Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Emergent Christmas Story

I heard this first on Wretched Radio and copy and pasted it from here:

Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise: When his white racist mother Mary was engaged to noted white racist Joseph before they came together (though if they loved each other a lot it would have been ok to come together, or if they truly embraced their innate and latent bisexuality, they would have raised a more open minded child ), she was found with child.

Then Joseph her husband (well, technically they weren’t married yet but that’s ok), being a closed-minded traditionalist, white racist & not willing to let go of his fundamentalistic ideas about marriage was minded to put her away privately, which would have been mean & judgmental of him.

But while he thought on these things, behold an angel came or he entered a Buddha-like dream state. At any rate Joseph came to his loving & compassionate senses & decided to not put Mary away.

While in the dream, Joseph heard a voice which who are we to judge which god it might have been if any at all, saying to Joseph: “Mary will bring forth a son & you shall call his name Jesus (or Yeshua if you want to sound more Hebrewish, although in fact, Jesus was a Palestinian) for he shall help a lot of people feel better about themselves & their life experiences.”

Now all this was done, that the text would look more consistent but of course we all know the Gospels were written a long time after Jesus had actually died. Further, Islamic scholars noted that the New Testament was changed so as to exclude the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) from being recognized as the true and most peaceful messiah) so it is possible the whole story is just embellishment by his followers – anyhow…

Then white racist Joseph came out of the dream state & took white racist Mary to be his co-partner in life. But he didn’t try to consummate the marriage like many brutish men would, as if the woman is just their property or something. White racist Joseph attempted to find his feminine side and majored in Women’s Studies at the white racist Jewish yeshiva, located in Palestine. For a while, he dabbled in Wicca until he became a Presbyterian.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem (which in modern times is rightfully controlled by the Palestinians since that land has been otherwise wrongfully occupied by Israeli Zionists and Jews since Abrahamic times) in the days of Herod (which could actually have been 4 B.C.E.), behold there came really cool and alternative music bi dudes from the east.

When Herod heard these things, just like any other cruel authoritarian he became jealous. And when he had gathered all the really mean white racist religious people together, he demanded of them where Jesus would be born.

And they said to him, “In Bethlehem” (which in modern times is rightfully controlled by the Palestinians…oh yeah, I already said that).

And you Bethlehem are a small place but out of you will come a great healer & a guy that teaches people to be real loving & peaceful, just like Buddha did & Gandhi would later. Your legacy would be one of imperialism, colonialism and white racism.

Then Herod, when he had privately called the wise guys, he asked them a lot of questions about astronomy & astrology since Herod had been influenced by the western culture of Rome he didn’t know about the cool metaphysical stuff like they do in the east. In his Jewish and white racist ignorance he knew nothing of the nude Celtic Dance at Stonehenge or the High Priestess of Wicca embracing Mother Earth. He knew nothing of the gentle Native American faith or of the magnificent Maya.

And so he told them to go look for Jesus. Probably using some sort of astronomical technology that the western people were too dumb to invent, with the help of the Atlantian technology the cool dudes found Jesus in a stable or it could have been a cave, we aren’t really sure about anything, not even our theology. At any rate, even then selfish, white racist capitalistic Jew pigs wouldn’t give other white racist Jew pigs, Joseph & Mary a room so they like many people today were homeless & out in the street (It is a little know fact that Herod’s last name was Bush).

The wise guys went into where the father of all white racism and cause of teh mass killings in the name of God Jesus was born & gave him gifts which was their way of showing they understood that it was God’s Dream for humanity that Jesus came to help poor people get back at mean rich people, a dream sadly never realize because Jesus cultural anchors of white Jewish racism was to take hold in the Christian world. Only peaceful and gentle Islam was to break free of the tyrannical Jews and their racism and have been persecuted for that ever since.

The rest of the story gets too mean but you know what happens – Jesus grows up & goes around the countryside preaching a socialistic Gospel of peace, sort of like a first-century version of conflict resolution & anger management but just like today there were mean people then who didn’t want to see poor people actually get anywhere so they killed Jesus, or he could have got married & lived in France & died of old age, we aren’t sure of that either, but it’s ok to be doubtful of everything you believe (it’s the postmodern way). The legacy of white racism and white priviledge has authored much hate and misinterpretation of Jesus message. The Pope is representative of evil racist, homophobic and all that is wrong with organized religion. The Presbyterians who want to embrace the Palestinians and boycott Caterpillar, Israel, Jews, capitalism and those who embrace the ELF (Earth Libertaion Movement) are making amends for centuries of white privilege.

Fortunately, lots of smart, trendy preachers today are getting back to Jesus’ simple message of love & world peace. They are trying to help people with all sorts of benefit concerts, ipod incentives & book sales. They see in Hugo Chavez a brown messiah who hates George Bush and what more worthy cause can there be?

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or whatever you want to celebrate – don’t worry, we won’t judge you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Election, Adoption and Acceptance

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. --Ephesians 1:4-6
*NOTE: I'm not looking to stir up trouble with the post, I'm just starting a study on Ephesians and I wanted to share my thoughts on this very controversial passage.

This particular passage of scripture does a good job of laying out salvation for us in three steps:
1. God Has chosen us.
2. God Has adopted us.
3. God has accepted us.

He Has Chosen Us
Warren Wriersbe once said, "Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!" I have yet to find a single Christian who will disagree with me that Salvation begins with God and not with man. Where we tend to disagree is on where the transaction takes place.

Scripture tells us in no uncertain terms that it is not us who chooses God, but He who chooses us, (John 15:16,) and that left to his own nature, a lost sinner does not seek God, (Romans 3:10-11,) but rather that it is God who seeks after the sinner, (Luke 19:10.) I find it particularly interesting that God chose us "before the foundation of the world." To me, this says as well as anything that our salvation is entirely God's doing and not earned by us in any way, shape or form.

Is this passage implying then, that the sinner responds to God's grace against his own will? No, he responds because God's Grace makes him willing to respond. It's at the urging of the Spirits convictions and by the will granted to us from God, that we respond to his call, accepting the grace given by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Wiersbe continues on to say, "As far as God the the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Savior. What began in eternity past was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity!."

He Has Adopted Us
I will guarantee my three beautiful little girls an inheritance when I die. If they were not a part of my family, but I chose to bring them into the family, I would adopt them as my children and guarantee them an inheritance as well. This is much like it works with God. When God "adopts" us, He is giving us a place in the family. This guarantees us our inheritance, (Ephesians 1:11.)

He Has Accepted Us
One of my favorite terms is "imputed righteousness." (Not just because I sound smart when I say it.) We know that as humans, we have already fallen short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23,) and that we are seen as "dead in trespasses and sins," (Ephesians 2:1.) But the the passage tells us that we are not accepted because we have somehow made ourselves acceptable, but rather because He made us accepted in the Beloved." The doctrine of imputed righteousness tells us that although we are not righteous before God, Christ has imputed His righteousness on our behalf so that we may be seen as righteous.

God the Father chose us before Time began, The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins so that we might repent and we are made acceptable to God through the grace allowed to us by the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God's plan since the beginning of time, laid out for us in three simple verses in the Book of Ephesians.

Isn't the Bible amazing?

The Calvinist

Q: What did the Calvinist say after he fell down the stairs?

A: Man, I'm glad I got that over with.

Heard this from Todd Friel. I don't know where he got it from.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prayer for the Sick

"Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." --James 5:14-16
The passage you just read is, by no means, a blanket formula for healing the sick. I have seen countless prayers offered up by "righteous men" that have simply gone unanswered. I think that the circumstance that James is talking about here is a special circumstance. I think James is describing a man in the church who is sick because he is being disciplined or chastened by God. This is made evident by the fact that he calls the elders to his church and confesses his sins to them.

