Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Priesthood: Privilege or Responsibility

People often defend skewed Bible interpretation or worldly behavior with "the priesthood of the believer." I've challenged people's beliefs and instead of opening their Bible to counter, they claimed priesthood like someone in court pleading the fifth amendment. I have not noticed many thorough or at least precise explanations of the priesthood of the believer. You can relax, because I'm not going to give one in this small space; however, I want us to consider one point together about priesthood. It is not just a privilege, but a responsibility. People raise the privileges of priesthood regularly, but I have heard little to no mention of the responsibilities. When we examine the Old Testament priesthood as a basis of New Testament priesthood, the responsibilities of priesthood far outweigh the privileges. Don't get me wrong, being made a priest by Christ through His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and intercession is a wonderful privilege (Revelation 1:6; 2 Peter 2:5). I can pray directly to God and study my Bible on my own. Those are wonderful privileges. That doesn't mean, however, that what I think the passage means is actually what it means. Neither does it mean that when we pray, someone shouldn't challenge the prayer.

In the Old Testament, being a priest didn't mean that you could come to God any old way you wanted or even when you wanted. It wasn't like this: "Hey, I'm a priest, and I'll mix my incense like I want." Or, "I'll offer that bullock when I'm good and ready." The priest was heavily regulated with standards. And being a priest was dangerous business for sure, certainly not fun and games. Consider Exodus 28:35, "And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not." And Exodus 30:20: "When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD." And then Numbers 3:4: "Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD." Not taking responsibility could be punishable by death. There was a whole lot to do and to get it done took considerable effort and dedication.

The New Testament priesthood is the same in the way of responsibility. It is a holy priesthood, not common or profane. The priest goes to God, but he also represents God before men. He must accurately represent God to men. His offerings to God should be precise. When Nadab and Abihu offered something of their own desires, but different than what God required, God killed them. People might think or say: "I'm my own priest, so I can give Him whatever I think He would want from me. Or at least no one can stop me." The church's setting of standards under guidance of church leadership can protect a church full of priests from being profane in either its offerings to God or its representation of God. God is still serious about what we give Him. What a privilege it is to serve Him and draw near to Him, but also what a serious responsibility.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Fundamentalist: The Movement or the Adjective?

Do any of you that believe the Bible think you trace your lineage of faith back to the early 20th century? the early 16th century? the early 4th century? What about the early 1st century? I'm happy to trace my faith back to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible. I don't believe in a total apostasy for three reasons: (1) The Lord said the gates of hell would not prevail against His church (Mt. 16:18), (2) Paul wrote that "some" would depart from the faith, not everyone (1 Tim. 4:1), and that (3) the total apostasy wouldn't occur until the antichrist had revealed himself (2 Thess. 2:3,4). I don't need some tangible extra-scriptural written history to believe that true NT churches have existed since Christ, but even so, we also have sufficient evidence providentially preserved that corroborates this point. These churches operated separately from Romanism and were known by different names, however, essentially having the same Scriptural distinctives. Therefore, I am happy to identify with these people, the Baptists, as my lineage.

In my opinion, fundamentalism was nothing other than an interdenominational movement in reaction to institutional liberalism. The definition in Webster's unabridged backs my understanding, when it reads: "a movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reactin to modernism and that stresses the infallibility of the Bible. . . " Bible believing and practicing churches also rejected liberalism, whether fundamentalist or not, so would have been at least sympathetic with fundamentalism. These same churches also agreed with what have been called "the five fundamentals of the faith." These churches, though, never ever took the five fundamentals solely as their standard for separation or unity. They also rejected infant sprinkling and a host of other doctrines held by the fundamentalist movement.

Men are responsible to allign with everything God said in His Word (John 14:15-22). Agreeing to follow everything the Lord said fits into a proper view of repentance (Romans 10:9, 10; Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Making disciples requires "teaching them to observe all things" that Christ commanded. Paul exhorted Timothy that he "mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:3). Paul also wrote in Romans 16:17, "Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

I like the third definition of fundamentalism in Webster's Unabridged: "Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles." I am not a fundamentalist of the movement, but I am a fundamentalist used as an adjective, in fitting with strict adherence to everything the Bible teaches. For that reason, I don't mind someone calling me a fundamentalist. I don't trace any lineage to the beginnings of the fundamentalist movement. If someone transported our church to that period, I wouldn't fellowship with those fundamentalists. I would have sympathized with them like I do with Ian Paisley, for instance, in the matter of perfect preservation of Scripture, but without fellowshipping with him due to his views on infant sprinkling (among other doctrines). I don't take my stand on fundamentals. I take my stand based upon the Word of God. When we stand before Christ, that's all that will matter.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


In a recent interview about his film about the tragic terrorist murder of Israeli athletes during the 72 Munich Olympics, Steven Spielberg says, "It saddens me to see how narrow-minded and dogmatic some of the right-wing fundamentalists here in the USA are. . . .I do not claim to be providing a peace plan for the Middle East with my film. But is that a reason to leave it all to the great simplifiers? Jewish extremists and Palestinian extremists who to this day regard any form of negotiated solution in the Middle East as some kind of betrayal?" Is it possible he's right, that the best path for peace between Palistinian Jews and Arabs would be at negotiating table? Is there no dogmatic solution?

Liberal Jews (and all other liberals) don't accept Scripture, including the Old Testament, literally, that is, grammatically and historically. Since they reject Scripture, except as some kind of allegorical moral self-help book, they make decisions based on pragmatic and subjective human reasoning, not rooted in any objective truth. Because of this, they think that all sorts of behavior should be justified and tolerated. This leads to this search to understand the possible justification of an act of terrorism, leading to a kind of moral equivalence between the murdered and the murderers.

Joshua, Saul, David, and Solomon, for instance, could and did know that God wanted them to expel all the Canaanites from the land, primarily through military conquest. By the time that era of Palestinian history was complete, instead of doing what God said, Israel attempted to do exactly what modern day Israel is trying to do, live together in harmony with diverse cultures, relinquishing the purity that God demanded, as well as His protection. Peace comes from agreement upon and the enforcement of God's revealed Truth. If God wishes Israel to take and keep all the land and expel everyone else, then that is the way of peace. Because the Arab side says that they deserve the land, or part of it, doesn't mean they do. If Israel is supposed to have and keep it all, then she should, even if it means ejecting anyone from her land that doesn't agree. Someone may call that extremist, but that doesn't make it so.

