Thursday, November 29, 2012

Aged Graded Ministries Impacted by Low Birth Rate - USA Church Life 14-20 Years Out

Due to the economic recession and continuing recessions around the world, the US economic situation is such that birth rates have dropped to historic lows.  See here

Pew Research found birth rates have not been lower since the Great Depression:  As a result, certain church ministries may see long-term demographic shifts in numbers and / or volunteers. 

The youngest demographic group ministries will see the first wave of that change over the next ten years.  Childrens ministry across the country will be impacted by the decrease.  The drop in numbers would be seen across the country in Youth Ministries 14 years out or so. 
Likewise College Ministry after that would see smaller enrollments to go fishing in for Christ.

In the short term, looking at another trend, the Baby Boomer generation is retiring at fast pace.  This will have another impact on the size of Senior Ministries.  These age-graded ministries (that in itself is a big debate to touch on some time) will be drawing from smaller parts of the US population, no matter how successful, which will be noticeable to attenders and planners/leaders.  Still the somewhat Millenials will remain a large force in ministries for the time being.  The calling remains the same to reach each generation, but real shifts will be at play.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Landscape We Mill About in Is Changing

Thanksgiving comes and goes.  Early the next day is Black Friday.  Lately a reflection of our culture is unfolding in Black Friday video footage:  A video here records the sad picture of people (could be neighbors or anyone) essentially pushing, shoving and knocking each other out of the way at Walmart just to get a deal on a phone.  I'm just like anybody who likes to save 20 or 40 dollars, but honestly, this year, I skipped Black Friday just from weariness with consumerism.  I (maybe others) sense that its just not worth it some places.  Online shopping was not just an accident but an intention for me this year.  I wonder how civility can be restored in our country?  It seems the only real answer is a renewal of love of God and therefore neighbor.  As the love of God drops off, people love their own morality (a made up one, rather than derived/driven by God one).  Definitely worth praying for spiritual change.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Do You View Life Transitions?

Contentment in Life Changes: A Spiritual Lesson.

I wanted to take a lunch time break to share a specific lesson from a church planter who was until recently with the North American Mission Board (referred to as NAMB by those close to it), myself.  North American Mission Board serves the cause of Christ by organizing and funding disaster relief work and also missions work.  I was on the missions work side of this, involved with them because of my call to plant a local church congregation.  NAMB also sponsors US military chaplains for its denomination in all branches.  I just thought I'd share that for most of us, since most Americans probably have not heard of it.  Church planters were typically sponsored for two years time, to help get a church going while the pre-launch phase is going on.  That is what we had, two years time.  Those two years of their support were valuable.  Of course, you might wish as we did that it was another six months or year, but you have to be grateful for the connection.  That is the point of this post, transitions are opportunities too, not just connections.

I'm aware that it was good for NAMB and us.  For NAMB it freed them up for their new mission given them by their trustees, which is quite different than the past.  Up to the time I was with NAMB, while planting a church congregation, the focus was across the United States of America and Canada.  They provided health insurance and small amounts of money so as to support the effort.  It was great to be with NAMB, not merely for their initial help (which in 2010-2011) was nice.  They also provide endorsement towards helping the church plant/planter.  This can help you to have others endorse the work (such as a local church association, a state convention of churches, a meeting place landowner/landlord, etc).  When no one knows you and you have a team that is 5-10% of what you hope to grow to, that is a big boost.  They also pray for you and provide some basic guidance on certain church starting topics.  There is some materials resourcing too.  For us, it freed us up to give the church congregation the chance to step up.  God has provided.  The church has grown immensely, and is a strong local congregation.  But when the transition happened, there was some room for worry, if one did not view it from a godly trust view.  Life is like this for all of us in Christ.  It may be your work, friends, or location.

So here's the question for youwhat do you do when transitions happen?  Do you get nervous, do you "freak out," or do you see God's hand in it?  Those times when you go from one place to another, from one company to another, from this to that are an opportunity to see that the Lord Jesus cares for you.  One of the lessons I've learned going from the 2010 to 2011 period, on to the new 2012 landscape is that God remains faithful to His people who place faith in Him.  I've also learned that he builds his church, by about 45% in 2012 alone for our fellowship. 

