Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Strategies, keys, and ways

The ultimate irony is that we as pastors and teachers often contribute to their state of spiritual fatigue. It's nothing intentional; we simply want to help apply God's word to their lives. So we fill every sermon with good Biblical principles: four strategies to improve your prayer life, five keys to a healthy marriage, three ways to be more loving, etc. All of this is helpful information, but imagine the long-term impact in a person's soul when they know they haven't come close to mastering last week's application points, and now they are getting three more to add to their list!

Kent comments:

The article is about much more than this, and much of it is good.  But I think the problem is far deeper than this.  This preaching of ‘strategies, keys, and ways’ can very easily become non-theological.  And what the church most needs now - as always - is theological preaching.

There have been times and places in the history of the church when application and ‘exhortation’ were done separately - sometimes by a different speaker - from the teaching.  Today the problem often is that we have all application, and no theological foundation for that application.

Often, what is wrong with the church is found in the thinking of its members.  People do not really understand the Christian faith.  When that is the case, there can be no hope for living it.

As long as sermons are focused on ‘strategies, keys, and ways’ the church will continue to be sick in many ways.  Theology, in it most full and Biblical sense, is the cure.

Strongly Meek

Frank and Ernst made me think about how people misunderstand 'meekness.'  Here the assumption is - and this makes the strip funny - that it is silly to ask 'the meek' if there are any objections, because - of course - they would never do anything as forceful as objecting to anything.

It is this wildly incorrect assumption that seems to drive the political commentary of far too many Christians.  No matter how horrid the actions of a politician - see the preceding posting - Christians (we are made to think) should never object.

Or if we do object, it shouldn't be very forceful.  After all, aren't we supposed to be 'meek'?

This little fairytale needs to be ground into the dust - not a very meek thought according to the fairytale, I know!

But Moses, according to the Bible, was the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3) and yet he could order the killing of thousands of people (Ex. 32:7).

The 'meek as those who do not object' model does not fit Moses, Elijah, John the Baptizer, Peter, James, John, or Paul.  And it also does not fit Jesus very well either.

Now is the time for the truly meek to rightly use the strength of meekness to oppose evil in our society.  Right now, there is an abundance of evil at the top, and a lot of work for the meek.

Friday, January 23, 2009

How Should We React to Evil?

Obama to Reverse Abortion Policy on Friday
Friday, January 23, 2009
By Susan Jones, Senior Editor

Washington (AP) - Officials say President Barack Obama will sign an executive order on Friday ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that promote or perform abortion.
The Associated Press said the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to pre-empt Obama's announcement.
The "Mexico City policy" bans U.S. taxpayer money from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. 
Critics call it the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that even talk about abortion as an option for unplanned pregnancies.
Obama avoided signing the executive order on Thursday, when thousands of pro-life activists came to Washington to mark the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand.

Kent comments:

And there you have it.  Our new President/King is beginning to act, and very quickly, on his death-to-the-unborn mentality.  That would be bad enough in itself.  But the P/K is not content with that.  He also insists on forcing you to use your money to pay for abortions and abortion advocacy around the world.

And to top it off, he is too much of a weenie to sign his executive order while pro-life advocates are in Washington.

What should Christians say about a man such as this?  Obama made it clear that he would pursue these policies.  Yet until now many Christians have said, “He hasn’t even taken office.  Give him a chance to prove himself.”

Now the proof is in.  Are Christians now allowed to call evil by its rightful name?  Must we still somehow defer to the ‘historic’ President and give him more chances?  Chances to do what?

In the 1930's when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he had announced his intentions toward the Jews.  But the times were bad economically, and many people, including Christians, were willing to give Herr Hitler a chance.  He had his chance, and he made the worst of it.

Should we give Obama still more chances?  Or should we clearly and unequivocally point out, highlight, and denounce both the evil Obama is doing and the exceptionally evil person that he is for doing it?

Or should we just blindly ‘hope for some change’?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Racism and Hypocrisy

The inaugural benediction, by Joseph Lowery, ended with these words:

“Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.”

Kent Comments:

The blatant double standard, when it comes to offensive racist remarks, grows ever more glaring.  It is a dangerous thing for our society.  It is one of those things that, socially speaking, should not be tolerated.  But unfortunately, not only is it tolerated, it is now celebrated, even at a Presidential inauguration.

Suppose, at some public, governmental function, a ‘prayer’ was offered which concluded with the words, “Lord, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will pick up their slack."

(Apparently, it needs to rhyme.)

Good people would, and should, be offended by something like that.  It speaks of a category of people by race, and assumes that they all share some projected negative trait.

Shouldn’t there be at least a tiny protest by someone, somewhere, when the object of racist generalization is ‘Euro-Americans’ rather than ‘Afro-Americans’?

After a short article in The Washington Monthly reporting on the prayer, one reader commented:

“Look for ‘when white will embrace what is right’ to be pounced on by the wingers as ‘evidence’ of the Rev. Lowry's (and, by extension, the new administration's) ‘reverse racism’.”

What else could this be?

But, of course, there can never be ‘reverse racism.’  That whole concept is ruled out automatically by those who practice it.

Those who complain about racism the most should be those who practice it the least.  Unfortunately, some of those who complain about racism are also some of the most glaring hypocrites imaginable.

