But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. - Luke 6:27-28
What does it mean to love your enemies? Did Jesus command us to conjure strong feelings and affections for those who hate us and that we also hate? Is it even possible to have good feelings toward someone we despise? If we are totally honest with ourselves we must admit that we harbor strong negative emotions to those we call our enemies. Isn’t it a contradiction to say we love whom we hate? How could God make such a contradictory demand upon us? Is the command to love our enemies some kind of divine prank?
The answer lies in Christ’s words – we love by doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us and praying for those who abuse us.
These principles seem straight forward enough but confusion can arise. What does it mean to bless someone? Isn’t doing good and praying for someone in fact, blessing them? Is there a difference in the meaning of these seemingly synonymous terms? Bless here in the Greek means ‘speak well of, praise’. Instead of indulging human nature’s propensity to gossip and slander our enemies (no matter how justified we feel in doing so) we should build them up and find what is praise-worthy and proclaim it. The all-encompassing love to our enemies we are commanded to fulfill is simply doing good to them, speaking well of them and asking God to care for them, despite the way we may feel. (more…)
I’m looking at you, Charles Darwin. Or, more accurately, I’m looking at those ‘rational’ minds that have taken Darwin’s theory and ran with it unimpeded, right over the biblical account of the origin of all things. The scientific community push the ‘fact’ of slowly evolving life forms over eons of time with nary a nagging doubt – at least publicly. In light of their unshakeable rock foundation, evolution then clearly disproves the myth of an omnipotent creator forming life by merely speaking into a dark void. Conversely, Scripture plainly records that God did create the universe and all it contains. It also makes a point to repeatedly claim that all God’s creatures reproduce after their own kind. We have two diametrically opposed doctrines from two entirely different sources. One must be true and the other a lie. They cannot both be true, despite claims by some to the contrary.
The issue boils down to the doctrine of man’s creation in God’s image. Did God purposely mold man in his image, breathe into him the breath of life, distinguish him from every other life form, or was man made in the image of monkeys with a few genetic tweaks engineered by mere chance in the process of natural selection? These are not minor differences. The gulf between these two views cannot be bridged. Any Christian who wavers on this issue needs to consider the consequences of compromise. A view in which God uses evolution to accomplish his ends is fraught with peril. Of primary concern is that the creation account must be allegorized to fit this paradigm. Admittedly, God does use allegory in the bible to relate truth, but if he allegorized the first portion of the book of Genesis then why not the entire book? Where do we draw the line between fiction and historical account? Based on what authority? Did Adam and Eve not literally fall from God’s grace? Did the story of Abraham and the patriarchs not really happen? Is there no real covenant, no true people of God? Is there no original sin, no need of redemption? Don’t you see how the dominoes begin to fall with this compromised worldview? (more…)
I recently received a comment from an atheist in response to my article Does God Send People to Hell? and decided I would post my rather lengthy reply in a post. Here are his original responses.
POST 1 – If God exists, then I really hope he’s a judge like you said. If that’s the case, then we’ll all be able to go to hell. And you’re wrong about nobody would choose to go to hell. I believe a lot of people in this world believe that hell is the only place for them. Me? i believe everyone(yes, including me) should go to hell.
Post 2 – If you haven’t notice from my previous post. I am an Atheist. Why am I an Atheist? Because I can only imagine God as an evil being that seeks to torture and destroy us. If this evil being exists, then we can only burn in hell. According to the bible, everything we do is evil. Whatever good we do will never atone for our sins.
So what if Jesus sacrificed himself? That only removed the original sin. We are sinful just by living our daily lives. Why do I say that? Do you know of the evils in the rest of the world? Have you actively stopped the evils? The moment we turn a blind eye to them, we’re doomed to eternal suffering in hell. He judges us based on our actions and our inactions. :
Know that we’re also judged by our thoughts and emotions. “Whose kid is that? Someone should shut that kid up.” You’re doomed to hell. You looked at a married woman and thought “She’s quite pretty.” You’re doomed to hell. You felt like killing someone for what that person did. You’re doomed to hell. You saw an item that you really wanted and thought to covert it as your own. You’re doomed to hell.
