Get a fresh taste!

Revival

Morning After Reflections

As I type this on the morning after the 2012 General Elections, I am physically sick to my stomach. Not because “my guy” didn’t win. I feel sick because of where I see us as a nation and where we are heading as a nation. We are getting what we have asked for. And we deserve exactly what we are getting.

I don’t claim to have the spiritual gift of prophecy, but this is what I see in the coming months and years:

Homosexuality will continue to be paraded in the public square. “Gay marriage” will continue to garner support, either blatantly, or through laissez-faire attitudes by heterosexuals.

Abortion on demand will continue to be “legal and safe”. But it won’t be rare. More babies will be killed (at taxpayer expense), and more women will suffer the physical and emotional consequences of abortion.

First Amendment Religious and Free-Speech Liberties will continue to erode. Religious institutions and other organizations that are pro-life in nature, or pro-life in the organization’s leaders’ beliefs will be required to provide insurance that covers abortion/abortifacients (abortion-causing drugs).

Second Amendment Liberties will be restricted, either through the banning of certain weapons, or through the taxation of weapons and/or ammunition.

Several Supreme Court Justices will be replaced, resulting in decades of even more left-leaning decisions.

As of December 31, 2012, United States citizens will arrive at the “fiscal cliff”, seeing tax increases and cuts to our military and other programs such as Medicare. With President Obama’s reelection and continued Democrat control in the US Senate, our elected leaders will not feel obligated to address these issues — and the US House will have no authority to do so on their own. Our deficit will continue to increase exponentially, increasing the tax burden on our children, grandchildren for generations to come, as we spend more and more of what we don’t have. The result: the “recovery” trumpeted by the Democrats for the past few years will fall into another recession or worse.

Free Market Capitalism will be more restricted through increased government regulation. More workers will be laid off — or their status will be reduced to “part time” status — as employers seek to avoid the increased costs of providing mandated healthcare for their fulltime employees or fines if they don’t.

 

In short, our nation will continue to become much more different than what we have been accustomed to.

 

Our Mandate for 2012 and Beyond

It is incumbent on all Christians to pray.

Paul commands that we pray for all those in authority (1Timothy 2:1-2). If we haven’t been, we must begin to pray for our leaders. If we have been praying for them, we must not stop praying. We must pray more, not just that we get our way, but that God will bring us back to Himself, His ways, and his purposes.

“My people” in 2Chroinicles 7:14 applies to all of God’s people, not just the Nation of Israel, led by Solomon in that passage. In fact, the context of 2Chronicles 6-7, if God’s people fail to follow Him, He would bring calamity to them. If “My people” respond in repentance, then He would hear their prayer and bring restoration.

We are in 2Chronicles 7:13, 22. May we be brought back to experience 2Chronicles 7:1-4.

 

May God have mercy on us!

An Open Response to a Friend

Recently on Facebook, a longtime friend posted a rebuke of Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life.

“Hey, Rick – “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?” 2 Cor 6:14-15” She linked to http://www.ocregister.com/articles/muslims-341669-warren-saddleback.html, written by a secular journalist, which appears say that Rick Warren believes Christians and Muslims believe in the same God. The same day, someone else linked to the same article, requesting my feedback.

My longtime friend added in her next comment, “And what is so flagrantly missing from this article? That’s right… ANY mention of the Lord Jesus Christ.”. A mutual friend posted a link from Ed Stetzer (https://www.edstetzer.com/2012/03/rick-warren-interview-on-musli.html), which I “liked”. In that article, Warren himself clearly expresses his view that Christians and Muslims do not believe in the same God. The first friend responded,

“Thanks for popping in and also for the link. Say, for instance, that I were to concede that everything RW says in this *particular* article is true, unfortunately, there remains more than enough evidence to indict him on this and other counts. He has proven over and over again that he is quite the chameleon when it comes to what he believes. For example, when he was interviewed by John Piper, one would have thought he was an original reformer the way he waxed on so eloquently about reformed theology, Calvin, etc.”

After several more paragraphs, she concluded,

“RW is a wolf. He may be the nicest of men, but he is a false teacher. Wolves don’t blast in wearing red and carrying a pitchfork; they rise up from among us, and they creep in unaware. If he truly “loved Jesus” then He would be about the business of unashamedly preaching Christ crucified.”

The next day, she “mentioned” our mutual friend and me, requesting a response. She noted, “as ministers of the gospel, there is no way you should be supporting RW in any way, shape or form.”

For almost a week, I have pondered how I would respond, if at all, as Rick Warren’s name has come up before with this friend. Several months ago, I stated that I don’t necessarily agree with everything that  Warren has said, but that he does have some very good things to say, which I often Tweet and post on Facebook. He has been instrumental in bringing more lost souls to Jesus than I probably ever will. (Phil 1:18)

Here is my response (and it has little to do with Rick Warren or any other specific pastor/teacher):

 

I have grieved as I have read the tone of your posts on Facebook. It is vitally important to expose heretical theology and unhealthy emphases in the church, as well as those who propagate them. If we hold the Bible to be our rulebook, we must deal with things biblically. There is a time, place, and manner to deal with these things. Facebook (and the blogosphere) is not one of them. But since you have opened the conversation in this environment, I feel that I must respond in turn.

In every instance in the Bible where church discipline is mentioned, the context is the local church. In a previous e-dialogue, I pointed out that Rick Warren is subject to the leadership at Saddleback and that you should take up your concerns with the elders there. Granted, times have changed and we no longer have an overall structure, as in the book of Acts, to deal with discipline, therefore we need to find new ways of application. But it should still start and end in the local church.