A fine example of how to pray in faith is found in 1 John 5:14-15; "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." (emphasis added) The prayer of faith is offered when you know the will of God. The elders of the church would seek the mind of God in the matter, and then pray according to his will.

I find three excellent lessons to be taken out of this passage:

1. Sin can lead to sickness.
-After King David had committed so many terrible sins against God, his neighbor and the Nation that God had entrusted to him, rather than confess those sins, he chose to sweep them under the rug. Later, he would remember this period of time like this: "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." (Psalm 32:3-4)

2. Sin affects the whole church.
-Sin has a way of growing and festering within us. We sin and it causes others to sin. I believe one of the reasons this man had to call the elders to his bedside and confess his sins to them was because he had also sinned against the church itself. His sin had probably driven a wedge into the body of Christ and this man wanted to receive forgiveness for that.

3. There is healing when sin is dealt with.
-This healing is certainly spiritual, but it can also be physical healing. Proverbs 28:13 tells us that "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy." As I've said before, there is no guarantee that physical healing comes with confession of sin. Sometimes it is just plain God's will that we are sick.Those who claim that God heals every case and/or that it is not God's will that anyone be sick, are denying both scripture and experience.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prayer for the Suffering

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray." --James 5:13

Often times in our lives, we find ourselves suffering. Maybe we become ill or fall on hard financial times. Maybe we've lost a loved one and must now grieve our loss. Often, we have to endure these hardships despite the fact that they are not the result of sin or the chastening of God. Two of the best examples I can think of are when Paul tells us he is suffering for the sake of the gospel (2 Timothy 2:8-9,) and Job, who suffered terrible losses because he had so much faith in God.

When we find ourselves in situations like this, I believe there is only one appropriate answer: Pray.

Not only can prayer remove our suffering, (if it is in God's will,) but it can also give us strength to endure the trouble. The act of prayer is to humble thy self before the Lord. We must admit that we are not truly in control and that only God can carry us through our suffering. We know that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble", (James 4:6,) so wouldn't the obvious answer be to humble ourselves before him?

Sometimes, it is simply God's will that we suffer. It's OK for us to ask God to remove our inflictions, but we should be prepared to accept "no" as an answer. Paul prayed three times that God might remove the thorn in his flesh, (2 Corinthians 12:8,) and the answer was no. Jesus himself prayed, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will,” (Matthew 26:39.) God did not remove the cup from Jesus Christ, but he did give him the strength he needed to go to the cross and die for our sins. Just as he will give you and I the strength to suffer through our hardships as well.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." --2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Power of Prayer

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit. Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. --James 5:13-20

When I was a teenager, there was an old woman who attended the church that I attended. While I can not tell you her exact age at the time, I would guess her around 75 years old. She was one of the most godly people I knew.

As the story goes, around that time, she was diagnosed with cancer. Her doctors gave her a few months to live. The church was heart broken. I remember my typical anger with God for allowing this to happen to some one who "didn't deserve it."

I remember one Sunday, she stood before us to speak. We waited with baited breath. What could this woman say? What could an old woman with cancer possibly say? What she did say absolutely floored me. She said that she had lived a good life and that she owed it all to God. She told us that if it be God's will that her life be taken by cancer, that was fine. If it was God's will that she live another 5 years, that was fine as well. If it was God's will that she be healed completely, that was also fine by her. Her only prayer was that God's will be done in her life.

Another Sunday, she was brought before the entire church. We gathered near the alter and placed hands on her. The Pastor prayed that if it be in God's will, that He would remove her cancer.

One month later, her body was completely cancer free.

"Prayer is not getting man's will done in heaven, but getting God's will done on earth. It is not overcoming God's reluctance but laying hold of God's willingness."

Friday, November 7, 2008

How to Tick People Off


Disclaimer I ran across this the other day and thought it was funny. I do not condone any of this in real life. In some ways, I regret posting this at all, as it does not portray me in a completely Christian manner. I have chose not to delete, because I'd like to allow others to see some of the ways that God convicts me and to see that a young pastor is no less susceptible to mistakes than anyone else.

1. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200%, extra dark, 17 inch paper, 99 copies.
2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sexual favors."
3. Specify that your drive-through order is "TO-GO."
4. If you have a glass eye, tap on it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
5. Stomp on little plastic ketchup packets.
6. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up."
7. Reply to everything someone says with "that's what you think."
8. Practice making fax and modem noises.
9. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc" them to your boss.
10. Make beeping noises when a large person backs up.
11. Finish all your sentences with the words "in accordance with prophesy."
12. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears and grimacing.
13. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.
14. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
15. Adjust the tint on your TV so that all the people are green, and insist to others that you "like it that way."
16. Staple pages in the middle of the page.
17. Publicly investigate just how slowly you can make a croaking noise.
18. Honk and wave to strangers.
19. Decline to be seated at a restaurant, and simply eat their complimentary mints at the cash register.
21. type only in lowercase.
22. dont use any punctuation either
23. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
24. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times.
"Never mind, it's gone now."
25. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
26. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping on the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce "No, wait, I messed it up," and repeat.
27. Ask people what gender they are.
28. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
29. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
30. Sing along at the opera.
31. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.
32. Ask your co-workers mysterious questions and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological profiles."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Westboro is at it Again

A radical Kansas church group says it will protest Grosse Pointe South High School's production this month of "The Laramie Project."

The play is about the torture, beating and death of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was killed in Laramie, Wyo., in 1998.

The Westboro Baptist Church, an independent church not affiliated with the Baptist church, is planning the protest. The church is best known for protesting at soldiers' funerals nationwide, contending their deaths are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

The planned protest "motivates us," said cast member Sean Buckley, a 17-year-old senior. "We feel passionate about what we are doing."

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the church, said they learned about the play from an e-mail.

" 'The Laramie Project' has a function -- it's to teach rebellion," Phelps-Roper said. Teaching rebellion violates the teachings of the Bible, she said.
Read the full story here.
As I've said before, my problem is not so much with what the Westboro folks say, (spare me the comments.) My problem is with the way they present themselves and the way they present the gospel.

I support being controversial if it's done properly. For example, street preaching using the law to appeal to one's conscience, is a controversial way of evangelizing, yet can be extremely effective. Protesting dead soldiers funerals and high school plays with signs that read "God Hates Fags!" is NOT an effective means of evangelism.

The only thing that Westboro Baptist Church is accomplishing is to act as a stumbling block, (Romans 14:3, 1 Corinthians 8:9,) to believers and non believers alike. In my eyes, that is NOT ok.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Scripture Twisters: Mark 11:22-23

So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.--Mark 11:22-23

This passage was given to me to defend the Word of Faith Movement. The basic premise is that if you REALLY TRULY believe something and you speak the words, God will be forced to follow through with your request. Let's apply my two favorite rules of Biblical interpretation here.

1. We must consider the verses in context.
In verse 14, Jesus had cursed a fig tree. Now we see Jesus and the disciples walking past that fig tree a second time. upon noticing the fig tree had whithered, the apostles ask Jesus about it. Jesus proceeds to make a point about faith rather than words.

2. We must interpret the unclear with the clear
This is the more compelling argument that this passage does not support the idea that we might force God's hand with our spoken word. A VERY clear teaching of the Bible is the omnipotence of God. (Mathew 10:29, Romans 8:28, Revelations 19:6) In other words, The Bible teaches that God is in control of all.
So if the implication that we get from the passage is a clear contradiction to biblical truth, it must not be the implication that was intended. Jesus was not teaching the disciples that they can force God's hand if they simply have enough faith and speak the words. Obviously, the whithering Fig tree was within God's will and if the mountain got up and hurled itself into the mountain, it would have been within God's will as well. God is in control, not you or I.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My apology, (or lack there of)

Over the past few weeks, I have been called ignorant, stupid, a bigot, out-dated, hateful and unrespectable. These are only the names that are being called to my face. Why have I been called these names? Simply for standing firm on biblical truths.

