Thursday, December 31, 2009

Things Just Get Curious'r 'n Curious'r

Yesterday I sent an e-mail to an old friend (of 63+ years) and was startled with his reply. He sent a link ...Dies Domini...which is a group of (many) former SDA's who now embrace the Only, Holy, Roman Catholic Church.
Their raison d'etre (reason for being) is to aid Catholics in 1) their understanding of Adventists, and 2) to enable Catholics to better defend their faith. Good idea...actually. Adventists could adapt the idea to be better informed about themselves in order to better defend their faith.
We had a Catholic neighbor in Massachussetts who was, and is, a wonderful person...emphasis, person. She lived one house beyond our Adventist neighbor whom, I swear, didn't speak ten words to us in the year that we lived there. There has to be a lesson here somewhere. Right about here I should probably say something like, "...some of my best friends are Catholic, Jews, Blacks..." Isn't that the expected (patronizing) line?
Of the few Adventists who go to heaven there will be none who are critical, judgmental, self righteous, or smug in their possesion of truth. Said another way, those who believe they possess the truth will be left waiting at the gate while those who are possessed by the Truth will go in. There are many things that deserve to be scrutinized in all churches...but sincere believers are not one of them.
If Adventists want to better understand why Catholics believe as they do here is a (partial) list of suggested reading: 1. All Sixty Canons of the Council of Laodicea. 2. A Converts Catechism to Catholicism. 3. The Catholic Catechism (2nd edition). 4. Dignities and Duties of the Priest by Fr. Alphonsis Liguori. 5. John/James Cardinal Gibbons (in original as pdf). 6. Dies Domini 1998 John Paul II (actually written by now Benedict XVI). All of this is available online.
(You might also read Caritas in Veritate [Charity in Truth]). Benedict gave a white leather-bound copy of this to presidents Obama and Medvedev.
It is true that one does not need to study error in order to know the truth. It is also true that one should study the truth in order to know what is true.
Go figure!
Blessings for a new year. e.c.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Call for Prayer Warriors

Some time ago I volunteered to become a Prayer Warrior for 3ABN. Every week I receive long, really long, lists of requests for healing of all kinds: cancer, addiction, strokes, heart disease, mental disease, needing jobs, repossession of home, divorce.....
The hardest part about being a prayer warrior is reading the stories about sick and dying children: parents and family crying out to the Lord.
Anyone out there with the heart, the will, and the inner fortitude to "listen" to these voices crying out for help are encouraged to either go online and contact 3ABN, or to be a "closet" warrior and pray for those you know and those you don't. Joining the battle for Christ as a PW is heart fulfilling and heart breaking. I will say to you what one sports company says to consumers; "Just do it!"
Blessings for all that you do for Jesus Christ. e.c.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shari Law: "Thou Shalt Kill Whomsoever Thou Will

Iran is a spectacle of the other-worldly principle of man's inhumanity to man. Joseph Stalin (whose real name was, Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvilli) studied to be a priest but instead chose to be a dictator and murderer. (Roosevelt and Churchill called Stalin, "Uncle Joe", to soften his brutal reputation). Adolph Hitler also studied to be a priest and he too elected dictatorship and murderer to be his epitaph.

Doesn't it seem curious that those who are the designated spiritual leaders of Iran are also essentially dictators and murderers. (Iran is singled out here because it is so prominent in the news; little of which seems to be good news.)

There is an ugly, internal moral disconnect between spiritual leadership and political power in a country with thousands of years of history that traces back to Darius of the Medes and Persians who brilliantly overthrew ancient Babylon on the night of Belshazzar's debauched feast. Iran is the cradle of Zoroastrianism (Zarathustra) a central tenent of which is belief in life immortal based upon good works. Somehow there is a paucity of good works coming out of Iran.

If I were to opine (and, of course I will) there has never been a time in the sanginous (bloody) history of the world when politics and religion made good bedfellows: Not Babylon and Ishtar, not Persia and Mithra, not Greece and her multi-deities, not pagan Rome and her polytheism, not Rome and the bloodstained hands of her bishops, not the Holy Roman Empire, never in Russia, never and not now* in Germany, not in the many branches of Islam that slaughter each other going to and from worship in the mosque: Not now! Not ever!

The mind and heart of man is too small to balance politics and religion on anything other than brutality. That opinion-come-fact is written in the blood of millions of men, women, and children over thousands of years. Whoever believes they have a red-phone to God is destined, by the dictates of history and human nature, to be, and to perfect the art and science of suppression, oppression, dictatorship, and death; in that order, for that is the Devil's MO.