Think on these truths:  God is faithful.  He is doing things for His glory and your good.  He brings people for each step of your life, and removes them too (there is blessed subtraction as well as blessed addition, even if we do not always see it in advance).  Romans 8 relates to you as well.  God intends to work all things for good, even the challenging times.  You should take that lesson to heart.  This is but one more story of God's faithfulness, maybe it will encourage you.

I know God is working at the church family I'm with in his good plans.  Thank you NAMB for the time partnering with us in 2010 (pre-launch/pre-start/planning) - 2011 (start/kick off).

Blessings.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

'No' to Civil Religion, 'Yes' to Jesus!

Living in the Dallas, Texas area is an interesting thing for a person trying to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

There are three difficulties with being/claiming to be a 'Christian,' in the Dallas Metroplex:

1.  Jesus as "kind persons" religion.  Most people, even of diverse religions (say Buddhist, Reformed Jewish, etc), will tell you they are Christian.  Translation for rest of the country, especially non-South:  Claiming to be Christian in Dallas is something like saying you're a "kind" person.  Most people in Dallas area take offense if you say they are not Christian, because they hear it as they are not "kind."  While this is most definitely not how the term should be used, it is common here.  This is very far of course from encompassing all the Bible means when it records Christ followers were called "Christians."  Rating:  widespread.  True?:  a very shallow, off course caricature.

2.  Jesus as "good teacher, prophet" religion.  Many in our area, Dallas-Ft.Worth, will even go so far as to say they are not just Christian, but believe in what Jesus taught and stood for in the Bible.  Some of these still may not be in a relationship with Jesus where they believe and trust He died for their sins on the cross, and rose again to provide them with a pattern, the promise of eternal life in heaven with Him.  In this case, saying one is a follower of Jesus' teachings means something like I use principles that He taught in my daily life.  It does not however equal the claims a Christ follower of the 1st century would acknowledge as Christian faith.  There are many fellow Metroplex dwellers I have met personally who are Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and yet will ascribe greater and more wonderful things to and about Jesus than your average Baptist, Bible church attender.  But they still do not know Jesus personally in a saving relationship.  Rating:  Fairly common.  True?:  Jesus was more than a good teacher and prophet.  That is a limited part of it, like buying a car and bragging about how it has Micheline tires, rather than talking about the car.

3. Jesus is my "Sunday thing" religion.  These persons are the ones I knew the most commonly as a teenager years ago, and it has become less common in the Dallas area.  You'll still hear it every once and a while though in our area.  I attended a local mainline church as a teen, and a good part of the Sunday School class I was in had people who genuinely thought Jesus was a living Savior for a few hours on Sundays.  That view of Christian faith was off because those thought it was about being impressively religious for a few hours or a day, so you had better act like it then, and get right then, but then just do your thing the rest of the week.  Believe me, apart from a godly understanding of what it means to turn, and trust God, and live for Him, this is perhaps one of the worst things you could fall into, don't go this way.  Rating:  Common with irregular postmodern generation church attenders, and regular older modernist generation church attenders.  True?:  No.  Jesus calls us to believe He is Lord, not just a Sunday Lord.

What do we believe then?

So then, listen, in contrast to all of these we have a need for placing personal faith in Jesus as the only way and person to be saved from sin, guilt, and death by (look up with a table of contents these helpful references:  The Book of Acts chapter 4, verse 12; chapter 17; The Book of Romans 10, verses 9-10). 

Jesus came to earth not merely to teach good things, or kind things, but to see people radically transformed by forgiveness of their sins, so that they could then in His renewing power live transformed lives (including but definitely, God forbid, not only limited to kindness).  Please note:  Trying to live a holy life apart from this power that comes from placing trusting in Jesus is not successful.  Even after, we rely on God's unmerited favor to forgive us and start anew all the time. 

