Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Praise God for Answered Prayer

I went back to the doctor today. He could see inside of my eye quite a bit better today. While he couldn't see everything 100% clearly, he saw enough to say that there did not appear to be a tear or detachment with the retina. Translation--Joe does NOT have to go to surgery.


I did the happy dance. I praise God for brining me through this. My vision is back to about 80% of normal. I can actually see well enough to study some scripture. I can see my families faces. In a few days, I think I'll be able to see well enough to drive again. I don't have to stress worrying about taking time off from work to recover from surgery.

Thank you Father. Praise your Holy Name!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yet Another Personal Prayer Request

A funny thing happened to me int he drive through after church....

I went from being able to see to "Oh snot, Patricia, you're going to have to drive home" in the spread of about 5 minutes.

I was concerned to say the least. I called the retina dude and he was kind enough to meet me at the office. He said he couldn't see anything--too much blood. I'm going in tomorrow for an ultrasound. No, not to see if it's a boy or a girl. Haa haa

I've gotten about 50 percent of my vision back over the past 36 hours. I also havent' lost any peripheral vision and I'm not seeing flashes of light.

All that to say, I'm still not able to work on a post. Please prray for the doctors and my family as we deal with this. Thank you.

P.S. Also, please excuse any typos if htere are any. I really can't see much of what I just wrote. P:-)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Personal Prayer Request

As you may have noticed if you follow this blog, I’m a little behind what I usually try to post for the week. I haven’t done any work, as of Thursday, in Matthew or II Peter. Something came up and I’ve been a little involved in some personal health concerns. Allow me to give a brief background as to the situation.

I was born with cataracts. I had them removed when I was 18 months old so I’ve worn glasses since I was 2 years old. I had another surgery to clear up some scar tissue from the cataract surgery when I was in 2nd grade (Side note-I was told by someone, not a medical professional, that the surgery in 2nd grade was my fault because I sat too close to the TV. I believed this until I was 28 years old. True story). Everything went along pretty well until I was 28 years old. I had just been called as the pastor at Matthew’s Memorial Baptist Church when I noticed something was kinda strange in my vision. I had a floater that looked like a string and world move in any direction I looked but stayed in my field of vision. I went along for a week or so thinking “Hmm, this is weird. Should I name it?” I finally went to an eye doctor who shall remain nameless (**cough** Hudson Hay**cough**). This anonymous doctor didn’t see a problem but sent me to a retinal specialist. That specialist didn’t see a problem so I went on about my business and tried to ignore Stringy (that’s the name I gave my floater). A few days later, I felt a pain in my left eye (where I was having the problems) and I started to see a constant rain of black spots. I went back to the doctor and he said there was nothing wrong. I asked him to refer me to the specialist again since he didn’t seem like he gave a rip if there was a problem. I can remember him being on the phone telling that doctor’s office that I wanted “an iron clad guarantee” that nothing was wrong. I went back to that specialists’ office and they found the problem—my retina had detached. I was in surgery the next day by which time my eye had bled on the inside so much that all I could see was pink. I was laid up for 6 weeks looking at the floor so the eye could heal. I don’t really remember much about those 6 weeks. When I finally got back to work I found that I had lost practically all the peripheral vision in that eye in addition to only being able to see about 20/800 out of it. That means I could see at 20 yards what a normal person could see 800 yards away. I’m talking I couldn’t see the big “E” on the eye chart. They would ask “How many fingers am I holding up?” and I would respond “You’re holding up fingers?” My depth perception was permanently shot to heck. I thought about just having a metal plate screwed over that eye to make me look real mean.

Fast forward to this past Monday night--about 7 pm I start to see little flashes in the corners of my right (only good) eye. I also have a circular floater that is now permanently in my field of vision (haven’t named him yet). Now, this freaked me out. You see, if I lost as much vision in my right eye as I have in my left, I’m done in my line of work. One of the things an auditor has to be able to do is see. The auditee is not going to provide copies of financial documents or corroborating documentation in braile. I am not going to lie, I was scared to death. Does this mean I’m going to have to go on disability? I don’t have enough sick leave to take 6 weeks off. I would love to say I had the faith to just trust in the Lord but I hate to lie. I was worried. I called the ophthalmologist and he said “Come in first thing”.