This last week, Oprah used an entire show to slam an author she had recommended for her book club for making up (lying about) major features of his non-fiction self-help book. What does it matter whether one needs to take it literally as long as it helps people? And what is the truth? Can anyone really decide that? Oprah says her standard is truth, so she was betrayed by this author. Is Oprah an extremist? Since truth is relative to what works, shouldn't we just say that this author told the truth to the people he helped? The truth about God and God's Truth about everything, the Bible, is even more important. If believing it and practicing it makes someone an extremist in the temporal world, but a victor with God and in eternity, then so be it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Where Sin Gets Defeated

When I was a kid, which I usually also add, "it wasn't so long ago," a comedian named Flip Wilson made famous the phrase, "The Devil made me do it." The Devil maybe had something to do with it, but we know he didn't make us, because sin originates in our own lusts. "[E]very man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14). Sin starts with a desire that we have in our flesh in which dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:16). From there it moves to the realm of enticement. Where are we enticed? Answer: In our minds. Our desires in our flesh interact with our mind, our mind send messages to our flesh, and these two have a relationship. The next verse of James 1 says then that lust "conceive[s], and bringeth forth sin" (v. 15). After finishing the sequence of sin, James commands, "Do not err, my beloved brethren" (v. 16).

James 1:16 states how sin gets defeated. You ask, "It does? Do not err? How does that say anything?" An expanded understanding of "do not err" is "Stop being deceived." James commands believers to stop being deceived because deception takes place in the mind. That deception is called enticement in v. 14. The sequence is like the worm on a fishing hook. The fish sees the worm and thinks it's supper, but it's actually a hook. The fish is deceived in its little mind. The mind is the place where sin gets defeated. To do so, we must train our minds to discern the bait, the counterfeit. We do that by feeding it with God's Truth. Scripture is replete with this very truth, that renewing our mind with the Word of God is the basis of keeping from sin (Psalm 119:9,11; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8; Romans 12:2). When our mind is filled up with the Truth, it will stop sin from conceiving. Enticement ends when our mind tells us that we are dealing with a counterfeit. It's not a worm; it's really a hook. In a sense, all of us need to prohibit conception--the conception of sin in the mind--by training our mind to think Biblical thoughts.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Diminished Value and Shuffleboard Syndrome

I've noticed that I cry about birth and death and then things closely related. The happiness in the face of the mother with her newborn brings tears to my eyes. The death of someone, almost anyone, mists me up. When I think about someone's death because of a lingering illness or risky surgery, my throat constricts. Have you sat somewhere that you could watch the responses of an elderly person to the verve and vigor of young people, a lifetime of moments etched into the wrinkles? While you consider this, I want us to think together about two issues of old age, both relating to a culture that has veered off course.

Number one I'll call "diminished value." The population does not respect the elderly as they should. I believe that every reason is wrong, because Scripture commands: "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man" (Leviticus 19:32). Among the explanations, however, are (1) Misplaced admiration of physical strength and youthful beauty, (2) Personal discomfort with old age foibles and fragility, (3) Lack of marketability in bulges, bunions, baldness, and bifocals, and (4) Prideful youth not put in its place. The pressure of these among others makes older people feel of little value to worthless, a bother. I recognize that certain carnal features of the elderly highlight these reasons, namely things like: complaining, constant retelling of old stories already memorized, moping over lost strength and stamina, and regular lectures repeated way too many times. We need to show the older folks more respect and give them responsibilities fitting of their station in life.

Number two I'll call "shuffleboard syndrome." The notion of retirement, not found in Scripture, has lead to a lack of involvement from the elderly that, coupled with increasing disrespect, has taken them way out of the equation in church and society. Older people start planning to do their own thing as a sort of repay for the years of shouldering burdens. Because of how people view the world today, they excuse a lack of involvement from the hoary heads. "These people deserve a break, not just today, but this year or even the next decade." Experience alone doesn't mean wisdom, but they have contributions and many times in the way of wise counsel for decision making. Their perspective, at least, is worth considering.

I guess at some point I won't be saying "they," so let's get it changed before we become the "they," and for their sake and ours, but mostly for the Lord.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The End Justifies the Means

While recuperating from battle wounds in 1521, a Spanish soldier named Ignatius Loyola dedicated his life to Roman Catholicism and the pope. In 1540, the pope gave Loyola approval to begin a new religious organization called the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, as a part of the Counter-Reformation. They purposed to maintain and reclaim members and spread the doctrine of Romanism all over the world by any manner necessary. They initiated a philosophy encapsulated by the phrase, "the end justifies the means," which became their hallmark.

Three questions guide anyone's life: What, Why, and How? What am I going to do? My Actions. Why Am I going to do it? My Motives. How Am I Going to Do It? My Methods. To know God's will, we apply Scripture to every question. The Jesuits obviously did wrong things, unscriptural actions. However, in their frame of reference, they thought they were right, especially because their motive was to please Romanism and the pope. However, they didn't care how they got it done, because that didn't matter. So many people disregard scriptural methodology, reasoning that it doesn't matter how you do what you do, as long as you reach a scriptural or desired result. So much of Scripture contradicts this by either teaching a method or punishing a wrong method. 2 Samuel 6 and the example of Uzzah and the ark of the covenant jumps out to illustrate this point. Bringing the ark to Jerusalem was the right action with the right motive. Carrying it on a cart was the wrong method. Uzzah died as a result. The sufficiency of Scripture demands that we use scriptural methods. When those methods are utilized, God gets the glory, not only the overarching motive, but also the central activity of the Bible. If only the end justifies the means, then we are no better than Loyola and his Jesuits. And that might be the least of our problems.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Owen Waters writes: "The frequency of your inner self’s consciousness exists within a frequency band which is higher than your outer self. When your conscious mind catches even a glimpse of that spiritual essence within you, it becomes excited by the higher frequency. Communicating with your inner self is, by definition, an exhilarating process." Groovy. Far out, man. I googled these exact words---"a very spiritual person"---and got 25, 600 sites. I believe one of if not the most dangerous influences is a false definition or wrong understanding of spirituality. God is a Spirit (John 4:24) and Satan wants us confused about Who He is and how we come into and then stay in fellowship with Him. False spirituality preys on those who are discontent with their own spiritual experience. They want to feel approval from God in a very subjective way. They look for a personal, unique, and validating connection with God.

To fool people about spirituality, Satan uses some of his long proven devices, ones that have already deceived millions of people in Hinduism and Buddhism, essentially Eastern mysticism. Satan provides these feelings and experiences wholesale in the new age movement, mind science cults, psychics, and psychiatry. In a lesser but perhaps more deceptive fashion, they have woven their way into the Charismatic movement and now evangelicalism at large. They have saturated Roman Catholicism for centuries and today even more. They lie at the root of Mormonism and its "burning of the bosom." In varying degrees, they shift spirituality away from objective truth. This is philosophical existentialism, the reality validated by the experience. It must exist because I felt it.

I'm very concerned about the dangers to New Testament Christianity, even as already evidenced through a multitude of practices in churches. Churches create a "spiritual environment" either through fast paced music that will get people excited or through hypnotic new age choruses and "praise songs," among others. Here's the kind of statement one might hear: People want to be done with the fighting and feeling the unity of the spirit between believers, putting aside our differences to find common ground and a blessed intimacy with one another. Not that particular words are necessarily wrong in themselves, but these are the code words that I am most often hearing in the new paradigm of spirituality: passion, desire, intimacy, encounter, deep, vital, rich, warmth, evoke, intense, delight, affection, ardent, deep-hearted, celebration, and energize. Now consider these, not all, but some or one or all: outstretched palms, breathy or soft speech, tambourine, lots of emotion and lack of negativity. Even though they talk about a desire for God, the point is the desire, not God Himself.

