Saturday, August 30, 2008

"Favorite Song Theology" Is Faith A Matter Of Fact Or A Matter Of Feelings?

How do you decide what you will believe?

I clipped an article written several years ago by Tim Stafford. In it, he tells about a friend of his, a minister, Stephen Belynskyj, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Notre Dame. He starts each of his confirmation classes with this illustration. He brings out a large jar full of marbles and then he asks each of his students to guess how many marbles are in the jar. Then he asks them to name their favorite songs.

After all the guesses are in, he reveals the actual number of marbles in the jar. The whole class looks over their guesses to see whose estimate was closest to being right.

Belynskyj then turns to the list of their favorite songs. “And which one of these is closest to being right?” he asks. The students protest that there is no right answer, a person's favorite song is purely a matter of taste.

Belynskyj, asks, 'When you decide what to believe in terms of your faith, is that more like guessing the number of beans or more like choosing your favorite song?” Always, Belynskyj says, from old as well as young, he gets the same answer. “Choosing one's faith is more like choosing a favorite song.”

Tim Stafford says, “when Belynskyj told me this, it took my breath away.” “After they say that, do you confirm them?” he asked him.

“Well,” said Belynskyj, “first I try to argue them out of it.”

Tim Stafford calls this mentality "favorite-song theology," the notion that one's faith is a matter of taste more than fact.

Real biblical faith, the complete body of truth that Jude calls, “THE FAITH” is not determined by our tastes, or preferences, or our feelings. It is a matter of fact and is as precise as knowing the exact number of marbles in the jar.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who Is This Woman, Sarah Palin?

From a brief scan through the internet hype this morning, Sarah Palin looks pretty substantive and promising. She is an active and vocal pro-life advocate (She can probably tell you when human life begins).

She is a member of the NRA. She is a hunter and she wears animal skins. She served as commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard.

She is a mother of five. She is a fiscal conservative, and a tough anti-corruption, state governor. She has a sensible approach to accessing our own natural resources. What's not to like?
She may be more conservative than John McCain (I don't know yet but that wouldn't be too hard).

I don't know much about her yet but I am really looking forward to learning more. What I do know is that most liberals hate her; that's an important plus. Next to me, John McCain may have made an excellent second choice for veep. Oh! and one more thing; she wasn't wearing a pant suit at her introductory speech.

Finally I can get excited about voting in this election. At last, a woman with beauty AND BRAINS for whom REAL MEN can vote.

Profession and Practice

“A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate.” Exodus 39:26
There is a very interesting detail described here about the wardrobe of the High Priest. Around the hem of the robe, there had to be alternately applied tiny golden bells and small artistic pomegranates. This was by commandment of God; He designed every detail of the Priest’s garments and His design was expected to be followed exactly before the Priest could enter into His presence for worship.

In the exercise of Priest's holy worship in the tabernacle, the bells were heard and the fruit was seen. So it is today. True believers (priests) must be marked by these two evidences – Testimony and Fruitfulness!

The pomegranate’s secret
is that it is full of seed.

So each saint has much potential
to meet another’s need;

The bell is, oh, so simple,
it has but one clear sound.
But it keeps on ringing, ringing,
to everyone around!

Things New and Old, (Fresh & Familiar)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Unborn Babies Or Inconvenient Tissue Mass?

I’m sure Barack Obama loves his daughters. And I would bet my right arm that he and his wife looked forward to their safe arrivals with great love and affection when they were yet unborn babies in the womb.

So how does one reconcile that with his convenient fuzziness on the definition and beginning of human life? In the wake of his recent weaseling that, the answer to that question is “above my paygrade,” suddenly Michael Dukakis appears at the 2008 Democrat Convention.

That is kinda spooky. It was déjà vu. My mind immediately went racing back 20 years to the 1988 election campaign. Michael Dukakis couldn't give straight answers either. Liberals love to have their cake and eat it too but you can’t have it both ways. A baby is either a baby or its not. The definition is not malleable depending on one’s emotional affinity to it and real leaders should take a definite stand on issues rather than sticking their wet fingers into the air to determine which way the winds of public opinion are blowing.

I recalled a cartoon I clipped and filed back then. I had forgotten about it until last night and went to my file to find it. It is admittedly a little crude (maybe offensive) but it drives the hard point. Here it is. The man pictured at the podium is Michael Dukakis.

I wonder what Dukakis' 20 year old grandchild would think about this today?

reprinted from THE CHRISTIAN NEWS Sept. 5, 1988

Godless Solutions To Overpopulation: Infanticide, Suicide, Genocide, Euthanasia

A few years ago, I was required to write a paper for a gerontology class assignment answering the following question: “Given the changes that occur with normal aging (e.g. loss of skills and abilities, increased susceptibility to disease and deterioration, diminished capacities, etc.), what meaning is there to life and what value is there in growing old?” I resented the assignment. The premise of the question was obviously framed in a humanistic world-view so I saw no sense, value, or redeeming purpose in that kind of discussion. Those discussions always begin in godless and amoral speculations about quality of life and end with pragmatic solutions to overpopulation.
Who do you think should be allowed to make the final determination about who is unfit to live? I think that is an important question to ask, especially in the context of the next presidential election. Barack Obama has been very clear on this subject; every chance he gets, he will vote against legislation to protect the right to life of those who cannot speak for or defend themselves. And, if given the opportunity, as president, he will appoint liberal Supreme Court justices who will ensure the legal protection of infanticide.
Now that we are comfortable with infanticide (50 million destroyed babies in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade), are we ready to accept genocide? At what age is there no more meaning to life? Who will make the final determinations about who should be deemed unfit to live? What groups of people will be the next to be considered incapable of living a “quality life?” Will they be the retarded, the lame, the abnormal or mentally disturbed? (pardon my lack of PC sensitivity) Just how far will we allow our society to go in the extermination of life? What if we start marking some for elimination simply because their ideology differs from the majority?
Maybe you think I’m stretching that a little too far. Maybe you think that really couldn’t possibly happen. Well it did happen in the1940s.
Dr. Leo Alexander was a consultant to the Secretary of War in the Nuremberg Trials. He had unusual access to many accused Nazi war criminals in the medical community. In 1949, He wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that, what they originally thought and sincerely believed to be compassionate acts to mercifully end the lives of the terminally ill actually set the stage for the Holocaust. This is what he said: “Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings, at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude…that there is such a thing as life not worthy to be lived. This attitude, in its early stages, concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, the racially unwanted, and finally all non-Germans.”
What is the value of a human life? Your answer to that important question will influence your opinion about all of these very hot topics in contemporary society.
Either we are uniquely created and specially sanctified by God OR we are merely the results of random biological processes with no particular foreordained purpose. If we are not special creations; if there is no God, then it logically follows that abortion, infanticide and euthanasia can be easily defended and justified for the common good of a society. And that is a dangerous slippery slope where almost anything can become possible and acceptable.
It is wrong to simply presume that those without full capacity or ability may not enjoy quality lives. George Matheson found God's resources available for him to gain victory over his handicap. After twenty years of complete blindness he wrote the familiar hymn:
O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee! I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
And who among us would not agree that Joni Earickson Tada, Fanny Crosby, Helen Keller and many many others have also lived meaningful lives and made significant contributions to society in spite of their circumstances or limitations. They have found real meaning and purpose in a personal relationship with their Creator.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dianne Feinstein's Answer To "Drill Here, Drill Now!"