It must also be said too that "Sunday-only" Jesus does not exist in the Bible.  He may exist in the minds of people who have a form of religion, but deny its power to change their lifestyle.  However, Jesus is not described that way in the New Testament of the Bible.  Jesus is living, present with Christ followers who trust Him, and the churches they attend by virtue of His being God as well (Book of Revelation chapters 1-2).  As God He presently is with His people everyday, not merely Sundays.  This means that we live for Him always, everyday, as we motorboat on the 4th, as we grill out, as we shop at the grocery store and stand at the checkout, as we do business deals and more.  Since He will never leave us or forsake us who hope in Him, we have a call to live purer lives, and we rest in unmerited favor when we fall, so we can get back up and walk along with Him in godly goals.  Where are you today, are you following Jesus today?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Avoid Inwardness & Be a Successful Church Story

What makes a church inward looking?  What happens when it is inward looking, and forgets the Great Commission outside of its membership?
Lifeway has a great little article on how dangerous an introverted attitude can be in a church congregation:
http://www.lifeway.com/article/ten-warming-signs-inwardly-obsessed-church?intcmp=content-LWMain-Hero3-ObsessedChurches-20120625

Friday, June 1, 2012

Common Excuses to Not Serve Jesus' Will...from Dr. J.D. Payne

Kingdom Service Is Not a Professional Gig

The above link from professor J.D. Payne was written while he was at a very consistently trustworthy seminary (I believe now he is a church planting pastor with David Platt's ministry).
His point deals with the morally incorrect mindset found today about the world and even, yes, in church attenders who haven't worked through it yet, that they cannot serve the Lord Jesus' kingdom for "fill in the blank" reason.  Namely, excuses like 'I don't have time,' or the common 'I don't know enough,' or even 'I cannot afford to' are obstacles to God's will for our lives.
In effect, while he doesn't put it this way, positively stated:  this is a challenge to obey Jesus' model:  The Son of Man came not be served, but to serve.  If we want to be like Jesus, then we should not pretend He is only a psychological lozenge, but also a great King worth living for today.

Some good stuff, be blessed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

For Those Pondering a Call to Ministry Full-time...

Many years ago E.Y. Mullins, a Christian author, wrote a tract entitled What Constitutes A Call to the Ministry.  There are not a large variety of options for those out there discerning their calls to ministry.  Today Lifeway provides a booklet on the call to ministry, and there is a new book called The Call by Ed Etheridge.  So it's worth looking into other options:  Mullin's work is brief, but here is a short outline of his opinion for our consideration. It may help to remember that this is the same Mullins who was president of Southern Seminary, a large US seminary, (SBTS) in the past.
=BEGIN QUOTE:
The elements which enter into a divine call may be stated as follows:
1.) An abiding conviction of duty or desire to enter the ministry and serve God in this way. I say it should be a conviction or desire. By conviction I mean a sense of duty.... I have used the qualifying word abiding because the sense of duty should be permanent. They cannot escape....In some cases it is not so much a sense of duty as a desire. This also is permanent.
2.) Of course, personal fitness in body and mind and spirit is necessary. A man must be a regenerate man, he must have a reasonable degree of health, and he must have aptness to teach or capacity for aquiring aptness ot teach, or else he will not be a success in ministry. Usually God shows a man these latter qualities by using him in Christian work, in the Sunday School or young people's organizations, or otherwise. Then, too, the opinions of the brethren usually coincide and agree in the opinion that God is calling the young man into the ministry. Thus there is an inward call and an outward one. The two harmonize. The above elements which enter into it contain only the essentials. There are many variations in the experiences of men who are called into the ministry. God has manifold ways of making his will clear. No two men have exactly the same experience. Where there is perplexity or doubt, earnest prayer, consultation with friends and reading the Scriptures will usually in time develop into clearness the divine call, or show that it is not a call to the ministry.
=END QUOTE.

Thinking critically about this, how might it apply to you if you're exploring this topic?
Would you add/change anything?

This is from the only copy (read: rare archives) I know of stating President Mullin's view on this in a tract. It may be of interest to you to know that the mentioned Lifeway materials on the subject today are remarkably similar in conclusions and main points. However they tend to be larger booklets rather than tracts, complete with places to interact with questions on one's call to full-time ministry.  Maybe if you're searching the web on this topic, this can help a bit.

