I love this video because Rep. Mike Kelly grills the outgoing IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. It shows the fact that the IRS has overreaching power and is virtually held unaccountable for their actions. As Rep. Kelly points out, the IRS Commissioner admitted the IRS is run in a shoddy manner, but when the IRS comes knocking on our doors, we don’t get to use that excuse. (Click on the link, for some reason, I’m having trouble embedding the video clip.)
If you recall, Team Obama had a Christian slated to make the prayer for the inauguration last week but it was discovered that Louie Giglio had preached against homosexuality some 15 years ago. Team Obama couldn’t have that so they brought in Myrlie Evers-Williams instead. She is a laywoman and when she prayed, she conveniently prayed without mentioning God’s name. She prayed to us and about us instead. (See Al Mohler’s comments here about the Giglio incident). This should cause those of us in the true faith to be alarmed, but we’ve seen so much turning away from the true faith, that it’s a daily occurrence.
I really like Bart Gingerich take on the entire incident. He shows us that Evers-Williams prayer and the belief behind it is the end result of those who invent their own religion. I think he nails the problem of so much of what is wrong in America today. Even those who are inside the “church” want to be inside the church apart from the religion given to us by a Triune God, and just want to have religious experiences apart from true repentance and salvation.
I love this open letter to praise bands by James K.A. Smith (Hattip: Lance). He says what we all feel about the praise band in a way that truly resonates with those of us who are seeking to worship in spirit and truth. I know, the praise band leaders say they are seeking to worship Christ in spirit and truth too, but for some reason, their spirit and truth seems more focused on their emotional experience before a crowd, than actually humbly worshipping our Savior for who He is and what He has done.
Mr. Smith points out part of the problem is that we, the church, have encouraged the leaders of praise bands to bring their worship into the church itself. He writes:
I sometimes worry that we’ve unwittingly encouraged you to import certain forms of performance that are, in effect, “secular liturgies” and not just neutral “methods.” Without us realizing it, the dominant practices of performance train us to relate to music (and musicians) in a certain way: as something for our pleasure, as entertainment, as a largely passive experience. The function and goal of music in these “secular liturgies” is quite different from the function and goal of music in Christian worship.
In other words, we know you have talent, and want you to use that talent, but it’s not truly fitting for true worship of God’s people. He gives three reasons for this:
1. If we, the congregation, can’t hear ourselves, it’s not worship. Christian worship is not a concert. In a concert (a particular “form of performance”), we often expect to be overwhelmed by sound, particularly in certain styles of music. In a concert, we come to expect that weird sort of sensory deprivation that happens from sensory overload, when the pounding of the bass on our chest and the wash of music over the crowd leaves us with the rush of a certain aural vertigo. And there’s nothing wrong with concerts! It’s just that Christian worship is not a concert. Christian worship is a collective, communal, congregational practice–and the gathered sound and harmony of a congregation singing as one is integral to the practice of worship. It is a way of “performing” the reality that, in Christ, we are one body. But that requires that we actually be able to hear ourselves, and hear our sisters and brothers singing alongside us. When the amped sound of the praise band overwhelms congregational voices, we can’t hear ourselves sing–so we lose that communal aspect of the congregation and are encouraged to effectively become “private,” passive worshipers.2. If we, the congregation, can’t sing along, it’s not worship. In other forms of musical performance, musicians and bands will want to improvise and “be creative,” offering new renditions and exhibiting their virtuosity with all sorts of different trills and pauses and improvisations on the received tune. Again, that can be a delightful aspect of a concert, but in Christian worship it just means that we, the congregation, can’t sing along. And so your virtuosity gives rise to our passivity; your creativity simply encourages our silence. And while you may be worshiping with your creativity, the same creativity actually shuts down congregational song.3. If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it’s not worship. I know it’s generally not your fault that we’ve put you at the front of the church. And I know you want to modelworship for us to imitate. But because we’ve encouraged you to basically import forms of performance from the concert venue into the sanctuary, we might not realize that we’ve also unwittingly encouraged a sense that you are the center of attention. And when your performance becomes a display of your virtuosity–even with the best of intentions–it’s difficult to counter the temptation to make the praise band the focus of our attention. When the praise band goes into long riffs that you might intend as “offerings to God,” we the congregation become utterly passive, and because we’ve adopted habits of relating to music from the Grammys and the concert venue, we unwittingly make you the center of attention. I wonder if there might be some intentional reflection on placement (to the side? leading from behind?) and performance that might help us counter these habits we bring with us to worship.
