Monday, July 31, 2006

Some Postmodern Gobbledy-Gook

"Christian theology is an ongoing, second-order, contextual discipline that engages in critical and constructive reflection on the faith, life, and practices of the Christian community. Its task is the articulation of biblically normed, historically informed, and culturally relevant models of the Christian belief-mosaic for the purpose of assisting the community of Christ's followers in their vocation to live as the people of God in the particular social-historical context in which they are situated." (from Grenz and Franke, Beyond Foundationalism: Shaping Theology in a Postmodern Context, pg. 16)

Can you hear me groaning?

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More on Burke and Consumerism in the Church

Alright, shall we continue to beat this dead horse?

Sadly, the horse is far from dead and is, in fact, running amok through the fields of the church.

Let me say a few things about Burke's comments on the glories of a possible TiVo church:

“Imagine if people were encouraged to do their spiritual banking in ways that fit their lifestyle. They could watch some of the world’s best speakers on TiVo, DVDs, or download resources for their iPod, then gather in smaller groups to discuss and apply what they’ve heard. A church wouldn’t necessarily need its own teaching pastor on the payroll anymore, and people wouldn’t need to leave their community in search of better teaching.”

What is really behind a statement like this? Does this in ANY way reflect the word of God ANYWHERE: 'Imagine if people were encouraged to do their spiritual banking in ways that fit their lifestyle.' Let's all accept the 'indigenous' principle of ministry- the 'all things to all men' principle that Paul sets forth in 1 Cor. 9:22. But this is in order to 'save some'. This describes the missionary efforts of Paul. And, yes, there is a very real sense in which we aren't to too strongly divide who we are in mission from who we are as a worshipping community. But there IS a division! What Burke seems to be talking about is conforming our ecclesiology according to 'our lifestyle'. So, in this paradigm, there will be no room for Romans 12:1-2, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Is the church as a redeemed community of worshippers and disciples able to preserve its corporate identity with such cries for community that fits 'my lifestyle'?

There is also that typical lust for 'the best speakers' brazenly paraded about. Are we to laud this 'cult of personality' that drives our culture? Are we to ape this in our church communities? Go read 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Read it again. And again. Point out to me where it says, 'Go find the best teachers.' Yes, there is that qualification of the elders that they are 'able to teach' (1 Tim 3:2). But this qualification is given in the context of a slew of character qualifications that can only be discerned in intimate community with continued accountability. And yes, there are to be elders "whose work is preaching and teaching"- and these are not the world's 'best teachers' but those in your community who are qualified in character, piety, and gifting to do this labor as shepherds in our midst. The idea that this intimacy of local church fellowship and discipleship would be eagerly cast aside for the talking heads of postmodern evangelicalism is really biblically untenable.

I love to hear great teachers. I am thankful for the blessings they bring to so many in teaching the Word through a far reaching format. But, that we would forsake the calling and ordaining of pastor teachers and godly leadership in our local churches (look again, Burke applauds the idea of getting these guys off our payrolls!) for the next sexy and hip communicator we find on channel 99 (God forbid!) is harlotry. Really, 'harlotry'? That is a hard word, Erik.

Burke says, 'then people wouldn't have to leave their community in search of better teaching.' The church is the body and bride of Christ. Your commitment to the daily relationships and ministries of the LOCAL church is a kind of barometer for your faithfulness to Christ. Leaving the bride that God and Christ have called you to labor for and with, with all its warts and flaws, is spiritual 'marital' fidelity. To leave these relationships in search of some sexier, funnier, more sensitive, more courageous, more 'effective', more relational, more passionate (insert your own word) is called over and over again in the Scriptures as idolatry and harlotry.

"If Christ loved the church enough to die for her; we can love the church enough to be patient with her." [Isn't that the quote, Paul? I can't remember it exactly]

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Driscoll on Cultural Contextualization

If you've been following the discussion following my post on Consumerism in the church, please go check this link out:

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill, Seattle (one of the 50 most influential churches in America!!!) will be one of the speakers at the 'Above All Earthly Powers: the Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World' Desiring God conference this fall.

On this page are a few promotional videos by Piper, Driscoll, Keller, and Wells. Driscoll's videos are excellent. The video on 'Biblical Principles and Cultural Methods' captures wonderfully the church's task in presenting the gospel faithfully within varying cultures.

