30 May 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: trapgosh via photopin cc 
I appreciate your continued patience and loyalty while things remain a bit slow here at Do Not Be Surprised. God has placed me in a busy season and, though I've been through many before, for whatever reason this time it seems the days are shorter than they used to be! So while things are slow at the blog, 'real life' definitely is moving at a more hectic pace than I prefer. If not for God's grace and strength, it could be easy to grow impatient or frustrated with those heavy items that seem to only grow bigger on the proverbial plate.

Unfortunately, I can be an impatient person. I attribute this to the extreme patience I used to exercise as a child. I contend that I used up my lifetime quota of patience by the age of 12! But, now I can find rest in knowing that I am apparently not as impatient—or angry, for that matter—as the man who zipped around me in traffic today and, how shall I say it?—gave me a one-finger wave. No, I did not cut him off, he just didn't want anyone in front of him, I guess. The pent-up anger of a person like that amazes me in a deeply saddening way. I remember being a similar person before God saved me. Easily angered, and quick to fire off that anger even in the smallest, most trivial situations. It is a terribly agonizing existence. How profoundly thankful I am to God that, by His grace and power, such characteristics no longer define me. How I pray that others would come to find that same freedom in Christ.

With that, I must admit that there may be a link or two in this week's roundup that may elicit righteous anger. Mind your manners, both in thought and comment, as you peruse your week in review (kind of):

26 May 2014

What If 'My God' Is Bigger than 'Your God'?

photo credit: ashraful kadir via photopin cc
It does not require a detailed scouring of society to realize that men and women have devised gods of their own imaginations and fancies. Today's idolatry ultimately is revealed in the various fill-in-the-blank 'gods' that exist only in the fallen, sinful minds of men. One has a god that loves everybody and judges no one, except, of course, for those "really bad" people like Hitler or Genghis Khan. Men with their track records cannot get a pass with this all-loving, warm and fuzzy god. Others have a god that requires religious ritual and rite, irregardless of the heart motivation behind its execution. All those who worship falsely have a god that requires good works and behavior, who weighs one's life on the scales and who gives most everyone a pass into heaven so long as no monumental, major infraction is sitting on his or her record.

These people who live and walk in deception are, in essence, saying, "yes, but my god. . ." Yet, rarely does one actually hear these words uttered from their lips. This writer happened upon one man, however, who boldly did declare that "My god is a god of love and forgiveness. My god is not vindictive and wrathful like the God of the Old Testament. We are all [this god's] children," he said. So much could be said about this man's emphatic declaration, but let us look briefly at just one aspect of his statement.

23 May 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: ciro@tokyo via photopin cc
It's inevitable. In casual conversation, someone innocently asks what degree I'm pursuing. I say, "I'm studying for my Master's in Biblical Studies." And they reply, "Oh, so you want to be a pastor, then?" Sigh.

No. No, I don't want to be a pastor. If I wanted to be a pastor I'd be attending a liberal, Bible-hating (because if you deliberately disobey the Word you are functionally denying its authority and inerrancy), feminism-embracing seminary. Me? I just wanted to know more about God's Word. But then I have to attempt to explain to someone who has no regard for the Scriptures why it is that I do not have grand visions of being a female pastor and why I believe the Bible forbids such a thing, and then I stand unsurprised if that person looks at me like I'm a card-carrying member of some angry, anti-woman cult. Although, to be fair, this isn't always the reaction I receive. I have had people genuinely interested in what the Bible says on the topic, and have even seen some begin to realize that perhaps their own church is not teaching the truth on this issue (and others).

It's amazing how ingrained this mindset has become in our society. It's almost as if these individuals feel sorry for me, but if they do, their sympathy is in vain. On my best days, I sin against and grieve my God with my words, deeds and thoughts. Why would I seek to deliberately stand against Him in disobedience and defiance to His clear Word? While God has graciously granted me a love for His Word, He has (also graciously) not granted me a desire to hold such an authoritative position, and thus there is no struggle. I cannot help but question and grieve for the heart of a woman who claims to be a Christian, yet insists upon disobeying God's Word with her very vocational pursuits. My studies are my pastime. How He will choose to use them in the coming years, I do not know, but even as I grumble over my assignments, I am thankful for this time of study.

