Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What A Sentimental Time Christmas Is :)

Well, over the “Christmas season” did anyone include the story of all of the children being slaughtered in Bethlehem? If not, why not? Why is this part of the Christmas story not as much a part of the Christmas story as everything else?

Can I suggest one reason we don’t include the slaughter of every baby in Bethlehem? It is because of the sentimentality associated with the season. Much like Easter, we want to emphasize the positive aspects of the gospel (if we include the gospel at all) and leave out the fact of, well, sin. He came to die for our sins.

People are more thrilled with presents under the tree and a white Christmas than that the sin that engulfs them has separated them from the very God who became man.

May I suggest that next year the color red remind us of the slaughter of all of the babies in Bethlehem 2000 years ago and of course, the blood of Jesus that cleanses from sin. Of course, the slaughter of babies doesn’t jell with the sentimentalism that is demanded once every 12 months. Neither does the demand of the Lord to forsake family for Him.

I am against sentimentalism for the sake of sentimentalism, but not against celebrating the incarnation. It’s something I do year round. In fact, almost daily I suppose.

But frankly, the sentimentality and all of the gushy emotions kind of nauseate me. Especially when I am tempted to get caught up in it myself. Can I suggest the need for a bit of self-examination? Perhaps this love of the sentimental is simply an attempt to make up for a lack of true feeling for God year round? Perhaps the tiny bit of passion one has for Christ needs seasons of sentimentality to bring out the truth that sentimentality is all that is involved in this relationship. Kind of like the dude who tattoos a girls name on his arm as if he could express his love and all that he is prepared to do for her by that mere act. This usually precedes the total abandonment of the forlorn lass by the irresponsible chump. If he really loved her he would live sacrificially for her. He would marry her.

I say that sentimentality coincides with Radical Egalitarianism because after all, there needs to be some way for us all to feel good together if we are to call ourselves Christians. If you really want to celebrate the incarnation, Jesus said to take up your cross daily and die. I know, it’s easier to pray a prayer, go to church and be especially caring around Christmas time. (gag)

an emotional and passionate person

(not giving props to the one who started the thinking for this post in order to protect myself)

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Effect of Radical Egalitarianism in Discipleship

The other day in a discussion with a brother we were talking about the difficulties of discipleship and he pointed to the problem of radical egalitarianism. I have been reading since then and have to give props to Wildavsky, Piper, Grudem and others. I have more thoughts on this subject, but have attempted to boil them down in the following one page essay. I have some cross-cultural thoughts hinted at, but will save them for future discussion. I will gladly discuss any suggestions that are seriously thought out.

The effect of radical egalitarian thought on the hierarchy of wisdom naturally developed in Christian education and institutions has spawned a generation of very need individuals who don't realize their own needs. I have noticed when discipling young men that it is all too common to have responses to the impartation of wisdom that show a stubborn refusal to open oneself up to that level of learning which is acquired only in humility and asking the very questions that when answered would enlighten one with true wisdom. Proving that the source of such a fountain of pride is radical egalitarian thought is the prevalence of a refusal to be a servant in small things. The cry of “equality” has been so loud in the atmosphere of modern liberalism that anything associated with authority and hierarchy is denounced as evil or unjust. How justice came to be viewed in the institution of learning is not a puzzle. The worldly thought that equality is the highest good has replaced Gods’ glory being the highest good. Respect and honor are demanded before the floor is even scrubbed well. The thought that we should evolve into a society where scores are not even kept at ball games has crept into the church resulting in a despising of every kind of God-given authority and has given way to the demand of the democracy of comfort in the midst of theocracy.

The most common ideas in the world resulting from radical egalitarianism are feminism, the gay rights movement, affirmative action and quotas. Responsibility is the principle that is frowned upon in these discussions of course, because radical individualism demands that we not be put in the uncomfortable position of having to earn our way before enjoying the privileges of the way. The family is the first institution to suffer from liberal and radical thought. Every last vestige of the Christian family is being torn at by the media and other proponents of modern liberalism. For years now, TV show, movies and commercials have attempted to mock the authority of the home. In particular, because of the influence of feminism, another spawn of radical egalitarianism, the father in the home has been made the brunt of jokes, insinuations and parody.

