Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Does God Allow . . . (Part 4)

Continued from Tuesday . . .

Hindsight helped me to see the Sovereignty of God over my life - even prior to conversion. WOW!

I was born and raised in the Australian outback in a “secular humanist” environment. Though my parents weren’t Christian I was fortunate enough to grow up in a stable home where my basic needs were always provided for. I can vividly remember at an early age sitting outside gazing at the stars and weighing up the possibilities of the great cosmic equation. Was it all random chance, or was there a plan going on. It was obvious to me that I could see design in everything and there must have been Someone in charge of all this. I was also troubled by the reality that I had an accute sense of justice and injustice - where did that come from? Furthermore, though I had an inherent morality, my constant cravings were to violate that morality. Years later the first two chapters of Romans would bring to light my youthful ponderings.

My first Christian influence was at the age of eight. Phillip was my next door neighbour and six years older than me. I was always in awe of Phillip who was small in stature but a bold and fervent witness of his faith. Since my father was quite passive about my associations, I spent a lot of time listening to Phillip as he told me about topics ranging from the six day literal creation right through to his version of end time events that lay ahead. I really believed what he told me but was too afraid to “go public” about this. Nonetheless I hid much of what he told me in my heart and devoured the steady diet of Chick comics that he sent my way. For the rest of my adolescent years or so I thought of myself as a bit of a “stealth” Christian, holding some form of faith in Christ but hoping to slip through society undetected.

I joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a 17 year old in 1987, still flying under the radar. One day in the spring of 1989 I had something similar to a “woman at the well” experience (except for the woman part). I went to visit a friend of mine to pick him up for a game of rugby league we were playing in. But my friend had been posted out without me knowing and a stranger was sitting in the dormitory instead. This stranger just looked at me and launched into some of the most piercing and personal questions I had ever received. It was like he had known me all my life and could discern my secret thoughts. It was both frightening and convicting. I never saw that stranger again but walked out of his room that day certain that if I denied Jesus Christ before men then He would deny me before the Father.

I soon found a Charismatic church nearby and started attending. Everyone who attended seemed so holy and sanctified. I was petrified at the thought of anyone finding out that they had been infiltrated by a hypocritical Christian. I squirmed at altar calls for three weeks, my heart pounding so hard that I thought I might die. I now know that responding to an altar call is not the be all and end all of becoming a Christian but it was a necessary thing for me to do in order to deal with my personal pride. I can distinctly remember the visiting South African evangelist calling for the “lost” to come forward and me walking out lest I die. The strange thing that happened that night in October of 1989 was that my fear and shame was replaced with a boldness to declare my faith in Christ. It was like my old next door neighbour Phillip had passed me the baton of his boldness. My witnessing for the following years of my life was tried in the hostile fires of a military workplace where I suffered some intense persecution for my faith (the rest of the persecution was for my own overzealous stupidity).

I left the Air Force after ten years service in 1997 and was able to indulge my dream of attending a bible college full time. I treasured every class and loved the cut and thrust of lectures which often became forums for my many questions. During this time I spent many hours exploring systematic theology books which I had never heard about before. Whilst reading Wayne Grudem’s book on the subject I had an experience where the light of a Holy God drew near. The closer it came the more I realised how deeply sinful I really was. I had only ever given token acknowledgement to my sin in the past. But now there was deep conviction, then repentance, and then a profound sense of wonderment about the cross of Jesus Christ. It was so liberating to be set free from my pathetic fa├žade of righteousness and let God be glorified in my weakness. I now understood Jesus words in Luke 7:47 "Therefore I say to you, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, he loves little."

In the true light of who we are as exceedingly sinful beings, and the infinite Holiness of an Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Eternal God it is important to be people who ask the right questions.

Why does God allow me to live another day considering my sins against Him? Because He domonstrated His great love by dying for me (in my place) while I was a terrible sinner (Romans 5:8). Isn't that enough good news to run the race and finish the course?

I am now deeply passionate about sharing the gospel with anyone who has ears to hear.
So thanks for listening!

Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Why Does God Allow . . . (Part 3)

Continued from Sunday . . .

Clearly the book of Job presents a huge problem to the Word Faith preacher who espouses the the idolatrous ideas that God's will is ALWAYS for us to be in perfect health, wealth, success, and free from suffering. I knew what God said about Job:

Job 1:8 And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?" (Job 1:8)

And how Job responded to his loss of wealth, health, and family (that God had clearly appointed in His providence):

And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:21-22).

And how favorably Ezekiel and James referred to Job:

"Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD (Ezekiel 14:13-14).

As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful (James 5:10-11).

With the knowledge of these passages of Scripture I sat there in disbelief as the prominent Word Faith pastor blamed Job's suffering on his Job's sin. It became clear to me that for this preacher to interpret the book of Job faithfully would totally devastate his precious "prosperity theology". I could smell the stench of fraud and needed to venture out for some fresh air.

