31 July 2014

'Stripping Down' the Barriers of Evangelism?

Photo credit
Ladies, do you 'hang out' in the men's public restroom? Men, how about you? Do you frequent the ladies' room? No? Why not? Could it be because you do not belong there?

Christianity Today (CT) regularly features a column entitled 'Three Views', wherein three influential voices within professing Christendom offer their opinion regarding CT's latest controversial issue. The question most recently posited was: Would Jesus Hang Out in a Strip Club? It quickly becomes clear in reading the article that the ultimate question is: Is it okay for professing Christians to 'hang out' in a strip club?

Two of the three voices, Dawn Herzog Jewell and Mike Foster, answered with a resounding 'yes' while Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition took the negative stance. Carter makes some salient points in his brief argument:
It's hard for me to believe there are Christians who think Jesus would hang out in a strip club. Are we talking about the Jesus who had a high opinion of women and a low view of lust? Hanging out at a strip club doesn't sound like something he would do.

But since the question is being asked, I assume there are people who think he would. I have to assume they think that since Jesus ate with sinners, he'd have no problem eating at a buffet next to a stripper pole.

Jesus did sit and eat with sinners (Mark 2:16–17). In Luke 15, we again find the oft-quoted claim made by the Pharisees: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." What is often left out is the lengthy reply Jesus gave. After hearing their charges, Jesus tells three parables—about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a prodigal son. . . But there is no evidence that Jesus ever ate with sinners or even spent significant time "hanging out" with them without calling them to turn from their sin. . . .

I wonder if what many people want to know is not whether Jesus would hang out at a strip club, but whether he'd have an issue if they hung out there. For those people, I'd recommend meditating on the words of Matthew 5:28–29.

It seems that Carter may have hit at the crux of the issue when he queried, "I wonder if what many people want to know is not whether Jesus would hang out at a strip club, but whether he'd have an issue if they hung out there."

30 July 2014

Rescued from Darkness

photo credit: Denis Collette...!!! via photopin cc
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14)

Further Reading
Dedicated Pastors Produce Discerning Sheep
Resting in the Immutability of God
You Cannot Sneak Into Heaven Without a Cross

27 July 2014

25 July 2014

No Compromise Radio: Monergistic Regeneration Extols Sovereign Grace

Additional Resources
NoCo90: The Misuse of Matthew 18
NoCo90: I Wasn't Led
NoCo90: The Myth of Free Will

This 'n' That

Well, I recently returned from 'vacation'. I use the term loosely because mine is always a working (schoolwork, that is) vacation. But, it gives me an opportunity to visit one of my favorite parts of the country and the campus is pretty and peaceful (most of the time, anyway). And while there have been some mildly disappointing administrative changes in the program, and while I am, after all this time, anxious to complete my studies, I nevertheless am thankful for the opportunity to study, learn and grow in a multitude of ways.

Each year that I am on campus, I take pictures. These pictures look nearly the same year after year because, though it may sound silly, what I love most about visiting the campus is enjoying the beauty of nature when I'm there. To begin with, the campus is loaded with rosebushes, and I love roses.

And of course, you can't beat a Southern California sunset, no matter where you may be or whatever the setting.

But, as much as I love school, I'm happy to be back home. I missed my kitties, my bed, and my church. There really is no place like home, even on this fallen world. Can you imagine what it will be like when we finally are in our eternal home? I can't wait.

Until then, though, we still have much to do, starting with enjoying your (still a bit abbreviated) week in review (kind of):

23 July 2014

Woman Lets 'Jesus' Take the Wheel, Drives Over Motorcyclist

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reports:
Lying helplessly in the street and watching the car that just knocked him off his motorcycle bearing down on him, Anthony Oliveri was resigned to his fate.
photo credit: Thomas Hawk via photopin cc

“When I looked at that bumper and looked at that tire, I told myself, today is the day you die,” he said Thursday of the July 11 crash.

He closed his eyes and the car ran over his midsection, breaking all the ribs on his left side, cutting his spleen, bruising a kidney and leaving him with road rash and severe injuries to the muscles in his left arm and leg.

The car eventually came to a stop when it drove into landscaping between two fast-food restaurants several blocks east of the crash at West Jefferson Boulevard and Jackson Street.

The car’s driver, 25-year-old Prionda C. Hill, told police she let go of the wheel shortly before the crash because “God told her he would take it from here,” according to the probable cause affidavit filed Thursday in Allen Superior Court.

