Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Neglect of Prophecy


This week's installment from The Fundamentals

by Arno C. Gaebelein

In view of this fact (the Bible is shown to be a supernatural book) it is deplorable that the professing Church of today almost completely ignores and neglects the study of prophecy, a neglect which has for one of its results the the loss of one of the most powerful weapons against infidelity. The denial of the Bible as the inspired Word of God has become widespread.

If prophecy were intelligently studied, such a denial could not flourish as it does, for the fulfilled predictions of the Bible give the clearest and most conclusive evidence that the Bible is the revelation of God. To this must be added the fact that the destructive Bible criticism, which goes by the name of "Higher Criticism," denies the possibility of prophecy. The whole reasoning method of this school, which has become so popular throughout Christendom, may be reduced to the following: Prophecy is an impossibility; there is no such thing as foretelling future events. Therefore a book which contains predictions of things to come, which were later fulfilled, must have been written after the events which are predicted in the book. The methods followed by the critics, the attacks made by them upon the authenticity of the different books of the Bible, especially upon those which contain the most startling prophecies (Isaiah and Daniel), we cannot follow at this time. They deny everything which the Jewish Synogogue and the Christian Church always believed to be prophecy, a supernatural unfolding of future events.

The prophecies of the Bible must be first of all divided into three classes. 1. Prophecies which have found already their fulfillment. 2. Prophecies which are now in process of fulfillment. 3. Prophecies which are still unfulfilled.

To be continued next weekend.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More Gales of November



If you'd like to see some more great shots of various outdoor excursions, check this site out by Sawtooth Outfitters. I wanted to post these today due to the current nasty windstorm in the Midwest, and nearing anniversary of the November 10, 1975, wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

As the pix attest, Lake Superior isn't nice during a storm.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Creeds and Today's Church


Every now and then, commenters on blogs or other social networking sites like Facebook post remarks that are keepers. Enter a comment from "Jerry," who posted the following about the historic church creeds on John Ankerberg's site . . .

"The Creeds were useful, but they did not deal with other errors that crept in like the hierarchical Church structure, Replacement Theology, allegorical biblical interpretation and baptismal regeneration. This is why these ancient Churches claim to be orthodox because they keep the creeds . . . but in the Gospel and the structure of the Church . . . they have departed from " the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints." (Jude 1:3).

Well said. I would add to the "ancient churches" some of the Emergent crowd who talk much these days about creeds such as The Apostle's Creed, claiming to adhere to them as hallmarks of their churches' orthodoxy. Sounds fine and good on the surface until you start digging deeper about what they really believe about truth, epistemology and orthodox doctrine in general. You often find they're quite liberal. And the biblical apostles most certainly would not approve.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Thelma, Louise and Barack Obama


Barack Obama has been yukking it up with his base during campaign appearances this week. Actually, his entire administration thus far has been on nothing but campaign mode since inauguration, but that's beside the point.

As I noted in a previous post, the president has been making wisecracks about how we don't want to put the car in "R," meaning to go backwards with the Republicans. He thinks we should keep the car in "D" to go forward. Desiring to be helpful to the national discussion, I passed along my little quip about Thelma and Louise driving the car off the cliff to a Congressman friend of mine. When the national car is being driven off a cliff, it's wise to slam on the brakes and put the car in reverse.

I was happy to see Senator John Thune use the line on Fox and Friends this morning. I hope more politicians with access to media will begin using it also. We need to start being quicker on our feet in popping Barack's bubble.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

God's Glory Crushes Pride


By Dr. Les Lofquist
Executive Director, IFCA International

In my ministry, I work with pastors and church leaders. I’ve seen the subtle (and not so subtle) demonstrations of pride in their lives and in my own life. This always saddens me.

In a world that emphasizes aggression and rewards self-made men, what is the place for brokenness, humility, and dependence in a person’s life? What does the Bible say about the strength that comes from submission to Christ? What does all this mean and how important is all of this anyway?