The reason for my discussion on this issue is not primarily aimed at Word Faith heresies but to bring to light God's sovereignty over all things whether they be good or evil and that He will ultimately derive glory from everything that transpires in this world. It is a form of idolatry to embrace a theology that views God as a cosmic Santa Claus, and to claim that sickness, poverty, and suffering are foreign to God's providential will - because it amounts to embracing a god who does not exist, a god who is defined differently to the One True God of Scripture. Furthermore it is an explicit denial of His omnipotence (being all powerful), and omniscience (being all knowing).

In recent years I have been brought face to face with preachers at funerals who would rather embrace open theism (that God is not omnipotent and therefore tragedies can happen contrary to His will) than point to the ultimate comfort of resting in God's sovereignty. That God ordains all things according to His purposes and that all things, ultimately, work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes.

Think about it for a moment. Telling a parent who has lost a young child that it was not God's will or that the Devil took them. Making someone's healing entirely contingent on the level of faithfulness we can attain to in prayer for them. Claiming ambitious promises by quoting Scripture out of context. Initially these things may alleviate some pain from a tragedy. But what about the long haul of life - lying awake at night running endless permutations and scenarios through our human brains. Contemplating the "what ifs" - what if I prayed more, what if I didn't catch that plane, what if we went to the doctor 6 months earlier . . . Brothers and sisters, this thinking and understanding of God is not only wrong, it also wreaks havoc on our faith and understanding of Who God is.

The great evangelist and Bible Scholar AW Pink had this to say about God's sovereignty (extract taken from chapter 12 of his classic book "The Sovereignty of God" - please read it all the way through it is powerful and profound):

The doctrine of God's Sovereignty is one that is full of consolation and imparts great peace to the Christian. The Sovereignty of God is a foundation that nothing can shake and is more firm than the heavens and earth. How blessed to know there is no corner of the universe that is out of His reach! as said the Psalmist, "Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. If I say surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from Thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee" (Psa. 139:7-12). How blessed it is to know that God's strong hand is upon every one and every thing! How blessed to know that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without His notice!

How blessed to know that our very afflictions come not by chance, nor from the Devil, but are ordained and ordered by God: "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto" (1 Thess. 3:3)!

But our God is not only infinite in power. He is infinite in wisdom and goodness too. And herein is the preciousness of this truth. God wills only that which is good and His will is irreversible and irresistible! God is too wise to err and too loving to cause His child a needless tear. Therefore if God be perfect wisdom and perfect goodness how blessed is the assurance that everything is in His hand and molded by His will according to His eternal purpose! "Behold, He taketh away, who can hinder Him? who will say unto Him what doest Thou?" (Job 9:12). Yet, how comforting to learn that it is "He," and not the Devil, who "taketh away" our loved ones! Ah! what peace for our poor frail hearts to be told that the number of our days is with Him (Job 7:1; 14:5); that disease and death are His messengers and always march under His orders; that it is the Lord who gives and the Lord who takes away!

The One seated upon the Throne of Heaven, the One who is Governor over the nations and who has ordained and now regulates all events, is infinite not only in power but in wisdom and goodness as well. He who is Lord over all creation is the One that was "manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16). Ah! here is a theme no human pen can do justice to. The glory of God consists not merely in that He is Highest, but in that being high He stooped in lowly love to bear the burden of His own sinful creatures, for it is written "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). The Church of God was purchased "with His own Blood" (Acts 20:28). It is upon the gracious self-humiliation of the King Himself that His kingdom is established. O wondrous Cross! By it He who suffered upon it has become not the Lord of our destinies (He was that before), but the Lord of our hearts. Therefore, it is not in abject terror that we bow before the Supreme Sovereign, but in adoring worship we cry "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing" (Rev. 5:12).

Here then is the refutation of the wicked charge that this doctrine is a horrible calumny upon God and dangerous to expound to His people. Can a doctrine be "horrible" and "dangerous" that gives God His true place, that maintains His rights, that magnifies His grace, that ascribes all glory to Him and removes every ground of boasting from the creature? Can a doctrine be "horrible" and "dangerous" which affords the saints a sense of security in danger, that supplies them comfort in sorrow, that begets patience within them in adversity, that evokes from them praise at all times? Can a doctrine be "horrible" and "dangerous" which assures us of the certain triumph of good over evil, and which provides a sure resting-place for our hearts, and that place, the perfections of the Sovereign Himself? No; a thousand times, no! Instead of being "horrible and dangerous" this doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is glorious and edifying, and a due apprehension of it will but serve to make us exclaim with Moses, "Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exo. 15:11).

To be continued on Thursday . . .

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

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why Does God Allow . . . (Part 2)

Continued from thursday.

My earliest influences as a Christian were of the Word Faith, positive thinking, self esteem and success variety. Or was it the other way around?? Having been recruited/seduced to Amway at the age of 18 I was bombarded with self help, positive thinking, positive confession, prosperity materials. I was strongly encouraged to read people like Robert Schuller, Norman Vincent Peale and Zig Ziglar. My western consumer mentality was only too happy to embrace a lot of this thinking. It made sense and was presented in a way that appealed to my carnality.

