Friday, August 27, 2010

He's Drinking for Two Now

A little Irish tale...

Mike walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender asks him, "You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it; it would taste better if you bought one at a time."

Mike replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in America, the other in Australia, and I'm here in Dublin. When we all left home, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together."

Mike becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way: He orders three pints and drinks them in turn.

One day, he comes in and orders only two pints. All the other regulars notice and fall silent.

When Mike comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "Please let me offer my condolences on your great loss.

Mike looks confused for a moment, then a light dawns in his eye and he laughs. "Oh, no," he says, "everyone's fine. I've just quit drinking."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ground Zero Mosque and The Constitution

I was wrong. President Obama is right. I don't like it. Not at all.

First, I must give all credit to Chris Rosebrough of Pirate Christian Radio and Fighting For The Faith. He has recently done a show where he spends the entire broadcast talking about the Ground Zero Mosque and the controversy surrounding it. This is the LINK to that specific show. It is a little over 1.5 hours, but very well worth listening to, as well as his other shows.

Here's the gist. There's a whole lot of shouting back and forth over something that probably WILL NOT happen. Read this LINK. And you also check this PIECE from the NY Post. From the sounds of it, this was a business venture that went bad. The company wanted to develop some condos or something of the sort, but needed the additional property adjacent to the piece they already own. They didn't have the capital for it. They still don't. According to the NY Post piece, as of August 8th, 2010, they have not raised near the amount of funds to complete this project. Whether it is condos or a mosque.

So why all the hub bub, you ask? Why are the likes such as Nancy Pelosi, Pres. Obama, Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly entering the verbal melee? Over something they all probably know will never happen in the first place.

The conservative wing of this debate have mostly admitted that constitutionally, this group has the right to build a mosque. But they ask, "Is it wise?" On the surface, this sounds like a great question. I bought it completely. Sure, they (the Mosque builders) have every right to build a mosque on private property no matter where, but is it "wise" to build it so close to such a sensitive place? But this is the wrong question. The only question we should be asking is, is it constitutional?

Normally, people like Gingrich, O'Reilly, and Beck are lambasting Obama and the left for destroying our Constitution on a daily basis. But on this issue, these guys are doing the very same thing they attack the left on. They are attaching feeling and sentiment to this issue, despite its constitutionality.

The First Amendment to our Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We all need to be VERY careful! If this debate turns into an actual suspension of a group's right to freedom of religion and freedom to assemble to having private property to do as they wish, because it is 'unwise', then the same argument could be made of any other person or group.

For example: Imagine a pastor preaching to a congregation and teaching things that others deem as 'harmful' and 'dangerous.' The very same thing that many are saying of this group and the building of this mosque. If we suspend the rights of this group, then the very same thing can happen to Christians down the road.

We cannot suspend anyone's freedom to assemble, freedom of religion, and freedom of speech because we feel it is 'hurtful' or 'unwise.' If we do that, it is only a matter of time before hearing and preaching the gospel of Christ on your own private property, i.e.- your church, will be considered 'hurtful' or unwise' by others, and your rights will be suspended, also.

Again, I want to point you back to Mr. Rosebrough's show. He goes into much more detail, and lays out this argument much more succinctly. I would just reiterate this. We all need to be careful. Whether you are liberal, moderate, or conservative. Our constitutional rights are being attacked from all sides.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Explanation of Saint and Sinner (Simul Iustus et Peccator)

A friend posted the following on her facebook page. It got me thinking. First the post:
"going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car"~ thanks Mrs. Baldree for this one...Mrs. Baldree was my childhood Sunday School teacher and you didn't have to ask her if she was a Christian, you knew by the way she treated others and how she acted without ever casting judgment on others....a shining example for so many Sunday Christians out there

I want to focus on the bit about how she knew her teacher was a Christian. That she knew it by the way she treated others. In the Gospel of John, Jesus states:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)
We WILL be known by our love for one another. This sentiment is absolutely true. However, I believe the sentiment of acting right (in the case of the earlier statement, how the teacher acted without ever casting judgment on others....a shining example for so many Sunday Christians out there) is an utterly false understanding of what makes one a Christian. The notion that Christians at church or anywhere are a bunch of hypocrites is completely false. But this is what we have been taught either at church or out in the world. "They say they are a Christian, but they sure don't act it!" The very essence of being a Christian is understanding that we are completely incapable of doing good. Paul writes to the Ephesians (chapter 2, verses 4-5) that God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were DEAD in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. It is by grace in which we have been saved -- made alive.

Our righteousness as Christians is not found in our love for one another. Loving others and other good works are not what makes us in right standing with a holy God. It is Christ and Him crucified for our sins.

Righteousness through Christ is called an “alien” righteousness because it did not generate from us. It is not our righteousness; it is His, and His alone. It is an alien righteousness because it came from without, and now it is in a foreign land. It does not belong here; it is an alien righteousness. In Latin, this is called simul iustus et peccator: simul, simultaneously; iustus, just; et, and; peccator, sinful. This literally translates – simultaneously righteous and sinful. It is a term that I believe was termed by Martin Luther during the Reformation of the 16th century.

