Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rob Bell's view of Jesus

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

-Matthew 14:25-33

I recently had the opportunity to watch another one of the video's from Rob Bell's "Nooma" series entitled, "Dust." In the video, Mr. Bell makes the case that Peter sank into the water because of his doubt in himself rather than doubting Jesus. He tells us that "Jesus wouldn't have called him unless he thought that Peter could be like him." He goes on to tell us that Jesus has faith in us. That at the great commission, He "leaves it all in the hands of nobodies."

It is apparent to me that Rob Bell does not believe in the sovereignty of God. He would have us believe that Jesus left the great commission in our hands and now he is sitting back and hoping that we fulfill it. He would have us believe that God is impotent without us to grant him the favor of doing his work for him.

You see, the truth is that the bible teaches us that not even a swallow falls to the ground apart from Gods Will. (Matthew 10:29) The truth is that God is in control of all things. (Romans 8:28) That includes the power over the choppy water that Peter was walking on and the power over Peter himself.

In actuality, It couldn't matter less how we feel about ourselves. When we look at the life of Peter, we find that as a young, cocky, overconfident believer, he was basically useless. It wasn't until he submitted completely to the power of God that he started performing miracles and doing wonders for the kingdom of God. Ultimately, it has nothing to do with our faith in ourselves, it's our faith in God and God's favor that has power.

One final thought; Rob Bell states that while faith in God is a wonderful thing, we should also focus on God's faith in us. While that is a lovely thought, it's flawed. The Bible defines faith as "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1) If that is how we define faith, then riddle me this; What does God Hope for, and what does God not see?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Vote Like Your Soul is on the Line

The nation's Catholic bishops Wednesday approved a statement on the nature of "faithful citizenship" that hammers home the "intrinsic evil" of abortion and reminds Catholic voters that their choices in the 2008 elections "also may affect" their salvation.
USA Today, Nov. 15

To those of us who believe in Salvation through God's grace, this one is another outright slap in the face of religion by our Catholic friends.

[The statements] stress life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, artificial contraception and racism are "evils" that can never be supported.

Don't anyone get me wrong, I absolutely believe that we should vote based on our moral values, but to even suggest that our salvation might be affected if we vote Giuliani is not biblical in the least. The Bishops did realize that this would be met with some skepticism, so they did what comes natural and downplayed it.

[Bishop Nicholas] DiMarzio questioned, "Are we ready to give the impression that one vote could endanger a person's eternal salvation?" He reiterated that the statement and bulletin insert are "trying to form consciences, not trying to judge them."

But they still decided to publish the claim that your salvation is on the line.

The bishops ultimately agreed to softer language: "It is important to be clear that the political choices faced by citizens have an impact on general peace and prosperity and also may affect individual salvation." Still, the statement acknowledges, "in today's environment, Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and few candidates fully share our comprehensive commitment to human life and dignity."

Rest assured, christian who is leaning towards Obama, Clinton or Giuliani, your salvation is not on the line. I recommend that all Christians seriously consult their God given consciences before they vote. Vote for the candidate that most closely follows your values, and can run this country as our founding fathers intended.

Ultimately, whoever takes office will be God's choice anyway, (Romans 13:1,) so if God chooses Hillary, and that requires a few Christians throwing their vote her way. then I put my trust in God to make that happen. Rest assured that no matter how you vote, salvation is by God's grace, not by your voting record.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. -Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scripture Twisters: Ecclesiastes 3:3-5

a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
-Ecclesiastes 3:3-5

Marie Osmond says that it was after reading this passage that she decided to participate in Dancing with the Stars.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Rare Political Rant

Update: It would seem I recieved some flawed information in regards to Ron Paul's stance on the Marriage Protection Act.

"Mr. Speaker, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to stop rogue federal judges from using a flawed interpretation of the Constitution to rewrite the laws and traditions governing marriage. I urge my colleagues to stand against destructive judicial activism and for marriage by voting for the Marriage Protection Act." -Ron Paul, july 22, 2004

Forgive me for going Political, but I've recently felt led to look into the Republican Candidates a little deeper than I have before. I must admit, when looking into the issues that are nearest and dearest to my heart, I came out of my studies having verified what I was already feeling.

The major issues for me are as follows:
1. My candidate must truly be pro-life.
He can not say he is pro-life and then not vote accordingly. I would prefer that he always has been pro-life. He must show me a true compassion for the unborn children who are being killed every day in our country.

