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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dan Quayle Was Right (some notes on Savage and savagery)

Dan Quayle was right.  No, I’m not talking about the infamous Murphy Brown thing, for those even old enough to remember.  I’m talking about a comment he made about the direction of our country as it relates to discrimination and persecution.  He basically said that we’re coming to the place where it is wrong to discriminate against any and all groups, except conservative Christians.   He’s right.

In fact, things have become so skewed, that in trying to find the exact quote from the former Vice President I did a google search.  Yet, no matter which search words I entered, the results all came up as pages bashing and ridiculing Quayle.  So I never did find the exact quote.  (BTW, I’m reasonably sure it was in his book Standing Firm, but since my copy was loaned out and never returned, I couldn’t track it down. If anyone has the quote, I’d love to find it again)

Anyway, the point is simply that this idea has become somewhat of a prophetic statement.  We do indeed live in a culture where saying anything derogatory about anyone is frowned upon, unless that “anyone” is a Christian.

Case in point.  You’ve probably heard about “anti-bullying” guru Dan Savage speaking at a conference for teen journalists.  In what was supposed to be an address about stopping bullying, Savage went on a rant against Christianity and the Bible.  He said to “ ignore all the (expletive deleted) in the Bible.”  Imagine if a Christian speaker had said something like that about the Koran in the same setting.  Can you imagine the outcry.

Worse yet, when some students had enough of the rant, they got up and walked out.   They were exercising their rights, peacefully leaving, not making a scene about it.  But the “anti-bullying” chief started heckling them, bullying them, and calling them obscene names.  And the mainstream media says nothing, sees nothing wrong with this.  Again, imagine if roles were reversed and a Christian speaker heckled gay students for leaving his presentation.  You’d hear about that for months.  But since we’re just making fun of Christians, no big deal.

Furthermore, the sponsors of the event never apologized.  Savage was invited to speak on bullying.  He instead makes obscene sexual references (to a teen journalism audience), bashes Christians and the Bible, bullies students who choose to leave, and all they can say is that they wished “he had stayed more on target for the audience of teen journalists.”

Folks, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  It’s not that far from looking the other way as things like this happen, to looking the other way as Muslim extremists attack a Christian worship service, tossing a bomb in to the meeting and shooting worshipers as they flee.  Think I’m exaggerating?  That’s exactly what happened yesterday in Nigeria.  Hear about it on the news yet?  And yet this kind of savagery is repeated almost daily around the world: Christians being tortured and killed, beaten and mistreated, most often at the hands of Muslims (you know, the "peaceful" religion).  Yet most of the liberal media is silent, because after all, it's just Christians they're killing.

Here’s the point.  I’m not just whining about “unfair” treatment.  The truth is, the Church should expect this.  We’ve been far too spoiled for far too long in this country.  While our brothers and sisters in Christ have endured horrendous persecution down through the years and even today, we’ve enjoyed a relatively blissful existence.  Jesus told us to expect it, in fact.  So I’m not just complaining.

I am suggesting that we wake up.  The Church needs to stop being silent.  We need to speak up for truth and stop trying to be friends with this world.  This world hates us, because they hate our God.  Stop trying to “fit in” and make the world think you’re “cool.”  Speak the truth, preach the Gospel, and be prepared for the persecution that will surely come as a result.  

We live in a sinful world, a world of double standards.  A world that rips the Quayles and Bushes of the world for being “dumb” while ignoring the idiocy of the Gores and Bidens and others.  A world that cries “intolerance” if we preach the truth about homosexuality, but has no problem with “Christian-bashing.”  Remember that we are “in the world, but not of it.”  We are here to be salt and light, and both are hated by sin and darkness.  Be prepared for the days ahead, because I’m pretty sure Dan Quayle was right.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why Osteen Approves of Mormonism (and why we shouldn't be surprised)

Everyone has heard by now that Joel Osteen, that poster child for fluffy bunny Christianity, has proclaimed Mitt Romney and all Mormons to be “brothers in Christ.”  He also says that we should take the President at his word when he proclaims to be a Christian, so obviously his standard for “Christian” is already pretty low.  But I digress.