I’m not going to “front”, I was anxious. Once I got in the exam room, I cried. After the nurse left, I cried some more and prayed. I told God that I knew whatever happened was for His glory and I would trust Him to make me strong enough to deal with it. The doctor examined me and found nothing which was somewhat of a relief. However, with only one good and a history of bad luck with my vision, he sent me to a retinal specialist. This guy was on the ball. He looked and also found nothing but offered to use lasers to basically weld the retina on so that it wouldn’t tear or detach. Preventative therapy is what I took it to be. He did that Tuesday morning. Didn’t really hurt at all. Now this morning, it hurt—it hurt bad. I’m popping ibuprofen about every 3 or 4 hours. He also wants to see me about once a week for a month or so to make sure this sucker doesn’t tear. Very cautious—I can dig that.

So, that’s what’s been up with me. Bear with me and I’ll get back to work for next week. Above all, please pray for me and for my eyes, err I mean eye.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Taking a Stand for Righteousness

A gentleman over at World News Daily wrote a commentary recently about Rick Warren tip-toeing through the tulips on the issue of gay marriage called "America's wishy-washy pastors" You should really read the whole article because it is a good one. I think the following quote sums up the whole issue pretty nicely for folks who think "Homosexuality is no worse than other sins" or "Well, we don't need to offend people. Let's get to know them first".

There is no middle ground on this issue.

Either you believe the Bible or you don't.

If you don't, there are consequences. If you do, you are obligated to take a stand for righteousness. Of course, there are worldly consequences for that, too – for some apparently too great to accept. Followers of Yeshua have a choice: They can please God or please men. They can accept God's laws, which are not burdensome, and obey them, or they can reject them and try to tickle the ears of men. They can offend God or offend men.

'Nuff said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mail Order Sermons-"Dead Bread"

I recently read a blog post about preaching where the author described his discovery of the availability of mail order sermons. You can read the whole article here. I've posted some of it below. I agree with the author that the idea of someone ordering a sermon rather than doing the hard work of studying for themselves is terribly disappointing. I can't imagine any pastor who would do such a thing hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant".

I remember sitting in a popular restaurant chain with some friends several years ago, when the waitress came to take our order. One of my friends, when asked what kind of dressing he wanted on his salad, abruptly stated to the startled server, “And I don’t want any ‘dead bread’ on my salad.” After letting the comment sink in, the sweet but stunned girl replied, “Oh, you mean croutons!” To which my friend simply nodded in confirmation.That analogy has stuck with me all these years, and I remember it every time I order a salad that comes with “dead bread.”

I actually don’t mind croutons that much, and have even purchased a bag when passing through the salad aisle at the supermarket. There are so many flavors now: herb, parmesan, bacon-ranch, etc; all so conveniently located that I just reach out and take them as I pass by while filling my cart. However, when applying my friend’s unflattering adjective to preaching, my heart is stirred over a phenomenon which has gripped America’s pulpits in recent years.I recall opening my mail one morning some years ago and reading my first advertisement for “dead bread”:“Pastors, are you too busy to spend hours of preparation on your sermons? Tired of feeling the stress of having to come up with original ideas week after week? If so, for just $199.95 you can have 52 weeks of quality sermons crafted by homiletical masters, complete with illustrations! Your congregation is guaranteed to be thrilled with the results or your money back!” Could this be true? Are there people who actually do this?

My next encounter with the crouton crowd was at a breakfast meeting with a group of ministers when three men from the same “high church” tradition began comparing how their Easter season was going. I was stunned when each one began sharing from the exact same text, outline, illustrations, everything! They chided me for my naiveté and how I could expect to come up with fresh bread week after week after week. The last straw was when I found “sermon seed” in the back of my own former fellowship’s ministerial journal, giving even Pentecostal pastors a shortcut to perfectly prepared and portioned seasoned sermons.

Little did I realize that there was an entirely new “evangelical liturgy” which had been created in the name of pragmatic programming and church growth. There are many websites available to pastors across America (which I refuse to list here) where they can tap into high carbohydrate ministries by simply “clicking and shipping” a veritable supermarket of pre-prepared and pre-packaged food.This truth was originally proclaimed (in type) in the account of God’s warning to Israel that He wanted them to gather fresh manna each morning, and that they were not to hoard up one crumb until the next day. They were supposed to learn that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8). They failed to listen then, and the result was spoilage and worms instead of a miraculous manifestation of God’s power (Exodus 16). The Apostle Peter exhorted those of us who preach:

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;” (1 Peter 4:11a)

We are to work, weep, and wrestle with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to bring forth a fresh revelation of God’s mind and heart to His people DAILY. Today, all the over-worked and under-prayed pastor/CEO needs to do is click, ship, and unwrap the moldy manna, and sprinkle it liberally into the gaping mouths and itching ears of their “flock” (of pigeons not sheep).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

II Peter 2:1 Warning Against False Teachers

Every since Satan deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden, there have been counterfeit teachers who claimed to speak for God but did not. That should come as no surprise since Satan was a liar from the beginning and men naturally love lies more than truth. However, as children of God we are called to not only love the truth but live that truth. In order to do that, we must be on guard for false teachers and their doctrine.

