Friday, February 17 2012
So why shouldn't a church try to be able to relate to pop-culture? After all, this blog is written for a church web-site, and both of those things are part of contemporary culture. The problem is not finding a way to communicate the truth to pop-culture. The problem is keeping pop-culture from influencing the truth which is communicated.
Before we go any further we need to identify some terms using the Webster's 1828 dictionary:
Doctrine -- "...whatever is taught; a principle or position in any science; whatever is laid
down as true by an instructor or master"
Dogma -- "a settled opinion; a principle; a doctrinal notion"
Tradition -- "the transmission of opinions or practice from forefathers to descendants"
What is at stake in the matter of the Emergent church is not just a different methodology, but rather an abandoning of Doctrine, Dogma, and Tradition. Most people would agree that Doctrine is important, but through misuse the other two words have developed a connotation which allows people to deem them as not only un-necessary, but even somehow evil. Part of the basis of the Emergent Church movement is leaving traditional ideas and methods out of church. Much of this thinking is rooted in the seeker sensitive movement. This idea of taking the established and accepted form and format of worship and changing it to appease people who don't normally participate is misguided. When a person is truly hungry, and seeks nourishment, they don't go to the provider and demand a change to the diet.
In the matter of Doctrine we believe that Jesus established His church while here on Earth. Matthew 16:13-19 "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." He then instructed His Apostles in His doctrine and gave them authority to lead His Church. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit empowered the church and enabled them to begin fulfilling the Great Commission. This work, under the Apostles leadership and supervision, progressed from Jerusalem to Antioch and beyond because of the missions work of the Apostle Paul and others. The doctrine they taught, however, remained true to what Jesus gave them and was based on their authority from Christ.
Today, thanks to the Divine preservation of the Word of God we know the accuracy of our doctrine compared to the Apostles doctrine. Acts 2:41-42 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." II Timothy 3:14-17 "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them]; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. Doctrine is not based on tradition. Neither is it subject to the vagaries of culture. doctrine is based on Scripture. Rather than doctrine being manipulated to conform to society, society and culture should be transformed by doctrine!
The Emergent Church and the seeker sensitive movement attempt to relate to pop-culture through the compromise, shifting, and outright abandonment of sound doctrine. II John 1:8-11 "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." It is the responsibility of local churches to guard against this moving away from sound doctrine.
Thursday, February 16 2012
I was asked this week to evaluate a comment made by a well known pastor. The person who asked for my opinion of the comment also asked for my opinion of the man who made the comment because he is a widely read author. As I began to study about the man and the things he believes, I found that he was part of a movement known as the Emergent Church. Now he might not claim to be a part of that movement, but the fact remains that his practices combined with his theology definitely make him a part of this movement.
You may be asking this morning what the Emergent Church movement is all about. It is a movement which has been gaining momentum for some time which states as its purpose to emerge from the traditional paradigm of church. The desire to do more than sing hymns, take an offering, listen to a sermon, and close in prayer. The Emergent Church is usually typified by the presence of a music genre known as "praise & worship". The "message" of the service can be anything from a sermon to a one act play to traditional dance performed by a troupe of young people. The idea is that through different forms of communication more people can be reached.
The real questions for this movement are these:
1. What message are you trying to reach people with? They speak of the desire to "bring souls into the kingdom." However the Bible says that the only way for souls to be saved is to put their faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ to be saved. The message of the Emergent
Church is one of works, vague ambiguous faith, and ironically, a premium placed on just being in church.
2. What are the actual beliefs espoused by your church? It is common for the Emergent Church to be a "non-denominational" church. What is a non-denominational church? Is it a church which has no denominational name or does it have more to do with the teachings and doctrine of the church? This lack of specific distinctive is rife with compromise, and false teaching.
3. When teaching cultural relativism instead of an absolute are you not teaching that there is no basis for faith? If the gospel is only relative according to the culture in which it is interpreted then it would be of none effect. Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." These represent the Gospel. This is the message which churches should be representing. This is absolute because this relates to all men of all time. If you don't know Christ as your Lord and Saviour then you must be born again. Don't be fooled by a pop-culture phenomena which shines brightly for a time and then burns dim because it has nothing to sustain it. Put your faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:8 "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.")
