Do false teachers ever get any verses right?

I ask that in all seriousness.  No matter how simple the passage, they always seem to miss the most obvious truths.  A recent example is from false teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie in Duck Dynasty Crew Invited To Church.*

No one should be using the name of the Prince of Peace to intentionally tear us apart.

But where does the name Prince of Peace come from?  This is the only reference in the Bible:

Isaiah 6:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Jesus came to bring peace between sinners and their God.  It wasn’t the kind of peace Chuck and other false teachers allude to.

And how can Chuck quote this verse while explicitly denying Jesus’ deity in this passage?  And to Chuck, this had to be a false prophecy, but he thinks Jesus is dead.  How could He then reign on the throne of David?  So why quote the prince of peace portion?

As usual, nearly every biblical reference that these wolves make is theological train wreck.

And even if the verse referred to the kind of peace Chuck thinks it does, how could a radical pro-abortionist like him use it with a straight face?  Crushing and dismembering innocent human beings is as opposite of that kind of peace as you can get, yet Chuck supports the Democrats’ official policy of unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortions.

Run, don’t walk, from false teachers like him.

* Of course, Chuck’s views on Phil Robertson are completely wrong as well. But that is to be expected, as Phil knows that the Bible is the word of God and Chuck thinks it isn’t.

Just your traditional Christmas lake of fire sermon

*** Alternate title, inspired by Bubba’s comment: “Chestnuts roasting on an open lake of fire.” ***

I mean, what else would you preach on?  I know most churches don’t preach on the book of Revelation on the Sunday before Christmas, but a few years ago that is just what we heard.

We were visiting my oldest daughter to watch her perform in the Nutcracker for the Louisville Ballet, where she lived at the time.  We loved going to Sojourn Community Church with her.  They are part of the Acts 29 Network, just as our current church is (and our youngest daughter attends one where she lives).

The church had been going through the entire Bible over the course of two years, so of course at the end of the second year they were in Revelation.  And they didn’t pull any punches, literally preaching on the lake of fire.  These churches have a great balance of grace and truth, and they don’t gloss over what many churches do.  The sermons are a good 40 minutes or so of verse-by-verse preaching.  Yeah!

We had two people visiting with us.  One was a Bible-believing Christian, who really enjoyed the service and talking about the sermon.  The other is very active in a false denomination and goes to church every week.  This usually chatty, upbeat person had nothing to say.  Nothing.  The word of God has that effect on both types of people.

The Methodists get one right

Via Defrocking of Minister Widens Split Over Gays:

The Rev. Frank Schaefer, a Methodist minister, was stripped of his clerical credentials on Thursday for violating church law by presiding at his son’s same-sex wedding. The punishment, imposed by the United Methodist Church in Pennsylvania, was requested by the church prosecutor to deter other ministers from blessing same-sex marriages.

Good for them!  Hopefully that sets an example for others to obey the Bible and the Methodist Book of Discipline.

But far from intimidating others, the trial and defrocking of Mr. Schaefer have galvanized a wave of Methodist ministers to step forward to disobey church prohibitions against marrying and ordaining openly gay people.

Members of the United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest Christian denomination, have been battling bitterly over homosexuality for four decades. The church now faces an increasingly determined uprising by clergy members and laypeople who have refused to cede, even after losing the most recent votes, at the Methodist convention last year, on proposals to change church teaching.

Yeah, the men of Sodom were pretty stubborn too.  They groped for the door even when God blinded them.  Genesis 19:11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door. Sound familiar?

“After 40 years of playing nice and attempting a legislative solution, we will not wait any longer,” said Matt Berryman, a former Methodist pastor who said he turned in his credentials because he is gay. He now serves as the executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network, a Methodist gay rights group.

Maybe they should just leave altogether! They obviously have a different religion.

. . .

Church conservatives, however, say they have the momentum. About a half-dozen more ministers are facing church trials, and the defrocking of Mr. Schaefer proves to them that church juries have the courage of their convictions. In addition, they say the church is losing members in its liberal-leaning regions and growing in conservative regions.

Yep.  And growing in Africa, much to the chagrin of the Leftists in the U.S.

John Lomperis, the United Methodist director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative religious think tank, said the same-sex weddings performed by Methodist clergy were “publicity stunts” that were backfiring.

. . .

