Friday, October 31, 2014

Apologies for Apologetics?

Light at the Tunnel's End?

No, I'm not really making apologies for Christian apologetics. This actually will be a little repeat of a case I've made before to try and bridge two vehement camps on the subject—evidentialists and presuppositionalists. If I have an apology, it's that so much energy gets wasted between the two camps arguing with each other that they miss great opportunities to compliment each other in reaching out to the lost.

To me, it is not an "either or" proposition. It's "both and." Let me explain.

The presuppositionalist believes that evidential arguments to support the Bible and Christian doctrine/thought are a waste of time. Man is dead in his trespasses and sins, and the "natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (1 Corinthians 2:14). So far, so good, and I agree. In fact, I believe most evidentialists agree. After all, that is the written Word of God. However, the Word of God also declares in Romans 1 how God has made Himself known through that which He has created, and that man is "without excuse." We also hear that "the heavens declare the glory of God." We also read that Paul, in Acts 18, spent time "persuading." We read that Jesus Himself used many "convincing proofs" after His resurrection, and that Luke the Physician spent plenty of time documenting those convincing proofs.

Where the evidentialist makes his/her mistake is assuming that piling up proofs and intellectual arguments ALONE are enough to persuade someone to repentance. The Holy Spirit ultimately works through His Word and in the human heart to bring regeneration to pass. The presuppositionalist makes his/her mistake in that God cannot and will not use evidence in this natural world as part of his overall means of declaring Himself, and that merely quoting Bible verses is enough to do with someone who rejects the Bible's authority.

Both apologetics camps need to cool the sniping at each other, and work together in complimentary fashion. The Gospel is the same, and the Lord is the same Lord. The goal is the same. How about it?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

And We Wonder Why?

Take a look at this Yahoo story about House Speaker John Boehner not being able to find anyone to sue the Obama Administration. The reason ostensibly is that law firms hired to begin the process are being threatened with loss of business by Democratic clients, so they drop the suit like a hot potato.

This story is symptomatic of so much that is um, messed up, to put it kindly, about our country. We have a Constitution. This Constitution is the Supreme Law of our land. It contains provisions for not only disputes between branches of government, but also for removal from office of any federal official who commits "high crimes and misdemeanors." It's called impeachment. Impeachment is not a criminal proceeding. It is a political proceeding. But as with much of the Constitution these days, it is ignored, even shunned.

The American people are rightly angry. President Obama's numbers are in the cesspool. Congress's numbers are in the cesspool. The American people in poll after poll express their feelings about illegal immigration, securing the border, their dislike of what Obamacare is doing (and wait till it actually goes entirely into force—you'll REALLY see an explosion of fury then), and a host of other matters. All the politicians talk. But no one acts. No one stands up for the people. Our current leadership is not trusted at home or abroad. The current Administration manages to find ways to help our enemies, yet spit in the faces of long-time friends and allies such as Israel. The U.S. has never been held in as much contempt as it is right now, and the responsibility ultimately lies with the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Or does it?

We the people created this mess by careless voting and inattention to issues. We can partially blame a leftist, compliant media for misinformation and bias, but in the end, we all have brains and the capability to do our own homework. We fault Congress good and plenty—both House and Senate—yet we return the same incumbents back to office in election after election. There is no doubt voter fraud involved, but voter fraud doesn't explain it all away. We the people deserve a good spanking ourselves for letting things get in this mess.

And if things are ever going to get fixed, it will have to start with we the people fixing ourselves. National repentance and less national self-centeredness. May God have mercy on us all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sundry Observations and Concerns

Okay. The photos I choose for posts don't always necessarily fit the subject matter. Yet in an oddball way, this one does. Here I am a few years back standing on the shore of Lake Superior northeast of Duluth, Minnesota. The feelings I had then were mixed. As the waves broke on the shoreline, you could feel an unsettling throb beneath your feet. A sign of the deceptive power of the lake when a storm rises. Think Edmund Fitzgerald and the wreck made famous by Gordon Lightfoot. I was thinking about all that while also admiring the natural beauty, the water-carved rocks, and crystal clear water.

