Saturday, May 30, 2009

From Drug Dealer to Gospel Preacher - A Glorious Testimony (Part 3)

Part 3
"...the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth..." -Genesis 8:21

As I had closed in the last segment: "I threw the yoke of the world off of my back in bitterness and sought any other means possible to relieve myself of the pain and emptiness which had troubled me from youth". I want to flashback for a second and briefly speak of how my manufacturing of meth came to be. Even as a little child I tried with all my might to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. This suppression started as "innocently" as living in my own imagination as a child and progressed as I grew older into vice, addiction, sexual immorality and crime. There is a story to be told within the context of that sentence alone, but for the sake of a PG-13 rating and to keep from getting too far off track, I will just say that the satisfaction all this brought to me ultimately became a greater void to fill and a pain increasingly more difficult to relieve. I turned to meth out of the progressive growth of my own imputed depravity. It seemed to abate the discomfort of being stuck in my own wretched skin and quieted the voice of my defiled conscience. It gave me energy, excitement, and adventure. Living this false life of course only added to the pain when the dope was all gone. I soon became frustrated with fellow addicts, middle men, and dealers who were dishonest and disloyal (big surprise). In order to be free from having to depend upon them to get me what I wanted, or for that matter, to be free from having to associate with them at all: I became familiar with the chemicals and supplies necessary to manufacture the type of meth I had grown to prefer. I applied my skills as a shoplifter to acquire supplies for local cooks in order to secure my own "cut" of the product... to my surprise most of these "cooks" were also "crooks" and I would get less than the amount agreed upon...which actually was the good case scenario, considering I was fortunate if I got anything at all. Most of these guys were so messed up that I may not see them for a month , and when I did see them, they would seldom remember they owed me anything. Even the more stable ones were very shrewd and unaccommodating in their dealings with me.

Eventually I got fed up with it all. I knew the supply list, and I was capable of acquiring all of the ingredients and supplies I needed. I felt as if my "expertise" was unappreciated and wasted on these ungrateful men, so I decided to approach one of them I believed to be trustworthy and honest, the only one whom I had found favor with. He had reservations about it and honestly I did too. He asked me why I wanted to learn. He saw a talented young man capable of much. He considered me to be "honest" and as someone having some sort of integrity. He said, "If I teach you this your life will never be the same". He knew that what I was basically asking for was a nail in my coffin, and I had a slight sense of it too which was afforded to me by my conscience. The desire of my wicked heart won out, and I insisted he teach me. Seeing as I was able to acquire free materials, it seemed lucrative for both of us. A short time later I moved up to the camp on "Devil's Elbow".

At 24 years old this was my answer to the problem all men are faced with. I took the reigns of my own addiction. I routed all outside variables I could into my own control. I eliminated my need for other dealers, other addicts, and any other outside help, and I seized upon the keys to my own kingdom, an empire of dirt, and I held the door. Or so I thought.
Continued Monday

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

Friday, May 29, 2009

From Drug Dealer to Gospel Preacher - A Glorious Testimony (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday - the testimony of how God saved former drug addict and manufacturer Shaun Little.

Part 2
"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." - 1 Timothy 1:15
Unable to really give an in depth account of every particular of my life I would start my story in the midst my depravity; in a life bearing the fruit of that which all flesh has been born, namely: sin.

I first learned to manufacture a crude form of meth amphetamine which some refer to as "lithium", or "battery dope" in a small town just east of my hometown. This form of meth is called "lithium" or "battery dope" because one of the compounds used in its manufacturing is a small strip of lithium metal found within the lithium batteries you may use for your camera or your walkman. I was taught in a small camp upon a hill in a beautiful forested area just outside of town. This hill was once a logging site many years ago and there is a trench dug down the side of the hill where draft horses would drag down the large logs from the site above. This area is fittingly named "Devil's Elbow" because of the road which wraps around the side of the hill about 50-100 feet from it's base. This road turns sharply around the hillside and is quite dangerous for anyone who chances taking the corner too fast due to the substantial drop off down to the creek bed below. For me the name "Devil's Elbow" is fitting because as I look back on it all, it is the place where the devil had me in an extremely tight headlock.