Radical egalitarianism refuses to acknowledge that one segment of society or individual is superior to another. We have somehow been deceived into believing that all men being created equal ends with all men being equal. But where men end up in life involves time, experience, responsibility, learning, investment, blood, sweat and tears. Too many nowadays have been deceived by modern thought and have knowingly or unknowingly bowed to the God of radical egalitarianism to their own detriment. They will not have anyone telling them what to do and they will not acknowledge their need to learn. Thus we have a generation of know-it-alls climbing up our ecclesiastical ladders taking places that will possibly result in not only their own fall, (I have seen it far too often), but the fall of many of those unfortunate enough to end up under them.

Now lest some misunderstand, I am not talking of the kind of egalitarianism displayed by Jesus when He taught us that the servant is the highest, or that the first is the last. In using these words and in teaching of the equality of service in the body, he was not denigrating authority, nor dispelling the fact that there are those in society who have more and those who have less. Jesus was and is in fact the same Sovereign God who has ordained that such things be as they are. Agreed, that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Please understand that I am attempting to address the attack on the family and the church in their ministry of teaching that has resulted in children demanding to be addressed and thought of as adults before they have even had the time to experience the results of taking responsibility seriously.


I Drank in the Scriptures in the Bahamas

Awright, so we just got back from the Bahamas. A week of laying out on the beach reading the Word on my new Kindle. and sleeping. and reading. and watching the ocean and the sun. and having the butler bring nachos and a drink for the wife and I. Well, it wasn't heaven by any stretch of the imagination of course. It was kind of dream like though.
All the while we were there, Faith and I both sensed a longing. For the place where our souls belong. For relaxing and reading the tropical climate was great, but it's not what we were created for. God was no closer to us.
Sure, not having a phone, )with the exception of the the .50 texts my wife sent and the two accidental international pocket calls I made for 10 minutes), was great. No electronics except my Kindle for reading. ( I am not bragging about the Kindle) (by the way, have you ever tried something like this? it is awesome) anyway, we really enjoyed being away and I feel so refueled that I feel dangerous. Sinners better get out of the way if you don't want a full dose of the gospel.
But now, I want to go ahead and read Radical by David Platt, which I was hesitant to read right before we left on our 30th anniversary tropical vacation. (our first ever)
I think he is talking about forgetting all about the American Dream and hotly pursuing Christ. Actually, I did suspect that maybe the Lord was calling me to missions in the Bahamas for a little bit. I even inquired into it a bit and was told that I would be wonderfully embraced by pastors down there if I should come to teach and preach. Anyway, the Lord did not lead further. shucks.
I am glad to be back to the church family that God has called me to. We had a good worship gathering yesterday with a great message on missions from one of our interning missionary families, the Phleegers.
Had a good time in counseling with one of our church families in the afternoon where God is evidently working. and then visited our dear sister, Nancy Ponder in the hospital. She is in much pain and is asking for the Lord to take her on home. To hear her moan in pain and then smile as she praised the Lord and prayed together and she would say Amen and then begin moaning again. It is these times where I feel led to pray that the Lord would give grace and usher the saint into His presence as quickly as possible. I pray that for Nancy.
So, we are back. I not sure we really went with the exception that I feel rejuvenated and we have pictures.
So, most of my time there, Faith will attest, I read. and I read. I couldn't get enough of the Word. There are seldom times like that when I can just drink in the Word for hours. But why not? It seems to me that if a Pastors job it primarily the ministry of the Word and prayer, how could he not spend hours each day reading the Word. Well of course, hours of praying is what it seems like the ministry demands. You can do so much more through praying than anything else. Well, with my business, the demands of being a faithful husband, father and grandfather, I am going to set my heart on a continued drinking in of the Word and long hours of prayer. That is what I long for until I reach my home in heaven. Some things will be left undone. And that is OK. If I can' t daily drink in the Word and spend quality time with my Father in communion, then I might as well resign from being a Pastor. And I am being realistic.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Incredible Rush for Christmas Now