The truth is that we have all of God at the moment of salvation and all of our spirituality (2 Peter 1:1-5; Eph. 1:3; Rom. 8:9). God desires us, all of us. When we know Him better through His Word, through His Truth by faith, then we obey Him and submit to Him more. Spirituality doesn't minimize externals to gain some sort of superior spirituality based on feelings. The greatest in His kingdom is the one who keeps the least of His commandments (Mt. 5:19). Spirituality manifests itself in tangible character traits, including bold evangelism, submission to authority, and abstaining from fleshly lusts. People may not "feel spiritual" when they are doing these things, but when they keep doing them out of respect for God, that, folks, is spiritual. Satan the spirit being, wants to dumb spirituality down to something in which many different cultures and beliefs have common ground in their shared experiences, to replace true spirituality with his own.

Monday, January 23, 2006

We Really Did Know

You've seen those fake arrows that are meant to fool no one. They are not supposed to look like they are really sticking through someone's head. They're a joke. We really do know that they are fake. There are a lot of things that we are actually able to know. When we don't, it is only us to blame.

Israel, the ten northern tribes, were doing things that would result in this: "Therefore the LORD shall set up the adversaries ... against him, and join his enemies together; ... and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still" (Isaiah 9:11, 12). Being devoured sounds pretty serious to me. God wants them devoured for something they have done. As you consider why, I want you to consider what in particular is wrong with what they were doing. The people of Israel were saying, "The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars" (Isaiah 9:10). Alright, now tell me what verse says that rebuilding walls with hewn stones is a sin. Can't think of one? Thought so. What about the second? What verse of Scripture says that when sycomores are cut down, it is really bad to replant cedar trees? Can't think of one again? Thought so again. So what was wrong? If the Bible doesn't say something is wrong, does that mean that it won't be wrong? We see here that this is not so. It can be wrong. Rebuilding and replanting with superior rocks and trees are not the problem, but they are both indicators of self-sufficient pride, which is wrong.

People may say, "I didn't know that would be wrong to do." They knew. If they didn't know, they should have known. God doesn't devour people, and especially His own people, for doing things that they couldn't have known were right or wrong. People often argue that certain activities must be right because God doesn't expressly say anything against them. Much of what God prohibits, He expresses in the way of principle. He knows we can understand those principles and make decisions that will honor Him based upon them. When we don't follow the principles, and, therefore, disobey God, we won't be able to say that He didn't tell us it was wrong, because we really did know.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Then and Now

From a distance, when we look at mountains, they merge into one another as if they really are one disconnected group. However, if we walked straight toward them, we most often find many miles separating them from each other. God expects us to see the future the same way. We know that because of how God presents prophecy in the Bible. Isaiah 9 presents the brilliant long range solution for the nation Judah in the Person of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father. The future is secure in this promised Messiah (7:14; 9:6). King Ahaz was looking for his own protection through his own reasoning in the nation Assyria, threatened by Syria and Israel. Through Isaiah, God assures him that safety was in Him, not in his own plans. One assurance he gives Ahaz, whether Ahaz wanted to hear it or not, was a coming child that guaranteed the long term protection for God's people. That was then, but what about now?

Many people are more interested in now than then. Part of walking by faith is choosing to grab ahold of the then, living for it, projecting ourselves to that moment through sheer belief. God in His mercy also grants us some now. The now question for Judah was: what about Israel? Israel had become a problem for the southern kingdom and now seemingly endangered her existence. Immediately after that far mountain range of the coming Messiah, Isaiah explains the short term future for Israel, drawing in the closer group of peaks in the big mountain picture. Within this was also a warning to Judah. Israel proudly trusted in herself and what did it get her? Judah too needed to trust the Lord for both for her short and long range future. For every then, God provides a now. See the then in the now and the now in the then; get the beauty of the whole range of God's plan for you.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Selective Sovereignty

In 1510, while teaching at the University of Wittenberg, Martin Luther visited Rome and was appalled by the corruption and worldliness he saw in the papal court. Do you have a problem with this? How could he judge worldliness? Isn't that an external? What was he seeing that the "reformed" do not see today? People like to tie themselves into the Calvinism and Protestantism of Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, the Puritans, and the Westminster divines, yet, without their personal separation. Don't get me wrong. I'm not reformed or protestant, and if I was alive in the the reformer's day, I would likely have been jailed or drowned. They took their separation to a certain extreme befitting their church state views. Nothing separates you from people like 20 feet of water with a large rock tied to your ankle. It also separates you from necessary oxygen to breathe. You get my point there, but I am an avid proponent of the sovereignty of God, so much so that I see many, many of these "reformed" as weak compared to their historical counterparts.

For instance, I teach the doctrines of grace. I don't believe that these "reformed" do. They teach the false grace that is license and lasciviousness. God's grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly, fleshly lust (Tit. 2:12). Much of it has to do with their desire for, literally, the best of both worlds. They want to be a success in this world and one in the next. This is John Piper's Christian hedonism. Piper centers on his delight in God. Delight has become preeminent so that discernment suffers--God becomes only prominent in delight's preemenince. Because of that, his definition of delight becomes skewed. When he goes to passages, he looks at them, yes, but through an evaluation altered by his overarching purpose.

How much worldliness existed in Luther's or the Puritan's day? They risked horrible lust after women's ankles. Yet, these men seemed deathly concerned about it. But not John MacArthur or John Piper. They embrace contemporary Christian music, casual dress standards, lack of distinction in dress between men and women, and sinfully worldly activities. They make a huge deal about how they want to change the "church" and the "body" by writing, and ignore the Scriptural teaching of ecclesiastical separation. They say they desire God, but God desires them to separate over what He said. His desires must become superior to their and our own. These guys get heaven. They are so set for heaven. They were predestined to it. I believe this is why they are so popular---just enough worldly to reasonably fit into the world and on their way to heaven too. They are very, very protected by God. However, unlike what John Owen and the Westminster divines said about God's sovereign preservation of Scripture; God couldn't do that miracle. God's sovereignty brings them pleasure and security, but not His purity, themselves or the Bible. These modern translations aren't reverent to God, but they give people delight---hey, they're OK. Think of that. He could keep them secure, but not His Word, and even though He said He would. This is their selective sovereignty.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Some are going to take this as an opportunity for me to say something new and shocking, but right now I'm sticking with it. OK, here goes: I think homelessness is underrated. Stay with me. I mean it, at least for now. Where did I get this "crazy" idea? I was driving my son home from trombone lessons and we passed an RV storage area. First I saw all the RVs, then I thought about homeless people getting into these vacant vehicles to live, and then I saw the tall barbed wire fence, thinking this was to keep illegals out. This isn't about immigration, but I thought I'd hint at something with the previous sentence. After I passed the RV place, I looked around and said to my son, "California is a great place for the homeless to live. There's the weather. All you need is a sleeping bag and a pillow. They have these regional parks with facilities and lots of public transportation." My mind went to a recent article saying that the LA area had the most homeless in the U. S. I thought about how warm it was there. Then my mind took an awkward turn towards the advantages of homelessness. Let me pause to say this: I'm not advocating homelessness. Most people in that condition are bums. We know that. However, wasn't Jesus homeless? Ooops. That's right, He was. Respectfully, He wasn't a bum, so it isn't homelessness itself that is the problem, is it? You know the verse about foxes having holes, birds having nests, but the Son of Man having nowhere to lay His head. And we have no mention of an earthly home. But we don't have that emphasis with Abraham either. He lived in a tent, as did other patriarchs.