I really like reason number 3. He says what needs to be said. So many who lead praise teams seem to think that the worship is about them and their performance. I know that praise leaders will say that it isn’t. If that is the case, why not move the praise team to the back of the church where no one can see them? That is a quick way to determine just how important the praise team and song leaders think they are.
What I have found in most churches that have praise leaders/teams is that for them, worship is the music itself. It’s not what is prescribed in worship according to Scripture. The means of worship according to Scripture are… and get this, reading God’s word, the declaration of God’s word (known as preaching), prayer and the sacraments. No where are we given praise teams/leaders.
In fact, up until about 200 years ago, the use of instruments in worship was quite limited to those of the Lutheran and Catholic persuasions. Protestants didn’t use instruments for the most part and sang only from the psalter which is the actual worship book of the church, i.e., the Psalms. Now it is hard to even find anyone sing the psalms at all. There are hymns that reference the psalms, but that isn’t singing a psalm.
The other problem with praise-band churches is that they tend to punt the other elements of worship. For instance, preaching God’s word has fallen on hard times and has been substituted for mass-counseling sessions on everything to from better marriages, to better sex in marriage, to better dating before sex and marriages, etc. The messages are attempts to become more “relevant” to the needs of the congregation and shows the complete lack of faith those who preach such sermons have in God’s word.
Preaching God’s word faithfully means preaching the text of God’s word, saying what it says, not saying what it doesn’t say. It means declaring the truth of what God has said regardless of how uncomfortable or unwelcome it may be. Far too many preachers are too busy wanting to be liked, as opposed to doing what God has called them to do. See the Paul Washer video below.
The other element of worship that has fallen on hard times is true biblical prayer. We do get prayer in the praise-band churches, but it’s usually the praise-team leader emoting about “just” wanting to see Jesus and “just” wanting to be in His presence, and “just” wanting to praise Him, and just just just just just just many other things. And by golly, the praise-team leader was so emotional, that it must have been a good prayer. That’s not true prayer.
True prayer is speaking God’s truth back to Him and praising Him (real praise) for who He is. That requires that the one saying the prayer to the One receiving it must know some actual truth about the One being prayed too. In other word, if you are going to lead in prayer, you should probably have a deeper knowledge of who Christ, the Father and the Spirit are, than your typical eighth grader.
And then.. there are the sacraments. I was visiting a mega-church back in July that actually had it’s baptismal in the lobby of the church. They didn’t bother putting it in the sanctuary where they “worshipped,” even though baptism is a center-piece for worship. By baptizing our converts, we are worshipping in the truest sense.
Never mind communion. It’s pointless to even bring up that the early church had communion every Lord’s day. It was central to the worship service. Most mega-churches cannot conceive of the fact that the Lord’s supper is actually an element of the worship service given to us by our Lord. After all, there is no room in the “worship” service for communion. It takes too long and cuts into the “singing/emoting/concert” time.
And we wonder why the broader church is having trouble standing for righteousness’ sake.
Update: Found this parody via Daniel. It’ fits well with the theme of this post…
I have often said that when an Arminian prays, they pray like Calvinist when it comes to the salvation of others. What I mean by this is that Calvinist believe that the Spirit of God must move in a person’s heart before they are saved. The Spirit moves, causing them to be born again, and THEN they have the ability to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. God gets all the glory for our salvation because we are completely dependent upon Him.