As Peter states in verse 1 of chapter 2 in this epistle, we are reminded of the past example of false prophets. Peter begins here to strike a contrast between true prophets (he and the other apostles) and true prophesy (scripture) and the “false prophets [who] arose among the people”. At the end of chapter one, Peter recounts his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration and says that scripture is a more reliable source of revelation than even his own first-hand account of that spectacular event. Now, he contrasts that truth by reminding the readers that there were also false prophets amongst the Israelites (“the people”). For instance, in Jeremiah 28, Haniniah claimed to be speaking for God when he prophesied that God would free the Israelites from the Babylonians. That kind of preaching sounded good to ears itching to be tickled. Peter reminds them of this fact that there had been false prophets, in my opinion, to add weight to his warning that “there will be false prophets among you”. This is not a hypothetical sort of statement. It logically follows that if it did happen before you can trust that same sort of thing will happen here. He discusses their motivations later in the chapter, but here he simply warns that the false teachers will come and they will come from within the rank and file of those within the congregation.

Furthermore, notice with me how Peter describes their method. He says they will come in and “secretly introduce” their false doctrine. The phrase “secretly introduce” translates a single Greek word “pareisago” (3919) which means “to bring in alongside stealthily”. The idea that of an enemy soldier sneaking into camp in order to infiltrate it. The noun form of the word in used in Galatians 2:4 to talk about false brethren sneaking in to spy out the liberty the true believers had in Christ. These false teachers didn’t want to throw out what had been taught but they wanted to bring their false doctrine in and introduce it along with the true doctrine so as to deceive people. Many cults, for instance, will claim doctrines that are considered true by Christians. For instance, Mormons teach that Christ died on the cross and rose three days later. Jehovah’s Witnesses would affirm this fact as well. However, neither of those groups would be considered “Christian” in anything other than a loose meaning of the word. In the same way, other false teachers will affirm biblical truth while they sneak in false doctrine.

Also, Peter tells us about the materials of these false teachers. In contrast to the life changing spiritual nourishment in the word of God, these false teachers bring in “destructive heresies”. In the culture of the day, students in schools for philosophy would align themselves with a particular teacher. If within that school, someone had a different opinion they might try to draw followers to their side. Those who chose to go with the different teacher were called “hariesis” (139) from which we get the English word heretic”. In short, these people made a fixed choice to reject one teaching and embrace another doctrine. In some instances, that is no problem. There are even some doctrines in Christianity which good, honorable men and women have studied and reached different conclusions about in churches. Sometimes we have to agree to disagree. However, the particular kind of heresies Peter is describing are “destructive”. For instance, I know of a Baptist church where the pastor invited the author of The Shack to come speak at his church. Now, you won’t get half-way though the book and you will have read a truckload of soul-damning heresies wrapped in a cloak of “fiction”. To have permitted someone who denies that Christ was punished for sin to preach the gospel in your church is, well, unbelievable. This sort of doctrine is what Peter is referring to as “destructive”. Choosing to reject the truth and believe these false teachers is to put yourself on the path to utter, total destruction with no hope of recovery.

Finally, Peter reveals to us that these false teachers, in their madness, go so far as “even denying the Master that bought them”. Now, we know that if you deny something you claim to not know it or reject it. So these men, knowing that there is a God since creation testifies to that fact (Romans 1), reject Him. The verb is in the present tense in the Greek which means that their denial of God is ongoing. It’s not a case like Peter who denied the Lord 3 times and repented. These men refuse to acknowledge God as the sovereign Lord of the universe who “bought them”. By bought, I do not think Peter intended to mean these men were once saved and now were not or that Christ paid for their sins. Rather, since everything in existence belongs to God in the sense that He created it, these false teachers also are owned by God. In spite of that fact, however, they reject Him and will suffer the punishment for their sins in Hell.

We must be on guard for false teachers in the church. The truth in scripture is the truth that sanctifies and saves the souls of men and women. It is paramount that we stand opposed to any teacher who teaches doctrine contrary to the precious word of God.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Conversation With A Gay Apologist Part III

Below is a comment that was left on my blog in response to a post about the perversion of homosexuality. The commenter’s statements will be in italics while my reply will be in regular typeface. I will post the entire comment over the course of several days. We Christians have a rational, objective basis for our faith. We have truth revealed in the word of God.
Just a quick note, this comment was left in response to other comments on a post from a few days ago. You can read that post here.

