Grow Up, Church…It’s Just “A Shack”

the-shackThe movie, “The Shack,” like the book that preceded it, is causing a stir among evangelicals. Accusations are flying left and right. Some are fuming and warning others not to see it. Others are in a borderline state of worshipping the story. You may agree or disagree, but here is another $0.02 worth of opinion.

Before I start, I’m not advocating or supporting the film…but neither am I announcing with a voice of ‘grave danger’ to those who choose to see it. Whenever an artistic expression comes out, it is easy for shallow-minded and infantile believers to jump on the bandwagon of protest. After all, we can feel spiritual by focusing and judging things outside of our own soul, and avoid the deep personal issues within our heart. That way, we can keep God’s finger off the real pressure point.

Simple points to remember:

  1. It is a fictional movie – it’s make believe.
  2. It is not true or truth – it’s fantasy.
  3. It can be enjoyed as fantasy.
  4. It does not threaten the faith of the Gospel with its fantasy leaps of confusion.
  5. It will not shake the faith of those who know Christ.
  6. It is not a theological treatise.
  7. It is entertainment.
  8. It is not the first or the last movie to misrepresent Christ or the Trinity.

Continue reading “Grow Up, Church…It’s Just “A Shack””

A Fresh Look at Matthew’s Gospel

matthew“The men who were tax collectors had no fellowship with other countrymen except fellow tax collectors. They were regarded as puppets to the Roman government, and traitors and heathens to the ordinary Jews. They were viewed as unclean and vile, and the average Jew, especially the religious ones, would not even sit at a meal with them, as sharing a meal was viewed as acceptance into fellowship.

Matthew knew what it felt like to have his own countrymen regard him as the chiefest of sinners. He understood the condemning stares and the rejection from the religious men of his day. And yet, Jesus chose Matthew as a member of his inner circle of followers. This is the same tax collector the Holy Spirit used to record one of the four gospels. Continue reading “A Fresh Look at Matthew’s Gospel”

Jihad Rising

This will be a difficult post to communicate clearly for a couple of reasons. First, because so many Americans are unfamiliar with the international intent of the Islamic religion. Second, because Americans seems to see things with a narrow myopic view. It will be challenging for some to see, rejected by others, and appear to be a warning to others.

jihadDonald Trump’s election will bring an increase of unrest and danger. I’m not talking about the protests and complaining we have witnessed from the left leaning socialist ideologues. Instead, I’m honing in on the underlying mantra and intentions of those who embrace Islam. Islam, at its core, is more than a simple belief system. It is a political, cultural, governmental, social, and religious belief system that creates a culture of control over its followers AND all non-believers who are allowed to live within its borders.

For eight years under the George W. Bush presidency, Islam had a friend. Even though it was under his presidential term that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took place, Bush continued to tell the public that Islam had been hijacked by radicals and that it was a “religion of peace”. This is double talk and demonstrates both ignorance of Islam and an attempt to demonstrate political compromise. Continue reading “Jihad Rising”

John Wesley’s Prophecy

FUMCLogoWrittenWithout a doubt, John Wesley was one of the greatest influences within the history of Christianity. His passion, vision and organization was second to none in expanding the kingdom of God through missionary efforts and church planting. Wesley’s writings and pattern of church planting have had a huge impact on many leaders for over two hundred years, including myself. The stories of circuit riders blazing the trail of early American history are legendary. And yet within his vision of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, Wesley was well aware of the dangers that would attack his work if natural minded men slipped into the church and turned it into a dead society.

Five years before his death Wesley wrote,

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodists should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America. But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power. And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit, and discipline with which they first set out.” (‘Thoughts Upon Methodism,’ 1786.)

These words seem to be prophetic. United Methodism is on the verge of becoming a spiritually dead form of religion. Its present leaders have moved so far away from God’s Word and historic Christianity, that the general conference will consider changing the moral code of Scriptures to embrace homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, and opening up the practice of performing and blessing homosexual marriages in United Methodist Churches. You can read about it on the UMC official website Here and see the prominence of it Here. Continue reading “John Wesley’s Prophecy”

Radicalized – the “Red Herring”

RadicalIn today’s constant terrorist activity news cycle, whenever an attack from Islamic jihadists occurs, the word “radicalized” is regularly tossed out. The impression is to convey the thought that a radicalized Muslim has abandoned the faith of Islam and taken on a violent and non-Islamic path of terror. This is a red herring (diversionary attempt) with the goal of being politically correct and to try and appease the Muslim community.

