Joel Rosenberg: Epicenter

Several people at church mentioned this book and when that happens I eventually have to read it to see what the sheep are eating. I enjoyed the book. It’s not really my bag. It talks a lot about politics, and world current affairs and various other things I don’t much care about.

But he did a nice job of keeping it simple, making his points, documenting points and showing how it ties into Biblical prophecies concerning The End.

I would disagree with some of his interpretations of prophetic passages. For example, saying that wars and rumors of wars and earthquakes are a sign of the end is the exact opposite of what Matthew 24 says, as it says those things are just life.

He also correlates prophecies concerning life in the Kingdom as signs of the Tribulation, as in the men seeing dreams and visions in Joel 2:28.

But I think it’s a book you might want to read. You can read Joel’s Blog here too to get a taste. If nothing else it will get you excited that we might be done pretty soon! How sweet is that?!

British Kids And Jesus

In a new poll to discover who the role models are for British kids, a family member and Richard Branson topped Jesus. This is understandable and not nearly as anti-Christian as many spin this to be.

First off, having a family member be a role model is a good sign, particularly since all good family members are Christians, therefore, they are choosing living models of Jesus Christ as their role models, so that’s not bad.

Second off, Richard Branson is head of a company named “Virgin” and well, if it weren’t for the Virgin there would be no Jesus anyhow.

On the plus side, Jesus did beat out Princess Diana by a whole two spots, so that was good. It’s not all bad for Britain, no athletes, actors or singers made the top ten. Way to go Brit kids.

Effectively Teaching The Bible: Part 3

According to my last two posts (here and here) effectively teaching the Bible has three steps, based on Ezra 7:10 and 1 Timothy 4:16:

1) seek it
2) do it
3) teach it

If it’s that easy, why don’t more people do it? Two main reasons come to mind:

1) God’s Word asks you to do some pretty ridiculous things. You’ll feel largely foolish most of the time trying to do them. The gist of most of it is: no longer I but Christ. In other words, your life is gone, hid, replaced and that’s just not that much fun.

2) No one will listen anyhow so why ruin your life for no reason? The “revival” under Ezra was pretty much a disaster. It lasted about 4 minutes and then there was 400 years of silence from God. Paul was more or less alone (2 Timothy 4:16).

Doing these three steps will backfire in your face. Sure, it will save you and your hearers, problem is, there won’t be many hearers. There’s always been a remnant. The prophets were rejected and killed. Jesus was rejected and killed. The apostles were rejected and killed.

We are told to expect the same—all who live godly will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

Meanwhile, everyone who uses modern entertainment tactics will have huge crowds, lots of money, power, prestige and all else (2 Timothy 4:3).

So, are ya sure you want to teach it?

Mark Driscoll On The Emerging Church

Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church, the coolest church in America, did a sermon recently on the emerging church.

He talks about what it is, how it’s different from other churches, and then the various brands of emerging churches that have evolved.

If you want to know what the emerging church is all about, this article will give you a good idea.

Effectively Teaching The Bible: Part 2

My earlier post pointed to Ezra as an example of a teacher who sought God’s Word, did it and then taught it. That’s the process that must be taken. 1 Timothy 4:16 puts a more modern spin on it.

The bottom line is: If you don’t plan on doing God’s Word then don’t bother teaching it.

Paul warns Titus about false teachers who teach falsehoods under the guise of Christianity. He says they must actively be shut up (Titus 1:11)!

These kinds of people will always seek to cause division, argue about words and divert people from simple doctrine. Their motivation is usually a paycheck.

The ultimate test, according to Paul, is in Titus 1:16, “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.” They don’t do what God says.

Instead, Paul says to live a good example before the believers (1:6-9)—all qualifications of a teacher are based on what they do. Secondly, he then tells these guys to teach sound doctrine, which correlates quite nicely into telling people what they should do (2:1-10).

When believers do what God says, it magically results in them being able to teach others and adorn the doctrines of God. Amazing!

When you learn God’s Word, you do it and when you do it, others learn about God’s Word. It’s quite simple really.

Pew Forum On Religion

The Pew Forum came out with one of their largest surveys of American religious behavior. They found that most denominations are shrinking in size. The largest growth in denomination is “unaffiliated.”

There are many spins on this survey and what it all means. Luckily for you I will give you the proper interpretation.