This really should come as no surprise to anyone.  Not only has Osteen repeatedly shown that he lacks serious biblical knowledge in favor of his feel-good “inclusivism,” but there are more similarities between Mormon belief and Osteen’s Word Faith friends than most would at first recognize.

Chief among them would be the Mormon idea of man becoming gods.  It’s a foundation of Mormon belief that “God” was once like us, but achieved “godhood” and was given this planet to populate with his “spirit children.”  Then, if we’re really good, we can also become gods and be given our own planet to populate.  Some have tried to distance themselves from this obviously heretical teaching, but the truth is that Mormonism was built on the idea that “as man is, God once was; as God is, man can become.”

This isn’t that much different from the Word Faith idea of “little gods.”  Numerous Word Faith teachers have promoted this idea that we are indeed, little gods ourselves.  They argue that Adam was created to be divine, to be the “god of this world.”  His rebellion led to Satan taking that title, but since we are Adam’s descendents we have this “spark” of divinity within us, the potential to be little gods.  Mormonism/Word Faith/New Age stuff at it’s best.

So what we end up with when Osteen promotes Mormons as his “brothers” is not a confirmation of Mormons as Christians, but further evidence that what Osteen teaches is not orthodox Christianity at all.  In fact, I would agree with him.  I think the two groups are very much in the same family: that of heretic.

I’m not trying to be overly cruel here.  I believe we ought to reach out in love to all those who deny the truth of the gospel, sharing the true faith of Christ in hopes that God will do a work in their hearts and bring them to true repentance.  But we are also to be discerning, to watch out for those “wolves in sheep’s clothing;” and it seems Mr. Osteen is among the worst of these.

Not only does he regularly throw aside true biblical doctrine, not only does he promote nothing more than New Age believe-in yourself self-help philosophy, but now he goes so far as to embrace other heretical groups.  No wonder the liberal media loves this guy so much.

If you really want to know more about the deception of Mormonism, I would suggest reading Mormonism Unmasked by R. Phillip Roberts.  You can also listen to this interview with Dr.Roberts.  (Hank Hanegraaff also has a book called  Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-NMirage, though I haven’t read it).

For more about the deception of the Word Faith movement and their “little gods” heresy, check our John MacArthur’s classic Charismatic Chaos, or just search around on The Christian Research Institute’s site.

More than all of this, though, read your Bible!  Test what guys say against Scripture and it will become apparent very quickly how far from the truth they are.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Discerning or Judgmental?

We know we are called by Scripture to be discerning, to “test the spirits,” to hold to sound doctrine and so on. But when does the effort to do those things cross the line into judgmentalism?

We discussed this in my SS class yesterday. We were talking about some issues that came up in a message that we had all heard, and I confessed to the class that sometimes I think I can become over critical.

I noticed it recently at a conference I had attended. This was a conference hosted by a pastor I respect greatly. The speakers were all men I knew ran in the same “theological circles” as me, so I knew I would be given sound teaching. And then about midway through the conference, a thought hit me. My attitude was completely different there than it has been in other conferences/events where the folks aren’t so much “like me.” I recently posted about being careful to only associate with those exactly like us, and while there I was referring more to “culture” and likes/dislikes, etc. I’m wondering if I’m guilty of being overly critical.

Let me try to explain. I’m often at events or conferences where I know going in I’m not going to be in full agreement. Whether it’s the group hosting it, or the speaker themselves, I just have a pretty good idea we don’t see eye to eye on things. And so it seems as though I go in just waiting for the first “heretical” thing to be said, the first wrong emphasis to be brought up and so on. At this most recent conference, I noticed that my attitude was totally different. Because I didn’t go in assuming I would disagree, I wasn’t really looking for something to disagree with. So maybe, the fault lies at least in part with my attitude.