Wednesday, February 15 2012
My family has a phrase they use when plans go horribly wrong. They call it "David Luck." It seems that I have a knack for having the worst possible outcome to most of my plans. Yesterday being Valentine's Day, I had decided to surprise my wife with flowers, a nice card, and a box of chocolate. Ok, really I was hoping to score most of the chocolate for myself. Anyways, I waited until she was asleep and then went outside to our vehicle to bring in her gifts. As I walked up the stairs on our deck "David Luck" kicked in. My foot slipped forward going between the stair tread and the next riser. My shin crashed against the wooden plank and I fell forward onto my hand which had recently been operated on. As my hand gave way beneath me I rolled onto my back and slid, on my posterior, to the bottom of the stairs coming to rest sprawled in slush and snow. Fortunately for me the flowers, nice card, and box of chocolate were there to break my fall. As I tried to stand up I looked at the top of the stairs to see my dog looking at me with a very concerned look on his face as if to say, "are you ok Dad?" When I went inside, instead of a beautiful Valentine's display of romance and affection, I left some slightly damaged flowers, a dented box of chocolates, and a smudged and damp card signed "I am sorry that I crushed your flowers, candy, and nice card when I fell down the stairs. Love, Dave." Hopefully next year will go better.
Do you ever feel like your plans go terribly wrong? The truth of the matter is that when we make plans without God's input we are destined to fail miserably. I have counselled with folks who have told me all their plans for who they will marry and when, what school they will go to, and what line of work they will pursue. When I ask them what God wants for them they will usually respond that they are "open" to what God wants them to do. Wait a minute. We don't get to consider God's will for our lives as an option! We are to be submitted to His Will and seek His Will with our whole hearts. Psalms 37:23 "The steps of a [good] man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way." It is the responsibility of God to come up with our plans. We are to delight in His way. Are you delighted in God's way for you? Do you constantly try to convince God that your way is better? Or maybe you don't even give God the option and you just tell Him what you are going to do and expect Him to still be ok with that. The best laid plans...they never work out right.
Make God's will for your life a priority. Don't make your plans without consulting with Him first. Make following God the only plan for you, and maybe you won't end up crushing something important when you fall.
Tuesday, February 14 2012
So it's Valentine's Day. As a life-long resident of Chicago I automatically think of Al Capone and the infamous massacre of a bunch of Mafia thugs by another bunch of Mafia thugs which happened on Valentine's Day. My wife probably thinks I should think of her, and of course I do. Sorry Honey! Anyways, on Valentine's Day people turn their thoughts to love and romance. Boys and girls buy gifts for their one true love and try to let the good folks at Hallmark say the things they should be saying.
With thoughts turning to love, we as Christians should be always thinking about love. Not the romantic kind of love, but the love of Jesus for us and the love we should be showing to a lost and dying world. I John 4:10-11 "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son [to be] the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." Pretty powerful words. The fact that God loved us not because of anything we have done but rather He loved us to the point of taking our place of punishment on the cross. Truly we who have been recipients of God's love ought to be showing that love to other people.
Unfortunately, what the world refers to as love would instead be best described as lust. The feeding of fleshly desires. The pure love of God is a love that only gives and doesn't take. The reason people can't find happiness and satisfaction with the false loves of the world is because those only take and don't give. This Valentine's day allow the love of God to make a difference in your life and the lives of those around you.
Monday, February 13 2012
The past few months have seen the deaths of several celebrities. First there was Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. Then long-time football coach Joe Paterno passed away just a few weeks ago. Singer Whitney Houston entered eternity just this past Saturday. After each of these people died I noticed Facebook posts (some by Christians) paying respects and using the well known R.I.P. In truth, unless a person knows Jesus as their Saviour, there is no resting in peace. The Bible is very clear that a person who dies without having put their faith in the blood of Jesus Christ as the only payment for their sin will have to spend eternity in Hell. I make no judgements about any of these three well known people. I am merely mentioning them as an example of the usage of R.I.P. If we really desire to pay respects to people then we as Christians should do all we can to lead lost people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Only then will they be able to truly rest in peace.
As a side note, I realize that in our society we pay much more attention to the lives and deaths of people with some notoriety. The fact of the matter is that you can open almost any newspaper in any city in the United States and read of the passing of people, from your community, into eternity. How many of them did you witness to? You and I may never have the opportunity to meet somebody famous, but we do have the opportunity, and even the responsibility, to meet our neighbours and the people we interact with on a daily basis so that we might share with them the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before you put R.I.P. on any note of paying respect, ask yourself what you have done to help guide that person, or any person, to being saved. Rest In Peace, indeed.