What makes the photo fit is that our ship of state is near shipwreck. I am contemplating it with the same inner grimness. Think about a few items:

1. We have a deadly epidemic virus on U.S. shores for the first time. The Obama Administration misleads and bungles the issue, or APPEARS to bungle the issue. For political reasons rather than standard practice with communicable diseases. Throughout U.S. history, the government and/or local officials could declare a quarantine when necessary for public safety. For that matter, I can remember a time in my childhood where our family doctor threatened to quarantine the house when my oldest sister came down with hepatitis, and she refused to take the shots the doctor wanted to give her. The doctor had the authority to do it. Where has such authority gone? The Administration is pressuring governors to back off the quarantines they've imposed under their lawful authority. Why? It makes no rational sense, but there must be some political payoff in it in the Administration's mind. Sad when partisan advantage takes precedence over health.

2. We haven't even reached the mid-term elections yet, and already we have reports of voting machines casting votes for Democratic candidates even though the voter actually pressed the Republican slot. Tip of the iceburg for voter fraud? Maybe.

3. Back to the Ebola issue for a moment. One of the quarantined nurses is fighting her quarantine, threatening to sue the state if it is not lifted. An amazing stance for a health care worker and a professional. As I heard a commentator on Fox News say this afternoon, it's part of the overall malady infecting this generation. "Me first, and what I want. Screw you." That's the attitude on display in so many areas across our nation, and not just this. Selfishness has always been part of fallen humanity, but it's gone off the charts these days.

4. The Obama Administration continues to find ways to humiliate, insult, and compromise Israel—our most important ally in the Middle East. Because he refuses to cave into pressure to lay down and let terrorists have their way, some unnamed official in the Administration called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "chickens**t." Excuse me? This stuffed shirt wouldn't know the meaning of courage if it bit him in the gluteus maximus. Despite protestations to the contrary, I think Obama and his ilk would be happy if the Muslims overran Israel and drove her into the sea. They profess public support, yet behind the scenes try to tie Israel's hands in fighting those who want to destroy her, and leak insulting remarks like this. If I were Netanyahu, I'd make a direct call to the Oval Office and do a little reaming of my own. Then hang up. The God of Israel will protect her, and woe be to the nation that turns its back. That does not mean an American government has to agree with everything an Israeli government does. But in the main, we must stand with Israel, her right to exist, and her right to the land. God will judge all who curse Israel. Go ahead and disbelieve that if you like. But it's biblical truth, and you will find out.

5. The country in general. The Democrats have dug this country into a hole so deep I don't know if we'll be able to extricate ourselves. If the GOP gains power, the steps they will have to take will be so severe that the uninformed, low-information electorate will blame them, then put the Democrats back in power. That plan has been long in place. And the GOP leadership seems clueless. The GOP keeps trying to treat conservatives in the party like nuisance relatives or crazy aunts/uncles in the attic. They can't win without us, but they don't want us having any voice in policy or nominees. They give us wishy-washy nominees like Bob Dole, John McCain, Mitt Romney, etc..and wonder why we lose. For conservatives who do win, the "moderates" end up voting with the Democrats when it counts, and that ensures the advance of the overall Democrat/leftist agenda. Two steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, one step back. It only appears to go backwards. In reality, the agenda advances.

I will never believe a true, movement conservative can't win. You find one who is smart, street-savvy, camera friendly, and fast on the cuff to respond to "gotcha" questions—one who can communicate and resonate at a gut level with Americans, and you'll have Reagan landslides.

Fixing the country also requires a deeper strategy than just winning elections. You've got to get conservatives in control of mainstream media, colleges, universities, primary and secondary education, newspapers, county boards, city councils, mayor's offices, and yes, COURTS. Both federal and state. Such courts need to take long-term, ridiculous principles such as "stare decisis" or "the decision stands," and throw out past rulings that are incompatible with our Constitution. Will undoing it all make a mess? Yes. But we'll have to endure a lot of mess to get things fixed. But from the ground up, the public needs to be educated. And a sense of self-reliance has to be infused into the American body politic, and to get people to see that receiving a government check puts them under the government yoke.

And that's just the way the leftists like it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Solidarity with Brothers and Sisters in Christ

By now, I'm sure many of my Internet-savvy and social media connected Christian brothers and sisters are familiar with the symbol to the right. It is being used by the ISIS/ISIL cowards and thugs to identify the innocent Christian men, women, and children they are systematically brutalizing across the Middle East.