Now, as I began by saying, I know we need to be discerning, and we need to watch for error, etc. But could it be that sometimes I’m not truly being discerning, but rather being judgmental? Where do we draw the line?

Truth be told, there have been times when the speaker was “mostly good” in their presentation. Is it wrong of me then to focus on one or two things they got wrong? And how wrong does it have to be before we either say something, stop listening, etc.? Obviously, if someone utters outright heresy, say denying the virgin birth, or the substitutionary atonement, etc., then I’m done. But what if it’s just a matter of “questionable” or “debatable” issues?

I know I’m just asking questions here, not giving any answers, but that’s really the point. This is really a matter I’m trying to figure out. I want to be discerning, I want to hold to the truth, and I certainly want to point our church toward people and events that will do the same. But could it be that I avoid some events, or criticize certain people simply because I’m being overly critical?

Just wondering. I’d appreciate your prayers as I work through this. And any insight anyone would like to offer, I’m all ears (or, I guess in this format, all eyes!).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Favorite Preachers - A Borrowed Idea

Jon Cardwell over at Justification by Grace has this wonderful post in which he lists some of his “favorite preachers.” He says:

Please understand that my use of the word “favorite” with regard to these men whom I have listed as my particular favorites, we should recognize that I use the word as it is broken down, favor-ite, he (or those) to which I favor; to whom God’s grace is extended toward through me— or, as Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “favorite”—“Regarded with particular kindness, affection, esteem or preference.” In recognizing these preachers as my favorites, I am fulfilling my responsibility as a saved soul and a as brother in the body of Christ, as it is commanded us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Romans 12:10).

He goes on to speak of several men who have been a blessing to him in the preaching of the Word. I’d encourage you to go over to his post and read the details and the list of men he mentions.

I thought this was a wonderful idea. So many times the spotlight shines on the “big” or at least “bigger” names. And I admit I love a lot of those guys. Names like Voddie Baucham, Art Azurdia, Paul Washer, R. C. Sproul, Ligon Duncan, Alistair Begg, John MacArthur….. you get the idea. I like to hear good preaching.

But I also should take time to remember those who have been a personal blessing to me as they faithfully preach the word. Because I know them, or at least have had a chance to view their lives somewhat, they have blessed me, challenged me, encouraged me, and I hope made me a better preacher/pastor as a result.

So in keeping with Pastor Cardwell’s theme I want to offer a public thank you to some of these faithful servants of God’s Word. Although as he says, these men would cringe at having their names listed like this, I want to thank them anyway. (listed alphabetically, although I admit Rod would be number one either way on my list)

Rodney Albert, faithful friend and pastor “on hiatus”

Joe Braden, St. Peters, Missouri

John Greever, Fenton, Missouri

Scott Lee, Arnold, Missouri

Greg Shackelford, Fordland, Missouri

Doug Shivers, Springfield, Missouri

There are many more, I suppose. But if I had to put together a “dream list” of guys to come preach a series of meetings together, this would be the first list to come to mind.

I would urge you again to go and read Jon Cardwell’s post, to get more context of why he posted this, etc. And I would encourage you as he does at the end of that post, to pray for your pastor. We are weak and worthless men, who apart from the power of God can do absolutely nothing of any lasting value. We need to pray for one another, and while doing so, let’s remember to thank God for those servants He has used to bless us. And thank you, Jon Cardwell, for your ministry and your words prompting me to think of these men again.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Just Like Me Church" -A New Church Plant Idea

So here’s the idea. I’m going to start a church for NASCAR fan turkey hunters who like loud Christian rock music and collect antique hymnals. I’m sure it’s a subculture in America that isn’t being reached yet, so I’m going to “become all things to all men that I might win some.”

Now, before you pooh-pooh the idea, let me tell you what I was recently told. You need to be more open minded. You need to learn to think bigger and realize that there are “cultures” out there that won’t be reached by the traditional church. So what’s wrong with my idea?

