Thursday, 29 December 2011

Alpha Stories - For Such a Time as This

I remember an incident very clearly that happened about ten years ago. It was Sunday, the day after our Alpha weekend away. We always ended our retreat Saturday night, and felt it important to be in church together the next day.

A woman who had come to faith in Christ on the weekend was walking with me after the service up the side aisle of our church. She was my age at the time. (Well, I suppose she would still be my age now, wouldn't she?) In any case, her eyes were full of tears; the tears that only the Holy Spirit can bring; tears of joy of the knowledge of God, of sin forgiven and at the beauty of a brand new relationship with the God you had no concept of so short a time before. And at the same time, tears of grief; grief at the realization of the price paid by the one you now recognize as your Saviour for your redemption.
And she was saying, "John, I feel my entire life to this point has been a waste."

I answered, "No, your entire life up to now has been in preparation for this very moment." I am reminded of the verse in Esther where her uncle Mordecai tells Esther,
And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
God has not wasted anything. God can redeem your entire life to the moment of salvation and use it for His glory.

I was listening to Charles Price on Living Truth, and he was teaching on much the same theme. He used the example of Saul, who became known as the Apostle Paul. Paul describes his life before coming to know Christ in his own words:
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. (Acts 22:3a)
...circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.(Philippians 3:5-6)
I'm sure God had His eye on Saul, as he grew, and leaarned the Scriptures inside an out. It was no mistake, accident or coincidence that this was the man He would use to argue His cause in the synagogues of various cities on his missionary travels. It was no accident that this man of brilliant intellect would be the one to write such a great portion of what we now know as the New Testament, delineating our Christian doctrine with such clarity. God knew all along what he was going to do, and everything unfolded just as it was meant to do.

Not that Paul was a mere automaton, a puppet with no will of his own. No! But God used his human education, training and background to allow him to elucidate his toughts clearly and forcefully, and God, I believe, had a hand in aligning circumstances or placing him in situations where he could do just that.

Your life before you came to know the Lord was not wasted. It was all in preparation for what He has planned for you from now on. Every experience, every bit of knowledge gained, can now be put to use for His glory.

Starting now.

Take Care

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Arguing With Atheists (2)

On our recent trip to Vegas we stopped in Salt Lake City to see the Mormon Temple Square. It was quite spectacular, to say the least.

But when visitors enter the information centre, they are greeted by a team of two "missionaries" who volunteer to answer any questions, with the end in mind, I supose, to lead one toward the Mormon faith. My "team" were a couple of young girls from the Philipines, so there was a bit of a language barrier. I told them I was what I would call a born again Christian. I didn't just say I was a Christian, because they consider themselves to be Christians as well, hence my differentiation.

Our discussion somehow turned to the nature of God, and I was told that God had flesh and bones, just like we do. I asked where did he come from, who created him, but I think the language barrier made difficult to discuss in any depth. They just kept coming back to the point that the god who created everything was a man just like us. I told them it made no sense and left it there.

I say all that to say this: there is a blog called Darwin Killed God by an atheist who has commented on posts in this blog. And in their discussion and defence of evolution, atheists face the same problem as the Mormons -- they start in the middle. They start with, "stuff" already in existence. As for Mormons, if the creator of stuff is already made of stuff, then he is not the original creator of stuff, is he?

Frankly, I avoid as much as possible discussing evolution with atheists. There is no point in duscussing evolution until one settles the problem of origins. There is no point discussing the origin of species until one settles on the origin of everything. And if one begins with the premise of a Crteaor God, Darwinian evolution becomes, at the very least, unnecessary.

Take Care

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Highlights of My Las Vegas Trip

We went to the Grand Canyon, we strolled the strip and Fremont street, saw a woman with about an 8 foot bustline with whom tourists could pose for pictures, went to Verve church, but the highlight for me was this:

This is Carroll Shelby's first Cobra, the first one he ever built; the original British AC sportscar into which he put a Ford 260 c.i. V8. He has apparently been offered 23 million dollars for it, and turned it down.

For a time in the '80's Shelby went over to work with Chrysler products, following Lee Iacocca. Here is one of his cars, an Omni GLH. I mention this because when I owned my auto detailing company, one of my dealer customers sent me one to spiff up. On the way back to the dealership I came up against a Camaro IROC Z-28 at a stoplight. Never having been one to turn away from a stoplight challenge, I blew his doors off. The next light turned red too, but he hung well back, not wanting a homely blue 4 door to embarrass him again.

Take Care

Glee - Worse Than Pornography

I don't know how many have seen the television show, "Glee." I have had my own thoughts on it for sometime, even intended to do a post on it, but for some reason have never done it.

To express my opinion bluntly, I think Glee is a totally immoral and completely evil thing. It is part of the great cultural movement to sexualize our kids. It is extremely pro-gay, but that deosn't particularly matter. Gay or straight, it portrays, even encourages, sexual activity as a normal lifestyle choice for school children. If that portrayal turns out to be, to its audience, something to be emulated, I'm sure its backers and producers would not see it as a bad thing.

Proponents of such shows are wont to claim that they are just reflecting reality. That may be so, in part, but there can be little doubt that they also accelerate that reality.

My decision to write this was prompted by This blog..., describing a recent episode. As you will read, two young people, virgins, were encouraged, for purely utilitarian reasons, to lose their virginity. That is, to give away something they can never recover, something that should have been reserved as a gift for the person with whom they intended to spend the rest of their lives.

I entitled this post as I did because when one encounters outright pornography, one is aware of what one is is seeing. But the glitz, the music, and the seemingly attractive teenage lifestyle in "Glee" is an effective hook to suck in an innocent and naive audience, then indoctrinate them into a very evil agenda. That may seem over the top, but I'm telling you, that's the way it is.

Take Care

Edited to add...

Somewhat tied to this, in my opinion, is This piece from the Anglican Journal decrying the slow progress on child poverty in Canada.

Well, I've said it before, and it is frustrating when those who continually whine about what the government should do to alleviate it, but child poverty is far and away a moral problem. That is, one of it's main causes is a breakdown of morality. The argument is undeniable that a huge cause of child poverty is single parenthood, specifically single motherhood. And how do girls become single mothers? There's only one way; by having sex. And I am confident that many are lured into this activity by societal attitudes epitomied by shows such as "Glee."

And please don't whine about the need for more birth control education. We were taught birth control in the sixties, and the focus on it has surely grown since then. It's not a lack of information on birth control; it's a surfeit of propaganda for sex itself.

check out Matthew 18:6

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Notes on Forgiveness

Excerpted from, "Seven Keys to Spiritual renewal" by Steve Arterburn
1. Forgiveness ins't condoning the behaviour. To forgive isn't saying, "What you did is okay." It's saying, "The consequences of your behaviour belong to God, not to me." When you forgive, you transfer the person from your own system of justice to God's. To forgive is to recognize that the wrong done against you is a debt of sin, and all sin is against God. Therefore, in forgiving, you transfer the debt from your ledger of accounts to God's, leaving all recompense in His hands.

2. Forgiveness isn't forgetting what happened. It would be foolish to erase from our minds some of the wrongs done to us. If you did, you'd never learn from your experiences and would relive the same situations, and consequently, disappointments. What can eventually be forgotten are the raw emotions associated with the event... When you forgive, the terrible memories and feelings gradually diminish.

3. forgiveness isn't restoring trust. Trust is earned. to blindly trust someone who has hurt you is naive and irresponsible. If a person is a theif, it's foolish to give him a key to your house. If he's a pedophile, you'd be derelict to hire him as a babysitter. Forgiving a wrong does not mean extending to the person an invitation to sin again.

