Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Remember, this is a gathering of Jewish leaders. Not "Messianic Jews", But unredeemed Jews. You know -- The ones who deny Christ as Messiah and who we are supposed to reach with the Gospel?
Well, does Mr. Warren give them the Gospel? Stir them to jealousy? No! Of course not! In his own words, each belief system must have its own parameters, or we believe nothing. That much is true. However, he actually tells them that he can't tell them what parameters are right and what parameters are wrong. For good measure he even includes Buddhism. Well, at least he's tolerant.
Of course, anyone who has read this won't be surprised at all. Mr. Warren is not trying to convert anyone. He has enough trouble with Christians.
Time to be honest. Whom do you believe?
Recently, I had an email "conversation" with a spiritual leader whom I will leave nameless. The interchange was interesting and perhaps a bit revealing.
I say this because this person would normally say that he believes the Word of God. And in the past, the evidence I've seen would confirm that. But it's interesting what you get in a conversation, email or otherwise.
The issue had to do with getting a group together to do street evangelism. I had said something about finding a group of people who wish to join me to do this.
The response? Essentially that you "gain credibility through results" and that "results are hard to argue with". Before that I had sent him a Tozer article that had discussed the fallacy of judging spiritual things via statistics. (Tozer's words: ""To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment.") The person's original response was agreement with the article, although now I wonder if it (or at least that sentence) was even read.
My core argument, in essense, was that "the Word determines the true nature of anything, not results". If I were to go by "results" for credibility, I'd have to conclude that both Jeremiah and Noah (among others) were dead wrong. No results.
On the other hand we are called to obedience regardless of results. We sow seeds. God produces results as He wills.
I then alluded to John 6, where Jesus even rebuked those who came to Him for the "life enhancement gospel". All they wanted was bread. Felt needs.
That is so contradictory to "warrenism" or "seeker-sensitive". But if Jesus turned them away because they were after getting their "felt needs" met, what makes us think He is any different now?
Of course, we help people who have legitimate needs. James addresses that. But we don't build our churches around felt needs. When people put their own "felt needs" first, that's a good sign that "death to self" isn't going to happen. When we encourage them to seek fulfillment of "felt needs" we are doing them no good at all. It's their real need -- the need for redemption -- that needs to be emphasized above all else.
Anyway, today I noticed this quote by Augustine, which relates to the discussion I briefly described in my post. And I think it bears careful thought:
"If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself."
Thursday, October 26, 2006
"1a Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,..."
The author of the book of Jude is none other than the half-brother of Jesus and the brother of James, also a half-brother of our Lord. That is his physical identity.
But in reading the text, did you notice we can see a bit into the identity of Jude through his character? Read the half-verse again. He refers to himself as a "bondservant". A "doulos" submitted to the Lordship of Christ. He was bound to do whatever His Lord and Master bid him to do. He had genuine faith -- the real thing -- a faith that shows itself in its works, for genuine faith shows itself in its obedience as Paul says twice in Romans, once in chapter one and once in chapter 16..."the obedience of faith" or "the obedience that comes from faith". So we see his Identity in Christ marked by genuine faith in the Living God.
We also see his character, which is part of his identity. How tempting would it have been to you or me to have reminded our readers that "I'm the half brother of Jesus!...You know, the God of the Universe! The one Who holds all things together!". How simple it would be to turn it to our own glory.
But he didn't do that. Instead of claiming his earthly, physical relationship with the Lord, he points to his spiritual relationship, reminding us only that he was an earthly brother to James. That is, humilty that results from death to "self" and is fruit that serves as evidence of his conversion. Mark 8:34-"Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." This isn't a frill, it's just saving faith.
And how rare for our day. So many are boastful. Or, they drag the Lord down to their level, alluding to Jesus as a "homeboy" or "buddy" or some such nonsense. Yet Jude knows he has a bond servant relationship to a transcendent, holy God.
Although I can't recall who it was, I remember hearing someone saying that 'false religion breeds pride, the true breeds humility." Maybe it was Oswald Chambers. I don't remember. But compare this attitude with many of our day which is really not that different from Jude's era. False teachers abound, drawing people to themselves and boasting great things. Visions and such. Promising to solve the world's problems, without mention of the Lord they profess to know.
True faith breeds humility out of a denial of self and dependence on God.
So how do we measure up? Are we self reliant or do we realize our position in Christ as Lord and submit to Him, giving Him the glory?
More next time.