This paved the way into the Word Faith movement with people like Kenneth Copeland, and Kenneth Hagin. Perhaps I portray myself as more shallow than I really was (although I don't want to give myself any credit). As I reflect back I am without doubt that God was doing some serious providential work in my life. It was at this time that I also had a frightening experience where a complete stranger spoke words to me that penetrated my veneer of social acceptance and exposed an area of sin that I knew had me already condemned (you see, I already knew the truth - at least to a certain extent - through a young man who witnessed to me as a teenager. Though I never spoke publicly about it I did hide the words that the young man spoke in my heart and I'll speak more about this in my next post). I was overwhelmingly convicted of the sin of denial.

I knew I was in trouble and could hardly sleep at night. I had never read the verse where Jesus says that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. But I knew I was guilty and my conscience was burning!

I went on a hunt to find a professing Christian so I could beg them to take me to their church - I didn't want to go alone in fear of being humiliated when people found out they had a sinner in their midst. I found a guy who took me to a charismatic church that was nearby. I must admit that some things struck me as weird but I was drawn to the fact that these people were very serious about their walk with God and loved to sing about Him with their hands up high. I was drawn and intimadated all at the same time. Drawn to the reconciliation I needed to put my conscience at rest, but intimidated by this great cloud of sanctified people with hands raised in unison. What if they found out that I was sinful and unclean?

Though I am not an advocate of "altar calls" (at least in as far as they are used as a substitute for Holy Spirit empowered regeneration), the altar call I responded to was a big deal because it was addressing my pet sin of hiding in silence and forced me to humiliate myself in front of the entire congregation. I don't know what to think about the message preached on that day (I can't remember to be honest) but I have no doubt that God was doing a transforming work regardless. I really walked out of that place a different person and unashamed to testify of Jesus Christ. That unashamedness coupled with my immense stupidy and lack of social skills certainly helped me to be at "enmity" with the world around me. I took it all in my stride under the delusion that the persecution was because of my faith and not because I was a jerk.

Though the church I attended was not officially "Word Faith" it did dance with a lot of their teaching and theology. I was only too happy to buy into a lot of it. I never got sick, I was financially blessed, no real tragedies to speak of, and life was turning out to be a pretty good ride. If they wanted a Word Faith poster boy then I was it . . . except maybe for the private jet!

I paint this background because it is important for you to understand that my criticisms aimed at Word Faith theology don't come out of an axe to grind with some rich pastor or because prosperity and health didn't come my way. I harbor no bitterness from earlier experience (though many of my congregational friends certainly struggled with sickness, experienced harrowing tragedy, and were dead broke). I was just really blind and stupid. I actually thought that I was the guy who must be pleasing God and all these other struggling people must have lacked faith or had sin in their lives.

Oh, I am so ashamed of this self righteousness. The truth was that many of these people had greater faith, greater devotion, and greater fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. In hindsight, I'd have to say that my blessed life was probably due to my weakness, lack of faith, and inability to cope with tragedy which in turn caused God to extend one big tsunami of mercy my way. I often ask the question - Why does God allow me to live in my blessed little bubble of safety when others go through suffering, poverty, and tragedy? Honest self examination brings me to the point of bewilderment. Why has God dealt so graciously with me and my entire family when I deserve His wrath? In fact 20/20 hindsight reveals that this is the question every person on this planet should be asking!

So what tipped me over the edge and drove me away from Word Faith theology? It was when a visiting pastor started preaching about Job!

God had graciously gave me a hunger for His Word and I spent considerable time searching the pages of my Bible. When the pastor started teaching about Job I could see the twisting of Scripture straight away - loud and clear. I knew what the book of Job taught and this "preacher" was butchering it to make it fit his theology. I was furious and my eyes had been opened to the magical world of Scripture twisting. I was on the warpath . . .

To be continued on tuesday!

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why Does God Allow . . . (Part 1)

As a father of young children watching the Keith Green documentary posted on tuesday cuts me to the core. Keith Green's life, a life that produced some of the truly great Christian songs of the last century, was tragically cut short at the age of 28 in a plane crash. Compounding the tragedy was the death of his son Josiah (4) and daughter Bethany (2) who were on board the same plane. As Keith's wife Melody tearfully recounted this tragedy of 25 years ago I saw a short video of young Josiah on a swing grinning ear to ear. That same day I had been pushing my two year old son on a swing as he grinned ear to ear. The thought of this made me erupt into tears unable to fathom the tragedies so many people face.

But what is even harder to fathom is why God graciously has allowed me and my family to live in a bubble of blessing while tragedies strike all around. I had a stern reminder of this in the last week when a good friend of mine from Australia informed me of his terminal illness. As I meditated on these things in the light of God's Holiness and man's depravity I wrote these words in the hope of delivering comfort to my suffering friend.

