Saturday, March 21, 2009

The American Tea Party Anthem

April 15 is the date scheduled for the second American Tea Party that will take place across the nation. Here is a special gift to the people of the United States of America from Lloyd Marcus, who is one of the spokespersons for Our Country Deserves Better Committee.

"I believe that Conservatism is compassionate

and is the true path to achieving the American Dream.

Liberalism weakens the human spirit by encouraging people

to view themselves as victims."

Lloyd Marcus, Singer/songwriter, activist, proud black conservative spokesperson for Our Country Deserves Better Committee, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People of Color, and great American.

You can read his entire message about this new song and the upcoming tax protest here.

What Do I Mean By "FUNDAMENTALIST?"

Yesterday, a reader emailed me with this question,

Hi,

What do you mean by "fundamentalist" in context to your profile. For some reason, I'm under the impression that you may be "Christian Reformed."

Grace & Peace,
(name withheld to protect the reader’s identity)

There are several labels that really frustrate me; not because the words are problems but because they have been so abused and redefined that it hard to know what people mean when they use them. “Fundamentalist” is one of those words. Others include “Christian,” “Born Again,” “Evangelical” and “Reformed.” I have attempted to address some of these before, here, here, and here.

So the question is fair and worthy of a respectful answer. I just wish it was easy to answer but it isn’t. Nevertheless, I will attempt to answer it as simply as possible.

First, I will define the term by what I mean because that’s what the reader asked. Probably the simplest answer is that I hold to, what has been called, “The Five Fundamentals of the Faith,” which, I believe, are absolute, non-negotiable and essential for true, biblical faith:

  1. The inerrancy and authority of Scripture

  2. The deity of Jesus Christ

  3. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ

  4. Christ’s vicarious death and atonement for sin

  5. The literal second coming of Jesus Christ

I am an apologetic Baptist. Among Baptists, there is a broad spectrum of doctrinal disagreements. One church, of which I was a member, held itself as a “fundamentalist” church for many decades but in recent years has dropped that description in order to be more tolerant and less divisive. I think that is a shame but I am not surprised; even one of the world’s most famous contemporary Baptist pastor’s, Rick Warren, has described fundamentalists as holding to "a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity."

My questioner goes on to suggest that I might be "Christian Reformed." The label “reformed” is also difficult to define and, probably, because I am Baptist, most people would not label me as “reformed.” However, when I observe the horrendous effects of inaccurate and unbiblical teachings of salvation and anemic, man-centered gospel presentations, I find myself more comfortable pitching my tent in the reformed camp than with the promoters of decisional regeneration and easy-believism among evangelicals, especially in my own denomination.

To answer the question simply, directly, and unapologetically, I believe in the doctrines of grace that are commonly referred to as Calvinism. I believe that God is absolutely sovereign in all things (including salvation). I also hold to those five fundamentals of the faith as articulated by the reformers; that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God, that Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, that Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and that salvation is a sovereign act of God’s will for His glory alone.

So I guess I consider myself to be “Reformed Baptist.” I hope that helps.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Bowling, Disabilities, Leno, and Foot In Mouth Disease

March 20, 2009


Dear Mr. President:


Once again, I want to thank you for the tax refund. I just got my second bi-monthly paycheck with just under $35.00 more than my previous checks. And as I promised you in my earlier letter, I have made another important and meaningful contribution.


This time the $35.00 was sent to the National Republican Trust (PAC). You see, March 31 is coming up soon. Do you know what is special about March 31? Well that is my daughter’s birthday and it is also her husband’s birthday. But there is something else that is special about March 31 this year. That is the date of a very important special election in the 20th District of the State of New York. Polls now show that the Republicans actually have a good chance of winning that Congressional seat with their conservative candidate, Jim Tedisco. So this time around, I figured the best gift I could give my children is one that would irritate and frustrate Nancy, Harry, and you all at once and possibly accomplish some resistance to your dangerous liberal plans to change America as we know it. Thanks again, my contribution wouldn’t have been possible without you.

On another unrelated topic, I’m not going to criticize you for your careless, inane "Special Olympics" comment on Jay Leno’s show about your bowling score; after all, we all make foolish slips from time to time. Mr. Shriver was satisfied that your apology was sincere and that you meant no harm so that is good enough for me. I share your heart-felt appreciation that “the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.”

And, Mr. Obama, I wanted you to know that there is another great program that gives tremendous opportunities to people with disabilities. It’s called the national presidential election.

