Friday, October 31, 2008

All of Life is Repentance

On this day 491 years ago, Martin Luther sent out his Ninety-Five Theses to some church leaders. It's also reported that he also posted his proposal at the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, which served as the university bulletin board.

The first of the Ninety-Five Theses was this:

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite [Repent Ye], willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

Tim Keller writes:

On the surface this looks a little bleak! Luther seems to be saying Christians will never be making much progress. But of course that wasn't Luther's point at all. He was saying that repentance is the way we make progress in the Christian life. Indeed, pervasive, all-of-life repentance is the best sign that we are growing deeply and rapidly into the character of Jesus.

Jack Miller writes:

What we must see is that God never promised to transform us into super Christians who would never again sin and never again need to repent. He never promised anyone strength apart from continued dependence upon Himself....

Be encouraged then, fellow believer. In calling you to daily repentance, the Lord Jesus is not simply giving you good advice. He is saying, "If you are a child of mine, you must continue to repent."

From, Darryls blog

Reformation Day

Today is a significant day–it’s October 31. While many will celebrate Halloween at this time, we want to take advantage of this day to acknowledge a far more significant event that took place on the same day, some 491 years ago. It was October 31, 1517 when a young monk named Martin Luther walked to the Castle Church at Wittenberg, mallet in hand, to nail his famous 95 Theses to the door. Luther was primarily concerned about the role of indulgences (essentially, buying favor & forgiveness from God) and he wanted to have a public discussion about this heinous abuse of the gospel.

Through the providence of God, Luther’s act–which was merely aimed at reforming some of the more egregious practices of the Roman Catholic Church–became the symbolic spark that soon launched a wildfire of reform throughout Europe. As scholars turned back to the Scriptures in their original languages, as God’s Word was treasured above tradition, as the corruption of the church was challenged–and most importantly, as the clarity of the gospel call of Justification by Grace Alone through Faith Alone was recovered–the Protestant movement grew and the Reformation had begun.

Though the Reformation had many and far-reaching effects, there have been five key areas, and five corresponding slogans, that are employed to capture the meat of the Reformation. They are referred to as the 5 solas, from the Latin word for “alone” or “only.” Each day next week, we will be posting on one of the solas as we see how God led the church to recover what had been lost and/or obscured for many years. This truly is a day to celebrate God’s kindness in leading us into truth.

Reformation Solas from Crossway Life, posted by Steve Heitland

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Review Of The Shack by Tim Challies

This review is a 15 page pdf document that you can print, e-mail, or download to your computer. It is a detailed review of this book that every christian who read the book or who is interested in the book should read. It never ceases to amaze me at the gullibility of Christians. I went into our local christian bookstore and was amazed to three 8 foot shelves filled with the shack. I've been to the chicken shack where they had great buffalo wings but I have no interest in recommending this shack. Following is a small portion from Tim's intro to the review.

"Despite the book’s popularity among Christians, believers are divided on whether this book is biblically sound. Where Eugene Peterson, Professor Emeritus of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver says it “has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim Progress did for his,” Dr. Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says, “This book includes undiluted heresy.” While singer and songwriter Michael W. Smith says “The Shack will leave you craving for the presence of God,” Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle says, “Regarding the Trinity, it’s actually heretical.”
A review of the Shack Download it here

Self Righteousness against the Self Righteous

Responding to some discussion related to Tim Keller's excellent new book, The Prodigal God, Tullian Tchividjian has an important post here. An excerpt:
There’s an equally dangerous form of self-righteousness that plagues the unconventional, the liberal, and the non-religious types. We anti-legalists can become just as guilty of legalism in the opposite direction. What do I mean?

It’s simple: we can become self-righteous against those who are self-righteous. Many younger evangelicals today are reacting to their parents’ conservative, buttoned-down, rule-keeping flavor of “older brother religion” with a type of liberal, untucked, rule-breaking flavor of “younger brother irreligion” which screams, ”That’s right, I know I don’t have it all together and you think you do; I know I’m not good and you think you are good. That makes me better than you.” See the irony?

In other words, they’re proud that they’re not self-righteous!

Listen: self-righteousness is no respecter of persons. It reaches to the religious and the irreligious; the “buttoned down” and the “untucked.” The entire Bible reveals how shortsighted all of us are when it comes to our own sin. For example, it was easy for Jonah to see the idolatry of the sailors. It was easy for him to see the perverse ways of the Ninevites. What he couldn’t see was his own idolatry, his own perversion. So the question is, in which direction does your self-righteousness lean?

Thankfully, while our self-righteousness reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. And the good news is, that it reaches in both directions!

G.K. Chesterton on "Change You Can Believe In"

"It is true that a man (a silly man) might make change itself his object or ideal. But as an ideal, change itself becomes unchangeable. If the change-worshiper wishes to estimate his own progress, he must be sternly loyal to the ideal of change; he must not begin to flirt gaily with the ideal of monotony. Progress itself cannot progress. It is worth remark, in passing, that when Tennyson, in a wild and rather weak manner, welcomed the idea of infinite alteration in society, he instinctively took a metaphor which suggests an imprisoned tedium. He wrote-
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.
He thought of change itself as an unchangeable groove; and so it is. Change is about the narrowest and hardest groove that a man can get into.

The main point here, however, is that this idea of a fundamental alteration in the standard is one of the things that make thought about the past or future simply impossible."

- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Brit Hume Leaving Fox

Fox News anchor Brit Hume is leaving the cable news network after 12 years, saying "Christ is a big piece of it."

“Family is a big piece of it,” he told Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times. “And Christ is a big piece of it. And golf is a big piece of it.”

As he prepares to anchor his last presidential campaign, Hume said he’s eager to immerse himself in a more spiritual life after dwelling for so long in the secular. The anchor described himself as a “nominal Christian” until 10 years ago, when his son Sandy committed suicide at age 28.

“I feel like I was really kind of saved when my son died by faith and by the grace of God, and that’s very much on my consciousness,” said Hume, who plans to get more involved in his wife’s Bible study group.

Get This, and You'll Get Sound Economics

Thomas Sowell:

"Chief Justice John Marshall said it all in one sentence: 'The power to tax is the power to destroy.' It is not the money that is taxed away that is destroyed. What is destroyed is the wealth that does not get produced in the first place, because high taxes make its production not worthwhile."


"The economy is not a zero-sum game where someone gains what others lose. The whole economy can lose when ill-considered policies gain political popularity and stifle economic growth."

To read the rest of the article Click here

All Blues - Kenny Burrell

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Hugo Chavez Democrats

The polls place the approval rating of Congress at 12%, the lowest in history, and only about half President Bush's miserable rating. But if the election polls are correct, we will soon be governed by ultraliberal, San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House with an even bigger House Democrat majority, liberal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with a filibuster proof majority of 60 Senate Democrats, and left-wing extremist Barack Obama as President, rated as the most liberal member of the Senate, ahead even of Ted Kennedy.

The polls do not show that the public agrees with these leftist nutcakes on the issues. For example, Newt Gingrich reports results of a poll that asked what was more important as the focus of national economic policy, economic growth or income redistribution. The public favored economic growth by 84% to 9%, which is exactly what I would expect. But the public is about to place government overwhelmingly in the hands of those who firmly believe just the opposite.