Dear xxxxx, we were stunned with your latest news. We are praying for you. Though we are not facing the same adversity we draw great encouragment from other godly men and women who have faced incredible hardship and crisis. Abraham drew comfort in the valley when he said "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"

We rejoice in your desire to fervently witness for the "ONLY NAME given under heaven by which all men must be saved". I fear much more for those people who have not repented of their sin and trusted in Christ. Jesus is the ONLY hope for all of mankind and we are comforted by our trust that you are in the care of the Great Physician. We love you both dearly and are so grateful for the love, counsel, and salt and light you have been for us. You are a very large part of a very important season of our lives and we are constantly grateful.

The Bible rightly says that all of our lives are like a vapor in the context of eternity. The curse pronounces terminal illness on the entire human race. Thanks be to God that in the fulness of time He sent forth His Son to be a penal substitute in the place of sinners. The God Who made us has numbered our days and that is ultimately what defines the start and finish of our sojourn on this planet. No earthly doctor can set those limits. We get the days God gives us - no more and no less - and it is our loving Creator Who alone determines the boundaries of human life on this planet, that is not our home.

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city (Hebrews 11:14-16).

We are so blessed by your desire to continually be a witness and want to exhort you to please stay fervent in your witness for Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation and He has graciously given us a role in proclaiming His Gospel. It is ultimately a verbal Gospel which is why Paul says "how shall they HEAR unless a preacher is sent". Everyone's life will end one day, but it doesn't need to end up in hell. Christ in you is the hope of glory to these lost people who will come to you and it is for this reason that your finest days may still lay ahead of you.

You are both so precious to us.
Cameron and Family

I have often heard it said that "some people are so heavenly minded they're no earthly good". I actually believe the reverse is true. Without an eternal perspective, Jesus as my strong tower, and the comforting doctrine of God's sovereignty, I don't know how I could face another day. I cannot understand how lost sinners can face each new day - it can only be blindness, ignorance, and delusion that allow hell bound sinners to soldier on in life. Don't they see the ultimate statistic that one out of one people die? Don't they see their own terminal illness.

There is so much more to explore on these issues and I will continue on saturday. This all strikes me so close to home that and I am overwhelmed with the gracious and tender way God has dealt with a rebel like me. My great question is why does God allow me to live and be so blessed in this life? I have decided to reveal a lot of my personal testimony over the coming days. So stay tuned if that grabs your curiosity!

Go On To Part 2

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Keith Green Story

My earliest significant Christian influence, aside from Chick comics, would have to be the music/teaching ministry of Keith Green. Keith Green stood head and shoulders above most modern "contemporary Christian Music" because it was never an industry or a marketplace to him. Keith was driven purely by the message he carried. He was at times a reckless zealot but he never ceased to burn for Jesus Christ from the day he was born again until his premature death.

Even though it is long (and some of the readers have a short attention span or time contstraints), I'm posting this documentary because many of you who read this blog are passionate people, especially when it comes to the truth. This is the fascinating story of a man who lived an uncompromising life as he burned to tell the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And he wrote and sang some of the most timeless and profound songs that brought Scripture to life. Make sure you've got some Kleenex handy . . .

Sunday, July 19, 2009

He Covers Me - Steve Camp

Here is a great Steve Camp song on the Lord's day with a video dedicated to the selfless sacrifice of the firemen who risked their lives dragging people from the crumbling World Trade Centre towers. Self sacrifice inspires us as people - but may it also remind us of the Ultimate Sacrifice 2000 years ago - the Just for the unjust.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life (Romans 5:6-10).

Friday, July 17, 2009

OFFICIAL - The REAL Cause Of Michael Jackson's Death

Michael Jackson's tragic death makes him a part of the ultimate statistic - that one out of one people die. Death is the great leveller. Rich and poor, young and old, black and white, famous and common - they all meet together at their heart's final beat. Put your hand on your chest. Can you feel that heartbeat? Do you realise that it's the beat of your own funeral march - every beat moving one closer to the final beat before you cross the threshold of eternity. Are you right with God????

Click here for a self examination!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Post Mortem On Postmodern (Part 4)

Continued from yesterday . . .

When Jesus Christ arrived on the scene the tyranny of the Roman empire was well and truly entrenched. Post modern thought had seemingly died out in the Sinai. Israel had abandoned the idea of God being conformed to man's ideas. But a Roman governor by the name of Pontius Pilate was only too willing to embrace the theological suicide of post modern thinking.

As the climax of redemptive history drew near Pilate would utter words that would ultimately become a core doctrine of the doctrineless emergent movement in the 21st century. Pontius Pilate presided over the criminal proceedings as the spotless and perfect Lamb of God awaited His sentence. The Roman Governor was oblivious to the sovereign ordained plan that was transpiring before his eyes. Pilate gazed on the God-man Jesus Christ and asked the question "what is truth?". Pilate never realized that the Truth was standing directly in front of him. Jesus Christ Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life was marching onward to Calvary, ready to endure far more than the Roman army could inflict on Him - God's just and Holy wrath. Pilate’s reign was temporary but Christ’s is eternal.

