Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A General Reminder To Those Who Wish To Leave Comments

As I have already stated in my Commenting Rules, you are welcome to comment on any of my blog posts. However, your commenting is subject to my rules.

Occasionally I get comments that are just unfit to print and when that happens, they get dumped. It’s my blog, not yours, so if you want to see your profanity in print, post it on your own site.

I do post most of the comments I receive from anonymous contributors. I realize that there are probably good reasons why some people cannot reveal their identities. I don’t have a problem with that. But sometimes I get comments from cowardly people who hide behind the veil of anonymity so they can either spew their venom or proffer their inane or irrational views without accountability.

This week I received one of those comments on a recent repost of an article I wrote last year titled, If Just One Person Comes To Jesus, It Is Worth It All.

Unfortunately, there are several reasons why I cannot post the comment but I cannot simply ignore it either. So I will make some statements here in order to assist the feeble-minded who may lack basic thinking skills to understand the point of the article.

A Response To My Anonymous Critic

Frankly, I don’t even know where to start with a reasoned response to your disconnected and off-the-mark diatribe. I introduced this particular blogpost with a single proposition (that means statement) that is clearly identified in its title. That’s it; that’s all there is; a single proposition with several supporting points. There is nothing more and nothing implied so if you want to challenge me on the merit of the proposition, you would do well to stay on point.

Now, I admit, that some of my writing is intentionally absurd for the sake of illustrating absurdity and sometimes it is intentionally sarcastic to emphasize the point. You might not appreciate that style but you have demonstrated your own absurdity by your willingness to ignore the point and create for yourself, a false context for my words in order to make inappropriate accusations against me. You, in your irrelevant bloviations, have attempted to distract attention from the proposition and defend your affinity for programatic ministries with emotional and anecdotal arguments. But I will not be deflected from the point. You have missed it by a mile so let me try to steer you back onto the track.

If you go back and carefully read it again (this time trying to identify the subject), you will see that I am not against programs or ministries per se. In fact, I clearly stated that there may be (and I believe there are) many good reasons for church leaders to invest in programs but they must identify their ministry objectives, support them from Scripture, and then convince the people about God’s leading. But the point I made is that the cost of an event cannot or should not be justified solely on the subjective evidence that “it is worth it all if only one person makes a decision for God.” Then I enumerated several rational arguments to defend that position and, by the way, some of them are actually biblical. Surely, you cannot disagree with that, can you? What if no one ever gets saved as a result of your program? What if no one makes a decision for God? Does that mean that it should not have been done? That kind of nonsensical, irrational thinking is precisely what I said, “freaks me out.”

Suppose your church has a large reserve account of about a million dollars. Do you think it would be wise to invest the whole million on a large, city-wide “head-banging rock concert” next month in hopes that one person might attend and get saved? Do you think that anyone else in your church would agree with that? Why not propose that to your church leaders or the congregation and see just how many people would agree with you? That would be absurd, unsustainable, and foolish. And that is exactly the point of my
blogpost.

One more thing - you remind me of a character in the movie, “Hider in the House.” You see, I know that you have been secretly trolling around on my blog, multiple times every day for quite a long time now, looking for ways to attack or discredit me personally. And it is obvious, from some of the content in your recent, unfit-for-publication, comment, that you have fundamental disagreements with my style and my conservative political and biblical ideas. I really don’t care about that. I think my ideas are right and my convictions are defensible and biblical. However, sometimes, when people who disagree with me have introduced reasonable evidence to the contrary, I have been know to change my views. If you think some of my ideas are wrong, or my positions are unbiblical, why not identify yourself and make your arguments on substance and objective truth rather than hiding behind an anonymous tag, changing the subject, and taking foolish potshots at non-issues.

As a wise person whom I respect once told me, “Don’t raise your voice; strengthen your argument.”

My name is Ralph Petersen and I approve of this message.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

If You Let Caesar Educate Your Children, They Will Become Romans

"A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher." Luke 6:40






So what about the Socialization Issue?
That really is a non-issue and shouldn't even be a concern for Christian parents. Does anyone really think their children are better socialized by their peer and public educators than by their parents, families and close Christian friends?

The following article on the subject was written by the Christian Home School Resource, Pearables, and is reprinted here with their permission.


The Truth About... SOCIALIZATION



I’m sure that all of us, as believing "home training" families, have all been asked the question many times, "What about socialization???" Many of our well meaning relations have brought up this subject numerous times and have needed to be reassured with a satisfactory answer for the sake of our beloved children. We have come to the conclusion that the only answer you can give to this question is that socialization is not a term that Christians should even consider or worry about!!!

FIRST, WHAT EXACTLY IS SOCIALIZATION?

The dictionary definition of SOCIALIZE is this: 1. To place under government or group ownership or control. 2. To fit with others; make sociable in attitude or manners. 3. To convert or adapt to the needs of society.
Davis Dictionary of the Bible states that "the word WORLD is frequently used for the inhabitants of the world." In other words, "world", as used in the Bible, is in regards to SOCIETY.
Socialization is simply learning to conform with today’s society or world!

Each of us that were trained by the public education system of our time grew up with the idea that, after a long day of being in school, we could go and play with the neighborhood children or friends we made from school. There was never any question as to the desirability of our companions as we had to all get along in our neighborhood!

Much of our upbringing has overflowed into our home training lifestyle and we need to reexamine what is "normal" to us... and if it is scriptural.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT CONFORMING TO SOCIETY?

John 15:18-19 says, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, (or paraphrased - you are not to be socialized!) therefore the world hateth you!"
Romans 12:2 states, "And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Would it be fair to say that if we ARE conformed to this world, and are NOT transformed by the renewing of our mind, that we will NOT KNOW what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God? Heaven forbid if we allow our children to be conformed or socialized to the world and its ways!

WE MUST BE CAUTIOUS THAT WE DO NOT GET CARRIED ALONG WITH THE HOMESCHOOLING MOVEMENT AS IT HAS BECOME NO LONGER JUST A CHRISTIAN ISSUE!

As believers, we should NOT want our children to be socialized as the world sees it. We need to be very careful of whom our children see and are around.

In the homeschooling movement are a growing number of people who are not teaching their children because of Biblical convictions but are doing it for educational purposes. We constantly hear from people who are dismayed with support groups whose "center" is not Christ at all, but education and socialization. Many of these homeschoolers do not profess Christianity but are following the New Age and humanistic philosophies.

One of their main objectives is that they believe they can turn their children into even BETTER citizens (or socialized individuals) than what the public education system is doing.