Well, here’s what’s wrong with it. It seeks to find people who are just like me. I want to hang with people who look like, talk like, think like, dress like, and view life just like me. And those are the people I want to reach out to. That’s what’s wrong with it.

Of course, I guess I’m the only one who sees it as wrong. The discussion started when I told someone that I thought things like Cowboy Churches and Biker Churches and so on were unhealthy for the Body of Christ. Scripture tells us “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, ESV) The early church sought to “tear down the dividing wall” between Jew and Greek, various cultures, etc. The modern church is trying to build them back up.

Look, I don’t care if you like acting like a cowboy. I don’t care if you like putting on leathers and riding a motorcycle. That’s great. More power to ya. But being a part of the Body of Christ means bringing your “likes” and your personal preferences into the Church, into the Body of Christ, adding to our diversity, and then yielding those likes and preferences to Christ. You don’t have to do away with them, you just have to begin to view them as less important than Christ; less important than the Body.

Our problem is that we’ve elevated our “culture” (in reality our personal preferences) above the Body. My “culture” is more important. Instead of seeking unity in the midst of diversity, we’ve focused on homogenous groups that are just like me. I can’t help but think of the old, old Emo Phillips joke that was at one time considered among the best religious jokes ever. It goes like this:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

“Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

Just like me. That’s the way I like my church. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about “universalism” of belief. I’m not talking about watering down doctrinal standards. The Truth is the truth, and Scripture is our standard.

But as this person told me: “The message is the same, but the methodology can be changed.” And while there is some truth to that, the methodology that seeks only to make people comfortable with others just like them isn’t really healthy for the Body of Christ.

Think about all the “one anothers” in Scripture. Bearing with one another and forgiving one another, etc. Much of that is harder to do when we’re with a bunch of folks who are different from us. It’s a greater challenge to put others first when those others are different than me. Likewise, the challenge is lessened when everyone already acts, thinks, looks like me anyway. And I think that’s the point. We like to take the easy way out. We don’t like to have to work at being the Body of Christ. Our maturity in Christ needs the challenges.

But, since I’m the only one that sees it this way; since I’m the nut case who needs to be more open-minded, I’ll play along. So any of you NASCAR fan turkey hunters who like loud Christian rock music and collect antique hymnals, drop me a note and we’ll arrange for time to start our club…I mean church. And everyone else can go find their own.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's In A Name?

I’ve heard that anagrams for your name can be telling. For example:
Clint Eastwood = Old West Action
George Bush = He Bugs Gore
William Shakespeare = I’ll Make a Wise Phrase
And of course Elvis = Lives!

Pretty fun. So I tried it. Here’s what I get from my name:
Tends Cow Lot
Do Clown Test
Old Two Cents
Welds Cotton
Cost Letdown
Clowns Toted
And my personal favorite: Cold Wet Snot

Nothing to write home about (but apparently enough to write a blog about). Of course, if you add in my middle name you can have “A Wilted Scotch Lemon.” I’m hoping this is nothing too revealing about my true personality trying to get out or something.

But seriously, folks (sorry, couldn’t help it). Names can be revealing. As you well know, names used to be picked purposely to express things, not just because they sounded cool. Our oldest was named after grandmothers. Our sons are “a gift from God” and “established by God” (one a faithful disciple, one a leader of music). And our other daughter’s name means “pure joy.” We did that on purpose. The names mean something. We don't take that lightly.

Likewise, the name of God means something. It’s not to be made light of. It’s not to be taken vainly, as in “oh my…” (And for the record, “OMG” is not an appropriate usage either. Just because you abbreviate it, doesn’t make it more palatable.) Neither is Jesus a swear word; not an exclamation. It’s the name above all names, the name at which every knee will bow and tongue confess His Lordship.