Friday, February 10 2012
Have you ever looked at a person and asked yourself how they made the decisions which led them to where they are at? I mean maybe their house was on fire so they decided to run outside in their pajamas and then decided they needed to run to Wal-Mart and buy a few things while still in their pajamas. I am just not sure what criteria some people use to decide that a certain course of action is appropriate or not. Here are some criteria I recommend for good decision making.
1. Make up your mind ahead of time that you are going to do right. Daniel 1:8 "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself." Daniel did not wait until he was kidnapped, taken far from all that he had ever known, forced to live among Gentiles, and then faced with defiling himself to make up his mind to do right.
2. Acknowledge God's presence. Proverbs 1:7 says "The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge." This idea of fearing the LORD is to acknowledge His presence. When you acknowledge the presence of God in every part of your life you will make good decisions.
3. Remember that birds of a feather flock together. Proverbs 1:10 "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." There is no place for good decision making when you are answering the invitation to sin.
Finally, it is essential to know that there is no decision that is to small to consider whether or not God has a say in what you do. When you allow God to have his will done in all your life then you will find yourself making good decisions. (When you find yourself making good decisions then you will never find yourself at Wal-Mart in your pajamas.)
Thursday, February 09 2012
I enjoy going out to eat at a good buffet. My wife and I have 5 children, 3 of which are healthy boys. Those boys can really put away the food. An all you can eat buffet is definitely a winning proposition for my family. However I have noticed a few things that happen at an all you can eat buffet which can drastically reduce their economic feasibility. First is the bread availability and quantity. Most all you can eat buffets are well known for baking delicious bread and serving it hot. The problem is that you paid $7.95 to eat from the buffet and instead you are filling up on bread. The same is true regarding dessert, and the salad bar. Those things may taste good, but are you really getting the full benefit of the buffet?
The Bible tells us we need, not only the milk of the Word, but also the meat of the Word. It might be more fun to sit and listen to a sermon about things we already understand and agree with, but we need to be getting the "meat" of a message rather than filling up on the "milk." Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because you filled up on the side items at church that somehow this is a substitute for the main course. The next time you are at church, take a moment and ask the Lord to fill you up with the meat from His Word. You will definitely get your money's worth.
Wednesday, February 08 2012
I heard a rumor recently, which I hesitate to repeat for fear of causing panic and rioting. I heard that the company which makes Twinkies might not be making them anymore. I will pause here for the collective weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth...ok. I remember as a boy being told by someone that there were enough preservatives in a Twinkie to give it a shelf life of 20 years. I hope that is true. If it is then I will be able to stock up and even if the unthinkable should happen, then 20 years from now I can still remove the cellophane wrapper and bite into the deliciously soft sponge cake filled with a sugary creme of delightfullness. I am going to need a moment.
Websters 1828 dictionary defines the word "preserve" in this way:
1. To keep or save from injury or destruction; to defend from evil.
God did send me before you to preserve life. Gen.45.
O Lord, preserve me from the violent man. Ps. 140.
2. To uphold; to sustain.
O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. Ps.36.
3. To save from decay; to keep in a sound state; as, to preserve fruit in winter. Salt is used to preserve meat.
As Independent Fundamental Baptists we believe in the Doctrine of the Preservation of the Scriptures. This is the supernatural work of God to keep His Word. This preservation requires maintenance, care, and attention. It is foolish to believe that God has inspired His Word for mankind and then left it without His maintenance, care, and attention. It is absurd to think that God would be so short sighted as to believe that the languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic would be the common languages of today. Therefore, we believe that God has supernaturally preserved His Word through the maintenance and care of a trustworthy Greek (Textus Receptus) and Hebrew (Masoretic) text. We also believe that God has supernaturally preserved His Word through His attention to the work of translation. There was no new inspiration which took place in the work of the King James translators. However, I do believe that the work of the King James translators was the continued preservation in the English language of God's Eternal Word.
I look forward to sitting down with my King James Bible in about 20 years and reading again the words inspired, and preserved by my Heavenly Father. I think I'll enjoy a Twinkie while I read.
Tuesday, February 07 2012
In today's pop-culture vocabulary people have begun to refer to themselves as "99 per centers" or to others as the "1 per-centers". The purpose of this is to (supposedly) identify themselves as either common folks or others as super-rich. I can remember a time when people worked hard and tried to become super-rich. Now apparently it is something to be ashamed of. Phew! I guess I dodged that bullet.
