Wednesday, August 31, 2005
With the generous permission of Desiring God Ministries, Monergism.com is giving away 60 of John Piper’s best sermons and lecture SERIES’ for free in MP3 format on a CD to be mailed directly to you. We only ask that you would cover the cost for S&H and raw materials. While in the store if you choose to purchase other materials in our store at the same time, we will ship unlimited items together with your free CD for the same low $5 flat rate shipping cost (in the USA). Thank you and may the Lord richly bless this material in the edification of you and your family.
Click here for the John Piper MP3 Giveaway!
This selection includes:
T.U.L.I.P - Seminar: (8 MP3 lectures)
51 Sermons on Romans 7 & 9
Doing Missions When Dying Is Gain (Wheaton College)
Poll: Give Bible story of creation equal time
Laurie Goodstein, New York Times
August 31, 2005
In a finding that is likely to intensify the debate over what to teach students about the origins of life, a poll released Tuesday found that nearly 66 percent of Americans say that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in public schools.
The poll found that 42 percent of respondents hold strict creationist views, agreeing that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time."
In contrast, 48 percent said they believed that humans had evolved over time; of those, 18 percent said that evolution was "guided by a supreme being," and 26 percent said it occurred through natural selection.
In all, 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution, while 38 percent favored replacing evolution with creationism.
The poll was conducted July 7 to 17 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The questions about evolution were asked of 2,000 people; the margin of error is 2.5 percentage points.
The poll showed 41 percent of Americans want parents to have the primary say over how evolution is taught, compared with 28 percent who say teachers and scientists should decide and 21 percent who say school boards should.
Asked whether they believed creationism should be taught instead of evolution, 38 percent were in favor, and 49 percent were opposed. Those who believe in creationism said they were "very certain" of their views (63 percent), compared to those who believe in evolution (32 percent).
The poll also asked about religion and politics, among other things. Respondents agreed in nearly equal numbers that nonreligious liberals have "too much control" over the Democratic Party (44 percent agreed), and that religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party (45 percent agreed).
Monday, August 29, 2005
Really, I like squirrels. I just don't like them robbing my seed. They can eat all the birds push to the ground, which is quite a bit. Try as I might, they just won't learn to use a fork. I go through almost a pound a day on the coldest days of winter, without the squirrels stealing any. With the squirrels on the ledge, I could double that amound, and not see any birds.
Dave is fantastic, knowledgable and skilled in ministry well beyond his years. I don't say this blindly, as I worked side by side with Dave as he poured his heart into a struggling church, helping make a youth ministry that was sick, turn into a student ministry that was ready for the future. Dave worked his tail off, and probably cut a few years off his life in the process. He spoke the truth when it needed to be spoken, he pushed when people need to grow, and he killed off things that needed to come to an end. While his ministry was short in terms of time (we were borrowing him as an interim pastor), it's impact will be far reaching, and our new Youth Minister is reaping the harvest from it. Dave has a great way of meeting people where they are, be they students, or adults. He knows how to challenge those who need to be pushed. He has an excellent grasp on scripture, and is rock solid in his theology. He is a great preacher, a great husband, and now a great father (with an adoreable daughter!) I know he has been exploring some great ministry opportunities, and if you are one of those people considering him, look long and hard at him, because he is excellent at what he does. I can't tell you he is right for your ministry, but I can tell you he is very talented, and has a burning passion for reaching the lost of this world for Jesus Christ.
Dave has not asked (nor does he know) that have said the above. He's humble enough to be embarassed by it I would guess, but it needs to be said.
Christian Beliefs: 20 Basics Every Christian Should Know
Wayne Grudem's 1264-page Systematic Theology was first published in 1994. In 1999, Jeff Purswell edited it down to a 528-page version, titled Bible Doctrine. Now, coming this November, Zondervan will publish a 144-page version, edited by Wayne's son, Elliot, titled Christian Beliefs: Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know.
Here are the topics covered in this new version:
- What is the Bible?
- What is God like?
- What is the Trinity?
- What is creation?
- What is prayer?
- What are angels and demons?
- What is man?
- What is sin?
- Who is Christ?
- What is the atonement?
- What is the resurrection?
- What is election (or predestination)?
- What does it mean to become a Christian?
- What are justification and adoption?
- What are sanctification and perseverance?
- What is death?
- What is the church?
- What will happen when Christ returns?
- What is the final judgment?
- What is heaven?
I think that this would be an ideal book for Sunday School classes, and especially for memberships classes--as well as a wonderful tool for discipleship in the faith. Review and application questions are included.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
No, not that string theory, which only purports to give us a glimpse at God's underlying laws of physics. Rather, the puppet on a string theory of mankind.
What, the free will folks cry, we are all given free will by God, are we not? Yes, and no. God's revelation to us of His Son should have been the convincing event; the one thing that should convince us that our vaunted free will in no ways will be sufficient to stand when God wills otherwise.
Consider the dialogue in John 19, verses 10-11, between Jesus and Pilate, just before Pilate hands the Lord over for crucifixion:
10 So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."
There's that pesky reminder of Who is always in charge. Not the Jews. Not their Roman overlords. God. The betrayal of Jesus, his mock trial before Pilate, the Jews screaming for his death, all had to happen. Judas had no free will. Pilate had no free will. The crowd, the Roman centurions, had no free will in this matter.
Does this mean that we are all mere puppets on a string, and therefore we need not worry about sin? Not at all. Just the opposite, in fact; we are to use our free will to avoid sin as much as possible. But we're all sinners, no matter how much we worry about sin. We all have sinned, we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). There is none without this stain, except Jesus. The rest of us, as it pleased God then, and as it pleases Him now, will do what He needs us to do to reveal to us His eternal truths.
Was Judas a greater sinner than you or I? Likely so, insofar as God had determined, from before time, that the man Judas would not be saved, and hence was a worthy candidate for great sin. Likewise Pilate; likewise the mob; likewise (most of) the Romans who crucified our Lord. But they were merely God's agents, as we are now. God made it happen, to fulfill His promises of a savior from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-5).
(for the rest of this post go HERE)
First, a person must realize that evil is not a created thing. Show me an evil. You cannot. Evil is not a thing; it is an action. Evil is something that someone does. So evil was not created by anybody, but evil is done by the will of fallen angels and mankind.
Second, God did not allow evil to be done. "Allow" denotes permission and God does not permit or condone evil. But God does let evil be done. Meaning He could stop sin from happening but sometimes does not, thus He "lets" it happen. Usually, He stops evil from happening by His restraining grace, but obviously He lets much evil happen. Why? Because in His wisdom He knows that evil will work to magnify His glory. Do we question that wisdom? No, because God is perfect and His wisdom is perfect. In other words, the perfect plan to glorify God includes evil being present temporarily in Creation. And in the mean time, all of creation groans, and we ourselves eagerly await for redemption.
