In Danger of Being Non-Contenders

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Have We Really Progressed So Much

We proudly look at our home libraries, computers, ebooks and internet and assume that we have progressed so much. But could there be another possibility? The ancient cultures of the bible had a strong oral tradition. What has amazed anthropologists when they analyze recorded oral records is the accuracy with which the accounts have been passed down over centuries. In many cases it is close to the level of transcription errors by scribes of written works.

By age 12 a Jewish boy would have at least the first five books of the bible memorized and in the next five years many would memorize the entire Old Testament. The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know and unless we can associate things with terms to search for we really can’t search these electronic tools necessarily for concepts or examples of such concepts. When Jude calls us to contend for the faith once handed down to us we are actually in greater danger now. We do not have such an oral tradition where the words of the Bible might come to mind when confronted with new ideas or perspectives. What comes to our mind is a limited set of scriptures that we have personally identified with and that match our view of the world. Most of us do not have the pallet of Biblical verses that a 12 year old Jewish boy would have.

When God created man and called His creation good, was Adam then less developed then we are? Did a primitive prehistoric cave man make a willful, sinful choice that condemned us all? Or did God create man with great capacity to understand? We know that necessity is the mother of invention. Could it be that we have digressed instead of progressed? Could it be that maybe we need more crutches like laptops and the internet because our capacities have diminished?

How Can We Progress

Through out John Jesus says I tell you the truth, over and over. The Bible calls us to seek knowledge and when the bible says I tell you the truth then it implies that we can know it and when the Bible says this is hidden until the end then it implies that we can’t know it. John 7:17 tells us that our problem with knowing is not that what the bible tells us is hard to comprehend, our problem with knowing is that we lack the will to do God’s will. Understanding the Bible starts with having the will to do God’s will. Then Proverbs calls us to treasure knowledge, the next step is to value knowing what God wants to reveal in His will.  Thirdly we have to read and memorize God’s word.

John 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

We cannot know all of God almighty but we can know what He chooses to reveal to us and what the Spirit will make real to us if we are in His will in our current circumstance as we face the world being a Child of God under the Lordship of Christ.

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Is All Sin the Same?

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Does the Bible say that all sin is the same?  I can’t think of a specific verse which makes this statement so where does this idea come from?  I believe this idea is drawn from several passages.  The first being the Sermon on the mount where Jesus addresses the ideas of justifying one sin because of a similar yet more heinous sin.  The religious leaders had given them instructions but Jesus was contradicting their teaching.  Jesus would say “You have heard that it was said”.  Jesus was essentially saying that its not about finding a way which is convenient for you, the measure is holiness for God said “Be holy because I am holy”.  In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus compares murder to hating your brother and even being angry with your brother.  Jesus seeks to squash justifying sin but does not mean to infer that sins are equally bad or unacceptable. To do so ends up with the same problem; it minimizes sin and opens doors that shouldn’t be open. For example; If I am attracted then why not flirt and since it’s all the same and we are consenting adults then what’s wrong with the next step of adultery.  The second place is in 1 John.  In this epistle John calls the church to purity and holiness.  The focus here is on the doctrine of regeneration.  It is expected  that if a person is truly born again they will not make a practice of sin but abiding in Christ will be transformed into His likeness.

Matt 5:21-22 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. ESV
1John 3:15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. ESV
James 2:10-11 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.  11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.   ESV

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Emerging Concerns Part 1 – Introduction

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When some friends of mine started reading some books by leaders in what is now termed the “Emergent Church” several years ago I was curious and started to read some of the books, listened to interviews and read some blogs. Over the past four years I have watched several conferences on the subject and considered what was being said. I have decided that it is time for me to throw my hat into the ring. In a few previous articles I touched on some talking points but I feel that now is the time to address the topic more formally and more thoroughly. The underlying principles of the Emergent movement find their roots in post-modern philosophy. Read more of this post

The World is Coming to an End …

End of the World BillBoardOk, I admit its a sensational headline but if you are reading this then it must have caught your attention. I have heard many comment about the billboards announcing the end of the world on May 21st 2011. If you have been watching the news lately you are aware of this prediction as it has gotten much press. The prediction and billboards have been featured on CNN, FOX and the Washington Post just to name a few. There are many scoffers and some believers who are very worried and some who could care less. With all the recent earth quake activity, severe weather, economic trouble and wars and unrest around the world many are worried. Read more of this post

How Should Christians Respond to Bin Laden’s Death

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I personally will not be going out into the street and celebrate but I am not going to judge those that do either. There are many imprecatory psalms that call for justice against the wicked and celebrate their judgement. The bible doesn’t call for us to be stoic but acknowledges our feelings and at times calls for us to express them while at other times calls for reservation. Read more of this post

What is Faith? One Question to Get Right

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My eight year old son, Nolan, had to complete some optional activities for cub scouts.  One that we picked was Faith and Religion.  The book asked him to name some great people of faith.  Nolan asked me, “What do they mean by faith?”  I paused and thought to myself about the best way to explain it to an eight year old.  Here is the definition I came up with.

Faith is what you believe to be right and true and you are willing to stand up for it

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Bell Fails to Grasp the Weight of Infinity

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The recent release of Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” has spawned a maelstrom of reactions in both the Christian community and the news media as well.  I have been studying the emergent church movement for the past four years and so I feel it is time to throw my hat into the ring.  There is much that can be said, so much that can be said but I wanted to focus on a specific statement rather then write a novel.  One day I would like to write a book, but not today and not necessarily on the Emergent Church either.  The title of this article is a bit ironic because no one really grasps infinity.  But that is not to say that we can’t have perspectives on infinity which do it more justice than other perspectives.  One sticking point with hell that Emergent church leaders have grappled with is the eternity and finality of hell.  Lets review some quotes.

