Pharisees

June 15, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Often, when we are hearing about events that took place in the gospels, we are told about the enemies of Jesus. Those people who opposed Him and tried everything they could to show Him to be a charlatan. Of all the groups that did this, the one that Christians are most familiar with are the Pharisees. Because of the often simple light in which this group is painted, many people don’t realize the dangers inherent in what they said and did. To understand this, it is important to understand where the Pharisees came from.
 
The group of Jews known as Pharisees arose during the reign of John Hyrcanus. They came from the Hasidism, which was a militant religious community that was focused on obedience to the Law and worship to God. They began around 168 B.C. (before Christ!…). The name Pharisee means “separated one” and was applied to this group because they separated themselves from the Hellenistic influence brought in through the Greeks. At the time of Jesus, it is believed that there were around 6,000 Pharisees in Israel. The Pharisees saw the entire Old Testament as authoritative, but accepted oral tradition as authoritative as well. They believed in the existence of angels and demons. They believed in life after death and bodily resurrection. They believed that the study of the Law was worship. They strove to live holy by keeping the Law and saw the Law as determining what was clean and unclean. They felt very strongly about obedience to the Law and developed a set of regulations to help save people from breaking the Law. There are 613 laws in the Old Testament and the discussions that they had were as specific as whether or not a person should eat an egg laid on the Sabbath. The Pharisees lived for the Law and sought to use it in all situations. Continue Reading Pharisees…

What makes something Christian?

May 17, 2010 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I have been in a few discussions lately that have completely boggled my mind. While I will readily admit that this isn’t hard to do, it didn’t happen because the depth of the discussion went over my head or because the words being used were too big. This happened basically because of some of the things that self-proclaimed “Christians” said during the discussion. The discussions took place on a page set up for a Christian radio station. If you’ve read my blog on Contemporary Christian Music, then you already know that this discussion didn’t start out good. The main topic of discussion revolved around the recent return to music of Jennifer Knapp.  For those of you that may not know, Jennifer Knapp, a Christian artist who decided to take a 7-year hiatus from music, has made her return to the music scene. Unfortunately, she isn’t the same person she once was. Ms. Knapp has made it known to the entire world that she is a lesbian and has been in a homosexual relationship for a few years now.

This announcement sparked a bit of a dialogue on the radio station’s page. There were questions as to whether or not the station should or would play her music anymore. This is where my adventure began. To me, this is a no brainer. Ms. Knapp, while possibly singing about God before, is no longer living a lifestyle that glorifies God. Because of this, the radio station should no longer play her music. If they did, it would look like the radio station was supporting her lifestyle and could confuse new Christians or mislead people into thinking that homosexuality is supported by the church. Then the discussions began.

A few people started posting how much they loved Ms. Knapp and her music and how “uplifting” it was. They talked about how Christian music isn’t about how many times a song mentions God or Jesus, instead it’s about “the deep emotions, the struggle, the quest to find God, live in God’s word, worship God, and be at peace”. Many of the participants overlooked her sin (because we’ve all sinned) and instead focused on the gift that God has given her and how she should be able to use it for His glory. People were upset that some would “judge” her or her lifestyle because we’re not supposed to do that. Others equated anything said against her as “hate”. They said that we need to “build her up” instead of “tearing her down”.  Others said that pastors, teachers, singers, and preachers should not be held to a higher standard than the rest of us because they face the same temptations that we do (even though it says that they are held to a higher standard by God…). The only time scripture was used in the discussion was when people wanted to remind others that we shouldn’t judge or “throw stones”.  There were even comments about how “one religion is no better than another “and how “all opinions should be respected”…on a CHRISTIAN music station’s page!

All of this got me mad, and then it got me thinking about some things. First, it made me sad that so few Christians seem to have an understanding of even the most basic of Christian doctrines. What exactly is being taught today in the church? Second, it made me think about what makes something Christian? What is it that determines whether or not something is Christian? Today, in churches, on Christian discussion boards, and all over the place, there are people talking about things being Christian; but what makes it Christian. Is it Christian because we decide that it is? What happens if we decide five years from now that it’s no longer Christian, does that mean that it’s not? Should we go by our feelings to determine if something is Christian? What if our feelings change? Is it not Christian anymore? Is the Christian faith built upon such a wishy-washy, flimsy foundation as whims or feelings? NO!

What makes something Christian has nothing to do with how we feel about it, or whether we like it, or even agree with it or not. Something is Christian because God said it is. Please stop and read that again. If something is Christian, it is because God said it is. Here’s what I mean. God Himself has determined what Christianity looks like. Jesus is the complete and perfect embodiment of Christianity. If something claims to be Christian and doesn’t match that embodiment, then it’s not Christian; no matter how strongly we desire it to be otherwise. This goes for people, doctrines, teaching, and everything else. Man has somehow gotten it into his head (I think this first happened in the garden) that he can come to God however he desires and God will be ok with it. He can live his life the way that he wants and give God lip service and things will be just fine. It has become so bad that some “churches” believe that a person can follow the doctrines of Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, or even atheism and still be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. As long as they follow the tenets of their chosen religious system, they are good to go.