Banner of Truth has a worthy article for your consideration. Here's a good question for starters:
"Are we really to believe that within 12 months of being saved, under the sound preaching of the Holy Spirit empowered Biblical gospel, 95.2% of the 'converts' (over a quarter of a million people) had become 'backsliders'?"
From experience, I can tell you the dangers of what we have come to accept as "the gospel". It demands nothing, promises everything and innoculates everyone (who accepts it) from the true Gospel.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
"Here's a good devotional from A.W. Tozer on how easy it is to get caught up paying homage to the "goddess" Numbers. Please know this is offered as encouragement and with much empathy for my brother pastors who are pressed hard from the congregation side to grow, as well as from the associational side for monetary and numeric growth. It's not really applicable in my case because pastoring a fellowship - even though we are in revival - of 4-5 who meets in the home of one of its members, my associations left us for dead a long, long time ago. If I can be of further encouragement please feel free to drop by Apprising Ministries. Remember my brothers, it's to the end!"
"The emphasis today in Christian circles appears to be on quantity, with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality. Numbers, size and amount seem to be very nearly all that matters even among evangelicals. The size of the crowd, the number of converts, the size of the budget, the amount of the weekly collections: if these look good the church is prospering and the pastor is thought to be a success. The church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches."
"This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess Numbers is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as arbiters of all questions, the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in every Christian endeavor."
"A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for the heresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. It is to admit the validity of externalism and to deny the value our Lord places upon the soul as over against the body. It is to mistake the old creation for the new and to confuse things eternal with things temporal. Yet it is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone notices the deep and dangerous error. The Set of the Sail, 153.
"Oh Lord, convict us! Forgive us! Deliver us! Amen." (Tozer on Christian Leadership, October 25)
Monday, October 23, 2006
At least so far.
See, yesterday our head pastor preached on 2 Corinthians 13. Now again, he wasn't expository, and our associate pastor tends to be more that way.
Before he went to the passage, he spent a good portion of the half hour or so talking about our "vision statement". That sounds too much like "Mission Statement" to me, but it's essentially "go get the unchurched..." (read sinners, or lost people) "...and turn them into faithful followers of Christ". Well, ok. Of course, I'd prefer just quoting the Great Commission.
Anyway, we heard about our "vision statement", and then moved to the idea of "transforming our town for Christ". Well, ok, but how are we going to do that? Take the gospel to them, proclaiming sin, righteousness and judgement as Paul said? No. We get them to come to church. And in his silence about how to get the message to them, I can only surmise that "it (the gospel) will get to them somehow". That's kind of how Purpose Driven works (or should I say doesn't work).
Other statements I heard were "We are going to have a meeting. You need to come because we have come to a "Y" in the road and need to decide if we are going to take the high road or the low road". Mix in a statement about "wowing" our visitors. That's where he really started scaring me. Why am I envisioning belly dancers and "hula praise teams"?
This has me bothered. Hopefully I'm wrong. It was two years ago (and change) that I left my former church of 90 or so because our pastor had left and the worship team had taken over and shoved contemporary worship down our throats. Pragmatism. Health by increased numbers. I also left because of an iron-fisted (near)-founding member who got sucked into Warren's philosophy. If anyone was "boss", it was him. Diotrophes on steriods.
Two years later and my wife finally has joined me at the new church. And I have joined.
I really hope this is a case of me seeing things wrongly because I've spent so much time reading about Warrenism, the Emergent church movement, etc. I really do hope so.
But that "we gotta wow 'em" thing just scares me.
No sir, we aren't there to "wow 'em". We're here to proclaim the Gospel. It is our duty to spread the seed and trust God with the results. We present the law to a lost soul, which acts as a mirror. Then when they see they don't measure up to God's standard (perfection) and help them understand their destiny without Christ, we then show them the solution which is Jesus as the One Who paid the penalty for our sin.
If they will hear that, wonderful! But if not, what ware we "wowing them" for?
The "High Road" isn't followed by "wowing" anyone. It's by worshiping God through obedience to what He has told us to do -- proclaim the Gospel with clarity and simplicity.
And, you know, he does that in general. To his credit, he mentions sin, condemnation and the need for conversion. That doesn't fit the Warrenism mold.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
But I hope we don't drift away from the biblical Gospel to "Purpose Driven".
The Gospel is what God uses...
