Daily Archives: April 5, 2013

Army Reserve Training Presentation Calls Christians ‘Extremists’ along with Al-Quaeda, Hamas

A recent Powerpoint presentation utilized by the Army Reserve of Pennsylvania for training purposes indicates that the organization considers Christians, Catholics, and Mormons to potentially be as dangerous as the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Quaeda, and Hamas.

The presentation, which was posted online by the legal group, Alliance Defending Freedom, likely will go unnoticed by many. Unfortunately, it offers a disturbing glimpse into some of the training and education of the U.S. military. Read more of this post

When Josh Harris Slapped Me Across the Face

Josh Harris slapped me across the face. He did it through his book Humble Orthodoxy and a little story that is adapted from the words of Jesus in Luke 18. He tells the story “to challenge those of us who trust in the rightness of our doctrine and look down on others.” In other words, people like me.

One day two men went to church to pray.

The first man was a shallow, uninformed evangelical. Everything about him shouted of squishy theology. He didn’t know or use big theological words. He watched Christian TV and thought it was deep. He bought books from the inspirational section of the bookstore. He attended one of those megachurches where the sermons are short and the worship leaders look like American Idol contestants.

The second man who went to pray was different. He was a Christian of theological depth and substance–this was obvious by the heavy study Bible he carried with him. He only read books by long-dead theologians. He subscribed to the podcasts of all the solid, gospel-centered expository preachers who didn’t tell funny stories or make jokes in their sermons. He felt cheated if a sermon was less than an hour long.

This second man began to pray. He said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people–doctrinally ignorant, theologically clueless, superficial in their saccharine-sweet evangelicalism. I thank you that you have made me what I am: true to good doctrine, uncompromising on teaching, orthodox to the core.”

But the first man would not even look up to heaven. Instead he beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

He follows up with this application: “If you consider yourself a person who takes doctrine seriously, do you see yourself in this story? Has a humble gratefulness for God’s mercy been replaced by a pride in all that you know? Are you prone to have contempt or a sense of superiority toward those with less knowledge? I believe Jesus would confront our misplaced confidence just as he did the self-righteousness of the Pharisees in his day.”

This is just one of the reasons I intend to read the book on a regular basis…


21 Statistics About The Explosive Growth Of Poverty In America That Everyone Should Know

If the economy is getting better, then why does poverty in America continue to grow so rapidly? Yes, the stock market has been hitting all-time highs recently, but also the number of Americans living in poverty has now reached a level not seen since the 1960s. Yes, corporate profits are at levels never seen before, but so is the number of Americans on food stamps. Yes, housing prices have started to rebound a little bit (especially in wealthy areas), but there are also more than a million public school students in America that are homeless. That is the first time that has ever happened in U.S. history. So should we measure our economic progress by the false stock market bubble that has been inflated by Ben Bernanke’s reckless money printing, or should we measure our economic progress by how the poor and the middle class are doing? Because if we look at how average Americans are doing these days, then there is not much to be excited about. In fact, poverty continues to experience explosive growth in the United States and the middle class continues to shrink. Sadly, the truth is that things are not getting better for most Americans. With each passing year the level of economic suffering in this country continues to go up, and we haven’t even reached the next major wave of the economic collapse yet. When that strikes, the level of economic pain in this nation is going to be off the charts. (Read More….)

People Not In Labor Force Soar By 663,000 To 90 Million, Labor Force Participation Rate At 1979 Levels

Things just keep getting worse for the American worker, and by implication US economy, where as we have shown many times before, it pays just as well to sit back and collect disability and various welfare and entitlement checks, than to work .The best manifestation of this: the number of people not in the labor force which in March soared by a massive 663,000 to a record 90 million Americans who are no longer even looking for work. This was the biggest monthly increase in people dropping out of the labor force since January 2012, when the BLS did its census recast of the labor numbers. And even worse, the labor force participation rate plunged from an already abysmal 63.5% to 63.3% – the lowest since 1979! But at least it helped with the now painfully grotesque propaganda that the US unemployment rate is “improving.”


