Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Thought Number 275... A Chair Analogy

This analogy came to me from the late D James Kennedy by way of RC
Sproul in a recent podcast:

Consider a sturdy wooden chair on the floor in front of you.

Now. Do you believe it is a chair? Good, you do well.

Do you believe it is capable of supporting your weight? Excellent.
You are on the right track.

Now ask yourself: Is the chair supporting your weight? No? Why not?
It is because you are not sitting in the chair.

In the same way, it is one thing to acknowledge that God exists. It is
another thing to affirm that Jesus is God and is able to save you. But
these affirmations do not save you. You are only saved when you have
cast yourself upon Christ and his work, giving your life over to him
for your entire support.

You are not saved until you are in Christ.

God is God... Get used to it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Thought Number 274... Obama Accidentally Adheres to Biblical Truth.

President Obama officially proclaimed June to be Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

Considering that pride is at the root of all sin, I guess I can live
with that...

(But of course, attendant to the president's agenda is the abolishment
of all "hate speech" toward the featured "community". So, get ready
for the Bible burnings and Sunday morning gag orders.)

God is God... Get used to it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Thought Number 273... I know what you're thinking, so I'll go ahead and say it.

yes, God sovereignly struck down George Tiller, the abortion doctor from Kansas.  And God ordained Scott Roeder to take him out.

There. It's said.

You want proof?  If God didn't want him dead, he would still be here.  And if God hadn't ordained it meet for Scott Roeder to kill him, he wouldn't have done so.

But I'll say this too:  Just as Jesus declared of Judas Iscariot, so it is with Scott Roeder.  

"The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born."

It was time to remove the abortionist from the planet, even if he did happen to be "doing church" that day.  But woe to that man who commits that murder with the hatred of his fellow man in his heart. 

Pray that both George Tiller and Scott Roeder might be saved by grace through faith in Christ, despite their works.
God is God... Get used to it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thought Number 272... Jewish Center To Open On Jewish Sabbath

A Jewish community center in Baltimore has decided to open on Saturday. While their rationale is noble, it still violates the Jewish Sabbath rules. Not to suggest that keeping Jewish law gains a man anything before God, but it just struck me as odd. Here is a group who denies that Jesus is the Messiah and is relying solely on their own lawkeeping to earn favor before God, and yet after careful consideration they willingly choose to ignore the only option for salvation that they profess.  

They are breaking their law for noble purposes and good intent, sure, but it is still lawbreaking. Compare this to the Israelites stressing about the manna supply in the desert when it came to the end of the week.  Compare this also to the corporate policy of Chick-Fil-A, a Christian-owned company that is famously never open on Sunday... and is turning a better profit than the other fast food joints that are slaving away on Sunday.

Trust God and not your own understanding. 

God is God... Get used to it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thought Number 271... Could Be, Maybe Not

turretinfan reposted a link to a story about a couple in San Diego who were allegedly persecuted under local law for holding a Bible study in their home.  The brief issue is that a county official knocked on their door on Good Friday, and told them that they must cease holding "religious assemblies" until/unless they obtain a county "major use permit."

It is disturbing, to be sure; if they are being persecuted for religion.  Even moreso if upheld in court.

Reading between the lines of the story (and thankfully, some of the lines themselves), it appears that the matter is not yet settled:

 1)  the county spokesperson appeared surprised to hear of the complaint and the couple has yet to try this in court.  The county official may simply have been out of line.  Or, the county official may simply have been doing their job in addressing a neighbor's complaint and misread the law... or read it correctly... 

2) this may not be a religious issue, but a simple matter of shear numbers of people meeting regularly in a neighborhood setting.  The Bible study is a regular event, and is attended by about 15 people.  That does not sound like a lot, but the local law may simply read that regular events attended by some number of people (possibly less than 15) have to get a permit.  I have heard of stranger laws on the books.  And this one actually makes sense.  For example, if the couple were holding a rave or a high stakes poker game every week and neighbors could neither sleep nor park due to the drunken revelry, I don't think we would have a problem with this same law.

3) though unlikely, it may be that the couple was persecuted but by an imposter.  Someone exercising their own freedom of speech (though admittedly committing fraud and other crimes in the process) may have posed as the county official, and upon investigation this will be revealed.

