Friday, March 30, 2007

And They Will Know You Are Christians by Your Advertising

I was driving to work the other day when I saw the Church sign pictured above. You should know I drive by this church every week and every week there is some new statement posted that when I try to think through it logically it just feels like someone is stabbing me in the brain. So, I call my friend Barrett who shares my "can't-look-away" fascination with what is becoming a typical staple in Evangelical culture. For a while he shared an ongoing contest with a colleague to see who could find the most clichéd, ignorant, groan inducing one. Here are some of my personal “favorites”…

“When God Calls Us Does He Get a Busy Signal?”
“God answers Knee-Mail”
“Come on in, it’s Prayer Conditioned.”
“Git-R-Done for God”
“Wal-Mart Isn’t the Only Saving Place”
And maybe somebody can tell me what this on even means,
“When Meeting Temptation, Turn To The Right.”

When I saw the sign pictured above, I just couldn’t go through the usual motions of calling Barrett, laughing about their “arm-chair evangelism” and then moving on with my life. This one deserved some attention.

“It just wouldn’t be Heaven without you.” Huh? What would they say if I asked, “So, if I don’t go to Heaven, it won’t exist?”
Certainly they would have to reply, “No, no, it just wouldn’t be as heavenly,” or, “We would just be sad if you weren’t there.”
Now, I don’t mean to be anti-sentimental here, because I want my friends and family to live forever in God’s Kingdom too, BUT, when and where did we decide the glory of God’s Kingdom, God’s rule, the place and time where there is no other thing going on in our minds than God’s glory, depend on ME!? I don’t understand how Heaven will be any less filled with God’s glory if I’m not there, if you’re not there. God would still be God and Heaven would still be Heaven with the Ruler on the Throne.

Further, when did we decide to start marketing the church? Do we really think that when people drive by our signs, assorted with condescending puns, clichéd simplifications of scripture, and generally nonsensical quips, they think to themselves, “Well darn! That’s so simultaneously clever and poignant that I shall begin attending that there church and get me some salvation!”

You know why mass culture thinks Evangelical Christian Culture is, in general, relatively stupid? It’s really pretty simple. Evangelical Christian Culture is relatively stupid. That’s the only explanation I have for a congregation to put up with the nonsense of statements that essentially communicate that Heaven won’t actually be Heaven if a few people don’t make it.

In what is commonly known as the Beatitudes, Jesus says this…

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13,14

Few? If Heaven just won’t be Heaven unless everyone is there, then I guess it’s really going to be a bummer.

Now, I realize that they are essentially trying to communicate the idea that, as a church, they want people to come to repentance, etc., but why not try a different approach, like, say, a Bible verse or two?
I tend to think even that approach is pretty innocuous because you’re presenting Scripture without context, but it’s at least better than what has become typical evangelical drivvle.
And now, if you were with me, you would hear the sound of someone stepping off of their soap box. Thank you.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Future Member?

Update: Carla Rolfe liked this picture so much she is using it for advertising (with permission of course). Link here.

Oh! Hi Dad. I...uhhhh...was just....

Let me explain. I finished Pulpit Crimes like you asked, and so I thought I would learn how to use this computer thingy. Everybody knows that if I am going to join the Prosapologian Team, I have to become a techno-geek too.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Day At Scott Lake State Park

On this Lord's Day we decided to take the kiddos to Scott Lake for a couple of hours. Sure was nice outside. I thought I'd put up some pictures so that you might participate in our family fun.

Jacob's first time there.

The man in the moon looked out of the moon, he looked out of the moon and said, "Rachel, hurry up and go to bed, you slow poke!"

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Trying Different Scopes

I am practicing using my digital camera with my two different telescopes. I finally managed to get a couple of decent pictures. Here is my garage where I had the telescope set up.