But WHY are we training our children? The reason Christians are undertaking this is because of the Word of God! The scriptures clearly tell us it is the responsibility of the parent to train their OWN children up in the admonition and love of the LORD. Now what fellowship, dear brother or sister, have we with that of the world? What could we possibly have in common with those who are NOT homeschooling for the same reason?

A FEAR TACTIC IS USED TO KEEP PEOPLE IN DECEPTION REGARDING SOCIALIZATION!

What starts to happen when people ask, "Aren’t you worried about socialization?" is that this very question plants a little seed in ones heart. It may sow a little seed of doubt that maybe our children won’t be brought up normal! Or another deceptive thought this humanism breeds is, "Don’t you know that your children aren’t going to know how to get along in this world?" ... "They aren’t going to know how to get along with people who are not like them!"

The list goes on and on. But if we are training our children up in the Word of God we KNOW our children are NOT going to be "normal" compared to the world’s or society’s standards!
As believers, we should know that our children will be HAPPILY different than other children... Our children will be raised up with a love for God and a respect for God and His family of believers here on earth.

The fear that is instilled by people that don’t quite understand the Biblical teaching that we will NOT conform to this world or society, by saying that our children are going to be "different", can only affect us because of our OWN socialization!

Are we afraid to stand for the Word of God? Are we so far damaged by the result of our own selves being socialized that we LISTEN to the whispers of humanism and accept these thoughts as TRUTH without ever searching in the Scriptures as what the Lord would say? It is our duty as children of God to find out what HE would say in response to socialization.

THE MISSIONARY CONCEPT REGARDING OUR CHILDREN HAS KEPT MANY CHILDREN FROM BEING TRAINED UP BY THEIR PARENTS AND ARE STILL IN PUBLIC SCHOOL TODAY AS A RESULT.

The MISSIONARY CONCEPT is the belief that we need to have our children out in the world witnessing and interacting with other children that are not believers. That it is their responsibility as young believers to be with and teach non-believers about the Lord and His Word.

What happens with this philosophy is that the children are then allowed to mix with children that are not being trained up in God’s Holy Word with the thought that THEY will be a good and righteous influence upon those that are devoid of truth. Does this thought line up with God’s Word? The belief that children of good moral character befriending and training those that are of a bad character (or that character which is trained up in worldliness) is contrary to sound Biblical teaching:
1 Cor. 15:33. Be not deceived; evil communications corrupts good manners.
According to the Strong’s Concordance COMMUNICATIONS means companionship; association together; company!

This scripture makes it very clear that evil company will only make the good corrupt! Not the other way around!!! If the scriptures say these things, are we willing to test them to see if they are TRUE? Are we willing to take this chance with the CHARACTER of our own precious children?

Here are some more scriptures to ponder regarding this subject:
Prov. 9:6. Forsake the foolish and live.
Prov. 13:20. He that walketh with wise men shall be wise but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Here is an allegory that one brother came up with. He worked at the Olympic Training Center and was talking about the way the athletes lived. They were put on very rigorous schedules and very disciplined diets, some for years and years, during the time that they were preparing for the Olympic tryouts. During this time, they were only allowed one goal in their minds, and that was to win the opportunity to compete in the Olympics! Nothing else was allowed to be focused upon in their lives.

Do you know what they call this period of time during an athlete’s life? TRAINING! They are in TRAINING! The dictionary definition of training is: 1. To coach in or accustom to some mode of behavior or performance. 2. To make proficient with specialized instruction and practice. 4. To cause to take a desired course or shape.

The Strong’s Concordance definition of train in Prov. 22:6 (Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it...) is Hebrew #2596:
To NARROW. To initiate or discipline. Dedicate; Train up!

The term "Narrow Minded" has usually been used in a derogatory manner towards people who have a narrow view or regard life through an unmovable philosophy or viewpoint. We should be very ENCOURAGED when we are viewed this way!

Dear believers, if the world regards training so seriously today in an effort to win such a prize as an Olympic medal, why do we not regard as seriously our race that Paul preached about....
1 Corinthians 9:24-27: Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Do these scriptures sound as if we are to be passive towards the goal of living a life unto Christ? How much more should we teach our children to be careful in the race towards Christ and to not be afraid to TRAIN them! Sheltering our children during this time of training is not bad!

THE MAJOR GOAL OF THE HUMANISTIC PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIALIZATION IS TO ENCOURAGE OUR CHILDREN TO QUESTION AND DOUBT TRADITION- AL BIBLICAL VALUES THROUGH PEER PRESSURE!

One of the goals of socialization is to BROADEN the minds of our children and not have them be "narrow-minded"! A very popular bumper sticker that is seen on the rear of many cars reads: "CELEBRATE DIVERSITY" ! It is a very sad thing to see many religious organizations accepting this same philosophy. We have accepted as "normal" perversity! Another bumper sticker recently read: "CELEBRATE PERVERSITY?"

Socialization can be devastatingly dangerous to children that are not yet founded in the Word of God and are easily swayed by others. Prayerfully, if we bring each of our children up to not regard the opinion of their peers higher than the opinion of their parents, and we insure that those who they do have minimal interaction with are being trained with the same goals, we then will have beaten this humanism! The outcome for our children will be that they will NEVER have been SOCIALIZED, or in other words, made worldly!!

SOCIALIZATION ALSO HAS BEEN CHRISTIANIZED SO THAT MANY HAVE BEEN DECEIVED INTO LETTING THEIR CHILDREN BEFRIEND THE WORLD...

The scriptures teach us to GO into all the world and preach the Gospel, but does this mean that we go and BEFRIEND the world? Did our examples, the apostles, befriend the world? What did they have to say about this?
James 4:4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

SOCIALIZATION IS ALSO BASED ON THE BELIEF THAT IF OUR CHILDREN DO NOT PLAY WITH OTHER CHILDREN, THEY WILL NOT BE ABLE TO FUNCTION IN SOCIETY.

This belief has pressured many of us to allow our children to play and associate more often than what we should with others children. This is where we need to question this belief and line it up with the Word of God. First of all, what does the Bible have to say about children?
Prov. 22:15. Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Prov. 29:15. The rod and reproof give wisdom; but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.

How many times have we allowed our children to play with other children and then go off and let them tend to themselves? So many times we have let our little ones occupy themselves with playmates while we get things done that needed to be tended to, and have not supervised the situation. Many times, these situations have ended with children getting hurt or fights breaking out. Tears are shed and the parent never really knows exactly what happened or who really was at fault in these instances. If one is in the habit of doing this often, isn’t it doing what is spoken of in Prov. 29 of leaving our children to themselves? And not only that, we are allowing them to train each other! We are letting foolishness train up foolishness.

There is nothing wrong with children playing together. But the philosophy that they MUST play together to grow up functional is never mentioned once in the Word of God. The Scriptures which talk about children are all based around the PARENTS having interaction... NOT peers.