And that is why I embrace Atheism. If a being that is considered to be perfect exists, then we the imperfect ones can only burn in hell for all eternity. I am not posting this to convert you to Atheism or anything. I just want you to know that if God truly exists, then our fate is sealed. Worshipping him will not do you any good, he’s here to judge you, not to be worshipped.
Here is my reply:
Honestly, I sense from reading your posts that you’re not that far from the kingdom of God. You appear to have a keen sense of your own sinfulness, indeed, the sinfulness of us all, that is severely lacking, even among multitudes that claim Christ. But instead of fleeing to your only hope for salvation, you’ve decided to stick your head in the proverbial sand. You’ve convinced yourself that God won’t judge you because he is an imaginary being. However, the sense of deep conviction that you deserve punishment isn’t imaginary. You feel it in your heart don’t you? You can’t shake that sense of impending doom in your breast. Denying the existence of the Great Judge won’t spare you from his wrath.
I want to touch on a few points from your post. You feel that God is evil because he punishes evil. Does that really make any sense? If God were truly evil he would reward our sin instead of punishing us for it. But because God is good he must punish evil or he is not just. You’re right, man gets what he deserves when he rebels against his creator. This is the bad news but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. You seem to have a defective understanding of the cross work of Christ. You believe that Christ isn’t an all-sufficient savior, that his death on the cross accomplished some good but not enough to actually save anyone. This is not taught in scripture at all. When Jesus approached death on the cross he uttered the words, “It is finished.” What was finished? Complete and total salvation for those who believe. This is because of God’s sheer grace. In other words, the salvation Jesus bought and paid for with his blood sacrifice is a gift of God’s mercy. We don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it. We can only receive it by faith. Faith simply means that we look outside of ourselves and trust God completely to save us. We cannot even lift a finger to merit God’s favor as you so aptly point out. All of our works fall far short of God’s perfection. We need to be rescued from ourselves and God reaches down in a divine descent and plucks us from the flames of our just punishment because of his great love.
You write that Jesus died only for our original sin but scripture doesn’t teach this. He died for all of our sins – past, present and future. All of those transgressions were nailed to the cross and covered with his blood. All is forgiven. This is called Christ’s passive or suffering obedience. This brings up another problem in being made right with God. All our sin may be blotted out but that leaves us with a blank slate. We still lack the positive moral righteousness required by the law in order to be considered righteous in God’s eyes that we might inherit eternal life. Again, God took it upon himself to give us what we cannot hope to achieve in our own strength. Jesus Christ obeyed the laws of God his entire life. He was without sin and completely fulfilled the law to love God and love his neighbor. His obedience was perfect. We call this the active obedience of Christ. He actively fulfilled every jot and tittle of God’s moral law. This perfect obedience has been imputed (transferred or reckoned) to us when we put our faith in Christ. In other words, when we stand before God at the judgment he will not see our sin because the blood of Jesus has washed it all away and he will not see our feeble attempts at righteousness, which are filthy rags to God, but only the perfect obedience of Jesus. His works will be considered our own, and this only by the overwhelming grace God has lavished upon us. So, it is true that we are saved by works: Jesus Christ’s – not our own. We have access to his work by faith alone. You only need to trust Christ as Savior and he will not fail to save. Cry out from your heart, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” and mercy you shall receive.
- Christians should be taught that they purchase indulgences voluntarily, and are not under obligation to do so.
- Christians should be taught that, in granting indulgences, the pope has more need, and more desire, for devout prayer on his own behalf than for ready money.
- Christians should be taught that the pope’s indulgences are useful only if one does not rely on them, but most harmful if one loses the fear of God through them.
- Christians should be taught that, if the pope knew the exactions of the indulgence-preachers, he would rather the church of St. Peter were reduced to ashes than be built with the skin, flesh, and bones of the sheep.
- Christians should be taught that the pope would be willing, as he ought if necessity should arise, to sell the church of St. Peter, and give, too, his own money to many of those from whom the pardon-merchants conjure money.
- It is vain to rely on salvation by letters of indulgence, even if the commissary, or indeed the pope himself, were to pledge his own soul for their validity.
- Those are enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid the word of God to be preached at all in some churches, in order that indulgences may be preached in others.
- The word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.
- The pope cannot help taking the view that if indulgences (very small matters) are celebrated by one bell, one pageant, or one ceremony, the gospel (a very great matter) should be preached to the accompaniment of a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.