Mr. Schaefer is hardly the first Methodist minister to be defrocked for disobeying church teachings on homosexuality. Jimmy Creech was stripped of his credentials in 1999 for performing a same-sex ceremony. Irene Elizabeth Stroud, a lesbian living with her partner, was defrocked in 2005.

Stroud was another fraud, like Schaefer, who entered the clergy under false pretenses.

Mr. Schaefer said at a news conference on Thursday after his defrocking, “Here we are 10 years later, and they are doing the same thing.”

Yes!  The same thing!  Because the word of God doesn’t change!

He added, “The church needs to recognize that things have changed and times are changing and people are changing.”

Again, the real church recognizes that the word of God doesn’t change.

Mr. Schaefer has four children, three of whom are gay.

Whoa!  That might explain things.  Parents can’t control everything, but lots of them turn pro-gay after their kids come out.  It is almost as if they are rationalizing their bad parenting.  Three out of four is pretty bad!

. . .

The church’s Book of Discipline, which contains its law and doctrine, forbids same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay people, and says that homosexuality is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” Efforts to amend the Book of Discipline have been defeated by increasingly wide margins at the church’s quadrennial conferences as delegates representing the church’s growing branch in Africa have bolstered the votes of conservative Methodists in the United States.

. . .

He said he would not consider leaving the Methodist Church for a denomination that has changed its teaching on homosexuality.

“It’s not that easy when a church is your spiritual home,” he said. “All my children have been baptized in the United Methodist Church. I don’t know how to be a minister out of the United Methodist Church.”

He doesn’t know how to be a real minister anywhere.

He said his lawyers had already filed an appeal with a judicial body akin to a church appellate court.

Those watching the trial were stunned when Bishop Peggy Johnson, who leads nearly 900 United Methodist churches in Pennsylvania and who is Mr. Schaefer’s superior, posted a note on her blog this week, saying that she believed the prohibitions on gay ordination and marriage in the Book of Discipline were “discriminatory.”

The prohibitions, Bishop Johnson continued, taken together with the church’s message of inclusion, “has led to confusion by many from the outside of the church wondering how we can talk out of two sides of our mouth.”

This “Bishop” should be fired as well, for disobeying the Bible and the Methodist Book of Discipline and for not understanding basic logic.  There should be no confusion at all.  Christianity is completely inclusive in the sense that everyone, regardless of age, past sins, race, ethnicity, gender, etc., is completely welcome if they repent and believe in Jesus.  But it is exclusive in the sense that it excludes those who continue to shake their fists at God — people like Schaefer and Johnson.  That isn’t talking out of both sides of your mouth, that is common sense.

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 4

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I see the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.  This is the last question (for now, at least!).

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the fourth question:

How do you determine what traditions to follow from the Bible and which ones you don’t (i.e. women’s head covering, others)?

OK, I’ll be candid: This will be the weakest response of this series.  I just haven’t spent a lot of time on these things.  I think the short version is to consider the context and the principle behind the traditions / commands.  I’m going to punt over to CARM.org for this one.  I’m hoping that our loyal readers will weigh in with more!

The first question is why Paul gave these commands about head coverings and long hair. He did so because the way people wore their hair indicated in the culture of Paul’s day whether one was behaving as a man or a woman. In other words, Paul wanted to retain the distinctions between the sexes. This is a powerful word to our culture where differences between the sexes are routinely denied, and we commonly have gender blending and gender confusion.

The principle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 11:3 is male headship. Men have a unique God-given authority in the family and the church for leadership. Men are responsible to protect and provide for women, and women are to humbly submit to their leadership and to assist men in their leadership roles. Such differences in role don’t indicate lack of equality, for Christ submitted to the Father but was equal to him (1 Cor. 15:28).

The issue Paul addresses isn’t really head-coverings and length of hair in and of themselves. In the culture of Paul’s day a woman not wearing head covering in worship would signal rebellion against male headship, and in the same way a man’s wearing long hair would suggest that he was denying his masculinity. What matters in the passage, then, are not the exact customs, but the principle or truth communicated in the text. If a woman wears a veil today, it doesn’t suggest to people in our culture that she is rebellious.

We need to apply the principle of male headship and female submission to our culture today. We can apply the passage as follows. Men would deny their masculinity if they wore a dress, and a woman denies male headship if she did not wear her wedding ring or refused to take the last name of her husband.