The answer is that this text was written for another people in another time, and is not applicable for us today. (If it was, we'd be following all those crazy codes about lobster and linen-cotton.)

You are partially right and partially wrong. The New Testament makes pretty plain what still applies and what doesn’t. Acts 10:9-16, for instance, lets us know that the dietary laws no longer apply. Romans 1 lets us know while the Old Testament laws against sexual perversions such as homosexuality do not apply those acts are still considered perverse.

Instead, this text was written largely by men with a tribal/ethnocentric mentality

Even a lot of liberal Christian scholars would laugh at this statement. I mean, if you would have cats from Duke or Wake Forest telling you “That is just silly” you know you’ve got problems. Even some of those folks acknowledge that Moses was the author of the books of the law. Come on, stay with me here.

who were obsessed with A) keeping their lineage going and B) preserving the purity of Hebrew bloodlines. For those people, then, any sex act that did not lead to procreation, or that mixed up the bloodlines, was forbidden. Hence the bans on m*******tion, homosexuality, and mixing the races. Today, you do not find "Christians" freaking out about m*******tion and race-mixing quite so much.

So the Hebrews were the only people in the land of Canaan who were interested in keeping their lineage going and keeping their bloodlines pure? That doesn’t make sense for them to be the only ones who had those goals. The fact is that one reason God gave those laws because the people in the land of Canaan were doing just those sorts of things in their religious festivals. God wanted to keep the Hebrew people separated from these pagans so they could demonstrate His glory and bring forth the Messiah-Jesus Christ. That is why He prohibited the Hebrew people to intermarry. As far as a ban on m*******tion I’m afraid that isn’t in the law of Moses and is off topic. We’ll leave that for another time.

What's more, these tribal elders *encouraged* sex acts that are taboo in modern America, but which DID facilitate greater procreation and a robust bloodline -- specifically plural marriage, and the practice of men immediately marrying their brothers' widows. Today, you don't find "Christians" promoting this behavior so much.

Nowhere in the Old Testament is having more than one wife encouraged. Not once. Ever. As far as a Levirate marriage, that was not primarily about procreation but rather it had to do with keeping a man’s property in the family.

I will post the last portion of this comment and my reply later this week.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Matthew 6:11 God is Our Provider

I can remember growing up wanting some things that I never got. In particular, I remember a Batmobile pedal car that I saw in the Sears Christmas catalogue. I could see myself hoping in that sucker with a bedsheet tied around my neck peddling out of the driveway to the hill right behind our house and speeding down that hill chasing after the Joker or the Penguin. Of course, that road also dead ended into a ditch that was pretty deep from what I remember so on second thought it was a good thing I never got that. However, as much as I longed for that car it’s probably one of only the few things that I didn’t get. In fact, I probably got most of what I asked for and I know I got a lot more than some people. But in the area of things I needed I never lacked anything. Mom and Dad always made sure we were taken care of and that we had the food, clothes, shelter, and medical care we needed. Now my parents are not perfect and they provided for me. If they were human and made mistakes but still took good care of their kids, how much more can we depend on our heavenly Father to provide for our needs.

As we read in Matthew 6:11, Jesus says “Give us this day our daily bread”. I think there are several things that we can observe from that verse. First of all, we notice dependence—specifically our dependence on God. We live in a culture that is obsessed with the idea of being a self-made man or woman. Charlie Daniels once crooned in a popular song of his “I don’t need nothing from nobody if I can’t get it on my own”. We take pride in being self reliant and not depending on other people. In some ways that is good. I mean, we need to work and earn our own living rather than waiting for someone to just drop it into our lap. However, we as children of God need to realize that our survival is ultimately dependant on God. God is the one who provides for our needs. Certainly I have to go to work, but it is God who provided the job. Further, if something was to happen and I had to find another job, God would provide for me and my family. No matter what, I know from experience that I can trust God to take care of me. I can depend on Him and I can go to Him in prayer and ask Him for what I need. He loves me and it is His joy to provide for His children.

Secondly, observe that we don’t just depend on God when the going gets tough but rather, as Jesus says, we depend on Him “daily”. God is not a cosmic waiter who stands behind some pearly white counter and asks us “Would you like fries with that?” while wearing some paper hate and a goofy plastic name tag. He’s not there to wait on us and answer when we need Him. We are in a relationship with God. He is our Savior. He is our Father. If you are in a relationship with someone and you don’t continuously nurture that relationship, it dies. We are in a daily walk with our Father who provides for us. That is why He hears us when we pray. Not because of anything in us that makes us worthy—rather it is because He adopted us and we are dear to His heart.