THE FAMILY IS WHERE BIBLICAL SOCIALIZATION STARTS AND ENDS...

The following are scriptures that admonish us in who is necessary in the training of our children. Please note that there is not one scripture throughout the whole Bible that says peers are needed in this training. Read 1 Kings 12:1-16 that tells us what happened to King Rehoboam because of peer pressure and influence.
Deut. 6:6-7 & 11:19... And thou shalt teach them (God’s Statutes) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

This scripture says to DILIGENTLY teach our children and then goes on to say that during each moment of our lives we are to teach them... not just speak them but also teach through our actions... CONSTANTLY. It doesn’t sound here as if the parents were allowed too much "time for themselves"!
Prov. 22:6. Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Prov. 29:17. Correct thy son and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
Eph. 6:4. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath; but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

WHO is told to train up the children? The parent. Who is to chastise and correct? The parent. Who is to teach the children God’s ways? That’s right, THE PARENT! Scripturally, the parent and the family is all that is necessary for a child to be trained up correctly, if that training is based on God’s Word. We no longer need to be afraid that if we are careful of our children’s associations we will cause irreversible psychological damage to them! It is actually quite the opposite. We could cause spiritual harm to our blessed offspring if we AREN’T careful of SOCIALIZATION.

SOCIALIZATION HAS HAD AN AFFECT UPON BELIEVERS THAT WERE BROUGHT UP IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND ARE NOW RAISING CHILDREN.

Public school has done a very good job in influencing most of the parents today. The aspect of socialization has caused many of us to be afraid to stand up and do things a little bit differently. But this is what SOCIALIZATION was meant to do! It is to ensure that people follow along with what society says is NORMAL! When people lift up their eyebrows when you say you "home teach" your children, their reaction is only because they were not trained this way and they wonder if another way could be successful.

The aspect of EXPERTISM comes in also... Pretty soon, we are wondering if we will need degrees to be mothers and fathers! In order to do anything successfully, one must have a university and college degree... only then does a person know what they are doing!

Socialization is not just a simple thought that children must play with other children. It runs much deeper than that. When humanism declared that all children must interact it was part of their belief of reconstructing and reforming the mind set of America. It is a way to have the people in society keep an eye on the rest of society! It causes people to never step out and think for themselves and never weigh society’s teachings with what God’s Word is saying!

We do not know how much longer the Government will tolerate believers home training their children. We pray that God will soften the hearts of those in authority over us... We need to keep on the alert and watch! Socialization is not a Christian philosophy. Rather, it is totally contrary. Many people do not realize this and so are allowing their children to have influences in their lives that are harmful to their spiritual growth. Many of these influences come through the guise of homeschooling. Many through the influence of television.

My wife recently stated that many seemingly innocent cartoon characters were hurting believer’s children... She was questioning me, if Donald Duck came to play with our children, would we let him in? Now Donald Duck seems to be a relatively harmless fellow but if you take a closer look at his character, he is known for his selfishness, grumpiness and deviousness. If you happen to let your children befriend cartoon characters, take a closer look at their character and see what they reflect!

One family uses these questions as a checklist for their children’s associations:
1. Do they have a deep love and respect of the Lord and His Word?
2. Do they choose not to conform to this world as in Romans !2:2 & John 15:18-19. (This is a very sensitive subject as different families have different beliefs as to what conformity is. The head of each family should decide for his own offspring what their standard will be. Also, be charitable and remember that all of us are in different states of growing with the Lord and to look at the openness of people in their attitude to God’s Holy Word.)
3. Do they have attitudes of respect for one another and operate through a character of brotherly kindness and love?

Beware, dear saint, that we do have an enemy, and this enemy definitely wants the hearts, minds and souls of our children. Do not underestimate him, but be watchful and alert!
1 Peter 5:8-9 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Mourning the Loss of a Loved One

The pain!

The grief!

The anguish!

The emptiness!


The loss of a loved one is a terrible thing.




If Just One Person Comes To Jesus, It Is Worth It All.

I hear it all the time from well-meaning folks who want to “feel good” about every silly program and every foolish expenditure of their church, all justified in the name of "ministry" or “outreach evangelism.”

The last time I heard it, it was used in response to someone raising a legitimate question about a major investment of several thousand dollars for a special event. Don’t get me wrong; there may be many good reasons for churches to spend thousand of dollars to send a few kids on a fun, short-term "mission" trip or for a high profile head-banging rock concert. Church leaders should carefully identify their “ministry” objectives, support them from Scripture and then convince their members. Hey! Who am I to judge? BUT! Please spare me the inane argument that, “If just one person comes to Jesus, it is worth it all.”
That kind of thinking freaks me out for several reasons:

  1. It is manipulative. That is the kind of warm, fuzzy blather that is designed to generate a lot of emotional support and silence or vilify any critics who would exercise some degree of discernment. After all, how dare we question what God is doing or how He is blessing?
  2. It is pragmatic. If it works, it must be good. And if it results in “decisions” for God (whatever that means) then obviously God must be in favor of it.

  3. It is man-centered. The implication is that, successful evangelism is dependent on our clever programs, special events, and marketing techniques. Without us, poor God wouldn’t have an audience. But what about all those small, poor churches? How will they ever be able to do the work of evangelism if they cannot afford the cost to do a super-spectacular program? Will God not use or bless them. They are terribly disadvantaged. How can they possibly compete with the mega-churches when the only resources they have are the Spirit and the Word of God.
  4. It is foolish and irresponsible. I think I can demonstrate that most people who say that sort of thing, don’t really believe it. If, for example, a $10,000.00 expenditure for a weekend “outreach” is worth the investment because it nets one convert, shouldn’t we spend the same every weekend? We would have 52 new converts in one year for a mere cost of only $520,000. Why not do a major program every day? Obviously that kind of programming is unsustainable.
  5. It prostitutes the Gospel. Forget the big events. Why not just offer a crisp, new $100.00 bill to everyone who makes a “decision” for God in your church services. I’m sure the word will get out in just a few days and you will have throngs of visitors repeating the "sinner's prayer" every week.

    We could never pay enough to gain or guaranty a single convert to the Kingdom. And God never intended for our success in evangelism to be determined by how much money we spend on special events. He has already orchestrated the greatest event in history and made the ultimate investment for the salvation of souls; the precious blood of His own Son shed on the cross at Calvary.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Perfect Presidential Candidate

He is the perfect man for the job.

He will be all things for all men.

He can CHANGE.

He is flexible; he is moldable.

Bend him, pull him, squeeze him.

Wrap him around your finger or keep him in your pocket.

He is the ideal presidential candidate.