Desperate Countries To Accelerate Private Wealth Destruction

From 1980 to 2006, when Bernanke became Chairman of the Fed, the US debt went from $1 trillion to $7 trillion. But think about the fact that he has overseen the debt increase of $10 trillion in just 7 years….


When Church means Business

What many Christians don’t realize is that the “Seekermergent Church” is a product created by and promoted by the “Druckerites,” or those who have been personally mentored and inspired by the late business guru Peter Drucker (who was not a Christian). Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels are the Druckerite “trinity,” and these three men more than any others are responsible for innovating the church by purposely changing congregations from a pastoral ministry model to a CEO / Innovative Change Agent leadership model.

View article and access audio and video

4 Truths About Hell

“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” So wrote the agnostic British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967. The idea of eternal punishment for sin, he further notes, is “a doctrine that put cruelty in the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture.”

His views are at least more consistent than religious philosopher John Hick, who refers to hell as a “grim fantasy” that is not only “morally revolting” but also “a serious perversion of the Christian Gospel.” Worse yet was theologian Clark Pinnock who, despite having regarded himself as an evangelical, dismissed hell with a rhetorical question: “How can one imagine for a moment that the God who gave His Son to die for sinners because of His great love for them would install a torture chamber somewhere in the new creation in order to subject those who reject Him to everlasting pain?”

So, what should we think of hell? Is the idea of it really responsible for all the cruelty and torture in the world? Is the doctrine of hell incompatible with the way of Jesus Christ? Hardly. In fact, the most prolific teacher of hell in the Bible is Jesus, and He spoke more about it than He did about heaven. In Matthew 25:41–46 He teaches us four truths about hell that should cause us to grieve over the prospect of anyone experiencing its horrors.

Read More Here . . .


Bill O’Reilly, Gay Marriage, and the Bible

I happened to see a video this morning in which Bill O’Reilly was arguing with Laura Ingraham over O’Reilly’s complaint that conservatives need to do more than “thump the Bible” in making our case against gay marriage.  Not only was O’Reilly incredibly arrogant and rude, but his colossal mistake highlights the key issue in the culture war today.

O’Reilly presupposes that the Bible is not an acceptable source of authority for our culture.  Conservatives must accept that liberals will not listen to Scripture and therefore craft a moral consensus on grounds other than the Bible.  What he fails to realize is that apart from God and his Word, the only moral consensus possible to man is an evil pagan idolatry.  It is precisely because the Bible has been excluded from public discourse that our nation is so aggressively pursuing a debauchery like that of the ancient Canaanites and is suffering a societal breakdown of, well, biblical proportions.  The only way to reverse this trend is to reassert the Bible’s validity for both private and public moral standards.
Read More Here . . .

Church Cliques: Sunday Morning’s The Breakfast Club

(This is a hard post for me to write, since I am also guilty. I hope you hear my heart in it.)
I’ve been convicted in the last several years: We, (I), need to quit with the cliques in church.
We need Saturday detention — together — on Sunday — the whole lot of us.
There’s plenty of speculation right now about why so many people are fed up with Church and the institution of it. I don’t know all the answers or all the reasons. But I’ve known many people who have felt out of place, unwelcome, under-valued, or stuck back in high school when it comes to the Church, popularity, and social politics. They’ve tried church–tried to come back–tried to re-engage, and they’ve not found the Church a very hospitable community. They’re over it.
This is tragic.
I don’t quite know how to solve this, except that I must take some ownership. All of us probably should.
There’s that line in “You’ve Got Mail” where Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan, when he’s trying to befriend her after he put her out of business, “It wasn’t personal. It was business.” She responds, “What does that mean? All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you. It was personal to me. What’s so wrong with being personal, anyway?”
Just like Joe Fox, we have, maybe unintentionally, maybe out of selfishness or ignorance, or maybe out of habit or our own insecurities, or maybe in our flesh and envy and fear, we have excluded. Maybe it wasn’t personal. Maybe it was. But if you have come to church and felt on the outskirts, have felt unwelcomed or unincluded, I’m so sorry.