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Anyway, thanks to Phil Johnson for mentioning Tim Jack's visit to his office. I've been thinking about him once in a while over the years and wondered what happened to him. Turns out he's now executive pastor of Crossroads Bible Church in Belleview, Washington. Now, all I have to do is find Paul Wright, Erick Leaver and a few others...!
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Thursday, October 19, 2006
It is a book of warning and encouragement. A book of defense and yet offense. And again that is similar to where we find ourselves in history. We must contend for the faith, and be wary of various heresies that have crept into the Church.
But it is the proclamation of the faith that is our offensive weapon. We don't fight against flesh and blood. We fight against principalities and powers. And Biblical Truth is the only weapon that we possess that can neutralize the effects of doctrinal and practical error that was common in Jude's day as well as ours.
We see it in the pragmatism of our day. The Church is being infiltrated by a postmodern culture. As a result, doctrine has taken a back seat to "what works" and "meeting felt needs". Indeed, true doctrine is viewed as "impractical", "divisive" or even "not knowable". To the contrary, as a computer operates on what it is fed, our thoughts must be guided by God's Truth so that we operate as our Lord commands us to. Therefore, we must "be transformed by the renewing of our mind" on the one hand and spread forth God's truth so that others can be encouraged in the truth and correct practice. And to say that doctrine isn't "knowable" is to say that either God has stuttered, mumbled or not given us the tools to know what He has said.
Can doctrine be devisive? Yes! It divides truth from falsehood, holiness from sin, righteousness from unrighteousness and light from darkness. Truth protects us from error but it is also a sword that we wield to defeat the enemy and advance the Kingdom.
So I look forward to the days ahead as we go through Jude.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Note that the text is taken from the NASB (at Gospelcom.com). Why? I prefer it.
So, here's the book of Jude. It is time (as John MacArthur once told me in a class) to read, reread and reread it. Then we'll go through it and make some comments. And yes, anyone can comment and make observations.
The Warnings of History to the Ungodly1(A)Jude, a (B)bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To (C)those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and (D)kept for Jesus Christ:
3(G)Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our (H)common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you (I)contend earnestly for (J)the faith which was once for all (K)handed down to (L)the saints.
4For certain persons have (M)crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand (N)marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn (O)the grace of our God into (P)licentiousness and (Q)deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
7just as (W)Sodom and Gomorrah and the (X)cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and (Y)went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an (Z)example in undergoing the (AA)punishment of eternal fire.
8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, (AB)defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.
12These are the men who are hidden reefs (AM)in your love feasts when they feast with you (AN)without fear, caring for themselves; (AO)clouds without water, (AP)carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, (AQ)uprooted;
15(AW)to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which (AX)ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
Keep Yourselves in the Love of God17But you, (BC)beloved, (BD)ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by (BE)the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,
19These are the ones who cause divisions, (BH)worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
21keep yourselves in the love of God, (BM)waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
22And have mercy on some, who are doubting;
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
So no updates on "Above All Earthly Pow'rs". Maybe I'll push a little tomorrow.
Dad has decided to come home tomorrow. It was his decision, not the doctor's. In fact, the doctor asked him if he wants to stay in the hospital and get better or go home. Dad is just so sick of being there, and I can understand that.
No, he hasn't given up. But he thinks he can get better faster at home.
The reason he has been staying in the hospital is that his legs are swollen. Fluid buildup. Again, his heart is only functioning at 25%. My guess is he'll go home and be back in a week or two. But I'm going to do something this time to try to stop that from happening. I've got a Schwinn stationary bike that I got a decade ago and haven't been using (go figure). What we're doing tonight is moving it over to my parent's house so he can use it. Most likely put it in front of his chair so he can pedal it from his chair (like a recumbant). That way he can get his exercise and strengthen his heart. Again, if we can get his heart function better, then maybe his kidneys will improve and perhaps (hopefully) he can have bypass surgery, which is the real issue.
I love my dad. Idon't want to lose him. I kind of climbed on mom earlier today because she said something about not wasting my time taking that thing over there. But it's worth it to me to give him a chance to get better. I'm not ready to give up on him.
Thanks for your prayers. I know that some of your are praying for him. Also, I need wisdom in dealing with this. I'm a control freak.
I'd like also to convey my thanks to all of you who visit here. I see this as a ministry of sorts because I don't get opportunities at church to do anything like teaching (which is what I'd like to do). I'm too new a member at my church and I'm willing to guess that as they find out that I'm not sympathetic to the Warren or Seeker/CCM issues, they will tend to overlook me for involvement in teaching. That's ok. I just want what God wants for me. My main problem is that sometimes I wonder if I'm off track somehow. But you do what you can.