The international Christian community has adopted this symbol—intended by the terrorists to be a "Scarlet A" symbol of shame—as a symbol of solidarity with their persecuted brothers and sisters. Many have added it to their social media websites, profile pictures, etc. I already have it embedded on my Twitter profile, but I haven't quite figured out how to do it on Facebook without losing other photos I want to remain. Photoshop is likely the answer.

My heart really breaks for what is going on right now. Outside of being driven by demon possession and deception (very possible), I can't imagine how the ISIS leadership actually thinks this brutality is going to work in the long run. People are beginning to really get tired of it, especially here in America, and now in Canada and Britain. As the Japanese Imperialists found out in World War II, once the "Sleeping Giant" is awakened, our collective wrath is terrible. ISIS is miscalculating very badly. They may well be satisfied with the current occupant of the White House, who seems intent on letting them have their way with a few air strikes ordered now and then for political cover. But that situation will not last forever. Elections change things.

Ayatollah Khomenei knew Ronald Reagan meant business when he took office from the inept Jimmy Carter. The 1981 hostages were released pretty quickly upon Reagan's ascension to power. It may well turn out that way again, and if I were ISIS, I would not count overmuch on what they've been told about America's cultural decline stopping us from acting against them. There is a moral and spiritual decline to be sure, but there are enough of us left in the patriotic, traditionalist variety to overcome and then act, with a vengeance. We have the military capability to destroy every last one of them. And if our backs are against the wall, we will find the political will to use that capability.

How can I make the above remarks as a Christian in ministry. Very simply. I can sincerely pray as a Christian for the repentance and individual salvation of the members of ISIS. No doubt the Christians they are persecuting, torturing, and imprisoning are witnessing the love of Christ to them. The Holy Spirit will work through His proclaimed Word on the human heart. Amen and Amen.

But the duty of a GOVERNMENT ordained to its power by God is to protect its people and to restrain evildoers, as Romans 13 makes very clear. That's what the power of the sword is for. And for icing on the cake, not only are governments to protect their people, an individual Christian is to protect their loved ones. This Christian will. I am an excellent shot and wouldn't hesitate. Keep that in mind. There are millions of us across America.

One final challenge. I keep hearing so much about these "moderate" imams and Islamic leaders in the West and around the world. I'm tired of hearing about it. I want to SEE it. In ACTION. Islamic ruled countries need to take action against these thugs, both militarily and through civilian law enforcement. Round them up. Jail them. Execute them if you must. Deal with it. Close their mosques. Cleanse the schools where they are learning this malevolent ideology. Prove to the West that you really are in solidarity with us.

If you are unwilling to do so, then that suggests you really agree at heart with what ISIS is doing. Reading the Quran at literal level and knowing the history of Muhammed and the subsequent caliphates, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that this represents real Quranic Islam more than the "moderates." You say it doesn't? Show us. Show us now.

It's not a perfect analogy, but you have liberal Christians and conservative Christians. You have Christians in name only, and you have genuine, practicing believers whose hearts and lives have been given to the Lord Jesus Christ. Liberal Christians have a low view of Scripture typically, ditch many of the core doctrines the church has believed for 2,000 years, even in some cases denying the Master who bought them. They wear the Christian label, but they are no more Christians than Hare Krishna devotees.

Conservatives tend to believe what the church has always believed, are orthodox on core doctrine, have a heart and love for the lost, and want to see people saved from their sins. They're motivated by love, not hate. You won't find us out murdering people and compelling them to faith. (And before you bring it up, yes, I know church history. Lots of things were done in the name of Jesus that He finds abhorrent, and those who did them in His name will be held accountable. I would even make the case that those who used the power of government to compel faith may not have even been regenerate. Personal saving faith and regeneration by the Holy Spirit makes one a true Christian, not some words babbled out by formula, or cultural upbringing.

Well, enough. I think you get what I'm trying to say. ISIS must be stopped, and the world's leaders had best get their derrieres in gear. But I pray for peace, believing miracles can happen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Open Letter to Pastors


Note: The letter below was originally published in the Lighthouse Trails newsletter. I am republishing it here with the kind permission of David and Deborah Dombroski. I concur with their conclusions. This is an issue that transcends denominationalism, and is much more important than disputes over secondary doctrine. The heart of the Gospel itself is increasingly at stake as evangelicalism trundles along toward ever more compromise, unbiblical ecumenism, and even apostasy. In my view, a false notion of what the church is and what the church is supposed to be/do is at the heart of many errors. The church assembly is not primarily for unbelievers, and worship is NOT about us, or what appeals to us. It's about God and giving Him the glory. 