- The treasures of the church, out of which the pope dispenses indulgences, are not sufficiently spoken of or known among the people of Christ.
- That these treasures are not temporal are clear from the fact that many of the merchants do not grant them freely, but only collect them.
- Nor are they the merits of Christ and the saints, because, even apart from the pope, these merits are always working grace in the inner man, and working the cross, death, and hell in the outer man.
- St. Laurence said that the poor were the treasures of the church, but he used the term in accordance with the custom of his own time.
- We do not speak rashly in saying that the treasures of the church are the keys of the church, and are bestowed by the merits of Christ.
- For it is clear that the power of the pope suffices, by itself, for the remission of penalties and reserved cases.
- The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.
- It is right to regard this treasure as most odious, for it makes the first to be the last.
- On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is most acceptable, for it makes the last to be the first.
- Therefore the treasures of the gospel are nets which, in former times, they used to fish for men of wealth.
- The treasures of the indulgences are the nets which to-day they use to fish for the wealth of men.
- The indulgences, which the merchants extol as the greatest of favours, are seen to be, in fact, a favourite means for money-getting.
- Nevertheless, they are not to be compared with the grace of God and the compassion shown in the Cross.
- Bishops and curates, in duty bound, must receive the commissaries of the papal indulgences with all reverence.
- But they are under a much greater obligation to watch closely and attend carefully lest these men preach their own fancies instead of what the pope commissioned.
False teachers are a reality of the Christian church. Jesus Christ himself warned of their coming, as did the apostles throughout the New Testament epistles. False teachers and prophets have plagued the church since its inception. Scripture shows us that they will endure until the end of this present world system. False teachers are not simply a New Testament phenomenon. They plagued Israel throughout her troubled history.
The fact remains, false teachers walk among us, very likely within our own congregations. False professors, teachers and prophets will leach themselves to Christ’s visible church until the day he comes to gather his elect from every corner of the earth. If this is incontrovertible truth why do so many Christians pretend all is well in Zion? Why do we refuse to discern every message purporting to be gospel truth to determine if it is of God or not? Why are we not acting as good Bereans, searching out the scriptures to discern if that charismatic guest teacher flying through town this week is injecting poison into our spirits? Why do we not question his doctrine and theology before we ever grant him audience to our congregations? No, he usually gets a free pass, because he’s so likable and popular. Next thing you know he grabs a thick wad of greenbacks he just collected for a sermon well preached and bails for the next church down the road gullible enough to swing open its gates to the sheepfold. (more…)
I discovered this gem of a remark from an atheist buried in the middle of the comment section of the post referenced in my last article, entitled ‘Does God Send People to hell?’ It may well be the best comment I’ve ever received on this blog.
Here it is:
I was just randomly surfing the web and ran across this blog. I totally disagree with about everything you said, but thanks for saying it honestly. I get so fed up with the patronizing tone of Christians who say “God wouldn’t send people to hell, people choose to go to hell”. What complete and utterly patonizing BS. Christians believe God will send people to eternal and neverending torment. And God made the rules. I think it’s totally absurd and barbaric, and I don’t believe a word of it. But thanks, at least, for sparing me the BS.
You’re welcome. We here at ‘A Peculiar Pilgrim’ strive to provide a 100% BS-free environment for all our visitors. Any BS you may encounter will quickly be scoured away by the glorious truth of God’s word.
I’m sorry that you think God’s decrees are barbaric and absurd, but I do understand your dismay. I pray that God will reveal to you the depths of his love and mercy and that you would reconsider your position.
Thanks for your honest input.
A Peculiar Pilgrim
Here is a brief (and belated) response to a comment on my post on the justice of God.
Morsec0de wrote: “You have two people who live identical lives. The one and only difference is that one is a believer, and the other is not. Do you view it as just that one of those be tortured for all eternity and the other not? I’m sorry, but that is an absolutely revolting concept, and the being who instituted it would be despicable. I’m quite glad there is no good evidence to support such a being actually existing.”