I apologize to anyone who is reading this who has been offended by my beliefs. I will not, however, apologize for having those beliefs. I will never back down from what I feel is right. I will not idly sit back and allow thousands of babies to be murdered without uttering so much as a word about it. I will not back down from my stance on roles in marriages, (which those who will attack me don't fully understamd the message I am trying to convey.) I will not back down from preaching that salvation is through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

Have fun discussing amongst yourselves what a horrible person I am.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My Ballot

Following Layne's Lead:

U.S. President
U.S. President
[X] John McCain (Republican)
[ ] Barack Obama (Democratic)
[ ] Charles O. Baldwin (Constitution Party)
[ ] Bob Barr (Libertarian)
[ ] Cynthia McKinney
[ ] Ralph Nader (Independent)

U.S. Senate
U.S. Senator
A Six-year term in the U.S. Senate. Senators serve state-wide
[ ] Scotty Boman (Libertarian), Professor
[ ] Doug Dern (Natural Law Party), Lawyer
[X] Jack Hoogendyk Jr. (Republican), State representative
[ ] Carl Levin (Democratic), U.S. Senator
[ ] Harley G. Mikkelson (Green), GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE
[ ] Michael N. Nikitin (U.S. Taxpayers), US TAXPAYERS PARTY CANDIDATE

U.S. Representative
U.S. Representative - 7th District
A two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives District covers parts of Washtenaw County and the counties of Eaton, Calhoun, Jackson, Branch, Hillsdale and Lenawee.
[ ] Mark Schauer (Democratic)
[X] Tim Walberg (Republican), US Congressman- Michigan's 7th District

State Representative
State Representative - 71st District
[ ] Mark Eagle (Democratic)
[X] Rick Jones (Republican)

Statewide Ballot Proposals

Proposal 1 (statewide)
A LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE TO PERMIT THE USE AND CULTIVATION OF MARIJUANA FOR SPECIFIED MEDICAL CONDITIONS The proposed law would: Permit physician approved use of marijuana by registered patients with debilitating medical conditions including cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, MS and other conditions as may be approved by the Department of Community Health. Permit registered individuals to grow limited amounts of marijuana for qualifying patients in an enclosed, locked facility. Require Department of Community Health to establish an identification card system for patients qualified to use marijuana and individuals qualified to grow marijuana. Permit registered and unregistered patients and primary caregivers to assert medical reasons for using marijuana as a defense to any prosecution involving marijuana.
[X] Yes
[ ] No

Proposal 2 (statewide)
A PROPOSAL TO AMEND THE STATE CONSTITUTION TO ADDRESS HUMAN EMBRYO AND HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH IN MICHIGAN The proposed constitutional amendment would:Expand use of human embryos for any research permitted under federal law subject to the following limits: the embryos –-- are created for fertility treatment purposes; -- are not suitable for implantation or are in excess of clinical needs; -- would be discarded unless used for research; -- were donated by the person seeking fertility treatment. Provide that stem cells cannot be taken from human embryos more than 14 days after cell division begins. Prohibit any person from selling or purchasing human embryos for stem cell research. Prohibit state and local laws that prevent, restrict or discourage stem cell research, future therapies and cures.
[ ] Yes
[X] No

State Education
State Board of Education
Eight-year terms. Two to be elected
[ ] Karen Adams (U.S. Taxpayers)
[ ] John Austin (Democratic), Executive Director, New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan
[ ] Gail M. Graeser (U.S. Taxpayers)
[X] Bill Hall (Libertarian), Attorney
[ ] Scott Jenkins (Republican), Education Consultant
[ ] Dwain Reynolds III (Green), Student, Day Care Teacher
[ ] Jeff A. Steinport (Libertarian)
[X] Kathleen Straus (Democratic)
[ ] Richard Zeile (Republican), School Administrator

State Judges
Justice of the Supreme Court
An eight-year term. One position open.
[ ] Diane Marie Hathaway , Wayne County Circuit Court Judge
[ ] Robert Roddis , Attorney
[X] Cliff Taylor , Chief Justice, Michigan Supreme Court

State University Boards

University of Michigan Board of Regents
Eight-year terms; two to be elected. Statewide race.
[ ] Ellis Boal (Green), Lawyer
[ ] Susan Brown (Republican), Interior designer, 35 years
[ ] Laurence B. Deitch (Democratic), Lawyer
[ ] Denise Ilitch (Democratic), Attorney, publisher, entrepreneur
[ ] John G. LaFond (Republican), Director - Ford/U of M Program Development (retired)
[ ] Eric L. Larson (Libertarian), Anesthesiologist
[X] Kerry L. Morgan (Libertarian), Attorney
[X] Richard Ryskamp (U.S. Taxpayers), Physician
[ ] Joe Sanger (U.S. Taxpayers), Certified Public Accountant

Michigan State University Board of Trustees
8 year term - two to be elected
[ ] Lisa Bouchard (Republican), President and CEO
[ ] David A. Brown (Libertarian), Software Consultant
[ ] Dianne Byrum (Democratic), small business owner
[ ] Robert Gale (U.S. Taxpayers)
[ ] George Scott Romney (Republican)
[X] Joseph Rosenquist (Libertarian), Software developer
[ ] Theresa Storm (Green)
[X] Crystal Van Sickle (U.S. Taxpayers), Unemployed
[ ] Diann Woodward (Democratic)

Wayne State University Board of Governors
[ ] Torion J. Bridges (Republican), Full-time student; heads a communications and technology firm
[ ] Rick Butkowski (U.S. Taxpayers), Retired IT Manager
[ ] Margaret Guttshall (Green), Librarian
[ ] Terry Haines (U.S. Taxpayers)
[ ] Danialle Karmanos (Republican), President of NonProfit - Danialle Karmanos Work It Out!
[ ] Dan Keizer (Libertarian)
[X] Paul Massaron (Democratic), Self Employed, PEM Consulting
[ ] Nicole Michalak (Libertarian)
[ ] Gary S. Pollard (Democratic)

For coverage of other races and candidates, visit:

My Conviction

I believe God has laid something pretty heavily on my heart in the last two days. Over the last month I, like so many other Americans, have gotten VERY caught up in the presidential race. To be honest with you, I've lost sight of what really matters. I still have and will always have my political convictions and preferences, but ultimately, I've decided it doesn't REALLY matter who gets in the office as President. What this country needs is not higher or lower taxes. It's not universal health care. It's not about the War in Iraq. It's not about socialism, free trade or capitalism. What this Country needs is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will still vote for John McCain, but if either candidate gets in office, will it really amount to a hill of beans? John McCain might get a few Justices in office that will overturn Roe v. Wade, and that would be wonderful. But shouldn't my focus be on evangelizing those who support abortions? Then it is not my job to convict them. It is God's. Frankly, he is much more efficient at it.

So as of today, my focus will be re-calibrated. I will stop campaigning and start praying. I will stop worrying about Barack Obama and John McCain's policies so much and start evangelizing. I truly believe that any failing on the part of our country is not due to Democrats or Republicans. It is due to the falling away from Christianity.

Go preach the Gospel.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Challies review of "The Shack"

Here is a portion of Challies review of the book, "The Shack"

"Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture. Young’s readers seem to be picking up on this. Read this brief Amazon review as an example: “Wish I could take back all the years in seminary! The years the locusts ate???? Systematic theology was never this good. Shack will be read again and again. With relish. Shared with friends, family, and strangers. I can fly! It’s a gift. ‘Discipleship’ will never be lessons again.” Another reviewer warns that many Christians will find the book difficult to read because of their “modern” mindsets. “If one is coming from a strong, propositional and, perhaps, fundamentalist perspective to the Bible, this book certainly will be threatening.” Still another says “This book was so shocking to my “staid” Christianity but it was eye opening to my own thoughts about who I think God is.” At several points I felt as if the author was encouraging the reader to doubt what they know of Christianity—to deconstruct what they know of Christian theology—and to embrace something new. But the faith Young reconstructs is simply not the faith of the Bible.

