Friday, October 14, 2011

Fantastic Week

This week has been fantastic! We had a wonderful time Wednesday morning at the Coffee Break  (with the Pastor) good fellowship and good discussion on David Platt's book "Radical." Wednesday eve was great also as we continued our study on "Christian History." Thursday in our Discipleship class we are doing the Truth Project by Focus on the Family and it seems to get better and better each week. 

I love what I see our Lord doing at Calvary Baptist! 

Just a note to say to our Faith Family, how much I appreciate you and love y'all... keep on keeping on for the glory of our Lord!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bible Illiteracy

In my devotion time, I read an article by Dr. David Jeremiah that simply amazed me.  Let me share it with you and then I will make some additional comments at the end.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, & Ringo

Listen to the statutes... teach them to your children and your grandchildren.
Deuteronomy 4:1, 9
Recommended Reading
Deuteronomy 4:1-9
Recently comedian Jay Leno asked his television audience to name one of the Ten Commandments.  One person ventured: "God helps those who help themselves.”  Leno asked if anyone could name the four Gospels.  No one could; but responding to another question, almost everyone in the audience could name the four Beatles.

As biblical instruction wanes, large numbers of young people are biblically illiterate.  Our society is developing a profound ignorance of Jesus.  Many do not understand the term "Good Friday" or the meaning of our basic Christian vocabulary--grace, sin, redemption, and salvation.

The number of people who read the Bible "occasionally" has declined from 79 percent in the 1980s to 59 percent.  Only 16 percent of Christians say they read the Bible daily.1

Read your Bible every day.  Teach it to your children.  Do not depend on others to do it.  Offer to lead Bible classes at your church, and volunteer to work in the children's ministry.  Reversing the tide of biblical illiteracy is going to take all of us doing our part.

Many Christians expect the world to respect the book they neglect.
Quoted by E.C. McKenzie

As a pastor, I began to wonder if the Faith Family I lead where among the illiterate.  After pondering on it for quite a while, I am convinced they are not.  We have amazing teachers throughout our education programs and I know they are very familiar with the Word of God.
I see the problem as being a generational problem.  The ones following the baby boomers has for one reason or another, seem to have dropped the ball in going to church and teaching their children even the basics of the Bible.

So, how to we change these sad facts?  Discipleship!  Go after that generation, bring them into God’s family, and teach them.  Disciple them and teach them to do the same at home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Need For Theology

Allow me to share my reading for this evening with you:

The Need for Theology

But is there really a need for theology? If I love Jesus, is that not sufficient? Indeed, theology seems to have certain disadvantages. It complicates the Christian message, making it confusing and difficult for the lay person to understand. It thus seems to hinder, rather than help, the communication of the Christian truth. Does not theology divide rather than unite the church, the body of Christ? Note the number of denominational divisions that have taken place because of a difference of understanding and belief in some minute areas. Is theology, then, really desirable, and is it helpful? Several considerations suggest that the answer to this question is yes.

1. Theology is important because correct doctrinal beliefs are essential to the relationship between the believer and God. One of these beliefs deals with God’s existence and character. The writer to the Hebrews, in describing those who, like Abel and Enoch, pleased God, stated: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (11:6). The author does not mean that one who attempts to approach God may be rejected because of lack of such a faith in him, but that one would not even attempt to approach God without this belief.

Belief in the deity of Jesus Christ also seems essential to the relationship. After Jesus had asked his disciples what people thought of him, he also asked, "Who do you say I am?" Peter’s response, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," met with Jesus’ resounding approval (Matt. 16:13–19). It is not sufficient to have a warm, positive, affirming feeling toward Jesus. One must have correct understanding and belief. Similarly, Jesus’ humanity is important. First John was written to combat the teachings of some who said that Jesus had not really become human. These "docetists" maintained that Jesus’ humanity was merely an appearance. John pointed out the importance of belief in the humanity of Jesus when he wrote: "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God" (1 John 4:2–3). Finally, in Romans 10:9–10, Paul ties belief in Christ’s resurrection (both a historical event and a doctrine) directly into the salvation experience: "If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." These are but a few examples of the importance of correct belief. Theology, which concerns itself with defining and establishing correct belief, is consequently important.