Check it out.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Don't Worry, We're #9,752

Go check out the nation's 50 most influential churches:

A couple of notables in my book. . .
#16 Tim Keller and Redeemer Pres
#22 Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill, Seattle
#31 John MacArthur and Grace Community
#37 Kent Hughes and College Church, Wheaton
#42 John Piper and Bethlehem Baptist (whoo hoo! Go, John, go!)

I love that MacArthur came in right after health, wealth, and prosperity preacherette Paula White! That's a good one.

Four Oaks is climbing the ladder. We'll make it, guys. I'm young yet.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wilson on Sanctified Satire

"As we read through Scriptures carefully, without a pietistic set of blinders, we find that satire, mocking, godly taunting are routine weapons of choice whenever God’s people confront idolatry. Of course sometimes a fool is not to be answered according to his folly (Prov. 26:4), and those who contradict are to be answered in all gentleness (2 Tim. 2:24-25). But in other situations a fool must be answered according to his folly lest he be wise in his own conceits (Prov. 26:5), and those who oppose the truth are to be rebuked sharply (Tit. 1:12-14; 2:15). If idols are for destruction, and they are, those who bring the tools of destruction to bear will not likely receive praise and kindly words from the idolators.

Our Lord Jesus, when confronted with ecclesiastical obstinacy, showed us this godly pattern for giving offense. "Did you know the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" (Matt. 15:12). "Yes, I did," He replied in effect. Mission accomplished (v. 13). The Lord attacked the scribes and Pharisees for their long robes, sanctimonious geegaws, prayer habits, tithing practices, their ways of greeting, their seating arrangements, their hypocrisies, their gold-painted chairs on TBN, and so on. After one such exchange (Luke 11:43-44), one of the lawyers said that Jesus was insulting them in His indictment too (v. 45). And in effect Jesus said, "Oh, yes, thanks for the reminder. You lawyers . . ." (v. 46). In short, Jesus was seeking to offend. This is not because Jesus was petty -- what He was seeking to offend was the spirit of pettiness."

-from Wilson's 6/9/2006 post over at Blog and Mablog

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Go, Coulter, Go!

"No liberal cause is defended with more dishonesty than abortion. No matter what else they pretend to care about from time to time — undermining national security, aiding terrorists, oppressing the middle class, freeing violent criminals — the single most important item on the Democrats' agenda is abortion. Indeed, abortion is the one issue the Democratic Party is willing to go to war over — except in the Muslim world, which is jam-packed with prohibitions on abortion, but going to war against a Muslim nation might also serve America's national security objectives. Liberals don't care about women. They care about destroying human life. To them, 2,200 military deaths in the entire course of a war in Iraq is unconscionable, but 1.3 million aborted babies in America every year is something to celebrate."

- from her June 21, 2006 column, 'GODLESS' CAUSES LIBERALS TO PRAY ... FOR A BOOK BURNING

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Burke on Consumerism in the Church

Well, I’m pretty sure that I’ve cancelled my Leadership Journal subscription but it just keeps on coming. The latest issue has a very interesting article by emerging/emergent ‘leader’ Spencer Burke on consumerism and the church. Burke is bemoaning the fact that the church bemoans the fact that there is such a consumerist mentality in our church culture (as in the culture at large).

This is one of many articles that I have read by Burke, and in every piece I read by or about Burke (who now calls himself a ‘spiritual guide of an online community’ called theOOZE {}) I hear his inspiring story of how we left a prominent southern California megachurch in order to bravely break forth into new terrains of ministry. It strikes me that perhaps, like so many emerging pastors and leaders, Mr.(Rev.? Pastor? Father? Brother? Guru? Maharaja?) Burke is simply reacting to and critiquing a sub-biblical (the Hybels/Warren/Stanley megachurch foolishness) model for ministry rather than seeking to pursue and develop an essentially biblical model for ministry. While I heartily agree with Senor Burke regarding the failings and weaknesses of the modern megachurch mentality (and this includes all the ‘little’ churches that would love to be ‘mega’), I cannot abide with his solutions. Why? Well, like so much in the emerging movement, it just doesn’t wash biblically. And no wonder, considering the fact that so many in these emerging ranks have essentially abandoned the inspiration and authority of the bible for a sort of squishy post-foundationalist alternative (ah, but that is for another blog).