Yesterday I challenged the people of Keystone Baptist Church to cut back on their sleep by 25%. I also suggested that each of them cut back 25% of their food intake as well as 25% of their income. You can imagine the incredulous looks they gave me. I pointed out to them that when someone misses Sunday School they have missed 25% of the church services for the week...you could hear the crickets chirping.
So what % are you? 100%? 75%? 50%? 25%? Less? Try giving yourself 100% to the Lord's work. You will be surprised what God can do with that kind of commitment. D. L. Moody used to say "the world has yet to see what God can do with one man wholly committed to Him."
Friday, February 03 2012
I freely admit that I know next to nothing about sailing. I can count on one hand the number of times I have even been on anything larger than a pontoon boat. However, there are some things that are pretty much common knowledge about the maritime world, and one of those things is that the Captain of the ship is unquestionably in charge. His word is absolute law and woe be to the lowly sailor who disregards the Captain. Another well known bit of nautical knowledge is that the Captain is completely responsible for everything which happens on his vessel. One of the best known ship captains was the captain of the Titanic. Even though he was not the sailor on watch he was responsible for the deaths of all those who perished in the frigid North Atlantic. Being the captain of the ship is a position which requires leadership.
Not long ago I was talking with my youngest son and I told him that all of us have responsibilities of leadership over someone. He asked me who he was the leader of since he was the youngest. I told him he was the leader of Duke, our golden retriever. Then he asked who Duke was the leader of and I replied that Duke was the leader of Maggie the cat. My son thought for a moment and said "but Duke is afraid of the cat." I replied "well then Duke is not a very good leader is he?" I find more and more that people who are supposed to be in positions of leadership are afraid of the very people they are responsible for and end up not taking the leadership role which is theirs. This is true even in churches. I am saddened at the number of pastors I hear about who change their stand on things because their grown children have compromised. There are also some pastors who change what they preach because the demographic of their congregation has changed and the "old paths" are no longer palatable. This is not good leadership. Since when does the steering wheel of a car go in the back seat? Of course it doesn't. The responsibility of the cars forward progress, stopping, and steering right or left all belong to the driver. He is the leader.
Whether you are a pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, music director, or whatever position you hold in your local church make sure you are fulfilling your responsibilities as a leader.
Thursday, February 02 2012
The sky is falling! Do you remember that fairy tale about chicken little? As in most cases, this silly children's tale has real life application. With the bad condition of the economy in our country alot of people are struggling financially. People have had to go through difficult phases including job loss, lifestyle adjustments, and some have even lost homes and retirement savings. These are all very bad circumstances. However, if you will direct your gaze upward for just a moment, you will realize that the sky is still right where it is supposed to be.
Romans 15:4 says that "...we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." As Christians we must understand that our hope is not in the economy. Neither is our hope found in political leaders, society, celebrities, or pop-culture. Our hope is in Jesus Christ! The sky is not falling. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and you will see that the sky is right where it is supposed to be.
Wednesday, February 01 2012
Things change. Horses and buggies have given way to cars. Vinyl records have progressed to cd's and now to mp3 players. Rotary phones and T.V.'s, where you changed the channel with a pair of pliers, have given way to tiny cell phones and flat screens with High-definition. Things change. As Fundamental Baptists we historically do not embrace change very well. With the advent of social networking, the internet, blogs, etc. there is (rightly so in some cases) some suspicion. Recently I read an article which pointed out that technology such as the ones mentioned before can and should be used to help promote the Gospel. As I considered what our church does with its web site and facebook page, I realized that we might be missing an opportunity to reach even more people.
With the beginning of this blog I hope to accomplish several things. First, and foremost, I want to present the Gospel. If you are reading this and you don't know for sure that you are going to Heaven, then let me share with you the plan of Salvation. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) The wages of that sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) Jesus paid the price for your sins on the cross. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but should have everlasting life. (John 3:16) You only have to put your faith in Jesus to save you and your sins will be forgiven and you will have eternal life. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)
Secondly, I want to encourage our members of Keystone Baptist Church. I trust that the thoughts and prayer requests I share on this blog will be a blessing to you and will enrich your life.
Finally, I want to ensure everyone that, while this is something new, the message will NOT be changing. Methods might change, and should change, (within the confines of that which is Scriptural) but the Gospel is the same yesterday, today, and forever.