To read the whole article click here: The American Spectator

The Reformation - Part 1

Tomorrow is Reformation and I think that Luther's Coat of Arms is an excellent representation of the Gospel of God's mercy He gives to men. The Reformation began with the question Martin Luther asked, “How do I obtain a gracious God?” That good news is familiar to us today but it wasn't so in Luther's time, and that is the significance of the Reformation. We know we can be reconciled with God through Jesus.
Here's how Luther described the meaning of the seal in a letter July 8, 1530:

“There is first to be a cross, black [and placed] in a heart, which should be of its natural color, so that I myself would be reminded that faith in the Crucified saves us.… Even though it is a black cross, [which] mortifies and [which] also should hurt us, yet it leaves the heart in its [natural] color [and] does not ruin nature; that is, [the cross] does not kill but keeps [man] alive.… Such a heart is to be in the midst of a white rose, to symbolize that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace; in a word it places the believer into a white joyful rose; for [this faith] does not give peace and joy as the world gives and, therefore, the rose is to be white and not red, for white is the color of the spirits and of all the angels. Such a rose is to be in a sky-blue field, [symbolizing] that such joy in the Spirit and in faith is a beginning of the future heavenly joy; it is already a part [of faith], and is grasped through hope, even though not yet manifest. And around this field is a golden ring, [symbolizing] that in heaven such blessedness lasts forever and has no end, and in addition is precious beyond all joy and goods, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”

Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton - Can't Find My Way Home

This is from Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival July 2007 in Chicago. A song for a lost generation, who don't know where home is and sadly for most, don't even know there is a home to be found.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Propitiation - Without It Its Another Gospel

"Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity? In the faith of the New Testament it is central. The love of God, the taking of human form by the Son, the meaning of the cross, Christ's heavenly intercession, the way of salvation-all are to be explained in terms of it, as the passages quoted show (Rom. 3:21-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:8-10), and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading, by New Testaments standards.
In saying this, we swim against the stream of much modern teaching and condemn at a stroke the views of a great number of distinguished church leaders today, but we cannot help that. Paul wrote, "Even if we or an angel from heaven" - let alone a minister, bishop, college lecturer, university professor, or noted author -- "should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" ("accursed" KJV and RSV; "outcast" NEB; "damned" PHILLIPS -- Gal. 1:8). And a gospel without propitiation at its heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.
"In My Place Condemned He Stood" by J.I. Packer & Mark Dever, pg.32.

Killed For Being A Christian

Killed for being Christian

By Jerome Starkey in Kabul, Kim Sengupta and Beauregard Tromp
Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Gayle Williams worked with the poorest and most unfortunate of the children in Afghanistan, young boys and girls who had lost limbs to landmines and bombs. She was dedicated to her task of teaching them the basic skills needed to survive in a harsh and violent land. Yesterday the 34-year-old British woman was murdered while walking along a quiet, tree-lined street in Kabul on her way to work.

She believed in living among the people she served, staying in a modest private house, shunning an armed escort in favour of using her own two feet. She made an easy target for the two gunmen who had been lying in wait for her. One of the men got off the motorcycle, walked up to Ms Williams and opened fire at close range. She was already dead by the time her killers had weaved their way through the crowd at Kart-e-Char, leaving her corpse in a pool of blood.

Click here to read the whole story.

Monday, October 27, 2008

John Piper Is Bad

This is really funny and very creative. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Johnny Cash Gets Pardoned - Again

Two weekends back I was in Starkville, Mississippi, attending the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival. Now that needs some explaining.

Johnny Cash was arrested in 1965, May 11 to be exact, for picking' flowers from the home of the Copelands along state Highway 182 in Starkville. He might have been a little drunk at the time, too. In 1970 he recorded "Starkville City Jail," memorializing the episode. It was released on his San Quentin live album. Last year the city of Starkville issued a pardon and inaugurated the annual flower pickin' music festival. The pardon was good for one year, renewed this past weekend at the 2nd annual festival. On hand were Marshall Grant, daughters Kathy and Rosanne Cash, and Billy Joe Shaver, songwriting buddy of the Man in Black. On the off chance you've never heard of Shaver, he's definitely worth listening to. As for his songs, try "When Fallen Angels Fly" or "Live Forever." As for albums try Greatest Hits or Everybody's Brother. Just splurge and get both.

It was good to be in Mississippi again. I tried to coax Derek into coming up for a day of country music, since, next to the blues, it's his favorite music. Had he not been headed to California, he tells me he would have come up. We could have had pulled pork BBQ and fried pickles and heard some good music together.

It was good to think about pardon and redemption. And it was good to hear, in the true spirit of honoring Cash, some great music.

Posted October 27, 2008 @ 4:16 PM by Stephen Nichols

Do You Really Want To Understand Acorn?

Here is another great example of how the radical left in this country works to keep people ignorant so they can assume power. The left always cries out about freedom of speech but they only mean freedom of their speech. Any one who disagrees with them will not be tolerated. If you want to read an extensive report about Acorn go to: Acorn: Who Funds The Weather Underground's Little Brother? By Matthew Vadum, from The capital Research Center

Frank Caliendo as John Madden On Letterman

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Newsweek On The Osteens - What's God Got To Do With It?

Lisa Miller:
Prosperity preachers are neither new nor unique in America, but the Osteens' version seems especially self-serving. Victoria's book betrays her interest in the kind of small gratifications that rarely extend to other people, let alone to the larger world. She recommends that women take "me time" every day, and indulge occasionally in a (fat-free!) ice cream. She writes repeatedly about her love for the gym. Her relationship advice is retrograde dross: submit to your man, or at least pretend you're submitting, and then do what you want anyway. "I know if I just wait long enough," she writes, "eventually my idea will become Joel's idea, and it will come to pass." When I asked her how she kept her two children interested in church, she answered that even though they were a broccoli and lean-meats household, she gave them doughnuts as a special treat on Sundays. All this is fine, in the pages of a women's magazine or a self-help book. But what has God got to do with it?
Read the whole article here.

Are You On The Right Road?

In Psalm 27:4 David says "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in his temple." The one thing David wanted was to dwell in the house of the Lord. Gazing on God's beauty and seeking Him in his temple are the two parts of dwelling. Gazing has to do with worship, experiencing God's presence and seeking Him means to seek God's will and obey it. Some people are just seeking spiritual experiences they have no intention of seeking or obeying his will. This leads to ignorance and spiritual deception. Some people are seeking to know God's will to know God's word but they never gaze into his beauty, this leads to Pharisaic behavior and legalism. Some people have said to me I want to experience God, I want to gaze on his beauty, I want to know God but it never happens to me. my response is if you want to see the Lord go where you know he is going to show up. Be like blind Bartimaeus, when he heard that Jesus was passing by he went to the road that he knew Jesus was traveling on and pitched his tent until Jesus came by. If you want to see Jesus and gaze on his beauty get on the road you know he's traveling on, the road is called obedience. If your on the road of disobedience, the road of selfishness, the road of self-will Jesus doesn't travel on those roads, you will never see him there. Get on the road that Jesus travels on, the road of obedience and you will see the Lord.

Exegeting Obama On Homosexuality

Robert Gagnon--the leading evangelical scholar on homosexuality and the Bible--has a new article online: Barack Obama’s Disturbing Misreading of the Sermon on the Mount as Support for Homosexual Sex. On his homepage, Dr. Gagnon writes:Regardless of how one votes on election day, it is important to be aware of how this presidential candidate interprets Scripture to fit his political views and what kind of impact this will have on his policies regarding government endorsement of, and incentives for, homosexual practice should he become president. Obama's record is clear:

  • Obama wants to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which he has called “abhorrent”, even though the Act's main purpose is merely to prevent “gay marriage” adopted in one state from being foisted on all other states. Even Hillary Clinton did not come out in opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act. In Obama's own words: "Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether."
  • Obama strongly opposes California’s Proposition 8, which merely limits the definition of marriage to a “marriage between a man and a woman.”
  • Obama has stated that he “respects” the California Supreme Court decision foisting “gay marriage” on the state.
  • Obama opposes any federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
  • Obama strongly endorses granting every single marriage benefit to homosexual unions, not to mention every “sexual orientation” special protections law imaginable. Such legislation will make civil and cultural bigots of everyone who espouses a male-female prerequisite to sexual relations, in the workplace, at school, in the media, and throughout the public sector.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Don Rickles On David Letterman Pt.1 (2007)

I started watching Don Rickles on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson when I was a teenager.I have always enjoyed Don's humor and never get tired of it.

