Monday, January 28, 2008

Scripture Twisters - John 14:6

Believe it or not, I've actually purchased the book written by he whose name I can not speak, and I have every intention of reading it, but a friend of mine pointed me towards this passage of the book:

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. --John 14:6

What does he whose name I can not speak think?

"Jesus at one point claimed to be ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ Jesus was not making claims about one religion being better than all other religions. That completely misses the point, the depth, and the truth. Rather, he was telling those who were following him that his way is the way to the depth of reality. This kind of life Jesus was living, perfectly and completely in connection and cooperation with God, is the best possible way for a person to live. It is how things are."

This is my problem with He whose name I can not speak. *Deconstruction* He has taken a relatively simple concept and deconstructed it to the point where I'm not even sure what he is trying to say. I will not argue that the way Jesus lived is the best way to live, but is that the direct application of this verse? Let's examine:

1.) We must interpret the verse in context with the surrounding verses.
In John 14:1-5, we find Jesus telling his disciples about his Fathers house. This is Heaven. Then we find Thomas asking, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

Jesus proceeds to tell them the way. He is the way, the truth and the light. No one comes to the father except through Him. Does he seem to you like he is speaking of his lifestyle? He says "I," not "my lifestyle." So I would be lead to believe that we get to Heaven through Jesus, not his lifestyle.

2.) We must interpret the unclear with the clear.
A clear teaching of the Bible is that the only way to Heaven is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. It is also clear that we can not get to Heaven through our works. So when we see Jesus proclaiming "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." What assumptions can we make about that statement? We can assume that he is not talking about his lifestyle, because we know that our lifestyle can not save us. We can assume that he is talking about faith in him, because that is a clear biblical teaching.

People tell me that he whose name I can not speak's purpose is to make people question their beliefs, with the intent of having them come out stronger in their faith. I wonder, however, how helpful it is for him to cause someone to question a well known and widely accepted teaching that stands up, even to the toughest of testing. I wonder if he intends to teach/give the idea that the way to Heaven is through living like Jesus did. (A task that is impossible from the start.) Perhaps I will go easier on him after I actually read the book, but for now, I remain sceptical at best.

Special Thanks

A special thanks goes out to J Razz and J Razz Creations for the new custom header that now greets you at the top of the page.

Friday, January 25, 2008

God Hates, God Loves

It seems I have brought some heat upon my self by making the following statement while commenting on a previous post:

"[Westboro Baptist Church] very well could be correct in their assumption that [Heath Ledger] is in Hell. I'm almost certain that they are correct that God hates homosexuals. (GASP!) But I would dispute the hate that they themselves seem to foster in their hearts. I believe that they are wrong because their hearts are not in the right place and their motives are impure.

I suppose an explaination is owed.

First of all, I made a fairly common mistake. I shouldn’t have pointed towards a specific group, (homosexuals.) What I mean to say is that God hates sinners.

Second of all, I am in no way, shape or form suggesting that we as Christians should hate sinners. We have no right. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you read back in my blog, or listen to any of my sermons, you will find that I actually hold myself in very low regard. I have a very low view of myself and I don’t believe that I deserve a single one of the blessings that God has placed before me. I certainly do not believe that I am somehow "better" than the person that does not know Christ. I believe that I am a sinner as well. I’m simply “luckier” than the person who does not know Christ.

Before l get into this, let me first point out that it was the Hindu, Gandhi that came up with the phrase, “hate the sin, not the sinner.” You could paraphrase to make a few passages in the Bible say it, but I don’t know were it is in God’s holy word. That is not to say that we shouldn’t love our enemy. It is made abundantly clear that we should through passages such as Mathew 5:43-44 and Luke 10:27. But I don’t think that we should limit God to mere human emotions. If I say that God hates sinners, I am not saying its ok for me to hate sinners.

The first verse that comes to mind in regards to God’s feelings about sinners for a few of you seems to be John 3:16. That absolutely talks about God loving the world, (including sinners.) The first one that came to mind for me was Psalm 5:5. “The boastful shall not stand before your eyes. You hate all evildoers.” It would seem that God hates Evildoers.

The next argument that comes up will probably be that God loves us, but hates what we do. I would argue that we are what we do. The bible teaches us that bad fruit comes from bad trees. I produced bad fruit just this morning. I also produced bad fruit yesterday. I have a heart that is deceitful, a nature that rebels against God and a life that is full of evil deeds. I am an evildoer, and God hates evildoers.