Eugene Peterson says this book is as good and as important as The Pilgrim’s Progress. Well, it really is not. It is neither as good nor as original a story and it lacks the theological precision of Bunyan’s work. But really, this is a bit of a facile comparison. The Pilgrim’s Progress, after all, is allegory—a story that has a second distinct meaning that is partially hidden behind its literal meaning. The Shack is not meant to be allegory. Nor can The Shack quite be equated with a story like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where C.S. Lewis simply asked (and answered) this kind of question: “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?” The Shack is in a different category than these more notable Christian works. It seeks to represent the members of the Trinity as they are (or as they could be) and to suggest through them what they might teach were they to appear to us in a similar situation. There is a sense of attempted or perceived reality in this story that is missing in the others. This story is meant to teach theology that Young really believes to be true. The story is a wrapper for the theology. In theory this is well and good; in practice the book is only as good as its theology. And in this case, the theology just is not good enough.

Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology."
Read the whole review here.

I wonder if any of my readers have read this book. I've heard a lot about it from my freinds, but I had not realized it was gaining as much popularity as it is. Have you read it? If so, what did you think?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Worth a read

I found this article via Denny Burk. Here's an excerpt:

"Sen. Barack Obama's views on life issues ranging from abortion to embryonic stem cell research mark him as not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket.

Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals-even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals - who aggressively promote Obama's candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.

What is going on here?

I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying. But before proving my claims about Obama's abortion extremism, let me explain why I have described Obama as "pro-abortion" rather than "pro-choice.""

Read the whole essay here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I finally went to watch Fireproof on Sunday night.

Let me start my review by saying I did not like "Facing the Giants" very much at all. I thought the acting was bad and the production was bad. (Yes, I do understand that the actors were not paid and that the movie was made on a $100,000 budget.) More importantly, I thought the overall message of the movie was bad.

I can get past bad acting and poor production, but the prosperity gospel does not fly with me. The message that I walked away from "facing the Giants" with, was that if I become a Christian, I will win two state football championships, have a brand new truck given to me and I'll get my infertile wife pregnant. As simple as that. Get saved, life is peachy. That is the basis of the prosperity gospel and the basis of the movie.

Fireproof did not portray the same message. When the movie first started, I thought the same thing: Bad acting, poor production quality. (Kirk Cameron was good.) However, after about ten minutes, the acting and production quality either got better or the story line was so engaging that I forgot all about everything else. I'll go with the former. The plot to this movie was so good, that I was hooked the entire time.

The prosperity gospel did not seem to be present in the story. It explained real and understandable ways that faith in God can strengthen our marriages. It was true to life in the fact that after the main character came to know Christ, his life did not instantaneously and miraculously take a turn for the better. Rather, he was attacked all the harder with temptation and trials. His marriage did indeed come together and work out, but the road there was rocky and torturous.

I would absolutely recommend this movie to anyone. Get out and see it!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

This man makes me sick.

In keeping with a theme.....

Obama Statement on 35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Decision

Chicago, IL | January 22, 2008
Chicago, IL -- Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

"Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose. Last year, the Supreme Court decided by a vote of 5-4 to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, and in doing so undermined an important principle of Roe v. Wade: that we must always protect women's health. With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election.

"Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.

"Moreover, I believe in and have supported common-sense solutions like increasing access to affordable birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies. In the Illinois state Senate, when Congress failed to require insurance plans to cover FDA-approved contraceptives, I made sure those contraceptives were covered for women in Illinois. In the U.S. Senate, I've worked with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on a bill that would make birth control more affordable for low-income and college women, and introduced the Senate version of Representative Hilda Solis' bill to reduce unintended pregnancies in communities of color. As President, I will improve access to affordable health care and work to ensure that our teens are getting the information and services they need to stay safe and healthy.

"But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman's right to choose; it's about equality. It's about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons. And so to truly honor that decision, we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves, and their children, from violent relationships; so that a mom can stay home with a sick child without getting a pink slip; so that she can go to work knowing that there's affordable, quality childcare for her children; and so that the American dream is within reach for every family in this country. This anniversary reminds us that it's not enough to protect the gains of the past – we have to build a future that's filled with hope and possibility for all Americans."

In case you're wondering, it is my understanding that the Freedom of choice act would overturn all bans on abortion, including late term and partial birth abortions. This man is an extremist and the most liberal politician I've ever seen. I still don't especially like McCain, but I absolutely can not sit back and watch this man take office.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A question and a Hint at how I am voting

Who should I be more concerned about as I approach the polls this November? The countless Americans who live below the poverty line or the millions of unborn human lives who are murdered every year?

I would not dare to write to you that I don't care about the sick and the impoverished. However, I believe that Jesus teaches us that we as Christians need to care for them and lift them up again. Not only can we do just that, but it is perfectly legal and even smiled upon to do so. The church has a job to take care of them.

As for the millions of Babies who are aborted every decade, the church is powerless to stop it. At this point, only the government can stop it.

The fact is that people are telling me that I need to vote for the one who will try to right the injustices in this country. Well, in my mind, there is no greater injustice than killing a literally innocent life. That is the number one issue for me. That is the absolute first thing that I will consider when I vote in two months.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 8, 2008

An Open Letter to God

Dear God,

I feel guilty for even thinking it; There are so many undeserving fathers and abusive husbands out there. There are so many who have never lifted a finger to help their communities. There are so many who have done nothing to better another man or woman’s life. Why would you take his life over theirs?

After all the sermons I’ve preached about trusting God…. “He knows what he’s doing,” I would say. Or “God has a perfect plan and he doesn’t make mistakes.” Or even “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s so easy for me to get on my high horse and spew these biblical teachings from the pulpit, yet when it comes time to apply them to real life scenarios, I’m left speechless and closed minded. I struggle to accept that you have a plan in all of this. That somehow, the ending of a 47 year old man’s life is a part of your divine will.

Just the other day I preached about the possibility that the murder of a seven year old boy was a part of your will. Hundreds were saved as a result of his death. The death of an 11 year old girl who was struck by lightning led to the salvation of here entire family. Yet, I’m selfish. This hits close to home and I don’t like it. I question you. I don’t understand that I have tunnel vision. What I see directly in front of my is something that I don’t like. It makes my uncomfortable. Open my eyes Lord and help me to understand your will.

Watching the never ending line of firefighters saluting there fallen comrade only makes it worse. His wife and his two children began to sob and I followed their lead. Even after a week to reflect, I’m having trouble piecing it all together. Will I ever understand your plan?

The verse that I’ve always leaned on is Romans 8:28. I know that all things work together for the good of those who love you and have been called according to your purpose, but I hope that doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to question you. Sometimes things don’t make any sense. Some things might never make sense. This may be one of those things. It is my prayer that I can learn to trust you and only you. I pray that you might help me to understand that you have a plan that is perfect. One that far exceeds the reaches of my understanding.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. --Proverbs 3:5


Friday, August 29, 2008

The Religion of Evolution

Religion - a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.
-Websters Dictionary

A good friend of mine asked me the other day how I can just blindly accept something, (God,) that cannot be proven. First I told him that a firmly believe that the existence of God can be, and has been proven. Then I told him, "I think it's funny that people are so quick to criticize Christians for accepting things by faith, but those same people will so quickly accept evolution as fact."


"When people visit a museum they are confronted by bits and pieces of bones and other fossils neatly arranged in glass cases. These are often accompanied by pictures representing an artist's impression of what the animals and plants could have looked like in their natural environment. Remember, no one dug up the picture, just the fossils. And these fossils exist in the present. For example, in Tasmania there is a sandstone bed containing millions of pieces of bones, most of which are no larger than the end of your thumb. The evolutionists have placed a picture at one particular excavation so that tourists can see how the animals and plants lived in the region "millions of years ago." You can stare at those pieces of bones for as long as you like, but you will never see the picture the scientists have drawn. The picture is their story of their own preconceived bias, and that, ultimately, is all it ever can be."

