Thursday, February 22, 2007

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Chocolate Chip Ice Cream or Cherry Pie

As a child my favorite dessert was my grandmother's cherry pie (actually it was cobbler, but the only difference is the pan). Later in life I discovered Braum's Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, which I must have on every trip back to my home state of Oklahoma. Then, there is momma's apple pie, and Jackie's cakes--so delicious.

Sometimes life is like choosing between the several very wonderful things. Many are wonderful, delicious, and heart-warming with memories. I wish I could have them all, but that is not possible. The hardest decisions are not necessarily between good and evil but between what seems to be two equally-good choices.

The work of ministry is often that way. I love it all. I love the study. I love the people. I love the preaching and teaching. I love the writing. I love the challenge. I love seeing souls saved. I love life.

The problem is if I choose this, I can't also choose that. There is, after all, only one of me.

When I can't decide on my own, I just leave it in God's hands and do my best. God will see to the rest. I belong to Him..

Phil

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Don't Be Ashamed to Be a Christian

We have been told there is too much baggage with the name "church of Christ," so we need to change our name to something with less baggage. The assumption is that if we change the name of the congregation, then we can avoid having that baggage. It does not seem to occur to those seeking such change that the names they come up with appears to have the baggage of a start-up, community church, more tied to the personality of the preacher than with some belief. Hmmm.

If I went to a Catholic church, I would expect Catholics to worship like Catholics. If I went into a synagogue, I would expect to see Jews worshiping like Jews. If I went to a Mormon tabernacle, I would expect to see Mormons singing their songs in the style in which they have become accustomed. Why then is it some are ashamed that we are a cappella? Why do some feel that we are odd to worship without accompaniment? Can we not simply be who we are without apology or strategizing that if we don't change, we'll be left behind?

The reasoning of the church in the 1870s was that if we don't upgrade and progress in religion like the denominations around us, we'll not be able to appeal to the community around us. Many of our brethren did "progress" beyond the common practice of a cappella music to be like the religionists (nations) around them and put in a melodeon or organ. They sacrificed the sacred way to appeal to the common. The constant drumbeat of "we must change to grow" fills the progressive media today--as if no one had ever heard that before. (This generation--unfamiliar with our history--hasn't heard it, and the gullible clamor for change.)

They sell the nonsensical notion that the restoration plea divides, so we must change and be like everyone around us. We must jettison the truth to continue on our journey of growth.

But those who did not jettison the truth or embrace the instrument back when it seemed change was the answer for everything stayed the course; and a century later we are nearly eight times larger. Others who followed path of compromise ended up a century later affirming almost nothing. They could not even say that Jesus was the only way to heaven in 1989, lest they hurt their interfaith talks (the vote in Cincinnati showed a very divided group). They thought, "Let's be open, and the world will beat a path to our door." They ended up looking wimpy and losing members rapidly.

Who wants to unite with a people who are ashamed of who they are and what they believe?

Let us stop apologizing for believing the truth! for obeying the Lord! We need some Shadrachs, Meshachs, and Abednegos today who will do what is right whatever the cost! Instead our self-proclaimed church growth "experts" continue to beat a drum of compromise and confusion. Christianity does not call us to be wimps or to "take back what we believe" simply because others don't agree.

Identity crisis?

Do we have an identity crisis in churches of Christ? Some do. Elijah knew who he was, because he believed in God. Those Israelites at Carmel who hesitated between two opinions either did not know who they were or were afraid to admit it. Their fear created the crisis. They were the ones who kept their mouths shut until the fire came down. Would to God some fire would come down today to wake up our brethren!

Why an identity crisis? Because shallow preachers of compromise have been allowed to usurp elders and churches and create doubt in the truth of the gospel and replace it with their imitation of evangelicalism. They have laughed at us and mocked us ceaselessly, and we kept silent. It did not matter that what they said was false and showed their own confusion and shame. We not only kept silent, we invited them to speak again and again to our kids and infect them with their compromise. When godly men and women did speak up, they were called legalistic and dismissed as troublemakers. Elijah the troublemaker?

They were ashamed before their denominational friends, ashamed of our doctrines and practices, and ashamed to speak the truth. We let their insecurity and shame become ours, when we kept silent. We let the wolves speak to our children and desensitize them to what is true and right, just as they did over a century ago. We found it fashionable to be casual (rather than holy) with our faith and presume upon the grace of God with our morals and doctrine. In our insipid and compromised state, we lacked the ability to make an impact on the communities around us. The very things these wolves told us we "must do to grow" robbed us of the power of our message.

There is no identity crisis with those who believe the truth of the gospel. There is an identity crisis with those who hearts long to be what they are not. When they long to be like the religions around them and to remake churches of Christ in their own desires, they create confusion and insecurity.