People argue about home ownership and a lot of the arguments are materialistic. If we debate Scripturally, we use "wise stewardship." But think about what homes often do to us? We work more to pay for them. We take a lot of time to fix them. We spend a lot of money on them. We shop for things to decorate them. We buy things for the home that tend toward our own comfort and convenience, all kinds of entertainment. They feel very good to us, so that we look forward to staying in them. We don't like to leave them. Socializing is messy. If someone rings the doorbell, we can get perturbed, feel bothered. I don't think I'm wrong to opine that most people hardly don't even know their neighbors, the ones we are to love as ourselves. We don't have to try to ignore them---it comes naturally. How much time and money are spent on a home! It's amazing when you think about it. And what for? We won't take it with us. We'll be in heaven for ever, but do we live like it? The home, it's the American dream, but could it be heaven's nightmare? How many people stop short of the mission field because of living arrangements? Alright, I'm done for now, and at this point I'm staying with this: homelessness is underrated.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trampling the Tulips

I'm a fruit and vegetable guy anyway. I like to harvest something. I want to pick it and bring it to the dinner table. So usually every year I plant at least tomatoes and green beans. I'll move out from there to onions and squash. Someone else can plant the flowers. I like looking at them, but could not, at least at this point, find motivation to care for them myself. People starving can't usually enjoy a beautiful flower arrangement. So today I trample the T-U-L-I-P. I'm not going to approach this in any logical order. It's a system. Pull out any letter and humpty dumpty. I'm going to start like I was recently accused: where ever my mind wanders. The I. Irresistible Grace. I evangelize regularly door-to-door and grace actually comes across as quite resistible. People seem to do it with ease. You would never know that when someone finally does stop resisting, it was because they couldn't help stopping. Since I'm yielding to the Spirit and preaching boldly as I ought to speak, I would wonder why the Holy Spirit signals this truth--grace is resistible--if it were not the case.

Scripture backs this up. To start, someone should look up all the usages of "will" in Scripture. Most people haven't. If they did, they would find that at least two Greek words are translated "will" in the New Testament. We know that "will" doesn't mean the same thing in every case. The Bible teaches God's sovereign will (Dan. 4:35; Ps. 115:3), and yet, on the other hand, a lot of times God's will doesn't get accomplished (2 Pet. 3:9). Sometimes God makes something happen or allows it to happen; other times He wishes it. He has boundaries that mark His will, but whether man works within those boundaries depends on his obedience. God's saving grace appears to all men (Titus 2:11). Do they all get saved? No. That would mean what? Uh-huh. What was Stephen thinking when he said, "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." I guess he hadn't read the Institutes yet. I know that reformers from Geneva cry: That's not what it is! That's not what it is! Of course, they have a definition that makes rubics cube look like the directions for lemonade. After you've connected all their dots with the "right" meanings of terms, and then divide by the square root of forty-seven, grin like Mona Lisa, you will begin to get it. Hot rocks and ear flaps provide strong incentive.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Time and a Place

My mind drifted to our away football trips. It actually drifted about something drifting, which you'll see. With everybody piled into the bus with equipment, luggage, and school books, it became rather claustrophobic. But then, these were guys, boys, big ones, from divergent socio-economic environments, and one that had stomach problems on a certain occasion. Those problems were obviously being relieved, and the interior of the bus became akin to closely confined cattle with their inherent scents. The other boys didn't like it. They reacted--moaned, laughed, ridiculed, and showed loud, general disfavor for the lingering smell. Our coach stepped into this fray and said with his low, New England accent, "Gentleman (an overstatement for sure), there's a time and a place." I've never forgotten that particular phrase: There's a time and a place. I've used it myself many times since then. Some of you can relate to having nicely scripted phrases available for special occasions. Sometimes I even say it just like he did, and, of course, only I get that particular inside joke.

Appropriateness. Context. Time and place. When we approach passages of Scripture, we must take into consideration a time and a place. We strive to understand it as people would have understood it in that day. This principle relates to prayer. I've heard people pray for the Spirit's filling. Should we be praying for Spirit filling now? Is this the time and place to pray for that? The locus classicus (to throw more Latin at you) for Spirit filling is Ephesians 5:18: "Be filled with the Spirit." "Be filled" is a command. That means we are to obey it. We don't pray for something God commanded us to do. We might pray that God would help us to be Spirit filled, but praying for God to do something that He commanded us to do is like asking your parents to make your bed after they told you to do it. The command is in the passive, meaning that we are allowing this to be accomplished. It is in the present tense, meaning that we are to keep on being filled (be ye being filled). The word for "filled" (plerao) has the understanding of "controlled." We are commanded to let the Holy Spirit control our lives. Romans 6 calls it "yielding to the Spirit."

So why do people pray for Spirit filling? I'm pretty sure that they pray for it because of a wrong view of Luke 11. In Luke 11, the Holy Spirit had not come yet, so Jesus taught the disciples that the Father would give the Spirit to them who asked. The disciples prayed for the Holy Spirit, and God answered that prayer on the Day of Pentecost. We pray for the kingdom to come, and God will answer that prayer at the second coming of Christ. Knowing the time and place of Luke 11, we don't pray for something that God commanded us to do. We just do it.

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's All Relative

I've got post basketball scream throat. This is the third game in a period of a week of which I would cause heart palpitations to a speech therapist. My son plays and I coach the team. I view sports in many ways similarly to art and music. As a game, basketball would seem to have certain immutable rules to guide its play like art and music have timeless standards to judge each of them. These rules would not really need to change; their continuity over generations bonding participants of the past with those of the present. And I'm not bonding with the present; thus, the throat of doom with a tenderness in an odd spot that suggests I forgot everything I learned in voice and diction class. People might call me all sorts of things: old school, basketball purist, curmudgeon, living in the past, dinosaur, or extinct species.