By David Dombrowski
Editor at Lighthouse Trails

Often times, people call our office asking what denomination we are. We realize that this is a probing question designed to find out more about us. The truth is, Lighthouse Trails Publishing has never been affiliated with any denomination. From the onset, nearly thirteen years ago, we have always endeavored to be connected with the body of believers scattered throughout the world who are very concerned, as we are, with the state of the church today. Many of our readers have told us they felt very alone and even ostracized in witnessing the apostasy in the churches today prior to their finding our website and realizing there were other Christians who saw what they did.

We know firsthand how it feels to be labeled troublemakers for having legitimate concerns about what is happening in the church today. We too have felt disillusioned as we have witnessed a gradual departure in the churches from the Word of God. Pulpits throughout the land, many of which formerly proclaimed the biblical Gospel of God’s saving grace through the sacrifice on the Cross now espouse an assortment of pseudo-gospel, pop-psychology, seeker-friendly, Purpose-Driven, emerging, New Age, mystical/contemplative spirituality that may be chicken soup for the soul but what God calls an abomination (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). It is no wonder that God in referring to the lukewarm warns that He is ready to “spew thee” out of His mouth” (Revelation 3:16). How much better it would have been if churches and their pastors had stuck with John 3:16!

Out of this frog’s slow-cooking kettle,  some emerged only to witness that a great many were staying in the pot. Many discerning believers now find they have become watchmen for the Lord, compelled by God to sound out a clear warning of the impending doom of the church. In fact, it appears that God  is presently calling out believers from various denominations to stand up and be counted among those who refuse to comply with the compromised experience-driven Christianity of today. Yes, God is calling out His own. If you love Jesus Christ and His Word and if you really want to serve Him, now is the time to be fully surrendered to the Lord without reservation. Whatever the cost. We are invited to the wedding feast, ready to meet our Savior, with wicks trimmed and lamps burning. Now is the time to make ready.

Nearly on a daily basis, we witness our very earth in what seems like birth pangs— be it nuclear threat, terrorism, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes—or violence, wars and rumors of war—while most people seem almost oblivious to what is happening (or may see something is amiss but do not turn to Scripture and Bible prophecy to understand the implications). Again, God is sounding out a warning to make ready.

Even now, while the reality of the Antichrist and a one-world religion is looming closer and closer all the time, preachers and teachers are sitting at their desks inking out sermons that discredit Bible prophecy.
If you are a pastor, let us remind you that you have a great responsibility. When we first began Lighthouse Trails Publishing, we contacted our pastor at that time, trying to encourage him to warn his congregation of the apostasy that was beginning to creep into the church back then. His reply was that he lives in a bubble and consequently sees no need to warn his congregation about anything as long as he keeps expounding the Word to them. Our reply to him was “youmay be in a bubble, but your congregation is not.” The question is this: if it is not the pastor’s job to warn his congregation of impending spiritual danger, whose job is it? In the Old Testament, the prophets referred to individuals with this kind of responsibility as watchmen or shepherds. The prophet Zechariah, for example, has much to say about the responsibilities of a shepherd in chapters 10 and 11. In referring to the spiritual condition of his day, he said:
For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled because there was no shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)
Nothing could speak more succinctly of the condition of the church today. We never dreamed in all our years as Christians that there would ever be such blatant heresy as we see in the organized Christian church today. Years ago, we would never have imagined that anyone would be given the green light to stand in front of a congregation and deny the atonement of Jesus Christ. Yet this is exactly what is happening in the emerging/progressive/contemplative “church” as well as in some of our Bible colleges and seminaries. Many have fallen from a great height, and we should be mourning as God surely must be mourning.
If you are a pastor who feels that it is not your calling to warn your congregation, let us remind you that the closest New Testament equivalent to the Old Testament watchmen or shepherd’s is the position of a pastor. There is a time for speaking uplifting encouraging words of peace and comfort—but when ravenous wolves are about, is it not wiser to “reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2)?

WHAT IS THE TEST?