Let’s look at Burke’s assessment of the current climate of consumerism in the church, and his proposal for dealing with it.

“When I was leaving Mariners (Mariners Church of Newport Beach, CA), the buzzword was relevant. It’s what every church was striving to be, by changing their music, their marketing, even their ministry philosophy. Church leaders are still pursuing relevancy in order to reach more people. When those efforts don’t pan out as expected, leaders are quick to blame ‘consumerism’. The problem? People. They want too much, and they’re never satisfied.”

I concur. The pursuit of ‘relevance’ is like grabbing the tiger by his tail. If you hang on you’re in for a terrible ride, but if you let go that sucker will eat you alive. And in actuality, most of these churches that strive and fight for some sort of market driven relevance just wind up looking lame. If there is one thing we can learn from the market, and it’s a lesson from our flesh, people will NEVER be satisfied. That is why it should never be fundamentally about music, marketing, nor should our ministry philosophy ever be developed along anything but biblical lines. We do well to take heed to God’s prophet:

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations that do not know you will hasten to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor." Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:1-6)

Burke continues:

“But is that really it? Is the problem that people in the pews keep upping the ante on their demands, or is it that the church leaders don’t comprehend the real source of their discontent? Is it that people want too much, or that they just don’t want what the church is currently selling?”

Amen again. The church is selling a lame MTV version of the gospel and the MTV generation continues to move on to something else. All the while the church fails to see the plain fact that if our people wanted MTV, then they would watch MTV and skip church. And so our churches become cultural dinosaurs as fast as the market moves on to the next American Idol. Further, in all this striving for relevance we fail to heed the biblical imperative to engage the culture and not merely give way to it. In a real sense we are not to scratch the itching ears, and so heal the wound of this people lightly. We are not to package and re-package the gospel in our own market driven image.

Now, it is the OOZE-man’s solutions to this crisis of relevance that should bring dismay. I am immediately struck by the reality (as in so much of the content in this ‘journal’) that the article is totally bereft of any reference to or discussion of the bible. There is a rather naïve reference to the Reformation, and a few nods to ‘rely[ing] on the Holy Spirit’ and ‘being willing to follow Jesus’. But other than that, we just have the assessment of some guy. And here is what Burke has to say:

“The situation reminds me of the banking industry. At one time, if you wanted to deposit or withdraw money, you had to go to the bank and stand in line. You had to fill out a slip and wait for someone to serve you. Today, there are independent ATMs capable of instantly dispensing cash everywhere—from grocery stores and restaurants, to sports stadiums and bars. I can’t remember the last time I actually “went to the bank.” It’s not that I’ve stopped needing money; it’s just that I choose to get it in other ways.”

This analogy breaks down at so many points. And before I make a few criticisms let me say that I don’t fundamentally disagree with this analogy. I do believe, to a degree, in ‘decentralizing’ church in terms of geography and locale. Not to diminish the importance ‘body-wide’ corporate worship and teaching on the Lord’s Day (such questions like, ‘what impact does all this have on our local church communities in terms of the fourth commandment?’ sadly, are not even on the emergent screen). But to emphasize the ongoing, daily, intimate nature of biblical fellowship and accountability.

We must remember, though, the church is totally unlike anything else in the world. Hence the New Testament name, ‘ekklesia’, or ‘called out ones’. It follows revealed patterns of government, it is ordered, and assessed in spiritual terms according to God’s own Word. So it is just fundamentally wrong to say that the ‘forms’ of the church (Burke calls them ‘programs’) are essentially human and outside biblical authority. Or that somehow the bible just gives general principles that we apply in a variety of programmatic ways and contexts. Of course this is true to an extent. To an extent…Nonetheless, Churches are not banks. Churches are not grocery stores. Churches are not like the muliplex. We must admit that there is a strong biblical priority for the church to be distinctly UNLIKE all of these man made, transitory, and earthly artifices. It is a community of the redeemed. Shame on the megachurch, seeker model to capitulate to these consumerist demands in the past 30-40 years. Shame on the church for becoming spiritual shopping malls and Super WalMarts. But shame on US if we simply react to these former models and create our own bastardized version of community. We are to react to all of these models by searching earnestly through God’s Word and finding the pattern, purpose, and nature of the church there.