As a result of the crash, Hill, of the 2100 block of Weisser Park Avenue, was charged with failure to stop after an accident resulting in injury or death, criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and two counts of criminal mischief.

(Source, emphasis added)
This is what happens when people start to listen to the voice in their head that claims to be God. How is the voice in Prionda Hill's head any different from the voice that told Beth Moore to take a 'Sabbath moment' playdate with God? Or how is it any different from the other direct revelations and prophecies that Beth Moore purports have been spoken to her by God? How is it any different from the 'Jesus' that allegedly spoke to Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling? How is it any different from any of the other wildly fantastic claims of direct, audible communication from God made by charismatics today?

21 July 2014

Bishop Who Urged Charismatics and Catholics to Unite Dies in Motorcycle Accident

Bishop Tony Palmer. Photo: Stand Up for the Truth
It's likely that few have forgotten the figurative ecumenical bear hug that was shared earlier this year between Pope Francis and charismatic charlatan Kenneth Copeland. The two were joined together virtually by means of the iPhone of Bishop Tony Palmer, whose message to the masses gathered at Copeland's church urged the charismatics and Catholics to unite as one. In fact, Palmer has been quoted as stating, "Brothers and sisters, Luther's protest is over. Is yours?"

Today it has been reported that Palmer died following a motorcycle accident in the UK. In spite of, and perhaps because of, the unbiblical nature of Palmer's agenda, the news is tragic. It should cause Christians to reflect upon the brevity of this life and the urgency with which we must be sharing the true and saving gospel of Jesus Christ—a gospel that may actually divide men, but that saves souls.

Christian Today reports:
Evangelicals and other Christians worldwide are mourning the sudden death of a bishop in a breakaway Anglican church who had become a close personal friend of Pope Francis.

British-born Tony Palmer has died in hospital following hours of surgery after a motorcycle accident in the UK.

He moved with his family to South Africa when he was ten but currenty lived with his wife Emiliana and two children in Trowbridge, Wiltshire. He was a bishop with the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches, which embraced the middle ground of Anglican identity.

In January this year Pope Francis sent Bishop Palmer to a charismatic conference hosted by television evangelist Kenneth Copeland, where he unveiled a video message of unity and love that the Pope had suggested he do.

The news of his death was disclosed by Archbishop Charles Hill, patriarch and presiding prelate of Ambassadors for Christ Ministries of America, who wrote on Facebook yesterday (20th): "We are in prayer for the family of Bishop Tony Palmer who was in a motorcycle accident this morning in the UK after hours of surgery he went home to be with the Lord. He was a good friend and brother in the vineyard."

HT: Stand Up for the Truth

Further Reading
The Ecumenical Bear Hug of Pope Francis and Kenneth Copeland
Pope Francis Lies to All People, Says Belief in God Not Necessary for Forgiveness
Pope Francis: 'When We Encounter the Cross, We Turn to Mary'
Pope Francis Does Not Know God

18 July 2014

This 'n' That

On a shelf in my office (okay, it’s a cubicle, but ‘office’ sounds more prestigious, doesn’t it?) sits a small rear view mirror. Its purpose is to warn me of oncoming coworkers. As I glanced up the other day to see whose approaching footsteps I was hearing, I was reminded of an oft-used seeker-driven mantra. It may go something like this: ‘Why look in the rear view mirror of your past? God doesn’t!’ or ‘Your past doesn’t define you, so stop looking at it.’

photo credit: mark sebastian via photopin cc 
Yet, if we are honest, and if we are Christians, we know that occasionally glancing into our past is not a bad thing, even if it is littered with sin. Why? Because reminding ourselves of our former, unregenerate lives necessarily must lead us to praise God yet again for His great mercy and forgiveness. After all, in this is love in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Looking at the past reminds of us our justification in Christ and the gracious, merciful forgiveness granted to us in Him.

Further, when we remember where and who we were, we can better see and thank God for who we are. He did not save us and then leave us. No, He saved us and transformed us and is continuing to sanctify us. Looking at our past allows us to see the ongoing work of sanctification in our lives.

So while we ought not dwell on the past, or be burdened by it to the point of paralysis, we do well to reflect on it. And if we do so in light of the great, unfathomable mercy and character of God, then we will be driven to praise—and that, beloved, is the greatest by-product of all.

