30 August 2014

'God's Glory Bible' — A Blasphemous Display of Patriotic Idolatry

It is an unfortunate reality that many self-professed Christians in America equate patriotism with Christianity. As a result, patriotic idolatry is rampant in this country as many seek to "turn America back to Jesus" or "return America to the Christian nation it once was." These people do not realize that Christianity is not a national identity, it is a matter of personal faith. Might a nation be dominated by one particular faith? Yes. But are we as Christians called to create a "Christian nation"? No. Further, nowhere in Scripture does our Lord say that America is His chosen land. Nowhere has He said that He loves America more than all others, or that He has blessed America above all nations. In fact, if one desire to be technical, it is Israel that God once chose as His people, and it is she who is the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8). But that is a matter for another day.

As 'America for Jesus' rallies, prayer events and other patriotic shenanigans occur in the name of Christianity, there may be perhaps no greater demonstration of the blasphemy of patriotic idolatry than in the recently released 'God's Glory Bible.'


The website description reads:
God’s Glory™ Bible is a symbol of God and Country united. Its cover is a Star Spangled Banner of red, white and blue and you know it is the Holy Bible from its size, shape and gilt page edges. Instantly putting both of these images together – it looks like the Holy Bible wrapped in an American Flag. God’s Glory™ Bible – One Nation Under God. (Source)

29 August 2014

This 'n' That

photo credit: UNDP in Europe and Central Asia via photopin cc
Once again, Mark Driscoll has dominated the landscape of evangelical headlines this week with his announcement of a 6-week hiatus from ministry until charges against him are reviewed. There are a myriad of ways we could respond to this. Many jump first to sarcasm and snark, but it would be my prayer that we would not do that here. Sometimes our unsolicited wit and opinions are simply unhelpful. Rather, we ought to pray, among many things, that the men who are “investigating” the charges against Driscoll would humbly submit to Scripture, not to Mark Driscoll, and in doing so would realize that he was never qualified to be an elder or pastor, and he certainly has only disqualified himself more in the years since he began his ministry. It is not a time for the elders of Mars Hill to be ‘yes-men,’ but to be overseers.

We also must learn from this. What has happened at Mars Hill Church and at other churches across the world, whether mega or mini, is not only an example of God’s purpose for including the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, but also demonstrates an abuse of such biblical mandates for elders as Hebrews 13:17:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
The Bible is clear that believers are to submit to the elders who have been charged with overseeing them and the well-being of their souls. Yet this is not a commission to be taken lightly by elders, for they “will give an account.” What a weighty call! And it is no doubt one that, if not undertaken by qualified men with prayer and humility, may result in a swelling of pride and an exercise of decidedly unbiblical control and governance. To the men who are serving in such a capacity, let me urge you to remember that you do not “call all the shots”—God does.

This is why such passages as Hebrews 13:17 cannot be acted upon without the balance of other passages that also address leadership in the church. I think especially of 1 Peter 5:1–4 in this instance:
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
“Be examples to the flock,” dear pastor, dear elder. Do not lord your authority over the flock that God has graciously given to you. You have been given that flock not for your glory, but for God’s. They are His people, not yours. The sheep in your care will joyfully submit to you and to your example when they see you magnify Christ and submit to Him in all things and all situations, whether favorable or unpleasant. The sheep in your care will willingly submit to men who lead, not as the world leads, not as a dictator leads, but as Christ leads. And when the sheep in your flock see you exemplify the fear of God that no doubt accompanies such a serious task as eldership, they will joyfully pray, encourage, and support you in the ministry that God has given you—for the glory and honor of His name.

Of course, I write as one who is not an elder and who will never be an elder. But I write as a member of a flock. I write as a sheep. I write as one who has seen at least mild consequences of abuse firsthand. I write as one who has experienced elders stepping outside of the boundaries of their authority. I write as one who has witnessed the ungodly intimidation tactics of men who were more loyal to another man than they were to Christ. I write as one who prays for the men who bear the burden of ministry. I write as one who loves the Lord and grieves when His name is disparaged because of the ungodly antics of men like Mark Driscoll. I write as one who pleads with elders everywhere to stand firm where Scripture stands, and to love as Christ loved.

Have you been blessed with church leadership that glorifies God in such a way? Leadership that holds one another accountable to Scripture and to Christ? Thank them. Pray for them. And then take a few moments to enjoy your week in review (kind of):

24 August 2014

Mark Driscoll to Step Down for at Least 6 Weeks While Charges Against Him Are Investigated

Blogger and Grove City College professor, Warren Throckmorton, who has been carefully following and reporting on the the turbulent, ongoing happenings with Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church, reported this morning that Mark Driscoll has announced a 6-week break from ministry while charges against him are reviewed by the church's elders:
Reading a prepared statement, Mark Driscoll told the Bellevue campus of the Mars Hill Church congregation this morning that he will take at least six weeks off as lead pastor of Mars Hill Church while charges against him are investigated. Driscoll preached at Bellevue at 8:30 am to a packed house. According to sources in church this morning, Driscoll said he is meeting with mature Christian men unrelated to the church. The message is being played at other locations this morning.
Read the rest of the story and hear audio of Driscoll's announcement here.