Pro-Life Politicians Have Made A Difference
view article in original form

Pro-Life Politicians Have Made a Difference, Pro-Life Laws Work
by Michael J. New
Oct 24, 2008
During the past 35 years, the pro-life movement has made real progress. The number of abortions has fallen in 12 out of the past 14 years and the total number of abortions has declined by 21 percent since 1990. These gains are largely due to pro-life political victories at the federal level in the 1980s and at the state level in the 1990s which have made it easier to pass pro-life legislation.

As Election Day approaches, the mainstream media is, as usual, showcasing self-identified ''pro-lifers'' who are supporting the Democratic Party's pro-abortion presidential nominee. In 2004, a number of media outlets cited an analysis by ethicist Glen Harold Stassen which claimed--wrongly--that the number of abortions had increased slightly since President Bush's inauguration in 2001. The New York Times published an op-ed by Dean Mark Roche of Notre Dame encouraging pro-life Catholics to vote for John Kerry. This year the story is similar. Former Reagan administration Assistant Attorney General Doug Kmiec and Duquesne University Law Professor Nicholas Cafardi, both of whom claim to be opponents of abortion, have received plenty of media attention for their support of Barack Obama.

Their arguments are the same ones put forward in 2004. They have not improved with age. Most of these authors attempt to make one of two points: either a) that there is little that elected officials can do to curb abortion through legislation, or b) that the pro-life movement has not reaped any real benefits from supporting candidates who oppose abortion. Voters should, therefore, they argue, place greater emphasis on other issues. However, an examination of the history of the pro-life movement and a careful analysis of abortion trends demonstrate that these arguments are deeply flawed. In fact, the success of pro-life political candidates has resulted in substantial reductions in the abortion rate.
To read rest of the article click on link above

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Freedom From Legalism - Part 9 - Conclusion

First the Christian is not free to do what the Bible forbids. Christian freedom does not give you the right to fornicate or to steal or to lie or to persist in an unforgiving attitude or to do anything else the scriptures explicitly prohibit. And a person who lovingly points this out to you is not a legalist for having done so!
Second God does not want your Christian life to be characterized or dominated by fear and guilt and intimidation. He wants you to experience optimum joy, freedom, intimacy delight in Him. He wants you to enjoy your freedom and to use it in the service of love for others.
Third, there is something more important than the mere exercise of freedom— love. Read Galatians 5:13 again, "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love". Read Romans 14 where Paul gives the reasons why at times we should let go of legitimate Christian freedom for the sake of others.
Fourth, we may advise, we can share our own experiences we can point out the Word of God, but we can never command the conscience of another believer. The key concept is responsibility. We are free as Christians but we must use our freedom in a way that supports, helps or builds up the other person, not in a way that harms them or tears them down.
Fifth practice these three truths from Romans 14:10-13:
1. Stop judging your neighbor, "why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother?...Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another".
2. Take inventory of your own actions and behavior, "We will all stand before God's judgment then, each of us will give an account of himself to God".
3. Do what you can to build up the Body, "Make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brothers way".

James Cotton - Slow Blues

James Cotton is one of the all time great blues harmonica players. I love listening to blues harp, there's nothing quite like it. James Cotton played with Muddy Waters, in one of the greatest blues bands. If you like the blues you will like this.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Shack - A Book Review By Douglas Wilson

I had been asked by several different people what I thought of The Shack, a hot selling book by William Young. It is a book that is currently selling like crazy (I saw a great, big stack of them in an airport bookstore last week), and while it appears to be a big event centered in the broad evangelical world, there have been significant repercussions in our circles as well. So I (dutifully) got the book and read it. It is not the kind of book you can review chapter by chapter, and so this one review will have to suffice.

If you want to read the book like a novel, which it really isn't, I suppose there will be some spoilers here. So, fair warning given. The protagonist of the book is named Mack, and a few years before the book opened, his youngest daughter named Missy had been kidnapped and presumably murdered. He himself had had a terrible childhood, and had finally run away from home as a teenager after poisoning his father. One day Mack receives a mysterious note from "Papa," his wife's favorite name for God, inviting him to come meet at the shack where his daughter had likely been killed. He decides to go, and after he gets there, the shack is transformed, and he finds himself on a weekend retreat with all three persons of the Trinity. Over the course of that weekend, he learns all kinds of things about himself and about the world that he had never suspected. That, in sum, is the basic set up.

I am going to say some hard things about the book in a moment, so I want to begin with this. The book is filled with numerous insights into what makes people tick, and those insights are wise, shrewd, pastoral, tender, and they deal with sins at the root. But the strength here is largely diagnostic, and unfortunately gets confused when it comes to the remedy, as will become apparent in a moment. William Young, the author, knows with profound clarity that fatherlessness is the rot that is eating away at the modern soul. The clear appeal of the book is because of the ache created by fatherlessness which, when coupled with the metaphoric solutions offered, provides us with a full explanation for the popularity of the book.

But I must make a distinction here -- frequently (not always), the solutions as they are spoken are right on. They deal with honesty, confession, forgiveness, and they do so in a way that any orthodox Christian could embrace. But the problem lies with with the setting. Disembodied truth doesn't help anyone really, and so the embodiment really matters.

Before getting to that, I should note in passing what I might call the theological problem. Since the discussions revolve around the murder of a little girl, the book is clearly about the problem of evil. And the answers that are offered are a standard sort of evangelical non-Calvinism, with the result that the texts that plainly state the nature of God's involvement in such things are simply ignored. In other words, the theoretical answers in this book that grapple with this problem are about as detached from the Scriptures as they could be. This is a big problem, but any of you who have been in more than two discussions between Calvinists and Arminians have probably seen it. That is not the thing that sets this book apart.

And this brings me to the way in which this book was simply terrible, blasphemous. But before going on, I have to hasten to add that it is a peculiar form of evangelical blasphemy, one that is well-intentioned and naive. I remember one time I was at a conference where the group I was with was sharing the venue with another group. So one time I sat in on the chapel services of that other group, and they began singing "Spring Up, O Well," which was fine with me. But since the song involved water, somebody had developed hand motions, and jumpy-up-and-down-motions. So there was this room full of adult Christians jumping up and down while they were singing, splish splashing along. But then they got to a verse where it was all about the blood of Christ instead of water, and they continued right on with the hand motions and the jumping, and the only thing missing was the rubber ducky, and nobody blasphemes like an evangelical can.

In a book clearly written to deal with the pain of fatherlessness, how does Young go about it? He makes God the Father, "Papa," a large beaming African American woman (p. 82). The Holy Spirit is a shimmery Asian woman named Sarayu, mysterious and "way out there." Jesus is simply Jesus, and is masculine after a kind, but in that unique way possessed by camp counselors and youth ministers with muscular forearms.

Here is a taste of the down home weekend retreat-like relationship that is going to fix Mack.

"Mack followed her soft humming down a short hallway and into an open kitchen-dining area, complete with a small four-seat table and wicker-backed chairs. The inside of the cabin was roomier than he had expected. Papa was working on something with her back to him, flour flying as she swayed to the music of whatever she was listening to. The song obviously came to an end, marked by a couple of last shoulder and hip shakes. Turning to face him, she took off the earphones" (p. 90).

Meet God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. Now Young is by no means a dunce -- he is very clear that this is just an appearance, an accommodation. But the image, the metaphor, the feel of this whole book is warm and maternal, cozy and nonthreatening. The center of the discussions is the kitchen. The need is a deep father hunger, but this is not met by a father, but by the enveloping warmth of a comfort mama who makes a lot of comfort food. This symbolism is not incidental to the message of the book. It is the central message of the book.

And this reveals the bedrock problem with the whole thing. There is no way we can hide from ourselves that we have a need for a father, but we cannot bring ourselves to repent, and have our hearts turned back to actual fathers. We cannot bring ourselves to honor our (admittedly sinful) fathers, so that our lives might go well for us in the land that God gave to us. This means that we are stuck. We know that the problem is fatherlessness, but we have no intention of honoring real fathers, the way they should be honored. This is because the sin of fatherlessness is one that is shared by both fathers and children. And repentance, when it is given, is bestowed on both sides of the generational divide.