Here's an excellent discussion of the relationship between true faith and works. I found it encouraging and I hope you do too.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Over the past few years, I've continually noticed a few things that just simply don't jive with scriptural Christianity. These are things that sound good but you won't find in the scriptures. Here are a few of them I've thrown together.:
Listen to examples of “witnessing” and you'll hear something like this: “You were made to have a relationship with God”. Well, I know what they mean, but here's why it isn't really helpful (or even scriptural) to say this to a sinner. It's because most anyone who believes in God will talk like they already have a relationship with God. You'll hear things like “The man upstairs takes care of me”, or “God and I have an arrangement”. These are false securities. And just telling people they need a “relationship with God” might give them a warm fuzzy but it isn't going to impact them; they think they already have one – "so what?"
But in a sense, they are all correct. For all people do have a relationship with God. No doubt whatsoever. The difference is whether it is a saving one or it is a damning one. Either God is your Father through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or He is your judge.
Oh? And where in the scriptures do we read that? It's kind of like “Ask Jesus into your heart”. Neither are found in the Bible.
On the other hand, the scriptures do stress confessing Christ as Lord (“the God Who Rules”, or “Master”). For example, see Romans 10:9-10. “If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus Is Lord'”, which refers to a lifestyle, not a one-time verbal confession. A life being transformed.
And this is consistent with what Jesus drew people to when He took on human flesh and walked this earth. He continually turned people away who weren't willing to accept Him on His terms. He told the rich man to sell all he had and give the money to the poor. The man wasn't willing to do that. And he walked away sad. You can't serve two masters. And he decided material things were his master.
Accept Christ as Savior? Well it's true that Jesus Christ Is the Savior. But I'm not concerned so much with that as Him being my Lord. The former can be claimed easily and falsely. The latter will show itself in my life.
Is salvation an event? Yes! It's not a process; sanctification is a process. But it begins with confessing Christ as Lord as a life pattern. And frankly, instead of saying "I accepted Christ", I'd prefer to say with Paul in Ephesians 1:6 that I am "...accepted in the Beloved."
Bet that got your attention! This one always reminds me of the song by D.C. Talk “Hey You, I'm into Jesus”. I'm more concerned that Jesus is into me! See 1 John 2:4 where God's Word says “The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
That is not a person who knows God. In the historical context of 1 John, that is an unbeliever!
While it is true that we want to “know God” (have an intimate knowledge of Him), as Paul said in Philippians 3, I'm more concerned with knowing that He knows me! See Matthew 7:21. If you go to the White House and say to the guard “I know the President” I doubt you'll get in. But if the President tells them (confesses you before them) he knows you, you'll get in. So, I don't care if “I'm into Jesus” (which sounds trite, like “I'm into stamps” or “I'm into sports cars”), I want to know that He is into me! And that isn't trite.
The larger problem, however, is that the sinner doesn't need to “know God”, he needs to be reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And finally of course, the more currently devised...
This is followed by “People don't understand the terminology” and is complete hogwash.
If you work with the unsaved, eventually you'll hear people joking about the need to “repent” from drinking, or some other vice. “If I don't change my ways...” So let's cut the nonsense about sinners “not knowing the terminology”. According to whom? I'm not that old and even I know better than to believe that.
Now, it may be that we need to clarify things. I'm not against explaining things. I've done it myself. But we shouldn't go out of our way to circumnavigate Biblical vocabulary. I've heard enough testimonies where ex-druggies and murderers have come to Christ and they have no problems using the very words we say they don't understand.
The real issue, I'm convinced, is that we are embarrassed by those terms. We don't want to be seen as “religious”. We want to save face. We want to be a-c-c-e-p-t-e-d.
News flash. 2 Timothy 2:12 says “...those who live Godly lives will suffer persecution”. In John 15:19, Jesus said that the world will hate us. Now of course that doesn't mean that we should go out of our way to give reasons to hate us. But there is something wrong if we are seeking to be at peace with the world and to have seamless interactions with those in it.
So we may as well lay it out straight with them. That isn't popular in our “seeker sensitive”, “Purpose Driven” days. We want to make friends with the world in the name of “relevance”. Jesus said it doesn't work that way. We shouldn't try to adjust our message to help us fit in a world that Jesus said we won't fit in.
Let God Work! And let Him work in His way! How dare us think we can improve on what God has given us!
