And the winner is…

12 12 2009

Charles Darwin,

Yep,  Darwin is quickly becoming the most influential force driving our world and culture.  “Darwin’s answer” is the engine that is driving much that is crazy in this world.  Through his theory, he answered the most basic questions of life: 

Where did I come from?,   Why am I here?,  Where am I going? 

If you realize that many people believe the answers are “from nowhere”,     “for no reason”,     or to “no place”,    then you begin to understand what is driving politics, climate change, entertainment, investment and family structures.

We have lived in the long shadow of Augustine for a long time.  He taught that we live to glorify and find our satisfaction in God.  But, sadly,  the sun has perhaps already set on that worldview.  Darwin gave a different answer.  Since we come from nowhere, live for no reason and are going nowhere, then man’s ultimate goal is personal survival.   It is me against the elements and me against you.     It is no more blatantly obvious than in the life of Al Gore.  He is making millions trying to convince everyone else to stop living.  

Calvin followed and relit Augustine’s worldview:  We were created by God, for God’s glory and we are going to answer to Him one day for what we have done in this world and more importantly we are going to answer for what we have done about His Son.  You see God loves his Son and wants you to love Him too.  It is the crime of the century to not love him also.  O by the way, God will also treat you as His son if you repent and receive His salvation.





The two most influential men in 1000 years

10 12 2009

Doug Philips of Vision Forum stated that there are two men who stand head and shoulders above the rest in the last 1000 years.   I’ll give you the first today and the other tomorrow.  

Today’s winner:  John Calvin,  

You might be surprised to hear this especially if you believe the myths that have been perpetuated about him. 

‘If the average American citizen were asked, who was the founder of America, the true author of our great Republic, he might be puzzled to answer. We can imagine his amazement at hearing the answer given to this question by the famous German historian, Ranke, one of the profoundest scholars of modern times. Says Ranke, ‘John Calvin was the virtual founder of America.”  

and
Dr. E. W. Smith says, ‘These revolutionary principles of republican liberty and self-government, taught and embodied in the system of Calvin, were brought to America, and in this new land where they have borne so mighty a harvest were planted, by whose hands? – the hands of the Calvinists. 
 That is quite an accomplishment for one man.     

He didn’t become famous until he was 30. He had only 24 years of productivity. He died of over work. He left 58 large vols.,… .  As he lay in bed dying, he was still dictating his commentary on Joshua.  Beza urged him to rest. Calvin said, “Would you have the Lord to find me idle?” He suffered from terrible headaches, kidney stones, and malaria-like fever. The 16th-century doctors recommended to go horseback riding! Calvin writes a pathetic letter. He can’t sit on a horse for his bad hemorrhoids.

But what about the stories?  They are mainly told by enemies of God’s sovereignty.  No doubt you’ve heard the one about killing Servetus.

Calvin murdered Miguel Servetus. Wrong. To be sure Calvin did “rat him out” but only after the former showed up in Geneva, despite Calvin’s warning of what the civil authorities would do to him and then Servetus appeared in church.   
It was the 16th-century. … It was a crime against the civil code in most European cities and Geneva was no exception. If the Protestant cities had not treated heresy as a civil crime, the Roman authorities would have accused them of giving hospitality to heretics. They were condemned if they did and condemned if they didn’t.  
Let us praise God for the faithful work of John Calvin.   
Any guesses about the other man????  
 

 

 





How can we be so different?

5 09 2009

 

     I was watching MSNBC this morning to see what others were saying about the Presidents health care bill. It was not surprising that they were filled with mocking sarcasm towards those “right wing” folks out there. Those people are “crazies” who see socialism in the artwork at the Rockefeller Center in New York. A “hammer and sickle”, or the “Worker and the Farmer” or imprints of Lenin embedded in the artwork mean nothing. Those people who see all the growing public programs as socialistic must have imaginary friends.

     They talked a bunch about how America is not socialist, has never been socialist, does not intend to be socialists, will never become socialists and those who see a left turn towards socialism are loonies. They even had a Brit. to tell us that Americans have a different kind of DNA which will not allow us to become socialists. Well, I suppose that no side of the debate has a corner on sarcasms. So on with the game.