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:5-6).

This generation of evangelicals really is fatherless and adrift. They know that, they ache over it, they cannot pretend not to know it, but they have no intention of turning back to their fathers. And that means repentance has not yet been given.

The impotence of this approach comes out in this book in a couple of striking ways. Young cannot bring himself to give two characters in this book a face. One is Mack's father. In the course of the story, they do have a heavenly reconciliation, but Mack's father remains a faceless place-holder throughout. The other character is the murderer. The book ends with Mack resolved to meet him in order to forgive him, but the story/theology set forth in this book is not up to the task of actually showing it.

The good news for evangelicals is that they are coming to recognize their fatherlessness. The good news that they are not yet ready for is that this cannot be addressed without returning to fathers.

Visit Wilsons blog here - Posted by Douglas Wilson - 10/21/2008 9:30:53 AM

Freedom From Legalism - Part 8 - Why Would Anyone Want To Be A Legalist?

Let’s look at some basic reasons why people are drawn to legalism—

First, legalism provides people with a sense of security in that it enables them to always know precisely what to do in every conceivable moral dilemma. There is a certain sort of psychological safety in being ridged morally. Legalists are afraid of liberty.
Second, legalism nurtures pride. “Look at what I’m willing to sacrifice that others refuse to do. Others may indulge themselves but I have a discipline and a moral standard they lack. I possess a will-power that really loves God. Therefore God really loves me (with the implication that God doesn’t really love those who have chosen another path or at least He doesn’t love them as much as He loves me!) Legalism is not a step towards maturity it’s a step back into childhood.
Third, legalism provides an excuse to maintain control. You never need to fear the unknown because there is always a rule or law (which you made) to govern every situation. After all without rules things will get out of control (that’s what legalists think). The legalist is the one who eventually rebels because he is living in bondage depending on the flesh, living for self and seeking the praise of men not the glory of God.
Fourth, there is comfort in conformity. It’s always reassuring when other people live like we do, even if there is no explicit biblical warrant for it. Legalists hang out with legalists to feel good about themselves. They like being with their kind, for example certain fundamentalist Baptist's will only fellowship with others who use the King James Bible only. Some Pentecostal groups will only fellowship with others who believe in Jesus Only, they don't believe in the Trinity.
Fifth, some embrace legalism out of a genuine heart-felt concern for other believers (it’s misguided but real). They are actually motivated by love and compassion, worried that the spiritual welfare of others is at risk. They fear that others will assuredly “fall” if they walk down a certain path, even though that path is nowhere prescribed in scripture.

Bob Dylan Meets Johnny Cash

Dylan shares some thoughts on meeting Johnny Cash and then they sing a song together.

Top 10 Ways to Write Bad Worship Songs

By Bob Kauflin
1. Aim to write the next worldwide worship hit.
2. Spend all your time working on the music, not the words.
3. Spend all your time working on the words, not the music.
4. Don’t consider the range and capabilities of the average human voice.
5. Never let anyone alter the way God originally gave your song to you.
6. Make sure the majority of your songs talk about what we do and feel rather than who God is and what he’s done.
7. Try to use as many Scriptural phrases as you can, and don’t worry about how they fit together.
8. Cover as many themes as possible.
9. Use phrases and words that are included in 95% of all worship songs.
10. Forget about Jesus and what he accomplished at the cross.
Read the whole thing for explanations behind each of these points.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

People Who Don't Have A Clue Usually End Up Here

Freedom From Legalism - Part 7 - How You Can Know If You're A Legalist

Question #5 — Are you more comfortable with rules than with relationships?
I’m not talking about explicit biblical admonitions or commands, I’m talking about rules of your own making, rules you feel “Led” to make as what you perceive to be the only legitimate application of what the Bible says. People who believe this find comfort in their rules, it assures them that everything is right with God because they have kept these rules. When the choice comes down to their rules or relationships, the rules win out every time. My good friend Neil Silverberg always jokes that he won't eat ham because he doesn't want to miss heaven on a technicality. God given commands and admonitions are good and righteous and they are designed to enhance and develop Christian relationships not stifle, crush and kill them. Have you ever quit fellowshiping with someone who once you got to know them, you found out they broke most of your man made rules? You established an artificial barrier that actually separates you from other Christians and causes you to disobey the bible. You are a legalist! Jesus loved people He was not put off by their lifestyle.

Paul Butterfield Blues Band - Born In Chicago - Live

This song is from the first Butterfield Blues Band album in about 1965. The band featured Paul Butterfield on vocals and harmonica, Mike Bloomfield on lead guitar and Sam Lay on drums. It was this band that backed Bob Dylan when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival and where Dylan was loudly booed and condemned. Sam Lay also played on Dylan's Highway 61 album. About 4 years latter I started playing bass for the Sam Lay Blues Band.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Freedom From Legalism - Part 6 - How You Can Know If You're A Legalist

Question #3 — Do you tend to look down your spiritual nose at those who don’t follow God’s will for your life?
1. I heard a true story of a missionary family that was serving in a place where peanut butter was hard to find. They arranged for friends in the U.S. to send them peanut butter. They soon discovered that other missionaries where they were serving considered it a lack of spirituality to eat peanut butter, they couldn't get peanut butter and thought it was their cross to bear. Eventually the pressure and condemnation from the other missionaries became so great the family who had been sent the peanut butter eventually returned home disillusioned and cynical. Part of being a Christian is the freedom not to eat peanut butter, but it’s not part of being a Christian that you condemn others if they do.
2. People who look down at others see as inferior those who don't do what they do. They have this deceived idea that they are only ones that are following God's will. They know the truth, they know how the Christian life should be lived and if your not living that way they will judge you, pressure you and condemn you. These self-righteous Pharisees spread their vile wherever they go, some believe it's their mission from God. The sad thing is that they are not following God's will at all.
Question #4 — Are you uncomfortable with the fact that the Bible does not explicitly address every ethical decision or answer every theological question?
1. Legalists fear ambiguity. Their favorite colors are black and white. They are uncomfortable with biblical silence and insist on speaking even when the Word of God does not. They feel a “calling” to fill in the gaps left by scriptural silence and often give detailed applications that God in the Bible choose not to make.
2. Charles Spuregon was frequently criticized for being funny. When one woman objected to the humor he inserted into his sermons, Spuregon told her, “Madam, you would think a great deal better of me if you knew the funny things I kept out”. A young man asked Spuregon what he should do about a box of cigars he had been given. Spuregon said, “Give them to me and I will smoke them to the glory of God”.
3. That's enough right there to give a legalist a heart attack. To the legalist Christianity has to fit into a neat little box that either they made or someone else gave to them. Everything inside the little box of their beliefs they can understand but anything that doesn't fit they have to reject because it threatens them. They fear what they don't understand and its clear that they don't have a clue about God, but they are to proud to admit it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Potential - More from Despair

Freedom From Legalism - Part 5 - How You Can Know If You're A Legalist

How can you know your a legalist? Here is a simple test of 5 questions. Question #1 - Do you place a higher value on Church customs than on biblical principles? Question #2 — Do you elevate to the status of “moral law” something the Bible does not require? Here are a few examples:
1. The Bible encourages modesty in dress. Both male and female are to be careful not to dress in a way that flaunts their sexuality or is unnecessarily showy and seductive. But we have no right to condemn others for wearing colorful clothing or for using make-up, wearing jewelry or for any particular hair style or hair color.
2. The Bible condemns lust in no uncertain terms. But the legalist uses this to condemn as unholy everything from television to the internet to movies, to mixed swimming. You may be better off by limiting your use of T.V. and the internet and movies, but you can't pass judgment on others enjoyment of them. These forms of media can be used as powerful tools for the expansion and expression of Kingdom truths. Of course this blog won't be read by anyone with this hang-up because it's on the internet.
3. The Bible explicitly forbids drunkenness, but it nowhere requires total abstinence. For some total abstinence from alcohol is the right thing to do. As a Christian you are certainly free to adopt that as a lifestyle. But you are not free to condemn those who choose to drink in moderation. You can discuss the wisdom of such a choice and the practical consequences of it but you cannot condemn people who drink as sub-spiritual or as falling short of God’s best. Jesus drank wine, the scriptures tell us wine is a gift from God to make man's heart glad. I suggest reading the book, "Drinking with Calvin and Luther".
4. The Bible commands weekly gatherings for prayer, worship, preaching of the Word, celebration of the sacraments. But the legalist condemns as carnal anyone who ever for any reason misses a Sunday service, watches a football game in the afternoon or chooses to mow their lawn after church. If you choose not to work on Sunday or watch sports or do household chores, that’s up to you, but don’t condemn others who differ. And no cheating by trying to apply the Old Covenant sabbath laws to the New Covenant.
5. Parents are commanded to raise their kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord. But whether you educate your children at home or send them to a private school or public school is a matter which the scripture is silent. You may have a conviction that public schools are of the devil, but don’t try to enslave the conscience of others who disagree with you. Not everyone is cut out for homeschooling and some Christian schools present problems all their own. I know children who were home-schooled, who went to private Christian schools and who went to public school. Some in each situation rebelled and most didn't, the key was the way the parents lived out the reality of Christianity before their children. I know people who in my opinion did a terrible job of raising their children but the children turned out fine with a strong faith. I know people who were extremely diligent and God fearing in their attempt to raise their children and suffered the heartbreak of a child rebelling and walking away from the faith.
The issue here is elevating to the status of "moral law" something the bible does not require. This is something very divisive in the body of Christ and very destructive to the lives of God's people. This produces pettiness, harshness and a critical spirit that has nothing to do with the gospel and acts as a hindrance to it. If your doing any of the above you are a legalist.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Treachery And The Insincerity Of Our Natures - Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Why must we be born again? That is the question. What is it that makes the rebirth an absolute necessity if we are truly to become Christian? The first answer is this--the treachery and the insincerity of our natures. David admits that in these words: 'Behold, thou desirest truth (or sincerity) in the inward parts'. That is the trouble. You see the steps through which David has gone. He has been examining himself, he has come to recognize his sins, the things he has done. Then he goes a step further and says, "There is something rotten within me, within my heart, and in a sense I can do nothing about it, because I have come to see that I cannot trust myself. I lack sincerity in the depths of my very nature and being". What a terrible confession for a man to make about himself! And yet it is something that every christian must of necessity have come to see. Jeremiah put it in these words, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). A great saint put it in a hymn in these words, "I dare not trust the sweetest frame." Do you trust yourself? If you do, you do not know yourself. Have you not yet discovered the twists and the turns and the perversion in your own heart? Have you not come to see the insincerity that is down in the centre? We are all hypocrites, we are all playing at make-believe, we are all pretending to be something we are not.
From "Out Of The Depths" by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (pg.77-78)

Obama and Infanticide by Robert George and Yuval Levin, October 16,2008

Obama's latest excuse for opposing the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act is that the law was ''unnecessary'' because babies surviving abortions were already protected. It won't fly.

In last night's presidential debate, Sen. John McCain finally found an opportunity to confront Sen. Barack Obama on his vote against protecting children who were born alive after an attempted abortion. Obama's response followed the pattern of his approach to this subject throughout the campaign: deny the facts and confuse the issue. He said:

''There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.''

But the facts of the born-alive debate tell a different story.

A few years ago, after it became clear that some infants who were born alive in the course of an attempted induced abortion at Christ Hospital in Chicago and elsewhere were being left to die without even comfort care, Republicans and Democrats around the country united in an effort to make the practice illegal and declare that any child outside the womb, even if she was an abortion survivor whose prospects for long-term survival might be in doubt, was entitled to basic medical care. Even the most ardent advocates of the pro-choice position agreed that a child born alive, even after an attempted abortion, deserves humane treatment.

The tragic stories of infants being left to die moved legislators to act at both the state and federal levels. In Washington, D.C., consensus can be a rare commodity, and never more so than on the issue of abortion. But the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002 was just such a rarity. The bill passed both houses of Congress without a single dissenting vote-it was 98-0 in the Senate-and numerous states then proceeded to enact similar measures. In Illinois, however, a series of efforts to pass ''Born-Alive'' legislation from 2001 to 2003 met with stiff resistance from legislators concerned the measure would constrain the right to abortion in the state. Prominent among these opponents, and the only one to actually speak in opposition to the bill when it was debated in 2002, was state Senator Barack Obama.

Obama's case against the bill did not revolve around existing state law, as he seemed to suggest last night. The law Obama referred to in the debate was the Illinois abortion statute enacted in 1975. But at the time of the debate about the Born Alive Act, the Illinois Attorney General had publicly stated that he could not prosecute incidents such as those reported by nurses at Christ Hospital in Chicago and elsewhere (including a baby left to die in soiled linen closet) because the 1975 law was inadequate. It only protected ''viable'' infants-and left the determination of viability up to the ''medical judgment'' of the abortionist who had just failed to kill the baby in the womb. This provision of the law weakened the hand of prosecutors to the vanishing point. That is why the Born Alive Act was necessary-and everybody knew it. Moreover, the Born Alive Act would have had the effect of at least ensuring comfort care to babies whose prospects for long-term survival were dim and who might therefore have been regarded as ''nonviable.'' As Obama and the other legislators knew, without the Born Alive Act these babies could continue to be treated as hospital refuse. That's how the dying baby that Nurse Jill Stanek found in the soiled linen closet got there.

Obama, who in 2003 became the chairman of the state senate's Health and Human Services Committee, argued not that existing law did everything the newly proposed measure would do, but that the born-alive bill would put too much of a burden on the practice of abortion.

''As I understand it,'' Obama said during the floor debate, ''this puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child - however way you want to describe it - is now outside the mother's womb and the doctor continues to think that it's nonviable but there's, let's say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they're not just coming out limp and dead, that, in fact, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved.'' This, he argued, was too much to ask of a doctor performing abortions, and it could also, as he put it, ''burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion.''

To address the concern of Obama and others who believed in a sweeping right to abortion, Illinois legislators in 2003 amended the bill in Obama's committee, inserting language clarifying that the bill would in no way affect the legal status of a human being before birth. It applied only to a child born alive. Identical ''neutrality'' language in the federal version of the bill had persuaded every single pro-choice legislator in Congress to support the measure. But Obama opposed the bill anyway, and his fellow Democrats followed their chairman's lead, killing the legislation in committee.

When Obama was challenged to explain himself, earlier in this campaign, he at first insisted that he opposed the Born-Alive Act in Illinois because it didn't have a neutrality clause. When critics contended that this claim was false, Obama accused them of ''lying.'' But then the critics produced indisputable documentary evidence that in fact Obama had voted against a bill that did include the neutrality clause. Obama had plainly misrepresented his record. Now he really had some explaining to do.

But Obama still did not tell the truth last night. As his original 2002 statements make clear, he sought to defeat the Born-Alive Act because he recognized that it bears at least implicitly on the larger question of abortion in America. He seemed to realize that the logical implication of protecting the child born alive after an attempted abortion is that abortion involves taking the life of a child in the womb, and that acknowledging that, even at the extreme margins of the practice of abortion, could put the legitimacy of abortion itself in question. Therefore, Obama chose to defend the widest possible scope for legal abortion by building a fence around it, even if that meant permitting a child who survives an abortion to be left to die without even being afforded basic comfort care.

Some of Senator Obama's supporters are now making one last, rather desperate-sounding attempt to defend his votes against protecting infants born alive after unsuccessful abortions. Their argument goes this way: Permitting children who survive attempted abortions to be abandoned is so heinous, so barbaric, that for someone to accuse Senator Obama, a decent man who is himself the father of two daughters, of supporting what amounts to legalized infanticide is too outrageous to merit an answer. There is a problem, though. In light of the documentary evidence that is now before the public, it is clear that the accusation against Senator Obama, however shocking, has the very considerable merit of being true.

