For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Note on Bumper Sticker Evangelism

This is the very reason my wife will not let me have any "Christian" bumper stickers on my truck. (read the story at the link below)

Of course, I guess it would be better if I would just let my driving be redeemed by the grace of God. It seems to be the one area I've tried to keep to myself. Another addition to the prayer list!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Christian Terrorists in Missouri (with Update)

{PLEASE NOTE the update/correction at the end of this post}

ORIGINAL POST - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I knew this day might come, I just didn’t expect it quite this soon. According to a “leak” within the state of Missouri, information has come to light regarding the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s official “profile” of dangerous terrorist types in our state. According to the news story that came out last night, there is an 8-page report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center designed to help law enforcement “identify home grown threats.”

Included in that profile of "ideologies to watch out for” is anyone who fits these descriptions:
*Anti-abortionists (notice the slant even here; they didn’t say Pro-life)
*Tax resistors
*Anti-immigration advocates
*Supporters of third party candidates like Ron Paul

Here’s the interesting part. The state has officially apologized for including the “third party” thing, especially since they mentioned several candidates by name. However, they have not apologized for targeting conservative pro-life Christians. Governor Jay Nixon, as of the news report, has stated that he is standing by the report.

Any Missourians who are reading this: I strongly urge you to contact you State Senator and State Representative and encourage them to support any legislative efforts to have this “profile” changed. (You can click HERE to go to a “legislator lookup” page that will give you contact information for your legislators.)

I would also encourage you to contact Gov. Nixon’s office and urge him to change his mind about “standing by” this report. I would also suggest that we ask for an apology like the one issued to the third party candidates mentioned in the report. I’m sure that more than half of the state of Missouri fits into these definitions, and we are certainly just as offended as that handful of political candidates to be maligned in this way. (Click HERE for a comment form to contact the Governor’s office)

In some ways this is just a reminder to the church. We are foolish to believe that we can stand by and do nothing and continue to enjoy the freedoms we have for so long in this great nation. The anti-Christian trends are growing, and as good citizens we must continue to stay vigilant and be involved in the political process, letting our voice be heard while we still have the freedom to use it. (I guess I should be careful, saying things like that might make me a "homegrown threat", huh?)

UPDATE/CORRECTION - Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last night our local news did a follow up story in which they made one clarification. The report in question did not mention Christians in general, but specified a group called the “Christian Identity” which is apparently a racist organization. I certainly cannot tolerate racism in any form, and I would not defend or wish to be associated with them.

However, what should still be a major concern to all Christians is the inclusion of other “ideologies” mentioned in the report which do represent a majority of conservative Christians; specifically being Pro-Life. It should raise large red flags that any branch of the government would consider being Pro-Life a cause for “concern” to law enforcement.

Last night’s report mentioned that several Missouri lawmakers are in the process of attempting to put a stop to what they call “political profiling.” This is why I would still encourage Missourians to contact their legislators and voice their concerns over this report and to urge them to support the measures being offered to change this “profile.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Something Fun To Chew On

If you’re looking for a little fun, but with solid truth behind it, go check out the Sacred Sandwich site, published by the sort-of-real-but-not-really organization called The League of Tyndale. There you will find wonderful parody ads like these.

In addition, you’ll find some hilarious (but poignant) “articles” dealing with some of the church fad issues of the day, along with some genuine editorial/devotional articles. According to the site's info, the goal here is to provide:

"a lighthearted parody of current Christian issues, produced to invoke and honor the spirit of bygone days when Christian organizations such as this were committed to grounding themselves fully in the standard of God’s word, and were not ashamed to stand firm for the sake of the true Gospel.

Do not be misled, however, in thinking that the satirical framework of this project implies a lack of real biblical truth. The editorial content of our site is not a joke. All the articles, as well as many of the parodies, are dead serious in their purpose of proclaiming sola Scriptura to the postmodern church in a biblical and factual way. Despite the tongue-in-cheek style, The Sacred Sandwich’s main objective is to herald the sufficiency of Scripture as one of the surest means in which the visible Church might humble herself to God’s will and enjoy true spiritual revival.”

A worthy enough goal that I decided a little while ago to “join” the League of Tyndale. So if you need a little sunshine in your day (and aren’t afraid to laugh at yourself a little if need be), then go check this site out. But be ready to chew on the truth in the process.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Attack on Homeschoolers

Just read a story about a family in North Carolina who has had the courts "order" them to place their children into government schools, in spite of the fact that they have all tested above their grade level. Something about needing "broader educational" experiences, or something.

Sadly, this came about because of the parents going through a divorce, and dad had never been supportive of homeschooling. Even more sadly, in the process the conservative Christian mom was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation; but dad wasn't. Can anyone say "BIAS"?

Read the story here, and then read Voddie Baucham's take on it here. You can also check out a site called "Homeschool Injustice" started by some friends of this family. There is a page of Action Steps if you are interested.

Most of all, keep this family in prayer, as well as all your homeschooling friends. I have a suspicion that this kind of thing will only incrase in the coming years as we find ourselves with an increasingly hostile/anit-Christian government.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Review: Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century

Forget about Frank Peretti or Ted Dekker. The scariest book from a Christian writer in recent memory comes from Hank Hanegraaff. That’s right, the Bible Answer Man. And the book is Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century. In large part this is merely an updating of the original Christianity in Crisis published some 20 years ago. But as Hanegraaff points out, things have only gotten worse since then. Some of the things being taught by some of the more popular “Christian” teachers of our day is enough to keep you awake at night.

