Saturday, April 30, 2011

Christian Persecution In The Socialist State of Kalifornia


This unbelievable event happened about three days ago in my little town of Hemet, Kalifornia.  These are pastors whom I know.

The great state of California as I have known it is gone.  The nation is close behind. 

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Z is for Za

ZA - An abbreviated variation of the commonly used noun, “pizza” as in, “hay dude, lez go grab some suds and a pepperoni za."   Urban Dictionary

In Exodus 16 is the account of a problem Moses was having with the people. There were millions of them wandering around in the wilderness and they were hungry and needed food every day. So God provided daily fast food delivery for them.  When they saw the bread from heaven, they asked, “What is this stuff?” And that is the exact translation of the word, “manna.” It means “what is it?”

The answer to that question is pretty clear, it seems to me, from the text.  It was ZA (pizza). Why do I think that?  If you consider these statements about that mystery bread, I think you'll be convinced too:

  • In verse 4 God told Moses that He would send bread down from Heaven. Whatever God gives is good and pizza is, in my humble opinion, the best food on earth (or in Heaven). It was a complete, perfect food. It was all-sufficient for their sustenance. I can’t think of a more perfect food. It contains a variety of proteins and carbohydrates. It is healthy. I make it a personal habit to try to eat from all four of the major food groups each day; sugar, salt, grease and cholesterol. Pizza has all of that.
  • In verse 8 Moses tells the people that they are to eat bread to the full. And then in verse 16 he instructs them that each man should gather according to the number of persons in his own home. Everyone was well-filled. There was plenty to go around.  It was enough. When my wife and I go out for pizza with our kids and their families, we usually order one pizza for each family unit and there is always enough for everyone. Some of our grandchildren eat very little and some of us eat much more than our fair share but we eat it all and everyone is filled.
  • Moses tells them, in verse 19, don’t save any of it for the next day. They were to eat all of it and not save it because it would go bad. I love pizza and I could eat it every day. But as much as I like it, I’m not crazy about warmed over leftovers.
  • In verse 23 they were told to bake what they wanted to bake and boil what they wanted to boil. They were free to prepare it in a variety of ways according to their preferences. Some of us like thin crust and some like pan styled. Others like stuffed crust. We have ours prepared in a variety of ways.
  • Whatever it was, it was pleasant to every man’s taste because in verse 31 we are told that the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Some of us like plain cheese and others like the works (but I don't think sausage or peperoni was on the menu).  And we usually get pizza cheese sticks with marinara sauce and cinnamon sticks with sweet dipping sauces. We get a variety and I enjoy most of them. Each of us leaves the table fully satisfied.
So there you have it; Pizza Delivery from Heaven. Little, individual sized mini zas. What else could it be?  It's good!  It’s the perfect food. It's all I need to sustain life and make me happy (although a little chocolate once in a while would be good.  Oh yeah, and some tortilla chips with salsa and some Coke Zero too).

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Y is for Youth Ministry

My wife has an acquaintance who told her they left their church over philosophical differences regarding youth ministry. Her teenager asked the youth pastor why everything they did was always centered on food, fun and foolishness. Why could they not have some substantive Bible study and instruction? Why is the entire program so grossly focussed on silliness?

His response was disturbing. He said that’s not what youth ministry is all about. The kids "get their fill" of Bible in plenty of other places. They don’t want to come here for that. They want to have fun. That’s how you build a youth program.

After that, her teenager was told not to come back to the youth group. When she discussed the incident with the church’s pastor, she was told that she just had different ideas about youth ministry so they left and found another church.

Roy Ingle is a blogger who calls himself, “The Seeking Disciple.” He posted a very insightful and introspective blog titled, "Errors I Made In Youth Ministry“ that is really worth reading.  In fact, if your church has a youth pastor and a you have a teenager, you should read the whole article.

In it he makes this shocking statement. “(one of my failures) in my first stint as a youth pastor was thinking that I could actually preach on holiness, repentance, and perseverance in the faith without offending the adults who merely wanted numbers. The deacon board of the church I was at wanted results. The bottom line was money. The lost parents bringing their lost teenagers wanted me to straighten out their rude teenagers without asking any price to be paid by the parents. The church board wanted pizza parties, camps, lock-ins, and retreats aimed at having fun and keeping the parents tithing. So I quit.”