4. Forgiveness isn't synonymous with reconciliation. It is a necessary step toward reconciliation, but there are situations where reconciliation is not a good idea. If the other person is unwilling to reconcile due to bitterness or denial, you can still forgive. (But) it is unwise, if not dangerous, to seek reconciliation when the other person is unrepentent, unchanging or unwilling.

In Judaism, forgiveness isn't required unless repentence is demonstrated and pardon is sought. But Jesus raised the standard, commanding that we forgive unconditionally. Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness means to consciously and deliberately cancel a debt. Choosing to forgive is a personal, conscious and powerful choice of the will. Choosing to release the offender from his or her indebtedness is the epitome of being Christ-like.

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:14)

Take Care

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Arguing With Atheists

A recent commenter on this blog has prompted me to post this. I will not link to his site because it is filled with adolescent-level profane rants and, frankly, carries absolutely zero credibility with any thinking person. His favourite weapon of logic is the ad hominem and his primary debating strategy amounts to, "...this is what I say and it's true, so there!" He appeals constantly to the argument from authority, which really is, "... so and so says such and such..." which is supposed to be enough to settle any argument, whether or not any proof or evidence is actually presented.

But it occurred to me that trying to discuss God's Existence with such a confirmed atheist is rather like trying to convince a blind person that blue exists. Or, as I've said before, a slug under a rock on the north shore of Alaska that doesn't believe in New York.

Take Care,

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Building the Kingdom

Something I'm learning, and need to take to heart;
Fundraising is first of all, a form of ministry. It is a way of announcing your vision, and inviting other people into your vision with the resources that are available to them. -- Henri Nouwen
Take Care

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Good Advice

"Every heresy is due to an overemphasis on some truth, without allowing other truths to qualify and balance it" John R.W. Stott in 'Between Two Worlds,' p 183

Take Care

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Heresies - Nothing New Under the Sun

With a resolution at the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta synod wishing to recognize that,
"...Pelagius’s contribution to our theological tradition is shrouded in the political ambition of his theological antagonists who sought to discredit what they felt was a threat to the empire, and their ecclesiastical dominance..."
Stand firm has re-posted an examination of five historic heresies that are re-surfacing in that denomination.

Lest we gloat, I am sure that some Canadian denominations are not far behind. Be on guard.

Take Care

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Such Hypocrisy

From the Same link as the post below,
...U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Britain's new defense secretary, Philip Hammond, said a full investigation into Gadhafi's death is necessary.

Hammond said the Libyan revolutionaries' image had been "a little bit stained" by Gadhafi's death, Hammond adding that the new government "will want to get to the bottom of it in a way that rebuilds and cleanses that reputation."
"It's certainly not the way we do things," Hammond told BBC television...
After bombing the crap out of the country, targeting Gadhafi specifically with bombs, drones and missiles, these self-righteous politicos are whining because someone put a bullet in his head.

What silliness. And taxpayers actually pay these people!

Pardon the rant, but
Take Care

Monday, 24 October 2011

Told You so

Libyan Leader Declares Nation Islamic, Sharia Law to be Implemented
From Here

Abdul-Jalil said new banks would be set up to follow the Islamic banking system, which bans charging interest as a practice deemed usury.

He also announced the annulment of an existing family law that limits the number of wives Libyan can take, contradicting the provision in the Muslim holy book, the Quran, that allows men up to four wives.
But, as I posted in a previous post,
Is what replaces the status quo going to be better or worse than that which is being replaced? What is going to fill these vaccuums, freedom or increased tyranny and repression? More tolerance for the rights of minorities or less?
In other words, what will be the fate of religious minorities in Libya, especially Christians? Once again, I guess we'll see, won't we?

Take Care

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Trusting in the Promises

It is quite fashionable in come circles to insist that all those who have never heard of Jesus are beyond hope; that they will spend eternity in the fires of hell. I heard Adrian Rogers insist so on the radio the other day.

I have attempted to expand on my position in this matter in other posts. but one more thing occurred to me. The standard question raised in response to this position is, "What about the people in the Old Testament?" And the standard response is something like, "They were saved because they believed in the promises of a coming Messiah."

Well, OK. But when were these promises given? The answer is that the first promise was given in Genesis; in chapter 3; specifically in verse 15;
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush[b] your head, and you will strike his heel.”
This is often considered the first promise of a messiah who would come and put things right for the human race.

So who to whom was this promise given? To the first human couple; the first parents, if you like, of humanity. The pair from whom all humanity descended.

It follows, therefore, that all of humanity descended from them have been given this promise. The Bible is the record of only one stream of this humanity. It records nothing of those who came to live in the Americas before Columbus; in Europe or Asia or Africa, parallel to, but not recorded in, the biblical record.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not discounting the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Without that, no one could be saved. Nor do I discount the need for faith. Those who reject God do so at their own peril and to their own destruction.

But all of those not mentioned in the Bible; all those living in other parallel civilizations, had the same two first parents. So could they not all been privy the same promise? And could not those who trusted in that same promise be considered by God as He considered Noah, for instance? Or Enoch? Or even Abel or Seth? Or any other of the so-called Old Testament saints?

Well, why not?

Take Care

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dr. Lloyd-Jones on the Altar Call

From Here...

I have never called people forward at the end for this reason; there is a grave danger of people coming forward before they are ready to come forward. We do believe in the work of the Spirit, that He convicts and converts, and He will do His work. There is a danger in bringing people to a "birth," as it were, before they are ready for it.

I can sum it up by putting it like this: I feel that this pressure which is put upon people to come forward in decision ultimately is due to a lack of faith in the work and operation of the Holy Spirit. We are to preach the Word, and if we do it properly, there will be a call to a decision that comes in the message, and then we leave it to the Spirit to act upon people. And of course He does. Some may come immediately at the close of the service to see the minister. I think there should always be an indication that the minister will be glad to see anybody who wants to put questions to him or wants further help. But that is a very different thing from putting pressure upon people to come forward. I feel it is wrong to put pressure directly on the will. The order in Scripture seems to be this - the truth is presented to the mind, which moves the heart, and that in turn moves the will. - Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones
There is a difference between an altar call and an invitation. I believe that every sermon where there are unbelievers in the audience should contain an invitation; an invitation that urges the seeking listener to surrender his life to Christ, and an explanation of the means by which God has made a relationship with Himself possible through him.

But then let that invitation rest on the heart of the hearer. The surrender will take place according to the will of God and the timetable of the Spirit.

Take Care

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Monday, 17 October 2011

"Men of Athens... (Street Evangelism?)

Paul said,
Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17: 22b-31)

from Here...

Pastor Darren Young of the Langley Evangelical Free Church gives some excellent thoughts on this section of scripture as it may apply to today. The whole thing is fairly long, but the section I'm posting on runs from about 1:50 to about 12:50.

Basically, his point is that Paul's discussions in the Areopagus in Athens do not exactly translate into any attempt on our parts to engage people in the marketplace, the workplace or on the street today. Mars Hill, where Paul's dissertation took place, was the place to go for the exchange of ideas in philosophy and religion. The same kind of place does not exist, for the most part, in the public square today.

In other words, if you tried to stand up on a busy street corner today and give the same message, you might be ignored, you might be heckled, you might be assaulted, you might even be arrested for disturbing the peace. As Pastor Young says, if you stood up on your desk at work and announced you were going to tell your co-workers about Jesus, it probably would not go well for you. Even a less conspicouos attempt to discuss your faith with others is met with an air of indifference or opposition.

But what if there were a place that was open to discussing matters of faith freely? A place where discussion was welcomed; where no question was ridiculed; yet a place where Jesus could be proclaimed boldly to those interested in hearing? In fact, a place where people come specifically to hear?

There is such a place! It is called Alpha. And for a person anxious to see people come to a realization of the truth of The Christian faith, it is the best forum I have ever known for just that puropse.

