26 March 2014

World Vision Reverses Recent Policy Change Regarding 'Gay Christians' in Same-Sex Marriages

Christianity Today reports:
Two days after announcing it would hire Christians who are in same-sex marriages, World Vision U.S. has reversed its decision.

"The last couple of days have been very painful," organization president Rich Stearns told reporters this evening. "We feel pain and a broken heart for the confusion we caused for many friends who saw this policy change as a strong reversal of World Vision's commitment to biblical authority, which it was not intended to be."


22 March 2014

Rod Parsley and the 'Seven Anointings of Passover'

Keeping in mind that entertainment does not always evoke happiness, this time of year is always an entertaining one in evangelicalism. It's the time of year when we wonder how many pastors will manage to preach an Easter sermon without actually talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's the time of year when biblically uninformed 'pastors' try to impose upon Christians the laws and feasts of ancient Israel. It's the perfect time of year for charlatan hucksters to swindle gullible goats out of hard earned cash.

And right here is the perfect place to introduce Rod Parsley's 2014 bamboozling: The Seven Anointings of Passover.

21 March 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc
Do you ever find yourself wondering about some bizarre and meaningless things? Here are some things I was wondering about earlier this week:

❀ What is Flappy Bird?
❀  Why five toes on each foot? The way some women's shoes are designed, there really is only room for three or four.
❀  Why is the temperature of almost every building maintained at a rather uncomfortable 55°?
❀  Will there ever be a day when Mark Driscoll is not the topic of choice in my Twitter feed?
❀  Similarly, will we ever stop being surprised by the immaturity and antics of so many megapastors?
❀  Why Beth Moore and not me?
❀  Why do people still treat YouTube like their own personal karaoke bar?
❀ What is with the flower bullet points? (I have no answer for this other than that I was kind of bored.)
❀  Why do professing Christians watch television shows that clearly mock and hate God?
❀  Why do I have difficulty memorizing Bible verses, but can sing along to almost any 80s bubblegum-pop song without missing even one "Whoa-oh-oh"?
❀  Why is bacon so delicious?
❀  And while we're on the topic, why is breakfast always better when it's dinner?
❀  Why do most cartoons creep me out?

Oops, I revealed too much with that last one, didn't I? It's true, I'm mildly afraid of certain cartoons. Like this character from days long past. (Goodness, just looking at that picture makes me wonder if I'll have nightmares tonight.) Various forms of claymation and I also do not get along. It's okay, I know how to locate a counselor, I just need to find one who can help me reconcile a fear of cartoons with the biblical text.

And while we're asking random questions, I posed the following this week on Twitter: What is the theological conundrum you ponder most often? Feel free to jump into that conversation if you wish. Now for the question that really is burning in everyone's mind at this moment: How much longer before EBenz finally lets us get to the good stuff? Well, the wait is over. Here's your week in review (kind of):

20 March 2014

Take and Eat: A False Convert at the Lord's Table

photo credit: SnoShuu via photopin cc
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Cor 11:23–26)
Every now and then, something strikes me as it never has before.

I remember the conversation well. I was maybe 12 years old. Perhaps a bit younger. I sat with my mother in the front living room one evening. Now that I was old enough to understand the meaning behind communion, it was important to her that we discuss the matter before I actually participated. Many parents in our church allowed their children to take communion at a much younger age, but even with a poor theological upbringing, my mother knew that the Lord's Table was not something to be approached casually or flippantly.

The following Sunday I took communion for the very first time. But I shouldn't have done so. Intellectually, I knew all the facts about Christ's life, death and resurrection—or at least all of the facts that had been made available to me over the years. But in spite of this 'head knowledge,' I was not saved. This was not the fault of my parents—as it turns out, none of us at that time knew anything of true salvation. My family assumed we were Christians because we grew up going to church and easily proclaimed that "Jesus died for our sins." But without a true knowledge of our depravity, and without a true grasp of our sins against a thrice-holy God, and thus without a genuine understanding of our need for a Savior, our professions were meaningless. And so I took communion that weekend as a young, deceived, dead sinner. And I would continue to celebrate the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner for years to come.

