Hollywood Shallowness

Sitting at the table this morning, eating breakfast, the only thing readily available was the Parade magazine that comes in Sunday’s paper. Those who keep up with Hollywood and that kind of triviality know the magazine. It gives us the latest scoop on what movies are coming out and when.

But not only that, it goes much deeper. It not only gives us the latest scoop on the movies, but it gives us the latest poop on the scoop about the movies. In other words, they interview some of the actors and actresses about the movies and shows in which the star.

You can get some really deep insight (please read with sarcasm). For instance, Sunday’s cover story was about the new Muppet movie, and we get this tidbit about the movie:

“It’s the Muppets doing what they do best: putting on a show,” says Jason Segel, who cowrote the screenplay… “it’s been on my secret wish list to do a Muppets movie.”

Wow… profound. Segel revealed some of his deepest and inner secrets to us. I really think he was also saying, “The Muppet movie was the only gig I could get…” But who knows, perhaps in the world of Hollywood, Muppets really are important to people.

I also learned that Felicity Huffman, star of Desperate Housewives doesn’t like to travel. There was also information about Ashley Jensen, someone I’ve never heard of, and the latest on the Verizon Guy, “Can you hear me now?”

When it comes to Hollywood, never have so few, spent so much time on so much with so little meaning for life. Yes, I enjoy the movies. But so much of what comes along with it has he depth of New Mexico mud puddle and half the value.

NOTE to Self: Make sure you have something worth reading at breakfast tomorrow!

Advantages of Trusting Christ

J.C. Ryle on the Advantages of Trusting Christ:

“Christ will never be without some servants. If the vast majority of the Jews did not receive Him as the Messiah, there were, at any rate, a few who did. To them He gave the privilege of being God’s children. He adopted them as members of His Father’s family. He reckoned them His own brethren and sisters, bone of His bone, and flesh of His flesh. He conferred on them a dignity which was ample recompense for the cross which they had to carry for His sake. He made them sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.

“Privileges like these, be it remembered, are the possession of all, in every age, who receive Christ by faith, and follow Him as their Savior. They are ‘children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.’ (Gal. 3:26).”[1]

[1] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2007, Vol. 1, p. 16.

Astros in the American League???

But… but what about the rival with the Cardinals??? What about playing the Mets??? What about… well… no… this can’t be happening to me. The Astros in the American League playing the Angels for division championship… and the Rangers???

O, no… now I will have to choose between the Rangers and the Astros!!!

MILWAUKEE — Baseball will be making major changes in the next two years — adding two teams to the playoffs, moving the Houston Astros to the American League and extending interleague play to September…

As a condition for approving the sale of the Astros from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane, the Astros agreed to shift from the NL Central to the AL West as soon as 2013, giving each league 15 teams. It’s baseball’s first realignment since the Milwaukee Brewers went to the NL after the 1997 season.

“It won’t be perfect. Nothing in any schedule is ever perfect,” Selig said, “but this will be very good.”

With an odd number of teams in each league, there will be interleague play from April through September. Since interleague games began in 1997, they had been concentrated around May and late-June.

The Astros, part of the NL since joining the majors in 1962, will be getting plenty of frequent flier miles. Instead of going to cities in the Midwest several times a year, they’ll be headed out to Anaheim, Oakland and Seattle.

“I was in the air freight business and we were always flying a lot. So, we’ll be flying a lot,” Crane said.

But they’ll have a built-in rivalry with the two-time AL champion Texas Rangers.

“I’m proud of the changes, but you want to be sure you’re always doing the right thing. This is the thing we’ve studied for a long time, but they’ll be working on schedules in the future,” Selig said.

The shift, approved unanimously, does not appear to be popular with fans.

“I don’t like how they did it, sort of strong-arming it,” 47-year-old Eddie Fuller of Houston said at a sports bar near Minute Maid Park.

“I prefer the National League myself. I’m not a big DH fan. I just like National League baseball better,” said Fuller, who estimated he goes to 30-40 Astros games each year.