He will be anything you want him to be.

Oh! And did I mention, HE'S GREEN?








He is Barack Ogumby.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chubby Checker's "Twisted" Self Esteem

Do you remember Chubby Checker? He appeared on Dick Clark’s Saturday night TV show in 1960 and debuted a song by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. The song was “The Twist” and with it, he introduced a new dance craze. It was an instant hit and he was catapulted to stardom as the “King of the Twist.” That was Chubby Checker’s only claim to fame, as far as I know, except for when he reintroduced “The Twist” in a rap form in 1988.

In 2002, this 66-year-old “has been” ran a full-page ad in Billboard magazine in which he pompously boasted that he is one of Rock and Roll’s most important figures. And then he went on to complain that he is the most under appreciated of all rock stars. So in an arrogant, open letter to the whole entertainment industry, he demanded that a statue of himself be displayed in the courtyard of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Furthermore, he threatened that if he didn’t get the statue, he would refuse induction into the hall of fame even though he hadn’t yet been voted in.

“I want my flowers while I’m alive. I can’t smell them when I’m dead,” he whined. “I will not have the music business ignore my position in the industry.”

Chubby Checker’s worth is pretty much summarized by a statement once made by Billy Graham. “The smallest package I ever saw was a man wrapped up wholly in himself.”

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Rom. 12:3

Sunday, September 21, 2008

RIVERBOAT RESCUE






ne steamy day, beneath the scorching sun, Captain Croc O'Dile steered his riverboat towards the jetty where Bill and Becky Baboon waited under a sunshade. Their son, Ben, whirled a thick jungle vine which he had learned to use as a lasso.

"All aboard for a gentle river trip!" cried Captain Croc O'Dile with a lazy smile.

The baboons excitedly climbed aboard but as soon as the boat had set off again, the engine failed. The boat began to drift away in the mangrove swamp...

"What shall we do?" they wailed. Just then, Ricky Rhinoceros passed by on the river bank, and Ben had a very clever idea...Using his lasso, he quickly cast its loop over the big horn on Ricky's nose and tied the other end of the lasso to the boat. Ricky towed the riverboat back to the jetty.


"It's lucky you're so strong, Ricky!" said Ben.

"Lucky you're such an expert with a lasso!" replied Ricky, untying the loop from his horn.

"And even luckier Ben kept a cool head on such a hot day!" laughed Captain Croc O'Dile, mooring the riverboat firmly to the jetty.

From FIVE MINUTE BEDTIME TALES by Dean
Illustrated by Peter Stevenson
copyright (c) 2002 by Egmont Books Limited

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stupid Attorneys and Angry Axe Wielding Judges

I have been called up for jury duty once again. I am trying to keep a good attitude about this legal system because I really do understand the importance of each of us fulfilling our civic responsibilities in order to protect our civil rights. But I am somewhat amused and often irritated by foolishness or stupidity, especially from professional people.

I will be on this trial for several days over the next three weeks. It is a child molestation case involving at least three girls.

So, on day one, during the jury selection process, the defendant’s counsel arose to address the potential jurors with this threat, “Ladies and gentlemen, in a little while the judge is going to axe you…” I can’t remember what followed; all I know is that I was distracted by the thought that this judge must be some kind of raging, maniacal lunatic and he’s coming after us. Then I realized that the defense attorney was speaking a different language – Ebonics. All that time and money spent in lawyer school and he still hasn’t leart to say “ask.”

Continuing on, he “axed” us if there were any among us who knows what a child molester looks like. Could we spot one in a line-up? He pressed that line of questioning to determine if any of us might have a problem being fair just because his client was “Mexican-American.”

It was hard for me but I managed to hold my tongue even though I was insulted. I wanted to jump up and respond with something like, “No, I don’t believe that a Mexican-American is automatically guilty any more that I believe that an African-American defense attorney is automatically intelligent.”

When he was finished, the prosecuting attorney addressed the potential jurors with his own dumb questions.

He proceeded to instruct us, that, if there is only the testimony of one believable witness, we must return a guilty verdict. At that point, he scanned the jurors looking for affirmation of his inane expectations. “Do any of you have a problem with that?” he asked. Most of them responded. I sat there like a bump on a log, expressionless and unresponsive. He looked at me and said, “Mr. Petersen, you have been kind of quiet up there. How about you? Will you be able to bring a guilty verdict if all I have is the testimony of one witness? Do you have a problem with that?”

Now I was digging in and the debate was on. “Well yes,” I said, “I would have a problem trying to decide a case on the basis of only one testimony. But I think the operative word in your question was ‘believable.’ I would have to consider that witness’s credibility and objectivity and reliability but I would still have to be very careful and reluctant to make a judgment solely on the basis of one witness without some supporting evidence.”

So then he smugly attempted to trap me with this hypothetical example. “Suppose you were walking down a dark street and some big thug jumps out and beats you and steals your wallet. Would you say that a crime was not committed because you were the only witness?”

“Well, of course not.” I responded. “But I would think that my bloodied face and missing wallet would provide sufficient EVIDENCE to support my testimony. The judge has already instructed us that the law presumes this man innocent until proven guilty. And, as far as I know, it’s your job to convince us all beyond a reasonable doubt with evidence.” At that point I heard several snickers from the jury pool and courtroom staff and I glanced in the direction of the judge and saw him laughing.

The defense attorney replied, “Well, maybe that was a bad example.”

I could see that I humiliated him and figured I was done. Surely he would call for my dismissal. He didn’t. I’m in for the duration.

Just for the record, regardless how I feel about this, I am going to give the guy a fair shake, presume his innocence until proven guilty, and consider only the evidence provided when we go to deliberation. At least the defendant is at the mercy of a jury and not dependent on dumb attorneys.

In the mouth of two or three witnesses, let every word be established. Matt. 18:16, II Cor. 13:1, I Tim. 5:19, Heb. 10:28

Thursday, September 18, 2008

God Loves Even Those Whom He Hates

I have been informed that another word has been banned from my vocabulary. I am no longer allowed to say “hate” because I now have grandchildren who are not allowed to say it. OK so I'll guard my tongue around them so they don't pick up any inappropriate verbal habits.

But what about this thing called HATE?

I have heard over and over again and again things like, “Christians should not hate,” “It is a sin to hate,” “God is love and He loves everyone,” and “God hates the sin but He loves the sinner.”

Sure, God loves everyone but His love for the reprobate is a different kind of love than that for the redeemed. Phil Johnson has an interesting and helpful post on this subject at PyroManiacs. He says, "I believe Scripture plainly teaches that there is a true and significant sense in which God loves even those whom He hates."