According to our human minds two things that are opposites can not co-exist. Yet I maintain that both Predestination and Free will co-exist. I maintain that a loving God will send countless souls to eternal torment at the last day. These are all ideas that according to our feeble human logic, don’t seem to jive together. I also maintain that God hates Evildoers, but loves the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. I can’t fit the two together, but can God?

I consider myself blessed. I have gone to God, laid my palette out before Him and fallen dreadfully short of His glory. I have presented Him with a life full of Rotten, terrible, evil deeds. I have handed a life over that is worthy of His hate and suitable to receive His wrath in the fullest. But by his Grace, to His Glory; and yes, through his love, I have been granted repentance and faith. I have been saved, not through my works, as if I could offer God anything worthy of something other than Hate; but through Christ, who lived a perfect life, died on the cross and applied his righteousness to my account. I’m no better than those who Westboro Baptist Church rail against, just luckier.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Making Baptists Everywhere Look Bad

Something deep inside of me wishes that these guys weren't called Baptist:

"A radical Baptist church in Kansas known for picketing the funerals of soldiers who perished in Iraq said it intends to protest Heath Ledger's memorial service with signs claiming the actor died and is in Hell because he played a gay character in Brokeback Mountain."

“Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there,” the Westboro Baptist announcement says.

“God hates fags,” [said Shirley Phelps-Roper of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.] “The wrath of God has been revealed before the eyes of this nation with the death of Heath Ledger. … This nation worships the dead almost as much as they worship their filthy sex acts. America is doomed.”

Read the full article here.

Ok, I will be the first to admit, while it is certainly not our place to judge ones salvation, you can get a pretty good idea from their fruits. These people, however, don't claim to have "an idea." They are claiming absolute knowledge of the state of Heath Ledgers, along with thousands of U.S. troops souls.

I firmly believe that we can always take some comfort in the fact that only God knows the state of any ones soul. That is to say that even if someone has never lived their lives in a way that would lead you and I to believe they are soundly saved; We don't know. Perhaps they experienced Spirit led repentance and faith in their dying days, or even dying moments. Perhaps they had repented and put their faith in Jesus at some point, but were rather quite about it, (this scenario seems impossible to me, but who knows?)

The point is that only God knows. It is not, in any way shape or form, Westboro Baptist Church's place to proclaim the state of Heath Ledger's soul. Judging is a difficult topic, and a difficult act. Lets always be careful to make sure that we are not judging things that we have no business judging. Some things should simply be left to God.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Requirements for a Pastor

With all the talk lately about the requirements for a Pastor, I thought people might be interested in why I believe that I can fill such a role. I decided to share the letter that I submitted when I requested my pastoral license through the American Baptist Churches of Michigan. This is also a good chance for you all to learn more about me on a personal level:

To the Deacons at Valley Farms Baptist Church,

Within the last few months, God has laid it heavily on my heart to further seek his will in my life. I believe that his will is for me to become a pastor and one day oversee my own congregation. I am writing this letter to formally request your sponsorship for a Pastoral License through the American Baptist Churches of Michigan.

In First Timothy, chapter three it reads; "the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap." These are the requirements laid out in God's word for a pastor within His Church. I believe I meet these requirements.

God has been preparing me for this responsibility for a very long time. He provided me with the means to find Christ at the age of thirteen, thus allowing me to grow as a Christian for 12 years. He introduced me to my wife, Tabatha while I was still in high school, allowing me to build a meaningful and long lasting marriage while I was still young. He has taught me to keep a calm, cool, and collected temperament, allowing me to maintain good relationships with friends and acquaintances. He has provided me with the spiritual gift of teaching, allowing me to prepare and deliver sermons and bible lessons. He has also provided me with a wonderful mentor who, through watching both his triumphs and his struggles, I have learned a great deal from.

I have begun seminary school through Andersonville Theological Institute and am on course for an associate’s degree in Biblical studies. Once completed, I plan to re-enroll and begin working towards a bachelors Degree in Biblical Theology. Through this experience, combined with my continued counsel with Pastor Dave, or whoever God places before me, I will continue to mold and shape the type of pastor I will be.
Obtaining my pastoral license will do more for me than simply give me a title. It will allow me to speak at other churches and possibly fill in on an interim basis. It will also allow me to perform other pastoral duties, such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. All of these responsibilities will be opportunities for further growth spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

The Apostle Paul also wrote in First Timothy; "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I have tried to make this my focus in life and have no intentions of faltering in this effort. If given this opportunity, I will strive for continued growth in my walk with Christ. I will keep my life focused on setting an example through all of the attributes listed by Paul. I realize that becoming a pastor is more than just receiving a title. It is accepting a responsibility and accepting the constant challenges that come along with that title. It requires a willingness to open yourself up to others as an approachable source for comfort and advice. It is a promise to God to always seek his will in your life, in others lives and in his church. These are responsibilities that I am willing and prepared to accept.

