Newslinks 02/29/08

February 29, 2008 at 10:59 am | Posted in Newslinks | 1 Comment
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http://www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=68149

Series spotlights bias against Christians

 The AFA and Inspiration Network (INSP) have joined forces to present a 13 show series called “Speechless…Silencing the Christians”. The mini-series focuses on the Anti-Christian bias that exists in America and urges believers to end the silence. They have also established a website that coincides with the show.  The show was born from a burden that it’s executive producer had after reading David Limbaugh’s “Persectution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity”. The show is scheduled to debut on March 1st on INSP at 8:30 EST. It will also debut on i-Lifetv on March 7th at 9:30 EST.  I would love to see the show. It’s obvious to anyone who’s a Christian that there is a huge bias in America against Christians. Not only in the media, but in the workplace and in government policies as well. With the election happening at the end of this year and so many Christians talking about voting for people whose ideals clearly go against scripture, I think that anyone that can watch this should.  

http://www.silencingchristians.com

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http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=68091

Promise Keepers revamps, updates

 The men’s ministry has announced it’s new season of events and the subject is “Manhood 08: Let the Truths Be Told”. The president of Promise Keepers said that this year, they plan on focusing on what happens after a man gets home from the event. He also talked about their new product “PK Adventure”. Let me preface what I’m going to say with this: I have never been to or had any desire to go to a Promise Keepers event. I know some people that have gone and said that they were wonderful. My question is this: Is this what men need? Do they need to go to a two-day event and get hyped up and then come home and go back to the way things were? Do they need another program trying to tell them what a “man” is supposed to be? Do they need someone else telling them that they’re supposed to be “warriors” and “fighters”? Do they need a PK Adventure? Or do they need be taught how to study the Word of God and actually apply it to their lives? If Christians really had an understanding of what God’s Word says, would men already know how they are supposed to act? Wouldn’t Christians know what it is they’re supposed to be doing? Would we need these type of things? 

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080222/31294.htm

Pastor Poses Sex Challenge to Churchgoers

 The pastor of Relevant Church has challenged his congregation to an interesting challenge. He has offered his flock the “30-day sex challenge”. The challenge is an effort to get married couples to be more intimate and have a better understanding of their relationship with each other and with God. For the singles in Relevant, the challenge is a little different. For the 30 days, the singles are supposed to abstain from having sex and reflect on Christ and who He is.  I really can’t type anymore about this story. This is the most ludicrous thing that I’ve ever heard! There are so many COMMON SENSE questions that seem to have just been ignored that I have to ask them. Why is this even coming up in church? Is “Relevant” church trying to be more “relevant”? What are they really trying to do with this challenge? It seems like it’s just a draw to get non-believers into the church. What purpose does a “30-day sex challenge” have in regards to someone’s spiritual growth? Sex is a physical thing. Where’s the spirituality in that? And, how does having sex more often somehow draw you into a deeper relationship with God? Is this another attempt to try and “erotify” the gospel and somehow portray God as a “breathless lover” instead of the holy Creator of the universe? And what’s up with the singles challenge? YOU’RE CHALLENGING THEM TO ABSTAIN FROM SEX FOR 30 DAYS?????? As single Christians shouldn’t they already be doing that? Shouldn’t they be pure and focused on God already? To me, that doesn’t speak very well for the leadership of Relevant. If you have a church full of singles that are having sex, then what exactly are you teaching them? Obviously, you’re not teaching them about the parts in the Bible that say that fornication and adultery ARE SIN! This is a sad commentary on the state of the church when pastors are challenging their congregations to have sex more often because you’ll be “more spiritual”… 

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http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08022204.html

Talented British Artist Hangs Herself Due To Grief After Abortion

 Emma Beck, a talented artist in the UK took her life on February 1st after struggling with the effects that the abortion of her twin boys had on her. According to the inquest made after her death, she was “extremely vulnerable”. The doctor who first saw Emma said that Emma had cancelled two appointments before finally going through with the procedure. She also said that Emma did not get to see a counselor because they were “on holiday”. The twins’ father Ben was unhappy to find that Emma was pregnant and did not want the boys. Emma’s mother is upset that she didn’t get more counseling before the abortion. I’ve got to stop right here. Her mom is upset that she didn’t get more counseling before the abortion? WHERE WAS SHE AT? Why didn’t her mom try to talk to her about it and tell her about the joys of being a mother? Why didn’t she try to lift her up and tell her that they would be there to support her and help her with her new twin boys? Why did her mom let her go through with it? Her lack of support is more appalling to me than the lack of a counselor at the abortion clinic! And the fact that the father of the twins was unhappy about her being pregnant is disgusting. I’m sure that he wasn’t unhappy when they were conceived! This kind of “instant gratification” and “I’ll do what I want and then gripe about the consequences” is sad and deplorable. If you don’t want to risk getting someone pregnant then don’t have sex! That’s really not that hard to figure out is it? Not only that, sex outside marriage is a SIN. This is another sad loss of life due to the cold heartedness of those closest to the young woman and the complete lack of value that we placed on life.

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http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08022207.html

Planned Parenthood Building Mega-Facilities in Houston, Denver and Massachusetts

 Planned Parenthood is expecting to open a new 78,000 square foot facility in Houston Texas, right across the street from the University of Houston. The facility is going to have three operating rooms and will be equipped to handle late term abortions. This building will also have a surgical ambulatory center that will allow them to perform many more abortions. Planned Parenthood facilities kill 6000 children a year. If this new center opens up, it is expected to double that number. They have also announced their plans to build a 50,000 square foot building in Denver. The PP of Massachusetts is planning on moving from it’s current two-story building to a three-story building in the same town. PP killed 264,943 children in 2005. They receive almost a third of their money from government contracts and grants. In 2006, this amounted to $305.3 million. I think that the government needs to stop all of its funding of programs like this that do nothing but promote a sinful lifestyle with no consequences. Many in our country have wondered what’s going to happen, as the “baby boomer” population gets older and who’s going to take care of them. We wouldn’t have to worry about that if we would stop killing them off!!! 

Related Articles:

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200802/NAT20080228b.html

Congressmen Call for Defunding Planned Parenthood

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 http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=/Nation/archive/200802/NAT20080225a.html

Islamic Links on Obama Web Site Stir Criticism

I’ll just let you read this article and come to your own conclusions. I think that we should be wary of anyone that has the support of any type of Islamic group like this.

  Related Articles:

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080227/31348.htm

Obama Fights False Links to Islam

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http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/811444,CST-NWS-farr25.article

Farrakhan: Obama is the ‘hope of the entire world’

Louis Farrakhan spent nearly two hours praising the “hope” the America has in Barack Obama. In his speech on annual Saviour’s Day celebration for the Nation of Islam, he proclaimed Obama to be the “hope of the entire world” and “could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall”.  A New Jersey pastor thinks that Farrakhan is doing what many other Americans are doing. They are setting aside their beliefs to be on the winning team. Sadly, I have to agree with the pastor. I think that many “Christians” are just as guilty. They talk about being born again, they say that they are “believers” and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, but then they support people who support agendas that are in direct opposition to that! Scripture has become so little to those who profess to follow it that it’s almost a non-issue. It doesn’t matter that the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong; we support someone that’s pro-homosexual. It doesn’t matter that the Bible says that murder is wrong; we’re going to support someone who is pro-abortion. Both Democratic candidates for president are against a Human Life Amendment, they support gay pride celebrations, they are against any laws that would prohibit forcing of businesses to favor homosexuality and promote homosexual curriculum in schools. While somewhat better, John McCain is still against the Human Life Amendment and supporting traditional marriage. And yet, there are numerous “evangelical leaders” supporting these candidates. Why? Because scripture means nothing to them! Even the Islamic scriptures are against homosexuality and the killing of children, but Farrakhan supports Obama. How can Barack Obama be the hope of the world when the world already has the hope that it needs in Jesus Christ? There is a huge push to portray Obama as some kind of “political Messiah”. If Obama goes directly against the Word of God, then how can he lead us into a better way? And since that can’t happen, where would he lead us? I would encourage anyone reading to seriously consider everything that is being said and done from a biblical perspective. If you profess to be a Christian, then the Bible is your ultimate authority and it should be the guidelines that you use to determine everything in your life including who to vote for!

 Related Articles:

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Election2008/Default.aspx?id=68267

Louis Farrakhan heaps praise on Barack Obama

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Election2008/Default.aspx?id=68353

New Jersey pastor questions Farrakhan’s endorsement of Obama

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http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200802/CUL20080226b.html

Planned Parenthood Web Site Promotes Porn to Teens

 The PP website Teenwire.com is promoting pornography to teens as healthy and normal and part of their “medically accurate sexual health information”. They say that even though federal law prohibits children under 18 from watching pornography, it’s ok for minors to watch because “not everyone follows the rules”. They also say that there are many different types of pornography that appeal to different people. This is just another effort to get younger and younger children to learn the humanistic ideal that “we are just animals and that sex is normal and fun and there’s nothing bad that can happen”. This also is disturbing in the fact that it seems that PP is trying to drive kids to have sex and get pregnant to justify their existence. It almost seems like a business move… 

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http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=68277

Critic cites stats — Earth cooling down, not warming up

Statistics held by the UN seem to show a cooling trend that started after the 1998 El Nino with January 2008 being the coldest month in almost a decade. The stats give the cooling trend in the face of the fact that more CO2 has been pumped into the atmosphere. The stats also show a cooling trend that took place from 1940 to 1975, but those who aggressively push the “global warming fear” have yet to come up with an explanation for the data…

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http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=68203

‘Earth worship’ on the rise among evangelical youth

  It seems that more and more “evangelical” youth are getting involved in Wicca. There is a concern among evangelicals and some point to the movies and books that have recently been popular. One person interviewed stated that she thinks that the Wiccan views of moral autonomy (“nobody can tell me what to do”) and no evil beyond what you believe to be evil are things that appeal to young people.  While the article lacks specifics, I think that this is just another example of the church not doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Instead of teaching our youth we’re entertaining them. Instead of building them up on the truth of the gospel, we’re making them comfortable in their sins and telling them that God loves them just the way they are. Instead of teaching them to fear (respect) God and obey Him, we teach them (by word and example) that the scriptures are nothing more than a nice book and that they can take it or leave it. We tell them nothing of the holy God who is going to judge them based on His standard. Regardless of how prevalent this really is, it should be a wake up call for believers to check their lives in light of biblical truth.

