Dec 27, 2009

The Gospel of Inoculation

I will not say that my conversations with Church leaders and Pastors have been numerous but that I’ve had a fair share of them.  Also in these conversations I have been that aggressor, or the one who is believed to be empirically wrong.  Unfortunately, this is not a point of arrogance on my part, but a matter of educated understanding of the topics being discussed.  In and of it I accept the connotations of this sounding arrogant.  If believing one has truth, and others are in error regardless of their convictions defines one as arrogant, then so shall it be.  If it is my responsibility to be labeled the bad guy in such a manner, than so shall it be.  As for faltering on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or backing from a stance in which Christ is the sole object of our purpose, it shall not be so.  The idea of salvation by number is running rampant and deceiving more than just the congregations of the American Church. It is deceiving the very Shepherds and Keepers of the flock.  They seem to believe that because the culture has become more relativistic, and more unreachable by the Gospel, that the message has to be re-delivered.  This implicates and loudly proclaims that the message delivered by Jesus Christ was insufficient.  Is it so that the one given to the disciples and taught in the Synagogues 2000 years ago has inevitably run its course?  This new “conversation” the Church is attempting to have with the world is tainted by the very world it is trying to reach.
 A rough application of the “theory of Osmosis” is that the substance with the highest density permeates the walls of the object containing the substance of the lowest density.  This flow or exchange of substance is completed by an instability being created within the inside of the once stable object.  Although the object was once stable, its very sustenance of low density is what allowed for it to be permeated in the first place.  This reaction can cause one of two outcomes.  One, the inside begins to swell and explodes outwardly or two, begins to contract violently and implodes on itself.  Either reaction is destructive in nature and results in the death or destruction of the object.  In other words, the world will not infiltrate the purity of Christ’s Church if Christ’s Church is truly that. The Church must permeate the world and fill its darkness with its light.  Being in the world means to be just that, IN IT AS A CHRISTIAN, not a spectator. It must maintain and continue to function has its purpose of Salt and Light to the World.  In order to win the affection of the lost, we must be the bearers of the light that is brighter than all.  Conclusively, the light that wins that affection is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Wearing a Christian T-shirt does not constitute radical Christianity, neither does not telling others whom you believe are going to Hell the truth about the one who delivers all men from that fate.  (John 12:32, 46, 14:6, Acts 4:12, Mt 22:29, Rm 1:16)
 Now, while many of these proponents of this “new-deliverance” claim to be adherents to the “inerrant, infallible word of God” they still seem to falter on the idea that it is exactly that.  God has delivered his word once and for all time (1 Thess. 2:4, 2 Tim 2:15).  There is no necessity for further revelation or further interpretation of the Gospel.  The Savior Christ Jesus was the last Prophet, High Priest, and Blood Sacrifice.  How is it we can allow the culture to dictate the very thing we believe changed our souls from the inside out?  Is the experience inside of our minds and souls something that is legitimate?  Shall we examine ourselves against the scriptures before we claim to be bearers of the word? (1 Cor. 11:19, 2 Cor. 10:18)  Of course we shall.  If it truly is the Savior who dwells within in us, we should be troubled by this predicament as well.  If it hasn’t before and is now starting to prick your conscience, please do something about it.  The problem doesn’t lie within the idea of our own salvation (if we desire to see others saved) but within the idea of our lack thereof.  If we cannot count it unto the Lord to be the sole provider of the power needed to save a soul, then we are eliminating him, and adding us (1 Tim 2:5).  In case we have forgotten, Man is the problem in the first place.  If it were our own righteousness that could warrant favor from God, Christ would not have had to die in the first place (Eph. 2:7-9).  In this manner we should be just fine aligning with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses) or the Church for Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS, Mormons) (2 Peter 2:1).  Better yet, let’s just do go the extra mile and uphold the Five-Pillars of Islam and join the Muslim Jihad against Christianity.  Secondly the idea behind a softer, easier, and gentler way of coming to the cross is non-existent.  Death to self requires just that, death!  If we do not die to self, we cannot be resurrected with Christ (Luke 14:26).  You cannot receive the Holy Spirit and comforter of God unless we are born again (Acts 1:8, 2:38).  To believe  the enemy is capable of setting up major world religions to blind MILLIONS to the truth of Christ, why could he not be capable of infiltrating the false Church being established by men under the banner of Christianity.  It is a sad day when we believe that we must entertain converts into the kingdom (2 Timothy 4:3).  It is a sad day when we believe the very prophecies that speak about this very thing are the methods we embrace and say are from the Lord.  What Idol are we going to worship next Sunday?

Dec 26, 2009

Good Ministry, Bad Ministry, You Decide...

Good Ministry - Praying that those who receive the word of God might receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-15)

Bad Ministry - Seeking to purchase or work for the power of the Holy Spirit for self gain and prestige (Acts 8:19-22)

Dec 25, 2009

Cancer For Christmas

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Yuletide cheer! Blessings to you and yours!