(for the rest of this post go HERE)
And also from FIDE-O:
BTW: it was the Gnostics of the Second Century who believed that everything material was evil. This heresy stemmed from a view of evil as being tangible, material things. Yet, when God completed His six-day creation, He said of it that it was "good." Evil (sin) was not part of creation, but evil was possible by creatures with moral capabilities (angels and humans).
So, what is sin.
The Larger Westminster Catechism (#24) defines sin as "any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, any law of God, given as a rule to the reasonable creature."
Lets break this down in a brief manner:
1. "want of conformity" = that means sin is a nonconformity to the law of God; sin is an omission of an action of obedience to God's commands.
2. "transgression of" = that means sin is the action of breaking the law of God; sins of commission are when we commit actions prohibited by God; sin can be the absence of an action.
3. "reasonable creature" = sin is not even possible for the Creator but the creature; and is only possible because the Creator gave the creature the capability of moral action by a will; sin is an action only capable by a moral agent other than God.
(for the rest of this post go HERE)
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Last night myself, Banana, and her parents attended the opening of Sleeping Beauty at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis. The production was fanstastic! The actors were exceptional, and the script well written. The actors were all some of the "favorites" of the Theatre Company, so if you have attended other plays there you may likely recognize them. I would guess the best age group for this to be 8 and up, though there was a little girl next to Banana who must only have been 5 and she really enjoyed it (and was well behaved). This was the first play in the Theatre in the post-remodel era (though the remodeling is still underway, apparently the contractor is quite a bit behind). If you are in the metro area, it's worth checking out, even if you aren't a kid!
Star Tribune Review
I was looking at some blog statistics tonight, and found this interesting one of my blog. You can view it in other ways, but the link should take you to a picture of the USA with dots for the last 100 vistors. There are a few I recognize (Bret Capranica of The Capranica and FIDE-O was the last visitor, which I know because of a red dot and his comment on my previous post), and then a few I have no idea. I've known for a while from reading incoming IP addresses that someone is reading from the Tampa area, but I don't know who. I have my pal Chris in Seattle, someone from Salt Lake City (I suppose because of my Mormon cult stuff last week), a couple from Chicago (KP?), one in Texas that is Paul, at least two in my area that are Banana and Pete (BTW Pete, you need to make that your School ID photo and your Blog Profile photo!), and then a bunch I have no clue on. Especially those on the East Coast.
I appreciate all who find there way here, and welcome you all to come back and visit and leave comments. I started this blog as a place to express my thoughts and to collect thoughts of other people who I felt were worth preserving for my own reference, and thus far I think it has been successful in that.
Friday, August 26, 2005
The biggest unlikely thing I’d like to do is create, or at least visit, a theme park that is designed around Tim Allen’s show “Home Improvement” from a few years back. I don’t want to see a park where the roller coasters are named after tools though. What I want to see is a park where tools are the rides.
Think about it. Would you pay good money to have access for only one day to a bulldozer and other tools that are used for road construction? How much would it be worth to fulfill the dream you have had since childhood to run over something like your sister’s Barbie doll with a real steam roller? Could a jackhammer be used as a pogo stick? What if you could push tons of dirt around just for the joy of pushing tons of dirt around? You get the idea.
The park would have to have plenty of room for the guest operators of the “rides” and some serious insurance policies or waivers would be necessary. Unfortunately this would result in a hefty ticket price, but wouldn’t it be worth it… just once?
To which I responded in his comments the following thoughts:
Oh brother, you have struck a chord with me. Every time I drive by a construction site, I marvel at the cool equipment. I think I’ve begun to annoy my fiancee with my comments about how I’d love to operate heavy machinery for a week or two. I’ll pass on the road paver, as it moves too slow and smells too bad. I want a crane, bulldozer, road grader, back hoe, earth mover experience. I want to shape, create, move, make and destroy with incredibly powerful, expensive, noisy, heavy yellow painted equipment. I want to show up for work with no sleeves for a while. I want to be able to pull out my hard hat (yes I own my own orange one), put on some gloves, and smell diesel early in the morning. I want to drink from a gigantic flip top water jug. I want heavy duty boots and orange flagging tape.For many years I have wasted time watching people operate heavy machinery. I could watch for hours, it's captivating for me. I don't know why, I just know I'm like a moth to a light. This of course isn't my career aspirations, or where I believe God has called me and gifted me, but I sure would enjoy doing this for a week or two. Of course I'd also like to be a race car driver and a few other things, but for now I'd settle for a day behind the wheel of something big, slow, and yellow. I just want a Cat 623G or a D11R to play with for a day or two. Is that too much to ask?
And upon protest from one of my favorite readers, the following has been added....
New CCF Report: PETA Offends People Of All Faiths
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been widely criticized for its campaign comparing Nazi Holocaust victims to farm animals, its blind insistence that Jesus was a vegetarian, and it callous attempts to cheapen the symbols and rituals of Roman Catholicism. But a new report from the Center for Consumer Freedom indicates that these offensive gestures are just the tip of a larger iceberg. Click here to read our press release, and then download a copy of Holy Cows: How PETA twists religion to push animal "rights."
This eye-opening report includes an inventory of scripture
contradicting PETA's claim that only vegetarians can be observant
Christians, Jews, Mormons, and Muslims.
A limited number of bound, printed copies are available to religious leaders and credentialed journalists. Just drop us an e-mail, and include your affiliation and postal mailing address.
______________(for the rest go HERE)______________________
New Research from The Barna Group explores faith in America's largest markets and has produced surprises about geographical stereotypes such as Godless Hollywood, Lost Angeles, Bible Belt, or Texas: God's Country. The report examines 28 faith factors among people in the 86 largest metropolitan areas and 27 most populous states.
Although the research shows that seven percent of the adult population of the U.S. are evangelical (15 million adults), the market with the highest percentage of evangelicals is Little Rock, Arkansas (one out of every five adults or 22%). Of the 86 largest metropolitan areas in the nation, those with the lowest proportion of evangelicals were Salt Lake City, Utah; Hartford, Connecticut; and Providence, Rhode Island. Los Angeles, Calif., had the greatest number of evangelical adults — nearly one million such Christians. In fact, there are more evangelical adults in the L.A. market than there are in the New York, Chicago and Boston metropolitan areas combined!
The state with the highest percentage of adults who are evangelical is Alabama (at 13%, nearly double the national average), and the state with the lowest is Connecticut. With regard to each state's aggregate adult population, the area with the greatest number of evangelicals is California (nearly two million). Again, Connecticut has the fewest adults who are evangelical (26,000).
The Faith By Market report explores 40 different factors among the adults located in each of the markets and states studied. Those factors include a dozen religious beliefs, ten religious practices, various religious commitments and affiliations, and a dozen demographic attributes.
For the complete report, visit www.Barna.org.