I am the chief of cynics, but while this case is definitely one to watch closely, I'm not prepared to scream 1st Amendment just yet.
God is God... Get used to it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thought Number 270... It turns out that Bible reading plans are not for me

I just spent the last six or seven months trying to keep up with a
Bible reading plan that was supposed to get me through the Bible in a
year. It presented about three or four chapters a day, divided between
the old and new testaments. I was doing well at first, getting behind
maybe one day but reading ahead on another. Then after a while I was
falling behind one then two then eight days. Not only that, but I
found I was not reading for pleasure or learning or communing with
God... Rather, I was going through to get the chapter checked off my
list. I was doing a duty. I was doing religion. And I was feeling
guilty for my failure to devote like I "should" to God.

No more. This morning after reluctantly staring at my Bible for a few
minutes with depressed dread, and then picking it up and turning at
first to my reading plan, I started reading where I had last left off
in the plan, midway through Ecclesiastes. Thinking I would "try" to
get another couple of chapters in the plan checked off... If God would
give me strength to endure them.

...Well, I finished the prescribed chapter, and something clicked
inside me. Like a rebel without a cause, I suddenly threw prudence to
the wind. With a devil-may-care wanton abandon of my soul and against
all legalistic caution.... Instead of going back to the plan for the
next assignment, I continued on to the next chapter in Ecclesiastes.
Then the next, and the next... And suddenly I finished the book. And
then (shock of shocks and horror of horrors) I went on to read through
and finish Song of Solomon as well!

It felt like I was home again.

God is God... Get used to it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thought Number 269... Finding Mercy, Grace, Longsuffering, Goodness, and Truth in the New Testament

a person named Paula e-mailed me with the following question:
I was searching for the New Testament mirror passage of the description of God in Exodus 24.  God described Himself in a face to face meeting with Moses in 5 words - merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and abundant in truth.  Since the Old and New Testaments are mirrors I am seraching for the matching description of God in the New Testament.  I am the Way, the Truth and the Light is not the one I am searching for. Can you tell me?
Paula, I think you are referring to Exodus 34...  Exodus 34:6 (KJV) is a partial sentence, so here are verses 6-7: 
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.
You used a curious expression, that the Old and New Testaments are "mirrors".  I'm not sure what you mean by that.  In the sense that both testaments proclaim the same God and do not contradict each other, I would agree.  I also would agree in the sense that both testaments point ultimately to Christ, though in different ways.  However, I hope you would agree that the New Testament is not a "pixel by pixel" (or point by point) literal reflection/restatement of the Old Testament.  In other words, while the concepts about God's nature (for example) are surely found in both testaments, you may or may not find these concepts packaged into the same verses (or even books) much less in the same exact words.

In addition, the Old and New Testaments (and actually also, the Old Testament across the historical time periods) on one hand represent a progressive revelation of God to humanity.  So in this sense, there may be instances where the testaments actually do not match up very well at all.   One complaint I hear frequently from non-Christians and new Christians is that it seems like the Old and New Testaments talk about two different Gods.  And indeed it can appear like that at first glance-- precisely because God is revealing himself progressively over time.   Note: it is clear by your question that you yourself are convinced that both testaments proclaim the same God (and rightly so).  I'm just using the complaint of many to illustrate the truth of the progressive nature of the revelation found in Scripture.

That said, insofar as I know there is no single passage in the New Testament that contains all of those five words from Exodus 34 in describing God.

However, the New Testament does contain all five words (and/or concepts) throughout its content, as shown in the following examples from KJV (and there are many more):

Luke 6:36
Be ye therefore merciful, as
your Father also is merciful.

John 1:14
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)
full of grace and truth.
[Remember that John 1:1 identifies the Word (Christ) as both "with" God and "being" God.]

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Romans 2:4
Or despisest thou the
riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Again, these are just some examples.  These concepts abound throughout the New Testament and are repeated both literally and by example (the most obvious example being Christ's incarnation and work on behalf of the people in life and death).