Man has been trying this ever since the beginning and it has never worked. God has ordained specific ways that He wants things done and they are to be done that way or they are wrong. In the book of Genesis, God told Adam and Eve that they could eat of any tree in the garden but one. God even told them what would happen to them if they disobeyed. In chapter 3 we see Eve and Adam both thinking that they could disobey God without consequence. They ate the fruit, and they ushered death into the world.  In Leviticus 10, Nadab and Abihu were killed on the spot for offering strange fire. God had laid out for them a specific way that they were to offer incense to Him and when they didn’t do it the way He prescribed, God killed them. In Numbers 20, the people were grumbling about not having water to drink. Moses went to God to seek guidance for what he should do. God told Moses to speak to the rock at Horeb and it would bring forth water. Moses gathered Israel together and then took the rod and struck the rock twice. Because they disobeyed God, both Moses and Aaron were unable to enter the Promised Land. Numerous times in the Old Testament Israel followed after other gods instead of remaining true to the one true God. Because of their disobedience, God punished them with famine, plague, invasion from other countries, and even captivity.

As I said above, God is the one who defines Christianity (not man) and He has chosen to do so through His Son Jesus. God has determined that for someone to be born again, they need to repent of their sins and put their faith in Christ alone for salvation. He has determined that Christians are not to condone sin, immorality, or impurity. They are not to look or act like the world but should be more and more like Christ. They are to be making disciples and preaching the true gospel. They are to be teaching others to observe exactly what Jesus commanded us. Unfortunately, the church tries to imitate the world in a horrible effort to try and lure non-Christians in to church. They seem to think that those people will enjoy the worldliness of the “church” and will stay long enough to hear about Jesus (if they even hear about Him at all). When the non-Christians leave the church (and they will), it will be for one of two reasons. Either the church’s efforts to mimic the world are so bad that they can’t stand to sit there and watch; or, they have been deceived into “making a decision for Christ”, “accepting Jesus into their heart”, or “trying Jesus” and were let down when the promised better life didn’t come. Not only have they not been saved from sin and hell, they are now inoculated against the truth because of their experience.

The entire focus of the Bible revolves around one person…and it’s not you. Or me. It is Jesus. We are to pattern our lives after the scriptures that have been written down for us. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that ALL scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. The scriptures show us exactly how we are to live and not live. It shows us how we are to treat God, others, and even ourselves. It warns us of temptation, sin, pride, wrath, and hell. It encourages us to live lives that are worthy of the gospel. This and more come from scripture and scripture alone. And the church pushes that to the side in order to chase after hollow, “relevant”, worldly endeavors that will mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Until the church gets back to the biblical definition of Christianity, it will be filled with squishy, shallow, “feel-good” Christians who build idols of Christianity that suit them and their egos while offering no lasting hope or firm foundation.

Newslinks 05/30/08

May 30, 2008 at 6:41 pm | Posted in Newslinks | 1 Comment
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Friday’s Newslinks brought to you by

 

At Ease Tees

 

 

 

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052308.html

 

Habitat for Humanity, a Christian non-profit organization, has agreed to a plan that would

help Planned Parenthood open an abortion clinic in Sarasota, Florida. The plan was drawn up by PP due to Sarasota zoning regulations. The regulations state that PP cannot build their clinic with the presence of a multi-family liner building. To circumvent this, PP has enlisted Habitat for Humanity. PP has agreed to sell land to Habitat for $10 so that it can fulfill the regulation requirements. Jim Sedlak, vice-president of the American Life League, said,” Habitat for Humanity, which claims to be a Christian ministry, says that this was only a real estate transaction. However, Planned Parenthood could not open its abortion facility without Habitat’s help.” Habitat’s website says that they are committed to provide “every man, woman and child should have a simple, decent, affordable place to live in dignity and safety”. Sedlak said that he didn’t see how helping a company that “kills babies, promotes pornography, and covers up for rapists gives a family dignity or safety”.

Sadly, I think that Habitat has made both their beliefs and their intentions known to those who are paying attention. To them, this was just a real estate transaction with another company. Obviously, Habitat’s claims about dignity and family safety aren’t something they really believe, they are just something that sounds good and helps bring in money. If Habitat truly believed in their stated “convictions” they wouldn’t partner with PP for any reason, including real estate. If they were truly a Christian organization, they wouldn’t align themselves with an organization that is clearly against God. If they were a Christian organization, their Christian convictions would come first and they would trust God to provide them with real estate.

 

 

Habitat for Humanity of Sarasota, Florida can be reached at 941-365-0700 and tsouza@sarasotahabitat.com.

Habitat for Humanity International’s complaint line is 1-800-461-9330.

Related Articles:

 

 

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080527/32539.htm

Christian Ministry Criticized for Planned Parenthood Partnership

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080523/32503.htm

Preaching ‘Sound Doctrine’ in an Age that Avoids It

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill church in Seattle, says that there is very little teaching of sound doctrine in today’s churches. “The rule is, if you have a big church you’re supposed to not talk about certain things that are controversial [or] divisive,” said Driscoll. Driscoll says that many “big” churches avoid preaching the crucifixion of Jesus because it’s “divine child abuse” or because “God is love and people won’t see the love of God at the cross”. He says that many pastors spend their time preaching on ‘seven steps to this’ or ‘four steps to that’ and at the end of the day they’re not learning about who Jesus is and what He’s done.