     What was a bit surprising though was the debate at MSNBC on how the President can win on his health care agenda. It sounded like a democratic strategy session. They plotted and planned. They offered advice and encouragement for the President to simply move forward, pressure the Blue dogs and forget about bi-partisanship. It is clearly the morally superior thing to do. We must push for public health care because we are better people.

Here’s the deal

     There are clearly two world-views in collision. Some interpret the world one way and others interpret the world another. And beyond that there are others whose world views are being challenged and confronted by both sides. We call them moderates. They really are folks who want to offend no one or have simply not thought through the deeper questions of life. For example, how can you not have an opinion about abortion?

How can we be so different?

     When each person walks into the ballot box, he or she becomes a theologian. They look at the candidates and ask which would take the actions I would agree with. In other words, which candidate sees the world the same way I do? The answer is simple. The candidate you think who sees the world the most like you is the one you believe views God the most like you. Make sense? Your view of life is impacted by your view of God.

How it plays out in political views,

     One’s view of God perhaps most directly impacts one’s view of man. Is man good or bad? Do we need laws to protect us from power grabbing tyrants or can we trust others with our basic rights because they will have our best interest at heart. Will the basic decency of mankind be reflected in laws that protect one’s property and privacy , laws that are good and fair or will laws generally express self interest and a desire to take advantage of others.

Another way to ask the question,

     A different way to find the same answer is to ask the question, “How do you read the 20th Century?”. Was it a century with a few evil people who are exceptions to the rule trying to take over the world? Or is there a common thread of selfishness that runs right down the middle of all of us? Alexander Solzhenitsyn came to see it that way as a prisoner in the Gulags of the Soviet Union. The prisoner performing surgery on a particularry vile guard was tempted to perform a shoddy operation, to end his career of villainy early. At that crossroad he realized the line between good and evil does not run between us and them. It runs right down the middle of all of us. So how do you read the 20th Century? It will tell you a bunch about yourself.

Next time: Reading the 20th Century





Is there a conspiracy here?

29 08 2009

     A little know fact about me is that I am a follower of conspiracy theories.  As a pastor, I try and not talk about it because it can easily become a distraction from my calling to preach the Gospel.  However, I am supported in my opinions by the Scriptures which teach that the “spirit of antichrist” is already in the world.  It is a demonic conspiracy to control the world and move it into a unified rebellion against God.   Since it is a supernatural / spiritual battle, the various factions do not know that they are on the same team, or that they have an unseen leader which orchestrates their strategy.    

     Please understand it is not just a conspiracy against the gospel or Christianity.  It is broader than that.   It, instead, flows out of the heart of  evil men who are Satanically inspired to control the world.  This is why governments naturally move from freedom to tyranny.  It is really part of the long war against God.   So on to the particulars…

     In the USA we are clearly being ruled by radicals.  Our universities have groomed anti-American,  socialistic thinking for 50 years.  By the late 60’s, radicals took control of the Democratic party.  Many average Americans who still support the party did not see the changes as they occurred.    This explains why the White House is filled with socialists, Marxist and fascists who keep appointing Czars, firing company presidents, taking over businesses, spending us to bankruptcy,  seeking to kill free speech and even control the Internet.    The revolution in Iran showed how powerful the Internet can be.      

     Our president sat in a church for years that preached Liberation Theology.    Liberation Theologians uses political theory, primarily Marxism, to help understand how to combat poverty, (WIKI)  ie. think “social justice”.  This makes the President different from other radicals.  He is an idealist rather than a pragmatist.  He believes it is the moral thing to do to take from the rich and give to the oppressed.  This is why others like George Soros will throw millions to the Democratic party and “Move On.Org”  They have the same goals, just different motivations.  (More about Soros later)

     Now please don’t think I am saying that all our problems are found in a political party.  The two parties really are not much different.  There is the “Evil Party” and the “Stupid Party”.  Every once in a while they get together and pass a bi-partisan law which is both evil and stupid.  For now let me say something about the previous administration and how it also moved us from freedom towards tyranny.      