So here we are in the 21st century. Beards have given way to soul patches, sandals have given way to Birkinstocks, and colliseums have given way to coffee. But beneath this nothing much has changed. While the Brian McLarens and Rob Bells of this world clutch in the dark as they search for "truth", Scripture stands before them plainly stating the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

So what is the point of this satire? It is here to serve as a reminder that the "new truths" being served up by the post modern gurus are nothing more than old lies. As Spurgeon once said:

"We ought not, as men in Christ Jesus, to be carried away by a childish love of novelty, for we worship a God who is ever the same, and of whose years there is no end. In some matters "the old is better." There are certain things which are already so truly new, that to change them for anything else would be to lose old gold for new dross. The old, old gospel is the newest thing in the world; in its very essence it is for ever good news. In the things of God the old is ever new, and if any man brings forward that which seems to be new doctrine and new truth, it is soon perceived that the new dogma is only worn-out heresy dexterously repaired, and the discovery in theology is the digging up of a carcass of error which had better have been left to rot in oblivion. In the great matter of truth and godliness, we may safely say, "There is nothing new under the sun."

Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Post Mortem On Postmodern (Part 3)

Continued from yesterday . . .

It was there on the doorstep of the “promised land” that the emergent church really took root and established itself. As the twelve spies returned consensus was taken. Joshua and Caleb on the one hand wanted to go into combat with the inhabitants of the land and fight a war over the resources contained within that land. The other ten spies protested citing that there was no UN resolution for going to war and it would give Israel a bad name within the international community.

New voices of reason “emerged” aside from Moses with fresh and nuanced insights that could lead to an ongoing dialogue. Rather than give an answer to the complex and multifaceted question of whether to go where God told them - they thought it would be better to embark on a 40 year trek through the Sinai desert. After all, the destination wasn’t important – it was the “journey” that mattered. These 40 years on a journey never getting anywhere allowed for an invigorating and ongoing “conversation”.

This conversation was able to continue unabated over those 40 years as the emphasis was never on answers, but on exploring what it means to follow God in new and revolutionary ways - rather than listening to what He told them to do. The “conversation” thrived and was ongoing. People loved to gather and do manna together. After 40 years they were on the cusp of furthering the "conversation" when alas they all died in the desert. All those dead people really put a downer on the “conversation”.

The subsequent generation did a post mortem on post modern and decided that maybe the land of milk and honey was a good idea after all – especially if God said so! So the first significant “emergent village” had died out in the Sinai desert. The new generation crossed over the Jordan into Canaan. The “conversation” was put on hold to experience centuries of silence.

The first emergent church died out in the Sinai desert after 40 years on a journey never getting anywhere with a 40 year "conversation" full of questions and devoid of answers. As the new generation crossed the Jordan into the land of milk and honey the rotting carcass of postmodern thought lay in the Sinai desert. The emergent movement was down but not out and by the time of the Messiah's arrival there was a "new kind of emergent" waiting to reveal himself.

Concludes tomorrow!

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

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Post Mortem On Postmodern (Part 2)

Continued from Saturday.

Noah and his family were the only human survivors of that ancient environmental crisis. Could global warming really have caused the oceans to rise that much? As the waters abated Noah and his family were given a fresh chance to bring in the "kingdom". It remained to be seen what would "emerge" from this scenario in the following years.

Admittedly that initial covenant of animal sacrifices after stepping off the Ark was a backward step for environmental causes. But generally things went pretty well for several generations up until they decided to build a tower up to heaven. Unfortunately Doug Pagitt had not yet been born and was thus unable to inform them that heaven is not a place (after all, Jesus told His followers that He was going away to prepare a "new reality" for them).

Much confusion emerged as the tower was being built. People simply could not understand each other. One plausible explanation was that Brian McLaren was the spokesman for the project but the latest archaeological evidence seems to refute this theory. Recent excavation of the ruins shows that the project was abandoned due to the need of accommodating people's differing realities. This ancient civilization embarked, instead, on constructing a massive labyrinth that became so big that everybody ended up lost and scattered across its vast reaches.

The emergent movement was down but not out. A remnant remained that would not make a public appearance, aside from left wing political campaigns, until Moses led Israel out of Egypt. The promised land awaited - could it be an actual place?

Continued tomorrow!

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Post Mortem On Postmodern (Part 1)

It is widely thought that the "emergent church" is a modern phenomenon - so modern in fact that they are post modern or "pomo" for short. Solomon once said that there is nothing new under the sun and so it is with the emergent movement. It is well worthwhile taking a “journey” examining the origins and history of this not so new movement.