Yes, I am biased, but my new position with Alpha Canada is merely a next and natural step in my relationship with this remarkable outreach tool. Lord willing, it will enable me to encourage Alpha's expanded presence in our Province and even our nation.

Take Care

Monday, 10 October 2011

There is Only One Certainty

From Here

Re: "Scientists have announced the discovery of a particle that can travel faster than light."

The implications of such a discovery are so mind boggling, however, that these same scientists immediately requested that other labs around the world try to replicate the experiment. Something must have been wrong to account for a result that, if we know anything about the universe, is impossible.

And that’s the problem. It has to be impossible because, if not, everything we know about the universe is wrong.
Ah.... the arrogance of Dawkins, the new atheists and their gullible followers. The arrogance of all who think that the natural is all there is. Who have made science their god; the god that has all answers. We have only to look at history to see that everything changes, even when those present thought they had grasped certainty.

There is only one certainty;
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

Thanks to David

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Pray Without Ceasing

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” (Colossians 1: 3-6a)
It is interesting to note that Paul is praying here for those he hasn't yet met. He has only heard of their faith. He hasn’t met them yet. In Alpha we pray. We pray for people we haven’t met yet, but we know that God knows them, and has plans for them, and whoever and wherever they are, they will be joining us as God’s children, our brothers and sisters, in God’s kingdom. Prayer is a big part of each Alpha course. And it is a priority at Alpha Canada. We pray for the people presenting all our courses and we pray for all those who are taking them.

Paul says in Phil 4:6,
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Notice that thanksgiving comes even before our petitions are presented, let alone answered. We are to pray with confidence that God will answer, according to His will. At the beginning, and all through each Alpha course, we have prayed with thanksgiving, thankful for what God intends to do in this course, and confident that He is going to accomplish great things. And he always does. I can say with confidence that each and every course in which I have been involved, almost without exception, lives have been changed, hearts have been touched, and people have surrendered their lives to Christ.

Take Care

Saturday, 1 October 2011

An Announcement

I have been accepted as the Associate Regional Director for Alberta for Alpha Canada. Alpha has been very close to my heart for a number of years, and I am pleased and honoured that God has brought me to this position. My official title is Associate Director because I am transitioning into it from my current full time position with Raven Truck Accessories, one of the best companies anywhere to work for, by the way. (I'd like to give them a shout-out because Richard, the President, has been very accomodating in enabling me to take on my new Alpha duties, as well as remain on staff with Raven.) Although my official title is, "Associate Director," there is no, "Regional Director," so... I guess I'm it anyway. What can I say?

The Alpha Course is, in my opinion, just about the best tool, program, (call it what you will) for reaching out to those who do not yet know Christ, as well as helping to educate, edify, and bring into closer relationships, those already in the Body of Christ.

Here is a video of an interview with Nicky Gumbel, the man who, more than anyone else over the last 20 years, has helped grow Alpha into the international phenomenon that it is today. I hope you will watch it all.

My new position, by the way, is self-funded. In other words I will need the financial support of friends and others who have a desire to see new people brought into the Kingdom of God. Anyone who might like to contribute may click to the left where it says, "Support Alpha in Alberta."
Small monthly contributions would be wonderful. Large monthly contributions would be even more wondedrful :>) Any help would be very much appreciated.

In any event, please keep me in your prayers as I endeavor to follow the LORD's will and serve him as faithfully as I can in this new capacity.

Take Care,
John Kivell

Thursday, 29 September 2011

WTG SPY! (Way to Go St Paul's Youth)

A nice story involving young people from St Paul's Edmonton;
From The Anglican Planet...
ON MAY 15, the town of Slave Lake, 200 kilometres north-east of Edmonton, was struck by devastating wildfires. One-third of the homes and businesses were destroyed.
St Paul's VBS usually welcomes a team each summer from Crosstalk Ministry, which is based in Montreal. Students travel across Canada during the summer months to facilitate Christian day camps. Crosstalk had already booked one of its two-member traveling teams to run a one week VBS day camp in the Edmonton parish of St. Paul’s, but on short notice they and a team from St Paul's did two more weeks in Slave Lake. By all accounts it was a true blessing to all concerned.
When they heard of the need in Slave Lake David Dolmat and Emma Goettke offered to continue traveling to the struggling town. Since about 150 kids were interested in attending VBS, Slave Lake opted to host two one-week camps. St. Paul’s also offered to send two teams of its youth leaders to assist, including newlyweds Lauren and Adrian VanderHout. Lauren told the Messenger:
“While Slave Lake welcomed the idea of a facilitated day camp, the community worried it would not have enough volunteers. My co-worker, Noelle Byer, and I were asked if we would gather a youth team to come with us. We arrived in Slave Lake with nowhere to stay, but ready to ‘do’ day camp.
Quite a bunch. Well done.

Take Care

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Anyone Remember This?

My wife tries to tell me she wanted us to go to Woodstock back when it happened, but she says I didn't want to go. I don't remember that, but I can well remember a number of "little Woodstocks" presented aroung Southern Ontario after the movie came out and it was hip to be associated with it, however tenuously.
Guys would get on the public address system and try to sound like the announcer at Woodstock (Chip Munk, I think it was) just to hear the sound of their voices. Looking back, it all seems rather funny.

At any rate, this number includes what may arguably be the best drum solo in rock history, beginning around 2:50 and lasting a full two minutes.

Those were the, "good old days," but I've become a new person since, and I sure wouldn't want to go back.

Take Care

Monday, 19 September 2011

Alzheimer's and Faithfulness

From Here...
[Last] week on his television show Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said a man would be morally justified to divorce his wife with Alzheimer’s disease in order to marry another woman. The dementia-riddled wife is, Robertson said, “not there” anymore. This is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Marriage, the Scripture tells us, is an icon of something deeper, more ancient, more mysterious. The marriage union is a sign, the Apostle Paul announces, of the mystery of Christ and his church (Eph. 5). The husband, then, is to love his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25).

At the arrest of Christ, his Bride, the church, forgot who she was, and denied who he was. He didn’t divorce her. He didn’t leave.

There is probably some support for someone whose spouse is, "not really there" seeking other companionship. Certainly there is sympathy, and that sympathy itself is not wrong. And just as in other areas of sexuality, there is the selfish view that one's personal 'needs' outweigh what is right or wrong. It's as if we are justified in including a, "but" after every vow.

Is a person justified in leaving a spouse who has Alzheimer's? I guess it depends on how seriously you take your promises.

Take Care

h/t themcj

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Greg Koukl on the Historicity of the Gospels

Clearly and succinctly put.

Obvious when you think about it, but a common objection from those who haven't thought things fully through.

Koukl's very helpful site, Stand to Reason, is Here...

A number of short answers to various apologetic questions is Here...

Take Care

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Chaz Bono on "Dancing With TheStars"

From Here..., among other places.

The news that Chaz Bono, born the daughter of Sonny and Cher Bono, but since transgendered to a man has ignited a firestorm of criticism, as well as support for the move. What should be the Christian response to this story.

Well, I'm sure there are many different responses, including the call from some Christian groups to boycott the show, but I will try here to give you mine.

First of all, I don't really care for the show in the first place. My daughters grew up in the world of dance, and my oldest still teaches it. But we are both in agreement on the faact that the recently popular dance shows on television, not only DWTS but , "So You Think You Can Dance" (both American, but especially Canadian) have overly sexualized dance. Every hip-hop number, for instance, seems to include an obligatory simulated sex act. Even the ballroom dancing on DWTS has deteriorated to a focus on the more erogenous areas of the anatomy, especially the female. So I don't think the show is the best television fare for Christians to be watching anyway, especially Christian families.