Notice the grain elevator in the background. Follow the telephone pole near the top on the right side of the picture. There I aimed my telescope at what is called the "Leg" where grain is lifted into the bins. On the side there is a name of the equipment "York". There is also an electric motor. I am not sure how to make the pictures clearer. On the camera screen they look great. But when I download them they are not as clear. Any suggestions?

This is the real problem. Planets are probably the same as the lettering on the side of this Lift. I guess I just need to learn my equipment better and then try to remember how it works the next time I use it.

Friday, March 23, 2007

John Murray and Limited Atonement

Limited Atonement is often a controversial subject. I am currently half way through John Murray’s classic, Redemption Accomplished and Applied. In the chapter that deals specifically with the “Extent of the Atonement” one paragraph stands out. On page 64 he says,

“This doctrine has been called the doctrine of limited atonement. This may or may not be a good or fair denomination. But it is not the term used that is important; it is that which it denotes. It is very easy to raise prejudice against a doctrine by attaching to it an opprobrious and misunderstood epithet. Whether the expression “limited atonement” is good or not we must reckon with the fact that unless we believe in the final restoration of all men we cannot have an unlimited atonement. If we universalize the extent we limit the efficacy. If some of those for whom the atonement was made and redemption wrought perish eternally, then the atonement is not itself efficacious. It is this alternative that the proponents of universal atonement must face. They have a “limited” atonement and limited in respect of that which impinges upon its essential character. We shall have none of it. The doctrine of “limited atonement” which we maintain is the doctrine which limits the atonement to those who are heirs of eternal life, to the elect. That limitation insures its efficacy and conserves its essential character as efficient and effective redemption.

Notice that he makes the clear argument that unless you are a Universalist (everyone gets saved), by definition you must limit the Atonement. Either the Atonement is limited in “efficacy” or it is limited in scope or “extent”. To put it another way, either the work of Christ makes men savable or it saves them perfectly.

Some will object that the if the latter is true then why preach to “all men”?

Here is the very next paragraph:

“It is frequently objected that this doctrine is inconsistent with the full and free offer of Christ in the Gospel. This is grave misunderstanding and misrepresentation. The truth really is that it is only on the basis of such a doctrine that we can have a free and full offer of Christ to lost men. What is offered to men in the Gospel? It is not the possibility of salvation, not simply the opportunity of salvation. What is offered is salvation. To be more specific, it is Christ Himself in all the glory of His Person and in all the perfection of His finished work who is offered. And He is offered as the One who made expiation for sin and wrought redemption.”

I believe Murray is right. We must proclaim not a Savior that grovels but a Savior that is risen and powerful and is Lord of all creation, the Judge of men’s souls.

Soli Deo gloria

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Mass Verses the Gospel

This past weekend I read through the Epistle to the Galatians. So much of Paul's Gospel was setting men free from man's religious systems. Paul says in chapter 4:

Gal 4:1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, 4:2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. 4:3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4:4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 4:5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

I have come to believe that Paul's teaching is parallel to Jesus' teaching on the Temple Tax in Matthew 17

Mat 17:25 He *said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" 17:26 When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. 17:27 "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me."

From both of these texts, it is clear that the Gospel is about setting men free from the law, freedom from the earthly rituals (even though God commanded them under the Old Covenant), freedom from slavery. Yet wherever the Gospel is preached, false teachers will always follow adding something to God's sufficient Grace.

Whether you are a first century convert being tempted to go back to Judaism by becoming circumcised or a 21st century Protestant going back to Romish additions (Baptismal regeneration, the Mass over and over again, penance, or even saying the "sinner's prayer" or going forward to the Altar at a Billy Graham crusade), the New Testament speaks to the freedom of Christ. Believers are now the adopted children of God by faith alone. The fullness of time has come to be free from being enslaved under the law's condemnation to the Glorious Gospel of Grace.