Finally, notice what we depend on Him for daily. Jesus says we should pray for God to give us “our daily bread”. Now, from everything I’ve studied, the Greek here is a little confusing and there are differences of opinions as to exactly what Jesus meant here. I submit to you, and this may be due to my limited mental capacity, that the English rendering gives a good sense of what we should ask for—our daily bread. Give us what we need to get through today. We’re not looking to lay up treasure here on Earth, as Matthew records a few verses from now. We need to look at today and worry about today and be cognizant of the opportunities we are presented today. Give us what we need, our daily bread, so that we can be busy serving You and glorifying You today. As we noticed in the previous three petitions (Hallowed be Your name, You kingdom come, You will be done) we should have as our first priority the glory of God. It would make sense, then, that we request Him to provide for us what we need to be able to serve Him today. Then we can trust Him to give us what we need and praise Him for it.

Many people are scared in the US and the world today due to the economy. I submit to you that God has provided for His children and He will continue to provide. We can trust Him because He has been faithful and He will continue to be faithful. Give thanks to Him today for providing for you.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He's Alive!!!

This song speaks for itself. I know the character speaking in the song is Simon Peter but I will forever hear Dolly's voice singing it. You have hope today because He is alive!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Conversation With A Gay Apologist Part II

Below is a comment that was left on my blog in response to a post about the perversion of homosexuality. The commenter’s statements will be in italics while my reply will be in regular typeface. I will post the entire comment over the course of several days. We Christians have a rational, objective basis for our faith. We have truth revealed in the word of God.
Just a quick note, this comment was left in response to other comments on a post from a few days ago. You can read that post here.

I have yet to meet a "Christian" who can square this bloodthirtsty tribal deity with the "god of love" that they think Jesus represents.

Jesus preached repentance. Further, He preached that those who did not repent would suffer judgment. He also preached that God had sent Him into the world to bring about salvation for those who would repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ. During His time on Earth 2,000 years ago, He did not come to judge. He will come back to judge and execute His enemies. In fact, He proclaimed that those who went to Hell would suffer never ending torment. Finally, those who did not repent and place their faith in the Lord Jesus will be thrown in a lake of fire where they will suffer forever. I don’t know, but I’m kinda getting this funky picture that Jesus did proclaim the judgment of God. Therefore, because God’s justice and His mercy are proclaimed in both the Old and New Testament, there is no discontinuity for anyone to have to “square” as you put it.

Nor have I yet to meet [sic] a "Christian" who can adequately explain how a command to murder the gays is actually good for anyone in society -- good for the gay people (even assuming it is a "sin," there's no chance for "redemption"), or good for the "people of god" who are then forced to cold-bloodedly murder their brothers, sons, friends, and neighbors.

Let’s take each one of those points in turn:
good for the gay people—They violated God’s moral law and their own conscience. God has nowhere obligated Himself to give anyone a second chance or a reprieve. See, that’s what makes grace so amazing. When I repent of my sins (for which I should spend eternity in Hell) and place my faith in Christ Jesus, He forgives me NOT because I am good enough and deserve it (I don’t) or because what I did wasn’t that big of a deal (whatever the sin was, it was enough to earn me a one way ticket to hell) but because God is a merciful God who shows grace to undeserving sinners like me.

good for the “people of god"—One point of the law was to keep the people of God “pure” (separated from their pagan neighbors and their religious practices). It also kept them “pure” in the sense that if sin was in their midst they would remove that sin so it would not spread. Therefore, God’s choice to have the sinner killed for a particularly perverted sin would have benefits for the Hebrews. If Billy Bob does something that is perverted and nasty and he’s killed for it, I’m going to think long and hard before I do the same thing.

In the New Testament, we see the same thing played out with the difference being spiritual rather than physical. For example, God will give unrepentant homosexuals over to “depraved minds”. Christians are called to expel people from the church who claim to be Christians but are unrepentant in their sins.

Clearly, God’s command was good then and it’s good now.

I'll continue dissecting the comment next week.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Conversation With A Gay Apologist Part I

Below is a comment that was left on my blog in response to a post about the perversion of homosexuality. The commenter’s statements will be in italics while my reply will be in regular typeface. I will post the entire comment over the course of several days. We Christians have a rational, objective basis for our faith. We have truth revealed in the word of God.
Just a quick note, this comment was left in response to other comments on a post from a few days ago. You can read that post here.