2. My candidate must protect the sanctity of marriage.
He must support a definition of marriage as one man and one woman. This is the way God created the union, and it is the way the union must stay.

3. My candidate must be committed to protecting parental rights.
Particularly in schools. My tax dollars help to fund the public schools of America. Should I choose to send my children there, I should at least be allowed a say in what my children are being taught and whether the material is permissible.

4. My Candidate must be willing to fight the "War on Terror," if and when the need persists.
He must take a strong stance against those who would try to harm or kill American's simply because they are Americans. If the need remains to stay in Iraq, we stay in Iraq. If war becomes necessary in Iran, We go into Iran.

5. My candidate must properly handle the American borders.
Build a fence, toughen up (and enforce) the Immigration Laws. He must not allow Bush's Amnesty Policy.

6. Keep American jobs in America.
My candidate for President must reject the trade deals that are unfair to American workers. We want our President to protect us from the hostility of the World Trade Organization, another treaty that has been detrimental to Americans.

As I looked into the above issues, I came to the conclusion that I already suspected I knew. The candidate that most closely follows my ideals and most important issues is Mike Huckabee. Ron Paul is very intriguing to me, but he has some issues that I just can't get around, including being an evolutionist, against the Marriage Protection Act and his wish to legalize drugs and prostitution.

Ultimately for me, It Huckabee.

*We now return you to your regularly scheduled Religion Blog.*

Monday, November 12, 2007

Delivered but not Saved?

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

-Hewbrews 3:16-19

This passage was brought up to me by three different people within the last two weeks. One person was wondering if the Isrealites never died, never entered the Promised Land or never entered Heaven. The second, assuming "my rest" means heaven, brought it up as an argument against my "Once Saved, Always Saved" stance. The third had no idea how this qualifies as a "warning against disbelief," as the NIV subtitle implies.

First of all, this word "rest," comes from the greek word, Katapausis, which means a resting place. It's most often used to describe the heavenly blessedness in which God dwells, and of which he has promised to make persevering believers in Christ partakers after the toils and trials of life on earth are ended. In other words, it's refering to Heaven. So yes, I do believe this is telling us that a great number of the Isrealites who were led out of Egypt will not be with us in Heaven.

The obvious direct implication of this passage is telling us not to rebel against God. But for me, an indirect application, (and the point that I'm focussing on for this post,) is the condition of our human nature.

The Human Nature has never ceased to amaze me. As we look back, we see God actually walking and talking with Adam and Eve. Yet they were deceived and despite God's physical presence, they dis-obeyed. The Israelites saw prophesied plagues come to fruition. They had the Red Sea parted for them. Miracle after miracle and they still rebelled against God. Even the 12 Apostles , who walked and talked with God himself, couldn't get over themselves long enough to truly follow God.

I personally can attest to hundreds of wonderful things God has done for me, yet I still find myself rebelling against God. I can't explain why I rebel, but I do. This human nature of rebellion is one of the main reasons why I believe that we absolutely cannot "earn" our salvation. No matter what we do, we can never hold up to God's standards. We will always rebel against him. We are saved by grace and faith, but it has to be a Spirit led faith. I don't believe we are capable of keeping our faith in God on our own.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Seeker Sensitive = Wrong?

For most of a generation evangelicals have been romanced by the “seeker sensitive” movement spawned by Willow Creek Church in Chicago. The guru of this movement is Bill Hybels. Hybels and others have been telling us for decades to throw out everything we have previously thought and been taught about church growth and replace it with a new paradigm, a new way to do ministry.

Iintentional or not, the movement taught us that the size of the church was more important than the individual growth of the beleiver. After all, surely a church with such numbers had to have the blessing of God upon it. For at least as long as I have been paying attention, there has been a large number of beleivers who thought that this was not the way to build a church, but that rather the growth of each individual within the church was more inportant than how many people attended the church. Now it seems that one of the sides may have conceeded.

From the Article, Seeker Friendly Church Leader Admits They Have Done It All Wrong by Bob Burney:

Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking,” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong.

The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust. In a shocking confession, Hybels states:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth.

the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement.

Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.

What we should find encouraging, at least, in this “confession” coming from the highest ranks of the Willow Creek Association is that they are coming to realize that their existing “model” does not help people grow into mature followers of Jesus Christ. Given the massive influence this organization has on the American church today, let us pray that God would be pleased to put structures in place at Willow Creek that foster not mere numeric growth, but growth in grace.