Now I know this will really irritate some people but, if your god does not hate, then your god is not the God of the Bible. But without appealing to someone else's writing or even my own opinions about what I think God is like, I will just offer some verses of scripture and let God's Word speak for itself.

God HATES evil.

  • “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,” Proverbs 6:16-18
God HATES those (people) who do evil.

  • “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” Proverbs 6:16-19

  • “The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.” Psalm 11:5

God is sovereign and just in choosing whom He will HATE for His purpose.

  • “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:13
    “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction
    :” Romans 9:22

There is a time to HATE.

  • “A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Eccl. 3;8

Those who love God must HATE evil.

  • “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil:” Psalm 97:10
  • “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Psalm 101:3
  • Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:104
  • “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Proverbs 8:13

It is reasonable and right for God’s people to HATE God’s enemies with perfect hatred.

  • “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.” Psa. 139:21-22

In a philosophy class I took in college, the concept of love was presented in a way that must be balanced with hate. Love and hate are opposite ends (they say) that coexist on a continuum of sorts. It is impossible to have one without the other.

I really don’t know anything about philosophy and I know very little about theology BUT, I do know that it is wrong to present a lopsided view of God to a world going to Hell.

The real Gospel is not a message about poor Jesus, standing outside of our hearts, waiting for us to open the door and let Him come in. It is not about what He can do for us. It is not about inviting Him to share our lives so that He can be our lover, our best buddy, or our homeboy so that we can go to a fun place when we die and get lots of good stuff.

The real Gospel is the good news that Jesus suffered a brutal and horrible death and was forsaken by His Father who exacted His wrath for our sins on His Son instead of us. He is a God to be feared. He is a fierce and mighty God to be reckoned with. He is a God who, with perfect justice and in perfect righteousness, will condemn all, who will not come to Him on His terms, to eternal damnation.

The God of the Bible is a God of perfect HATRED as well as perfect love.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Very Own Caustic, Obnoxious, Negative, Critical and Sarcastic Blog

Last year, when it was only a couple months old, someone very close to me criticized my blog site; her observation was that it was generally very negative. That really hadn't occurred to me so I performed a quick review of it's content and discovered that she was right. Because the majority of my posts were critical of foolish beliefs and practices, they were, by nature and definition, negative. I jokingly told her that I thought it was hypocritical of her to criticize me for being critical.

In a few moments of weakness I found myself wondering if there might be something I could change to make this site more positive. I thought I might try posting some articles in which I could use lots of warm, fuzzy words like “wonderful” and “lovely.” You know - the kinds of girlie words that I banished from my approved vocabulary list a long time ago. But the mere thought of doing that started to make me feel all grossed-out inside so I quickly came to my senses and got over it.

Just for the sake of clarity, I think “negative” was the wrong descriptive adjective. It would have been much more appropriate to describe much of the content of this site as "sarcastic.”

My wife agreed with my critic. She doesn’t appreciate sarcasm as a form of wit either and suggested that I should minimize it. But I really find that hard to do. Although this blog is my place to post stuff that I find interesting or amusing, along the way, this is where I take my best potshots at the things I think are inane, outrageous, and idiotic.

[Warning!!! The next paragraph is intentionally sarcastic and should be understood as humor. Please DO NOT read any further if you are prone to being offended.] Sarcasm is my talent and my gift; sarcasm is what I do best; sarcasm is one of the services I offer; sarcasm is the soul of my humor and the essence of this site. To cut out the sarcasm would be to end the blogging.

But seriously, sarcasm is a legitimate form of humor and a useful tool of literature that I employ to make a point and much of the purpose of this blog site is to lampoon ignorant and liberal religious and political ideologies and to poke fun at foolishness when and where I see it. Admittedly, that in itself is negative. I really don’t know how to do that in a positive way. That would be like a guy I know who once told a girl, “You don’t sweat much for a fat chick.”

So why is the negativity important? At the core of ecumenical, evangelical accommodation (that ideology that drives much of the seeker-friendly, purpose driven, “make everybody feel good,” church programming), is the positive thinking, self-esteem, me-centered gospel.

But the whole approach of positive thinking, by its very nature, excludes all negative thinking. Important terms and subjects such as sin, repentance, judgment, wrath, hell, deception, false prophets, false religions, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, persecution, wrong, suffering and tribulation are minimized so that people will not be caused to feel uncomfortable. The positive, feel-good gospel is one that attempts to make all people think that they are alright and welcome to come into the presence of God just as they are because He wants to be their best buddy and give them lots of good stuff.

The true Gospel message of the Bible must always be antithetical to the gospel of positive thinking. It is an incomplete, dishonest and unbalanced false gospel that presents the love of God and ignores the wrath of God. There can be no Truth without the identification of error. There can be no forgiveness without repentance. Salvation is impossible without atonement. There is no real Heaven to embrace without a real hell to fear.

This is my only venue to laff at liberal lunacy, to deride intellectual dishonesty and to ridicule inane religious absurdity so I will just continue with my negative and sarcastic rants. And, just because I can, from time to time I will inject some miscellaneous rhinoceros noise just for the fun of it.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Unhappy Whiners And Easily Offended Victims Misuse Matthew 18

I get beat up (figuratively speaking) quite often for how I supposedly OFFEND people. Not for any good, legitimate reasons like foul body odor or using vulgar language in church or picking my nose at the dinner table. No, apparently I offend people because of what I think or, worse yet, what they think I think. No kidding. Some people just presume to know what I think and then get offended by it. I am a political conservative and a fundamental, Bible-believing Christian. That naturally offends people. But, to make matters worse, I also have a satirical, sometimes slightly irreverent, and often sarcastic sense of humor. That really, REALLY, REALLY offends people. Did you ever notice how many people, especially liberals, just don’t know how to "laff" anymore?

It happened again not long ago. It was implied that I had sinned against some weaker brothers because of some harmless, innocuous, and impersonal bit of sophomoric humor. It seems that, even though it had nothing to do with them, they just didn't appreciate the levity. They claimed that they were "OFFENDED." So I was scolded for the humor. Well, I suppose I could have been offended by that but, guess what; NOBODY really cares when conservatives are offended.

I am neither an etymologist nor a theologian so I really can’t speak authoritatively on this subject BUT, I think crying “offense” and employing Matthew 18 everytime you don’t like something is a sloppy and inappropriate application of the biblical principle. Not only that, but it makes you look like a whiney little cry baby.

Unfortunately, here is a contemporary definition of the verb, offend: “To hurt somebody’s feelings, or cause resentment, irritation, anger, or displeasure.” Did you see that? In our overly sensitive, sissy culture, an offense occurs whenever our actions cause resentment or irritation or anger or displeasure or wounded feelings. In my case, the offended persons' feelings were wounded simply because I happened to hold DIFFERENT IDEAS from theirs about a particular issue. Too many weak people today feel offended about almost everything. For that reason, we can’t even decide whether or not we should wear cologne. Either way, someone might be irritated or displeased. But I really don't think that is what Jesus had in mind when He talked about offenses.