But what about Chaz? I believe there are only two kinds of people in the world; the saved and the unsaved. As Christians, we need to be focused on witnessing to the unsaved, not judging them; not putting them off or pushing them away. Without passing judgment on Chaz' status, if he is not yet a Christian, we need to pray that he might somehow become one. When anyone does then become a Christian, the past no longer matters, as far as his standing with God is concerned. He is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. It is not our business to be judging anyone who has not yet come to faith in Christ. It is our business to see, LORD willing, that they do.

I think 1 Corinthians 6 applies here.
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV, emphasis mine, JK)
Some of the Corinthians Christians, indeed some of us today, were once the type of people Paul condemns as wicked, but they and we were washed, justified and sanctified by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. If Chaz Bono were to come to Christ, he would come as he is, what ever he is. Now you may have differing opinions as to what he is, or should be, but he will come as a new creation. The old will have gone and never be counted against him.

A person with tattoos all over his body, for instance, if he becomes a Christian, will still have tattoos all over his body. He may not, as a Christian, have done this; we may believe that a Christian should not have excessive tattoos, or any, for that matter, but that is irrelevant. That person is now no less a Christian than we.

Chaz Bono, along with every other person who does not (if indeed he does not), is someone who needs to know Jesus Christ. I believe it's as simple as that.

Take Care

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Election and the Sovereignty of God

The sovereignty of God does not need to be established. As an essential aspect of His being and person, it is in no way contingent. The sovereignty of God does not depend, for either its existence or its manifestation, on either the fact or the mode of election. God is sovereign, regardless of whether He elects, or does not elect... whether He elects some, or all... whether election is conditional or unconditional. Neither the fact of election nor the mode of election nor the extent of election affects the fact of (His) sovereignty..., and the assumption that unconditional particular election is necessary for the preservation of (His) sovereignty... is a theological humbug which for generations has been used by Calvinists to beg the question. (Shank; Elect in the Son, p144)
AsI have argued before, just because God can do something, does not mean He is obligated to do it. Just because He could have designated particular individuals for salvation in eternity past (and therefore by corollary, all other particular individuals for damnation without recourse) doesn't mean He did it. Just because He is sovereign over all things, doesn't mean He must exercise that sovereignty.

He could very easily have instructed all people everywhere to seek Him, and then rewarded those who did. And of course, that is exactly what He did (Hebrews 11:6).

He could have promised that all who seek Him with all their hearts would find Him. And that also is what He did.

He could have promised that all who ask will receive, all who seek will find, and to all who knock, the door will be opened. And again, well, know

He could have promised the Holy Spirit, the mark and the agent of regeneration, to anyone who asks Him. And, well I could go on.

Those who insist that because God can do something, He must do it, actually diminish His sovereignty, don't they?

Take Care

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Politically Incorrect Commercial

Sorry to post this after a serious one, but variety is the name of the game.

I don't suppose if it were a man there would be any problem with it.

Take Care

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Was The Cross Unnecessary?

I have argued before about the logical extension of hyper Calvinism. In fact, I'm afraid that the type of Calvinism that most of those who would call themselves Calvinists, if the logical extension of their view be examined, would be what even they derisively call, "hyper-Calvinism." This Calvinism is that which includes the view of election that holds that God, before the foundation of the world, chose particular individuals for salvation and other particular individuals to unconditional and irreversible individual reprobation and therefore damnation. I will call it, "John Piper calvinism," not out of any disrespect for the man (he is a man whose teachings I admire in other areas and hold in high regard), but because John Piper is often one to whom many Calvininsts point as an example of its proponents.

But the logical extension of even this type of Calvinism, if examined in all honesty, is that evangelism is, at the end of the day, unneccessary. Now, most Calvinists would deny this of course, attributing such an idea to hyper-Calvinism, but that is without thinking the matter through. Because if they are honest, that is exactly where their own position leads. If God has pre-chosen all who are to be saved, as well as all who will perish, and God's immutable purposes cannot be thwarted, then it matters not whether these, "elect" are evangelized, or by whom; they will be saved -- period! It may be argued that God uses means. But then it must be admitted that God also then must ordain the means, leading to a kind of complete and controlling determinism. Either that, or God is at the whim of someone who chooses or chooses not to obey the great commission. In other words, I may say, "I don't feel like speaking to that person (one of the elect, let's say) about Christ." Which then would force God to say, "Well then, guess I'll just have to use someone else."

In any case, if God has preselected His chosen, it can be argued that it doesn't matter whether we evangelize or not; the elect will be saved no matter what.

All that is to say that I am now reading a book by Robert Shank, "Elect in the Son." Although I may not agree with all he says, I found that he puts my view of election quite well. In fact, I discovered a name for it; "Corporate election." It holds that it is Christ who is elect )
“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:1 NKJV)
and that we who are saved were chosen, "in him" (from that great predestination passage in Ephesians 1), and we are his, "body."
In other words, it is the body that is elect, and saved individuals only by virtue of being included in it.

But evangelism is not the only thing made unnecessary by unconditional particular election. So, ultimately is the cross, is it not? If God has decreed, unconditionally and immutably in eternity past, those who will be saved, then the cross becomes a mere symbol of a decision already made. Shank writes,
Calvin's reference (folowing Augustine) to Christ as, "the mirror of election" has been construed by some as indicativeof his concept of the role of Christ in election as being merelyt reflect what God already had accomplished in eternity by His decree. Thus Christ's "redemptive" career -- the incarnation, His death and resurrection, His ascension and intercession -- are seen as incidental and symbolic, divine pageantry rather than authentic saving acts. Election becomes predicated on God's decree in eternity in abstractio from all occurrences in time in the experience of Jesus. (p32)
To push the point further, either there can be no truly unconditional election, because salvation, and therefore election, is conditional on the cross, or the cross becomes irrelevant, ineffectual and merely symbolic.

When it comes right down to it, though, I believe that every passage on election in the Bible can be read and understood in the light of the concept of corporate election. It is not necessary to consign, or have God consign, anyone to hell without any hope of redemption or access to appeal.

Take Care

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Oh Wait... This Is Our Own Country We're Destroying!

A couple of interesting perspectives on the current stupidity being demonstrated in the riots in Great Britain.

From Malcolm Muggeridge, via Here...
...whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself...
...blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, laboured with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over–a weary, battered old brontosaurus–and became extinct.

And from Here...
The ferocious criminality exhibited by an uncomfortably large section of the English population during the current riots has not surprised me in the least.
To have spotted it required no great perspicacity...
...rather, it took a peculiar cowardly blindness, one regularly displayed by the British intelligentsia and political class, not to see it and not to realize its significance. There is nothing that an intellectual less likes to change than his mind, or a politician his policy.

A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude.

The picture I have of these types of people is of someone out in the middle of a lake in a wooden boat. They have a handgun with them, and as they are seated in the boat, they angle the gun downward and commence shooting holes in the bottom of the boat. They seem either to be unaware of the consequences of their actions, or they are quite conscious of them and do them anyway. In any case, they endanger not only themselves, but everyone in the boat with them.

Take Care

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Gems From Chesterton

From Here...

■“There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions.”

■“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.”

■“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”

■“Great truths can only be forgotten and can never be falsified.”

■“All science, even the divine science, is a sublime detective story. Only it is not set to detect why a man is dead; but the darker secret of why he is alive.”

■“What we call emancipation is always and of necessity simply the free choice of the soul between one set of limitations and another.”

■“The decay of society is praised by artists as the decay of a corpse is praised by worms.”

■“Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

The Last Rung?

"The emerging church is not an evangelistic strategy. It is the last rung for evangelicals falling off the ladder into liberalism or unbelief."

A response to a review of Rob Bell's book, "Love Wins," from Here...