I was the kid in youth group growing up that had many friends. I walked into that building and felt like I owned it (or it owned me). And yet, even with all my confidence, I still sometimes felt anxiety walking into the youth center.
Even with all my confidence today, as a grown up, as a worship leader and someone ‘up front,’ I still feel, (often), vulnerable and anxious going to church. This is partly my introvertedness. But also because I worry I might forget someone’s name, or I might say something strange, or I fear the awkwardness.
But what a difference it makes when someone approaches me and hugs me! When someone walks up to me and welcomes me. It makes me feel noticed, and seen — like he’s glad I’m here and she’s happy to see me.
Too often we leave the job of hospitality, of friendliness and inclusiveness, to someone else (many times the already overextended pastor). Just like high school, we walk into church and sit with our same friends in our same section. On the patio we approach the people we know, the people we are closest with, because we want to hear about their week, about what’s been happening with their family, about their job or what-have-you. Mid-week we meet up with a small group at a park or coffee shop or lunch date, “let’s just keep it us so we can really talk.” We assign people to groups, we divide by difference and common interests. At MOPS or bible study, we would rather pull up another chair at our friend’s table than sit down with all the singletons at the newbie table. Many times we have “community groups” and we don’t want new people to join because a new person will “mess up the dynamics.”
The excuse many of us Christians make (when we are aware of our actions) is that “even Jesus himself had a close, inner circle.” We argue that we can’t be close friends with everyone. We only have so much time to go around, and we hardly spend time with our best friends, let alone have the time to meet so many new friends, new people.
Those things are true.
But we are to befriend the outcast too. And if we are honest with ourselves, sometimes we simply don’t want to. It takes energy and effort to befriend new people. It takes risk. And we are about our wants. We want to sit with our clique, the friends that make us feel loved. We want to go out to lunch with people we like, people we prefer. We want to spend our time our way.
Some people are desperate for community. They are searching for friendship, and they have come to the church, the place where we should be the most friendly, where they should be most welcome. They’ve come half-way. They’ve done their part in trying something new, being vulnerable, walking into an unknown. Now it is time for us to do our part and say, “You are welcome in this place.”
Our cliques, be it intentional or unintentional, are a contradictory representation of the inclusiveness, warmth, sacrificial love of Jesus. He said we should put the needs of others above our own, and we should do to others what we would wish for ourselves. We wouldn’t want to be excluded. It’s a cruddy feeling. So why do we do it to others?
There are a lot of hurt feelings in the church. People who sit alone. People who wonder if they stopped coming if anyone would even notice. People in the ‘out’ crowd observing from afar people in the ‘in’ crowd. There’s an awareness of the ‘cool group’ and the ‘not as cool group.’ There are people who have no where to go on Easter and no one inviting them to lunch and no one commenting how cute they look. There are people who stand on the patio after service and nobody talks to them. There are people whose children are not welcomed, aren’t played with, aren’t invited to birthday parties and playgroups.
There are outsiders right in front of our noses. We don’t even see them.
This week, what if we sat in a different place during service, next to a person who is sitting alone? What if we scanned the patio after church to see if anyone needed a friend, or to search for someone we didn’t know, and we courageously approached them, reached out our hand, and introduced ourselves? What if we crossed cliques–walked over to someone in ‘the other group’ and started chatting about March Madness or spring break or the weather, even? What if we sent an email to a group of people for a playdate and we included the people we never include? What if we sat at a table with a bunch of people we don’t know? What if we each carried our weight in being hospitable? How different would our churches be?
Let’s be different. Let’s be known for our friendliness. Let’s be more inclusive than the little league moms and the PTA parents. Let’s open up our garages, share hot dogs, host BBQs, greet people with grace, ask for phone numbers, send emails, and be hospitable to everyone.
I think we can do better. What do you think?


Americans Love the Bible but Don’t Read It Much, Poll Shows

A recent survey indicates that while more than half of Americans think the Bible should have more influence on today’s culture, which they believe to be in moral decline, still only one in five Americans actually reads the Bible on a regular basis.