The movement is so old in fact that it's pioneer appears in Genesis chapter 3 where we see the introduction of the deconstructionist post modern hermeneutic or put more simply, twisted Scripture. You know, when the serpent said to Eve "Yea, hath God said?". Admittedly, the "conversation" was rather short winded as they were not yet able to do it over coffee. Nonetheless Eve, and her husband Adam, were more than willing to explore the serpent's narrative rather than be bound by the black and white absolutes of God's commands.

Adam and Eve were now progressives and no longer wanted to confine themselves to the limitations of paradise and besides, they had strong suspicions that the owner voted Republican anyway. It was outside Eden that they got to learn about the real world and the real problems it faced. Their eldest son Cain, for example, had a deep concern about overpopulation. They also had to deal with the archaic idea of right and wrong and figure out the truth that worked best for them.

As time progressed a man called Noah appeared on the scene. He was a man who completely disrupted the societal harmony and pleasure of his day. For one thing, he built a very large boat destroying a lot of old growth forests in the process. Noah's disregard for the environment certainly had a dramatic effect on weather patterns. More and more grey clouds started to appear in the sky.

Noah also talked a lot about a flood that God was going to send that would destroy everybody who didn't get inside his boat. It was important for people not to interpret Noah literally. After all, conjecture over whether this flood would be a literal historical event would be to completely miss the depth and meaning of the metaphor God was trying to convey. They decided to contemplate Noah's words as to their true meaning for each individual. Anyway, there was no way anybody was getting on a boat that didn't have a carbon neutral footprint.

Eventually, Noah's disregard for the environment led to greater and greater climate change. Those grey clouds now filled the sky and Noah's family entered their boat. Noah's words had ceased and the rains had begun and no post modern paradigm could change it . . . .

Go On To Part 2

Thursday, July 9, 2009

If You Don't Want To Kill An Abortionist Then Don't Shoot One!

After my last post on the shocking compromise going on at Focus On The Family, I thought it migh be appropriate to post this devastating piece of sarcasm that Anne Coulter wrote concerning the murder of practicing abortionist George Tiller. I think she makes a powerful point!

49 Million to Five
by Ann Coulter


In the wake of the shooting of late-term abortionist George Tiller, President Barack Obama sent out a welcome message that this nation would not tolerate attacks on pro-lifers or any other Americans because of their religion or beliefs.

Ha ha! Just kidding. That was the lead sentence -- with minor edits -- of a New York Times editorial warning about theoretical hate crimes against Muslims published eight months after 9/11. Can pro-lifers get a hate crimes bill passed and oceans of ink devoted to assuring Americans that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"?

For years, we've had to hear about the grave threat that Americans might overreact to a terrorist attack committed by 19 Muslims shouting "Allahu akbar" as they flew commercial jets into American skyscrapers. That would be the equivalent of 19 pro-lifers shouting "Abortion kills a beating heart!" as they gunned down thousands of innocent citizens in Wichita, Kan.

Why aren't liberals rushing to assure us this time that "most pro-lifers are peaceful"? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.

According to recent polling, a majority of Americans oppose abortion -- which is consistent with liberals' hysterical refusal to allow us to vote on the subject. In a country with approximately 150 million pro-lifers, five abortionists have been killed since Roe v. Wade.

In that same 36 years, more than 49 million babies have been killed by abortionists. Let's recap that halftime score, sports fans: 49 million to five.

Meanwhile, fewer than 2 million Muslims live in America and, while Muslims are less murderous than abortionists, I'm fairly certain they've killed more than five people in the United States in the last 36 years. For some reason, the number "3,000" keeps popping into my head.

So in a country that is more than 50 percent pro-life -- and 80 percent opposed to the late-term abortions of the sort performed by Tiller -- only five abortionists have been killed. And in a country that is less than 0.5 percent Muslim, several dozen Muslims have killed thousands of Americans.

But the killing of about one abortionist per decade leads liberals to condemn the entire pro-life movement as "domestic terrorists." At least liberals have finally found some terrorists they'd like to send to Guantanamo.

Tiller bragged about performing 60,000 abortions, including abortions of viable babies, able to survive outside the mother's womb. He made millions of dollars performing late-term abortions so gruesome that only two other abortionists -- not a squeamish bunch -- in the entire country would perform them.

Kansas law allows late-term abortions only to save the mother's life or to prevent "irreversible physical damage" to the mother. But Tiller was more than happy to kill viable babies, provided the mothers: (1) forked over $5,000; and (2) mentioned "substantial and irreversible conditions," which, in Tiller's view, apparently included not being able to go to concerts or rodeos or being "temporarily depressed" on account of their pregnancies.

In return for blood money from Tiller's profitable abattoir, Democrats ran a political protection racket for the late-term abortionist.

In 1997, The Washington Post reported that Tiller attended one of Bill Clinton's White House coffees for major campaign contributors. In addition to a $25,000 donation to Clinton, Tiller wanted to thank him personally for 30 months of U.S. Marshals' protection paid for by the U.S. taxpayer.

