19 October 2014

Hillsong 'Clarifies' Stance on Homosexuality

Following his comments reported here, Brian Houston of Hillsong Church has attempted to clarify Hillsong's stance on homosexuality. The official statement reads as follows:
I encourage people not to assume a media headline accurately represents what I said at a recent press conference.

Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage. I challenge people to read what I actually said, rather than what was reported that I said. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.

I was asked a question on how the church can stay relevant in the context of gay marriage being legal in the two states of the USA where we have campuses. My answer was simply an admission of reality – no more and no less. I explained that this struggle for relevance was vexing as we did not want to become ostracized by a world that needs Christ.

I made the point that public statements condemning people will place a barrier between the church and the world (and I note that Jesus came to save and not to condemn), which is why at Hillsong, we don’t want to reduce the real issues in people’s lives to a sound bite.

This – like many other issues, is a conversation the church needs to have and we are all on a journey as we grapple with the question of merging biblical truth with a changing world.


Sunday Morning Praise

Still, My Soul Be Still

18 October 2014

Hillsong's 'Journey' Down the Broad Path

Hillsong Church boasts 12 campuses
Sin is not relative. Sin is sin. Whether today's wishy-washy, postmodern, love-the-one-you're-with culture approves or not, there simply is no gray area when it comes to disobeying and opposing God Almighty and His clear, revealed Word.

Yet, when society stands and whines about the Word, the Christian is not surprised. When unregenerate people want sin to be sin only when it is convenient (i.e., when another's  sin has adversely affected them), it simply is not something worth getting overly upset about. After all, one ought to expect the world to act like the world.. But what about when a so-called, self-proclaimed 'church' refuses to stand firm and unwavering upon the Word of God and what the Lord says about sin?

Jonathan Merritt of Religion News Service reports the following in his article 'Hillsong's Brian Houston says church won't take public position on LGBT issue':
At a press conference for the Hillsong Conference in New York City today, Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Houston to clarify their church’s position on same sex marriage. But Houston would not offer a definitive answer, instead saying that it was “an ongoing conversation” among church leaders and they were “on the journey with it.”

Houston says that he considers three things when evaluating the topic: “There’s the world we live in, there’s the weight we live with, and there’s the word we live by.” 
The priorities of Brian Houston and Hillsong are made abundantly clear in that last sentence. The world trumps the Word.

17 October 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: VividImageInc via photopin cc
It has been a week of Mondays. Not just one, but five. I knew this week was coming but, ever the optimist (in spite of what people say), I was hopeful that this week would not be as frazzling (is that even a word?) and stressful as it has been. My optimism didn't pan out, but my trial did. And that is why God is so good.

It occurred to me early this week what a blessing it was to have a scheduled trial. If you can't prepare yourself and gird yourself for a foreseen, temporary, trying time, then you surely will fear the unexpected trials when they arrive. I also could not help but chuckle at the timing of this particular week, as it comes on the heels of beginning a new Bible study through the book of James.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jas 1:2–4)
Joy? Joy in the midst of pressing deadlines and drop-dead decisions? Yes. Because in the midst of our trials, whether they are short-term or long-term, filled with sadness or stress, driven from within or without, the true Christian must recognize—and celebrate—that those trials are designed to drive him or her back to God and back to Christ for wisdom and strength.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. (Prov 3:5)
In addition to this, God is good to give us grace and growth through our trials. And so I found myself in my busiest moments this week thanking God for the growth and knowledge and necessary stretching that I was experiencing. Did I still (sinfully) want to complain? A little. But I nevertheless am thankful for this week of testing. Although, I also am admittedly equally thankful that the week is now almost over and I can breathe a bit before the next scheduled trial. So while I'm taking that breath, why don't you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of):

16 October 2014

Craving the Word? Get Fed.

photo credit: bee-side(s) via photopin cc
Who among us does not enjoy a wholly satisfying, delicious meal? While Thanksgiving may lend itself to gorging and gluttony (and subsequent repentance), there is no denying that a healthy, filling meal is not only a thing to be enjoyed, it is a basic necessity for daily living.