So don't worry, I won't be signing my posts 'Pastor EBenz' anytime soon. And with some of the horrible illustrations I tend to concoct, that's probably good news for multiple reasons! And with that, why don't you take a few moments and start off your Memorial Day weekend (three-day weekend, hooray!) by perusing your week in review (kind of):

21 May 2014

A Man Who Is Born Again

“Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29).

The man who is born again is a holy man. He endeavors to live according to God’s will, to do the things that please God and to avoid the things that God hates. He wishes to continually look to Christ as his example as well as his Savior and to be Christ’s friend by doing whatever He commands.

He knows he is not perfect. He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption. He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God. But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence.

Though he may sometimes feel so low that he questions whether he is a Christian at all, he will say with John Newton, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be,I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (I John 3:14).

A man who is born again also has a special love for all true disciples of Christ. Like his Father in heaven, he loves all men with a great general love, but he has a special love for those who share his faith in Christ. Like his Lord and Saviour, he loves the worst of sinners and could weep over them; but he has a peculiar love for those who are believers.

He understands them, and they understand him. They may be different in many ways—in rank, in station and in wealth. But that does not matter. They are his Father’s sons and daughters and he cannot help loving them.

What would the apostle say about you? Are you born again?

— J.C.Ryle

HT: Truth Community Fellowship

16 May 2014

This 'n' That

Like many people, I worked retail for a time while I was in college. Ah, yes, those were the days. Short shifts hardly seemed worth the effort and long shifts were often broken up and rewarded with a delicious lunch at the food court pizza place. Of course, at that age, your metabolism lets you dine frequently at such establishments.

These retail days were spent at J.Crew. I was asked this week just when I worked at “the Crew” and realized, much to my dismay, that my first day working at J.Crew was nearly 13 years ago. Oh my. When did I get so old? It seems like just yesterday that us “regular employees” were grumbling about the fact that the “kids” they brought in as holiday help were making more money than we were. But I digress (can you digress if you ultimately have no real point, though?).

My time at this store left me with lots of interesting and funny memories. Like the time we had the local college basketball game playing in the back room, and kept taking turns running back to check the score and watch for a few minutes. Or the t-shirt folding skills that I still possess (but don't use) to this day. Or the memories of some employees (not this one, of course), hiding in a fitting room or even on a shelf of back-stocked clothes to grab a quick nap. Or the shoplifters. Or the muzak. Or the flip-flops. Oh, the flip flops.

PinkLens Photography by Tonee Zaide via photopin cc 
I had one manager who was a flip-flop freak. Anytime someone purchased a pair of flip-flops, if we did not rush to the back to restock the size, we would suffer the wrath of this manager. She constantly was making us rearrange the flip-flops. Do you know how hard it is to ensure that a stack of flip-flops always looks organized when customers are constantly digging through to find their size?

I also can vividly remember those female customers who would carry a load of clothes into the fitting room and then come out and deliver a fashion show to me in order to get my opinion. “How do these pants look? They’re not too tight, are they?” Um… what do you say when the pants actually are too tight but the customer is one who you know will not appreciate your honesty if you offer it? I usually escaped that trap by suggesting something else that I knew actually would flatter the customer, but alas, it didn’t always work.

As far as I’m concerned, everyone should spend some time working retail. It will give you a newfound respect for those poor souls who are working hard for just a few dollars an hour (of course, what do I know—after 13 years maybe retail is more lucrative than it used to be!). It will make you think twice before you get irritated with the sales associate who really can’t fulfill your every whim and demand without first consulting a manager. It will test, and hopefully grow, your patience. And of course, it will give you funny stories to remember forever.

Now that I have you reflecting back on some of your early working-world experiences, why don’t you think about leaving a comment here to share your memories, but not before you first enjoy your week in review (kind of):

14 May 2014

No Compromise Radio: Sola Beth Moore or Sola Scriptura?

Additional Resources
Beth Moore's 'Sabbath Moment' Playdate with God
NoCo90: Where Is Beth Moore's Husband?
Beth Moore's 'Twelfth Month Redemption'
Why Beth Moore and Not Me? The Danger of Claiming to Receive Direct Revelation
Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming 'Outpouring,' Warns of 'Scoffers'

Willow Creek on 'Fired-Up Women' in 'Full Service' in the Church

Nothing says 'Happy Mother's Day' like watching women blatantly disobey God's Word. Yes, it seems that this past Mother's Day weekend was the weekend of choice for seeker-sensitive, compromising pastors to welcome women to preach from their pulpit (or, more accurately, their stage). Observe the following tweet:
This was tweeted out by Willow Creek Church Sunday evening, 11 May, following weekend services that were preached by Hillsong darling Christine Caine. For the record, this writer did attempt to elicit clarification from the Willow Creek Twitter account as to how 'full service' was defined. As of the publication of this post, there has been no response. The implication of this quote from Bill Hybels seems to be that, in spite of Scripture's clarity on the issue, women preaching and holding authority over men in the church should not be perceived as a problem.