Wouldn’t we all love to have a youth pastor like that? Well, in reality, probably not.

A pastor friend of mine who worked in youth ministry years ago shared a similar concern that he had for some of the rebellious young people in his charge. He said that they were so antagonistic to any kind of Christ-centered ministry that their very presence in the group was destructive and inimical to the spiritual growth of the group. And he found himself spending far too much time and energy “chasing after the chasers” that he neglected the very ones who hungered for solid, biblical instruction.

When he realized the negative affect their influence had on the group, he switched gears, minimized the juvenile foolishness that attracted the troublemakers, and started to focus his ministry efforts on Christ-centered teaching and discipling young people to serve God.

That plan was the beginning of his demise in that church. Several of the parents of the renegade bunch were long-time members with influence, positions, and clout in the church and they wanted their children to be entertained and engaged. When their kids stopped attending church, they blamed the youth pastor. Shortly afterward he was terminated and replaced by a youth pastor who would cater to their children’s wants rather than their needs.

Another post worth reading is, "The Biggest Mistakes I've Made In Youth Ministry."
And for a very unconventional but well-developed, responsible, and bibliocentric philosophy, read "Our Philosophy of Youth Ministry" at Family Ministries.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Am NOT A Racist

I don't believe He is a Christian.

And I think His birth certificate is a fake.

I am not a racist!

I don't like His white half either!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W is for Wretches and Worms

Whatever happened to old Ebenezer?

I’m not talking about Ebenezer Scrooge; I’m talking about that Ebenezer in the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Do you remember the second verse? Here’s the way I remember it:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
 But here’s the way it appears now in our new hymn book:

Hither to thy love has blessed me
Thou has brought me to this place
And I know thy hand will bring me
Safely home by thy good grace.

So what is an Ebenezer anyway? In 1 Samuel 7:12 we read, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."

Ebenezer is a word that derives from two Hebrew words which literally translate to a "stone of help."  The stone was placed as a memorial to remind them of God's help.  An Ebenezer can be nearly any symbol that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible, the elements of communion, a cross, a picture, a hymn – those things which serve as reminders of God’s love for us, His presence in our lives, and His assistance are "Ebenezers."

What was wrong with the song the way it was written? I guess some revisions are good but the words in this new version don’t even mean the same thing.

There are a couple other revised hymns, though, that really push me over the edge. One of them is Amazing Grace. Of all the hymns, this is probably the most popular and acceptable to the world, mainly because there is not one single reference to God or Jesus in the first verse so it is pretty generic.  But there is one glaring problem.  It’s the word “wretch.”  The author, John Newton, might have been a wretch but today we don’t like to damage our fragile self-esteem. Its a good thing we have these new words that make this great song more palatable: "Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved and set me free.” There, that sounds much nicer.

And then there are these great words by Isaac Watts in the hymn, At The Cross.

Alas, and did my Savior bleed,
And did my Sov'reign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

But in our new hymn book that last line has been changed to, “For such a one as I.”


The old hymn writers knew and wrote lyrics that were doctrinally sound.  God isn’t impressed with our self-esteem and I really don’t think He cares much about our sensitive feelings. 

We are NOT basically good and there is nothing about us that should merit God’s favor.  In fact in His Word, He tells us just how bad we really are. It is only when we understand that we are dirty, rotten, low life scumbags, that we have no hope except to beg for God’s mercy and then we can appreciate His grace.

So I say, leave the words alone.  Wretches and Worms are right and fitting descriptors for us in our fallen, natural condition.

But if you don’t like them and you want a nicer song for your worship, you could always sing the Barney Song, “I love you, You love me. We’re as happy as can be.” That should make you feel really great and, by the way, good luck with that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Victim Blaming

A Google search will bring up thousands of entries on this subject and they ALL seem to have only one context; that is blaming rape or abuse victims for the crimes that are committed against them. But I want to suggest that victim blaming is not just about rape anymore.