I quoted from Romans chapter 9 in my last post concerning God’s choice of Jacob over Esau and I think that shedding further light on this will answer Morsec0de’s question. Readers be warned, this answer will probably not be a popular one, but it is a biblical one. (more…)
I have featured this atrocious video before but it is so theologically bankrupt that it bears another look. I saw this again recently on You Tube and was disturbed to find many people actually defending it. Sadly, this song sums up the soteriology of a large segment of Evangelicalism today. I have listed below the lyrics to ‘I Give You Freedom’ or ‘The Whippoorwill Song’. A few observations will follow. Blatant heresy has been bolded for your convenience.
I set the boundaries of the ocean vast,
Carved out the mountains from the distant past,
Molded a man from the miry clay,
Breathed in him life, but he went astray.
I own the cattle on a thousand hills,
I write the music for the whippoorwills,
Control the planets with their rocks and rills,
But give you freedom to use your own will.
And if you want Me to, I’ll make you whole,
I’ll only do it tho’ if you say so.
I’ll never force you, for I love you so,
I give you freedom – Is it “yes” or “no”?
I hold the waters in My mighty hand
Spread out the heavens with a single span,
Make all creation tremble at My voice,
But My own children come to Me by choice.
Even the oxen knows the master’s stall,
And sheep will recognize the shepherd’s call
I could demand your love – I own you twice,
But only willing love is worth the price!
For personal reasons I am suspending the weekly posts on my thoughts concerning the Sunday sermon at our church. I may still post one on occasion as I see fit. I am concentrating on other endeavours at this time. Look for an announcement in the next week or two that will have an impact on me personally and on this blog.
Sermon Date: 1/25/09
Text: Ephesians 3: 7-12 – 7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (more…)
Sermon Date: 1/18/09
Text: Esther 4:12-17 – And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.
- Esther rose to power
- Esther listened to instruction
- Esther chose to help
Reflections: It appears Pastor is doing a series on bible characters. Last week he preached on the faith of Jabez and this week he taught us about Esther’s dignity. Honestly, I didn’t really mine much out of this message. I feel a little guilty, but this does happen from time to time. Perhaps the Lord is making me work by the sweat of my brow to acquire the nugget of spiritual truth that Pastor has served up to us.
The problem I’ve noted about the last two messages is the disconnect between the virtue that these bible heroes possessed and the virtue that we’re supposed to demonstrate. The great question that has gone unanswered is, “How do I exercise the faith of Jabez and walk in the dignity of Esther?” I don’t know about most of you, but my faith is not like that of Jabez. My dignity in the face of dire consequences probably wouldn’t hold up as did Esther’s. I have no problem with being exhorted to the high standard of great men and women of God but I need to know how to live up to that standard. The answer, of course, is that by our own power and determination we never could measure up. Our only hope is the grace of God. We must cry out for the Lord’s mercy and compassion to help us lowly sinners look to the perfect finished work of Christ as our only hope for salvation. I’m too weak in my own strength to exercise great faith. The Lord must grant me faith to believe and grab hold of the promises. I’m too cowardly and self-preserving in the face of mortal danger to muster the dignity and courage to stick my neck out for my own people. The Lord must perform a work on my heart to turn it away from my self interests to the welfare of others.
I guess without a reference back to the work of Jesus on the cross these sermons are really instructing us in law, not grace. This is usually not the case with the vast majority of messages at our church. I believe that in this case the gospel portion of the message is assumed. I know my pastor well enough to be confident that he is not a moralist, but is steadfastly a gospel minister. However, I am convinced that we should never assume the gospel because the natural bent of the human heart is toward meritorious works. We must hear the gospel week in and week out in all its fullness, so that we may be humbled, lest our hearts be led astray by the things we believe we can accomplish in our own strength.
Sermon Date: 1/11/09
Text: 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 – Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!” And God granted what he asked.
- Jabez evidenced integrity.
- Jabez overcame adversity.
- Jabez invited responsibility
- Jabez expected victory.
