NEWSFLASH: Atheist Reads Bible, Remains Atheist!

The Atheists are on the move again, trying to recruit more atheists to validate their position of unbelief out in Orange County, California.

According to the Christian Post, they have taken out ads like the one here, showing other atheists that they are not alone in their unbelief. The real newsflash is that there is nothing new about unbelief. It is only by God’s grace that anyone believes in the Bible and the gospel of Christ. So some atheists claiming that they are right because there are more and more unbelievers every day really proves nothing on their part.

In the ad, young Evan is all happy now that he is out of the closet. I guess atheists feel like they have had to remain in the closet because of their unbelief, but the only people who put them there is themselves. The true Christian knows and understands that there are a lot of atheists, even in our churches. We get it. As I already said, it takes God’s grace in the life of a person for them to believe in Christ and be saved. Just because young Evan read the Bible and didn’t believe proves nothing at all. It is like the guy who went to church once, so he thinks he is a Christian, or he went and because he read the Bible, now has all understanding and wisdom he needs to make a wise decision.

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Imagine John Lennon a Christian

Stunning. There is a report on Foxnews that John Lennon was a Christian later in life, and even supported Ronald Reagan for President. He watched televangelist like Pat Robertson and even spoke with Christian missionaries on vacation.

This certainly is shocking news. Given his earlier life, and hatred of Christianity, it would be a wonderful shock to find ourselves in glory with him someday. According to the reports, that may be a reality:

First, thanks to rock biographer Steve Turner in his book “The Gospel According To The Beatles,” we learned several years back that Lennon was a fan of TV preachers like Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts and Billy Graham.

Acording to Turner, none of this sat well with Ono who vigorously opposed Lennon’s interest in Christianity:

“Over the following months he baffled those close to him by constantly praising “the Lord,” writing Christian songs with titles like “Talking with Jesus” and “Amen” (the Lord’s Prayer set to music), and trying to convert nonbelievers. He also called the prayer line of “The 700 Club,” Pat Robertson’s program.

The change in his life perturbed Yoko, who tried to talk him out of it. She reminded him of what he’d said about his vulnerability to strong religious leaders because of his emotionally deprived background. She knew that if the press found out about it they would have a field day with another John and Jesus story.

John became antagonistic toward her, blaming her for practicing the dark arts and telling her that she couldn’t see the truth because her eyes had been blinded by Satan.

Those close to the couple sensed that the real reason she was concerned was that it threatened her control over John’s life. If he became a follower of Jesus he would no longer depend on her and the occultists. During long, passionate arguments she attacked the key points of his fledgling faith.

They met with a couple of Norwegian missionaries whom Yoko questioned fiercely about the divinity of Christ, knowing that this was the teaching that John had always found the most difficult to accept. Their answers didn’t satisfy her, and John began to waver in his commitment.”

The article goes on to talk about how he had changed politically as well as his beliefs on the origin of man. When asked about evolution, he thoroughly debunked his belief in the notion:

“I don’t believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men. Why aren’t monkeys changing into men now?,” Lennon asked. “It’s absolute garbage. It’s absolutely irrational garbage, as mad as the ones who believe the world was made only four thousand years ago, the fundamentalists…. I don’t buy it. I’ve got no basis for it and no theory to offer, I just don’t buy it. Something other than that. Something simpler. I don’t buy anything other than “It always was and ever shall be.”

You can read the rest here. Funny how the Lord works. Imagine, John Lennon trusting in Christ. Instead of being in the depths of hell, he would be in the lap of Christ.

Sunday School Has and Is Failing Us

For the second time in as many weeks, I have come across the reality that our Sunday schools are failing our children and our families. The first instance was in a presentation by Ken Ham entitled Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It, put out by Worldview Weekend. In it, Ham tells of the studies done that show by the time our children have made it to college, they are already gone. Ham writes:

Indeed, as our survey revealed, there is a “Sunday school syndrome” contributing to the epidemic of young people leaving the church. Our survey numbers are statistically significant (and are absolutely contrary to what we would have expected). This is a brutal wake-up call for the church, showing how our programs of Christian education are failing dismally.

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Global Warming Update

It has been a long time since I’ve done a global warming update. I think that is because it’s slowly becoming realized that these global-warming alarmist are nothing more than… anti-capitalist disguised as environmentalist. (Was that a redundancy?) My point has always been that God, the omniscient God of the universe, had designed the planet to handle all the carbon dioxide emissions man can produce. He knew that we would have SUV’s some day and designed the planet to handle it. The latest study from NASA is proving that the earth is doing just that concerning the warming of the planet:

NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing. The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.

Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.

“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release. “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”

In addition to finding that far less heat is being trapped than alarmist computer models have predicted, the NASA satellite data show the atmosphere begins shedding heat into space long before United Nations computer models predicted.

The new findings are extremely important and should dramatically alter the global warming debate.

Scientists on all sides of the global warming debate are in general agreement about how much heat is being directly trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide (the answer is “not much”). However, the single most important issue in the global warming debate is whether carbon dioxide emissions will indirectly trap far more heat by causing large increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds. Alarmist computer models assume human carbon dioxide emissions indirectly cause substantial increases in atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds (each of which are very effective at trapping heat), but real-world data have long shown that carbon dioxide emissions are not causing as much atmospheric humidity and cirrus clouds as the alarmist computer models have predicted.

The point being that the more we know about the planet, the more we see God’s wonderful design. Not that we should abuse the planet. I never argue for that. We are to be good stewards of all that God has given us. I just don’t buy into the argument that we can destroy the planet. That is God’s job, and it’s called judgment day. Until then, the planet will keep on rolling through space just as God designed it to do.

John Stott Home With the Lord

John Stott, an evangelical leader for many years, went home to the be with the Lord yesterday.

Stott, who died at 90, retired from public ministry in 2007 when he was 86 years old. He spent his retirement in the College of St. Barnabas, Lingfield, which is a residence for retired Anglican clergy.

The English Anglican leader is revered for his ministry life. The world famous evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, described him as “the most respected clergyman in the world today.”

Stott, who founded the Langham Partnership International, was confirmed into the Anglican Church in 1936 and has since enjoyed working in a wide range of activities and organizations.

He held the position as chair of the Church of England Evangelical Council from 1967 to 1984, and has also been the president of two hugely influential Christian organizations, the U.K. branches of Scripture Union from 1965 to 1974, and the Evangelical Alliance from 1973 to 1974.

Stott is best known for his book, The Cross of Christ, which was the center of the message of salvation.

John Stott impacted the church around the world in many ways. Perhaps his greatest contribution was to articulate clearly and to defend robustly the evangelical faith which he always understood to be biblical faith, grounded in the New Testament. Evangelicalism was to Stott an expression of historic, orthodox Christianity.