These words hold meaning for many this time of year. It is a season when people intentionally act nicer. Some smile more than they normally would. I have personally noticed that some folks are down right purposeful in being happy this Christmas season. Indeed, these gestures are certainly welcome when they substitute the regular snarls, rudeness, and sarcasm that are typical of our daily interactions with others. Of course, for those who are doing last minute Christmas shopping, your experiences may be a whole other world entirely. Nevertheless, this season generally fosters charity toward others in more ways than one.

I am not normally an avid fan of the entire Christmas season, but surely would not consider myself a scrooge either. If I were to take a position on the "CHRIST" in Christmas debate, or speak on the apparent materialism of the entire holiday it would surely be one of indifference. I think it is a liberty to enjoy this time of year with family and loved ones, and should be cherished amidst the rat race we call life. It is the one time of year that the entire country slows to a crawl for one single day, regardless of faith preference. Although this time of year has been designated a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ I have witnessed it be practiced as anything but. I then would venture to beg the question here, and ask just what kind of significance does the birth of Christ really have on your celebration of Christmas this year?

In consideration of the change of 'heart' we witness in people this holiday season, and the more than obvious inference of Christ's birthday at the center of our reason for celebration (despite what the secularists aim to turn it into) I would propose that we re-evaluate our own perspectives in light of how we actually carry out our own celebrations. I say this not because I care to impose my personal practice on others, but that I am either hyper-aware or overly-critical of those of us who name Christ as Lord doing so out of one side of our mouths and still be being consumed with gift-giving and receiving out of the other.

If I am not making much sense with my comments or allegations, let me try to reel it in here. Two weeks ago my mother was complaining of ongoing back pain and having a hard time breathing. I had been observing a digression of her 'normal' health over a period of time and became very concerned. She finally resolved to pay a visit to the emergency room and I rushed home from fellowship to take her. After many hours in the emergency room they had brought us results of an x-ray that had been done. The preliminary findings revealed a mass in her chest and lungs.

At this point, I will admit that there are so many days in my life that tribulation does not touch. I feel there are many of us out there who can relate to this. When asked by friends, family, or brothers and sisters in faith how do I consistently stand on my faith in Christ, I typically respond to them to come and visit me when I am facing trials, tribulations, or persecution. Then I will tell you how it is I am remaining confident in my Lord's will. This is a true test of faith my friends. My mother being diagnosed with a small cell cancer in the lungs is not good news for Christmas. So do we consider this a gift or a curse?

I am not sure at this point. I now know much more than mere sympathy for those who suffer disease, endure family deaths, or are laid up in hospitals without family this time of year. I think I am experiencing a bout of true empathy at this point. You see, for this man, there is a boy inside who will forever see his mother as a superhero. A woman who filled the role of mother, and father. Nurturer and provider. A woman who in my perspective, and through the eyes of a child, will always be immortal. My mother is supposed to live forever isn't she? I know this is unrealistic, but I think its a hurdle we all face when dealing with the inevitable death of our parents.

So how about the inevitable death of us all? We too may get caught up in the world of immortality, and forget that we are dust. We shall return there someday, regardless of our faith, and inevitably face the Judge of all the earth. For my mother, I pray she finds the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that we can see these kinds of trials with a lens that focuses in on the truth of an eternity in Heaven, or Hell. We must know this season is not about nativity's, blinking lights, or wonderfully wrapped presents from the department store. I implore all of us to consider that we may trample on the 'reason for the season' when we reserve the debate of Christ in our culture for the month of December.

To close, if I make any sense at all, I want to point out the fact that our time here as believers is becoming ready for death. We too are to prepare others for death as well. It is not pessimism to remind others they are going to die, and that in order to live they will need to embrace and receive Christ as LORD! This is realism, this is compassion, and this is truly knowing the terror of the Lord. We know, therefore we must share. So when you say or consider debating Merry Christmas, or X-mas, or Happy Holiday, or whichever greeting you employ, remember it is not about symantics, it is about Christ. When you say Merry Christmas, do you mean "I hope you know the Lord Jesus Christ," or "Do you know the Lord was born to die for you and for me," or is it just a formality with no cannotation of Christ whatsoever?

I hope that Christmas is not the only time we Christians are determined to know Christ and Him crucified amidst a lost and dying generation. Most importantly, I pray that we are even more determined to face this reality with those we love when gripped with their impending death, and as we realize ours may come sooner or later, we to must be not only ready to die ourselves, but preparing others to do so as well.

Dec 14, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Modesty Gets a Yawn

A dear sister from our fellowship has written an interesting post concerning modesty. She makes an excellent point regarding the battle that many brothers wage daily against lust and their desire to see their Christian sisters embrace and practice modesty. You can enjoy the entire post at her blog "Pursuing Titus 2"

Here is her introduction, I hope you enjoy the rest!

My family and I have had the privilege of hanging out with some unbelievably awesome single guys lately. A big reason I say they are so awesome is that they actually care about winning the battle with lust. Most men gave up long ago. Titus talks about Cretans whose “god is their belly.” In our culture, deity seems to have migrated several inches south.