Robert P. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He is a member of the President's Council on Bioethics and previously served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights. He sits on the editorial board of Public Discourse.

Yuval Levin is a Fellow and Director of the Program on Bioethics and American Democracy of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and senior Editor of The New Atlantis.
This from The Public Discourse

Albert King - Blues Power

One of my favorite Albert King CD'S is Live Wire/Blues Power recorded live at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco about 1970. Albert has large hands that swallow up the neck of the guitar. Plus the fact that he is playing a right-handed guitar upside down left-handed which produces his unique sound. Instead of pushing the strings to bend them he is pulling them down.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This poster is perfect for:
-The unfairly scapegoated little people
-The unfortunately unaccountable big people
-Medium sized people who appreciate the plight of the little people but report to the big people and can't get involved

Freedom From Legalism - Part 4 - How You Can Know If You're A Legalist

How can you know if you’re a legalist? Let’s take a simple test of five questions. Question #1 — Do you place a higher value on church customs than on biblical principles?
1. Many of our so called “rights” and “wrongs” in church life are the product not of the Bible but come from our family background, our culture, social and economic factors, geographical locale, and a long-standing institutional commitment to doing things the way they have always been done. For example: Contrary to popular opinion if you think your order of service came down from heaven your probably a legalist. Some of the music that is venerated by certain groups is just plain bad but you can't say that to a legalist without getting into a fight. Some instruments like drums or electric guitars are considered demonic by some Christians a sure sign of legalism. To some if women don't use head coverings you're not of God. Or if men don't sit on one side of the Church and women on the other you can't be a Church. Or how about the issue of the ministers clothing? How does the wearing of robes or clerical shirts or business suits make you into a man of God?
2. It’s important to remember as long as the Bible doesn’t prohibit such practices you may well be free to pursue them. But you are not free to insist that others do so as well. Just because other people don't do things the way you do, it does'nt make them wrong. You may be worshiping your own version of the golden calf. I remember a Bill Gothard pastors meeting I attended many years ago. Bill was teaching his convoluted ideas about music when an elderly Black Pastor stood up and said "brother Bill, brother Bill", Gothard stoped teaching and said "yes sir, what is it?" The elderly Pastor said brother Bill you need to come down to my church because when we start praising the lord, His presence comes down and we get happy". You need to ask yourself is there any Church custom that I have placed above the scriptures and use to judge other christians? If you do you're a legalist.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dysfunction - The Only Consistent Feature of All your Dissatisfying Relationships is You

I have always enjoyed these posters from They are the anti-motivation posters. I think they are funny.

Robert P. George: "Voting for the Most Extreme Pro-Abortion Political Candidate in American History Is Not the Way to Save Unborn Babies"

Dr. George is a man who chooses his words very carefully. And that is why his latest essay, Obama's Abortion Extremism, is so significant. It begins in this way:

Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress.

George then raises the fact that many today are suggesting that one can be pro-life and pro-Obama:

Yet there are Catholics and Evangelicals—even self-identified pro-life Catholics and Evangelicals—who aggressively promote Obama’s candidacy and even declare him the preferred candidate from the pro-life point of view.
To read the rest of this story visit:

Freedom From Legalism - Part 3 Defining Legalism

Legalism can be defined in many ways:
First we could say, “Legalism is the tendency to regard as divine law things which God has neither required nor forbidden in scripture and the corresponding inclination to look with suspicion on others for their failure or refusal to conform.” You can go to many Churches where key points of fellowship even membership are based on things God has neither required or forbidden in the bible. If you don't measure up to their "standards" you are not welcome and the sincerity of your faith is questioned.
Second, "Legalism is that fleshly attitude which conforms to a code in order to glorify self." One of the key facets to legalism is pride. "Look at what I am doing, I'm keeping all the rules, look at all the things that I don't do, I'm better than others." The flesh loves lists and measurements so it can see how well it's preforming compared to others.
Third Legalism is an attitude that is law like in nature. It is an obsessive conformity to a standard for the purpose of exalting self. It is an effective motivator because it uses guilt which leads to a negative emphasis on what we should not be and the things we should not do. One of the tell-tale signs of legalism is that it motivates by guilt. We grew up being motivated by guilt, we learned it from our parents and from our teachers, we are legalists by nature, we love rules and laws.
Legalism is a killer, it only leads to bondage. The only solution to legalism is learning to live by the grace of God. Most Christians have no idea of how to be motivated or how to motivate by grace. The problem is not that have made the gospel to good, we haven't made it good enough. The gospel of the grace of God is foreign to our human nature and so we fight against it and try to substitute different forms of legalism because grace frightens us.

Steve Harvey Introduces Jesus

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Freedom From Legalism - Part 2 - The Threat Of Legalism

There are many people, including many professing Christian people who are determined to bring you under their religious thumb. They are bent on making you a “slave of their conscience”. They have built a neat religious box, one size fits all — without biblical justification and do everything they can to stuff you inside and make you “conform” to it’s dimensions. No Christian has the right to “play God” in another Christian’s life. These are legalists, they may or may not proclaim God’s unconditional love for you but they will insist on certain conditions before including you among the “accepted”, among the “approved elite”, among “God’s favored few”.
I am not taking about people who insist you obey certain laws or moral rules “in order to be saved” ( like being baptized in the name of Jesus only, or insisting you get circumcised, insist you keep the law, insist you speak in tongues, etc.). These people aren’t legalists they are lost. Paul deals with this in Galatians. I’m talking about Christian legalists whose goal is to enforce conformity among other Christians in accordance with their “personal preferences” (how to dress, length of hair, what music you can listen to, t.v. or no t.v., movies, the list is endless).
I’m talking about “life-style” legalists. They threaten to rob you of joy and to squeeze the intimacy out of your relationship with Jesus. They may even lead you to doubt your salvation. They heap condemnation and contempt on your head so that your life is controlled and energized by fear rather than freedom and joy and delight in God. Rarely would these people ever admit to any of this. They don’t perceive or portray themselves as legalists. If any legalist is reading this they are convinced I’m talking about someone else. They would never introduce themselves saying, “Hi my name is Joe or Julie, I’m a legalist and my goal is to steal your joy and keep you in bondage to my religious prejudices. Would you like to go to lunch after church today and let me tell you all the things you’re doing wrong?”
Some of you may be legalists but most of you are the victims of legalism, I have been both.
You may be living in fear of doing something that another Christian considers unholy— even though the Bible is silent on the subject. You may be terrified of incurring their disapproval, disdain and ultimate rejection. Worse you may fear God’s rejection for violating “religious traditions” or “cultural norms” that have no basis in scripture but are prized by the legalist.
If any of this is true you have been deceived into believing that the slightest misstep or mistake will bring down God’s disapproval and disgust, ask yourself:
1. When you are around other Christians, whether in church or at someone’s home or just hanging out, do you feel free?
2. Does your spirit feel relaxed or oppressed?
3. Do you sense acceptance or condemnation?
4. Do you feel judged, inadequate, guilty, immature, all because of your perceived failure to conform to what someone else regards as “holy”? Jesus wants to set you free from such bondage. “You were called to freedom”. Don't let anyone threaten you with their own personal legalism.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Freedom From Legalism - Part 1

The word “freedom” has a variety of meanings for a variety of different people. When Martha Stewart was in prison it meant early release, she could go home. To an Iraqi citizen it may mean living under democratic rule instead of a dictator. To a small businessman it could be defined in purely economic terms, ability to meet payroll, expand the business etc. To someone in a formerly communist bloc country it may mean the absence of social and political oppression.
But what does it mean to you? What does freedom mean to the Christian? Galatians 5:13 tells us we were called to freedom,"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature, rather, serve one another in love". If your a Christian ask yourself, Why did God the Father set His saving love on you? Why did God the Son die for you? Why did God the Holy Spirit call you to faith in that sacrifice? The answer is Freedom!
For the Christian freedom means one of three things:
1. First there is freedom from the condemnation of God’s wrath. That’s what Paul had in mind in Romans 8:1 when he declared, “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.
2. Second, there is freedom from the compulsion of sin. Romans 6:14 assures us that “Sin will have no dominion” over us since we “Are not under law but under grace”.
3. Third, there is freedom from the conscience of other people, which is the primary theme of the fourteenth chapter of Romans. This is the area of Christian freedom I want to address.