I was an apprentice of a local manufacturer and was allowed to work under his tutelage. I took to the simple chemistry quickly and impressed my teacher with my product. By the end of the summer he sent me out with these words: "Go set the world on fire." And that's what I set out to do. I despised government and all things established. I truly hated the world and blamed my miserable life on my surroundings. I never learned to cook meth to be a drug dealer or to make money. I learned to manufacture meth in order to feed my own addiction… an addiction I chose to use to suppress the truth and that truth was that I was dead and empty inside. I was confronted with the same problem every man has to face in his own heart: He is depraved, empty, devoid of all light, and full of sin. Meth was my synthetic answer to the problem.

For some this problem is supplanted with what seems "good" in this world: family and friends, career and success, money and fame; throw in a white picket fence and a puppy dog and there you have it: The American god... oops did I say god? I mean dream. It's a "dream" in which a man can contrive some sense of satisfaction from the "pride of life" that the god of this world affords him. It's the world's answer, it quiets the soul, it seems right to a man, but as it is written "The end of it is death". For me, this "answer" alluded me, so I created a world after my own liking and a god of my own design. I threw the yoke of the world off of my back in bitterness and sought any other means possible to relieve myself of the pain and emptiness which had troubled me from my youth...
Continued tomorrow . . .

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

From Drug Dealer to Gospel Preacher - A Glorious Testimony (Part 1)

A Testimony of God’s Grace
The story of Redemption in the Life of a Meth Addict and Manufacturer
By Shaun R.W. Little
Part 1
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." - Psalm 51:5

Before I start I should give a very brief rundown of my growing up. I was born in 1980 in the town of Monroe. Monroe is a small American town in Washington state just west of the Cascade mountains. My parents were both addicts and alcoholics. My father worked a lot, and my mother was emotionally unstable. I was never physically abused although at times I was traumatized emotionally by my mother. I was healthy for the most part though mentally troubled at times. My parents were divorced before I was 10 years old. My father was capable, a carpet installer at trade, and able to keep a job so I lived with him growing up. He eventually re-married.

In school I was not in the "in" crowd, but you couldn’t say I was necessarily an outcast. In my youth I was clumsy and uninterested in sports. Although capable in academics, I was given much to laziness and lack of motivation so my grades suffered due to lack of personal effort. I got involved with drugs by the age of 13. I was arrested for burglary by 14, but the charge was reduced to theft and criminal trespass and I spent a day in juvenile detention. By 15 I had experimented with crack cocaine and various hallucinogenic substances. By 15 I was involved in a serious auto accident, and was thrown through the windshield fracturing two vertebrae. By the grace of God I lived and recovered without permanent damage. During highschool I was often suspended for misbehavior or skipped school, and by my junior year I dropped out and immediately got my GED.

I continued in this way, using drugs, sex, and any other sinful activity as a form of escape from the world I loathed so much. I stayed out of jail mostly, although I did a lot deserving of imprisonment. I was quite proud of the craftiness I exerted in my criminal activity and would brag at times about never getting caught. Though you can't find many things I had done on my criminal record, in truth nothing had escaped the sovereign eyes of God.

But I am not writing this testimony to confess all the wicked things I have done. I’ve chosen to exclude some of the more horrible things I have done as they would only serve for unecessary shock value. I will say that my sins are many and they are vile, but even so, God does not have one list of sins that he holds as being more sinful than another list of sins. Sin is sin; it is the transgression of His holy law, and if you’ve transgressed at one point you’ve transgressed in all. Although I personally consider my robberies, thefts, sexually immoral and violent acts more sinful than the sins which are committed by many who profess themselves be "good" men, whom are in fact: covetous, idolatrous, proud, and gluttonous... God makes no such distinction. The wages of all sin is death and damnation. There is not a hotter place in hell reserved for a rapist and/or a murderer as there is for a greedy business man or a man who cheats on his wife. Hell is hell, it burns eternally, and it burns without rest. Perhaps, I am even providentially privileged to have been made to observe in my sins a fruit so obviously dark and foul. The death it brought to me was apparent and I couldn’t deny my wretchedness as I was made to see the shadow of my dungheep cast on the ground in the light of God's glory. For this I am eternally grateful for the price that was paid for me by God on that blessed cross. Just as God made no distinction accounting my sins any worse than another, neither does God show partiality in His grace and His salvation, for all have sinned and fallen short of His glory. So this is the beginning of my testimony. It's my prayer that Christ be glorified as I speak of His providence and grace in the life of one who had no hope.