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080228/31351.htm

‘Conspirators’ Plot New Ways to Be Christian

 Cutting-edge leaders of the emerging, missional, mosaic and monastic streams convened Thursday evening in Washington state to re-imagine ways to express the Christian faith. The meeting promoted new ways of expressing discipleship, missions, and community church in a “festival of imagination”. The “conspirators” invited those  attending to “create innovative ways to engage these challenges in a way that reflects something of God’s new order”.  I think that this is a dangerous thing. While I agree that there are things that are wrong with the church as it is now, I disagree with the idea that Christians need to be “creative” and “innovative” as far as beliefs go. The body of Christ doesn’t need “innovative ways” for doing anything. We need to be doing what God has told us to do the way that He told us to do it (read Leviticus 10). God doesn’t have a new order and He doesn’t need us to have a festival of imagination. Honestly, He doesn’t need us at all. But, He does use us. What we need to be doing is studying God’s Word the way that He wrote it and the way that He meant it, instead of trying to reinterpret it for today. The Bible itself says that it is sufficient for everything that we need (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and because of that, we don’t need to be adding to it or taking away from it. We just need to be obedient to it!

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Design of the Week 02/27/08 – Future Proverbs 31 Woman

February 27, 2008 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This design was the product of the description of an excellent wife found in Proverbs 31:10-31. Here, King Lemuel repeats an oracle his mother taught him. The majority of the oracle focuses on what his mother sees as an excellent wife.

The Proverbs 31 woman is many things. She is trustworthy (v. 11). She is concerned for her family (vs. 15, 21). She is also concerned for others (v. 20). While she works and earns money, it never comes before her family (vs. 13, 16, 19, 24, 27). She is strong (vs. 17, 25). She is wise (vs. 16, 26). But most of all, she fears the Lord (v. 30).

Because of these characteristics, she receives blessing and praise from her children and her husband (vs. 28-29).

This design was born from a prayer for my daughter to be a Proverbs 31 woman. That above all, she would fear the Lord. That she would seek Him first and glorify Him with all that she does. Then, it expanded to a desire to see this for those that are close to me, and while they aren’t my children per se, they are that close and that important and that special to me.

I hope that you have the wonderful blessing of knowing at least one Proverbs 31 woman like I do. And I pray that you will encourage your daughters, nieces, and other young women in your life to live their lives as Proverbs 31 women by obeying the Word of God and by applying it to their lives!

Are you ready? (long)

February 25, 2008 at 10:36 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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People that know me know that I like to ask questions. Right now, I’ve got a question for you. It’s a really simple question. As a matter of fact, it’s one that you’ve probably asked this week.

The question is: Are you ready?

That’s it. Real simple. Now, some of you are probably sitting there waiting for me to clarify it. You’re thinking, “Am I ready for what?” And that’s how we usually use the question.

            Are you ready…for the weekend?

            Are you ready…for some football?

            Are you ready…for Christmas?

I want to let you know that as Christians, if you are asked “Are you ready”, the answer should immediately be “yes” even if it’s not clarified…

Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about. For these examples I’m going to make two very large assumptions. The first assumption is that everyone that’s reading this is a born-again Christian. That assumption is probably much bigger than we even realize…The second assumption is: not only are you a born-again Christian, but others know it. Not because you speak “Christianese” and not because you just go on and on about your church. They know you’re a Christian because they see it in your everyday life. They see it in how you treat your kids. They see it in how you treat your spouse. They see it in how you treat your co-workers and your employees. They see it in how you treat total strangers…that’s another big assumption.

So, let’s say that both of these apply to you. You’re at work and you’re hanging out with some friends and someone comes up to you:

            “Um…can I ask you a question?”

            “Sure, go ahead.”

“I’ve heard you talk about Jesus being the Savior of the world and the Son of God. But, how do you know that? See, I’m a Muslim and my scriptures say that God doesn’t have a Son. They say that Jesus was a good man and a prophet. They say that He didn’t even die on the cross. How can you believe that He’s the Son of God?”

Are you ready for that? Do you have an answer? Or, let’s say it isn’t a Muslim. Let’s say it’s a Jewish person.

             “Hey, can I ask you something?”

            “Yeah, sure!”

“I’ve heard you talk about Jesus being the Messiah. Where do you get that from? According to the Jews, the Messiah hasn’t even come yet. I’ve gone to synagogue all my life and I’ve never heard Jesus proclaimed as the Messiah! How do you know that Jesus is the Messiah?”

Are you ready? Do you have an answer? Could you show them that throughout the OT everything that talks about the Messiah points directly at Jesus? Could you show them things like Gen. 3:15, Psalm 22, Psalm 118, or Isaiah 53?

Maybe it’s neither. Maybe it’s not a Muslim or a Jew. Maybe it’s an atheist, or a secular humanist, or an evolutionist.

            “I just wanted you to know that I admire the fire you have for what you believe, but I’ve got to ask you a question. How can you believe that God exists? I mean really…Geology tells us that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Astronomy tells us that we are receiving light from stars that are thousands of light years away. Biology has shown that man evolved from a chemical soup to one cell to multiple cells to man. Paleontology shows us a fossil record full of transitional forms. Psychology has shown that religion is just a crutch. How can you believe that God exists in the face of all these facts?

Now, none of these “facts” are true, but are you ready for that? Do you have an answer for them?

Let’s do this. Let’s push religion aside for a minute. Let’s forget all about it. Let’s say you know someone that’s going through a divorce. Or, you know someone who’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Or, it’s someone who is watching as their family or their finances fall apart.

Are you ready? Do you have an answer?

See, the answer that’s usually given in most of these situations is “Jesus loves you and He died for your sins”. I’ve got news for everyone. While that’s true, IT’S NOT ENOUGH! It’s not enough. Why? Because everyone who comes through the doors of a church comes in with problems. They are looking for answers to those problems and the church has been advertising for years that it has the answer. But, when people come to the church looking for that answer, they get a fake smile and “Jesus loves you and died for your sins”. Then, when they realize that they still have their problems and the church doesn’t have the answer, they leave and are even more convinced that Christianity is just a bunch of garbage.

“So, are you saying that I need to be a religious scholar? That I need to know everything about Islam and Judaism and evolution? That I need to know about divorce, finances, health, and family counseling? “

Nope. I’m saying that you need to know your faith. Should you know about those other thigns? Yes. Why? Because, chances are, in your lifetime you’ll come across a Muslim, or a Jew, or an atheist, or a Mormon (they knock on everyone’s door). You’ll have contact with someone who is going through a divorce, or financial trouble, or family problems, and they’ll be looking for an answer.

So why doesn’t the church have the answer?

Well, the main reason is that we don’t know the truth anymore! Now, I’m sure some of you are sitting there saying, “I don’t know about everyone else, but I know the truth.”

Really? Let’s find out. We’ll play a little game. It’s called “Said it or heard it”.

I’m going to quote three different scriptures, one at a time, and if you’ve ever heard it or said it I want you to raise your hand high (if not physically then at least mentally…), not low by your side. I want you to be honest with yourself and God today. Think about each question before moving on to the next one…Ok?

Here’s the first one:

            “Well, ya know, God’s thoughts are higher than your thoughts and His ways are higher than ours.”

If you’ve ever heard that or said it, raise your hand.

Does that scripture apply to you?

Who is God talking to here?

Usually, we quote this when someone is facing things that seem totally incomprehensible and God seems to be nowhere around…

To find out whom He’s talking to, you need to read the context. The scripture is Isaiah 55:8-9. If you look at verse 7, you’ll see whom God’s talking to:

Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

 He’s talking to the wicked! So everyone who identifies with that scripture is identifying themselves with the wicked. And we don’t even realize it! Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 2:16, that we have the mind of Christ! John 16:13 says, “when the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth”! Proverbs 28:5 says, “Evil men do not understand justice, but they that seek the Lord understand all things”.

But because we don’t know the truth, we just continue to misquote it and hinder ourselves from growing closer to God. If I have the mind of Christ, and the Spirit of God is leading me into all truth, and I seek the Lord, then I should be able to understand the things of God! Often, this doesn’t happen immediately, and it may take years for everything to make sense, but we seem to quote this as an excuse for living life our way and then saying, “I just couldn’t understand what God was saying”. If you are in an area in your life where things aren’t making a whole lot of sense, then it seems to me that there are one of two reasons that it’s happening. One, you are suffering one of the trials and tribulations that Jesus promised would come (John 16:33) and having your faith tested; or, you don’t have the mind of Christ, you aren’t being guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth, and you aren’t seeking God. Both reasons are valid, but looking at the modern church, I truly believe that the second reason is infinitely more prevalent than the first, but that’s another message…

Here’s the second one:

            “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord will raise up a standard against him”.

That’s Isaiah 59:19. Usually, we hear that one when we are being attacked and are at our wits end and don’t know how to move forward. If you’ve heard that or said it, raise your hand.

Of those of you that raised your hand, how many of you realize that the word for enemy isn’t even in many translations for that verse? Many Hebrew versions don’t have enemy either! It’s not talking about the enemy! But that’s how we quote it…Well; if it’s not talking about the enemy then who’s it talking about?

That’s easy…read the context. I could start in verse 15 but…if you read verse 16, it says that God’s own arm would bring salvation. If you read verse 20, it says that a Redeemer will come to Zion. Who does that sound like to you? Sounds like Jesus to me…

Ok…Here’s the last one:

            “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” (John 8:36)

I know that we’ve all heard that one. And usually we quote that to someone who is having a crisis of faith. They are struggling with something and are unsure of their salvation. They’ve been facing a hard trial, they’ve fallen and are staggering under the weight of sin, so we quote this…

“What! Are you saying it’s not true?”

Nope. I’m saying that there’s more to it than that. See, we seem to forget that God is a covenant God. You know, a covenant. Like marriage used to be back in the day. When you made a covenant back in the day, you meant it because the only way out was death. “’Til death do us part…” (Does anyone remember that?)

A covenant was between two people or families or tribes and basically it was like this:

            “If you do this, then I’ll do that.”

            “If you do that, I’ll do this.”

That was a covenant. God is a covenant God. Read Deuteronomy 28. Verse 1 says, “IF you diligently listen to all that I’ve commanded you”…THEN you’ll be blessed and protected, etc… That’s the first 14 verses. Then, God says, “but IF you don’t listen to what I’ve told you, THEN…” and the remaining 54 verses speak of the diseases and calamities that will befall them for disobedience…

It’s the same here. We say, “Whom the Son sets free is free indeed” because we want the blessing part without the work of the covenant. John 8:36 actually says, “So, if the Son shall make you free, you will be free indeed” (emphasis mine).  Jesus said there was more to it. Look at John 8:31-32.

            “And Jesus said to the Jews that believed in Him, ‘If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

How many of you want to be free? There’s your answer!

How do I “get free” (Have I mentioned how I hate “Christianese”)? What does the scripture say? It says for me to be free, I have to know the truth. How do I know the truth? I continue in the Word…I don’t have to jump up and down, I don’t have to leap pews, I don’t have to spew out some long drawn out prayer or go to a special event. I have to know the truth. Period. How do I know the truth? I continue in the Word! How do I know that I’m a disciple? I continue in the Word! It’s that easy!

If it’s that simple, then why are Christians going to church two or three times a week, but still lacking answers. Why? Because we’re suffering from something called “penguin Christianity”. Have you ever watched a penguin feed its kids? That’s what’s happening in today’s churches. The pastors, the leaders, and the teachers are chewing up the Word and then feeding it to everyone else. No one does their homework anymore. We think that because someone is called “pastor” or “elder” or has some other church title that we can just take them at their word and everything will be ok…

But, that’s not what the bible says! As a matter of fact, the bible makes it clear that we are supposed to check everything against scripture. In Acts 17 Paul commends the Bereans because they take everything that he says and compare it to scripture. Think about that for a minute! We’re talking about Paul here, a former Pharisee! The one who met Jesus face to face on the road to Damascus (Acts 9)! He commends them for checking what he says against scripture! If they did this for Paul, how much more do we need to be doing it today? We should be checking everything we read and hear against scripture!

But we don’t because that would involve more work than we’re willing to do. So, we are destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).

And if that weren’t bad enough, not knowing the truth leads to other things.

One of the things that it leads to is compromise. We see this happening in the church more today than ever before. In 2003, the Episcopal church ordained the first openly homosexual man as bishop. In the 4 plus years since that’s happened, they have suffered a church split. Entire congregations and councils are leaving the denomination. Why? Because they compromised scripture. The Lutheran church recently did the same thing. How long will it be before they suffer the same trials? It is becoming more and more common for those who profess Christ to compromise the truth of the Bible with the ideals of man. Man says that homosexuality is okay. Now the church does too. Man says that we evolved from apelike creatures millions of years ago. The church does too. Man says that adultery is okay. The church does too. Why? It’s all because of compromise. The Word of God is no longer the final authority in the lives of those who say they believe in Christ. Because of this, Christians are doing anything they want and finding “pastors” and “teachers” who agree with their viewpoint to make them feel good.

Not only does not knowing the truth lead to compromise, it also causes a change in foundations. Because there is no longer an absolute truth (according to many churches), they are changing their foundations. This is rampant in America. There are movements like the seeker-sensitive and emergent churches. One way churches have changed foundations is through programs. They develop programs for everything and hope that through the programs, people will not only come to church but that they’ll come to know Christ as well. One large example of this is Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Willow Creek is one of the first churches to develop a “seeker-sensitive” program. Along with churches like Saddleback Church in California, they develop programs with the hope of getting people “plugged in”. In 2004, Willow Creek did a survey of the effectiveness of programs in their church. When they gathered all the data together, crunched all the numbers, and made their reports, the results were shocking. They presented this information at a leadership conference. The senior pastor, Bill Hybels, said that when he looked at the information, he was “shocked”. Willow Creek has been running programs and spent millions of dollars on them over thirty years. And, according to the data from the surveys, they’ve not done a thing to help bring people to Christ. Sure, they’ve brought people into the church. WC sees 50,000+ people a weekend. But they aren’t becoming Christians. Why? Because Willow Creek has changed foundations. When talking about the implications of this, Hybels said that if they would have done things right, they would have focused on the things that people were really asking for. What were those you ask? Prayer, studying the Word, and evangelism. Those are supposed to be the only things that we’re focused on anyway!

Not all churches use programs as their foundation though. Some use worship. You can enter their church tell that worship is what they live for. Large speakers, lights, and a conglomeration of instruments take center stage. When the service starts, they play energetic, upbeat, songs that get people dancing in the aisles. Then, they tone it down and get serious about the presence of God. There are a number of people who sway, cry, kneel, and pray. This goes on for 30 minutes to an hour. How’s the preaching? It’s alright, if it even happens. What about the children? They have a little Sunday school program and then spend the remaining time coloring or running around. But that’s a WORSHIPPIN’ church…Unfortunately worship is not our foundation. How do I know? Scripture says so. See, for something to be a foundation, it cannot be built on something else. If it is, then it’s not a foundation. Worship is built on other things and, therefore, cannot be our foundation.

In John 4:23-24, Jesus says, “The hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers of God will worship Him in spirit and in truth. Such as these the Father seeks to worship Him. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”.

Worship cannot be our foundation because it’s built on something else: spirit and truth. This doesn’t mean that worship is not important, but it cannot be our focus!

Still, some churches don’t use either programs or worship. They choose prayer as their foundation. I can tell that you’re thinking, “Are you saying that prayer isn’t important?”

Nope, that’s not what I’m saying. If Jesus felt it was necessary to go off by Himself and pray, it’s important. In Matthew 6, when the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gives them a pattern; it’s important. All throughout the New Testament we see the importance of prayer, BUT it’s not our foundation. How do I know? Scripture makes it clear. Prayer is based on something else and therefore cannot be our foundation. What is prayer based on? At the end of James 4:2, the brother of Jesus says, “You do not have because you do not ask”. I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve heard that quoted. And it drives me nuts! Why? It drives me nuts because it’s only half a thought. Quoted this way, it sounds like all you have to do is ask and you’ll receive. If you want a Cadillac, go ahead and ask for it, after all, “You do not have because you do not ask”!

ARRRRRGHHH. This is one of the two things that seems to aggravate me more than anything else. There are two easy ways to get me riled up, one is to quote scripture out of context. The other way, is to take a scripture and cut it off in midstream, taking either the first part or the last part and leaving the thought shredded in the end. James wasn’t done when he said this. He said, “You do not have because you do not ask, and you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives”! If our motives are wrong, it doesn’t matter how much we ask or how many times or how loud, it won’t be answered. Could that be one reason your prayers haven’t been answered? It cracks me up to see these “mighty prayer warriors” shouting at the top of their lungs, pacing back and forth, and swinging their arms as if God is going to hear them because of the volume of their voice or exaggerated movements. The only way God will hear you is through the contriteness of your heart (whether you’re loud or not).

This is confirmed in 1 John 5:14-15. It says, “This is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, then we know that we have the petitions we’ve desired of Him”. For the longest time, I thought that this was my ticket to getting what I wanted from God. All I had to do was ask and have confidence that He hears me, and that’s it. That’s not it. There is a part of this verse that is crucial to the rest of it. It’s the part that says, “if you ask according to His will”. That’s not the old timey, “Lord, if it’s your will”. We should know His will! He wrote it down for us! What this means is that if we ask according to God’s nature, according to His character, then we can have confidence that He hears us. What’s more, simple logic tells me that if this is true (and it is) then the exact opposite is true as well. That means that “if I ask according to His will” and “He hears me”, then if I don’t ask according to His will, He doesn’t hear me. Could this be another reason that our prayers aren’t answered? And yet, we have thousands of people clamoring about yelling and shouting their fleshly, carnal demands at a God who is holy and just, fully expecting God to jump at the sound of their voice and give in to their every whim…Praise God that He doesn’t consume people in fire anymore…

There is one foundation for us as Christians. That is the absolute truth found in the Bible. If that is not our foundation, or if we’ve twisted it to make it something it’s not, then we are not based in truth and eventually everything we have built up will fall down around our heads. If our lives are not built on the truth found in God’s Word, but instead are based on the scripture “according to us”, then I don’t think that we can honestly call ourselves Christians.

All of this results from a lack of the truth. We are seeing what the results are, but are we doing anything about it? Are we striving to learn the truth of God the way that He spoke it? Are we accepting God’s Word above our own? If we are to see permanent change in our churches, families, and in our nation, we are going to have to return to the truth of scripture and build upon that alone.

So, are you ready?

Newslinks 02/21/08

February 22, 2008 at 10:42 am | Posted in Newslinks | 2 Comments
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http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200802/CUL20080215c.html

UK Boy Scouts Under Fire for Oath Mentioning God

 Two secular humanist groups in Great Britain are trying to get the Boy Scouts to remove the part of the Scout Oath that involves duty to God. They also criticized the Scouts for not allowing adult leaders who are not believers. The organizations stated that the current position of the Boy Scouts is not in “the spirit” of Robert Baden-Powell who formed the organization. Since it’s creation by Robert Baden Powell, Scouting has been an influence on thousands (if not millions) of young men who need moral direction and growth. Both the British Boy Scouts and the Boy Scouts of America have done much to train young men on how to serve their country, community, family, and God. Scouting was started in a time when God was recognized for who He is in both the UK and America. Even the secular humanists fighting the Boy Scouts recognize the great service the organization does for their communities and their country. Once again, this seems like a weak attack on an organization because of its foundation in Judeo-Christian beliefs. There have been those who don’t believe in God as long as there have those that do. The secular humanists lament the fact that the Scouts are the only organization in some communities and because of this, they should weaken their stance.Why don’t the secular humanists start their own version of Scouting? I don’t know what they would base it on. Without the moral anchor found in the Christian beliefs, what would hold it together? Look at the Scout Oath and Law: Scout Oath: On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country (Queen); and to obey the Scout Law. To help others at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Scout Law: A Scout is, trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  

God forbid we should teach generations of young men those horrendous qualities! And yet, we wonder why our countries are in the shape they’re in. It’s because we don’t have enough people teaching them the things that the Boy Scouts do! I am an Eagle Scout and I am proud to say that I support the Boy Scouts. Their stance on Judeo-Christian beliefs is what makes their organization successful. I applaud the Boy Scouts and I hope that they will continue their fight for the right to be inclusive and to stand on the beliefs that their organization was/is based on!

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08021512.html

Canadian Only Sentenced for Attempted Murder Despite Killing Unborn Child

 Charlene Knapp was four months pregnant when her then boyfriend Alan Bryan stabbed her 15 times in the stomach with a sword. Knapp survived the attack, but her unborn son did not. Bryan was sentenced to 15 years in jail, but was not sentenced in any way for the death of his son. Canadian lawmakers are trying to introduce a bill that would recognize the unborn as humans and victims when involved in crimes such as this. It’s about time Canada starts getting with the program. They have allowed this sort of thing for way too long and have desensitized generations from the horror of how the unborn are treated. I hope and pray that this will start a change in Canada that will help the Canadian people see the truth about the state that their country is in. 

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08021501.html

Catholics Cannot Vote for Politicians Who Support Abortion, Except for Morally Grave Reasons: Kentucky Bishops

 Kentucky Bishops of the Catholic Church have instructed that their parishioners cannot vote for any political candidates that support evils such as abortion, unless for morally grave reasons. They stated that anyone that votes for a candidate that supports evils like abortion would be guilty of cooperation in that evil and that they cannot vote for that person unless there is a “sufficiently grave reason” to vote for the candidate. This makes absolutely no sense to me. If someone is running for office and supports ANYTHING that goes against the truth found in the Bible, then Christians shouldn’t be voting for them anyway! When did the church as a whole decide that they can pick and choose what is true and what isn’t? Oh yeah…I forgot that it’s been happening since the early church…If you are a Christian, then before you vote, you need to look at where each person running for office stands and then compare that to the Bible. If it doesn’t line up, then you shouldn’t be voting for that person. Period.  

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080215/31196.htm

Christian Poll: McCain Less Popular than Obama, Clinton

 A recent poll shows that only 9.1 percent of Christians support Republican frontrunner John McCain, while 26.3 percent support Barack Obama, 19.6 percent support Hillary Clinton, and 45 percent support Mike Huckabee. I think that this should be an indication of some good things and bad things. First, I think that the fact that 45.9 percent of Christians in this poll support someone who is pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality is ridiculous. Those things are clearly forbidden in the Bible and any Christian who truly follows scripture should know that. The fact that these same candidates are for “change” and “the working man” shouldn’t amount to a hill of beans. As Christians, we should be voting for people that support the Word of God as truth. We should be voting for people that uphold what we should be believing in. It also shows that Mike Huckabee has a lot of support that the newsmedia seems to overlook. As a Christian, I would encourage all believers to look at the issues from the standpoint of the Word of God and use the Bible to make your choice on who you vote for. To help with that, I’ve found a link to a Voter’s Guide put out by Wallbuilders. They have some wonderful articles and other items showing how our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. We cannot depend on the media to show us the truth of what choice to make. We have to depend on the Bible to do that! 

http://www.wallbuilders.com/downloads/newsletter/VotersGuide.pdf

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=67683

Bill Clinton goes on tirade against pro-life students

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XfmJeIJpns

 Former president Bill Clinton  went on a rampage when the question of the issue of life came up at a High School rally in Stuebenville Ohio recently. He accused the pro-life supporters of wanting to criminalize the women and doctors who take part in the abortion. Once again, it shows where he and his wife stand on the issue. Instead of taking the issue on honestly, they avoid it, dodge it, and rage against those who dare bring it up… 

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Education/Default.aspx?id=67479

Pastor opposes ‘sex club’ at daughter’s high school

 A Washington state pastor has made his voice heard again. Pastor Ken Hutcherson has voice his discontent at the Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Washington for instituting a club that supports homosexuality and bisexuality. The club is supported by teachers and other school staff. It also holds a Day of Silence where students are encouraged not to speak in order to show their solidarity with homosexual students who have allegedly been persecuted. This is ridiculous. The fact that this is happening in a high school is just sad. As always, when someone speaks out against homosexuality (as pastor Hutcherson did on MLK Day), they and their children are targeted for harassment (Hutcherson had to remove his daughter from a class because of harassment by the pro-homosexual teacher). But, when it comes to supporting homosexuality and other things that are clearly against scripture, the schools are all for it…It’s truly sad and seems to give even more support for the Exodus going on in California and other states. 

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08021804.html

Jamaican Church Leaders Say Homosexuality Will Not Be Accepted As Normal

Many churches in the island country of Jamaica have recently voiced their stance on homosexuality. The leaders of many different churches on the island have said that they will not support homosexuality as normal despite heavy lobbying from pro-homosexual groups.

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08021803.html

NBA Star Charles Barkley Calls All Pro-Life Conservatives “Fake Christians”

 Charles Barkley stated that all conservative Christians are just “fake Christians” as far as he’s concerned in a recent interview with Wolf Blitzer. Barkely recently moved to Montgomery, Alabama and said that he has plans on running for governor of the state in 2014. He bases his view on one scripture: Matthew 7:1. He stated that he believes that Christians are not supposed to judge others for their beliefs, but that conservative Christians are wanting to be judge and jury. He said, “Jesus forbids judging by hypocritical double standards”. Ah…that great bastion of moral fortitude Charles Barkley. One sad thing about all of this is that he has found his way to the state where I live and is threatening to run for political office.  The saddest thing, though, is Mr. Barkley’s horrible mangling of scripture and his seeming lack of any knowledge of most of the New Testament. He supports his entire view on Matthew 7:1, the “judge not lest ye be judged” scripture. He obviously doesn’t understand hermeneutics or have a strong grasp of how to study the Bible. While the scripture does say that, it’s hardly meant the way that Mr. Barkley and others use it most often. Jesus says in John 7:24 that we should not judge by appearance, but by righteous judgment. If that is the case, then if flies in the face of Mr. Barkley’s interpretation of Matthew 7:1. Not only that, but over and over again Jesus, Paul, Peter, and other writers of the New Testament scriptures judge people and situations (Look at 1 Corinthians 6!). Where they somehow ignorant of Mr. Barkley’s understanding of scripture, or did they understand it the way that it was written? I think that this is sad that people would rather spend more time making scripture fit their presupposed notions of what is “right” and what Jesus “really meant” instead of studying the Word of God the way it was written and allowing it to change their lives…I hope that Mr. Barkley either finds the time to actually study the Word or finds another place to call home…

Design of the Week 02/20/08 – Joyful Noise

February 20, 2008 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This design was born when I read Psalm 95:1. It says, “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation”. As Christians, we should be making a joyful noise to God every day! The Psalmist also said, “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24) No matter what we are going through, we should be able to shout for joy, knowing that God is in control and that He is not caught off guard by anything. We should understand that as long as we seek Him and obey Him above all else, we will have nothing to fear, no matter how bad things seem to be. We can also have peace in the midst of the toughest storms of life because we will know that we are anchored in the Rock of Ages.

We can stand with Paul and say, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day”. (2 Tim. 1:12)

The confidence that Paul had came from the fact that he knew God. He didn’t just know about Him, he had a daily relationship with God. He knew God by spending time is the Scriptures. Because he spent time studying the scriptures, he also had a right view of God. He saw God as God was supposed to be seen, and not how Paul wanted to see Him.

If we will take the time to study the Word of God and to apply it to our lives, we will then begin to see God as He is meant to be seen. When this happens, we will start to understand just how awesome He truly is. This will lead us to the realization that we are truly blessed to have a God of infinite power, holiness, and majesty that is interested in the smallest details of our lives. This should be the foremost cause for us to shout every day and give God the praise He deserves!

A conglomeration of thoughts

February 18, 2008 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Christianity | 1 Comment
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This may be more of a rambling blog than any other that I’ve written. I have had a number of different things going through my head and wanted to make an effort to get them written down before I lost track of them.

The first thing that I’ve been thinking about is whether or not the things that I write about concerning the church are too critical. I am I being too judgmental? If so, then why? I know that some of the things that I’ve written have offended some of the readers of my blog. While it is not my focus to try and offend people when I write, I realize that the subject matter itself will offend many on its own, no matter who writes it. As far as being too judgmental or too critical, I will believe that I’m not. My reasoning for this is two-fold. First, I do not believe that I’m too judgmental or too critical because I am not personally judging. Instead, I am reading what the Word says and then repeating it to others. Those judgments are not mine to make they are God’s. But, they are mine to repeat and it is clear that it is something that I’m supposed to be doing!

My background is not as illustrious as so many of the others here in the “Bible belt” (or anywhere else for that matter…). I was not raised in church and my family, while not openly against church, had more of a “take it or leave it” attitude. While I tried to live a morally upright life (not that I understood what that meant at all), I had no power to do so. Then, six and a half years ago, I came face to face with God. I realized the truth of the predicament I was in, and I received salvation. I had no understanding of anything about Christianity and was truly a baby in the faith. Since that time, I’ve learned many things. The most important of these things is the authority of the Word of God. Scripture is the absolute authority when it comes to the lives of Christians. It is a precious and wonderful gift that God has bestowed upon us.

Recently, God has added to the authoritative view the beginnings of an understanding of His holiness. I am completely in awe of the Lord. Not only at His holiness and justice but because those things provide a contrast for His grace and mercy. I am beginning to see a long list of things that God could have done that He didn’t. This brings me to the second thing that I was thinking about my writings. If the things that I write are deemed offensive by some, what makes them judgmental? Is it the writings themselves or the distance of the reader from the truth that makes them judgmental? Is the fact that scriptural truths are becoming more and more diluted due to the fact that we are drifting farther and farther from them? If we are drifting farther from them, and I make an effort to reveal this, should I be surprised that so many in the church scoff, whine, and complain about the surety of the truth of scripture? Should I be amazed that so many are no longer able to see things as black and white? Am I to let my brothers and sisters just go on and slide away from the faith and turn their backs on biblical truth so that I can avoid the names and what is said about me?

I confess that I cannot. There are many that I love and pray for daily that I would love to see gain the same revelation that I have been fortunate enough to have. This revelation comes with a price though. I have had to completely deconstruct the view that I had of myself. I have had to turn the scriptures inward and view myself in light of their standards and truths. I have not enjoyed what I’ve seen. I begin to understand how much I have taken for granted and why I’ve been holding on to some of the views that I have. I can no longer look at myself and see a holy, righteous man who is doing his best to live the way that God has called him to live. These are the things that I strive for, but I have not arrived.

Another thing that I’ve been thinking about lately is the view of God that many of us have taken in the modern church. I use the term “modern church” in a lot of what I write because I see the church of today as different from the one of just 100 years ago, and extremely different from the church that was started by the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. Many of those in church seem to have a view of God where God is the “genie of the lamp” and that we only have to rub the lamp and make a wish and we get what we want. I have heard numerous times about how people have been at a church service and been in “the presence of God”. How they’ve danced and sang and jumped and hollered. How they’ve actually felt the presence of God in an almost tangible way. How they’ve been overwhelmed with emotion to the point that they laugh and shout. They’ve “rubbed the lamp” and now they are filled with joy unspeakable…These things I’ve heard lead me to ask questions like: “Is that what it’s like to be in the presence of God?” 

Seriously, if we think about it for a minute, is that what it would be like? Or does this come from an incorrect view of scripture and of God? Would we know what it was like to be in the presence of God if we were? I think so. Look at some of the people in scripture who were in the presence of God. Isaiah was in the presence of God and he found himself face down on the floor crying out that he was ruined! In the presence of God he was nothing. He trembled and quivered and shook. He realized who he was in the presence of God. He was a man of unclean lips. Were there others who live worse than he did? Of course. Did it matter? No. Ezekiel found himself in the presence of God and what happened? He fell to his face and it took the Spirit of God to pick him up again so that God could speak to him. Daniel found himself in the presence of God too. When he did, he had the same reaction. Daniel says that as soon as he heard the voice of God, his face had turned ghostly white, he had no strength left in him, and he fell to his face. After this, a hand touched him and he was brought up to his knees, but he was still trembling!

You may be saying, “That’s true, but all of these men were in the Old Testament. They didn’t have the Holy Spirit like we do. They weren’t like we are”. You’re right. They aren’t like us. They reverenced God for who He is…It happened in the New Testament too. When Jesus tells the disciples to drop their nets for a catch (Luke 5), they do so grudgingly because they’ve fished all night and not caught anything. But they obey. When they drop their nets, they catch so many fish that it will sink their boat without help. When they finally get things under control, Peter jumps from the boat, runs to Jesus, falls at His feet and cries for Jesus to go away from Him because he’s a sinful man. Is this our response? In Luke 17, when Jesus heals the ten lepers, it is the one considered an outcast that comes back and gives glory to Jesus. It is he that understands the truth of what happens, and he bows in reverence to the Lord of Lords. When John sees Jesus and receives the revelation of Him and what’s to come, he hears the Lord’s voice first. When he turns to see who is speaking and realizes it’s the Lord, he falls to his face like a dead man. Those going through the tribulation on earth (Rev. 6) hide themselves in caves and cry out for the rocks and mountains to fall on them. Why? Because they realize that they cannot stand in the presence of God or against the wrath of the Lamb.

Is this the same presence that we profess to be in our churches on Sunday morning? Is this the same God that we dance and sing and shout with as our music plays? Is this the God that we reverence when we enter into His house full of sin and contempt for His rules? I find it hard to believe that it is. If it were His presence, wouldn’t we fall down on our face and tremble before Him? Has God changed and become some doddering old man that only wants what’s good for us and spares us from the “bad” things? If we truly spent time in God’s presence, would we not come out changed like Paul did? To go from one of the most heinous and despicable men alive to one of the most influential people in the lives of those we come in contact with, all for the glory of the gospel?

Do we understand who God is? We have people all over the world who profess Christ as their Lord and Savior, but their lives don’t line up with His Word and commandments. We constantly see the “people of God” living lives that are so diametrically opposed to the absolute truth of God’s Word, that they make a mockery of the sacrifice of the cross; all in the name of “love” and “mercy” and “grace”. If you ask me, we don’t understand those things anymore.  We expect those things and we walk in pride thinking that those things are promised to us because we name the name of Christ as our own. We are sadly mistaken. The love of God is a self-sacrificing love. It is agape. It is a love that will endure, but it is only given to those who are truly Christ’s. And, I believe, that is the biggest problem in the church today. There are thousands upon thousands in churches all across the US alone that believe that because they call Jesus their Savior, or because they said a little prayer at an altar somewhere (at least once), that they have a right to the love of God. I disagree. We don’t have a “right” to anything. I can stand in a garage and call myself a Porsche, but that doesn’t change the truth. You and I can stand in a church or a gathering of Christians and call ourselves the “followers of Christ” but if our lives don’t live up to what God says Christians should be, then it really doesn’t matter what we say. We’ve made ourselves the mediators. We have become our own judges and we’ve deemed that everything we do is worthy of heaven.

Here’s a news flash: It’s not worthy of anything but hell.

We have done this with grace too. We seem to think that we deserve grace. The definition of grace is “unmerited favor”. You can’t deserve grace. To deserve grace means that you’ve earned it, and by it’s very definition, that can’t happen. Nonetheless, that doesn’t stop us from putting on pretenses that we are a veritable well of God’s grace and that the instant that we do something wrong, it’s forgiven. We prance around with the attitude that we have earned God’s grace and that it’s our ticket out of anything. After all, God’s grace is unlimited right? Wrong. It’s got its limits, and they may be a lot shorter than you  and I think. Think about it for a minute. If you were a holy, righteous, and just being (I know that it’s hard to think like that for some of us…that’s a good thing), and you had a bunch of created beings, who were supposed to be your image-bearers on the earth running around constantly committing acts of outright sin and not giving it any thought because they expected grace from you; what would you think? If we constantly live our lives in utter contempt for the holiness of God, how can we honestly expect Him to continue showing us grace? Do we think that we can outrun His justice? Do we think that somehow, because we chant the name of Jesus, that we can charm Him into giving us one more chance? How disgusting a thought is that? But it happens in pulpits and churches around the nation every Sunday, and sadly, it seems that many are unaware that it’s even going on.

Does this mean that all churches are like this? No. Not by any means. There are wonderful churches where the truth of God is preached. Where He receives due reverence and glory. Where people strive to live out the life that God has called them to live in a manner that is acceptable to Him, regardless of what man thinks. I just see this type of church to be a minority, especially in America. I believe that it’s possible for this to change, but it will take the preaching of the unadulterated Word of God and acceptance of scriptural authority before that can begin to happen.

Do I think that it’s possible to receive grace from God? Yes, I do. I’ve received it many times in my life. Recently. But, should I bank on that always being the case or should I actually make an effort to obey God? To be honest, I consider it an amazing thing that any of us have lived as long as we have. Why push it? While I always pray that God’s grace will be there when I stumble, I want to get to the point in my life where I need it a lot less than I do now…

I have come to the realization while writing this that this is what my heart is. I desire to live a holy life. I desire to see all of those who profess Christ live the same way. Not my way, but God’s. If this means that I write something that steps on people’s toes, then so be it. I will repent of anything that I see that goes against the Word of God. Other than that, I will stand on that Word and know it to be the final authority, the ONLY authority.

As always, I leave this blog open for comments.

Newslinks 02/15/08

February 15, 2008 at 11:00 am | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08020708.html

Exodus: California Christian Groups Unite to Remove Children from Public Schools

 In an effort to get the message to the governor of California, a coalition of Christian groups is calling for an exodus of children from the public school system. They are calling for Christian parents to remove their children from public schools after the passing of bill SB777 which allows the schools to positively promote homosexuality, bisexuality, and transexuality as normal and healthy lifestyle choices to children as young as kindergarten to second grade. It also allows the kids in public school to use the restrooms and locker rooms of the gender they feel more comfortable with. The Christian groups have said that this is a “repudiation of 2,000 years of Christian moral teaching on human sexuality, marriage, and the family”.  This bill is one of the oddest and most harmful things that I’ve seen Arnold Schwarzenegger promote as California’s “Republican” governor. As I’ve said in other writings, the Bible says that homosexuality, bisexuality, and transexuality are immoral sins that God sees as an abomination. I believe that no child needs to be exposed to that, especially those being raised in Christian homes. There is something else that strikes me as ironically humorous. I remember how I used to be as a high schooler (which was before I was saved…). How many “homosexual” boys will end up in the girl’s locker room or bathroom? The bill is just wrong in so many ways… 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080208/31121.htm

Teens Battle Pop Culture in Times Square

 Recently, hundreds of teens met on New York’s Times Square to rebel against rebellion. They stood in protest of the image that pop culture is portraying to their generation. They are standing against the things that pop culture portrays as “cool”, including sex, rebellion, violence, pornography, and substance abuse. I am glad to see that there are those in the next generation (man that makes me feel old….) who are willing to stand up against a culture that they can see hurting them and those around them. I pray that those who drive pop culture will take a look at them and see if it’s really worth a generation of kids to make a million bucks… 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080211/31150.htm

Egypt Supreme Court Allows Return to Christianity

 In a news worthy step, Egypt’s Supreme Court has allowed 12 Coptic Christians to “re-convert” to Christianity. The 12 people were forced to “convert” to Islam due to Egypt’s highly Muslim population. The group of 12 included the first man to convert from Islam to Christianity. It is a large step for religious freedom in Egypt, one that will be completed when Muslims are openly allowed to convert to Christianity.  While I hope that this is the beginning of something huge in Egypt and the Middle East, I don’t see it being easy. A Muslim who converts to any other religion is considered an apostate. This is punishable by death according to Sha’ria Law. Hopefully, this will start a movement in Egypt to spread the gospel and allow the growth of Christianity.  

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08021211.html

Hillary in Exclusive Homosexual Mag Interview: I’m More Pro-Homosexual than Obama

 In a recent interview in Blades magazine, Hillary Clinton reiterated her support not only for homosexuality but for sodomy and berated Barack Obama for not being as enthusiastic about it as she is. She also attacked Obama for his involvement with Donnie McClurkin, a gospel singer who was formerly a homosexual and says that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and not a genetic issue. At the rate of making this drag on, it seems like this interview and the publicity following it were just an effort by Clinton to grab votes. I disagree with both candidates views on homosexuality  and see no good coming from promoting it at all… 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080212/31166.htm

Fla. School Board Set to Vote on New Standards for Teaching Evolution

 Supporters and opponents of the proposed new state standards in teaching met in Orlando to state their case. At issue is the new standards that would mandate the word evolution and make it a requirement that evolution be taught to all. It would also require that it be taught more in-depth. Opponents of the standards said that there is nothing certain about evolution. Because evolution supposedly started millions of years ago, no one can say that it is really what happened. They also said that by mandating evolution being taught, they are trampling all over the academic freedom of teachers and students. Those who supported the standards said that they were necessary to help with Florida’s failing test scores and would help Florida better compete with other states. First, there is no way to confirm that evolution happened. It is a conjecture based on a lot of assumptions made about what happened in the unobservable past. There are many things wrong with the hypothesis and it is no closer to being confirmed than it was 150 years ago. Second, it is only fair that students be allowed to consider the alternatives to evolution. This happens in other classes, why not science? Scientists supporting evolution constantly talk about wanting to make our kids smarter, but they then squelch the critical thinking necessary for that in regards to evolution. If evolution is so concretely supported by the numerous different scientific fields of study, why is there such a strong fear of comparing evolution to other options and then allowing the students to make a decision based on the evidence? If evolution were the “fact” that it’s supporters make it to be, it should have no problem holding up right? For those who gripe and say that it would allow the teaching of religion in schools by allowing creationism to be taught, I say,  “So what?”. While many of its supporters hide it from the general public, evolution is a religion as well. It promotes a naturalistic/atheistic view of the origin of the earth. It is an effort to take God out of creation, and with Him remove everything that means that man is accountable to someone other than himself…It would be interesting to see what would happen if evolution, intelligent design, and biblical creation were stood side in the classrooms of America and taught honestly and rightly so that students could make a choice based on the evidence… 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080213/31172.htm

Megachurch Pastor: 30-Days to a No-Regrets Life

 Woodlands Texas pastor Kerry Shook and his wife Chris have started a new program at their church in an effort to “accept the reality of their mortality and to learn to live a more intentional and meaningful life without regrets”. The couple wrote a book to coincide with the program called One Month to Live: 30 Days to a No Regrets Life. In the book, the couple makes an effort to help readers look at the four core areas of their lives and learn to live each day without regrets. They say that they have a desire to see God’s people “live intentionally” and to have them see “amazing changes” in their lives as a result of this. There are around 500 churches that have expressed an interest in using the program at their church, including Saddleback Church whose pastor (Rick Warren) wrote the foreword to the book. When will the modern church learn? It seems that many people are running from program to program in an effort to get their lives straightened out. They buy every new book that comes out hoping that this one will have the answers that the last one didn’t. They try to use the “feel good” gospel to pump themselves up and push themselves over the mound of sin, trials, and turmoil in their lives. And it works, for a while. But, eventually, they find themselves sliding back down the hill and back to where they were before. When will people stop trying to use something that man made and start using what God has already given us? God gave us everything we need to reprove, rebuke, correct, and exhort ourselves, and those around us, when He gave us His Word! The only thing that we need to do is to study it! We don’t need someone else’s interpretation (which, in this day and age is most likely incorrect) when we can see what it says if we just study it on a daily basis! It amazes me at all the people who can go looking and looking for things in books and tapes and videos because they need “to be free” or they need “change” or they need to know how to “live their best life”. Have these people even studied the Word of God? I’ve been saved for six and a half years. In that time, I’ve studied the Word of God with a growing hunger and desire. I’ve never studied it like I am now. But in all that time, I’ve never come to the point where I’ve thought, “Well, that’s all that I can get out of the Bible. It’s time to see what others say”. On the contrary! Every time that I crack open the Bible and STUDY it, I realize that there is more in what God wrote than I will be able to study in 5 lifetimes! Why would anyone want to go anywhere else? 

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08021302.html

Top Texas Court Upholds Double Murder Conviction in Deaths of Unborn Twins

 The Texas Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a man who stomped on the abdomen of his pregnant girlfriend, killing the twin baby boys that she was carrying. I applaud Texas for standing up for the rights of the unborn. They are building a case for the fact that life begins at conception and that that life should be protected at all costs. It is a shame that the two boys died, but I hope and pray that the loss of their lives will end up helping to save thousands of others…

Design of the Week 02/13/08 – Root of All Evil

February 13, 2008 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul explains to Timothy that the love of money is the root of all evil. In verses 9 and 10 he explains why:

1Ti 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.1Ti 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

 

 

Sadly, it seems like Paul had a vision of the times we live in today. Although money has always been a motivation for many things, in today’s time, it seems that it is THE motivation for everything, including the church. Of course, being pious and “upright” the church would never claim that money is their motivation, but listen to the messages. God wants you to be blessed! Blessing and wealth is your right as a Christian! God wants you to prosper and have THINGS.

Is this the truth of the gospel? What happened to souls being saved from the eternal damnation of hell? Many of those who preach the blessings of God and prosperity rarely talk about the truth of what will happen is someone dies without Christ (most never do…). The common response to this is: “But it takes money to preach the gospel to the entire world!” And the truth is, they’re right! But, does it take “pastors” and “evangelists” with million dollar salaries and private jets to do it? If it was really about the gospel, wouldn’t those who are “prosperous” and “blessed” do more with the money than keep it? Is it really a testimony to God that the most “successful” pastors in America make as much as some small nations and have churches full of false converts while a pastor in Mexico has next to nothing but has a church full of people that live out the truth of the gospel?

I’m not saying that those who make millions haven’t done good things with the money. What I am asking though is, is it a true representation of the gospel? In verse 8 of 1 Timothy 6, Paul says that we should be content with food on the table and a roof over our head! Does it have to be the roof of a million dollar mansion? Many of the preachers of old could have very well been better off than those we see today, and yet, many of them died as paupers because they gave most of their money away.

Many of those who make an enormous amount of money are on TV today. Does TV cost a lot of money? You bet it does! But I’m not talking about the expenses of the ministry. I’m talking about the salaries of those who lead the ministries. I’ve heard many sermons by those who preach this type of gospel. They’re empowering, they’re moving, they’re funny, and they’re topical, but there’s nothing in them about the fate of those without Christ. There’s nothing in them about judgment. The only time they talk about hell is when they talk about “busting down it’s gates” and “keeping people out”. But their message does nothing to aid that. In the end, God is a doting dad and Jesus is the fix-all for every problem, but they’re never talked about as holy, righteous, just, pure, and angry at sin.

Instead, they are used as a marketing tool to bring money into the churches so that they can look prettier, add on new additions, and get the latest high definition projection screens and sound systems so that the flocking masses of people who love having their ears tickled will be awed and inspired by the “blessing of God”. In the mean time, many of those people lead lives full of sin, heartache, pain, and grief. They go back every Sunday to “get free” of the sins that they were supposedly free of two months ago. They go to hear how they can set their finances, marriage, or children in order. They get “5 steps to building a better family” or “3 ways to live a life of blessing” and they rarely hear the full truth of the gospel.

If you’re one of those people, don’t feel bad. I was too. For a while, I was led to believe (and allowed myself to believe) that it was all about me. That it was about me being blessed and happy and prosperous “so that the gospel could be preached”. I bought the tapes, “sowed the seed”, and “had faith” that God would respond to that. Then, God began to open my eyes. He began to show me that it’s not about me at all! It’s all about Him. It always has been about Him and it always will be about Him. It’s about Him being glorified. It’s about Him seeing the completion of a work started on Calvary. It’s about Him being reconnected with the lost through the salvation of their souls. As He was revealing all of this to me, He showed one thing that I knew deep down, but didn’t want to listen to (out of fear and pride). I didn’t need more “blessing”. I was already blessed more than I could imagine! I was saved from the wrath of God and the torment of hell through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus for my sins. I had a roof over my head and food on my table. And I had everything I needed right then and there to preach the truth of the gospel to anyone I came in contact with. And so do you.

I don’t have a problem with people being blessed. If they truly understand what blessing is. The Bible does talk about the righteous being blessed. It talks about not being forsaken. It even talks about prosperity. But it never talks about those things as a goal. Those things are always mentioned in the context of the Savior of the World. Jesus Christ.

If you have read this and you’re wondering what the truth of the gospel is and you’re not sure that you’ve heard it, I’m going to tell you right now.

The Bible says that it is appointed a man once to die and then the judgment (Heb. 9:27). You and I have one life to live (no reincarnation). After that life is over, we will stand before God and give an account of our lives. This account will be so detailed that it will include every idle word that we speak (Matt. 12:36). God will pass judgment on us according to whether or not we lived up to His standard of goodness. That standard can be found in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). If we are found to have broken those commandments, then God’s judgment is upon us and we will find ourselves in hell. You may be wondering, “How do I know if I’ve broken the commandments?” Just look at them. Have you ever told a lie? If so, you’re a liar and you’ve broken the 9th commandment. Have you ever stolen something (no matter how small or how little it cost or how long ago it was)? If so, you’re a thief and have broken the 8th commandment. Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? If so, that’s called blasphemy and you’ve broken the 3rd commandment. Have you ever looked at someone with lust (sexual desire)? Jesus said in Matt. 5:28 that that is the same as committing adultery. If so, you’re an adulterer at heart and have broken the 7th commandment. If you’ve broken all four of those commandments (James says that if you break one commandment, you’ve broken them all – 2:10) then you are a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. You’ve broken God’s laws and without payment for those sins you’ll end up in hell.

Some people will say, “That’s not a very loving God! How could a loving God send people to hell?” The truth is, He doesn’t send anyone to hell! They send themselves there. It is their choice to go, just like it would be your choice if you go. God has made a way for you to not go. If you choose to ignore it, then it is not God’s fault that you end up in hell.

Others will say, “I’ve already accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, so I know I’m going to heaven”. My answer would be that I hope that’s true. But I would ask you to look at your life. Is it lived out according to the gospel? Or, are you still living in sin? If you’re living in a sin that you’ve supposedly repented of, then you aren’t saved. If you are living a lifestyle of sin and banking on God being a forgiving all-loving God, then you have misunderstood Him. He is an all-loving God to those who are His (those who have repented). To those who live in sin, whether they profess Jesus as Lord or not, He will be wrath, justice, and righteous anger. If you claim that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and your life doesn’t have the evidence to back it up, then you are a false convert. You have deceived yourself into thinking that God will allow a little sin in your life and that as long as you ask for forgiveness, everything will be ok. God doesn’t forgive sins when we say we’re sorry, he forgives them when we repent! That means we have to turn from the sins in our lives and stop doing them. Does that mean that Christians don’t stumble? I am living proof that they do. But do they continue in sin or live a lifestyle of sin? NO! They repent of the sin and turn away from it and any situations that may cause them to sin.

The root of all evil is the love of money and with it comes a diluted and distorted gospel that will not glorify God, will not see the lost truly saved, and will continue to make the church dance to the world’s tune. It’s time that we stopped loving money and started loving God!

Follow the yellow brick road!

February 11, 2008 at 11:03 am | Posted in Christianity | 4 Comments
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In the movie, “The Wizard of Oz”, Dorothy finds herself caught up in a storm where she ends up getting injured. While recovering, she has a dream about a land called Oz. In Oz she meets a number of interesting characters and tries to find her way home. I haven’t seen the movie in quite awhile and will probably skip over a lot of things, but the major points and characters still stand out in my mind. I was considering all of this when my thoughts took an interesting turn. The Land of Oz has some ironic parallels to the modern church…

After spending some time with the Lollipop Guild, Dorothy meets Glenda the “good witch”. Glenda’s sweet talk and gentle nature put Dorothy at ease. Her charm and beauty disarm Dorothy’s fears and make it easier for her to receive the message she has to give Dorothy. Glenda tells Dorothy that to get back to Kansas, she must “follow the yellow brick road”. She also gets a pair of ruby slippers from the witch that she crushed. A song begins and there is much dancing and rejoicing because Dorothy can now find the way home. Sadly, Glenda’s message seems to be one that the church has professed as well.

“If you truly know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then you’ll be blessed, blessed, blessed! You’ll be blessed in the city, blessed in the field, blessed going in, and blessed going out!”

In other words, “follow the yellow brick road”. Unfortunately, there are many who have listened to this teaching and believed that everyone who professes the name of Christ will be blessed at all times. They’ll have more than enough. They’ll be overflowing. They’ll live their best, most abundant, most joy-filled life right here and now and all they have to do is believe. If they aren’t being blessed beyond belief, then it’s because they don’t have enough faith yet. To get that faith, they need to “sow” into any one of a number of ministries that seem to have a direct hotline to God. By doing this at every possible point they can, they will eventually “reap a blessing so overflowing that they will not be able to contain it”.

So, Dorothy begins her journey down the yellow brick road. Along the way, she meets a number of different characters. The first main character she meets on the road is the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow is a likable fellow who also seems to be a pretty good dancer. He is kind and gentle, but there is one thing that he’s lacking. If he could get anything from the “Wizard” of Oz, it would be a brain. He lacks knowledge. There are a lot of Scarecrows in the First Church of Oz as well. It seems more and more that those in the church have drifted away from the very thing that we need most. Many churches now have projection screens that post the scriptures so that you don’t even need to bring your Bible. They sit in church and get someone’s interpretation of the Word of God. And, because they don’t have their Bible, they have no way of knowing if what is being preached is the same as what God really said. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Many people could quote that (even if they couldn’t tell you where it is), but they seem to forget the rest of it! The rest of Hosea 4:6 says, “Because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children”. It seems that knowledge is a lot more important than we often give it credit for. In Proverbs, Solomon constantly reiterates the importance of knowledge. He says, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). He says, “fools hate knowledge” (Prov. 1:22). He says that there will be a point where calamity comes, but when we cry out to Him, He will not answer (Prov. 1:29). Why? Because we’ve hated knowledge. Everything that happened in the founding and creation of the universe happened because of knowledge. He says that we should desire knowledge more than the “choicest gold” (Prov. 8:10).

But we don’t. We revel in our ignorance, believing that we will be blessed and saved and that God will not hold us accountable to His Word if we don’t study it. The saddest thing about this is that we are ignorant by choice. It is our choice to be ignorant about the things of God. We allow the things of the world to captivate us more than the One who loved us enough to die for our sins. We give all of our time to the business of life and then claim that we have nothing left to give to God, when it is Him that we should be spending time with first! We hold on to “secret” sins that no one else knows about and we coddle them and pet them, knowing they are wrong. If we loved knowledge, then we would allow it to reveal to us the places in our lives that need to be changed. Instead, we hate knowledge. That, according to the Bible, makes us fools. Sadly, Psalm 14 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’”.

After their meeting, Dorothy and the Scarecrow decide that they can all go to the “Wizard” of Oz and get exactly what they want. So, they travel together down the yellow brick road, following the modern gospel and all that comes with it. Eventually, they come across a Tin Man. He has been standing in one spot so long, that he is rusty from lack of use. Dorothy and the Scarecrow find an oil can and begin to help the Tin Man get free. I can’t tell you how many Tin Men (and Women) I’ve seen in the modern church. There is one main difference though. The Tin Men/Women of the First Church of Oz are content to sit back and do nothing. They don’t share their faith, they don’t help in the ministries of the church, and they don’t feel “lead” to do anything that might involve sacrifice. They don’t have a heart after God’s. So they just sit back and enjoy the singing, and the fellowship, and the potlucks, and all of the fun things; but, they never get up and do the actual work of God. Now, you might be saying:

“Wait a minute. Dorothy and the Scarecrow did something good! They helped the Tin Man get free! That’s what it’s all about! The church is here to help people get free!”

That kind of stuff is another product of the modern gospel. It’s not true. The church isn’t here to get people free. There is nothing you and I can do to get people free. To say that we can is an outright lie, and blasphemes the Name of Jesus. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone, that can “get people free” (I am getting more and more to the point where I can’t stand all of the cliché Christian phrases…). The main purpose of the church is to glorify God. Period. If we do anything else, it is because God ALLOWS us to be a part of it. It has nothing to do with me, or how good I am or what talents I have. Many people reading this would probably say, “I know what you’re saying and I completely agree”. But would their actions line up with that? There are many people who seem to know that it’s all about Jesus and that He’s the One that does it all, and they constantly try to help Him by manipulating things or setting themselves up on high and doing things their way. Does God get any glory from that?

Finally, Dorothy and the Scarecrow finish setting the Tin Man free, and they tell him all about the journey that they’re on. The Tin Man gets excited. For as long as he can remember, he’s wanted a heart. Dorothy tells him that the “Wizard” can help him get a heart. After much rejoicing, the three start off on the yellow brick road toward the “Wizard”. 

They continue down the yellow brick road and while passing through the forest, they run into a lion with a yellow streak a mile wide. He puts on a good show and acts like he’s the most ferocious animal in the world, but when they start getting bolder, he let’s his true colors show. Dorothy and Co. tell the Lion about their journey to see the “Wizard” and how they are going to ask him for the things they want. The Lion wonders if the “Wizard” has any courage for him and they invite him to come with them to ask.

As with all of the other characters, there are a number of Lions in the First Church of Oz. Some of them get really excited about the things that are going on in the church and are all gung ho, for about three weeks. Then, when the newness wears off and they are stuck knee deep in a ministry with no help (thanks to the Tin Men/Women), they show their true colors and quit. They won’t fight it out and they won’t stand on the Word. They just stop. Other Lions make a big show of being “warriors” and “soldiers”. They talk about the spiritual battle that rages around us and look at the church as a platoon of soldiers in differing stages of readiness. They talk about being “manly men” and how they are taking the devil out. But when it comes to true battles, they are caving in and running away. Because they lack knowledge, they don’t really understand where the battle truly is and they get caught up running around shadowboxing. They waste all of their time and energy fighting a mirage in the battlefield of their mind instead of standing toe to toe with the true foes and fighting the good fight of faith.

They finally meet the “Wizard” and he tells them that he will help them if they get him the broom belonging to the wicked witch of the west. They go in search of her, but on the way, Dorothy and Toto are kidnapped and flown to the witch by the flying monkeys. The witch tries to take the slippers (they belonged to her sister) but can’t. After some heroic stuff from the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion, Dorothy is freed. They find themselves cornered on the top of the castle and the witch sets the Scarecrow on fire. Dorothy tries to put him out and succeeds in soaking the witch and causing her to melt away.

Ironically, This seems to me to be a picture of the how the modern church is dealing with those who stand on the Word of God as their foundation. The modern church has the truth of the gospel with them (the slippers), but they choose to ignore it and chase the material things (yellow brick road). Those who try to get the slippers and use them the way they are meant to be (the witch) are attacked. Their message is diluted by the modern church in the ears of those who hear it. Granted, all of this is a weak example, but it is a reflection of what is happening in the church even as I type this! (If you don’t believe me, listen to the speeches that were given by Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter at the “New Baptist Covenant” meeting) Instead of being an example of the beauty of those who bring good news of good things (Romans 10:15), they completely forget and ignore the power (Romans 1:16) of the gospel they are supposed to be preaching!

Finally, after a long arduous trek, the yellow brick road leads them back to the Emerald City. They get to the doors and have a difficult time getting in at first, but they finally work their way into the city. Inside it is like nothing they’ve ever imagined. There are wondrous and entertaining things going on all the time. There are Technicolor horses and other oddities. They seek the “Wizard” out again and, after a little trouble, finally get another audience with the “Great Oz”. The “Great Oz” is a floating head with a loud, booming voice. He has fire and smoke and explosions. He has a terse manner of speaking and all of this makes him seem larger than life and unapproachable. He seems like a god. He cannot be touched, he will not have his whims denied, everything will go his way or no way. Each one of the company of four asks for the thing that they seek most.

In a laughable turn of events, Toto finds a man behind a curtain off to the side. He reveals this to Dorothy and Co. This causes the “Great Oz” to say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. In the end, the old man reveals himself as “The Great Oz”. He is nothing more than a man from Kansas.

Sadly, many more preachers are striving to look like the “Great Oz”. They seem unapproachable. They are full of power, prestige, and it is their image that is most important to them. They conduct their lives in Emerald City Churches with smoke, fire, and explosions. They are intimidating, cannot be touched, their whims will not be denied, and everything will go their way or no way. They are so much pomp and circumstance. The yellow brick road of the modern gospel leads newcomers and seekers to their very door. The newcomers are ushered in to a world unlike any they’ve ever seen or heard about before. They see things that they didn’t even see in the world and find an experience that, while it makes them feel good and allows them to be comfortable in their sins, does nothing to truly change their lives. They are taught to put on a façade of happiness and joy when around others of “the faith”. They are taught how to preach the same yellow brick road gospel to their family and friends. They are taught how to be busy for God without actually doing any of the work of God. They are taught to be Scarecrows, Tin Men/Women, and Lions. And in all of this, they are not given the one thing they need more than anything else: the truth.

The “Great Oz” tells the three Ozians that they have already found what they sought. The Scarecrow found knowledge, the Tin Man a heart, and the Lion found courage. They found it on their journey along the yellow brick road. How like the modern gospel this is.

“Live out your life exactly like we tell you (even if we don’t do that ourselves) and you’ll find the true life and happiness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You’ll find the prosperity and the blessing. You’ll find the peace, joy, and happiness. You’ll get everything that your heart desires. You will be healthy and free from trouble. All you have to do is follow the yellow brick road”.

Dorothy eventually finds her way home and back to reality (with the ruby slippers), but there are so many who are still caught up in the modern gospel. They continue chasing the “dream” and the “vision” instead of growing in truth and holiness. They continue to be busy with nothing to show for it. They “work” by preaching this false gospel to the next generation. And sadly, many of them don’t even realize what they’re doing. They don’t realize that they’ve been following the yellow brick road for years and still haven’t received what they were promised. They have wasted years of their lives following a false vision and have nothing to show for it.

What are you following? Are you following the yellow brick road? Are you following the teaching of the modern gospel? Do you seek the false promises more than you seek Jesus? What are your eyes fixed on?

Or do you follow the truth found in the gospel (even when it doesn’t make sense to you)? Do you stand on the truth of the Word of God above all else, including your own thoughts and ideas? Do you disregard the popular things if they are unscriptural and have no foundation in the Word of God (even if they use scripture to support their premises)?

What are you following? Where are you going? Where will you end up?

Newslinks 02/08/08

February 8, 2008 at 11:17 am | Posted in Newslinks | 4 Comments
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 http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/viewonsite.html?articleid=08013004

Christian Photographer Hauled before Commission for Refusing Same-Sex Job

Elaine Huguenin, co-owner with her husband of Elane Photography recently went before the New Mexico state Human Rights Division in response to her refusal to be the photographer at a “same sex commitment” ceremony. She refused to do the job because it was against her beliefs. The couple trying to hire Elaine decided to file a complaint that Elaine was being discriminatory to the homosexual couple. (New Mexico has sexual orientation as part of its discrimination laws)… When is a business OWNER not allowed to decide what work she will or will not take? Why didn’t the couple just find someone else instead of making a big deal about it? As a business owner, doesn’t Mrs. Huguenin have the right to choose whether or not she’ll take a job? If she decided not to do it, then she doesn’t make any money from it. What’s the problem? Oh yeah, there is a homosexual couple involved and they get preferential treatment…I wonder what the US would be like if Christians got the same preferential treatment…

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Business/Default.aspx?id=65917

Ford continues to lose money, workers

The Ford Motor Company continues to see losses and worsening conditions as the new year begins. The 4th quarter report for the company and stock losses were valued in the billions. They are also trying to “retire” around 11 or 12 thousand workers to hire replacements at half the wage. There are many who believe that this is because of the fact that Ford ardently supports the homosexual agenda. They have given monetary support to homosexual lobbyist groups as well as advertising in racy homosexual magazines. Also, there is currently a boycott against Ford by a number of Christians who disagree with the company’s homosexual agenda.

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/jan/08013008.html

UK Government Education Guidelines: Don’t use terms “Mom” and “Dad”

 The new UK government guidelines for teachers include the terms “Mom/Mum”, “Dad” , and “gay” as words that should not be used because they are “racist” toward homosexuals.  Um…when did homosexuals become a separate race? Are they not still human? If you’re going by the traditional definition of race, are black homosexuals a different homosexual race than white ones? This is just ridiculous and the fact that the UK is giving in to this kind of pressure is just another warning to the US… 

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200802/INT20080201b.html

Israeli Doctors Saving Iraqi, Palestinian Children

 The Save A Child’s Heart foundation south of Tel Aviv has spent its time saving the lives of many children, including those who come from countries that have a hatred of the Jewish people.  This is just amazing to me. It is a true picture of self-sacrifice. The fact that most of the children that they operate on are not Jewish speaks volumes.  It’s also amazing that some countries, like Egypt, don’t allow people to go there to get treatment because they don’t like the Jews. They have people dying in their country who could be treated if they would stop being so prideful…It’s sad really… 

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/jan/08013105.html

Manufacturer of RU-486 Paralyzes Patients with Tainted Drug

 The US FDA continues it’s lax attitude toward the manufacturing processes of the Chinese company who makes the abortion drug RU-486. The government owned company is being investigated by China’s own FDA for producing a leukemia drug that causes permanent paralysis. The US FDA has done nothing about the fact that there might be something wrong with the abortion drug, and has known about the abuses of the companies processes for over 8 years. This should inspire faith in the US government and help us have pride for what we do… How can you honestly not take any action toward a company that you know has shady tactics? The Chinese government is shutting down part of the company and investigating them, and they own it

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/jan/08013102.html

Judge Orders that Tiller Abortion Records Must Be Given to Grand Jury

 Judge Paul Buchanan has recently ordered that George Tiller must hand over the medical records for his clinic to a grand jury investigating the clinic’s performing illegal late-term abortions. Yeaaaah! It’s about time that a judge stopped making their own laws and upheld the ones that are there! It is a breath of fresh air to see a judge who realizes that they are NOT the law or its interpreter.  

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/jan/08013101.html

Tennessee Senate Passes Uncompromising Pro-Life Amendment

 The Tennessee Senate has provided another step in the banning of abortion in our country. They have recently passed an amendment that nullifies a Supreme Court ruling that says that abortion is protected under the Tennessee state constitution. The amendment is going through the House of Representatives right now. It still has a couple years before it would be fully ratified. At least it is a step in the right direction… 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080131/31046.htm

Churches Wary of NFL Policy Sack Super Bowl Parties

I know the Super Bowl is over and I know that there are many Christians who watched it, but I just had to ask something. Knowing how the commercials use sex, beer, and violence (should Christians be watching them?) and knowing how the half-time show usually has almost naked women and lots of other things that don’t seem very Christian; should this be shown in churches? It’s one thing if you watch it at someone’s house, but at a church????

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200801/CUL20080131a.html

Atheists Assail Bill Recognizing America’s Religious History

 (As if we didn’t see this coming) Some of America’s “prominent” atheists are attacking a resolution in the House that would affirm America’s religious history. They are attacking the resolution because it contains strong Christian language and have offered a “Secular History in America” bill… This is kind of funny in a way and it’s kind of not. The history of the US is being slowly rewritten to erase the country’s Judeo-Christian foundation. Many of the founders of our nation held deeply rooted beliefs in the God of the Bible. In a day and age where this history is often ignored or attacked, many don’t realize that it’s the truth. The atheists attacking this bill are angry because it promotes a truth that they don’t believe in, but they then offer something that others don’t believe in; something that didn’t have a large influence on the foundations this country was built on. Why do they get so mad about someone they claim doesn’t exist? 

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=66155

Al Gore called ‘prophet’ at liberal Baptist meeting

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080201/31049.htm

Gore’s Green Message Resonates with Baptists

 In a speech given to Baptists about global warming, Al Gore has been identified as a prophet. The newly titled “prophet” told a crowd of Baptists that “if we heap contempt on God’s creation, that is inconsistent with glorifying God”. He also compared the climate crisis to the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. This is just horrible political propaganda given at something that was supposed to be a meeting for Baptists to come together. The “prophet” says that global warming is an issue, even though there really hasn’t been that much change. There are new studies out that say that it’s not the emergency that it was once thought of. The newly crowned “prophet” also seems to know what glorifying God is as long as it corresponds to his message. What about glorifying God by not killing unborn children? What about living a life that conforms to His Word? What about upholding the authority of scripture in the face of a society (and the church) who are consistently turning their back on the truth of God? 

http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2008/feb/08020109.html

Book Reveals Fetal Soup Served in Chinese Restaurants

 In his new book, The Seven Sorrows of China, Dr. Mark Miravalle talks about how far the country has fallen. He talks about how the people of China see abortion as just another medical procedure like a flu shot or dental cleaning. He also talks  about 5 restaurants in a certain area that serve fetal soup for $40 a bowl. In response to the touted “health benefits” of consuming “fetal remains”, people jumped at the opportunity to sell this to people who could afford the price. The government has since closed the websites advertising the restaurants, fearing that they might hurt the image of China in the eyes of those outside the country.  This is just disgusting…as is the part about “ghost wives”… 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080201/31056.htm

Poll: Most Americans Want a Biblical Leader as President

 In a recent poll that, 6 in ten Americans said that they would vote for someone who speaks about following the example of Biblical leaders. More than three quarters of the people surveyed said that it’s a positive thing when candidates cite scripture. They are also looking for someone who believes in God. They were also looking for a candidate with truthfulness, integrity, and Biblical characteristics. Ok…this poll sounds good, but it really disturbs me. It seems like Americans are so bent on being spiritual and “Christian” because it’s the “in” thing to do, that they have no concept of a truly biblical worldview. Six in ten people said that they would vote for someone who speaks about following the example of Biblical leaders. So if they live like hell but speak about following the examples in the Bible that’s ok? They also talk about it being a positive thing when a candidate quotes scripture. Would most of those polled (or the rest of America) be able to recognize whether or not the scripture was in context? Would they know if it was being used correctly or just taken by itself and being twisted? They are also looking for someone with Biblical characteristics. Would most of America recognize those characteristics? This is a country that glorifies self, sex, and “truth for you”. Would we know Biblical characteristics? I recently heard that many evangelicals are going to vote for Obama or Clinton. Do they embody the Biblical characteristics that many seem to be looking for? They are both strongly pro-choice and have homosexual agendas. And while they have quoted scripture, do they uphold it? Do their voting records show that they stand on the Bible above all else?  I have waited to see how things would play out, and you may disagree with what I’m about to say, but looking at the candidates in the race for the presidency, I would vote for Mike Huckabee. Out of all the candidates running for president, he is the one who has stood consistently on the Bible. I may not agree with everything that he has said, but when it comes to many of the issues facing our country, he has consistently answered according to a right interpretation of scripture. None of the other candidates can say that. They are supporting things that the Bible clearly condemns. They are against things that the Bible says should be done. If the people who claim to be “evangelicals” truly are, then they will look at the presidential candidates through the lens of scripture and not be guiled by their sweet words, being deceived by the hollowness of their speech…

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080204/31078.htm

‘Rambo’ Star Joins Activists to Decry Myanmar Junta

 The star of “Rambo 4” has said that he stands by activists against the Myanmar Junta and would like to go there to help them. While his endeavors have brought light to a needed area of darkness in the world, I can only ask: What would he do over their to confront ruling military officials? He is popular here, and his new movie has been used as a rallying point for many of those in Myanmar. But going there to face the rulers of the country is not like in the movies…it would be for real…

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