Whereas the Arminian goes around spouting the damnable doctrine of free will. They say that we have the freedom to choose God of our own and when we trust in Christ for salvation, it is because we are just infinitely smarter than everyone else. The focus is always on what we “do.”
Yet, when it comes to their prayers, Arminian’s do not pray consistently with their doctrine. Instead of praying that God need not move in the hearts of the unbeliever, since they are wise enough to make the choice on their own, they pray that God would move and change their hearts… O Lawd!!!
Jerry Johnson, with Against the World, demonstrates this by giving us a consistent Arminian prayer in the following video:
I ran across an blog post entitled 22 Signs That The Thin Veneer Of Civilization That We All Take For Granted Is Starting To Disappear.
The article is giving us 22 horrific events to show us that our country is falling a part. If you go there, please be prepared to be depressed. These are snapshots of human depravity at its best.
In fact don’t go to the site. The best thing we can do as believers is pray for our country in such situations. Yes, we can lament that our country has turned it’s back on God, and in turn, He has removed that common grace our country needs just to function. Remember, God’s common grace towards mankind is not something that He owes to us. It is grace. Grace is undeserved favor from God. What we all deserve is the society we are seeing without God in it and much worse. So we cannot complain to God.
But we can petition Him. We are to pray for our country and the one thing we need to pray for is common grace. What is common grace? Common grace is the grace that God shows to mankind so that His children, true Christians, can live in peace (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Common grace is praying for rain so that we can live in society with plenty of food. It is praying for peace, it is praying for judges and rulers to do their jobs justly even though they are not believers. Praying for common grace is praying that those in society would live as if they were influenced by the gospel and God’s law, even though they are not partakers of the gospel.
We need common grace for society to function, therefore we should pray for it and ask God to show our country and the world common grace. But we should also pray for His special grace to fall on mankind as well. What is special grace? Special grace is the grace leads sinners to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ for salvation. That is our ultimate prayer for society. This should be our desire for our world. It is easy to sit back and realize that the lack of common grace on mankind is God’s judgment, and the lack of special grace is judgement of the eternal nature, but our heart’s desire should be that the LORD would pour out His grace, both common and special on mankind. This is what is needed more than anything in our society.
We tend to think we need more laws, or more politicians, or more common sense. But what we need is more common and special grace. Only God can give that and when He does, societies change, because men and women change. They go from those who exalt sin, to those who repent from sin and seek holiness. Instead of living as those in the world, they live as those who are seeking to change the world for His glory.
Yes, we can lament that sinfulness of sin that is bursting forth on society right now by listing ways society is breaking down. Or we can fall on our faces, and plead to the Sovereign God of all Creation, to pour His grace upon mankind.
When I posted on Monday that Texas Governor Rick Perry was calling for special prayer in August, my reporter’s instincts should have kicked in and said, “wait…. the atheists will decry this!” I was so filled with joy that Perry understands and knows the need to appeal to the God of all creation in governing the state, that missed it.
It didn’t take long. In a story from Foxnews.com, the Secular Coalition for America is decrying Perry’s action. According to the story, Sean Faircloth is calling on all governors to ignore Gov. Perry’s call for prayer. The story reported Faircloth as saying:
“The last thing our officials should do in times of national struggle is promote a divisive religious event that proposes no real solutions to our country’s real-world problems.” the executive director of the organization said.
“Calling upon all Americans to embrace Perry’s personal belief system is an insult to the millions of upstanding citizens who practice religions other than evangelical Christianity, as well as the millions of secular Americans who contribute to society without pushing their views on others,” he said. “Religion should be a private matter, especially for elected officials in a secular government.”
What if our religion calls on us to be public about what we believe? What Faircloth is saying is that we must hold to his views of religion, not the views of our religion. What Faircloth wants is for those entering public office to lay aside their beliefs and convictions upon taking office. What Faircloth wants is to shut up anyone who has beliefs other than his. Fortunately the First Amendment guarantees our rights to believe as we feel led and that no one is required to lay aside those rights upon entering public office.
