Aug 28, 2010

Compelled to serve the Kingdom of God: Giving

(Mat 5:42) Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

It is convenient, and easy to shirk off giving to others because they give to the 'church' and then the church distributes as the deacons, and the leaders see fit.

I think we have it all wrong.

I think responding to the poor in a concentrated local church effort generates good things, like organized outreaches, and taking some soup to the poor. But this should only be a spillover from your individual efforts, we should be doing this, all the time, as the Lord instructed.

Case and point, plenty of well-clad  suited business people passing a man with a gaping whole in his neck, a tracheotomy that allows him to speak and breath. Cancer he says. 17.94 for prescription is all I need, 64 years old and I cannot get SSI, SSDI, and too old to apply for medicaid. This man is gonna die soon, and quite possibly, very painfully.

But because it is Detroit, and everyone seems to be a scammer, nobody stops to listen to his plea. Many would refrain because he might buy dope. Such is also the norm for Christians, who practice the same methods of denial.

But the Lord said?

Do you believe He is sovereign or not? That's the question we should ask ourselves when we see outstretched hands beckoning for loose change, your gleanings. Those hands, used to be mine, have they ever been yours? Can we as believers relate? Do we have different socioeconomic backgrounds? Of course, but in principle, the Lord said blessed are those who are poor in spirit as well. Are we poor? If we are, then we should understand the poor, after all, this is indeed who Jesus came to save.

I do not think it is a matter of who is wealthy, or not. For the believer, one dollar in your pocket has made you wealthy, every breath you take this side of eternity has made you wealthy, and every last thing we store up here, will not go with us. Neither will that 17.94 that man asked for.

Aug 27, 2010

Marriage: A trivial pursuit, Part I

As a newly graduated and working young lad, I set out to remind the world that I was about to enter into the prime of my life. For me, that time of life represented always being in a relationship. Of course, none of them were to ever become *gasp* 'serious.' How would I ever know if I chose the right person?

The "M" word had a place in the far left aisle, bottom shelf, lower right corner, in the dusty old recesses of my childhood vernacular. If there was an exemplary portrait for me to assign any elaboration of the term to, it was extremely well hidden. Therefore, marriage had a very broad definition. Divorce was another way to say marriage, which was no important matter really, they were both spelled the same anyway. Unfortunately, many today share this same tragic view.

Photo by: Cpl. Stephanie Ingersoll
I would like to introduce you to the story of Linda Wolfe, 68, Guinness World Record Holder. She is the current reigning champion of marriages weighing in at an unprecedented 23 civil unions. Her last husband, a Baptist minister, was a record holder in the same category for males, and this union was admittedly for publicity. Wolfe is back in the market again now that 12 long and lonely years have passed. She is currently in market for the 24th Mr. Right. In response to the question, what went wrong? Linda Wolfe said her marriages failed for a variety of reasons. Two of her husbands were gay, two were homeless, a few were unfaithful and one was physically abusive. (src: Aol news)

At least Linda Wolfe is admitting that her husbands were wrong.

It comes as no surprise that knot-tying is a forgotten art. It is far more convenient these days to tuck the laces in the side of your shoe, slip-on, slip-off. Necessity is the mother of invention, and convenience is the step-child. To proliferate the lack of discipline or care, we now live in a culture of no-fault divorce. Simply summarized, if I do not like my wife anymore, all I need to do is say so, or vice-versa. Now that no-fault legislation is creeping into every divorce court across the land, the argumentation of moral merit is decreasingly present, and almost all but vanished. The debate of divorce validity has been relegated to protecting the non-monied spouse, the proper division of property, and the increasing inability for legal counsel to prove egregious fault in cases involving adultery, abuse, or worse matters.

In comment on the impact of what marriage and divorce has become, this excerpt from WORLD magazine is telling,

Still, divorce laws are powerfully symbolic because they tell us what a marriage should be, said Robin Wilson, professor of law at Washington and Lee University. Taking adultery and abuse into account during a divorce tells society that marriages should be faithful and loving. In a divorce case called one of the nastiest in New York history, supermodel Christie Brinkley left with $80 million after exposing her husband Peter Cook for sleeping with his 18-year-old assistant and then bribing her to stay silent, and for committing sexual acts in front of a web cam and transmitting the feed across the Internet.  -Breaking up is easy to do, Alisa Harris, WORLD Magazine

So now that we have found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a cultural environment that propagates every possible temptation of the flesh for your instant gratification, eliminating some of the 'primitive' reasons for marriage and permanent union, we have also entered a new era in which the reason for divorce is the main driving point to most conversations on the subject. Also, to add to this growing dilemma, the definition of marriage for so many people is becoming a more prominent question for my generation, those who have followed, and those to come. I believe the answer to this question is rooted much deeper than the current debate concerning one-man and one-woman, or is homosexual marriage a valid civil union. Can the answer be found in the foundation of a marriage covenant itself? Let alone its place in the civil arena?