Here is a truly in-depth analysis of the various interpretations of this passage.

I do think we need to take care when saying something is symbolic or a tradition.  Otherwise, people could abuse scripture.  The larger context of the universal differences between men and women are a foundation to work from.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

** The three general types of pro-gay theology people: 1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God” (obviously non-Christians) 2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling theological Liberals” (only about 10 things wrong with that) 3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 3

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I see the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the third question:

How do you deal with questions around homosexuality? This is a tricky subject because this is a high school audience and sexuality has to be taught respectfully and with sensitivities to the teens and young ladies in the classroom.

This is a huge and contentious issue, and one that Satan is using to keep people from the faith and to divide entire denominations.  Many people use the homosexual issue as an excuse not to even consider Christianity.  That may tempt some people to gloss over the topic or misstate what the Bible says.

Yes, we should be sensitive with it, but when you consider about how aggressively the world pressures us with its false views I think we should be more bold in equipping young people about the details.

Make no apologies about what the Bible really says, because it couldn’t be more clear.  Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people** (religious or not) can see these truths:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).planned
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.

Then there is the question of love.  If you really love people you won’t affirm behavior that is spiritually, emotionally and physically destructive.

But do you have to convert people to your views on homosexuality before sharing the Gospel with them?  No.  Of course you shouldn’t water down the truth, but what you really want to do is share the Gospel and let God do his work on their hearts.  As I noted in this post, you don’t have to fix someone’s sins before telling them the truth about Jesus.  The point is to let Jesus do that!  We should approach all people with humility, because we all have temptations that we’ve given into.

It is easy to quickly affirm what the Bible says (“Yes, homosexual behavior is a sin”) but then shift to the Gospel (“But even if it wasn’t a sin you would still be a sinner in need of a Savior . . .”).

Don’t be shy about pointing out the lies of the LGBTQ movement.  People aren’t “born that way,” and even if they were that wouldn’t justify acting on the behavior.  Quoting the Bible doesn’t make LGBTQ people commit suicide any more than saying “don’t get drunk” makes alcoholics kill themselves.  “Same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron and those unions can never produce children or ever provide a mother and a father to a child, so the government has no good reasons to get involved in those relationships.

Make no mistake: The LGBTQ lobby wants to silence Christians.  Lots of us may end up in jail before this is over.  It may not be long until you won’t be employable if you don’t affirm the lie that the behavior isn’t sinful.

Here are some links that go into more detail.  This is a crucial issue so I encourage people to read them.  Feel free to use the PowerPoint slides if you like (I prepared them for a series of Sunday School lessons).

Problems with pro-gay theology  

Responding to Pro-Gay Theology  

Responding to same-sex marriage arguments

PowerPoint slides: Refuting pro-gay theology

Remember that if people are sincere in their questions and aren’t just using them as excuses to justify their rebellion against God then it is completely legitimate to let them do some of their own homework, such as reading a book like Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.

If they don’t want to do more work or read the Bible, it may be pearls-before-swine time and you should obey Jesus’ command to move on.  Pray for them and perhaps God will make them spiritually alive in the future.  You will have done your work as an ambassador and an apologist (defender of the faith):

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

** The three general types of pro-gay theology people: 1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God” (obviously non-Christians) 2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling theological Liberals” (only about 10 things wrong with that) 3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Do false teachers ever get any verses right?

I ask that in all seriousness.  No matter how simple the passage, they always seem to miss the most obvious truths.  A recent example is from false teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie in Duck Dynasty Crew Invited To Church.*

No one should be using the name of the Prince of Peace to intentionally tear us apart.

But where does the name Prince of Peace come from?  This is the only reference in the Bible:

Isaiah 6:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Jesus came to bring peace between sinners and their God.  It wasn’t the kind of peace Chuck and other false teachers allude to.

And how can Chuck quote this verse while explicitly denying Jesus’ deity in this passage?  And to Chuck, this had to be a false prophecy, but he thinks Jesus is dead.  How could He then reign on the throne of David?  So why quote the prince of peace portion?

As usual, nearly every biblical reference that these wolves make is theological train wreck.

