July 29, 2008

Richard Abanes easy to please

An amazing exchange between Richard Abanes and Chris Rosebrough.

So "I am sorry you were offended" is an apology?

And "IF you don't say Rick Warren teaches salvation by works THEN I must be wrong" = saying "I was wrong"?

This is just appeasement, not an apology, certainly not repentance.
First - I am not a “Saddleback apologist.” I am neither on staff, nor am I contracted with them in any way.

Hm.   He used to be a worship leader I thought (per his own admission).  Wonder what happened?

Contracted is not what anyone has accused him of.  They have accused him of being a Rick Warren/Saddleback apologist.  Whether or not he is paid or contracted, that IS what he IS.

July 24, 2008

Richard Abanes plays dirty

Well now Richard Abanes has taken the very CHRISTIAN (cough cough NOT!) step of trying to silence Rick Warren's and his own critics by complaining to their website hosts, claiming they are making defamatory statements about him.

He's threatening Ken Silva now and you can read the details here at Apprising Ministries (that is, if the site doesn't get shut down from Richard's whining campaign).

Richard, one would think the same case could be made about you and your books against Mormons and other religions and cults that you consider false, couldn't they?  Be careful of the precedent you are setting.  In trying to silence your opponents you are going to be slitting your own throat.  You have defamed the discernment ministries FAR MORE than any case you can try to make against them.

Bob DeWaay could even make a case against you for your posts insinuating that he had SO MUCH in common with Rick Warren and the things that you said that gave the impression he was coming to agree with Rick Warren.

Also, one has to wonder, if you're getting this desperate, we know that this rather grassroots effort against your most favored false teacher Rick Warren is working.  Rick Warren must be losing share and we all know (from listening to his focus on numbers over the years) that he doesn't like when numbers go down.  After all, he himself says that means God isn't blessing the operation if it isn't growing. (See Purpose Driven Church).

July 9, 2008

Encouragement

Psalm 16
The LORD the Psalmist's Portion in Life and Deliverer in Death.
A Mikhtam of David.

1 Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
I have no good besides You."

3 As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. 
4 The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.

5 The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You support my lot.

6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

7 I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8 I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol;
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

I was listening to Chris Rosebrough's "Fighting for the Faith" podcasts, especially the ones that concentrate on Purpose Driven Preaching and how discouraging it is for those of us who know we will never measure up to any church's outward standards, let alone God's.   Also his analysis of Frank Santora's abominable sermon on Forgiving yourself and believing in yourself.  Frank Santora must be taking a cue from Rob Bell and Ray VanDerLaan there. 

"If I am elect and regenerate, why is it that my gratitude is so small, so lacking, on a daily basis?  The hurrieder I go the behinder I get!"  or "If I really were elect my life would certainly reflect that fact more than it does.  Maybe I'm just fooling myself.  Maybe I'm not really elect.  Because the peace, the joy, the confidence Paul says the Christian is to have, and that other Reform believers seem to talk about, I don't have!  I'd be lying if I said I did.  Maybe I never was part of the elect and I'm still not."
....
Now for our purposes this evening the upshot is the same: Broken Ex-Christians who finally despaired of ever being able to live the Christian Life as the Bible describes it.  So they did what is really a sane thing to do...  they left.  The way it looks to them is that the message of Christianity broke them on the rack.  To put it bluntly, it feels better to have some happiness as a pagan and then be damned, than it feels to be trying every day as a Christian that is one continuous failure and then be damned anyway.
...the key question here is a very basic one.  "Can the cross and blood of Christ save a Christian, failing as he or she is, in living the Christian life, or not?"  I hope that most of us would say that the shed blood of Jesus is sufficient to save a sinner, all by itself, just Christ's blood, nude faith in IT.  Sola fide, faith without works, a righteousness from God apart from law, a cross by which God justifies wicked people.  That is, me.  And you too.  So far so good right?  But is the blood of Christ enough to save a still sinful Christian?  Or isn't it?
I just had a complete hysterectomy (6-30-08) at age 38 and so I am sure to be going through some nasty hormone adjustments. Since I am nowhere near menopause and rather than having it come on gradually, it will supposedly be sudden and more severe.  Yay. Yes they have me on HRT for now to mitigate some of those symptoms.  But already I can feel the crying jags coming at me out of the blue.  "I am so old already... half my life is gone... what have I done with it? I can hardly remember it!  I am a failure as a Christian."  And to complicate matters I spent much of the last 9 years depressed, I think, from all the pain medication I had to take not only for this problem which has finally been taken care of (hopefully) with the surgery, but for migraines and rebound headaches which became more frequent the more pain meds I had to take.  I was on pain meds for a week each month, and  spent the rest of the month battling terrible tension rebound headaches which usually gave rise to horrific migraines, up to two a week sometimes.  Just as I was getting over the rebound headaches it'd be time for the week of painkillers again. 