Burke continues:

“But the church seems largely oblivious to this trend toward flexible, on-demand service in our culture. We still expect people to come to us, at our buildings, to do transactions with God or make deposits in their spiritual account.”

Now we are getting to the real problem I have with both the seeker and emergent models of ministry and ecclesiology. The church as I said above is the community of the redeemed. We are to be submitted to one another, we are to not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, we are to gather with one another at appointed times for the sake of worship (which is serving and glorifying God, not simply getting pagan butts in the seats, though I am all for pagan butts- wait, that came out wrong). Yes, I expect people- and by people I mean my brothers and sisters in Christ- to come to us, at our buildings, to do transactions with God (whatever Burke means by that). But we have turned the church- the called out ones- into a group of people that meet for the sake of unbelievers. And this being so, we MUST become marketeers or we will not fulfill this purpose. But if we meet as a body for the sake of worship, and live for the sake of unbelievers, that they might worship, then we will be back on a more healthy and biblical track.

It gets worse, I’m afraid:

“Imagine if people were encouraged to do their spiritual banking in ways that fit their lifestyle. They could watch some of the world’s best speakers on TiVo, DVDs, or download resources for their iPod, then gather in smaller groups to discuss and apply what they’ve heard. A church wouldn’t necessarily need its own teaching pastor on the payroll anymore, and people wouldn’t need to leave their community in search of better teaching.”

Oh boy… well, let me hear your thoughts on this last quote before I chime in later.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Earnest Contenders

I am often accused of being mean and contentious on this blog.

And for those of you who think so, go take a hike.

Hey! I'm kidding. All who know ole pastor Erik can attest that I am just a big teddy bear stuffed with love and joy.

But, suffer the teddy bear of love a couple of important points.

In the comment strand on my post 'Save the Human Embryos!' this was said in reference to the idea that Christians get sidetracked in pursuing righteousness by debating and fighting over this issue, doctrine, practice, etc. or that (Meagan, count yourself honored to get a whole blog post devoted to you! I don't mean to harp on you, but I thought this an important issue for us all to consider):

"His [Satan's] distraction is getting us to not really take action on anything because we're too busy arguing over the intricacies of it all."

Yes, we must heed the Scriptures to be gracious, patient, and loving in all of our interactions. We must not be contentious:

As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
-Proverbs 26:2
But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath.
-Romans 2:8
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions
-1 Timothy 6:3
And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.
-2 Timothy 2:24
Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.
-2 Timothy 2:14

We say amen and amen to these Scriptures.

Saying the amen to such warnings against endless striving, bickering, contending over words for the sake of contending, etc. and so forth - must NOT cause us to capitulate to the vain and invertebrate doctrine of 'tolerance' that is everywhere lauded in our age.

With specific regard to the nature of the embryo, and the current debate over embryonic stem cell research, 'taking action' is in fact 'arguing over the intricacies of it all'. The minute the debate steps up a notch, the stakes are increased, or the complexities of the argument deepen- the evangelical Christians put on a milktoast smile and ask us to all just love Jesus and get along.

But, the intricacies of the argument are exactly what must be discussed. And because life itself is at stake, we can expect the debate to be a bit heated, and for there to be a great struggle. At that point of struggle, let us be those who contend for truth and not shrink back.

Consider these Scriptures:

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
-Jude 1:3

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
-2 Corinthians 10:5

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
-Titus 1:9

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
-2 Timothy 2:25-26

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
-2 Timothy 3:16 -17

It is the job of Christians to argue. It is the job of Christians to debate. It is the job of Christians to fight, struggle, and contend for truth. The world doesn't like it. The world never has. It won't make for comfortable dinner chit chat. It might cost you some friendships. It might not make you 'deacon of the year'.

But we must be about this business. Especially for those who innocently suffer when we remain silent for the sake of secular peace and feigned tolerance.

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New Website!

You must click on Four Oaks Church to the right there and browse about on our new church website. It is, as the kids say, the bomb.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Save the Human Embryos!