Hope that helps!
God is God... Get used to it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thought Number 268... Divisive Persons In Danger of Damnation. But As With All Sin, There Is Hope In Christ

let there be no mistake, if you are one who is wont to stir up division for the sake of division, you remain under the wrath of God and in danger of hell.  You have not been saved because you do not know the true Christ.  Your fruits bear witness to you.  Repent now and turn to Christ, trusting in him alone, that your soul may be saved in the last day.  And surely it will, if you trust in him alone.  For everyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.

There is a difference between vigorously debating the scriptures and exhorting one another in love towards evermore perfect doctrine, and dividing along doctrinal lines in pride.  If you do not know the difference, run immediately to the cross of Christ and throw yourself upon it and His mercy, that God may transform you by the renewing of your mind.  Do not flatter yourself, but rather humble yourself.  Let God prune you, that you may produce fruit in keeping with the branches that are in the Vine.

Romans 16:
17I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

Titus 3:
1Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

17But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18They said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

And to the rest of us in Christ and to those who would heed the warnings above and turn to Christ in the future if not in him now, Jude concludes:

 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
God is God... Get used to it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thought Number 267... How To Recognize the True Brother and the False Confessor

i am sure that I have posted this before, and probably spurred by the same person.  But heed again Galatians 5:

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

God is God... Get used to it.

Thought Number 266... Response to a Couple of Strange Comments

a person with the handle "princenaidu" recently posted two comments on a video I made based on Todd Agnew's rendition of Amazing Grace ("Grace Like Rain").  They said (all text sic):
Everyone of us is a child of God. Jesus worshiped God too. He lived an ordinary life till he got his calling from God to preach the word. However, in the process of speaking and exposing th truth, many religious leaders who were using God's name for profit and power did not like this, so they crucified him and gave him a beating to warn others not to interfere in their power and control game. Jesus took the beating and abuse. This opened up the hearts and minds of brainwashed people. Peace

Look at our world today; Don't you see many brainwashed people who are willing to give up their lives for religion. Religion is man-made. Man existed before any religion did. God doesn't charge one cent to believe in him. God is the great spirit and we all have a piece of that spirit in us. The spirit leaves us when we die. What happens after death..who really knows. Guess we will all find that out when we die. What should be important is how we live on this earth
Walk in faithl ive in truth
I'm not going to try to address these incoherent ramblings in detail.  I can't even glean what the person's theological stance is.  They seem to be anti-religion, but pro-faith... and they seem to be anti-Christ but pro-God.  ...Perhaps. Maybe they were just drunk or stoned when they wrote this.  I really have no clue.  They aren't even presenting Christian doctrine accurately.

At any rate, it seems clear that the person holds that religious people are "brainwashed".  I will assume, based on their first post, that they hold that Christians are brainwashed.   And I guess that's the term that piqued my interest.

"Brainwashing" involves a change of mind over to complete conviction that a set of doctrines is true.  If that was the only definition, then I guess we could say that Christians are brainwashed.  But then, we would also say that any person who held any doctrines (regardless of subject) as true, are brainwashed... particularly if the person did not previously agree with said doctrines.  For example, we could say that people who believe in global warming are brainwashed.  We could say that people who believe in evolution are brainwashed.  Likewise, vegetarians, meat eaters, vitamin takers, exercisers, couch potatoes, Apple buyers, Microsoft disciples, Chevy truck drivers, Ford truck drivers, and cat lovers are brainwashed.  So, merely changing one's mind and being convinced of a new idea does not constitute having been brainwashed.

"Brainwashing" also implies that the new doctrines held are false.  When it comes to science, the truth or falsity of a set of doctrines is provable (maybe not easily, such as with global warming or evolution or vegetarianism, but provable nonetheless).  When it comes to doctrines of faith (regardless of which faith one claims or disclaims), however, the truth of the doctrines is generally not provable (at least not by scientific or physical evidence).  Granted, there are circumstances in which the falsity of a set of faith doctrines is provable.  For example, false prophets are easily revealed when their prophesy does not manifest in reality.   Some miracle claims are falsifiable if the worldly hoax machinery used to bring about the effect is identified.   To an extent, the truth of a doctrine can be proved.  The validity of claimed holy scriptures can be proved or disproved by the testimony of multiple witnesses (though, witnesses are easily dismissed as liars), or by the truth of the prophesy contained in them (though people willing to disbelieve may see only coincidence or may claim the scriptures were written after the fact).   But by and large, theological doctrines cannot be proved true using worldly methods.   But they can't be falsified using worldly methods either.  All this to say, it is inappropriate to use the term "brainwashing" when talking about matters of faith-- at least if one means that "brainwashing" is convincing people that a falsehood is true.  If you can't demonstrate something to be false, then you can't call it brainwashing in this sense.  And so, because it is impossible to prove Christ false, it is impossible to say that convictions for Christ are in error-- and therefore Christians cannot be said to be brainwashed.