And even if the verse referred to the kind of peace Chuck thinks it does, how could a radical pro-abortionist like him use it with a straight face?  Crushing and dismembering innocent human beings is as opposite of that kind of peace as you can get, yet Chuck supports the Democrats’ official policy of unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortions.  

Run, don’t walk, from false teachers like him.

* Of course, Chuck’s views on Phil Robertson are completely wrong as well. But that is to be expected, as Phil knows that the Bible is the word of God and Chuck thinks it isn’t.

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 2

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I see the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the second question:

If God is morally good, all loving and kind, why did he command the stoning of people, or the annihilation of entire peoples (man, women, children, babies, etc)? Why does God allow evil at all?

This is a great opportunity to ask clarifying questions.  Typically, it will highlight that the skeptics know very little about the issues they are questioning.  They are often just repeating sound bites they have heard from Richard Dawkins and the like.

I encourage you to never dodge this topic!  At a minimum you have an opportunity to share this truth: God used the most evil act in history to bring about the greatest good in history.  Jesus was the perfect man (far beyond our comprehension) but was betrayed, given an unjust trial, brutally beaten and then nailed to a cross like a piece of meat until He died.  That was the most evil act in human history.  Yet it brought about the greatest good: The salvation of countless sinners who could never be reconciled to God on their own.  So never underestimate God’s ability to appropriately punish and redeem evil. (Hat tip to John Piper)

Then you can ask questions like this:

  • Who was stoned, and why?  Do you understand the context of how the Jews were set apart as special people and were to be a witness to the world?
  • Who was annihilated?  (No “entire peoples” were annihilated, and there was no genocide, though the inhabitants of the Promised Land were supposed to have been completely eliminated in a one-time cleansing.)
  • Why did God command the land to be cleared out?  (The skeptic probably doesn’t know that God had given them 400 years to repent, yet they continued to offer child sacrifices and more.)
  • If God were to eliminate every bit of evil from the universe at midnight tonight, where would you be at 12:01?  Remember, you would be judged based on his standards.  You don’t get to compare your best traits to your neighbor’s worst traits.
  • Do you want God to completely remove your ability to disobey him?  That would make a great prayer!
  • Do you think you are in a position to sit in judgment of God?  If there is a God, would we be in a position to dictate the terms and conditions to him?
  • Would a loving and kind God let sins like child sacrifice go unpunished?  (Young children were literally placed on burning hot statues to be killed.)

Those kinds of questions can provide opportunities to point to what the Bible really says, and can put God’s actions in perspective.  One of our biggest problems is always looking at things from our viewpoint, and forgetting that ultimately it is all about God and his glory — and rightfully so!

Remember that if people are sincere in their questions and aren’t just using them as excuses to justify their rebellion against God then it is completely legitimate to let them do some of their own homework, such as reading a book like Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.

If they don’t want to do more work or read the Bible, it may be pearls-before-swine time and you should obey Jesus’ command to move on.  Pray for them and perhaps God will make them spiritually alive in the future.  You will have done your work as an ambassador and an apologist (defender of the faith):

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The New Jersey issue is bigger than the Duck Dynasty issue

The Duck Dynasty / Phil Robertson topic has received tons of attention, and deservedly so.  But the bigger issue is how the pro-LGBTQ groups aren’t satisfied with merely redefining marriage in an anti-biblical way, but how they won’t rest until they have completely stamped out religious freedom and forced churches to affirm their activities.  The A&E issue is a sad commentary on our society, but the New Jersey issue is about the power of Big Government to suppress religious freedom.

Via Duck Dynasty Star Fired Over Remarks on Homosexuality:

Earlier this week state Senate Democrats in New Jersey pulled from consideration a bill that would write gay marriage, already legal in New Jersey by court order, into the law books. The reason: the bill contained religious exemptions.  Loretta Weinberg, the Senate Majority Leader, said she pulled the bill after pressure from an LGBTQ legal group, Lambda Legal.

“They don’t want any kind of religious exemption, so out of respect for that, I will (pull the bill),” Weinberg said.

Re-read that carefully: They don’t want any kind of religious exemption.  None.  It isn’t about their freedom to do what they want.  They’ve had that for years.  No one is preventing their relationships and/or promiscuous sex, or even doing anything to stop 62% of men who know they are HIV-positive who have unprotected sex with men.  This is about silencing Christians and forcing them to violate their religious beliefs.

