Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tatis builds a church

As many of you know, I really enjoy baseball. But with the news of steroids, HGH, spoiled mega-millionaires, and the Braves' return to near-doormat status, there is very little of virtue and interest going on in baseball - except maybe in youth sports. But alas, here's a story from the Christian Post about Fernando Tatis' return to the game after a two-year layoff. Why'd he do it? To build a church! He generously credits the Lord's hand in making all things possible. It's not easy to come back into professional baseball - the major leagues much less - after sitting out for two years. A heart warming story.

“To me, I take it this way: it’s a blessing for me to be here,” said Tatis, who is hitting .319 with a .519 slugging percentage in 160 at-bats as of Wednesday. “God has blessed me every day just to be here in the big leagues, to be alive. That’s the way that I take it right now. And it’s amazing.”

Psalm 21:2-6
Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. His glory is great in thy salvation: honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him. For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance.

Maybe there is still virtue in the game. Enjoy!

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!

It had to happen...

How sad! This article from Christianity Today opened my eyes to the raggedy theology of the "name it - claim it" prosperity movement. The theology itself is a parody of scripture that opens the Bible up to wild interpretations and only in the context of wealth and the gullibility does it succeed. Like Mormonism, it is a parasite of Christianity that only has life in a pre-Christianized context, where people already know who Jesus is and who He died for, but who are deceptively open to additional non-scriptural claims about Him and His word. As a missionizing force "you can have what you say" is inevitably compromised by the very people groups under mission - themselves coming from demonic strongholds, false religions, and idolatry. What more can be said?

"There is the mentality, especially in African Initiated Churches, where the prosperity gospel is preached, that you do what you've got to do to get ahead. You rely on the powers available to you. You are hopeful that Christ will help, but when he can't come through on Sunday, you may take out a different insurance policy at night."

For further reading try Robert Bowman's book, "The Word-Faith Controversy", and D.R. McConnell's book entitled, "A Different Gospel".

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

2008 Youth Baseball Championship

Well, I'm back from Orlando, Fla. and would like to take this time to give a shout out to my son and his baseball team. They won the AAU National championship for their age group (11 yr. olds). What fun! Teams from all over the nation participated and while it was fairly hot the entire week, fans from all over got to see some great baseball from some superbly talented kids. My son (God bless him!) was singled out for his pitching perfomances (and a big hit)in the "most exciting game of the tournament" vs. the 4th ranked Florida Fire and in the championship game vs. the 11th ranked Virginia Storm. Yeah, they got national rankings for youth baseball.

Speaking of Orlando, I also got a chance to vist the Holy Land Experience. And how was it? Not bad. Excellent potential. It is obviously small in comparison to the other Orlando attractions, but I think it needs a bigger vision than it now has. I'd recommend it but with reservations. The temptation to "Disney-ise" some very solemn and passionate themes lurks heavily. But the architectural mock-ups are not bad at all. If this thing could be made larger and with serious eye to worship and reverence, it would be phenomenal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More complex than we thought...

David Brooks writes an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times regarding the conundrum science is facing in its excursions into the human brain. In seeking to determine the source of human behavior neuroscientists and geneticists are finding the human mind to be much more complex than expected, thereby dashing initial hopes of being able to engineer human traits. As it turns out, a single gene cannot influence a single trait all by itself as was once thought.

Moreover, research is showing that genes are influenced by environmental factors. Wow. So much for the Nature vs. Nurture debate. It isn't "either/or", but rather "both/and". So I suppose creating "designer" babies is on hold for now. But look out, the geneticists are just waiting for the ethical waters to ebb.

Being fearfully and wonderfully made has its benefits.

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pro-Lifers in the NAACP!

Yep, you read it right. Caught it on the First Things blog. Apparently There are some who haven't bowed their knee to Baal or Moloch or Mrs. Sanger - and others who are questioning their past allegiances. The Wall Street Journal - of all sources - provides the story that questions the previously unquestionable. Pastors are - at long last - waking up!

You go, Dr. King! Er, Dr. Alveda King! Let's hope this thing gets some serious traction.


Mighty Victory or Martyrdom?