Here’s the point that sticks out to me: “In the USA’s marketplace of ideas, 44% of adults have either switched or dropped religious affiliation.”

Almost half of all religious types have switched or dropped religion. Most people, according to the study, just jump from one church to the next. I won’t bother giving you opinion, I’ll just give you God’s Word on the subject.

Americans are spiritually “children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” This is due to hyper-opinionated church goers, ineffective church leadership and a total lack of biblical knowledge. It’s all in Ephesians 4.

Effectively Teaching The Bible

Teaching God’s Word is not easy and everyone knows this. I have heard the following recommendations to help:

–Be intentional–which, near as I can tell, means “intend to do it while you are doing it” duh.
–Be engaging—humor, stories, fear-mongering, CNN video clips, etc
–Be like Jesus—tell parables, hug kids, heal people, give out free food, etc
–Be culturally relevant—wear jeans, swear, drink beer, meet in a bar, etc.
–Be academic—overheads, Greek, monotone reading of extended quotations, speaking more from Reformer’s books than the Bible, etc.
–Be Spirit Led—wing it. If you can’t come up with anything, speak in tongues or keep singing.

We all want easy steps to miraculous effectiveness. The Bible is the sole source we have for what God wants us to know and He does indeed want us to know it. That being the case, He has given us three easy steps for effective Bible teaching.

Teaching God’s Word requires experiential knowledge, Ezra prepared himself to teach his people by 1) seeking God’s Word, which meant he was frequently in it seeking guidance,
2) doing the things God’s Word said to do and
3) then teaching it to others. (Ezra 7:10)

Ezra had to know it and then do it before he went to step three, teaching it.

Paul says essentially the same thing. “Be careful about the way you live and about what you teach. Keep on doing this, and you will save not only yourself, but the people who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Here’s the cool deal. One day we’ll all know it because we will all do it! When this present age is done with, God will stamp His word into all hearts and all people will do His will perfectly and “they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me” (Jeremiah 31:34).

How cool is that? Unfortunately, we aren’t there yet. So, endeavor to know God’s word, do it and then teach it. It’s that simple.

Shroud Of Turin

The Shroud of Turin, a cloth supposedly showing the face of Christ from his burial, was carbon dated back in the 80’s and concluded that the Shroud was a medieval forgery. I know that is disheartening to all the “believers” out there.

But, take heart. Professor Christopher Ramsey from Oxford wants to retest the Shroud and do a new analyzation based on newer ideas regarding carbon dating. He hopes to show that the Shroud dates to the time of Christ.

Good luck with that Chris. I wonder if Professor Chris is tenured?

Predestined To Shut-Up

Seems like the predestination/free will argument is all over the place. People are up in arms over Calvinism or Arminianism. Arguments ensue, verses are tossed around, walls are put up and nothing is solved.

Romans 9 answers the question once and for all. A simple reading of the chapter will end all discussions on the point from this point forth.

Here’s Romans 9 in a nutshell

Thank you, thank you very much. I’ll be here all week.

But seriously, here’s what it says, “God has mercy on whom He has mercy and whom He wills He hardens. That being the case isn’t God at fault for our sin?” (Romans 9:18,19)

Paul is taking the classic argument for and against Calvinism in two verses—God ordains all, therefore He must have ordained sin. It’s every argument on the subject all rolled up into two concise phrases.

Paul then answers the problem and, as I said, if we accept this answer we will never, ever again discuss this issue, thank God.

Here’s the answer to our predestination/free-will question: “Stop asking the question! Who are you to ask God what He’s doing?” (Romans 9:20)

Once again, the point of scripture is: be quiet!

Mainline Denominations Tanking

The National Council of Churches has come out with their 2008 yearbook reporting on the condition of mainline denominations. It’s not good. Not good at all.

Both the Episcopal and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are declining big time. Both denominations are battling over homosexuality and biblical interpretation. Imagine that, people leave denominations that undermine Scripture, huh, who knew?

Most other denominations reported minimal growth. Then there’s Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, both growing more than any other denomination. Nice.

Conclusion: If you’re not going to listen to the Bible anyway, might as well write your own, then the people will flock in.

On the upside, I guess, people who are still going to church are giving more money. Hmm, silver-lining or just more cloudiness?