While I’m still not sure how much I agree with Mr. Driscoll, I agree with him on this. A large percentage of pastors in America spend their time preaching topical sermons to their congregations. Most of these are on things like God’s love, how God wants you to be blessed and prosperous, how to live victoriously, or how to improve your relationships. While these things are touched on in the Bible, they aren’t the main focus. The main focus of all of scripture is Jesus. Jesus agreed to die for the sins of man before the world was ever created. The focus of the Bible is the sinfulness of man and how God made a way for us to be forgiven of our sin and reconciled to God. Preaching has changed so much over the last 100-150 years. Back in the time of men like Spurgeon and Wesley, the preaching was expository. They would go verse by verse through a passage of scripture and explain what it meant, how it related to Christ and His sacrifice, and what the congregation needed to do to apply it to their lives. That doesn’t happen now. Today’s preaching seems to be entirely focused on making the congregants feel good where they are and tell them that they can come to Christ how they want when they’re ready. This is a tragedy of the highest order. There are thousands of people daily who are dying and going to hell. If you’re a pastor, it’s your obligation to make sure that all of the people you come into contact with are ready to meet God, knowing that they will enter heaven by showing them that they’re sinners in need of a Savior. I don’t care how popular you are or how well you can present something, if you’re not doing that, then you aren’t a pastor and you are working with the devil to lead people away from Christ.

 

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http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200805/CUL20080523a.html

Israel, Jewish Groups Condemn Burning of New Testaments

A group of Jewish seminary students burned hundreds of New Testaments in the town of Or Yehuda in Israel at the request of the deputy mayor. The mayor first said that this was a “purging of evil” but later apologized and said that he never meant for the books to be burned. Messianic Jews distributed the books to Jews recently arriving from Ethiopia. Messianic Jews are a small group of Jews that believe that Jesus is the Messiah. There have been a number of recent incidents that took place in Israel involving Messianic Jews. Israel’s religious leaders called for a boycott of an International Bible Quiz when they found out that one of the contestants was a Messianic Jew. Another, more serious, incident involved a bomb disguised as a holiday gift package. The bomb was opened by the teenage son of a prominent Messianic Jewish pastor in Israel. No one has been charged with the attack and the court is not releasing details at this time. Many of the leaders in Israel condemn the book burning as a “despicable act” including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, reminding the Jewish people that it wasn’t all that long ago that a number of Torahs and Talmuds were burned.

I applaud those Jewish authorities that have spoken out over this. I understand the pride that the Jewish people have, but I pray that it doesn’t blind them to the truth. I know that the Jews that hold to traditional beliefs would see Messianic Jews as “traitors”, but I don’t believe that this is the way to handle things. There should be no problem between Christians and Jews having dialogue about the differences between our beliefs. Compared to all other religious belief systems, Christianity and Judaism are the closest. While there are some who see the Christian church as a replacement for Israel, most Christians understand the scriptures and see that that isn’t the case. They have supported Israel and continue to support Israel in a time when the country needs it the most. I hope that ties between Christians and Jews will continue to grow and deepen. __________________________________________________________

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=/Culture/archive/200805/CUL20080529a.html

Obama Praised Wright, Criticized Traditional Black Churches on Homosexuality

In an interview in April, Barack Obama stated that he believes that homophobic messages are coming from “black” churches because “most African-American churches are still fairly traditional in their interpretations of Scripture”. He also voiced support for his former pastor and spiritual guide Jeremiah Wright saying, “He is on the right side of the homosexual debate”. The interview was conducted by The Advocate, a homosexual publication. Obama said that while he didn’t think that it was any worse than in “white” communities, the “black” communities were more churched and pastors were the most prominent figures in those communities. He believes that because of this and the fact that they hold to traditional views of scripture, the “homophobic” attitudes get magnified. Obama said that even though his former pastor brought much controversy, he’s still “very good on gay and lesbian issues”. Black leaders and clergy said that Obama’s remarks contradict the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Reverend Ken Hutchison of Antioch Church in Redmond Washington says the new definition of homophobic is “anyone that see homosexuality as a sin”. He goes on to say, “This leaves two choices to African-American pastors. They can either be Scriptural and demand righteousness from their flock, or they can drop Scripture and righteousness and support homosexuality”. Bishop Coucil Nedd says that Wright’s thinking on homosexuality isn’t completely wrong. The Bishop says, “homosexuality is a sin just like murder, fornication, or gluttony; one is no worse than the other”. He also added that God is the final judge of people and how they live their lives.