Dear Ms Feinstein:
There is just so much about your letter that bothers me. I really don’t know any other way to rebut except to address it, one paragraph at a time, with my responses in red italicized type.
Dear Mr. Petersen:
Thank you for writing to me to express your support for increasing domestic oil and gas exploration. I appreciate hearing from you on this important energy issue, and I welcome the opportunity to respond. Your thanks are not necessary. In fact I don’t believe that you even read my letter nor do I believe that you appreciate hearing from anyone with different views on energy issues. So, in my opinion, your expressions of appreciation are disingenuous.
I share your concern that rising energy prices are placing a burden on American families and agree that it is important for the United States to continue to develop its oil and gas resources in concert with our efforts to reduce demand. I do not believe, however, that the United States can drill our way out of these record energy prices. According to the Department of Energy (DOE): You share my concern? Look, I was born at night; but it wasn’t last night. You ride around in limos and fly on private charter jets in total contradiction and disregard for the concerns you publicly spew about “carbon footprints,” “global warming,” and “saving the planet” while you expect us to give up our cars, haul our families around on bicycles and stop our complaining about the high cost of gasoline.
Frankly, I care very little about what you “believe” about our ability to drill our way out of these problems. Americans are capable of doing great things when government gets out of the way. But here is a helpful idea for you if you really want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions: STOP TALKING.
  • The United States consumes more than 20.5 million barrels of oil per day - or 25 percent of total global consumption - but has less than three percent of the known global reserves; The operative word here is “known.” Only the ignorant are fooled by the insertion of that little adjective. That statistic is, at best, an opinion; a guess; a presumption or perhaps it’s your wish. The unknown quantity of global reserves will remain unknown until we are allowed to search for and discover them. Obstructive government (that’s you and your ilk) needs to get out of the way.
  • Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas exploration would not increase domestic crude oil production until 2018; This is another example of using wishful thinking to obstruct progress. And if you wait until 2018, we won’t see any increase until 2028. That was the same lame argument used by Bill Clinton and if he hadn’t obstructed drilling and exploration in ANWR then, we’d have it by now. Besides that, all the caribou are really in favor of this.
  • Additional oil production from opening ANWR is estimated to yield 745,000 barrels per day - or 3.6 percent of daily U.S. consumption - and would reduce the price of oil by no more than $1.44 per barrel; and (estimated? Here again is more presumption.)
  • Lifting the Federal moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. Why not just lift the moratorium and let’s see what happens.

You may also be interested to know that between 1999 and 2007, the number of drilling permits issued to the oil industry increased by 361 percent. Over the same period, however, gas prices increased from $1.25 per gallon to over $4.00 per gallon. The oil industry also has access to significant oil and gas resources on federal lands and waters that they have yet to use. According to the Department of the Interior: This kind of drivel insults the intelligence of informed, thinking people. You liberals are not concerned about economic freedom, growth, or development; you are more concerned about social engineering.

  • The majority of crude oil and natural gas believed to be available on the OCS - 79 percent of oil and 82 percent of natural gas - are already available for drilling through existing leases; and (subject to oppressive and burdensome governmental and environmental restrictions and conditions)
  • Nearly 64 million acres of federal land and water leased to the oil and gas industry are not being used to increase domestic production. (because of oppressive and burdensome governmental and environmental restrictions and conditions)

Instead of initiating oil and gas exploration in places like ANWR and the OCS, I believe that the United States needs a long-term strategy to address our dependence on oil. We must take steps to increase the use of renewable energy and maximize current supplies by supporting energy efficient technologies. Please know that I appreciate hearing your support for increasing domestic oil and gas exploration, and I will keep your thoughts in mind as I continue working with my Senate colleagues to strengthen our national energy policy. Again, I have little interest in what you “believe” about this subject. And any discussion about developing a long-term strategy is nothing more than an excuse to do nothing until you have a better idea. Tell me, does your idea of a long-term strategy include anything of real substance like allowing the development of nuclear power or are you just thinking about stupid stuff like outlawing lightbulbs and mandating proper tire inflation? A long-term strategy must have a starting point in the short-term. So I repeat my original letter to you: Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! Drill here, drill now! DRILL HERE, DRILL NOW! Again, thank you for writing. If you have additional comments or questions, please contact my Washington, D.C. staff at (202) 224-3841. Best regards. Sincerely yours, Dianne FeinsteinUnited States Senator

And best regards to you too, Senator. Respectfully,

Ralph M. Petersen U.S. Citizen, patriot, unhyphenated American, unwilling tax payer, voter, and your employer.

Sent to Dianne Feinstein August 26, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Remember When; Reminiscing With The Old Folks

Do You Remember:
When people got married first and then lived together? When “hooking up” was something we did to our travel trailer? When having “meaningful relationships” meant getting along with our cousins?

Remember when COKE, was a soft drink and ICE was something we used to cool it? When CRACK was a thing we patched and CRYSTAL was used for serving water to dinner guests? When POT was a cooking utensil? When WEED was what we did to maintain our flowerbeds and GRASS was something we mowed?

Remember when aids were helpers in the principal’s office? When closets were for keeping clothes in and not for coming out of? When gay meant happy and straight meant true?