So much so, in fact, that they would complain endlessly should anyone point this out.

Let the complaints begin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In

I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In, On Inauguration Day . . .

Today I forwarded an email from a friend poking a bit of fun at (now President) B. Hussein Obama.  The email pictured three ships, beginning with the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, and ending with a little dilapidated boat labeled the “USS Barack Obama.”  It was a satirical piece, meant to critique the political position of not only Obama, but also of Bill Clinton.

This apparently offended another friend, who replied:

Honestly, I am having difficulty seeing how this attempt at humor is becoming a follower of Jesus Christ.  I definitely do not agree with many positions that our incoming President holds.  But come on, he hasn’t even officially taken office yet.  I think the call of the hour is for us as disciples to pray for our country, including our President, per Paul’s admonishment in I Timothy 2:1-2.

But there is something else that should be considered when we talk about what is ‘becoming of a follower of Jesus Christ’ and that is the context of 1 Tim. 2:1-2.  There the Apostle not only tells us to pray for all sorts of positions of authority, but he also tells us to what end those prayers should be offered, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

The idea that a Christian should never speak negatively of any official does not comport with scripture when scripture is carefully examined.

I firmly believe that we should ‘pray for’ President Obama.  But I think we should be careful, and very Biblical, in how we go about this.

Notice precisely what Paul says in the passage mentioned above.  He does tell us to pray for governing officials, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”  This is what could follow from officials who carried out the mandate of Romans 13.  But this, of course, will be impossible under an administration built around policies of legalized murder and legalized theft.

If I need to persuade you that President Obama has clearly announced his intention of pursuing policies of legalized murder and legalized theft, then you haven’t been paying attention to what he has been saying in his years of public life and recent campaign.

I will join with those who want to pray for President Obama to be guided by wisdom, justice, and righteousness.  But these are things that human beings must decide to follow.  Should President Obama repent of his evil policies, and decide to do true justice, I will thank God and support him.

But until that time I will be forced to include another aspect of Biblical prayer in this equation.  In the face of a Obama administration with announced intentions of doing evil, I will pray these prayers for our new President:

Arise, O LORD!  Save me, O my God!  For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.  (Ps. 3:7 ESV)

Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.  (Ps. 7:6 ESV)

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?  And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?  I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.  (Ps. 139:21-22 ESV)

Perhaps one reason we now suffer under an administration like that of Obama is that Christians, churches, and church leaders have taken a head-in-the-sand attitude about these matters.

In Luke 13:32 Jesus calls Herod a ‘fox.’  That label was no compliment, but rather a metaphorical way of pointing out what one commentator calls Herod’s "unscrupulous cunning."

If Jesus rightly called Herod, who was a king, a derogatory name to make a moral point, surely Christians can rightly use some pictures of ships and boats to make a point about our new President with all his announced immoral intentions for our country.

And perhaps we should all study scripture a bit more carefully before making pronouncements  about what is becoming of a follower of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Black Like Who?

Presidential Inauguration Party!

NKU will host an inauguration viewing party on Tuesday, January 20, 2009 in the Student Union Multipurpose Room from 11 am to 2:30pm.  Light refreshments will be served.  All students are welcome to attend! This event is sponsored by the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, and the Offices of African American Student Affairs, Latino Student Affairs, and Student Life.

Kent comments:

The above is the annoucement that came to me recently.  It is typical of what is happening with the inauguration of B. H. Obama.  I have to ask, "Why, exactly, is this event considered 'historic'?"

It is because he is an 'African-American' comes the reply.  Really?

His father was an African.  But even that doesn't make Obama half African-American.  It just makes him have slightly darker skin than most 'European-Americans.'

Those who are so ready to celebrate Obama as 'the first African-American President' are often not even consistent.

Something happened just a few years ago at the above-mentioned university that shows this. My son was at that time part of student government.  At one point the officers were all 'European-Americans' and were urged by the powers that be to add some 'diversity' to their group.  When the occasion arose, an international student from Africa was appointed to a position in the group.

But according to the powers that be, this was not true 'diversity' because he was not a real 'African-American.'

So in what sense will B. H. Obama be the first 'African-American' President?  According to some advocates for 'diversity' he will not be anything more than a President with slightly dark skin.

This, of course, will never be mentioned at all those inauguration celebrations.  But who is surprised?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Right Words Are Worth A Billion Pictures

"Movie-theater screens are postmodern stained glass. We're using moving pictures to tell the gospel to a post-literate culture," said Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church, which meets in Washington, D.C., theaters and hosts a conference for theater churches. "There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet. We have to live with the tension of being biblically true and culturally relevant."

found at: ]

Kent comments:

Nothing about the Christian faith dictates where the church should meet - when, yes - but where, no.

That being said, there is something very wrong with this, and unfortunately, it is a variety of drivel too often heard these days.

While the spoken/written word can be supplemented with pictures, pictures alone - even moving ones - cannot readily tell a story, communicate the gospel, or even begin to convey the Christian faith.

The Christian faith must be communicated with words.  This is why missionaries throughout the ages have often created an alphabet for cultures without one.  'Post-literate' people, until they become literate people, will never be fully Christianized.

Half-baked prouncements by 'lead pastors' will never change that fact.