My pour baseball head is spinning… Now there will NEVER be an all Texas World Series… Read about the sadness here.

Praying for Common Grace

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.

Thoughts on Penn State

I know that everyone is weighing in on their thoughts about the Penn State child abuse scandal. I thought I would as well, since that is what a blogging is about.

We can talk about the deceitfulness of sin, which would be appropriate in this situation since the school’s administration thought they could ignore it. You cannot. Sin will continue to grow in your life unless you repent from it and turn to Christ for salvations and guidance. The writer of Hebrews warned us about this:

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.

I doubt that Coach Joe Paterno ever had thoughts like those above. He knew that what was taking place was wrong, but refused to address the issues. He refused to do what is right and turn the sex offender into the appropriate officials. The sin continued to festered and now Coach Paterno’s legacy is tarnished forever. I wonder if he was trying to protect his legacy by not doing what was right. I don’t know what went through his mind when he was told about the sex offender in his midst. Maybe he just didn’t want to deal with it. Maybe he was worried about what it would do to the program. After all, Coach Paterno had one of the cleanest programs in the country and was known for being clean. That reputation is now gone. Sure, they obeyed the laws of the NCAA, but ignored the greater laws of state and God’s Law. Now… this…

I have to admit that I am saddened by it. Of all the schools in the Big 10, Penn State was always one of my favorites because of Coach Paterno. He ran a clean program. That says a lot. But failed in one area. No, I don’t condemn him. He may not have believed the charges brought against the coach in question. Who knows. But this is truly sad. Allow me to quote fellow pastor, friend and Penn State grad Peter Hatton:

I feel like since many of my southern friends only association with PSU is through me that I should issue a statement – It is a sad day for all Penn Staters – I’m saddened most of all for the children & their families and how the devastation of these kids lives could’ve been prevented – I’m saddened that Paterno’s legacy is tarnished – I understand the Board’s decision. But let this be a lesson for all of us what is in the human heart & why we need a Savior – we are more concerned about preserving our lives than we are sacrificing for the interests of others. We build our own kingdoms rather than living for God’s. Jesus laid aside His glory FOR our benefit. You cannot put your trust in man – trust in Jesus everything He does is for the glory of His Father & the benefit of others. Philippians 2:5-11

All this shows that there is no realm of life that is not tainted by sin. No football program, no school, no human institution. This is why we cannot ignore the Triune God in all these realms. The sad truth of sin that plagues us personally, plagues those institutions as well. Therefore, we should bring those institutions under the word of God, just as we do with our own hearts.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5casting 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.

J.C. Ryle on a Minister’s Duties

In preaching through the Gospel of John, I came across the following comments by J.C. Ryle. He is applying the aspect of God sending John the Baptist to ministers being sent by God as well. If a majority of the ministers would take their calling as serious as John the Baptist, the church would be far better off. Not that many do not take their calling seriously, but they do not take the Word of God seriously.

Ryle writes:

“Christian ministers are not priests, nor mediators between God and man. They are not agents into whose hands men may commit their souls, and carry on their religion by deputy. They are witnesses. They are intended to bear testimony to God’s truth, and specially to the great truth that Christ is the only Savior and light of the world… Unless a Christian minister bears a full testimony of Christ, he is not faithful to his office. So long as he does testify of Christ, he has done his part, and will receive his reward, although his hearers may not believe his testimony. Until a minister’s hearers believe on that Christ of whom they are told, they receive no benefit from the ministry. They may be pleased and interested; but they are not profited until they believe. The great end of a minister’s testimony is ‘that through him, men may believe.’”[1]

That is my great hope. That as I preach and declare God’s truth, those in the congregation will believe.

[1] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2007, Vol. 1, p. 14.

Dangerous Cliques: Domineering Old Lady Club

In the book of Galatians we have the account of Peter being confronted by Paul because Peter decided to be a part of a clique. He was eating with the Gentiles when there were only Gentiles. But as soon as other Jews showed up, he quit eating with the Gentiles and only ate with the Jews. Paul immediately confronted Peter in front of all those there. He had to do this for the sake of the gospel.