Unless enslaved to a particular sin, man will not deliberately starve himself. Fasting for spiritual reasons aside, man will not intentionally deny himself food. He cannot survive without this sustenance. It is a basic fact of life.

When a man is regenerated by the Spirit of God and brought to repentance and faith in Christ, his new nature and new life—indeed, the new man that he has become—requires another type of daily sustenance—the truths of God's Word.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” (Matt 4:1–4)
The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. (Psalm 19:9–11)
For the man or woman who has been saved by God, obtaining and consuming this spiritual food will be a delight, not a chore. It is a delicacy far surpassing the richest, most sumptuous dessert, and is far more filling than the most tender, juicy steak. Upon regeneration, feasting upon the Word of God is something that the Christian craves.
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. (1 Pet 2:1–3)
Those who are blessed to attend a church that faithfully teaches the Bible know what a joy and blessing it is to be served a veritable feast of God's Word each week. But what of Monday through Saturday? Personal Bible reading and study is a blessed necessity, to be sure, but what of those who desire to study more and to study deeper, but perhaps do not know where to start? Or what of those who would love to attend Bible school, but time, money, or opportunity preclude them from doing so? What of those who desire to be fed?

Well, those who want to be fed need to get fed. Not coincidentally, a new endeavor has been launched with precisely that name and purpose: GetFed Online.

Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill, Told He Is Not Disqualified From Pastoral Ministry

In late August, Mark Driscoll announced that he was taking a 6-week leave of absence from his pastoral ministry while the elders of his church reviewed charges that had been against him. Now, an announcement posted on the Mars Hill Church website reports that Driscoll has resigned from his position as pastor of Mars Hill:
On Tuesday, October 14, Pastor Mark Driscoll submitted his resignation as an elder and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church. The Board of Overseers has accepted that resignation and is moving forward with planning for pastoral transition, recognizing the challenge of such a task in a church that has only known one pastor since its founding. We ask for prayer for the journey ahead.

As is well known, inside and outside of Mars Hill, Pastor Mark has been on a leave of absence for nearly two months while a group of elders investigated a series of formal charges brought against him. This investigation had only recently been concluded, following some 1,000 hours of research, interviewing more than 50 people and preparing 200 pages of information. This process was conducted in accordance with our church Bylaws and with Pastor Mark’s support and cooperation.

While a group of seven elders plus one member of the Board of Overseers was charged with conducting this investigation, the full Board of Overseers is charged with reaching any conclusions and issuing any findings. In that capacity, we believe it appropriate to publicly mention the following:
  1. We concluded that Pastor Mark has, at times, been guilty of arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner. While we believe Mark needs to continue to address these areas in his life, we do not believe him to be disqualified from pastoral ministry.
  2. Pastor Mark has never been charged with any immorality, illegality or heresy. Most of the charges involved attitudes and behaviors reflected by a domineering style of leadership.
  3. We found some of the accusations against Pastor Mark to be altogether unfair or untrue.
  4. Other charges had been previously been addressed by Pastor Mark, privately and publicly. Indeed, he had publicly confessed and apologized for a number of the charges against him, some of which occurred as long as 14 years ago.
  5. We commend Mark for acting upon the vision God gave him to start Mars Hill Church and for his ministry of faithfully teaching the Word of God for the past 18 years. We commit to pray for him, for Grace, and for their children as they transition from ministry at Mars Hill Church.
We would ask for patience as we now make plans for the first transition of pastoral leadership in the history of Mars Hill Church. We have asked Pastor Dave Bruskas to serve as the primary teaching pastor while we work on long-term plans and decisions. Our elders and board members will work closely with the church staff to support the ongoing operations of Mars Hill in the days and months ahead.