A Christian Case for Gay Marriage?
The mainline Protestant denominations continue to debate the question of homosexuality in extended and excruciatingly inconclusive controversy. In one sense, these liberal denominations are caught in a bind. Their members at the grassroots level, along with those pastors and church leaders who hold to orthodox doctrine and biblical concepts of sexuality, will not accept an embrace of same-sex marriage or the ordination of practicing homosexuals. A residue of biblical commitment prevents these denominations from an open embrace of what scripture so clearly condemns. On the other hand, the liberal elites in control of the seminaries, institutions, and bureaucracies of these denominations are generally committed to revisionist understandings of theology, sexuality, and church doctrine.
Unwilling to risk the financial and membership losses that would surely result from an open embrace of homosexuality, these denominations inch their way towards a progressive, if inevitable, embrace of homosexual practice. This progressive embrace of the homosexual agenda is propelled by activists who offer various rationales and arguments for the normalization of homosexual relationships and behaviors. Over time, these arguments are intended to have a cumulative effect, wearing down conservative resistance and convincing fence-straddlers of the inevitability of homosexual advance.
To read the full article go HERE.
Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage
Love Won Out
Minnesota For Marriage
Thursday, August 25, 2005
by Donald Miller
Don Miller was a student and campus ministry leader at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, a decidely secular and highly intellectual place that Princeton Review named "the college where students are most likely to ignore God." In his book Blue Like Jazz (Nelson, 2003), Miller tells of an unlikely event that introduced him to the mysteries of spiritual transformation.
Each year at Reed they have a renaissance festival called Ren Fayre. They shut down the campus so students can party. Security keeps the authorities away, and everybody gets pretty drunk and high, and some people get naked. The school brings in White Bird, a medical unit that specializes in treating bad drug trips. The students create special lounges with black lights and television screens to enhance their mushroom trips.
Some of the Christian students in our little group decided this was a good place to come out of the closet, letting everybody know there were a few Christians on campus. Tony the Beat Poet and I were sitting around in my room one afternoon talking about what to do, how to explain who we were to a group of students who, in the past, had expressed hostility toward Christians.
I said we should build a confession booth in the middle of campus and paint a sign on it that said "Confess your sins." I said this because I knew a lot of people would be sinning, and Christian spirituality begins by confessing our sins and repenting. I also said it as a joke. But Tony thought it was brilliant. He sat there on my couch with his mind in the clouds, and he was scaring the crap out of me because, for a second, then for a minute, I actually believed he wanted to do it.
"Tony," I said very gently.
"What?" he said, with a blank stare at the opposite wall.
"We are not going to do this," I told him. He moved his gaze down the wall and directly into my eyes. A smile came across his face.
"Oh, we are, Don. We certainly are. We are going to build a confession booth!"
We met in Commons—Penny, Nadine, Mitch, Iven, Tony, and I. Tony said I had an idea. They looked at me. I told them that Tony was lying and I didn't have an idea at all. They looked at Tony. Tony gave me a dirty look and told me to tell them the idea. I told them I had a stupid idea that we couldn't do without getting attacked. They leaned in. I told them that we should build a confession booth in the middle of campus and paint a sign on it that said "Confess your sins." Penny put her hands over her mouth. Nadine smiled. Iven laughed. Mitch started drawing the designs for the booth on a napkin. Tony nodded his head. I wet my pants.
"They may very well burn it down," Nadine said.
"I will build a trapdoor," Mitch said with his finger in the air. "I like it, Don." Iven patted me on the back.
"I don't want anything to do with it," Penny said.
"Neither do I," I told her.
"Okay, you guys." Tony gathered everybody's attention. "Here's the catch." He leaned in a little. "We are not actually going to accept confessions." We all looked at him in confusion.
He continued, "We are going to confess to them. We are going to confess that, as followers of Jesus, we have not been very loving; we have been bitter, and for that we are sorry. We will apologize for the Crusades, we will apologize for televangelists, we will apologize for neglecting the poor and the lonely, we will ask them to forgive us, and we will tell them that in our selfishness, we have misrepresented Jesus on this campus. We will tell people who come into the booth that Jesus loves them."
All of us sat there in silence because it was obvious that something beautiful and true had hit the table with a thud. We all thought it was a great idea, and we could see it in each other's eyes. It would feel so good to apologize, to apologize for the Crusades, for Columbus and the genocide committed in the Bahamas in the name of God, apologize for the missionaries who landed in Mexico and came up through the West slaughtering Indians in the name of Christ.
I wanted so desperately to apologize for the many ways I had misrepresented the Lord. I could feel that I had betrayed the Lord by judging, by not being willing to love the people he had loved and only giving lip service to issues of human rights.
For so much of my life I had been defending Christianity because I thought to admit that we had done any wrong was to discredit the religious system as a whole. But it isn't a religious system; it is people following Christ. And the important thing to do, the right thing to do, was to apologize for getting in the way of Jesus.
The booth was huge, much bigger than I expected, almost like a shed complete with a slanted roof and two small sections inside, one for the person confessing and the other for the one hearing it. We built a half-high wall between the two rooms and installed a curtain so the confessor could easily get in and out. On our side we installed a door with a latch so nobody could come in and drag us away. Nadine painted "Confession Booth" in large letters on the outside.
People walking along the sidewalk would ask what we were doing. They stood there looking at the booth in wonder.
"What are we supposed to do?" they would ask.
"Confess your sins," we told them.
"To who?" they would say.
"To God," we would tell them.
"There is no God," they would explain. Some of them told us this was the boldest thing they had ever seen. All of them were kind, which surprised us.
I stood there outside the booth as a large blue mob started running across campus, all of them, more than a hundred people, naked and painted with blue paint. They ran by the booth screaming and waving. I waved back. Naked people look funny when they are for-real naked, outside-a-magazine naked.
The party goes till nearly dawn, so though it was late we started working the booth. We lit tiki torches and mounted them in the ground just outside the booth. Tony and Iven were saying I should go first, which I didn't want to do, but I played bold and got in the booth. I sat on a bucket and watched the ceiling and the smoke from my pipe gather in the dark corners like ghosts. I could hear the rave happening in the student center across campus.
I was picturing all the cool dancers, the girls in white shirts moving through the black light, the guys with the turntables in the loft, the big screen with the swirling images and all that energy coming out of the speakers, pounding through everybody's bodies, getting everybody up and down, up and down.
Nobody is going to confess anything, I thought. Who wants to stop dancing to confess their sins? And I realized that this was a bad idea, that none of this was God's idea. Nobody was going to get angry, but nobody was going to care very much either.
I was going to tell Tony that I didn't want to do it when he opened the curtain and said we had our first customer.
"What's up, man?" Duder sat himself on the chair with a smile on his face. He told me my pipe smelled good.
"Thanks," I said. I asked him his name, and he said his name was Jake. I shook his hand because I didn't know what to do, really.