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Well, here's a prime example of how to know your church is adopting Warrenism. Presented in all it's glory are two pages of an October 2006 church newsletter, which lets you know in no uncertain terms that it's about numbers and "the bottom line". The first page is here. The second is here. You'll need to click on a size to get it readable. Oh. It also contains references to Awana, but I digress...
Faith? "Pheh." Not necessary. We go by what "has the best probability of succeeding". The Lord build His church? "Double Pheh." After 2000 years, we've decided He isn't doing it right. Never mind the fact that in all the seven letters to the churches in Revelation, not one rebuke had anything to do with a lack of growth.
Here we see the local church transformed into a business with the pastor as CEO. Warren's "Church In A Box" (and yes, Warren does call it that!) is bought and the franchise is open for consumers. It's up to us to make the church grow by whatever means have the greatest "chance" of succeeding. It's no longer about a work of God.
"Building the church" means getting bodies and decisions, not real converts. Take the Gospel out to the lost like Jesus said in the great commission? No, no....that's inefficient. Besides all the tares we bring into the church won't be interested in evangelism.
Never mind the feeding of the flock. Never mind the building up of the saints. And regardless of the fact that they use the word "evangelism", it's meaningless because by definition of being "seeker sensitive" and "Purpose Driven", any talk of sin, righteousness and judgement (The very thing that the Holy Spirit testifies to) are off limits.
Truncated Gospel anyone?
My friends, I post this with sorrow. Believe me. This church used to be a place where there was love and true community. It died a long time ago. Just a few years ago, this church had 100 in attendence. We'd have pot lucks (hey, it's a Baptist church!) and the older women could be found in the kitchen. No one had to ask anyone to do anything. They just helped one another. Now that they've adopted this, they are down to an average of 49....and this is in a small farm town. And of course, the ones who don't care to go along with Warrenism are expendable.
Try to talk sense into them and you get "we're doing this to attract the young in the town".
"Oh really? How come you aren't getting any of them"
"Well, there aren't any".
Not kidding. That is an actual conversation. So much for sanity and biblical reasoning in the professing body of Christ.
Beloved, there is the "visible" and "invisible" church. The visible is made up of the total number of people in the local assembly whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine or not. The invisible is made of those who are genuinely converted. And only God knows who they are. You don't build the Body of Christ by adding tares to the local assembly. You go out and evangelize. People are convicted of sin and the need for repentance and faith in Christ alone. They become genuine believers. It is then that they are part of the Church, not before. That is how it was done in Acts, and that is how our Lord Jesus Christ wants it done now.
Jesus said Himself in John 4 that "The Father seeks those who will worship in Spirit and in Truth". And I can't help wondering what our Lord thinks of us bringing in the "walking dead" to make religious motions with no God-glorifying substance. Simply put, spiritually dead people cannot worship "in spirit and truth". It's impossible.
According to Bob DeWaay who wrote "Redefining Christianity", once a church goes down the purpose driven path, it won't turn around. Too much is at stake. The tares must be entertained or the money stops flowing. To turn back means losing the tares that keep coming after the real converts have left because they aren't getting the scriptures on Sunday morning. In short, you end up with lots of bodies, but very few real Christians.
One final observation from Bob DeWaay, who has made a comment to me via email about the articles linked above:
"Warren is being disingenuous in his claim that Jesus targeted a certain market niche of people to be effective. He said "I was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel." Actually, the whole picture is that He was sent to be rejected by His own people as prophesied in Isaiah 53. That is typical Warren, changing categories to confuse people."
Friday, October 13, 2006
Yesterday I stopped up to see him and he was just so frustrated with being in the hospital. We estimated that over the past two and one half years, he has been hospitalized nearly a year of that time. I think longer but I'm probably wrong. It certainly seems like it.
I was successful in getting him to walk to the hallway, where we got him in a wheelchair. I pushed him down the hall where he could actually see out some windows onto the activities of others as they went about what they think is important. He's getting very reflective. Openly so. He wasn't always that way. He's always been the sane, in-control business type. Now he seems more the overwhelmed human being.
I love my dad. And I've always wanted to be like him even when I was so mad at him for never being there when I was growing up although I do have a few brief memories of us together when I was a kid. I was just reminded of one of them when I saw this. One night he took me out to our backyard here in Illinois to see an actual aurora borealis. You hardly ever see them south of Canada. I remember just standing there amazed at this thing as my dad said "That's an aurora borealis...the 'northern lights'". I can still hear him saying that. It was one of our rare moments.