Martin Luther recognized that even in a state of regeneration the believer still lives in the world and still in fact does commit acts of sin. The doctrine of "simul iustus" is not an excuse for lawlessness, or a license for continued sinful conduct; rather, properly understood, it comforts the person who truly wishes to be free from sin and is aware of the inner struggle within him. This is not to deny that the Christian may ever "improve" in his or her conduct. Instead, Luther was wanting to keep Christians from either relying upon or despairing because of their own conduct or attitude.

This concept is evidenced as Paul writes in Romans, Chapter 7. Notice that he speaks in the PRESENT tense, as he is currently a believer in the death and resurrection of Christ, but still struggles with sin.

Paul writes:
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. . .
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
(Romans 7:15-20 ESV)

There is no attempt to redefine sin to make it anything less than what it is. Rather there is a stark recognition of the dialectic of the Christian's acceptance before God and the fact that he still sins. Luther's phrase to describe this condition was that the state of the Christian between regeneration and ultimate glorification is simul iustus et peccator, at once just (or justified) and sinner. This is not a condition that will ever be transcended in this life. Rather, the believer must always rely on the finished work of Christ for his or her acceptance before God.

John wrote in 1 John:
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
(1 John 1:5-2:2 ESV)

Christ did not come to make us better people. Nor to be a good example of how someone should live. He came to make dead people alive again. This is the gospel. THE GOOD NEWS! As the old hymn aptly states: My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness! Amen!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Joel Osteen and Ham Sandwiches

Good ole Joel Osteen. Now I know he's preaching a false gospel. This video recently went fairly viral.

This video reminds me of a joke I once heard... Enjoy!

A priest and a rabbi are sitting next to each other on an airplane. After a while the priest turns to the rabbi and asks, "Is it still a requirement of your faith that you not eat pork?"

The rabbi responds, "Yes, that is still one of our beliefs."

The priest then asks, "Have you ever eaten pork?"

To which the rabbi replies, "Yes, on one occasion I did succumb To temptation and tasted a ham sandwich."

The priest nodded in understanding and went on with his reading. A while later, the rabbi spoke up and asked the priest, "Father, is it still a requirement of your church that you remain celibate?"

The priest replied, "Yes, that is still very much a part of our faith."

The rabbi then asked him, "Father, have you ever fallen to the temptations of the flesh?"

The priest replied, "Yes, rabbi, on one occasion I was weak and broke with my faith."

The rabbi nodded understandingly. He was silent for about five minutes, and then he said,

"Beats the hell out of a ham sandwich, doesn't it?"

In honor of Joel Osteen, I say we come up with a Pig and Shellfish Day! Eat up and be free! I love me some bacon and shrimp! Yum!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Great insight from CFW Walther...

The following was first published by Scott Diekmann of the Stand Firm blog and then by Rev. Erik Brown at Confessional Gadfly. Thought provoking statement from CFW Walther:

…In recent times people actually think one has to make additions, that church doctrine evolves gradually and grows in scope as the church grows older. [They maintain that] in apostolic days, so to speak, the church was in its infancy, but that now it is gradually maturing into full adulthood in Christ [cf. Eph. 4:13]. But it is not doctrine we are to develop, so that new doctrines are introduced, as among the newer theologians; rather we are diligently to use our reason, so that we truly know and understand the doctrines the church has always had. It is not our task to develop new doctrines, but to master our comprehension of the doctrines already revealed and always known to the church. God has by His grace enabled us here in America to realize that it is and can be neither man’s enlightened reason nor anything else, but only God’s Word, that is to be the source of all doctrine. As long as we cling to it, we will be unshaken, as on the rock [cf. Matt. 7:24-25]. Let us gratefully cling to it, refusing to let Satan drive us away. (brackets in original)

C.F.W. Walther, Essays for the Church, Vol. 1 (St. Louis: Concordia, 1992) 157.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Broken by the Church? Here's some good news.

Have you been broken by the church? I want to pass along some good news you might want to hear. Go HERE to listen to this lecture. Trust me on this. You will be glad you did. It will take 50 minutes of your life. These minutes WILL NOT be a waste. I promise. It is a lecture given by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt entitled 'The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church.' He gives a very clear and concise message detailing what I believe most of us have endured in regards to the Church.

Many of us have been broken by the church. Meaning this: Most churches have pulled the bait and switch. Lured us in with the gospel. In other words, Christ died for us, a sinner, and nothing can separate from His love. However, you spend any more time at that church, you will begin to hear another message. This message has broken me, and I am sure, many others. This message says that 'we haven't prayed enough, or we haven't read the bible enough, if you only do this-or-that, you can earn God's favor.' Sometimes it has been straightforward, other times it has been subtle. But you have been crushed and broken, nonetheless.

All of that to say is that I believe this something that will be helpful to an awful lot of people. Near the bottom of the page to this link, their is a MP3 and PDF download. I cannot encourage you enough to take time to listen to this lecture.