Therefore, given the reasons I have listed in this letter; I, Timothy Rees, ask the Deacons of Valley Farms Baptist Church for their support and their blessing, in becoming a licensed pastor within the American Baptist Churches of Michigan. Thank you for your time and your consideration. God bless.

In Christ,
Timothy Rees

Friday, January 18, 2008

For Princess Bride Fans...

Uruguayan scientists say they have uncovered fossil evidence of the biggest species of rodent ever found.

"For those afraid of rodents, forget hopping on a chair. Its huge skull, more than 20 inches long, suggested a beast more than eight feet long and weighing between 1,700 and 3,000 pounds."

I knew that the R.O.U.S. really did exsist. I just knew it!

See the full article here.

Pete the Porno Puppet?

I guess this one has been around for a while, but I heard of him for the first time yesterday:

In case you are wondering, yes this is afiliated with a church group. I'd comment more on the group itself, but my work's firewall won't let me pull up

Is this a good idea?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Presbytery is "Stepping Up"

For nearly 23 years, Lisa Larges has sought to become a Presbyterian minister, but she has twice been formally rejected because of a long-standing ban on gay ordination by the Presbyterian Church USA.

But in what appears to be the first national test of a 2006 policy change by the church, Larges, of San Francisco, has moved a step closer to joining the clergy.

After a debate that lasted deep into the night Tuesday, the San Francisco Presbytery, a regional governing body of the national church, voted 167 to 151 to support Larges' application for ministry, despite opponents' warnings that the action violated the church's constitution and would immediately be appealed.

"I'm in shock," Larges, 44, said Wednesday. "I still feel stunned, honestly, and deeply grateful both to the folks who supported me and to the presbytery for stepping up."

Read the full article here.

Let's consult the bible on this one.

Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.
--1 Timothy 3:1-7 (emphasis added)

So what do you think?

Grafted Into the Body

Rachel wrote a great piece about Romans 11:16-24. Here is a quick excerpt of what she wrote. Rachel's blog is relatively new, but I have been visiting everyday and recommend it to all my readers.

Our Father is the gardener, Christ is the vine, those who have accepted Christ are the branches, and gentiles are the foreign grafted branches on the vine. We are one body. To believe and accept Christ allows us to be grafted into the Body. What is interesting is that Webster’s mentions the grafted branch determines the kind of fruit. I think it is wonderful the dictionary explains it this way. We are the body, but each of us has different fruit. 1 Corinthians 12, the whole chapter, talks about Spiritual gifts, our fruit, and being a member of the body of Christ. We do not all have the same gifts (or fruit), but each of us is important.

Read the whole piece here. Thanks Rachel.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eternally Saved

A conversation we are having over at Roland's blog made me think of this. This is one of my very first posts revisited:

"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

This argument behind “Once Saved, Always Saved” comes down to one basic question;
Are we saved through Jesus' work on the cross, or are we saved because of our own works?

Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Then he tells us that no man can come to the father except through him. (John 14:6) This means that the only way we can possibly be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other way.

If we believe that we can do something,... ANYTHING to lose our salvation, then we are putting our faith in ourselves. Keep the doctrines of the bible to keep salvation? How is that any different than someone saying that you MUST be baptized in order to gain eternal life? Yet we all agree that baptism is not necessary for salvation, (at least I think we all agree.) God promises us eternal life if we just believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ died for our sins and defeated death three days later when he rose from the dead. God ALWAYS keeps his promises.

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory."
-Ephesians 1:13-14

The King James Version uses the word Earnest in place of deposit. When I was 20 years old, I took a comprehensive Real Estate course. (I had planned on becoming a real estate agent at one point in my life.) In the world of real estate, an earnest means a down payment, gauranteeing that you will complete the transaction at a later date. If for any reason, you do not follow through with the transaction, the other party gets to keep your earnest money. This is the same concept used here. God has given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment towards our salvation. It is a contract between us and God that he will make good on the promise of our redemption. If God for any reason goes back on his promise, we would be entitled to keep the Holy Spirit. That's means that we would take the Holy Spirit to Hell with us. The Holy Spirit in Hell?