Remember when gasoline cost more than drinking water? Remember when drinking water was free? Remember when parents used discipline instead of drugs to control their children? Remember when underwear was worn “under” our clothes and pajamas were worn in bed?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Help Protect Legal Infanticide; Vote For Barack Obama

A few years ago, I served as Chairman of the Board for a local Christian, non-profit, pro-life, abortion-alternative ministry to young women. During those years, I had several opportunities to speak and write articles as a representative of the ministry.

At that time, I became aware of Jill Stanek. She was a nurse who worked for several years at the Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois, in the suburbs of Chicago. You might have seen her appearance on the O’Reilly Factor in 2001. She chose to work at that particular hospital partly because of its Christian name, hoping that she would not be required to face some of the moral and ethical dilemmas regarding abortion that some of her cohorts face in other hospitals. She soon discovered that the Hospital had been performing abortions since 1978. She also learned that the hospital favored a non-surgical abortion method that used a drug to induce premature labor in many late-term pregnancies. The babies delivered are quite small but FULLY FORMED and some of them are actually BORN ALIVE.

One busy night Jill encountered another nurse who was on her way to a utility room to drop off an aborted but still living baby. The nurse was too busy with other patients to hold the baby until it died. Jill took the baby and held it for nearly an hour until it died of suffocation. Two other living infants were found naked and left to die of exposure that night in that utility room. One was left lying on a cold, hard scale and the other, at the counter at the edge of a sink. Jill was particularly disturbed by the Hospital’s inconsistency with its own mission statement;
“The mission of advocate health care is to serve the health needs of individuals, families, and communities through a holistic philosophy rooted in our fundamental understanding of human beings as created in the image of God.”

The whole story was disgusting, no, it was nauseating. Frankly, I had forgotten about that until just a few days ago when Stan McCullars reported this, Obama Lied; Babies Died, on his blog, Just After Sunrise. And then Stan followed up that piece with this one. Also, J & J Ministries posted this video clip of Jill Stanek addressing Barack Obama’s position on infanticide.

Parenthetically, I see where the liberal, P.C. spinmeisters have, once again, changed the language so that the horrors of the practices are obscured. Today those procedures are called “induced labor abortions.” But the practice should be called what it is – Baby killing. Partial birth abortions are justified by some sick, convoluted thinking that reasons that, as long as some portion of the baby’s body still remains in the birth canal, it is not yet born and can be aborted. Whether or not a baby's brains are vacuumed out prior to a completed birth or the baby is born alive and left unattended to die, it is none-the-less, infanticide.

This issue has been thrust back into the forefront of current event politics with the upcoming election. Barack Obama, every chance he got, opposed the Born-Alive Baby Protection Act. Quoting Jill Stanek, “This one guy, Barack Obama, thought that infanticide was acceptable and voted four times to protect (this barbaric practice).”

This week he named his choice for a running mate, Joseph Biden, who is another advocate for women’s rights for abortions (that is the non-P.C. term for pro-choice).

Does anyone expect the next president of the United States to uphold the constitutional rights of ALL Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? If Obama is you choice, you have no right to expect that. He has been very clear; you can’t miss it. His voting record to protect the lives of babies stands. His choice of a running mate who supports infanticide stands. His public remarks about his philosophy of supreme court justice appointments, and his declaration that it is time to change the makeup of the court are matters of record. And when asked when he thinks human life begins, he dodged the issue on national television, by claiming that the answer to that question is “above my pay grade.”

Barack Obama cannot get a pass on this! This is an abomination.

Matt Barber at wonders, "...what does one call a lawmaker who would condemn to death the child survivor of a botched abortion by permitting doctors to refuse that child, once born alive, potentially life-saving medical treatment and nutrition?"

The word, "presidential" certainly doesn't come to mind. He suggests a more appropriate word, Obamicide.

A truly presidential attitude on this subject was stated by Ronald Reagan who said, "Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born."

The Meaningless "Atta Boys" of American Culture

“American Idol” Reflects American Culture
by William E. Cripe, Sr.

If you’re one of the millions who watch the wildly popular “American Idol” I trust you will appreciate what I am about to say. Week after week in these early stages of tryouts, we are “treated” to a montage of Americans who, with stars in their eyes, gyrate, rotate, vibrate, juggle and dance with a song in tow and a dream of being the next pop super star.

To be sure, many show up just to say they went; and I have to believe that many more are putting on when they get upset and act shocked when they are told they can’t sing. Tear, sobs, wails and expletives often accompany the star struck entertainers, supposedly crushed to the core, when they are told flatly that they stink.

But what are we to think when the others, who are truly awful by any objective standard of talent, are honestly shaken to the core because, apparently for the first time, someone is honest with them? The fact is, being judged for the actual quality of their performance rather than the quality of their desire obliterates the fragile bubble of self-esteem inflated over the years by the guardians of mediocrity.

Of the three judges on the show, everyone seems to loathe Simon Cowell. He is blunt, no nonsense and sometimes downright mean—all true. But meanness aside, his assessment of talent, more often than not, is dead on. And contestants leave in tears or cursing or both insisting these professionals—who make their livings assessing real talent—have “no idea what they’re talking about.” And why? Because they have never been told they are anything but "Fantastic!” “Great!” “Awesome!” much less that they have no talent whatsoever.

What we see in American Idol is the fruit of a hollow generation where no one was ever cut from a team, few if any have ever been allowed to “fail” and where everyone was given an award just for showing up.

And so this generation of deluded adults struggles through life bewildered when doors remain locked, and the sea does not part before them. When God was kicked out of our schools, truth also packed its bags and children were left to find meaning in cheap diplomas and worthless awards. But the real world does not operate on the measure of one’s sincerity. Hard work, in the absence of ability, is no guarantee of success.

So, instead of a red carpet, these children, now grown, get a pink slip, having been set up for failure in a vacuum of truthful honesty. These young adults are left shattered, the harvest of an ethos germinated in the soils of deceitful “Way-to-go’s” and meaningless “Atta-boys.”

God allows us to ignore Him and His wisdom for life, but we do so at our own peril.

“The sins of the fathers are visited to the third and fourth generation,” and it is up to us to stop the delusion.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy,” wrote Solomon. (Proverbs 27:6) The young people of today have been given the kiss of death in so many ways. Who will love them enough to “hurt” them for their own good?

Sunday, August 24, 2008


"Conservatives were brought up to
hate deficits, and justifiably so.

We've long thought there
are two things in Washington
that are unbalanced -

the budget and the liberals."

Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Church Growth War Casualties (Part 2)

I'm Speaking Truth... is a relatively new blog that is just one more among many I have found that were started for similar reasons; the unbiblical practices of churches that have become enamoured by popular church growth gurus.

The author/blogger, who’s identity is not revealed (and probably for good reasons), has given me his permission to post his story "in hopes that others might see it and recognize that they may also be members of church mafias - and flee." Here is his story:

Why I Speak Truth

"I spent the past twelve years under the authority - and in servitude - to two mega church ***** (pastors). I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to share my experiences (as He wills), and to encourage every believer to study to know the Word of God for themselves.

I’ve served in ordained ministry for the past several years. Before I “fled the plantation”, I was on the fast track to moving even higher - as long as I ignored blatant money games, intentional doctrinal error, and intimidation and extortion.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, I could no longer ignore the fact that God’s people were being deceived because of their lust of the flesh (the desire for material things), their infatuation with superstar pastors, and their ignorance of the Word of God. I repented of my allegiance to false teachers, fled the wicked assembly, and am committed to sounding the alarm as long as the Lord allows.

The purpose of this blog is simple - to glorify God by exposing the false teaching and the blatant misrepresentation of His doctrine for selfish gain. Period.

I seek not to advance gossip, innuendo, or ungodly chatter. I will speak God’s truth, verify it with His Word, and let the chips fall where they may.

I will identify false teachers and their flawed (and intentionally deceptive doctrine), and try my very best to keep you away from them by exposing you to God’s truth.

Is my approach direct? Absolutely - so was Jesus’. Am I blunt? Yes. Will I offend ”comfortable” Christians and the apologists of these notorious *****(pastors)? Probably.

My only allegiance is to God through Jesus Christ - and His Word, thus I’m compelled to defend it against His enemies:

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

So, what can you do?
The best way to learn God’s truth is to study it for yourself. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or seminary student, just be hungry for His Word. Of course, your first stop should be your Bible (and/or a good study Bible). Also, take a look at these great books. These books are easy to read, and give you an overview of the Old & New Testaments - enough to aid in your elementary study of scripture:"
“A Popular Survey of the Old Testament” by Norman L. Geisler
“Exploring the New Testament” by Walter Dunnett

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rick Warren's Uncivil Attacks on Uncivility

So, according to this interview by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic Magazine, Rick Warren finds the blogosphere uncivilized? And he implies that he intends to restore civility to those who “sit behind screens” to “demonize” him. Well, that’s a shocker! But do any of us really care what Rick Warren thinks about our blogging or our civility?

Give me a break! Were Rick Warren and his willing accomplice and cohort Dan Southerland, being civil when they “demonized those who criticize their unbiblical practices as leaders from hell? Was he civil when they referred to them as resisters, obstructionist, and troublemakers? Is it civil to instruct their stealth change agents to marginalize, vilify, slander, and drive out those who desire to be faithful to the Word of God? Was Rick Warren civil when he said that those people either need to “leave or die?” Was Rick Warren civil to say that those who hold dear and insist on fundamental, biblical doctrines are legalistic and narrow?

Jim over at Watcher's Lamp insightfully wonders, “Is there any relationship to Warren's implied intention to civilize the blogosphere and the recent (uncivilized) shutting down of a Christian ministry website that is critical of Rick Warren's theology?

Rick Warren’s implied intention to restore civility is not just a veiled threat. That is typical of liberalism in general and should come as no surprise when liberal thinking or theology occurs in the Christian community or the local church. They must never allow opposing arguments. If they cannot defend themselves on substance or principle or Truth, they employ whatever uncivil methods they have at their disposal to shut the mouths of their critics. We see that at work in politics and the media; liberals are constantly and desperately attempting to enact hate speech legislation and fairness doctrines in order to silence conservative opposition.

So, Mr. Warren, here’s a little allegorical illustration for you to understand about the “body.” The hands might see fit to shovel a bunch of poison into the mouth. The eyes might look on it with delight. The lips may be willing receivers; the tongue might relish it with enjoyment and the teeth may readily chew it up. But poison is poison regardless how good it tastes and, when it hits the gut, it makes the body sick and sometimes the stomach throws up the whole stinking mess. Now that may not sound very civil, but God designed it that way for the protection of the body.

As “America’s Pastor” Rick Warren has some accountability to America’s Christians and we are all called to be watchful; to guard The Truth; to earnestly contend for The Faith. We are to examine every teaching and philosophy in the Light of Scripture. We are exhorted to resist and correct those who teach and practice error or mark them and separate ourselves from them.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Church Growth War Casualties (Part 1)

A few days ago Defending Contending posted an article titled, Christianity: It' All About The Music? It references an article that appeared recently in the New York Times about High Desert Church in Victorville. That caught my interest because I have some elderly friends who have been members there for about 30 years.
The church’s original building is a traditional old, but very well-maintained structure that seats about two hundred. But they outgrew that facility years ago and the first major construction project to accommodate their growth was a multi-purpose gymnasium with a large, commercial kitchen and classrooms. That is where they held their Sunday worship services.

I visited my friends' Sunday School class one Sunday morning. When church started, I peeked in to see the darkened gym set up for “worship.” Spotlights followed the worship team as they performed live for the congregation. The sound level was deafening. I remember my friends telling (actually yelling at) me that they really didn’t like the “new style” of church but, that’s what leadership thought was necessary to accomplish their new church growth goals and, anyway, “they were getting used to it.”

The gymnasium was priority number one in their facility development and growth plan. It served them during the transition while the new, multi-million dollar mega auditorium was being constructed. It is quite impressive. It is furnished with very comfortable, theatre-type seating and state-of-the-art sound, lighting, and multi-media equipment. In my church, we have ¾ inch holes in the side decks of the hymn book racks to hold our empty communion cups. At High Desert Church, they have cup holders large enough for 7-11 Big Gulps.

There is no doubt that High Desert’s growth has been stellar. A number of factors encouraged the church’s expansion . . . . in 1993 the church hired Jeff Crandall, the drummer for a Christian punk band called the Alter Boys, as its music director. Their newest building project is a $20 million children’s facility. “When you start a church,” said Tom Mercer, 52, the senior pastor, “you don’t decide who you’re going to reach and then pick a music style. You pick a music style, and that determines who’s going to come.”