He (Bell)really does sound like a Unitarian pastor who thinks religion is a set of nice stories, all fictional but having literature's insights into human life (so contradictions are beside the point). People make their own hells or heavens, all purely natural, and eternal life is just a metaphor for the eternity of the present moment. God is a useful fiction, and we shouldn't disturb each other's fictions unless they cause people to behave badly, but there is never any actual supernatural intervention. And if somebody's stories cause them to start doing things that don't have useful consequences in this life--if they start fasting too much, or feeling too guilty, or making real-world decisions based on God's existence--then those are bad stories. Jesus is a good story too, because it is a story of love and sacrifice, and Jesus has saved many people by being the protagonist in a story that has caused such good. But not only is there is no substitutionary atonement, it does not even matter whether Jesus really existed or not--it is the story that matters, not any facts that might underlie the story.

Well said, I think.

Take Care

Monday, 18 July 2011

More Dishonesty From Rob Bell

In his chapter on Hell, Bell, as is his style throughout the whole book, doesn't really give a straight answer, but seems to go out of his way to say that there is no hell as we have understood it; that is, a place of punishment for the wicked after death. I'm not quite sure what his point actually is, but he takes the Greek word, "gehenna," which is translated as "hell" in the Gospels, and seems to trivialize it. He points out, quite rightly, that it refers to the Valley of Hinnom outside of Jerusalem, but says, in one of the silliest quips ever,
So the next time someone asks you if you believe in an actual hell, you can always say, "Yes, I do believe that my garbage goes somewhere."
I'm guessing (because as far as I can tell, he never does say) that he is trying to dispel the notion of a place of punishment for the wicked after death, whether eternal or not, pushing the notion that hell is something we create for ourselves in the here and now.

But in our gospel reading this past Sunday, we read Matthew 13, where, in both the parable of the weeds (vv 24-30; 37-43) and of the net (47-50) Jesus speaks very clearly about the punishment of the wicked in, "...the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Once again, Bell seems to quote only those verses he can twist to suit his point of view, while ignoring those he can't, all the while, I assume, hoping his audience will not exmine his arguments too closely.

Take Care

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Rob Bell; Love Wins; Credibility Suffers

Rob Bell is either naive, or intellectually stilted, having never progressed beyond an adolescent level, or completely dishonest. I can't tell which. In chapter 1 of his book, "Love Wins," he poses a number of what I can only assume he considers to be clever rhetorical questions. I assume he thinks these questions will have some point to their asking. These questions all relate to how one may be saved. After listing a number of scriptural examples, he asks, (I will place his scripture references beside each question.)

"Is it what you say that saves you?" (Luke 7; Luke 18; Luke 23) (Bell doesn't give the verses; only the chapter, throughout the whole book. I'm not sure why)
"Is it about being born again?" (John 3)
"or being considered worthy?" (Luke 20)
"Is it... who we forgive?" (Matthew 6)
"or whether we do the will of God?" (Mat 7)
"or if we stand firm or not?" (Mat 10)
"or is it what we say we're going to do?" (story of Zacchaeus Luke 19)
"or is it who your friends are or what your friends do?" (Mark 2)

Bell then seems to belittle the Apostle Paul's conversion, quoting Luke's recounting of Paul's recollection of it in Acts 22 rather than Luke's more detailed account of it in Acts 9. I quote from the book.
These questions bring us to one of the first "conversion" stories of the early church. We read in Acts 22 about a man named Saul (later, Paul) who is travelling to the city of Damascus to persecute Christians when he hears a voice ask him, "Why do you persecute me?"
He responds, "who are you, Lord?"
The voice then replies: "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting... Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that you have been assigned to do."
That's his "conversion" experience?

The punctuation and the quotation marks around the word, "conversion" are Bell's own. He then goes on to ask, regarding how one is saved,

"Or is it what questions you're asked?
Or is it what questions you ask in return?
Or is it whether you do what you're told and go into the city?"

He then remarks, referencing James chapter 2 and Luke 7;

"So demons believe,
and washing Jesus's feet with your tears gets your sins forgiven.

There is only one way one is saved; by coming through faith into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ, being spiritually reborn and being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Every example Bell gives in his attempt to confuse the issue is either a fruit , a result or shows evidence of this event and resulting relationship. I can only marvel in incredulity at what must be either Bell's naivety, blindness or disingenuousness in thinking these questions of his actually accomplish valid points.

Take Care

Friday, 24 June 2011

Another Skeptic's Straw Man Addressed

"The Bible cannot be trusted because the four Gospels were not written by those whose names appear on them."

We often hear this accusation from atheists, skeptics or liberal 'scholars,' (and yes, I include them all in the same category as being equally far from the orthodox Christian faith.) They will claim that these books were originally written anonymously, with the names attached pseudepigraphally (if that is the correct word) at a later date. Now, I freely admit my limited scholarship, but let me give some thoughts on the matter; thoughts that to me make perfect common sense, something that sometimes seems to be lacking in those who attack the Bible just to cast doubts on the Christian fiath.

First of all, so-called religious texts all had names attached to them. Even the false gospels, which were written much later and were true pseudepigrapha, had names; gospels of Peter, Thomas, Mary, etc. So I believe we can be sure that what we know now as the four Gospels would have had names attached to them at the time of writing. If they didn't, then we would have copies or fragments without names, or indeed, with other, varying or different names atached to them. If the names by which we know them now were attached many years later, then others earlier would have referred to various copies by different names, because they would have had to be identified in some way.

It follows, then, that from the earliest times, the Church knew them by their current designations; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The next question then becomes, "Were these men the ones we generally think they are?" In other words, was Matthew written by Matthew the disciple of Jesus? Was Mark written by John Mark of the book of Acts? Was Luke written by Dr Luke and did he also write Acts? And was John (and his three letters and Revelation) written by John, Jesus' beloved disciple?

Was Matthew, for instance, written by the disciple of that name, or some other guy named Matthew? Or was it written by someone who wrote down what he learned from Matthew the disciple? It could still be the Gospel According to Matthew. Does the inspiration of Scripture depend on Matthew writing it down personally? I have no trouble believing that the author was the disciple, but I'm not sure my faith depends on it being so. What is certain, as I said above, the book was surely known by that name, and its authorship accepted, from the very earliest years of church history, as were the others.

The same goes for Mark, but with one further point. If Mark was not the author, but some other anonymous scribe, why attach the name, 'Mark' to it. Mark was a minor player at the time, a follower, so I've heard, of Peter, and someone who, for a time, fell into disgrace in the eyes of the Apostle Paul. An anonymous author would probably have chosen a more famous and glamorous name, such as Peter, or James, or Andrew. Why would he bother with a seeming second stringer like Mark. Again, it is probably known as the Gospel of Mark because Mark actually wrote it, and probably much of it as he learned it from Peter.

Internal evidence indicates that Luke and Acts are the beginning and the continuation of the same story, recorded by Luke from eyewitness testimony and personal experience, and I see no reason to doubt their authorship.

John may be quite a different story, and here is where I may really get into trouble. I am quite prepared to accept that John was not written directly by John himself, but by one of his followers, or students, who either took his dictation, or more probably, recorded his story and teachings. I have heard it claimed, for instance, that the phrase, "the disciple who Jesus loved" is evidence for John's direct authorship, but I think it is better evidence for authorship by one of his devoted followers. It seems to me that for John to refer to himself that way is rather boastful, even narcissistic. But that does not make it any less John's gospel. Also, the entire gospel is written in the third person, except for the switch to the first person in the final verse of the book (21:25). If John, personally, was the author, why the switch? Why not just record the entire book in the first person? The author (or perhaps merely the editor) does acknowledge that the beloved disciple is the one who testifies to these things (the things recorded in the book) and wrote them and that his testimony is true (v 24), but that, in my considered yet totally unprofessional opinion, does not exclude the possibility of a student or follower of the Apostle as the author.

