Christian Issues

1 Comment

I've been quoting this, and since it's now PAGES back, I want it posted here so I can find it quickly:

To the Progressive Socialist Totalitarian Left, Christianity is a threat to the primacy of the State. The Totalitarian Left believes the Authority of the State must be absolute, because the left can control all the apparatuses of the State and impose their moral beliefs on the population. For example, the belief that unborn children can be sacrificed in the name of personal convenience and the sick and elderly can be sacrificed to save the State money. Christianity, on the other hand, teaches that there is a Higher Moral Authority than the State; and that the conscience of the individual… not the Collective Will as embodied in the State and its organs.

It isn’t necessarily because of Gay Marriage, per se, but Gay Marriage is a cudgel that the left can use against Christianity; forcing Christians to bow to the State (e.g. being forced to participate in gay weddings as bakers, photographers, and florists). The ultimate goal is to eradicate Christianity and its tenet that each individual has a conscience and a moral imperative.

This is my second time through this book, the first time I breezed through, this time I want to get at what he wants to get at.

Worship matters. It matters to God because he is the one ultimately worthy of all worship. It matters to us because worshiping God is the reason for which we were created. And it matters to every worship leader, because we have no greater privilege than leading others to encounter the greatness of God. That's why it's so important to think carefully about what we do and why we do it.

The first chapter is about how Kauflin started his career, and about a really dry spot he went through. Frustrated and tired, he was pointed again at the cross (a good thing.)

What I hope to get from this book HOW worship matters, as well as WHY worship matters.

There is a line that Sunday morning groups need to grapple with, that many don't: what is the difference between being in a performance group, and being in a group that deliberately leads a congregation in corporate praise?

That's not a matter of how to choose songs, that's a matter of leadership technique.

1 Comment

I have heard it said (correctly) that the early Christians faced a moral world that in either the same depravity, or worse than what we see now.

Well, farther back than that.

If the Hebrew people had not lived surrounded by idolators and other evils, they would not have fallen in WITH them. So the evidence is that their world saw evil, as ours does.

The Jews just before Christ had forcibly dispersed, and some had returned; and the evil that they saw was as evil as today.

I think (purely subjective) that today seems more difficult for us because it appears so new to us. And (objectively) we do see things that we have NEVER seen before.

Was immorality rampant in 1st Century Rome? Absolutely. Was it worse than today? I don't know. Some say yes, others say no.

I think that we feel it more because Western Christians have long enjoyed "majority rule," thus staying safely wrapped in the insulation of tunnel vision.

The phrase "total depravity" best describes the world, and always has. We expect it.

We grieve - yes, for that depravity, but we grieve having to stand by, seemingly helpless, watching the DECLINE of our country and culture, at a breakneck speed.

Homosexuality is the best example.

Only a couple of decades ago, we (collectively) viewed same-sex-sex as abnormal. We knew gay people, we loved them as friends and family, but we loved them, not their chosen lifestyle.

Gay people sometimes (perhaps often) faced bullies and that should never have happened. People should never see bullying as acceptable.

In (culturally speaking) a very short amount of time, we see a decline.

- Traditional family unit (dad, mom, kids) and the gay community as outliers.

- A move away from the traditional family unit with the introduction of "consequence free sex" and "no-fault-divorce" (note: we do find good and Biblical reasons for divorce, and I don't find "nobody's fault" on the list.)

- With the traditional family unit undermined, open acceptance of the homosexual becomes tolerated by the culture

- As single motherhood becomes more acceptable, homosexuality becomes not only tolerated, but acceptable as a viable option.

- Demand of recognition of gay relationships becomes more popular, as does public spending for single motherhood.

- Demand of recognition of gay relationships becomes the demand that the culture view those relationships as identical to heterosexual relationships.

- The demand to see homosexual relationships as identical becomes the demand for culture (via "we the people") to sanction these relationships.

- the demand for sanction becomes the demand for approval

- the demand for approval becomes the demand for celebration by all people.

- the demand for celebration becomes the demand for participation, regardless of sincerely held religious convictions.

As Christians today look around and see our spiritual siblings SUED and FORCED to provide services to ceremonies found morally offensive, I find myself able to identify with Christians in other times and places, who steep in total depravity through no fault of their own.

We, who enjoyed cultural insulation for centuries, may find this a difficult transition. No, we WILL find this a difficult transition. From power to weakness, from majority to minority, from peace to persecution.