Finally, "brainwashing"-- at least traditionally-- has involved force or coercion.  If nothing else, it is accomplished by totally immersing and "washing" (ergo the name) the person's mind with the selected doctrines-- to the exclusion of every other contrary doctrine.   The concept being that if "doctrine A" is the only thing the person ever hears/sees/experiences/feels/lives... then they will eventually become convinced that "doctrine A" is true simply because they will forget that other contrary doctrines even exist-- and over time, they will dismiss other doctrines if they later become exposed to them.

In fact, it is not possible to brainwash people by force or coercion.  You can certainly get people to outwardly  "confess" or "affirm" a doctrine by force.  But inwardly there is no change-- forced confession may be accompanied by a tacit acceptance (apathy), but cannot result in true conviction in favor of the doctrine in question.  Confession by force is not actually brainwashing.   Even those who would point to the Roman Catholic Inquisition as a period of "brainwashing" would be wrong to do so... for it is well documented that even those who "relented" and "repented" of their heresies or non-Christian faiths, did not actually convert to Christianity.  They did not actually believe in Christ.  Rather, they merely decided to outwardly play along in an effort to spare their physical lives and get the Church to leave them alone.   

So, if brainwashing can only be accomplished by totally immersing a person in a set of doctrines to the exclusion of other doctrines... then we see that by and large, the vast majority of Christians over the centuries in fact held their beliefs for reasons other than brainwashing.   It is likely that some individuals in history have been brainwashed into Christianity (at least into an outward practice and affirmation of the faith-- the matter of heart change is for another discussion)... and why not.  It is conceivable that a child, for example, might be brought up in a tight Christian community and hear nothing else their entire life... and thereby tacitly accept that which they have heard as true.  But such protectionism is nearly impossible, especially in today's world.  Therefore, even if some people have been brainwashed into affirming Christ, we must look at the larger witness to see if one must be brainwashed to become a Christian.

Even during the time of Christ and immediately following His crucifixion and resurrection, the "immersion factor" that His disciples were exposed to was that of Judaism (and/or any number of non-Christian cultures and religions).  There was strong pressure to NOT believe in Christ.  So for them, they either saw firsthand the truth, or they made it up on their own, over and against all worldly doctrines and popular doctrines to the contrary.  They were clearly not brainwashed, but even believed despite brainwashing attempts against it.

If we skip forward to today, with the exception of small pockets of isolated Christian community around the world, the vast majority of people live immersed in either an atheist and secular humanist culture, or immersed in anti-Christ religions.  Even where there is no strong stimulus against Christ, the people are constantly bombarded with anti-Christ doctrines and opinions (to wit, those of the commenter above).   Even American kids who are "home schooled" cannot be protected from these competing doctrines.  In such an environment, it is literally not possible to be brainwashed into anything.  If nothing else, the larger stimulus is anti-Christ.   And along those lines, witness the Christians who not only persevere, but come to faith in the first place, in places like India and the Middle East, which are virtually bathed in Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim doctrine-- even law.

Ultimately we find that Christians become and remain Christians DESPITE pressure to deny Him.    Quite contrary to the concept of brainwashing, Christians are not forced into their faith, and they come to faith in the face of myriad contrary doctrines flooding their brains.  

So, call us stupid and blind if you must... but "brainwashed" doesn't fit.

... "Brainwashed" we aren't, but "washed" we are indeed!  If the commenter above said one accurate thing, it is that God doesn't charge anything to believe in Him.  No works required.  Even despite our evil deeds-- even because of them-- we were washed, we were sanctified, we were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6

God is God... Get used to it.