First, can we drop the “white” and “black” monikers for churches? Yes, I know many of them have different worship styles. I also know that there are churches that have majorities of one or the other, but does it really matter? If I go to a “black” church, does that somehow change the type of Christian I am? We need to stop attaching “race” to our beliefs and start being Christians. Second, when Obama says a church holds to the traditional view of scripture, he makes it sound like that’s a bad thing. I don’t think that it is. I think that the plain reading of scripture is the only way to read it. If it’s written as history, read it that way. If it’s written as poetry, read it that way. If it says that something is wrong, then something is wrong. For Barack Obama to say that Jeremiah Wright is “on the right side of the homosexual debate” begs the question. Which is the right side? Who determines this? Is it the right side because it happens to agree with Obama’s preconceived ideas? What about the fact that those ideas go directly against scripture? If that’s still the “right” side, then doesn’t that mean that God is a liar? I have to agree with pastor Hutchison. Those who view homosexuality as a sin are the only people considered “homophobic”. The fact that we hold to the truth of the scripture in light of our ever-changing society makes us “traditional” and “homophobic”? I thought it made us sound and solid. I also think that pastor Hutchison made a good point. This debate isn’t just about a group of people wanting to live their sinful lifestyle the way they want, it’s about righteousness. The scriptures call anyone who follows Christ to be righteous. This means that we do the right thing, not in our eyes, but in God’s eyes. It means that we believe God and are obedient to Him. While I agree with Bishop Nedd that homosexuality is a sin and is no better or worse than murder, it is still a sin. What should we do next, condone murder? Oh wait; we already do that through abortion… Bishop Nedd is right, God is the ultimate judge of all of us, and there are some things that He’s already made a judgment on. One of those things is homosexuality. He said it’s an abomination (Lev. 18:22). What more do we need?

 

 

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http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052311.html

Quest to Have Chimps Declared Persons Rejected by Austrian Supreme Court

Austrian animal rights activists have taken their case to the European High Court. For a little over a year, the activists have been trying to get Matthew Hiasl Pan the rights that humans have. But “Matthew” is a chimpanzee. The chimp is part of an animal sanctuary in Vienna, which may go bankrupt. To protect the chimp, the activists are trying to get him the right to a guardian. To do this, the chimp would have to be given human rights. The lower court ruled that the chimp was neither mentally impaired or in any danger, the criteria for appointing a guardian. The activists appealed to the High Court in France, which agreed to a preliminary hearing on whether or not chimpanzees should be afforded human rights. Paula Stibbe, a British schoolteacher, said that she wasn’t trying to get the chimp declared a human, just a person. She said that “Matthew” would have relatives to take care of him if he were in Africa. She would like to be appointed the chimp’s guardian, because she’s the person “closest to him”. If this legal action succeeds, it could provide rights, protections, and medical, social and health benefits to animals.

Is this really an issue? This isn’t some sort of extremely late April Fool’s joke is it? Are there people who are honestly trying to get a chimpanzee human rights? This is evolutionary thinking at it’s best. If we’re all just evolved monkeys, then shouldn’t they have rights too? I can’t help but ask a couple questions. How far down the “evolutionary tree” should we go? Should starfish get rights too or does it stop with bipedal creatures? If so, doesn’t that discriminate against horses? This is ludicrous. There are a number of humans in the world who don’t have the rights that these activists are trying to get for the monkey. Shouldn’t that raise an alarm? I can’t help but laugh at the statement made by Miss Stebbe, a schoolteacher. She said that she’s the closest to the chimp. Ok. This statement could be taken a few different ways. One, she’s the closest geographically. This obviously isn’t the case because she’s in Britain and he’s in Vienna. Two, she’s the closest to him emotionally. I don’t see how this could be for the same reasons as above. Three, she’s the closest to him evolutionally. This would seem like a serious put down for Miss Stebbe, but if it’s true, we may have just found a missing link. Honestly, I hate the idea that the animal sanctuary may be going under, but trying to get a chimp endowed with human rights is the biggest waste of time that I’ve ever heard of! This is going to the European High Court, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they’ve actually agreed to hear the case! Don’t they have more important issues across all of Europe? There are a number of people who have exotic animals as pets. Why don’t they just let Miss Stebbe buy the chimp as a pet and let it end there? I am ashamed that people are actually trying to take this issue as far as it has gone…

 

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http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052305.html

South Carolina Principal Resigns Due to High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club

Eddie Walker, the principal of Irmo High School in Columbia, SC, has decided to resign after the next school year. The principal’s reason for resigning is the school’s decision to allow a Gay/Straight Alliance Club (GSAC) to form. GSACs make every effort to portray homosexuality in a healthy, moral, and positive light. In a letter to district officials, Walker wrote, “Allowing the formation of this club on our campus conflicts with my professional beliefs and religious convictions”. He also said that allowing the club to form would conflict with the school’s abstinence education program. Walker said that the school has no other clubs that are based on sexual orientation, preference or activity and that allowing this club to exist would imply that “students joining the club have chosen to or would choose to engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, opposite sexes, or both sexes”. Brent Childers, executive director of the pro-homosexual group Faith in America, said, “We truly believe it is unfortunate that this principal cannot see the immense harm that is caused when a social climate of rejection, condemnation and violence is justified with misguided religious belief”. Another group, South Caorlina Equality has called for Walker’s immediate termination saying that if a gay student were harmed, the school could be responsible because they created a “hostile environment”. They also said that every day that Mr. Walker is principal at this school “students will continue to live in fear for their safety”. In his letter, Walker discouraged verbal or physical abuse to members of the club. Walker said that he holds no malice toward anyone, knowing that if the district had not allowed the club, it would have faced legal action from “gay-rights” groups and, according to current legal precedents, would have likely lost. Walker agreed to remain principle for the 2008-9 school year because he felt that not doing so would have been a breach of trust with the district, students, and faculty. Walker’s letter has prompted school officials to look at how they relate to extra-curricular clubs and activities.