I had to finally be diagnosed as depressed (well NO KIDDING) and get another doc to take me seriously on these pain issues before anything was escalated for me.  That was in April 06 when I had my first surgery, which helped greatly.  But only for about 18 months. Then the pain gradually returned and over the last two months has been unbearable.  The local OB was going to be gone for a month, so I had to go elsewhere to find someone (hopefully someone good) to get me in sooner.  I couldn't go another month with this pain.  And judging by what they found, it is probably good that I didn't wait or it could have become an emergency situation.

Of course, now that I've been diagnosed as depressed, I can't buy my own insurance but rather have to take the state version for us 'uninsurables.'  It seems some way or another they are going to force us all into the cattle chute of socialized medicine.

My emotions and thoughts, though I have tried valiantly to control them over my life, still sometimes just will not be tamed.  I am thankful that the Lord's salvation is not dependent on my feelings.  I would be utterly despondent if the gospel was what Joel Osteen has reduced it to.

Thinking about that this morning made me remember my favorite passage from Mere Christianity.  It is from the section "Beyond Personality" and chapter 32 entitled "Nice People or New Men?"  Yeah I know he has some inclusivist leanings even expressed in this chapter, which I reject. But he does hit this particular nail on the head. 
********************
He meant what He said. Those who put themselves in His hands will become perfect, as He is perfect-perfect in love, wisdom, joy, beauty, and immortality. The change will not be completed in this life, for death is an important part of the treatment. How far the change will have gone before death in any particular Christian is uncertain.
...
Making people nice does not cause them to be redeemed, though being redeemed may cause people to become nicer. A world full of nice people is not automatically saved; in fact it may be much harder to save than a world full of not-so-nice people. Because the not-so-nice people have no illusions about the whole thing.  After any serious attempt to be nice they realize that they can’t pull it off no matter how hard they try, and thus their only two options are to turn to Christ or to despair completely. For this reason, one should not be surprised to see the world of Christianity filled with not-so-nice people: they are the ones who know they need Christ, while the nice people do not think they need Him at all. 
There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person–if virtue comes easily to you–beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous.  The Devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.
But if you are a poor creature–poisoned by a wretched up-bringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels–saddled, by no choice of your own, with some loathsome sexual perversion–nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends–do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) he will fling it on the scrapheap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all–not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school. (Some of the last will be first and some of the first will be last.)

But it is important to not dwell too long on this question. God came to produce new men, not better men of the old kind. It is easy to try to discredit Christianity by comparing some Christian who is not nice with a nice person who is not a Christian. But this is only evading the issue.

What can you ever really know of other people’s souls–of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbours or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog which we call “nature” or “the real world” fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?

Rosenbladt goes on toward the end of his message:

"We Lutheran pastors haven't done a great job of getting across the central nature of righteousness by imputation alone.   I hope you've done a better job of it than we have.  Decades ago a gigantic survey of our clergy and laity ...across synodical lines showed that we Lutheran pastors hadn't even convinced our own members of the sufficiency of Christ's cross and blood and death. ... The book was called _A Study of Generations_ and 75 percent of the laity gave perfect Roman Catholic answers to the questions.  "When you die are you sure you will enter heaven?"  answer "I hope so."  "If you do get into heaven how will you get in?"  "Well I was president of the congregation four times, my wife and I tried to tithe, for 20 years we sang in the choir till our voices just couldn't do it anymore, we both taught Sunday School for years."  Perfect Roman Catholic answers!  And this survey was decades ago!  What the 'sad alumni' need to hear perhaps for the first time, is that Christian failures are going to walk into heaven, be welcomed into heaven, leap into heaven like a calf leaping out of its stall, laughing and laughing as if it's all too good to be true!  It isn't just that we failures will get in,  it's that we will probably get in like that!  We failures in living the Christian life as described in the Bible will probably say something like "you mean it really was that simple?  JUST Christ's cross and blood?  JUST his righteousness imputed to my account as if it were mine? You've got to be kidding!  And all of heaven is ours because of what was done by Jesus outside of me, not in me? On the cross, not in my heart?  Not in my Christian living, not in my ethics and my behavior?  Well I'll be damned!"  But of course, that's the real point, isn't it?  As a believer in Jesus as your substitute, you won't be damned.  No believer in Jesus will be -- not a single one.
He then goes on to talk about Roman Catholics, and cult members, as well as all sorts of rabble and confused liberals, despised IRS agents, lawyers, and even politicians who may have ignored all the extraneous wrong teachings and only trusted in Christ's blood as the covering for their sins, who will be there, often surprisingly, in heaven.

Praise Be to Him who saw fit to call people from every nation, group, status, and sin 'level' for a people to redeem fully for himself.



Matthew 12
18 BEHOLD, MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN;
MY BELOVED IN WHOM MY SOUL is WELL-PLEASED;
I WILL PUT MY SPIRIT UPON HIM,
AND HE SHALL PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO THE GENTILES.
19 "HE WILL NOT QUARREL, NOR CRY OUT;
NOR WILL ANYONE HEAR HIS VOICE IN THE STREETS.
20" A BATTERED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK OFF,
AND A SMOLDERING WICK HE WILL NOT PUT OUT,
UNTIL HE LEADS JUSTICE TO VICTORY.
21" AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE."