Newslinks 08/30/08

August 30, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Newslinks | 2 Comments
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Saturday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

 

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Election2008/Default.aspx?id=216826

Saddleback presidential forum: How did they respond?

 

Rick Warren held a presidential forum recently where he interviewed the candidates on different topics important to the American people. He interviewed Barack Obama for the first hour of the forum and John McCain the second hour.

 

Obama said that he feels that America’s greatest moral failure is “not abiding by the command of Jesus to care for ‘the least of these’”. Obama said that this applies to many things like poverty, racism, sexism, and that we should “provide ladders of opportunity for people to move up to the middle class”. When asked about the abortion issue, Obama said that he’s not sure when an unborn baby becomes a human life worth protecting and couldn’t provide an instance of when he’s voted to limit abortions. When asked when a baby should receive human rights, Obama said that he didn’t know for certain and the answer was “above his pay grade”. He said that he wasn’t for Roe v. Wade because he was pro-abortion, but because “women don’t make decisions about abortion casually”. When asked about marriage, Obama said that he believes that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman, but that he wouldn’t support an amendment with that sort of language. He said that we have never defined marriage historically in the Constitution. When Obama “broke it down”, he said that marriage has always been a tradition of state law and that most people believe that there should be an amendment because of same-sex marriage. Obama said that while he doesn’t support same-sex marriage, he does support homosexual civil unions.

 

When John McCain was questioned, it started with a question about energy. He said that he believes that the US should drill offshore for oil so that we can become independent of foreign oil, a position that he didn’t hold 10 years ago. When asked about abortion, McCain said that he believes that life begins at conception. He reminded those present of his 25-year record of pro-life voting and committed his presidency to the pro-life stance. He also said that while he supports embryonic stem cell research, he is “wildly optimistic” that skin cell research will make the debate “an academic one”. When asked about marriage, McCain reiterated that he believed that California was wrong for legalizing same-sex marriage. He believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. He also said that he believed that the states should make the decision. He also said that it doesn’t mean that people can’t enter into legal agreements or have the rights of all citizens. When asked about religious persecution, McCain said that he would use his position as president to call on countries like China to stop their persecution of Christians.

 

While I don’t agree with Rick Warren and think that he is preaching another “gospel”, I hope that this forum helps people realize just how different the candidates are. I heard some of the audio clips from the forum and the difference is amazing. The answers that Barack Obama gave were a lot of double speak and didn’t really answer anything. He refused to give a definite answer as to when an unborn baby is a human being. He said that he believes that there is a “moral and ethical aspect to this issue” but wouldn’t state what that aspect is. He has, however, stood up for and promoted abortion for a number of years, so I think that we can readily see what his morals are. He said that he couldn’t answer when life began because it was “above his pay grade”. If that’s the case, and you’re the “thoughtful, caring, bastion of hope” that you promote yourself to be, why support abortion at all? If you have the morals that you claim you do, and you don’t know when life begins, why would you aggressively promote something like abortion? If you’re not sure, then it’s very possible that you’re killing babies right? Granted, the issue is a lot clearer than that. He said that he believes that there is common ground that our goal should be to reduce the number of abortions. Um…forgive me if I’m stating the obvious, if we get rid of legal abortions, wouldn’t that reduce them? If we stop/shut down Planned Parenthoods and abortions clinics and prosecute them as the murderers they are, and if we make abortion illegal, that should reduce them right? If we couple this with promoting abstinence and actually teach our kids moral absolutes, we’ll see abortions go down! If he can’t clearly answer a question like this, is he really cut out to be president? Obama was also asked if evil exists and how we should handle it (ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it). He said that evil does exist and then started naming all the places we see evil and that it should be “confronted squarely” and that while it’s God’s task to remove evil but that we can be “soldiers in that task”.

 

On the other hand, John McCain gave clear and definite answers. When asked about what we should do with evil, his response was “defeat it”. Period. There was no doubt where he stood. While I don’t agree with everything that John McCain has said, given the choice before me, I will not vote for Barack Obama. John McCain may not be perfect, but he is clear on where he stands and is consistent. Obama is not. He has been trying to court “evangelicals” for the past few months and this was just another opportunity to do so. I hope that Christians will see that Barack Obama has waffled on what he believes and where he stands on issues (except abortion and homosexual rights). I don’t understand how someone can support unbiblical practices that scripture calls sin and still call himself a Christian. Because of that I can’t vote for him. I pray that our nation will realize that our hope isn’t in a president (whether it’s John McCain or Barack Obama). The hope of our nation is in God and God alone. It is up to Christians to choose leaders that will obey the scriptures the way that God meant them and nothing else.

 

 

Related articles:

 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080817/church-hosted-forum-reveals-hearts-minds-of-white-house-hopefuls.htm

Church-Hosted Forum Reveals Hearts, Minds of White House Hopefuls

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080815/georgia-s-church-aided-refugees-ask-where-was-god.htm

Georgia’s Church-Aided Refugees Ask ‘Where Was God?’

 

Christian organizations and local churches are helping the hundreds of thousands of refugees that are fleeing the Georgian conflict. Those helping say that many of the people that come to them for help are there only with the clothes on their backs. The convents and churches of the area are taking in the refugees to give them shelter. One of the convent directors, known as Mother Nonna, said that she’s never seen so many kids with fear in their eyes. She said that the most difficult question to answer was “Where was God?” The fighting in Georgia started when the province of South Ossetia chose to secede from Georgia and unite with North Ossetia.

 

The question is one that all of us have asked in times of trouble. The answer is always the same. God is right where He’s always been. He is on His throne in heaven and is still sovereign. He is not surprised by the events in Georgia; or Darfur, or India for that matter. He not only knows they are happening He allows them. There is nothing that happens that He doesn’t know about. This is not the same as Him being the cause of those things though! Man has been given the free will to choose. The choice he has made has put him in the position he’s in. This isn’t just for things like war; it’s for money problems, marital problems, and so on. If you’re struggling with something, God knows! There are many things that make it seem like God isn’t with us though. The main one is the fact that the church has done a horrible job of rightly dividing and teaching the truth. If they did, there would be many more who know that God is there and would understand their times of trouble. Another reason that this is so hard for us (even Christians) is the fact that man likes to be in control. I do and so do you. We like to know exactly how things will be; we like to have complete control over the tiniest details. Unfortunately, we don’t have that control. Ever. We may think that we do, but how many times have we been in a situation where we thought something was going to be a certain way and then something happened that just completely destroyed all of our best laid plans? We don’t have control over anything, but as Christians we know who does. It’s God. We know that He loves His children, even when we go through trials. We may not understand why we’re going through our trials, but if we understand what the scripture says about God, we have to know that He will do what’s right. God is holy, just, and righteous. Everything that He does is right, whether we agree with it or understand it or we don’t. To those in Georgia, God is there. He sees your struggles, He knows what you’re going through, and He will do what is right.

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080818/thousands-fast-cry-mercy-for-america.htm

Thousands Fast, Cry Mercy for America

 

Founder Lou Engle says that the cry for change in America is louder than the cry for mercy. Engle said this during the 12-hour TheCallDC event that was held last weekend at the National Mall in Washington, DC. Mike Huckabee, one-time presidential candidate, joined Engle on the stage to cry out for mercy for the millions of babies that have been murdered through abortion. Huckabee said that while it’s easy to point fingers, the blame squarely falls on those who “claim we know the Lord but have not lived it and not been faithful”. While the event happened just months before the election, the founder said that it’s not about the election but about a “spiritual awakening”. He said that many people, including Christian leaders, aren’t putting their faith “in politics or anywhere else”. Because of this, Engle said that the time was right for corporate fasting and prayer. Engle said that he was “moved” to see so many young people. He also said that the main issue for young evangelicals is abortion, even though studies have shown that that’s not necessarily the case.

 

I went to TheCall that was held in July of last year. At the time, I thought it was a wonderful thing and that having all of those people together praying together, I was sure that something was going to change in this nation, and in my own life. A little over a year later, things have changed, but never like I they thought they would. I look at what goes on at TheCall now and shake my head. They promote some great things, but I wonder what they really expect. In the year since the last Call, what’s changed? Will this get some people’s attention? Of course. Whenever you get thousands of people it is going to draw some attention. But what is the Call really doing? The motive of the Call is a “spiritual awakening”, but is that what our country needs? They talk about fasting and prayer, but what about repentance, righteousness, and holiness? Is twelve hours of not taking in anything than water and juice going to change our nation? Is 50,000 people gathering at the National Mall going to change the hearts of the entire nation? Even if it gets the attention of the people of America, does that justify it? There is a lot of money going into these, and I wonder if it couldn’t be spent better. Instead of gathering together the thousands of dollars needed to put on the Call wouldn’t it be better spent teaching and preaching the gospel? If I remember correctly, I never heard the gospel being preached. They say it’s not about fame, but why the gathering at all? Why the TV cameras? It would have been less expensive to send out an email and get everyone to fast for 40 days up to the day and then pray and fast all day, wouldn’t it? Our nation doesn’t need a “spiritual awakening” and it doesn’t need a “Call”. What it needs is a group of people who call themselves Christians and actually live it out. It needs a church that stands on the authority of the Bible instead of helping the enemies of God destroy it. It needs the gospel of Christ going out to the entire nation. If this happens, then our nation will see change…

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080819/evangelist-to-u-s-christians-don-t-snipe-muslims-with-bible-verses.htm

Evangelist to U.S. Christians: Don’t ‘Snipe’ Muslims with Bible Verses

 