Further Reading
Acting Like Men? Pastors, Pulpits and Profanity
Of Mefferd and Driscoll and Integrity
Driscoll, Osteen and Those Things that Are Worse than Being Happy and Encouraging

Sunday Morning Praise

Be Still My Soul

15 August 2014

This 'n' That

I love gathering with my church family on Sunday morning. Being around my brothers and sisters in Christ—my true family—is the highlight of my week. We meet at 9:00 AM, which never seemed all that early to me . . . until now.

I was flipping through the paper last night and spotted this:

What? Sleep in and still make it to church? Why, that's the best of both worlds! After all, it's so annoying when Jesus encroaches on our beauty sleep, wouldn't you agree?

Yes, I'm being sarcastic and yes, this church ad grieves me deeply. It encourages the mentality that Jesus is just a side dish to the entreé of your weekend. Would you like fries with that? Only if I'm in the mood for them. Would you like Jesus with that? Only if I feel like it.

This mentality is a blasphemous one, and yet it is startlingly pervasive. It's the same attitude that leaps at the chance to attend a Saturday evening church service so that one may have the entire day on Sunday to do with as one pleases—even sleep in later than 11:30. To my shame, I once possessed a similar mindset. To God's glory, He rescued me from such shallowness.

Ultimately, of course, it is not the day or time that we gather for worship (cf. Rom 14:5, 6), but the attitude and motivation of our hearts as we come to worship our Lord. The attitude displayed in the church ad above is one that exudes a self-satisfying, narcissistic, seeker-driven approach to church, not one that seeks to gather with fellow believers in order to praise and worship Jesus Christ and hear His Word proclaimed.

So, even though it is only Friday, I am already looking forward to Sunday morning (at 9:00 AM). Why sleep in when you can hear the Word proclaimed with faithful boldness? But, until that time, let's all take a few moments to relax and enjoy the week in review (kind of):

Beth Moore Talks 'Unity' with Word Faith Teacher Joyce Meyer

It was only a matter of time:
Is this what Beth Moore meant when she claimed to have received personal, direct revelation from God to "stop sowing over and over again in the same field"? Is this the unity of which Moore spoke at James Robison's Awaken Conference? It certainly seems that way:

A False Assumption

A week or so ago, I was looking at my wall calendar, trying to determine when some upcoming appointments were scheduled. My eye drifted to August 15 and I noticed that the calendar had labeled that day 'The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.' Are you kidding? Do people actually acknowledge that false, make-believe, fairy-tale day? How strange.

Photo: Wikimedia
Then, earlier this week I was on a conference call with some of my colleagues in Europe. We were discussing timelines and schedules so that we could work together to complete our project on time, and they announced, "Well, we won't be in the office on Friday. That's a holiday."

"What holiday is it?" we asked.

"Oh, some religious holiday."

I knew right away it was Assumption Day, and they soon confirmed my suspicion. So not only has this day made it onto our print calendars, but it's become a public holiday in some countries.

What exactly is the so-called holy day of 'The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary'?

08 August 2014

This 'n' That

I was scanning through my Twitter feed the other day and came across this tweet from Benny Hinn (yes, I follow Benny Hinn's account):
"Hm," I thought, "That sounds intriguing. Maybe I'll go watch this and tap into these secrets. After all, Mr. Benny wouldn't mislead me, would he?" (Can you hear the sarcasm?)

So I clicked the link and traveled to Hinn's website and discovered that this episode filled with, ahem, Bible truths, featured Rabbi Lapin. Oh. Okay. Then I click a download link and see this:
Wait—I have to pay $10 to learn the secret to financial success? But what if I don't have $10 to waste invest? What if my wallet is empty and that's why I need Benny's help? Oh, the cruel, cruel irony!

In case you're wondering, I did not fork over the $10—not even for a chance to use the material in a blog post. I'd much rather spend that money on an edifying, educational resource. Or a pizza. Whichever need arises first. Besides, unless you're Michael Brown, you don't need me to tell you that Benny Hinn is a flock-fleecing charlatan. Still, for whatever reason, his tactics seem to be working. That is why I've decided that all future editions of This 'n' That will only be available for a fee—each will cost $5 to read. Go ahead, write your angry letters of protest. I'll read them while I'm flying to Hawaii on my private jet.

Okay, that's enough for now. Breathe easy, I was only joking. Now, please enjoy your always-and-forever-free week in review (kind of):

01 August 2014

This 'n' That

photo: w4nd3rl0st (InspiredinDesMoines) 
Some of you may recall that last summer was for me 'the year of the bird.' I was cursed. It was a bird curse. Everywhere I went, it seemed I could be certain that the birds around me were plotting my demise. Birds were constantly flying into my windows, my oncoming car, and one even managed to lodge himself in the screen door on my back patio.

Well, in like manner, I have dubbed this year 'the year of the bugs.' Some days I feel like I have a bug curse. They dive-bomb me. They bite me. They chase me. They fly into my eye. This past week alone I had a bug fly into my eye on three separate occasions. If that's never happened to you, here's a little FYI: it's gross. And painful. And did I mention it's gross?

If you're looking for a spiritual application for this story, don't hurt yourself, because there isn't one. There is, however, a practical application, at least for people like me: wear goggles. Sure, I'll look a little funny, but at least I won't be pulling bugs out of my eyelashes. I'll let you know how it goes.

So far today, though, I am bug free, so while I enjoy that, why don't you sit back and enjoy your week in review (kind of).