The fact is that the entire THEORY of evolution is built upon unstable science and thoughts about what scientists think MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED. They have found bones that they think MIGHT support the theory, but every time they find another set, it is later proven to be either fake, or mis-understood.

To believe in evolution is to blindly accept, (by faith,) stories from mere men. At least my religion involves the acceptance of one who is bigger than I could ever be. Given the choice between the words of God, and the words of men, I'll take God's word any day.

Questions? Comments?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Greatest Attribute

I have a great deal of respect for a good friend of mine. He has gone through a number of trials recently. A few months ago, he was let go from his job that he absolutely loved. This was not due to poor performance or bad relationships. It was simply because the economy is bad in Michigan and the company he was working for lost a few major contracts. This friend has a wife and kids, and he is the sole "bread winner" for his family. About the same time, his church started experiencing problems. Families were leaving the church for many differing reasons.

One might look at his situation, (myself probably included,) and think, "what a great deal of stress that man must be feeling." Yet, every time I talk to him, he simply tells me, "God will take care of me and my family."

Mind you, I have looked up to this friend since High school. He's always done everything and been everything that I've wanted to do and be. Once again, he's become something that I want to be. You see, I'm a bit of a whiner sometimes. When life does not go the way I want it to go, I cry out to God, "why did you let this happen to me?" That's not the way this friend is handling his trial. He simply keeps telling me, "God will take care of me and my family."

Then, last Sunday, the preacher delivers this quote:

"Faith is the single most important attribute a man can possess. Accomplishments and notoriety are like dust in the wind. They can be blown away in a moment, but a solid foundation built on faith will last forever."

And the this:
"“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." --Matthew 6:25-34

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Christian Reproof

I don't like confrontation, and chances are that you don't either. When is the last time you reproved or rebuked anyone as directed in Scriptures? There are many Bible references on our responsibility to correct one another, but we usually hide from our duty. These are a few of the many scriptural examples of godly rebuke:

Titus 2:14 “Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.”

2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction."

Proverbs 24:24-25 “He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: 25 But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them."

Proverbs 27:5 "Open rebuke is better than secret love."

We rarely follow the scriptures when it comes to our responsibility towards other believers. Christian rebuke demands a directness avoided in our day to day conduct. But the flip side of our unwillingness to be direct with others is that we find it all too easy to gossip or murmur instead. Even though we profess Christian love, we complain to anyone with a sympathetic ear about our brethren who offend us. Anyone, except the offender himself! Sadly, if you are like me, you will recall your own failures in talking about, rather than to, those who've offended you. These conversations violate the scriptural rule of speaking the truth only in a spirit of love. (Ephesians 4:15)

We rarely approach others with the intent of restoring them to the right path, as scripture commands! Scripture clearly states that the proof of God's love for us is in his correction. It is also proof of our love for others when we correct them!

Why are we so reluctant to do what God has clearly commanded? Perhaps it is because we are unwilling to obey Him! We prefer slandering someone behind their back to speaking the truth, face to face. Confrontation requires more moral courage than complaint! Half the things we say about others would never be said in their presence! If we're not comfortable saying it to them, it's proof we probably shouldn't say it to anyone!

By nature, I too am a moral coward when it comes to correcting others. This is partly because I feel I'm condemning my own conduct by correcting others. Instead of repenting of my own failures, I often prefer to disqualify myself and turn a blind eye. This kind of blindness comes from a reluctance to deal properly with my own sin. There is a natural tendency to prefer to keep our own sins well hidden, rather than deal with them openly.

Ultimately, avoiding our own faults is not in our best interests. Although practically speaking, we often interpret his Word this way, the Lord never said “Because of the plank in your eye, do not attempt to remove the speck from your neighbors eye!” He commands us to remove the speck from your own eyes first, so we can clearly see to help our brother! (Luke 6:42) We often respond by inaction, just as the servant in the parable who dug a hole in the ground and hid the money entrusted to him by his master. He was too lazy to take the effort required to invest it and bring growth through interest.

Avoiding confrontation with friends and family keeps love hidden and useless as surely as burying money in a hole in the ground. Open rebuke, when done in accordance with scripture, demonstrates Christian affection. We each should resolve not to deny our brethren spiritual correction, even if it means correcting our own faults first.

Read the rest of this article here

Friday, July 25, 2008

Let's Play a Game

Read the following verses and tell me what you think my next post will be about:

"Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD." --Leviticus 19:17-18

"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the LORD detests them both. --Proverbs 17:15

"Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' he said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.' At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth." --Mark 10:21-22

"speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ." --Ephesians 4:15

"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." --Ephesians 5:11

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent." Revelation 3:19

"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." --Luke 17:3

"And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:24-26

"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Timothy 4:2-4

"He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." --Titus 1:9

So what's it gonna be?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Extreme Apologetics

I found this here.

An Open Letter to a Local Church
James Patrick Holding


Dear Pastor ______________,

I checked my ministry's post office box yesterday and was delighted to receive from your fellowship a postcard offering the following:

__________ Church presents
Eride Skateboard Demonstration

A Collision of Extreme Skateboarding and Eternal Truth

Featuring the Untitled Skateboard Pro Team

Join us for an evening of extreme fun featuring our guest, the Untitled Skateboards Pro Demo Team

See Amazing Stunts and hear about the extreme love of God

Plenty of food and fun for all ages


Pastor, please let me explain the reason this moved me so much. You see, some months ago I offered my services, free of charge, to your fellowship as a teacher of apologetics. I did this being impressed that many Christians lack a serious foundation for what they believe, and that the continuing decline of church membership numbers might have some connection to this. (As you may have heard, every year tens of thousands of Christian college students leave Christianity and church, usually never to return.) However, I never heard from you at that time; not so much as a phone call or a polite postcard. For some time I despaired as to why this was so.

However, having received your advertisement, I now realize the error of my ways. Clearly I am missing out on the true vision for aiding our young people in keeping their faith. I understand now that I have been conducting my ministry wrongly. Therefore, in order to make amends, I am reconstructing my ministry profile and will henceforth be offering a course in Extreme Apologetics that I pray will honor Jesus and make disciples just as effectively as the Eride skateboard ministry can.

I will be titling my new presentation series, Extreme Apologetics: A Mashing Together of Physical Gymnastics and Extreme Defense of the Faith. Please consider my new course outline, and tell me what you think:

~Can We Trust the Bible? My lesson on the textual transmission of the New Testament. Instead of rebutting critics like Bart Ehrman, author of the best-seller Misquoting Jesus, I will be piling 5,000,000 New Testaments into a large heap and bodily catapulting into them, showing that the New Testament is indeed reliable.

~Postmodernism and the Christian. My rebuttal to this fast-growing ideological movement which has fostered rampant subjectivism. I will show that "true for you, but not for me" is wrong by first bungee jumping from a height of 1000 feet into a pool of hot coals. Youth will then be invited to do the same, and we will compare injuries and show that what was true for me was also true for them, proving that objective truth exists.

~Who Wrote the Gospels? A brick wall is erected and I invite the audience to paint graffiti all over it. We then use apologetics to demonstrate who wrote what on the wall. Then I rocket-skate into the wall.

~Proving the Resurrection. Your church members will be permitted to bury me in the parking lot and then try to act out all of the Skeptical theories about what happened to the body of Jesus: The theft theory, the wrong tomb (parking lot) theory, etc.

~Mormonism I will offer a report on the errors of Mormonism by trying to balance on one foot on a statue of Moroni set on your steeple, and repeatedly falling off. Afterwards we'll have an "extreme knockdown contest" in which your members can knock over a statue of Moroni with rubber balls and win cool prizes.

