Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Reverend Mr. President

Is there anything biblically wrong with the title above? To hear much of evangelical Christianity today, you wouldn't think so. In fact, you'd think that was the greatest good that could happen to our country today. While I don't think it would be bad for our country, necessarily, to have a pastor as a President [in fact, unless I'm mistaken several past Presidents were also ministers], I do believe that to view the President as a Pastor is bad for both the Church and the country.

Church and State are two entirely different institutions. Both have been ordained by God, but for very different purposes. The job of the State is to protect the lives and liberties of the people, and to punish wrongdoers. It can be called God's arm of vengeance on earth. Speaking of the "powers that be," the Bible says,
"he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." (Romans 13:4)
God has a completely different agenda for the Church:
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28: 19 - 20)
Jesus also calls us the Salt and Light of the world, exhorting us to let our light shine, for the glory of the Father. He referred to Himself as the One who fulfilled the prophecy, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4: 18 - 19) He did these, "leaving us an example, that [we] should follow his steps." (1 Peter 2:21) The Church can be called God's arm of mercy on earth.

The Church is not authorized-indeed it is forbidden-to usurp the authority of the State.
"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12: 19 - 21)
The State demands justice; the Church offers mercy. The State is required to exact vengeance; we are commanded to forgive. The State "bears not the sword in vain;" we are commanded to "put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword." (Matthew 26: 52) The State is part of the "kingdoms of this world;" we are of the "kingdom of heaven."

Most evangelicals agree that (at least in some cases) it would be bad for the State to interfere in the Church, and history provides us with ample support of that view. At the same time, they demand the right for the Church to dictate to the State. Perhaps nowhere is that more obvious than in the "religious Right's" criteria for presidential candidates. Anyone hoping to receive their votes must meet the strictest standards for beliefs in certain areas-or at least they must profess to. This is a very unreasonable, not to mention unconstitutional, requirement, as Cal Thomas points out in his December 13 column, "The Faith Factor."1
"This election should be more about competence and less about ideology, or even faith. It shouldn’t matter where — or if — a candidate goes to church, but whether he (or she) can run the country well."
He points out that those "who require statements of faith from presidential candidates risk disappointment," as history repeatedly bears out. In addition, by attempting to use political power to enforce their beliefs, "They exchanged real power and its ability to transform lives for temporal power, which changes little of lasting importance."

As Chuck Baldwin bluntly states, "The federal government cannot do the church's job."2 In his article, titled "Government Cannot Do Church's Job," he bemoans the fact that the Church is woefully neglecting its duty, then expecting the State to take up the slack.
"Therefore, instead of doing the hard work of teaching and disciplining our children, we look to Uncle Sam to straighten out our rebellious kids. Instead of preaching the hard messages of truth from our pulpits, churches expect Uncle Sam to straighten out (through the power of law) all those "bad" people out there. Instead of taking personal responsibility for our own health and livelihood, we expect Uncle Sam to be our provider and protector."


Let's tell it like it is: America is fast losing its moral compass because our families and churches are not doing their respective jobs. And the problem is, when families and churches fail, there is no Plan B. That is, not without the loss of freedom and independence."
"because everything [the federal government] does is at the expense of something else. The only wealth it has is what it confiscates from someone else. The only power it has is what it steals from someone else. The only 'services' it provides are at the expense of someone else. This is why our country's founding documents state that the federal government's role was to be very limited and narrowly defined."
When we as a church neglect our duties and fail to carry out our commission, our responsibilities, we cannot look to political figures to do our jobs for us, no matter what their statement of faith may be. By asking the State to help us in our responsibilities, we not only neglect our own duties, we ask the State to overstep its God-ordained bounds. But the two institutions cannot be combined with good results. "Pastor President" is an unholy alliance that is not good for either the church, or for politics. Only the Church can do the Church's job. Brothers and Sisters, we have a job to do. Let's get busy!

1. Cal Thomas, "The Faith Factor", 12-13-2007,

2. Chuck Baldwin, "Government Cannot Do Church's Job", 12-11-2007,

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"Seeker Friendly" = Disciple-less?