The Cross of Christ was central to the message. Stott preached the Cross as the sole means by which men and women could be made right with God.

The resurrection of Christ was the great hope of his life, as it is for all mankind, and the hope for life beyond death. This is the great reality he is now experiencing as the reward and vindication for all he preached and for which he lived during the many years of his ministry in London and around the world.

Grace Flows Downward

Philip Yancey writes, “Grace, like water, always flows downward, to the lowest place.” What a wonderful quote, and a wonderful reminder of the need to humble ourselves before our LORD. Why? Because we are so in need of God’s grace.

Anyone who has walked with the LORD for any amount of time recognizes this truth. We need grace just as much today as we did the first time we tasted it because we are no less the sinners today than we were then. The manifestations of sin, hopefully, have declined as we have grown in grace. But the wicked hearts, let alone and without His Spirit, would become just as ugly as before if His grace doesn’t prevent us.

Yancey wrote the above quote for Jonathan Aitken’s book, John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace. I finally got a chance to start reading it and it has been a blessing so far. After all, it took Newton seven years to finally find a church that would take him. Bishops and Arch-bishops kept standing in the way of his ordination and prevented him from finding a church because they thought he was too sympathetic to the Methodists (not your father’s Methodist). I take it that many in Methodists circles were just born again and that scared a lot of the bishops and arch-bishops. But that is my humble opinion.

The point being that Newton tasted the sweetest of grace because he found himself in the lowest of places. This is true for all believers. There are times when we find ourselves completely humbled by life, and we must accept those times as being from the Lord. We need His grace just as much today as we did when we first believed, and there is plenty to drink from the lower we go.

The Apostle Peter had a grip on this as well. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Thank goodness. His care is the most loving and most comforting for we know that our Father cares deeply for us, that He will do what is best for us. That may not mean we are given what we want, or expect. But whatever it is, it is best for us because He is working in and through us to make us more like His Son.

As life gets you down and disappoints come, humble yourself and drink deeply from the well of grace. Drink deeply from His hand. Drink deeply from His word. That is the only place we will find true comfort, drinking from the well of Christ’s rich love towards us.

As John Newton knew, and Yancey writes about, God’s grace truly is amazing.

Speaking of Islam: Refuting Chrislam

David Dollins has a good piece at the Christian Post on Chrislam, an attempt by daft Christians who are trying to find common ground with Islam. There is no common ground with Islam. Christianity is the one true religion because it is the only one in which God saves man. All other religions are man’s attempts to save themselves. To try and find some common ground is pointless because you are affirming the beliefs of those in false religions. The loving response to all religions besides true Christianity is to reject them outright and show those in other religions why they need Christ as their savior.

For example, in my previous post on Islam’s accepted practice of child abuse, we can see that even Mohammed, the founder of Islam, is in need of a savior for his sins. His propensity for child abuse shows him to be a sinner, therefore he needs someone to atone for that sin. The only name by which anyone can be saved is Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). No matter how sincere Muslims may be in their faith, whether they are being true to their religion by marrying little girls, or flying planes into the side of buildings, they do not earn any level of righteousness with God. Remember God’s word: all fall short of the glory of God, and there is no one righteous, no not one (see Romans 3). The point being that the leaders of all other religions are in need of redemption by the atoning sacrifice of Christ just as much as the rest of us. Even if they do live perfect lives according to their own religion, they fall dreadfully short of God’s glory and will spend eternity in hell.

This is what they need to be told, not that they have some common ground with Christianity. They do not.

Here are four points that Dollins shows is the spirit of anti-christ, which is abundant in our society today, and thoroughly saturating Islam:

‘Chrislam’ – A Spirit of Antichrist

What I am about to show you are the characteristics that the Apostle John himself used to describe the Spirit of Antichrist:

1) The Spirit of Antichrist denies that Jesus is the Christ. In 1 John 2:22, it says, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist…” The word ‘Christ’ in the original Greek means ‘Anointed One’. In other words, it is a declaration of Jesus as Messiah. Islam rejects that Jesus is the one and only true Messiah. They believe He was a prophet and maybe a type of Messiah, but not the Anointed One. If that’s not enough, John goes further by calling them liars.

2) The Spirit of Antichrist denies that Jesus is the Son of God. In 1 John 2:22, the Apostle continues, “He is Antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son”. Islam rejects that Jesus affirmed He was the Son of God. Furthermore, one well-known Bible teacher said that Muslims believe that the Mahdi is the future leader and that Jesus will return and follow the Mahdi to Jerusalem where He (Jesus) will deny He is the Son of God. Again, in this same verse, John said those who reject His Sonship were liars.

3) The Spirit of Antichrist does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. In 1 John 4:3, again the Apostle states, “And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that Spirit of Antichrist…” Did you catch that? Any spirit that rejects God as coming in the flesh is ‘not of God’. If it didn’t come from God, then it is a doctrine of devils according to the Apostle Paul himself, as stated earlier. Islam rejects that God came into this world in the flesh. This also tells us that the Christian God, who is Jesus Christ, is not the same as the Muslim god, Allah. It also proves that Allah is a false god.

Finally, the following are some of the last words the Apostle Peter would write before, according to tradition, he was crucified upside-down. “But there were false Prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord Who bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). For these Church leaders, who are blind watchmen, to bring Islam and the reading of the Quran into the Church is to deny the Lord himself, it is to deny who He is, and it is to deny what He accomplished at Calvary’s Cross 2,000 years ago, when He gave His life for the sins of the world! Just as bad, it is an open acceptance of the Spirit of Antichrist, which John said will bring swift destruction and ultimately, yet sadly, the damning of the soul.

He points out that what we need to do as Christians is proclaim the truth, not try and find common ground. There is no common ground between light and darkness. Therefore as those called by Christ, let us proclaim His name to the world.

The Religion of Peace OKs Marrying and Raping Children

Yes, the religion of peace, otherwise known as Islam, has said that it is OK to marry young girls and have sex with them even before they reach puberty. According to Raymond Ibrahim, a fatwa has been issued by one of the religions top clerics. His defense is the fact that the main prophet, Mohammed, married a girl when she was 7 and had sex with her when she was 9. This shows us that the origins of the religion were based in wretched sin, and it continues today. Ibrahim writes:

Muslim “child-marriage”—euphemism for pedophilia—is making headlines again, at least in Arabic media: Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, just issued a fatwa asserting that there is no minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married “even if they are in the cradle.”