Christian Counseling

Do not read this as an attack against Christian counselors, battling to save people. Utmost respect for those who take on this role. Take this as an attack against every single Christian in the world trying to solve every other single Christian’s problems.

Christians are fake because we’re deathly afraid of revealing our faults. We’re not so much afraid of the faults, we know everyone else has them too, we’re more afraid of having to listen to the stupid lectures that follow.

The Bible doesn’t say, “confess your faults one to another and gladly receive pandering lectures.”

Job had obvious problems. His three buds came to set him straight. They each had one point: “Job, your life stinks because you are a sinner.”

Eliphaz—speaks from Experience, “I have seen” that bad guys get smashed.
Bildad–speaks from his Boys—”Everyone knows” that bad guys get smashed
Zophar—speaks from human merit, he knows all men have fallen Zophar short of the glory of God, that’s why you’re getting smashed.

God shows up and says, “Hey, all’a’ya, shut up!” I love my God, I really do.

This reminds me of one of my favorite verses, “For God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few” Ecclesiastes 5:2. And with that, I’ll take my own advice.

Pagan Christianity–Frank Viola

I’ve done a few posts on the new book by Frank Viola and George Barna called “Pagan Christianity.” The point of the book is to show how the modern church is nothing like what the New Testament says it should be.

Christianity Today’s blog, Out of Ur, has a two post review on the book (here and here) now as well. It’s causing quite a stir. Sounds to me like I’d sort of agree but also find fault when he gets a tad carried away.

I’ll refrain from sharing my opinion until the day I read the book, if that day arrives. Until then, I’ll just say that the office of the pastor is indeed a biblical notion and is described with the words pastor, elder, overseer or bishop and should be paid, amen.

It’s Not My Dog!

A little black lab came out of a house I passed while running the other day and joined me for a mile. This kind of thing has happened to me before while biking or running. The dog means no harm; he just wants to do something.

The problem is that these kinds of dogs are usually dumb. When cars come down the road these kinds of dogs always run down the middle of the road straight at the oncoming car.

I, of course, have no control over this crazy dog running into cars but boy howdy you better believe every single driver thinks that dumb dog is mine.

“Hey, dummy, get out of the road. Don’t get run over.” I say to the dumb dog to no avail, they keep running down the road at cars. I yell to the passing cars, “It’s not my dog” as they do various hand gestures my way and mime lectures to me.

“It’s not mine” I reply to the tightly sealed windows.

I’ve always wondered why Paul lists so many people he’s ticked off at in his letters (1 Timothy 1:19,20; 2 Timothy 2:16,17 as examples). It doesn’t seem like a very gracious thing to do. These guys are in God’s eternal word for having loved this present world more than Christ, for falling from right teaching and various other things.

Paul is yelling at passing cars telling them that these stupid “Christians” running down the middle of the road being dumb look like they are with him but they’re not his. “They aren’t mine, don’t blame me.”

Just because a dog runs with a guy doesn’t mean the guy owns the dog or has any control over it. The real test of ownership is listening. Faith comes by hearing. You’re with Christ if you’re hearing what He says and doing it.

Running with Christians, looking like your jumping the hoops and other fakery is not the test.

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts
Ephesians 4:20-22

Jesus And Hyper Dogs

I’m in week seven of my marathon training. Monday, while running, a dog came out and ran with me. He was a young black lab wearing a cute coat as it was quite cold and snowing.

Dogs are great that way. They want to be with someone who is doing something, even if they don’t have any idea who the person is, who cares, he’s moving, let’s go there.

He ran with me for about a mile before he went off into the woods chasing some tracks of something else moving.

Young pups and people are similar. People are attracted to action, someone who is doing something. It seems like that’s a good thing, but then they see someone else who is more exciting and off they go.

Jesus dealt with huge crowds who came to view His miracles. They weren’t there for faith; they were there for the show. He told them, “You’re just here for the free bread.”

Our involvement with Christ is to be based on more than momentary action, it’s to be a life commitment, a drive the keeps going with Christ regardless of the season.

John 8 talks about a group of Jews claiming to believe on Jesus (8:30,31). But Jesus tears them apart into little tiny pieces and shows that no, you don’t believe, you’re here for you not Me.

Jesus bases this determination of their faith on their actions. “If you truly believed you wouldn’t be trying to kill me.” Sure enough, by the end of John 8 the very same guys who said they believed on Him, took up stones to kill Him.