The church boasts several “communities” that divide its membership into special age or interest groups. From their web site, I noted one of those communities that proclaims that any unbeliever can enter and feel comfortable and excited about the environment.

I find it interesting that attracting unbelievers and making them feel comfortable has taken priority over the consideration for and ministry to the older generation of traditional, long-time believers and members who have faithfully given themselves to the support of the ministry for years.

My friends' generation, the older ones, have been marginalized for several years. In fact, their fellowship of about 100 people is not even listed among the “communities” described on the website. These are the folks whom Rick Warren calls "the pillars of the church" because, when it comes to church growth, all they do is "hold things up." At least they had their own staff pastor until he passed away a couple years ago. Today, that pastoral responsibility has been relegated to other church leaders on a rotation basis. My friends tell me that their group now meets on Mondays because there is no room for them on that large campus on Sundays.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Why I Am Not A Liberal

This article was was written by Dennis Prager and posted at on 8/12/08.

The following is a list of beliefs that I hold. Nearly every one of them was a liberal position until the late 1960s. Not one of them is now.

Such a list is vitally important in order to clarify exactly what positions divide left from right, blue from red, liberal from conservative.

  • I believe in American exceptionalism, meaning that (a) America has done more than any international organization or institution, and more than any other country, to improve this world; and (b) that American values (specifically, the unique American blending of Enlightenment and Judeo-Christian values) form the finest value system any society has ever devised and lived by.

  • I believe that the bigger government gets and the more powerful the state becomes, the greater the threat to individual liberty and the greater the likelihood that evil will ensue. In the 20th century, the powerful state, not religion, was the greatest purveyor of evil in the world.

  • I believe that the levels of taxation advocated by liberals render those taxes a veiled form of theft. "Give me more than half of your honestly earned money or you will be arrested" is legalized thievery.

  • I believe that government funding of those who can help themselves (e.g., the able-bodied who collect welfare) or who can be helped by non-governmental institutions (such as private charities, family, and friends) hurts them and hurts society.

  • I believe that the United States of America, from its inception, has been based on the Judeo-Christian value system, not secular Enlightenment values alone, and therefore the secularization of American society will lead to the collapse of America as a great country.
  • I believe that some murderers should be put death; that allowing all murderers to live does not elevate the value of human life, but mocks it, and that keeping all murderers alive trivializes the evil of murder.

  • I believe that the American military has done more to preserve and foster goodness and liberty on Earth than all the artists and professors in America put together.

  • I believe that lowering standards to admit minorities mocks the real achievements of members of those minorities.

  • I believe that when schools give teenagers condoms, it is understood by most teenagers as tacit approval of their engaging in sexual intercourse.

  • I believe that the assertions that manmade carbon emissions will lead to a global warming that will in turn bring on worldwide disaster are a function of hysteria, just as was the widespread liberal belief that heterosexual AIDS will ravage America.

  • I believe that marriage must remain what has been in every recorded civilization -- between the two sexes.

  • I believe that, whatever the reasons for entering Iraq, the American-led removal of Saddam Hussein from power will decrease the sum total of cruelty on Earth.

  • I believe that the trial lawyers associations and teachers unions, the greatest donors to the Democratic Party, have done great harm to American life -- far more than, let us say, oil companies and pharmaceutical companies, the targets of liberal opprobrium.

  • I believe that nuclear power, clean coal, and drilling in a tiny and remote frozen part of Alaska and offshore -- along with exploration of other energy alternatives such as wind and solar power -- are immediately necessary.

  • I believe that school vouchers are more effective than increased spending on public schools in enabling many poorer Americans to give their children better educations.

  • I believe that while there are racists in America, America is no longer a racist society, and that blaming disproportionate rates of black violence and out-of-wedlock births on white racism is a lie and the greatest single impediment to African-American progress.

  • I believe that America, which accepts and assimilates foreigners better than any other country in the world, is the least racist, least xenophobic country in the world.

  • I believe the leftist takeover of the liberal arts departments in nearly every American university has been an intellectual and moral calamity.

  • I believe that a good man and a good marriage are more important to most women's happiness and personal fulfillment than a good career.

  • I believe that males and females are inherently different. For example, girls naturally prefer dolls and tea sets to trucks and toy guns -- if you give a girl trucks, she is likely to give them names and take care of them, and if you give a boy trucks, he is likely to crash them into one another.

  • I believe that when it comes to combating the greatest evils on Earth, such as the genocide in Rwanda, the United Nations has either been useless or an obstacle.

  • I believe that, generally speaking, Western Europe provides social and moral models to be avoided, not emulated.

  • I believe that America's children were positively affected by hearing a non-denominational prayer each morning in school, and adversely affected by the removal of all prayer from school.

  • I believe that liberal educators' removal of school uniforms and/or dress codes has had a terrible impact on students and their education.

  • I believe that bilingual education does not work, that for the sake of immigrant children and for the sake of the larger society, immersion in the language of the country, meaning English in America, is mandatory.

  • I believe that English should be declared the national language, and that ballots should not be printed in any language other than English. If one cannot understand English, one is probably not sufficiently knowledgeable to vote intelligently in an English-speaking country.

  • Finally, I believe that there are millions of Americans who share most of these beliefs who still call themselves "liberal" or "progressive" and who therefore vote Democrat. They do so because they still identify liberalism with pre-1970 liberalism or because they are emotionally attached to the word "liberal." I share that emotion. But one should vote based on values, not emotions.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Like It Or Not, God Gets To Be God

The very nature of truth prevents opposite positions from both being right at the same time, and when Scripture is either ignored or denied, those who do so are unquestionably in the wrong. It is possible to lack biblical understanding. But it is dangerous, when confronted with the Scriptures, to say, “I don’t believe that.”

And that is true in the controversy over what is commonly called “Calvinism” and “Arminianism.” It is important to remember that the five points of Calvinism (“TULIP”) did not originate with Calvin but with his followers in response to the heresy called “Arminianism.” The real issue is not Calvinism, as such, since Calvin was just a man. The real issue is what the Bible actually teaches. After all, Paul was not a Calvinist, but Calvin was a “Paulist.” “Calvinism” is merely a name we have given to an organized statement of truth.

Calvinists believe God is God. I often remind my Sunday school class and my high school Bible classes that God gets to be God, whether we like it or not. Arminians believe God is a wimp. “Poor God. He’s up there trying to save everybody, and we won’t let Him.” Arminianism caters to the ego of man and makes man feel powerful and in control. The fact that it is unbiblical is irrelevant.