I'm very proud of him. I told him that a couple weeks ago.
He made a passing comment about his arm being shaky. Usually he has a fork in his hand and he jokes about how it's the fork that makes him do that. Dads aren't supposed to get older and have these problems. That's a rule somewhere, I think.
I can tell I'm getting more protective of him. Yesterday I asked the nursing staff for a gait belt so I could walk him. They gave me one, then after I walked away asked if "I got permission from physical therapy". I firmly let them know it was up to dad to walk if he wants to, not physical therapy to "let him" when they aren't doing it per schedule. Besides, I think it was more an issue of the staff not wanting to take the time to help him. I say that because they seemed to have plenty of time once I had him on his feet. Before that, they were just talking to each other. It was a year or so ago that the hospital was purchased and transformed from a non-profit to a profit system. And it shows. Staffing is down and, with it, care. I've recently applied for work there. I'm currently part time at a nursing home 15 miles from here. If I can work at the hospital on an "as needed" (prn) basis, then I could make some extra income and be there for him next time. I'm up there lots anyway...
He's sick of being in that place. He said he was going to get out today and that "he has to". Well, mom was able to talk him into staying but it brought tears to his eyes. He is so tired of being there. I don't blame him. It was in 2002 that I was there for barely a week with a bone infection and I was going nuts.
No, he's not giving up. Mom is sure of that. He is fighting. But what is hard is that it seems like every time he goes home he's a little weaker. Generally he can walk a hundred feet or so by the time he gets out. This time he walked ten feet before he had to sit down.
His appetite is down. Maybe because of boredom. I'm trying to talk him into letting us wheel him down to the cafeteria where we can have coffee and visit somewhere other than just in his room. He doesn't care for that idea. He just wants out!
I've just finished the first chapter in "Above All Earthly Pow'rs". My main problem is getting lost in the details. There are lots of subtlties. Things that make you stop and reread a sentence a few times. And my attention span isn't what it should be. As I've said before, I'm more of a listener than a reader.
The gist of what I read in the remaining part of the chapter has to do mainly with the disappearance of God, the disappearance of the human nature vis a vis character and the emergence of pragmatism and the getting of results. That's what the Enlightenment and Modernism gave us.
While I was reading this part of the book I was reminded of how so many believers tend to have their own little worlds, wear "I'm Ok" masks and don't get involved in one another's lives. I think that this is partially due to the pragmatistic autonomy that Wells alluded to in this chapter. It's all about what things appear to be, even while they have no substance. We are immersed in self-indulgence that has crept in from the western civilization around us. It's all about "me me me". Consumerism. The goal is to have more and then still get even more just so you can put on a good show. Gone are the old days of character and virtue and, may I add, contemplation.
It was a long chapter but I think that distills it down. This would be a great book for a group study. I think it would help one from getting lost in the details.
The next chapter is shorter. It's involves post-modernism. I'll get a start on it later today or tomorrow.
Again, thanks to all of you who are praying for my dad. As you can understand, he is so precious to me -- especially now as he and I spend the kind of time together that we never did when I was younger.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
We are not here to "help God make the gospel relevant". We're here to proclaim it.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I'm referring to the "give me scientific proof that 'x' is true" argument.
See, it's basically faulty. "Joe Unbeliever", who professes to be representing the "rational" view of things insists that the onus is on us to scientifically prove that God exists or that some other assertion is true.
Of course, the problem is that the mere argument that "all things must be scientifically proven to be true" is self-defeating; for that argument in itself must then be scientifically proven true to be asserted. But, hey, that's just an inconvenience and hence unecessary in the eyes of the one who wants it from the believer in Christ.
And they accuse us of circular reasoning!
The fact is that many things can't be proven on a scientific level. For example. Did a man named Caeser live? Prove it scientifically. How would one prove that Abraham Lincoln lived? How? To do that, you must use another kind of evidence -- namely historical / legal evidence. You know, that inconvenient "unscientific" stuff that they use in our court system.
Another problem with this "prove it" mentality is that it assumes that nothing can exist outside our sphere of knowlege. "If you can't prove it, I can't accept it".
Bear with me for a minute. Draw a circle on a sheet of paper. Go ahead. Please. Then make a "slice" in the pie with two lines. Make it the size that you think represents the percentage of what you possess of all the knowlege in the universe.
So, how big is your slice of the sum total of all knowlege? 1%? 10%. A whopping 15%. Wow. That leaves alot left, doesn't it? That represents everything you don't know.