In 2006, former President George Bush signed into law the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP). It gives power to the Secretary of the U.S. government’s Health and Human Services department (HHS) to declare any infectious disease a “national emergency” and therefore require mandatory vaccination of the entire population. Because of the existence of this PREP Act, the entire population of the USA is now but one pen stroke away from being subjected to mandatory swine flu vaccinations at gunpoint. Those who resist such vaccines will be arrested and taken away for “isolation” in domestic prison camps. They can’t just leave vaccine refusers free to live among the population, of course, because that would send the message that anyone can refuse the vaccines without consequence. So they’ll arrest those who refuse the vaccine, labeling them “a threat to national security” (enemies of the state) and imprison them without trial, without charges and without any legal representation whatsoever.

     What does this mean?  It means they can lock you up any time they want too.  All they have to do is declare an emergency.  It is my conviction that the “Swine Flu” was an attempt to bring such an emergency to our country.  There are way too many strange things about this flu and all the government hype.     More later…





Worldliness and culture

30 06 2009

     Christ speaks of being “in the world but not of the world” in John 17. We are to remain in the world as Christ goes on to be with the Father. We survive in the world through being nourished by the Word of the Father and through the prayer of Christ. He prays for us that we would be protected from the Evil One as we live and face the world’s hostility. This brings up an interesting question. How do we know which parts of the culture are good and which parts are bad?   In other words, which parts of culture are included in the “world” we are commanded not to love  when John says “love not the world”.  Here are the basic approaches.

Christ against culture
Christ of / within culture
Christ above culture
Christ transforming culture
Christ in paradox towards culture

     In these five “stances” we see how most believers approach the world. Either we are to be removed and separate from culture, completely immersed in culture, seeking to control culture, seeking to transform culture or simply ignoring any interest in culture at all.

     The truth is that our approach to culture will be different at different times. Cultures change and usually for the worse. What is needed is God’s wisdom to know what aspects of culture are good and the wisdom to know when to take a different approach towards it. Technology is a good example. God is certainly not apposed to technology. We can and should use it for the glory of God. But these days twittering is all the rage. Do we really want to begin twittering during the worship because that is what the culture demands or kids relate to? I seriously doubt it. Music is another example. The music style of the 70s was called rock and declared to be worldly. Music has changed a great deal in the last 4 decades. There are many melodies of the 70s which seem pretty benign these days, almost ballads. I even wonder why they were called rock.  They really were only popular level songs. If you had not known they were all the rage 35 years ago you might think some of them were simply singable melodies.  Since the culture no longer considers them a symbol of rebellion they have lost some of their negativity.   I remember hearing a song put to a melody written by the Beatles.  It had no more beat than old Christian choruses I used to sing.   However, to a friend, it reminded them of their wild days.  So they could not sing the song to the glory of God.  

     In the end, we must ask God for the discernment to know when  and where to confront the world,  when and where to engage it, when and where to withdraw from it, and when and where to ignore it!





Changing gender? Really?

13 06 2009

Did you hear the parable about the dog who wanted to be a cat? He decided since he liked cat food, he would change his name, learn to meow and have his ears cropped. For a while everyone went along with his silliness and treated him like a cat. That is, until the day he met the dog catcher. In an instant he said, “You may sound funny, have strange appetites and have clipped ears but you’re a dog, so let’s go down town.”

Sadly, Chastity Bono, 40-year-old daughter of Cher and the late Sonny Bono could learn something by reflecting on our story. She has decided to undergo gender reassignment surgery. But the truth is, the doctors cannot change who she is. They can only make her lie more believable.  Gender cannot be changed.   Only if they could insert “Y” chromosomes in every cell or rip them out from every cell in the body could they even make the claim to change someone’s gender. 

Please understand, I mean no ill will towards Chastity. I pray for her soul, as her choices demonstrate clearly that she has no part in eternal life (1 Cor. 6.9, 10; Gal. 5.19-21; Rev. 22.15). I am also angry at those who have lied to her and convinced her to seek to undo what God has created her to be. But that is always the way it is. Homosexuality is always an attack on God and His image reflected in men and women who live to honor Him with their lives.