Dr. John Azumah recently spent time telling Christians gathered at the Inside-Out conference in Long Beach, California. He is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ghana and spoke to those gathered about not “sniping” Muslims with Bible verses. He said that Muslims are not just “nameless, faceless creatures”. He said that many Christians don’t know Muslims and that they are “strangers to us”. Azumah said that Christians should be salt and light and not “flashlights or fires”. He said that many Christians are like flashlights, shining in people’s eyes and causing them to turn away from the truth. He said that we should “engage them and show them that you love them” before you show them verses. He said that Christians should be lanterns because lanterns shine their light in non-imposing ways. He said that we should be like Barnabas and use our testimony to help people see Jesus like the woman at the well did. He said that Samaritans were to Jews as Muslims are to Christians. He said that Christians should wait on the Lord and wait for the Holy Spirit to come to you.

 

With all do respect, this is ridiculous. It seems that Mr. Azumah doesn’t understand Christians or Muslims. It also seems that he doesn’t understand some of what scripture says about the life of a Christian. The Bible says that we will be hated because of the message we carry with us. It says that the world will not like us because we follow Christ. This doesn’t mean that we can do what ever we want and aggravate people. But it doesn’t mean that we should water down the message or “wait” for the “perfect chance” to share the “gospel”. This makes no sense. If we understand scripture, we know that none of us are promised tomorrow and this means that it is up to us to get people the gospel as soon as possible! As far as Muslims are concerned, if they truly follow what their version of “scripture” says, they hate Christians and Jews. The idea that Christians hate Muslims like the Jews hated the Samaritans is not even close. It’s a generalization that he’s using to try and make his point. If Christians really hated Muslims like he says they do, why are so many spending their lives (many giving those lives) to reach them with the truth? To say that we are “sniping” Muslims by not spending weeks, months, and years getting to know them and instead giving them the truth of the scriptures is a gross misunderstanding of evangelism. It is not necessary to get to know people for weeks or months before we present the gospel to them. I can get to know someone in three minutes and then present the gospel to him or her and I’ve done it. The Muslims that I’ve spoken to this way have not reacted any differently than the non-Muslims have. The bottom line is that Muslims are just like anyone else who hasn’t received Christ for their salvation. They need to hear the truth of the Word of God because THAT is the power of God to salvation. It isn’t “getting to know them” or trying to be their friend first. I’m not saying that Christians shouldn’t be friends with Muslims or that we shouldn’t “get to know” them. What I’m saying is that it’s not necessary to get to know them in order to tell them the truth…

 

Design of the Week 08/27/08 – Living Water

August 27, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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The featured design for this week is call Living Water. The design is based on the encounter Jesus had with the woman at the well. It is found in John 4:5-26. Jesus and His disciples had just entered the city of Sychar in Samaria. The disciples had gone off to buy food and Jesus went to the well. The time of day was about noon. This is important because it is the hottest part of the day and most of the water was drawn from the well in the cooler parts of the day. The only reason someone would be drawing water from the well during the hottest part of the day is if they were an outcast or being shunned.

 

Jesus asked the woman at the well for a drink of water. The woman couldn’t understand why Jesus, a Jew, would ask her, a Samaritan, for a drink. Jesus responded:

 

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (Joh 4:10)

 

This statement completely confounded the woman. She asked Jesus how and where He would get the living water since He had nothing to draw and the well was deep. Jesus responded:

 

“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (Joh 4: 13-14 )

 

The woman challenges Jesus by asking for the water and Jesus responds with a request that seems off topic. He asks the woman to go and get her husband. This question is actually very important to the situation. The woman at the well asked for the living water and Jesus is helping her get this water. He asks her to go and get her husband because He knows that she has been married 5 times and the man that she is living with is not her husband either. The woman is living in sin and for her to get the living water; she needs to have her sin removed. By answering Jesus truthfully, she acknowledges that sin.

 

When Jesus shares her past and present with her, the woman calls Him a prophet. She then talks about the Messiah and how when He comes, He will teach them everything. Jesus then helps her understanding of who He really is and that He is that Messiah. When the woman finds out that Jesus is the Messiah, she runs and tells those in the city. The entire city then spends two days with Jesus. Many people believed in Jesus because of the testimony of the woman.

 

Do you want living water that Jesus offers? The only place that you can get living water is from Jesus. The living water is a spiritual spring of life that results from being born again through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the way to get living water. No one else has the living water and following another religion will not get you that water or the assurance that you will find yourself in heaven when you die.

 

Ten Commandments #3

August 25, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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This week’s blog continues our look at the Ten Commandments with a deeper look at the third commandment:

 

Exo 20:7  “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

 

God makes it clear many times to Israel that His name is not to be profaned. His name should be lifted up in holiness. Here are a few examples:

 

 

Lev 19:12  ‘You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.

 

 

Lev 22:32  “You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the LORD who sanctifies you,

Lev 22:33  who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the LORD.”

 

 

Lev 24:10  Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp.

Lev 24:11  The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)

Lev 24:12  They put him in custody so that the command of the LORD might be made clear to them.

Lev 24:13  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

Lev 24:14  “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.

Lev 24:15  “You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin.

Lev 24:16  ‘Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

 

So, what does it mean to blaspheme the name of God or to take His name in vain? Using God’s name as a curse word. It is taking God’s name and bringing it down to the level of a four-letter filth word used to express disgust. It is things like:

 

·         GD

·         JC

·         OMG

 

It is using God’s name carelessly. Most people who struggle with it (or don’t struggle with it) say that they just “can’t help it” and that it’s just “a habit”. That just proves my point. God and His name have become so disgusting to us that we don’t even care what we’re doing! We don’t respect the God who gave us life and therefore it is nothing for us to blaspheme Him. I would never use another person’s name as a curse word. You never hear the name of a founder of another religion being used this way. The “habit” of blasphemy shows not only a lack of respect for God, but also a lack of understanding or concern for the consequences of committing blasphemy. Scripture says that the one who blasphemes God’s name is worthy of death.

 

In today’s society, blasphemy has become commonplace. It is peppered throughout movies (including those geared toward kids). It fills songs, magazines, and everyday conversation. It is so rampant that our kids do it! I’ve heard 12 – 15 year olds cussing like sailors. Why? Because it’s been allowed by their parents and their church family. We’ve become desensitized to the sin of blasphemy. How many young girls do you hear spout “OMG”?

 

So, what’s the solution? We need to bring our kids and ourselves to the point where we have a correct understanding of God and His Word. We need to take God seriously. We need to teach others to respect the name of God. The Jews consider the name of God so sacred that they won’t even write it for fear of messing it up. We need to get to the point where we reprimand those around us or remove ourselves from their presence.

 

How sacred is God’s name to you?

Design of the Week 08/20/08 – UnChristian

August 20, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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The feature this week is a design called UnChristian. The design comes from the scripture in 2 Peter 3:16-17.

 

2Pe 3:16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2Pe 3:17  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness,

 

The design was created to shake up the growing number of people who are turning away sound doctrine. They are becoming unstable, untaught, and unprincipled. They are chasing after people who do whatever they feel like doing and then say it’s from God (leg dropping the pastor!!).

 

Rather than study the Word and have it change them, they just follow the people who tickle their ears. They twist and contort scripture to make it suit them.

 

What they don’t understand is that this brings about their destruction. If we continue to follow our own interpretation of scriptures and distort what they say to make us feel good, we will place ourselves on shaky ground. So many people today are more concerned about feeling good about where they are at rather than being made to feel horrible about where they are in order to get their lives in order with the Word of God. We need to get our lives in line with the Word of God and make sure that we understand it the way that God wrote it and not the way that we want to understand it. If we don’t, we will end up being UnChristian.

Ten Commandments #2

August 18, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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This week, we’re going to look at the second of the Ten Commandments. The second of the Ten Commandments says:

 

Exo 20:4  “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

Exo 20:5  “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,

Exo 20:6  but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

 

The word for idol could also mean graven image. God gives this commandment to the nation of Israel a number of times. Unfortunately, while He was giving this commandment the Israelites were making a golden calf from earrings and jewelry. God makes it clear that His people were not to worship any part of creation not the animals, not the celestial bodies. God said that anyone that made an idol would be cursed and considered an abomination.

 

As I said above, Israel broke this commandment while Moses was receiving it. The children of Israel had just left Egypt and were in the wilderness. Moses had ascended Mount Sinai and was receiving the commandments for his people. While he was up there, the people got tired of waiting and asked Aaron, Moses’ brother, to make them an idol. Aaron told them to gather all of their gold together and melted it down. He then shaped it into a calf (later he says that it just came out that way) and declared it to be the ‘god’ that delivered them from Egypt. A feast is declared the next day and the people are making offerings, drinking, and playing. God tells Moses what the people have done and says that He wants to destroy them. Moses intercedes for the people and God relents. Moses then descends the mountain, with Joshua (who was waiting halfway up), and sees the debauchery. In anger, Moses throws down the tablets and they shatter. He rebukes Aaron and grounds the idol into powder. He then mixes the gold powder with water and makes the Israelites drink. He then calls those who stand with the Lord to his side (the Levites), and sends them out to kill the idolaters (about 3,000 people). Moses returns to the mountain and intercedes for the sins of the people. God shows mercy on them but tells Moses that whoever sins will be blotted out of the Book He has written and that “in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin”.

 

While there may not be many people who actually carve an idol out of wood or stone, there are some. What most people don’t realize is that you don’t need wood or stone to shape an idol. Many people make idols with their mind. They create a “God” that suits their ideals and needs. “He” believes what they believe, loves what they love, and hates what they hate. Sadly, it’s become rampant in the modern church as well. The modern idols may be more subtle, but they are still idols because they don’t correctly represent Jesus Christ or the scriptures. Paul expressed concern about this in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4:

 

2Co 11:3  But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

2Co 11:4  For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

 

Mormonism – Mormons often portray themselves as Christians, but they hold to very different views of Jesus, God, and many other things. They believe that God was once a man, that Jesus and the devil are brothers, that the angel Moroni gave the “true” revelation to Joseph Smith on golden plates in the 1800’s. They hold other books (The Book of Mormon, Pearls of Great Price) as having the same authority as scripture. They allow polygamy. If a Mormon does well enough, they will become like “God” they will become like “God” and have their own universe. “God” had sexual relations to produce “His” “spiritual children”.

 

Catholicism – The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) shares many of the same beliefs as other Christian denominations, but they also hold many that separate them. They believe that salvation comes from both faith and works. They resacrifice Jesus Christ every Sunday in the Mass. They hold many dogmatic beliefs. These things must be believed or, according to the RCC, you are not saved. These dogmas include the idea that Mary remained a perpetual virgin and that she is considered the Co-Redemptrix of man because she gave birth to Jesus. They also believe that anyone outside the RCC is not saved. They believe that the wafer and wine used in Mass actually become the body and blood of Jesus. They believe that the Pope is a descendant of the Apostle Peter (because it was supposedly Peter who Jesus decided to build His church on). They also believe that the Pope is infallible. That is, when the Pope is speaking on matters of the RCC, he cannot make a mistake. None of these things are found in scripture without them being added.

 

Prosperity gospel – Those who preach the ‘prosperity gospel’ believe that “God” wants believers to be “blessed” spiritually, physically, and financially. Often, the emphasis is on financial blessing and the focus is on a small number of scriptures that talk about wealth, prosperity, healing, and power. Those scriptures are taken out of context and made to fit the idea of prosperity. Many of those who follow this gospel feel that they have the ability to “command” God to do things and provide things. They also seem to have an aberrant understanding of the “authority” of the believer. They chase “the blessing” of God and often use faith as the measurement of someone’s piety/”status” with God. They teach that we need to sow financial “seeds” to reap blessing. They rarely talk about sin, judgment, and hell but rather that Jesus is a “buddy” and “friend”. In the view of this gospel, God is a “partner”. They have “prophetic visions” of financial blessings to come. They often make calls from those who support them to send them the “financial seeds” to help their ministry and are always well dressed, with expensive clothes, cars, houses, etc.

 

“Feel Good” gospel – This gospel is based on the idea that God loves everyone regardless of where they are in their lives and what kind of lifestyle they are living. God is portrayed as the all-loving, doting, “Daddy” whose only concern is to care for and coddle “His” children. This view focuses on positive thinking and affirmation while speaking out against anything that might be perceived as negative. Anyone that talks about sin is considered a “narrow minded bigot”. The preachers of this gospel hardly ever talk about sin. Instead, people are met where they are and “encouraged” to be better. There is nothing about judgment, no hell, no punishment for sin; only butterflies and rainbows. Many times, people who follow this type of gospel will often stand on the scripture Matthew 7:1-2, but they seem to forget John 7:24.

 

Social gospel – This gospel says that it is the main goal of Christians is to change society and the environment by doing good works meeting their needs.  The social gospel says that because Jesus did good things (like feeding the 5,000 and His healing the sick), Christians need to do those things as well. It says that we need to bring the “kingdom of God’ to the earth. We do this by helping the poor, by “going green” and taking better care of the environment. Those who follow the social gospel also have a distorted view of justice. The social gospel says that we should take from those who have plenty and give to those who don’t. This is not justice. Justice is those who do wrong getting punished for what they do. Those who preach this gospel often promote “humanity” and good works over the gospel of Christ. They promote many religions as legitimate ways to God. There are two main groups who follow the social gospel:

 

Seeker sensitives: The seeker sensitive church basically goes out and asks the community what they would like to see in the church and then creates programs and events that do that very thing. They base their doctrine and function on ideals from non-believers instead of God’s Word. The seeker sensitive church asks the seeker, “What do you want Jesus to do? That’s what He does.”

 

Emergents: The emergent “church” is a recent development in the scope of religion. They take today’s context, word meanings, and ideals and read them into the bible. They ask the listener, “What do you want Jesus to be? That’s who He is.” They blur the line between religions under the guise of common unity. Many of those who participate in the emergent “church” will tell you that it is impossible for us to know the truth and that there are no absolutes.

 

So, what is the solution to this? Well, first, we need to get back to biblical authority. The Word of God has to be the first and final authority for our lives. We have to return to biblical discipline as well. We have gotten “squishy” as far as calling people to repent. Christians need to live in obedience to God as He portrays Himself in the Bible. We have to study, understand, and apply scripture to our lives daily. The last thing that we need to do is the most important. We need all of those pastors who call themselves Christians to begin (or continue) preaching scripture correctly and nothing else. Without these things, our country will continue to spiral out of control.

Newslinks 08/16/08

August 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Saturday’s Newslinks brought to you by

 

At Ease Tees

http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=208460

 Millionaire Christian businessman walks his talkThe attention of many media outlets was focused on the founder of Chik-fil-A recently when he decided to not put three girls in jail for vandalizing his home. The damage would cost the three girls $30,000 to repair. Instead of sending them to jail for the damage they’ve done, Truett Cathy has made an agreement with the courts and the parents of the girls. Mr. Cathy has provided a list of terms that the girls must abide by to remain out of jail. The terms include 1,000 sentences, no TV or video games for six months, and reading good books. These terms must be overseen by the parents of the girls (one of whom is an “A” student). Cathy said “putting them in jail would just send them further downstream” and that it was his hope to “help them realize that they know right from wrong”.

The fact that the media were focused on this says something about how common it is. I think that this is a wonderful example of what Christianity will do not only for those who believe but also for everyone else. Mr. Cathy didn’t pamper them or remove their punishment, he just provided something that will hopefully help the girls grow and change. More Christians need to stop pushing the “love” of God while ignoring the justice of God…

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080809/hybels-challenges-thousands-to-refuse-god-nothing.htm

Hybels Challenges Thousands to Refuse God NothingOver 50,000 leaders ended a two-day summit repeated a number of proverbs spoken by Mother Theresa. The leaders were attending the Leadership Summit, hosted by the Willow Creek Association, where Bill Hybels spoke about the Catholic nun as an example to Christians. Hybels said that the whole summit was worth it if only to study the life of Mother Theresa, who he claims is the one person who has affected his life the deepest. Hybels said that God is “still looking for a yielded heart” and has something better planned for this generation. He asked, “are you lighting up the radar screen of heaven with your yieldedness?” This was the 13th summit held by Willow Creek

Ok, the first question that comes to mind is: Why isn’t Jesus the most influential person in the life of Willow Creek’s pastor? I don’t have a problem with learning about things from the lives of others, but as a Christian, Mother Theresa doesn’t deserve the place that Hybels has given her. As a Christian, Jesus should be the one who has affected us most! Mother Theresa cannot save souls from hell…As far as “lighting up the radar of heaven”, does God not know where His people are or what they doing that He needs a radar? God may be looking for a “yielded heart”, but what He requires of Christian is obedience. Unfortunately, that is something that many in the church ignore to their peril…

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080809/calif-court-oks-homeschooling.htm

 Calif. Court OKs HomeschoolingA state court in California has decided that parents can homeschool their children without having a teacher’s credential. This decision reverses a previous decision made in February that would require parents to have a teacher’s credential to homeschool their kids. When the first ruling was made, both James Dobson and Arnold Schwarzenegger protested the decision and praised the reversal as a sign to Californians that their elected officials would defend the rights of the parents. The original decision was made in response to one family and the allegation that two of the family’s kids were beaten by their parents.

I don’t say this very often and that probably won’t change in the near future, but I applaud California and the decision that was made. I understand the concern of children being hurt, but to say that this should be an excuse for not allowing children to be homeschooled is ludicrous. I would love to see more children being homeschooled. I hope that the issue is laid to rest, but that remains to be seen.

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080811/multi-religious-retreats-offer-variety-in-faith.htm

Multi-Religious Retreats Offer Variety in Faith

The Abode of the Message in New York has begun to offer retreats that cater to those of multiple faiths. These retreats are not separated by faith, but instead are all one retreat where Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians, etc. are worshipping together. These retreats offer the guests the opportunity to deepen their faith without converting. They are not the only ones making this offer. In other places, Buddhists at the Zen Mountain Monastery say that there is no dispute between their teachings and a person’s search for God. Reverend Tom Reese says that people are coming to realize that we don’t have a “hammer-lock on God or salvation”, that “God is bigger than us”, and that we should “respect that and other people”. Many are saying that the idea that there are many ways to God is not an evangelical belief.

This is where a wrong view of tolerance and Christianity will get us. To be tolerant of others doesn’t mean that we compromise our Christian beliefs, even though that’s the definition that is given nowadays. Jesus said in John 14:6 that He is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that no one will get to heaven any other way. The idea that Christianity and any other religion are compatible shows a lack of understanding of Christianity. I also have to disagree with Reverend Reese. We do have a “hammer-lock” on salvation. God tells us in His Word exactly what someone needs to do to get saved. God is bigger than us, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t understand Him. He has revealed Himself both in scripture and in His Son.

Design of the Week 08/13/08 – Pop Quiz

August 13, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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This week’s design is one called Pop Quiz. The design is based on Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. It is also a condensed version of the style of evangelism used by Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and others through Way of the Master.

 

The design is simple text that goes through a few of the Ten Commandments and challenges the viewer to look at themselves and compare their life to God’s standard of what is good. The law is how we will be judged and not by our own standard. It basically boils down to this:

 

1.)    Would you consider yourself to be a good person?

2.)    How many lies do you think you’ve told during your life?

3.)    Have you ever stolen something?

4.)    Have you ever committed adultery? What about looked at someone with lust? (Jesus says that they are the same thing)

5.)    Have you ever murdered someone? Hated someone? (Jesus says that they are the same thing)

6.)    According to your own admission, you’re a lying, thieving, adulterous, murderer at heart.

7.)    If God were to judge you by the Ten Commandments, would you be innocent or guilty? (if innocent, go back through the commandments)

8.)    Would you go to heaven or hell?

9.)    Does this concern you? It should…

10.)            Do you know what God did so that you wouldn’t have to go to hell?

11.)            Tell them about the cross…

 

This design just asks the questions about the commandments and then says “ask me about your score!” Hopefully, this will open up a witnessing opportunity. Of all of the ways I’ve heard of and seen to witness, this has been the most effective way for truly helping people to understand what sin is, where they stand with God, and what will happen if they die without receiving the gift of salvation.

Ten Commandments #1

August 11, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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The first commandment given to Moses for the nation of Israel is in Exodus 20:2-3.

 

Exo 20:2  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

Exo 20:3  “You shall have no other gods before Me.

 

The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years. The Egyptians worshipped a number of false gods. Through the plagues He brought on Egypt, God showed His power over these “gods”. Israel was leaving Egypt and traveling to Canaan, who had their own “gods”. Through Moses, God reminded His people not to follow after the “gods” of the people that surround them, or His anger would be kindled against them and He would wipe them off the face of the earth (Deut. 6:14). Later in Deuteronomy, God warns Israel that if they ever forgot Him and go after other “gods”, they would surely perish.

 

Over and over, the leaders of God’s people reminded them of all the things that God did for them and warned them what would happen if they turned their back on God. Sadly, Israel didn’t wait long to allow themselves to be lead astray. They compromised their faith and allowed the inhabitants of the land to live with them. Before long, they fell in and out of bondage to the nations around them for disobeying God and chasing after other “gods”. Even through the times when Israel had kings, they turned their backs on God. They worshipped the Baals and Ashteroth like those around them did.

 

Many people read about the times that Israel left God and they scoff. What they don’t realize is that there are hundreds of people today still follow false “gods”. The religions of the world  (aside from Christianity) all follow other “gods”.

 

Hinduism – Followers of Hinduism have some 300 million “gods”. Many of its adherents live in poorer countries. They look to their “gods” for blessings, protection, and provision. They worship created things like cows and rats. The things they worship have eaten much of the food that has been shipped to these countries while the people starve! It’s been said that it would take a 5000-car train to hold all the grain that’s been eaten by the rats in India in a year, but because they are sacred, no one will kill them. They offer food, gold, jewels and other things to these “gods” instead of using them to help the people of their country. With all the offerings and all of the “gods”, you would think that one of them would bless the people and help them. Sadly, that’s not going to happen because those “gods” are not real…

 

Wicca – Earth worship and druidism often highlight Wicca. Those who practice Wicca are often called “witches” or “warlocks”. They perform rites or rituals on special days (like solstices) and often have the “ability” to cast spells. In most cases, Wiccans see the earth as our “mother” and worship it as such (even though its really just part of the creation).

 

Islam – Muslims believe in a “god” named Allah. Many of them claim that Allah is the same as the God of the Bible. This is not true for many reasons. The most important reason is the fact that Allah has no Son. He is one “god” and has no “helpers”. The God of the Bible is Yahweh/Jehovah, and does have a Son who has existed from the beginning and is God. Muslims claim that Jesus was a good man, teacher, and prophet, but they deny Him as the Son of God. Jesus is woven through the text of the Christian scriptures from the beginning to the end (see Gen. 3:15, Gen. 22(cross reference with Gal 3), Psalm 22, Isaiah 11, and Isaiah 53). No man in history has fit the role of the Messiah or fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah except Jesus. If the “god” of Islam and the God of the Bible are the same, then He lied. For hundreds of years, He promised the coming of a Savior through the tribe of Judah and the throne of David. This Savior would take away the sins of the people and reconcile them to God. Also, if the “god” of Islam is the God of the Bible, then His character has changed (which according to the Bible isn’t possible – Malachi 3:6). His view of sin, judgment, and eternity has changed and the promises He made to the Jews have been forgotten.

 

Atheism – Atheism may not seem to fit in this discussion, but in some ways it does. It is often portrayed as a scientific, intelligent premise that is based on cold hard facts. The truth is, atheism is a philosophical ideal based on naturalism in order to deny God. It is the belief that everything that exists came about by natural causes over millions of years and denies the existence of the supernatural. Many atheists hang their hat on science and its “facts”, when many of these “facts” are not founded in experiment but in an a priori belief that God doesn’t exist.

 

Many people worship other “gods” instead of the One True God. They chase after other “gods” that suit them instead of changing their lives to conform to the Word of the Lord. They don’t want to be accountable for their sins or their wayward lifestyle, so they find a “god” that already agrees with their way of living and “follow” it. Many of these “gods” have found a home in the US. Sadly, they have diluted the foundation that our country was built on and are slowly eroding away the only hope we have.

Design of the Week – The Law (Motee)

August 6, 2008 at 6:30 am | Posted in Designs of the Week | Leave a comment
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The featured design for this week is one of our Motee designs. The design was based on Jeremiah 31:33 and 2 Corinthians 3:3:

 

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

 

being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

 

More and more people are trying to deny the law that is written on our hearts. We know right from wrong. We know that some of the things that we do are wrong. We know that murder is wrong. We know that stealing is wrong. We know that these things are wrong because the law of God is written on our hearts. Paul calls the law a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. It shows us what sin is and what we look like in God’s eyes. It shows us all the things that God calls sin and leaves us no place to run and hide.

 

Today, the church spends most of its time “preaching” a gospel that does nothing to bring people to a place where repentance can actually take place. We have a lot of people making “decisions”, but how many of them are going to be disciples. The truth is, if they haven’t repented of their sins and put their faith in Christ, they won’t be disciples. The messages that are heard are “topical”, “hip”, and what the congregation wants to hear. The help get people “fired up” about being a Christian and help them get ready for their week. What they should be doing is reminding those who are listening what God’s standard is and the amazing thing that Jesus did for us in reconciling us to God through the cross.

 

The law is written on our hearts and we need to make sure that we use it to show us where we stand in God’s eyes.

The purpose of the law

August 4, 2008 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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In a society, the law defines the boundaries of what is right and wrong. If someone crosses the boundaries of those laws, they can (or should) expect punishment. If they steal a candy bar, there will be minor punishment. If they rob a bank, the punishment is greater. The degree that they break the boundaries will determine the degree to which they are punished. In a society, it is man that determines right and wrong. Because of this, right and wrong change depending on who is in charge.

 

In the Bible, the law exists and acts much like civil law, but it is much deeper and extremely more important for us to understand and obey. God gave the law to Israel to show them His standard of right and wrong. If they broke the laws, they knew that there was punishment coming. The difference between civil law and God’s law is the fact that no matter how many laws you break, or how many times you break them, the punishment is the same for everyone. What many people don’t seem to understand is that the law was never meant to reconcile people to God. God knew that man would never be able to live up to or keep the law and He had already prepared a way for reconciliation. In Galatians, Paul says that those who are of the works of the law are under a curse. Anyone who tries to work their way to heaven is cursed by the law. Because of the law, we can be sure of what sin is. Paul said that he didn’t know what sin was except by the law (Romans 7:7). The law shuts us up under sin and should be something that weighs heavily on us. Paul calls the law a tutor or schoolteacher. The tutor cannot take your test, but can help you understand what is to come. The main purpose of the law is to help us to see ourselves in truth and to lead us to faith.

 

Some may be asking, “what about those who have never heard the law?” Paul says in Romans 2:12, that those who sin outside the law will perish outside the law and that those who sin under the law will be judged by the law. See, it doesn’t matter if you acknowledge the law or not, when you break the law it’s still sin. The reason this is true is because the law is written on all of our hearts. God not only gave us the law, He gave us a conscience. Our conscience reminds us of the law, even if we try to ignore it.

 

The law is still God’s standard for us. It is still what keeps us under sin and still what helps us to understand that sin. These Ten Commandments that God laid out as His standard still apply to us today. Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. The law is still in effect today and it keeps all of those who believe in something other than the true gospel under sin. Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, agnostics, and others are gathered under sin because of the law. The truth is that it doesn’t stop there. There are a number of “Christians” who are still under sin because of the law. If those who believe were to share the truth about the law with those that don’t, it would begin to make a change in both the body of Christ and the world around us. Because of this, I am going to make every effort to post scriptural information about each of the Ten Commandments. I will not guarantee that it is absolutely 100% correct because I’m a still learning and growing. What I will guarantee is that I will do my best, because I love God and His Word.

 

I believe that the law is not only useful and important, but it’s necessary. We need to begin using the law to show others and ourselves what sin is (in love!). The law does not and cannot make us better or worse than anyone else. By the standard of the law, we are all wretched sinners on our own. If you follow along with me these next few weeks, please let me know what you think and feel free to add anything that I may have missed…

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