Dogs are cute, but they are just dogs, they are not our models for life. I like dogs that are alive and want to do stuff and I like people like that too. But it’s vitally important for eternity that we have an abiding, unmovable, unshakeable drive toward Christ.

Decline Of The American Church

Found an article talking about why people aren’t going to church anymore.

“My primary assessment would be because American Christians tend to be incredibly self-indulgent so they see the church as a place there for them to meet their needs and to express faith in a way that is meaningful for them,” said cultural architect Erwin McManus, lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles.

“There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ,” he added.

A further reading of the article tends to say that mainline denominations don’t change, where as cool churches like Mosaic do and that’s why people go there: It aint boring. But Erwin does maintain that the decline is a heart matter

“I think the bottom line really is our own spiritual narcissism. There are methods and you can talk about style, structure and music, but in the end it really comes down to your heart and what you care about.”

HT: Thunderstruck

Pat Robertson’s Producer Not Doing Cocaine

Earlier today I put up a post on a video showing that Robertson’s producer was doing cocaine. A commentor very nicely informed me that my story I was basing this off of was not exactly what we would call “right.”

So, I was told by the nice commentor to “go do some research.” So I did. I watched the video and OK, so Pat uses some pronouns that sure make it sound like he’s talking about his producer and yet I can see how the same pronouns could be used to refer to Hugo Chavez.

This is really too bad. To me, having Pat’s producer be on cocaine would have explained an awful lot. Now we’re still left wondering about the man (by “man” I mean Pat). Oh well. I apologize for leading you all astray and casting dispersion on Mr. Robertson’s producer.

Pat Robertson’s Cocaine Fed Producer

Pat Robertson, a health nut with his own special healthy shake product, laughed about his producer’s great health secret: doing cocaine!

Pat laughed about it and moved on. The man is weird.

According to Pat, a “700 Club” producer bragged to him several years ago about ingesting a “paste of cocoa” to keep him strong. “Not cocoa like hot chocolate,” Pat explained, “but cocoa like cocaine.” Pat displayed his grasp of the U.S. legal system, saying “As I understand, the distribution of cocaine and its derivatives are against the law.” That didn’t stop Pat from having a good laugh at his coke-using producer’s expense.


Recession Hits Health And Wealth Gospel

When economic times are good the health and wealth gospel flourishes. When economic times start to tighten, so to does the prosperity message, or at least the messengers do.

Due to a US recession and also a Senate investigation of several prosperity preachers, many prosperity ministries are having to cut back as donations dwindle. One pastor even had to put his private jet up for sale! The horror!

At the end of the article, this pastor even admits that many people who were in the movement have become disillusioned when their prayers are not answered. Really? Seirously? No. Come on. No way.

Well, I know it’s not nice to flaunt the loss of a private jet in someone’s face, but this is too fun. Let’s see how well their prayers do in a depression. Bring it on!

TBN’s Newest Problem

The Trinity Broadcasting Network has many problems, many of which have been documented here. Let’s add another one, shall we?

A multimillion-dollar building project involving a Haitian pastor and the Trinity Broadcasting Network has collapsed in recriminations, leaving behind a half-built hospital with a giant cross-shaped hole in one wall.

Only Jesus can fill cross-shaped holes, oh wait, that’s a different quote. Anyway, there was a falling out between Joel Jeune, the pastor in charge of construction, and TBN’s Jan Crouch.

Jeune claims that Crouch erupted in anger when he told her that some Haitian boys who had been hired to guard the construction site reported that a TBN missionary had made homosexual advances.

Crouch countered that she broke off contact with Haitian pastor because he was siphoning off funds for his own use. Much yelling, finger pointing and other nonsense ensued. Goodness. Nice testimony.

John Marks On Evangelicals

John Marks was a producer for “60 Minutes” and is now an author. During his reporting days he had to do stories on Evangelicals and the stories haunted him. He used to be an evangelical but now he is an atheist.

He interviewed more than 400 Christians for his book, “Reasons to Believe.” Here is an interview about his thoughts on evangelicaldom.

What I find almost viscerally repugnant is their relationship to authority. In the case of fundamentalists, there is an abject response to the authority of God that translates down the ladder to political authority. If the political authority feels as if it’s biblically ordained, there’s an unquestioning response to that authority, the authority vested in the man over the woman, in the head of a church over the congregation.