Look at the catalogs of sin in Romans 3 and Galatians 5 and realize how desperately ugly sin is. Then look at the majestic beauty of our holy God. The result of this comparison and honest appraisal is that God’s holiness becomes severe and an encounter with Him becomes awful and painful and shameful and shattering. All pride is crushed under the weight of God’s glory and holiness.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for “glory” is kavod and it means “to be heavy, weighty.” This is a description of God’s glory: His person is substantive while we as humans are all lightness and nothingness in comparison. Under God’s kavod, under His glory, we are crushed.

Men in Bible Who Were Crushed
Just take a look at some of the men in the Bible who encountered God is His glory and as a result were crushed. Here are a few examples of these broken men.

Job, after debating with his friends over the reasons and meaning of his trials, heard from God in His majesty. Here’s how Job responded to God’s revelation of His glory: “I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

Moses, after forty years of quietness as a shepherd, encountered God’s glory at the burning bush and it says: “he trembled and dare not look” (Acts 7:32).

Isaiah, the godly court prophet who had been faithfully serving the Lord saw the LORD high and lifted up in His glory and responded this way: “woe is me! I am undone [lit. destroyed]” (Isaiah 6:5).

Ezekiel, after seeing the vision of God in His throne room “fell on his face” (Ezekiel 1:28).

The great Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, after his incredible pride was crushed with a seven year bout of insanity, spoke these incredible words: “At the end of that time [seven years], I Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:17, 25, 32).

Peter, after fishing all night, with reluctance obeyed the Lord and then caught a net-breaking load of fish. In that moment Peter realized how proud and arrogant he was and responded in this way: “depart from Me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).

John, the closest of Jesus’ earthly companions, saw the Risen Lord Jesus in His glory on the Isle of Patmos and it records that “when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17).

God’s glory is crushing! It crushes our pride and breaks us in our sin. Our pathetic, weak, worthless, feeble, puny pride gets crushed under the heavy weightiness of His awesome glory and holiness.

Some Demonstrations of Pride
As I wrote above, I’ve seen the subtle (and not so subtle) demonstrations of pride in the lives of many pastors and other Christian leaders. Here is a list of some of them I’ve seen. And yes I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been guilty of some of these in my own life:

Unwillingness to listen to advice, instruction, correction, information, and / or suggestions.

Prayerlessness: relying on your own abilities, strength, and self-sufficiency.

Reluctance to submit to authority, even anyone else’s set of rules.

Arguing and quarreling to prove you’re always right, even to the point of anger and rage.

Dominating conversations, saying something about every subject on every occasion (“with my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to help others with all their questions and difficulties”).

Maintaining an unteachable spirit (because you already know everything you need to know).

Responding to everyone around you with mockery, ridicule, and sarcastic put-downs YET you are unable to laugh at yourself along with everyone else.

Eagerly promoting yourself, who you know, what you’ve done, magnifying your achievements, illustrating your conversations with all the times you were right or you came to the rescue.

Enjoying the admiration of others, even secretly reveling in it.

Unwillingness to submit to the small indignities of daily life (like standing in a line, waiting your turn, driving an older used car, performing menial tasks or doing some manual labor).

An over-concern with externals, appearances, numbers (all designed to make you look good).

A reluctance to associate with people who cannot advance your status or enhance your image (like the poor, the shut-ins / infirmed, the severely handicapped, the elderly, or children).

You must always be in the role of teacher; you never listen to others as a student.

Being unwilling to admit you are wrong, apologize, seek forgiveness.

Controlling meetings by commenting on every subject and demanding your solution(s) be the final outcome for every agenda item.

Ungrateful for your present circumstances (“I deserve better… larger… more significant”).

Always having your family in charge, or up front, or in the spotlight.

Correcting others, even if they don’t ask for it (“they so desperately need my advice”).

Pride in you and / or your family’s intellectual development, acquisition of knowledge, academic achievement, class rankings, prestigious scholarships, awards / honors / trophies.

Knowing the truth, and defending the truth, because you are right (and you are!)… but doing so from a position of spiritual superiority and pride because it feels so good to be right.

Conclusion
In a world that emphasizes aggression and rewards self-made men, what must be the place for brokenness, humility, and dependence in a man’s life?