See, in a real sense, there are no such things as atheists. The word means "there is no God". But for that to be affirmed as true, that person would by necessity have to know the sum total of all knowlege, for the person must admit that somewhere outside his or her sphere of knowlege that proof just might exist. So, let's cut the nonsense. There are no true atheists. Just agnostics. They "Don't Know". But their pride won't let them admit they don't know.
So for those of you who want everything to be proven in a test tube, get some logic. And get rational -- no one really lives that way.
So you are an atheist? That's ok, I don't believe in you.
Oh. By the way. If you like the graphic at the top of this article, you can download it here and use it any way you wish; I drew it a few years ago using my trusty mouse, Linux and the Gimp. Click on the link, then select "original size", right-click the image and save it.
Blessings to you.
Yes, this is familiar territory to me. But I commend this article to you.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
I'm continuing to read "Above All Earthly Pow'rs" by Wells. Trust me. Right now I'm in chapter one and I expect to finish it today or tomorrow. Right now, it's about learning how we view things. How nature and culture are interelated. How the "external world" invades us. And how we need to be familiar with it but also remember it has its dangers, just like "turkish delight".
He's discussing the Enlightenment, Moderism and Postmodernism and how we are wanting what God gives us without having God. (My paraphrase). We want to be god on our own, thank you.
And the "cosmos" is invading how we think, which shapes life.
I'll read and post more later. I might be making a correction to the above.
Our worship pastor announced his impending resignation effective in two weeks. Not sure what happened. But he said something about worship styles, mixed services (we have an early traditional and a later contemporary one) and hurt feelings. I don't know where to take that. I do know that, per a publication from our church that was given me after I joined, he has been doing alot of reading on the Emergent church and a charismatic systematic theology. No way to know if this is an indication of being supportive of the Emergent mess or if it was just wanting to know about it. So, I won't speculate.
I pray God's blessing on him.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
229 pages. Looks like good reading but then I'm familiar with what Bob is saying from the series he did when he discussed the book with Brian Flynn. You can hear that series here.
Just the right size for chucking under your arm with your Bible as you go off to church. Think of it as a 229 page tract for those in the Church. People will see that tree and ask you what you're reading!
One interesting section I've already noticed (and again heard about in the series linked to above) discusses Rick Warren's private orthodoxy which differs from his public profession. In other words, he supposedly believes in Jesus Christ as described in the Bible but has a problem "...confessing Him before men..."
Another point -- Rick Warren's definition of "church" tragically eliminates or greatly obscures the difference between the "visible" (everyone in the church building, saved and unsaved) and "invisible" church (the actual believers). It's no longer about feeding the sheep but entertaining religious consumers. You're a believer? Sorry, Rick says you're on your own.
So, between this and "Above All Earthly Pow'rs", it looks like I'm going to be busy for a while. But this looks like an easier read.
Another one I recommend!
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
"Called to be saints." 1 Corinthians 1:2
Thank God for the sight of all you have never yet been. You have had the vision, but you are not there yet by any means. It is when we are in the valley, where we prove whether we will be the choice ones, that most of us turn back. We are not quite prepared for the blows which must come if we are going to be turned into the shape of the vision. We have seen what we are not, and what God wants us to be, but are we willing to have the vision "batter'd to shape and use" by God? The batterings always come in commonplace ways and through commonplace people.
There are times when we do know what God's purpose is; whether we will let the vision be turned into actual character depends upon us, not upon God. If we prefer to loll on the mount and live in the memory of the vision, we will be of no use actually in the ordinary stuff of which human life is made up. We have to learn to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision, not in ecstasies and conscious contemplation of God, but to live in actualities in the light of the vision until we get to the veritable reality. Every bit of our training is in that direction. Learn to thank God for making known His demands.
The little "I am" always sulks when God says do. Let the little "I am" be shrivelled up in God's indignation - "I AM THAT I AM hath sent thee." He must dominate. Is it not penetrating to realize that God knows where we live, and the kennels we crawl into! He will hunt us up like a lightning flash. No human being knows human beings as God does.
*We have to learn to live in reliance on what we saw in the vision, not in ecstasies and conscious contemplation of God, but to live in actualities in the light of the vision until we get to the veritable reality.*
This is precisely what I've done so many times in the past. Always wanting 'burning bushes'. There have been times that the Lord has shown me things with such clarity. No mistaking it at all. This has been a major stuggle with me -- it's so easy to praise God and follow when He has shown Himself to you. But as life invades once again, the "glory fades" and life is once again mundane.