Our contemporary definition is NOT the biblical definition of the word “offend.” As near as I can tell, when Scripture warns us about offending a little one or a weaker brother, it always refers to actions that cause them to sin or to depart from the truth or to weaken their faith. On that subject, John Wesley commented this way, “…see that ye offend them not; that is, that ye turn them not out of the right way, neither hinder them in it” (emphasis is mine). That kind of real offense, either by our doctrine or our liberty, has the affect of doing great (sometimes irreparable) damage to the faith of an immature person to the end that it may cause relational difficulties with God, result in judgment, or may even result in adverse consequences (like eternal damnation). For that reason, Jesus said of the offenders that it would be better for them to be publicly executed.

So, while some brothers were supposedly, "seriously offended," I wonder how many of them were genuinely lured into sin or eternal damnation by a little harmless jocularity.

On the other hand, there are several things that frequently occur in the church today that really are offensive. Here are a few:
  1. Easy believism. It is offensive when we encourage people to repeat a simple, anemic, unrepentant prayer to ask Jesus into their lives and then convince them that they are saved and safe and eternally secure when there has been no real new birth.

  2. Cheap grace. It is offensive when we allow people to believe that they can be positionally right with God while continuing in their sins without consequence; that Jesus paid the penalty for all their sins without telling them that God expects them to stop sinning.

  3. Unscriptural or irreverent worship. It is offensive when people are led to believe that God is pleased with them just the way they are and that they can approach Him with mindless, “touchy feely” emotionally stimulating expressions of so called worship without an awesome fear of His sovereignty and apart from obedience which is His requirement for true worship.

  4. Ecumenical accommodation. It is offensive when we do not identify and separate ourselves from false doctrine and false teachers but join hand in hand as we skip down the ecumenical happy trail of brotherly love singing Kum Ba Yah with legalists, apostates, modernists and liberals.
These are real offenses to those who are unregenerate or immature in the Faith. They are truly stumblingblocks that could result in their falling away or missing salvation altogether.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dangerous Youth Pastors

“We have a WONDERFUL youth pastor,” she told me. She was the mother of two teen-aged kids.

“So, how do you know that?” I asked. I wasn’t just trying to be obnoxious; I really am curious about how people evaluate the people who have so much influence in the lives of their children.

Her response did not surprise me at all. In fact her response is very common but I think it should be quite alarming to responsible, thinking people. She replied, ”My kids love him; they think he’s great.”

When she said that, my mind immediately raced back in time to an event that occurred about 25 years ago. A good friend of mine reported a horrible crisis that had just impacted his church. They had become aware of some illicit activity in their youth department.

It seems that, under the direct authority and leadership of their youth pastor, the group had been regularly using illegal drugs in their weekly youth meetings. According to some, they were just “getting high on Jesus.”

And to make matters worse, the youth pastor had organized a prostitution ring using some of the girls to pay for the drugs. Apparently, the popular youth activities had been going on for several months.

I asked my friend how that could happen for so long without anyone knowing about it. He told me that nobody ever looked in on their activities. The youth pastor was well-liked by all the kids, the group was growing larger and the parents were all happy that their kids were involved in the youth activities.

So, that’s it! The value and effectiveness of his ministry was measured solely on the basis of numerical growth and how much the kids liked him.

Parents have the final responsibility for their children in matters of their church youth activities. And that responsibility is not just to find a place where their children are happy or entertained. The responsibility is for their good, not for their pleasure. I remember many years ago, a situation where several young people had engaged in some behavior that I thought needed to come to the attention of their parents. The youth pastor said to me, “My responsibility is to protect these kids from their parents.”

That was the WRONG ANSWER! The parents have a right to know.

The youth pastor’s role is to “shepherd” the flock that he is responsible for. That’s why they are called “pastors.” They are NOT called to be buddies, activity directors, or cheerleaders. Woe to anyone who causes one of these little ones to stumble.

And the responsibility of the parents and the church is to look over his shoulder and hold him to account. He must be called and held to the same standards and qualifications that a church would place on a senior pastor. And his ministry must be evaluated by the spiritual growth of the young people in his charge; not by how likeable he is or how much much fun they have.

Many people know very little about their youth pastor’s character, doctrine, or scriptural qualifications for pastoral ministry. And, unfortunately, they know even less about his practices. All they know is that he must be a good guy because their children like him.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Church Growth War Casualties (Part 3)

I added WATCHER'S LAMP to my list of favorite blogsites nearly a year ago. It is a blog with a purpose; to Monitor Spiritual Deception and World Events From a Biblical Perspective. There is some really insightful stuff there.

One of the many great posts that particularly caught my attention is titled, Satan's Greatest Weapon; Disunity? In it, the author demonstrates how Rick Warren instructs pastors to silence, discipline (and remove if necessary), dissenters in their Purpose Driven Churches. By cleverly abusing scripture, he attempts to prove that those who object are guilty of divisiveness, dissention, disunity and resistance to church leadership. In other words, they are demonized and must be told to "shut up" and "don't question their pastoral authority."The blog’s owner and author chooses to remain unidentified, probably for good reasons. But from his own published personal profile we can get an understanding of his mission and recognize that he is a true soldier and a critically wounded veteran in the worship wars. Here is his story:

"I am a Husband of 20 years and a father of two children. I served God as a Deacon and a Sunday school teacher in my Southern Baptist Church. With my church family, under the leadership of my pastor, I prepared for the 40 day Purpose Driven Life program.

It was in that preparation and study, I became alarmed at the edification of Catholicism and the total omission of the work of the Holy Spirit. When I expressed my concerns to my pastor, whom I greatly respected and admired, I was asked to give it a chance.

I did, but continued to research the issue. During the following twenty months, I shared the evidence of the erroneous teachings and made several requests to meet with him and his staff to discuss the issues. There was no response.

I was told, by my pastor, that if I did not back down, I would be prohibited from teaching my Sunday School class. Subsequently, I was banned from attending the Sunday School class.

When asked, I told the class that I was removed for challenging the pastor’s authority. Allegations made against me included accusations of breach of confidentiality and bold-faced lies. In blind, unquestioning fashion, the deacon body defended the pastor at all cost.

A state association mediator was called in but the deacons abruptly terminated the arbitration process. Ignoring the guidance and concerns of two other 50 year members (one an ordained SBC minister) the deacons officially determined that they found nothing wrong with the Purpose Driven Life material or the actions of the pastor and his staff.