19 March 2014

NoCo90: Stop Defending the Bible

If you have an idea or suggestion for an episode of NoCo90, contact No Compromise Radio at their website, on their Facebook page, or via email at: info [@] nocompromiseradio.com.

Further Reading
'The Voice' Bible Translation Causes a Stir
Adam and Eve and Andy Stanley
Why Do We Believe the Bible?

18 March 2014

Scientists Claim Evidence of So-Called 'Big Bang'

The Milky Way galaxy. Photo: Wikimedia
In an article titled, "Scientists find cosmic ripples from birth of universe," Fox News reports:
Astronomers have discovered what they believe is the first direct evidence of the astonishing expansion of the universe in the instant following the Big Bang -- the scientific explanation for the birth of the universe some 13.8 billion years ago.

Scientists believe that the universe exploded from a tiny speck and hurled itself out in all directions in the fraction of a second that followed, beginning just 10 to the minus 35 seconds (roughly one trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second) after the universe's birth. Matter ultimately coalesced hundreds of millions of years later into planets, stars, and ultimately us.

And like ripples from a ball kicked into a pond, that Big Bang-fueled expansion caused ripples in the ancient light from that event, light which remains imprinted in the skies in a leftover glow called the cosmic microwave background.

Scientists still don’t know who kicked the ball.

But if confirmed, the newfound ripples would be amazing proof of what has long been mere theory about what happened in those first millionths of a second.

The article goes on to explain how this discovery was made, and includes just enough scientific jargon to impress, and perhaps even bamboozle, the average reader. But perhaps the most curious and amusing statement of the article is that "Scientist still don't know who kicked the ball."

Oh, I know! Me! Pick me! I know the answer!

15 March 2014

Pentecostal Megachurch Pastor Says Jesus Christ Led Him to Convert to Roman Catholicism

The road to Rome is paved in part with charismaticism. At least, that is how it is beginning to appear in light of several recent events. It was only a short time ago that Pope Francis reached out to Kenneth Copeland—perhaps the most treacherous, abominable Word Faith leader of influence today—with a message of unity and peace as he called for a reconciliation between Roman Catholics and Charismatics. The pope's message was preceded by words from Anglican Episcopal bishop Tony Palmer, and of Palmer's remarks Stand Up for the Truth reports:
“The Catholic and Charismatic Renewal is the hope of the Church,” exclaims Anglican Episcopal Bishop Tony Palmer, before a group of cheering followers at the Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Palmer said those words are from the Vatican. Before playing the video message from Pope Francis to Kenneth Copeland, Palmer told the crowd, “When my wife saw that she could be Catholic, and Charismatic, and Evangelical, and Pentecostal, and it was absolutely accepted in the Catholic Church, she said that she would like to reconnect her roots with the Catholic culture. So she did.” 

The crowd cheered, as he continued, “Brothers and sisters, Luther’s protest is over. Is yours?” 

Rome heartily welcomes those of the charismatic persuasion, and it appears that such beliefs allow one to stand underneath a broader "ecumenical umbrella," as John MacArthur describes it, than the true gospel allows.

Ulf Ekman. (Source)
Now it is being reported that a Pentecostal megapastor in Sweden, Ulf Ekman, has announced his conversion to Roman Catholicism. Charisma reports:
During his Sunday morning service, Ulf Ekman announced the he and his wife, Birgitta, are converting to Roman Catholicism.

Ekman is the founder of Word of Life, a megachurch in Uppsala, Sweden. News reports and blogs coming out of the nation reveal the congregation was “partially stunned” after hearing what was packaged as a “special announcement.” The theme was “Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes."

. . .