"So what is this? I'm supposed to tell you all of the juicy gossip I did at Ren Fayre, right?" Jake said.
"Okay, then what? What's the game?" he asked.
"Not really a game. More of a confession thing."
"You want me to confess my sins, right?"
"No, that's not what we're doing."
"What's the deal, man? What's with the monk outfit?"
"Well, we are, well, a group of Christians here on campus, you know."
"I see. Strange place for Christians, but I'm listening."
"Thanks," I said. He was being patient and gracious. "Anyway, there is this group, just a few of us who were thinking about the way Christians have sort of wronged people over time. You know, the Crusades, all that stuff …"
"Well, I doubt you personally were involved in any of that, man."
"No, I wasn't," I told him. "But the thing is, we are followers of Jesus. We believe that he is God and all, and he represented certain ideas that we have sort of not done a good job at representing. He has asked us to represent him well, but it can be very hard."
"I see," Jake said.
"So this group of us on campus wanted to confess to you."
"You are confessing to me!" Jake said with a laugh.
"Yeah. We are confessing to you. I mean, I am confessing to you."
"You're serious." His laugh turned to something of a straight face.
"There's a lot. I will keep it short," I started. "Jesus said to feed the poor and to heal the sick. I have never done very much about that. Jesus said to love those who persecute me. I tend to lash out, especially if I feel threatened, you know, if my ego gets threatened. Jesus did not mix his spirituality with politics. I grew up doing that. It got in the way of the central message of Christ. I know that was wrong, and I know that a lot of people will not listen to the words of Christ because people like me, who know him, carry our own agendas into the conversation rather than just relaying the message Christ wanted to get across. There's a lot more, you know."
"It's all right, man," Jake said, very tenderly. His eyes were starting to water.
"Well," I said, clearing my throat, "I am sorry for all that."
"I forgive you," Jake said. And he meant it.
"Thanks," I told him.
He sat there and looked at the floor, then into the fire of a candle. "It's really cool what you guys are doing," he said. "A lot of people need to hear this."
"Have we hurt a lot of people?" I asked him.
For the rest of this article, read HERE.
Don Miller will be one of the speakers at this year's Catalyst conference in Atlanta, October 6-9, 2005. For information about Catalyst, visit: www.catalystconference.com
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
As man is, God once was,Roll that through your mind a time or two. This all starts with the LDS teaching that there are great numbers of planets scattered througout the vastness of outer space which are ruled by countless exalted men-gods who once were human like us. This may sound like Battlestar Galactica to the average person, but upon this axiom is base the entire theology of Mormonism: from the temple rituals for the living to those for their dead; from the teaching that families are forever to the pressure on parents to send theri youth to the mission field across the world.
and as god is, man may become.
The Mormon people are committed to a controlled program that maps out their entire lives as they seek their own exaltation and godhood, their own planet to rule and reign over.
The Mormon Jesus
To the Mormon, jesus was our elder brother who pointed the way, but he isn't The Way as we Christians understand it. To the Mormon, Jesus was the god of the Old Testament, but once he took his physical form, the had to justify or earn his own spiritual salvation through his works while int he flesh, just as each of us must. Mormonism teaches that Jesus suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane, providing personal salvation (which may mean exaltation to godhood) conditional upon our obedience to the laws and ordinances of the LDS gospel. His death on the cross provided a general salvation, whereby all of us will be resurrected to be judged for our own works. Yet Paul says in Colossians 2 that Jesus removed those lawas and ordinances that were against us, nailing them to the cross.
It is no wonder that you will never see a cross on a Mormon chruch -- not when you see that Mormons cannot deal with its gift of grace. This is the same reason they use water for communion. They call it The Sacrament, but that water washes away the reality of the blood shed for us at the Cross of Christ.
Of course, this is just the tip of the Mormon deception iceberg.
Let me close with these thoughts:
The Mormon view of God is different than that of Christians. They believe God evolved from a mortal man.
Mormons believe and teach polytheism. Polytheism is the belief in the existence of more than one god. Mormons believe there are literally millions of gods.
Every male Mormon is striving to become a god himself. This is easily found in the writings of Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young.
In the end, it boils down to who are you going to trust -- the guys who are working their hardest to become gods, or God who completed the work on the Cross, dieing for your sins, and through His graces offers you salvation? Don't mistake the Mormon zeal for Truth.
Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
WHAT IS MORMONISM?
You’ve probably seen their well-groomed missionaries riding around your neighborhood on bikes. You’ve probably heard of Donny and Marie Osmond, and you might have even heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir — or even visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. But what’s the straight scoop? What does Mormonism really represent?
The Mormons, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, is now the largest U.S. cult. In fact, it boasts more than 12 million members worldwide, and over 40,000 full-time missionaries. Not to mention their splinter groups. All of this arose from the humble beginnings of a boy named Joseph Smith Jr. In 1820, Joseph supposedly saw a vision at Palmyra, New York. In it, God supposedly told him not to join any church, he said, because “they were all wrong... their creeds were all an abomination and all their professors were corrupt” (The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 1:18,19). Three years later, he claimed the angel “Moroni” visited him and led him to some golden plates. These plates were supposedly written in “Reformed Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” After translating these plates through a pair of magical “spectacles,” the Book of Mormon was born.
This book, along with Doctrines and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price, are now considered by Mormons to be of equal authority with the Word of God “as it is translated correctly” (Articles of Faith, Article 8)
Remember that it isn’t the Christian church that is attacking Mormonism. It is Mormonism that has attacked the Christian church — believing or stating that true Christianity disappeared from the earth for over 1800 years — and let’s not forget that. Contrary to biblical teachings they also believe in more than one God, that God is a literal man, that men can become gods, that Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer, not to mention salvation by works and not by grace (Isa. 43:10; Mark 12:29; John 4:24; John 1:1-14; Gal. 2:14-16; Eph. 2:8,9).
Of course this inevitably leads Christians to classify Mormonism as a non-Christian cult — and its prophets, of course, are either deceived or they’re deceivers. And, by the way, to have this evidence and then not present it to the body of Christ or to Mormons is the most unloving thing you can possibly do.
MORMONS—CAN THEY BE CONSIDERED CHRISTIANS?
Better known as Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now numbers over 9 million members in almost 130 territories around the globe. Are they really the true followers of Jesus Christ as they claim to be?
To quote one Mormon apologist: “Latter-day Saints are Christians because they emphatically believe in Christ, use His name in their official church title, and believe in the Bible and the Book of Mormon which testify repeatedly of the reality of Christ and the truth of His teachings.” Jesus Christ, no doubt, plays a central role in Mormon theology. However, Paul warns that to be a Christian, one must believe in the true Christ—the Jesus of the Bible—and not another Jesus. In fact, we would all agree with the late Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie when he says, “it matters not that people simply say they believe in Christ, or think they are followers of Moses, or the Apostles. What counts is the reality.” And the reality is that Mormons believe in a Jesus vastly different than the Jesus of the Bible.