In short, this is an expose of the Word Faith movement. Here you will find the history of the movement and the core fallacies of its warped theology. He starts with some of the “old” names like Hagin and Copeland and the new edition works its way up to include the newer stars like Osteen and Myers. The “Cast of Characters” section alone is worth the price of the book. Of particular interest are the parallels pointed out between the teachings of people like Joel Osteen and the New Age thought behind books like Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. He also shows how this parallel with demonic metaphysical thought goes back to the earliest days of the movement.

The book is proliferated with Hank’s use of acronyms to help us remember the key truths, including the overall FLAWS to mark the five basic areas of error in the Faith movement’s teaching: Faith in Faith, Little Gods, Atonement Atrocities, Wealth & Want, and Sickness & Suffering. Each section then has an acronym or two of its own.

Whether you like such mnemonic devices or not, the content of this book is worth your time. In fact, I would suggest that every pastor, if not every Christian, should have a copy of this book on your shelf to use as a reference work. Hanegraaff has done extensive research to back up the information presented here, as evidenced by the 40+ pages of notes in the back. There is also a more than 15 page Bibliography showing the source material.

I started to collect a bunch of quotes and anecdotes Hanegraaff uses to show the ridiculous nature of what these Faith teachers promote; but the list quickly grew too large (I guess that’s why it took over 300 pages for Hank to write it all). I’ll simply have to say: pick up a copy of this book (along with Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity, which is a wonderful companion read to this one, I might add).

As much as followers of some of these folks might be offended, this book is a much needed one. It’s already been out for awhile now (I’m a bit behind on my reviews), but if you haven’t picked it up yet, I would strongly encourage you to do so soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Reclaiming the Amazing in Grace

I collect antique hymnals. Strange habit, maybe. Not really even sure how I got started. But over the years I’ve collected almost 250 of them; 116 over 100 years old; several over 150 years old; the oldest 178 years old.

In fact, that oldest is one of my favorites: Village Hymns for Social Worship by Asahel Nettleton. Designed as a “supplement to the hymns and psalms of Dr. Watts” in includes several of Isaac Watts’ songs as well as those of other well known poets/hymn writers like John Newton, William Cowper, Anne Steele, Phillip Doddridge, and Samuel Stennett.

One of the most notable aspects of these songs, at least in my mind, is that these writers seemed much more aware of the depth of our sin and the amazing nature of grace than we often are today. (In fact, in the subject index in the back, there is even a category for “Depravity”!) We’ve been so infected by the humanist philosophies that have dominated for the last couple generations, that our awe of grace has suffered.

The average person today sees himself as basically good, or at least better than the next guy. And the church’s message has been watered down to nothing more than “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” To which this already self-confident person will respond: “Isn’t that nice; of course God would love me, I’m such a loveable person. And how nice that he wants to give me His wonderful plan (which no doubt includes my comfort and happiness at its core.)” Is it any wonder our churches are full of shallow professlings?

Grace isn’t all that amazing when it’s just a minor fix-it added to an otherwise good life. Grace is only truly amazing when we comprehend the holiness of God, the depravity of man, and the overpowering awe of realizing what Jesus has done to bridge that gap.

The hymn writers of days gone by grasped this. And so in one small attempt to try and recapture the amazing nature of grace, I offer just a few lines from these giants of church music. I hope you enjoy, but more importantly, I hope you can appreciate anew that sense of awe at the grace of our Sovereign God.

Samuel Stennett
Prostrate, dear Jesus, at thy feet
A guilty rebel lies;
And upwards to the mercy-seat
Presumes to lift his eyes.

Oh, let not justice frown me hence;
Stay, stay the vengeful storm:
Forbid it, that omnipotence
Should crush a feeble worm.

If tears of sorrow would suffice
To pay the debt I owe,
Tears should from both my weeping eyes
In ceaseless currents flow.

But no such sacrifice I plead
To expiate my guilt;
No tears, but those which though has shed,
No blood, but thou has spilt.

William Cowper
Had I a throne above the rest,
Where angels and archangels dwell,
One sin, unslain within my breast,
Would make that heav’n as dark as hell.

The prisoner, sent to breathe fresh air
And bless’d with liberty again,
Would mourn were he condemn’d to wear
One link of all his former chain.

But Oh! no foe invades the bliss,
When glory crowns the Christian’s head;
One view of Jesus as he is,
Will strike all sin for ever dead.

Isaac Watts
Where shall we sinner hide our heads
Can rocks or mountains save?
Or shall we wrap us in the shades
Of midnight and the grave?

Is there no shelter from the eye
Of an avenging God?
Jesus, to thy dear wounds we fly,
Bedew us with thy blood.

Those guardian drops our souls secure,
And wash away our sins;
Eternal justice frowns no more,
And conscience smiles within.

Anne Steele
And will the Lord thus condescend
To visit sinful worms?
Thus at the door shall mercy stand
In all her winning forms?

Surprising grace! – and shall my heart
Unmov’d and cold remain?
Has this hard rock no tender part?
Must mercy plead in vain?

And from that king of grace songs, the author of Amazing Grace himself…
John Newton
Now may the Lord reveal his face,
And teach our stamm’ring tongues
To make his sov’reign, reigning grace,
The subject of our songs!

Grace reigns to pardon crimson sins,
To melt the hardest hearts;
And, from the work it once begins,
Tit never more departs.

‘Twas grace that call’d our souls at first,
By grace thus far we’re come,
And grace will help us through the worst,
And lead us safely home.

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Rom 5:2, ESV)

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7, ESV)

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved—(Ephesians 2:5, ESV)