Interesting that you go straight to the issue of the Torah's prescribed punishment for male homosexuality -- death by stoning. (Note: No mention of lesbianism in the OT.)

Actually you suggested that there was no difference between the eating of shellfish being an abomination and homosexuality being an abomination. Therefore, I directed you to look up the difference between the two different Hebrew words translated abomination that are used to describe those two acts.

The one used to describe eating shellfish as an abomination is shequets. The Hebrew word translated abomination when describing same sex perversions is the word to’ebah. The Hebrews used the second to describe the highest degree of abominations that are particularly disgusting because they are contrary to God’s holy nature. I then directed you to look at the different punishments for the two kinds of abominations. For a shequets style abomination, a person might be declared ritually unclean until evening, for example. However, a person guilty of a to’ebah type of abomination suffered the death penalty.

Further, I directed you to look in Acts chapter 10:9-16 and see what it said about eating unclean foods (a shequets type offense). God told Peter, basically, that the dietary laws were no longer in effect. However, in Romans 1 and other places in the New Testament, God clearly tells us through the apostle Paul and other writers that homosexuality is still a perversion.

The penalty which was physical death in the Old Testament becomes God giving the pervert over to their perversions in the New Testament. Further, Christians are no where commanded to kill anyone. For those who do not know Christ, we are called to proclaim the gospel and lovingly call men and women everywhere to repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ. For those who profess to know Christ but live lives contrary to that profession (i.e. a “christian” who is a practicing homosexual), we are directed to call them to repent of their sin. If they don’t, the church is directed to no longer consider them a brother or sister in Christ but rather to treat them as an unbeliever (Matt 18:15-17)—in other words, treat them as someone who needs to be called to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

I'll continue this discussion tomorrow.

Vermont Legalizes Same Sex Marriage

The elected officials in Vermont voted to override the Governor's veto on legislation that legalized same sex marriage (for the full, sad, disgusting, stomach turning story read here). This, folks, is not the end of the matter either. As Denny Burk notes on his blog:

It’s also important to note this. Not only are we seeing marriage redefined, but we are also witnessing the emergence of a new protected class in our country—one that is based upon sexual preference. In other words, just as discrimination based on race, class, and gender is prohibited in law, so now discrimination based on sexual preference is increasingly being prohibited in law. This is a radical change not least because the new protected status cannot logically be limited to homosexually oriented persons. There are a wide variety of sexual preferences in our culture (polygamy, pederasty, polyamory, etc.). The arguments that are being used now in the same-sex “marriage” debate will be applied to these other kinds sexual preferences as well. Make no mistake. The polygamists will be next in line for recognition.

This is sad but not unexpected. The fact is that the Bible tells us there will be a falling away by some who profess faith in Jesus Christ. Too many “christians” have decided that standing up for biblical truth is just too hard and they are weary of the fight. I suspect, however, their willilngness to compromise on the clear teaching of scripture has more to do with their lack of true convictions than anything else.
“…Even so, come Lord Jesus…”

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Matthew 6:9-10 God’s Glory-Our Priority

Because God is the only One worthy of our praise and worship, we should make praising and worshipping Him our highest priority. Our lives should reflect the love and reverence we have for our great Savior. When the world sees us, they should see the difference that God makes in our lives. As Matthew records here in chapter 6, this distinction that the world notices should come because of our attitude toward God and His lordship over us.

Observe first of all that Jesus says we should pray to God “Hallowed be Your name”. Now, the word “hallowed” means “to consider holy”. We don’t use the word holy very often in our culture today unless of course it’s used as profanity. The idea behind calling something holy is to consider it special or set apart. Obviously, God is certainly special and set apart. As Ravi Zacharias once said, God is the only being in existence who is the cause for His own existence. He is righteous, perfect in everything He does, just, loving, and gracious. To hallow God’s name is to consider God’s character as being holy or special. How, do we hallow God’s name or demonstrate that we consider Him to be holy and set apart? I submit to you that we demonstrate this when we “walk worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). If we truly consider God to be holy and we claim that He is our Lord our lives should reflect that.

I read a story about a man who had slowed while he was driving after seeing a yellow light up ahead and then stopped once the light had turned red. He could have made it through the yellow but was a cautious driver and decided to not chance it. However, the woman behind him didn’t appreciate it. She blew her horn, made a few obscene gestures and called him a few names which would’ve made a sailor blush. A police officer who was walking along the sidewalk came to her window and asked her to step outside of the car. Her arrested her, took her to the police station and booked her. A few minutes later, he came and said “It looks like we made a mistake. You see, I saw the way you were acting and saw the ‘Follow me to Sunday School’ and ‘Jesus Loves You’ bumper stickers on your car and I figured you must have stolen the car”. Quite obviously, this woman was not hallowing the name of God when she was “acting the fool” because the man stopped in front of her. Our wish should be to see God’s named hallowed throughout the entire world. However, we can hardly expect sinners to show God respect when Christians don’t live in a way that hallows God’s name.