What must it feel like to know that you have led millions of people astray, and started a movement that has grown much bigger than yourself and cannot be easily stopped or turned around? That is how Bill Hybels must feel right now. Apparently, he was very instrumental in the launching and promoting of the "seeker sensitive" movement, with its man-made philosophy of evangelism and church growth. Now, due to the findings of a study conducted to investigate the results and effectiveness of their methods, he realizes that replacing traditional biblical methods of evangelism for their man-made methods was "a mistake."

Bob Burney analyses Mr. Hybel's confession in the article, "Seeker Friendly Church Leader Admits They Have Done It All Wrong," on the Christian Worldview Network. Commenting on the magnitude of this "mistake," he notes:
"...the error of the seeker sensitive movement is monumental in its scope. The foundation of thousands of American churches is now discovered to be mere sand. The one individual who has had perhaps the greatest influence on the American church in our generation has now admitted his philosophy of ministry, in large part, was a “mistake.” The extent of this error defies measurement."
Burney notes that while the movement is successful by the measure of the world - that is, in numbers - it falls far short of producing the "rooted and grounded" disciples that Jesus desires in His Church.
"The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples....If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust."

It is encouraging that Mr. Hybels at least realizes his mistake now. Rather than condemning him and other such leaders for leading so many astray, we should be praying for them that they would have the courage to work to counter what they helped to start, and that they would return to the time-tested, sciptural methods rather than trying to think up new methods on their own.

This should also remind us of the importance of knowing God's Word for ourselves, lest we also be led astray. Rather than backing up our own beliefs with scripture, we should look to scripture for our beliefs in the first place. Lest, while we stand firm in our convictions, we blindly lead the blind into the ditch. In addition, knowing what is right and wrong is of no value unless we act upon that knowledge by living it out from day to day. Only heaven will show the effect we have on others, either way, as we live our lives.

As an afterthought, I was just reminded of the passage in I Corinthians 3: 10 - 15 that talks about building God's Temple, the Church. Not all building materials are equal. Some will not withstand the fire. While the builder himself might be spared, his entire life work, as it were, could be consumed. Let us therefore, as Paul warns, "take heed how [we] build thereon," and choose only the best materials.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Seeing Through "Poorly Designed Retina" Argument

One of the common arguments used by evolutionists to try to discredit biblical creation is the "poorly designed retina" argument1. The gist of the argument is that the retina is wired backwards, forcing incoming light to pass through a layer of nerves and other cells before it reaches the light sensitive rod and cone cells, which are pointed away from the incoming light. Evolutionists claim that an all-knowing Creator would not use such a "poor" design, and that therefore the eye must have evolved by chance processes.

Creationists have long countered such arguments by pointing out several important reasons why the retina is set up the way it is2,3. Among these is the need for the photoreceptors to be in close contact with the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) layer of the retina, which performs numerous vital functions, including the continual regeneration of the photoreceptor cells, the blocking or breaking down of harmful substances, the transfer of nutrients from the choroid to the photoreceptors and other cells in the retina, and the absorption of excess light. The choroid, in addition to providing the nutrients for the retina, acts as a heat sink to remove the excess heat generated in the RPE, thus protecting the photoreceptors from heat damage. Both of these layers need to be in close proximity to the photoreceptors to ensure adequate protection and efficiency, but both are opaque. Were they put in front of the photoreceptors, as a verted retina would require, they would block most of the light from ever reaching the light sensitive cells.

Creationist (and some evolutionist) ophthalmologists who have studied the problem in depth have concluded that the inverted design of the vertebrate retina is the best arrangement considering the environments in which vertebrates live and the contraints placed on the design by the physical properties of light and the "seeing" process. Rather than being evidence of poor design, it demonstrates the ingenuity of the Creator in designing an eye that reaches the perfect compromise between all the conflicting variables.2,3

Evolutionists point to the verted retinas of invertebrates, especially cephalopods, as the perfect or correct design. Creationists disagree. They point out that contrary to the poorly designed claim, our eyes provide us with excellent vision. While the verted retina is suitably adapted to the undersea environment of the squids, octopi, etc. that possess it, there is no evidence it would work as well for land-dwelling vertebrates. In fact, since it lacks some of the numerous protective devices built into the vertebrate retina, it would probably be more susceptible to damage, and thus prove a much poorer design for our environment.2,3