~The Q Hypothesis. We'll learn all about literary theory and how it is used by certain critics like Burton Mack to undermine faith. Specifically, I'll let myself be run over by a "Mack truck".

~The Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas. I'll show what is wrong with these gospels by riding a unicycle and juggling 500 flaming cans of gasoline.

~The Da Vinci Code. The first ever apologetics lesson to be taught by wing-walking an SR-71 "Blackbird". Please make sure there is ample space in your parking lot for takeoff and landing before I do this one.

~The Problem of Evil. Alvin Plantinga? Feh! We'll go wild with an all-out paintball competition followed by a discussion on how nature is tooth and claw.

~Miracles. Forget Earman and C.S. Lewis -- those are passe for our apologists today! Instead, I'll be skydiving over fields without parachutes attempting to land in various haystacks scattered around to show the possibility that unlikely events can occur.

~Can Randomness Produce Intelligence? No more looking at irreducible complexity! I'll go to a chem lab and just mix together anything I can find and do whatever I want to it. After all of the explosions are finished, I'll take your congregation on a tour of the debris and we'll see if any of the explosions produced intelligence.

~Objective Morality I'll show the ridiculousness of what society says about morality by hooking up computers in your sanctuary so that the congregation can stay up late at night playing Warcraftwith each other.
It's just the thing for the postmodern TV generation, don't you think?

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

God bless,

J. P. Holding


In case you're wondering, yes -- this was a real advertisement I got from a nearby church, and I really did offer to teach there once and got no response.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Hermeneutics 101

Because I've been talking about Hermeneutics so much lately, I thought I'd give an example of one of my favorite hermeneutical interpretations of the Bible.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." ~Revelation3:15-18

Applying the rules of Hermeneutics to this passage, we consider who this was written to and why. A few things that we should know about the Church at Laodicea:
~They were a rather successful bank center. (They were a a rich city)
~They were very big in the wool industry. (Known for their high quality garments)
~They were well known for the medicinal eye salve they produced
~They had Bad water. They had to pump in their water from Hieropolis, (who had HOT SPRINGS,) and from Collassae, (who had COLD SPRINGS.) Both of whom had VERY STRONG CHURCHES compared to Laodicea's very weak church. By the time the water reached Laodicea, it was luke warm and tasted terrible.

Now let's read the verses again remembering who it was written to and why:
"I know your deeds, that you are neither COLD nor HOT. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are LUKEWARM—neither HOT nor COLD—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am RICH; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become RICH; and WHITE CLOTHES TO WEAR, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and SALVE TO PUT ON YOUR EYES, so you can see." ~Revelation3:15-18

The "New Timm Translation" might read like this:
"I know your deeds, that you are neither like Collosae nor like Hieropolis. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are like your own lukewarm water—not like Hieropolis' hot water nor like Colloassae's cold water—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'We have a great banking industry that has made us rich; We have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Your banking industry means nothing to me. Your wool clothing means nothing to me. Your eye salve is worthless to me. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see." ~Revelation3:15-18

It's pretty cool how you can understand the Bible when you take the time to find out what the author is trying to tell you, rather than "what the verse means to me."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

John Piper on Forgiveness

"The cross is not the reason we ask for forgiveness daily. It's the reason we are confident that the answer is yes."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My Secret Motive

Recently, my motivation has been called into question. This does not mark the first time when I have been accused of driving a wedge into the body of Christ. Well, I suppose there is one thing that my readers should know about me before becoming a regular visitor of this site.

~I believe that the Bible is perfect. It is Written by God and it is without error.
I've never understood the plight of those who proclaim themselves to be Christians, but refute the inerrency of scripture. I believe that "all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)

Those who do not believe in the innerency of scripture are caught without a leg to stand on. How do they decide which parts of the bible are profitable and true? How do you know which commandments to follow and which you shouldn't? How do you know God? Without the Perfect Word of God, our religion is no different than any other. It is made up. Without it Jesus was just a good man born to a teenage mother.

So I believe in the God of the Bible, rather than a god of my own making. I try to allow the Bible to define my theology. (I fail often, but I try.)

So here it is, my Secret Motive:
What I want is to defend the Word of the Lord. I have never intended to drive a wedge into the body of the church. My goal is to play my part, (as small as it may be,) unify the church under the banner of truth and with the Word of God as our backdrop. My motivation is the seemingly impossible dream that all might one day Worship the God of the Bible. I would like to see all who claim Jesus as their savior to allow the Spirit to poke and pry at their conscience through God's chosen mode of communication with His children.

I'm sorry to any who are offended by this message, but I will not back down from this stance. I fear to do so would be to allow many of God's children to travel down a path that does not lead where they think it does.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ever Get the Feeling Rob Bell is Not Going to Go Away

Disclaimer: This post is not intended as an attack on Rob Bell personally. It's intention is to refute some of Rob Bell's teachings. Please understand that before reading on.

The following is written by Pat Abendroth, the Senior Pastor of Omaha Bible Church.
This about sums it up for me:

Based upon what I read in Bell’s book, he is both funny and hip. I say this because he made me laugh and because he does cool things like play in a punk band and surf (even the infamous Trestles!).

Continuing on with the positives, Bell seems sincere and appropriately calls for Christians to love those in need (not just fellow Christians) as is called for in the second greatest commandment. This is a great point and something that needs to be said and re-said before being said once more.

Anger Management
So with a hip rock dude writing a book addressing the need for Christians to act more like Jesus, why the anger on my part? Here are some of the reasons:

Rob Bell makes me mad because he preaches an anti-gospel.
He craftily does this by portraying the essence of Christianity as following Jesus and treating people the way Jesus did. While this is important, living the “Jesus life” is not the essence of Christianity and neither is obeying the commands of Jesus (as important as that is). The essence of Christianity centers upon the work of Christ on behalf of sinners (i.e. substitutionary atonement). This is the matter of first importance (1 Corinthians 15:3) that was the prioritized message of Jesus’ apostles (e.g. 1 Corinthians 2:2). Missing this is no small oversight by Bell. It is missing that which is of first importance! Over and over again he talks about living the way of Jesus and being like Jesus, but without the essence of the gospel, which is Jesus’ work! This is scandalous.

Rob Bell makes me mad because he writes off the virgin birth of Jesus as non-essential (pp. 26-27).
You heard right, he writes off the virgin birth of Jesus as not essential! To state the obvious, this is entirely out of step with the Bible. Sure, one can redress and then mimic once-trendy quasi arguments by unbelievers about the word used for virgin in Isaiah 7:14 possibly meaning young woman. But the New Testament leaves no wiggle-room on the intent and therefore meaning of the word. We know this because the Isaiah text is quoted and essentially interpreted in the New Testament. In Matthew 1:23-25 the word virgin is used twice and shown by the context to mean virgin in the classic sense of the term. To ignore this is to show gross negligence which seems to depend upon an assumed biblical illiteracy by his readers. Far from being not essential, the biblical reality of Christ’s virgin birth is vital to His unique status as the sinless God-Man. As troubling as this unorthodox teaching by Bell is, he commits a more dangerous foul. Bell continues with arguments against the virgin birth of Jesus followed by an attempt to defuse would-be critics by slipping in a token affirmation. Bell professes to be a Christian. But given his disregard for Christian doctrine, the name “poser” comes to mind (borrowing an old title from the punk rock scene).

Rob Bell makes me mad because he downplays the vital role of conversion.
In a horrible overreaction against professing Christians wrongly not being compassionate, Bell says “the most powerful things happen when the church surrenders its desire to convert people…” (p. 167). He then proceeds to establish a supporting argument that would surely set well with most anyone who is either ignorant of or ignoring what Jesus says in John 3 — unless someone is converted, they will not see the light of day in the kingdom! Bell’s tactic is entirely unacceptable and irresponsible, but dare I say, fits with his mimicking the likes of the quintessential theological liberal Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969). Certainly Christians must love those in need if they are going to truly follow Christ. But such love is to augment the need to proclaim a gospel of repentance which calls for conversion according to Jesus.