The bottom line is this: We are saved by God's grace, and not our own works. We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. He is the only way to the father. None of us deserve to go to heaven and we could never do enough good deeds to get there. If God has saved us, than it is final. If one is putting his faith in anything other than the sanctifying work of Jesus Christ, (including faith in himself to live the Christian life,) then I fear for that man's eternal salvation. Trust in Jesus and only Jesus. He IS the way, the truth and the life.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

For Craig and Layne

Craig has been complaining about my color scheme since the beginning. Well, I decided maybe it's finally time to change it.

Layne has been telling me since the beginning that eventually I was going to get too old to still call myself a young pastor, so I decided to change the title of my blog as well.

Please, tell me what you think of both the color scheme and the title.


I'm not sold...

Thanks Laz for finding this one.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Truth of the Bible

John MacArthur on the truth of the Bible;

You cannot prove to someone that the Bible is truth. You cannot prove it to them. But, you can sure make a good argument. I believe the Bible is true because I believe it is true. You cannot prove that it is true. That is a matter of faith. That is the work of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit convincing the heart. But, I think you can sure pile up a lot of evidence.

There are five lines of evidence that the Bible is true:

1) Human Testimony. One of the reasons it is true is because, look around you, see whose lives it has changed. It is pretty hard to argue isn’t it?

2) What about Jesus Christ? Never a person like Him. How do you explain Him? Men didn't invent Him. Why would men invent a perfect man who condemned all the rest of them. Men do not write books like that. They write books about imperfect people they can identify with.

3) Science and Archeology. How are you going to explain the fact that the Bible is verified fact archeologically and scientifically? It says in the Bible, "He hangs the earth on nothing." That is the oldest book in the Bible. How did Job know that, when nobody else discovered it for centuries?

4) The Miracles of the Bible.

5) The Prophecies. You got hundreds and hundreds of prophecies predicting something that was going to happen, and it happened exactly as the Bible said. Who knows that, but God?

Do you agree with Pastor MacArthur? What else might you add to this list?

Friday, January 11, 2008

I'm Saved, What Now?

After a recent post about evangelism, Roland posed this question;

Now I've got a question. I've seen the [Way of the Master] stuff before. I notice their dislike of certain people's approaches to ministry. And their way isn't my preferred method, but it does have its merits.

If someone actually professes a trust in Christ, what is the next step?

From the Way of the Master Website:
Once you have repented of all sin (see Psalm 51, 1John 1:9), don't doubt God's promises. Doubt produces fear. It is also a great insult to God--if I don't trust you, it means I think you are a liar.Here's a recipe for success:
-Read your Bible every day . . . without fail. Every day. Value the Word more important than your food (see Psalm One).
-Obey what you read.
-Develop a tender conscience.
-Never doubt any of God's promises.
-Obey the Great Commission by sharing your faith (see John 14:21).

The one thing they left out of their FAQ section, is to spend time time in prayer every single day. In addition, I also often hear Todd Friel suggest that a new believer gets a good study Bible. (He suggests a MacArthur Study Bible. As do I.) He also suggests finding a good bible believing church with a pastor who is an expositor of the word of God, (not just a huckster.)

I personally believe that the most important suggestion given here is to stay in the word of God every single day. I believe that a Christian is always either growing closer to God, or further away from God. The best way to grow closer to God is to get to know him better. The best way to get to know him better is by studying his progressive revelation of himself. That is the Bible. The perfect word of God.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

God Told Him to Kill Her (and Cook Her?)

A Texas man is suspected of Killing his Ex-wife and cooking her body parts. He also apparently stabbed her new boyfriend. Thedisturbing part; he claims that God told him to do it.

"Authorities said McCuin's comments in a 911 call that alerted them to the hideous discovery led them to believe he may have intended to eat his girlfriend's remains, but said it is unclear whether McCuin consumed any part of her body."

"When he said God told him to do it, one of the investigators looked at him and just said, 'What did you say?'"

Read the full story here.

Of course, our natural instinct is to say that God did not tell this man to kill, fillet and boil his ex-wife. This was not a revelation from God, given especially to Christopher Lee McCuin. Why then, are people so quick to accept the Mormons revelations from God? The Catholics? The Jehovah's Witnesses? The Pentecostals?

Forgive the Political Theme Lately

For anyone who happens to be interested, I've decided to throw my support to Ron Paul.

For me, this is not about who is the most electable, or who has the support of the Evangelical Church. You could make those arguments about Mit Romney, Mike Huckabee or even John McCain. It wasn't about who could make me laugh, or who I'd like to have dinner with. That vote would probably have to go to Fred Thompson. For me, it's about two things; my values and my candidates record.

