMON, UNITED, GENEROUS, FRIENDLY, LOVING COMMITMENT.

So, Jimmy, I have several suggestions for you, Algore and all the rest of the New Baptist Covenant celebrants:
  • Stop calling yourselves Christians.

  • Stop calling yourselves Baptists.

  • Get out of the SBC and leave them alone.

  • Light the incense, pour the Kool Aid, join your hands together, think happy thoughts, and sing, “Kum Bah Yah.”

  • Do your part to save the world from evil and carbon dioxide pollution. Place some plastic bags over your heads, tie them snuggly around your necks and put the rest of us out of your misery.

The Day of Fools

This is the Day of Fools so I thought it would be fun to recall some of the really stupid things that some people have said. One of my favorite features is “Stupid Quotes” in Rush Limbaugh’s monthly letter and, when I was a child, I enjoyed Art Linkletter’s old TV show, “Kids Say The Darndest Things.” Here are some samplings from “The Stupidest Things Ever Said By Politicians” by Ross and Kathryn Petras:

“The world is more like it is now than it ever has been before.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Eight more days and I can start telling the truth again.” Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.) on campaigning.

“If you take out the killings, Washington actually has a very low crime rate.” Washington, D.C. mayor, Marion Barry

“Those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, ‘Thank God, I’m still alive.’ But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.” Sen. Barbara Boxer, (Calif.)

“You know, if I were a single man, I might ask that mummy out. That’s a good-looking mummy!” Bill Clinton, while looking at the Inca mummy, “Juanita.”

“I have opinions of my own – strong opinions – but I don’t always agree with them.” President George Bush

“You can’t just let nature run wild.” Wally Hickel, former governor of Alaska

Probably the most foolish thing anyone could ever say is, “There is no God.” Madelene Murray O’hare has been officially declared dead. She was, perhaps, the world’s most famous atheist. There is one thing that Mrs. O’hare is absolutely certain of now; there really is a God. And I am sure that, if she could, she would return and tell everyone.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” Psalm 53:1