Is the "remnant" ready? I want to be part of the remnant - and I know I'm not ready. If the "steps of grieving" can be applied to this - I'm still in the "denial stage" but we need to get ready.

We need to be in the world, but not of the word. Persecution awaits, Jesus promised. Whether we will be found worthy of the persecution that HE endured, is yet to be seen.

The “soul of marriage” is a mystery. The apostle Paul wrote: ‘“ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.’

Satan, and the world as his helper, is striking at the soul of marriage - in (at least) a two-pronged offensive.

Both of these are an attempt to strike at the very image of God.  If we have a warped view of marriage, we will also have a warped view of God.

If we have a warped view of God, we will end up making Him in our own image...which is no god at all.

The first way I see involves striking at the image of Christ and His bride.

The second way I see involves striking at the image of God in creation.

One aspect of the "soul of marriage" is reflection of Christ and His bride.  The beautiful wedding dance of headship and submission shows Christians what their marriages should look like, and Christian marriages should show the world what Christ and His bride look like.

Egalitarianism teaches that there are no gender roles in marriage - since Scripture tells us that Christian marriages reflect Christ and His bride, no gender roles in marriage = no leadership, stewardship, or headship of Christ over His bride.

This assault on the soul of marriage leads to a warped view of Jesus.

The second front of the battle is "4SR" (State Sanctioned Same Sex Relationships.)

The  onslaught of the world against marriage, to force the recognition 4SR as "marriage," is stunning in its swiftness.  Even five years ago, we would not be having this conversation.

While I fully believe that God the Father is beyond gender (is a spirit,) He DOES get to pick what gender He wishes to be recognized as.  God chose "Father" - so that's what we know Him by.

That said, since He is beyond gender, the Bible makes sense:

 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

It  seems that God - in His own image, created male and female.  Together, they form a "oneness" that reflects the image of God.

There is more, and I want to expand, but in a nutshell, these two points are the main offensives, with various strategies within those offenses, where Satan is attacking the institution of marriage.

I finished "Fierce Women" (by Kimberly Wagner) this past week and was really encouraged to learn from my own past behavior (in my first marriage.)  When a marriage breaks down, there is rarely an "innocent" party - even if it's a bad reaction to a bad situation.

Women (welcome to the human race) have an insecurity (as most human beings) and feel a need to be in control.

Written from a Complementarian viewpoint, Wagner writes from the painful spot of a woman who has been there, done that - and who, as a couple, brought their marriage from a painful union, to a joyful communion.

Teaching that women have a different role in a marriage than their husbands have, the point of the book is to help women recognize that role, how to step out of trying to fill their husband's shoes, and how to gracefully and joyfully submit to the will of God in marriage.

Whether or not you realize it, you are in a battle, and God has placed strengths within you to be used in powerful ways. When you enter the marriage relationship, you are entering the sacred metaphor God designed to explain Himself to a watching world. Marriage is the great mystery, the glorious platform God created to display His love relationship with His bride. This is why marriage is a flashpoint for Satan’s attacks; he seeks to destroy the beauty and effectiveness of God’s model. In light of this, we must strive for the Great Story to be lived out in our marriages.

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(1)

Wagner uses examples from her own life, as well as examples from women that she knows or has known, to show how women can use their strength to either help or hurt their marriages.

Being a Complementarian does not exclude a woman to having a pastoral tone to other women, and Wagner excels.  Her "I've done this, don't follow me down that path" plea a wonderful tone to a world of women who are at once frustrated with the state of their marriage, and frustrated with the way they are dealing with it.

With these women as her audience, Wagner is uniquely qualified because she HAS been there.

My "book review template" asks at this point: What does the book promise? What is the problem the book promises to solve?

In the author's words:

I hope as you read, you will take moments to pause, ponder, and pray. May you encounter the Lord of Battles within these pages and receive insight and instruction for serving Him as a soft warrior—the Fierce Woman who is empowered by the Spirit and softened by His grace.(2)
.

And yes, the book delivers.

As a woman who will be entering a marriage covenant in a few months, with Christ at the center, and Complementarianism as the framework, "Fierce Women" is a playbook of how to relate to your husband in a way that is fitting for a woman who loves Christ.

What does "respect" look like?  Submission?  Do I need to be a "doormat?"

This matters because Satan wants nothing more than to strike at the soul of marriage.  If marriage reflects Christ and His bride, turning those roles upside down in a marriage leaves us with a distorted view of Christ and His church.  How should the church submit to Christ - wives should be able to reflect that.