Appearing in Saudi papers on July 13, the fatwa complains that “Uninformed interference with Sharia rulings by the press and journalists is on the increase, posing dire consequences to society, including their interference with the question of marriage to small girls who have not reached maturity, and their demand that a minimum age be set for girls to marry.”

Fawzan insists that nowhere does Sharia set an age limit for marrying girls: like countless Muslim scholars before him, he relies on Koran 65:4, which discusses marriage to females who have not yet begun menstruating (i.e., are prepubescent)  and the fact that Muhammad, Islam’s role model, married Aisha when she was 6-years-old, “consummating” the marriage—or, in modern parlance, raping her—when she was 9.

The point of the Saudi fatwa, however, is not that girls as young as 9 can have sex, based on Muhammad’s example, but rather that there is no age limit whatsoever; the only question open to consideration is whether the girl is physically capable of handling her husband/rapist.

I’m trying to figure out how anyone could defend this religion as moral on any account. They not only want to kill those who disagree, but they rape their own daughters. Wretched.

One of the marks of a false religion is how they view sex. If it is anything other than a man and woman who are lawfully married then it is outside of God’s lawfully ordained prescription for sex. This includes cults who have more than one bride or teach that sex in all situations is a sin and should be avoided (i.e., see the Shakers… which are almost extinct now because of this practice). God has blessed us with the gift of sex, but it is only a blessing when it is confined to marriage, which God also defines as between a man and a woman. Not a man/man, woman/woman, man/little girl, man and a dog, etc. Anything else comes from the base and perverted mind and is outside of God’s declared will.

Those who adhere to Islamic principles will say that Allah has said that it is OK to marry little girls. I agree that this may be true. However I do not agree that Allah and the Triune God are one and the same. God would not and cannot contradict Himself, and has made His will known to us through the 66 books of the Bible and in the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. Islam rejects Christ. They claim He is a prophet, but anything less than full submission to Christ is a rejection of Christ. To reject the Son is to reject the Father, this is why I say they worship a different god all together. The god of Islam and the Mormons are probably closer in origin than they are with the living and true God.

The point is that Muslims are so far out of God’s will that we are seeing the fruit of their wickedness: a declaration that it is OK to marry and rape little girls. Sick.

I hope and pray that those of us in Christian circles will quit trying to understand them, and preach the gospel to these people. They need Christ as much as anyone.

The Cross of Doctrine and Practice

Another J.C. Ryle quote, this time nabbed from the J.C. Ryle Quotes blog:

Salvation is undoubtedly all of grace. It is offered freely in the Gospel to the chief of sinners, without money and without price. “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God–not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8, 9) But all who accept this great salvation, must prove the reality of their faith by carrying the cross after Christ. They must not think to enter heaven without trouble, pain, suffering, and conflict on earth. They must be content to take up the cross of DOCTRINE – holding a faith which the world despises, and the cross of PRACTICE – the cross of living a life which the world ridicules as too strict, and righteous over much.

They must be willing to crucify the flesh, to mortify the deeds of the body, to fight daily with the devil, to come out from the world and to lose their lives, if needful, for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s. These are hard sayings, but they admit of no evasion. The words of our Lord are plain and unmistakable. If we will not carry the cross, we shall never wear the crown.

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Mark, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1985], 169. {Mark 8:34-38}

How true Bishop Ryle’s words truly are. It has been said that many Christians want the glory of the cross without the suffering of the cross. This is true in my life as well. But how many would truly be willing to take on the doctrine’s of the Bible as well? How many are willing to say ‘no’ to the practices of the world and endure the suffering and ridicule from the world?

Not enough, and not me. Given over to the flesh, I would readily jettison the walk of faith for the walk with the world if I were left to myself. Fortunately, I am not left to myself. This is one of the reasons that God, in His infinite wisdom, gave us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works in us to remind us of who it is that we belong to if we endeavor to pursue the things of the world, flesh and devil. Thinking that we will find happiness there, we will not. Those things are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit is opposed to those things.

Given that, should we not submit to His leadership, rule and guidance in our lives? Since God has given us such a great gift of salvation, should we not pursue the things of God?

The obvious answer is ‘yes.’ That being the case, let us endeavor to follow the cross of both doctrine and practice all the more. Let the world hate us as Christ said it would. It hated Him too. But I would much rather be one of His children enduring the trials of this life, than to be a child of wrath undergoing the trials of the afterlife. Let us take up our cross and follow Christ in both doctrine and practice.

Col. Allen West on Understanding Islam’s Intent of Destroying Us

The reason so many of us like Col. Allen West is because he is so willing to speak the truth concerning our enemies, specifically Islam. In this video he gives historical evidence as to why Islam continues to be a religion of violence. It is not because extremists have taken over the religion, it is because the religion itself is about destroying its enemies. The reason they attack us is because this is part of their belief system. Those who claim Islam is a religion of peace are either fooled or are liars. It is not about peace, but of destruction.

Please do not buy into the lie that Islam is a religion of peace. It is not nor has it ever been.

West mentions the Battle of Tours in his rebuttal against Islam. It truly was an important battle because it stopped the Islamic horde from advancing into  Europe. While I give Wikipedia any real authority, they did have this to say about that particular battle:

Later Christian chroniclers and pre-20th century historians praised Charles Martel as the champion of Christianity, characterizing the battle as the decisive turning point in the struggle against Islam, a struggle which preserved Christianity as the religion of Europe; according to modern military historian Victor Davis Hanson, “most of the 18th and 19th century historians, like Gibbon, saw Poitiers (Tours), as a landmark battle that marked the high tide of the Muslim advance into Europe.”[10]Leopold von Ranke felt that “Poitiers was the turning point of one of the most important epochs in the history of the world.”

The point is that Islam was advancing as they always do, through the use of the sword and Christians had to stand up against them in order to stop that advancement. It is also very important for Christians to know of this battle because Muslim are always quick to accuse Christianity as the violent religion due to the ill-advised Crusades. But notice the date of this battle: 732. The first Crusade was in 1092. That is a good 360 years after the Battle of Tours. Muslims are banking on our ignorance in referring to the Crusades, trying to imply that we were the first to draw the sword against them. Never mind their continued attacks from the moment of Islamic inception, the Battle of Tours in 732, which stopped those attacks, and the fact that the first Crusade was called for because of Islamic attack on the Christians in the area modern-day Turkey.

As Christians, it helps us to not only to be students of the word of God, but of history as well. It shows us that God was working in history and continues to work for His glory today.

Allen West on Co-exist Bumper Sticker

As you know from my previous post on this, I can’t stand the bumper sticker “coexist.” It’s mindless liberalism. Allen West cannot stand it either. Listen to his reasoning:

Allen West on Obama’s Lack of Leadership

And one more… to give you a great taste for Allen West. I love his straight forward and truthful responses to the issues that concern us.