May God have mercy on the church.

Those who resist unbiblical movements and teachings in the church are NOT the problem. Those guilty of divisiveness are the ones (including pastors) who teach or make provision for false doctrines and unbiblical practices. In fact, the following passages (along with others) indicate that not all disunity is wrong. Factions and divisions are ordained by God for the purpose of identifying true disciples.
"There must, indeed, be factions among you, so that the approved among you may be recognized." 1 Corinthians 11:17-19
"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division..." Luke 12:51

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Delusional, Illiterate, Evangelical Simipletons, Idiots, Nut Cases, And Screaming Loons

Okay, this is interesting. One News Now reported today (9/9/08) that a new survey conducted by Ellison Research finds that many Americans can't define the term "evangelical Christian." In the report, Ron Sellers, president of Ellison Research noted that almost everyone uses the tag but very few can define it. He said, “We were not asking people what they think about evangelicals. We were simply asking them to define evangelicals -- and yet people used terms like idiots, nut cases, delusional, illiterate, simpleton, screaming loons," he lists. "We were told by one person that they're much more conservative in their beliefs and they tend to be less intelligent than the more moderate Christians.”

If you want to know why people use terms like idiots, nut cases, delusional, illiterate, simpleton, and screaming loons to describe evangelicals, it's because so many evangelicals act like delusional, illiterate, simipletons, idiots, nut cases, and screaming loons.

Francis Schaefer recognized and lamented this error of evangelical accomodation in his insightful book, “The Great Evangelical Disaster.” In the early days of evangelicalism, for the most part, “evangelicals” were basically fundamentalists who had sincere passions for reaching the lost with the Gospel. But with their passion for evangelization, they neglected the necessity of separation from error and unbelief.

I have come to have a real disdain for the term. It seems to me that it has become too widely employed and broadly applied to almost everything that calls itself Christian. It means everything, therefore it means nothing. Parenthetically, I guess the same thing could be said about labels like “Christian,” “born again,” “Bible-believing,” and “believers.”

Other perfectly good terms like “fundamentalist,” “reformed,” and “Calvinist” have been unfairly defined and subsequently vilified or demonized by the majority of the Christian community.

Is there a name that we can use that has not been co-opted or denigrated by the new, angry, emerging, ecumenical, all-encompassing breed of worshippers of a boutique god of their own design?

Yes, I think there is. It is Scriptural. It is used by God in reference to His people and it was used by Jesus Christ in reference to His sheep. But it is a term that is sure to irritate, abrade, and anger most nominal Christians. The term is “ELECT.” Use it if you dare and be prepared to get beat up.

God's Grace And Difficult People

The day I started my first job, the president of the company introduced me to my supervisor. Robert seemed like a pretty good guy with his warm smile and pleasant greeting but whenever upper management was not around, He was different.

Robert was, what you might call a “burr under your saddle,” or a “pain in the neck.” He was self-centered and self-serving and he had the ears of upper management. And he was always on our backs. He was unreasonable, very critical, and constantly engaged in ugly and hurtful gossip and inuendo. None of his co-workers or those whom he supervised could get along with him and, one by one, good men would quit the company. Eventually I resigned too. Surely, I thought, life would be better without Robert. It wasn’t!

Over the years, I have made several career changes and even relocated to different cities but I have never been able to escape Robert. He will dog my trail to the grave. I have seen him in every school, every work place, every community and every church; he’s everywhere I go. He just wears a different face and goes by a different name. Maybe you know and have to endure him too.

They say that misery loves company. In my misery, I found sympathetic company with the Apostle Paul. He wrote about his own “thorn in the flesh.” Some people think that it may have been a physical affliction (perhaps poor eyesight). I disagree. By comparing Scripture with Scripture, (eg. …scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes" Joshua 23:13, “…pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides" Numbers 33:55, "…thorns in your sides" Judges 2:3, “…though briers and thorns be with thee” Ezekiel 2:6) i
t seems evident that all those descriptions refer to people, not physical handicaps.

So I think Paul’s “thorn in the flesh" must have been a person like Robert. Paul refers to his “thorn” as a messenger from the devil sent to torment him. Three times, Paul begged God to take this “thorn” out of his way.

We cannot escape difficult people in this life and, no doubt, God has put them in our way for His purpose. But we have been promised grace to deal with them. God's answer to Paul's prayer is certainly applicable to all of us:
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need.” II Cor.1 2:8,9

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Horns Of A Rhinoceros

From my collection of Framed Artwork. I purchased this original work from the artist in 1999.
I have two horns,
but I can't play a song.
They don't work very well
so I just sing along.
I love to hum,
I love to sing,
but about those horns,
I can't do a thing!
A rhino might
use his horns to play,
but in my case, who knows
what people would say?
I'll just keep singing
and humming my song.
I'll keep my horns quiet,
so we can all get along!
Original Poetry and Art by Patricia Walter, 1999 (c)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Final Authority: Is The Bible Enough?

We believe that the Bible is the final authority
in all matters of faith, doctrine, and practice.


That is an interesting statement. In one form or another it appears in thousands of church statements of faith and doctrinal statements. It has been a foundational statement in every church in which I have been a member.

In my church, that statement has been expanded as follows:
His Word (is the church’s) supreme and only guide in all matters of membership, organization, purpose, faith, doctrine, order, ethics, morality, Christian living, and discipline.

I like that. The men who crafted our church’s constitution placed that statement in the preamble to establish the basis for everything we do in the church, on the Word of God.


The reformers stated it differently – Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). But is that really enough? Do we need more? Do we need tradition or new revelation or experiences?


I don’t know who Tim Staples is but I recently came across an article written by him titled, According To Scripture. In it, he denies and attempts to refute sola scriptura as a biblical teaching. In his opening paragraphs he states:
"If a teaching isn’t explicit in the Bible, then we don’t accept it as doctrine!" That belief, commonly known as sola scriptura, was a central component of all I believed as a Protestant. This bedrock Protestant teaching claims that Scripture alone is the sole rule of faith and morals for Christians. Diving deeper into its meaning to defend my Protestant faith against Catholicism about twenty years ago, I found that there was no uniform understanding of this teaching among Protestant pastors and no book I could read to get a better understanding of it.

What role does tradition play? How explicit does something have to be in Scripture before it can be called doctrine? Does Scripture tell us what is absolutely essential for us to believe as Christians? How can we determine the canon using sola scriptura? All these questions and more pointed to the central question: Where is sola scriptura itself taught in the Bible?