John's three letters, on the other hand, are written in the first person. And fairly obviously with some of the same influence (compare chapter 1 of both the Gospel and the first letter of John), so it is not too difficult for me to accept that John himself wrote the three letters, while someone in his group of followers recorded the Gospel. My thinking would be that the gospel was written some time after the letters.

Finally, Revelation could or could not have been written by the same, "John" as the other books atributed to him. The Bible doesn't specify either way. All we know is that it was recorded by someone named John.

So, my point in this post is not to go all liberal on you. It is to give some thoughts and an answer to someone who might think that by questioning the authorship of these books he has somehow mounted an effective argument against the Christian faith. Bottom line; my question is, "Does any essential part of our faith rest on the actual authorship of the Gospels, or can the term, "according to" mean merely the source of the information?" Whoever might read this and like to comment, I would appreciate any further thoughts.

Take Care

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer Break

Temperature 107 degrees. Not Bad.
No, they're not Vegas showgirls I picked up, it's my wife, and daughter #2.
Take Care

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Favourite Biblical Phrases

Sounds like a Jeopardy category, doesn't it?
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
"...for such a time as this."
I remember as clearly as if it were yesterday, an incident that happened during one of our Alpha courses. A woman, who happened to be almost exactly my age, coming to faith in Christ. I believe it was on the Alpha weekend retreat. In any event, this was on the Sunday of that weekend, back at church, after service. There may have been just the two of us or we may have been surrounded by people, I don't recall. I just remember the two of us walking up the side aisle, she in tears and saying, "John, I feel my entire life to this point has been a waste."
I said, "No, your entire life to this point has been leading up to this day."
I remember a phrase that I believe was popular back in the '60's, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." It is almost Christian, but, in the context of coming to faith in Christ, it should read, "Today is the first day of your new life." (cf 2 Corinthians 5:17)

Which brings to mind another verse;
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Wherever you are, and whatever your situation, your first day in God's Kingdom is the first day in a new life. It is a day God has known about since before you were born. It may be a surprise to you, but it is not to Him.

Do not try to wish it were any different.

Take Care

BTW, Pastor Terry, if you see this, and notice the time it was posted, you will know that I drank from the wrong pot.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Is Rob Bell's Relationship With God Not Personal?

In "Love Wins" Rob Bell writes, almost as if he feels he has scored some kind of major coup; as if he has come up with the one unanswerable slam dunk debating point that throws an opponent to the canvas:

The problem, however, is that the phrase "personal relationship" is found nowhere in the Bible.

Nowhere in the Hebrew scriptures, nowhere in the New Testament. Jesus never used the phrase. Paul didn't use it. Nor did Peter, James, or the woman (???) who wrote the letter to the Hebrews.

So if that's it,
if that's the point of it all,
if that's the ticket,
the center,
the one unavoidable reality,
the heart of the Christian faith,
why is it that no one used the phrase until the last
hundred years or so? (Question marks mine, JK)

Well, it brings to mind the fact that the term, "Trinity" is not in the Bible either, but that does not make it any less true. The Trinity is a true fact and a doctrine of the Christian faith, whether it is referred to by name or not. The same goes for a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Whether people in the past have called it that, that is what it is.

Consider the following (and there are many more);

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3) all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:12-13)

...the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15b)

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.(v16)

The relationship sounds personal to me. The relationship between children and their Father is personal, and those who have it, know it.

Take Care

Monday, 6 June 2011

Those Who Haven't Heard? Are There Any?

Another post on the subject, "What happens to those who haven't heard the gospel," or, "Can God save someone who has'nt heard of Jesus," or, "Is actual conscious faith in Jesus Christ necessary for salvation?" Once again I say, "I don't pretend to know for sure, but I don't rule it out."

Those who insist on the need for conscious faith will sometimes use, as their evidence, these verses;
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10: 14-15a)
Frankly, I believe, taken in context, these are rhetorical questions on Paul's part. As a flippant (and hopefully not an irreverent) example, someone might ask, "How, then, can I get from Toronto to Ottawa if I don't take the 401? And how can I take the 401 if I don't drive a car? And how can I drive a car if I don't have a licence?..." and so on.

Well, the answer is, there are other ways to get from Toronto to Ottawa. One could take alternate highways. One could take the bus. Or one could fly.

Because Paul himself gives the alternative answer to his own questions three verses later, quoting Psalm 19;
But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:
“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.” (v 18)

He first asks, "How can they hear?" and then gives the answer, "They have heard, because God has told them in creation." Elsewhere he writes,
This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.. (Colossians 1:23b)
God has given all the world enough evidence, so that anyone who rejects Him is without excuse (Romans 1:20) No one will be able to stand, on the day of judgement, and say, "Nobody ever told me."

Now, a couple of clarifications:
First, there is no other way to God but through Jesus. Jesus said so himself. The question is not whether the only way a relationship with God is Christ's sacrifice on the cross. That is beyond question. But just how much does a person who turns to God, the God who has made Himself so evident to all, have to know or understand of it. Can God draw someone to Himself without their full knowledge or understanding of the details? (I suppose, in a sense, this applies to all of us. None of us had that full knowledge or understanding. or could even truly believe, until we were given the Holy Spirit, and when that happened, we were already, "in the Kingdom," so to speak.)

Second, this lets no one off the hook. Anyone who rejects God in spite of all the evidence He has given would reject Christ if he was told of him. Anyone who does not believe, in the face of all creation, that God exists, would not believe even if he saw someone rise from the dead.
Third, it does not eliminate the need for evangelism, any more than hyper-Calvinism does. In fact less. Calvinists never seem to realize that the logical extension of their position on election is that, in spite of all they say, evangelism is unnecessary, because the elect will be saved no matter what. Nor am I promoting universalism, or Rob Bellism, which says that all will be saved in the end, which also would eliminate the need for evangelism.

I stated in my opening paragraph that I just don't know for sure. Nor does anyone. So we must carry the gospel of Christ to the whole world, for two reasons.

One, just in case. This whole argument might be wrong.

And two, Jesus told us to.

Take Care

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Story of Jonah

From an e-mail sent to my wife.

This little girl looks to be about 6 years old and she gives the best narrative of the life of the story of Jonah that I have ever heard and she plays the part of different characters as she tells the story. Great stuff! At first she appears to be reading, but as the narrative progresses it is apparent that she is not. Watch and Enjoy.

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Take Care

Song Lyrics as Literature

I was preparing a post critiquing Rob Bell's book, Love Wins. It will need to be a lengthy post, because practically every sentence in it requires a response. But something I did, some slip of the keyboard, erased the entire draft, and try as I might, I cannot recover it. I figure it is either a warning from the Lord or an attack of Satan -- can't figure out which yet.

But the song, "Good Morning Starshine" came on the radio this morning as I was eating breakfast, and I thought I would share some of its most creative lyrics. Steve Allen used to recite popular song lyrics as poetry on his show, so this is my contribution to that tradition.

Why Rob Bell's theological thinking and these lyrics came to be associated with one another in my mind, I cannot tell.

But here they are, from what I gather is the chorus:
Gliddy glup gloopy
Nibby nabby noopy la la la lo lo
Sabby sibby sabba
Nooby abba dabba le le lo lo
Tooby ooby walla nooby abba nabba
Early morning singing song
Pentacostal? I'm not sure.

Take Care

Friday, 3 June 2011

Goodbye Dr Jack

Too bad you didn't have the courage of your own convictions. You could have made a real statement.

By e-mail from my brother this morning:
Interesting to note that the man responsible for man assisted suicide died a natural death…
What's with that??

You would think that on principle alone he would make his death by assisted suicide regardless of how quickly the end was coming. By doing so his final act would serve to convince others that his way was THE way. He certainly spent enough time during his life time pushing his agenda.
He blew the chance of a lifetime.

His publishers and their marketing people will be looking at this as an opportunity lost!