The proud and unbroken man’s only hope is found in experiencing the crushing glory of the Lord of the universe. Only then can he experience the freedom that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord (Galatians 5:1). Only then will he know the death of his arrogant, proud, sinful nature (Galatians 5:24). Only then will he come to the end of his self-importance and be able to surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

If we fail to renounce our pride and submit to the glory of the majestic King of the Universe, then we will experience the tragedy of 1 Peter 5:5. “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” If we fail to clothe ourselves with humility, God will oppose us. It doesn’t say He will passively remove His blessing from us and our ministry… it says He will actively oppose us. Can you imagine anything worse than being actively opposed by the Lord God Almighty, all the while deceiving yourself into thinking you’re actually serving Him?

May God help us to see His glory and respond by renouncing all our pride!

Editor's Note: This article is being used with the gracious permission of Dr. Lofquist, IFCA International and VOICE magazine, Volume 89 Number 5 published September/October 2010. If you'd like more information on IFCA, please visit their website at www.ifca.org

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

June Cleaver: What's Wrong with an Ideal?



Frazier Moore, the television writer for the Associated Press, has a column on the late Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver) that I think is worth reading.

Barbara died over the weekend at the age of 94 -- yet another television icon gone from a bygone, more innocent era. In his column, Moore penned an insightful observation, which leads me to make one of my own. But first, here's Frazier Moore:

The original "Leave It to Beaver" series premiered in October 1957 and aired through September 1963. A curious thing: This glowing, picket-fenced vision of Americana ended two months before President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
An age of disillusionment had begun. And in TV sitcoms, the perfect nuclear family with the perfect stay-at-home mom was an endangered species.

In its place, "All in the Family" with addled doormat Edith Bunker came along. And raucous Roseanne Conner on "Roseanne." And raunchy Peg Bundy on "Married ... with Children." These were moms tailor-made for a different world of viewers. It was a different world of parents who weren't seeking escape by watching TV parents who were better than they could ever hope to be. They were seeking jagged reassurance from parents as hung up, or more so, than they had ever feared they could ever become.


This isn't the only time I've seen the downward spiral of television family entertainment — not to mention the decline of morals and traditionalism — linked with the demise of "Camelot." I don't know that Mr. Moore intends to say that the death of Kennedy caused the downward spiral, but many commentators view that time as when the nation became more jaded and questioning of traditional values.

I think it has more to do with the sin nature of human beings. It has more to do with what happens when a nation forgets God. It has more to do with what happens when society is drawn to (and glorifies) the coarse, irreverent, perverse and vulgar.

And what's with all this notion of people watching television "seeking escape?" Again, I've heard this many times before. To me, it's only so much psychobabble. I never watched television or any movie "seeking escape." I just watched it for entertainment. I didn't view things I watched as an electronic psychiatrist's couch or prescription anodyne.

Many people make fun of the 1950s, at least in the chattering class and entertainment world. Instead of creating wholesome, uplifting fare, they'd rather "push the envelope" and be "edgy" (read that to mean vulgar, crude, profane etc). And all the while, they continue to contribute to the downward spiral.

Yes, they make fun of the 1950s and the popular shows that were prevalent then. But truth be told, I'll bet a significant hunk of the American population wishes we were back in those halcyon days. What's wrong with an ideal mother and an ideal family? Isn't the whole point of an "ideal" something to be pursued, strived for and attained? What's wrong with an ideal?

Nothing at all.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hard to Starboard, All Engines Reverse!


Our beloved president is making lots of wisecracks these days about how the country needs to keep the national car in "D," and not go backwards with "R." In other words, don't vote Republican in November. Vote Democrat.

Yeah, right.

Let me pass along a little loving instruction to Sir Barack. When the national car is being driven over a cliff ala "Thelma and Louise," putting the car in reverse or slamming on the brakes is entirely appropriate.