“We have seen a great love for Jesus and a sound theology, founded on the Bible and classic dogma. We have experienced the richness of sacramental life. We have seen the logic in having a solid structure for priesthood, that keeps the faith of the church and passes it on from one generation to the next. We have met an ethical and moral strength and consistency that dare to face up to the general opinion, and a kindness towards the poor and the weak. And, last but not least, we have come in contact with representatives for millions of charismatic Catholics and we have seen their living faith.”

. . .

“All this has been both attractive and challenging,” Ekman says. “It really challenged our Protestant prejudices, and we realized that we, in many cases, did not have any basis for our criticism of them. We needed to know the Catholic faith better. This led us to the realize that it was actually Jesus Christ who led us to unite with the Catholic Church.”

Ekman calls his conversion a “personal journey” and says it was not his agenda to lead Word of Life toward Roman Catholicism or to collectively unite the church with the Catholic Church. “That would be unreasonable,” he says.

Ekman retired as senior pastor of Word of Life in March 2013, but returned to the pulpit for this "special announcement." Of particular interest is the theme of Ekman's message, "Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes," implying that his conversion to Catholicism was an act of following the Lord. The Pentecostal pastor declares that at the end of his "personal journey" he and his wife realized "that it was actually Jesus Christ who led us to unite with the Catholic Church."

14 March 2014

This 'n' That

Every time I step onto the elliptical machine, or step outside for a morning jog, I wonder if this will finally be the day that God talks to me personally and plainly like He allegedly does to Beth Moore during her exercise time. But alas, as I spend my time sweating and listening to an edifying sermon from one of my favorite pastors, my workout comes and goes without a word form the Lord.

Or does it?

Sweatin' to the Old Testament: Truly Uplifting
It has been years since I've listened to actual music during a workout. Why? I don't particularly care for secular music, I despise nearly all forms of "contemporary Christian music" (okay, despise may be a strong word. I dislike most CCM) and when it comes right down to it, traditional hymns just aren't exactly exercise-friendly. So I use this time to keep up with my podcasts. It allows me to begin my day with a true word from the Lord as I hear faithful preachers boldly proclaim the counsel of God as found in the Scriptures. Of course, this is not at the neglect of personal Bible reading and study, which proves to be a truly personal word from God as I read the truth contained in that precious book.

I write all this, not as a means of bragging (Hey! Look at what I do!)—perish the thought! Truth be told, I, like many of you I am certain, feel as though I do not spend nearly enough time in the Word each day. But I write this as a reflection and a means to ponder aloud once again why it is that certain individuals—like Beth Moore as just one example—insist upon embarking on a constant quest for more outside of God's Word. Why do they desire this additional revelation? How can someone claim to be a Christian and yet demonstrate such dissatisfaction with such a gracious gift as the Bible? Why is God's Word not sufficient for them? And why, in their claims to receive extra-biblical revelation, do such people succeed in utterly perverting and distorting the Word that we have been given?

Ah, well, perhaps for the most part I am preaching to the proverbial choir. And as always, we ought not be surprised. Since the days of the early church, the very first fledgling wings of Gnosticism sent people in search of an esoteric "more." One day these people will realize that their search for something more than Christ, and for something beyond what is clearly proclaimed in Scripture, was in vain. We do indeed pray that such a day of truth realized is not one of truth realized too late.

While I hate to end on a somber note, sometimes it cannot be avoided. So let us be about the work of our Master, eager to proclaim the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. And when you have a free moment, take some time to also enjoy your week in review (kind of):