Rob Bell makes me mad because he does violence to the clear words of Jesus.
On page 21 for example, when he talks about Jesus’ claims of exclusivity in John 14:6, he spins them to mean something other than what they clearly say and have been recognized as saying by Christians throughout the ages. At first I was surprised at how much Bell sounded like a radical theological liberal like Marcus Borg, but then I saw that the very first endnote in the book was an unqualified recommendation of a book by Borg! Bell’s recommended reading on his church’s web site promotes reading by John Dominic Crossan, the former co-director of the Jesus Seminar, so endorsing Borg is not a matter of isolation. Such men have a reputation for shamelessly doing violence to Jesus and His gospel.

Rob Bell makes me mad because he is the pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church.
I am not suggesting that churches with “Bible Church” in the name are anything special per se, but historically they have not been places where things like the virgin birth is considered non-essential. In my estimation this is downright deceptive.

If J. Gresham Machen were alive today, I suspect he would do what he did with Bell’s theological predecessors. Machen would remind him that while he has the freedom to start a new religion, he really should call it something other than Christian given that his religion does not resemble what Christ actually established as recorded in the Christian book, the Bible.

In my opinion, the reason this book is resonating with so many is because we have seen the evangelical church abandon the Evangel Himself. Yes, much of evangelicalism is empty because the Evangel of our evangelicalism is gone or as David Wells so aptly put it: He has been dislodged from its center. Couple this with a general ignorance of the Bible and church history and you have a book like Velvet Elvis actually seen as publishable by a “Christian” publisher and selling as if it were something novel and good.

Because I love the Evangel of the Bible and therefore historic Christianity, I guess it is off to anger management class for me."
(read the whole article here.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Purpose of God's Law

With all the talk lately about the law of God, I thought I'd post my thoughts on it's purpose.

The Purpose of God’s Law:

1. It Points out sin

James 1:23-25 - It gives us freedom – we can know right from wrong.

Rom 3:20 - It gives us knowledge of sin.

1 John 3:4 - It defines sin.

2. The Law acts as an agent in conversion
Psalm 19:7 - The Law of the Lord is perfect for converting the soul

Galatians 3:24 - It points us to Christ

3. The Law provides true freedom
James 2:8 - Keeping God’s royal law is doing right

James 1:25 - God’s perfect law gives us freedom

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I liked this article:

Sexual Desires

“Why did God give us sexual desire if it's a bad thing? Even if you only lust over your spouse, you would most likely have felt lust for them before you married. After all, lust plays a big part in our choice of marriage partner. So why did God set us up to fail?”

You seem to be confusing lust and sexual desire. God did give us sexual desire and it’s not a bad thing. In fact it’s a good thing. How else would we be attracted to a prospective spouse, and why would we even procreate if there was no “desire”?

So, what then is the difference between sexual attraction and lust? One dictionary says that “lust” is “uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.” Or to put it another way, lust is pornography of the mind.

How then do we know the difference between "looking" and lusting? The answer is to listen to your God-given conscience. It will tell you . . . if you have a mind to listen. There's nothing wrong with simply seeing someone and having the automatic thought that she's attractive. But that's different from then formulating sexual thoughts about that person to lust for her. In case you're having trouble hearing from your conscience, here's another clue to help you: How would you feel if your spouse were doing that behavior? Would you mind it if she was entertaining lustful thoughts for other men, having sexual fantasies about someone other than you? We often have a hard time seeing wrong behavior in ourselves, but have no trouble seeing it in others.

Read the whole article here.

I liked this article:

Monday, May 12, 2008

The True Sabbath

I've run across a few people in the last few months that practice a true seventh day sabbath. That is, Saturday is and always has been the day that God intended for us to set aside for him. This has caused me to think about the concept and put in a few hours of studying. Here is what I've come up with:

First of all, I could only find one passage in the New Testament that talks about a day that the early church met. Acts 20:7 tells us that they met on the first day of the week. This may very well be a special circumstance or a one time ting, but the fact remains that it is the only New Testament example I have to go off of.

To the best of my knowledge, the New Testament never commands us to obey the Sabbath. In fact Colossians 2:16-17 seems to teach us that we are NOT bound by the Sabbath anymore. The Sabbath was "a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ." That is to say that now that Christ (the Substance,) is here, the Sabbath (the shadow) is no longer needed.

Furthermore, I could find nowhere in the Old Testament where God commands the Gentile nations to observe the Sabbath. If it were meant to be observed until the end of time, it seems that God would institute it from the get go.

The part that troubles me most is that we do not, in fact, set aside the true sabbath as the Lords day. The 9th Commandment clearly tells us to do so, but we do not. I do buy into the common belief among evangelical Christianity that we are no longer bound by the sabbath, but I'm not sure that my argument, (or the arguments that I've studied,) is a convincing one. I'm interested in my readers thoughts.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

If Only...

If only I had found these guys a few months ago, I might have voted Huckabee after all.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Leave of Absence...

I suppose I should probably explain to everyone why I took a break from blogging. A few of my posts ended up with a pretty nasty comment section following them. It got to the point that I felt like this website was acting more as a wedge in the church than a tool for helping each other grow. I wasn't very comfortable with that and it really turned me off from the whole blogging experience. I decided to take some time away from blogging.

This week, I got the itch again.

Blogged Down World

I have been asked by J Razz to contribute to his blog while he is away for a few months. I graciously accepted.
Please take a moment to check out Blogged Down World.

I will still be posting here during this time as well.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hijacking Craig's Blog

The following questions were asked of me by a fellow blogger after I commented on one of Craig's blog entries. I will attempt to answer them here.

What does that actually mean? Can one teach the whole Bible and be consistent? Where Old and New Testaments are in conflict which part do we go with?

If you are referring to Old Covenant and New Covenant, we go with new. I would of course pay a great deal of attention to someone who has studied the topic more in depth than I have, but I think a lot of that is a matter of your own conscience. If you want to practice some of the ceremonial laws of the old covenant, I believe you can. But I also believe that I don't have to.

Do we teach the Bible as literal truth? Assuming a yes answer, always? In every

Yes, Yes and Yes.

Do we teach Jesus' Christianity or Paul's Christianity?

They are the same.

What exactly does it mean to be a Bible based Christian in practice.

It means you base your theology and your beliefs on what strictly on what the bible says.

I'm not trying to be funny here, but surely its a matter of interpretation: one person's whole Bible is another's Iran. I've met those Christians.

But some interpretations make absolutely no sense. When someone brings an interpretation to me that makes sense, but I don't agree with, I leave them be.

How about the Phelps clan from Topeka? Are they, as they claim, living by the Bible? If so, how? If not, how?

In some ways they are. I don't know that their claims or their theology are that far off. (I know, I know...) But I also don't believe the Bible promotes evangelizing through insults and condemnation. That type of behavior only turns people away from God.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Other Unforgivable Sin?

Craig tells me I should have just made a new post about Suicide. Well, ask and ye shall recieve.

This question was posed to me on the most recent comment section:

"I have seen several instances where people accept Christ and are saved and then later in life, whether due to complacency or an event in their lives, turn away from God and essentially say "God, I don't need you." Isn't that one reason Satan continually tempts us and attacks us with trials and such? In order to get us to turn away from God. I will agree that once we have been saved and indwelt with the Holy Spirit, it is more difficult to ignore God. But it is still possible, IMO.

And not to start discussion on another hot button issue, but what about someone who commits suicide? Aren't they basically saying "God, you can't help me here. You've made life too hard. This is my only way out."?