The very idea of a clique is antithetical to the gospel. The gospel is not only intended to bring men into a right relationship with the Father by dealing with our sin against Him, but also meant to bring people together united in Christ’s blood. Cliques in the church like the one Peter was joining undermine the gospel for at the heart of the clique is pride and a belief that while we are all saved by grace, some are not worthy of the fellowship that was purchased by the blood of Christ.This very attitude needs to be confronted and dealt with because it also grieves the Holy Spirit.

If we are all justified by the same Christ, where is there room for a clique in the body of Christ? I began thinking about this when I was preaching that it is Jesus Christ who establishes His church and the gates of Hades will not stand against it. The church belongs to Christ, not to men and their cliques. As those called to be faithful, we must fight against the temptation to join cliques and to ignore them in the body of Christ. They are there, and like Paul, we must stand against them.

In looking at this topic, it also helps to realize that cliques are nothing more than a manifestation of sin in the body of Christ. We can all fall into one or many of these categories. The hope here is that as we look at these different groupings, we see the greater need for humility in our own lives. After all, when all is said and done, we are all in the body of Christ because of God’s grace toward us, not because of anything that we can use to prop up ourselves a superior fashion. That is all a clique really is, a means to prop oneself up in a superior fashion over others and this is a sinful attitude.

While writing this, I realized that I could actually fall into a clique as well: those who point out the problems of the church clique. That is not my goal. It is easy to point to the faults of others and ignore our own faults. This is why I should plan on writing about the theological accuracy club, a clique that is centered upon God’s word, but is just as heinous as the rest of the cliques.

The only true group we belong to is that group in which our Savior began some 6,000 years ago with Abraham and sealed it with His blood 2,000 years ago. It’s a group made up of sinners. If we have anything to boast about, it is the grace of God toward us, and even in that, we must set our own pride aside.

Where to start? Today I’m starting with the Domineering-Old-Lady club, or DOLC. I will eventually cover the Good ‘Ol Boy Club, the Charter-member club, the Bible-study clique, and Education Nazis (This group is subdivided into the  the Private-School Nazis, or Classical Christian School Nazis, or the lesser known, “My children are missionaries in the public school” Nazis, and Home-school Nazis. It includes any group within the church that thinks of themselves as more superior because of how they educate their children and I’m not bashing the ways in which we have been given in this country to educate our children. It’s a matter of the sin of superiority in these groups that is the problem).

Domineering-Old-Lady Club (DOLC)

This clique is one of the worst cliques imaginable. It is made up of older women who like to think of themselves as the matriarchs of the church, sort of like Sarah in the Bible. However, this is never the case.

The true matriarch in the fashion of Sarah is not the woman who is getting her way by being demanding, manipulative, conniving, forceful, ugly, rude, etc. The true matriarch in the fashion of Sarah usually goes unnoticed. Everyone loves her, because there is something worthy to be loved in her. She is a desire to be around because she is sweet, kind, nice, gentle, long suffering. You know those fruits of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22? These qualities saturate the true matriarch and are never found in the members of the Domineering Old Lady Club. The DOLC deceive themselves by thinking they are like Sarah.

Every church I have had the opportunity to pastor has had their fair share of DOLCs. Their names are everywhere and on everything. Other members of the church and DOLC wanna be’s hold up these women as something to aspire to. However, they lack any real submissiveness towards those in leadership. If you notice, they get their way and will do what it takes to bring it about. In doing so, DOLCs reflect their true spiritual mother, Eve, not Sarah. Instead of deferring to Adam, as she should have done, Eve wanted to display her leadership ability. That wasn’t her role. Yes, Adam was failing in his role as well. We will get to that in a subsequent post. However, I’m covering the DOLCs because they are the most dangerous.