Biblical Church discipline will always have redemption as its goal. Now, I qualified my previous sentence with the word “Biblical” because most “church discipline” I have seen has been far from redemptive. The tone of all of your remarks about Rick Warren has consistently been punitive and downright hateful.

Unfortunately, Christians who hold to a “reformed” theology have a reputation for being prideful, mean and hateful. Your accusations and comments are exhibitive.

Yes, we should speak the truth, but we should speak it in love (Eph 4:15). Everything we say should be for the purpose of building up one another (Eph 4:29). Our conversation is to be full of grace (Col 4:6). We should always be ready to tell other people about our Hope with gentleness and respect (1Pet 3:15). Finally, it must be noted that love is the distinguishing mark of a disciple of Jesus (John 13:35), not espousing a correct theology or insisting on using any type of shibboleth.

Whether or not Rick Warren, or any other pastor/teacher, is being “heretical”, we must deal with such issues in the proper time, place, and manner. Airing our dirty laundry in a hateful manner in view of the world does nothing to further the Kingdom Cause. God is not glorified in that.

Perhaps we (all of us) should spend more time praying for those with whom we differ as opposed to Facebooking and blogging about them. In that, God would be most glorified.

Respectfully in Christian love,
cb

 

The Importance of the Covenant of Marriage

I just watched a great discussion on the importance of the covenant of marriage. It reminded me of a conversation I had between the time when Amy and I got engaged and married. My youth Sunday School teacher said that there would be times when you have to be committed to the marriage, as opposed to each other. I didn’t understand her statement. But through the years, I have come to understand what she was talking about.

The video is just over five minutes and well worth the time to watch.

 

 

What sustains the marital bond and affections over the long haul? Three men with a combined 116 years of marriage reflect on what they’ve learned from God’s Word and others along with their experience.

Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper offer insight on falling in love again and again and the ground of covenant in which the flower of love grows. In marriage, man and woman change but their promise does not, sustained by the God who enacted his covenant between Christ and the church.

 

Spontaneous Outward Expressions of Excitement

A couple of weeks ago, I was blessed to serve on the ministry team on one of Fellowship of the Sword‘s Quest. One morning, I gave a quick overview of the postures of worship from the Old Testament. Even though it’s a Christian event, we don’t talk about where we go to church — it helps to keep out debates about our differences, in order to capitalize on our similarities. Too often, we are know by our denomination (i.e., a math term for “division”) rather than our love (John 13:35). But I digress.

As I later reflected on this brief teaching, I was struck by an arresting thought … which I’ll get to in a moment.

Think about the last time you went to a concert or sporting event (or watched one on TV). What did you see?

I saw people reaching out to the performer as he walked across the stage. I heard lots of shouting and singing while the band played musical instruments. Backup singers swayed to the music. Dancers danced. Fans threw their hands up in the air when their team scored the winning touchdown. Lots of smiling. Lots of laughing. Lots of fun!

Regardless of their favorite sport or type of music — regardless of their favorite team, band, or artist — everyone at the event responds with spontaneous outward expressions of excitement.

The only times people don’t show their excitement at these events are:

1.When there’s nothing to get excited about. I remember when I wasn’t a Tarheels fan and they went into a “Four Corners” stall (in the days before the shot clock). Who wants to see five guys toss the ball to each other, with no intention of taking a shot? There’s nothing exciting about that!

2. When people don’t have “skin in the game”. For instance, I find it difficult to get excited about hockey. The same for baseball. I might go if someone I cared about was taking me. But I wouldn’t be there for the event. However, put me in an arena watching the ‘Heels play basketball… well, that’s another story!

Now think about the last time you were in church. What did you see? For some of us, it’s been a long time. But again, I digress.

I saw people sitting when they were supposed to, standing when they were supposed to, and singing when they were supposed to. No spontaneous outward expressions of excitement.

I get the fact that each of our divisions, er… denominations have different customs. Some sit. Some stand. Some kneel. But how often are there spontaneous outward expressions of excitement in our churches?

Perhaps the reason why there are no spontaneous outward expressions of excitement in church is that there is nothing to get excited about. Predictable order of things. Predictable music. Predictable preaching. In a word, it’s predictable.

Or, perhaps there is something to get excited about, but we don’t experience spontaneous outward expressions because we don’t have “skin in the game”.

The bottom line is this: our spontaneous outward expressions of excitement reveal the value we place on what we are doing. They reveal the state of its worth. “Worth-ship” is the basis of the word, “worship”.

Now to my arresting thought:

How dare we give less to an Almighty, All-Sufficient, All-Sovereign, All-Satisfying God?

So how do you worship?

 

The Effect of Grace and Seeking the Kingdom of God

I’m experiencing a bit of a “6 Degrees of Separation” this morning. A friend’s Facebook pointed me to his website which linked to a blog on grace. Here’s the blog link. In the blog, the author speaks of the inward and outward move of grace.

“Internally, the grace of God moves me to see my sin, respond in repentance and faith, and then experience the joy of transformation. Externally, the grace of God moves me to see opportunities for love and service, respond in repentance and faith, and experience joy as I see God work through me.”

The 6 Degrees feeling is in light of the fact that tomorrow morning I’m preaching on the Kingdom of God. Jesus told his followers to seek God’s Kingdom first. (Matt 6:33). I touched on this last week, but felt that I needed to expand this a bit, so tomorrow we launch into a series at Bethel.

Seeking the Kingdom of God has the same effect: seeing things through God’s eyes. Henry Blackaby states in his book Experiencing God, that we can’t know the truth of our situation without getting God’s perspective. How true that is. As long as I’m looking at my surroundings, I can’t see the hand of God working in and through the situation to make me more like Jesus. I call it the Romans 8:28-29 Factor.