I've been quite busy this week (I'll share why next week), so today's round-up is a bit shorter than usual. Nevertheless, I hope you'll enjoy this slightly more brief week in review (kind of):

16 July 2014

Church of England Votes to Continue in Disobedience to God's Word with Appointment of Female Bishops

It was not long ago that the Church of England celebrated 20 years of disobedience to God's Word in its ordination of women priests. This week, feminists across the CoE are celebrating another victory resulting in the denigration, disobedience and disregard of Scripture, as it has been reported that the Church of England General Synod has voted to allow women to become bishops in the church.
Canterbury Cathedral; Photo: Tony Hisgett

BBC reports:
The Church of England has voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time in its history. Its ruling General Synod gave approval to legislation introducing the change by the required two-thirds majority. (Source)
Reported CNN:
The first female bishop could be appointed by the end of the year, the church said. 
The head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said he was "delighted" with the result. Church of England rejects women bishops Female clergy for the Church of England? "Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing," he said in a statement. "The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds."
The problem with the so-called progress that is being achieved on this "great adventure" is, of course, that it stands in direct opposition to God's clear prohibition against women in leadership and authority over men in the church. Texts such as 1 Timothy 2:11–15 and Titus 2:3–5 do not stutter in their commands or descriptions of a woman's role:

14 July 2014

Sanctification: A Positive Certainty

J.C. Ryle
He who supposes that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide justification and forgiveness of sins for His people, has yet much to learn. Whether he knows it or not, he is dishonoring our blessed Lord, and making Him only a half Savior. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people's souls require; not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins, by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit—not only to justify, but also to sanctify them. He is, thus, not only their “righteousness,” but their “sanctification” (1 Cor 1:30). Let us hear what the Bible says: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified” (John 17:19). “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it” (Eph 5:25). “Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Christ “bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24). Christ hath reconciled you “in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight” (Col 1:22). Let the meaning of these five texts be carefully considered. If words mean anything, they teach that Christ undertakes the sanctification, no less than the justification of His believing people. Both are alike provided for in that “everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure” (2 Sam 23:5), of which the Mediator is Christ. In fact, Christ in one place is called: “He that sanctifieth,” and His People, “they who are sanctified” (Heb 2:11). . . .

Sanctification, again, is the outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration. He that is born again and made a new creature, receives a new nature and a new principle, and always lives a new life. A regeneration which a man can have, and yet live carelessly in sin or worldliness—is a regeneration never mentioned in Scripture. He that is born of God doth not commit sin, doeth righteousness, loveth the brethren, keepeth himself, and overcometh the world (1 John 2:29; 3:9-14; 5:4-18). In a word, where there is no sanctification there is no regeneration, and where there is no holy life there is no new birth. This is a hard saying to many minds; but, hard or not, it is Bible truth. It is written plainly, that he who is born of God is one whose “seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9).

Sanctification, again, is the only certain evidence of that indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is essential to salvation. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom 8:9). The Spirit never lies dormant and idle within the soul. He always makes His presence known by the fruit He causes to be borne in heart, character, and life. “The fruit of the Spirit,” says St. Paul, “is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” and such like (Gal 5:22). Where these things are to be found, there is the Spirit; where these things are wanting, men are dead before God. The Spirit is compared to the wind, and, like the wind, He cannot be seen by our bodily eyes. But just as we know there is a wind by the effect it produces on waves, and trees, and smoke, so we may know the Spirit is in a man by the effects He produces in the man's conduct. It is nonsense to suppose that we have the Spirit, if we do not also “walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). We may depend on it as a positive certainty, that where there is no holy living, there is no Holy Ghost. The seal that the Spirit stamps on Christ's people is sanctification. As many as are actually “led by the Spirit of God, they,” and they only, “are the sons of God” (Rom 8:14).

—J. C. Ryle, The Ryle Anthology (Kindle Locations 1870-1882, 1895-1909).

Further Reading
Church of England Celebrates 20 Years of Disobedience to God's Word
The Light Shines in the Darkness
The Parable of the Soils: Giving or Gospel?

11 July 2014

This 'n' That

I often think of Psalm 19:1:
The heavens are telling of the glory of God, and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
It’s so true, isn’t it? A few nights ago, we had a sudden, strong storm pass through the area around 8:00 in the evening. Once the rain had passed, I stepped outside to finish taking out the garbage (I know, I lead a glamorous life), and was absolutely stunned by the beauty of the sky. Here it was, nearly 9:00 pm by this time, and the sky was brighter than it had been in hours. An orange-yellow glow served to highlight a sky full of clouds, while just a turn of my head revealed that another portion of sky was just as blue as any summer sky ought to look. It was strange, bizarre, and wonderful. The neighbors were all in their driveway marveling at the beauty. Even the local news was commenting and sharing photos of this magnificent, divine painting. We attempted to capture it in a photo, but of course, no iPhone can capture the beauty that is displayed by the hand of God:

The heavens and all of nature truly do tell of the glory of God. In fact, sometimes they positively shout of His magnificence and majesty. And if our God allows us the grace to receive and enjoy such wonderful gifts in this life, just imagine what unfathomable greatness awaits us in the life to come. Oh yes, we serve a mighty, generous, wonderful God!