Jesus also says that we should pray “Your kingdom come”. The word translated “kingdom” (basileia-932) doesn’t mean the physical boundaries on a map that would identify the land where the king ruled but it rather has the idea of the authority the king has. You might translate the phrase as “Your reign come”. The desire of the Christian should be to see the authority of God recognized over all the earth. We should pray for men and women everywhere to repent and submit themselves to the authority of God thereby expanding His kingdom. We should look forward with great anticipation to the Millennium described in the book of Revelation where we are told that Christ will rule on this earth for 1,000 years after He returns prior to the creation of a new heaven and new earth. However, while we look forward to that, we should seek to be ambassadors for His kingdom, calling people to faith in the Lord Jesus and living in such a way that people can see God’s reign in our lives.

Finally, we see Jesus tell us that we should pray for God’s will to be done on earth. We recognize that His will is carried out in heaven and that all the angels praise and serve Him constantly. Not so here on earth , obviously. People thumb their noses at the word of God which reveals His will. They mock it, ignore it, and question its authority and reliability. When we pray for God’s will to be done we are essentially saying we want to see God’s laws obeyed as revealed in holy scripture. Certainly, as we will see later in the Sermon on the Mount, the majority of people are not going to go to heaven. Jesus says that narrow is the road to eternal life and only a few find it. Regardless of that, I would say that if people do not do His will it is at least sometimes due to the fact that they don’t know it. There are people who don’t know who Jesus is or anything about the Bible. Friends, it is our job to tell people what the will of God is by sharing what the word of God says. Missionaries go to the farthest ends of the globe, some risking their lives, to tell people about Jesus and the Bible. We are also commissioned to go and tell and it is our responsibility and privilege to do so. We should also see to it that His will is done in our churches by standing up for what the bible says. You would think “That’s unnecessary, Joe. I mean, we’re talking about the church. They should already be standing on the word of God.” Sadly, such is not the case sometimes. I know of a Southern Baptist Church, Broadway Baptist in Texas, that welcomes and affirms openly homosexual members. I know of another SBC church that has invited the author of The Shack to preach the gospel in their church on a Sunday morning knowing full well that the man denies the penal substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. In other words, God didn’t punish Christ for our sins. God is too loving to punish sin. We should pray for God’s will to be done and stand against such nonsense in our church.

God’s glory should be our highest priority. We demonstrate our concern for God’s glory by living lives consistent with scripture and by living in such a way that people see the lordship of God in our lives. By doing so, we make our lives a living witness calling all men and women to the Gospel.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Top Ten Reasons to Call Satan as Your Next Pastor

One of my favorite bloggers in the SBC is Bart Barber. His most recent post was, to me, quite encouraging. Take a look at his "Top Ten Reasons to Call Satan as Your Next Pastor". While obviously not directed at any one person, there are probably situations you or I could think of where this proverbial shoe would likely fit.

From the book of James we learn that Satan believes in the same monotheistic Creator God that we do.

From his encounter with Eve in the garden we learn that Satan does not practice an overbearing, hyper-authoritative leadership style, but is delighted simply to put options before people and let them make choices.

Satan has a profound influence upon this culture, and has demonstrated a giftedness for relating to this generation.

Satan has had astounding ecstatic experiences, having even been caught up to heaven to interact with God, as we learn in the book of Job.

It is likely that Satan has a correct understanding as to what the gospel is.

Even if Satan is not perfectly obedient at all points, it could be healthy for our churches to be engaged in dialogue with him. We need to hear what he has to say. If our faith is strong, what are we afraid of? It will be healthy for us to overcome our intolerance and have our prejudices challenged.

Satan has been marginalized and demeaned by the powers-that-be in the Southern Baptist Convention for decades. The present conservatives preach against him and defy him. The liberals in power before them were no better, questioning his existence. It is high time for somebody to give him a break.

Satan is recognized not only by Christians, but by Jews and Muslims as well, and this common ground (as well as his extensive experience around the world in other cultures) makes it likely that he could teach us many things about good cross-cultural evangelism.

Satan is no legalist.