“There’s a disparate group of people and it’s hard to follow what they want, so I’m following Lambda Legal.”

The decision by New Jersey Democrats and A&E are similar. When pressured by LGBTQ groups, organizations and politicians will choose to silence Christians who oppose the normalization of homosexual behavior.

Many Christians have assumed that they would be allowed reasonable exemptions and accommodations based on religious liberty. But LGBTQ activists have made it clear (and have said so from the beginning) that unconditional acceptance of homosexuality is the only option. Normalization and public support, rather than mere legal recognition, is the end goal.

Religious believers who think they can avoid the issue are deluding themselves. While we may not have a hit reality show that we can get fired from, we will be pressured in numerous ways to make it clear that we will not speak or act publicly in a way that supports the biblical view of homosexuality. The objective of the activists is to marginalize Christian views on sexual norms until they can be outlawed in the public square. Many Christians have already and will continue to gleefully work to ensure this becomes a reality. But for faithful Christians, allowing our biblical witness to be silenced is not an option. Like Phil Robertson we must all say, “My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.”

Make no mistake: Satan won’t rest until he has silenced Christians.  That will never happen completely, of course, but there is a rocky road coming up.  Many of us have warned of these logical consequences for years, but too many Christians thought they could sit on the fence.  There is no fence.

But be encouraged!  God always wins in the end.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for the truth.

Pastor who takes 6 yr. old girls to gay pride parades invites you to his “family firendly” service

Of course I’m talking about radical pro-abortionist and false teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie, who took a break from taking little girls to gay pride parades to invite you to his wolf den.  Yeah, he’s all about “family friendly.”  Via The Rev. Chuck Currie: Duck Dynasty Crew Invited To Church.

We’d like to invite the cast of Duck Dynasty to Christmas Eve In Portland 2013. Dress however you like. Sunnyside Church and University Park Church welcome all, in the tradition of Jesus. Christmas is the perfect time for us all to reflect on our prejudices and fears and walk in the light of God. Our two congregations believe strongly that gays and lesbians are part of God’s very good creation. Spend time in worship with us, with all our ways of being different, and perhaps together we might find that we are all one in Christ Jesus. Our faith, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, should draw us together. No one should be using the name of the Prince of Peace to intentionally tear us apart. – Rev. Chuck Currie, Minister, Sunnyside Church and University Park Church

Of course Chuck bears false witness about the Robertsons and he hasn’t a clue about the real Prince of Peace — the one who came to let us have peace with our creator.  Phil Robertson truly cares about the eternal souls of people, while Chuck is Satan’s cabana boy.  The Robertsons wouldn’t worship in a pagan temple like Chuck’s place.

Helping teens respond to questions about their faith — part 1

My friend Edgar asked for my opinion on some questions from some of his Sunday School students.  I get the same sorts of questions from adults as well.  My goal is to provide some brief, concrete answers.

First, I think it is important to have a game plan with questions like this.  Whether answering a skeptic or equipping a believer to answer the skeptic, my goal is always to give clear, thoughtful answers that address the question and then point to the word of God as quickly as possible.  When in doubt, I’d rather someone read the Bible than listen to me.  God’s word made many promises* about what it will accomplish but contains no such promises about anything I say.

I highly recommend reading Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions to learn how to navigate conversations like these (only $2.99 for the Kindle edition — you can’t afford not to buy it!).  The burden isn’t all on you, and the conversations don’t have to be hostile.  There are many ways to ask polite questions to get people thinking more carefully and to highlight their errors.

Here is the first question:

What do I say to an atheist friend when he says he can be good without God?

This is a classic question.  Remember that we know the truth about atheists: Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

So you can approach the conversation with the confidence that deep down they know the truth.  They can’t go three sentences without making moral claims that assume an objective morality  — that is, that some things are always wrong — e.g., torturing babies for fun.  Side note: Sometimes atheists will rationalize that some things are acceptable for perpetuating the species (rape, abortion, etc.), but you can eliminate those arguments by adding “for fun” to the deed in question. Everyone knows those are wrong — or if they don’t, you should probably leave the room for your own safety!