I first noticed the shift toward victim blaming in the ‘60s. You might recall those old public service billboards that warned us to, “Help keep a good boy from going bad. Lock your car.” Do you see that subtle message? If a boy becomes a car thief, it’s my fault for leaving it unlocked. And, of course, the other error in the message is that the boy is good and the only reason he goes bad is because of me. I got news for you; boys do bad things because they have sin natures and it is up to their parents to correct them teach them right from wrong.

But, back on topic. I have noticed that police work has fundamentally changed over the last few decades. We used to see the local police as friends and servants when we did good and as law enforcement when we did wrong. Today very few people really believe that most police officers are there “To Protect And To Serve.” Instead they are primarily involved in generating revenue. They are uniformed “Tax Collectors” with open carry gun permits.  And that is the point.

I have some retaining walls around my property that often get “tagged” with graffiti. Okay, so vandalism is illegal and the local cops know who the gang bangers are. But they have no compelling interest in prosecuting the criminals. That takes too much time. Instead, in our community, there is a municipal code that prohibits property owners from allowing graffiti to remain. If I don’t remove it within a matter of hours, I am in violation of a code that carries a financial penalty. After all, responsible property owners can be easily tapped for revenue.

One evening I was with my wife in a local retail business and I overheard a customer complaining about a newly installed shopping cart retrieval system. The carts are racked and it cost 25 cents to use one. The clerk told her that all she had to do was return the cart when she was through and the vending machine would refund her quarter. Now I think the system itself is not a bad idea for the business owner. But the problem I have is the reason that was given to the customer. The clerk said that new, local codes require that the retail business must pay a fine for each cart that is picked up by code enforcement and returned to the store. So, people steal shopping carts. Stealing shopping carts is illegal. Cops observe the thieves everyday, all over town. But there is no compelling interest in prosecuting or even stopping the criminals. That takes too much time. Instead, it is much easier to penalize the storeowner for a code violation and easily collect more revenue.

So if you are a victim of a crime, it's probably your fault.  Get out you wallet and be prepared to pay.

Victim blaming helps the local municipality to collect more revenue. Look around your own community and see how you might be a victim of a crime and yet be forced to pay the penalties for code violations. I can think of a few.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Unholy Unity

I get nervous and skeptical, and sometimes even cynical whenever I hear a pastor preach on unity.

It’s not that unity in the Church is wrong; in fact it is a necessary and biblical admonition. The problem I have is that we hear more and more demands for unity from church leaders who have adopted modern marketing techniques to attract and include the unregenerate masses in our fellowship. When members see major transitions in their church and begin to question some of their methods and practices the pastors will use the pulpit to shame them into submission to their leadership with a sermon on unity.

One church I am familiar with had struggled with internal disagreements over the direction and practices of its divided leadership. The people were confused by the disunity and began to question their methods. That’s when one of them preached a topical sermon on God’s Desire for Unity.

In it, he scolded them into silence with general platitudes like, "We should be like-minded, we should have the same love, we should be in one accord, we should have one mind," and "God desires unity."

In another sermon designed to promote the agenda, another pastor followed up with statements like this, “…unity is the glue of a healthy church (he learned that from Rick Warren’s church growth plan book).” And he said, (When we are) “…in one accord, God can move a church forward,” and “Disunity will weaken and destroy a church.” And, obviously meant to quiet the objectors, he warned them, “Disunity divides and gives Satan room to destroy a church.”

His solution to the disunity problem was to encourage them “to be ‘like-minded’ which means, according to him, “to think the same way.” “To be of ‘one mind,’” he said, “means to be united in purpose.” He asked, “Could we have an effective team if everyone was going in their own direction?”

Of course you might argue that Jesus prayed for our unity. But that was not intended that we should be hammered into silent submission over questionable methods and practices.  Any unity around programs, styles, or opinions is a false unity. 

I once asked a pastor, “Does anyone care about doctrine anymore?" His inability to look me in the eyes and give me a direct answer confirmed the answer I already knew. People are more concerned about what the church can do for them than they are about the truth. And so, he conceded, increasing the church’s attendance is accomplished through clever marketing and interesting programs.