The values that I hold steadfast to are as follows;
1. I'm strictly Pro-life
2. I'm for Religious Freedom
3. I'm against higher taxes and for a smaller government.
4. I believe that we have to secure our borders now and not grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
5. I believe that a marriage is strictly between a man and a woman.
6. Most importantly, I believe in the Constitution and the vision that our founding fathers had for our great nation.

Ron Paul is the only candidate that not only lines up with these views, but also has the voting record to prove it. So, after the dust has settled, I'm left here with nothing more to do than to add this to my blog:

Ron Paul 2008 - Hope for America

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

My Kind of Evangelism

Here is an audio clip of The Lawman doing the kind of evangelism that I prescribe to. This is to demonstrate to those of you who disagree with me that you can use the Law as a mirror to the soul without beating them over the head with Sin.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Let's Play a Game

With the Michigan Primary fast approaching, I'm still not completely sold on who to vote for. So I wanted to play a little game. I want to give you a chance to convince me to vote for your candidate.

Here are the ground rules.
1. You get to lay out your best possible case for YOUR candidate.
2. This means why I should vote for your candidate, not why I shouldn't vote for the other guy.
3. You are not allowed to bash the other guy until two things happen.

A. You have made your case for your candidate
B. Someone else has made a case for the candidate you wish to bash.

Go for it. Convince me.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Joel Osteen on Mormonism

On December 23, 2007, reporter Chris Wallace interviewed Pastor Joel Osteen on the Fox Television Network’s “Fox News Sunday” program. Osteen, whose own television program is broadcast worldwide each week and who pastors what is touted as the largest church in the United States (Lakewood Church of Houston, Texas), was quizzed on a number of issues during the interview.

Chris Wallace introduced Joel Osteen as a teacher of “Personal growth and positive thinking” – buzzwords that make biblical thinkers wary but exploring that must wait for another time. Before long, the discussion turned to presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee and the controversy concerning Romney’s Mormon beliefs. It was then that the supposedly Evangelical pastor of America’s largest congregation declared that Mormons are Christians and that Mitt Romney is himself a “Christian.”

Wallace: “Is a Mormon a true Christian?”

Osteen: “Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior and that’s what I believe. So, you know I’m not the one to judge the little details of it. So, I believe they are. And so I, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me and, ah, I don’t think anything would stop me from voting for him if that’s what I felt like.”

Wallace: “So, so for instance when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church and the golden tablets in upstate New York and ah, God assumes the shape of a man; do you not get hung up in those theological issues?”

Osteen: “I probably don’t get hung up in ‘em because I haven’t really studied ‘em or thought about ‘em. And ah, you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don’t know, I certainly can’t say that I agree with everything I’ve heard about it. But, from what I’ve heard from Mitt when he says that Christ is his savior to me that’s a common bond."

What do you think?
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Generational Gap

I recently attended a service at my church that is geared towards the older members. One of the topics that they discussed during my time there was the generational gap between Christians closer to my age and Christians closer to their age. I was amazed to find that there are people ages 60 and up that blame themselves for this gap. They explained that it is their fault for not making it known to younger Christians that they know what the younger Christians are going through. Often times, after all, they have been through the exact same thing.

I don't subscribe to this school of thought. I believe that the gap is the fault of my generation. We have allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by our Schools and faulty teaching of many churches. We have been taught that the "old fashioned" way of doing things is the wrong way. We have taken on a post-modernish view of Christianity in which any way you feel like doing it is fine.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that you can worship God however you see fit, as long as it's within the parameters laid out in His holy word. However, at some point in my generations quest for tolerance from the older generations, we've ceased to tolerate them. We want them to accept our praise and worship music, yet we have deemed their hymns "too boring" for our church services. We've deemed their social and spiritual issues "too irrelevant" for our sermons.

What both sides of this argument must understand is that our Worship is not about the style. It's about the content. We as young people must understand why the older crowd loves the hymns like the do. Have we ever stopped long enough to read the beautiful words of Amazing Grace or How Great Thou Art? No, because all we are concerned about is feeding our unquenchable appetite for stimulation.

We need to get back to the root of Christianity. We need to start practicing our faith as the Bible tells us to do so. Our faith is not about singing the catchiest tunes or preaching the wittiest sermons. It's about glorifying God. It's fine to find the way to glorify Him that best suits your wants and desires, but make sure you are doing it in a way that pleases Him according to His holy word. Most importantly, don't fault the other guy for doing it his way.

Two Questions

1. What has Science ever done in order for it to be deemed trustworthy.

2. What has the Bible ever done to be deemed trustworthy?