The contestants play differently and the authorities in charge of enforcing the rules, the referees, do that in a new way too. Sometimes I look at these arbiters of the hardwood with an incredulous tilt to my head as they allow violations immediately before them without a hint of a call. I consider if their whistles may malfunction. I muse that they actually see a game in a different dimension of space and time. This makes it difficult for me sometimes to judge what is happening. Sometimes it makes me wonder if the game might alter itself like a mutating bacteria into a wholly different one right before my eyes. One game this year, I was reminding the official of a fine point out of the basketball statutes, a long-time rule that generally had one understanding, and the opposing coach yelled, "Let the boys play." I looked over at this twenty-something coach and thought of Picasso. Maybe when an art critic looked at Picasso's painting, as he began to voice criticism, some new savant of paint yelled, "Let the boy paint." And then Picasso smirked as he continued to brush another eyeball onto the figure's thigh.

This is all difficult for me. Can you tell? I refuse to walk in lock-step. It reminds me starkly of the new zeal at which I can pray the prayer, "Thy kingdom come." Jesus will judge everything aright. He won't interpret his laws subjectively based on a new artistic value. That once was traveling with the ball, but now it is an exciting addition to the game. That was at one time called a reach foul, but now it is an important allowance for improving the flow of the game. That new dent on the back of my head wasn't someone going over my back, but hard to the rack. As the notes tumble together into heavily flawed composition, I must appreciate a new perspective or point of view. If I get it, people will appreciate my tolerance. If I say something, many will whisper a subtle bigotry. I keep my mouth shut and hum with a new age transcendence, joining the throngs of mind-numbed liberal fascists who have dumbed the world into their own discordant melody. And I repeat their mantra, "It's all relative."

p. s. I didn't write this out of frustration. We won by 18. Or did we?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Big and Ambiguous

If you are a parent, perhaps you don't know much about the seven deadly sins, but you at least know about the seven deadly excuses. Let's recite a few together: "I forgot." "I don't remember." "I didn't know that." "I didn't get what you meant." Who can be wrong when no one can know what's wrong?

Recently a former church member sent this to someone in our church: "I believe there should be room for disagreement in many of these areas just because there is so much ambiguity and problems with two people and groups seeing exactly eye-to-eye when debating these issues. I believe there are certain truths that are more clearly revealed in Scripture than others. And while no truth should be treated lightly, we still have a greater obligation to separate over, or stand for those truths that are more clearly revealed in Scripture (like the deity of Christ, inerrancy, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, etc.)." Does this sound familiar to you? You've heard it. Perhaps we can call it the "big and ambiguous" argument. It comes in many different forms, and I hear it mainly from unsaved people. In essence, it is a denial of the doctrine of perspecuity, Claritas Scripturae, to throw a little Latin at you. Scripture is clear. When God says He can and will judge us for His Words (John 12:48) and that we are to live by every one of them (Mt. 4:4), that means they are clear enough to understand.

For the unsaved person, ambiguity of Scripture excuses worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. It strikes at Authority. God can't make Himself clear enough for me, so I get to do what I want. First, God is a horrible communicator. Second, God doesn't have to be heeded or followed. These aren't true. God is justified in His wrath because men can know what should be known (Rom. 1). For the professing saved, worldly "Christian," it excuses the music, dress, associations, and really about anything else. Any standard that they don't want to keep has reasonable arguments on the other side. Not that any of those arguments represent the grammar and history, nor the historical theology, but they exist, so now no one can be expected to keep them. If you do, you're squelching their liberty, hindering their spontaneity, raining on their parade, preparing them for therapy, causing deep psychological damage, disrupting unity, bombarding their superego, messing with their heads, and pushing them away from meaningful dialogue. The Bible---big but accessible and requiring interpretation but clear.

Friday, January 13, 2006

As Long As They're There

I was racking my brain. Let's just stop right there. Is "racking" a billiards term? Like racking the balls before you break them. If so, we've got trouble right here in River City. Is it muckraking? A term, I think, originated by Teddy Roosevelt in the days of Ira Tarbell and yellow journalism. Is it related to raking, like leaves? Sifting through the mulch that is my brain, I figured out a great promotion. I call it Pac-Bell Park Sunday. We invite everyone to what might be SBC park now, or did AT & T just buy them out? Anyway, right before the first pitch I stand in front of my section, read Scripture and pray, and we've done church. I announce that I had over 40,000 in the services. Someone says, "But they aren't there for the right reason." I answer, "Who cares, as long as they're there."

I'm considering the advantages. People would want to come. They would get lots of general revelation. People would really like the building. I would have some impressive statistics when it was all done. The building is already built, so no building programs, no debt. People go away happy. Does it really matter why people come to church? Isn't God seeking for true church attenders? Someone argues, "But you've crossed the line. That's not church." And when do we cross that line? Could we say that we cross that line at any point where man becomes first in the arrangement, including in the motivation? If God doesn't "work," you know, seem a good enough reason, how do we try something else, in essence, accommodating their view that God isn't as great as the thing we're using to motivate them? How can we sincerely correct that when we are the ones that targeted their flesh in the first place? Is "make no provision for the flesh" a command for every believer, or is that command voided as long as they're there?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

For Crying Out Loud

Sticks and stones may not work, but tears, well, two words: very effective. Headline: Democrats Fold Up Tent in Supreme Court Hearings When Mrs. Alito Cries. You made her cry Senator Kennedy, move back three spaces. We can all at least be happy he didn't have her ride over the Chappaquiddick bridge with him. Game over. Does pancake make-up run? I'm just thinking about the advantage of any one of them crying strategically to offset the Alito tears--pale streaks of real skin showing up behind brown base and rosy rouge, the wet rivulets glistening under the television lights.

I tell myself that everyone, like me, knows that this is a fraud, at best a grand gotcha game--a man guilty of known manslaughter, probably worse, and I think you might agree that drowning a woman is the worst form of male chauvenism and definitely violates her civil rights and the bill of rights. One could argue, I guess, that under the fourteenth amendment she was denying him the right to privacy. And the sun was in his eyes. And, and, and. Stop. I'll cry. We can't really judge him though because he's had it rough. He gets the gold guilded life-time get-out-of-jail-free card. Oh, and the Massachusetts cereal box life's term in the Senate prize. And a secret decoder ring. On the other hand, Judge Alito joined a club while he was in college in 1972 that he can't remember joining, but that he used as a reference on a 1985 application to get a job as a lawyer in the Reagan administration. He doesn't remember the organization, but if he did remember it, he figures that he joined it to protest Princeton's ejection of the ROTC program from the campus, but he doesn't remember. Did I say he didn't remember? In the gotcha game, he just couldn't remember. If he remembered, then he would be instantly smeared as a racist, bigot, homophobe, amoeba, pond scum, trailer trash, and bed-wetter. And deservedly so because someone he has never met and doesn't know had written a parapraph in the organizational publication that said nobody ought to get preferences. Nobody! It even mentioned a few of the ones that were getting the preferences by name. This man (person) named groups that shouldn't get preferences. No, people named Kennedy wasn't one of them! For Crying out Loud!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