I’m not sure what prompted this train of thought. Other than it seems to me that even in the church we’ve become very loose about our usage of the name of our God. We make cheap slogans out of the name Jesus, or tritely imitate some popular phrase or logo by inserting His name or image. Just seems to cheapen the whole thing. Kind of like calling me “cold wet snot.” Just because the letters are the same doesn’t make it less offensive.

God is jealous and zealous for His name. His desire is to have His name made great among the nations. He says it that way because His name represents His very nature. So how we use that name reflects what we think of His nature, His holiness, etc. I don’t think we need to go to the extremes some have, in imitation of the Jews of old, in not uttering the name, or using blank spaces when writing (as in G-d). We can make an idol of His name like anything else.

But we ought to at least show reverence when speaking of Him. Most of us appreciate it when others aren’t too flippant when talking about us, using our name. Don’t you think, at the bare minimum, we ought to at least give God the same courtesy? Just a thought.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Time for The Constituion Party

For some time I've been tossing around writing a post about my ongoing support of the Constitution Party, and how to address those who keep bringing out the old, tired, and illogical "throwing away your vote" idea.

Well, thanks to Gene Edward Veith, writer and professor, part of that post has been written for me. So, please read this before you continue.

Now, then, let's get down to business. Since the GOP has continued to ram down our throats non-Conservatives like McCain and now Romney, it's clear that a third party is needed. And it's clear that it needs to be a third party with genuine conservative values. Enter the Constitution Party.

I've written several times already about why I've embraced this party (read here and here). Just go read their party platform and you'll understand. I honestly believe that supporting the CP can make a real difference.

And that's why, here in Missouri, I am fully behind Cynthia Davis for Lt. Governor. You can go to her website and read her history and why she left the GOP for the CP. I'll just say here that I had the opportunity to briefly meet her when she announced her candidacy, that my daughter is a college classmate with her daughter, and everything I've heard leads me to believe that Mrs. Davis truly stands behind the platform of the Constitution Party. I'm supporting her to the best of my ability and encourage others in Missouri to do the same.

On the national front, the CP hasn't chosen it's Presidential candidate yet. That will happen in couple weeks at the National Convention. But so far I have been quite impressed with Robby Wells, and I'm hoping he will emerge as the nominee. Whoever it is, as long as they are faithful to the principles stated in the CP platform, they'll get my vote.

I'm tired of being taken for granted by the GOP, tired of the same old results from the two party system. The time couldn't be any more right for the emergence of a powerful third party, and I honestly believe that godly, conservative folks won't do any better than the Constitution Party. I'm Scott Weldon, and I approve this message.

(This is not a paid advertisement. The author is solely responsible for the content of this blog, for better or for worse!)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why I Believe in the Resurrection

In the last few days/weeks I’ve read several articles, heard some sermons with this title. Some are better than others. Given the time of year and all, I thought maybe I’d give it a shot as well.

I’ve studied long and hard, prayed fervently, sought truth and wisdom, and in the end this is why I believe in the Resurrection:

Because It’s True!

I believe in the sun because it’s there. I believe in air because I breathe it. I would be foolish to deny things that are so evident, so important for life. So why should I not believe in the Resurrection of Christ? It’s true, it’s necessary, it’s life giving, it’s experiential, it’s proven by the evidence. Basically, it’s foolishness not to believe.

And acknowledging the Truth has amazing impact. Consider the words of John Bunyan in his autobiographical Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.

Methought I saw with great evidence, from the relation of the four evangelists, the wonderful work of God, in giving Jesus Christ to save us, from his conception and birth even to his second coming to judgment, Methought I was as if I had seen him born, as if I had seen him grow up, as if I had seen him walk through this world, from the cradle to his cross; to which, also, when he came, I saw how gently he gave himself to be hanged and nailed on it for my sins and wicked doings. Also, as I was musing on this, his progress, that dropped on my spirit, He was ordained for the slaughter (1 Peter 1:19,20).