One of the techniques from the Tactics book is to ask questions such as, “What do you mean by that?”  So in this case you could ask the person what he means by “good.”  That puts the burden on him to define the terms, and he is likely to tip his hand by pointing to some universal moral truths.  After all, if there is no God, then the universe came from nothing, life came from non-life and it evolved to everything we see today.  Therefore, there is no ultimate meaning or accountability in life.  If you steal from or kill your neighbor that wouldn’t be immoral.  Why should you care if he thinks it is immoral?  He just evolved to think that way, but you obviously would have evolved differently.  Sound bites about “human flourishing” or the like just assume that human flourishing is a moral good.  But they have to prove that, and simply coming up with a new phrase assumes what they should be proving.

You could tell him that technically he could do some good thing without God, but he would have no grounding to say the act was truly good.  If Darwinian evolution was true, then real morality is a fiction invented by these random chemical reactions in our brains.  He may think something is “good” but there would be no logical grounding for it.

You can also point out that the existence of evil is proof of God’s existence, not the opposite.  Remind them that all sins against an eternal and holy God will be judged perfectly and that they can pay the penalty for their sins themselves for eternity or they can trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on their behalf.

You can also remind them of how they won’t be judged based on how their best traits compare to their neighbor’s worst traits.  Every one of their thoughts, words and deeds will be judged on the standard of Jesus — Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Remember that if people are sincere in their questions and aren’t just using them as excuses to justify their rebellion against God then it is completely legitimate to let them do some of their own homework, such as reading a book like Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.  If they don’t want to do more work or read the Bible, it may be pearls-before-swine time and you should obey Jesus’ command to move on.  Pray for them and perhaps God will make them spiritually alive in the future.  You will have done your work as an ambassador and an apologist (defender of the faith):

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

1 Peter 3:15–16 (ESV) but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

Summary: Can people be good without God?  Technically,  they can do some good things but they can’t explain how they would qualify as truly good in a godless universe.  And in a more meaningful sense, they aren’t good at all.  They need Jesus.

Romans 3:9 For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

* Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

A&E shocked to find out that Phil Robertson, a Christian, believes the word of God.

Breaking news: ‘Duck Dynasty’s’ Phil Robertson on Indefinite Hiatus Following Anti-Gay Remarks.

I think they picked on the wrong guy.  This should be interesting.  I’m pretty sure that the Duck Dynasty fans won’t take kindly to Phil Robertson being shelved for speaking his mind about what God says about human sexuality and sin.  I’m reminded of Esther 4:14 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?”

A&E has placed Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson on indefinite hiatus following anti-gay remarks he made in a recent profile in GQ.

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty,” A&E said in a statement. “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

My guess is that Phil won’t be back without an apology from A&E.  He already threatened to cancel the show for making it look like they were swearing with fake bleeps and for cutting out the prayers and mentions of Jesus.

The news comes after Robertson compared homosexuality to bestiality in an interview with the magazine. He’ll likely appear in season four, which bows Jan. 15, since production is largely wrapped.

Their problem is with God, not Phil Robertson.  Homosexual behavior and bestiality were condemned by God in subsequent verses in Leviticus 18: 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.  

100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.  100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.  100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children). 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson says in the January issue of the men’s magazine.

And he’s right.  That is part of the pathology.  Gays have 40+ times higher rates of Syphilis and HIV, partly because 62% of men who know they are HIV-positive have unprotected sex with men.  How twisted is that to deliberately have sex with people knowing you could be giving them a deadly disease?  Why isn’t that front page news?

“That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

 

During a discussion about repentance and God, Robertson is asked what he finds sinful.

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there,” he says. “Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

He goes on to paraphrase Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Yep.  Note how he also included sleeping with lots of women as a sin.  Will the fornicators call him a hater as well?

GLAAD on Wednesday condemned his remarks as “some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication” and said “his quote was littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.”

“Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe,” GLAAD spokesperson WilsonCruz said. “He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.

Uh, sure, because GLAAD is the go-to source for authentic Christian beliefs!  And note how they refer to allegedly popular opinion and not what the Bible says.

Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors, who now need to re-examine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”

Robertson released his own statement in response: “I myself am a product of the ’60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

So Phil admits he was a sinner who needed a Savior, and now he wants to tell other sinners about that Savior.  Oh, the humanity!

Duck Dynasty has become a breakout hit for A&E, regularly luring 9 million-plus viewers.

A&E milks Duck Dynasty.  I started watching it last Summer.  Based on how quickly they fill up my Tivo, they seem to do daily DD marathons.  I hope that the rest of the cast backs Phil up and that A&E loses millions over this.