2. Theology is necessary because truth and experience are related. While some would deny or at least question this connection, in the long run the truth will affect our experience. A person who falls from the tenth story of a building may shout while passing each window on the way down, "I’m still doing fine," and may mean it, but eventually the facts of the matter will catch up with the person’s experience. We may continue to live on happily for hours and even days after a close loved one has, unknown to us, passed away, but again the truth will come with crushing effect on our experience. Since the meaning and truth of the Christian faith will eventually have ultimate bearing on our experience, we must come to grips with them.

3. Theology is needful because of the large number of alternatives and challenges abroad at the present time. Secular alternatives abound, including the humanism that makes the human being the highest object of value, and the scientific method that seeks truth without recourse to revelation from a divine being. Other religions now compete with Christianity, even in once supposedly secure Western civilization. Not merely automobiles, electronic devices, and cameras are exported to the United States from the East. Eastern religion is now also challenging the once virtually exclusive domain of Christianity. Islam is growing rapidly in the United States, especially among African American males.32 Numerous quasi-religions also make their appeal. Countless psychological self-help systems are advocated. Cults are not restricted to the big-name varieties (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism). Numerous groups, some of which practice virtual brainwashing and mind control, now attract individuals who desire an alternative to conventional Christianity. Finally, many varieties of teaching, some mutually contradictory, exist within Christianity.

The solution to the confusion is not merely to determine which are false views and attempt to refute them. Bank employees learn to detect counterfeit money not by studying false bills, but by examining numerous samples of genuine money. They look at it, feel it, scrutinize it in every way. Then, when finally given bogus bills, they immediately recognize the difference. Similarly, correctly understanding the doctrinal teachings of Christianity is the solution to the confusion created by the myriad of claimants to belief. [1]

32 Russell Chandler, Racing Toward 2001: The Forces Shaping America’s Religious Future (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, and San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992), pp. 183–85.
[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1998), 29-31.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Where Do You Stand?

Although Joel Osteen pastors the largest congregation in the America, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to pin his theological ideologies down.

Osteen, should run for president (kidding). The way he evades important moral/ethical issues reminds me of a good politician.

Although he reluctantly admits that homosexuality is sin, he also indicates that he would attend (not officiate) a same sex wedding. He also points out “there are other sins that the Bible indicates that he would try to change.” as well. My question then would be: "would he attend a robbery to see someone murdered?" “What about an attack where someone is raped?” Of course not!  But what is the difference one might ask? I contend his attending a same-sex wedding would give the appearance of his condoning it.

When asked about faith he replied, “to me, faith is all about learning to be happy where you are..”  I think he might get confused at times.  Faith is confidence in knowing that God is working ‘now’ in the present for your good and His glory. 

Every time Osteen is interviewed he walks away leaving question marks about Christianity. With the exception of promoting his books, I cannot think of one good reason for him submitting to be interviewed.  The last time he was interviewed by Larry King, he left questions concerning salvation.  However he did later recant and apologize.

What about the death penalty?  Where does Osteen stand?  I do not know either.

Would a Muslim vote for a Christian president? Should a Christian vote for a Muslim president? Should it matter?

Poll at the bottom of this page

I guess of the statements that Osteen made, the one that really tears my heart strings is when he said: “I can’t grab on part and say God wants you to blessed and live an abundant life...” I have often wondered if the Apostle Paul would challenge Osteen’s definition of “an abundant life” or to be “blessed.” When you compare the lives of each, you see to life that contradict each other. However you look at it, for me, “I am no longer my own. I have been bought with a price.” That being the very blood of Christ.