His two main problems with Christianity are the fantasy, illogical nature of it and their dealing with authority. Both equate loosely into humanism: intellect rules and authority bites. Hopefully he continues to be haunted.

ESPN Boycott Called Off

As we are approaching March Madness and Spring Training, Christian leaders have called off the national boycott of ESPN. This is supposedly due to ESPN releasing a new religious tolerance policy.

“By making a first time commitment to include religious tolerance in their diversity programs, ESPN is sending a clear signal that religious discrimination has no place at their network,” he continued. “ESPN has also recognized that the use of certain religiously offensive words and phrases must not be tolerated and their use is inappropriate.”

This is what bothers me, as Christian types fight for religious tolerance, even though the Bible tells us to enjoy intolerance of our beliefs (count it all joy, eh) we now back ourselves into a corner not being able to confront other religious beliefs.

But, ahh, who cares, the Road to the Final Four begins!

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley, former NBA player with a large and often humorous mouth, was on CNN the other day expressing his political views.

In the past Barkley has seemed to lean conservative, but apparently no more. Barkley said, in part,

“Every time I hear the word ‘conservative’ it makes me sick to my stomach, because they’re really just ‘fake Christians,’ as I call them, that’s all they are.”

Later he explains what he means.

“Well, I think they, they wanna be judge and jury. Like, I’m for gay marriage. It’s none of my business if people want to get married. I’m pro choice and I think these Christians, first of all, they’re supposed to be, they’re not supposed to judge other people but they’re the most hypocritical judge of people we have in this country and it bugs . . . me that they act like Christians and they’re not forgiving at all.”

Of course, calling a group of people “the most hypocritical judge of people” is not at all judging people, but alas, he no longer claims to be a Conservative so I guess judging is OK. Which is fine, he is entitled to his opinion and I’d probably lean toward agreeing with him on his opinion of Conservatives.

Virgin Mary Tree Bark

“We saw La Virgen,” James Cardenas said. He saw what he thinks is an image of the Virgen de Guadalupe appear to him while smoking a cigarette last night.

Maria del Carmen Hernandez says the image was dripping with what appeared to be water, but when she touched it, it was more like an oily substance.

“It’s a message. Something’s about to happen, or a message, you know, that she’s looking over us,” Maria Hernandez said. “To me, it’s a gift to be able to see her image.”

With how easy it is these days to take pictures and post them on the internet, how do so many of these miraculous appearance articles not contain pictures? Very discouraging. I want to believe, but I guess it’s like the Good Book says, we walk by faith not by sight. Amen.

Seven Things I Learned This Week

1) Uriah, the guy David killed so he could have his babe of a wife, was one of David’s valiant men listed in 1 Chronicles 11.

2) Six weeks is the amount of marathon training I can do before feeling like I don’t want to do it no more, but it’s primarily the weather not the running.

3) I still care about the Chicago Cubs even though I don’t want to anymore.

4) Elihu might have been right, everything he said God said too and he was the one friend of Job God didn’t condemn.

5) It is a leap year on the Jewish calendar as well, however they leap a whole month, not just a day. This year contains Adar I and Adar II. Weird. One might even say, “luney” but that would be pushing the limits of humor to an unneeded extreme.

6) Investing in gold last spring was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done and now I am very scared that I’ll still blow it and sell at the wrong time.

7) Jesus did not return yet. I’m bummed about this one. Disappointed. I can almost hear the mouthpiece of God’s trumpet being warmed up. He’s coming soon.

Valentine’s Message

Here is a Valentine’s message for all husbands and wives out there, courtesy of your pal at the Anti-Itch Meditation.

How many kids did Job have before Satan attacked him? 10
How many kids did Job have after Satan attacked him? 0

How many wives did Job have before Satan attacked him? 1
How many wives did Job have after Satan attacked him? 1

Now, wait a second, why didn’t Satan go ahead and get rid of Job’s wife?

Because Satan knew that Job having a wife would be more of a trial for him than not having a wife. Job’s wife proved Satan’s intelligence by making her one appearance to say to her dear hubby, “Curse God and die.” Nice.

Husbands and wives: you are on the same team. Act like it. Support one another. Wives, would it kill ya to pat your man on the back? Husbands, would it kill ya to hug your wife? We’re all in this together, just be happy and love each other.

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