AOMin has put this video clip up their Blog. So if you are wondering why I believe the Reformed view of soteriology as opposed to Rome's or even much of Protestantism's departure from the Gospel, watch this clip.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Defeating the Enemy Within

Perhaps I have been living in a box somewhere remote. I haven't seen this story anywhere, but then again my wife is usually the one to catch me up on the Fox News stuff of the day. Michelle Malkin reported on her blog today about the Gathering of Eagles against the Anti-War Demonstrators in D.C.. This picture says more about what I think of John Kerry than I can.

See here.

I am fully aware that there have always been Americans who are Pacifists. Being against war and betraying your country are very different things. I wonder what George Washington would have done with these Traitors.

One of the questions John Piper was asked in the recent conference was about the war in Iraq. He responded by saying that giving back the country to thugs who put people in "plastic grinders" head first for quick deaths and feet first for suffering is simply not right [my paraphrase]. He simply didn't know what the answer is.

This picture gives more reason why I believe we must win this war. It is the right thing to do.

See here.

PS, if you have trouble seeing the pictures, just click on the Malkin link and then come back

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Contagious Conversation

Here is a clip of Mark Dever and John Piper fielding questions at a recent conference. Both men are "reformed" in their basic theology. At this point they were discussing mega-churches verses small churches when Piper challenges Driscoll to think bigger.

I happen to agree with Driscoll about church yet Piper's view and particular point is thought-provoking. Piper is thinking ahead. Piper is preparing for thousands to come to Christ. The "what if thousands come in one day" is a great and positive way to think. Shouldn't we be evangelizing as if God were pleading with men through us? Shouldn't we expect that God may in fact perform a miracle in the salvation of sinners?

Whether you agree or disagree with Piper, his desire for God's Glory and the salvation of sinners is contagious. May the church in this nation be once again blessed with preachers that are unafraid to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Perhaps then Piper's dream will be realized.

PS. I originally wrote Mark Driscoll. It is was in fact Mark Dever of 9 Marks Ministry. I am a confused individual.


Friday, March 09, 2007

My Father's House

My wife and I were discussing John 14 verses 2-3 in particular, which reads:

"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

Now having a Dispensational/Premillenial background I would have assumed this passage would mean that Jesus is going to heaven to build a physical house and at the rapture Christians would have been caught up to go live there, or this house was going to fall out of the sky and we would pack our bags and move in. Over the years I began to see some major hermeneutical flaws with Dispensational theology. Nevertheless, as one who embraces Covenant Theology, I now approach the New Testament in a slightly different manner, so I want to run this idea out there for open discussion.

Is it possible that Jesus is not necessarily talking about some building in heaven but is actually referring to Himself. The context is that of the Last Supper. Jesus is about to do a work in which God and man will be reconciled. Notice some of His language later on in the chapter.

Joh 14:10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

Jesus mentions that He is going to the Father and yet the Father always abides with Him.

Again He says:

Joh 14:19-20 "After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

Although some may see the words “will see Me” as still remaining future prophecy, but isn’t the context post resurrection?


Joh 14:28 "You heard that I said to you, 'I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Again Jesus speaks of going to the Father and also coming back to the Apostles. It seems the immediate context is that Jesus is going to be reunited to the Father in all His glory and also abiding with the disciples. What a promise this is for the believer! Jesus is teaching that all three persons of the Trinity will be with us until till the end of this age and forever.

Notice His words in John 4:

Joh 4:23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Jesus plainly alludes that the Kingdom of God is now here ruling in the hearts of His people. The Kingdom that demands true worship must not be done at a particular location such as Jerusalem or Samaria, but in spirit and truth.

John 10 Jesus says:

Joh 10:14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."

Here Jesus ties His death and resurrection with making one new flock and bringing them into one fold. Is this not a parallel thought with John 14 and High Priestly Prayer? Is this not consistent with all of Jesus’ teaching in John’s Gospel?

Jesus is building His church. He is preparing a place for us. I must grant that there is a “now” and “not yet” aspect to Jesus' teachings on the Kingdom of God, and its reign here on earth. Yet could it be that our Traditions have caused us to make Jesus’ words in John 14 to say something that Jesus did not intend. If even His disciples misunderstood, could we (with our Dispensational glasses and influence) be misunderstanding His words as well?