It would seem that Christine Caine, who has stated in the past that heretical Word-Faith teacher Joyce Meyer is her "spiritual mother," has no reservations about this issue, since she has previously preached weekend services at churches such as Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and Steven Furtick's Elevation Church. It further is unsurprising that this statement originates from Hybels and Willow Creek, considering what was discussed last year in the post Women Elders: The World vs. the Word. One must remember that, even though Willow Creek claims to hold to a 'biblical model of church leadership,' it boasts several female elders.

Yet, there are two (at least) obvious problems with this seemingly profound-enough-to-be-tweeted quote from Bill Hybels.

10 May 2014

Perry Noble on Women Preaching and Being "Barefoot and Pregnant"

Perry Noble, senior pastor of NewSpring Church, is well known for once declaring that "this church is going to be a church that does anything it takes short of sin to reach people far from God and bring them to where they need to be." (Please see this post at the Pajama Pages blog for a helpful discussion of this and other issues.) Sin, then, apparently is off-limits for Noble in his efforts to "reach people far from God," though based upon much of his preaching and methodology, Noble's definition of sin seems to be a bit more relaxed than what others might affirm. This once again became evident in a recent Facebook Q&A Noble did, wherein he appeared to liken those who think women ought not to preach to those who think women must merely remain "barefoot and pregnant."

This comes as Mother's Day approaches, and Noble is "beyond excited" to welcome Lysa TerKeurst to preach to his entire church at the weekend services. TerKeurst is the face of Proverbs 31 Ministries and may be profiled more extensively here in the future. For now, it is enough to know that she is willing to usurp the role of pastor by preaching in a weekend service before a mixed audience.

08 May 2014

Are You Asleep?

I put before you now a simple question. Look through the pages of this paper and you will soon see why I ask it. "Are you asleep about your soul?"

There are many who have the name of Christians—but not the character which should go with the name. God is not King of their hearts. "They mind earthly things."

J.C. Ryle
Such people are often quick and clever about the affairs of this life. They are, many of them, good men of business, good at their daily work, good masters, good servants, good neighbors, good subjects of the Queen—all this I fully allow. But it is the eternal part of them which I speak of; it is their never dying souls. And about that, if a man may judge by the little they do for it—they are careless, thoughtless, reckless, and unconcerned. They are asleep.

I do not say that God and salvation are subjects which never come across their minds—but this I say—they have not the uppermost place there. Neither do I say that they are all alike in their lives; some of them doubtless go further in sin than others; but this I say—they have all turned every one to his own way, and that way is not God's. I know no rule by which to judge of a man's estate—but the Bible. Now when I look at the Bible I can come to only one conclusion about these people—they are asleep about their souls.

These people do not see the sinfulness of sin, and their own lost condition by nature. They appear to make light of breaking God's commandments, and to care little whether they live according to His law or not. Yet God says that sin is the transgression of the law—that His commandment is exceeding broad—that every imagination of the natural heart is evil—that sin is the thing He cannot bear, He hates it—that the wages of sin is death, and the soul that sins shall die. Surely they are asleep.

Is this the state of your soul? Remember my question. Are you asleep?

No Compromise Radio: Communion for Children?

Additional Resources
Take and Eat: A False Convert at the Lord's Table
NoCo90: God's Revelation Is Not Deficient
NoCo90: Faith Healing Frauds

03 May 2014

Perry Noble "Loved" and Recommends the Book 'Heaven Is for Real'

Perry Noble ignores the "theological
police" and endorses Heaven Is for Real.
Perry Noble of NewSpring Church has finally tossed his unsolicited two cents into the Heaven Is for Real discussion. In a May 2 blog post, Noble writes:
Bottom line, I loved the book (I have not seen the movie). I know the “theological police” have issues with it and have attempted to point out where it “falls short” of what the Scriptures say. (Source)
He then goes on to share two questions that he "wrestled" with, as well as his conclusions. The first question is "Could God have done this?" Noble's answer: "Absolutely."
Who am I to claim that this event did not take place? …

Too many people are trying to limit God through their experiences and their theological view in regards to this matter.
Yet, it is precisely because people put far too much emphasis on their experiences that books such as Heaven Is for Real are given a second glance in the first place.