When I have considered also the truth of his resurrection, and have remembered that word, "Touch me not, Mary," &c., I have seen as if he leaped at the grave's mouth for joy that he was risen again, and had got the conquest over our dreadful foes (John 20:17). I have also, in the spirit, seen him a man on the right hand of God the Father for me, and have seen the manner of his coming from heaven to judge the world with glory, and have been confirmed in these things by these scriptures following, Acts 1:9, 10, 7:56, 10:42; Hebrews 7:24, 8:3; Revelation 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18.

When he considered the truth of the resurrection. It’s true. As is the rest of God’s Word. If you choose not to believe, I can’t convince you of it any more than I can argue with the man who denies the sun, air, gravity, etc. You believe it, or you don’t, but it doesn’t change the truth of it.

I truly hope you believe, and more than believe you are placing your own life, your hope of eternity in Christ and His resurrection. May His truth continue to shine brightly for His glory.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Loving Your Wife With A Purpose

My wife’s birthday is coming up and I’ve been busy trying to think of the perfect gift to give her. After awhile, I sort of run out of ideas. We’ve been married 24 years, dated for 6 years before that. That’s a lot of birthday presents. And the challenge is always to find something practical enough so that I don’t get into trouble, but fun enough that it’s…well…fun.

Recently, however, I was presented with a challenge that’s much more serious that what to get for her birthday. I’ve been meeting with some guys once a week for prayer, fellowship, etc. and we’ve been studying Larry McCall’s Loving Your Wife as Christ Loves the Church.

It’s essentially just what it sounds like: a book that shows Jesus as the model of what a husband ought to be. How He treats His Bride, the church, is the model which husbands ought to follow in our own marriages.

Now, a lot of this is stuff we all know. It’s stuff that if you’ve spent any time at all considering how to be a godly husband you may have come across. But at the same time, there are some challenges here, some ways of looking at things that might be new or different to you, even if other guys have known it for years. I hit one of those in the last week or so.

McCall is talking about the issue of having a “purposeful love” for your wife. He says, just as we make goals for our church, our business, etc. we ought to have goals for our marriage and our wives. He points out that Jesus has that kind of purposeful love for His Bride, seeking to make us a pure and spotless bride for that great wedding feast to come.

Likewise then, if we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, we should love with a goal in mind. McCall suggests our goal is the same as Christ’s goal for His bride, namely Christlikeness.

Now, I know that the goal for every believer is Christlikeness, I just never considered that I should have this goal for my wife; and that God has placed me in her life to help her achieve that goal. McCall says, “We husbands are primary tools I the hands of the Holy Spirit in that glorious process of molding our wives to become more and more like Christ.” Wow! What a thought. And yet that wasn’t the real challenging part.

For me, the challenge came when he points out that part of how we reach that goal is by our own example. He says: What was Paul’s counsel to the people he was leading? “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Isn’t it sobering to picture ourselves saying those same words to our wives? Can you envision yourself saying with humble integrity these words: “Honey, the Lord has commissioned me, your husband, to help you become more like Jesus. So, watch my example, and follow me as I follow Christ”? Wow, again! Or in the words of Voddie Baucham: “If you can’t say Amen, you’d better say ouch!”

And then the real kicker. McCall says this: We might ask ourselves, “Is my wife more like Jesus today than she was on our wedding day because of the influence of my Christlike example?” One more time, say it with me…Wow! Is my wife more like Jesus today because of my example. Or the opposite, is my example hindering her from becoming more like Christ.

Suddenly I realize that this is so much more significant than what I pick out for her birthday. And yet I’ve given more time and effort and thought into those gifts than I have consciously considering loving my wife with this purpose in mind.

So I thought I’d share the guilt with the rest of you guys out there! Seriously, this is an amazing challenge. One that I ask your prayers that I might meet in His power for His glory. And, yes, one that I would pass along to my brothers. Not just to share the pain, as it were, but so that all our wives might be blessed as a result.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going to try and think of that perfect gift this week. But maybe she might be happier if I spent as much or more time seeking to live like Christ for her sake and His glory.