Instead of defining what marriage should be by basing it on the inherent symbolic nature of divorce laws, or gender related issues surrounding same sex marriages, "What impact would acknowledging that civil law has no impact on the validity of a marriage, or for that matter, a divorce have on our view regarding marriage?"

This is my question, and I would love to hear your thoughts before I begin formulating the follow up.

If you are reading this, and you are a Christian (or not), do not be deceived into believing that there is provision for divorce in the Church. Many would have you believe that infidelity is grounds for dismissal. This is simply not so, and it is a humanistic teaching that emanates from many pulpits and evangelical bookstores across America. It is a lie, and it is unbiblical. Jesus, made no provision for divorce, save death, and this perspective should saturate our thinking when we begin assessing a proper definition of marriage and divorce. I will also aim to expound upon this idea further in the follow-up to this post.

Mat 5:32  But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. 

Aug 18, 2010

Proclaim release to the captives: Desiring God, John Piper @ Angola Prison

Praise God for faithful men and women who go into the prisons across this nation, and in others. Prisoners, not just spiritual captives, but literal lifers, need Christ too. Not just suburbanites, not just third worlders, everyone needs Christ.

From the Desiring God website.

If you weren't able to sign up for the film premiere of Don't Waste Your Life Sentence, or if live too far away to have even considered it, we're happy to announce that you can still join us . . . online!

At the same time this Friday that we're showing the film premiere to our live audience here in Minneapolis (7:30pm CT), we will also be streaming the whole thing live on the Don't Waste Your Life Sentence webpage.

So this is your official invitation to join us online this Friday, August 20th, to hear some amazing testimonies about how God has been working behind bars at Angola State Penitentiary.
Here's the trailer again, just in case:

Aug 6, 2010

Jehovah's Witnesses, Have You Spoken To Them Lately?

The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, better known as Jehovah's Witnesses was founded in the latter 1800's by a group of bible students under the influence of the teachings of Charles Taze Russell. Russell was not a fan of the doctrine of Hell, the trinity, or the deity of Jesus Christ for that matter. The teachings of Russell were soon picked up on and compounded by his followers and the tract society began to grow. They are now one of the largest 'christian' groups on the planet with major influence in almost every country. Quite simply, they are zealous, intelligent, and well trained at refuting the beliefs of most contemporary Christians. If you are interested in learning more about the Jehovah's Witnesses email me and I would be delighted to share more with you.

In light of this brief primer, I wanted to emphasize the importance of knowing a little about the Jehovah's witnesses and their beliefs. Many Christians today ignore the witness at their door, or whisk them away hastily. But, they indeed are deceived, and it is my belief that we are to proclaim a true Gospel witness to them if we can have a conversation that is conducive to it. We must remember that they are in need of salvation as much as you or I and our duty is merely to sow seeds, not give the increase.

Some Pointers
  • It is best to discuss things with them at the door, or move out to the porch, this way you remain able to continue or terminate the conversation quickly
  • When Witnesses are at your door in pairs, it is always a good practice to converse with the one who appears to be 'younger' or 'timid,' these are typically witnesses in training. If the elder interjects more often than would be necessary, redirect the question to the trainee (I want to know what he is going to say).
  • Never focus on winning or losing the 'argument,' be patient, and wait for an opportunity to present the full gospel. Your testimony is always your best friend
  • Be careful of parallel language, the JW's have different meanings for common evangelical jargon. Be purposeful in defining your terms.

Some Electronic Resources (note: You may right-click, or save-as to download the files in the links below, or click it to listen streaming online)

Last But Not Least

I often will use the New World Translation when I witness to the JW's. My reasoning is to establish credibility with them, but if you are unfamiliar with its subtle demonic doctrines, you will do well to stick with the King James, as most JW's will accept that as a translation, at least in part. In doing either method, I like to validate with them that I have a 'valid question' that I would like to know the answer to, as I would like to be proven wrong by the scripture if indeed I am in error. They very often will agree to hear your question, and if they interrupt you in the process with your questions, direct them back to the question at hand and ask them to hold all their 'other' responses until you are finished. Remember, manage the conversation, sew the seed.
  • Take them to John 1:1 and ask them who is the 'Word?' Avoid arguing the textual errors inherent in the JW definition, but remember this question sets the tone for the following journey through the scripture. They should respond that the 'Word' is Jesus.
  • Then take them to Isaiah 41:4 and ask them who is the Lord? They will respond Jehovah.
  • Then on to Revelation 1:8 and ask them who is speaking here? They will say Jehovah.
  • Now on to Revelation 22:13-16 and ask them who is speaking here? They will say Jesus.
  • Now you have established their presupposition that all references to first and last are Jehovah. But, now you open to Revelation 1:17-18. Then ask them very politely, 'When did Jehovah die?' Does Jehovah die? (Now this is where they can attack the translation issue, but it is the same in the NWT, KJV, and many other translations.) Be sure to redirect them back to the question, and ask them if they can compare this to one more verse.
  • Take them to Zechariah 12:10 and simply state, "Now I question when did Jehovah die from the scriptures in Revelation, and ask yet again, when was he pierced?"