I want to encourage Governor Rick Perry to stand strong for his beliefs and for his right to gather and pray as he feels led. I spoke with Catherine Frazier, Deputy Press Secretary, for the governor’s office in Texas and she said that he is moving forward with his plans for called prayers and has no intentions of giving into the likes of Faircloth.
“The governor believes that it is now more important than ever for people to join together in praying for the challenges that we are facing in our country,” Frazier said. “This is a non-denomination, a-political event that it isn’t using tax dollars that go to supporting it.“
I asked her if they were concerned with any legal challenges by Faircloth and her group and she assured me that they were not worried about that because the event is not publicly funded.
“The governor believes that this is a very important issue and he is excited about what it will accomplish in bringing Americans together in prayer.”
I asked her how we could pray for the Governor and his staff: “Pray for on-going wisdom in his leadership is certainly the primary thing as Scripture calls us to do.”
This tells me that Perry and his staff truly have godly convictions about what they are doing. This is really encouraging to see. Gov. Perry knows that we need help from the God of all creation and he is not letting the naysayers in the realm of unbelief slow down in his convictions. We need more men like Perry who stand strong for their beliefs and are not just CINO’s in order to get elected to office.
I do want you to know that I email Sean Faircloth with the Secular Coalition for America with a few questions, but he has yet to respond. It will be interesting to see if he replies.
I love this. Maria, a Facebook friend, keeps saying that Texas is one of the states taking the lead concerning the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and she is right. But Texas is also taking the lead with something far more substantial: prayer. Governor Rick Perry is calling on all governors to join him at Reliant Stadium in August in order to pray together for our country. That is true leadership. He is turning to God to help our country instead of turning to the government in D.C. Amen and amen. He is truly a governor that gets it.
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) — Saying “there is hope for America, and we will find it on our knees,” Texas Governor Rick Perry has invited other governors to join him in a “solemn gathering of prayer and fasting” in August in Houston, according to the event’s website.
Right now, America is in crisis,” Perry says in a message on the site. “We have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together, and call upon Jesus to guide us…”
Perry’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment on the August event on Sunday.
Eric Bearse, a spokesman for The Response, said on Sunday: “The governor told the American Family Association about a month ago that we need to call Americans together for a time of prayer.”
Bearse said the Mississippi-based American Family Association, a conservative Christian activist group, is paying for the event, and admission will not be charged.
In April, when Texas was in the middle of wildfires that burned nearly 3 million acres of the state, Perry issued an official proclamation calling for three “pray for rain days.”
Last week, he urged a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that prohibited graduating seniors at a Texas high school to pray during their commencement address.
See the full story here.
I really don’t care to go into who gets credit for what, but I will say that I’m glad justice was done. I know some want to see more evidence that Osama is dead. I really don’t think it matters. I don’t want to enter the world of the conspiracy-theory freaks. I don’t have time for it, and quite frankly, neither do you if you are reading this.
It’s good to see justice done.
I did have one friend write and ask if it was OK to be happy that Osama was killed. The best I can do is Proverbs 24:17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.
Think about the reality of Osama’s death. He was a heathen to the end and since this is true, then he is spending all of eternity in hell. We could take a self-righteous attitude if we wanted to go dancing in the streets. But do we deserve any less of a punishment than Osama? Not at all. It’s only by God’s grace that any of us are saved from the eternal judgment that we deserve. It is really sad that Osama was never given the grace that we have experienced. It should sadden us that God never worked on his heart and left him to his sins.
When you think about it, without God moving in our country we would have a lot more people like bin Laden. God does work to restrain evil in society, as well in our hearts. This is one of the prayers we should pray on a regular basis: that God would restrain evil in society and in our hearts. We need the restraint given our fallen human nature. In fact, we need to pray this more often, given the fact that our culture has gone viral in the evil direction. We need to pray that God’s grace and mercy are poured out in society so that there will be less of a need the justice that was served on bin Laden.