While the above arguments are more than enough to discredit the poor design claim, new research has turned up even more powerful evidence for the superb design of the vertebrate retina4,5,6,7. It turns out that some of the cells in front of the photorecptors that were previously thought to be for structure and support only actually act as a fiber optic plate of sorts, transferring light through all the obstacles with very little distortion. These cells, called Muller cells, have funnel-shaped ends, which provide for even better collection of light in addition to allowing room for all the nerves to pass between them without blocking the light. This structure completely does away with the supposed disadvantage of the nerves blocking the light, which was not much of a disadvantage to begin with.

Once again, real science supports the creationist worldview, while posing serious problems for evolutionary theory. Despite all their accusations of poor design, evolutionists themselves have no explanation for how such a complex, perfectly balanced system could have evolved by chance8. In reality, their objection is not even based on science, but on their own faulty ideas of what God could or would do or not do. Not being able to provide a scientific explanation, they have resorted to illogical theological objections.
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."
Romans 1:19 - 22

Remember, "the foolishness of God is wiser than men." (1 Corinthians 1:25) The case of the inverted retina is ample proof of that. Who are you going to trust?

  1. For one example, see "Creationism Still Blows!", by "Nella" on the Jalenack blog. For a more official version, see the quote from Richard Dawkins in reference 4 below.

  2. Gurney, Peter W. V.,
    "Is our ‘inverted’ retina really ‘bad design’?";, Accessed 9/01/2007. First published Journal of Creation 13(1):37–44, April 1999.

  3. Bergman, Jerry, "Inverted Human Eye a Poor Design?";, accessed 9/01/2007. From Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 52 (March 2000): 18-30.

  4. For the creationist perspective that inspired this post, see Sarfati, Dr. Jonathan D., "Fibre optics in eye demolish atheistic ‘bad design’ argument", (Creation Ministries International, 8/21/2007);, accessed 9/01/2007.

  5. For the abstract of the original article, see "Müller cells are living optical fibers in the vertebrate retina", on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences website.

  6. For a popular-level news story, see "Living Optical Fibres Found in the Eye," by Lucy Sherriff from The Register.

  7. For a more detailed look at the experiments, see "Müller cells: Nature’s fibre optics", on the Neurophilosophy blog.

  8. For more instances of brilliant design in the eye, see Wagner, Tom, "Darwin vs. the Eye",, accessed 9/01/2007. First published: Creation ex nihilo 16(4):10–13, September 1994.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Sadly Amusing

There's a rather amusing, yet also sad, article on the CWN called "Announcing a New Denomination", by Bob Burney. Amusing because of the way it is written; sad because it is so accurate a depiction of the state of the [so-called] church today. But of course, that's not describing us. Or is it?...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Of Pharisees and Freedom

I am constantly blessed by the quality of the articles on the Christian Worldview Network. Many of them are edifying and challenging. One that I found particularly so this week is "Are the Pharisees Still Among Us?" by Steve Cornell. In it he examines who the Pharisees were and what they believed, and relates it to us today: are you a Pharisee?

He points out that the Pharisees started out with the commendable goal of returning to faithful obedience to the Mosaic Law after Israel was punished for her continual disobedience by being exiled to Babylon. Yet over the years they placed their applications of the law on equal footing as the law itself, and became very condemning and judgemental on anyone who violated their sometimes ridiculous rules and regulations.

Steve then points out the same attitude in many Christians today. We make specific applications from Biblical principles, and rightly so. But then we go on to judge others' spirituality by our application, when there is room for legitimate differences of interpretation or application. In that way, we elevate our own convictions in areas that are not specifically addressed by scripture to the level of scripture itself, just as the Pharisees did. When we judge others based on those convictions rather than based on scripture itself, we do the very thing Jesus condemned the Pharisees for and commanded us not to do in Matthew 7.