Most Protestants find it in 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The fact is that this passage (or any other) does not even hint at Scripture being the sole rule of faith. It says that Scripture is inspired and necessary—a rule of faith—but in no way does it teach that Scripture alone is all one needs to determine the truth about faith and morals in the Church. My attempt to defend this bedrock teaching of Protestantism led me to conclude that sola scriptura is unreasonable, unbiblical, and unworkable.

In his article, he continues to expand and defend that premise in detail if you care to read it.


Well, I am just a simple-minded, dumb, uneducated, theologically challenged Christian but I believe in sola scriptura. And I don’t have a problem defending that. I will try to be clear and succinct.

I fully agree with Tim Staples that II Tim 3:16-17 is not sufficient to prop up “sola scriptura.” But the real questions you need to answer are these - Do you believe that God means what He says and says what He means? Can You depend on Him for Truth? Do you believe His Word? If any of the answers are NO, then you are going to be really frustrated and messed up.

All of this settles in my mind on one very simple (or maybe one extremely profound and complicated) concept - Final Authority. God has spoken and His Word is the final authority. You can see that everywhere in Scripture when God speaks in absolute, unarguable, and authoritative terms like, “I Am the Lord,” “Thou shalt not,” and “The Word of the Lord came…”

In the garden, He said to Adam, “Do NOT eat of this tree or you will die. That sounds straight-forward and simple enough but then the serpent comes along and entices Eve into a discussion or dialogue about it. “Did God really say that? That doesn’t make logical sense. Surely He didn’t really mean that you would really die. The fruit looks so good and, after all, God created it; it can’t be that bad.”

Between the serpent and Eve, they reached a reasoned consensus based on their opinions but it wasn’t what God said.

Similarly, when He was tempted in the wilderness, Jesus spoke in the same authoritative manner. He didn’t attempt to argue or reason with Satan; He simply said, “It is written.”

There is a popular phrase that goes like this, “God said it; I believe it, and that settles it.” I would submit to you that, frankly, it doesn’t really matter one bit whether or not I believe it. The fact is, God said it and that settles it. His Word is the final authority and He often doesn’t take the time to explain it or try to convince us about truth. He just declares it.

So how does that play out practically in our lives? Here are a few random thoughts and I am sure, if you really want to, you can think of many more.

Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” That sounds pretty final. There is no other way. It really doesn’t matter if you think Him not to be fair or reasonable about that.

The Word of God declares, “There is none righteous; No not one.” and “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So it really makes no difference if some of us want to believe that, somehow, there may be some exception to “All” by means of some kind of immaculate conception or ages of accountability or untainted innocense or primitive ignorance. All means All.

On homosexuality, I have heard all kinds of arguments from people with different opinions about the same texts. But the Word of God is very clear; it is an abomination and a sin. Our opinions, objections, and arguments are irrelevant.

Is there a second chance after death? God’s Word says, “It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgment.” That fact doesn’t change simply because we all agree otherwise by consensus, that there must be some kind of holding tank where we can be purged of our sins and prayed into heaven by our relatives.

I really don’t have a problem with God’s Word being the “final authority.” My problem is disobedience and unsubmissiveness. God is God; I’m not and frankly, He doesn’t care how I feel about truth or whether I agree with Him. The bottom line is, “Thus saith the Lord.” You would be surprised at how simple the answers are when we stop trying to wrap our hearts and our heads around tough theological, psychological or emotional questions and simply listen to the final, authoritive Word of God.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Church Office

This Is Very Funny

I know this is satire but, in the words of one commenter,

"It is more like a documentary."

Episode 1



Episode 2

The Last Sopper - Reinventing Christianity

This is for all you tradition despising, sandal wearing, emergent church conversationalists and seeker sensitive itch-scratchers. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how you can save time during that thing called the communion service and market it in a more enjoyable way for the unchurched masses.

I have been examining the serving utensils (you know, those gaudy, liturgical trays) for possible ways to alter them so that you could pass juice and bread simultaneously in the same tray.

One suggested solution was to just set a bowl of wafers in the center area of the juice tray so that both elements could be passed at the same time. But on second thought, I'm not sure that would work for two reasons. First, the bowls would likely sit too high to allow the trays to stack. Second, once people started removing the juice cups from outer perimeters, there would be no way to prevent the bread bowl from sliding around on the surface of the tray unless they were glued in place. One possible solution would be to cut a circle out of the center to cradle the bowl.

However, each of those solutions would necessitate doing irreparable damage to the serving implements. Some of those stiff old traditional deaconesses would probably come unglued if you desecrated their sacred, over-priced, imitation silver trays.

And then, there are the obvious, inevitable difficulties for many people, especially the very young and very old or the just plain clumsy or uncoordinated folks, who would have a hard time juggling two items at one time and still pass the tray without spilling something in their laps.

The whole problem was really starting to frustrate me until I was out last week having lunch in my favorite Mexican restaurant. While I was sitting there munching on chips dipped in salsa, the answer suddenly came to me in a vision.

The solution is DIP!

You could pass the communion crackers in a chip and dip server with grape juice in the dip bowl. As people take their crackers, they would simply dip them into the juice. That would really simplify the whole process and the ceremony would be abreviated as everyone receives and consumes both elements at once.

Now, I know that some might initially balk at this idea but look, I think you might be able to convince your people that there is some scriptural precedence and justification for it.

Historically, the Hebrews in Bible times were not nearly as sophisticated as we are and they did not use utensils to eat their meals. Instead, they used the sop which was a piece of bread used to dip in the soup or broth which sat in the center of the table (Do you see how symbolically appropriate this is? The dip bowl is in the center of the tray).

In the book of Ruth (2:14) there is an interesting anecdotal precedent for this kind of form in our celebration of the Passover meal. Boaz extended an invitation to Ruth to, “at mealtime, come thou hither and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar.”

Furthermore, dipping the sop was an historic fact at the last supper. According to John, Jesus, himself, dipped the sop and gave it to Judas (John 13:26). And if, perchance, some may be uneasy with the association of Judas in your communion service, it might be reassuring to remind them that, according to recent discoveries reported on the Discovery Channel, Judas was really Jesus’ closest confidant and His most obedient servant. In other words, he has had an undeserved bad rap for a long time but recently he has been exonerated by the Pope and has a special place in Heaven.

So, I’m sure you will agree, with historic scriptural precedence, with the example of Jesus, and with the approval of the Pope, you could proceed confidently with a revolutionary new streamlined version of a boring, traditional sacrament that should be acceptable to and easily adaptable by a modern, fast-paced, multi-tasking generation.

And, one more thing - you could change the name of your service to “The Ordinance of Sop-Dip,” or “The Last Sopper.”

I trust you will embrace these suggestions and make them part of your lovefests. I am starting to work on a new and more enjoyable way to do baptisms. I’ll keep you informed about how it’s going.