Thoughts on this Past Weekend

It's Monday moaning, and I thought I would write a few words about this weekend. Friday night I watched a movie called "Redbelt" written and directed by David Mamet. Mamet has written and sometimes directed some of my favorite movies. Movies like House of Games, Ronin, The Winslow Boy, Heist, Spartan, The Spanish Prisoner and The Edge. I really enjoyed this movie. Saturday I had breakfast with some of the men from the Church and then they came over to my house to do some things I'm just not gifted to do. This work day was part of Pastor's appreciation, the Sunday before there was a special meal after Church featuring soul food. The rest of Saturday I spent getting ready for Sunday. I spoke on the problem of foolishness from Psalm 14. There is a deep vein of foolishness in every human being. Every child that is born is born a fool, its the responsibility of parents to drive it out. Its easy to see foolishness in children and then deal with it but when you see foolish in adults its very difficult to deal with. After Church we had a team meeting of ministry leaders,and then out to lunch. I then went home and watched the second half of the Detroit Lions loss. Its very difficult being a pro football fan in Detroit. Fortunately we have the Red Wings and the Pistons.

Milt Jackson - People Make The World Go Round

This song is from the album "Sunflower". This has been one of my favorite album's for over 35 years. Milt is on vibes, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Carter on bass, Billy Cobham on drums and Freddie Hubbard on trumpet. This is a great grove, I especilaay love the piano solo. Enjoy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Counterfeit Spirituality - Part 6 - A Final Warning

This glimpse into counterfeit spirituality in Colossians chapter two leaves us with three warning's that every Christian has to beware of. It is very difficult today to warn Christians of just about anything. The typical response is, "I know what I'm doing you don't have to tell me. I won't fall for bad doctrine I know what I'm doing". The level of unteachableness is very high, usually matching the level of ignorance most people have in the scripture.
1. The first warning is that any Christian can fall into legalism and become self-righteous, joyless and judgmental. Just try telling a legalist he is one and watch the response you get. Just look at the response Jesus got for pointing out the deception the religious leaders of His day were in. Legalism is deadly and legalists will kill you if they can.
2. The second warning is that any Christian can give into mysticism and develop a proud elitist spirit that contributes nothing to true worship. Their is more spiritual hogwash in the body of Christ today than ever before. Their is an elitist spirit in the prophetic movement with every weird deal you can shake a stick at, accepted without question. Come on! When I hear preachers having their own personal angels delivering private messages and giving them spiritual gifts I want to throw up. Listen if you follow these clowns and support them financially I've got some prime swamp land you can buy.
3. The third warning is that any Christian can get into asceticism thinking it will make them more holy when actually it only feeds their flesh. Once again Christians fall for every diet, cleansing fasts, vitamins, juices, severe self denial programs which are done in the power of the flesh. Will power is not spirituality.
The answer to legalism is the continual realization of the grace of Christ. The answer to mysticism is our spiritual union with Christ. The answer to asceticism is our position in Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. There is always a tendency to move away from the cross. We need to daily:
1. Fellowship with Christ through worship, the Word and prayer.
2. Yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit. He alone gives the power we need for daily living.
3. Fellowship with other believers and contribute to the growth of the community of believers by being committed and serving in a local Church.
Ask yourself, Is Christ first place in my life? Am I drawing on His power or depending on some man-made religious substitute? Warning signs are there for a purpose, when you see one pay attention.

Bob Dylan - "Saved" Performed Live

"I was blinded by the devil, born already ruined, stoned cold dead as I stepped out of the womb. By His grace I have been touched, By His Word I have been healed, By His hand I've been delivered, By His Spirit I've been sealed, I've been saved by the blood of the Lamb". The only conclusion you can come to is that anyone who could write such clear biblical truth must be "Saved". This verse contains truth from Ephesians Chapter one and two, read it.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Counterfeit Spirituality - Part 5 - A Warning Against Asceticism

Paul deals with the error of asceticism in Colossians 2:20-23. An ascetic is someone who lives a life of rigorous self-denial. In addition to legalism and mysticism these false teachers were attempting to gain righteousness through self-denial. Asceticism means you permit life to again become nothing but a bunch of rules. It is a completely self-centered approach to both salvation and spirituality.
Paul begins by affirming what is true: “Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of the world, why as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch’?” (2:20-21). The expression “basic principles of the world” occurs in Colossians 2:8, 20 and Galatians 4:3. In Colossians 2:8 the immediate context speaks of “the tradition of men”, the term “world” indicates “mankind alienated from the life of God”. These are the ABC’s or the rudiments of worldly men. Paul is saying if you see the implications of faith in Christ, in all His fullness and adequacy, you will die to these rudiments. You will throw them away with all their ideas about circumcision, feasts, food and drink, angel-worship as any means of spirituality or attainment of salvation. The truth is that you have died with Christ and you were raised with Christ from the dead (2:12), and you have broken with all ABC, basic ideas of men that bases their hope upon anything apart from Christ and the fullness of Him in salvation, "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (2:9). Why submit to a series of dont's as if by adding enough negatives you would ever obtain a positive. Victory over sin is not based in your own self-confidence or in sheer avoidance. Paul says in verse 22 that these rules are not the commands of God rather they are the inventions of men. Think of all the Christian material on diets, like the Ezekiel Diet, all the embracing of Old Testament Dietary Laws, Christian's observing the Sabbath, etc. There is no spiritual value in keeping the commandments and teachings of men. Verse 23 tells us "Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence". This verse says that asceticism might make a person look spiritual but it only serves to gratify their flesh. There is only one thing that can control the animal within us and that is the power of the indwelling Christ. Legalism and Asceticism have no value in “restraining sensual indulgence”. If anything they bring out the worst in us instead of the best.

Bob Dylan - Mississppi - Unreleased Version #2 From Tell Tale Signs

This past Tuesday I went out and bought Bob Dylan's new CD Tell Tale Signs. The two CD set contains rare and unreleased songs from 1989 to 2006.Songs from Oh Mercy, Time Out Of Mind, Modern Times, along with some live cuts. If you like Bob Dylan you'll love this project. My children all listen to Dylan because they grew up listening to blues, Bob Dylan, and Motown. My sons have developed a Bob Dylan dating rule, if a young woman doesn't like Dylan you shouldn't date them. Just one of the oddities of my family.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Counterfeit Spirituality - Part 4 - A Warning Against Mysticism