Frankly, I think when church leaders are united on biblical orthodoxy, they will be united on biblical orthopraxy and, on those, true believers can agree.

On that subject, Charles H. Spurgeon offered this warning. “To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray that they may be one, even as we are one? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, ‘Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless… Unite, unite!’ Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord’s Prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: ‘Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.’ Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel.”

T is for TEA Party

It’s all about Taxation, stupid!

My wife doesn’t understand the nature of the TEA Party movement. But she is not alone; most people who are not part of it don’t get it either. In order to understand it, it is helpful to understand the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

In the 1760’s King George III piled on the American colonists with numerous tax acts and ever-increasing controls. It was his attempt to tax tea that finally pushed the colonists over the edge.

The colonists had refused to pay the levies of the Townsend Act claiming that they had no obligation to pay taxes to a Parliament where they had no representation. Even though Parliament felt pressured to retract the Townsend Act, in an effort to show the colonies that they still maintained control and the right to impose taxes, they retained a tax on tea.

And then they concocted a clever plan. Just like congress is wont to do today, they established a monopoly on the importation of tea to the colonies. The only importer they allowed was a struggling enterprise; The East India Company. And then, and this is the clever part, they drastically reduced the import duty tax on the tea so that the colonists would then be able to purchase their tea at much lower prices than ever before. Parliament’s underlying motive, however, was to entice the colonists to continue purchasing tea and paying the taxes, thereby cementing its right to tax the colonists.

For the colonists, tea was a staple of everyday life. It was like our addiction to coffee. Parliament presumed that they would rather pay the taxes than do without their tea. Parliament was wrong. Shipments arriving in New York and Philadelphia were not allowed to land. In Charleston, they were able to dock but the colonists confined their shipments to warehouses where the tea was stored for three years.

When three tea-laden ships arrived in Boston in 1773, about 7,000 colonists were incited to an angry protest. At a mass meeting, it was decided that the ships should leave their harbor without the payment of any duty taxes. But the Crown’s Collector of Customs refused to allow the ships’ leave without collecting the taxes. Later that evening about 200 men, some disguised as Indians, boarded the three ships and tossed their entire payloads into the harbor.

The colonists’ message to Parliament: Take Your Taxes and Your Tea and Shove ‘em!
Parliament’s reaction was to enact the Intolerable Acts, which, among other measures, shut down all commerce in the Port of Boston.

So, the Boston Tea Party was the beginning of the American Revolution.

Now that our 2010 elections are over, there are many politicians and pundits who still don’t get it. They have misread the will of the people and they comfort themselves under their delusion that the TEA party is over.

It is not a political party. It is not Left or Right. It is about regular American citizens who have been Taxed Enough Already. It is a grassroots movement among the people to take back their constitutional government, elect representatives who will listen to them, and reclaim their God-given freedoms and rights.
The TEA Party is not over. It is a sleeping giant. The next election is coming and American Patriots will not continue to allow their elected representatives to ignore them, suppress them, overtax them, over regulate them, and control them.  The smell of the Second American Revolution is in the wind.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

S is for Second Amendment

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

It is only 26 words. It is direct, brief, and forceful. I don’t know how any half-witted citizen, like it or not, can possibly not understand, “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

Our current president, His Majesty Barrack Hussein Obama, is allegedly a Constitutional attorney and He doesn’t get it. He must be a real dimwit.

Apparently, the misunderstanding of what constitutes a “well-regulated militia” is the main reason for the confusion. But that confusion can be easily cleared by just reading the words of a few of our founding fathers.  They told us exactly what they meant SO YOU CAN'T MISS IT!!

Richard Henry Lee, an American statesman, wrote in 1788, “To preserve liberty, it is the essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”

Did you see that? Lee didn’t say we needed guns for hunting or sport. He said it was TO PRESERVE LIBERTY. An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.  Gun control is not about guns; it is about the government controlling the people.

George Washington, the first President of the United States said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence…from the hour the pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to secure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable…the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”

General Washington led The American Revolution which never could have happened with gun control.