Continued on Friday

Go On To Part 2

Monday, May 25, 2009

Miss California Aftermath (Part 2)

Hopefully this will be the last post I will be making concerning Miss California, Carrie Prejean. In my previous two posts I discussed certain theological issues that swirled around the controversy that all started when Carrie came out in opposition to gay marriage during the Miss USA pageant question session. Good on her for taking a stand but I was never endorsing her as a Christian role model. Her comments merely served to contrast with Rick Warren's pathetic cowardice on the issue and also to question mainstream evangelicalism's rush to embrace her as a role model and spokeswoman.

Miss Prejean has been doing the rounds of the Christian speaking circuit and even addressed students at Liberty University. Earth to Liberty University - HELLO! She parades on TV in a skimpy swimsuit, we know little about her theological views or practice, but she holds to orthodoxy on a theological no-brainer. C'mon guys, is modern evangelicalism that pathetic and wimpy that we can't find a prophet who stands for righteousness crying "thus saith the LORD"? What does it say about our shallowness and lack of discernment when we are so quick to embrace someone just for agreeing with us on one point. Sarah Palin may be another classic example of willingness to compromise certain views (ie biblical motherhood) in order to have "one of us" running for the White House.

I suspected that something embarrasing would emerge considering Miss California's meteoric rise to the "voice of evangelicalism" . . . . and it has. Racy modelling photos (I'll say no more than that) have come to the surface of Carrie Prejean that she should be ashamed of and her "Christian constituents" should be embarrased about. But hey, we all have a past and Carrie can just come forward with remorse and repentance over her foolishness. But no, Carrie actually tried to justify her conduct by saying "I am a Christian and I am a model. Models pose for pictures including lingerie and swimwear photos". Yes and Bill Clinton didn't inhale!

Ultimately, my criticism is not directly aimed at Miss California. I am disappointed with undiscerning Christian leaders who are so quick to jump on a bandwagon in their desire to gain some sort of public credibility or "relevance" - ditto for Bono! Here are some points to consider for personal benefit and future wisdom:

1. Church discipline - we need pastors who love us enough to shield us from the public limelight when we are not ready to articulate a biblical worldview or become a public rolemodel. Also to tell us where the boundaries are and the principles concerning being salt and light before a sinful culture.

2. Expository preaching - we need pastors who teach the whole counsel of God. In Carrie's time at her local church it would seem that the virtues of being a godly, modest Proverbs 31 woman were not impressed on her strongly enough that she might aspire to that lofty goal.

3. Parenting - do we parents, raising our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, want to expose our daughters to "beauty pageants" as a barometer of feminine beauty.

4. Choosing our feeding grounds - we need to be discerning as to where we get our spiritual food. Obviously, the Bible is the starting place! It is from there that we can have spiritual ears to hear what resonates with a biblical worldview and what doesn't. Let's choose our teachers and role models cautiously and carefully. We need to be better Bereans than the Bereans were.

5. Association - don't be so quick to join a camp without a decent working knowledge of their overall theology and practice. The Muslim world can only maintian unity as long as they have a common enemy - us. Were the enemy to be removed they'd be pointing their guns at each other. As Christians, we also need to be wary of a unity based upon what we oppose rather than what we believe.

Chew on that today!

Go Back To Part 1

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kirk Cameron Interviews John Macarthur - On TBN!!!