Church of England Celebrates 20 Years of Disobedience to God's Word

Screenshot: BBC News
On 12 March 1994, a group of 32 women became the first to be ordained as priests in the Church of England. Today, more than 20 years later, the Church of England will celebrate this gross departure and disobedience to the Word of God. More than one thousand women will march through the streets from Westminster Abbey to St. Paul's Cathedral, where a special service will be held to honor the occasion.

Christian Today reports:
The Archbishop of Canterbury will be preaching to representatives of all 42 dioceses of the Church of England, and every woman who was ordained in 1994 has been invited to take part, sharing Bible readings and their reflections on their ordination. (Source)

02 May 2014

This 'n' That

Osteen Theology:
Sending people to Hell
one smile at a time.
I know, I know. After last week you may have been expecting some deep, profound thoughts. Well, it’s Friday, so you should have known not to let your expectations soar too high. I like to affectionately refer to Friday as Fried-day, as in “my brain is now fried.” Why in the world Joel Osteen wants every day to be a Friday, I’ll never know. That would be a cruel, Groundhog Day movie-esque joke to play on anybody. Every day a Friday? Every day destined to wake up, go to work, come home and do it all over again the next day without rest? No Saturday? No Sunday? No starting the week by gathering with the saints to hear God’s Word proclaimed and heralded? I love Fridays, but if every day were a Friday, I’d have to seriously consider curling up in the fetal position and willing myself into mental oblivion.

Now, I’ve never read Osteen’s book, but I have heard Osteen preach. I’ve seen the ridiculous tweets that his “ministry team” sends out. I’ve played the Your Best Life Now board game (in fact, I own that game. You’re jealous, aren’t you?), so I have a pretty good idea of Osteen’s theology, or lack thereof, and think I can safely criticize anything with his name and toothy smile on the cover. In a 2011 interview with ABC News about this book, Osteen said:
"Our message is about the goodness of God," Osteen told ABC News. "It seems just [sic] that people come alive when they realize God is for me, he's got a plan for my life and I can do something great. I can be who he wants me to be."

From Scripture and life, Osteen shares principles for happiness. "Jesus talked about everyday life, not just doctrine but how do we live, how do we forgive. How do we keep a good attitude when the economy is down," he said.

“People come alive when they realize God is for me, he’s got a plan for my life and I can do something great. I can be who he wants me to be.” Well, duh, of course people like this message! This false god wants exactly what you, a fallen and depraved sinner, want for your life. Do you have great plans for your life? Well, so does God! Yippee! And you know what? You don’t have to worry about anything else, like sin or repentance or understanding the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of those who believe. Nope, you just have to believe that God is “for” you—whatever that means.

You know what else God is “for”? Holiness. Righteous, holy wrath poured out as the just punishment for sin. It’s true. Just read passages like Romans 1:18; 2:5; 3:5–6; 5:9; Ephesians 5:3–8; or Colossians 3:5–10. So the fact that God is “for” something does not necessarily mean that we want to be on the receiving end of that thing. God also is “for” holy living, death to self, the pursuit of righteousness and the mortification of sin. These are things we ought to pursue if we profess to be His. He never promises the Christian that every day will be like 5:00 on Friday. The Christian’s world is not a 5:00 world. If we want to stick with this work-week analogy, for the Christian, life often seems like a Monday morning world, filled with trials and unexpected tribulations or persecution. We should not seek our rewards here on this earth. This life is but a fleeting moment and our comfort here will not matter one iota when we awake in eternity. What a shame it is that a man with the audience and influence that Joel Osteen has can be so utterly blind to the great riches that are provided in Christ to those who believe. How sad it is that this man, unless he repents and turns to Christ, has truly found his best life here on this earth, with an inexplicably dreadful eternity awaiting him.

Well, on that sobering note, the truth of the matter is that today is Friday, and that means I have another list of the good, the bad and the ugly headlines of the week. So while I know you wouldn’t want every day to be a Friday, I still hope you enjoy this particular Friday that God has given us and I especially hope that you enjoy your week in review (kind of):