“Woe to you when men speak well of you!” Luke 6:26

J.C. Ryle writes concerning the verse above:

“Let that expression be carefully noted. Few of our Lord’s sayings are more flatly contradictory to the common opinion, both of the Church and the world, than this. What is more common in the world than the love of every one’s praise? What more frequent in the Church than to hear it said, in commendation of a minister, that ‘everybody likes him!’ It seems entirely forgotten, that to be liked and approved by every body, is to be of the number of those to whom Jesus says, ‘Woe unto you.’ To be universally popular is a most unsatisfactory symptom, and one of which a minister of Christ should always be afraid. It may well make him doubt whether he is faithfully doing his duty, and honestly declaring all the counsel of God.”

In other words, if a man is popular among all, is he really preaching the word of God as he should be? Think Joel Osteen.

The above verse is from Ryle’s commentary Expository Thoughts on Luke, Vol. 1, p. 182.

Why I Write: Casting Down Arguments

In the past year or so, I have been really challenged as to why I write on the topics that I do. The challenge by some has been: since you are a pastor, then you should only write about the gospel and the things of God. I lost a friend on Facebook because of this very argument. He was saying that since I write about politics, science, culture, sports and a host of other topics, that I am damaging the gospel of Christ. Part of his charge is that since I’m not an expert in all these areas, I should remain silent on them and let the experts talk to us about them. His big argument was for man-made global warming. My argument against this was rooted right where his argument should have been: in the authoritative word of God.

My friend thought that since the experts have declared man-made global warming to be true, then anything that I wrote on the topic was just my own opinion. Never mind that God’s word has said that “while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter an summer, and day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). No matter what the experts may tell us, God has declared to us that there is no eternal summer or eternal winter before us. As Christians we must hold to God’s authoritative word even when it contradicts popular culture or science.

Far too many Christians are like my friend, thinking that our faith and views of the world should never mix. This is a major problem in the church. We want to think that we can separate our beliefs when it comes to salvation from those that we have about the world. I believe the terminology is to “compartmentalize” our faith.

However Scripture doesn’t allow for this. The Apostle Paul, writing for Christ, tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. Every high thought that stand’s opposed to God’s word is to be cast down by those of us who are Christians, even when those high thoughts are put forth by scientist.

This is one of the reasons why I write as a pastor. As Christians our faith is to encompass every avenue of life, not just our faith or what we do on Sunday morning. We are to look at what the world is saying and compare that to Scripture. Where is agrees with Scripture, we can agree. But where it disagrees, we must say so. Even though we may not be scientists or experts in other areas of life, if the word of God declares something to be so, then we can trust it to be so.

I imagine that my friend, and many like him, have actually given over their beliefs of Genesis 1-11 to the secular experts. Many of the battles we are facing in culture are because the foundations of Scripture have been ripped away from the church. The moment that those in the church started giving into scientists on the age of the earth, the other doctrines found in those 11 chapters began to fall as well. This is because the church doesn’t really believe in the authority of Scripture as much as we do the authority of the scientist. Instead of casting down every argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, we have tried to find ways in which we can compromise our beliefs in order to be acceptable to the scientist and the world. The moment we do this is the moment that we compromise the authority of Scripture. If we are punting on the foundations of Scripture, then every other area of life will eventually fall as well. This is one reason the church is so weak in arguments against such as gay-marriage. If the Bible is not true concerning the days of creation, then how can it be true concerning God’s plan for marriage (even though Christ affirmed this plan in Matthew 19, and indirectly affirmed the rest of Genesis as well).

My friend would never concede on these issues. He felt is was necessary for the church to be silent on all things except faith. In other words, punt what Scripture says about creation and just believe in Jesus. He was failing to understand what I have just pointed out. We cannot punt on one area of Scripture and trust in another. It all stands or falls together. This is why secularist have been so busy attacking it just as Satan did in the garden (another area that we shouldn’t believe according to some, after all, we are saying we believe that there were ‘talking snakes.’) They are saying “Did God really say…” We must answer this in the affirmative. God really did say and because His word is living and breathing, He is still saying it today through the 66 books of the Bible.

We must press forward declaring these truths even though the world declares us to be foolish. What is foolish to the world is the wisdom of God and this is why I write. Not only does the Bible address what we believe about creation, but also politics, work, money, sexuality, marriage and all areas of life. I write so that those who know the Lord and are known by Him will remember these truths and come back to the One who knows best of all. The arguments for science and the world continue and so should the pastors of Christ, both in and out of the pulpits. This may not be politically correct. But then God’s word never endorses such a man-made philosophy. Politically correctness must also be judged according to Scripture.

One final note. I will admit that my writing has cost me more than friendship. One search committee for a church in Kansas rejected me based on my writings. They said I was “too political.” OK, I accept that. I take comfort in knowing that such churches would have also rejected pastors during the Reformation, who spoke out against kings and popes. They would have also been opposed to pastors who spoke out during the Revolution of our country, and even those who spoke out against the slavery of fellow men, both in our country and in the United Kingdom. If they are not willing for a pastor to be political, then can they truly allow one to speak against the heinous sins of our day, such as gay marriage, abortion, adultery, etc. I pity the man they do hire, and the congregation he is leading, for he is already being censored. As pastors, we must not be censored by our congregations or petty laws like the 501 3c tax code. Our job is to speak the truth, write the truth, declare the truth to all who will listen.

That is why I write with the view to cast down every argument that stands opposed to the knowledge of God and His word.

Cremation or Burial: A biblical perspective

(Originally published June 30, 2006– and published in the church’s newsletter after this topic came up in discussions in Sunday school.)

Cremation vs. Burial: A Biblical Perspective

I have to admit that this is a controversial topic, but I don’t think it should be. In fact, it has been a blessing for me to speak to a number of you on this point. I love the fact that you are interested in the subject and have challenged me with some thoughts on the topic. As we look at this topic of cremation, realize that my love for you will not change if we disagree. If you hold to the cremation of your body after your death, I still love you as a brother or sister in the Lord. How your body is disposed of after death is between you and the Lord. My affections for you will not change. This came to light when one of my elders asked me the simple question: “If someone from our congregation is cremated, will you officiate the memorial?” That told me more about myself than I realized. Even though I have strong convictions about this, my convictions towards the congregation are stronger.

The answer was “Yes, I would.”

As a pastor, I feel it is my job to teach you what the Bible has to say about these things. While cremation is not a black and white issue, (in other words, there is no command: thou shalt not use cremation) I do believe the Bible does hold enough evidence to give us a clear picture on what we should do with our bodies after death.