There is room for differences of application of general principles in scripture, and we should be careful to allow our brothers and sisters that liberty. There is, of course, the opposite extreme of "anything goes," but that is not what Steve is advocating here. He encourages us to be firm in our convictions in these areas, but to at the same time grant the same privelege to Christians who disagree (again, speaking about areas the Bible does not specifically address).

He includes a list toward the end of areas in which sincere Christians disagree on the application of biblical principles in areas not specifically outlined in scripture, and challenges us about our attitude towards those who disagree with us on those issues. This list was quite challenging to me in different ways, since I come from a tradition that would not practice most of the things on the list. I can immediately find principles in scripture that I would contend are violated by those practices. But I need to remember that for most of those items, that is one possible application of those principles, but that does not mean it is the only one, nor that the application is as authoritative as scripture itself. I am not to condemn Christians who do those things as doing something categorically wrong.

At the end he shares several points, based on Romans 14 and 15, on dealing with our differences in what he calls "areas of freedom." I agree completely with those points, and with the general thrust of the article as a whole. At the same time, there is a very important principle that he does not take into account.

For instance, he speaks of Christians considering the things on the list as being either right or wrong, obviously permitted or obviously forbidden. But the Bible speaks of another set of categories that Christians are to live by, namely good or best. In other words, we are not only to avoid things that are wrong, we are also to choose the right things that are best over the right things that are merely good, or "permissible". As the apostle Pauls says, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not." (1 Corinthians 10:23) In discussing principles of Christian liberty, Paul says that even though some things are not wrong, they are not for the best either. Even though some things are not forbidden, they do not help us in our walk with God either.

Later on in the same passage, Paul states the goal we should have in such "areas of freedom": "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) Our primary focus should be to please God in everything we do, to ask about every action or practice, "Is this the best?" rather than merely "Is this okay?" or "Is there anything wrong with this?".

So going back to that list, we need to look at it in a different perspective. If asked, "are these wrong", I would say that most of them are not wrong, since they are not specifically condemned by scripture. But if you were to ask, "are these the best", I would say that most of them are not. Yes, they are "permissible", but do we really want to partake of what is merely "permissible" before God, or do we want to do the things that are best?

Going back to the issue of judging others, I confess that I do often have a problem with that, and I do need to be more careful to allow other Christians the same liberty that God allows them. But at the same time, that does not mean that I have to believe that what they are doing is the best choice, even though it might not be wrong. So I challenge you, along with myself, is what you are doing best, or "only" right?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

ET: Nothing New Under the Sun

I recently attended a seminar by Gary Bates of Creation Ministries International on the topic of aliens and UFOs, and how they relate to the Bible. In both the seminars and his excellent book, Alien Intrustion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection [which can be found on his website], Gary presents a compelling argument for the real nature of aliens and the reasons behind their immense popularity in our society.

There is more going on than meets the eye, and it is extremely important that we be aware of it and able to deal with it properly, not only in the society at large, but probably even more importantly in the church. Sadly, much of the church has either ignored this topic completely, or fallen into one extreme or the other of denying all accounts of aliens completely or trying to reinterpret the Bible to fit aliens and flying saucers in where they do not belong.

Gary presents a balanced view, one that is supported by both science and scripture, that these phenomena are indeed real, but they are not caused by intelligent beings from another planet. Rather, he shows that Satan and his fallen angels are and have always been in the business of deceiving the world, and even God's people. To the Greeks and Romans, and many other ancient cultures, it was in the form of gods and goddesses. To others, fairies and elves. To our postmodern "enlightened" society, it is in the form of "saviors" from another planet or star, or even dimension, here to help us evolve to a higher level.

Gary examines the messages these beings are supposedly giving to their abductees and followers, and shows that something very deceptive and evil is going on, something that the church in particular cannot afford to ignore. Like it or not, this type of phenomenon is on the rise, and if we as Christians are going to be able to deal with it effectively, we need to understand the true nature of it and the purpose behind it.

Interestingly enough, these "visitors" do not hold Bible-believing Christians in high regard. In fact, we are viewed as obstacles keeping the rest of humanity from acheiving a higher level of evolution. "Aliens" are real; and if you are a Bible-believing Christian, they do not like you. Don't you think it's time you find out the truth and stop ignoring this "fringe" issue? The future of our society, and probably the church, will likely depend in part on how we respond to this issue. The Bible does have the answers, even for questions like this. It's up to us to know those answers and use them effectively.