I watch TV ministries and Christian programming quite a bit. Daystar and TBN are constantly on. I've always been fascinated by the rapid growth and popularity of the many "mighty victory faith" mega-churches in the U.S. and have wondered, "How is it that they are seemingly unaware of the plight of the Persecuted Church throughout the world?" I mean, when you think about it, it seems peculiar to me that this subject is never mentioned in their "claiming victory" sermons. It is a fact that almost daily fellow Christian brothers and sisters are fined, jailed, beaten, and experiencing church closures; Christian women and girls are raped, pastors are beaten and even murdered merely for being a Christian, or preaching the gospel, or for handing out Bibles. The "watch" list of countries on the Persecuted Church list are numerous. These are but a few: China, Eritrea, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, Vietnam, North Korea, and several of the Islamic nations of the world.

So my question is this: are Christians being persecuted in these countries because they are not "claiming their victory of safety and security" in Christ?

In our devotions and reflections, shouldn't we be preparing our hearts and minds to suffer for the Cross and endure its persecutions, or should we be proclaiming another gospel by offering the counter-claim that "we have not because we ask not"? If the latter, shouldn't we be telling this to our persecuted brethren who are suffering needlessly? After all, isn't it the case that we in America (the USA) are the ones suffering relatively little and they - our persecuted sister churches - suffering the most? Come to think of it, when was the last time you heard a faith preacher claim "patient endurance"?

I have a theory. Call it an intuitive guess. Devote at least six hours a day of programming to Christian suffering and persecution - and sprinkle it liberally throughout prime time where faith evangelists predominate - and let's see if the faith programming will survive. My theory is that it can't survive. Or could it? Consider what sort of signals would be sent out when just after a Voice of the Martyrs telecast has ended, a Kenneth Copeland show or a Creflo Dollar telecast would come on. Perhaps a Christian program about the martyrdom and persecution of the early church afterward. Then on to Joel Osteen. The theological tension could be cut with a knife! One show would be suggesting that suffering is part and parcel of the Christian experience while the other would be claiming that suffering is due to a lack of faith. One would suggest that suffering builds a critical component of the fruit of the Spirit like patience, for example. The other would propose that a lack of faith is the reason why those jailed for the Savior's sake are not experiencing their "Paul and Silas victory". How does one reconcile that? An even better question, is such a reconciliation possible? Imagine pastor Rod, or bishop Jakes, "I bind the government of Eritrea, of Sudan, and of China!" "I claim the release of Christian prisoners and captives, worldwide!"

Cynicsm aside, I do believe that miracles are possible for our day, and I do believe in praying to set Christian captives abroad free. And I would greatly rejoice to hear a TV evangelist lead his congregation and television audience in praying for the Persecuted Church. But somehow I'm not sure if that would ever happen. There's entirely too much ease in Zion - and too many prophets of Baal on the loose.

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

God is not dead...yet!

A great article from William Lane Craig graces the cover of the July issue of Christianity Today. Great stuff! God is not dead...yet! Apologetics is back!

Friday, July 11, 2008

"Those who bless you I will bless"

I am a firm believer in Genesis 12:3's covenant promise to both Jew and Gentile. My devotional this AM was especially uplifting. We have blessings coming our way when we bless the Jewish people and Israel.

The Lord has kindled a fire...

I hate to read too much into the headlines, but doesn't it seem as if the fires in California are burning with an unusual fervor, multiplying at will? It has an almost chastening vibe to it given that now high temperatures are an added threat. This calls to mind the following scripture:

Lamentations 4:11
The LORD has accomplished his fury; he has poured out his fierce anger, and has kindled a fire in Zion, and it has devoured the foundations thereof.

Gov. Ah-nold Schwarznegger has called for federal assistance. And conventional wisdom said it would be the San Andreas fault to do the Golden State in.

Raging fires, gloomy economic tidings on Wall St. , enormously high gas prices, threatening talk from Iran, Russia, and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could be signs of America's decline. Don't forget to pray every day for our nation and its leaders.

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Neither Jew nor Greek...

This article from Christian Worldview Network was an enjoyable read for me because for years I was involved in multi-cultural church building. Ah, the stories I could tell! But it is high time the ekklesia was awakened to a profound truth: the Church is supposed to be multi-ethnic! Enjoy.

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 4th!

