Monday, March 31, 2008

Sin Against Who?

The Bible is very clear on the issue of sin. At times, sin is an offense toward another person, but sin is always and primarily an offense against God. The relationship with God is primary and with other people is secondary. Jesus said that the greatest commandment is, "Love the Lord with all your heart..." The second commandment is like it, "love your neighbor as yourself." But, what happens when sin is defined only in horizontal relationships and not through the vertical relationship?

The answer to that question can be seen in large part in our society today. Homosexuality, abortion, gambling, and substance abuse are seen less and less as sinful activities because they are viewed as "victimless crimes." In the case of homosexuality, it is often celebrated because to speak against it is to speak against another human being. When sin is defined only in person to person relationships, then we have to accept homosexuality and a whole host of other activities as OK because the only offense that is possible is the offense of another person.

When God is taken out of the equation, the only relationships that can be damaged are peer relationships, thus an attitude of political correctness dominates society as a moral compass. It is in this culture, void of the concept of a Creator, that global warming, for instance, can be seen as the great evil of our world. If man-made global warming is a reality (which I have questions about), then the path to salvation is to do all we can to repair human relationships and protect one-another. Sin is anything that damages relationships, and global warming has the potential to affect every human being on the it is the great evil.

On the other hand, if the vertical relationship between man and God is the primary relationship and we believe what the Bible says to be true; namely that sin separates us from God, then we have a whole different view on salvation. Salvation is no longer proper relationships between people, but rather proper relationship in the vertical realm between God and man. Christ, then, and not science, is the Savior for only he can repair the broken relationship between God and man. He accomplished this through his death on the cross.

As Christians, we must fight for the truth of the cross and of Christ. He came to save sinners, and sin is primarily an offence against God, not against another person.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your Best Life Later

I have a strong desire to write a book, and I might have finally figured out the perfect title...thats right, Your Best Life Later. After all, thats what Christianity is all about, its about the life to come. We live and exist for the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of Men. Check out this quote I ran across this morning:

Michael Horton, professor of theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Escondito, California, offered a thorough and perceptive response to Osteen's "moral therapy:"

"It's changing your lifestyle to receive God's favor," Horton says. "It's not heaven in the hereafter but happiness here and now. But it is still up to you to make it happen."

He finds sad truth in an old newspaper headline he once saw: "'To hell with sin when being good is enough.' That's the drift of American preaching today in a lot of churches. People know what sin is; they just don't believe in it anymore. We mix up happiness and holiness, and God is no longer the reference point."

In other words, he asks, if you can solve your problems or sins yourself, what difference does it make that Christ was crucified?

Christianity is a religion founded on the fact of a crucified and risen Lord. Jesus death was efficacious for salvation. Paul says that his death has overcome death, hell, and the grave and that it has paved the way for us to have salvation for all of eternity. Many Christians die martyrs deaths...they don't have their best life now, but they do have an incredible life to look to later.

Christ didn't promise us a vacation on this earth, but to him who perseveres Christ has promised the Kingdom (Revelation 3:21, Revelation 20:4).

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Truth and Gender Identity

First, let me say, we should always expect Christ-followers to act like they love Jesus and accept his teachings, but we should never expect people outside of Christ to act like Christians. That being said, we do not hold those outside of Christ to Christian standards. However, it is telling of just how far we have fallen away from our Judeo-Christian belief systems in our country when a well-known news agency carrying a story about a transgendered person (a person who was born a female but has undergone surgical procedures and hormone replacement to look like a man) who has decided to get pregnant references the person this way:

Beatie, born a woman, has had a chest reconstruction and testosterone therapy, but decided to keep his female repoductive organs.

We are in a sad state when truth is so relative that a news organization will use the statement, decided to keep his female reporductive organs. The Bible tells us in the book of Genesis that God created them male and female, two different sexes for two seperate entities. However, even from a non-Christian perspective this must seem far-fetched...a he cannot have she organs. I am a man because I have male reproductive organs.