Might want to switch drivers, too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Bible: Never Obsolete


This week's installment from The Fundamentals

by Philip Mauro
Attorney at Law

One of the most prominent characteristics of books written by men for the purpose of imparting information and instruction is that they very quickly become obsolete, and must be cast aside and replaced by others. This is particularly true of books on science, textbooks, school books and the like. Indeed it is a matter of boasting (though it would be hard to explain why) that "progress" is so rapid in all departments of learning as to render the scientific books of one generation almost worthless to the next. Changes in human knowledge, thought and opinion occur so swiftly, that books, which were the standards yesterday, are set aside today for others, which in turn will be discarded for yet other "authorities" tomorrow. In fact, every book which is written for a serious purpose begins to become obsolete before the ink is dry on the page. This may be made the occasion of boasting of the great progress of humanity, and of the wonderful advances of "science;" but the true significance of the fact is that man's books are all, like himself, dying creatures.

The Bible, on the other hand, although it treats of the greatest and most serious of all subjects, such as God, Christ, eternity, life, death, sin, righteousness, judgment, redemption— is always the latest, best, and only authority on all these and other weighty matters whereof it treats. Centuries of "progress" and "advancement" have added absolutely nothing to the sum of knowledge on any of these subjects. The Bible is always fresh and thoroughly "up to date." Indeed it is far, far ahead of human science. Progress cannot overtake it, or get beyond it. Generation succeeds generation, but each finds the Bible waiting for it with its ever fresh and never failing stores of information touching matters of the highest concern, touching everything that affects the welfare of human beings.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Caving In to the "Agenda"


To take some liberty with Jerry Lee Lewis lyrics, it seems like there's "a whole lot of cavin' goin' on."

Let me explain. Homosexual rights activists are feeling their oats right now, and not just in the bedroom. A Bill Clinton-appointed federal judge just struck down the "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays in the military (and even that policy was too much of a concession as far as I am concerned). They've been increasingly getting their way in terms of forcing their lifestyle down people's throats, and are stepping up their efforts to target churches and religious groups who have moral objections to homosexuality based on the tenets of their faith.

As indicated by this USA Today article about Elton John decrying anti-homosexual attitudes in American society, the media are joining in the full court press. Even conservatives are beginning to cave. Note in the Elton article how chummy he's been getting with Rush Limbaugh. Other conservative leaders are succumbing to the gay rights bandwagon. In the same issue of USA Today, there's a clip about gay activists pressing the Mormons to abandon their teaching that homosexuality is "unnatural."

We are basically seeing the fruit of what began when society allowed the psychobabblers to re-define homosexuality from an aberration or perversion into just a lifestyle choice. Things have deteriorated to the point where they are now trying to be recognized on the same grounds as a racial or ethnic minority -- a protected class. Never mind that we're talking about giving a sexual behavior the same protection and recognition that you'd give a black man sitting at a lunch counter. It's ridiculous.

I suppose I expect society in general to cave, but I have real problems when people who identify themselves as Christians start caving. I will need to leave the Mormons to answer for themselves, but my main point is for so-called evangelicals who are beginning to soften on this issue. What's the answer when the activists come knocking at our church doors demanding that we come to their point of view? Our answer ought to be that the Creator Himself has overruled them, and they need to repent. Here's what God's Word has to say on the subject:

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22)

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Romans 1:26-27).

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

The condemnation and judgment is severe, but as the last quoted verse indicates, there is hope and deliverance for those who repent of their sin and trust in Christ. "Such WERE some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified . . " Yes, there is hope for those who confess their sin and repent of it.

But Christians do no favors to homosexuals when they cave in to their demands. Society does no favors when society caves in to their demands. In the long run, their end will be destruction. And the society (and yes, the "church" ) that accepts the behavior as legitimate will share in the judgment.

I think that's the final observation I'd like to make. Homosexuals and liberals in general love to talk about "tolerance." But on this issue, they have moved beyond mere "tolerance." They are demanding acceptance and approval, and that is something true Christians can never give and be faithful to our Savior.

Late addendum . . . Check out this column by Joseph Farah, CEO of World Net Daily. A good summation of the public battle on this subject.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

More on Rewards/Punishment


This week's installment from The Fundamentals

by Sir Robert Anderson

Every treatise in support of these heresies (as discussed in the last installment on "Degrees of Heaven and Hell") relies on the argument that the words in our English Version, which connote endless duration, represent words in the original text which have no significance. But this argument is exploded by the fact that the critic would be compelled to use these very words if he were set the task of retranslating our version into Greek. For that language has no other terminology to express the thought. And yet it is by trading on ad captandum arguments of this kind, and by the prejudices which are naturally excited by partial or exaggerated statements of truth, that these heresies win their way. Attention is thus diverted from the insuperable difficulties which beset them, and from their bearing on the truth of the atonement.

