Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wallowing in our Abundance

I wonder if we have lost our way as a Christian community over the years. Has not our focus shifted to such a degree that we do minor things as if they were larger things. Do we focus too much on the things that should come last, first?

My concern is over service. I wonder how many people could actually be considered as minsters of God. My concern is growing over the matter or proper service. Is what we do for God's sake actually pleasing to Him? My concern is not over salvation (though my concern here is great), but rather over the far more important issue of glorifying God in the correct manner.

"10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." 1 Corinthians 3:15

One has to wonder if the work one does actually glorifies God. Are the 'ministries' that we are involving ourselves in the most effective in proving our love for God, but also obeying the commands laid out for us by God?

I have grown weary lately of menial and nominal service. Things that occupy my time in the name of God but for which I see no purpose in the kingdom of God. I cannot see how some surfer playing the guitar for a crowd of misbehaving teenagers glorifies God by merely having lyrics which may or may not be directed towards the heavens.

Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the orphan, cry with the weary, visit the sick. These are things for which no skill is required, the most basic of things and in the kingdom of God the most important. But how many of us have grown comfortable arranging camps, singing in choirs or playing an instrument? What would Jesus say? Do you really think that Jesus was speaking into the air when He said that He had not come for the righteous, but for the unrighteous?

I was called a hypocrite the other day, and I started thinking that it was a righteous complaint. It's so easy to serve when it costs us nothing and perhaps even gains us a bit of glory. But it is astonishing to think how empty the real ministries are. Do we have gain in heaven? For choirs and bands? Or are we serving Him when we get down, so that people will look up and see Him?

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this:(A) to visit(B) orphans and widows in their affliction, and(C) to keep oneself(D) unstained from the world." James 1:27

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Calvinist's heads roll first

The economic crisis is no joke, it is here to stay and lay-offs are definitely on the way. But by what rules do people lose their jobs? At South Western Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), they are ahead of the rest of the world: Let's fire the Calvinists first! [ARTICLE]

"I will say ... that Southwestern will not build a school in the future around anybody who could not look anybody in the world in the eyes and say, 'Christ died for your sins.'"

Ding ding ding! Round 399! Calvinists and Arminians have been debating the nature of the atonement since the remonstrance in 1610. The battle boils down to: Did Christ provide the means of salvation for man by man's own volition on the cross, or did Christ actually save people by going to the cross (thereby requiring God to cause a sinner to repent)? The former being the Arminian perspective, the latter being the Calvinist perspective. (Thanks Mike for the correction)

Regardless of the debate, I have to admit that it is rather upsetting being of the persecuted camp here. Losing your job over theology. Very dodgy ground politically. I also wonder how the situation got to be like this in the first place. I also wonder what the reaction would be had the situation been reversed.

My mind is pretty skewed at the moment. I would ask readers top see past the theology and to the implications of Calvinist and Arminian pastors working together in one building. I work with Arminians all day (even some just plain nominal Christians), but of course my bread and butter does not hinge on theology. I guess the debates that go on must be quite edifying as long as both parties are willing to disagree agreeably.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Why I love John Piper

7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.[Hebrews 13:7]

John Piper is a man truly concerned for the salvation of souls. Not one of his books have I read to find an agenda. Granted, there are other men like this, but John Piper is ahead of the crowd.

Why? Because at least some of his books are free. And they are not hard to find either. I downloaded on just to see the quality and content of one and I am more encouraged than ever. Also his sermons are free as well. It is so hard to grasp that in this day and age that as part of their ministry they will host the files and still offer them for free.

Not only are his sermon transcripts available, but the audio files as well. A web site so well deserving of it's name, can be found at []

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Olivet Discourse Part 2: Conclusion

I have had this post in my head for some time. I hope it will be short... But maybe not.

We saw last time that Jesus was looking at the temple when He predicted it's downfall. We know for a fact that 70 years later this prediction came to pass. We saw that three questions were asked:
  • Matthew: "When will the destruction occur and what will be the sign of your coming and the sign of the end?"
  • Mark: "When will the destruction start and in what manner will it end?"
  • Luke: "When will the destrcution start and what will that look like?"

Now it becomes difficult (as we saw) to take one gospel and come to a conclusion. That is, until we look at the answer Jesus gives. We need to have the question in our minds: Does Jesus in Matthew's gospel have anything extra to say? This is of course if we assume that Jesus really is predicting the end of the world.

The answer is no. Jesus' answer is pretty much the same in all three synoptic gospels. That means he cannot be predicting the end of the world, based on the fact that He is not answering that question in the other two gospels. We have to say that the disciples were expecting a change of 'age' and not the end of the world.

The next question is: did the age change? Yes it did. We went from old testament to new testament. But the end is not given in the gospels. Only the fall of Jerusalem was predicted in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The judgement coming of Christ on that land happened in CE 70.

Before you run off thinking I am a preterist, please note this: I do not think that Matthew 24 (or Mark or Luke) have much to do with Revelation. I agree with preterists in their interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, but I am weary to agree that it is connected to Revelation. That should whet our appetites before we jump into the final book of the New Testament. God bless!

Woman's roles (in the CHURCH)

A friend asked me what the bible said about woman's roles. Now someone else wanted to know. So I am putting part of the email I wrote in this blog.

The bible says woman are evil. They won't even be in heaven (Revelation 8:1)

HAHAHA Just kidding!!!! Phew!
Ok seriously.

The main text for the role of woman in church is given in 1 Tim 2:8-15:

"I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control." 1 Tim 2:8-15

Now speak to any female pastor on this text and ALL OF A SUDDEN they will teach you some solid hermeneutics (art/science of interpretation) - "Ah, but it was written in a different culture and time!" That is very true. So why do the conservatives insist that this verse is non-cultural but 1 Thess 5:26 IS a cultural verse? CONTEXT. The REASON that Paul gives is counter-cultural: because EVE was deceived and became a transgressor. That was 4000 years before Paul's culture. The context of the verse takes it out of the cultural bias argument.

Just a side note for a cool lesson in Genesis. The curse of the woman is "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." (Gen 3:16) Part of the curse is that her 'desire will be for the husband' - that doesn't mean she wants to be with him, rather that she wants his position. Part of the CURSE in Genesis is that woman will want to be in man's role, but he will rule over her.

But before we get fundamentalist and start saying that woman cannot have ANY authority, let's get it straight. It's authority over a man in church. The letter to Timothy is a PASTORAL epistle, written to a leader of a CHURCH. In the conservative opinion (which I follow because it is the biblical opinion), woman may teach woman and children (Titus 2:1-6). It is where there are grown men that woman are not given a position of scriptural authority.

"But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled."
Titus 2:1-6

Now why does he say "working at home?" CONTEXT in king yet again. While some might take it literally, no one in our church condemns a woman working outside. What Paul is saying is not a direct commandment from God, unlike 1 Tim 2. What is he saying then? Well, in Jewish culture (and most of Gentile culture in those days) the woman would stay at home. So Christian wives are to make themselves USEFUL. Don't just sit on your butt and watch the candles burn down! 'Don't be a lazy wife' is the instruction there.

If you were to ask me "Are men and women equal?" I would say no. But that does not raise the one above the other. This is not a mathematical operation. Men and Women have different roles on earth that compliment one another. I am a complimentarian.

UPDATE 5 MARCH 2009: Here are some additional links:
Got questions: Woman Pastors
CARM: Q&A on Woman Pastors