Kirk Cameron interviewed John Macarthur on TBN! The surprises just keep coming. This is just great stuff. Unlike the many high profile chameleon preachers out there who change color depending on the audience, Dr. Macarthur refuses to try and adapt his message. He has the same timeless Gospel truths to share whether he's talking to Madonna's husband, Larry King, or in this case the TBN audience. Macarthur just keeps hammering away with unchanging razor sharp insights and profound wisdom on the difference between true and false gospels. This two part interview is well worth the watch.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Paul Washer Coming To Denmark




Watch this to get a taste of what's to come.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is It Too Late For Europe - The Shocking Truth Of The Islamic Invasion

For those of you outside of Europe, and those of us on the inside, wondering where the road of secular humanism is taking us - drink in these shocking statistics . . .

Joseph Farah, who writes for World Net Daily, is a Christian from Syria who fled the country and now resides in the USA. He contends that Europe is now at the crossroads with two possible outcomes. Either:

1. Christians in Europe rise up and man up by fervently and fearlessly preaching the Gospel bringing about another reformation and hence embrace a biblical approach to marriage and family; or
2. There is no reformation and Europe will become Eurabia. As the video showed, this is a potential reality in the forseeable future. Holland, to name just one country, is just 15 years away from Sharia law (based on current trends).

Some of my American friends often ask me, as someone who lives in Denmark, whether western Europe is a viable mission field or "has the train already left the station". The jury is still out on that question, but my mind is made up whatever the outcome. God is going to accomplish His Sovereign purposes regardless so I will preach and be an instrument of revival - or judgment! I won't go down quietly and I will go down swinging! Pray for us, be vigilant, and preach the word the only two times you ever should - in season and out of season!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Has God Abandoned America?

I've been hearing a lot of lamentation of late from my American brothers and sisters over the moral decline, political direction, holocaust of the unborn, and diluted gospel preaching that is happening there. Many of these people fear that God will bring His judgment because of these things. But what if these trends are the judgment?

I am currently reading through my John Macarthur Study Bible and just loving his commentaries on the passages. To be sure, it doesn't guarantee that Macarthur will expound every passage correctly, but you do get the precious insights of a true laborer in the Word of God who has applied consistent historical grammatical hermeneutical (whew!!) principles in Scripture interpretation. One of the things that recently struck me in the book of Exodus was Macarthur's commentaries concerning the passages that say that God hardened Pharoah's heart. Many people wrestle with the idea of personal accountability for actions living alongside a Sovereign God Who controls EVERYTHING. Macarthur suggests that the hardening of Pharoah's heart is actually the lifting of God's common grace that would otherwise restrain Pharoah's heart from manifesting the wickedness it is capable of.

Common grace is what restrains society from acting out all the lust and corruption that dwells in the human heart. It maintains a certain level of order so that the Gospel can be preached and wicked hearts regenerated (yes, Scripture overwhelmingly concludes all men to be utterly depraved and unable to do anything pleasing to God outside of the regenerating work of His Holy Spirit, see Romans 3). There are many other aspects of common grace that I'll discuss in the coming days because I believe it will help us appreciate the unbelievable goodness of God so easily taken for granted. But, back to my initial question raised regarding whether the downward cultural spiral occuring in the USA will bring God's wrath or actually is God's wrath.

The first chapter of Romans seems to indicate that the lifting of common grace is part of the judgment of God on a society that opens the floodgates of perversion.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)

Do the words "God gave them up" send a chill down your spine? Does this sound like what we're seeing today. Marshall Foster once said that the difference between an American pagan and a European pagan is that the American will go to a porn cinema in a hat and dark glasses whereas the European will wave to his friends across the street as he enters the doors of that house of perversion. Unfortunately I am no longer shocked by sin, but the lack of shame about it really does shock me as a European resident. America, America, is this where you're heading?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"I Don't Know" - Joel Osteen's Pet Phrase

Joel Osteen should get a spot on "Dancing With The Stars" based on his now famous tap dancing routines . . . .

Steve Lawson gives his verdict . . .

"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. "Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them (Ezekiel 34:2-10).