Reflections: I never read The Prayer of Jabez when the book swept through evangelical churches at the turn of the millennium. I’m not sure why I didn’t. Back then I had no qualms following the latest and greatest spiritual fads of the day. I never read Bruce Wilkinson’s bestseller, though I have read much about the controversy surrounding it. My Pastor said that he had – and really didn’t have much to say about it after that admission. He went on to preach on Jabez’s prayer in a way that contradicts the premise of the book. Our congregation soon discovered two important facts about Jabez’s prayer. 1. It is not a magic formula that works by quoting by rote day after day. 2. It is not a key to health, wealth and prosperity. In fact, my pastor believed that when Jabez cries out to the Lord to bless him and enlarge his territory he is asking primarily for more responsibility. More to do is a good thing. Jabez, who had been faithful with much, desired to be faithful with even more. Pastor quoted from Christ’s parable of the talents, paralleling the good and faithful servant with Jabez. Jabez wasn’t asking for material blessing so much as he was seeking to expand his usefulness and responsibility in service to God and his kingdom.
Personal Application: I left service asking these questions; In what way do I desire God to expand my territory? What area of ministry have I been found faithful in and am ready for God to increase my responsibility? I know what the big part of my answer is, but I’m not quite ready to make that public. Suffice it to say, I’m ready to expand my sphere of influence to reach beyond cyberspace. I am preparing to make sacrifices in money, time and comfort. It is all for the sake of the gospel and I am excited for the new challenges that lie ahead. The Lord is indeed beginning to do a work in my life that will greatly increase my borders. Pastor taught me that Jabez did not seek fortune and ease, but fullfillment and purpose in the midst of doing God’s will. By the grace of God I will pray God achieves his purpose for my remaining time on earth.
I am adding a new category to A Peculiar Pilgrim. I”m naming it Sunday Sermon Reflections. I believe the title is self explanatory, but let me give you the motivation for penning my thoughts on the morning message. It has been my experience that during a normal week someone will ask how church went Sunday morning. I brace myself for the inevitable follow up question, “What did your pastor preach on?” My heart beats a little faster and my mind races to scrap together bits and pieces of my broken memory in order to muster up a vague yet truthful response without sacrificing my reputation as a spiritual Christian. This is not to say that I don’t pay attention to the message or that the quality of the sermon isn’t adequate or that it somehow does not apply to me. It’s just – well… I just forget. I know, I know. You may say that if I thought highly of the preacher and his message then I couldn’t possibly forget. Or, to turn the tables, you may point the blame straight at the pastor, accusing him of doing his job so poorly that no one could remember his message. In truth, the answer really has a lot to do with over-saturation.
Let me explain. (more…)
Tomorrow marks the 2nd anniversary of A Peculiar Pilgrim. I will be on the road to the Rockies so I’m putting this up early. If I never post again you can safely assume that we drove off a mountain somewhere.
Honestly, it has not been a good year for blogging. In 2007 I churned out about 120 posts. This year – less than 20. Ouch! Yeah, I know, ‘what a slouch.’ I even pondered the unthinkable; retiring from blogging altogether. But I just can’t. This pilgrim is poor and solitary with only a handful of loyal readers (I think), yet I still believe (perhaps vainly) that I can teach people from the scriptures and through my life experiences. So I press on. I will continue my pilgrimage down the road less traveled by for at least another year. I pray that some of you will carry on with me. I can always use the company.
Due to the dearth of quality posts this year I will simply link to my top five posts (in my humble opinion) of 2008:
My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace Parts Four & Five - This series holds a special place in my heart. It is both deeply personal and somewhat humiliating – but it is the truth, in all its unvarnished glory.
The Dirty Word of Modern Evangelicalism – Basically a primer on the importance of doctrine and theology in the life of every believer.
The Society of Satan and His Gospel – A couple of quotes from AW Pink and Michael Horton that has completely changed how I look at the work of Satan in the world today. Memorable!
Book Review – The Bible – My first official book review tackles the most powerful and influential book of all time. Do you think I liked it much?
Merry Christmas to all my readers!