Curious how much easier it is to pull the trigger on someone else.
Thanks D,

Take Care

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

He Leads Me Beside Still Waters

I'm reading a little book recommended by our associate pastor called, "A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23" by W. Phillip Keller

This quote just leapt out at me:
Saint Augustine of Africa summed it up so well when he wrote, "O God! Thou hast made us for Thyself and our souls are restless, searching, 'til they find their rest in Thee."
All the long and complex history of earth's religions, pagan worship, and human philosophy is bound up with this insatiable thirst for God.
Worth thinking about.

Take Care

Altruistic Squirrels or Gullible Beliefs?

From here...
Arianna Huffington herself posts an opinion piece which includes this bit on the possible evolution of an, "altruism gene."

...when faced with a predator in the vicinity, some squirrels would cry out to attract the predator's attention, thus sacrificing themselves so that other squirrels would be spared. This behavior would seem to contradict evolution, because such altruism would not be genetically passed on and would thus be selected out. But, as Trinh explained:
' is the gene or the genome that is 'trying' to survive, not the individual, nor the species. Thus if a squirrel perishes but in doing so saves his brothers (those who share much of his genome), his genes still survive and are still the fittest. The study offered to the scientific world the evolutionary basis of altruism.'
The first obvious red flag here is the word, "trying." Evolution cannot 'try' to do anything; the theory is that it is a completely random process where mutations that benefit the species are preserved within the species, and animals who possess this successful mutation will flourish while others without it may eventually die out.

Secondly, it would be interesting to hear whether only, "some" squirrels do this, while others more selfishly keep silent. Clarification would be helpful.

Thirdly, it would seem just as reasonable that such crying out may be just a natural reaction of fear in the face of a predator. Dogs bark or growl, cats hiss. People shout out ,"Holy ....(whatever)!" Perhaps squirrels just do what squirrels do.

In any case, one of the commenters posed this seemingly sensible comment:
If there is an altruistic gene, arising by mutation in whatever creature first exhibited the trait, and that creature sacrifices itself for the sake of the species (who do not yet carry this mutation), then the mutation is not passed on. Even though the altruistic­ally mutated creature sacrifices itself to ensure that the genome survives, what survives is the genome without the altruistic mutation. This is not an explanatio­n for how the so-called "altruism trait" has evolved.
To which another, obviously a true believer, answered:
You are assuming there is only one squirrel with that gene. If many or most squirrels have that gene, making yourself the target of a predator will, in fact, enhance the survival of the gene and the species.
Which raises the obvious question (although perhaps not so obvious to who blindly accept what they are told); Do you really think that the same mutation would have occurred simultaneously in more than one squirrel? Or did he miss the plain point of the previous commenter that if this mutation occurred in one squirrel, and that first altruistic squirrel cried out to warn of a predator, and if that one special squirrel was then enjoyed by said predator for dinner, then the genealogy of said mutation would have ended right there and then.

Evolutionarily speaking, altruism would have lived a very short life.

Take care

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Love Wins? Rob Bell Doesn't Really Say

After viewing this program, a debate (more of a discussion) between Rob Bell and Adrian Warnock, I went out and bought Bell's book. I will comment further on the book in a later post. Suffice it to say that I arrived at the title for this post after reading his book, but for now, watch the television program. (It's nearly an hour long, so be prepared.)

Bell seems incapable of giving a straight answer. Either he evades a question entirely, responds with another question, or tries to turn the question back on the asker by asking something like, "Is that what you think?" Even after viewing the entire interview, one may be forgiven for not knowing exactly where he stands.

One point came immediately to mind as I watched it, however. He asks the question, if I recall correctly, "Do you think God would create a situation where there is no way out?" The question is not whether God would create such a situation (or whether indeed He has. Or have we created it by our wilful disobedience and rejection of Him?) but whether indeed there is no way out. In fact there is; that is, to put it in the simplest way possible, to realize that God exists (and I believe the evidence is clear enough for anyone to arrive at that conclusion) and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.

More to come on this,

Take Care
h/t The Wartburg Watch

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

More Church Bulletin Bloopers

  • Fasting & Prayer Conference Saturday; includes meals.
  • The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
  • Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Be sure to bring your husbands.
  • Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
  • Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
  • For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
  • Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
  • Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
  • A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow..
  • At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
  • Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
  • Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
  • Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered..
  • The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
  • Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
  • The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
  • This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
  • Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM . All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done.
  • The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
  • Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.
  • The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
  • Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
  • The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A Little Pink Floyd for May 21, 2011

Goodbye Cruel World/Is There Anybody Out There

See you tomorrow...

Take Care

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Next Big Issue (So to Speak)

From here...

...weight discrimination stands on a par with racial discrimination.
Dr. Rebecca Puhl (is) director of research at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. Her goal is to place weight discrimination and stigmatization squarely on the radar of social justice issues.
Another, "I was born this way; I can't help it" issue, no doubt. Sorry, people of colour, discrimination against you is no worse than against those who eat too much.

The costs of obesity bias in human productivity and quality of life are high, says Puhl.

As high as the costs of obesity itself?

Obesity bias victims and obesity advocates are beginning to challenge the status quo, in some cases successfully, according to Dr. Shaheen Azmi, acting director of the Policy, Education, Monitoring and Outreach Branch of the Ontario Human Rights Commission in Toronto. “Obesity is increasingly being interpreted as a type of disability,” he says. And under provincial and federal rights legislation, disabilities require accommodation.

Of course the HRC would weigh in. It gives them one more, "raison d'etre."

...advocates for the obese have not pushed as forcefully as other advocacy groups such as those of the transgendered. “People do not yet recognize that obesity bias is a social issue.” Fortunately, social justice-minded Canadians may soon change that.

Some of the above quotes are from various advocates, but the last sentence of the last quote is by the author of the Anglican Journal article, indicating, to me, that this is an issue that the Anglican church considers important.

I am not trying to be unsympathetic, especially to anyone who suffers from a condition beyond their control, but this is another symptom in the slow death of this once-great denomination. They have fallen away from what should be their true focus, proclaiming the REAL gospel. They have replaced things of first importance with secondary matters, and will slowly, yet surely, continue to slide into irrelevance as a result.

Take Care

Friday, 13 May 2011

Thankgiving and Faith every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.(Philipians 4:6b)
Thanksgiving is a manifestation of faith and a necessary part of it. In the verse above, notice that we are to present our request to God with thanksgiving. In other words, we are to be thankful as we present them to God; not after they have been granted. We are so to trust God's will that we can expect our prayers to be answered in the way He knows is best. They may not be answered in the way we initially desire, hope, or even expect, but we can pray in thankful expectation that His will is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2b)

Faith is not presumptiously believing that God will answer each of our demands according to our own narrow will. It is trusting that He will conform our desires to His, and that our prayers will be answered according to His will. It is the confidence that His will is so much bigger and better than ours.

Take Care

Friday, 6 May 2011

Atheist Bus Ads Raptured From Kelowna Vehicles

So reads the headline on an atheist website regarding this story...

CTV British Columbia - Atheist ads vanish from Kelowna buses - CTV News

It is interesting to see the, "poor persecuted us" reaction from some of the atheist community, and the assumption that this foul act was perpetrated by their arch enemies, those ignorant, imbecilic fundamentalist Christians.

But I am just amused, as I was in the post three down from this one, at the silliness of this ad campaign. It is rather discouraging, to me as an observer of human activity, to think an intelligent person might consider the statement, "There probably is no god, now stop worrying and enjoy your life," is anything but a purely ridiculous thing to say. I am surprised that the Centre for Inquiry Canada, the sponsors of the campaign, would think themselves clever for saying it. The so-called, "free thinkers", as they like to be called, show themselves completely ignorant in their apparent belief that a faith in God actually makes the believer miserable or unhappy. I have said before that this new, "pompous atheism," so so set in the certainty of it's assumptions, is directly analogous to a grub under a rock on the north shore of Alaska declaring, "I don't believe in New York!"