You see, Mormonism teaches that Jesus is just one of countless other gods—a belief known as polytheism. Now, a Mormon may try to deny being a polytheist by affirming the existence of other gods, while in the same breath worshipping only God the Father. However, don’t forget Christ’s proclamation in Mark chapter 12—that God’s most important commandment is to recognize that there is only one God and only one Lord.
Where does this leave Jesus in Mormon Theology? Well, Mormons say they believe that Jesus is Jehovah, the LORD, the God of Israel, yet they refuse to pray to Him, as Jehovah Himself commands in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 4:7; 2 Chron. 7:14; Pss. 5:2; 32:6; Jer. 29:7,12)—the same Jehovah who knows of no other God besides Himself, the One worshipped and honored by all true Christians (Ex. 34:14; cf. Matt. 2:11; 14:33; Luke 24:52). And so, judging by its own teachings, Mormonism cannot be rightly considered Christian.
WAS JOSEPH SMITH A PROPHET OF GOD?
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, claimed to be a prophet of God. Was he?
In determining whether Joseph Smith was a prophet of God we need first to look at Smith’s so-called “first vision,” in which God supposedly instructed the would-be prophet to start a new church — what was to become the Mormon church. The evidence shows, however that Smith’s testimony suffers from a host of internal discrepancies. For example, the earliest recorded account of Smith’s “first vision” makes mention only of Jesus Christ, whereas other accounts report the appearance of both Jesus and God the Father, or of an angel, or a group of angels. Whatever the case may be, it’s clear to see that such conflicting reports only serve to cast doubt on the veracity of Smith’s testimony. Keep in mind that several of these accounts came from the same man — Joseph Smith himself.
Turning now to prophetic accuracy, we find that Smith fares no better than he did in recounting his alleged encounter with God. According to Deuteronomy 18:22, God’s prophets have a one hundred percent rate of accuracy — that is to say, their prophetic predictions never miss the mark. Unfortunately for Smith, such standards proved too much for him. We note, for example, that Smith predicted that a Mormon temple in Missouri would be constructed before all of the people living in 1832 pass away. This did not occur.
But even if Smith were flawless in all his predictions (which certainly was not the case), according to Deuteronomy 13:1-3 he would still not qualify as a prophet of God because he was speaking for a false god — a god other than the One revealed in Scripture. The facts lead us to draw only one conclusion: that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet, but a false prophet. And remember, the irony is that it was Joseph Smith who attacked Christianity by saying that all its teachers were corrupt.
REACHING OUT TO MORMONS
Are there some practical strategies for dealing with Mormonism? What’s the best way to witness to Mormons?
Harry L. Ropp, a Christian author who, by the way, served as a missionary to Mormons, said that creating doubt in a Mormon’s mind is an effective way to overcome ingrained teachings which inhibit Mormons from accepting the gospel. Let’s look at these teachings and consider some effective ways to deal with them.
First of all, Mormons are taught that the Bible has been corrupted through the years and is no longer reliable. In response to such claims, show that the Bible has been copied and translated accurately, and that modern scholarship has vindicated the reliability of Scripture. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, for example, texts were found that were about 1,000 years older than any previously-known Old Testament manuscripts like the Masoretic Text. And when compared with the later texts, these writings proved to be virtually the same.
After establishing the Bible’s trustworthiness, show Mormons that they should instead focus their doubts on the Mormon scriptures. Try to concentrate on a single topic — such as the nature of God — and demonstrate the inconsistencies among Mormon doctrines and scriptures. For instance, while Mormons teach that there is more than one god, the Book of Mormon is clear in proclaiming that there is only one God.
By pointing out the internal discrepancies which plague official Mormon teaching and canonical writings, any subjective testimony that Mormons may offer concerning their scriptures becomes either minimized or nullified. And once a vacuum has been created, it may then be filled with sound Christian doctrine, further emphasizing the unbiblical character of Mormon theology. At this stage, take care to define terms since Mormonism has attached its own set of meanings to biblical persons and concepts.
When speaking with Mormons let us, above all, allow God’s Holy Spirit to direct our attitudes, our words, and our actions.
Monday, August 22, 2005
Know of any good Mormon or Jehova's Witness apologetics tools? Leave a list in the comments if you have the time.
Christian Grace vs Mormon Grace
|For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten|
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John
3:16) And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more
grace. (Romans 11:6)
|Grace consists of God's gift to His children wherein He|
gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws
and ordinances would have everlasting life. (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,
|Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound.|
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). Therefore it is of
faith, that it might be by grace (Romans 4:16).
|Grace is granted to men proportionately as they conform to|
the standards of personal righteousness that are part of the gospel plan. (Bruce R.
McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 339).
|For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of|
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath
before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10).
|Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny|
yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and
love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient for
you (Moroni 10:32, Book of Mormon)
|Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption|
that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24). Not by works of righteousness which we have
done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing
of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)
|As with all other doctrines of salvation, justification is|
available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the
life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness
Doctrine, p. 408).
|That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,|
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved. (Romans 10:9)
|Certain saved-by-grace-alone fanatics flatter their|
followers into believing they can be saved through no act other than confessing Christ
with their lips (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 287).
The truth of the gospel is that God saves men freely and by His grace alone.
Adding to God's grace violates God's intention and places one under the curse of
God (Galatians 1:8-10, 5:2-4). Despite how often Mormons speak of the
gospel, they have been given a false gospel that cannot save.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Music: Philip P. Bliss, 1876. The tune is named after the ship on which Spafford’s children perished, the S.S. Ville de Havre. Ironically, Bliss himself died in a tragic train wreck shortly after writing this music.
This hymn was written after two major traumas in Spafford’s life. The first was the great Chicago Fire of October 1871, which ruined him financially (he had been a wealthy businessman). Shortly after, while crossing the Atlantic, all four of Spafford’s daughters died in a collision with another ship. Spafford’s wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, “Saved alone.” Several weeks later, as Spafford’s own ship passed near the spot where his daughters died, the Holy Spirit inspired these words. They speak to the eternal hope that all believers have, no matter what pain and grief befall them on earth.
It is well with my soul
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Following Buca's we made our way to the Galleria and spent the rest of the evening in Epitome looking at wedding invitations. Some were very nice (I prefer simple, clean, elegant), and some were absurd (costing $25 PER invitation in some cases). We are planning on making our own invitations most likely, but were getting ideas, plus perhaps we'll buy instead of make. We also bought some Pentel pens, with Copper/Bronze colored metallic ink. Our invitations will have copper undoubtedly, as it's Banana's "color". I really think wedding supplies are one of the biggest scams going. But I guess it's a once in a lifetime thing for us, so if it makes her happy, it makes me happy. We're a bit behind in this area, as our wedding is December 30th, 2005.