I recently have had the distinct privilege of reading one of the most beloved books in all of Puritan literature, John Owen’s Of The Mortification of Sin. It is a deeply sobering treatise into the reality of the wickedness and pervasiveness of sin and its power. Owen argues that it is the duty of every Christian to put sin to death. In this volume, he demonstrates the awfulness of sin and the immediate need for its mortification He then goes into detail on how this is to be done. At one point Owen advises believers to “load your conscience with the guilt of sin”. A powerful sub-point to this direction is given here: (more…)
My pastor preached on 1 Peter 4:7-11 this past Sunday expounding on the apostle’s exhortation to serve in God’s strength. The theme of this entire month has been Serve. Pastor threw out a tidbit of wisdom that struck my heart profoundly, and I thought I would share it with my readers as well. His third main point of the sermon proclaims that God supplies strength for us, based upon v.11 in the text where Peter states, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…”
In conjunction with this profound truth, my pastor added this insight that spoke directly to my current situation. He said (and I may not have this directly quoted) “We become stronger by serving, we don’t become strong so we can serve.” Simple, yet stout enough to break the chains that bind. It’s the same principle by which we sometimes explain coming to Christ. We don’t clean up our lives so we may become worthy to follow Christ, we come to Christ just as we are, weak and helpless and his grace transforms us into new creations. Why do some of us Christians believe that God’s grace is only sufficient for the act of coming to Jesus but somehow the rest of life is completely up to us? (more…)
This video does an excellent job illustrating the great biblical doctrine of Sola Gratia – saved by grace alone. Enjoy!
The pilgrim is back! I apologize to all my regular readers for my long absence from the blogosphere. Oh, I’ve been around, but only as a lurker here and there, but now after a very eventful spring and summer I am ready to blog myself happy again. From April through June I’ve been busy moving and adjusting to our new home. Just last week our family took a second journey to that famous fantasy realm in Florida – Disney World. This trip was far more enjoyable than our last visit in 2005. One reason is that our kids are all a little older and more independent. They could enjoy the spectacle much more than they could 3 years ago. Although it was the adults who had the most fun overall. The teenagers were too old for Mickey Mouse and the young ones just weren’t feeling the magic. That’s OK, I suppose, because the reason I had more fun this time around revolved around the fact that a large number of family members partook in this great adventure. A grand total of 17 people, young and old packed their bags and made the journey to Orlando. I enjoyed the company and a good time was had by all. But as the patriarch of this clan commented at a final lunch gathering on the way to the airport: “We had to work real hard to have a good time.” I couldn’t agree more. (more…)
So, what does one have to do with the other? Well, you may have noticed that my post production has significantly decreased over the past few weeks. There’s good news and bad news associated with this trend. The good news is that my attention and energy has been diverted by the Lord’s tremendous blessings in my life. With a family of six members, we had grown exceedingly close – not devotionally, but physically, in our nice, yet modest sized home. Well, out of the blue 2 weekends ago, we received a phone call from a family member cryptically telling us we must look at this house for sale not too far from where we currently live. My wife and I exchanged puzzled glances, asking each other the same question – Why? We aren’t shopping for a new house. Reluctantly, yet somewhat curious we both drove out to the address and were astonished at the beauty of the home. We saw a sign that read ‘Open House – Sunday’. After church the following day we toured the inside of the home and fell in love with it immediately. It has so much more room than our current home. We were surprised at the very reasonable pricing. The square-footage is a major upgrade, but the neighborhood itself is not quite as nice as ours, as my wife duly noted. This probably contributed toward the fair pricing. However, the street itself is very nice and has a lot less traffic than ours. The backyard is smaller, but much better landscaped. (Less mowing, baby!) The home was reasonably priced, yet still beyond our means to purchase. The providence of God however, quickly put us into a position to buy the house. The next day a bid was put in and to make a long story short, the deal will be closed on April 30th!
Note: This is a continuation of a series I began in mid-2007. Sorry for the long delay. If you haven’t read any of the posts in the series you can start HERE.
Precisely two-and-a-half years ago, I began embracing the doctrines of Grace (also called 5-point Calvinism). It was a chaotic time, where both the deconstruction of my old theology and the construction of this new theology were taking place simultaneously in my mind and spirit. To complicate matters, an old friend, who had faithfully attended my now defunct weekly bible study for college students, came to my office one day and begged me to start up a new study group. She had come to a difficult point in her life and had a deep hunger for someone to bring her the Word. I had sympathy for her, but didn’t feel I was in any position to teach.
First, I could no longer teach much of what I had in the past. Many of those doctrines, like a house built on shifting sand, laid in a collapsed heap. I was in the process of bulldozing those aberrant beliefs right off my intellectual property. Second, I still did not know enough about Calvinism to be confident enough to teach it. Third, I still had not resolved all the points of Calvinism in my heart and mind yet. I readily accepted the T, the U, and the I but I wasn’t so sure about the L and the P. Odd, I know, if the U then the P should follow, right? I’ve never said I was the sharpest knife in the drawer!