Sometimes we are asked, what is the criteria for deciding whether or not a doctrine or practice is biblical or validates criticism. Over the years, many  pastors, elders, and youth pastors have contacted us and told us we have no business in doing what we are doing. We have often thought after hearing this that what we would like to say in reply is, “If you pastors were doing it, people like us wouldn’t have to.” It has not been a pleasant task, but the church needs to be warned of the impending danger. If you have read our books, then you understand what we are talking about.

But getting back to the question, what is the test for deciding if a particular teaching or practice validates criticism? There is but one test that we have used consistently from the inception of Lighthouse Trails. The Book of Proverbs says: “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight (Proverbs 11:1).
And again from Proverbs: “Divers weights are an abomination unto the Lord; and a false balance is not good  (Proverbs 20:23).

It is interesting that Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, placed such emphasis on accurate scales. It is even more amazing that God would call false scales an abomination – amazing only until we realize that God is speaking of the spiritual—not just physical, scales here. So what we are looking for is a spiritual balancing scale—something that will reappear throughout the Bible—through the Old and New Testaments. There is such a scale, a consistent theme, which John refers to in his first epistle:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)
Some Bible commentators have believed that John was referring here to a particular sect who denied that Jesus Christ actually came in a human body. If that is all John meant, then this passage is of little relevance to us today, because you will scarcely find anyone who does not believe that Jesus as a historical figure was a man who walked the earth. But the name Jesus Christ in this passage is not a historical term; it is a name loaded with meaning —referring to Jesus as the Messiah, God come in the flesh, our Savior and Redeemer, who atoned for our sins. If we look at the context of 1 John 4, we can verify that this is what John is talking about because in it he says, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14). In other words, John is saying here, I am referring to the Jesus I wrote about in my gospel— the Word made flesh who in the beginning was with God and was God (see John, chapter 1).

This is the balancing scale we have been looking for. Just as all human history and our blessed hope hinges on what Jesus did on the Cross, so too we can weigh a doctrine or practice by whether or not it agrees with the fact that we are justified by faith alone through the atoning, redemptive work of Christ on the Cross. The question then is, does a particular doctrine or teaching agree with the Gospel the apostles all preached?

With this discerning tool in hand, if you stop to measure all of the world’s religions and systems, you will find that all of these are opposed to the Gospel. The natural man will not acknowledge the need for a Savior, consequently all of the world’s belief systems (except biblical Christianity) are works based—believing that it is possible to earn our way into Heaven or to become “Christ-like” through mysticism and “spiritual disciplines.” But the Gospel says it is not possible. John knew all too well the contrariness of the natural man and the world’s belief systems. That is why in the same chapter of his epistle, he offers another test:
[H]e that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6)
In other words, John is saying that when the world rejects you for sharing the Gospel, it is because the Spirit of truth in not in them. Whichever way you look at it, the Gospel is the fulcrum of our balance in discerning truth from error. When Lighthouse Trails Publishing began, this became, and has always been, our standard of truth and also the deciding factor as to whether something is significant enough to bring to the attention of our readers. We are careful not to get involved in issues in the church where the Gospel is not attacked or compromised; but when it is we are compelled to speak up— because as believers in Christ, we are called to defend the Gospel; and is that not the calling of pastors especially?

The Gospel is the most precious thing on God’s heart, and it is worthy of our defense and protection. Wouldn’t you like to be remembered as a man (or woman) after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14)? If so, then defend the Gospel.

You may recall that in the Old Testament the Israelites took great pains in transporting the Ark of the Covenant. According to the instructions given by God to Moses (Exodus 25:13-15), the Ark was to be carried by staves (poles) on the shoulders of the Levites (1 Chronicles 15:15). However, in 1 Chronicles 13:7-10, contrary to Moses’ specific instructions, they put the Ark on a cart to be pulled by oxen. But the unexpected happened. When “Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen stumbled . . . the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him” (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). The Levites, who were the “pastors” of that day, were careless about following Moses’ instructions; and it ended up costing a life. The Ark of the Covenant was a type and foreshadowing of the Gospel. It was sprinkled with blood to symbolize Christ’s death on the Cross.

Today, similar to back then, so many pastors and Christian leaders have become careless about the Gospel. If you are one who has grown careless with the Gospel, isn’t it time to make some changes and return to following the instructions of the Lord?