Wednesday, November 30, 2011
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’ (John 15:18-25).
Rather sobering analysis, isn't it? Hence my statement that most Americans don't have a clue about who Jesus really is. To many, he's just a religious figure or great moral teacher. He's no different than Mohammed, Buddha, or any other spiritual teacher. Others have a vague notion that He is the Son of God, and have a basic knowledge of the Christian story, but no more than that. It has no meaning or bearing for their own lives.
If most recognized Him for who He truly is — God Incarnate who came to this world in human form, died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification — and will return again soon to judge the world and everyone in it . . . they probably would have a much more hostile reaction unless the Lord was in the process of drawing them to Himself in saving faith.
It's a clue to me that we as individual believers and as church congregations need to do a much better job at evangelism. And people will respond in two ways as they hear the Gospel, maybe three. They will repent or they will get angry, as the Wesleys used to point out. Or they will be indifferent and put it off until later, which could have eternally deadly consequences, as no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. After you die, it's too late.
But as long as they are allowed to have this vague notion of Jesus as the gentle shepherd on the mountainside and moral teacher who did a lot of good, they'll be content with that. That's not threatening to their personal autonomy and self-centered pursuit of their own goals in life. Jesus as Lord and Judge is disconcerting, disquieting, and even frightening. So they'll fight that tooth and nail. Yet the Lord in His mercy will save some.
It really is as C.S. Lewis once brilliantly put it . . .
"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -‑ on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg ‑- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God: or else a madman or something worse."
Then Lewis adds: "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Friday, November 25, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
As the creator of the New Baptist Covenant, Carter sought to make “a positive, non-exclusive program of sharing the Gospel of Christ” that lacked “the legalistic interpretation of Scripture.”
The New Baptist Covenant has a three-fold mission that involves creating “an authentic and prophetic Baptist voice,” emphasizing “traditional Baptist values, including sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and the promotion of various social causes like feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and protecting religious diversity.
When you flesh out what he means by "legalistic interpretation of Scripture," you will no doubt find holes large enough to accommodate a Greyhound bus. Carter is clueless not only about "traditional Baptist values," he's also clueless when it comes to biblical doctrine.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Given the Catholic Church’s ban on contraception, the bishops’ position shouldn’t come as a surprise to Ms. Pelosi — but she still manages to be baffled by the their concern for conscience protections for health insurers who might not want to have to cover birth control just to be able to provide other types of health insurance.
Similarly, she was skeptical earlier this year that Republicans would fight for conscience protections for health care providers out of any noble motive. Republicans must want women to “die on the floor,” she said, just because they don’t want to compel health care providers to assist with abortions.
She still thinks that — only more so, if that could possibly be.
“[Those who disagree] may not like the language,’’ she told The Washington Post, “but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it . . . but they have this conscience thing [that puts women at risk.]”
Shame on us! How dare we have a conscience!
Remarkable, isn't it? A "devout" Catholic who "honors and loves" her faith, yet blasts it because she finds its moral teachings on a social issue politically inconvenient. And this hysterical phrase about women "dying on the floor" is demagoguery at its worst.
I really hope Nancy gets politically clobbered on this one. As a matter of fact, the Pope should excommunicate her and teach her a lesson.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Conservative pundits and bloggers (and the occasional TV reporter -network biases aside -) have done their work in revealing the true nature of these "Occupy" protests that began in New York and have now spread to other cities.
Try as they might, the talking heads and liberal politicians who have tried to tie these agitators and professional squallers to the Tea Party have largely failed. They have little in common, and certainly are no where near in comparison in behavior with the vast majority of Tea Party protests, Town Halls and demonstrations. For one thing, the Tea Partiers made their point, and then they went back home. First, they cleaned up the grounds where they held their events, and often left them in better shape than they were when they got there.
Not so this bunch. They're anarchist or communist in many cases and not very unified in message, with the exception of wanting to cause as much agitation as possible. Many demand the entire overthrow of our free enterprise system in favor of some sort of socialist communitarian utopia. They are damaging things, vandalizing, urinating and defecating on public and private property, spreading disease, with reports of rapes and other crimes. They're quite a bunch.
