Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Saturday, May 24, 2008
I think doctrinal error must be prevalent among most Christians in almost every church; that is just a fact of life. And most of the time it is not purposeful or deliberate. It is just born out of ignorance of Scripture and carried along by traditions and emotions.
For the most part, I think we can endure much of it with grace and gentleness. I understand when parents or Sunday school teachers tell their children that Jesus lives in their hearts. And I cringe when I hear well-meaning adults, whose hearts are sensitive to the lost, instructing people to “just invite Jesus into your life and you will be saved.” Nevertheless I have confidence in God’s sovereign ability to accomplish His work in His people with His Word for His glory regardless of the ineptness and sloppiness of our methods due to errant theology. But that doesn’t mean that we should just ignore faulty doctrine; it must be corrected.
Dennis Prager has said that naivety in children is to be expected; in adults, it is a sin. The way to correct the problem of doctrinal ignorance and error is with regular attention to preaching and teaching the Word of God. Those are both New Testament words and they should be understood by their Greek definitions.
The Greek word for preaching is Kerusso. It has a sense of formality, gravity and authority. Preaching is not a casual or flippant "how to" or “feel-good” Sunday morning talk designed to relate with the audience. Real biblical preaching occurs when the preacher brings a sense of awesome reverence, fear and respect for God and delivers the whole counsel of His Word with uncompromised authority to sinful men.
The Greek word for teaching is Didasko. It means to “instruct in doctrine.” It has the sense of one who has wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, imparting that knowledge to the students in an authoritative way. It is about transferring absolute truth and not about reaching conclusions about beliefs by group consensus or discussions about what the verse "means to me."
When churches preach the Word of God and teach right doctrine, the people are edified in the faith and equipped for the work of the ministry.
So does doctrine really matter? One preacher had this to say about it over 150 years ago:
Depend upon it, doctrinal ignorance will always make Churches weak; but where saints are fed upon the finest of the wheat, and are made to suck of the honey out of the rock, and to eat of the manna and fatness of Gospel doctrine, they will, all other things being equal, become the strongest and most valiant believers on the face of the earth. There is a tendency in these times to depreciate the value of Gospel doctrines. Oh! I beseech you, be not led astray of this error. There are in the Word of God certain things really taught.
Charles SpurgeonFrom a sermon entitled "The Love Of Jesus, What It Is, None But His Loved Ones Know," delivered June 18, 1862.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Why am I doing that? Well, this blog has recently come under some severe criticism. Not that I am necessarily intimidated by that but in this case, some of the criticism came from a friend and has some merit. So let me try to recap the concerns.
The first issue was the definition of “sarcasm.” When my friend read it to me, I was somewhat shocked by it. But, in my own defense, I need to say that the terrible, evil, vicious nature of sharp, cutting sarcasm, as it was read to me, is not the only definition nor is it the first or most popular definition. In fact, that definition doesn’t even appear in several dictionaries. There is another more common definition that, I believe, better describes my understanding and the predominant utilization of sarcasm where it appears in my speech and in my writing. It is this:
Sarcasm - A form of irony in which apparent praise conceals another, scornful meaning. For example, a sarcastic remark directed at a person who consistently arrives fifteen minutes late for appointments might be, “Oh, you've arrived exactly on time!”
American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition.
But the one definition I like best does not appear in any dictionary; it is a quote I found on the site of another sarcastic blogger: Sarcasm: - intellect on the offensive
The next issue was concerning a particular item I posted (Angry, Purpose Resistant Leaders From Hell) which my friend thought to be overtly angry and bitter and unbecoming a Christian. A careful review of the whole post in context revealed the allegorical intention of the comment that, at first, seemed so outrageous. However since my friend and others whom I have asked were distracted by the harshness, my point was obscured by the out-of-context, shocking language. With that being said, I have revised it with an explanation for the sake of clarity.
Third, I do have strong opinions, ideas, and convictions but I am trying to take a new objective look at this blog for the overall “feel.” I am concerned that people who might find their way onto my site are not distracted from my messages (which I believe are right and brilliant and worth reading) by an inaccurate or eccentric caricature of my own making. That is why I am making this confession here. It is in this public venue that my sharp edginess crossed the line so it is appropriate that my contrition and repentance is demonstrated here for all five of you who regularly visit this site. And besides, I have eight grandchildren. I really don’t want them to find my writings some day after I am gone and conclude that their grandfather was an angry, raving lunatic.
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Ironically, my friend’s rebuke of my sarcasm (as cutting remarks intending to wound) was, in itself, very cutting but as the Proverb indicates, not all, cutting language is bad; in fact, some of it is necessary for correction. I appreciated his willingness to “do the cutting.”