Therefore, I would like to present to you some of the evidence for Christian burial as opposed to Christian cremation. If you do not agree with me at the end of this article, that is fine. All I ask is that you read the article, pray about it, and see where the Lord leads you.

Misconceptions

In my comments about the Apostles’ Creed in worship on June 18th, I mentioned that we believe in the burial of the body because of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body. I said that cremation is not a Christian concept and Christians should not resort to this method of burial. Afterwards, it came to my attention that there was some confusion over the issue. Allow me to clarify some of my statements. First, I am not saying that by using cremation that we are not Christians. Our Christianity is based upon belief in Christ for salvation, not how we bury our bodies. Yet, how we bury our bodies does make a statement about what we truly believe. More on that in a moment.

The second misconception about cremation concerns those that are killed in events like 9/11. What about their bodies? Does that mean that they are not Christians because their bodies were incinerated? Of course, the answer is no. Those who die in war or events like 9/11 are not cremated. They may have had their bodies incinerated, but this is not cremation, even though the end result is the same. Those who die this way, have no say over their funeral. They did not set out to be incinerated, or leave it in their last will and testament for such.

Finally, another misconception is the belief that God cannot handle their ashes at the Second Coming. I’m not saying that either. God can do anything as far as His character will allow Him. The reconstitution of our bodies is nothing for Him, whether our bodies become dust through natural decomposition or they are ashes through incineration. If God can take dust and turn it into a man, as He did with Adam, He can take the dust of our bodies and do the same.

Biblical Example

We believe that the Bible is the only rule and authority for faith and practice. There is no authority outside of Scripture. So, when it comes to beliefs and practices that are not expressly stated, we must come to the Scripture for example to help us know how we should live. For example, there is no specific passage that says we should use wine over grape juice, but the text seems to indicate the use of wine. This is why we practice using wine in communion.

The same is true for burial. There is no one passage that states we should bury our dead, but the evidence seems to indicate that this is the biblical practice both in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament.

In Genesis 23, Abraham negotiates with the Hittites for a cave in which to bury Sarah and the rest of his dead. In Genesis 47, Israel gives specific instructions to his sons not to be buried in Egypt, but to have his body buried in the land of Canaan. Joseph also gave instructions that when the descendants of Israel came out of Egypt, they were to bury him in the land of Canaan as well. The people carry these instructions out and he is buried in Canaan (Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32).

We also see Joshua buried on his own land (Joshua 24:29ff, Judges 2:9), Gideon buried in the tomb of Joash, his father (Judges 8:29ff), and others in Judges, Ruth, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, in which David was buried (1 Kings 2:10ff), and host of other examples.

Clearly burial is the practice of Old Testament saints. If cremation is acceptable, it seems that they would have used this practice, especially in these cases, for it would have been much easier on them. But they did not use cremation.

There is cremation in two instances in the Old Testament. However, these instances seem to be the exception, and not the rule. The first instance of cremation is that of King Saul by the people of Jabesh Gilead (1 Samuel 31:11ff). Even then, King David has the bones of Saul buried with the bones of his father. While fire was used on Saul, burial was as well. Apparently the bones were left behind, of which, David instructed that they were to be buried with Saul’s fathers. There is a second account again in 2 Chronicles 16:14 with the cremation of Asa.

But for both cases, we don’t want to look to Saul or Asa for our example. Neither man was something we are to follow or emulate. Saul was in constant rebellion against the Lord and eventually had his kingship removed from him for disobedience. As for Asa, he took articles from the Temple showing disrespect and made a pack with Syria, showing a lack of trust in the Lord. Both of his actions brought about strong rebuke from the Lord, who would plague him with many wars. He eventually died from diseases in his feet because he did not seek the help of the Lord, but the help of physicians. Therefore, we do not want to follow in either one of these men’s footsteps in life or death.

The New Testament shows that burial was the normative practice among those who believed is Jesus as their Savior. Jesus stops the funeral procession in Luke 7:11ff and raised the widow’s son from the dead. The point of the miracle is to show Christ’s power over even death. Yet the people were not taking the man’s body to a funeral pyre, but to a tomb, as was the practice.

We also see that Lazarus, friend of Jesus and believer, was buried in a tomb in John 11. Jesus waited until the tomb was sealed to arrive in order to raise Lazarus from the dead four days after he died. He then performs one of His greatest miracles and Lazarus comes forth out of the tomb. Had they performed cremation, would this miracle have taken place? Jesus would have had to reconstitute ashes, which would have been perfectly in His capabilities. The point that I’m trying to make is that they buried the sickly body of Lazarus. They did not cremate him.

There are two reasons why this miracle was important.One is that many want to be cremated because of the disfiguring and gruesome illnesses that they have. Yet, here is a case where Lazarus was ill and they buried him. The other way this miracle is important is that Jesus points to His future Resurrection from the grave and to our spiritual and bodily resurrection as well.

Jesus Himself died and was buried three days as well. Jesus’ body was placed in a tomb, it was not cremated. If we are to identify with Christ in other aspects of our life, then let us follow this example in our death as well. Why? Because of what we are saying to those left behind. We place our bodies in the grave because we are looking forward to the future hope of the resurrection of the body, of THIS body. The entire doctrine of the resurrection is one which shows us that Christ died on the cross, not just to redeem us spiritually, but to redeem the entirety of our being. We are not two entities, body and soul, but one entity consisting of body and soul. These two entities are not meant to be separated. They will be at our deaths, and this is why death is sad, but at the resurrection, our bodies and souls will be reunited and glorified.

By burying our bodies, we are telling those around us that this resurrection is real. It is something we look forward to. It will happen. Cremation does not convey this truth. It merely eliminates the body for us, and allows us to enter into the pagan tradition of dumping our ashes in a lake or on the beach, or in our flower garden out back, or shaken together with our spouse’s ashes.

Yet, our entire lives and death are to point to Christ and who we are in Christ. It is a point of identification. The reason that Christ was baptized was so that He could identify with us in our baptism. He didn’t need it at all. It is also a point of identification for us. We identify with Christ when we are baptized. The same is true for our funerals. I am not saying our funerals are a sacrament. Baptism is merely and example of our identification with Him. So too is our burial a means of identifying with Jesus. He was laid in the grave and resurrected, and we are to be as well.

Fire Often Means Judgment

Now, lets examine the practice of cremation. While burial was the Biblical example, let’s look at what burning the body after death also conveys, for there is meaning in everything we do.

Cremation is the burning of the body after death. It is the use of fire on the body. This is done by the Hindus in order to return the body to ashes, so that those ashes can be spread among creation, symbolizing the person’s return to creation and oneness with creation. Our oneness is not to be found in creation, but in the Creator. He is the One whom we worship. To worship anything else, even the creation, is idolatry.