US Church Historical Guesses Turned Fact - Part I

Franklin Wilson, D.D. wrote through the American Baptist Publication Society a booklet on Baptist principles.  The name of this work, drum role...: The Final Triumph of Baptist Principles.  It may seem silly to us to hear that kind of title in a jaded not only church culture, but American culture, but given when he wrote it, in the US church life, it was predictive almost.  The size of Baptists went from practically nothing on to become a huge set of denominations today (there lots of kinds of Baptists, unlike Catholics who are in one under the Pope/Cardinals, for instance). 
So what did he say?  Dr. Wilson guessed (quiet well) how principles of Baptists should lead to their churches' growth and success over a long-period of time.  Again, keep in mind this booklet was written in 1890!  Keep in mind this has --not-- been the case for many or most denominations.
He begins with an example of the massive growth (then) amoung Swedes getting saved/switching polity to the Baptist church in Sweden. This in spite of persecution by Lutherans and the growth taking place in the 1850's-1890's.
The first reason for Baptist triumph is that they "appeal to the Bible, and the Bible only, as their rule of faith and practice. Obedience to the inspired Lawgiver is one of their cardinal principles."
From what I can understand, the second principles is this: "the concessions of Pedobaptist scholars, historians, and divines of nearly every sect and nation in Christendom who, though seperated by oceans, continents, and generations from each other, and defending infant sprinkling on various grounds, have been compelled as honest men to confess that it is not found in the Holy Scriptures."
Then he moves into consideration of history and argument building as something that is situated on the Bible for making it a good argument. Then comes the "inference that such a cause, with all other inspired truth, will eventually triumph. We confess that the obstacles seem so overwhelming that, from a merely human point of view, the conversion of the world to the pure gospel is the most Quixotic of all enterprises. It has to encounter the native depravity of the human heart...." Etcetera.

So then we see that the Baptist case will triumph so long as it is faithful to the inspired Bible. I am in agreement with Franklin Wilson in as much as I have had a chance to read here. The reason Baptists have not triumphed is that they have abandoned the Bible for 80+ years in the SBC (in the US anyways) until recently. However one could imagine that biblical fidelity will prove profitable because God blesses His Word. Indeed, Baptist scholar Thomas Nettles sometimes mentions the same conclusion that Franklin Wilson here comes to in this booklet. I don't know if he agrees with him in everything, but Dr. Nettles does at least in that conclusion line up with Wilson, D.D.

How do you see it? Any brave Presbyterians or Catholics out there who disagree?

How Do You Know What You Know? (another installment)

Benedict de Spinoza - a writer of the past whom many look to for this answer (not necessarily me, but I'm keen to know about him, given a lot of people do look to him (one example, many modern Jews you meet and have coffee with about religion).

Fyi:  local readers, this is a personal interest of mine on the side.  This is not something I expect everyone to know about, lol :)

Benedict of Spinoza, born in 1632, was part of a Jewish community in Amsterdam. He studied Latin and Cartesian philosophy, Torah, Jewish heritage, and the Talmud. Spinoza was adament that chance is a myth and there is no "such thing as a brute, unexplainable fact," (52-53, The Blackwell Guide to Modern Philosophers). There are several levels of knowledge, the first being what you are told by report or teacher and you know by remembering. The second being a certain kind of knowledge, knowing something is true, by proportions and certainty demonstrated. The third is why something must be true, by inferring effects from a complete knowledge of causes, (53, Blackwell).
Spinoza held that deductive (certain, aka 100%) proof is beyond human intellectual powers, (53).
In other words, probability arguments are the only ones to go on intellectually (this is not my view, I'm just relaying his view). He seemed to find that these second types of arguments were adequate for knowledge since one could have sufficient knowledge of an attribute, rather than all attributes.
Spinoza held that God's infinite intellect can offer a complete description of the universe in a deductive sense. He posited, however, an infinite mind could comprehend God's existence.
God is also the one substance of the universe himself in Spinoza's thought.
Knowing is accomplished by "following" the "proper order" (50-1) rather than by doubting and then refuting doubt piecemeal (51). Knowledge of causes gives rise to what we know. Starting points are "adequate" ideas about something and then building upon them. Doubts and not knowing will be non-existent if the proper order of building knowledge is followed. Any knowledge of a thing apart from knowledge of a thing's cause is "incomplete and partial," (51).
Adequacy def'd: "an idea which...has all the properties, or intrinsic denominations of a true idea" apart from any other object and considered in itself. It must be self-sufficient. Every idea is identical with its object. God's infinite intellect can comprehend true, adequate, complete knowledge of a thing because it knows that things causes.