There are two reasons this group is so dangerous. The first is that men tend to fear this group. The second reason is that so many other women aspire to become DOLCs.

DOLCs like to think of themselves as the women who surrounded Jesus in His ministry (Luke 8:1-3). However, their nature is more like that of Herodias, whose daughter danced before Herod and asked for John the Baptist’s head (Matthew 14:1-12). The degree of their sin may not be as severe, but it is still the same sin.

What these women should be are those quiet women in the congregation that seek to serve Christ in all humility. You can find these women described in Proverbs 31 and Titus 2.

Just look at the Titus 2:3 woman found in the first 5 verses of Titus 2.

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

We see two aspects of this verse for what older women are to be. The first is that older women are to help instruct younger women in what it means to be a godly woman. They are not to rule the younger women, but to come along side the younger women and help them in being godly wives and mothers.

The DOLC usually sees the younger women of the church as a threat or a bother. They will separate themselves from the younger women and make sure that they younger women are not involved in any aspect of the women’s ministries, or other ministries for that matter, when it might challenge the DOLCs control and power. I know of one case where a DOLC actually threw a tantrum because a younger woman in the church suggested a name change to a woman’s ministry. There was no godliness at all in the DOLC, just the kind of tantrum that one would find in say a 4 year old that demand his way.

The second truth to the Titus 2 verse is that the godly woman has her home, husband and children as the focus of her ministry. She helps at the church, but the church is not her primary realm of ministry. Her family is her ministry. She thrives on providing a loving home that both her children and husband love because of the sweet aroma of Christ that is found there. She doesn’t see the home and the work there as a throw back to some forgotten generation, but a delightful ministry that the LORD has given specifically to her. Only she can do what is necessary there and she loves the ministry because it is from the LORD, not something she has been saddled with.

DOLCs are more interested in who they are in the church and running the church than they are in providing homes that are safe havens for their family. They acquiesce to terms like “submission” but only for the sake of looking good to others. The reality is that the word “submission” is not a reality in DOLC’s life. That is what others do to her because of her place of prominence and longevity in the life of the church.

This longevity is part of the problem in that DOLCs see the church as actually belong to them. They get upset when newer couples come along and threaten to change things in their church. This attitude is only enhanced if the DOLC is a Charter member of the church. It just compounds the problem.

As hard as it is the leadership of the church must stand against DOLCs, for they profane the name of Christ and bring reproach to the body. When elders ignore these realities, they are actually affirming the DOLCs in the role. By not doing so, the DOLCs actually begin to inhibit church growth and outreach. Their power is so entrenched that anyone, including a new pastor, becomes a threat to the greater good of the DOLC.

In not resisting this group, the group gains the upper hand in church matters and prevent any type of change that may occur. This leads to the slow and eventual erosion of the body, to the point that if this group is not confronted, the church dies. In fact, the church may already be dead when a group like this is in control. My first church was like this. Nothing moved without the approval of the DOLC. It wasn’t long before I realized the church was dead before I arrived. The best thing to do with a church like this is to bury it. After all, it’s bringing only shame on the name of Christ.

BTW, this is one of the reasons that I believe women should not be placed in leadership in the church. Not that they are not qualified, or capable, but there is a tendency for them to slide into the role of Eve and rule the day, instead of living out the role of Sarah, humbling submitting to the leadership in the church. When women get placed on boards, sessions, committees, etc., they have a tendency to end up running those board simply because men like to play the role of Adam, instead of stepping up to the leadership position that God has given us. When a woman is on the board, men are actually afraid of disagreeing with women because they don’t want to be seen as chauvinistic. And if they do disagree with a woman, they will be seen as chauvinistic. So let us avoid the controversy by encouraging men to shepherd as they are called to do, and let women minister in support roles in the church.