Read the full resignation letter:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,357208,00.html

This is sad to me, but I continue to notice that anytime a “gay rights” group feels like they are losing ground, they threaten legal action. Look at the Elaine Hugenin brouhaha. She owns her own photography business and decided not to take a job as the photographer of a homosexual “ceremony”. Because of this, she’s been sued. The principal stated his knowledge that if the district hadn’t allowed the club, it would have faced legal action. Why is this? Is it because that is the only way that homosexuals can make their lifestyle “right”? They claim that their actions are “natural” and “healthy” and “moral”, but are they really? According to scripture they’re not. I’ve not seen anyone right handling scripture show that God is ok with homosexuality. Sure, there are plenty of pro-homosexual “Christians” who twist scripture to make it support their view. Pro-homosexual groups compare their “plight” to that of the African-Americans in the days of slavery and segregation. I’m not “black” but if I were, that would seriously offend me. The truth is, our schools and our country in general need more people like Mr. Walker. We need good, solid, Christian men and women that understand what the Bible says and are willing to live by it even in the face of losing their job or worse. Sadly, I believe the number of people that fit this description is a lot lower than what statistics may say…

Related Articles:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2000/may/00050201.html

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080526/32530.htm

Church of England Advised Against Withholding Christ from MuslimsPaul Eddy has made a statement that has angered senior church leaders, as well as some Muslims. Eddy, who is studying to be a priest in the Church of England, said that the Anglican Church “must make it clear that it believes in what the Bible says about Jesus being the only way to salvation”. The Anglican Church remains divided on whether or not to proclaim Jesus as the only way to salvation. Eddy not only believes this to be true, but says that the Church of England needs to make this clear. He says that the Muslims that he’s talked to express the desire for Christians to “stop watering down they’re faith”. He said, “until we start really saying what we believe in our faith, there will be no respect” and that “Muslims expect us to believe that Jesus is the only way to be saved”. Eddy says that the church has “lost it’s nerve” in an effort to be inclusive and not offend anyone.

Kudos to Paul Eddy for standing up and being true to the gospel instead of the “Church”. I think that it’s a sad indication of where Christianity has fallen when people of other faiths are more concrete on Christianity than those who call themselves followers of Christ. How ashamed should we be when Muslims, who don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, are telling us to not water down our faith!!! I can’t understand how the Anglican Church has such a hard time making the decision to say that Jesus is the only way to salvation!?!? Jesus Himself said the very same thing! In John 14:6, Jesus says,

“I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Me”. No man comes to the Father unless they come through Jesus. That’s not very inclusive is it? Unfortunately, in an effort to fill our churches and compete for numbers and “get souls saved” (actually only decisions with no real foundation 98% of the time), we’ve completely ignored one of the things that make Christianity what it is. There are a few things that separate Christianity from EVERY OTHER RELIGION in the world. One is the fact that no other religion shows God coming in flesh to take the place of a wicked and sinful creation. Second, is the fact that Christianity is the only belief system that provides the complete and total forgiveness of sin, including a cleansed conscience (Heb. 9). No other religion offers that, not even Judaism. Third is the fact that Christianity is exclusive. It’s not “exclusive” that many Christians make it to be either. Christianity isn’t a “club”, where if you say you’re a Christian, spew out some little “sinner’s prayer”, and then join a church you’re in. That’s not Christianity. Christianity is exclusive in the idea that it is the only way to God. Yes, I know. There are other religions that say that they are the only way, but that’s not the same. Those other religions say that it’s possible to get to heaven by “good works”. They say that it’s possible to earn your way to heaven. Not Christianity. Jesus said that He was the only way. You can’t earn your way to heaven, you can wish your way to heaven, and you can’t buy your way to heaven. If you don’t repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus, you won’t be in heaven. Period. While I disagree with Muslims on many points, I will agree with them on this one. Christians need to stop pandering to the world and watering down the sacrifice of Christ. We need to shout God’s truth from the rooftops and make every effort to tell others the truth of the gospel. Come on people… 

 

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http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052607.html

South African Teachers Union: “We Won’t Give Condoms to Kids”The teachers union in South Africa has made it very clear that they won’t be coerced into distributing condoms to their school age children. The spokesman for the union said that condom distribution is the work of social services and other organizations. He said that the union would focus on teaching abstinence in their curriculum. The country has been swamped with condoms from the UN AIDS program. South Africa has much support in their position. Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan AIDS activist, said, “UNAIDS has no success story. You cannot look at a country that has taken the advice of UNAIDS and see a decrease in AIDS”. Recently published reports also support this, showing that an increase in condom distribution directly coincided with the increase of AIDS in the population. Uganda, another country ravaged by AIDS, has had much success in their fight against the disease, seeing a decrease in AIDS as high as 18%. This comes, not from condoms, but from abstinence programs.