It seems that Spinoza holds that we can't know all things, only God can, but we can know parts of all knowledge, with out limited intellect. Our reason can infer notions, but it cannot be complete, true, adequate in all things. The ultimate knowledge is a complete understanding of all things, to answer the question "why?"

Is there a division in Spinoza between saying that there are no brute facts, but then saying we can know a thing in itself? Can we know anything and really not know everything in his scheme? Is it possible to not be God but know anything certainly, fully adequately, to be true. Are we destined to be without deductive certainity?

Can we know absolute truth with Spinoza (it would appear not....)? Any philosophers want to help us out? It seems to me that he has a contradiction in advocating his view and then saying we can't know something deductively. Why follow his "proper order?" Does it certainly lead to true truth? Are common notions of probability adequate for certain theological/philosophical questions? Does intuition really give us total knowledge of "why?" Isn't this a bit Platonic? Much more could be asked. What do you think? Can Baptists learn anything from a Spinoza, or is he a waste of time?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Christian Roots Not Enough ... May 2012

For the sake of political edge with his base, the President decided to endorse and support homosexual marriage.  Several articles pasted here cover his change from in 2008 saying marriage was a union between only a man and a woman, and even a sacred institution for him personally before God, to now saying it is just a set of rights between two people.
http://www.expatica.com/de/news/german-news/germany-hails-obama-s-courageous--gay-marriage-stance_226561.html
http://news.yahoo.com/obama-gay-marriage-support-seen-world-precedent-233515249.html;_ylt=A2KJ3CVFyqtPym4AhnjQtDMD
http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/05/10/evolutions-end-president-obama-calls-for-same-sex-marriage/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-insiders/post/a-gay-marriage-political-crisis-not-evolution/2012/05/10/gIQApeNFFU_blog.html?hpid=z2

News agencies tended to believe (on their own part) that President Obama would switch from a God-driven or oriented view of marriage over to a relativistic view of marriage at some point.  Would it really happen though?  Now it seems the transformation is complete.  One thing that is obvious from this:  President Obama no longer is guided by his past principles from a church background.  He'll do what seems right to a certain portion of his voter out of peer pressure, even if a portion of the voter base disagree.  Proof of this may be his conversation with Jeremiah Wright, where he told his former pastor, the Rev. that his problem was he preached the truth and it would hurt his campaign if Wright did this.  See this article, from the New York Post:
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/the_bribe_to_silence_wright_io9jneobl3fUF0cb7LpcNM

The church can no longer endorse a moral principle turned upside down when the Bible is so clear on the matter.  It's not like Romney is a saint in handling Bible principles.  For instance, he's been a Mormon Bishop, which is a religion teaching things utterly contrary to worked-out Christian doctrine from the Church's (universal) earliest days in the 1st century as well as the Jewish heritage this comes from where it had been worked out as well.  There are other things that could equally be said regarding Romney's teachings.  This post is in no way an attempt to prop up Romney.  However, it is a cultural statement that our President is working to advocate the views that God says are signs a nation is under judgment -- rather than blessing (Romans chapter one).  In other words, he will re-narrate any teaching of truth, to try to make something off limits to seek after from the Bible's view, palatable to society at large. 