So what kinds of changes am I making? I am glad you asked. I have subjected myself and my blog to five different people, whom I respect and trust, to review my posts and hold me accountable for my attitude and the content of my blog (that move actually doubled my readership). Sarcastic wit will still be present but probably a better word to describe much of my prose is “satire.” But with that, I have begun to bring more variety, balance, and substance to the content. I have reviewed and edited some of the peripherals on my site and I am allowing articles from “guest contributors” as well as some quotes and links to other respectable, orthodox Christian bloggers, writers and theologians.
Dennis Prager is a conservative radio talk show host who said, “…this (stuff) will either make you laugh or cry. Given the choice I would prefer to laugh.”
I share that preference with him. The ideological battles between conservative values and insanity; between honest thinking and stupidity; the battles between fundamental, orthodox Christianity and the fluffy, feel-good worship of a designer Jesus are raging hot and can make you crazy. But one of the differences between those on the right and those on the left is that the right can laugh; the left gets offended.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Walter owned an apartment building in Houston. One day, in a "vision," he claims that God showed him a “mission” and instructed him to transform his entire complex into a home for distressed people after some tornadoes had struck the area.
So he opened his doors to the poor, stopped paying the bills and appeared on television to tell the world of his plans. Soon, sixty-four poor and homeless families moved in to live rent-free. Before long, the utility companies cut off services and the bank started the foreclosure.
The grumbling, raw tempered residents, mostly unemployed, sweltered inside the dark apartments without air conditioning in the summer heat wave. Walter was convinced that the problems were only temporary; the residents were just worried because "they lacked faith” But Walter “walked in the faith of Jesus Christ,” laying claim on his belief that there would be no foreclosure; the utilities would be restored and all the bills would be paid.
Walter trusted God to unite the Christian community and believed the donations would roll in to provide the $440,000 he needed to pay off the mortgage and all his other debts including $23,000 in utility bills, back payments on his personal residence and $24,000 that he owed on a Mercedes Benz (after all, God wants His people to be rich). His public appeals finally netted him a whopping $150.00 worth of donated food and $40 in cash.
Walter was sincere but he was sincerely wrong and he did irrational things all in the name of faith. The poor showed up; the money did not. Walter lost his property, the world laughed, and the name of Jesus Christ was ridiculed.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Start with the premise that all students are winners. They have all achieved a certain level of deserved success by simply showing up for class. And they have each completed the preceding grades; that should account for something (kindergarteners are winners by virtue of the fact that they just exist because, after all, every child is a winner).
Since most kids are fairly consistent in their performance, all scores that fall more or less than ten points outside of the individual student's average should all be disregarded. The discrepancies are probably due to teacher error or incompetency.
The remaining scores will then be averaged to determine the students' final grades. All final grades will fall into one of the following three ranks with their respective definitions:
- Blue Ribbon Winner- You are a “Super Star.” Not that you are any better than anyone else. Your high scores are only attributable to the fact that you are a lucky winner in life’s lottery. You probably have two college educated parents, a unique gene pool, a relative on staff, blond hair and blue eyes or else you have mastered the art of making kissy noises to the teacher.
- Red Ribbon Winner- You are a “High Achiever.” You didn’t get the highest scores but don't feel bad; it’s not your fault. Anyway, you’ll still get to be Valedictorian some day, along with 17 of your other classmates because its not fair to punish someone just because he (she, it, or they) missed by only a few points.
- White Ribbon Winner- This is the “Attaboy” award. Don't feel bad, grades are not that important anyway. What is important is that you tried; that you gave it some effort; that you showed up and put in your time.
With my proposed grading system, everyone gets to feel good. Each parent will receive a "My Child Was Student Of The Year" bumper sticker so they can brag about their little achievers. Teachers will be warmly regarded and everyone will get to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas at graduation time. Then we can launch the darlings into the real world and dump them into the job market where their unsuspecting new bosses think they know something. And, by the way, if anyone cries "foul" we can just blame the whole problem of our failed education system on lack of funding, George Bush or the war in Iraq.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
There is nothing more that anyone of us can say on this subject and there is nothing more that God will say. HE HAS SPOKEN.
- You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22
- For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. ‘Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.’” Leviticus 18:29-30
- If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them. Leviticus 20:13
- For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans 1: 26-27
- ...and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32
- Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor £effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
- But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted. 1 Timothy 1:8-10
(The Supreme Court Judges who dissented the decision were Justices Marvin Baxter, Ming Chin, and Carol Corrigan. The majority, whose votes resulted in this high court overstepping its authority, are Werdegar, Moreno, Kennard, and George. Those four need to be recalled.)
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I may be old-fashioned (I can live with that criticism), but I remain convinced that if a student is properly trained by godly and qualified teachers in both spiritual and academic areas, hears Spirit-anointed preaching on a daily basis, keeps his heart hot by serving in the ministry of a local church, and has the power of God upon his life upon graduation, God will use that student to impact the world regardless of the cultural expectations. It is that kind of graduate whom God has used in the past and the world is waiting to hear from today!"