When you remove people’s rights to bear arms you create slaves. That’s not just my opinion. George Mason was a co-author of the Second Amendment. During Virginia’s Convention to Ratify the Constitution in 1788 he went on record with this statement, “I ask Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people.  To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

And there were others. John Adams, president from 1797-1801, said, “Those who trade liberty for security have neither.”

Thomas Jefferson, president from 1801-1809, said, “Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not.”

Can it be any clearer than that? Not only did each of those men understand the importance of an armed citizenry, they insisted on it so that it could protect itself from tyrannical government. Only a government that is afraid of its citizens tries to control them.

The woman in this video gets it right.   The government's encroachment of her Second Amendment rights cost her the lives of her parents.  While anti gun Senator Chuck Schumer squirms, she explains, “The reason for the Second Amendment is so that we (the people) can protect ourselves from all of you (the government).

64,999,987 gun owners killed no one yesterday.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Rating

Warning! This blog is rated “NC-17; no one under 17 may be admitted.” This rating was determined based on the presence of the following bad, bad, BAD words:

· queer (11x)
· death (5x)
· gun (4x)
· dead (2x)
· puke (1x)

This is unbelievable. I have checked my rating several times in the past and have seen that it was rated R due to the use of some words that are deemed “adult language.” But today, my rating has changed to NC-17 because of my last post where I printed a politically incorrect word eleven times.

It doesn’t matter that I used the words “death” and “hell” in the theological context of eternal judgment. It doesn’t matter that I used the word “gun” in the context of the Second Amendment and gun control. And it apparently doesn’t matter that I used the word “dead” in juxtaposition to the word “living” to make a distinction between the saved from the lost.

The whole idea that my blog gets a rating of NC-17 makes me puke (oops, puke is another word that earned me this rating).

I am going to post this rating symbol on my blog as a warning to immature and educationally challenged people. If you are one of them (i.e. liberal), you may want to avoid reading anything on my blog or be prepared to be offended.  May I suggest you visit the Sesame Street site instead.

If you are a blogger and you would like to know how your blog is rated, you can find out here for free.

Q is for Queer

I'll bet I really have your attention now!

Queer is another one of those perfectly good words from our language that has been demonized, vilified, and stricken by political correctness.

We don’t have to look back very far in history to see what the word has meant and how it has been most commonly used in our vernacular. I looked in the 1992 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Here are the definitions, as they existed then:

1. Deviating from the expected or normal; strange: a queer situation.
2. Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric.
3. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious.
4. Slang. Fake; counterfeit.
5. Feeling slightly ill; queasy.
6. Offensive slang. Gay; homosexual.

So as recent as just 20 years ago, the normal and most prevalent uses of the word queer was not gender related or offensive although it had made its way into the derogatory world of offensive slang.

But today, everyone seems to be afraid to utter the word. It is often considered “hate speech.” Instead we use alternate words like “gay” in reference to homosexuality (by the way, most people are reticent to use the word “homosexual”). In fact even the meaning of the word “gay” has changed beyond its original definition so that no one ever uses it anymore to describe cheerfulness or merriment. Political correctness as a tool in the hands of the ignorant is a dangerous and destructive weapon. I decided a long time ago to purposefully avoid the use of PC language and just be content with the language the way I learned it. That makes a lot of people uncomfortable or angry but it is liberating and makes me gay happy.

The irony is that, after the PC police vilified the word “queer” and effectively struck it from our language, the homosexual community co-opted it for their own use and now, unabashedly, wears it as a badge of honor. However, they do not want anyone on the right to use it. That’s just like the “N” word that the black community cannot stand to hear from any white lips but they use it freely and commonly among themselves. The “N” word, by the way, is more PC non-sense. We can’t say the real word without fear, but we have universally replaced it with an acceptable substitute that means THE SAME THING.

So I still use the word “queer.” I guess that makes me queer because my use of the word is certainly a strange deviation from the normal. I guess I am also gay because I am cheerful and happy about my freedom of speech that is not hindered or controlled by political correctness.