This argument, of course, isn't new, but the wording in this article really caused me to take a second look. In the onslaught against Judeo-Christian values that we experience daily, take special note of the language that has invaded our culture as normal. Take this to heart especially as you raise your children in an age that accepts all points of view and claims to truth as equal. For your own edification, I have copied the definition for truth from below.

truth /truθ/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[trooth] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation,–noun, plural truths /truðz, truθs/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[troothz, trooths] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation.
1.the true or actual state of a matter: He tried to find out the truth.
2.conformity with fact or reality; verity: the truth of a statement.
3.a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like: mathematical truths.
4.the state or character of being true.
5.actuality or actual existence. obvious or accepted fact; truism; platitude.
7.honesty; integrity; truthfulness.
8.(often initial capital letter) ideal or fundamental reality apart from and transcending perceived experience: the basic truths of life.
9.agreement with a standard or original.
10.accuracy, as of position or adjustment.
11.Archaic. fidelity or constancy. —Idiom truth, in reality; in fact; actually: In truth, moral decay hastened the decline of the Roman Empire.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

The Resurrection

Yesterday in my sermon, I made the argument that the literal resurrection of Jesus is necessary for Christianity to exist. I went so far as to say, "If the body of Jesus could be produced and verified without a doubt, I would renounce my faith and walk away from Christianity." Why would I make such a claim? Well, primarily because the apostle Paul made a very similar claim in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19:

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Is a bodilyt resurrection of Christ necessary for the Christian faith? According to the Apostle Paul it is. In submission to the authority of Scripture, I agree wholeheartedly.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Social Gospel

My last entry got so long that I decided to set aside one for the quotes of D. Martin Lloyd Jones. In a television interview, I recently heard Barak Obama defending Jeremiah Wright this way,
"Jeremiah Wright ... has said some things that are considered controversial because he's considered that part of his social gospel." The social gospel, of which Obama speaks is something less than the true gospel of the Bible. For a very brief look into the social gospel and the necessity of the true gospel and gospel preaching, I want to carry you along on a brief trip into the thoughts of D. Martin Lloyd-Jones. This is a compliation of his comments all compiled into one concise statement.

Lloyd-Jones writes, the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy that the church is 'the pillar and ground of the truth.' She is not a social organisation or institution, not a political society, not a cultural society, but the 'pillar and ground of the truth.'

Futher, any social gospel is short-sighted because it sees man's major problems as social evils and fails to address the real problem of sin and separation from God...

The moment you consider man's real need, and also the nature of the salvation announced and proclaimed in the Scriptures, you are driven to the conclusion that the primary task of the chruch is to preach and to proclaim this, to show man's real need, and to show the only remedy, the only cure for's real trouble is that he is a rebel against God and consequently under the wrath of God.

Thus, Lloyd-Jones continues,

If this is the greatest need of man, if his ultimate need is something that arises out of this ignorance of his which, in turn, is the result of rebellion against God, well then, what he needs first and foremost is to be told about this, to be told the truth about himself, and to be told fo teh only way in which this can be dealt with. So I assert that it is the peculiar task of the Church, and of the preacher, to make all this known.

Even more counter-cultural he writes,

The primary task of the church is not to educate man, is not to heal him physically or psychologically, it is not to make him happy [we might add also that economic stewardship is not her primary responsibility]...Her primary purpose is not any of these; it is rather to put man into the right relationship with God, to reconcile man to God.

Lastly, and probably most importantly for our current situation,

What was largely responsible for emptying the churches in Great Britain was that 'social gospel' preaching and the institutional church...The church has been trying to preach morality and ethics without the gospel as a basis; it has been preaching morality without godliness; and it simply does not work...The result is that the church, having abandoned her real task, has left humanity more or less to it's own devices.

By the way, Preaching and Preachers was not written as a response to Jeremiah Wright, or anyone in the 21st Century for that matter, it was copyrighted in 1971. It was written as a call to preachers to be faithful to the Word of God, regardless of their time in history.

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What Is Preaching

Recent media coverage of so-called sermons have really bothered me. A sermon is not a sermon just because a man stands up and delivers an emotional speech. Political rhetoric is just that, political rhetoric. Further, the pulpit is no place to use language that is unacceptable for radio and television and has to be bleeped out.

Preaching is a sacred practice, not a political maneuver. Preaching is the exposition of the Word of God found only in the Bible. Anything else is something far less than preaching and does not deserve the title. I have compiled a short list of quotes on preaching that I would like to share with you all. I hope you find this helpful as you work to sort through the inflamatory comments by some political activists claiming to be pastors.

Every sermon wich aspires to be at once both Biblical and practical; it must be derived from an honest exegesis of the text (of scripture) and it must constantly be kept close to the text.

- Walter Kaiser, Toward an Exegetical Theology

The communication of truth by man to men. It has in it two essential elements, truth and personality. Neither of these can it spare and still be preaching.