In our American system, we don't handle protest the same way they handle protests and agitators over in Europe - even in "democratic" Western Europe. When things get out of hand there, out come the water cannons and the truncheons until the crowd is broken up and dispersed. We're reluctant to do that here, as we really value First Amendment protections of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
Here's one of the problems as I see it. Many of these "Occupiers" are not engaging in peaceful, lawful protest. They're acting like criminals. From what I can gather, there is nothing really constructive about what they want, except some vague slogans and catchphrases about "overthrowing Wall Street." The real culprits are the "community organizers" and wealthy types (reminds me of George Soros) helping to fund this kind of stuff behind the scenes. They're well trained in Saul Alinsky methods in raising a ruckus, with a touch of Cloward-Piven thrown in for good measure. Create as much havoc and strain on the system as possible until it cracks and breaks under the pressure.
If these people get their way, the very rights and constitutional protections they demand are the first ones they would waste no time in taking away from the rest of us if they got their way. In their world, owning and operating a successful, profitable business would be nigh impossible. They really are iconoclasts interested only in destruction.
My one hope is that people are finally beginning to weary of their antics. As I've mentioned earlier, even liberal mayors out in California, Oregon and elsewhere are beginning to see that enough is enough. Mainstream America is really beginning to get irked, and this will only end up hurting the Occupiers in the long run. Rather than getting their way, the ones they want elected to office will be defeated in a landslide.
I'll conclude by saying this, and for many on the outside, it will be a surprise coming from an American. I don't mind legitimate demonstrations. I don't mind orderly, lawful demonstrations. I support free speech. But I do NOT support lawbreaking and disorder, nor do I support the shutting down of lawful commerce and the normal warp, woof and life of a city just so a bunch of do-less good-for-nothings who haven't bathed in weeks can stand out and block traffic to yell and scream at the top of their lungs. I think they need to stop it and stop it now. Do something constructive. Run for office, or support candidates who feel the way you do. Do it nationally, do it statewide, and do it locally. Get a job. Help at a soup kitchen. Mentor a young boy or girl who needs a role model. Join the Peace Corp. Join the mission field, that is assuming you're a Christian (and from what I've seen thus far, there aren't many). But knock off this nonsense.
Otherwise, I'm fine with the authorities bringing in the water cannon and using all necessary force to restore order. Read Romans 13 if you think I'm being over the top. The state's job is to maintain order.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
For today's post, we make a friendly visit to our friends at the BBC in the United Kingdom.
First, on a happier note, there is a story about Queen Elizabeth and other notables attending a service/observance reflecting the 400th anniversary of the venerable King James Version of the Bible. It would have been nice to have seen some more evangelical representation in the story, but at least it's largely a positive account and respectful.
The next story is not so pleasant. Are you ready?
It appears there's a new Spanish-origin play about the Lord Jesus on stage in France, and it's causing quite the controversy. Here's a clip boiling down the dispute to a nutshell:
Another senior Catholic cleric, Bishop Dominique Rey of Frejus-Toulon, condemned what he said was Garcia's depiction of Christ as "madman, dog, pyromaniac, messiah of Aids, devil-whore, no better than a terrorist".
Garcia himself said his play, which depicts the life of Christ through shocking images of contemporary consumer society, was a reflection of everyday reality.
Too bad we can't just be satisfied with the biblical account. That describes the life of our Lord quite accurately, and most importantly, offers up the purpose of His earthly sojourn - God the Son becoming our sin-bearer, laying down His life, dying on the cross for our sins and rising again from the dead for our justification.
I expect we'll continue to see stuff like this and much worse as time moves on toward the Lord's return - this time as judge. Sir Ian McKellen can tear out all the pages of Scripture he likes when he finds Gideon Bibles in motel rooms. Dan Radcliffe can tell the BBC and other media how much he "hates" Christians and others who call homosexuality what it is - sin. The world can continue on hating God, hating His Son, and hating His people. And it will until God says enough.
And until we get to that point, Christians will go on lovingly proclaiming the Gospel. The Lord will lovingly and graciously draw people to Himself in salvation, and the Lord will go on building His Church. And one day only known by Him, He will return and receive His people to Himself, and we will be with Him for eternity.