Buca di Beppo
Chicken with Lemon
2 six-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
4 large lemons
1/2 stick of unsalted butter softened
Small handful of drained capers
Cut three lemons in half and use for fresh lemon juice. Pour the juice
through a fine strainer.
Cut the last lemon into wedges for garnish.
Begin to heat the olive oil in a 12 inch sauté pan on med-high.
While oil is getting hot, lightly season both sides of the chicken breast
Lightly dust the chicken breast in the flour. Shake off excess flour.
Place chicken in the sauté pan skin side down.
When the chicken is golden brown, turn over and brown the other side as
well. It is important to brown both sides to insure the chicken is
completely cooked through.
When both sides are nice and brown, add white wine and lemon juice.
Continue to cook for approximately two to three minutes. The liquid should
reduce approximately half.
Once the liquid is reduced, remove the chicken breasts from the pan and turn
Check to make sure the chicken breasts are cooked by turning each piece of
chicken over and cutting it halfway through with a knife. There should be
no visible pink. If the chicken is not completely cooked through, place in
a 400 degree oven for five minutes to complete cooking.
Finish the sauce by placing the softened butter in the pan. Using rubber
spatula, work the butter into the sauce as it melts.
Pour sauce directly on top of chicken breasts. Garnish with capers and
Chef: Vittorio Renda, Buca di Beppo
Music: “Gordon,” Adoniram J. Gordon, 1876.
A Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Michigan once related the following incident to a large audience in one of the Rev. E. P. Hammond’s meetings in St. Louis. “A young, talented and tender-hearted actress was passing along the street of a large city. Seeing a pale, sick girl lying upon a couch just within the half-open door of a beautiful dwelling, she entered, with the thought that by her vivacity and pleasant conversation she might cheer the young invalid. The sick girl was a devoted Christian, and her words, her patience, her submission and heaven-lit countenance, so demonstrated the spirit of her religion that the actress was led to give some earnest thought to the claims of Christianity, and was thoroughly converted, and became a true follower of Christ. She told her father, the leader of the theater troupe, of her conversion, and of her desire to abandon the stage, stating that she could not live a consistent Christian life and follow the life of an actress. Her father was astonished beyond measure, and told his daughter that their living would be lost to them and their business ruined, if she persisted in her resolution. Loving her father dearly, she was shaken somewhat in her purpose, and partially consented to fill the published engagement to be met in a few days. She was the star of the troupe, and a general favorite. Every preparation was made for the play in which she was to appear. The evening came and the father rejoiced that he had won back his daughter, and that their living was not to be lost. The hour arrived; a large audience had assembled. The curtain rose, and the young actress stepped forward firmly amid the applause of the multitude. But an unwonted light beamed from her beautiful face. Amid the breathless silence of the audience, she repeated:
‘My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Saviour art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.’
This was all. Through Christ she had conquered and, leaving the audience in tears, she retired from the stage, never to appear upon it again. Through her influence her father was converted, and through their united evangelistic labors many were led to God.”
Sankey, pp. 198-9
My Jesus, I Love Thee
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Last Thursday-Saturday, I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (satellite sight: Eagle Brook Church, White Bear, MN). While I don't always agree with the theology of the speakers, I nonetheless gain a lot of good ideas and inspiration from this conference. This was my third consecutive year, and I've already made plans for next year.
Session 1: Bill Hybels - The Leader's State of Mind
Hybels is of course, the Senior and Founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL.
-Hybels gave one of the best presentations I have ever witnessed. The problem with setting the bar this high in the first session, is that it's difficult to have anything else that follows come close. Hybels spoke about a holy discontent in each of us. The thing that drive us, that lead us to our vision for changing things. Our holy discontent comes from something that we can't stand, that we are so bothered by that we HAVE to do something about it.
Session 2: Rick Warren - Leadership is Stewardship
Warren is Senior and Founding pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forrest, CA.
-Warren mostly rehashed things he has previously said elsewhere. He focused on acting on what you believe.
Session 3: Moso Sono - Seeing the Unseen
Sono is the Senior and Founding pastor of Grace Bible Church, Soweto, South Africa (suburb of Johannesburg).
-Sono spoke largely about the conditions in South Africa leading up to today, and the environment his church was born in. In his church there are 10-20 who die daily from the AIDS pandemic. While I found his talk interesting, it didn't do much on inspiring/training me to be a better leader. I do appreciate the work he is doing though.
Session 4: Putting Yourself at Risk: The practice of leadership - Bill Hybels interviews Eleanor Josaitis and Curtis Sliwa
Josaitis is the CEO of Focus: HOPE in urban Detroit
-Josaitis was fun to listen to. She was very inspiring, and is proof that a single person can make a difference. I was not familiar with Focus: HOPE, and I was impressed with the great work they are doing in urban Detroit. They are doing work that resonates with me.
Sliwa is the founder and president of The Guardian Angels.
-Sliwa wasn't a very good interview. He kept making fun of Hybels which got old, and the mix between his obnoxious Bronx attitude and his educated vocabulary made for some strange word choices. I would not be any different for having missed this session.
Session 5: The Story of Two Leaders: When your calling changes - Bill Hybels interviews Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell
Blanchard is an author, speaker, and consultant on leadership and management.
-Blanchard mostly summarized things he has written and been working on for the past 10 years. Not a lot new, but much of it is still good leadership material.
Maxwell is a speaker, author, and pastor.
-Maxwell also covered a lot of stuff he has written and spoke at other places on. I think an important thing Maxwell is very intentional about is adding value to people. Every time you are with someone, do something to them or for them to help improve who they are.
Session 6: Making a Great Idea Fly: An interview with Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett
-The issue of the customer service approach espoused by Southwest Airlines was well covered by Barrett. She was interesting, though clearly she doesn't speak before large groups like the others do. I liked her idea of hiring people for their attitude, and then training them for their skills. While obviously at the extreme bottom end this doesn't work, it generally produces people who fit well into their customer service orientated work environment.
Session 7a: Jack Groppel - The Mental Toughness of a Leader
Groppel is an expert on human performance, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University's K.L. Kellogg School of Management
-Groppel gave what must have been a canned speach, one he's given a variation of many times. It was interesting nonetheless. I think he is right that we will respond the way in which we practice responding, that our habits and behaviors need to be developed through discipline. He's doing some stuff over at fullengagement.com if you are interested.
Session 7b: Henry Cloud - Action Steps for Monday
Cloud is a clinical pschologist, speaker, and author.
-Cloud added onto the idea of the need for discipline in our lives. While I didn't come away from this session with much, it wasn't bad either. The 3 strongest things that motivate us are what we want and desire, what we love, and what we have to loose.