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Supporting Abortion is a Sin

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Abortion is the equivalent of slavery and the Holocaust.  When I made this comment I received a scathing rebuke.  To which I make the following statements.

Do you know when life begins? Do you know when a baby is imbued with the Imago Dei? Do you know when a baby becomes a person? Can you say for sure? I’m sure there are those that would say, “Yes I know” but there is not much I can say to such a delusion. For the rest of us we can certainly forward a guess but wouldn’t want to be held to it. If we can’t say for certain then why is the practice to err on the side of convenience rather than on the side of caution? Further God says that children are a gift from Him. Isn’t it audaciously insulting at best to return such a gift and at worst… I can’t even fathom it? Psalm 139 speaks of God knowing us before we were born further establishing the baby in the womb as a person. All persons are endowed by their creator with the right to life.

I was also rebuked for not providing alternatives and for comparing abortion to the holocaust and slavery because no one is forcing women to get abortions.  They failed to see that the baby has no choice in the matter.  During the Holocaust the Jews were the minority and apart from someone standing up for them there was no hope.  As far as alternatives; if Hitler had died after 2 years he would be known as Hitler the Great for how he had miraculously pulled Germany out of the depression. And the services continued and helped the poor into the holocaust but when good is used as a platform for evil an end must be put to it.  Just as an end must be put to Planned Parenthood.  The other Planned Parenthood services are available through other organizations and through the family which is frequently left out.

These are all arguments for an opinion and are of course helpful but I have more than an opinion to work from. God has spoken to me, the Holy Spirit has mourned in my soul over the murder of God’s children. Hear the word of the Lord! Abortion is a sin and supporting abortion is a sin, Repent, Repent, Repent and flee the wrath that is to come…

Inclusivity May end up being Exclusive

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The church practices and supports the work of evangelism to reconcile people to God through Jesus.  In the past several decades growth movements have done much to focus the church on evangelism.  Many churches have restructured their weekly services to focus on those that have not accepted Christ.  Many organizations have also put effort into reviewing language, presentations and their image to find ways to avoid placing stumbling blocks in front of those that haven’t accepted Christ.  It is a good idea to identify what might constitute a stumbling block and remove them (1 Cor 14:16) because the Church is not to be of the World but it is still in the world and is called to communicate to those in the World.  This scope has been extended by many to include looking for ways to build bridges to various groups.  Many times these methods attempt to identify doctrines and understandings of the bible that may be thought of as non-essential and that are objectionable to the world and then either down play, repackage, obscure, or list as one of several alternatives interpretations.  All this to hopefully bring the world to the realization that “God gave us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ”.  But, what does it mean “God gave us salvation through his Son”.   I believe this entails a submission or yielding to Christ as Lord not just an acceptance of Him as savior.

Romans 10:9-10
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Keeping this in mind; as we attempt to build bridges how do we decide what is essential and what isn’t?  This goes beyond the question of what we present as being essential but within the church itself what we believe and teach as truth.   Scripture tells us to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)  but how sure are we if we keep questioning what scripture says or keep saying its unclear?  This is why I feel the church has to take a stronger stance on biblical creationism along with other issues and not back down for fear that it might turn some people off.  If the creation story were merely a story of beginnings and men’s rejection of God occurred later then it wouldn’t be of such concern.  But the fall which is pivotal to the need for the Cross takes place in the story of creation.  Coming to unbelievers while we have the fall of man now placed on the shaky uncertain ground of the allegorical leaves us with a calling which becomes shaky.   If faith is our certainty but we say we are uncertain about how it all began and yes God has a story but we think God’s version of the beginning might be inaccurate then what else in scripture is inaccurate?  Are we yielded to Christ if we keep looking for ways to deal with what we find objectionable in scripture?

The other aspect of accepting Christ as Lord and making our election sure is that we shouldn’t just assume that a confession of faith means a person is saved.  The growth movements focuses on getting people in and believes that once we get their signature, their buy in we don’t have much to worry about, if they are in they are in, once saved always saved.  But what is interesting is that Matthew 7 it says “Enter through the narrow gate; for the way is wide that leads to destruction..”  Many assume that Jesus is talking to the world but in the context v21 it says “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord Lord” will enter the kingdom..”  So this passages is talking to the church.  Of those who accept Christ and are part of the Church few of those will enter the kingdom.  Our evangelism and methods in the church of just getting people in is too small and eventually may leave many out because we didn’t want to ruffle feathers by standing upon the Word and having faith inexorably in the Word and what the Word says and holding those in the church to believing the Word.  The church should consider this as it structures itself or it will risk too much.

Hiking/Camping Part 7 – Power Up

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Since the industrial revolution we now live in an age of innovation.  Electronic devices and gadgets exist to help with any problem or difficulty you can think of.  Not even the great outdoors and nature can escape this.  Tools for navigation, weather, surveying, monitoring, photographing, and generally making life in the great out doors easier exist in many shapes and sizes.  If you are going to go backpacking or camping there are some electronic devices which one might consider indispensable as well as some electronic which might just be nice to have.  I will try to list these tools requiring a power source in order of importance for appropriate consideration. Read more of this post