Thank the Lord for the wise and righteous work of President Bush in his veto of the legislation (and thank the Lord for the Republican controlled House which was 51 votes short of overriding our President's veto) that would have multiplied federal dollars going to embryonic stem cell research. Now let's work to end this damnable practice altogether.

Polls tell us that many Americans disagree with our President on this issue. Here are two good articles for you to consider if you are unsure of the facts surrounding embryonic stem cell research, or are unsure of your own position regarding its morality:

Also, remember that there is clear medical evidence that points to life beginning at conception:

Consider these quotes from scientists and physicians on the beginning of life at the moment of conception:

Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of obstetrics, University of Pennsylvania:
"I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life."

Dr. Jerome LeJeune, genetics professor at the University of Descartes in Paris (discoverer of the Down Syndrome chromosome):
"After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. . . . This is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception."

Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard University Medical School:
"It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception."

Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic:
"By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception."

Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School:
"The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter-the beginning is conception."

Dr. Landrum Shettles, pioneer in sperm biology, fertility and sterility, discoverer of male- and female-producing sperm:
"I oppose abortion. I do so, first, because I accept what is biologically manifest- that human life commences at the time of conception-and, second, because I believe it is wrong to take innocent human life under any circumstances."

Now consider one of the basest arguments in favor of embryonic stem cell research:

Specter, who has lost all his hair to chemotherapy that he is undergoing for cancer, appealed to Bush to change his mind and support more embryonic stem cell research, which advocates say could help develop new treatments for such afflictions as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.
"I look in the mirror every day, barely recognize myself," Specter said. "And not to have the availability of the best of medical care is simply atrocious."

You ask, 'Erik, is this really a base argument?'

Well, let's consider again the medical evidence and conclusions set forth above. Now, let's change the wording of the above paragraph so that it is consistent with such evidence:

Specter, who has lost all his hair to chemotherapy that he is undergoing for cancer, appealed to Bush to change his mind and support the destruction of living human beings for the sake of medical research, which advocates say could help develop new treatments for such afflictions as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries.
"I look in the mirror every day, barely recognize myself," Specter said. "And not to have the availability of the best of medical care is simply atrocious."

What Sen. Spectre is doing is using his affliction, as sad and difficult as it is, to politically promote a bill that would mean the destruction of another human life in order to continue his own. This is unjust at best, brutal at worst, and good ole tyranny all around.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.
- Pastor Martin Niemöller
A person is a person, no matter how small.
This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
- James 1:27
Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, O hold them back. If you say, "See, we did not know this," Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?
- Proverbs 24:11

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Leftist Vision for 'Peace' in the Mid-East

Go read a great article by David Horowitz critiquing the American left's distorted vision of the causes and solutions to this current struggle with Hezbollah over Lebanon and Hamas over Gaza:

The fundamental piece of this leftist, anti-Israel and anti-American rhetoric is that Israeli 'occupation' of Lebanon (and Palestine) is the root cause for these acts of terror and aggression from Hezbollah, not some radical Islamic jihadist theology (though this theological perspective oozes out of the Islamic Arab voice at every level). It is not a blood thirsty Islamic jihad we are dealing with, the reasoning goes, but a desperate and eager search for freedom and peace by an oppressed people. Horowitz responds to this leftist spin:

In point of fact -- and as everyone knows -- there is no Israeli occupation of Lebanon or Gaza that might have precipitated this war. Quite the contrary. It is the lack of an Israeli occupation of Lebanon and Gaza – of a controlling authority to enforce the peace -- that has precipitated the present war. Israel’s withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza have created the vacuum the terrorists have filled. These withdrawals, on the other hand, were successful in one sense, and one sense alone: They were designed to disarm the arguments of the terrorists and their apologists, who have now unmasked their own propaganda as a cynical sham. But the Nation goes on repeating it all the same.

There is no occupation of Lebanon for Hizbollah to protest. There is no occupation of Gaza for Hamas to protest. The occupation that inspires the terror is the Jews occupation of the state of Israel. This is what Hizbollah an d Hamas cannot abide.