Finally, Mark Driscoll was not asked to resign; indeed, we were surprised to receive his resignation letter. While he can speak to his decision as he chooses, we would point to just two things from his letter. He noted that he had concluded “it would be best for the health of our family, and for the Mars Hill family, that we step aside from further ministry at the church.” Secondly, he specifically wanted to convey “to the wonderful members of the Mars Hill family, how deeply my family and I love them, thank them, and point them to their Senior Pastor, Jesus Christ, who has always been only good to us.”

Mars Hill Board of Overseers

Michael Van Skaik

Larry Osborne

Jon Phelps

Matt Rogers

13 October 2014

Devilish Rebukes

Nestled in the back of our Bibles just before the final book of Scripture lies the book of Jude, a fascinating, important theological treasure. In this letter, the half-brother of our Lord exhorts his readers to 'contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints' (v. 3). Already, the early church was under attack from false teachers. Wolves had crept inside the fold—'ungodly persons' who sought to pervert the grace of God 'into licentiousness and [to] deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ' (v. 4).
Mt. Nebo

Within these 25 verses of wisdom lies an interesting account that appears nowhere else in Scripture. It is found in verses 8 and 9 and reads:
Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' (Jude 8, 9)
Some find these verses to present an interpretive challenge, as works of some of the early church fathers (Justin Martyr, Origen, etc.) seem to indicate that further detail of this account is found in the pseudepigraphal work, The Assumption of Moses. Yet, even if Jude did quote or allude to this document, the mere fact that this brief account is contained in the Scriptures attests to its validity, for Scripture is breathed out by God Himself (2 Tim 3:16). What is fascinating, however, is the truth that is conveyed in these two verses.

No Compromise Radio: Does God Believe For You?

Additional Resources
Shattering the Idol of 'Free Will'
Because It Pleased Him to Choose
What If 'My God' Is Bigger Than 'Your God'?

10 October 2014

This 'n' That

Well, I had initially intended to share with you my latest experience watching Joel Osteen. But ultimately, that can be summed up in two words: face palm. Actually, 'face wall' might be more appropriate. Honestly, where is a cinder block when I need it?

So instead, I thought I'd toss this out there and see if any of you have a magical solution: earlier this week, my iPhone decided that I only needed to hear sound from it on its terms and at its chosen volume level. No sound at all for podcasts or music (which makes it really difficult for me to enjoy Journey like I'm used to. . . It's okay, only a few of you are going to understand that sarcastic side note). No volume bar or control. Maybe the alarm will go off, maybe it won't. It all depends on what my iPhone feels like doing.

Zack Morris never had these problems with his cell phone.
I'm convinced if I could only take it apart and clean inside it I could fix it. But I'm terrified to take it apart. The guy at Verizon (who clearly is only trained to sell phones, not fix them) says I need to update my iOS. Yeah, right. Like I'm going to subject my poor little phone—and myself—to iOS7 (can an iPhone 4s even handle iOS8?). So then he tells me that I can upgrade my phone. Well, duh. I've been eligible for an upgrade for over a year, dude. There's a reason I've not bitten that bullet. I like my phone. I have it all set up with its case and screen protector, not to mention all my apps and photos and settings. I want to see how long it will last. And…I don't particularly want an iPhone 6.

Let's face it, 6 is the number of incompletion. I'm positive those future iPhone 7s will be anointed and then there I'd be, stuck with a lame 6. Not to mention, all it would take is being in a room with 2 more of those bad boys and you'll probably start channeling the antichrist, right? I mean, the iPhone 6 has fingerprint ID security. Mark of the beast, anyone? It would be like asking to be left behind. Oh! By the way, my phone stopped working on the same day as the blood moon. Coincidence? John Hagee thinks not.

Okay, facetiousness aside, if anyone has any words of wisdom, feel free to share them. In the meantime, now that we are all in full-on Left Behind mode, why don't you take a few moments (before it's too late) to enjoy your week in review (kind of):