I really like this book.  I printed out a couple of things and put them in my planner.  If you have a power struggle in your marriage and want to be part of the solution, read this book.

If you want to be a Biblically submissive wife, read this book.

If you want to build your husband up, instead of tearing him down, read this book.

I've read a lot of books on how to be a submissive wife.  This book is, at the end of the day, not how to make yourself more submissive, but how to build your husband up, to better help him to be the husband God wants him to be.

~~~

(1)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (pp. 10-12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

(2)Wagner, Kimberly (2012-08-24). Fierce Women: The Power of a Soft Warrior (True Woman) (p. 12). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Karen Campbell linked to one of my posts twice (same article, two different places.)

 

What I find interesting is that Campbell freely states that

The first point I want to make today is that I see the most common views of men and women within the body of Christ in more recent times as being on a continuum.

So...putting thoughts, beliefs, actions on a continuum is an okay thing.

But when Grudem does it...(the article I posted by Grudem came as a result of people asking what he believes women can do in the church.)

Grudem puts positions on a...continuum...and describes where he believes the line is.

Campbell describes that as:

That discussion has shifted to listing all the things women cannot do outside of working in the nursery and putting on potlucks.

Obviously that statement "overlooks" the many, many articles at CBMW that discuss many, many other things.

It also creates a double standard:

When Campbell puts things on a continuum and describes where the line should be:  good

When Grudem puts things on a continuum and describes where the line should be:  bad.

"one set of rules for them...another for everybody else."

an article here

As I read Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals for the umteenth time, and as I read this article, I'm reminded that (Rule #5)

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.”

“…you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral arguments.”

I put "false accusation" in that category.

Read this article quoting Mozilla, and consider Brendan Eich.

Eich co-founded Mozilla. His guidance got it up and running. Last week, he quit in disgrace. His "crime?" Eight years ago, he donated $1,000 to California's Prop 8 (Constitutional amendment banning homosexual "marriage." I'm not going to send any readers there, but find an article on the matter and read the comments.

No longer can "same sex marriage" be a matter of opinion - those who hold the view that marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman should be drummed out of the public square.

Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.

Really. What standard are they not living up to...the one that the co-founder helped to set in place? If this is the "true to ourselves" that they want to live up to, the world, in one week, became a much scarier place for people of a more conservative faith.

We didn’t act like you’d expect Mozilla to act. We didn’t move fast enough to engage with people once the controversy started. We’re sorry. We must do better.

How did we "expect" them to act? Obviously, liberals expected Eich to be forced out (or not promoted in the first place) much more quickly.

Oh...and "engage" must equal "get rid of all those who don't toe the gay agenda party line."

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

As long as "standing for both" means "getting rid of everybody who disagrees," Mozilla is doing great at that.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

And some are more equal than others.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

The rank hypocrisy makes me angry.

This week, not quite so diverse,

Not quite so open,

The beliefs and opinions of those who think that marriage should remain defined between a man and a woman...not quite so encouraged to share.

If their "higher standard" is anti-Christian, shutting down of conversation, and shutting out all who disagree, they seem as if they are on the right track.

As I write this, an alert came in telling me that SCOTUS has declined to hear Elane Huguenin's case in New Mexico. The world can now force Christian photographers to either act against their conscience, or be forced out of the public square.

There can be no disagreement on the "SSM" issue, or you will be ridiculed, fired, sued, forced out, called vile names...

all for the sake of "tolerance."

Welcome to the New United States of...

Reading "Surfing For God"

When I was in high school, my best friend's dad smoked a pipe.  Coming from a Baptist family, who were all non-smokers, had only used pipe cleaners in craft projects.  I was waiting for Denise one day, at their dining room table and amused myself with what was available.

Now...imagine the horror that she felt when she discovered that I had made little animals out of all of her dad's pipe cleaners!  Imagine my confusion when told her dad used "pipe cleaners" to...well...clean his pipes!  She was afraid that her dad would be angry at the wrong use of his pipe cleaners.

There was a legitimate use of the pipe cleaners that I didn't quite have the experience to "get."

(this is not a good parallel, but it meant something to me.)

In reading "Surfing for God," the author, Michael John Cusick, related a story:

My friend Danny is passionate about baseball. He is also deeply committed to working on his soul—understanding his brokenness and walking with Jesus to be restored. In 2005 we drove together to the Colorado Rockies’ opening day game. During our drive he shared that he hadn’t missed an opening day game in years.

Through his involvement in a men’s group, he realized that he “needed” to attend opening day the way an alcoholic needs a drink. Danny had recently discovered that opening day numbed the pain of growing up with an absent father because it symbolized the minimal time and attention his father gave him. His legitimate desire for fatherly involvement attached itself to a designer gift—a legitimate good.

But because attendance at opening day was an attempt to protect himself from the pain of his wound, the legitimate good became a counterfeit good. He was turning stones into bread. The game we attended was the first time his heart was free from the need to be there. (1)

It reminds me of something that C.S.Lewis wrote

If Dualism is true, then the bad Power must be a being who likes badness for its own sake. But in reality we have no experience of anyone liking badness just because it is bad... But pleasure, money, power, and safety are all, as far as they go, good things.

The badness consists in pursuing them by the wrong method, or in the wrong way, or too much...I do mean that wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness.

Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness. And there must be something good first before it can be spoiled...In order to be bad he must have good things to want and then to pursue in the wrong way: he must have impulses which were originally good in order to be able to pervert them.(2)

Cusick echoes this:

Every gift from our Designer has a corresponding gift from the deceiver—a “shadow” gift. And you can bet your three hundred ringgits that every deceiver gift is a counterfeit. Satan cannot create anything; he can only take what has been created and twist it against its design. So, we are tempted to overindulge the Designer’s gift of food. We might make a god out of alcohol—turning to it addictively to meet all sorts of inner needs—or maybe we make a god out of not drinking alcohol. We are deceived into believing that deceiver gifts will actually make us flourish.(3)
.

So, something in the sermon on Sunday reminded me of those pipe cleaners, which triggered the memory of this segment of the book.

I had taken a "thing" with a use - a use for which the thing was made, and made something frivolous of it.   I cannot see making animals out of pipe cleaners as "bad" - but it certainly isn't the intended use.

Food isn't bad - God gave us the good gift of food.  But abusing food twists the good gift into a bad use.

God gave us the good gift of sex, with an intended good use.  We can twist that good gift by using it outside of the intended arena.

I've written on "lady porn" - trashy romance novels that twist the good gift of romance into mere fodder for emotional flights of fantasy.  This abuse of a good gift can twist a marriage into a competition of sorts, where the husband feels the need to live up to the "romance" of his wife wanting to be swept off her feet by a "knight in shining armor."

More and more current studies show that women share the porn problem with men.  Women may get different things from porn than men do, but the problem gets shared.  Women twist the good gift of sex and intimacy just as easily as men do.

Cusick wrote:

We begin our journey from slavery to freedom when we expose the counterfeits at the root of our brokenness and admit our thirst for the real thing.(4)

.When a woman uses porn (or lusty romance novels, or food, or anything else) because we thirst for something else...what do we thirst for?

When I feel stressed at work, I do this crazy thing:  I hit the quarter machine.  You know, you put in a quarter and turn the knob and it gives you 11 or 12 Good~n~Plenties.  But I can't just eat them.  I need to line them up...pink and white and pink and white...and I need to eat them in the right order.  When I thirst for order and control, I feel that I can quench that thirst by arranging and eating pink and white candies in the right order.  That's some sort of twisted...

Humans twist all sorts of things, and the point of this post centers on porn, but it doesn't need to...throughout life test all things...do you have the "right use" in mind?  or something else?

 

  1. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1174-1183). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  2. Lewis, C.S.  Mere Christianity, Book 2
  3. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1183-1187). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
  4. Cusick, Michael John (2012-06-05). Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle (Kindle Locations 1195-1196). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

 

Cessationism (or not) --> false prophets --> new age --> Sarah Calling --> or not --> end times?

Did you get all that?

In the past I've  read about cessationism vs. continuationism and have come down on...I'm still not sure.  What I am sure of is that the Canon is closed.  I'm sure that Jesus isn't writing any more Scriptures.  I'm sure that modern day prophets are doing it wrong.

That would make them "false prophets" and Jesus said there would be lots of them in the end times.  Not only that, but He said that many would come in His name - even claiming to be Him.