I hope you don't think it strange that this thought occurred to me: It is really strange when people stop thinking strange things are strange. A couple of years ago, I tried to do a nifty thing with a plane flight that made us transfer between airports in Washington, DC on their public rail, the metro. As a man, I liked making our gargantuan luggage look light, but my screaming arm muscles and growing arm pit stains were suggesting something different. I wedged into a car, standing room only, instantly met by several violations of my intimate zone. This only got worse until someone who looked like the chief of an African tribe was inches from my face. I didn't say "he," because I didn't know. I couldn't tell if this was a savage native or a post-modern androgyny. This "person" had what looked like "his" unique ceremonial headgear, some piercings, varied streaks of war paint on cheeks, nose, and forehead, and then something in the mouth that made the lips protrude eerily. That was strange to me. But like I said earlier, what was worse was that everyone just sort of ignored this like it was nothing new. He wasn't getting double takes or even a sophomoric snicker. Someone has said that culture is listening to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the lone ranger. Well, multicultural was standing next to this creature without a tremor from the strange-o-meter.

Have we lost strange? Zephaniah does say, "And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel" (1:8). You might say, "Strange means 'foreign' in that verse--foreign apparel; not strange like weird." But foreign was strange like weird to Judah wearing the style of clothes from the idolatrous other nations. When the Lord slew Judah like a sacrifice, He would punish the king's sons and those who wore foreign clothing. Wearing foreign garments expressed love and support for non-Israelite values and so incurred God's wrath. "Hey you with the Miami Vice jacket! Yes, you!" "Hey Mr. Tight Tee-shirt Who Thinks He Has Pipes!" "Hey you with the dippity-do!" "Hey Ms. Make-Up Looking Like She's In Dramatic Productions!" "Hey Mr. Casual, Mr. Inappropriate!" We are still supposed to dislike certain styles of clothing, the ones that express comraderie with the world in its philosophy, priorities, and interests. I am glad that I continue thinking strange is strange, that this flame of Godly order hasn't extinguished with me. And after all, to God strange is still strange.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Reformed What?

I enjoy reformation. I do the barbecue at our house. I cook meat outdoors. Sometimes my wife is gone and reminds me to start the coals at such-and-such time. I'm usually working, and I rise from another task to grab the charcoal bag from the garage in my right hand, with my left hand take the lighter fluid while moving through the pantry, open the deck slider with my knee, set down the bag and bottle, open and observe the general condition of the grill....I'm not going to go through the whole thing, but I have a ritual. After it is lit, usually I settle into whatever else I was doing, then realizing she's gone, and sighing to no one in particular, I rise again to check on the hamburger. I spot the object on the counter in tin-foil beaded with melted water sitting in a shallow puddle of red fluid sucked from inside its wrapping by the workings of gravity. I open it, unveiling the cool ground beef, suddenly remembering to wash my hands, swiveling my head side-to-side to check if anyone is looking, and then, after a nano-second of internal debate, rinse my hands in the kitchen sink, relieving my conscience, then begin to reform the hamburger. I reform it from a clump of pestled fat and muscle fiber to the new and practical patty form. Reform is rough. To do so I shred the original mold into separate red balls, an art form in itself the geometry of which stretches my distant math skills beyond capacity. Each ball is flattened between my two hands, my mind briefly envisioning bun size and the guilt-ridden cylindrical perfection of the manufactured hamburger patty. I easily brush those thoughts aside as the meat oozes between my fingers and finally compacts into neat, impartial circles. My mind wanders to a field in Colorado, a slaughter-house and meat packing plant in Omaha, a very cold semi-trailer, and an industrial sized meat grinder at a large distribution center in California.

Whatever you reform, it carries with it some of the same traits of the thing from which it started. I mean, it's still hamburger. There is so much I like about reform. However, I'm so glad my faith isn't reformed. Again, if you start with slaughtered dead animal, you end with slaughtered dead animal after reformation. If you start with Catholicism, you're going to get something in a different mold, yes, but it still has some of the same traits from which it started. I don't need reform. First, I've got transform. Second, I've got the original, preserved perfectly over centuries by the sovereign God who created and sustains the universe. When you think about anything that's reformed, you have to ask first, "Reformed what?"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Paul Bunyan in the Bible?

When I was kid, which wasn't that long go according to latest studies, I remember a folk song sung (not to be confused with Sing-Sing) with lyrics that started, "Daniel Boone Was a Man, Was a Big Man." You may remember the song if you were born in a log cabin like me. OK, so Daniel Boone was a big man. He must have been who Paul was talking about in Ephesians 5:23 when he wrote, "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body." He would have to be very big, at least as big as a Macy's Thanksgiving Day float, I've often thought, if he is "the husband." I mean, if "the church" later in the same verse is the universal church and "the body" is the universal body, then THE husband would have to be the universal husband and THE wife would have to be the universal wife. I have often wanted to see the universal husband. I wish they could tether him for a parade just once so that everyone could enjoy him. One time someone told me that "they knew the wife, but they couldn't remember the husband." I thought: What a special privilege even to know the wife in Ephesians 5:23 because I've never seen her. She must be big too. I wonder if she also has a big rolling pin?

Of course, "the husband" isn't a particular husband, not a specific one the size of Atlas holding up the earth. "The husband" is a generic singular noun. The singular noun of both Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, and English, which you are reading, can only be either generic or particular. If Ephesians 5:23 is not talking about a particular husband, it could only be talking about a generic husband. The generic is a generalized use of a singular noun, seeing the noun in an institutional way, not talking about anything in particular. Here's an example. "The heart is what pumps the blood." We aren't talking about a particular heart, but the heart in general.

Most people would laugh at the idea that there could be some universal, invisible husband. For that matter, most people would also laugh if someone said there was some universal, invisible church. Ooops. I guess people don't laugh at that. They should though. Grammar doesn't allow for a universal, invisible church in Ephesians 5:23 without there being a universal, invisible husband. The reality of "the husband" as a generic is found in a particular husband. The reality of "the church" as a generic is found in a particular church. When Paul says the husband is the head of his wife, he means a local, visible husband, and when he says that Christ is the head of the church, he means a local, visible church. If not, then Daniel Boone was a big man, but this other guy is definitely bigger, folks. Maybe Paul Bunyan?

Wonderful Counsel

When Isaiah went to Ahaz with counsel, he didn't want it in Isaiah 7. When Isaiah offered him a validating sign, he didn't want it, same chapter. He had his mind made up. He liked his idea of an alliance with Assyria against Israel and Syria. He wasn't a man that was much for counsel from the Word of God. Human leaders and humans in general need counsel from counsellors. One would hope they could have good ones. Today, it seems that they have to choose their counsellors from an eclectic group that "looks like America." After things get really bad on earth, the worst they can get, much because of bad counsel from people who are the type that write most self-help books, then a real king will come to put an end to all of the problems, bring world-wide peace, also someone who would fulfill that sign that Ahaz said he didn't want to see. In Isaiah 9:6, this king is described as a Wonderful Counsellor. In other words, here will be a king who won't need counsel from anyone else. He will speak as One having authority.