The doctrines of grace, as they are frequently (and more accurately) called, cannot be comprehended by unbelievers, nor can they be understood by baby Christians, since these doctrines are part of the “meat” of the Word, not the “sincere milk of the Word.”

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. (I Peter 2:2)

Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Hebrews 5:11-12)

Following are the common stated objections by Arminians to these key doctrines:

Total Depravity – They very clearly believe in partial depravity. But on the issue of the total depravity of man, they reject the view that “man is incapable of moral action and that God is ultimately responsible for human sin.” Three points:

It is interesting that there is a tendency to refer to man as a “free moral agent” and to habitually put the word “free” before the word “will,” even though the Bible never does so. Adam and Eve are the only humans ever to have been described as having a free choice to become sinners or not. Now that all humans have a sin nature, a nature that is fallen and totally depraved, our will is in bondage to sin and Satan. It is not free. Man’s alleged “free will” is much like the will of the fly in the car. It may move around and even cause some problems, but ultimately the fly will end up exactly where the car goes.

The Bible is clear that man is dead in sin. He is not merely sick or wounded – he is dead. A dead man cannot respond to an invitation to be brought to life. Jesus did not go out and give an invitation to “whosoever will,” hoping that Lazarus might respond, because He knew Lazarus would never respond. Lazarus was dead and totally unable to respond. He simply brought Lazarus back to life. Clearly, it is biblically true that “man is incapable of moral action.”

The idea that God is responsible for sin is a “straw man” argument. It is true that all things, including the fall, were part of the decrees of God. Not being God, I do not and cannot fully understand that, but He does, and I trust God to be God. However, there is no way to claim God is responsible for sin. “…God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man…” (James 1:13). Claiming that Calvinists blame God for sin is one of the Arminian arguments against Calvinism, but it is based on very flawed human logic and reasoning, not on the Word of God.

Unconditional Election – They reject that God “arbitrarily chooses individuals to be damned before they were born.” This is another ineffectual “straw man” argument. They either forget or deny that all men are already condemned.

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).

Only the intervention of the electing grace of God can prevent any human being from gladly jumping into the pit of hell. It is our nature to go that way. God does not have to “choose” people to go to hell. We would all go there if He did not choose us to salvation, because if our fallen nature could make a “choice,” it would always make the wrong one. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 tells us quite clearly that “…God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation…” Regardless of all attempts to make those words mean something other than what they mean, it is quite obvious that they mean “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation.”

The Arminian definition of election is, “God elects man to respond freely.” That is absurd and unbiblical. It reduces God to a poor, pathetic, helpless, frustrated little old man and elevates humanity to the position of ultimately being in charge. It is an ego trip for man, and it is an evil heresy that attacks the very nature of God. Remember, God gets to be God, whether we like it or not.

They often misuse 2 Peter 3:9 as proof that it is God’s will for everyone to be saved. This verse, along with Revelation 3:20, are likely among the most abused passages in all of Scripture. If it is God’s sovereign will for everyone to be saved, then everyone will be saved. God’s will is going to be done, no matter what man does. The “all” of 2 Peter 3:9 is obviously the limited “all,” meaning “all of a particular group.” It does not say that God is longsuffering toward the entire world. It says He is longsuffering “toward us” – the believers, His own, or dare we say it – “the elect.” Arminians try very hard to wrest that Scripture from its context and make it say the opposite of what it really says, but such an attempt is an exercise in futility.

2 Peter 3 goes on tell us that while some Scriptures may be hard to understand, there are serious consequences to misusing those Scriptures:

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Peter 3:15-17)

The idea of a “secret will.” or “permissive will,” or anything short of God’s perfect will is just more confusing and unbiblical argumentation. God has revealed His will very clearly in the Scriptures. The problem is that neither the natural man nor the carnal man has any interest in knowing God’s will. They much prefer their own rebellion and fallen human will rather than the revealed will of God.

Limited Atonement – This is the one that most scares people for some reason. However, the truth of the matter is that everyone (yes, even Arminians) limits the atonement in one way or another. The Calvinist limits the atonement in its application. In other words, the atonement is only effectively applied to the elect. On the other hand, Arminians limit the power and effectiveness of the atonement by saying that many of those whose salvation the death of Christ was designed to secure will be able to overrule the will of God and end up being eternally lost. This teaching imagines God, rather than man, to be powerless and unable.

Arminians use John 3:16 in an attempt to sabotage this doctrine, but John 3:16 does not in any way refute the rest of Scripture. The Arminian places a great deal of hope in the word “whosoever.” So many times the argument is made that the very existence of the word “whosoever” somehow negates all of Scripture and empowers men to overrule God. That is foolishness, at best. I once asked a Sunday school class the meaning of “whosoever,” and one man immediately responded, “Everybody!” That is not the meaning of the word. It simply means “anyone who.” It is very biblical to say, “Anyone who believes will be saved.” It is not biblical to say, “All men have a free choice, and God wants all humans to accept Him, but He is a gentlemen and won’t force anyone to do anything.” Such nonsense is the beginning of heresy. John 3:16 does not address why one believes and another does not. That is found elsewhere. Scripture does not contradict Scripture, but Scripture does complement Scripture.

Irresistible Grace – In Acts 7, Stephen is standing up to the leaders of the nation of Israel, God’s earthly people, for their rebellion against Him, both in his time and in Old Testament times. This has nothing to do with God’s grace in drawing the sinner to Himself. Think about Saul of Tarsus. He got saved before he knew what hit him. The Lord did not issue an open invitation and ask Saul to make a “decision.” This is likewise true for Abram. God just spoke to him and told him what to do. There was no invitation to the world, only the call of Abram. Think about Pharaoh – God hardened his heart to bring about His will. God gets to be God, whether we like it or not.

Perseverance of the Saints – It seems odd that those who would object to the first four points are so eager to embrace the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. It is true that, whom God saves, He saves to the uttermost; He gives them “eternal life.” But I have to wonder why they so readily accept the Scriptures that teach this doctrine they love and so eagerly reject the Scriptures that teach the doctrines they hate.

Written by Ron Livesay,
Administrator, Baptist Christian School, Hemet, CA.
Pastor Ron Livesay is my long-time friend and co-worker. He has been a Christian School Administrator for 27 years. Other articles written by Ron that are posted on this site are The Debate Is Over and Do We Really Believe The Bible?