Friday, May 15, 2009

John Piper's Message For Barack Obama

John Piper is a modern day weeping prophet not afraid to speak fervently upon his convictions. He is a breath of fresh air in a pulpit landscape of cowards and pragmatists. And few issues burn hotter for Dr. Piper than the outrageous holocaust that some call abortion. It is astonishing how popular Barack Obama is among so many professing Christians, many of whom think he is a Christian (even though he is a universalist). Has he managed to hoodwink the entire western world???

John Piper has some choice words for the current President of the United States who is so radically pro abortion (read pro murder) that he even supports late term partial birth abortions. Not only that but as Governor of Illinois he refused four times to enact legislation that would protect children who live through the horrific procedure of late term abortion (read pro infanticide).

May we pray for Barack Obama, that God would save him and regenerate his heart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rob Bell and John Macarthur - Their Verdicts on the TNIV Translation

From those who brought us the "Nearly Infallible Version" (NIV) we now have the TNIV. Kind of like a gender neutral toning down of the NIV. Well, here are two verdicts on the same translation. You be the judge (with thanks to First up the insights of John Macarthur:

And now for the Yoda like profoundness of Rob Bell:

Who are you going to listen to?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some Strong Words From Paul Washer re: Wimpy Preachers

Warning - this is a scorcher!!! Brother Paul Washer is not a happy camper about the warm fuzzy self esteem messages of Joel Osteen or the prosperity preaching of Benny Hinn. Is his criticism unwarranted? You be the judge. But as you ponder that consider the reproach before God of giving lost people false assurance. Come judgment day I think we'll get a clearer picture of those who love the lost and those who love themselves.

You might want to turn down the volume on this one!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Shocking Message to Pastors and Churches

Drink in these sobering words from Christian and then watch the video and ponder what your local church is really all about and your own personal urgency in your dealings with the lost.

A few weeks back, I learned that I have a brain tumor. As I was reflecting upon this, I asked the question, "What if an unsaved person with a brain tumor went into some of the more popular, influential, or notable churches in America today? What would they see and hear?" So, I did some basic searching on the web and found that some of these were some of the most viewed and / or commented videos out there.

Here are the questions to us Christians: What image are we putting up for the lost? What are we saying to them? And how should they react when they see and hear this kind of stuff in our churches today?

I ask that you view this with an open mind and heart.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tim Challies v Phil Johnson: When Real Christians Contend With Each Other

There are quite a few ugly rows going on right now. There are certainly fights worth fighting and heretics that must be exposed. When Brian McLaren denies penal subsitutionary atonement, Tony Jones says homosexuality is a valid Christian lifestyle, and Rob Bell embraces universalism then real Christians must pronounce "Anathema" over them and strip them of their sheep outfits. But when the lines of demarkation drop below the level of heresy and false teaching to matters of preference and opinion our conversation should be seasoned with graciousness and love. The Lord Jesus said that "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

Recently two Christian men whom I love and respect, Tim Challies and Phil Johnson (their blogs "Challies dot com" and "Pyromaniacs" are two of my favorites), have taken up opposing positions in debating the issue of when to criticize and when not to. When godly men enter public debate I have found it to be very educational both in the tone of engagement, and in evaluating an opposing view. These men love each other and value their respective contributions to the body of Christ. They are big boys and man enough to weather each others criticism. And that is a major lesson for people who have been exposed to one too many ugly personality clashes in their local church. When we are secure in our Christian love we are liberated to speak our minds in the hope and knowledge that our true friends will sharpen and refine us with their observations and objections.

What started the debate was Tim's post called Evil as Entertainment where he stated among other things that:

I want to say a word today about watchblogs or discernment blogs or whatever you want to call them. I am referring to blogs that specialize in sharing bad news . . . Day after day they offer examples of all that is wrong in the church. They may vary what they offer a little bit, but what is true of them is that they offer a steady diet of negative content related to the church in general or perhaps related to just one person or one ministry . . . these blogs are really little more than entertainment. And once I had these blogs filed in that way in my mind, their popularity and their draw began to make much more sense to me. They are really just a spiritualized form of YouTube or any other site that entertains by sharing what is gross and base and negative and that does so for the sake of entertainment. There is really no value in watching boys do stupid things on skateboards and laughing when they crack their ankle bones in half; there is really no value in watching the worst pastors in America preach to the worst churches in America. Such sites offer evil as entertainment.