Much more could be said, but I am trying to keep this short and hoping for some thoughts and discussion.

God Bless

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

FILMMAKERS' “TRUTHINESS” Part 3 of 3 reactions to the Tomb of Jesus Controversy

Well, the evidence has been seen, and debated by intellects far superior to my own. They have stretched the nature of their findings and drawn spectacular conclusions from relatively non-sensational findings. I think I pointed out a few critical holes in their reasoning last time and James White has, in my opinion, hit it out of the park in his blog postings alone ( I shudder to think what his book will do to Cameron and Jacobovici’s collective self-esteem. I pity you sirs! But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. I thought a brief word should be made regarding the medium by which this finding was given to the public.
Film. I love movies and I love the study of film. Film is a powerful thing. It has the ability to make the ordinary dramatic. This can and is often unavoidable in documentary film. Things are dramatized when you put them on film, no matter what. That’s why we need responsible, thoughtful, filmmakers.
Film can move an audience to make significant decisions. Don’t think so? Look at the French Film Indigines, the story of North African soldiers who helped liberate France in WWII. Upon the film’s debut, pensions, previously crystallized, i.e., denied to the soldiers, will finally be released. A film so powerful, it changed legislation.
Now, think about how Cameron and Jacobovici are using their documentary, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. Their bias is in the title. It’s not “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” with a question mark. It is the tomb of Jesus Christ. Is this responsible, well thought, documentary filmmaking?
Cameron is quoted, “Well, I think that there’s a lot more investigations that have to be done. It would be nice to get access to the tomb again, take more patina samples. There are some inscriptions there that have not been translated yet. There are things that still need to be studied. There are other tombs in the region that need to be studied.

So, you’re making a documentary film, claiming to have found the ossuary of Jesus Christ, without finishing THE DOCUMENTATION?! Can I say that again? You’re showing me a DOCUMENTARY film that has yet to be fully DOCUMENTED? I don’t know if this seems wrong to anyone else, but to me, this seems undeniably irresponsible considering how, seemingly, confident they are in their proposition. Both men, while being interviewed, repeatedly stated, “we’re not theologians, and we’re not archaeologists.

Ok, I get it. Because you’re not experts, you’re just filmmakers, you’re not responsible for dressing up, dramatizing, and promoting, incomplete, hasty and altogether questionable scholarship? So, now, not only are they demonstrably incompetent in the areas of theology and Christian faith, but, apparently, have allowed their bias and presuppositions to taint their credibility as documentary filmmakers. Anybody else laughing yet?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Open Letter To FBC Leoti

An open letter to Pastor Odum and the Baptist congregation in Leoti, KS.

First, I want to thank Pastor Odum for having enough confidence in me to be able to substitute for him. We all prayed for your speedy recovery so that the congregation would again be able to listen to their pastor. Sometimes listening to a guest speaker may be a break for some people, but I am sure that is not the case at First Baptist Leoti. Hearing Pastor Odum speak at FBC Scott City is truly something I have missed over the past several years.

I preached the same message that I preached at Shallow Water, and I hoped to have cut the length of time down. I think in total it was about 4 minutes shorter. This just goes to show that my preaching and sermon writing skills have a long way to go. Yet the people at FBC Leoti seemed very appreciative of the message. You clearly enjoy hearing from God's Word, even when the speaker is not the best.

I simply enjoyed myself after several days of struggling with the message. It was truly a blessing to preach to such a receptive congregation.

May God continue to bless the ministry of FBC, Leoti.


PS. For Pastor Odum who missed the message. Here is the link.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

JUST THE FACTS MA'M: Part 2 of 3 Reactions to the Tomb of Jesus Controversy

Well, the documentary claiming to have found the ossuary of Christ, where he was buried with wife, Mary Magdalene, and his son Judah will air this Sunday on the Discovery Channel. Seeing from my previous blog that the filmmakers have no concept of the gospel message and what Christians believe about the resurrection it is now time to examine a few key claims.