- Phillips Brooks. In this case we note that the only source of ultimate truth is the Bible.

An expository sermon may be defined as a message whose structer and thought are derived from a biblical text, that covers the scope of the text, and that explains the features and context of the text in order to disclose the enduring priciples for faithful thinking, living, and worship intended by the Spirit, who inspired the text.

- Bryan Chapell, Christ Centered Preaching

Preaching is the oral communication of biblical truth by the Holy Spirit through a human personality to a given audience with the intent of enabling a positive response.

Jerry Vines and Jim Shaddix, Power in the Pulpit

Preaching should be driven by a passion for the glory of God...the preacher is not the witness himself; instead, he simply is called to report the facts given by the witness (the Word of God).

Jim Shaddix, The Passion Driven Sermon

The church's most powerful testimony is not in its ecstasies, but in its clear proclamation of the powerful Word of God.

John Macarthur

The great design...of a Christian preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in the souls of men.

Cotton Mather

All genuine preaching is rooted in a feeling of desperation. you wake up on Sunday morning and you can smell the smoke of hell on one side and feel the crisp breezes of heaven on the other. you go to your study and look down at your pitiful manuscript and you kneel down and cry, "O God, this is so weak! Who do I think I am?

John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Commitment or Surrender

I just watched an interview with Cliff Barrows, the long-time song leader for Billy Graham. He talked about the difference between commitment and surrender. Commitment, he said, is something you control, but surrender is something God controls. We talk often about being committed to God, but I wonder how many of us have truly surrendered to God and his will for our life?

The Bible calls us to this higher standard--this standard of surrender. John the Baptist understood this principle well when he said of Jesus, He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). In our own lives, we must measure our faith by this standard. Is the influence of Christ increasing everyday in your own life? Have your own self-centered ambitions decreased? Surrender all...give up to Jesus.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What is the Church?

Of course, the controversy over a certain pastor in the Chicago area has dominated the news in the last several days. As I have heard so much about the church on radio and TV in the past few days, I though it would be worthwhile to write just a short piece about what the church is and is not.

First, the church is not defined by people, whether those people are lay people or clergy. Second, the church is not a political movement. Third, the church is not a social club or civic organization.

The church is defined by Scripture. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ present here on this earth in followers of Christ who have been purchased by his blood on the cross. In other words, the church is made up of Christians. The church may very well take part in social or civic tasks, but the primary goal of the church is not to right social wrongs. The church exists to bring glory to God and God is most glorified in the salvation of sinners.

As you follow the news, you be reminded that regardless of what any commentator or anchor has to say about any church, the Bible has already defined the church. Any local gathering that claims to be a church should be measured against the definition of the church set forth in Scripture.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

New Element

I've been busy today updating this thing, trying to make it as useful as possible. I've added a new element to my blog that some of you may find beneficial. It's Craig's Reading List. You can link to it on the left and I will try to keep it updated with books that I find useful and that I reccommend. Some of the reviews will be short, some will be long. If there are books you would like me to try to get on there, just email them to me or leave me a comment.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who finds this beneficial.

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Food For Voting

I try not to make this political. But I'm pasting a link to a blog that includes an ABC interview about Barack Obama's pastor. I believe it is theologically relevant and would encourage you to read the blog and watch the interview.

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TV Poisoning?

A great article on the dangers of television overuse by adolescents. I encourage its reading.

For good and obvious reasons, Americans have spent a great deal of energy and research in identifying and removing contaminants and dangers from the lives of children. Lead was once a common ingredient in paint for homes, but the danger lead posed to children became known and a crusade to remove lead spread across the country.

Beyond lead in paints, crusaders looked for any toxin or danger that might be found in the pajamas, furniture, and toys that might be in a child's room. But it seems that many have missed a most obvious danger -- the presence of a television in a child's room.

The New York Times published a most interesting report on this issue just this week, claiming that the mere presence of a television set in a child's bedroom is a direct threat to the child's health. As the article documented:

Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a television in the bedroom is strongly associated with being overweight and a higher risk for smoking.

The numbers of children with a television in the bedroom are staggering. According to one study, 70% of third-graders had a television set in the room -- we are talking about eight-year-olds.
Reporter Tara Parker-Pope also points to the obvious fact that one danger is simply that children and teens will watch more television. As she reported:
In a study of 80 children in Buffalo, ages 4 to 7, the presence of a television in the bedroom increased average viewing time by nearly nine hours a week, to 30 hours from 21. And parents of those children were more likely to underestimate their child's viewing time.