And there will also be a final judgment of all who reject Him. Final and eternal. Repent while you still can.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Thus far, I haven't had much to say about the "Occupy Wall Street" frumpuses going on in New York and other cities across the country. Although I knew largely who and what was behind it and that it had little to do with the same kind of spirit that drove the Tea Party gatherings last year, I wanted to wait and see if what I expected came to pass.
And yes, largely it has. The "Occupiers' have shown themselves to be largely nothing but ne'r do well left-wingers, anarchists, communist-socialist sympathizers who are more interested in disruption and bringing down the country's system more than they are actually accomplishing anything positive or wholesome. They're right out of the Saul Alinsky/Cloward-Piven school. The Tea Party was largely civil and organized, had a constructive message, and moreover, they cleaned up after themselves and went home. This bunch seems to attract every kind of lout, with rapes, vandalism, sanitary problems, violence etc. now being daily occurrences, or so it seems. Many of them seem to be anarchists. Literally.
It's doubly telling to me that even liberal Democratic mayors in Oakland (right across the water from Berkeley and San Francisco) and other locations have had a gut-full, and are beginning to order the protesters to disband, cease and desist.
Don't get me wrong. I am all for legitimate protest, and the right of the people to bring their grievances to governing authorities in a respectful, orderly manner. We have the right of free speech, which is precious.
But you do not have the right to rape, pillage, vandalize, trespass on private property, disrupt legal commerce, and the other high-jinks being performed by the Occupy crowds. Most of them don't even have the foggiest idea of what they're doing out there. They've said their piece, now they need to go home. And if they're not willing to go home, then they need to be given new digs in the closest county jail.
Monday, November 14, 2011
I've always been a fan of Bryan Duncan, dating back to the time when he was lead singer of Sweet Comfort Band. If I had to pick a favorite solo recording of Bryan's, it would be his album "Strong Medicine."
According to this news item at Christian Music's website, Bryan is planning a new album and he'd like some help from his fans and supporters.
A clip from the release says that the purpose of doing this through Kickstarter is to help "fund the release of his 23rd album and the re-issue of eight out-of-print CDs. The campaign runs through December 16, 2011, and, according to Kickstarter’s policy, must reach its goal to receive any funding." Here's more . . .
Kickstarter.com is a web site that describes itself as a new way to fund & follow creativity. “The cool thing about Kickstarter” says Duncan, “is fans get to be a part of my music project. That’s a lot better than re-tweeting something I said or tagging me in a photo.”
Duncan’s supporters can also receive special incentives for participating in the Kickstarter campaign - autographed albums, house concerts, duets in concert or on their own albums -- and the chance to talk with Duncan by phone or videoconference.
“My fans and I share many of the same experiences. We’re all just learning what it means to experience God’s grace in all of life’s circumstances. Interaction with them often is the inspiration for songs,” Duncan says. “ So it’s exciting to have a way to connect with some of them during the writing and recording process.”
Duncan views music as a calling, so he’ll be writing and singing as long as he’s able, with or without a record company.
“If you’ve got a calling, you’re compelled to do it -- regardless of how painful it gets or what everyone else thinks about it. I’m grateful, though, that there are people who have listened to my music and supported me for so many years.”
I plan on contributing, and I'd encourage you to do so as well.
As a final note, Bryan, along with Sweet Comfort Band-mates Randy Thomas (Allies) and Rick Thomson, are working on a new SCB album. In part, this will be in memorial of SCB founder and bassist Kevin Thomson, who passed away last year after a long illness.
As to whether there will be an SCB tour, it remains to be seen. Pray for God's provision and direction for Bryan, Randy and the band.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Well, it's happened again.
I don't know what it is today with these young stars and starlets who vocally identify themselves as Christians, only to compromise their testimonies by crude, sinful or idiotic behavior.
Do I need to make a list? Katy Perry, who decided to tip her bonnet to lesbianism (I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It). Miley Cyrus, former Disney star of Hannah Montana, who has done all sorts of fun things including pole dancing and seeming endorsement of pre-marital sex plus homosexuality. We had the brother band "Hanson," who identify themselves as evangelical Christians, yet refuse to talk about their faith and at least one got his future wife pregnant out of wedlock.