We see it every year in the world. Before Thanksgiving has even begun the rush to advertise amidst the barrage of the false images of what the birth of Christ really meant assaults us. We are reminded continually of the crass commercialism we will experience for the next four weeks that will make an attempt to dull our senses to the remembrance of a sacred day which should be holy and should fill us with joy. But it seems to blaze by. Amidst the rush of shopping, decorating and preparing we lose the real experience and implication of anticipation.

Christmas used to be so simple and sacred. But we have forgotten how to wait. Our society teaches us that we should have everything now. As soon as young people marry nowadays, they want the same things it took their parents years to enjoy. They want it all now. They want that fullness of experience that can only be enjoyed after years of suffering and waiting. We would rather bypass the suffering. And waiting? That was something born of necessity in years gone by. Now, we want what we can have and we want it now.

I am afraid that attitude has crept into the church. Every year, once every twelve months, people clamour for certain experiences. We want certain songs sang. Never mind that many of the songs labeled as “Christmas songs” could be done much better, many are weak theologically and some are downright unbiblical. We just want that feeling that singing these songs bring us and we want it all month long. We want our month of Christmas.

Churches have for years experienced and taught the necessity of waiting and anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Some call it advent, the few weeks before December 25th. Now I am not in favor of religious trappings, but the biblical notion of waiting certainly appeals to me in my somewhat advanced age. Waiting is something that God uses in many situations. There is a maturing process that only waiting can accomplish.

We are a people who are waiting on the coming of the Lord. We are to anticipate His coming and hope for it, but we are to wait. We are to endure. We are to fast and pray. Long. We are to wait on Him. We are to suffer. And when He comes, oh how glorious, how precious, how sweet.

This is the way to truly celebrate Christmas. As it happened. The Israelites had waited the coming of the Messiah with anticipation. For years they had suffered. And then He came. He was born. The Deliverer was here.

There is something about the coming of Christ that wonderfully appeals to me. The culmination of waiting? The enjoyment of the promise I had embraced? The receiving of the gift? The shock of the world? Oh, one day the world will bow to my King. One glorious day.

In a couple weeks, we will meet on Christmas Eve and enjoy celebrating together. It will be a sacred moment. Standing in our church in a circle, holding hands and rejoicing that we are safe in Christ. That evening for some, for us the next morning on Christmas day, the family will sit in a small circle and read about that glorious day 2000 years ago when our Savior came to earth in the body of a baby. It will once again be holy. It will be meaningful. It will be special. One thing that makes it special every year is the waiting and the anticipation. Celebrating advent in our own way. This is not Christmas month. This is advent, but Christmas Day is coming.


1 Thessalonians 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come..

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Romans 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Romans 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Empty Nothings

Life is filled with them. In fact, most of the world is made up of them. Promises that can't be fulfilled. Intentions that are not acted on. Mirages that never materialize. The bible teaches us that life itself is a vapor. yet throughout their lives men pursue that which is nothing. Along the way they experience nothing because nothings are empty. The mirages they bask in serve to merely enlarge their appetites, voraciously hounding that which fills, yet they are never truly at peace and satisfied.
Sin itself, which is something, can only provide emptiness. Before God it is something. It is something hideous and horrible in fact. It is impossible to see how utterly horrible sin is unless you can see how beautiful Christ, the Savior from sin is. It was He, who fills all, who took upon Himself all of the terrible weight of your sin. And He is the only one who could do it. Taking upon Himself your sin was so weighty that it caused a rift between the Father and the Son. But He did it because of love.
All that sin and the world promises turns out to be nothing and all that the heart of man truly longs after is found in the One who alone can truly fulfill.
I urge you to turn to Christ. Cease your persistent pursuit of nothings which are empty.