In Colossians 2:18-19 The apostle Paul said, "Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow". Mysticism is the pursuit of a deeper or higher subjective religious experience. It’s the belief that spiritual reality is perceived apart from the mind and the senses. That you can have an immediate experience with the spiritual world apart from the word of God and the Spirit of God. Mysticism comes off as super spiritual. “Do not let anyone who delights in false humility”. These people delighted in their supposed humility which was nothing but pride. The Gnostic would say “I’m not good enough to directly go to God, so I will start with one of the angels”. These are people who will brag about their spirituality— how long they fast, or pray etc. They also engage in “The worship of angels”. The worship of angels was a heresy that plagued the region that Colossae was located for centuries. In A.D. 363 a church synod was held in Colossae’s sister city of Laodicea. It declared “It is not right for Christians to abandon the church of God and go away to involve angels”. The archangel Michael was worshiped in Asia Minor as late as A.D. 739. The Bible forbids the worship of angels. Jesus told Satan, “It is written you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (Matt.4:10). Trying to reach God the Father through anyone or anything other than His Son Jesus Christ is idolatry. There are many Christians today that are drawn away to false teaching because some preacher said he saw an angel or that an angel has been visiting him and giving him revelations. You need to run from anyone who claims spiritual authority or revelation on the basis of his relationship with an angel.
In addition to practicing false humility and worshiping angels, these false teachers were taking their stand on visions they had seen. They claimed support for their teachings by their visions, “Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions”. I've seen many people that follow some preacher because he had a vision or claimed he visited heaven. They come back and tell everything they see or hear, so they didn't see or hear much. Paul went to heaven and when he came back he said it was not permitted for him to tell what he heard.
Are visions, prophecies, gifts of the Spirit scriptural? Of course they are. Peter had visions, Paul had visions and moved in the gifts of the Spirit. Remember you can’t counterfeit something unless it’s real. The danger is when the people moving in these realms are deficient in the Scriptures, they exalt their gifts above the Word of God and become inflated with pride.
When people are claiming to be moving by the Spirit how do you know what you’re seeing is of God? Ask yourself these questions: Do they have Christ-like humility? Do they have sound doctrine? Are they exalting themselves or Jesus? Are they using their gifts to personally profit financially? Remember that Satan can counterfeit the gifts of the Spirit. Christians who have genuine spiritual gifts can fall into error and become deceived. Jesus didn’t say you would identify false prophets by their gifts but by their fruit. Look for Christ-like character and judge everything by the Scriptures. The believers in Colossae were young believers who were looked down upon by these false teachers and were judged deficient because they did not have certain subjective experiences. Paul tells them “Do not let anyone. . . disqualify you for the prize”.
The root of the problem is laid out in verse 19, “He has lost connection with the head, from who the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews grows as God causes it to grow”.
1. Spiritual growth comes from union with Christ. “He who abides in me, and I in him bears much fruit” (John15:4-5).
2. There is safety in the body of believers around you, challenging, exhorting, encouraging and motivating you to grow in Christ. It is impossible to grow spirituality outside a healthy on-going relationship with a community of believers in a local church.
3. Satan will always try to isolate you, keep you away from the assembly of believers, keep you ignorant of the Scriptures and keep you immature.

Masab Yousef son of West Bank leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, on his conversion

"I know that I'm endangering my life and am even liable to lose my father, but I hope that he"ll understand this and that God will give him and my family patience and willingness to open their eyes to Jesus and to Christianity"

So You Still Trust The Federal Goverment? Newt Gingrich on FedEx VS Government Bureaucracy

If you"re one of those who still believes what politicians tell you, we need to find out what you've smoking.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why "Just Me And My Bible" is Insuffient

Michael Horton: "The best way to guard a true interpretation of Scripture, the Reformers insisted, was neither to naively embrace the infallibility of tradition, or the infallibility of the individual, but to recognize the communal interpretation of Scripture. The best way to ensure faithfulness to the text is to read it together, not only with the churches of our own time and place, but with the wider 'communion of saints' down through the age."

Larry Woiwode: "There is rugged terrain ahead for those who are constitutionally incapable of referring to the paths marked out by wise and spirit-filled cartographers over the centuries."

Counterfeit Spirituality - Part 3 - The Downside to Legalism

All of these things, the Mosaic Law, dietary laws, observance of Sabbath days, Feast days and more were just a “shadow” of good things to come. The real thing has come in Christ. A shadow has no reality; the reality is what makes the shadow. For example Christ “is the bread that came down out of heaven” (John6:41). There is no need for Christians to observe Passover because “Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1Cor.5:7). “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming— not the realities themselves” (Heb.10:1). Ask yourself, would you like to have a new car of the shadow of a new car? Christians who are trying to live under the law, who think they have to observe the sabbath, who are living by Old Testament dietary laws, who are keeping the feasts, are leaving the substance of Christ to go back to the shadow of the law.
The Downside to legalism—
1. Legalism spawns judgmentalism that is miserable for those being judged and shrivels the soul of those who judge. Human beings are all legalists at heart, we all judge others without realizing the negative consequences it has on our own life.
2. Legalism is intrinsically joyless. Most legalists are no fun at all, they are sour, they have created all kinds of laws they have to observe and are critical of others who don't observe them.
3. Legalism demands uniformity. Everybody has to be the same, look the same, act the same.
4. Legalism produces a surface faith because it emphasizes things that are not important, and ignores deadly sins like coveting, gossiping, slandering, bitterness and hatred.
Legalism is popular because you can measure your spiritual life and others spiritual life and even brag and compare. Legalism limits one to shallow self-righteousness. Don’t let anyone judge you. There is great freedom in what Christians can do. We can keep days and diets or forget them. We must take this warning to heart because when legalism comes in the church, the church becomes judgmental, joyless, uniform and shallow. Legalism kills.

Gettin Appreciated!

This past Sunday was Pastors Appreciation Sunday. I am very blessed to be called to Shepard the people of Grace Christian Fellowship. I want to thank my Church family for all their love and support. I was given a 160 GB I pod and the money to get some accessories. I have wanted an I pod for a long time. I have a huge collection of music Cd's, I've already loaded about 900 songs and still have over 145 GB of space left. I was also given a blues music weekend get-away to go to Chicago and listen to some live blues. I also hope to look up my old friend Sam Lay. Sam is the greatest shuffle drummer to ever play, I am blessed that I had the opportunity to play music with him.

George Benson - California Dreamin

This song is from Benson's "White Rabbit" album, a timeless classic. Also playing on the album are Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Hubert Laws and Earl Klugh. This is one of my favorite songs to drive to, just crank it up and hit the gas.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Counterfeit Spirituality - Part 2 - A Warning Against Legalism

Paul’s first warning in Colossians 2:16 was about being judged concerning your diet. The false teachers were saying if you really want to be spiritual you have to return to the Old Testament dietary laws. When Jesus came He abolished dietary laws. He said to the Pharisees who were offended by His eating and drinking habits: “Are you so dull?. . . Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean? For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach and then out of his body”, (in saying this Jesus declared all foods “clean” (Mark 7:18-20; Matt.15:1-20). Peter’s vision settled it for him. He saw a sheet lowered from heaven with both clean and unclean food and God spoke. “Then a voice told him, ‘Get up Peter kill and eat!’, ‘Surely not Lord!’ Peter replied, ‘I have never eaten anything impure or unclean’. The voice spoke a second time, ‘Do no call anything impure that God has made clean!’” This happened 3 times (Acts10:13-16). The next day he went to Cornelius’ house (a Gentile) and spoke to a large crowd of people, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean” (Acts10:28). This breaks down all barriers of racial prejudice. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 8:8— “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do”. The New Testament tells us all food and drink is lawful. We are not to judge others or allow anyone to pass a religious judgment on us in regard to food and drink.
Paul’s second warning was about days. The Jews had their special feast days (Lev.25) and their “new moon” celebration (Isa.1:13) and their Sabbaths (Ex.20:9-11). When Christ came He fulfilled them all. We no longer celebrate the Sabbath because we now worship on the “Lord’s Day”. Here’s 10 reasons Christians are not required to worship on the Sabbath.
1. The Sabbath was the sign to Israel of the Old Covenant (Ex.31:16-17; Neh.9:4; Ezek.20:12) we are no longer required to keep the sign of the old covenant.
2. The New Testament nowhere commands Christians to observe the Sabbath.
3. The New Testament church meets on Sunday the first day of the week (1Cor.16:2; Acts 20:7).
4. Gentiles in the Old Testament were not expected to keep the Sabbath nor were they condemned for failing to do so.
5. No one kept the Sabbath before the law of Moses.
6. The Jerusalem council did not impose Sabbath keeping on Gentile Christians (Acts 15).
7. Paul warned the Galatians against many sins but never about breaking the Sabbath.
8. Paul rebuked the Galatians for thinking God expected them to observe special days— including the Sabbath (Gal.4:10-11).
9. Paul taught keeping the Sabbath was a matter of Christian liberty (Rom.14:5).
10. All the early church fathers taught that the Old Testament Sabbath had been abolished and that the first day of the week was when Christians should meet for worship.