This is not a full refutation of JW's and their doctrines, but is enough to sew a seed that will cause them to ponder thier perspectives. It will also help the new JW that he may be choosing to reject the truth, and hopefully he will investigate your claims.

Most importantly. Pray. Pray for them.

Aug 4, 2010

Assemblies of God youth invade Detroit on a rescue mission

(Check out my first post as Detroit Christianity Examiner, I have re-posted it below and will post links to future posts as they are written. Please also visit the examiner page and subscribe to get posts when they are fresh off the press. You can also share the links on Facebook, Digg, Fark, and Twitter. In doing so, you will also help me financially!)

Look out Detroiters there is another conference in town. The Christian denomination Assemblies of God (AG) is hosting its National Youth Convention (NYC) in Detroit's famous downtown Cobo Hall. The event will be occurring August 2-6, 2010. You can still signup and attend or stream evening events live from your browser.

Why are they here?
The promotion of this year's AG NYC has resounded a trumpet call to come and save Detroit through the power of God. Not only are they motivating youth to heed the desire of local church leaders to spearhead a revival in the Detroit area, they are entertaining them with relevant CCM artists and comedy shows to keep them motivated and goal-oriented to make a profound change in one of the nation's worst cities, at least, while they are in town.

Local hub church attendee, Detroit native, and AG NYC featured musical guest says, "I've felt in my spirit that God was going to launch something big in this city. My heart's cry is for the youth of Detroit to start a massive revival." ( News & Information)

The FAQ page on the AG NYC website lists several questions and answers very relevant to visitors who are currently attending, or en route to the event. One of them asks, "why Detroit?" The AG NYC organizers state that the Holy Spirit quickened and motivated them to have a conference that shines the light of the Gospel. This is in cooperation with the claim that an 'outpouring of the Spirit' will occur are just a few of the bold statements organizers claim will occur. (Detroit 2010 AG NYC FAQ)

What is so interesting?
The AG NYC not only anticipates drawing some 13,000 attendees this year, but it also generates motivation to visitors and the resident population to care about Detroit as a whole. The event will produce outreaches in strategically chosen locations, provide local grocery distribution, and strive ardently to impact Detroit for Christ. It is interesting that the AG NYC ironically resembles most motivational arena events that have become a hallmark of major Christian 'outreach' extravaganzas and wreak of charlatanism to the publc, unbelieving population.

What does the Bible say?
Jesus taught his disciples to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every living creature, make disciples, and baptize them (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15). He also taught them that whoever does not take up their cross, a sign they would have known to be one of Roman capital punishment and certain death, cannot be His disciple and follow Him. This was a requirement for discipleship. This was not a clever usage of hyperbole that described the stresses of strategic planning, and social action, this was proclamation of sin, righteousness, and judgment to a lost and dying world, this was facing certain death for proclaiming a message that brought eternal life.

What is the best part?
AG NYC lays claim to catalyst status when it states that there will be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and 'souls saved.' These are lofty claims that Detroiters could benefit from eternally. But merely motivating an arena full of youth to call social action 'revival' is an atrocity worthy of repentance. Maybe the organizers could do well to study the result of 'social' action and its pitfalls from late Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young and his predecessors.

If you decide to finish reading the entire FAQ section its closing paragraphs highlight what may be the perfect summary of what conferences like this really are about. In address of the ills that come with the blight and crime Detroit is so well known for, the organizers saw fit to include a personal testimony of their scouting missions. It reads as follows,

"The worst thing that happened to me during any of my visits to downtown Detroit was being approached by a homeless panhandler - but that happens to me in rural towns in the Midwest!"

That lays out simply the disparity between true Christian living, and nominal evangelicalism that is riddled with rock concert revivals and faux discipleship that creates more false converts than lovers of Jesus. After all He did say 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself' (Mark 12:31), but in this case, the Holy Spirit is probably not interested in panhandlers.

Pump up the youth, claim revival, and schedule a mighty move of the Holy Spirit for distribution to ticketholding patrons at Detroit's Cobo Hall. And remember, to avoid those pesky panhandlers.

For more info: Visit the AG NYC website or read the RSS feed on this particular subject

Aug 1, 2010

Introducing Doctrinedrops

Are you one of the masses who find twitter somewhat...twitty? I agree. But, there is some redeeming value in all things twitty. One of them, is DoctrineDrops,

Deu 32:1   Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Deu 32:2   My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
Deu 32:3   Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 

For now, follow and contribute to #doctrinedrops on

The simple rules are 
1: Cite a Bible reference 
2: Say something God-honoring and edifying about it