This issue will divide many by its nature in relation to God and the world, in a way that Jesus predicts / mentions a household is divided by beliefs about Him.  To help the church survive as we live in perilous times, we must avoid voting for things on issues that will come back to haunt us if we let them by:  the immoral teachings on aborting young children for the sake of a person's monetary gain or interest in raising children, and homosexual marriage being supported, and a lack of support for a Defense of Marriage Act in praxis.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Gallup "Religiosity Index"

A recent study of 2011 Religiosity came out by Gallup. Here are the results:
http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2012/03/real-boundaries-bible-belt/1617/

Some of the conclusions are a bit strange, but it measures religiosity in general, so no surprise. Interestingly, from a solid apologetics perspective, the US is equally religious, but everyone worships something else. One man or woman worships comfort and relaxation over what is normal, one worships approval of friends and peers, another worships a false god of a world religion besides Yahweh.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Secular Television and the Christian Family

Christianity Today magazine has a good article offering three views on how parents should see secular television for children. This is a thought-provoking and informative article.
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/march/secular-television-morals.html

Jesus & US Constitution Artist a Mormon - Advocating Mormon Doctrine...

There is an artist (John McNaughton) who has become very popular in the culture among those identifying as conservatives.   This artist tries to combine religion and politics in a work. As no one is neutral, either liberal or conservative or independent, it is always useful to ask: where is he coming from? I'm interested in this from the religion / faith angle.
When you watch the video he has about a piece, there is a "Jesus" combined with American figures such as portrayed by some of the Founders and JFK and a soldier around Jesus.  This artist has a voice-over in the background, which says that the constitution of the USA is "divinely inspired." Boom!  This is code.
This is a dead giveaway of classic Mormon theology, which holds that belief uniquely to my knowledge (I know some forms of liberal theology have long-ago, but even though some of those ancients are around, that is pretty much a dead enterprise in theology (thankfully)).
Conservative Protestant pastors and church people should not be supportive of a belief that any document -- besides God's Word in the Bible that we have today -- is inspired 'of' God.
II Timothy 3:16 speaks only to the canon of God's Word as inspired.  The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants that the Mormons have cannot be placed on that level (because they have historical misinformation and are contradictory to the Bible we accurately have).  Definitely, the US Constitution should never be viewed as inspired.  I think the Constitution is a great document, but the Bible is simply on another unreachable plane.  Mormons have made up a belief about the Constitution as inspired, from a historic Christian standpoint, and are trying to sell it to the American public in the conservative quarters.  Implications may abound, but one of them is that for us as committed followers of God's Word in the Bible, nationalism or patriotism should never supplant God's place in his letter to us, the Bible.  
To be clear, as a reminder to all of us, only in history can the nation of Israel as it was back under the Law of Moses (it is not today based on the Law, despite photos and videos showing those rare Israeli orthodox Jews as if they made up the whole nation over there) could claim an inspired constitution.  There is no other nationalism or patriotism that should be baptized as inspired, even among non-Mormons.  Speaking for myself, I'm glad that the artist apparently is not liberal theology.  Liberal theology (different than liberal politics) sends people down a slippery slope to unbelief and ultimately self-worship (result of pride in knowing what is "scripture" in the Bible and what is "not" depends on how you "feel," which is evil).  My suggestion here is that no one be subtlely led to put their nationalism on the same shelf or a higher one than their love of God and faith in Christ Jesus.

Links on his artwork for your enjoyment/thoughtfulness:

http://jonmcnaughton.com/content/ZoomDetailPages/OneNationUnderGod.html

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/03/21/painting-of-obama-burning-constitution-sparks-controversy-free-speech-offensive-or-both/

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trusting Your Bible

This got another ground from the human perspective to be supported. A bunch of skeptics are going to have to back-track on their words because of this find. Wallace is a very reliable professor.

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37197

Water Projects - Missions in action

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37190

This article shows some of the work being done on the mission field. Amen. It helps them and gives an opportunity for Jesus to be heard.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Islamic Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

It turns out that Mubarak being gone in Egypt is a problem for the US. While he had few friends, yet there was a sort of "status quo" that no one was happy with, but at the same time kept things sort of in check. The previously discouraged Muslim Brotherhood, which when I traveled there in Egypt before, was hindered from full actions and political tools, is now rising in new power, to a simple majority position. They are a radical form of Islam. That is a quick change of things given the long history over there with them being kept out of the political machinery in recent decades.