It occurs to me that the letter “Q” is a “queer” letter in itself although I wouldn’t call it a “gay” letter. Do you realize that, out of 26 letters in the English language, it is the only one that cannot be useful unless it is followed by the letter “U?” So it’s not a gay letter; it can’t be very happy. It is severely handicapped and it cannot stand alone or function without the help of a crutch. Why do we need Q anyway? We could do nicely without it. We could easily replace the letter Q as used in words like queer, queen, quit, quack, and torque, with the letter K as in kweer, kween, kwit, kwack and tork.  But this is all digression. 

I wish people would just leave our language alone. The whole PC thing makes me sick; I think I’m feeling a little queer.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

P is for Pulpit Profanity and Potty-mouthed Preachers

There is a fast-growing phenomenon in contemporary American Christianity that I find disgusting. That is the prevalence of base, gutter language in modern preaching.

I have encountered a plethora of information and examples of vulgar, potty-mouthed preachers on the internet who are actually quite proud of their “hip,” “cool,” or otherwise “culturally relevant” shock talk.

I know! I know! I’ve heard all the inane arguments of sincere, well-meaning, but seriously flawed thinking that reasons, in order to reach the unchurched, we have to be relatable to them. But that doesn't mean we should grovel in the gutter with them.

That reminds me of the last line of this old song.
"One evening in October, when I was one-third sober,
An' taking home a ‘load' with manly pride;
My poor feet began to stutter, so I lay down in the gutter,
And a pig came up an' lay down by my side;
Then we sang ‘It's all fair weather when good fellows get together,'
Till a lady passing by was heard to say:
‘You can tell a man who "boozes" by the company he chooses'
And the pig got up and slowly walked away."

("The Pig Got Up and Slowly Walked Away", 1933 song by Benjamin Hapgood Burt)

I once heard a sermon preached by a youth pastor who must sincerely think that, if he talks like them, the kids will like him better and they will get “plugged in” or “involved,” or “connected” in the youth group. I think he tries too hard to be their buddy.  But they don't need another buddy, they really need him to be their pastor.

About three minutes into his introduction, he used the phrase, "...I would have been pissed..."  There might have been some substance to his sermon but at that point I was disgusted ("pissed!" to use his word), and distracted enough that I missed the rest of his sermon. I won't be listening to his preaching anymore.

That style is not unusual in Neo-evangelical and Emerging Churches. They try to build up their church rolls with programs and marketing techniques that appeal to the natural man rather than simply depending on the exposition of the absolute, authoritative Word of God that has power to change lives. 

When we use those kinds of man-centered techniques to build it, we will have temporary club members as long as we can keep them amused; When God builds it, He builds a strong, healthy, eternal body of regenerated believers and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.

I will concede that if we attract enough of the sin-sick world into our churches, some, by the grace and power of God, will get saved by exposure kinda like one catches the measles.  But the church will become sicker with their diseases.
So dear Pastor, please stop the profanity and show us some reverence.

Monday, April 18, 2011

O is for Offend

In June of 2007, David Howard, a member of Anthony Williams’ staff was pressured into resignation for his use of a perfectly good word. Anthony Williams was the Mayor of Washington DC. In a private staff meeting, Howard uttered the word “niggardly” and set off a national outrage. The majority of blacks and many, ignorant and foolish, whites demanded Howard’s apology and removal. Oh, did I mention that Howard was a white man and Williams was a black man?

Neither the definition nor the origin of the word had any racial connotation whatsoever. Nevertheless the country wanted desperately to be OFFENDED and so they piled on. Howard lost his job and the English language lost a word to political correctness.  And I know that some will, no doubt, be offended by my even mentioning this account. Shame on me!

I posted a little personal rant a couple years ago about how OFFENDED I am by people who are too easily OFFENDED. I think most conservatives can relate. Conservatives can laugh at themselves; liberals just get offended.

It is especially annoying when Christians use the Matthew 18 hammer to beat up those who might make someone “feel” offended. So for this post today, it is appropriate to review what constitutes real offenses rather than illegitimate offenses.

Too many weak people want to feel offended about almost everything. Unfortunately the contemporary definition of the verb, offend is, “To hurt somebody’s feelings, or cause resentment, irritation, anger, or displeasure.” But that is NOT what Jesus had in mind when He talked about offenses. Our contemporary definition is NOT the biblical definition of the word “offend.” When Scripture warns us about offending a little one or a weaker brother, it always refers to actions that cause them to sin, to depart from the truth, or to weaken their faith.