"If it's in the bedroom, the parents don't even really know what the kids are watching," said Leonard H. Epstein, professor of pediatrics and social and preventive medicine at the School of Medicine and Biomedical Science at the State University of New York at Buffalo. "Oftentimes, parents who have a TV in the kids' bedrooms have TVs in their bedrooms."

Consider that picture of family bliss -- each member of the family ensconced in his or her bedroom with a private television. That's just what we need. Parents who watch too much television set bad examples for their children and teenagers. Then, adding insult to injury, some then facilitate more viewing by putting a private television set in the child's room.

But in 2002, the journal "Pediatrics" reported that preschool children with bedroom TVs were more likely to be overweight. In October, the journal "Obesity" suggested that the risk might be highest for boys. In a study among French adolescents, boys with a bedroom television were more likely than their peers to have a larger waist size and higher body fat and body mass index.
The French study also showed, not surprisingly, that boys and girls with bedroom TVs spent less time reading than others.

Other data suggest that bedroom television affects a child's schoolwork. In a 2005 study in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, researchers looked at the television, computer and video game habits of almost 400 children in six Northern California schools for a year. About 70 percent of the children in the study had their own TV in the bedroom; they scored significantly and consistently lower on math, reading and language-arts tests. Students who said they had computers in their homes scored higher.

In its concluding analysis, the paper reported that middle-school children with televisions in their bedrooms were twice as likely to start smoking -- even with all other variables taken into account.

As Tara Parker-Pope concludes, "So while many parents try to limit how much television and what type of shows their children watch, that may be less than half the battle. Where a child watches is important too."

Television, like all other forms of mass media, represents great potential for good and great potential for evil. Add to this the fact that a great deal of what television brings us is marked more by banality than anything else. Human eyes are attracted to those moving pictures and the noise of television, but the brain is inadequately stimulated.

For Christian parents, a proper concern must move from the more generalized effects of television as a communications medium to the content of the communication -- the message and the medium. Television is a soul-contaminator, training young souls to want the wrong consumer goods, value the wrong moral goods, laugh at the wrong places, and emulate vacuous and immoral celebrities.

This point was driven home in an eloquent sermon preached by Cornelius Plantinga, President of Calvin Theological Seminary, back in 2006. Preaching from Revelation 2:17, Dr. Plantinga reminded his congregation that Christ promised the authentic believers at Pergamum a "white stone" with their new name written upon it -- a symbol of their conversion and transformation in Christ.

Then he said this:

I think we've been losing ground to popular culture. Not everything in popular culture is evil. Of course not. In fact, some of it is delightful. But there is also real evil in it, and the trouble is that a lot of the evil is aimed at young people and children. The trouble is that when you're ten you can't always tell the difference between what's good and what's evil--and especially not if evil is made to look very, very attractive.

Do you know that even conservative Christian parents buy TV sets for the bedrooms of their ten-year-olds and then let them watch pretty much whatever they want? They buy a TV set for their fifth grader, hook it up to the cable system, hand their child a remote, and let their child close the door.

And now, day by day, night by night, their child's soul is in the hands of the Philistines. The Lord wants to give our children a white stone with their true name on it, but our children are finding out who they are from people to whom Lord is just another four-letter word. Every sick joke about God; every celebration of lust or revenge; every cynical assumption about the motives of good people--all this pours into the soul of a ten-year-old just as if her parents had hooked her up to an IV serviced by a profiteer. All the worse if parents buy premium channels such as HBO whose comedians pump sludge. I mean a comedian who mocks Jesus Christ because he didn't understand that compassion is for losers. He didn't understand that wimps get crucified just as they should. I mean a comedian who takes a hand-held mike and starts banging it rhythmically on the stage floor in imitation of hammer blows, and then grins at the crowd as he says, "Sound familiar Jesus? Sound familiar?"

This is a prophetic critique, and Dr. Plantinga's closing words are worthy of close attention: "I hope you and I come to understand one of these days that our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the powers, with principalities, with the princes of this present darkness. The church at Pergamum was in danger of caving in, and so are we. It sometimes seems that Satan lives here too."

Yes, and it seems that sometimes the tempter in the bedroom is the television.

Compliments of

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gaining Ground on Guilt

In his book, Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda, Les Parrott writes these words:

Being guilty differs from feeling guilty. Guilt is the state of having done a wrong or committed an offence. This is guilt as defined by theologians. But guilt also is the painful feeling of self-reproach resulting from doing wrong--guilt as defined by psychologists. Real guilt includes feelings that are the result of having done wrong. False guilt, however, keeps the alarm ringing even after we have been notified of the problem or even when there is no danger.

False guilt is the guilt and shame felt by Christians over past sins that they have already confessed before God. 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us," and Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Sin confessed to God is forgiven and we can approach his throne with confidence because his word promises that he will cast our sin away.

False guilt plagues many Christians, but it is a tool of the enemy that brings about the paralyzing evil of discouragement that paralyzes many from experiencing the abundant life promised in Christ. Christian, you've been set FREE!!! LIVE LIKE IT!
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Community: A Christian Directive

There is no such thing as a lone Christian. Christians, by command of Christ, are communal people. Take this for example:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. - John 13:34-35

And then in the High Priestly Prayer:

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Fater are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. - John 17: 21-22

In their book, Creating Community, Andy Stanley and Bill Willits write, Jesus is saying that the credibility of His life and message in teh eyes of unbelievers is dependent upon the way we as hiss followers relate with one another...Our relationship with each other is the criterion the world uses to judge whether our message is truthful--Christian community is the final apologetic.

But what is this community of which Christ speaks? Not merely a series of connections, Stanley and Willits suggest a total lifestyle, The kind of connections we need are more than casual. Casual conections aren't life-giving. The church is called to be more than casual, accidental, or infrequent. Instead, the church is a series of intentional relationships developed for the intent purpose of growing in the Christian life and making the gospel known to all the world.

The church is not a building, it is the people of Christ living as he has called them to live. Don't fool yourself or allow others to be fooled. The Christian life is a team thing!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Don't Pawn It Off

I was recently involved in a conversation where a man asked for prayer that a new "Billy Graham" would be raised up. Of course, his hope is that God will raise another great evangelist to proclaim the gospel around the world. Although I know that his concerns are very legitimate, I am concerned that too many people would like to see another "Billy Graham" so that they could point to someone else who is responsible for their evangelism. Unfortunately, our American Christian society has become so consumed with professional evangelists and evangelical events that many have forgotten that evangelism is the responsibility of every Christian, and not just certain Christians during certain events.

In his book, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, J.I. Packer says, Evangelism is the inalienable responsibility of every Christian community, and every Christian man [and woman]. Evangelism is not simply a task for "special" services or for certain Christians. The Great Commission is a command to every Christian. So great, in fact, is the command of Christ that Packer well summarizes it this way:

We should not look for excuses for wriggling out of our obligation when occasion offers to talk to others about the Lord Jesus Christ. If we find ourselves shrinking from this responsibility, and trying to evade it, we need to face ourselves with the fact that in this we are yielding to sin and Satan.

Of course, this is not a free pass to be a Jerk in the name of Christ, but we should see it as a directive driving us to seek out opportunities to share the gospel. Packer suggests,

Whenever I am justified in choosing my subject of conversation with another, the theme of themes (Christ) shall have prominence between us, so that I may learn of his need, and, if possible, meet it.

Remember, we are not often given the opportunity to direct a conversation, but when we are, we are presented with an opportunity to share with another soul the great love of Christ, so don't pawn it off. This is Invest and Invite. Investing in the lives of others and inviting them to share in the grace of Christ, and this is what all Christians have been called to do in Christ.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Looking Like A Pastor

One of my favorite comments in the world is, "you don't look like a pastor." Of course, this usually causes me to ask, "Well, what does a pastor look like?" I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be middle-aged and overweight, or have a bad sense of humor, or always wear a suit, but regardless of what it is, I apparently do not fit the mold that many people expect of a pastor.

I'm OK with that. In fact, sometimes I consider that a compliment. My hope and prayer, however, is that regardless of how I look, I always remain a pastor through purity, commitment to God's ministry, and devotion to the Word. Its really OK if I don't look the part, but I am committed to acting the part. You know, the part where I give it my all to teach and preach the word of God and model Christian living to the world around me by being a godly husband and father as well as a committed pastor.

Pray for me that I will always be the part of pastor even when I don't look the part.
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Oprah's New Easter

OK, this is a good article and worth reading, but I must admit, that even if it were not so good, I would have been tempted to paste it here simply because Chuck Norris is the author (For anyone thinking of laughing, remember, he could be behind you...). I was a bit surprised to see such an insightful article, but I am glad to see someone speaking out against the heresy that has become the church of Oprah. The article in its original format can be found here.

On March 3, a live 10-week webinar hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Eckhart Tolle, author of "A New Earth," began. Both the book and the online course purport to be able to awaken you and our world to life's grand purpose.

Since Oprah's endorsement of Tolle's book a month ago, about 3.5 million copies of his spiritual self-help guide have been sent out to enlighten the minds of people around the globe. More than 500,000 people in 125 countries have signed up for the World Wide Web seminar.
But will this religious text and its subsequent Internet churchlike gathering really lead you and our world to God's gates of splendor? Is it merely a coincidence that Winfrey and Tolle's spiritual quest aligns with one of Christendom's most sacred times of year? To me, it is more evidence of the paradigm shift in our culture from its moral absolute and Judeo-Christian basis to a relativistic worldview, in which anything goes and everything is tolerated. The fact is Tolle's "A New Earth" is being adopted and transformed into Oprah's new Easter.
Like most self-help spiritual texts of this type, it is a blend of half-truths and half-fabrications. One easily could save the purchase price of "A New Earth" -- and subsequently avoid its misleading remarks -- by reading the Bible, which gives a much more thorough and accurate picture of life's purpose and the methods for overcoming its obstacles.

Tolle himself doesn't align with any one religion but blends tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Sufism, Christianity and other faiths. A review in The Vancouver Sun said of Tolle:
"His spiritual outlook has become more complex since (his earlier book) The Power of Now, when he dismissed external reality as an illusion and made it sound as if 'living in the now' was a panacea for all the world's problems. …

"In addition, Tolle believes outer realities -- including politics, war, poverty and even the climate -- will magically be transformed when individuals change their inner consciousness. This may be true, but only to an extent."

The reason Tolle's psychology and spirituality is marketed so easily is that it is an eclectic mix of conventional and unconventional wisdom, and Western and Eastern beliefs, presented in a tolerant, non-threatening and nonsectarian way. In other words, it's Religion Light, in which one can be spiritual with little down and no credit.

Tolle only quotes relatively benign sayings of Jesus, avoiding the more difficult ones. For example, Tolle notes that Jesus taught that the "kingdom of heaven" is already present on earth and can be experienced right now, but Tolle overlooks Jesus' teaching that one must be born again (by believing in him as the Son of God and Savior) to see that kingdom in the future.

When will we learn? Our pursuit and attainment of truth is hindered most by our subjective (or a la carte) selections of religion and refusal to consider tougher commandments that call us to higher accountability and our true purpose. That is why I'm endorsing -- and even have written the foreword for -- an upcoming (April 15 release) revolutionary book, "Do Hard Things," written by Alex Harris and Brett Harris. It offers real insight and rewards for life by commendably calling us to rebel against the low expectations of culture and choose to "do hard things."

My battle is not with Oprah; she has her guru (Tolle), and I have mine (Jesus). The real war is between those who assert to be bearers of the truth, such as Tolle and Jesus. And the question is: With contradicting truths, will we believe a mere man or one who claimed to be so much more? As C.S. Lewis -- the great Oxford scholar and writer of "The Chronicles of Narnia," who was once an avid atheist -- wrote:

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. …

"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
That might not be what Oprah, Tolle or others around the world want to hear on their webinar, but he is everything we all need to obtain peace with God and peace with one another.

Again, the question is: Will we turn from what's easy, what's new, what's popular -- even what's "Oprah" -- and take a step back and rediscover the answers that have been there all along? As C.S. Lewis also said: "We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive."

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Evangelism...Thats It?

I think that the programmatic approach to evangelism that yielded results in previous generations has prompted many Christians to believe that evangelism is this big program for which you must be perfectly trained. I would encourage every Christian to have evangelism training, but it is important to realize that the early church did not produce books on evangelism or have month-long studies. No, evangelism was a simple act of telling others about yourself and what Jesus had done in your life.

In the case of Andrew, we see that much of his evangelism was simply taking someone to Jesus. That's right, the conversation must have been like this..."Hey, Simon, come with me and meet this guy." WOW, Andrew must have had a Ph.D. to have been able to share Jesus that way. Seriously, that's what invest and invite is all about. Grab your friends and take them to Jesus. Invite them to church and invite them to a relationship with Christ. Go for it...I know you can do it.

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