Are most Western Muslims violent? No. Most are peaceful and simply want to have a life of success with acceptance in our democracy, while providing for their families. However, there is no easy way to state the truth and keep it from stinging–Islam is a violent religion at its core. Based upon the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad in the Hadith, Islam teaches, promotes and endorses extreme violence against those who reject it.

Peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are those who have either rejected parts of the Quran and Hadith, or who fail to know the violent teachings contained in them. These facts become the greatest avenue to reach Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We can offer them a coherent and truthful worldview that upholds the supreme ethic of love as its highest standard, while showing them the violent teachings of Islam.

All it takes for a Muslim to be a “radical” jihadist, is for him to simply believe in the truthfulness of the Quran and Hadith, gain the knowledge that they teach and command violence, and then simply obey those commands. In short, what the news media calls a radical Muslim is a faithful Muslim!  Continue reading “Radicalized – the “Red Herring””

Freedom of Religion…But not Freedom to Kill

First AmendmentThe political landscape in America has been going through a major shift for many years. As God is squeezed out of the inclusion in serious debate, man is left with only secular and naturalist input to attempt to solve major issues. Hence, the hot debate over what to do with Islam in America is one such debate that rages like a blazing fire. Wisdom from godly counsel could be gained if our leaders would seek out understanding of the issues instead of just looking for another talking point to up their standing in the political polls.

Our Constitution was written by men who understood religious persecution. They did not desire to ‘kick God out’ of the public arena. Instead, they wanted to protect religious liberty in the market square. Today, most politicians, especially liberals, want to exclude God from a place at the table of ideas. And most conservatives want to invoke Him and claim to speak for Him, while many times failing to have an understanding of sound Christian Theology. Therefore, the options of policy offered by our leaders usually vacillates somewhere between over-simplistic and foolish, to outright ridiculous. Continue reading “Freedom of Religion…But not Freedom to Kill”

San Bernardino and the Talking Heads

San BernardinoBy now, all are aware of the Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. A married muslim couple walked into a Christmas party and opened fire upon the very people who had celebrated the birth of their child. When the day ended, fourteen Americans were dead and twenty-one more wounded. Militant Islamic Jihad revealed its presence in the Golden State. This is only the beginning of tragedies that are headed to the shores of our beautiful country. Whenever a nation and its political leaders choose to hide their heads in the sand of denial, it is only a matter of time before what is denied crashes upon its shores.

First, there is President Obama, who claims to be a Christian. But in every major policy and speech, his actions look more like those of an atheist or a Muslim. He spends more time lecturing the American public about respect to Muslims than he does going after Islamic terrorists who desire to kill Americans. His administration is filled with Muslims who sympathize with Islamic terrorists organizations. And they are responsible for helping to forge America’s domestic and foreign policies concerning ISIS and Islamic terrorism. President Obama either a) doesn’t understand the existential threats of Islam, or b) understands it but secretly wants to change the face of America. That’s another debate.

Then there is the liberal news media. Most of them could not recognize truth if it was monogrammed on their shirt. They assume to tell us what the American people want, but only if it fits their narrative for a socialist, anti-Christian, no guns, liberal society. For the most part they are the re-visited ghosts of Hitler’s propaganda machine, demanding that the public embrace Obama’s vision for America. They have sold the average voter short Continue reading “San Bernardino and the Talking Heads”

The Journey to Faith

Questioning-GodMany in evangelical circles have thin skin. That is, they react unloving to others who do not hold to their view of God, faith, or truth. This must change if we are going to have a voice with the next generation. I have good friends who are atheist, homosexual or agnostic. And yet, we have very respectful and insightful discussions. Sure, we kick things around from different world views and philosophies of life, but we do not view our conversations as competitions or wrestling matches. Instead, we see the conversations as investigations of life and a pursuit of honest reflections.

Until those of us who claim to belong to Christ actually demonstrate a heart felt love for those who see things differently, we will continue to lose our voice in the marketplace of ideas and remain irrelevant to those who may be on a journey to faith. We must hear the questions of the heart from those who are our unbelieving friends before we will understand the questions they are seeking answers to. Continue reading “The Journey to Faith”

Apologetics – The Bridge That Holds

Golden Gate Bridge FogThe traction of outreach and life-changing evangelism of the previous generation in America was weak, in my opinion, due to the belittling of apologetics. For the most part, the church failed to engage the mind and heart of the younger generation. Faith became an existential leap apart from a rigorous and coherent view of reality and a reasoned expression of thought. We left the young men and women of the previous generation stranded on a bridge and surrounded by the fog of irrationality. The result was that many ‘church kids’ turned away from faith under the battle cry for intellectual credibility when they went off to college. Their beliefs were assaulted from the secularists and militant atheists who set traps with slick word games that were filled with red-herrings and Zeno paradoxes.