R. C. Sproul On GRACE

Wayne Brouwer once preached a sermon titled, "We've Grown Accustomed To His Grace," in which he used this illustration attributed to R. C. Sproul:

Sproul was assigned to teach the course, “Introduction to the Old Testament.” There were 250 first-year students enrolled and he knew it would be difficult to communicate personally with each one of them so he set forth all the class requirements in a course syllabus, which he explained, in the first class session.

The students were to write three short papers during the semester. The first one was due at noon, September 30, the next one at noon, October 30, and the last one at noon, November 30. He carefully explained what he wanted and what he expected them to do. Then he reemphasized the need to finish the papers on time. He said to them, “Let me make it perfectly clear! I want those papers on my desk at 12:00 noon on the assigned dates or you will receive a failing mark. The only excuses I’ll consider are if you’re confined to a hospital that day or there’s a death in the family.” He paused for a moment; scanned the faces in the room and then asked, “Do you understand?”

Two hundred fifty heads nodded together. “Yes! We understand! It’s all perfectly clear!” they replied.

At noon on September 30, 225 of the 250 students turned in their papers. When Professor Sproul returned to his office, there were 25 students waiting timidly for him at the door. Here, their first year of college, their first assignment, and they hadn’t completed their assignment.

“Oh, Professor Sproul!” they cried, “Please don’t fail us on this assignment! Please give us one more chance! We’re so sorry! Please just give us one more day!”

They looked so pathetic and Professor Sproul didn’t want to hurt anyone so he gave them another day. He couldn’t bear to see them in agony like that! But, he firmly reminded them that it would not happen again! “The deadline is the deadline! No more late papers!”

“Absolutely, sir!” they all agreed and they scampered off to finish their papers.

When October 30 came, 200 students turned in their second papers. This time there were 50 students at his office door. “Oh, please, Professor Sproul! We did it again! We’re really struggling and we’re sorry we couldn’t get our papers finished! Can you give us another chance? Please?”

And once again, Sproul gave in. “Okay!” he said. “But this is it! Don’t let it happen again!” he said in the sternest voice he could muster. “Do you understand?”

Yes! Yes! Yes! They understood. And they were so grateful! They actually broke out singing right there in his office! “We love you, Professor Sproul! Oh yes, we do!” And for thirty days he was the most popular professor on campus.

Then came November 30 and only 150 students handed in their papers on time. This time, 100 students gathered around him after class. “Where are your papers?” he asked.

They were casual and cocky as they responded, “Don’t worry about it Prof! We’ll have them in for you in a couple of days. No sweat!”

But Professor Sproul stopped them cold in their tracks. He pulled out his little black grade book and he opened it to the pages with their names. With a click of his pen, he called, “Johnson! Where’s your paper?”

“I don’t have it today,” Johnson replied, “I’ll bring it in tomorrow!”

Professor Sproul announced, “F” as he entered the grade in his book.

“Greenwood!” he called, “Where is your paper?”

“I’m sorry sir! I’m not finished with it yet!” said Greenwood.

Again, Professor Sproul marked the “F.”

Suddenly the murmuring started. “Hey!” they said. “That’s not fair!”

“What?” asked Professor Sproul.

They answered louder, “That’s not fair!”

Sproul questioned, “You think I’m not being fair?”

They all nodded and agreed vigorously! “It’s not fair! It’s not fair!”

So Sproul looked at Johnson and asked, “Johnson, do you think I’m not being fair?”

“Yeah,” said Johnson, “I don’t think it’s fair!”

“Okay!” Sproul said, “I don’t ever want to be thought of as unfair! Tell me, Johnson, wasn’t your paper late last time?”

“Well, yes… it was…” he replied.

Sproul turned the page back, erased the “B” that was entered there and he changed it to an “F.”

Suddenly everyone was struck silent. No one moved. Professor Sproul looked at them and asked, “Is there anyone else here who wants justice?”

They shamefully dropped their heads and quickly slipped away to their rooms.

Years later, R. C. Sproul reflected on that event to his own congregation, “Do you see what was happening? When those first 25 students came begging for leniency, they didn’t know if they would get it or not. And when they came the second time, their hopes had grown. But by the 30th of November, they came expecting mercy. They came thinking that they deserved it. They came planning on it. And so their failures and their sins didn’t mean anything to them any more!”

Six Flags Over Jesus; The Amusement Driven Church

“If you are a lost, unregenerate, hell bound church member, then you will need all sorts of things to motivate you for the Christian life, you’ll need to go to a church where it’s like a six-flags over Jesus, they have every sort of thing you can imagine to keep you entertained. They have program after program after program because they got to keep the machine going because the building cost a lot of money. And they gotta introduce and embrace every fad that comes down the pike, church growth this, church growth that, my goodness how did the apostle Paul ever start a church? You have to be sensitive to culture, this generation, that generation, the x-y-z generation, every generation and you have to know everything, NO! It’s all a bunch of little boys trying to play men of God without the Scripture is what it is and they’ve got to build something on something other than scripture because they don’t have Scripture nor the power of God.”

Paul Washer - Little Boys Trying To Play Men Of God

In Defense Of Sarcasm

In an earlier post I repented of the prevalence of, what some of my critics have described as, extremely angry and cutting sarcasm however, regardless of the fact that I have publicly announced my intention and then subsequently deliberated to tone down the sarcasm,” there are still some critics who categorically object to all sarcasm and would have me shut down this blog. They argue that unbelievers might be offended at my words or that weak, immature Christians might not understand and be caused to stumble.

But I disagree that the use of sarcasm is always bad and never appropriate. In some cases, the use of sarcasm can even be useful or edifying. Charles Spurgeon recognized and insisted on the occasional appropriateness of laughing “the laugh of sarcasm against sin, and so evince a holy earnestness in the defense of the truth.”
Jesus used sarcasm in His earthly ministry and it is even recorded where God employed a bit of it from time to time.

In I Kings 18, Elijah is engaged in a contest with false prophets to demonstrate the mighty power of God and the sheer impotence of Baal. Elijah has challenged the prophets of Baal with this test; Elijah and a prophet of Baal would each build an altar and lay an ox on each one. Then they would each call upon their own gods respectively. The god who could bring fire on the altar would be the True God. That was the basic premise although the testing got more difficult (in fact, impossible) but that’s the point; with God all things are possible.