Our "ET creators" are supposedly coming back. Are you prepared to counter their deception with the truth of our real Creator, Who is coming back, and soon?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Real Global Warming

There is a lot of talk going around these days about global warming, even among Christians. Many people are scared to death of the predicted results of what we are supposedly doing to our planet. I recently came across an article on the Christian Worldview Network that helped to put things into better perspective by warning of an even more serious kind of "global warming." Unlike environmental global warming, the causes of which are hotly debated and the remedy for which is unsure at best, this kind of warming is definitely caused by man, and can also be remedied, at least in part, by man. In fact, each one of us can help to make a difference.

The article is called "An Inconvenient Truth: Global Pew Warming." The author, David Raynaud, uses the analogy of global warming to describe the epidemic of what Ray Comfort calls "false conversion", people who "come to Christ" because they have been told that He can benefit them in various areas of their lives. These people lack true repentance because they have not admitted they are sinners in the first place. But by definition, someone who does not admit he is a sinner and does not repent of his sin cannot be saved. Yet the church, which is supposed to be a body of people who have been cleansed by Jesus' blood and are living a holy life under the power and direction of the Holy Ghost, is filled with these unconverted sinners. This causes a whole host of problems in the church, some of which Mr. Raynaud mentions.

He points to conformity to the world and wholesale adoption of its ideas as the causes of this global warming, and lays the blame at least partly on leaders who aim more for success according to the world's standards than faithfulness to God and His Word. This warming can be reversed, but it won't be easy, quick, or fun. Each of us can do our part by "making your calling and election sure," [2 Peter 1: 10] and being "on fire for God", rather than being lukewarm Christians (whom God has threatened to spit out [Revelation 3: 16]) or "pew warmers". We can also take God's Word seriously, and start living by its teachings rather than only talking about them.

Global pew warming is a serious problem with terrible eternal consequences for millions of people. What are you and I doing about it?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dino Dung Discovery Disturbs Darwinian Dogma

The latest issue1 of Creation magazine contains an interesting article about the discovery of remains of several different types of grasses in dinosaur coprolites (fossilized feces) from India. The discovery was somewhat surprising for evolutionists, since grasses were not supposed to have evolved until some 10 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct. Evolutionists are quoted as saying that the discovery "would completely revise what we've thought about the origin of grasses"2 and "will force reconsideration of many long-standing assumptions"3 about dinosaurs.

Now I have no problem with having to revise theories occasionally; nobody knows everything, and every theory is subject to change with new information. Nevertheless, this is only one small example among an innumerable host of similar situations in which some new find or other "forces" evolutionists to "completely revise everything we know" about some aspect of their theory. It stretches credibility to the breaking point after so many years of constantly revising "everything we know" at every other discovery. Especially since these are the very same people who insist that their view is the only correct view and should be dogmatically pushed in all public schools to the complete exclusion of any and all other competing theories. If everything they thought they knew about grasses and any of the numerous other cases could be so drastically changed so easily, why should anyone accept what they so confidently state in other areas? Who's to say some new discovery won't "completely change" all of that?

In stark contrast to the shifting sands upon which evolution is based, the Word of God, which is the foundation of creation doctrine, stands sure and unchanged throughout all ages. Several thousand years before Christ, the writer of Job described an animal he calls "behemoth", which many creationists believe was some kind of dinosaur. Note the description: "Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox..."4 Long before modern science ever discovered dinosaurs, much less found out they ate grass, the Word of God gave an accurate description of these creatures and their food.

So, who are you going to trust? Fallible man whose opinion needs to be revised with almost every new discovery, of the Word of an infallible God that is only being confirmed with every new discovery modern science makes?

1. Catchpoole, David, "Grass-eating dinos, A 'time-travel' problem for evolution", Creation 29(2):22 - 23, 2007.

2.Kellogg, Elizabeth A., quoted by Sid Perkins, "Ancient Grazers: Find adds grass to dinosaur menu", Science News Online,, accessed 4/07/2007.

3. Piperno, Dolores, and Hans-Dieter Sues, quoted in Associated Press online article "Dinosaurs Ate Grass, Study Finds",,2933,176052,00.html, November 18, 2005, accessed 4/07/2007.

4. Job 40:15, emphasis mine.

Friday, March 09, 2007

"The Choice Momentous"

I recently did a Google search for a poem I had memorized in high school. I could only remember a few lines, but what I did remember has stuck with me ever since I memorized them. The poem is called "The Present Crisis",1 and was written by James Russell Lowell in 1844. I found a full version [the version I memorized was much shorter] on the Poet's Corner website.

The poem was written to protest a war2, but also deals with the struggle between Truth and Falsehood, and the necessity of our making a choice for one or the other.

In the lines I remember so well, he eloquently lays before us the choice:

"Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah, offering each the bloom or blight,
Parts the goats upon the left hand, and the sheep upon the right,
And the choice goes by forever 'twixt that darkness and that light.

Hast thou chosen, O my people, on whose party thou shalt stand,
Ere the Doom from its worn sandals shakes the dust against our land?
Though the cause of Evil prosper, yet 'tis Truth alone is strong,
And, albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful, tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong."

He describes how clearly we see the turning points of history looking back from the present, but how dimly those who lived during those times perceived the events of their own day. The results were often tragic for the few who did see:
"Careless seems the great Avenger; history's pages but record
One death-grapple in the darkness 'twixt old systems and the Word;
Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,-
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own."

Though it cost them their lives, they were the ones who altered the course of history, and are looked up to today as great heroes.

"Count me o'er the earth's chosen heroes,- they were souls that stood alone,
While the men they agonized for hurled the contumelious stone,
Stood serene, and down the future saw the golden beam incline
To the side of perfect justice, mastered by their faith divine,
By one man's plain truth to manhood and to God's supreme design."

Ironically, while we recognize and honor the heroes of the past for the stand that they took for Truth, we demean and seek to destroy those who stand for Truth in our own day. As Jesus accused the Pharisees of doing3, we honor the tombs of the prophets our fathers killed, yet do not hesitate to murder the prophets of our own day.

"For Humanity sweeps onward: where today the martyr stands,
On the morrow, crouches Judas with the silver in his hands;
Far in front the cross stands ready and the crackling fagots burn,
While the hooting mob of yesterday in silent awe return
To glean up the scattered ashes into History's golden urn."

He condemns this hypocrisy:

"They have rights who dare maintain them; we are traitors to our sires,
Smothering in their holy ashes Freedom's new-lit altar-fires;
Shall we make their creed our jailer? Shall we, in our haste to slay,
From the tombs of the old prophets steal the funeral lamps away
To light up the martry-fagots round the prophet of today?"

Though written well over a century ago, this poem holds great challenge and rebuke for our own generation, and especially for us as Christians. We claim to honor the Fathers of our faith, but how do we treat our Brothers today who touch a nerve by proclaiming truth? It has been said before, that if Jesus had come for the first time in our day, or even if we had been alive in His day, we would have put Him to death. Notice that it was the religious leaders of His day that sought His death; are we any different today? Are we open to correction and rebuke? Or do we harden our hearts against God's prophets and their message?

Lowell describes how each generation must learn for itself to accept the prophets of their own day, and the One they represent.

"By the light of burning heretics Christ's bleeding feet I track,
Toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back,
And these mounts of anguish number how each generation learned
One new word of that grand Credo which in prophet-hearts hath burned
Since the first man stood God-conquered with his face to heaven upturned."

Have we learned the lessons of history? Are we ready to listen? Are we ready to choose Truth today, no matter how unpopular it is right now?
"Then to side with Truth is noble when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses, while the coward stands aside,
Doubting in his abject spirit, till his Lord is crucified,
And the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied."

Remember, "the choice goes by forever." ..."Hast thou chosen?"


1. Scroll down. There is also a hymn based on this poem.

2. Bill Dagle, "Once to Every Man and Nation-A Hymn Story",

3. Luke 11: 47 - 51.

Friday, February 23, 2007

"...Are You Ready?"

How do you know if you are ready or not? How can you be sure that your salvation is genuine? These are the questions Jim Elliff deals with in his challenging booklet, Wasted Faith. "Most people will spend far more time examining the vegetables in the supermarket than they will ever spend scrutinizing their faith,"1 he says. "Regardless of what others may have told you about the significance of an event in your past, let me ask you a searching question: Right now, is your faith authentic or counterfeit?"2 He then makes the following plea:
"We are obeying God by reexamining the issue of our own salvation. We are also acting with the highest level of common sense, considering the stakes. Will you search it out? What is most alarming is the risky willingness of many professing Christians to gamble eternity on an emotional one-time experience, a "sinner's prayer" properly prayed, or a feeling of substantial relief at a juncture in time, without ever taking a serious look at what is evident now, at this moment. Is eternal life of so little value that it seems unnecessary to examine yourself for evidence of it? Is there nothing to lose? Hell is engorged with people who once thought of themselves as Christians. Is there no danger for you?"3
He goes on to describe six counterfeit faiths, faiths that will not provide entrance to heaven: Faith without the Spirit, faith without Christ, faith without reason, faith without repentance, faith without fruit, and faith that does not last. He stresses the importance of relying on God for salvation, rather than on our own merits, actions, desires, or prayers. But he also emphasizes that true faith will result in a changed lifestyle, will produce fruit, and will be able to endure tribulation.
"Saving faith is an initial and ongoing belief in the truth about Jesus Christ (who He is and | what He has done) and a lifelong reliance upon Him alone for salvation."4

"Saving faith is prefixed by repentance, or a thorough change of mind about sin and God. Saving faith is suffixed by affection for God seen in its fruit, obedience. Saving faith is evidenced by love toward others, both in terms of correct responses | and benevolent deeds. Saving faith will endure, even though tested by fire.

Is saving faith the faith you have?"5

This kind of talk goes against much of the modern church, which considers any questioning of your salvation as doubts from the devil. But the Bible also encourages us to "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." (2 Corinthians 13:5) And again, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:10 - 11)

So in light of eternity, where do you stand before God? Is your faith and salvation genuine? Have you truly repented, and are you now living a life that is pleasing to God and that brings forth fruit for His glory? Or are you trusting in your own works or even your own faith to save you? It is Jesus who saves you, and Him alone. Nothing we can do or say can save us; all we can do is accept the salvation Jesus freely offers us. But a life that is radically changed at the fundamental level is part and package of that salvation. No fruits, no salvation.

As we were reminded in the last post, Jesus is coming again, and soon. Yet we don't even have the assurance that we will live until then. Death is sure. Is your faith genuine? As the words of a song go, "The Lord is coming! Are you ready?"

1. Jim Elliff, Wasted Faith, (Missouri, USA: Christian Communicators Worldwide, 2005), 7.
2. Ibid, 8.
3. Ibid, 9.
4. Ibid, 35 - 36.
5. Ibid, 51 - 52.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"The Lord is Coming..."

This was brought home to me in a new way recently as I read a book about end-times prophecy. No one questions that we are living in the last days, but just how close we are to the apocalyptic events foretold in the Bible is sometimes overlooked.

The book, Epicenter, by Joel Rosenberg, primarily talks about the war of Gog and Magog prophesied in Ezekiel 38 - 39. While that is only a preliminary skirmish, as it were, before the much larger battles later on, our world will never be the same after that war. And according to Rosenberg, that war might not be very far off.

Based on his research, experiences, and observations concerning current events in the Middle East, Mr. Rosenberg thinks it very likely the War of Gog will happen in our lifetime, possibly even in the next couple years. All the conditions described in the Bible are not fully in place yet, but never before have we been this close.

Based on his research and his interpretation of Bible prophecy, Mr. Rosenberg also makes a number of predictions concerning the near future. Among them, Israel will discover vast reserves of oil and/or natural gas on its territory; Iraq will stabilize and become one of the most economically advanced and prosperous nations in the region; and radical Islam as we know it will cease to exist after the War.