Session 8: Kenneth Ulmer - A Leader's Unshakable Resolve
Ulmer is Senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church, Inglewood, CA. This is the church that bought the Forum (where the Lakers used to play) and converted it into a church
-Ulmer spoke about how living out our calling brings honor and glory to God. While his sermon didn't teach me much, it was inspiring. Perhaps that was just a result of his preaching style however.
Session 9: Bill Hybels - These Things We Must Do
-Hybels closed with a talk on the premise of if you boiled it all down to 4 things that were essential difference makers in the church, what are they? For Hybels they were 1) Keep the vision clear 2) Get the people engaged 3) Make your gatherings memorable 4) Pace yourself for the long haul. This was an excellent session, though not quite as strong as his first session. There was a lot of good to take away and think about from this. I'm sure I'll return to my notes on this again and again.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Why I’m Not Emerging: A Brief Response to the Emergent Church
By James MacDonald
In case you are wondering why my gratitude for the leaders of the emerging church does not translate into enthusiasm for their current emphasis and direction let me take a few words to explain why I am not emerging.
- Because observing the bad is not a credential for guiding us to the good
- Because God is looking for obedience to revealed truth, not just sincerity
- Because Christ’s is a kingdom of substance, not style
- Because the answer is Jesus, not cultural analysis.
- Because Jesus is the purpose for the party, not the surprise hiding in the closet of respectability
I listen to James MacDonald on an almost daily basis (980AM KKMS). I really like his preaching, and generally agree with what he is saying. I think he has been fair in his critique, though he has been taken to task for it on a number of Emergent blogs.
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my Redeemer, He lives
One day Nicole C. Mullen was sitting in her music room, with her burgundy-colored Bible opened to the book of Job. She read about all the trials that befell him and how he was faithful nonetheless. And then she saw a familiar phrase that jumped out at her in a new way: "I know that my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).
"What a statement of faith," Mullen said to herself. At the time, she was struggling with personal trials of her own, but they paled in comparison to what Job faced. "If he could still proclaim his faith in the midst of misery," she thought, "then I should be proclaiming it, too." And that was the beginning of her song "Redeemer."
When she recorded her self-titled debut album, she included the song, which quickly went to the top of the Christian music charts. Its thoughtful lyrics, which celebrate the glory of God as revealed in creation and in the empty grave of Christ, won her Dove Awards for both Song of the Year and Song-writer of the Year in 2001. Mullen has since won many other honors (including Female Artist of the Year at this year's Dove Awards), released other hits, and sold more than 1 million albums. But it's still her heartfelt ode to God, "Redeemer," that moves concertgoers to tears when she sings it.
"If the Lord doesn't anoint it, it's just words," she says about the song. "I give Him the credit."
In spite of the accolades, though, Mullen is in an ongoing struggle to get her singles aired on Christian radio stations that, for whatever reason, tend not to regularly play music by nonwhite artists.
But she refuses to become bitter. "No matter what I'm going through, no matter what the issue, I know the Lord is there to see me through," she says. And she hopes everyone who hears "Redeemer" and her other songs experiences that reality, too.
Many people have told the singer that they've found hope through the message of "Redeemer." "We live in a hurting world," she says. "All of us struggle with health, money, natural disasters, and personal problems. I want people who hear my songs to know that Christ, though He is high above us, lowers Himself to be with us and in us."
From the MacLaurin Institute
September 30, 2005
Toward an Intelligent Understanding of the Intelligent Design Hypothesis, Dr. Michael Behe, Lehigh University, author of Darwin's Black Box, 7:00 p.m., Tate Laboratory of Physics, Room 150, free and open to the public. (University of Minnesota)
October 7, 2005
Faith, Reason and the Knowledge of God, Dr. Gregory Ganssle, Rivendell Institute for Christian Thought and Learning. Noon, Nolte Center, Room 140, free and open to the public.
October 14, 2005
Lewis as a Transformer of Culture, Narnia on Tour (The Matthew's House Project), Dr. Daniel Ritchie, Professor of English, Bethel University, 7:30 p.m., Borders Books and Music, 3001 Hennepin Avenue South, Minneapolis, free and open to the public.
April 28-29, 2006
Christianity in a Consumer Culture, speakers include Ron Sider, Sondra Ely Wheeler, Rodney Clapp and Vincent Miller. In cooperation with Mission: Think.
Friday, October 28, 2005 at 11:30AM
Embassy Suites Hotel, Bloomington, MN
All Pastors (Senior, Associate, Youth, Outreach, etc) are invited to the Annual KKMS Pastor's Lunch featuring Christian apologist, speaker, and best-selling author, Dr. Norm Geisler.
For more information, call Kate at 651-289-4421. This is a free event.
Become A Bible Expert
Become a Bible Expert in two easy lessons with Dr. Norm Geisler. First Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN. More details coming soon!
D. James Kennedy Creation Weekend at North Heights Lutheran Church, Arden Hills, MN. Get your FREE tickets at the KKMS Broadcast Booth during the Minnesota State Fair or at all Northwestern Book Stores.
Driscoll provides three formulas to show what happens when one of these areas is neglected:
Gospel + Culture - Church = Parachurch
Many Christians become frustrated with the church and abandon it in favor of outside organizations. While these organizations can do a lot of good, they allow people to remain disconnected from the local church. People are connected to unbelievers, but outside of a context where they can introduce these people to the wider church body. This in turns leads to theological immaturity (and I would assert it also leads to a greater possibility of theological error). Further, parachurch organizations are often organized around only one type of person (the poor, youth, etc) so they do not display the diversity of the body of Christ.
Culture + Church - Gospel = Liberalism
Some churches are so concerned with being culturally relevant that they neglect the gospel. These people convert others to the church but not to Jesus. Driscoll says that "This is classic liberal Christianity, and it exists largely in the dying mainline churches" (page 21). Many conservative Christians would also suggest that much of the Emergent church fits into this category, having forsaken the gospel in favor of culture and community. These people run the risk of loving their neighbour at the expense of loving God.
Church + Gospel - Culture = Fundamentalism
Some churches care more for the church, its traditions, buildings and politics than the spread of the gospel. While they know the theology of the gospel they rarely take it to the people. We can wonder whether these people love the lost as much as they love their buildings and traditions.
I thought this was well stated, and I am looking forward to Tim's full review. Right now I don't have the time to read an additional book, but have added Driscoll's book to my wishlist.
Well, perhaps a bit more than thinking. You can find my resume HERE. There are a couple of long shot ministry openings I plan on applying for. I've put this off for longer than I probably should, and so I am going to become more proactive in seeking church employment. I greatly appreciate the blessings God has showered on me with my job slinging fried fish guts, but it's not getting me a whole lot of ministry experience. There are some opportunities to share my faith, both with co-workers and customers, but it's always a bit dicey unless they bring up the subject. My limitation is mostly due to location, as I intend to finish my M.Div before moving away from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. If the right ministry position came along, I would move (with my beloved Banana of course!) just about anywhere, and then finish my M.Div via Bethel's distance program. Banana is ready for change (like our pending marriage isn't enough on it's own!), she's open to moving and finding new life experiences together, wherever God may lead.