Sincerely,




Ralph M. Petersen

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Don't Worry About Me, Mr. President, I'm A Survivor

March 18, 2009

President Barrack Obama


1600 Pennsylvania Ave

Washington, DC


Dear Mr. President:

I know it has been a while since I last wrote to you and I apologize for that;  my computer crashed and I had to replace it.  But I am back in business now and I should be able to resume my frequent epistles to you.

Things are tough everywhere out here in fly-over country and many of the uneducated, unsophisticated, and ignorant rednecks in my circle of acquaintances are really feeling the pain.

But there is a bright side.  We will not be caught unprepared.  We are not dependent on your benevolence and unrealistic promises.  We will survive.  Long after you are gone, we will be here.  We are Americans.

You see, there is a social phenomenon, actually an institution of traditional americana that has been duplicated in thousands of coffee shops, taverns, barber shops and fast-food restaurants across this great land.  It is the modern day equivalent of the gathering around the pot-bellied stove in the old general stores of yesteryear.  It is the daily gathering of good old boys (and girls) for the purpose of discussing news, politics, and culture.

My cohorts and I have been meeting together for coffee every morning for years in a local coffee shop.  The camaraderie is great and the discussions are pure, mindless drivel - the same guys sitting in the same places telling the same old lies and insults year after year.  So I have to admit, your election has reinvigorated us and your new socialist agenda has given us new stuff to crab about.

And that brings me to the point.  In recent days we have all come to realize what most Americans have known throughout our 200+ years of history.  That is we must take care of ourselves.  And that is what we are doing.

The last few weeks we have been busy making plans and we have created a list of necessary supplies that we are accumulating for our survival. Money is worthless and the government will fail us.  We are just simple people with nothing but our faith and our guns and our guts.  I thought you might be interested to know what thousands of Americans, whose savings, home values, and retirement provisions have been decimated, are up to.  

 The following is a sampling of some of the items in our “must have” list of survival provisions:

  • Gold and silver in any form
  • Machetes and knives
  • 1000 watt flashlights (strong enough to blind someone)
  • Emergency, hand-crank radios
  • Vegetable seeds
  • Flares
  • Shovels, pitchforks and axes
  • Bottled water and dehydrated foods
  • Tents, sleeping bags, and blankets
  • Generators and propane
  • First Aid kits
  • Chainsaws so we can drop some trees at each end of our streets to keep outsiders away from our homes.
  • Several cords of firewood
  • At least 1000 rounds of ammunition and something to put them in (if you catch my drift) 
  • Etc. and etc. but you get the idea.  We just all want you to know that we will be OK.  Don’t worry about us.

Sincerely yours,



Ralph M. Petersen and the rest of the good old boys.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Keith Green, A. W. Tozer: What's Wrong With The Gospel?

I have been browsing through some of my old files and came across two old companion pamphlets titled, “What’s Wrong With The Gospel?” Part one was titled, “The Missing Parts” and part two, “The Added Parts.” In 1981 Christian singer and songwriter, Keith Green, published them as his own but there is sufficient evidence that the real credit for the material must be given to A. W. Tozer.

The content is relevant and quite insightful, coming from a non-calvinist. It is certain to irritate some but it definitely presents a deserving criticism of the sloppy and irresponsible methods of evangelism in much of modern Christian evangelicalism.

The pamphlets, as written, are much too long to reproduce in blog form. The full original text can be located in the Keith Green archives. I have taken liberties to edit and abridged the content and I am posting them together here in two parts.


What's Wrong With the Gospel?

Part 1: "The Missing Parts"

The Blood
The blood of Jesus is God’s only cleansing agent for a sin-sick soul. What we present today is a bloodless or anemic gospel! The whole concept of Jesus being the Passover Lamb of the Old Testament has been lost. We often reason that it takes too much time and thought to explain or that we need to simplify the Gospel so that we can reach the masses. But when we remove the blood from the preaching of the Gospel, we remove the power of the gospel.

The Cross
Paul said, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." (I Cor. 2:2)
Today it's all about what Jesus can do for you! The Bible's Christ-centered Gospel and our modern, cross-less, me-centered gospel are in diametric opposition.

Sin, Guilt, and Hell
Sin has been redefined as “missing the mark,” “shortcomings,” or “failing to live up to our potentials.” There is very little preaching about hell anymore. It is seen as unnecessary scare tactics. Sinners are just unfortunate, misguided souls.

In our worldly wisdom, we act as though God needs our help to communicate with our contemporary generation in a gentler, more loving tone. We talk about heaven and the temporal rewards of being born-again, but we completely neglect the warnings of Jesus and the Apostles about the consequences of sin and rebellion against God.

But the Bible clearly shows that all men, in their unregenerate condition, are rebels who have robbed and dishonored the living God, infinitely offending Him. We have no right to allow them to see themselves in any other light.

The Convicting Law of God
When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he asked a very direct question: "Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" How would we answer him today? "Just admit you're a sinner, accept Jesus as your Personal Savior, go to church, pay your tithes, try to be good, and you're in!"

But what was Jesus' answer? He said, "You know the commandments... if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." The commandments?? Isn't this the "age of grace"? Jesus wasn't preaching the commandments to him as the way of salvation. He was using the commandments to specifically convict him of his particular sin – greed, and Jesus knew just how to do it - preach the Law! And that's exactly what the Law is for-
"For through the Law comes the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). The Law must be preached - not as the way of salvation, but as a searchlight on the sinner's heart so he can see how utterly rotten he is compared to God’s requirement for sinless perfection.

Our modern gospel emphasizes all the good things God will do for us if we just “accept” Him! Today we don't want to scare the "liberated generation" away with rules. If we say that fornication or drugs or abortion, or any other specific sin is wrong, people will feel all condemned and then how could they get saved? But that's just the point, Jesus preached the Law to the rich young ruler so that, after feeling condemned about his greed, he could turn and obey Jesus and find true treasure in heaven.
"Go and sell all you possess and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven, and come, follow Me." (Mark 10:21) Unless people are truly convicted of their sin and totally condemned by God’s Law, then it is impossible to convince them of the need for a savior. Only by the preaching of the Law can a man fully desire to be saved from the penalty of his sin. For, "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law."(Rom. 7:7)

The Fear of God and the Judgment Seat of Christ
Instead of the awesome majesty of Jehovah, today the Lord is presented as a sort of benevolent Santa Claus and the Church is the toy store where you can get every goodie your heart desires. Jesus is portrayed only as a good, loving, and forgiving friend. But what does the Scripture say? "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31) and "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'? (Proverbs 9:10)
Modern preaching presents an unbalanced view of God by ignoring the severity of His justice and judgment while emphasizing His kindness. "Behold then the kindness and severity of God." (Rom. 11:22)

Repentance
Conversion without repentance is impossible. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles are full of commands to "repent and be saved!" True repentance is not just "being sorry" – genuine sorrow is only conviction. Repentance is a change of heart and a change of mind that results in a decisive change of action by turning away from sin. God blesses those decisions and commitments with abundant grace and power to fulfill the desires of the Spirit within us. Repentance is a natural response of one who sees how ugly and horrible his sin is but it is impossible where the Law does not convince the sinner of his wicked heart. Because our modern preaching generates so little real conviction of sin, there is no compulsion for repentance. You see, all these removed parts of the Gospel are connected. In God's wisdom, every aspect of the appointed way of salvation is irreplaceable. It is true that without God loving us first, we could not be saved. And when He saves us, He requires that we repent!

God's Sorrow and Broken Heart Over Sin
Modern preaching paints an inaccurate picture of God as carefree, cheerful, understanding, and tolerant of our sin. The Church doesn't want a God who's grieved with sin, because He would be grieved with them (and He is!).

The Bible indicates that God is greatly grieved by our sin. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. And God plead with the nation of Israel through the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. The God of the Bible is continually striving with men through His Spirit. "
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). That means that God sees every rape, every murder, every starving person, every pornographic film and book, and every abused and battered child. Scripture warns us to not grieve the Holy Spirit of God?(Eph. 4:30)

The Necessity of Holiness
Without holiness "no one shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Jesus commands us to be perfect. Yet none of us can achieve perfection. Nevertheless, we still have those uncomfortable words of the Lord, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Because of that dilemma, we have invented some pretty interesting (but unscriptural) doctrines. Some teach that when God looks at us, He doesn't really see us anymore, He sees Jesus instead. And whenever there's sin in our hearts, if God should happen to look at the wrong moment, He'll see a smiling face of Jesus there, instead of seeing our sin. So God sees us as holy - even though we’re not! Another stranger-than-truth doctrine is that blessed refuge of backsliders called "the carnal Christian." In this example of pretzel-logic, we have solved the problem of “so-called believers” who do not walk with the Lord but continue to indulge in the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh. They are another class of Christians called “carnal Christians.

Here we have a case of a "believer" who doesn't believe. Oh, he still "believes" that God is God, and that there is a heaven and hell, and so on (but don't forget, the devil believes all these things too!-James 2:19). He knows all the right things to say to convince granny, the pastor, and his Christian friends that he's still hanging in there. He even sort of believes it himself. Seems he's got everybody fooled - everybody that is, except God! The Bible is clear that
"If we say we' have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth " (I John 1:6).