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 teaching or our liberty, has the affect of doing great and 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 terrible, 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 with that perspective, I will suggest that there are several practices prevalent in many churches today that really, really, REALLY are offensive. Here are a few:
  • Easy believism. It is offensive when we encourage people to repeat a simple, anemic, unrepentant prayer to ask Jesus into their lives and then attempt to convince them that they are saved and safe and eternally secure when there has been no real new birth.

  • 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.

  • 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 a reverential fear of His sovereignty and apart from obedience which is His requirement for true worship.
  • 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 religious legalists, apostates, modernists, and liberals.
These are real and serious offenses to those who are unregenerate or immature in the Faith. They are truly stumbling blocks that could result in their falling away or missing salvation altogether.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N is for Non-Negotiable

A negotiation is a discussion intended to
produce a settlement or agreement. 
The word, “non-negotiable” means that
something is not open to negotiation or

In the matter of saving faith, there is no mutual discussion or agreement. It is a complete work of God and our standing before Him is not something for which He will bargain. Saving faith is not flexible; we cannot design a relationship with Him according to our own ideas or desires. It is not up for grabs or open for discussion. It is not a contractual agreement based on what we bring to the table or what we promise to do. It is not a simple act of deciding to accept Jesus or invite Him into our heart. It is a covenant agreement made by God and completely dependent upon His work and His power.

In the opening verses of his first epistle, John alludes to at least Seven Essentials of the Faith that are non-negotiable, absolute requirements for biblical salvation.

1. The Person of Jesus Christ That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life - the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us. (1 John 1-2)

Real saving faith begins here. The Bible declares His deity. And there are other doctrines about Jesus Christ that are equally not negotiable (His virgin birth, His sinless perfection, His resurrection). Jesus was more than a good teacher, a martyr, or a spiritual guide. He is God in flesh, fully God and fully Man. And He is all that the Word of God declares Him to be; nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. If the Jesus you are worshipping and trusting is NOT the Christ as He has revealed Himself in scripture, your faith is in a false Christ. (ref. Gen. 1:1, John 1:1, 1John 2:13)

2. The Blood of Christ - … the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7b). God is absolutely righteous and He demands absolute sinless perfection.  Anything short of that merits and requires His Justice. His righteous verdict is guilty and His sentence is final, “The wages of sin is death”(Rom. 6:23). That means someone had to die.

Preachers used to refer to “the crimson thread that runs through the entire Bible from the beginning to the end.” That crimson thread is the blood of Christ for, “…without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sin" (Hebrews 9:22)

3. The Cross of Christ - And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1 J n. 2:2). Propitiation means satisfaction. What God did to His own Son was far worse than just the physical pain and suffering. He punished, crushed, and slaughtered Him to execute His just anger and wrath on Him instead of us. Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross satisfied the justice of God because it was there where God poured out all His wrath against our sin.

The cross is the means by which God can be merciful and gracious because of the sacrifice of His own Son. Lots of people think that a loving merciful God will never allow anyone to go to Hell. But that kind of thinking misses God’s greatest act of love that was demonstrated at Calvary; God’s justice cannot be compromised. Propitiation or satisfaction is obtained by faith (ref. Rom. 3:23-27). Either Christ’s blood has washed you clean and God is satisfied or you remain filthy and face His righteous wrath.

4. The Guilt of Sin - If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1 Jn. 1:8-10). We are all guilty of sin and just in case you need to be further convinced, consider this, “There is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10), or this, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are sinners by nature, by choice, and by practice. There are no innocent people.

Back in verse 7 John tells us that it is the blood of Christ that cleanses from sin. We cannot clean ourselves up through good deeds, good living, or self-help programs. We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God by our sincere determinations to reform ourselves. “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). If Christ does not make us clean, we cannot be clean. Our sins are on us, we are responsible for them, and we will pay the penalty for them.