But Christianity sweeps away all these errors. The God of Sinai has not repented of His thunders, but He has fully revealed Himself in Christ. And the wonder of the revelation is not punishment but pardon. The great mystery of the Gospel is how God can be just and yet the Justifier of sinful men. And the Scriptures which reveal that mystery make it clear as light that this is possible only through redemption; "not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 2:2). Redemption is only and altogether by the death of Christ. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

To bring in limitations here is to limit God.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Yoga and Christians


The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Back in the late 1980s and 1990s, there was much concern in the conservative, evangelical wing of Christianity about yoga and other Eastern mystical practices getting a foothold in the church. I think those concerns were justified at the time, and I think they're still justified.

Southern Baptist theologian Dr. Albert Mohler is concerned, and wrote an article on the subject, an article referenced in this news clip. Predictably, a hue and cry has sallied forth blasting Mohler for attacking what is clearly an unbiblical practice with demonic roots. If you look at the angry responses from some of the women in the AP story, they're huffing and puffing about how yoga makes them "feel." They could care less about biblical truth. Feelings are all that matters.

At one time, I leaned toward allowing that yoga exercises per se were harmless if they were done as physical exercises alone without the spiritual chants and mind-emptying practices. I have changed my views since then. As they say down South, "you might as well eat the Devil's meat as to drink his broth."

We have come to a point in our culture where Christians must stand separate and distinct from the unbelieving world. We must not confuse spiritual truth by leaning into anything that smacks of syncretism. Participating in Eastern mystical practices only fudges and confuses. We'd better wake up to that fact and quit being so gullible and undiscerning.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My Stepfather's Passing


Rev. Lacy A. Williams, 86, of Freeport (Red Oak), IL, died October 3, 2010, at Provena St. Joseph Center in Freeport, IL. Lacy was born December 15, 1923, in Rainelle, WV, the second of eight children. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the Navy for five years. He then attended Freed-Hardeman College, Henderson, TN, from 1951-1954, where he became deeply interested in the Bible.

Lacy’s strong faith in Christ became the foundation of his ministry, which lasted for more than 50 years. Lacy pastored churches in West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, New York, California and Missouri. He retired in 2000 after serving for several years as pastor of the Church of God in Forrest, Illinois. As he would often say, “I have a deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ and His Word.”

During the last 15 years of his life, Lacy learned to use the computer, published two books, maintained an online blog, “The True Believer,” and published a weekly series of e-mail essays also entitled “The True Believer.”

Lacy is survived by his wife, May Lurea, and his children, Sharon Sellers, Dianne Hershman, Donna Bean and David (Marcy) Williams, and their mother, Betty Lilly Williams. He is also survived by step-children Carol Garrison, Vicki (Barry) Collinson and Joel Griffith, seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, his brother Lovell (Erma) Williams, and many loving relatives.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, October 7, 2010, at the Moreland Funeral Home, 55 E. Schrock Road, Westerville, Ohio. Visitation will be at the funeral home Wednesday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, friends who wish may contribute in memory of Lacy to the youth ministry at Park Hills Evangelical Free Church, 2525 W. Stephenson Street, Freeport, Illinois, 61032. Donations may also be made to Provena St. Joseph Center, 659 East Jefferson Street
Freeport, Illinois, 61032

Friday, October 01, 2010

Every Picture Tells a Story


The Drudge Report linked this photo to a story about the fun weather Los Angeles has been enjoying of late. The photo in question was taken over Hollywood of all places. A rainbow and lightning bolt captured together. Wow.

Just to show you how differing worldviews compete, consider this. Some view it as an interesting meteorological phenomenon. I personally see some theological symbolism, i.e. God's promise of hope balanced by certain judgment if mankind does not repent. Knowing the Hollywood crowd, they'd misinterpret it to see a gay rights message.

Wonder how they'd interpret San Francisco or L.A. falling into the ocean?