13 March 2014

Consciousness and Conviction of Sin

photo credit: Photomatt28 via photopin cc
But although Christianity does not end with the broken heart, it does begin with the broken heart; it begins with the consciousness of sin. Without the consciousness of sin, the whole of the gospel will seems to be an idle tale. But how can the consciousness of sin be revived? Something no doubt can be accomplished by the proclamation of the law of God, for the law reveals transgressions. The whole of the law, moreover, should be proclaimed. It will hardly be wise to adopt the suggestion (recently offered among many suggestions as to the ways in which we shall have to modify our message in order to retain the allegiance of the returning soldiers) that we must stop treating the little sins as though they were big sins. That suggestion means apparently that we must not worry too much about the little sins, but must let them remain unmolested. With regard to such an expedient, it may perhaps be suggested that in the moral battle we are fighting against a very resourceful enemy, who does not reveal the position of his guns by desultory artillery action when he plans a great attack. In the moral battle, as in the Great European War, the quiet sectors are usually the most dangerous. It is through the “little sins” that Satan gains an entrance into our lives. Probably, therefore, it will be prudent to watch all sectors of the front and lose no time about introducing the unity of command.

But if the consciousness of sin is to be produced, the law of God must be proclaimed in the lives of Christian people as well as in word. It is quite useless for the preacher to breathe out fire and brimstone from the pulpit, if at the same time the occupants of the pews go on taking sin very lightly and being content with the moral standards of the world. The rank and file of the Church must do their part in so proclaiming the law of God by their lives that the secrets of men's hearts shall be revealed.

12 March 2014

07 March 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: x-ray delta one via photopin cc
There is something about the BMV (or the DMV, depending on where you live) that just is not . . . normal. It doesn't operate normally, it's rules don't make sense and it's never a pleasant experience when you go there. It doesn't matter what state you're in, the BMV is guaranteed to be a little taste of the worst that state has to offer.

Take the exercise of obtaining a new driver's license and registration if you've moved from out-of-state. No written test required? Excellent, great news! I need to pass a vision test? No problem! I have to drive to another BMV location to take that vision test? Okay . . . why? Do they have more sophisticated screening equipment than the machine I see sitting on your counter over there (and that other people are using)? No? Okay . . .

Now at the other, specialized testing location: Interesting, that vision screening machine looks exactly like the one at the other BMV. What's that? You want me to press my forehead against that machine that doesn't look like it has ever been washed or wiped with even an alcohol swab? Of course, I would love to, even though I can see the sweat from the person before me still glistening on it. That doesn't make me even the slightest bit nauseous. Read the fifth line from left to right? Sure thing. Name the colors of line three? Here you go. What next? Oh, that's it? Okay . . .

Back at the original BMV, where you have to go to actually get your driver's license. I can smile? Good news! My last license looked like a mugshot. Wait, why is that woman with a seeing-eye dog getting a driver's license? Um . . . she's allowed to drive? Did she pass the vision screening? Sigh . . .

Believe it or not, I'm not complaining. I already did that over the course of the week that it took to get all of this accomplished. But I was thankful for the small things—like not having to take a written exam and for getting out of the one town alive. I'm convinced part of this process is to test the out-of-state person's courage. If you survive a trip to the *other* BMV, then you are prepared to live in this state.

After reading this, I'm sure it won't surprise you that I have absolutely no spiritual parallel to make. This wasn't a lame sermon illustration, just a story of my life. So next time you need to go to the BMV, remember: always take along some alcohol swabs or disinfectant wipes. Because you never know. With that, you'll be happy to know that no disinfectant is needed for this week's news roundup. So put down your car keys and sit down to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

05 March 2014

How Shall I Go to God?

photo credit: Fotografik33 via photopin cc 
It is at the cross that we meet God in peace and receive His favor. There we find not only the blood that washes, but the righteousness which clothes and beautifies, so that henceforth we are treated by God as if the righteousness of His own Son were actually ours.

This is what the apostle calls "imputed" righteousness (Romans 4:6,8,11,22,24), or righteousness so reckoned to us by God, as that we are entitled to all the blessings which that righteousness can obtain for us. Righteousness got up by ourselves, or put into us by another, we call infused, or imparted, or inherent righteousness; but righteousness belonging to another reckoned to us by God as if it were our own, we call imputed righteousness. It is of this that the apostle speaks when he says, "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27). Thus Christ represents us: and God deals with us as represented by Him. Righteousness within will follow necessarily and inseparably; but we are not to wait in order to get it before going to God for the righteousness of His only begotten Son.