Now if you said someone was a wonderful counsellor today, that would mean that he was very sensitive, listened well, had a lot of training and diplomas on his wall, and didn't charge too much. He might also have a comfortable cot on which you could lay down, relax, and think. You know, ventilate, free up your superego. "Wonderful," unfortunately is applied to many things that don't deserve it, including the salad bar at the local pizza shop. As used in Scripture, wonderful would only apply to something supernatural that was obviously enabled by God. The same word translated "wonderful" in Isaiah 9:6 is translated "hard" in Genesis 18, which applied to Sarah having a baby at a very ripe age. Nothing is too wonderful for the Lord. David knew about the kind of knowledge that God had, and in describing it in Psalm 139, he writes that it was too wonderful for him.

"Counsellor" is a Hebrew word that means "one who plans." A wonderful counsellor is someone who had supernatural ability to offer you a plan that perfectly fit for you. No one could do that, but God. And that is just Who this king is, God; actually, the Mighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Did you know He wants to start giving you His counsel right now? He wants His Words to dwell in you richly. Most people don't want to hear what He has to say because they have someone who tells them what they want to hear. Jesus, however, knows you better than you know yourself, and He also knows the future, so if you don't listen to Him through His church and His pastors and other Godly people in the church, you will be getting something less than average counsel. So it's your choice. Wonderful Counsel or Just Average, what will it be?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Deep and Very Warm Spirituality

During my first year of graduate school, while intern pastoring a church, I took the young people to a previously scheduled event, and the moment I walked in the door, I knew I didn't want to be there. Then the first song sung had the lyrics, "There's a sweet, sweet spirit in this place." I thought, "There's certainly a spirit in this place, but I don't think it's the Holy Spirit." I've talked to people that "are just really, really spiritual." Some of them "have had a deep spirituality since they were very young." I remember smiling at those times, a sort of Mona Lisa smile, and nodding in agreement. Lots of people are spiritual. Angels are spirit beings and demons are fallen angels. You get the picture.

I have to admit that I don't understand a lot about spirituality. These people who twist their bodies in unsightly angles, others who like needles stuck like post-it notes all over their bodies, and then all the ones who hum and explore the benefits of the crystal. I don't plan on ever traveling anywhere to any of their retreats. However, I do know quite a bit about what the Bible says about them who are spiritual. In Romans 8 Paul contrasts the carnally minded from the spiritually minded. These constitute two states of mankind. Unconverted men have carnal minds, but the saved have spiritual ones. John Owen writes, "The minding of the spirit is the actual exercise of the mind as renewed by the Holy Ghost, as furnished with a principle of spiritual life and light in its conception of spiritual things, and the setting of its affection of them." Being spiritually minded is perhaps the greatest distinction between the regenerate and unregenerate. The ordinary track of the spiritual mind is on things that are spiritual, that is, heavenly, holy, and Scriptural things.

Since believers in Christ have spiritual minds, they characteristically think spiritual thoughts, and, therefore, do spiritual things, again, things that please God. God is a Spirit and they who worship Him, worship Him in spirit and in truth. Those who are spiritual give God what He wants. And this will manifest itself in very specific ways---the fruit of the Spirit, boldness in evangelism, right relationships in the home and at work, thankfulness, God-honoring music, and fitting into the church as the Spirit wills. Satan would love to deceive you about the concept of spirituality, to think that something exists that is superior to what God says in His Word. He can transform himself into an angel of light and that warmth you feel is much like what insects feel before they kamikaze into the camp fire. They embrace the light alright.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Imagined Monsters

I've never been able to buy into big foot or the loch ness monster. If you do--more power to you. I won't publically ridicule you....only smirk privately. I also don't believe a space ship rests in Roswell, New Mexico. On the other hand, I do think snakes and spiders conspire against me while I am sleeping. I would never go for that urban legend that everyone swallows eight spiders every year, but at certain times I have ripped the blankets off my bed trying to keep very devious snakes from harming my wife. Actual monsters, gila or otherwise, do not usually pose any kind of real threat to us; it's the imagined ones that cause most of our problems. For instance, I suspect you think I'm crazy right now. That's what you're thinking, isn't it? What do I know? It's true...OK...I don't know. And not knowing is my point here.

I'm going to let you in on a little rule that I have embraced that helps me a whole lot with what I call the imagined monsters: Don't judge what you do not know or cannot see. For instance, I can't assume that someone misses church because he was offended with something I said or just isn't right with God. I shouldn't conclude that he has a problem with me because of a look I think that I see on his face. Just because they laughed, and one person from their group looked at me when they did, that doesn't mean they're laughing at me. In a line-up of a dozen cars, he may not have been honking at me. Just because the sermon seems to hit me bullseye, it doesn't mean that the preacher had my face next to his message notes. Jesus said in John 7:24, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

If the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart are to be acceptable in His sight, we must let things go that not only aren't worth thinking about, but they will often serve to trip us up and to harm the reputation of the Lord. Most of the times that I have mainly speculated based on an imagined monster, I have been wrong. And for many people they help add to their tums budget for the year. Love covers a multitude of sins. I think it surely can cover a multitude of imaginations. Here's a corollary rule to the one on imagined monsters: If you can't keep from your vain speculations, then talk directly to the monster to find out if it's true. If you don't, the only big foot you'll spot may be the one in your own mouth.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Population Explosion

When former VP Al Gore warned about population explosion, maybe we didn't know what he meant. Making the front page of news stories this week was a USToday article that started with these words: "The United States faces a severe worker shortage in the near future." The same day, Mark Steyn writes this paragraph in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece subtitled "The Real Reason the West Is in Danger of Extinction": "One obstacle to doing that is that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the West are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society--government health care, government day care (which Canada's thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain's just introduced). We've prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith and, most basic of all, reproductive activity--"Go forth and multiply," because if you don't you won't be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare." Our population is exploding alright.

I'm not endorsing this, but when I was young, I saw the old Frankenstein movies in which the victims couldn't get away from a monster walking slower than a department of motor vehicles line. As a child, I was screaming things like "turn," " jump in the car," "hop over the fence," "don't stop." Even the editorial staff of the NY Times could have come up with a solution. Our big ideas for lack of population are immigration, amnesty, and free health care and education to illegals (and these are another issue altogether). Conversely, a young man in our church went to a town hall meeting with our Democratic Congressman, George Miller, on the social security issue. He raised his hand in a crowded room, was called upon, and said that abortion was murdering the contributors to the social security fund. For merely mentioning this, he was chastised by his freedom-of-speech-loving representative and heckled by most in the room. These are people who would have been caught by Frankenstein.