From an article on school accreditation by Dr. Paul Chappell,
Pastor, Lancaster Baptist Church
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Regardless of the rants I have posted here before about all the extreme, fear mongering, tree-hugging, earth worshipping, hand-wringing, industry hating, bottled water drinking, global greening, sterilized liberal environmental happycrap, I really am a TREE LOVER. Trees are a wonderful part of God’s creation.
- Trees make good shelters from the wind and shade from the hot summer sun.
- A good mature tree in your back yard can be a fun place for kids to climb, swing, and build a tree house.
- If you cut it down, you can use the remaining stump for a pedestal for an outdoor table.
- Chopped and stacked trees make good fuel to keep us warm in the winter.
- Trees provide lumber to build homes.
- They are good for holding up strings of Christmas lights.
- Trees are at their best when they are transformed by skilled craftsmen into fine furniture, paneled walls or polished gun stocks.
Privately owned trees in any city probably outnumber city owned trees by at least twenty to one, if not much more. I have no data to support that but I would think my estimate is very conservative, considering private and commercial landscaping, tree farms, groves and orchards. Anyway, it is safe to assume that there may be in excess of a million trees in the city of Boise, none of which existed before PEOPLE moved in.
People plant trees where they live. Except for a few mountainous areas on the route to eastern Washington, most of the terrain is, what I would describe as, high desert or high plains; miles and miles of nothing but sagebrush and wild grasses as far as the eye can see in every direction but very few trees (There was one lone tree along the highway, miles from nowhere, that I stopped at a few times. It was mutually beneficial; I was relieved and it was watered). I noticed that whenever I spotted a large group of trees on the horizon, usually a small town was located under them. People do not always locate where trees are but trees generally grow where people live. Johnny Appleseed was a real character in our history who traveled the country planting apple trees wherever he went. There are more trees on our continent today than there were when the Pilgrims first set foot on Plymouth Rock.
For those of you who think you are helping to preserve trees by refusing to use fresh cut Christmas trees, here is a news flash. Using artificial trees will NOT rescue one single tree from the loggers’ chainsaws. Should the entire population refuse to buy fresh cut trees, there would actually be millions fewer trees. Why? Because trees are a marketable commodity. Farmers who cannot sell their crops would destroy them to make room to grow more profitable crops.
An unused tree is a wasted tree. A forest of unused trees is a travesty. Forests, properly managed and harvested, produce renewable resources. The only difference between groves of trees and a field of corn is the time required to bring the crop to harvest.
Preventing the harvesting of forests to protect the habitat of a bird is like firing your gardener for a grasshopper. The bird will come back to a new tree just like the grasshopper will come back after you mow the lawn.
Monday, May 12, 2008
POLOKWANE, South Africa (The Onion) -- After three rainy seasons together, a black rhinoceros and a parasite-eating tickbird are beginning to suspect that their symbiotic relationship has fallen into a rut, the couple reported Sunday.
"We're really symbiotic -- almost too symbiotic," the rhino said. "It's just gotten so predictable lately that I'm starting to wonder, 'Is this all there is?'"
First meeting at a local watering hole in 2004, both creatures immediately saw themselves as natural for one another and, in the words of the rhino, felt something "new, gratifying, and mutually beneficial." Within hours, the tickbird had moved into the rhino's habitat and set up house on his thick hide.
But as time went on, it slowly dawned on the couple that their partnership was perhaps merely one of convenience.
"I admit, when we first got together, I was a total mess," the rhino said. "She really helped me clean up my act. But we've been together so long now that I always know exactly what she's going to do next."
Devouring horsefly larvae embedded in her 3,000-pound partner's back, the tickbird seemed to agree that there was little fire left in their symbiotic relationship. At worst, she said, it feels like she and the rhino have been trapped in the same dead-end symbiosis for "countless millions of years."
"We just go through the motions, and there's hardly any communication," the tickbird said. "And we do it the exact same way every time. I get on top and take the parasites off while he just lays there."
"Feed off the embedded ticks on his hide, chirp when the predators come. Feed off the embedded ticks on his hide, chirp when the predators come. Where's the passion, the heat?" the tickbird continued.
The tickbird also accused the rhino of trying to make her "feel small."
"He doesn't realize everything I do for him," the tickbird said. "If it wasn't for my 'incessant squawking,' as he calls it, he would be shot by poachers before he even saw them coming."
Both creatures separately expressed envy of their neighbors, a plover and crocodile, who "never seem to have the problems we do," the rhino said.
"That crocodile appreciates having his teeth cleaned, and he makes sure she knows," the tickbird said. "Look at that big grin."
The rhino said that he often feels like a victim of her nitpicking.
"I might look tough, but I have feelings," the rhino said. "I give her plenty to eat and a great place to perch, but it feels like she's constantly pecking an open wound. Ugh, why can't we just be friends with mutualistic benefits?"
