November 22, 2019

The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity
From the beginning of time with Adam and Eve through time with the nation of Israel and still today, the Lord has said to man; I Love you. Listen to me and you will live. Unfortunately, mankind has frequently responded in one of two ways.
For many people the response is to replace God. Man is incurably religious and if he or she does not worship God they will worship someone or something else. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this universal reality in Romans 1 and reveals the fact that man either worships the creator or the creature. The clenched fist raised to heaven in rebellion is manifested in many ways. Some are direct and others indirect, but the message is clear:  I am in charge of my life. I will decide what is right and what is wrong. In today's jargon - I Post...Therefore I am!
For others, the goal is to remake God. We believe in the divine, but the deity we have in mind must be responsive to our desires not his demands. Our agenda is to attempt to control God and in doing so we trivialize God making him into a diminished deity, or as Donald McCullough warned in his book, we engage in The Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity.
The only true and wise God will have none of this. He will not be managed nor manipulated. He laughs and scoffs at those who dare try. (see Psalm 2)  He will not bow to our demands, nor will He be displaced. Any attempt is a form of idolatry.
As the old song says, "Trusting in You is so easy to do when I see You for who You really are."
We must demand the time to think and develop the habit of thought to seek and see who God really is. When we do, we see that He and He alone is worthy of praise. He is truly awesome!
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,


November 15, 2019

                               Never Waste an Ambulance Ride
I have been preaching the Bible and teaching Theology for almost 45 years and last Sunday morning I had a first time and I hope last time event. I fainted in the middle of my message...right onto the podium and on to the floor. Fortunately, a friend of mine on the front row, a former EMT, saw the glazed look in my eyes and knew what was about to happen and caught me to break my fall so I did not break my neck. I was only out a few seconds and then I awakened to the smiling faces of my friends and my worried wife. Of course, church policy and protocol is to call 911.
So, off I go in the ambulance to the hospital to be rehydrated. The nurse informed me that since I was "at that age" (talk about adding insult to injury...) I needed an EKG and some bloodwork just to make sure I was okay. I was, and 2 hours later I was home. MORAL TO THE STORY:  Drink fluids when you have the intestinal flu. I did not, and mine is the cautionary tale.
Always looking for the upside; two wonderful things came about through my event.
  • First, I used the opportunity of being the "pathetic patient" or the "passing-out pastor" to ask a paramedic and two nurses about Jesus. Smiles all around! Two of them were looking for churches so I gave them some recommendations!
  • Second, I was reminded that friends and family are very important. To have so many people praying, calling, texting, even bring some actual chicken noodle soup reminds me of the words of W.H Auden - "We must love one another or die."
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

November 8, 2019

 Amusing Ourselves to Death
I remember reading Neil Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, twenty years ago and sensing that he was on to something very important. Since he was a liberal Christian and I am an evangelical, we saw many things differently. However, he was correct that the church of the 20th century and now the 21st century seems to be engaged in a celestial consumer mentality. The always relevant Francis Schaeffer warned that the church at the end of the 20th century in the west was trapped in a tractor beam being pulled toward desiring personal peace and affluence. The result is that we find ourselves trafficking in the secular and trifling with the sacred.

Now you might feel that I am being too harsh in my assessment. And you might say, is this not really an issue of form and function?
The forms of church can be dynamic and ever changing. It is the function of the church which is static and must not be changed. I find it hard to see the value of using fog machines in the worship service... but maybe that is just quirky me. I can get over myself on that one. But my fear is that it is not only the form but also the function that has been
manipulated and mutated, causing us to focus more on style as opposed to substance, valuing technique over truth, and the performance of the person rather than our gaze being directed toward the glorious God of grace.

Do we meditate on the Word of God daily?
Do we pray more fervently and robustly daily?
Do we share the gospel to people monthly?
Do we desire and do we live lives of purity always?

Was our faith shaken when former pastor Josh Harris denounced his faith and was it strengthened when Kanye West came to faith?
Do we love Jesus more today than yesterday?

These questions are not meant to be a litmus test or a litany of legalistic legislation. They are meant to help us reflect on and respond to the word of God and the God of His word.

We must always remember; the purpose of church is not to entertain, but to empower us to live and die for our King.                                        

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,


November 1, 2019

                                               THE SWAMP

One of the most prescient observers of American culture was Alexis de Tocqueville. His classic, "Democracy in America," (1840) discerned and declared; "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." That greatness and goodness of America he said, was to be found in its churches. He reminded us that when the churches no longer hold to a high moral standard, America would no longer be great.

Tocqueville described two political realities, that could put in danger the moral standard of America. First he said, "A decline of public morals in the United States will probably be marked by the abuse of the power of impeachment as a means of crushing political adversaries or ejecting them from office." Talk about being relevant!!! Second, concerning corruption: The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money. (I think he got this truth from Cicero.)

A more recent prescient voice has predicted that Christian morality and American society would be challenged and changed by what is called "The Revolt of the Elites," written about in a book by Christopher Lasch with the same title in 1994. The so-called 'Swamp' is being run by the elite ruling class, something the founders of America were seeking to eliminate. ("We the people" have been replaced with "those corrupt Politicians.") Years of self-interest, combined with an entitlement mindset, based on a soft skid toward socialism, and the road to serfdom is almost complete.

America is not only great it is also exceptional. But let it never be forgotten the reason it is exceptional and great is the influence and impact of the church of Jesus Christ. The church is the pillar of truth, the salt and the light. We the people.... We the Church, must know the truth, live the truth and speak the truth. The truth must be manifested through beliefs and behavior that demonstrates the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount and displays the fruit of the Spirit. (Matthew 5:1-10, Gal 5:22-26)  Read and reflect on these standards of spirituality.

And remember, as George Orwell reminds us;
"The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it."

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,