5. The Fear of God - This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 Jn. 1:5). Do you think you know me? You do not. And I don’t know you. In his Gospel, John says that, "men love the darkness because their deeds are evil" (Jn. 3:19). But we can’t hide from God. He knows everything about each of us. There is nothing that escapes His attention. He knows every private sin and every little thought; pretty scary, huh? And remember, He is absolutely just.

Judgment day is coming and everyone will appear before Him to give an account. That should put some real fear in us. A person who does not fear God does not know God. And a person who rejects God is condemned already.

6. The Necessity of Repentance - …if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (1 Jn. 1:7a). God does not invite us to accept Him; He commands us to repent. Repentance is a change of mind about sin; a determination to stop, turn around and go the opposite way (ref. John 3:19). The verse says that God is in the light.  We were in darkness. When the light of God shines on us, our eyes are opened so that we see the sin in our lives as something that condemns us to Hell.  Real saving faith includes a turning from that sin and turning toward God (1 Thess. 1:9-10, 2 Cor. 7:10-11). There can be no forgiveness with confession (agreeing with God about sin) and repentance (a change of direction).

7. The Necessity of Holiness - My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous (1 Jn. 2:1). To be holy is to be set apart unto good works as opposed to evil works. It is not a self-effort; it is an act of God. This can be a real self-examination to see if you really are “in the faith.” The evidence of the indwelling Spirit is that He convicts us of sin and He produces fruit in our lives.

“The difference between a Christian and non-Christian: When a non-Christian is convicted of sin, he sides with his sin. When a Christian is convicted of sin, he sides with God, against himself” (John Piper).

If you are never bothered by your sin, you probably do not have the Spirit and therefore do not possess salvation. Those who are really born again do not fall away from the faith and revert back to a life of sin and unbelief.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Marketing

I’ve read the books; I’ve taken the classes; I’ve attended the seminars and listened to the experts, and I have decided that everyone has an opinion when it comes to marketing.

Sixteen years ago I was hired to be the administrator in this non-profit Christian home for the elderly. At the time, the home had already been operating in the red for quite a while and, just like congress, the former administration had tried all the typical tricks to put it back in the black.  They thought that they could just spend more money and raise more revenue by increasing the rent. That didn’t work.

One of the first budget items I looked at, then, was for marketing and advertising. We were overspending thousands of dollars on every little gimmick that came along. There were trinkets and pens, and calendars. There were expensive one-time ads placed in high school yearbooks (seriously, for an old folks home?), There was a continuing weekly display ad in newspapers that was unattractive, too verbose, misplaced in the wrong sections, and distributed far beyond our local community. There was an ad in a Jewish publication in New York City (New York City?). That would never reach our target market. This was a Christian home in Southern California.

The advertising needed to reach our target market but the organization didn’t know what that target was. So over the next few years we began to bring it into focus in our sights.  We directed our advertising to local, conservative Christians.  The word, "conservative" characterized both our political and theological world view because we believe that they are compatable and inseparable.     

The name had to be changed. The former name, Casa de Verdugo, was hard for most people to pronounce, had no local significance or meaning, didn’t convey any idea to the uninformed public about who we were or what we did, and, most importantly, it did not distinguish our Christian home from any other home in town.  We changed it to Valley Christian Home.

We changed our newspaper ad to appear in the local paper’s senior section. The ad format featured a short anecdotal story with a spiritual lesson and a verse of Scripture. The story was limited to 300 words (most people stop reading after about 30 seconds) and was new each week. It soon developed a regular following.

We developed a slogan to include our name and describe our function in just eight words; “The VALLEY’S only CHRISTIAN HOME for the elderly.”

We formed a young ladies quartet to sing conservative Christian music concerts at local churches, and other organizations.

We did everything with one purpose in mind; we wanted to make our Christian home known to our target market - the local, conservative Christian community.

I have no doubt that, for the most part, our advertising reached the intended mark but one day as I was walking into our building, I was shocked to see this car parked right in front of our entrance where everyone could see it. The owners were sitting in our Marketing Director’s office looking to place their mother in an Assisted Living Facility.

By the way, we did admit the resident.  Go figure!  I guess some people just don't read labels.