Part of maturing is learning to accept who you are, Whose you are, and what you are. Do we really need permission to be the people of God? Jesus is crying out for His people to stand up and be who they are. Let's quit listening to a bunch of compromising wimps (religious fashion experts) and start listening to the Lord. Instead of wearing what they call the fashion of the year, let's put back on the armor of God.

Phil

Friday, February 02, 2007

Watch out for the Bank scam!!

You probably get warnings to never, never, never, NEVER give your personal information to anyone for any reason. Well, pay attention.

My local bank, I thought, had a message for me to update my information. Since it came in a secured area and was in the message center of the bank, I figured it was important for me to update. Wrong, wrong, WRONG. The identity thieves sent over $3,000 of my money via a wire service to who knows where.

Now I'll get the money back and will go through a little grief, but my bank and the card company will be defrauded because of my moment of confusion.

Banks never, never, NEVER ask for this kind of information online or in any other way. Once an account is opened, it does not go through occasional updates. So, don't get suckered and give info to anybody online for any reason. Never, never, NEVER.

Nuff said.

Foolish Phil

James Hayes article on the Superbowl

Who Wins on Super Bowl Sunday?

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. It has become a worldwide event. Last year an estimated 90 million people watched the Super Bowl. This year a 30-second commercial during the game costs the advertiser $2.5 million. There is a two-week gap between the league championship games and the Super Bowl to accommodate the hype. Professional football is now our national pastime, which makes the Super Bowl the most beloved sporting event.
But as the world focuses its attention on the Bears and Colts, who is focusing on God? Every Sunday is the Lord’s day (Rev. 1:10). The Lord was raised on the first day of the week (John 20:1). First-century Christians met on the first day of the week to worship and fellowship (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2). Undoubtedly, millions of believers will meet to honor God on this day. But those who are lost, those who are spiritually bankrupt, and those who are lost in sin are giving no thought to Christ this day. Their focus is on the Colts and Bears…
…which leads me to this question: Who will win today? I’m not thinking about the final score of the game; I’m wondering about who will gain a foothold in the hearts and minds of 90 million people. Will it be Satan or Christ?
When Anheuser-Busch, the self-described King of Beers, spends over $20 million on commercials during the game, who will win, Satan or Christ? When GoDaddy.com, who had to film three commercials in order to produce just one that was not obscene, airs its ad, who will gain the advantage, Satan or Christ? When hundreds of millions—if not billions—of dollars are wagered on everything from who will win the coin toss to how long it will take Billy Joel to sing the National Anthem, who will have the influence, Satan or Christ? When Christians, yes Christians, use this game as yet another excuse not to worship the Lord, are they being faithful to Satan or Christ?
Football is amoral. Like so many things, it is not inherently good or bad. The question is, how are you using it? To faithful believers, this game will be just another game to enjoy after they have given God the praise and devotion He deserves. To others, it will be another opportunity for them to submit to the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11).

--James Hayes

I thought this was an excellent article and makes a great point. Thanks to James who is a good friend and a capable gospel preacher.

Phil

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Most Foolish Decision of Our Age

Prov. 10:14-27 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
15 Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;
they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.
20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.
27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.
Prov. 16:17 The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
Prov. 22:3 The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
but the simple go on and suffer for it. (cf. Prov. 27:12)

The most foolish decision made in our culture is to embrace moral and theological non-judgmentalism. This is more than just saying yes to sin; it is embracing a point of view that ignores the evidence of the harmfulness of sin. It says, "I will do as I please; I won't tell anybody what they can or can't do; and I won't let anybody tell anybody what they can or can't do." Non-judgmentalism makes every perverted, dangerous, illogical behavior and ideology permissible. Sin is sinful anymore, and heresy doesn't matter to the non-judgmental, progressive inclusivists. They have grace.

The simple go on and suffer for it. Non-judgmentalism is an excuse to be "simple" and "naive."

So what do we have? Millions of couples cohabiting; a record 38 percent illegitimacy in births; a gay agenda taught in elementary schools; 40+ million aborted babies; pornography on television; polyamory (group marriage); a 50 percent failure rate for marriage; and rampant addiction to a multitude of destructive behaviors. In the church, we have nothing as a salvation issue anymore. One denomination (following the 1989 lead of the Disciples of Christ) voted not to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven anymore, so that we don't hurt our interfaith discussions.

When the Middle East folks look at the West and call us Satan, do you wonder why? Our inability or unwillingness to overcome our foolishness has made us weak and ungodly, not strong and spiritual.

We have so sold out to moral and theological compromise and so weakened our resolve against evil that we have lost any sense of character or strength.

We today face a radical threat who has resolved to conquer the world and kill us or control us with dhimmitude. Instead of foolishly claiming a destructive moral freedom, our nation ought to humble itself before the one true and living God and His Son Jesus.

Is it not time to call our nation to repentance? Can we not see where the future leads if we continue in our foolishness?

Phil