Today the preaching of holiness for the Christian is largely neglected. Jesus wants to impart His holiness to us by the Holy Spirit. But because people are not being driven to the cross, convicted by His Law to repentance and real rebirth, then we have to spend hours in our seminaries trying to find suitable, complicated ways to explain away the obvious meanings of Scripture. To this you might say, "…what about all those people getting saved by the efforts of good men and ministries out there? They're not preaching the way you say they should, and they still have converts!"

Well, the immediate answer to that question is, "The people are not getting saved because of their messages, they're getting saved in spite of them." But many of the people who make "decisions for Christ" do not even continue to attend church following their experiences. Let's take a closer look at what kind of "converts" today's gospel usually produces.

What, Specifically, Is Wrong With Our Modern Gospel?

It is Me-Centered Instead of Christ-Centered
First and foremost, it is a gospel that appeals to the self. Instead of honoring God, it places the sinner at the center of God's love and plan. But the Bible places Jesus at the center of God's plan, not the sinner.

One of the most well-known phrases of modern evangelism is "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!" But the sober, biblical truth that needs to penetrate the sinner's mind is "You have made yourself an enemy of God, and in your present state of rebellion there is absolutely no hope for you." In fact, God's "plan" for the sinner at this point in his life is to separate him from His presence forever, in hell. However unpopular or unlovely that may sound, it is the only truth and reality about anyone who is an enemy of God through sin.

The error continues. Sin, they are told, has separated us from God and “His wonderful plan for your life.” Jesus came and died on the cross, so that you may experience “His wonderful plan for your life.” You must accept Jesus now, so that you will not miss out on “His wonderful plan for your life!" You, you, you, you!!! It's all about YOU! The fact of the matter is, Jesus did it all in obedience for His Father's glory.

Of course, it infinitely benefits those who love, serve, and honor Him, but that is a secondary result; not the primary one. If people come to Jesus mainly to get a blessing, or only to get forgiveness, they will ultimately be disappointed. But if they come to Him in faith, giving Him their lives in honor and worship, then they will truly have forgiveness and joy - more than they could ever imagine!

It is Shallow, Cheap, and Offered as a "Bargain"
Our gospel presents the good news on a "come and get it while you can" basis. We make every effort to make it easy. We remove everything that might offend someone or might make them hesitate or postpone their decision. Jesus never lowered the requirements for anyone. One had to be completely sincere, totally humbled, having counted the cost, willing to leave everything- family and property, "count all things loss" so that they might "gain Christ" (Phil 3:7-8). When that rich young ruler "went away sad, for he had many possessions" (Matt. 19:22), Jesus didn't go running after him shouting, "Hey, wait a minute! Let's talk about this; it isn't as bad as it might sound. Maybe I was a little too harsh!" Maybe we're so eager to "see converts" or to publish "how many got saved at our last concert" that we'll do anything to rush someone into a "decision" before he's had a chance to really make one. The problem is, if you have to rush him into it, he probably will change his mind later anyway. For as a friend of mine says, "If somebody can talk them into it, somebody can talk them out of it!" (I Cor. 1:17)

Salvation is Presented as a Barter or Trade, Instead of the Result of Obedience by Faith
We offer forgiveness of sin like as something we can negotiate. I've even heard, "You give Jesus your sin, and He'll give you salvation in return!" No one in the Bible ever thought so low of the grace of God to talk about the gift of eternal life like it was for trade. It is a gift! You can't earn it, buy it, or give anything in return for it. How it must offend God to hear people talk that way about the redemptive work of Christ.

It Produces Selfish, "Blessed," and Feelings-Oriented "Converts"
Anyone who is made to believe he becomes a Christian under such preaching will seldom bring forth the true fruits of a real convert. He will remain self-serving only now his selfishness will take on a religious form. If he wants something for himself, he will say he "has a burden" for something, or he will say, "It is the desire of my heart," or some other religious-sounding phrase like that. He will pray selfishly, desiring blessings for himself, and even if he does pray for others, it is often for selfish reasons. After all, when he "accepted the Lord," he was told how much Jesus wanted to bless him and how much God had stored up for his account, and how the Bible was like "a checkbook full of promises, just waiting to be cashed!" Such a person always seeks to "feel" good about himself, his church, his pastor, etc. His whole world is built on feeling blessed. He was never shown how he was created to bless God... God was not created to bless him.