Kansas Democrats who received hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from Tiller repeatedly intervened to block any interference with Tiller's abortion mill.

Kathleen Sebelius, who was the governor of Kansas until Obama made her Health and Human Services Secretary, received hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars from Tiller. Sebelius vetoed one bill restricting late-term abortions and another one that would have required Tiller to turn over his records pertaining to "substantial and irreversible conditions" justifying his late-term abortions.

Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison also got elected with the help of Tiller's blood money, replacing a Republican attorney general who was in the middle of an investigation of Tiller for various crimes including his failure to report statutory rapes, despite performing abortions on pregnant girls as young as 11.

But soon after Morrison replaced the Republican attorney general, the charges against Tiller were reduced and, in short order, he was acquitted of a few misdemeanors. In what is a not uncommon cost of doing business with Democrats, Morrison is now gone, having been forced to resign when his mistress charged him with sexual harassment and corruption.

Tiller was protected not only by a praetorian guard of elected Democrats, but also by the protective coloration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- coincidentally, the same church belonged to by Tiller's fellow Wichita executioner, the BTK killer.

The official Web page of the ELCA instructs: "A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born." As long as we're deciding who does and doesn't have an "absolute right to be born," who's to say late-term abortionists have an "absolute right" to live?

I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Focus On The Family Train Wreck

Well I've almost finished the cleanup operation of scraping my jaw up off the floor. James Dobson has stepped down as the CEO of Focus on the Family and handed over the reigns to Jim Daly. Jim Daly's opening speech was nothing short of a shocker. For a ministry that has been at the forefront of the fight against abortion and gay marriage, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would hear the words that Daly uttered:

What we want to see are more families like Barack Obama's.

What is going on here??? Has the man lost his mind, is he just plain stupid, biblically illiterate, does he fear man and not God, or all of the above? But wait - there's more! The Jim Daly train wreck just continued in spectacular pragmatic, compromising, and biblically ignorant fashion:

But we can respect what Obama does well. We can focus more on the positive. And I respect his family.

Yes, let's just overlook the fact that Obama supports murder of the unborn and also those who survive the murderous practice of abortion.

Daly says he is results-oriented, not an ideologue (what's that smell . . . ahh pragmatism).

When those who are right, left and center all say, 'Let's make abortion rare,' let's meet at that starting point. Let's shove off the rhetoric and get together on practical matters.

Yeah right! Like Obama's policies are decreasing the abortion rate - NOT!

I cannot be Dr. Dobson. I'm hoping for a different pair of shoes. He's black and white -- a scientist. That's a good thing. He's provided clarity for the culture. For me, it's more about having a conversation with people.

Sounding very emergent there Jim.

We're in a democracy. How do we express Christian ethos in a way that draws people into the discussion? We are the church. We have to be more understanding and not expect the world to act like the church. We also don't accept the church acting like the world.

Wow! I mean wow! What is going on here. This is a dramatic paradigm shift away from biblical principles towards liberalism. Paul Washer once said to Christians that "you are prophets or you are nothing. It sounds to me like Focus on the Family has just dropped it's prophetic edge and with that becomes about as useful to the Christian community as an ash tray on a motorbike. We can only hope that Jim Daly gets sacked or has a road to Damascus experience and wakes up to himself.

If you are a supporter of this ministry I would encourage you to protest Jim Daly's appointment and withdraw financial support. Maybe support a ministry like Vision Forum or Shepherd's Press. Because I hear the sound of rushing water and I fear it is the sound of a once great ministry being flushed down the toilet!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Cross Expounded With Shai Linne And Timothy Brindle

Featuring the preaching of CJ Mahaney this is just great stuff. Hip Hop/Rap may not be your cup of tea but this is theologically streets ahead of what you'll hear on your "family safe" Christian radio station. Just listen to the content and give thanks. Can you believe that Christ would die for you??? Why would He lay down His life for a wicked sinner like me? Kneel and marvel at the foot of the blood stained cross!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Obligatory Michael Jackson Post

Oh how much I fear being categorized as irrelevant. How can I possibly reach the world around me if I am not pop culture savvy? How can I relate to youth when I am largely ignorant of a 50 year old singer? I didn't know how to prove my "hipness" but then I found this . . .

Who would ever think of combining John Piper's teaching on the doctrine of depravity with the musical prowess of Michael Jackson? Is this blog now certified "relevant"?

Michael Jackson is a hot topic right now with the mystery surrounding his recent death. The blogosphere is running hot with gossip and innuendo. But the reason I am posting about Michael Jackson is that there are practical lessons for Christians to learn about the loving and biblical way to respond to tragedy, especially of the celebrity kind.