Phil Johnson then responded with Turning a Blind Eye to Evil is Evil Too where he agreed on some points and disagreed on others. Johnson pointed out that:

identifying what I see as the key difference between healthy discernment and the obsessive/compulsive peevishness some of our fellow critics seem to think is the mark of real orthodoxy . . . It needs to be said that "calling people out for damnable heresies that are causing people to drift away from the true faith" is a shepherd's duty, not an option—and it can be quite edifying if done well. That said, anyone can sample my preaching ministry; I invite you all to do so. What you'll discover is that when I am speaking to the flock (as opposed to lecturing in a men's meeting or exhorting pastors in a Shepherds' Conference seminar, or writing on my blog) I employ humor and criticism very sparingly. That's because when I preach, my immediate concern is to explain the meaning of specific texts of Scripture and exhort people to apply the truth to their lives in obedience to God. This blog (Pyromaniacs) serves a totally different purpose. It always has. I make no apology for that, especially here in the gutless, effeminate, faint-hearted, hopelessly "diverse," hazy-and-hesitant subculture contemporary evangelicalism prides itself on being.

It has frankly never troubled me one bit that people who hate our theological stance dismiss us as "watchbloggers" (or worse). If someone can't see how PyroManiacs differs in tone and style from the trash-talking parodies maintained by certain bloggers whose sympathies lie at the opposite end of the theological spectrum from us, that says more about their brand of discernment than it says about ours.

Look: I agree with the gist of Tim Challies' concern. (At least I think I do. The more Tim has clarified himself, the less certain I am that we agree as much as I assumed at first. Still—)

I do think it's evil and irreverent to regard apostasy as nothing more than something to mock and be entertained by. Those who fall into that attitude inevitably mirror and amplify the very impieties they say they deplore. They tend to become petty, overly-critical, thin-skinned, and surly-sounding gossip-mongers. Ditto with the sophomoric anti-watchblogs that relentlessly parody such full-time critics, raising the stakes on the irreverence game to ever-new heights. These two opposing forces feed one another's worst tendencies, and I have no desire to participate with or encourage either side in their native forums. The comment-threads on both sides always turn into adolescent insult-contests, and it can be downright ugly. It's an embarrassment. It's also an easy trap for anyone still swaddled in unglorified flesh to fall into.

Tim, as any godly individual should, weighed up Phil's words and delivered his verdict:

I guess any writer can attest that every now and then you write something that is really, objectively good; and other times you lay an egg. Having talked it over and having read plenty of feedback, I’m going to have to say that I laid an egg on Monday. While I do not feel that what I said was wrong or unnecessary, I can see that I should have said it better. At the same time, I think it sparked some useful discussion and for that I am grateful . . . Phil Johnson wrote about how he both agrees and disagrees with me. This article really helped me see the lack of clarity in my own article (well, that and my wife telling me that Phil’s article was better than my own) . . . Most of what Phil says is most of what I should have said (or said more clearly) on Monday.

There is so much we can learn from these two godly men!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Miss California Aftermath (Part 1)

In an earlier post I used the current Miss California, Carrie Prejean, as an illustration of someone with more courage than Rick Warren to voice their convictions about the definition of marriage. This was not meant to be a ringing endorsement of Miss California nor beauty pageants. It merely served to highlight the tragic state of affairs in modern evangelicalism when "America's Pastor" is too much of a sissy to man up and unapologetically declare his biblical convictions. Reverend Al Mohler rightly pointed out that:

every evangelical Christian should watch this carefully, for the controversy over Rick Warren will not stop with the pastor from Saddleback. This whirlwind is coming for you and for your church. At some point, the cost of being "cool" will be the abandonment of biblical Christianity. We had better decide well in advance that this is a cost far too high to pay. (Online Source)

To try and be everybody's friend is to start the drawn out process of painting yourself into a corner where worldviews collide. This is the corner Rick Warren now finds himself in. He would do well to heed the advice of the Bible - you know, that old book!