The frustration has caused the pair to act out in passive-aggressive ways. The rhino will frequently charge without warning, jarring the tickbird from her perch. Meanwhile, the tickbird often deliberately embarrasses her partner by speculating aloud about a symbiotic relationship with a cape buffalo or zebra, often within earshot of those species.
According to a nearby elephant, this sense of stagnancy commonly occurs in symbiotic partnerships across sub-Saharan Africa.
"The rhino and tickbird may have evolved physiologically to meet each other's needs, but it's clear they haven't evolved emotionally," the elephant said. "They need to recognize that in order to go forward. The rhino's loud snorting is very alienating. And obviously the tickbird is projecting her own feelings of inadequacy when she criticizes the rhino for being a typical Diceros bicornis."
For all their friction, both creatures conceded that they weren't sure they could actually live without each other.
"I don't know why we stay together," the rhino said. "I guess we're just creatures of instinctual habit."
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
She has been busy evaluating Christian home school curriculum for next semester with her friend, Debbie. The following post is from her blog site titled, "Growing In Him":
God's Word says, "The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
By John Paul Carlson
Do we compromise the Word of God with the indiscriminate use of multiple Bible translations? I believe that many, for seemingly good reasons, teach less than Scripture, and in the process, teach a view of Scripture that is wrong.
Today we are privy to many different styles and philosophies of Bible teaching and different translations available to make the Bible easy to understand. One of the benefits is that we no longer need to struggle with a translation’s archaic language. But what I am concerned about is the “word for word” vs. “thought for thought” debate.
When we teach Scripture, we must be careful to present the Bible, according to the doctrine of inspiration, as God’s Word revealed to man with precision and detail. We study the original languages in order to understand the text and to maintain accuracy in teaching. We insist on textual integrity, and rightly so!
Jesus said, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matt 5:17,18
Dynamic equivalent translations, if used properly, can be wonderful tools for study enhancement and understanding. But, by definition, dynamic translations must include a sense of commentary. To do that, translators must interject thoughts, not words, and therefore the translations cannot be literal. Words have meanings. Dynamic equivalents take liberties where liberties should not be taken. A case in point is Romans 6:4:
- Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (NASB)
- We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:4 (NIV)
The word “walk” in the NASB certainly denotes living. But the word “walk” carries with it a progression of moving forward that simply does not accompany the word “live” in the same way.
That being the case, the dynamic equivalent does not convey the exact detail and accuracy of the literal translation. If that is true, should we even call anything but a literal translation a Bible at all? Perhaps dynamic equivalents fit more in a category of a translation/commentary versions, or expanded versions. Either way they are not pure translations of the Bible.
When memorizing Scripture, we should only incorporate a literal translation. If our purpose is to truly hide God’s Word in our hearts, we must make sure it is God’s Word in its purest form and not a translator’s thoughts..
An accompanying issue is that of proof-texting. A popular practice in preaching today is to provide printed outlines or display Power Point presentations with the corresponding Scriptures included. This is fine unless those references are all from different translations and paraphrases. It seems as if the translations are often chosen because of how it uses a particular English word that fits into the speakers outline. The agenda is then set by the speaker in order to make his point, and not necessarily God’s. Such misuse of Scripture is common, and alarming! What does that teach people concerning the Bible? Can Scripture be twisted to say whatever we want it to say? Can the message of the Bible be adjusted to fit the meaning of the speaker?
Finally, where did we ever get the idea that literal translations are too difficult to understand? Sure, there are some passages more difficult than others. Isn’t that what pastors, commentaries, Bible study, prayer and meditation are for? If we are not teaching and demonstrating the Bible as the pure, unchanging, infallible Word of God, we are teaching and demonstrating something far less. And that is very dangerous.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
If that quote doesn't blow your mind, maybe you'll like this one better:
"I WILL raise taxes."
The stated mission in our residential facility for the elderly is to minister to the entire person. We recognize that people have spiritual needs as well as physical and emotional needs. So I am especially interested in the concentrated attention this subject is receiving. As good as that sounds though, it raises some concerns.
In most disciplines of human study, there are certain bodies of truth that are generally insisted upon by mainstream scientists and practitioners. We know what is healthy and what is not, and we know what is normal and what is problematic.
So it seems reasonable to assume that there must be some truth or absolutes in spiritual matters also. The questions must be answered, “Does God exist?” and if so, “Has He absolutely and authoritatively revealed truth?”
Answers to those questions would certainly impact the way we address spiritual needs. Apart from God, treatment of the spiritual being remains very subjective and experiential. There is no foundation in truth. We are left to flounder within ourselves in search of personal truth that can only be validated by our feelings. That results in all sorts of subconscious, unconscious and intuitive activity. The goal becomes self-realization or self-actualization (whatever that means). Meditation is focused on inner voices (the spirit within). Faith is thought to virtuous or even therapeutic but it has no real object. Each individual’s personal experience is legitimized. Everybody is right; nobody is wrong. No wonder people are confused.