However, the symbolism of fire also has another meaning in the light of Scripture. It is the meaning of judgment upon a person.

In Genesis 19 we see God’s displeasure with Sodom and Gomorrah when He rained brimstone and fire on both cities for their immorality. After it was said and done, there was nothing left of the town or the people. This was a real event in history, but also the same imagery we have of those in the after life who are wicked. God will punish them with fire that is never quenched and the worm never dies (Isaiah 66:24). Clearly fire is used to show God’s displeasure. There is also nothing left of these individuals to be mourned. They’re names are removed from memory by the fire, blotted out.

In Leviticus 11:1-3 both Nadad and Abihu are consumed by fire for their unauthorized worship of God. There was no burial for the two, because they were consumed, or devoured by God’s wrath. Aaron, the two men’s father, was even prevented from morning their death.Again, God is showing His displeasure with the two by the use of fire.

In Leviticus 20:14, God instructs the people for a man not to marry a woman and her mother. If they do, all of them are to be burned with fire, because what they have done is wickedness. Again, God’s displeasure is shown by the punishment that is to be given to the wicked. They are burned to death.

In Leviticus 21:9, the daughter of a priest who plays the harlot is also to be put to death using fire. Again, this shows God’s displeasure with the wicked.

In Joshua 7 we have the story of Achan’s unbelief in taking accursed things. This brought God’s fierce wrath against the nation because it showed unbelief among the people. When it was discovered that Achan had sinned against God, the people of Israel stoned Achan and his family and then burned them with fire after they had stoned them. God’s wrath turned from Israel. Again, the Israelites did not bury the bodies of Achan and his family. They burned the bodies. This too showed the displeasure of God upon Achan’s family. The memorial that was left there is a memorial of shame, not a memorial of a faithful saint that lived out his life and went to be with his fathers. The name of Achan is a name of reproach and the burning of his body symbolizes the future hope of his wickedness.

In 2 Kings 1 we see judgment come down on the military guard that confronts Elijah the Tishbite, not once but twice. Both times, the men came to get Elijah, and Elijah called fire down upon their heads. Again, this is not seen as a blessing, but a curse. There is no burial for these men because their bodies are consumed by fire.

The bulk of Biblical evidence leads us to believe that the burning of the body does not represent something good. It signifies the wrath of God upon unbelief, wickedness and rebellion against God. Therefore, why would we want to adopt a symbol that represents God’s wrath, as opposed to His grace?

By having our bodies placed in the tomb, sepulcher or grave, we are giving testimony one last time to the grace that we have been given and look forward to. This is why 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 is read at the graveside service. But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

It is the future hope and shows that the grave is only temporary, not permanent. Since this is true, let us return to the biblical practice of burial, by living and dying for Christ.

If you read this article and still have questions about death, cremation, or burial, please feel free to call me or come by and talk with me. I will be glad to discuss these, or any issues with you. Let this not be a topic which divides us, but unites us in our common belief in Christ our Savior.

UPDATE: For further reading, may I recommend Nick Batzig’s article, A Biblical Theology of Burial.

UPDATE: Also Richard D. Phillips article What Should Christians Think About Cremation is helpful.

The Downslide of Christianity

(Note from Timothy: Originally published June 16, 2006)
In a poll taken by Scrips Howard/ University of Ohio, only 36 percent of Americans believe in a bodily resurrection to come. (See the story here). This stands at odds with the basic tenants of Christianity. If we do not believe in the resurrection, both of Christ and ourselves, then we can hardly call ourselves Christians.

The reason this is a problem is that it reflects what is being taught, or not being taught from our pulpits. If the pastors in our pulpits are not teaching this spiritual reality, then the people will not believe in it. This is a sad truth. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Since this truth is not believed, then we can safely assume that it is not preached and those in the pulpits do not believe it. The resurrection is only believed when it is preached.

This is a symptom of a greater problem, that of not preaching the word of God. Men have been so busy trying to build little kingdoms for themselves, a.k.a. mega churches, that they have punted spiritual truth for psychological truth… Preachers are no longer the men who proclaim the truth of God, but the truth of what our culture wants to hear. They have given themselves over to our felt needs and this has resulted in a loss of truth.

How completely sad. We have more resources in the world for knowing and proclaiming the truth, yet men decide that they would rather tickle our ears… thereby missing the most precious of messages… namely the gospel.

I also know that many say they do preach the gospel. But what they really do is give them a gospel presentation… i.e. the four spiritual laws. That is not the gospel. Christ is the gospel and the gospel can be found on every page of the Bible. It all points to Him. Yet because men don’t truly believe the word of God is infallible and sufficient for every aspect of life, they give them quick little tidbits of the Bible, along with pleasing stories to make us feel good, never preaching what is found in those blessed pages.

Paul writes to Timothy, in what are known as the pastoral epistles, to preach the word. Nothing else, but the word, which points back to Christ. Some might claim that they are preaching relevant messages when they use psycho babble, but that is not relevant. What is relevant is God’s word, because it is God’s word. It always remains relevant… even thousands of years after He gave it to us.

What can you do?
Make sure you don’t attend a church where the Bible is not held up as the only authority. Also, ask you pastor: do you believe in the resurrection of the body? Do you believe it enough to preach on it on a regular basis? Do you practice expository preaching? If the answer is no to any of these questions, then move on a find a church where these things are true. Your eternal future depends upon it.

Ten Reasons Christianity is Far Superior to Any Other Religion

(Note from Timothy: Originally published August 5, 2010).

I was invited onto the Frankie Lax show last week and got to share Ten Reasons Why Christianity if Superior to any Other Religion. This all started when Frankie made the comment that Christianity was the best religion in the world on his show. I wanted to call in and give a few reasons why, but that was on a Wednesday night and I was on my way to evening services.

So I wrote these up. These are just the points without the notes. Taking them on the air was a blast and Frankie is a great guy. He tried to trip me up at the end of the show by asking my some of the hot-issue questions of Christianity: “was it real wine?” referring to John 2. “What about Harry Potter?” “Are you a five-point Calvinist?” Stuff like that.

Here are the 10 points:

1. Christianity is the only religion in which God reaches out to man. All other religions are attempts by man to reach up to God.

“Christianity is the only religion in which God reaches down to man by becoming a man. It is the doctrine of the incarnation which actually condemns all other religions because through the person and work of Jesus Christ, a way is actually forged for us by Christ to the Father.  When leaders of other religions shut the door on Christ by denying who He is, they shut the door of salvation. They are telling the Father that His provision of salvation through His Son is not good enough. In their pride and arrogance, they believe that they have a better way back to the Father, or to ethereal bliss. They are telling the Father they do not need His Son.”