Whether or not you agree with his interpretation of prophecy and current events, the fact remains that Jesus is coming back--soon--and we need to be ready. Mr. Rosenberg ends his book with an exhortation for us as Christians to be watching the signs of the times and warning the world of things to come. And a plea to each of us to make absolutely sure we are ready.

Are you ready?

Friday, January 26, 2007


My Child, I love thee—Be!

But, Lord! I’m just a man.
I’m weak and frail, and often fall.
I cannot change the way I am,
It matters not how hard I try.
My Lord, I love Thee,
But I cannot be.

My Child, did I not say
That I would give thee strength
And pick thee up from every fall?
I ask thee not to do it on thy own,
But as thou dost abide in Me, and I in thee.
My Child, I love thee—
Be like Me.

My Lord, I love Thee,
And if Thou wilt live in me
And give me strength;
Then, Lord I’ll gladly be like Thee,
Instead of staying as I am.

My Child, I love thee—Go!

But, Lord, it is so safe and pleasant here,
And full of grief and danger there.
I do not want to leave my home to go so far away.
And who would go with me, I pray?
I cannot go alone.
My Lord, I love Thee,
But I cannot go.

My Child, did I not say,
That I will be with thee Wher’ere thou art
And keep thee safe in Me?
I ask thee not to go alone,
For I Myself will go with thee.
My Child, I love thee—
Go, for Me!

My Lord, I love Thee,
And if Thou wilt go with me
To comfort, guide, and keep;
Then I will gladly go with Thee,
Not stay here by myself.

My Child, I love thee—Speak!

But Lord, I cannot speak!
I don’t know what to say.
And they will laugh at me
And call me names.
I cannot bear the thought of that.
My Lord, I love Thee,
But can I not be silent,
And tell by deeds?

My Child, did I not promise
That I would be with thee
And give thee what to say?
And did I not endure much shame for thee?
I ask thee not to speak thy own
But I will speak through thee.
My Child, I love thee—
Speak of Me.

My Lord, forgive me!
Thou didst suffer much for me—and them.
And can I not tell them of Thee?
If Thou wilt speak Thy Words through me,
Then I will gladly be a mouth for Thee,
Rather than speak my own, or silent be.

My Child, I love thee—Do!

But Lord, that is so hard and takes much time
And I am busy too, you see.
Are there not others who could get it done?
I am already doing much for Thee.
My Lord, I love Thee,
But I cannot do.

My Child, I’ve promised thee to be with thee
And give thee strength to do.
Who gave thee time, and skill to work?
Is it not I?
And if there are others serving Me,
What is that to thee? Obey thou Me!
My Child, I love thee—
Do My will.

My Lord, I am so weak and vile!
How could I forget so soon
What You have done for me, and given me?
My Lord, I love Thee,
And as Thou dost give me strength and length of days,
I will do all for Thee,
And not work for myself alone.

My Child, I love thee—Do not be!

I love Thee, Lord and know Thy pledge
To be with me, protect and guide me.
But right now the way is dark—
I cannot see the light—I do not know the way ahead.
I want to trust Thee, Lord,
But I can’t help but be afraid.

My Child, I know that it is hard to trust,
But you must choose—if you would onward go.
But do not fear—I am the way! I am the Light!
And I will always be with you.
My Child, I love thee—
Do not be afraid.

My Lord, I choose to trust
And put myself within Your care.
If You are with me, I will not fear.

My Child, I love thee—Stay!

Dear Lord, I trust You, but I do not understand.
The door is open, the time is right, the need so great!
I am willing to go and die for Thee—
May I not go?

My Child, I know your heart for Me,
That you would fight most valiantly.
But I have other work for you, right here.
And others who will serve Me there.
My Child, I love thee—
Stay right here.

Ah, Lord, ‘tis hard to sit and watch from here,
When my heart burns so much to go!
Especially with so many years
Wasted by not heeding You.
But I have learned that You know best,
So if You need me here right now,
I will not pine, but gladly serve.

My Child, I love thee—Hold thy peace!

But, I…

Lord, why…

My Lord, I love Thee.
I will keep silent.

My Child, I love thee—Thou shalt not!

My Lord, I love Thee.
I will not.

My Child, I love thee—Come!
Thou hast been faithful—
Welcome Home!