The first thing they have been touting as significant evidence is the statistics or odds of finding the name cluster they have found. The idea being that the odds of finding these names, especially, Jesus Son of Joseph, and “Mariamne,” are 100 to 1 that it’s not Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene. Besides the fact that “the odds” would be slim no matter whose names you calculated, the idea that this “Mariamne” woman is the Mary Magdalene they want it to be is based on a false assumption.

For the best break down of this information check out James White’s blogs at . But, it essentially breaks down like this. They think this woman is Mary Magdalene because they claim that, in The Acts of Philip, the woman Mariamne is identified as Mary Magdalene. The problem is that you can’t really deduce that from reading The Acts of Philip. You can deduce, however, that this woman turned into a glass box and became a pillar of fire as a defense mechanism. Not to mention, the book spins a yarn or two about giant black dragons. That’s right. Dragons. Now, I know what some of you might be thinking. The New Testament has stories about demons, about a man who calms storms with a word from his mouth, who heals the sick and raises the dead, so why are dragons so much of a stretch?
Here’s why. The Acts of Philip were written 1400 years after the life of Jesus. It is a document 1400 years removed from the events in question. The New Testament, however, was written within 100 years of the events in question. The earliest copy to be found dates back to 130 A.D. We have Fifty Six Hundred copies of New Testament Manuscripts. This is more than all the copies of Homer’s Iliad, the complete works of Plato and Aristotle put together.
The New Testament is of superior historical authenticity in quantity, time span from original date, and textual reliability. But no, let’s consult the malformed ranting of the Acts of Philip to frame a false hypothesis about a Jesus we would rather have than the one who happens to be the God of the Universe.

Then there’s the DNA. They took DNA samples from the ossuaries and determined from the best experts possible (a fact I don’t dispute) that this Jesus and Mary were not related. What does this prove? Apparently, according to Cameron and Jacobovici, it proves that they were married. The problem is that the only DNA, assuming it’s not already corrupted, that they can get from samples so old is mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial DNA, in mammals, is inherited maternally. So, in point of fact, all this analysis proves is that these two people did not have the same mother. Which means he could have been her father, her stepbrother, her cousin etc. Is it not obvious yet that these men want this to be Jesus Christ so badly that they can’t see past the irrelevancy of the supposed pillars of their arguments? I think it is.

The Abortion Patch

Albert Mohler's post today really demonstrates the incoherency and irrationality of the Leftist mindset. He writes about the issue of homosexuality and the possibility of knowing about the problem ahead of time and possibly curing it.

He asks, "This question stands at the intersection of so many competing interests. Feminists and political liberals have argued for decades now that a woman should have an unrestricted right to an abortion, for any cause or for no stated cause at all. How can they now complain if women decide to abort fetuses identified as homosexual? This question involves both abortion and gay rights -- the perfect moral storm of our times."

Here Feminists are caught in yet another quandary. If they argue that abortion should be a private issue between a woman and her doctor, she could be murdering a homosexual baby just because it is going to be gay.

Just prior Mohler says, "But this is not about homosexuality now; it is about their baby boy. The woman is then told that a hormone patch on her abdomen will "reverse the sexual orientation inscribed in his chromosomes." The Sunday Times [London] predicts that such a patch should be available for use on humans within the decade. Will she use it?"

Are homosexual groups going to get excited about this? Perhaps we could have "fixed" them ahead of time if we had just known or at least have aborted them. So if this "patch" pans out, we could literally do away with one of the major debates within society by just eliminating the problem altogether. This is no moral issue at all, unless of course you think it is wrong to change someone's sexual orientation. Don't some people have sex changes? If it saves them from instant death in the womb, why not just solve the "problem" with the patch?