For your reading enjoyment and pleasure, Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship offers his thoughts on this 231st birthday of our great Republic. Also Regis McNicoll of Breakpoint brings back an older column, "In God We Must", outlining the source of our nation's liberties.

In each case the theme is the same. In 1776, independence from tyranny was to bring about a liberty not divorced from God, but rather expressly endowed by God. This type of ratified covenant - agreed and sworn to by the nation's founders and representatives - makes this nation, His nation. This nation belongs to God, plain and simple. America is a covenant nation. To argue otherwise is to ignore a mountain of historical evidence.

Baruch Hashem, Soli Deo Gloria, & Happy Birthday, America!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pleas from a Ugandan Pastor to America: "Let my people go!"

Gene Edward Veith pulls from the Washington Post an amazing article from a Ugandan pastor decrying the U.S.'s efforts at undermining the Ugandan solution to their own AIDS crisis. The Ugandan solution? Abstinence. You may read the entire article here. The U.S. and other "world AIDS profiteers" are being accused of imposing their own moral emptiness onto the Ugandans as part of the "strings attached" millions these organizations give to Uganda to control the spread of the virus. The Ugandans still need the AIDS money. What they don't need is U.S. and world health agencies telling them that abstinence doesn't work for them. The death toll from HIV and AIDS in Uganda (and nearly everywhere else) stems almost exclusively from casual unprotected sex, and the pastor reminds everybody that an organized program of abstinence plus condoms is a proven and effective solution. Of course, he's right. But the trouble is that these agencies are coercing the Ugandan government into eliminating references to abstinence in its funding requests and public marketing. Why? Because abstinence conflicts with these health organization's casual-sex-is-perfectly-ok agenda! (May it be suggested here that casual sex restriction is unprofitable for "world AIDS profiteers?)

So while the casual sex plus condoms solution may pass muster in the West, it is killing Ugandans by the hundreds. Thus, the good pastor's editorial plea.

His postscript is a scorcher and one that I will cherish:

"So hear my plea, HIV-AIDS profiteers. Let my people go. We understand that casual sex is dear to you, but staying alive is dear to us. Listen to African wisdom, and we will show you how to prevent AIDS."

"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: ...and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet." (Romans 1:24-27)

PC Christianity vs. Truth

This article was part of my devotional this morning and made me groan inwardly. It is a sober and challenging read for sober and challenging times. It's also sad that most professing Christians don't know how to defend their faith. And I don't mean arguing with people or trying to be confrontational with your neighbor. But let's be mindful that we are exhorted to defend what we believe - nevertheless - but with meekness and in the fear of God, not men. It's high time to get some courage, draw a line in the sand and confidently make our witness count - at work, at school, at the marketplace, at the ball field - wherever. After reading the latest Pew Forum Report on Religion and Public Life polls, you have to wonder if many churches are now irretrievably fallen and apostacized. The report seems to reflect a type of Christian schizophrenia going on. For example, of the 35,000 people polled, a majority "want their religion to preserve its traditional beliefs and practices rather than adjust to new circumstances". Yet on the other hand, about 57 percent of those same folks do not believe their religious faith is the only way to salvation. Say what?!

Which part of traditional Christianity has not believed that Jesus is the only way to salvation except the apostate church?? Even the heretical faiths, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, or Word Faith churches have a central place for Jesus as the way to salvation. Biblical truth then, seems to have lost its compelling hold on the minds of many so-called mainstream Christians. But either Jesus was telling the truth - or he wasn't - when he stated very plainly: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6) So how is it come a majority of the Christians believe that Jesus may not be the only way? Truth is dying the death of a thousand cuts. Political correctness is now rampant. There is nothing wrong with the American tradition of acknowledging religious pluralism, but many folks have now come to confuse pluralism of religions with relativism of truth. Just because we have many different religions in no way suggests that all of them are correct. Somebody's got to be wrong because truth, by definition, is exclusive.

I leave you with this quote from Ravi Zacharias:

"Most people believe that all religions are fundamentally the same, yet superficially different. I propose that it's the opposite: All religions are superficially the same but are fundamentally different."

That the faith must be defended from without and from within now truly seems to be the case.

Baruch Hashem and Soli Deo Gloria!