In a time when public schools in America are being pressured to promote homosexuality as “healthy” and “moral”, I can’t help but wonder where the next generations will be if we allow that. AIDS is still a problem in this nation too and the only way to combat it effectively is to promote abstinence. To do that seems like a pipe dream because abstinence is often tied to religion in many peoples’ minds. Many organizations have promoted condom use as a form of protection but to no avail. If our country, and other nations, want to see a change for the best then they need Christian values. Not the values of many of the fornicating, adulterous, sexually immoral people posing as Christians but values taken directly from the Christian scriptures.

 

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http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052608.html

California Mayor “Outraged” at Proposal to Exempt Civil Servants from Gay Marriage for Conscience Reasons

San Francisco mayor Gain Newsom is “shocked and outraged” by the idea that county clerks may have the ability to refuse to perform “gay marriages” based on conscience. He believes that “This is a civil marriage that civil servants have a responsibility to provide, for civil servants on religious grounds to start passing judgments, they, I think, are breaking the core tenet of what civil service is all about” and that clerks who refuse to provide the “marriages” should lose their jobs immediately. “If you don’t want to provide a marriage certificate and you’ve got a job that does that, then you should think twice about why you got the job in the first place and maybe you should get a new job,” he added. Newsom seems to conveniently forget that that he violated California law by declaring that clerks could perform “marriages” for homosexual couples. The California Supreme Court ruling allowing homosexual couples to get “married” goes into effect June 16th.

This is a perfect picture of the homosexual agenda at work. If even one thing goes against them they are “outraged” and “shocked”. Newsom’s claim that all civil service clerks should be forced to perform the “marriages” is grossly unfair. First, if there is even one clerk that will perform the “marriages”, there should be no complaint. The option is available and there is no reason to make it mandatory that all the clerks give the licenses. Second, they are civil service clerks. They serve all of the populace of San Francisco, and are part of that populace. Because of that, they should have the right to refuse. If the entire population of San Francisco was homosexual, then it might be different. Seeing as it’s not, to make all the clerks serve just a part of the populace is ridiculous. I hope to see this overturned before June 16th, but I don’t know if the US Supreme Court will step in or not.

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http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/may/08052610.html

 Deaths Exceed Births in Increasing Number of Major US CitiesIn his blog last Friday, Albert Mohler discussed the alarming statistics coming out about cities across the country. Many more cities are seeing a death rate that is exceeding the rate of births. Pittsburgh is used as an example. In the 1990’s, Pittsburgh saw 11,500 more births than deaths. In this decade, the city has already seen 25,000 more deaths and there are still two and a half years left before the decade ends. Mr. Mohler says that immigrants coming into the country are sustaining the base replacement rate. In many Pittsburgh hospitals, the obstetrics areas are being converted to acute care wards. This is coupled with a severe drop in public school enrollment (70,000 to 30,000 in the last two decades). “The collapse of birthrates is a sign of huge social and moral transformations. Schools are called into question, but so are churches and other institutions,” stated Mohler. “Pittsburgh is becoming a parable of population loss for the rest of the nation. Will anyone take notice?”

As soon as I saw the headline I couldn’t help but think of the millions of children that have died from abortion. I wonder where the population of Pittsburgh and other cities would be if we weren’t killing off so many unborn children. I also can’t help but wonder where the church has been in all of this? What exactly are we doing if we’re not fulfilling our role as the moral standard? We are to be giving the answers to problems like this. We are to be showing people alternatives to killing children. Sadly, to many “Christians”, the environment seems to be more important than the unborn. If the rates continue for the rest of the decade, Pittsburgh will have lost a full third of its population in ten years! This is still another example of the tragedy that is becoming the United States of America. We are no longer the nation that stands for freedom and unity. We are no longer the nation that stands for the rights of others. We are the floundering, filthy, sin-filled nation of greed, lust, and self. We are the bloated, gluttonous, prideful nation that is too busy with trivial things to see the danger that we’re in. I pray that our nation will open its eyes or I fear that we will end up like so many nations before us who have turned away from God…

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http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080522/32486.htm

 Are Small Groups Enough for Disciple-Making?At a conference for church leaders in the Purpose Driven Network, pastors agreed that some form of small groups should be used to deepen discipleship but they were varied on the structure of those groups. Steve Stroop, one of the speakers at the conference, said that he believes that the family is the main small group of the church and feared that many of his congregants were “outsourcing” the discipling of their children to Sunday school teachers. Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill church, said that his church uses a digital network to help people keep in touch, offer prayers and prayer requests, and have small groups. Daniel S. Kim said that he believes that there needs to be a distinction between small groups for fellowship and those for discipleship. To Kim, discipling is a “totally different type of small group”. The members of his church have small group fellowships, but they are also expected to go through discipleship training for a year and a half. This starts with Bible study one-on-one or one-one-two, continues with church pastors guiding groups of twelve through an 8 month session, and ends with Kim himself teaching the groups and 8 month course on leadership. Those who pass the leadership course are then able to go on and lead their own groups.

 

 

Whenever I hear “small groups” now I cringe. I truly think that the idea of biblical discipleship is fading away. “Small group” discipling seems to be more about getting and keeping people in the church than it has anything to do with actually making disciples out of people. In many instances, there also seems to be some level of control often labeled “accountability” that comes with this form of “discipling”. I have been in the thick of some of this and really do see it accomplishing anything other than trivial Christianity. If we look at scripture, we can find out how people become disciples. Two instances come readily to mind as a matter of fact. One is the Great Commission. This is where Jesus tells His disciples to

“go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). It is often seen only in the light of evangelism. All we think about is the “going” part. But that wasn’t all Jesus told them. He also told them what to do when they went. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” As disciple-makers, we’re supposed to be teaching new Christians all that Jesus commanded us. In many instances of “small groups” that’s not happening. Most of the time, we’re focusing on a type of “social gospel” or talking about prosperity and battle and living victoriously. There isn’t much (if anything) about what Jesus commanded. There’s very little (again if any) true study of God’s Word. If there is “Bible study” it’s often colored by the agenda of the people who made the curriculum and/or the people leading the group. This is not the same in my eyes. While there are some parts of the Bible that do take time to study (sometimes years) and are difficult to interpret, there is plenty in the Bible that God has made very clear. We shouldn’t have any problem helping other study without some kind of program in place. The second scripture that comes to mind about discipleship is John 8:31b-32. In these verses, Jesus says,

“If you continue in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free”. Here in this tiny passage, Jesus tells us how to be disciples. We are to continue in His Word. That is what makes us His disciples. It’s not completing some kind of program that makes us disciples. To complete a program contradicts the sentiments of the word continue

 

in the passage. We are to constantly be in His Word; reading what it says, understanding it the way He meant it, and applying it to our lives to see God change us. I fear that the focus on discipleship, while well meaning, is misplaced and unnecessary given the scriptures above. I honestly think that if the church spent more time preaching the truth and living it out in front of each other and in front of non-Christians, there would be no need for discipleship classes and programs. It would be automatic.

 

 

 

 

Christian Ministry ‘Habitat for Humanity’ Agrees to Work with Abortion Giant Planned Parenthood

Decisions or Disciples?

May 12, 2008 at 11:18 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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Evangelism is something that I love. I don’t do it as much as I should (I’m working on that…), but it’s always been something that I’ve had on my heart. I’ve been thinking about something lately and thought that I’d throw it out there for your response.

 

It seems that in the modern church there are two very different goals for evangelism. These goals are reached by different methods and are touted as being the same, but they really aren’t even close. Before I talk about the two goals, I wanted to ask a question to get you thinking.

 

What should be the goal of evangelism?

 

I hope to answer this, but at least the question is out there. It seems that as I write this, I’m finding more questions that I’ll probably have to explain, so this may end up being a long post…

 

An evangelist is someone who preaches/proclaims the gospel. The first goal of evangelism should be to preach the gospel. We should be making a concerted effort to tell others the truth about Jesus Christ. The problem is, while the truth is the same for everyone, it’s not accepted by everyone to the same degree. Some people who profess to follow Christ overlook things like homosexuality being a sin. Others overlook things like gossip, lying, etc. So right from the beginning, the same gospel is not being preached. In Mark 16, Jesus tells His disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”. When He makes the same proclamation in Matthew, He tells them to “make disciples of all nations” and to “teach them to observe all that I’ve commanded you” (emphasis mine). I don’t think that the church today is doing this. As a matter of fact, I know that it’s not doing this because I can see different gospels being preached. I see people flocking to whatever gospel tickles their fancy. Some go to the “prosperity gospel”. Others go to the “feel good gospel”. Paul says in Galatians 1:8 that if a man or an angel preaches any other gospel other than what Paul preached, they are accursed. Paul preached the same thing that Jesus preached. The overwhelming thing that Paul talked about in his epistles was sin. When Jesus started His ministry, His first message was about repentance (Matt. 4:17). Unfortunately, that’s not happening today. In most American churches, you hear very little about repentance. Instead, you hear the “other gospels” I mentioned above. Without preaching about repentance, you can’t be preaching the gospel.

 

Some will disagree with me and that’s ok. Some will say that you have to “love people into heaven”. I’m all for loving people. I love a lot of people. The thing is, if I truly love them, then I’ll tell them about repentance. I’ll tell them about sin and judgment because, if I don’t, they’ll end up in hell. When you read about the lives of the preachers of old (Spurgeon, Whitfield, Wesley, etc), you’ll see that their main focus was repentance. They spoke reverently and passionately about souls being snatched from the fires of hell. They loved their message because they understood that it was the only thing that will save people. They weren’t men going out to condemn others or show off their knowledge of scripture. They were men that loved people enough to tell them the truth, even if those people hated them for it. One evangelist wrote in a journal that he was blessed to have rotten food and pieces of dead cat thrown at him.

 

Sadly, the message of repentance that makes up the foundation of the gospel is missing from so many churches today. Even though people talk about souls, they preach a gospel devoid of the power to save those souls. They have a different goal than the preachers of old.

 

I said that I saw two very different goals for evangelism today. Those two goals are decisions and disciples.

 

I can’t really pinpoint it, but somewhere around the turn of the century, the gospel that was preached began to change. The message of repentance slowly faded out and was replaced by the other “gospels” that we hear today. Those “gospels” focus on how your life can be improved by “accepting” Jesus. Those who preach this message still talk about focusing on souls, but those souls are only as important as the decision they make to accept Jesus. I’ve seen (and been a part of) churches that will push, prod, and cajole you into becoming a Christian, and as soon as you “accept Christ”, they hand you a Bible and wish you luck; never showing any more concern for you again. The goal of this type of “evangelism” isn’t the actually saving of a soul; it’s about getting someone to make a decision. When churches like these go out into the community, they “evangelize” people by telling them how Jesus will bring them more joy, peace, happiness, and love. They talk about a “God-shaped hole” that only Jesus can fill. They seem to use everything they can, except the message of repentance. You never hear about sin from them unless it’s some sort of superficial spewing of Romans 3:23 or 6:23. To be honest, I wonder if most people even understand what sin really is?

 

This style of “evangelism” does nothing for the people being evangelized except to inoculate them against the truth of the gospel. They are told that all they have to do is “accept Jesus (into their heart)” and “really mean it” and they’ll be saved. Nothing is said about having to change the way they live or how to do it. Nothing is said about being obedient to the Word of God. Because of this, our churches are filled with people who truly believe that they’re saved, but live a life of sin and worldliness. We have pews laden with false converts every Sunday and it doesn’t matter. Why? It’s all about decisions.

 

I truly believe that this view of evangelism gave rise to both the “seeker sensitive” movement and the “emergent” church. Both of these movements deny repentance as the only valid reason for someone receiving salvation. The seeker sensitive movement does this by catering to non-Christians and putting social issues above God. They develop programs to get people into the church hoping that those people will get saved by osmosis. They fight for the social issues of our time (poverty, health, the environment, etc.) while ignoring the spiritual matters of sin and hell. The emergent movement takes this one step further by denying the very character of God found in the scriptures in favor of a more “tolerant”, “loving”, all paths lead to heaven kind of God that we can’t really understand. Because we can’t really know God or understand what He “really meant”, emergents are left to “go their own way”.

This is in direct opposition to the other goal I see in evangelism. This other goal is the same goal that we find in scripture. This goal says that we need to go out and preach the gospel of Christ to the world. It calls people to repentance by showing them what their sin is. It is sin that weighs us down and keeps us from running our race (Heb. 12:2).  It calls them to action by showing them the truth of sin’s consequences. It leaves no doubt in the mind of the listener about the truth of what will happen to them if they die without receiving salvation from Jesus Christ. It makes it clear that Jesus is the only way to get to God. There is great ease in understanding what God says and who He is.

 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is very simple to understand. Man sinned against God in the beginning (Gen. 3) by disobeying His command. Since then, all of mankind is born with a sinful nature. It is a natural thing for us to sin. The idea that man is inherently good is not scriptural. We are inherently evil. If left to our own devices we will disobey God every time and do things our own way. Because of this, the wrath of God is upon each and every one of us. Because of this, all of us deserve to go to hell. You may be saying to yourself, “that might be true for someone else, but I’m a good person and don’t deserve hell”. I disagree. God has a standard by which the world will be judged. That standard is the Ten Commandments. All you have to do to know if you’ve sinned and are going to hell is look at those ten laws. If you’ve ever lied, stolen, blasphemed God’s name, looked with lust (adultery – Matt. 5:28), hated someone (murder – 1 John 3:15), coveted something that belonged to someone else, put something else before God, made God into something that suited your desires (idolatry), dishonored your parents, or not kept the Sabbath holy, then you’ve sinned against God and will find yourself in hell. The only way out of this situation is to understand that you’re a sinner that needs a way to pay for your sins. Good works won’t get you to heaven. You can’t do enough good works to make up for one sin. Instead, you need a payment for your sins. That payment was made 2000 years ago on the cross when Jesus died in your place. To have that payment cover your sins, you have to repent of your sins (turn away from them and go the opposite direction) and put your trust in Jesus. To put your trust in Jesus simply means that you understand who He is and what He did for you and you stop trying to live your own way. If you do this, then you can know without a shadow of a doubt that you will find yourself in heaven when you die.

 

This is the gospel. It is the only thing that will see people saved and it needs to be preached from every pulpit in America (and the world). Not only that, it needs to be preached from the mouth of every believer any time there is an opportunity. America needs to repent and turn to God. For this to happen, Christians need to start preaching the gospel in truth!

 

Your thoughts?

Religion at its best

August 3, 2007 at 11:49 am | Posted in Christianity | 5 Comments
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I’ve taken the liberty to copy an article from WorldNetDaily. The reason that I copied it is so that the context of the article can be seen as I write my response. The bold and narrow assertion made by Pope Benedict XVI recently is not only offensive, it goes against the very thing that it proposes to uphold. This discussion could go on for pages, so I will try to stay to the issue at hand. I will keep short the background information in hopes that readers will study what is said on their own.

Pope Benedict XVI has ignited controversy across the world by approving a document saying non-Catholic Christian communities are either defective or not true churches, and the Roman Catholic Church provides the only true path to salvation. Continue Reading Religion at its best…


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