2. Christianity is the only religion that fully deals with sin because of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross.

This is because Christ dealt with our sin on the cross, whereas, other religions require us to make our own atonement, which is impossible since our sin keeps us from doing anything pleasing to God.

Remember that God hates sinners and our wickedness (Psalm 5:5). The love that so many proclaim for the sinner, is falsely understood. It is not a love that accepts the sinner as they are, but seeks to slay them in the Spirit, so that we die to our sin, and live unto righteousness.

3. Christianity is the only religion that allows followers into the presence of the Father.

When a sinner believes in Christ for salvation, two things immediately happen. The first is that the sins of the sinner are imputed to the atoning work of Christ on the cross and completely paid for by His death and shed blood. Secondly, the sinner has the righteousness of Christ imputed to him, thereby he/she is seen by the Father in Christ’s perfect righteousness. This makes him/her acceptable to the Father, and brought into the presence of the Father via Christ’s righteousness.

4, Christianity is the only religion that offers its followers true assurance of salvation because our salvation is based upon Christ’s works, not our own.

This is self explanatory. Since our salvation is based on His perfect work and atonement, and through our faith in Him and His work, there is no need to fear losing our salvation if we are true believers.

5. Christianity is the only religion in which the Holy Spirit is promised to us, and dwells in us.

This means that the true Christian has the indwelling presence of God. This doesn’t mean we become gods, but His presence is with us, giving us the power to turn away from sin and temptation. In other religions, the ability to turn away from sin is impossible. While they may turn from a particular sin, sin still taints the turning away from that sin, especially in the pride that arises when they do so. Not so for the believer. When we turn from sin, via the power of the Spirit and the word of God, we know and realize that God gets all the glory. We are only doing what we were called to do.

6. Christianity is the only religion in the world where its leader is the judge of all mankind.

We are told in John 5 that Jesus has the power to give His life and take it up again, and given the authority to judge all mankind. Therefore, those in Christ will have Jesus as their Mediator instead of Judge. Those outside of Christ, will be found wanting and He will say, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”

7. Christianity is the only religion in which our leader was raised from the dead.

If there is one aspect of any religion that sets Christianity above and over other religions, it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no greater claim made in any other religion or off-shoot of Christianity. The resurrection is so vital, that Paul said if it were not true, then Christians were to be most pitied among all men.

8. Christianity is the only religion in which death is truly conquered.

We know this because Christ arose again, and so too, will His followers on the Last Day.

9. Christianity is the only religion in which it’s leader was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life according to God’s Law, and fulfilled countless Old Testament prophecies.

This could actually be broken into three points, but will give this brief explanation: since He was born of a virgin, He was born sinless. Original sin was not passed from His mother to Him, since original sin is passed via sinful man. This set Him up to live the perfect life, whereas all other men, false prophets included, are handicapped before they even start. Jesus was not handicapped, and chose perfectly to follow God’s perfect will, fulfilling prophecies and the demands of the Law.

10. All the leaders of every other religion, need Christ as their Savior as well as their followers.

Most other religions do not even adhere to God’s required standard of acceptability. They completely ignore God’s standard, and come up with their own standards.

Why is this so? Simply put? It’s convenient for false prophets, which all the religious leaders are, to set standards that they are perceived to keep. If we create our own standards of righteousness, then we can pretend that we keep them. The problem is that even the standards of righteousness we invent, we do not keep. The Apostle Paul declares to us that those who judge others by a standard, break that same standard: Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things (Romans 2:1).  All religions are set up to judge those inside the religion as being acceptable, and those outside the religion as being unacceptable. Yet the very standards they set up for others they violate themselves.


BTW, Sasha wrote a piece charging 14 accusations against Christianity after this post was written. You can read my response to her post here.

Signs of a Dying Church

(Note from Timothy: Originally published April 21, 2010)

I found this over at a blog entitled: Church Encouragement Services. They have a list of 113 signs of a dying church. The following is just a portion of their list (bold added by authors, italicized added by me):

  1. No soul winning. (Efforts are made, but minimal at best. True soul winning takes consistent pursuit and prayer. Not just a blitzkrieg effect).
  2. Power struggle among the leaders. (Especially between the elders and the pastor.)
  3. Preachers don’t stay long.
  4. Music is a slow and lifeless routine. (No real desire for excellence in this area).
  5. There’s no testimony of what Christ is doing in lives. (Can you say “Ichabod?”).
  6. The facilities are in poor condition. (They smell bad as well. No desire to keep things looking nice. After all, “we JUST painted the sanctuary… 17 years ago!”)
  7. Visitors feel that the church is cold and dead.
  8. Lack of unity. (Unity consists of working together in order to get rid of that thar blastin’ preacher!)
  9. Preachers are f i r e d time after time. (Or forced to leave by other means).
  10. Not meeting the n e e d s of the church or the community.
  11. No equipping of Christians for ministry.
  12. The elders are not teaching.
  13. Sermons lack power.  No Biblical application to everyday life.
  14. Giving is minimal, few tithers.
  15. No missions or constant struggle against any giving outside the local congregation.
  16. Lack of c o – o p e r a t I o n.
  17. No one sent out to become preachers.
  18. No volunteers. (Better yet, no real understanding that the church is a servant-led entity, not a volunteer organization. Think of the chief servant, Jesus, and you get the idea).
  19. The Biblical purposes of the church are lost. (“We exist because we don’t like others… and we can tolerate one another.” Or, “we exist because we are the only ones in this town doing it right! Never mind the fact that we are a stench in the nostrils of the Lord and everyone else.”)
  20. Pessimistic.
  21. Attendance low or stagnate.
  22. No vision. (They do have vision, but unfortunately it is only vision for the past and is verbalized in the following way: “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”)

Here are a few that I can think of from a pastor’s perspective:

  1. Not willing to support or follow the pastor’s lead.
  2. Not willing to be challenged in real areas of spiritual importance, like the need to repent for past or present sins of the church.
  3. Not willing to be confronted as a body from the pulpit.
  4. Not willing to lay aside the church’s reputation for the sake of Christ’s reputation.
  5. Not willing to accept that fact that “total depravity” actually applies to those inside the congregation as well as outside the congregation.
  6. Shepherding actually means protecting our institutionalized and acceptable sins and prejudices.
  7. Loving one another means that we really don’t hate one another… but not much more than that.
  8. Outreach means that we send or invite people once a year, but never really get involved in the lives of others.
  9. Thinking that because we’ve already been faithful in one area in the past, that we no longer have to be faithful while it is Today.
  10. Confusing social activism for true and meaningful outreach with the Gospel.
  11. Thinking that since we have a daily quiet time, we are automatically holy and faithful in all areas of the Christian life.
  12. The congregation has an “us vs. them” mentality with both the pastor and every one else.
  13. Thinking it is OK to stop tithing because you don’t like the pastor.
  14. Holding an attitude towards the pastor’s wife that she is a “necessary evil” and not really a part of the body of Christ.
  15. Holding unrealistic expectations for the pastor’s children by expecting them not to actually be “children who must be raised up in the admonition of the Lord.” They should already have arrived.
  16. Laying the responsibility of every lost member at the feet of the pastor, none of the other elders or members had anything to do with that loss.
  17. Making sure to hold onto any confidential information about the pastor and his weaknesses until the appropriate time.
  18. Bringing all kinds of accusations against the pastor without any regard to 1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.