Imputed righteousness must come first. You cannot have the righteousness within—until you have the righteousness without; and to make your own righteousness the price which you give to God for that of His Son—is to dishonor Christ, and to deny His cross. The Spirit's work is not to make us holy, in order that we may be pardoned; but to show us the cross, where the pardon is to be found by the unholy; so that having found the pardon there, we may begin the life of holiness to which we are called.

That which God presents to the sinner, is an immediate pardon, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done," but by the great work of righteousness finished for us by the Substitute. Our qualification for obtaining that righteousness, is that we are unrighteous; just as the sick man's qualification for the physician, is that he is sick.

Of a previous goodness, preparatory to pardon, the gospel says nothing. Of a preliminary state of religious feeling, as a necessary introduction to the grace of God, the apostles never spoke. Fears, troubles, self-questionings, bitter cries for mercy, forebodings of judgment, and resolutions of amendment, may, in point of time, have preceded the sinner's reception of the good news; but they did not constitute his fitness, nor make up his qualification. He would have been quite as welcome without them. They did not make the pardon more complete, more gracious, or more free. The sinner's needs were all his arguments: "God be merciful to me—a sinner." He needed salvation, and he went to God for it, and got it just because he needed it, and because God delights in saving the poor and needy. He needed pardon, and he went to God for it, and obtained it without merit or money. "When he had nothing to pay, God graciously forgave." It was the having nothing to pay—which drew out God's gracious forgiveness.

Ah, this is grace! "This is love, not that we loved God—but that He loved us!" He loved us, even when we were dead in sins. He loved us, not because we were rich in goodness—but because He was "rich in mercy"; not because we were worthy of His favor—but because He delighted in loving-kindness. His welcome to us comes from His own graciousness, not from our lovableness.

–Horatius Bonar, "How Shall I Go to God?"

Further Reading
Trusting God In Trying Times
Godliness in Heart and Life
Witnessing to a Blank Stare

01 March 2014

Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming 'Outpouring,' Warns of 'Scoffers'

In a January 2014 blog post entitled, "A New Year, A New Time," popular Southern Baptist Bible teacher Beth Moore shared the following alleged God-given revelation:
In mid-November of 2012, God dropped a word so convicting on my heart through another teacher’s lesson that my face instantly burned. . . . This was the word:
"Stop sowing over and over in the exact same field."
I wasn’t looking for it. I didn’t ask for it. I was happy where I was. Like many of you, I like things to stay the same. I loved my circle of relationships and the familiar places I got to serve. I’ve never lost a passion for those places and have often wept with thanksgiving to God for the privilege of walking through some of the same doors again and again. I have a history of long relationships and staying put and that’s how I like things. But I knew God was talking to me. It burned like a branding iron. 

Every single day for nearly 14 months, that same word has reverberated in my soul and troubled my feet. . . .

Fast forward 12 months exactly to the most recent November. A year after hearing from God so clearly about sowing further than the field that I’d loved and served in for so long, I had a very disturbing dream. I can count the significant dreams I’ve had through the decades on one hand so I’m not prone to look for messages in my sleep to keep from having to actually pray and read the Bible. That God can speak through dreams is clear in our own Bibles, of course, but for many of us it is unusual. I don’t feel the release right now to describe the dream though I may someday. What I do feel is a strong compelling to share with you what I knew beyond a doubt it meant. I believe that I can either be obedient to God in the faith walk He is setting before me or He will take my voice. I do not feel that it was a rebuke. I felt that it was a warning.
(Source, emphasis added)
At the time, Do Not Be Surprised emphasized the danger of Moore's claims to receiving direct, personal revelation from God. What was not emphasized at that time was the content of the revelation.