I had an informal interview with a Covenant Church pastor last week during Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. There's nothing there at the moment, but a year from now it looks to be a great opportunity. If nothing changes in my life, I would love to interview in depth at that church and see where God is leading them. I spoke with a pastor friend who is the lead pastor of a 6500+ person church, and he mentioned a couple of positions, none of which seem to fully fit who God has created me to be. I don't know if I've set my standards too high, as that is a church I have dreamed about working for. I asked him to keep me in mind if something comes up or if he hears of someone needing a guy like me.
In the end it returns to reliance upon God's grace. I will continue to trust in Him, and will pray for His leading and blessing.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
How frequently we hear these words offered in pressing times, usually preceded by the words, "Like the Bible says..." It's interesting that what many people mean by their paraphrase is something along the order of "God will keep you from being overwhelmed." But is that what is actually promised? I don't think so.
The verse that people have in mind when they say this actually has to do with temptation. Paul is warning the Corinthians against idolatry and immorality like that engaged in by the Israelites in the desert (1 Cor.10:6-11). The actual promise, found in 10:13 is that God will not let us be tempted beyond our ability but will provide a way of escape so that we can withstand the temptation without giving into sin. The emphasis of the verse is moral but this is often lost in the way we loosely paraphrase the text. (Might this be an indicator that we value a culturally-derived notion of psychological well-being more than holiness?) The believer is never justified in saying that he or she just had to sin because the temptation was too great. I like the way Ed Welch puts it in his book Depression: A Stubborn Darkness: "He will never put you in a situation where a sinful response is the only way out."
If Paul really intended to make a general statement about God never giving Christians more than they could handle, then we'd have a hard time explaining his own testimony in 2 Corinthians 1:8.9: "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." by KP on 8/11/2005 5:07 AM
I agree with Kevin here. Good stuff. Proper hermeneutics is so important, because without it we'd all end up leading our own cults.
Monday, August 15, 2005
August 11, 2005
Hamlet V. opened in prayer.
There is a conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center in January that you encouraged to attend.
The tentative name of our committee is the Minnesota Council for Biblical Leadership. A positive response was received.
Irv W. gave a review of biblical leadership.
Authoritarianism vs. Egalitarianism vs. Complementarianism.
-We are created to help each other.
-Reviewed the chart of three positions of men and women listed on the agenda and in Wayne Grudems’s book.
-Men need help to see what roles they are playing—they may not realize the role they are filling, as it may be unintentional.
How does biblical leadership impact missions? What can leaders do to inculcate biblical leadership into the missionary outreach of the church?
-In the smaller churches, i.e. Oasis, this doesn’t seem to come up
-Do you think that we just ignore the issue?
- It is common that churches will choose not to address controversial issues.
-There is great wisdom in understating the stages of development and maturation of the church around the world. It is easy enough for us to sit around the table and make decisions for our church and come up with ideas about churches around the world, but we don’t know what is going on outside the USA. If there are no men to fill the roles, then bless the women that fill the roles.
-Our commitment to Complementarianism cannot be assumed for people around the world if they do not have the resources that we do.
-How do we differentiate within our own country? What do we do in the United States when there are no men to step up in leadership?
- There is a process always in place to train those that come into the congregation, for example.
- Call a defect a defect and make a point to work on it. It won’t change today, but it has to be on the list to change.
-A re-education needs to occur that will challenge the thinking of those being ministered to. Women can be and should be used in these roles.
How Complementarianism affects the “sending” issues of missions?
There should be a responsibility that falls to us as leaders in the church to raise up men to be leaders.
We need to address the issues; to allow them to be on the table.
We are a culture of extremes. Right now we have cultivated a culture of usurper women and wimpy men. Men and women need to be taught the correct biblical roles they should play. Men need to be taught to be men of God and it’ll flush out the system as a whole.
What we export becomes a model (going back to the missions questions). If the church is beginning to raise up Christians in these new areas, we must follow the plan laid out by Paul and the first church in Acts. It is also necessary to follow the model of leaders as laid out in Timothy. It is important to train up men to become leaders, even if women are the ones discipling believers.
Examples of missions organizations that have been led by women but as the disciples rise up, so must men in leadership roles.
What kind of missionaries are we sending? What if they don’t espouse this position? Do we address it or ignore it?
-We must have a standard for our missionaries, church planters, and staff
-What do we do with women missionaries? What message are you sending with a single women missionary to the culture she is being sent to?
-How are we viewing missions vs. church planting?
- Is there any place in scripture that shows a woman that isn’t under headship? Even widows are under headship of the church.
-We need to be very cautious to bear in mind that God is well pleased to use women along the way to continue development of the church--- though it may not square with our training.
-God can wonderfully use things that aren’t ideal—all of us! Not always necessarily the model, but God can use all things.
Should we send out single women as missionaries?
-Maybe it isn’t a theological issue, but it is now a wisdom issue.
-There are ways you can send single women to a mission field being wise, by providing them with families or other missionaries in the area.
-We don’t want to promote sending out single ladies knowing what we now know.
-It seems unwise for a church to send them out without some sort of covering or protection.
-In most other cultures, outside of Western culture, the women are not independent.
-A distinction to make—it is wise to make this decision (not sending single women) but it is not the rule.
-We wouldn’t have as big an issue of sending women out as we would a woman becoming an elder or pastor in the mission field or church plant.
-Missionaries that are coming up through training ranks must be trained in Complementarianism.
-If a woman says “God is calling” what right do we have to say that “God is not calling.”
- oAs the church we cannot automatically endorse it. The church has a responsibility to be faithful to their calling.
- The church must affirm the calling and plug her in the safest way possible.
- Then do we pull back from our messages of evangelism when women are around?
- You would not invalidate women; we just wouldn’t encourage a woman to be a “leader.” We would empower women to fill the roles that God has called them to.
When we have the discussions and as this issue becomes more public, we need to be very careful to make it clear that we maintain a belief but we are not trying to put out every fire that we ever see. We stand by our beliefs, but we do not need to make everyone adapt to our beliefs.
If nothing else, these meetings cause us to think and bring things back to the standard.
October 20th @ CEFC, we will talk about Para church agencies, Christian schools and seminaries.
Announcement via Steve G.: November 2, a group is organizing a “Christ in culture” daylong seminar to address the issue of the roles in church regarding the sanctity in marriage. It will be held at Grace Church, Eden Prairie. There will be excellent speakers mobilizing pastors in the role of the voice for the sanctity of marriage. Information will be coming in the mail.
Justin H., CEFC intern, closed in prayer.