Well, I have been on both sides of the fence. They have only been on one, so to avoid embarrassment they would do well not to make such subjective assumptions. I was a non-believer until I was 45 years of age, so not only have I been where they are, I was there long enough, and recently enough, to remember it, and believe me, I would not want to go back. It is like the difference, to make what is perhaps a totally inadequate analogy, between having a 20" black and white television and a 52" LCD flat screen. The person watching the black and white might be perfectly happy with it if they don't know there is anything better.

Besides, saying, "There's probably no god..." is akin to saying, in Russian roulette, "There's probably no bullet in the chamber, so stop worrying and pull the trigger." Or having the girl from the escort service say, "I probably don't have an STD, so stop worrying and enjoy yourself..."

Take Care

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

"History... Moves on, Taking No Prisoners.”

When the Lights Go Out: The Death of a Denomination

From Here...

If a church is not passionate about seeing sinners come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, if there is no powerful biblical message from its pulpits, then it is destined for decline and eventual disappearance.

When a church forfeits its doctrinal convictions and then embraces ambiguity and tolerates heresy, it undermines its own credibility and embraces its own destruction.

This applies just as validly to liberal church in Canada, of course. It should serve as a warning, but the irony is that the people who should take the warning will neither heed nor believe it.

Take Care

Sunday, 1 May 2011

With God's Help?

We had baptisms today. 8 of them, with 8 more to come next week.
The Anglican baptism service includes a series of questions to the candidates to which the candidate responds, "I will, with God's help."

Then the congregation stands and the question is posed, "Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?"
The congregation then responds, "I will, with God's help."

The pastor then said to the congregation, "Will you be seated." Without thinking, I blurted, as I was taking my seat, "I will, with God's help."

Sorry, I just couldn't help it.

Take Care

Sunday, 24 April 2011

They Should Be Embarrassed

The atheists who placed this silly ad on busses, that is.

To equate Christ with Zeus and bigfoot is just plain silly. Even most of the ardent skeptics of Christianity do not pretend that Jesus of Nazareth was not an actual historical figure. They may not agree with Christianity's claims, but most agree that he at least existed. And evidence? They just ignore what evidence there is because they cannot, or choose not to, accept it.

But Here..., courtesy of Stand Firm is a very good defence for both Jesus' existence and more specifically his resurrection.

Evidence coming from within the primary witness documents.
In this case, the primary witness documents are the twenty-seven works that make up the corpus that Christianity has traditionally called the New Testament. These works stand or fall individually from an historical standpoint. Therefore, they provide twenty-seven sources of documentation, not one.

I wanted to emphasize this point, because skeptics, and often believers, forget that the Gospel accounts, for example, are four independent and differing accounts of the life of Jesus. Yes, they surely borrowed somewhat from one another, but what historical book doesn't. If one were to embark upon writing a biography of Winston Churchill, for example, would one not both interview living eyewitnesses as well as rely on existing, previously written material? The Bible is not one source; it is compiled of many independent accounts, not originally written as, "The Bible."

Read the whole article. It is very good.

Take Care

Friday, 22 April 2011

Jesus' Piercing Gaze

During our Good Friday service this passage was read.

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter... And he went outside and wept bitterly."
These words struck me powerfully. I could identify with Peter. It reminded me of the time I surrendered my own life to Christ. The first time you come to know Christ, it is as if he for the first time looks straight into your eyes. The scales have fallen from your own eyes and for the first time you see him face to face; eye to eye. That first gaze causes you to realize the depth of your past sin. You realize how much you have done to hurt him. You realize just how much you have been forgiven. You realize what an enormous debt he died to pay on your behalf. And the tears just come.

Peter wasn't aware of what he had done until Jesus looked straight at him. It was Jesus'gaze that reminded him of his broken promise to his Lord.

And we, when we are convicted of some sin we have committed, is it not, figuratively, just like Jesus looking at us with such a piercing gaze that it is like an arrow to the heart. Whether for the first time or the most recent time, when we realize how we have hurt the One we love, how can we help but, like Peter, weep bitterly.

Take Care

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Easter - Resurrection or Pipe Dream?

From Here...
Someone who labels himself a, "Speaker, thinker, inter-faith activist and spiritual teacher; author 'The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God,' offers the following;

Soon, millions of Christians will gather to celebrate Easter. For many of them, the literal, not merely metaphorical, resurrection of Jesus -- that is, a bodily resuscitation -- is necessary for any of it to have validity. Is this necessary? Does the resurrection need the resuscitation of Jesus' body to have any transformative significance in the 21st century? It doesn't for me.

Neither, apparently, does the reasoning of the apostle Paul, that if Christ is not risen, our faith is in vain and we are to be pitied above all men. (1 Cor 15:17-19)

Why have I come to believe the resurrection story is more metaphorical than literal? Well, the most obvious reason is, it's more believable. Maybe it's easy for you to live in a mythical, magical world of make-believe (and, if so, so be it), but I cannot.

More believable, perhaps to someone who considers things of the Spirit of God to be foolishness. day, you'll discover for yourself that all the pretending in the world won't keep you from going to the grave. You will die, just as I will die.

I don't think there's a Christian in the world who doubts or denies this. It's about what happens after death...

Now, that does not mean that I have given up believing in something after death. I have not. I can't prove there's life after death. I'm pretty sure no one has proven there is nothing either. For me, I prefer to imagine something goes on beyond this life and that, whatever that something is, it's all good.

The key word here being, "imagine." Our speaker, thinker, inter-faith activist and spiritual teacher has invented his own religion so he can avoid any unpleasant things like repentance, need for forgiveness and a Saviour, accountability to anyone higher than himself, etc.

So this is my daily spiritual practice. And when I do this, I've discovered a kind of resurrection all it's own -- a resurrection within my attitudes, my actions, as well as my sense of inner peace.

Again, an empty spirituality. It is interesting that he believes in a spiritual, i.e. non- physical reality, but somehow a physical resurrection is too unbelievable.

And this is precisely the second reason why the Easter story need not be literal to have transformative power. My own experience gives witness to this. For example, when I tried to believe the things I was told to believe and that questioning my beliefs was a sign of weakness and lack of faith...

His, 'beliefs' were obviously not real beliefs, because he obviously didn't believe them. They were merely things he had been told, but he was not particularly attached to them.

...You can delude yourself into believing that questioning things is a lack of faith. But I would be inclined to remind you that until you DO question your faith, you really have no faith at all.

Finally something I agree with. But I have found that honestly questioning my own faith actually resulted in making it stronger, like tempering steel through fire.

What you have instead is a collection of beliefs -- beliefs that a frightened little ego in you will cling to for a sense of security and identity with other little egos that cling to a similar set of beliefs -- but these beliefs will not translate into personal inner transformation. They will not sustain you through life either. They didn't for me[emphasis mine, JK]. It was not until I questioned and doubted the things I was taught, including the bodily resurrection of Jesus, that I met, and believed -- or, fell in love with -- a genuine and believable Jesus whose teachings, whose enduring spirit, and whose eternal influence continues to guide seekers into a transformative relationship with themselves and with the Divine.

The key phrase here is, "they didn't for me." As if that settles reality for everyone else. The witness of millions of Christian believers disputes his opinion-stated-as-fact. Note that the very title of his book indicates that he claims one can know whatever he figures God is, but apparently his god has no power, at least not enough to resurrect Jesus. He has short-changed himself by imagining a god weaker than the real one; by inventing a religion less than the true one.

So, this Easter, I have a lot to be grateful for. And, I am.

Yes, but thankful to Whom? Some imaginary new-age "Divine", or the God who has the power to rise from the grave...


Take Care