The Apostle Paul warns us in I Corinthians chapter 14. When it comes to spiritual matters, we are to speak in words that make sense. What value is there in words that no one understands? In verse 8 he asks, If a trumpet call isn’t clear, how would you know to get ready for battle? He concludes by challenging God’s people to be clear in speaking forth God’s Word so that when others hear, they will know that they are sinners and will bow down to God with understanding.
One of our desires when dealing with our elderly residents is that we give a clear sound in matters of spirituality. Do you ever question the meaning of life or wonder how to get to heaven? Do you get confused by many voices, philosophies and ideologies? Do you want to have the assurance of eternal life in God’s favor? Most people do.
Well there really is a God and He has spoken. And because He has spoken, we understand that we are all sinners in need of a savior. And we can also know that God has provided a savior for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes unto the Father, but by me. God’s good news is clear and simple; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” He is God’s only provision for our salvation. There is no other way.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
photo and post by "PatriotPost.US"
First, I knew exactly what he meant. There was no language barrier or misunderstanding about the precise definitions of the words he used when he gave the command. This is a very important point - WORDS MEAN THINGS. It would not have been acceptable for me to go out to the garbage can, reached inside, remove all the trash, and spread it around on the driveway even though, to do so, some might argue, would have been a technically accurate response to the command, “take out the trash.” He knew that I knew exactly what he required. He expected me to place all the weekly household refuse at the street for pickup. There was no problem with his communication.
Second, I knew exactly what he expected. I knew how he wanted it done because he had given me detailed instructions in the past so that I was without excuse. He expected me to systematically empty every wastebasket in the house. He wanted the contents of those baskets placed in the large outdoor trash containers and he wanted those containers placed in the proper position at the curbside before the garbage truck arrived. I did not have the freedom to reinterpret his directive or exercise my ingenuity, variety, cleverness or creativity. It was not my prerogative to decide to burn the trash, bury the trash or recycle the trash. I could not delegate the responsibility to my younger siblings or pay one of the neighbor kids to do it for me. I was not at liberty to put our refuse into a neighbor’s can. My father gave me explicit instructions on what he wanted me to do and how he wanted it done. I understood that anything more than that or less than that, even if my intentions had been good or sincere, would not have been acceptable; it would have been disobedience.
So what, you might be asking, does taking out the trash have to do with worship?
Worship is something that God has commanded and therefore it is incumbent on us to understand the command. We are not at liberty to invent our own ideas of what worship is and what God should be pleased with. That is what Cain did and regardless how sincere Cain was, God was angry. Worship is not about our emotions, or feeling the warm fuzzies. And it is not about our music or our entertainment. In fact, the worship wars in most churches, over styles of music would end if we understood that the audience and object is God. It is not about our personal preferences or tastes. It is not about entertaining unchurched and unregerate "seekers." It is not for our edification or providing a venue for us to showcase our talents. It is for God's glory. He has given us plenty of instruction regarding the elements and content of our collective worship and He expects us to do it His way.
It was Thomas Watson who penned, “This Divine worship God is very jealous of; Divine worship must be such as God Himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire" (Lev 10).
In its most common usage in Scripture, the definition of worship is to “bow down and obey.” Real worship has little to do with "experiencing" God. Real worship occurs when we humbly recognize and submit to God’s authority and lordship, and then obey His commands. Cain should have just brought the sacrifice God required rather than disobeying the command and bringing the best of his own works. It seems ludicrous that we think we can “go to worship” on Sunday mornings with our sincere offerings of euphoric music and "feel good about me" happytalk and then return home to spend the rest of the week unrepentantly continuing in our sinful habits and activities. It would be far better to skip the “worship services” and just recognize God's lordship and live in obedience to His commands.
"Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD," 1 Samuel 15:22-23
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Just a few days ago during the Jewish Passover, the first Passover lamb was sacrificed in nearly 2000 years. You can see the video clip here at SHOFAR MINISTRIES.
It is not for the squeamish but it is prophetically significant and worth viewing.
Monday, May 5, 2008
When the rhinoceros is quietly pursuing his way through his favorite glades of mimosa bushes (which his hooked upper lip enables him readily to seize, and his powerful grinders to masticate), his horns, fixed loosely in his skin, make a clapping noise by striking one against the other; but on the approach of danger, if his quick ear or keen scent makes him aware of the vicinity of a hunter, the head is quickly raised, and the horns stand stiff, and ready for combat on his terrible front. The rhinoceros is often accompanied by a sentinel, to give him warning—a beautiful green-backed and blue-winged bird, about the size of a jay—which sits on one of his horns.