God and the “Edoms” of this world

5 06 2009
The Treasury at Petra

The Treasury at Petra

The shortest Book in the Old Testament is about a very big topic. Why would God care about how a pagan nation like Edom acts? Briefly He cares for three reasons.

  • He hates pride. Edom believed their fortress of Petra was beyond attack. It might have been, but not by God.
  • Edom failed to show the common decency that any human should offer to another.  When refugees from Israel flooded their border, the Edomites took advantage of them, stole from them and sent some back to be slaughtered.
  • Edom failed to seek the good of Israel. God’s promise to Abraham still holds true: those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.

Perhaps our nation could learn a thing or two from the words of the prophet Obediah.  America is not indestructible.  America must again help the helpless.   And America must remember our privilege of being a true friend of the Nation of Israel.





God and the Moabs of this world

29 05 2009

     Many people ask whether America is discussed in the Bible. The standard answer is no, not really. But we can be sure from Scripture that God does deal with nations. One powerful example is found in the book of Amos. In the beginning of his book he condemns 7 nations surrounding Israel. His “entrapment” diatribe shows the standards by which God deals with the Moabs and Edoms of this world. Seven times Amos repeats the phrase, “for three transgressions and for four”, which means they have more than enough. Their transgressions are overflowing like trying to put 4 cups of water in a 3 cup bowl.

     Here are the reasons Amos lists to show why God is upset and will  judge the nations of this world:

  • for plundering weaker nations,
  • for breaking peace treaties,
  • for failing to help fugitives,
  • for taking advantage and enslaving fugitives,
  • for killing the innocent,
  • for harsh vengeance on conquered peoples.

     While I don’t think America is guilty of all of these, she certainly is guilty of some.   As Amos said, “can two walk together unless they be agreed”.   I think we need to pray that our country might begin to see things God’s way and walk with Him before the other shoe drops.





Real Change

22 05 2009

One of the questions a pastor often wonders, but seldom asks is, “Why don’t we see more response or change in our people?” If you are a pastor you know what I mean. If you aren’t, try to understand. Suppose you were an engine mechanic and the engine you rebuilt engine never ran, or suppose you were a baker whose bread would never rise, what would you think? You put too much into it not to care about the outcome. Pastors do the same thing. The fiery prophet Joel gives us a window into the mind of God. Here is what it will take for real change to occur. It will take:

1. A total return to the Lord, Joel 2:12

“Return to Me with all your heart” v. 12

We must turn to God with all our hearts. Many believers do not even think they need any change of direction. But the Lord calls us to complete, heartfelt repentance. This kind of response will have visible signs connected to it. It will include “weeping and mourning”.It is not total if your are not broken and altered.

2. Believers who stop playing Christian, v. 13

“rend your heart and not your garment” v. 13

We can do all the actions of a Christian and still not be repentant. We can even look like we are serious with God and not be. It is the heart that must be broken.

3. Believers who are not complacent with his grace, v. 14

“Who knows if He will turn and relent”. v . 14

We must look diligently to see if we take God’s grace for granted. Remember He does not have to offer grace. When we seek God’s grace to get through a difficult trial or for His undeserved forgiveness, let us not demand grace.

4. It will take corporate brokeness, v. 15ff

“Blow the trumpet…call a sacred assembly…gather the people…sanctify the congregation…assemble the elders…gather the children and nursing babes…let the priests who minister to the Lord weep”.

God is saying, if it is not done as a group, then it is not getting done. Too many Believers think “I can repent alone”. You can’t. God’s power and blessing is reserved for churches that corporately are broken before Him. Do not misunderstand, it is important that you are humble and broken before God as an individual. That is where it all begins. But it cannot stop there. The fire of brokeness must spread to the whole group. It is especially painful to see so many Believers have so little regard or understanding for the corporate Body. That good old American independance has spoiled the Church. Too many Believers think they are “free agents” and miss the blessing of God. Let us take Paul’s admonitions to heart. “Stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man…” Phil. 1:27b