A while ago, I bought "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young.  The only reason I'd suggest that anybody own it is so that they know what it says, and I'd only suggest reading it if you first read "Another Jesus Calling" by Warren Smith.

The "Jesus" in "Jesus Calling" is so...nice.  It's easy to get sucked into the passivity and neediness of that Jesus.  But the Jesus of Scripture talked about sin, and repentance, and -yes- false teachers.

Sarah Young said that she read Scripture, but that she longed for "more"(1.) - and more is what she got.  She longed for more, but a few days into her book, I longed for "deep."  Her Jesus is so unlike the Jesus of Scripture, that Phil and I started calling the book "Sarah Calling" because the voice in her head is...the voice in her head.

But then I read "Another Jesus Calling" and I'm not sure what to call Young's book.  Warren Smith came out of the New Age movement and he knows what he's talking about.  When he compares "Jesus Calling" to "God Calling" - he knows what he's talking about.  And when he compares both of these to "The Revelation" (Barbara Marx Hubbard) - he knows what he's talking about.

Smith describes a scene from "The Beautiful Side of Evil" (Johanna Michaelsen) and how Michaelsen was given her "spirit guide" - Jesus.  She challenged her jesus at L'Abri, When challenged, this jesus disappeared.

Young also went to L'Abri.

Smith writes:

TWO young women traveled to L’Abri Christian communities run by Francis and Edith Schaeffer with two very different outcomes. Johanna Michaelsen’s visit to L’Abri resulted in the abandonment of her “Jesus” presence when she realized he wasn’t the true Jesus Christ. Yet Sarah Young’s visit to L’Abri resulted in the immediate acceptance of her “Jesus” presence, which she just “knew” was Jesus Christ(2)

False teachers have always been with us.  But Young's "jesus" has inspired her to turn out 15 books - half the size of the New Testament.  In her study Bible, you can read the "jesus" of "Jesus Calling" right next to the "Jesus" of Scripture.

False teachers have always been with us.  But Young has seven titles in the top 50 Christian bestsellers list, and she is consistently in the top 10.  The "Jesus Calling" facebook page has nearly 140,000 followers.

The first time I visited New City Church, I had finished my first look at "Jesus Calling" and wanted nothing more to do with it.  It was this great service, but at the end of it, a woman got up to give her testimony and went on about this great book that changed her outlook!  Yeah..."Jesus Calling."  I almost didn't go back, but Phil challenged me to ask myself if the pastor (or anybody) had known.

Jesus talked about the end times:

For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. (Mark 13: 22)

How many people have fallen for the jesus of "Jesus Calling?"

How many believe that Jesus needs us more than we need Him?

How many people embrace New Age demonic terminology, beliefs, and practices, all in the name of the jesus of "Jesus Calling?"

There is much error in "jesus Calling" - Smith exposes it.  I want to pass it along.

 

  1. Jesus Calling; Young, Sarah; introduction
  2. Smith, Warren B. (2013-11-19). Another Jesus Calling (Kindle Locations 327-330). Lighthouse Trails Publishing. Kindle Edition.

 

 

I recently read through “Tough Topics” by Sam Storms, who wrote the book in order to answer some of the basic, but hard questions believers ask.

That is my aim in this book: to articulate good theology in order to put worried minds at rest. All of us are familiar with the sorts of problems and questions and doctrinal conundrums that plague the human mind and agitate the human heart, questions like the one lingering in the thinking of Lucy: Will God ever flood the entire earth again?

In my experience these nearly forty years of Christian ministry, I’ve seen countless people worried and angry and fearful and just plain confused when it comes to some of the more perplexing issues that life poses and the Bible provokes,

The book flows easily, and addresses some of the topics that can torment a believer, like “what happens when my baby dies” and “will I enjoy heaven if my loved one goes to hell?”

The book promises to addresses these topics and more, offering to help remove doubt that Christianity could leave us in “limbo” about things that can weigh on our minds. Very shortly after I finished the book, a pastor friend came to me and asked, “what would you tell somebody who had a baby that died?” I answered “I have a book for you...” (he never gave it back...which is why I have a kindle version and -another- paper copy)

Believers struggle with these questions. When I was considering the “reformed” question, I had dinner with a seminary student. One of the first questions I asked was “what about babies who die?” That man did not have an answer that satisfied.

This book offers a primer on the questions we might not want to have asked...

I liked this book and will keep a couple of copies on hand to loan. I will, however, make a note to those I loan it to that Storms is a continuationist, and there are chapters on the “charismatic gifts” that make that clear. I may not agree with him on those chapters, but he does make his view clear in a consistent and lets his readers know how he came to those conclusions;  a good thing.

Bottom line is that this is a good book. I didn't rock my world, but it's a great reference tool, and primer for “tough topics.”