We Need the Rich — Quit Bashing Them

I really tire of those who bash the rich. So I guess I’m saying I really tire of bashing the Democrat Party. But the bashing has to stop. For one, it is immoral. To continue to bash one sector of society for the benefit of another sector of society is the root of what manifests itself as racism. In other words, it’s the same old Democrat Party play book: pit one group of people against another. Since they can no longer pit whites against blacks, they are pitting the rich against the poor. This is wrong no matter how good it may feel for us to bash those who have more than we do.

We need the rich. Yes, I know some of them are greedy. But most of them got where they are by hard work. If you want to work hard you will be blessed with more. That is something God tells us in the book of Proverbs. Those who are lazy are slammed in the book of Proverbs and in the New Testament. It is really quite simple, those who will not work, need not eat. So to take from those who have worked hard and give it to those who won’t work at all, is immoral.

Ex-Christian Scientist to Christians: Don’t Let the Cults Redefine the Terms

The Christian Post has an article about an ex-Mormon turned pastor’s admonition to fellow Christians… saying, “Don’t call Mormonism a cult.”

I do understand his desire. As an ex-Mormon, he is trying to get fellow Christians to talk about real issues, which he fails to define, and not just use labels. Then he goes on to say that Mormons could be Christians depending on how you define the term, or the label itself.

As an ex-Christian Scientist, let me admonish all my brothers and sisters in the LORD not to fall into this line of thinking. The very nature of a cult is that they take the same terms we know and live by in Christianity and redefine them. What it means to be a Christian is debatable, but not with the cultists themselves. When they come clean and agree that what they mean by terms such as “Trinity” and “Jesus Christ” are different than that of historic Christianity, then we can begin the dialog.

The problem is that the cults are rooted in deceit. They are trying to dupe those who don’t understand the differences between true Christianity and false religion into joining them. If they would use different terms and be honest about the meaning of the terms they use, then we could have a dialog as the pastor suggests. But since their entire religion is rooted in deceit, with the lie that they have “new” revelation from God, then we will never be able to have any meaningful dialog at all.

To say that Mormons are Christians on any level is going to far. What they believe is not Christianity and is not from Scripture. They may use portions of the New Testament to try and make their case, but they are not looking at the full-cousel of God in the process. We must reject the premise that they are Christians. I know that it may hurt their feelings, but it is better to speak the truth, which is showing more love to them, then to mislead them into thinking they are Christians so we can have coffee together.

I’m not advocating meanness, but let us not say that they are Christians, or that they are not a cult. They are. If they truly want to be accepted as Christians, then they need to throw out all their beliefs rooted in the Book of Mormon. It is not on par to Scripture and it is not revelation from the Triune God.

Landing In Roswell

I’m now in Roswell, NM, at First Christian Church as pastor. I wrote about the call below.

I arrived on Tuesday and have spent the first several days getting to know as many of the congregation as possible. I have also had some good home-cooked meals and discovered that Roswell has a Whataburger! I didn’t waste any time getting there. I ate there for lunch on my first full day here. I think Whataburger is the best burger chain in the land. For those of you who are White Castles junkies, please, don’t even try.

I start preaching on Sunday and plan to start with John 1:1-14 and deal with the person of Christ as God and His purpose in becoming flesh. The purpose is an overall view of the gospel from the view point of eternity. Just the words In the beginning… will take some time to develop and explain.

Besides aliens, Roswell also has one of the larges aviation graveyards in the country, along with one of the larges runways in the country. The story goes that the SAC air force base south of town was closed during LBJ’s presidency because this area voted Republican. Since that time, the town has struggled and companies like American Airlines, Japan Airlines and a host of others started parking their old air planes at the airport. There are thousands out there now and I met a man on the flight into Roswell that was looking to pick up a few 747s for his cargo business. He had plenty to choose from. I wanted to take pictures but was prevented from doing so since I had to shut off my iPhone during landing.

That is all I know about Roswell for the moment… except that it should be known more for John Chisum and the Chisum Trail than the silly fascination people have for silly green men. BTW, if the aliens were so advanced that they traveled billions of miles to visit earth, how is it that they came all this way only to crash? Couldn’t be all that advanced could they?