Should we be glad justice is done? Yes we should. Should we dance in the streets and shout “USA?” No, we probably should not. Remember, the same flesh that danced in the streets in the Middle East on 9/11, is the exact same flesh that danced in the streets last night. It was delight in an enemy’s fall, which Proverbs has warned us against.
I had to share this as well. It’s the editorial from Investor’s Business Daily, about the obvious fact that bin Laden has been living in Pakistan all these years. IBD suggested it more than a year ago and are proven to be right. Here some wonderful points they make:
Since 2005, as Osama bin Laden built a $1 million fortress in its suburbs, Islamabad insisted our Public Enemy No. 1 was in Afghanistan. Did our “front-line ally” mislead us?
Before we release another dime in military aid to Pakistan, its government must explain — convincingly — how al-Qaida’s leader was able to operate undetected for so long virtually right under the nose of Pakistan’s top military brass in Abbottabad, just 35 miles from Pakistan’s capital.
The villa where bin Laden was killed in a daring midnight helicopter raid by Navy SEALs was a heavily fortified compound just off a main highway in a city full of retired and active military officers. In fact, it was located just 1,000 feet from a military academy described as Pakistan’s version of West Point.
Several odd features and activities associated with the structure should have sounded alarms by our putative war “partners” in Pakistan.
The acre-large compound was surrounded by 15-foot, barbed-wire-topped walls. The three-story structure was eight times the size of other homes in the area. It had closed-circuit cameras but no phone service. Occupants burned trash instead of putting it out, and they spoke Arabic in a city where most speak Urdu. Couriers for years beat a path to and from the safe house.
Yet Pakistani officials expect us to believe it escaped their notice.
Read the rest here.
One of the misconceptions that I had for years is thinking that for someone to come to know Christ in their adulthood there needed to be a crisis for that to happen. I believed this because it is true in my own testimony in coming to know Christ. My little world was coming to an end, and at that moment, the Holy Spirit began to move in my life, showing me my need for Christ. The crisis centered upon my failing journalism career and a failing relationship with a woman I dated in college. God used those events to help me see my need for Christ and I’m grateful.
But God does not always have to wait for a crisis to occur to reach someone for Christ. It is true that it seems as though He moves most often when there is a crisis, but to say that this happens is placing a restriction upon God. Listen to John’s words about the Holy Spirit:
John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
This means that the Holy Spirit moves when and where He pleases. He does not move at our beck and call. Remember, He is God just as much as the Father and Son are. So we do not dictate to Him, but are to humbly beseech Him, just as we do with the Father and the Son.
The point I am trying to make is that for the Spirit to move, it doesn’t take a crisis. He may use a crisis, but He also moves in the lives of those who are not in a crisis as well. I have heard it said that for some, grace floods into our lives like a deluge of water during a rain storm. In others, He moves in like the dew, gently and over time. But to say that one way or the other is not possible is putting limits on the Spirit. We do not get to dictate how He moves. That is not our place. Our place is to ask that He DOES move in a way that brings the Father and Son the most glory. If that movement takes place during a crisis or over time that is His business, not ours. Our hope and prayer is that He moves in our lives and the lives of others as well.
This is what they are saying. Who is “they?” Members of the search committee of the latest church to reject my resume. Well, they are not rejecting my resume, they are rejecting me. I hate rejection. I guess we all do on a certain level, but for some reason it seems to cut me more than others. At least from my pathetic point of view.
This is truly one of those times when I need to Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and he shall give you the desires of your heart.
I do know also that He will change the desires of my heart in the process. I’m ready for that. His will be done, not mine. I’m at that point where it will be nice to punt all my dreams and let my heart be filled with His will and delight. Make is so, O LORD, make it so.
By the way, the above is Psalm 37:3-4. I’m preaching from Psalm 37 this morning. I will post a link to the sermon later this week. If you read this on Sunday, pray for me, specifically that the LORD would bear fruit through me.