Satan has an impressive résumé of past work in Southern Baptist churches and denominational institutions.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happy Blog-iversary to me!!

Today is the 2nd blog-iversary of my blog. I would like to thank all my readers both regular and not-so regular for taking a gander at the ramblings of a goober. I suspect I get more out of this than anybody else.

Thank you and may God our Father bless you in the name of Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Shack and Salvation

I have not read the Shack. I don't plan on ever reading it. I don't have to go in a bathroom with a stopped up toilet that has been used and cannot be flushed to know the room is going to stink. I have read quotes from the book that are totally heretical. The truly sad part is this book has spread like a cancer through the church. Micheal W. Smith, Gloria Gaither, and other high profile Christians are raving about what a wonderful book this is. I know a Southern Baptist Church that has asked the author to "preach the gospel" during a Sunday morning service knowing full well that the man denies the penal substitution of Jesus' death on the cross. How do you have a "gospel" without penal substitution? You don't.

People have argued that the book is a book of fiction and, therefore, people who criticize it are making a mountain out of a proverbial molehill. However, I submit that the book, while having fictional elements in it, is a far representation of the theology of the author. To demonstrate that, listen to this interview with the author where he says in his own words what he thinks about the cross, the substitutionary death of Christ, and the punishment of sin. As John Piper said "We must separate from error before we can unite in the truth".

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Matthew 6:9 The Model Prayer Part I

I have had numerous jobs in my adult life. I have taught school, sold cars (ok, I’ve sold A car), and I now work as an auditor. For about a year or so prior to going back to school for accounting, I managed a pizza restaurant. One of my responsibilities was training new crew members and training old crew members to do new things. When I would teach someone how to make a pizza including how to properly stretch the dough the first thing I would do is demonstrate how to do the job properly. Giving someone an example of how to do something is a pretty common method that is used to teach someone how to do something. Often times, it can be effective. Jesus, in these next verses, gives believers a model for how to pray to God. We can learn much as we study the words of Christ and examine the principals He gives us as we try to relate to God the Father.

First of all, we should remember the immediate context of these verses as we attempt to determine not only their interpretation but also their application. Jesus, in chapters 5-7, is teaching His disciples. Therefore, the example of how to pray that He gives is likewise directed to believers. Secondly, remember that Jesus had just taught that we are not to pray as the Gentiles who would babble on in long and wordy prayers without really saying a thing. For us to think that this prayer is to be prayed verbatim as it is recorded here is in my mind somewhat silly. I wouldn’t say that someone can’t pray this prayer from their heart but it can easily be exactly what Jesus preached against just a few verses prior—a meaningless repetition. A better use of this prayer would be for you and I to apply the principals of how to pray rather than trying to repeat the specific words or phrases.

In fact, I would submit that Jesus indicated just that when He said in verse 9 “Pray, then, in this way”. He does not say “Pray these words”. The phrase “in this way” translates a single Greek word “ houto” (3779) which is used to indicate “in this manner”. We should use this prayer as a pattern of how we should talk to God not as a script to be memorized and mindlessly regurgitated.

Observe, first of all, that the prayer begins with the recognition of God’s identity. Jesus says “Our Father”. He doesn’t just identify God as the Sovereign of creation—the Lord of hosts. While God is both Sovereign over all creation and the Lord of hosts, He is also our Father. I remember reading an article David Robinson wrote about when the San Antonio Spurs had won the NBA championship. He described being in the locker room after the game and having reporters crowding around him to get an interview. At the same time, he son came up to him and his dad was trying to help tie his shoes. I thought that was a pretty stark contrast. None of the reporters could approach him and garner his attention the way his child could. They didn’t have the relationship with him that his son had. In the same way, we can approach God and know that He listens to us because He is our Abba Father (Romans 8:15).

Next, notice that Jesus not only talks about who God is but also where God is. He says we should direct our prayers to “Our Father, who is in heaven”. We don’t pray to a fallible human being here in this earth but we pray to the King of glory who is on His throne far above anything here on this earth. We pray to the God who created everything that exists out of nothing by simply speaking it into existence. He has perfect perspective on everything and knows not only what is best for us but also is working all things for the good of those of us who are His children (Romans 8:28). He is in control of everything whether it be people or circumstances and nothing that He decrees will fail to come to pass. Because of His location, we can know that He is God and that we can trust Him to do what is best for us.

God is able to work His perfect will in the earth because He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. However, while we should respect and revere His as God we should remember that He is our Father and we can approach Him in prayer because He loves us as his little children.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Whitney Houston-"The Shack is Whack!"

Ok, so she really didn't say that. April fools!!!