The Nation’s
[the periodical to which Horowitz is responding to in his piece]current apologetics for the terrorist bloc continue a nearly 100-year tradition of its editor's support for the totalitarian enemies of America and the West. For nearly 100 years, the editors of the Nation explained and justified every Communist tyrant from Stalin to Castro; when terrorists slaughtered the innocent on 9/11, the Nation's editors decried American jingoism and America’s “empire;” they opposed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein; and they continue to attack the liberation of Iraq as an imperialist “occupation” and democratic America as a “terrorist state.”

Brothers and sisters, let's pray for the peace of Israel.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Highlights from Vacation

Going to 'Rock City' (can't miss it- there are signs 'SEE ROCK CITY' for about 500 miles in every direction) on Lookout Mountain. This is a huge rock formation (discovered by missionaries to the region who claimed it seemed to be a 'citadel of rocks') that you can walk through with cliffs and caves and labyrinthine pathways. There is one portion called 'Fat Man Squeeze'- a narrow sliver of a walkway through the rocks- and as we approached, Tori read the sign to Bo and Tess who both turned and pointed at me, laughing. What is up with that?

Visiting the aquarium in Chattanooga. It is great, go check it out if you are ever in the area. There is also a great park across the river with a beautiful carousel and water fountains to play in.

Harassing the Christians giving out free hot dogs at the park. I pretended to be a pagan. Eventually I admitted that I was a Christian and a pastor (when Tori walked up) and they were quite relieved. Don't worry, they thought it was funny.

Driving to the mountains of N.C. to find a beautiful home where a family generously allowed us to stay. We'd leave the doors and windows open all day and night with a glorious breeze constantly refreshing us. We'd sit on the deck with an incredible Smoky Mountain vista. Awesome.

Going on a walk along a mountain creek with Tess and Bo.

Napping most every afternoon.

Grilling out most every night.

Read three books that had nothing to do with ministry or theology (per se- though of course EVERYTHING has to do with theology).

Watched movies (they had a great selection at the house).

Had a great time in the Word and prayer each day (I've started through the historical books- got through 1 Samuel this past week).

Tubing with the kids at Deep Creek just outside of Bryson City.

Tori and I went on a great date in Highlands, N.C. A wonderful little mountain town. Very expensive restaurants, though.

Did I say napping most every afternoon?


Saturday, July 01, 2006

Patience, patience...

Please pray for the PCA Southland Youth Conference next week. They'll need it with me as the speaker.

Seriously, please pray that God gives me words, opens hearts and minds, converts the lost, and builds His Church.

After our time at the conference (at Covenant College on Lookout Mtn. Ga) we'll be heading to Bryson City, N.C. for some much needed R & R.

I will not be blogging much over the next two weeks. Hopefully, you will be able to survive without my ramblings. I know it will prove most difficult. Never fear, I will return.

I will try and come up with a couple of blog-doozies for us all to consider and comment on before I leave.

Blasphemous Billboards

Driving down the road this morning I saw another one of those billboards at a main intersection. You know the ones- black with white lettering. This one read,

Read my #1 best seller. There will be a test. -God

I've seen a bunch of these, here are some of the ones I can think of:

You think its hot here? -God

Don't make me come down there! -God

What part of 'Thou shalt not' didn't you understand? -God

I have a few issues with these billboards:

-They are not funny.

-Some nimcompoop (and I use that term with all due respect, and since little respect is due- well, you get it) is spending a lot of money on these things.

-Who is giving these people permission to speak for the rest of us thinking Christians?

-God has not said any of these things. So this person is not just speaking for God, but is putting words in God's mouth. This is a violation of the third commandment and a heinous sin.

-These billboards treat lightly some very important matters (the eternal destiny of the lost, the Law of God, the authority of His Word, His return with judgment) in order to make unbelievers think we are a bunch of slappy happy fun lovin characters (he he, isn't the perdition of the pagan under the wrath of God super funny?!) This is perverse. In actuality, I think most unbelievers are confirmed in their initial impression of us Christians when they see these billboards- that we are a bunch of petty fools.

God does indeed 'rest lightly' on the Church today. We treat His glory with contempt, his gospel like a slogan, His Word like a self help book. May he have mercy on us.

And, if you know who is funding these stupid billboards, please tell them to stop.

There. . . the venting session hath ceased.

For a moment. . .