The following account of the perils of a party hunting for the rhinoceros is given by Mr. Bruce, a traveler of celebrity: "We were on horseback, at the dawn of the day, in search of the rhinoceros; and after having searched about an hour in the thickest part of the forest, one of these animals rushed out with great violence, and crossed the plain toward a thicket of canes, at the distance of nearly two miles. But though he ran, or rather trotted, with surprising speed, considering his bulk, he was in a short time pierced with thirty or forty javelins. This attack so confounded him, that he left his purpose of going to the thicket, and ran into a deep ravine, without outlet, breaking about a dozen of the javelins as he entered. Here we thought he was caught in a trap—for he had scarcely room to turn—and a servant, who had a gun, standing directly over him, fired at his head. The animal fell immediately, to all appearance dead. All those on foot now jumped into the ravine, to cut him up. But they had scarcely begun, when the animal recovered himself so far as to rise upon his knees; and he would undoubtedly have destroyed several of the men, had not one of them, with great presence of mind, cut the sinew of the animal's hind leg. To this precaution they were indebted, under God, for their lives."
The rhinoceros and the elephant have been known to engage in a pitched battle, in which case the former always comes off victor. The combat, however, is a very furious one.
There are two species of the rhinoceros. The one which is represented in the engraving is the double-horned rhinoceros. It is perhaps the largest of land animals, with the exception of the elephant. When pursued, notwithstanding its large, unwieldy body, it can run with astonishing swiftness.
from Project Gutenberg - "Stories about Animals: with Pictures to Match by Francis C. Woodworth."
“For you are all sons of God
For as many of you as were baptized
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither male nor female,
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CHRISTIAN?
Those are some of the most important, basic questions anyone can ask.
What is it that would really make you happy? Some people think that acquiring lots of things would make them happy. Others try to achieve happiness in pursuing and experiencing life’s pleasures. And others want to have notoriety, respect, or prestige.
These are not bad things. Did you know that God wants you to be happy? He loves you and He created you in His own image so that He could enjoy a relationship with you. You see He really wants for you to have the same things you want.
Jesus said, “…I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
God created the world for your use, your enjoyment, and your pleasure. You are special.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Gen. 1:27-28
“…God…gives us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Tim. 6:17b
An eternal, loving relationship with God, a guilt-free conscience, a peaceful, and full life, purpose, self-confidence, security, health and strength, personal satisfaction, and freedom; all the benefits you want in life are freely yours to enjoy if you live in harmony with God’s purpose for creating you. It is not about just living; it is about living the lifestyle God wants for you. That is the abundant life Jesus came to tell us about.
So then what is the problem? Why are you not happy? Well, the answer is really simple. You want to satisfy your own desires instead of letting God make you happy. You want to do it your own way. That self-sufficient attitude is what the Bible calls sin.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own
way…” Isaiah 53:6
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
That attitude, that desire to do it your own way, breaks your relationship with God. And when that happens, you are outside of His will. Then you are on your own, insufficient and unable to make yourself happy, and fearful about the future.
The ultimate consequence of that sin attitude is death.
“For the wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23
Now there are two kinds of death. The first kind is physical death and everyone will experience that.
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27
But there is another kind of death. It is a spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God.
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rev. 21:8
The one thing you need most in life is an eternal, personal relationship with God. How can you have that? Well God has graciously made a simple way for you to enjoy that relationship. It is a gift; He has provided it free of charge, without cost. But, here again is the same problem. Most people want to pay their own way for that relationship. They will sincerely try real hard to create that relationship in all the wrong ways. They do that by trying to live right, and clean, and do good works. They try to kick bad habits. They try religion. And they try to keep the Ten Commandments.
Trying to pay your own way is that same attitude again, of wanting to do it your way that the Bible calls sin. And sin is what keeps you from a personal relationship with a God who desperately wants you to be happy. And, not only that, it will result in your eternal separation from Him.
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according toHhis mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5
So how can you have that personal relationship? How can you enjoy the good life here and now, and forever?
Jesus Christ said, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, no one comes to the Father, except THROUGH ME.” John 14:6
Here is GOOD NEWS! Your sin problem (the attitude of wanting to do things your own way) that has resulted in your broken relationship with and eternal separation from God has already been taken care of by Jesus.
“For the wages of sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
God did that for you because He loves you and He has a wonderful plan for you and He wants you to know and love Him.
“But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Tim. 2:5
God has done everything He can to restore your relationship with Him. He took the first step. He made the effort. He took the initiative. Now all He wants is to enjoy you and love you. He is patiently waiting for you to decide to accept what He has done for you.
Are you ready to accept Him? Are you ready to make a decision? Before you can make an informed decision, there are some things you should understand.
- We are all in the same condition. We all have that “I want to be in charge” sin attitude that has broken your relationship and keeps you from the glorious life that God wants for you.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
- Because of that attitude, you are in danger of the second death, which is eternal separation from God in hell.
“For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23
- God sent his only son to die in your place for your sin attitude.
“But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
- God loves you so much that He made this way to forgive you for your sin and to save you from eternal separation from Him.