Well, that is just a few that I came up with. The scary aspect of this list is that it didn’t really take that much time for me to do so. I’m sure I could add to it if I wanted to give it more thought. Allow me to close with the words of our Lord:

Revelation 2:4-5 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

OK, enough of that. Or as Forest, Forest Gump used to say, “that’s all I have to say about that.” At least until I have more to say about it.

My Poison Ivy Metaphor

Given that I am battling with a bout of poison ivy here lately, I thought I could turn it into a metaphor for sin.

Poison ivy is the curse of sin that was passed on to us from our first parents, Adam and Eve. Scratching the itch of poison ivy is the actual sin. Now anyone who has had poison ivy knows that the wages of scratching is certain death. But it’s hard to tell this to the person who is being taunted by the itch. All he wants to do is scratch it. Even though doctors, mothers, nurses, friends and all of society have said, “don’t scratch it.” He wants to scratch it.

It calls to him. It begs him. It taunts him. He wants to give in, but knows that he should not. So he convinces himself that maybe if he just scratched it a little bit, just on the edges, just for a few moments, then it would be “OK” to scratch. Yes, logically, he knows that scratching it is sinful, but will just a little bit of scratching be OK?

He scratches just on the edge of the wound. O, the pleasure that fills his body. His arms actually get chill bumps. It feels so good. He thinks to himself, “How could something that feels this good, be so wrong.” Now it has him. He is no longer scratching just on the edges of the wound, he is in full-fledged scratching. Just like a dog, he is scratching and scratching. It is wonderful.

He finally stops. Reasoning with himself that all is OK. Only a little bit of sin was OK. But it’s not. Now it is even worse than before. All the scratching he did achieved nothing more than to bring about more of a desire to scratch. The desire is even greater now and it has him. Not one moment of scratching gave him any real satisfaction at all. It just led to more desire, desire that would not be quenched or satisfied.

He needs help. He needs intervention. But anyone who knows about poison ivy realizes, there just not much you can do for it. You can cover it up with the pink stuff, but alas, that doesn’t cure the problem only makes the itch go away. He can take the pills from the doctors office. Again, they help but do not make it go away. He needs real help.

OK, that is as far as I can take the metaphor. Please pray for me that I would get over this rotten bout of poison ivy.

Blue Bell Ice Cream: Top 10 Flavors

Given that we are just coming off the July 4th holiday, in which thousands of calories were consumed in ice cream alone, I thought it appropriates to list my Top 10 favorite Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors. Especially given that just moments ago, I polished off a bowl of one of my Top 10s, a bowl of Dutch Chocolate with the last remaining scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip. Realize, that is far as I’m concerned, I don’t care for any other type of ice cream other than Blue Bell. I know there are those who like differing brands, but for me, Blue Bell is the standard. This is for several reasons. First, Blue Bell is the best. Second, Blue Bell Ice Cream is from Texas. That heaven that the cows believe they are in, is none other than Brenham, TX, where I have lived and my father currently lives. Brenham is a slice of heaven for me. Every time I go to my father’s ranch, I think I’m in heaven. Finally, growing up, we always loved ice cream but knew the it was truly special when we could have Blue Bell. That is still true today!

So without further adieu (that’s French for get to the point) here is my list of Blue Bell flavors.

Number 1 — Natural Vanilla Bean. By far the best of all their vanillas because it captures the flavoring just right, and like the rest of the vanillas, you can add to it for a fine creation. My favorite addition is chocolate syrup with crunched up Oreo cookies and whip cream.

Number 2 — Dutch Chocolate. This is what, in my opinion, God had in mind when He thought of the word “chocolate.” There is no better chocolate ice cream or representation of what chocolate ice cream should be than Dutch Chocolate. After all, it’s chocolate which means that it is heavenly by nature, an Dutch which means that it’s the ice cream of all TULIP wearing Calvinists!!!

Number 3 — Mint Chocolate Chip. How they came up with this idea, I will never know, but it’s like the mint Girl Scout cookies turned into ice cream. Plus, it’s a year around ice cream so available all year long. They also have seasonal ice creams which are … seasonal.

Number 4 — Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. The best of two desserts. Cookie dough, which is the best time to eat the cookie, and ice cream. I know this one may have been invented by those liberal loons back on the east coast, but Blue Bell took the idea and perfected it.

Number 5 — French Vanilla. Much like the Natural Bean Vanilla, only French.

Number 6 — Caramel Turtle Fudge. A seasonal ice cream, but one worth waiting for. They add the caramel, and like anyone who loves a Snickers or a Milky Way to chocolate you have something special.

Number 7 — Peaches and Homemade Vanilla. This one makes the list at the recommendation of my Dad, who lives in Brenham. Using Texas-grown peaches, they have combined one of their top vanillas for a Sunday treat that is worth the wait and anticipation. It’s season because once the peach crop has come and gone, so has the ice cream. We haven’t had a shipment arrive here in Jackson yet. I keep hoping.

Number 8 — Banana Split. Everything that those of us who like banana splits think that it should be.

Number 9 — **Dessert Trio – Brown Rim 
A triple treat of your most favorite desserts combined with our ice cream. Smooth vanilla ice cream loaded with chocolate chip cookie pieces, luscious pecan brownies, and chocolate-coated cake pieces all surrounded by a swirl of rich, chocolate sauce. (OK, this is so new, I haven’t tried it yet. But alas, another Blue Bell flavor to look forward to!)

Number 10 — Cherry Cheesecake. Another seasonal delicacy worth the wait. Since my love for cherries has increase over the years, so has my love for cheesecake and cherry cheesecake ice cream.

OK, that is my list. What is yours? Please… no Benjamin & Gerald’s ice creams please. All they do is add extra sugar to that which everyone else is already doing and charge an arm and a leg.