Anyway, against my better judgment, I plunged ahead with the study and presented my understanding of sovereign salvation to that small audience. It all worked out for the good, though. The class constantly presented challenges that helped to sharpen me. In the end though, only one person from the group came to believe in the doctrines of Grace. She came to visit me in my office one afternoon last year and I asked her pointedly, “have you become convinced that the doctrines of Grace are true?” My friend gave me an unforgettable reply. In a humble and almost broken-hearted tone, she said, “Yes it has to be true, because I know my own heart.” (more…)
Ok, time for a shameless plug. I have organized a sneak preview for the planned Spring season of the Peculiar Pilgrim Broadcasting Company (PPBC). No writer’s strike halting progress here. Writer’s block on the other hand…
I realize my readers have been waiting with breathless anticipation for my prime-time lineup, so without further ado I present the Spring, 2008 schedule.
- A few Minutes with Brandon Lucas. Inspired by my friend SMOK’s fine works, I too am laboring over a commentary. It will be my first. I decided to start with the brief, (yet theology packed) book of Jude. Expect for my first entry to begin sometime in March.
- PBS (Pilgrim Bible Studies) Educational Programming. My upcoming series on Big Bad Bible Words will attempt to define intimidating theological words and phrases in layman’s terms
- Home and Garden. I will also resume my series on Tiptoeing through the TULIP. I will be focusing in on the doctrine of Unconditional Election next.
- Documentaries. I also have yet to finish my series on My Conversion to the Doctrines of Grace. I have two entries remaining that have been sitting on the shelf for far too long.
- Drama. There are a couple of fiction stories swimming around in my head, too. Eventually I will pour those imaginings onto paper.
- Critic’s Corner. I plan to write book reviews over everything I read.
- Reality programming. I will publish various topical posts based on life experiences and theological perplexities.
- TBN. When the need arises, you will get cutting PP commentary on the sad state of modern Christianity.
- Reruns. I will have my usual assortment of great quotes from church history’s great preachers and teachers. I will also publish thought-provoking posts from my fellow bloggers and friends.
- CNN. Finally, if I am discerning the will of God correctly, I should have breaking news in the next 2 or 3 months.
Whew! I may have bitten off more than I can chew! These are my PLANS, not my PROMISES. All program lineups are subject to change without notice.
I spent ten years in a church which would easily be classified as a ‘Modern Evangelical Church’. The pastor founded his ministry primarily on the principles of ‘felt needs’ preaching and subjective emotional experiences. In the midst of this environment I realized very quickly that several ‘high brow’ Christian terms were taboo. Among them were words such as tradition, liturgy, hymns, creeds, catechisms, doctrine and theology. The disdain of the last two terms I found especially disturbing.
A couple of years ago I recall speaking with a long-standing member one evening before service and she asked me what kind of books I enjoy reading. I simply replied, “Theology, mostly.” Her immediate reaction jolted me. Her nose crinkled as if she had just gotten a whiff of a frightened skunk. “That dry and musty stuff? That would put me to sleep” She said with undisguised contempt. She preferred a riveting fiction book (Christian fiction, of course) to mining the depths of the great doctrines of the bible. I have no problem with a good work of fiction, but it struck me as odd that a Christian would much prefer to read a work of fantasy over fact, falsehood over truth. This attitude is prevalent among members of the Evangelical church today. I must admit, I find this paradigm utterly perplexing. I have been in pursuit of a fundamental understanding of theology since the day God saved me from my sins. Admittedly, in the beginning I looked in all the wrong places, but over time the Lord has blessed me richly in attaining at least a rudimentary understanding of biblical and systematic theology. (more…)
Note: I realize this post is WAAAAY overdue. The Super Bowl is yesterday’s news, however this post really has nothing to do with the game, so feel free to read on!
So how I did I celebrate the greatest Super Bowl upset of all-time? I’m glad you asked. The unvarnished truth is, I spent over 3 hours late that night vacationing on a far distant island, reclining in a chair on the roof of a towering Anglican cathedral, reacquainting myself with a long-lost childhood friend…. (more…)