“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
- God offers all this - the benefits of a personal relationship with Him now and the promise of eternal life. That is the GIFT of SALVATION. It has all been paid by Jesus. He died in your place. But, like all gifts, it is not yours until you receive it. The decision is up to you.
Here is how you can receive it:
- You must speak audibly; that you accept Jesus into your life and you must believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.
“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
- You must call out to God to save you.
“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13
“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
That’s all there is to it! That is what it means to be a Christian. It is so simple that most people miss it. Just believe and trust Jesus to save you. If you just did that and you invited him into your heart, then “welcome to the family.” Because you have made that decision; because you invited Jesus into your life, there are several things that God has just now, miraculously done for you:
- He has given you eternal life.
“And this is the testimony; that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” 1 John 5:11-13
- He has forgiven all your sins.
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:14
- He has given you new life and placed you into the family of God.
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
- He has placed His Spirit in you, He has guaranteed a place for you in heaven, and you will never be in danger of losing your relationship with Him.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph. 1:13-14
I asked a couple people I know to read and comment on it. Their analyses were kind of spooky. One man said, "Well, it sounds a little strange but basically I don't disagree with it." Another said, "It is biblically based."
That's where I freaked out. There are just too many Christians who really think that the test of legitimate doctrine is that something is "biblically based."
But that is the wrong test. When Satan tempted Eve in the garden, his argument was "biblically based." He used the Word of God with just a little bit of a tweak. The doctrine of Jehovah's Witnesses is "biblically based." All kinds of nutty practices and doctrines are "biblically based." the fact of the matter is that ALL HERESY IS BIBLICALLY BASED.
The important test of a teaching has nothing to do with its biblical basis; it has everything to do with its doctrinal soundness. We are commanded to "rightly divide the Word of Truth." That implies that it is possible to wrongly divide it.
Rick Warren's CLASS 101 presents a heretical, unbiblical, anemic, man-centered, false gospel where anyone can simply choose to accept Jesus without repentance or obedience.
Don't Worry; Be Happy!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Sometimes people ask me why I am so cynical or critical about beliefs. The reason is that wrong beliefs can have eternally wrong consequences. The following, so-called, "Plan of Salvation" is offered by Rick Warren on pages 58-59 in his book, THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE.
“Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for (sic). Will you accept God’s offer?
“First, believe. Believe God loves you and made you for his purposes. Believe you’re not an accident. Believe you were made to last forever. Believe God has chosen you to have a relationship with Jesus, who died on the cross for you. Believe that no matter what you’ve done, God wants to forgive you.
“Second, receive. Receive Jesus into your life as your Lord and Savior. Receive his forgiveness for your sins. Receive his Spirit, who will give you the power to fulfill your life purpose. The Bible says, “Whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever!” John 3:36a (Msg). Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity:
“Jesus, I believe in you
and I receive you.”
Go Ahead. “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!”
It matters not how sincere or loving we are in our intentions; it matters not that God accomplishes His purpose with His Word regardless of our ineptness or frailties, heresy by any other name is still heresy.
Dr. Laura questioned her unbelief and emphasized that, in order to be credible, her position must be defended by sound reasoning. Dr. Laura wisely pointed out that millions of bright, educated and thinking people for thousands of years have concluded and defended a belief in a real God. It therefore seemed ignorant and foolish that a sixteen-year-old could dogmatically assert that there is no god. I think, at best, the girl can only be an agnostic. There is no shame in admitting that one does not know for certain that God exists. That is what you call “ignorance” and ignorance is fixable; stupidity is forever.
When one avowed atheist sued the federal government in the ninth circuit court of appeals to have the phrase “under God” removed from the flag salute, he argued that subjecting his daughter to the mere mention of God violates the constitutional prohibition for government to establish a religion.
The most important question that demands an answer is, “Does God exist?” And quite frankly, it really doesn’t matter much whether or not we acknowledge Him in our flag salute. We can take Him off our money, we can expel Him from our schools and we can bar Him from our courts, but His existence cannot be established or nullified by popular consensus.
So is there any evidence for the existence of God? Consider this.
About 75 years ago, evolutionist began to tell us that the concept of one god is the apex of a gradual development from the belief in many gods. But historical research challenges those assumptions. It is increasingly clear that the oldest known traditions of all peoples worldwide were of one single supreme God.
The transformed lives of millions of true believers and their experiences provide evidence, although subjective, that cannot be ignored. Their personal testimonies are worthy of consideration just as testimonial evidence is considered in a secular court of law.
Legitimate scientific law must conclude that there is a god. The law of cause and effect insists that “no effect can be produced without a cause.” Even evolutionists, as they consider everything they see in the physical universe, agree on that but eventually all their theories must lead them to an uncaused cause, which they can only describe as a “big bang.” But even the “big bang” required some material substance so they are left with the unexplained or the uncaused cause.