It was my two copies of "Above All Earthly Pow'rs" by David F. Wells, which I reported on earlier here.
Upon opening the box, I was to find that the smilies on the box were merely mocking me and saying "Bet you can't make it through this!".
Well, I determinedly sat on our enclosed front porch with my three-day supply coffee mug and began to read. And I found that, while this is not going to be a casual read by any stretch of the imagination, if you just force yourself to re-read a portion or two occassionally (as things fly over your head) it is very engaging.
No pictures though. None. Nada. I looked. Believe me. Zippo.
I need to reread the section again later today after some of it soaks in from this morning. He presents some stats as follows:
One of the casualties of 9/11 appears to be God Himself. Before the attacks, 72% of Americans affirmed belief that God is omnipotent and in control. Afterwords, this dropped to 68%. Before the attack, 38% affirmed their belief in moral absolutes which are true for all times and places and non-circumstantial. That dropped to 22%
9/11 made the language of "evil" a verbal necessity but we just didn't know what to do with it culturally and conceptually.
9/11 brought into focus at least three things. 1) for all the talk of how America has changed, there remains "an uneasy sense" that things are actually little different -- we are still adrift just like other Western countries. 2) The global ambitions of radical Islam has drawn attention to and underlined our growing ethnic and religious complexity. 3) There is a lack of spiritual gravitas , particularly in evangelicalism. There is therefore nothing to match the magnitude of the evil shown on 9/11. Evangelicalism has become absorbed in the "arts and tricks of marketing". We simply aren't "...very serious anymore."
I've just roughly given you an account of the first four pages of the 12 page introduction.
I'll reread the intro later today (again after being able to digest what I've read the first time) and report back. I think I'll just add to this entry. Keep posted.
Meanwhile, I need to know something -- is there a cure for cranial stretch marks?
Read it again. And I think nailed it pretty well this morning. One thing I would add from the latter intro pages is tht he mentioned that we tend to fall into one erroneous camp or another -- either being assimilated in the name of "relevance" or being separate and unable to communicate at all.
For example, we failed with 9/11 because we weren't able to deal with the hard biblical issues involved in what happened. All the contemporary church could do was commiserate. We couldn't give a Scriptural interpretation of what was going on. That is how far off track we've gotten.
I've started reading the first chapter. That's maybe 35 pages. I'll comment later in a separate post. The reading is a bit less intense for now but I'm sure there will be some thick stuff in there. Wells is a good author.
Till then I'll be "highlighting the book, one line at a time".
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Today I had the prive-, privil, privu--....honor of hearing this sermon by Phil Johnson of "Grace To You", Grace Community Church and TeamPyro.
If only I had heard this (or if someone did tell me, had I let it sink in) it would have saved me alot of frustration.
Years ago when I falsely professed being a Christian, I acquired a ton of head knowlege. After all, the "foaming-fundies" in my area had convinced me that being able to attack anyone over the smallest theological differences was of prime importance.
Years later, in 1998, when I was convicted of my sinful state and need for repentance and faith in Christ (all 'alone' without the aid of a preacher, or Christian music no less! -- for those who think it's all in 'presentation'), I had a real problem with what I had in my head because I was deathly afraid of pride. Well, that was a legitimate concern. But the problem was I went to the opposite extreme and tried to avoid theology as much as I could.
See, in 1998, I had been 'grabbed' again by more strange people. But this time it was mysticism. Saying words to bind things and all that -- Jack Deere's kind of stuff.
Over time, I found the Lord letting me get my spiritual hind-end whipped until I came to a point where I had to go back to trusting God's revealed truth.
And what Phil Johnson says in his message "True Spiritual Warfare" has been a wonderful confirmation of God's working in my life.
Give this a listen and, as Phil would say, "Apply Directly to the Forehead".
Oh, and be sure to tell Bob Bixby you saw Phil's logo here. He's always on the lookout for them.
Monday, October 02, 2006
This is actually the second message in his series on John the Baptist. "Compare and Contrast" John the Baptist (as described by Alistair) with so much of what passes as "preaching" today.
From the description at "oneplace":
"When your pastor preaches, do you leave the building feeling like you know the Bible better than when you arrived? We’ll hear about the importance of solid Bible preaching and how to do it, and we hope that you (and your pastor) will listen!"
Be sure to listen to the first one as well!