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God (James 4:4).

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (words of Jesus, John 15:18-19).

"America's Pastor" needs to realize that he can't have it both ways. It is inevitable that honoring God will involve alienation from the world. The fact that Miss California has become an evangelical hero just because she stated the obvious and biblical in public is a sad indictment on the modern wimpiness found in many pulpits.

I am largely ignorant of beauty pageants and what they entail. I did, however, take an educated guess that it would involve outfits that reveal more than they hide. Several people have written and pointed out to me the "issues" they have with beauty pageants, namely the lust factor caused by the swimsuit part of the competition. I wholeheartedly agree with them and do not see a beauty pageant as a God honoring pursuit for a Christian woman. I am in no position to comment on Carrie Prejean's Christianity and am more than happy to applaud the stand she took against that angry gay blogger. But were I to meet her I would plead with her to make Proverbs 31 her first pageant for Solomon rightly said that "Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion."

Go On To Part 2

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Preaching Love Requires Preaching Sin

Many times doing open air preaching I've been heckled by some well meaning professing Christian who wants to slam me for preaching sin, righteousness, and judgment before preaching about the cross. They usually claim to be people who preach only God's love without talking about sin.

Scripture is clear that this is impossible for the very definition of God's love is bound up in a proper undersatanding of our sin. Romans 5:8 tells us that God demonstrated His love by dying for us while we were sinners. Understanding God's love is intrinsically bound up in grasping the dramatic contrast between the righteousness of God and the unspeakable wickedness of men. Some people seem to think that seeing ourselves as a wretch will only cause us to spend our lives in misery covered in sackcloth and ashes. It is true that there is a healthy grief in the godly sorrow that leads to true repentance but this becomes a doorway to joy unspeakable as we marvel at the grace that is truly amazing.

Do you question why "bad things happen to good people" or do you marvel that God would spare you from His just wrath. Both these questions remain unanswered. The first question doesn't warrant an answer for it is the wrong question. The second question remains a joyous mystery. Do you marvel at how God could make a wretch like you His treasure???

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Wolves in Wolves Clothing (Part 6)

Continued from yesterday. Observations concerning witnessing to atheists based on the debate between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron vs Atheists Brian Sapient and "Kelly" as screened on ABC Nightline. Ray and Kirk were widely criticized by many Christians for not pulling out the heavy apologetic artillery in fighting the cause of the existence of God. But is that criticism biblically informed. Today is the final installment of this series and fifth observation on how we should evangelize atheists:

People don't reject the Gospel because it wasn't presented in a clever or attractive manner, people reject the Gospel because they love darkness and hate the light.

Again, John 3 explains to us why people reject the Gospel. It is amazing how much neglected yet important information is contained in the verses following John 3:16. Information so important in fact that a working knowledge could have saved many "seeker sensitive" pastors a lot of time and effort with how they approached evangelism.

Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
Joh 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

Again, I commend Ray and Kirk for avoiding the conventional route of clever argument and instead choosing to reason of sin, righteousness and judgement. It's not rocket science - people love sin and therefore hate the light of God's Holiness. With this in mind and knowing our own sinfulness and the incredible mercy extended to us by God, let us approach the task of evangelism with deep humility but strong urgency to show the sinner (as lovingly as we can) that his deeds are evil and his primary need is not happiness but righteousness. Reasoning from God's law is the only way to show the sinner his exceeding sinfulness and warn of the coming judgement as Paul did in his sermon to the pagan culture of his time

Act 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Act 17:31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

In the Old Testament God continually reminded the Israelites that they should remember that they were once strangers in Egypt. We Christians should humble ourselves in the memory that we were once strangers from God and that our redemption had nothing to do with our own merit (because we have none) but by God's grace so that we could never boast in anything but the cross of our risen Saviour. With this in mind may we plead with lost souls appealing to the Holiness of God, the wretchedness of man, the justice of God in punishing sin, that God punished Himself in our place, sealed our eternal hope through His resurrection, and that all men must respond in repentance and faith.

Go Back To Part 5
Go Back To Part 1