There is order and design in the universe. The Earth itself is evidence of design. Its size is perfect. If smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible. If larger, it would contain free hydrogen. Its distance from the sun is correct to maintain temperatures to sustain life. The moon is unique in comparison to moons of other planets. It is much larger and has an affect on the continents and oceans. The tilt of the Earth’s axis insures the seasons.
O.K. The fact that the vast majority of humanity, at all times and in all places, has believed in some kind of god is not conclusive proof. The majority can be wrong. And the testimony of believers is too subjective and could be unreliable. And even if we admit an uncaused cause and even though there are many indications of God in nature, nature cannot conclusively demonstrate the He exists or what He is like. Even the Bible, in the book of Job, records the question, ”Can you find God by searching for Him?” The obvious answer is “NO,” not unless He reveals himself.
A few years ago, I attended a seminar at our local high school where a scientist was making his case for the existence of God. A lady in the audience stood and asked him this question; “If there really is a god, why doesn’t he simply show himself to the world and settle the matter once and for all?”
If God would do that for us, would you then believe? The reality is, He has taken the initiative throughout history to communicate to man. But His fullest revelation has been His invasion into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. The most conclusive evidence that there is a God is that He has visited us and revealed Himself to us. All other indicators are mere clues or hints. The confirmation of those indicators are the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So then there is evidence from tradition, human experience, nature and science but most importantly, direct revelation. Therefore our faith can be sure and is, in fact, more reasonable than the foolish faith of atheists.
That’s right, a belief that there is no god is a remarkable act of foolish, indefensible faith that can only be explained by understanding that to conclude otherwise would demand a change in attitude or behavior.
There is a God and He can be known in personal experience. He has given us sufficient evidence for His existence. He has shown Himself to the world, but just like that lady in the seminar, many people refuse to believe.
But the day will come when everyone will acknowledge His existence,
For the Scriptures say,”‘ As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,’ every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.’” (Rom. 14:11)
The defendant was charged with two misdemeanors and one felony. The judge estimated the trial would take one day and that the jury deliberations would also take only one day. This was going to be easy, I thought.
After all the evidence was introduced and the defense was through, we were ushered into the jury deliberation room. The jurors selected me to act as foreman and, again, I thought we could wrap this up in about an hour.
We started with the two misdemeanor counts. Both verdicts were “no brainers.” The Deputy D.A. presented overwhelming, indisputable evidence for which the defendant’s attorney had no reasonable arguments. I called for a show of hands on count one and all twelve jurors voted guilty. That was done. Then I called for a vote on count two. “Guilty,” they all agreed. Things were going great. We had selected a foreman and decided two of the three charges in the first ten minutes. By my calculation, I figured I would be back to work in time for lunch.
I was wrong; it took us two full agonizing days to finally reach an agreement on the last charge. Our job was to consider only the evidence and testimonies presented and then come to an objective conclusion about the facts. We deliberated the first two charges quickly because there were no real or meaningful consequences for the perpetrator’s actions. But because a guilty verdict on a felony charge would result in a stiff penalty, the jury fell apart.
Some of the jurors became too emotional. They started wondering about the defendant’s family. They empathized with her and imagined how she must feel. The idea that someone might have to suffer some harsh consequences for their own actions was more than they could bear. The material facts of the case were eclipsed and became irrelevant in their arguments.
Other jurors seemed to have no fundamental understanding of their responsibility to decide “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They insisted on being utterly convinced beyond a “shadow” of a doubt or beyond “any” doubt at all. So we suffered through hours of incredible and inane hypothetical speculations about how anything beyond reason might have been possible. No amount of evidence could be sufficient enough to convince them so they concluded that we just cannot know for sure.
I often find myself in situations where I am called on to hear conflicting stories, attempt to sort out truth from deception and then draw reasonable conclusions. So how should we determine whom and what to believe?
First, we need to understand that Christians do have a responsibility to discern truth from error. Refusing to judge based on Matt. 7:1 out of its proper context is a gross misunderstanding and misapplication of Jesus’ instruction. The passage, along with others in the New Testament, instructs and compels us to make righteous judgments.
Second, we should evaluate all the objective evidence on both sides. I have found that it is easy to get all fired up after hearing one side of an argument and discovering, later, that the other side of the story is also compelling. I recall a parent once, who said, when considering a dispute between his child and a teacher, “Well, I have to believe my kid.” That parent refused to hear any other testimony. A proverb tells us, “it is a fool who decides a matter before he hears it.”
And finally, we should understand that there are legitimate consequences for wrong actions. That is not my idea; it is God's decree. When I became a father, I began to understand what my dad meant when he used to preface my spankings with the statement, “Son, this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you.” We may not feel good about necessary discipline but, real love does what is right and not just what feels good. Any attempt on our part to protect people from those consequences is to interfere with God’s process to bring people to repentance and obedience.
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." John 7:24