Here is John MacArthurs Take on the question:
Suicide is a grave sin equivalent to murder (Exodus 20:13; 21:23), but it can be forgiven like any other sin. And Scripture says clearly that those redeemed by God have been forgiven for all their sins--past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13-14). Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So if a true Christian would commit suicide in a time of extreme weakness, he or she would be received into heaven (Jude 24). But we question the faith of those who take their lives or even consider it seriously--it may well be that they have never been truly saved.

I say that because God's children are defined repeatedly in Scripture as those who have hope (Acts 24:15; Romans 5:2-5, 8:24; 2 Corinthians 1:10, etc.) and purpose in life (Luke 9:23-25; Romans 8:28; Colossians 1:29). And those who think of committing suicide do so because they have neither hope nor purpose in their lives. Furthermore, one who repeatedly considers suicide is practicing sin in his heart (Proverbs 23:7), and 1 John 3:9 says that "no one who is born of God practices sin." And finally, suicide is often the ultimate evidence of a heart that rejects the lordship of Jesus Christ, because it is an act where the sinner is taking his life into his own hands completely rather than submitting to God's will for it. Surely many of those who have taken their lives will hear those horrifying words from the Lord Jesus at the judgment--"I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:23).

So though it may be possible for a true believer to commit suicide, we believe that is an unusual occurrence. Someone considering suicide should be challenged above all to examine himself to see whether he is in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One of Those Days...

Yesterday was one of those days. I haven't been feeling well lately and it seemed to peak yesterday. I overslept, (woke up to one of my employees calling, wondering where I'm at.) I rushed out of bed, skipped my shower, put on the wrong shoes, (I prefer to wear steal toes around the warehouse,) and stumbled out the door into the snow.

I got in my car and turned the key..... nothing. My always reliable 95 Cutlass was dead. (MikeT, go ahead and get your "I told you so" in now.) I called my Lead Driver to inform him that his fearless leader was running even further behind and proceeded to try to diagnose the problem with the car. After apparently failing to figure it out, I gave up and drove the "Grocery Getter" to work, with the plan of using my lunch break to go home, pick up the five year old and take her to school.

Here is the problem: When I finally got to work and things started to slow down, I found myself whining at God. "Why do you let all these terrible things happen to me?" "I try to do a good job at work. Why would you let me oversleep." It's funny how people tend to blame God wen things go wrong. But it's not the blaming God that really bothers me about my demeanor yesterday;

When I went home to pick up the kid, I tried the car that had been sitting on a charger all morning. It started. I had a wonderful drive to school where my oldest daughter impressed me with her knowledge of the first five Presidents of the United States of America. Everything went fine at work, a friend who I haven't spoken to in ages called me and we caught up. All and all, It turned out to be a wonderful day. However, after all the whining I presented to God that morning, when my day was going terrible, I failed to thank God when my day ended up great.

It's the classic "God in a Box" scenario. I pulled God out of the box when things were going bad and tucked him back away when they turned around. I suspect this is a trap we all fall into occasionally, but the question is, how do we stop?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jesus is Not my Homeboy

Don't anyone get me wrong. As a tennager, I owned every Fear Not shirt there was. Every event I attended with my youth group gave me a T-shirt with a catchy saying designed to make someone ask a question. All that being said, I have absolutely no problem with people asking questions. What I do have a problem with is a saying that brings Jesus done to such a low level.

"Jesus is my homeboy," basically takes Jesus and makes him out like he is just another guy. Someone that I hang out with and play cards with. The reality is that Jesus is God. He is not someone I hang out with. He is someone I worship and adore.

I guess what I'm getting at is that a saying like this does not give God the respect that he deserves. He is the creator of the universe and deserves nothing short of our worship and praise. When I finally see Jesus, I won't give him a high five. I will fall on my face before him.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Minister of Music

Continuing my "Get to Know Timm" series, here is the letter I wrote to the deacons at Valley Farms Baptist Church in application for the Director of Music job:

To whom it may concern,

My name is Timothy Rees. I am a licensed pastor through Valley Farms Baptist Church, in Lansing, Michigan. I have learned of your opening for the position of Music Director, and I believe I would be a perfect fit. I have a passionate love for music and an even stronger love for God. I would like nothing more than to be able to combine these passions to lead your congregation in Spirit led praise to God.

I am twenty six years old and have been a born again Christian since I was thirteen. Through the work and grace of God, I was granted an opportunity to get into the ministry as a pastor. I have been given many opportunities to preach and teach, but my passion is in music. I believe God has been preparing me for some type of music ministry for a long time.

I have been involved in music in some form since I was eleven. In sixth grade, I picked up a trombone. Since then I have also learned to play baritone, tuba, trumpet, saxophone, french horn, drums, piano, bass guitar and guitar. In the twelfth grade, I was selected as the drum major of the Lansing Everett Marching Band. Through the training I received as Drum Major, I also learned to direct bands and choirs. Through my independent studies under Josh Hicks in high school, I was able to pass out of my first year of college level music theory. I completed my second year of theory before I left college to pursue other opportunities in life.

In high school, I worked with the contemporary praise and worship team at Pennway Church of God. For the past seven years, I have been working closely with the praise team at Valley Farms. I have been singing and playing the piano and drums for many years, and have gained valuable experience through these opportunities. Now I believe that God is calling me to lead the praise and worship myself.

Through past jobs such as Youth Director at Valley Farms, and my current full-time, customer service based job with Staples inc., I have developed and proven many of the organizational and leadership skills demanded from this position. I have organized field trips, mission trips and weekend excursions for anywhere from 4 to 30 adults and teenagers. Throughout my life I have developed and utilized my people skills to the point where most would tell you that I can coexist with and work with just about anyone. I have developed a great rapport with the musicians I’ve worked with in the past, and I have the knowledge and experience to put together a wonderful musical presentation.

I am certain that the combination of my love for God, my passion for music and my experience in the field of praise and worship makes me the perfect candidate for this position. Given the opportunity, I’m certain I can make the pastor, deacons and congregation at Valley Farms proud of their music program. More importantly, I’m certain that through the work of the Holy Spirit and a willing heart, I can please God with my work as Director of Music at Valley Farms Baptist Church. Thank you for your time and consideration. God bless.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Rees

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rebels for God

A few weeks ago, I had a great conversation with MikeT over at Code Monkey Ramblings about Romans 13 and how to apply it to our lives as Americans.

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."--Romans 13:1-2

Then I ran across this story this morning:

"Church leaders expressed shock and outrage on Friday at a police raid this week on the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg, during which hundreds of immigrants were arrested.

Eddie Makue, general secretary of the SA Council of Churches, said for many years the Central Methodist Church had welcomed Zimbabweans and others who had been displaced by political conflict and economic turmoil in their own countries.

The police raid was an attack on the "ministry of radical hospitality" that had long been pursued by the Central Methodist Church.

"The leaders heard that roughly 50 police officers forced their way into the church in the middle of the night without a warrant or any prior discussion with the church's minister, Bishop Paul Verryn, or other church officials."

Let me first tell you that I am writing this under the assumption that these were illegal immigrants and not legal refugees. My initial thought was that of shock and outrage as well. Then when I really started thinking about it, I wondered if this church should really be housing and aiding illegal immigrants. Our Country has clear cut laws about immigration. Anyone who comes to our Country in a way that is contradictory to those laws is breaking our laws.

I also know that God would have us take care of the needy and the poor, but I'm wondering how these two ideas meet in the middle. If I house an illegal immigrant, am I rebelling against the authorities, thus bringing judgment on myself? Like wise, if I do not help these needy people, am I ignoring a clear call from God to help those less fortunate than myself?

I know the Apostles ignored the laws when they were spreading the gospel message in the first century, but it seems they had a clear calling from Jesus to do so. Where is the line in this scenario? Perhaps I should feed them, clothe them and turn them in.