Apologetics is as crucial to the life of a Christian as prayer is. If we do not discover the warrant that undergirds our beliefs, the world will toss us around like a ‘straw blowing in the wind.’ Christianity is not a faith of make believe or fantasy. It carries the evidence of history, archaeology, reason and the existential longings of the heart. We believe, not because we are walking along a foggy bridge, but because Jesus and Scriptures pass the Continue reading “Apologetics – The Bridge That Holds”

Answering Historical Objections to Christianity

ApologeticMany times when we present the Christian faith to a crowd or individual, we will get a strong push back reminding us of the horrors committed by Christians throughout history. It seems that people use this tactic of reaching back into ‘stonehenge’ to justify a rejection of faith. What should we do when people view the atrocities committed years ago as a static issue as if it happened today? How should we respond?

Unfortunately, this is a common objection we encounter whenever we present the Chrstian Worldview in any type of forum, discussion, or Q & A session, especially if any are aware of ancient or medieval history. Time is static to so many, however, with wisdom our response should restore it to fluidity. I have found that the best response is not the ‘ostrich’ or ‘distancing’ moves that ease us from the brutal reality of past sins within Christendom. In order to demonstrate honesty and integrity, we must take the questions head on by stepping up and admitting the mistakes that are associated with Christianity. I emphasize “associated” for a reason. (See below – Our Reponse) If we fail to face the music about the issue of the crusades, scandals, or hypocrisies of the past, we will be demonstrating a slanted view of reality and therefore fail to live consistent with our own worldview. This would make us no different from those in Islam, Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons who refuse to answer the character issues of the history of their movements. Continue reading “Answering Historical Objections to Christianity”

Faith is NOT a Leap

leap of faith2It greatly disturbs my heart when someone uses irrational, confusing and contradictory statements that are borrowed from existentialism or eastern philosophies and applies them to the Christian faith. Most on Facebook and twitter who share or post these sayings are usually assuming they are promoting ‘deep’ or ‘spiritual’ affirmations of faith. However, they reveal a lack of biblical pursuit to worship the Lord with all of our “heart, soul, and MIND.” (Matt. 22:37) The gospel of Jesus Christ engages the totality of man’s being, including his faculties of reason, emotion, will and intellect.

The Christian faith does not hang with its feet planted firmly in mid-air like relativism.¹ Instead, it is grounded in the propositional truth of Scriptures and in the revelation of Jesus Christ through God’s grace. We must never adopt the ebb and flow of philosophical synthesis in our pursuit of reasonable truth and rational faith. God has spoken. He has spoken clearly. He has spoken in the Bible. And nothing makes more sense than to place our trust in the God who created us and sent His Son to redeem us from our sin.

One such statement is that saving faith or the embracing of biblical truth is a “leap of faith.” Most who would use this term fail to realize that it has its roots in the teachings of Immanuel Kant and Soren Kierrkegard. These two men were responsible for dividing knowledge between reason and non-reason, applying the later to religious conviction and faith, and stating that faith is outside of rational verification and pursuit, and thereby giving rise to what became known as existentialism in the philosophical world, and Barthianism or Neo-Orthodoxy in the theological world. Of course, those who promote these epistemological dangers fail to see that they have committed the error of using reason to discount and reject reason. (Self-defeating) Continue reading “Faith is NOT a Leap”

I Weep in the Summer

SummerMost people prefer summer to winter. There are opportunities to get out and ‘break a sweat’ doing enjoyable things from yard work to outdoor sports. The warmer temperatures and delightful weather seems to scream, “get out and do something.” This is good. However, many times it comes with a sad element that makes me weep for summer.

What is that element? It is the large number of people who seem to completely forget about God and abandon their convictions and commitments. The summer months seem to promote worship of the god of self. That is, families consume their weekends with constant trips of self pleasure and ‘me-first’ activities, while abandoning integration and spiritual growth with their local church. It is heart breaking and sad. It reveals the lack of true spiritual conversion or spiritual maturity among many church members.

Continue reading “I Weep in the Summer”