Anyway, right there in the pages of inspired writ and under the control of the Holy Spirit of God, His prophet, Elijah, employs one of the best-known examples of cutting sarcasm found in the Bible.

The Baal worshippers prayed and danced and cried and begged and cut themselves but nothing happened. That’s when Elijah began to mock them and scoff at them. He said, “You’ll have to shout louder than that to catch the attention of your god! Perhaps he is talking to someone, or is out sitting on the toilet, or maybe he is away on a trip, or is asleep and needs to be wakened!” ( Yes, I know the Living Bible is a paraphrase.)

Elijah’s purpose there in mocking the prophets of Baal was not to convert them to the true and living God. His purpose was to point out to God's people how STUPID and FOOLISH the Baal worshippers were and it worked. When the people saw the demonstration of God's power, they fell on their faces and shouted, "Jehovah is God!"

So I see no reason to not occasionally employ some sarcasm to mock the stupidity of evolutionism, atheism, Christian liberalism, or even some occasional, outrageously stupid practices within evangelicalism. Stupid and foolish people believe and do stupid and foolish things because they are stupid and foolish. That’s what carnal men are and do. If they were wise, they would be turned to God from their idols.
Sensitivity, tolerance and acceptance of stupidity and foolishness will not convert the unregenerate to love and serve God. Only God can convert them by His grace through faith in Christ and He accomplishes that with His Word. On the other hand, sometimes the cutting edginess of well-crafted sarcasm can be used to turn God’s people from the stupidity and foolishness of their own idolatrous actions and ideas and turn back to the One True God.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

By Students of Arabic For Students of Arabic

Before Reading This Post,
Be Sure You Read And Understand This Important Disclaimer.

The following post is reprinted here for recreational purposes only. It has no hidden meaning. It makes no pretense and has no ulterior motive. It is not here to make fun of anyone nor is it intended to demean or malign anyone's religion or to harm any animals. It is only here for my personal satisfaction and because of my affinity for rhinos. Really. Honestly. That’s the truth.

If you are an Arab or a liberal or a member of PETA, if you obsess over political correctness or if you are easily prone to assume that anything or everything said or written by any white, male conservative must always be about racism, if you really want to believe, deep down within your heart of hearts that I have some evil, sarcastic, subversive motive in this post,
STOP!!! Do Not Proceed Any Further.

Please do not send me hate mail. Flag this site as inappropriate, and kindly delete yourself. And remember;
“Blessed are you who are not
easily offended at what others post,
for you shall not be continually irritated.”

The elephant stood up and strode forward swinging and swaying between the animals and said, “Who will compete with me?” and the rhino said, “Me! I’ll compete with you!” So the rhino and the elephant ran together, and after a lot of toil, the elephant won. The lion presented him with a bundle of sugar cane and congratulated the Rhino.

Text and Illustration From: Hans Wehr’s Disciples
By Students of Arabic, For Students of Arabic

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My Very Own Blog Critics

Practically nobody reads this blog stuff of mine. I started this as a hobby. It is a place where I can record my thoughts and opinions. That is the essence of a “blog” which is a term derived from the blending of two words, “web log.” It is a place where I can post things that interest me; and a place where I can rant and vent my frustrations mainly to an audience of one-ME!

I have installed a hit counter that, up until several weeks ago, recorded only four to five page hits per day and only three or four, regular return visitors each week. My wife and my kids don’t even visit this site, for crying out loud. Basically this blog has been a great big, irrelevant, unknown, non-entity.
Then, suddenly, WHAM,” “BAM,” “POW!” The hits started pummeling in rapid succession. I saw the stats go from practically none to over 50 and then 87 and then to 132 page hits in just three days. And that was when I learned that there were a couple outraged critics who had discovered my blog and did not like my ideas. Maybe they are just a little bit handicapped in the humor department or perhaps some of my posts hit just a little too close to home for their personal comfort. Nevertheless, from the sudden surge in blog hits, I can only assume that they must have been very busy trolling through everything I have posted to see just how much they could be offended. Then the hits suddenly ceased as rapidly as they increased. In just one week the excitement was all over and once again the activity on the daily hit counter was mundane and uneventful.

It comes as no big surprise to me that lots of people disagree with my ideas. So what? I don’t agree with theirs either. And I realize that an even larger number don’t appreciate the use of satire or even sarcastic humor. I feel sorry for them; some people just don’t know how to “laff.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

***Wretches And Worms

Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I stopped the singing in the middle of a hymn during our worship service at the old folks’ home (I know, “old folks' home” is politically incorrect but, so what, it is what it is).

Anyway, the hymn was “At The Cross” and as we were singing through it we came upon a phrase that tripped up some of the residents. I could hear some of them trying to sing the new words, “for someone such as I,” that had replaced the old, familiar phrase. Others paid no attention to the printed page but simply sang out the words they all knew from memory, “…for such a worm as I.”

I couldn’t let that go by without comment. Have you noticed that, in our self-absorbed, feel good about ourselves, culture, we don’t like to admit our true sin nature? Even the hymn book publishers feel the need to "tone it down" in order to sell more books. In fact, I know some people in my own church who are discomforted when anyone uses offensive words like “sin,” or "hell," or "judgment."

Rick Warren has developed a series of church growth and discipleship materials that thousands of churches are using to teach error and guide ignorant masses into the happy heresy of easy believism. In his first CLASS seminar, he offers a dumbed-down definition of sin as an "attitude" of wanting to be in charge.

We like to obscure the reality in more palatable terms like “missing the mark,” “shortcomings,” “failures,” or “errors.” Errors? Sin is not an error. An error is forgetting to carry a digit when you add a column of numbers.

I remember the days when most Christians would insist that, before a person could be saved, he needed to be lost; he needed to know his sorry, pitiful, ugly, offensive, helpless, hell-bound, condition. Sin is a foul, outrageous, disgusting offense against a holy God. Our sin is what caused God the Father to pour out His wrath on His Son and crush Him on the cross. We have a huge SIN problem; it's not just a little mistake. In our natural, unregenerate state, we are destined for eternal torment in hell and rightfully so. When we really understand our sin, we have no hope but to repent of our sin, beg for God’s mercy, and hope for His grace.

After all my bloviating, we agreed that we should put the “worm” back in “At The Cross,” and while we were at it, we put the “wretch” back and, with thankful hearts, we sang;
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a WRETCH like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.