This explains our population explosion. (1) Murdering over 38 million of our babies since 1973 overwhelmingly out of convenience. At least 38 million native born tax-paying workers exterminated, not including the children that some of these would be having by this time. (2) The birth rate rapidly declining among the self-centered baby buster generation, who view children as a cost and disruption to their lifestyles. In 1964, the number of live births in the United States exceeded four million for the last time until 1989. Between 1952 and 1957, the birth rate remained within a very narrow range, from 25.0 to 25.3 births per 1,000 population each year; but in 1958 it fell to 24.5, setting off a trend that saw birth rates decline for eleven consecutive years - the longest uninterrupted slide in the 20th century. People have simply rebelled against God's unrescinded command to multiply and replenish the earth. (3) Homosexuals do not reproduce. I asked a jr. high history class why population decreases and young Jessica mentioned this first. The rise in homosexuality decreases population, explaining why San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children than any major city in the U. S. (4) Increased murder rate. A majority of murders are committed by parolees. Did you know that the per capita murder rate in Washington DC is greater than the rate of U. S. soldiers being killed in combat in Iraq? We may need to consider a withdrawal plan for the nations capitol or risk getting bogged down in another Vietnam.

Did you know that the greatest rise in population parallels the greatest rise in prosperity in the history of the world? The above reasons simply list four sins that have reaped and will bring both built-in and direct Divine punishment on this nation. They represent the cause for a real population explosion in this country.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Is That a Chihuahua?

Genuine vinyl? How many naugas did you have to kill for that naugahyde? I heard about a man who bought what looked like a real Polo shirt in Hong Kong at an amazingly low price, and after one washing, the horse turned into a chihuahua. Fakes. After all is said and done, no one will fool God (see Psalm 139). We can't flee Him, fight Him, or fake Him. He already knows.

Are the biggest fakes in churches with lists of standards? That's what many would like you to think. They would like you to believe that people in those churches keep all these regulations to impress people. After all, that would be why they would keep them, or why they did that. No, the biggest con men are those who call themselves Christians and have relinquished most of their standards. They want you to believe they are more spiritual because they either dance, go to movies, rap, rock, wear the short-shorts, or party. After all, "they're not perfect; they're forgiven." They act and look like the world, but still have the Christian moniker. Their claim to fame: they aren't trying to fool people like all these "fundamentalists" (separatists). They have this kind of genuine internal thing going that has a huge disconnect from externals. It is far better, far more spontaneous, far more gracious, and it really feels good. They have so many good feelings.

Here's what they are: they are actors with little to no discernment. What they have sold themselves as spirituality is actually existentialism. Being conformed to the world and calling it spiritual is like buying the chihuahua and calling it Polo. At the point of justification by faith we become partakers of the Divine nature. That changes our outsides---we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Sure, people can fake the standards, but the real frauds are the worldly professors of Christ who fill the worldly churches predominant today. Big bark; not much dog---kind of like, well, a chihuahua.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Left Wing Legalist

"Isn't that legalistic?" "They took away my desire for God with their over emphasis on externals." These are either outright lies or people deceived. Legalism is either works salvation or works sanctification. Someone attempts to rack up merit points with God by his own efforts. One should not assume, however, that someone with many and strong standards is the legalist. Legalism does not depend on either few or many standards. We have good reason to believe that the Godly, Spirit-controlled person keeps many external standards (Matthew 5:19; Titus 2:11,12).

I contend that most legalism is left wing legalism. The left wing legalist, like the Pharisees, reduces God's commands to a number he can keep on his own. He does not depend on the grace of God, but His own works. We see this with the religious leaders who approached Jesus about what was the greatest of His commandments. Overly burdened with law-keeping in the flesh, they wished to lessen their burden by minimizing the commands. Left wing legalism also makes God's grace into a garbage can, a container to catch all the refuse of fleshly living. God's grace is a cleansing agent, which cleans up our life, including causing us to stop being a bad testimony or stumbling-block. The left wing legalist thinks the way to righteousness is by reducing standards. He obsesses about not having them. This is turning God's grace into lasciviousness, making grace an occasion to the flesh, and sinning that "grace may abound."

Do not be oppressed by those that burden you with reducing your standards, attempting to get you to focus on how little you can do for God. Do not become a left wing legalist.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Evolutionist Science Fair

You either are in the midst of a science fair project in your home or you remember one. Parents, excuse me, young people are presently scurrying to find their projects for their kids, scratch that, for their fair. I just want to be nice, so I'm going to give you one evolutionist science fair project. I did think of a second, but it would require licking saliva contaminated by strept throat off of a petri dish. You can show how that bacteria evolves.

The first idea is the scientific dating method experiment. To be good scientists, we want to make sure that we are accurate in our scientific method. First, find a fossil. Second, chip off a small, insignificant piece of that fossil. Third, obtain a heat source that will burn at very high heat. Fourth, get a radiation counter. Fifth, burn the piece of fossil. Sixth, use the counter to detect electrons from carbon-14 turning into nitrogen. Seventh, make a ratio of carbon-12 remaining to carbon-14 lost. Eighth, multiply the ratio by 5,730 years. Ninth, build a time machine. Tenth, ride your time machine to the year your fossil died. Eleventh, look either for the recently dead animal or kill the living one so it can start becoming a fossil. Twelfth, take the time machine back to the present time period. If you can't build a time machine, then just skip to here: Practice saying how old your fossil is with a straight face. Now work on laughing or smirking at anyone who questions you. Congratulations, you're ready now for The Evolutionist Science Fair.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Completing the Prescription

This will interest you greatly. I had a virus this holiday season. I did not take an antibiotic. Yes, I know antibiotics are not for viruses. My immune system weakened, I caught a sinus infection. I did take an antibiotic. Both my mother and my mother-in-law informed my wife that I should take all of my prescription. You knew all of this, didn't you? You knew that antibiotics beat bacteria, not viruses. You knew that overprescribing antibiotics creates the super bacteria that are immune to antibiotics. You knew that you were to take your complete prescription so that you killed the bacteria, not just weakened it so that it came back even stronger later. Why are you reading this when you know so much?

If you knew so much, did you know what Christ told us to do before He left the earth? You say, Yes, the Great Commission. I ask, What's the Great Commission? You say, Go. I say, No it isn't. You say, It is too. I say, It is not. Is too, is not, is too, is not (ad infinitum). Matthew 28:19 says, Go and teach. The only verb in Matthew 28:19,20 is the word "teach." "Go," "baptize," and "teach to observe" are all participles. "Teach" is a Greek word which means "to make disciples." Since you know so much, are you making disciples? Every single believer was told by Christ to make disciples. If you are not doing that, you are not obeying the Great Commission. Are you even making one disciple? Who is it?

You complete your prescription, but do you complete the commission?