Now we have Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. This group of brothers have identified themselves as Christians. So please tell me why Joe felt the need to have rapper "Lil' Wayne" appear on his solo album and contribute "explicit lyrics." Here is a brief account of things.
"Let no corrupt speech proceed from your mouth." I could give you a whole host of other Scriptures that are pertinent to the subject. But I am beginning to wonder whether I should bother.
This up and coming generation of professed believers seems to have forgotten the Word of God. They have a "whatever" attitude, and don't you DARE judge them. Even though Scripture makes it plain we are to exercise judgment on the behavior of believers in the church. No matter.
Wanna have sex outside of marriage? Go for it. Wanna cuss up a blue streak in the name of being "authentic?" Go for it. Don't bother us with what Scripture says, especially when Jesus says - "If you love Me, keep my commandments."
We are not saved by commandment keeping. But our desire to be obedient to the Lord is a pretty good bellwether of our spiritual health. Do we love Him, or do we not?
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Beware of open microphones.
They always used to tell us that in radio broadcasting. Anytime there was a microphone present, you had the potential of being broadcast over the air. Watch your mouth.
Too bad President Obama and French president Nikolas Sarkozy didn't learn that lesson. Or perhaps they don't care. As this published report indicates, Obama and Sarkozy engaged in some trash talk aimed at Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Personally, I'm glad they got caught. We have long suspected Obama of being anti-Israel and his actions thus far have borne that out in my humble opinion. As for Sarkozy, I'm not surprised given Europe's general anti-Semitism. I think he's probably on his way out in the next French election, but we'll see.
I can only hope Obama is on his way out as the U.S. president in the next election. Sadly, he can still do a lot of damage to the country between now and January 20, 2013.
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Now and then I have my introspective moments, usually triggered by something I see around me. Today is one of those days.
For some time now, I've been increasingly bothered by the growing inability to distinguish between saved and unsaved people. I don't mean to suggest that saved people (meaning those having a saving faith and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ) don't struggle with the sin nature and stumble from time to time. I am talking about those who claim such a relationship with the Lord, yet their lifestyles, choices and speech does not reflect anything at all of the Savior — His holiness, His purity, His love, His zeal and passion for truth, not to mention His zeal and passion for the lost.
Today, we have believers who think nothing of enjoying pornography or skating as close to it as they can get. We have believers who don't just enjoy a sip of wine at dinner, but routinely get roaring drunk out at the bars without an afterthought — except perhaps bemoaning their hangovers.
We have a whole host of young evangelicals (and some not so young) who think it's perfectly okay to fornicate (sex outside of marriage) or to see just how close they can come to it without actually "going all the way." And then there's the language thing. Most of us stumble with our tongues from time to time, especially when greatly angered. And most of us with the indwelling Holy Spirit feel horribly convicted about it and their hearts are repentant. But not the current crew in this generation. They cuss like sailors and are proud of it. Some of it can even come from the pulpit.
More and more, it's a matter of pride to look as gaudy and worldly as possible. Between the nose rings and ear-lobe rings the size of Frisbees, and tattoos almost to the point of making people look like cave paintings, it almost makes you feel like you're going to get mugged or smell the distinct whiff of body odor the closer you get. But maybe I'm thinking of the Wall Street protests. I'll have to think about it a while.
But what about God's Word? What about the Lord's commands not to engage in sex before marriage? What about not letting corrupt, vulgar speech proceed out of your mouth? What about the myriad Scriptures condemning drunkenness? What about not putting any marks on ourselves? Oh, please. You're being a legalist. Who are you to judge my heart? I know I'm going to heaven, so what I do really doesn't matter.
How antinomian. And quite frankly, how tragic, especially from people who say they identify with the One who paid the price for our sins on the cross.
Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." Think about that one a while.
We are not saved by commandment keeping. We are not saved by works and performance. But our obedience is a sign and a testimony that we have been saved.
I have to wonder how many out there these days truly are.