But these guys have a problem, and it’s a problem that we have to own as their sisters in Christ. Everywhere they go, women are unbelievably unhelpful. Flaunting. Revealing. Immodest. Out in the world, we wouldn’t really expect anything else, but when it’s women in the Church, that’s a different story. Over and over, our friends have lamented that Christian women just don’t seem to understand what they’re doing to their brothers. I think that’s because no one is out there trying to teach them. And guess what, ladies, that’s OUR job. The Bible says that it’s up to women to teach other women how to be discreet and chaste (Titus 2:5).

But so many women can’t muster much passion about this issue. It conflicts with other values, or it just isn’t on the radar screen. So, in honor of awesome guys everywhere, I would like to present my Top Ten Reasons Why Modesty Gets a Yawn in hopes that all of us ladies can wake up, start being “teachers of good things” and consider how to provoke other women to love their brothers by making the gathering of the saints a safer place for battle-weary soldiers of purity.

Dec 6, 2009

Yeah But Christianity, Again...

Arthur has written an interesting example of the response normally given when the discussion of true every member ministry and community is brought up. Check it out!

"the voice of one crying out in suburbia...": Yeah but:
"Ah, our old friend and ace in the hole 'yeah, but...'. Normally preceded by 'Well Scripture says X' to which we respond 'Yeah, but...'. Even among (especially among?) 'Bible believing' Evangelical Christians, there are still so many passages that we run into that really make us squirm. More often than not, when we are faced with Scripture that runs contrary to our presuppositions and traditions, we simply shrug and explain it away or flat out ignore it. The typical response is 'Yeah, but...' Here are a couple of examples:"

Dec 5, 2009

Resources Updated to Include Koine Greek Tools

The resources page has been updated to include some free Greek (koine) language learning tools. I have been using a few of them already and have benefited immensely from their price, free! So, check it out, bookmark it, or just go and save each one of the files/links for your benefit. Below is a listing of what was added.

Greek (Koine) Language Learning Tools (Free)

Ted Hildebrandt's Video Introductions to Greek - Here

 (This one has become a personal favorite and is currently the one I am using)
  • Hildebrandt's Mastering NT Greek Textbook/Workbook in word/pdf/html - Here
  • Mastering NT Greek eSources (Greek mss., Books, and theses) - Here
  • Audio eSources for Vocabulary building, listening on your iPod/Mp3 - Here
Dallas Theological Seminary on iTunes U has released seminary course videos for free on iTunes. Some of which include Elements of Greek I and II - Here

Concordia Seminary also has videos from Dr. James Voelz (Lutheran) on Fundamental Greek Grammar - Here

Enjoy! I hope these encourage you to dig down into the New Testaments original language, it is worth it!

Dec 2, 2009

Dying To Save Your Life

So many people today spend all their time gathering and storing away substance, provision, education and riches in order to pursue their desires. In our American society we are indoctrinated by our culture that the harvest for our work comes in whatever form of temporal blessing that most pleases us. That dream job, specific degree, or material possessions becomes the prize we seek after. Ultimately, it encompasses us and becomes our life. But this isn't just the end of it, for many this temporal comfort is deceptive enough to distort our judgment regarding living for Christ, which in turn means dying for Christ.

While spending some time in Hebrews 11:23-27 I was enlightened by the response of Moses to 'choose' suffering with the people of God (Heb 11:25) rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin (Egypt). Most notably, the suffering Moses chose to succumb himself to was not an individual suffering. This suffering was to be endured with the people of God, a community of believers, the people of God, and they were going to suffer the afflictions (συγκακουχέω) together. As quickly as we associate this with the words of Paul teaching the Corinthian Church about mutual suffering (1Co 12:26) we often disassociate ourselves from direct suffering and 'empathize' with those who are persecuted abroad. I do not think this is what the scriptures teach us about suffering with the people of God.

The dilemma Moses faced was one of flight from a world of riches, comfort, ease, and quite possibly an ascent to the throne of Egypt. Instead he had made a choice to not empathize with the people of God from afar, he made a decision to go into their midst and suffer with them. This was no mere act of martyrdom, or an attempt to be esteemed by peers for his bravery and courage. This act was a decision to hold fast to the promises of God, bearing the reproach of Christ (Heb 11:26), and considering eternal life with the King as a cause for his action. Considering this, why would one choose the riches of the world, or the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season over the riches of eternal life and heavenly rest?

It is indeed a difficult question for any of us to answer straight out. So many of us do not consider placing ourselves in harms way for the sake of Christ. We have become comfortable with our residency in Egypt. Today it seems that the 'church' has become so complacent that empathy for those who suffer affliction and the reproach of Christ is sufficient sacrifice and going ourselves is reserved for those who are 'gifted' for that specific purpose. My conclusion is this,

Jesus said in Luke 9:23-24, "And he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (24) For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

We cannot always be in a position to die for Christ, for it is only an event that the Lord surely ordains for those who have that distinguished honor. But, we can seek to be willing, and know that we like Moses can choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than marry Egypt and all its sinful pleasures for a season. The issue is not can you die for Christ, or when will you die for Christ. The question is are you willing to die for the sake of the Gospel, for the reproach of Christ, and for the glory of God, should He allow you that honor?

Do you seek to bear the reproach of Christ? (Heb 13:13)