With that, there’s not much more to say, so please enjoy your week in review (kind of):

10 July 2014

Garage Sale God Whispers, Twice Dead, and the Name of Jesus Ignored

At times it can be easy to forget the depth of deception that exists among professing Christians. Those of us who are blessed to be in churches where the Word is proclaimed without compromise can forget what it was like to be starving for truth and spiritual meat. Yes, we see many concerning things on the Internet and lament and decry theses deceptions. Perhaps we even speak out against them on social media. But Twitter, Facebook and blogs are not real, tangible life and it is not until ‘real life’ is standing and talking to you in your driveway that you remember just how active is the Great Deceiver.

Last month, this ‘real life’ confronted me in my driveway as I engaged several individuals in conversation during the neighborhood garage sale. There were a few ‘Christian themed’ items in our sale and this inevitably invited conversation. I live in a fairly religious-minded area, so folks usually are open to at least talking about God. The name of Jesus, however, doesn’t fall from their lips so easily. And of course, the big mystery always is—to which God are they referring?

One of these interesting encounters was with a gentleman who clearly was caught up in charismaticism. I do not recall exactly how the conversation started, but at one point he declared, “Well, God just told me to leave my church.”

Okay. “So, what do you mean that ‘God told you to leave your church’? Were there things going on there that didn’t line up with Scripture? Is that how you knew it was time to leave?” Of course, I already suspected the answer to the question, but did not want to presume.

He answered, “Nope. I was perfectly happy there. God just told me it was time to leave. He told me once before to leave a church, too. So I just leave and wait till He tells me what to do next.”

This puts the respondent in quite a spot. After all, who am I to question his experience? But it would not be long before I did question the notion of experience as the determiner of truth as he stated, “You know, that Heaven Is for Real movie was just wonderful. What an anointed message. Have you seen it?”

No Compromise Radio: God's Free Will

Additional Resources
NoCo90: God's Revelation Is Not Deficient
NoCo90: Faith Healing Frauds
NoCo90: Donate Buttons and Christian Begging

06 July 2014

Sunday Morning Praise

Blessed Assurance

Blessed Assurance was written by Fanny Crosby, who, despite being blind is estimated to have written "more than 8,000 gospel song texts in her lifetime."
The music for [Blessed Assurance] was composed by Mrs. Joseph Knapp, an amateur musician, wife of the founder of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, and a close personal friend of Fanny Crosby. One day Mrs. Knapp played this melody for the blind poetess and asked, "What does this tune say?" Fanny responded immediately, "Why, that says: 'Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.'" (Kenneth Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, [Kregel Publications: 1982], 43).

04 July 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: (nz)dave via photopin cc
Well, it's the Fourth of July. I won't grumble about fireworks again. I try to only complain about that once a year, and I've already used up my quota for 2014 (lucky you). I actually don't mind fireworks. It's just the people who are so easily amused by them who often scare me. And the explosions scare my cat. Mess with my cat, mess with me.

​I don't really have much to say about the 4th, though I am thankful for those who have served and fought for our country, and thankful that God allowed me to be born and raised here. But fireworks, well, I just don't 'get' them. As I said, I don't hate them, I just don't understand the allure. If I'm already at a location and there happen to be fireworks, okay, that's fun. But I'm not about to make an effort to join hoards of people in watching a fireworks show. Now if I can see fireworks from my house (without them being in my neighbors backyard), well, that is pretty much perfect. I have learned one thing, however: do not tell other people that you're indifferent to fireworks. They look at you like you just kicked a puppy or something. It's true, trust me.

I considered trying to come up with some sort of spiritual application or analogy for the Fourth of July, but let's face it, there isn't one unless you engage in patriotic idolatry. So if you want any of that, you'll have to attend your local seeker-sensitive, misguided megachurch this weekend instead. No doubt many churches will allow patriotism and politics to dominate the pulpit this weekend, a reality that in itself is a sad commentary on the state of the church.

I do, however, want you to go out and enjoy your holiday weekend. But before you lather on the sunscreen, take a few minutes to first enjoy your week in review (kind of):