Who cares? In short, for Christians over there, it is going to be increasingly challenging as Muslim Brotherhood is not tolerant of Christians, and will want to impose the extra tradition driven restrictions and extra taxes on non-Muslims (like Christians and Jews) and a hundred other things in their pre-modern law. While this is not the most recent news, it doesn't take someone much brain power to see what is coming soon after they start to assert a different set of values:

http://cnsnews.com/news/article/muslim-brotherhood-warns-us-aid-cut-may-affect-egypt-s-peace-treaty-israel

More than likely, Egypt will go from one set of difficulties for Christians to en entirely other set of difficulties for Christians. This will factor into both safety visiting there and also Christian work there in the future by Egyptians.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Contraception and Church Affiliated Entities

It is a hot topic now that the Roman Catholic church's entities, such as hospitals and so forth, may have to pay for employees to have access to the same kind of contraception Obama would like. While obviously some contraception is not a big deal to most Protestants (unlike Catholicism where it is not recommended for its faithful), some contraception is absolutely anathema to us Protestants too. The Word of God points to life as beginning at conception, which I'll just state relying on the many excellent long, thoughtful defenses of this by natural theologians of Christian churches. Some contraceptives can cause a very early stage abortion. These therefore are (even if in a small number of cases) killing unborn children, at the expense of a church entity. Protestants of all stripes that believe in the whole Word of God, rather than making themselves little gods that know which parts are good for them, must stand with the Roman Catholics on this and for different reasons. We cannot be supporting abortion when passages like Psalm 139 indicate God's view on when life begins. This is a religious, spiritual issue for life. Theologically, it is combining worship of a false god (like Molech in the Old Testament where people sacrificed their young, and in war killed the unborn in a womb with hooks) with worship of the one true God to ask a church, or any Christian private business owner, to have to fund abortions. Literally, even if this effort reaches an appeasement with the Roman Catholic church as an organization or Protestants of similar conviction, it will still be theologically raping the conscience of Protestant and Catholic private business owners who will have to pay for (in some cases, small in number as they may be) abortions at a very very early stage of childhood development. This is an infringement on the 1st Amendment of even private business owners, not merely a religious 501(c) 3 entity. This is a disturbing turn in our country and essentially marks the end of a person's rights to worship God by protecting the youngest lives. If someone wants to have a contraceptive pill or medicine that might in a number of cases kill children at the youngest stage, then they perhaps can pay for it ENTIRELY themselves. This would be a move in the right direction at least. As it stands now, many people more than simply the Roman Catholic church are funding abortions as an option in healthcare that is not the only option. See William Cutrer books for more info on why Christians CANNOT support certain types (not all or most) contraceptives.

Please check out these for more solid information:

http://freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2844309/posts

http://www.redstate.com/griffinelection/2012/02/09/the-only-compromise-on-%E2%80%9Ccontraceptives%E2%80%9D-is-complete-exemption-for-all-religious-individuals-groups/

http://foxnewsinsider.com/

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Short Review: A Book You'll Actually Listen To.

A Book You'll Actually Listen To is a doctrinal book on audio cd that can be found at local Mardel or Lifeway Christian Stores. It is made up of four books covering On the Old Testament, Who is God, On the New Testament, and Church Leadership. Some parts rehearse standard evidential apologetics like the Who Is God section. However, it is a good reminder of some of those standard modern arguments. The Old and New sections are challenging for one personally and doctrinally. You'll find surprising insights after being bored a minute, then there is a nugget of gold. Perfect for driving. The Church Leadership chapter is almost entirely worth its time spent listening to it. It is relevant to the American church situation and biblical. It is also a testimony from Mark's own experiences as a pastor in Seattle. Overall, I would recommend it as a refresher, as a support or apologetic for the Old and New Testaments, and as a reminder of standard arguments for God. The Church Leadership section is useful for both lay persons and pastors who want to follow the Bible rather than a Corporation structure or Roberts Rules of Order. In our day, so many of the nice outwardly looking structures and worship services in American neighborhoods ignore the Bible's own information on church structure and leadership. Yet this book on audio gets past that and also has practical insights on not giving way to evil person's who try to divide the congregation either painting themselves as the "nice" ones or as they might attack certain people they don't like. A strong church leadership is the best way to side step ever having that problem get very far, though in Pastor Mark's church, when it was a plant (new church), they apparently learned this by experience at first, rather than foresight.

Blessings,...