To be sure I have always found it hard to fathom why a good looking African-American man would want to alter his appearnace in that way. And I would certainly steer my children away from listening to his music because of the sexual and humanistic content. But to pretend to know whether Michael Jackson is in heaven or hell right now is both foolish and futile. Only God knows that. Though the outward evidence leaves a very bad prognosis, we can fly a flag of hope that Michael Jackson repented and trusted in Christ just prior to his untimely death. The repentant thief on the cross always shines as a torch of hope for seemingly doomed sinners. God takes no delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) and neither should we . . . or have you forgotten about the sewer of sin that God rescued you from?? In seasons of grief we should avoid speculation, hope for the best, and be ministers of love.

A second thing we can focus on is allowing tragedy to remind us of the brevity of our own lives. That we all stand on the knife edge of eternity - always one less heartbeat away. Ask people if they know where they are going when they die and springboard into the Gospel.

The third thing to remember, and avoid, is something that is happening right now among certain professing Christians, and that is trying to claim Michael Jackson as a part of the Body of Christ with no biblical evidence to support this. I did say that we can fly a flag of hope - but it is another thing altogether to fly a flag of false hope.

From Rick Warren's Saddleback church we have the comments of David Pack who is "a Grammy winning recording artist, producer, and music director. A member of Saddleback Church, he works with Rick Warren on special projects, including the PEACE Plan and AIDS & Worship Conferences." I can scarcely believe David Pack's brazen boldness in declaring to all the world with astonishing certainty that:

If there’s anything that gives me peace during this moment of loss, it’s knowing that one of the greatest artists of our time is now moon-walking along the gold paved roads of heaven, where streets have no name, with a broad smile on his face, and a band of angels welcoming him home. Michael, my friend, rest in heavenly peace.

And what does Pack base his "divine knowledge" on?

During that special evening, I felt the need to share my faith with him, to let him know that another Christian artist was sitting next to him. So when he whispered, “How can I ever thank you for this wonderful night?” I said, “Michael, I didn’t put this together, God did!” He said, “Oh yes, I believe that with all of my heart.”

I told him I was a Christian, and he said he was, too. We talked about the first Christian song we’d both heard as children: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.” With the dinner party loudly going on around us, we both quietly leaned in and sang the song, smiling like choirboys. “Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.” Then we gave each other a short embrace.

I knew at that moment that this sweet-spirited young genius was going to find his eternal peace in heaven.

David Pack's insight, or lack thereof, is disturbing on so many levels. How can a vague conversation like that give any indication as to a clear understanding of the Christian Gospel or outward evidence of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit? What about the HUGE question mark this leaves over Pack's grasp of the Gospel? Why would Saddleback want to give Pack a public profile when he writes such clueless and damaging nonsense? What about Michael Jackson's Jehovah's Witness background or his well publicised conversion to Islam? What about the VERY disturbing public behavior? What about the blatant sexual and humanistic themes in many of his songs? Why is it that a member of Rick Warren's church with a public profile would fail to factor all these issues into the equation? Like I said earlier, fly a flag of hope that he repented and trusted the Savior. But don't do a David Pack and try to play God!

Tragically, Pack is not alone in his recklessness. In a postmodern era where uncertainty is so strongly espoused, I am stunned by the certainty with which they know such mysteries.

God gave Michael Jackson 50 years to repent and trust the Savior. We can only hope that his final fragments of human strength were spent fleeing to the Savior who is rich in mercy and longsuffering of our wickedness.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Having A Mid Life Crisis On A Low Budget

In a couple of hours I will turn 40 (wow and I don't feel a day over 39 and a half). Due to the global financial crisis I'm busy planning a low budget mid-life crisis. Fortunately I brought my big Aussie barbecue with me when we moved to Denmark. And in Scandinavia, my big 5 burner screams mid-life crisis! We're planning to eat steak tomorrow which is super expensive in this part of the world (there goes the low budget) . . . so please pray that my loan application gets approved. I know some vegetarians will be critical, but hey, if we were meant to be vegetarians then why did God make all the animals out of meat??? Answer me that Mr skinny tofu breath yoga instructor - answer me that!

In the book of James we are reminded of the brevity of life:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit" yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)

My friend Kirk Cameron has just been running his annual Camp Firefly for terminally ill children. This is a wonderful ministry well worth supporting. But the delusional side effect of failing to see our own terminal illness can be far more life threatening. All of us stand on the knife edge of eternity living under the common grace of God. He has numbered our days and gives us time to repent before the great and terrible day of His wrath. Hell is full of people who envy every saint and sinner that still has breath. Oh what they would give for a chance to turn from their sin and flee to the Savior like the penitent thief on the cross.

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:8-12)

Life is short. In the context of history, and infinitely more in the light of eternity, our lives are brief interludes in God's unfolding and unstoppable plan of redemption. My life must echo Jesus' words when He said that His meat was to do the Father's will. The fact that I will get to eat steak tomorrow is a giant leap up from tofu but a quantum leap short of being in the center of the Father's will! Tomorrow is no guarantee so build on the rock of salvation rather than the sand of human endeavor.

Thank you Lord for each additional breath of air you grant each day. May I preach Your glorious Gospel the only two times I am supposed to - in season and out of season.