The kinds of "converts" described above are not like those described in the book of Acts where the tender spirit of love and the mighty spirit of power prevailed among the brethren in those early days. I believe that one of the great reasons that
"everyone kept feeling a sense of awe" (Acts 2:43), was because "they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to prayer " (vs. 42). The Spirit of God anointed and blessed the new converts with power because Peter and the others made every effort to convey the whole message of the Gospel when they preached and taught. God always anoints the truth.

Part 2: "The Added Parts"

The following is a list of some of the inventions of man that have become so essential to our modern Gospel, that they have become almost inseparable from it. In fact, they are considered so necessary that some Christians can hardly believe that anyone can be saved without them.

The "Personal Savior"
The use of the term "Personal Savior" isn't very harmful in itself, but it shows a kind of mind - set that is willing to "invent" terms, and then treat them as if they were actually found in the Bible. Would you ever introduce your sister like this: "This is Sheila, my personal sister"?! Or would you point to your navel and say, "This is my personal bellybutton"? Ridiculous! But nevertheless, people solemnly speak of Christ as their personal Savior, as if they've got Him right there in their shirt pocket - and as if when He returns, He will not have two, but three titles written across His thigh: King of kings, Lord of lords, and PERSONAL SAVIOR! This is only one example of how a non-biblical term can be elevated to reverence by the Church, as if to say, "Well even if it isn't in the Bible - it should be!"

The Alter Call
Imagine Jesus having people bow their heads after hearing the Sermon on the Mount, and then very slowly and softly (while Bartholomew plays "How Great Thou Art" on the accordion) saying to the crowd, "While your heads are bowed and your eyes are closed, if you really want to be My disciple tonight, if you really want to show My Father that you truly mean to follow this sermon I have given, then I want you to slip your hand up slowly, so that I may see it. There now... yes... yes... I see that hand ... and that one ... and the one way back by the fig tree ... yes! Now, please, while Bart plays another chorus, I'd like you to start moving down through the center of the crowd ... yes, those who raised their hand. I want to know if you really mean business. I'd like to lead you in a prayer...

I realize that there are some who will see such an illustration as sacrilegious. And that's just the point. They think that making fun of the "altar call" is making fun of God. But it isn't. Traditions die hard, because they take so long to form. Once I received a very intense letter from the pastor of a church who had sponsored me in a city-wide concert in his area. He was upset that I had "let several hundred souls go ungathered" because I had not given an altar call. He said, "It seems you have no burden for souls." (Nothing could be further from the truth.) But because I had not given the recognized "official invitation," this pastor could see no value in my presentation of the Gospel. Or as Tony Salerno, (director of "The Agape Force"), once remarked, "If you don't give an altar call, they think you have committed the 'unpardonable sin!'"

The altar call was invented only about 150 years ago. It was first used by the American evangelist, Charles Finney, as a means of separating out those who wanted to talk further about the subject of salvation. Finney called the front pew "the anxious seat" (for those who were "anxious" about the state of their souls) or "the mourner's bench." Finney never "led them in a prayer," but he and a few others would spend a great deal of time praying with and giving specific instruction to each, one by one, until finally, everyone was sent home to pray and continue seeking God until "they had broken through and expressed hope in Christ," as Finney would say.The early Salvation Army, going a bit further on Finney's innovation, developed what they called "the penitent form" or "the mercy seat." After a rousing time of singing and preaching, they would invite any sinner present who wanted to confess his sins to God and repent, to come to the front, and they would be prayed for individually.

I have met a few older Christians who used to attend some of these early meetings, and they said that sometimes people would stay there all night, and on a few occasions, even a few days, weeping and confessing their sins with broken hearts. There were always some who would stay right there to instruct them further, encouraging them to make a clean sweep of sin from their lives.This is what the early "altar call" was like. But gradually, it began to become a fixed part of every meeting, and like all other traditions, it began to lose its original spirit. The "coming forward" part started to be more important than the "sorrow, confession, repentance, and instruction" parts. Eventually, anyone who would "come down the aisle" was excitedly proclaimed "a new believer in Christ!" No matter how they felt, they still were told, "Your sins are forgiven, brother! Rejoice in Christ!" How many a miserable, defeated, and confused person has come away from a meeting like this?

The Sinner's Prayer
Can you also imagine this scene where Jesus is leading some new "disciples" in the "sinner's prayer"?"Wow! There are so many that came forward for salvation tonight!" (The multitude applauds.) "Now, it is very simple. You just repeat this little prayer after Me, and then you're a Christian! Now it doesn't really matter whether you fully understand the prayer . . . it works just the same. Ready? Repeat after Me... 'Dear Jesus... Come into my heart...'"and so on ...When we try to picture Jesus Himself using our modern methods of evangelism, it seems completely foolish. I think this is a very good test for any method.