. . .

The Human Rights Campaign also slammed Robertson for his remarks.

For starters, remember that the Human Rights Campaign people are pro-abortion extremists, which is rather odd considering that the ultimate human right should involve protection against being crushed and dismembered because you are unwanted.

“Phil Robertson’s remarks are not consistent with the values of our faith communities or the scientific findings of leading medical organizations,” president Chad Griffin said in a statement. “We know that being gay is not a choice someone makes, and that to suggest otherwise can be incredibly harmful.

Those are lies.  The HRC knows about as much about the Bible as GLAAD, and the science is clear: People are not “born that way.”  Lots of people move in and out of those preferences.  Things change.

Yes, the show is corny and stiff at times and obviously staged.  But it is so refreshing to see positive family situations where dads are leaders in the house and not buffoons, and where people openly talk of faith and live it out.   It shows how far this society has fallen that someone could make such simple, biblical statements and have people go into full freak-out mode over it.

I’m cautiously optimistic that Phil won’t be the kind of guy to back down over this and that the media and entertainment elites won’t know what to do about it.  Hopefully it will inspire other people to stand up for the truth.  One day all believers will face God.  You’ll have all of eternity to remember whether you had the guts to call a sin a sin.  As Erick Erickson says, Ultimately There Will Be No Option for Silence or the Sidelines. You Will Be Made To Care.  If you can’t affirm the truth of God’s word then you should get out now.

Having said that, remember that we’re all sinners in need of a Savior.  You don’t have to “fix” LGBTQ people before sharing the Good News with them.  Here’s an example of how I handle situations like that.

——–

Further reading:

Opposing late term abortions is good morality and good politics

Republican politicians have a bad habit of either ignoring abortion or saying stupid things about it.  I addressed easy ways to fix the stupid things problem in How pro-life apologetics–and a little common sense–could have swayed the elections.  But that was more about making proper arguments when asked about the issue.

But does that mean they should otherwise avoid the topic?  Not at all, especially when considering issues like late term abortions, where 70% of people agree with us.  Remember, the Democrats are on record as pro-abortion extremists.  I say that without hyperbole.  Taxpayer-funded late term abortions are right there in their platform:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

Via A Winning Issue: Abortion and Pascal’s Wager, check out the impact of taking this issue on in Virginia, where Ken Cuccinelli found out too late how to take on Terry McAuliffe..

What moved the voters most was an attack on McAuliffe’s positions on abortion; a single phone message emphasizing McAuliffe’s support for unrestricted, late-term, and taxpayer-funded abortions shifted support a net 13 to 15 points away from McAuliffe and toward Cuccinelli. The cost per vote here was a remarkably cheap $0.50 per additional vote, and even less expensive still when targeting the most persuadable segment of the electorate.

. . .

Essentially, this paper presents the abortion issue as a political version of Pascal’s Wager. For a GOP candidate running for office and ignoring abortion is not possible. You have to decide to be either a sufficiently virulent variety pro-abort that makes it impossible for you to be attacked by Planned Parenthood or you have to be vocally pro-life and attack the issue head on.

The decision should be easy.  Abortion is criminal. There is no medical reason for abortion. Late term abortion is indistinguishable from infanticide. Abortion has nothing to do with women’s rights and everything to do with how we value the most vulnerable members of our society. Every culture that has embrace abortion has inevitably moved on to embraced post-partum infanticide and euthanasia.

There is no reason our candidates should refuse to take a stand against abortion, but especially against late term abortion. It is not only moral, it is good politics.

So be prepared with sound arguments and don’t avoid the topic!  Again, the Democrats are on record as pro-abortion extremists.  Republicans should remind people of that all day, every day.

P.S. Opposing all abortions is good morality and good politics as well, if you do it right.

Will the false teachers applaud how guns saved lives at Arapahoe High School?

Of course note.  These false teachers don’t really care about saving lives, which is why they are pro-abortion and pro-gun control.

Read the great news via The Reason the Arapahoe School Shooting Lasted Only 80 Seconds Will Annoy Gun Control Supporters:

Why did the tragic school shooting at Arapahoe High in Colorado only last 80 seconds?  An armed guard was on the premises – and the only fatality from this horrific event was the gunman.

As the Christian Science Monitor reported on December 14:

As they investigate the latest school shooting in the United States – Friday at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colo. – one thing is clear to law enforcement officials there: The presence of an armed deputy sheriff on regular duty at the school was the key factor in preventing more deaths and injuries.

As soon as he heard the first of five gunshots, that officer and the two school administrators he was talking to raced toward the commotion shouting their presence and ordering students and staff to follow the school’s lock-down protocol.

As a result, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said at a briefing Saturday afternoon, the heavily-armed shooter [Karl Pierson] realized he was about to be confronted by an armed officer, and he took his own life.

 

Another good reason to exercise: It is as good as drugs in fighting major diseases

Unless you are a complete invalid, you should be doing some type of physical activity. Another great reason: Exercise just as good as drugs in war on major disease.

Exercise could be as effective as some of the best drugs which protect against major diseases, research has found.

A study of more than 300 trials has found that physical activity was better than medication in helping patients recovering from strokes – and just as good as drugs in protecting against diabetes and in stopping heart disease worsening.

. . .

Researchers said the findings suggested that regular exercise could be “quite potent” in improving survival chances, but said that until more studies are done, patients should not stop taking their tablets without taking medical advice.

The landmark research compared the mortality rates of those prescribed medication for common serious health conditions, with those who were instead enrolled on exercise programmes.

. . .

The research found that while medication worked best for those who had suffered heart failure, in all the other groups of patients, exercise was at least as effective as the drugs which are normally prescribed.

People with heart disease who exercised but did not use commonly prescribed medications, including statins, and drugs given to reduce blood clots had the same risk of dying as patients taking the medication.

Similarly, people with borderline diabetes who exercised had the same survival chances as those taking the most commonly prescribed drugs.

. . .

They said there was a need for more research into the benefits of exercise for those suffering from serious health problems.

Researchers stressed that they were not suggesting that anyone should stop taking medications they had been prescribed, but suggested patients should think “long and hard” about their lifestyles, and talk to their doctors about incorporating more exercise into their daily routines.

Should this be surprising to us?  Why would we think that we could take some pills that would accomplish more than just using our bodies as God designed them?

Exercise is a broad term.  I always encourage people to do something — anything! — on a regular basis.  If you are one who doesn’t exercise at all, ask yourself if you’d be glad now if you had walked 20 minutes on a treadmill three times a week for the last year while watching TV or listening to the audio Bible or something.  If you do more, that’s great, but at least find some minimum level of activity.  You’ll be glad you did.  Forget about appearance and weight.  Just do it so you can feel better, have lower stress, have more energy, get sick less and ultimately be less of a burden on your family.

Dear theologically weak churches: Here’s how to save millions on your next church building expansion!

Don’t expand, but preach the Bible more faithfully.  That will clear some space in the pews and the parking lot.

Sure, things have gotten crowded and you are sure you need more space.  But there is a win-win solution that is far superior to wasting more money on facilities: Just preach verse-by-verse through the Bible faithfully and accurately.  You won’t pull up all the tares, but enough of them will transplant themselves to other watered-down churches or leave altogether that you’ll have plenty of space.  And that’s OK!  Trust God with the process.

Worried about losing money?  That could happen, but my guess is that your committed believers are the biggest donors anyway.  And your faithful teaching will probably result in more authentic converts attending your church.

It comes down to this: Do you trust the word of God to accomplish what the word of God promises it will do, or do you have to edit it on his behalf?  Sounds absurd, right?  Yet that is what countless churches do.

Yes, you’ll chase some people away if you go verse-by-verse through Romans 1 and explain what it really means.  But here’s an easy out: Just tell them that if they don’t like it, their problem is with God, not you.  It completely takes you off the hook.

And yes, I know that some non-believers may be converted while at your watered-down church.  By God’s grace it happened to me, but it was in spite of the church I was attending, not because of it.  But again, do you trust

And maybe you’ll convict some people in the process.  The worst-case scenario is that you’ll honor God.

Warning: Your church might grow like crazy, though.  My youngest daughter’s church is in a very Leftist city.  Yet they joke that as they preached on sin (with a balance of grace, of course) each week through the book of Romans they grew dramatically.

If we did this right we could go decades without building new churches.  We’ve got all the buildings we need for those that are authentically seeking God.