Obviously there is no "set" sinner's prayer. There are many variations, with different lengths, different wordings, different endings, etc., but the contents are usually the same. The prayer usually includes phrases like, "Dear Jesus," "Come into my heart," "I admit I have sinned" (at least the better ones contain this last statement - there are some who do not even like to mention sin in their "sinner's prayer"), "Fill me with Your Spirit," "In Jesus' name. Amen." Extremely harmless . . . nothing wrong with a prayer like that, right? Wrong!

A true "sinner's prayer" will naturally burst out from the heart of anyone who is truly convicted by their sin, and in repentance, seeks God’s forgiveness. The very act of "leading someone in a prayer" is often a devise of crowd manipulation and brainwashing. You will find nothing even remotely like it in the Bible, or among the writings and biographies in Church history. Jesus never called His disciples to "repeat after Me," He called them to “come follow Me.”

The practice of having someone repeat a prayer with the minister probably originated sith good intentions. And, no doubt, there are many who have been truly born again by God’s grace. But also, like the altar call, the "sinner's prayer" is one of those tools that can be confusing and abusive when people are led to believe they are saved when they really are not.

The greatest problem with these modern techniques is that they often circumvent the natural birth process. They leave no time for the convicting work of the Holy Spirit to bring about repentance that leads to salvation. With an emotional splash that usually doesn't last more than a few weeks, we believe we're leading people into the Kingdom, when really we're trying to force a premature birth or even worse, we perform a "spiritual abortion." Sometimes it seems that we wouldd rather rush someone into a shallow decision, and get the personal gratification of seeing him "go down the aisle," than take the time to fully explain things to him, even if it takes long hours and nights of travailing prayer for his soul. We just don't "have the time" to do things God's way anymore. We should rather see one true convert than an ocean full of "decisions."

Quick and Easy "Steps-To-Salvation" Booklets
One of the best known of these booklets has been printed in over 30 languages, and has over 100 million copies in circulation. With that in view, it is even more urgent for me to say that unless these or any other "gospel" booklets contain the same message that our Lord preached (and commanded His disciples to spread "to every kindred and nation"), then they are worse than "inadequate tools," they are wicked!

The Bible says in Proverbs 10:26,
"Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the unfaithful messenger to him who sends him." Paul said that if we are really Christians, then we are "ambassadors of Christ." That means we are His representatives in this foreign land called "the world" and we are under orders to accurately communicate His message, regardless how unpleasant it may seem.

Most of these little booklets usually mention a "sort-of" repentance like, "you must turn from your sins, to Jesus." But they rarely explain what "turning" really means. This is also true of other vital terms such as "Lord" - they usually refer to Jesus as "Lord," but again, they seldom define what "lordship" means - and people go their merry way, believing they have the full right to continue running their own lives as long as they call Jesus "Lord."

The "Poor Jesus" Syndrome
This is the form of preaching that misuses the Scripture in Rev. 3:20, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock . . . " That passage describes Jesus outside of His CHURCH.

But How many evangelists have misapplied that Scripture to paint a pathetic picture of Jesus standing outside a door, waiting, knocking, knocking, waiting, for the sinner to open up and let Jesus in? Sometimes these preachers go on and on, until it starts to sound like, "Aw, poor Jesus is out there in the cold, shivering, waiting for someone to let Him in. Won't you go ahead and let poor Jesus into your heart?"The truth of the matter for sinners is the exact opposite. Jesus is not outside of their world, knocking to come in - they are outside of His Kingdom! And they can knock all night like the five foolish virgins but Jesus will never let them in unless they meet His requirements: a humble and contrite heart, and a complete disgust for sin. Then, and only then, will God deliver them from their slavery to sin - and transfer them by His grace to the Kingdom of His loving kindness. God will never repent for someone - He makes it possible for the sinner to see the folly of his ways, surrender, and desperatly gasp, "I am a fool to run my own life! Lord, show me the way to your door, and I'll knock and knock, and beg forgiveness ...I'll do anything, anything, ANYTHING YOU SAY!" Then, and only then, will God save a sinner.

Bumper Stickers, Cheap Clich├ęs, and "Christian" Slogans
It pains me to see the beautiful truths of Scripture being plastered about like beer advertisements. People become numb to the truth when we splash our gaudy sayings in their eyes at every opportunity. Do we really think this opens them up to the Gospel? Or is it really just another way for us to get smiles, waves, and approval from others in the "born-again club" out in the supermarket parking lot, who blow their horns with glee when they see your "Honk if you love Jesus!" bumper sticker?

And what about those other quasi-biblical sayings like "Please be patient, God isn't finished with me yet," (which can really be a horrible replacement for "I'm sorry" and besides, it puts the blame on the wrong person - "The reason I'm such a creep is because God isn't finished with me yet."). And if you really want to "Stretch the Bible" there is that other fabulously convenient excuse for our lack of holiness: "Christians aren't perfect... just forgiven.

Maybe I've gone a little too far to make a point, but I think the world is disgusted with our pithy little sound bites and "witnessing tools." It's time for us to be expressing the truth with our lives, and then the whole truth of God with our lips!"

The Follow-Up Program
There is another practice in our modern evangelism called "follow-up" and it usually follows our miserable and incomplete gospel with a miserable, incomplete, and false replacement for what the Bible calls "discipleship." Our "follow-up" usually consists of a packet of literature which almost always includes a complete list of all church services and functions. The packet may also include many "essential" items like a complete Bible study on "tithing" along with a starter supply of tithing envelopes (this is one "principle" that nearly every new believer learns right away!). In my studies of the life of Jesus, it has amazed me that He never had "a follow-up program." It was usually His habit to let people "follow Him up." He never had to go door to door, looking for that fellow who He healed last week, wanting to share another parable or two. He always seemed to have the attitude of, "If they want life, then they'll have to come and follow Me."

We preach a man-made, plastic gospel. We get people to come forward to "the altar" by bringing psychological pressures that have nothing to do with God. We "lead them" in a prayer that they are not yet convinced they need to say. And then to top it all off, we give them "counseling," telling them it is a sin to doubt that they're really saved!

Conclusion

I realize that these articles will step on many toes, and some might even be deeply offended, but that is not my intention at all. My prayer is that some will begin to take up the cross and preach the good news of our salvation with the same power and anointing that Jesus promised and gave to the early Church, and that when we stand before Him on that great day, we will be able to say with Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith . . . I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ" (II Tim. 4:7; Rom. 15:19), so that we may hear those sweet words from our King's lips, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matt. 25:21)


Monday, March 9, 2009

Still Swearing


"We swore him in two months ago and people are still swearing."


Larry the cable guy on Hannity 3/9/09

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rhino Briefs (Mar. 1-7)

Some of this week's fun, funny, and sometimes relevant highlights from other Well-Meaning Bloggers With Different Ideas.

  • This is outrageous! But I am somewhat confused by the conflicted reasoning. Abortion is good; murder is bad? Go figure!

  • How to tell if you are an Arminian. So Spricht der HERR has this fun list of Bad Advise For Arminians that could be cleverly reworded in the style of the,“you might be a redneck,” jokes.

  • Do you want God to make you rich? Junker Jorge gives us the magic formula here according to the cult of the Word of Faith Movement.

  • Eddie Eddings offers this Startling Revelation at Facets of Grace.

  • Phil Johnson, in his blogpost, As One Having Authority announces the subject of his address to the 2009 Shepherds Conference. Using Titus 2:7-8, he skillfully denounces the growing practice of pulpiteers who insist that sleazy and course language is a necessary tool of contextualization to be relevant.
    About Phil’s sermon, Underdog Theology rightly observes that, “If you howl like the world, then perhaps you might be a wolf yourself.”

  • Watcher’s Lamp asks the question, "Will The Purpose Driven/Best Life Now Religion Pass This Test?" Well, what if God loves you and has a HORRIBLE plan for your life? Maybe the first of the Four Spiritual Laws should be, “God created you and has a sovereign plan for your life.”

  • And finally, at Townhall.com, in his post, Rush Rattles Obama The Whiner's Cage, Doug Giles says, “I would rather bikini wax a sensitive and livid grizzly sow than be a “tolerant bipartisan” toward the bloated government, pro-death, anti-free market, crap on traditional values, socialism squared, nanny state policies Obama has floated in the last few days.”

I Won The Grand Prize

Look What I Just Won.




I just won this grand prize in a contest at Calvinistic Cartoons.
Can you imagine yourself at the wheel
of this luxurious Solar Sailor Passenger Boat?
Well, that is exactly what I am doing right now;
imagining myself at the wheel of that boat.
My grand prize was this full color 72 dpi downloadable photograph
of this luxurious solar powered miracle machine!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Obama's Stimulus Plan Supports The NRA

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you very much.

I just got my first, semi-monthly paycheck with your phony tax refund. I have to admit, that was a pretty slick way to buy the adoration of millions of ignorant, empty-headed worshippers. Although it didn't work on me, I am now stimulated.

The increase in my check amounted to just a bit under $35.00 and just in time for my birthday. So today, I bought myself a birthday present on your stimulus plan. For just $35.00, I got a one-year membership in the National Rifle Association. I have proudly displayed their logo on my blog and I can hardly wait to place my membership decal on the windshield of my car.

With the additional resources available to me each payday, I figure that over the next few months I will be able to make donations to many worthy causes like The Patriot Post , Our Country Deserves Better (PAC), Grassfire.Org Alliance, Pacific Justice Institute, American Solutions, and a myriad of other conservative organizations, PACs, and individual champions of liberty dedicated to the preservation of our constitution, our freedoms, and our American way of life. The way I see it, a stimulus plan should be stimulative. And your giving me these additional resources will enable these worthy organizations to continue to stimulate conservatives to action.

Oh, also, I might be able to send an occasional few bucks to your brother, George, who is existing in abject poverty. It’s good to spread the wealth around you know.

So, thanks again for the birthday present (even though it was my money before government took it so you could give it back).

I remain faithfully dedicated to your opposition and resistant to your policies. And I HOPE for the day when liberalism, socialism, and fascism are destroyed and we CHANGE leadership (YES WE CAN).

Respectfully,






Ralph M. Petersen

ps. I'm sure the NRA thanks you too.

Sent to the White House via U.S.P.S. on 3/5/09

Free Willy

Do you remember the movie, “Free Willy?” It’s a story about a captive Orca whale that was confined to a tank in a marine park. "Poor Willy" longed for freedom (at least that was the premise of the story line). At night he would cry out to his family in the bay outside the park. Finally Willy’s cries reached the ears of his savior, a young boy who felt and empathised with Wiily's agony and found a way to free him from his captors.

Now that makes for a nice heart wrenching, touchy-feely, and sentimental story but the real-life star of the film, Keiko, the killer whale rejected freedom and actually prefered captivity. Keiko died in 2003 but before he died, his caretakers spent millions of dollars over a ten year period trying to free him. They took him out to sea more than 60 times in hopes that he would rejoin wild killer whale pods in his natural arctic habitat near Iceland. But every time they release him, Keiko came back to the familiarity of captivity.

People are like that too. I think it is ironic that the title of the movie, Free Willy, is so similar to the phrase, free will. We are in bondage and need to be liberated. God’s Word teaches that we are prisoners of sin but we cannot free ourselves; we need a Savior to come along, understand our need and make a way for us to be free.

That is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. He has opened the gate wide and put freedom easily within our reach. But, just like Keiko the killer whale, people actually reject the freedom God has offered because it is in our nature to prefer to remain captive to sin. If God does not change our nature, we cannot be set free.

Jesus said to the people, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” But they said, “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘set free’?”
Jesus replied, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave of sin. But if I set you free, you will indeed be free”
(paraphrased from John 8:31-36).
reposted from 11/07

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Worship, Not Evangelism, Is The Most Important Task

"To worship God - that is the primary reason why the Christian should go to church. In today's church climate this is a radical idea. Nevertheless, Christians should go to church, not to evangelize, not to provide a comfortable "consumer-friendly" setting for the unchurched, not even primarily for the benefit which fellowship with other Christians provides, and definitely not just for lectures and devotionals, but in order to worship God.

"Christians should also understand that evangelism and the missionary task are not the most important tasks the church has. Such efforts exist among the nations, as John Piper argues in his Let the Nations Be Glad, only because worship of the true God among them does not! ...Anyone who will take the time to study the matter will have to conclude that worship in evangelical churches in this generation is, speaking generally, approaching bankruptcy. There is neither rhyme nor reason, much less biblical warrant, for the order of and much that goes on in many evangelical church services today. The fact of the matter is, much evangelical "worship" is simply not true worship at all.

"For decades now evangelical churches have been conducting their services for the sake of unbelievers. Both the revivalistic service of a previous generation and the 'seeker service' of today are shaped by the same concern--appeal to the unchurched. Not surprisingly, in neither case does much that might be called worship by Christians occur. As a result, many evangelicals who have been sitting for years in such worship services are finding their souls drying up, and they have begun to long for something else.

"Accordingly, they have become vulnerable to the appeal of the mysterium of hierarchical liturgical services. This is why some today are "on the Canterbury trail" of defecting to Greek Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Others who have been simply spectators for years in their worship services are getting caught up in the people-involving worship of charismatic services."