God does not send secret military militia to kill; men do that. God does not instruct his followers to behead and burn those who have a question needing an answer. Men do that. G-d does not put bullets into the brains of men and women whose minds do not resonate on every point of the leadership. Men do that.

Which reminds me; wasn't it Nancy Pelosi who said that anyone who opposes Health Care Reform in America is "Un-American?" Scary!

A final posit: the union of religion and a politik lies in the path of America's future. What will that look like? Should that (when it) occur(s) will look the same as it always has; authoritative, bullying, coercive, despotic, evisceratory, fatal, and godless. And that, friends, is how we will spell the union of religion and political power; ABCDEFG!
God help us! e.c.

*Berlin, 01 Decemer 2009: German Supreme Court overturns all local laws permitting Sunday shopping and ordered Sunday observed as day of national rest and worship. (A gift to Benedict XVI).

Just Open Your Eyes!

Are there any who do not believe that Christ is coming soon? I'm not asking the question of those who do not believe in God; the question is aimed squarely at those who wear the label of "believers." Perhaps the word "squarely" sounds a bit too confrontational; too challenging. But in all honesty, that is what I am trying to do; challenge those of us who are asleep in the pews because we are tired of hearing "how near we are" to the end of all things.
Certainly we don't want to be among those who cynically question, "...where is the promise of His coming? for all things continue as from the beginning of the world..!" (a crudely paraphrased reference to 2nd Peter 3:4. Adventists...Seventh-day Adventists...people whose very name is an abstracted sermon of two core beliefs, should be awake to the times eagerly sharing what they know is coming on the earth...that is, if they know what is coming.
Some of us are historical Adventists. We've been in the church for decades, yet some of the some of us couldn't give a Bible study on "soul" or the "state of the dead" or Righteousness by Faith if our soul depended on it.
Some of us are cultural Adventists. My parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, on-and-on...were all SDA's. So, what does that make me...or you? just another lukewarm body on the bench who admits truth but is not really committed to truth. Cultural Adventists (name any church) like to play church but don't really care to be a lively and living part of the church.
Some of us are Adventists-of-great-balance. We stand, and have stood, with one foot in the church and the other in the world for the greater part of our life. But like the Fe, Fi, Fo Fum giant above the bean stalk, we are asleep...but with one eye open a tiny bit so we can see just in case something happens and needs action.
I hope this does not come as a shock to anyone, but those who are alert and taking action before the fact of His appearing won't be as surprised as those who are, so to speak, "wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked" [Rev. 3:17]. But both will be surprised; one unto salvation, the other unto condemnation. you understand more clearly why and how I intended to use the word, "squarely," when I sighted-in on this topic. Sometimes I just have get rid of the weight on my mind...or perhaps, my alleged mind.
Blessings, still. e.c.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Defense of, From The Mind...

I ask myself; "Why do I feel compelled to write?" and "Who really cares about what what I may be thinking about today...or any day, for that matter?" I know the answer, and have known it since before I began this Blog.
The reason is buried in 60 years of writing poetry, essays, and other avenues of expression to put the world on notice about what I think is important. But you know, as I know, that the "world doesn't really care what I think about issues spiritual, or political, or ethical. But to me this is serious have an opinion on issues that matter; that make a difference to those who temporarily inhabit this waning planet.
The burden shifts from time to time and presently rests on what is happening in Protestantism at large: a huge shift away from the cause(s) that killed many reformers signaled by a surrender of fundamental pillars in their church; exempla gratia, the divinity of Christ, inspiration of the Bible, centrality of the Gospel, immutability of truth, and Jesus Christ as the only Way, Truth, and Life.
Driven by the Enemy of all Truth, the minds of many men (their names might surprise) are bent to reinventing and redesigning the church and its worship so as to resonate with the world. In the physics of sound (music) resonance is heard as harmony and when have the church and the world harmonized? If they have, and when they have, the only result can be a dissonance in purpose and outcomes to our God.
However clumsily stated, however awkwardly worded, however meagerly designed, now you know why I write. More than that...why I have to write. Sorry, I am unable to talk about sports, cars, TV, or most other "stuff." I was designed differently than most; not better, just different, and I will be (perhaps) the first to recognize and acknowledge that "difference."
God Bless. e.c.

Friday, December 25, 2009 Destroy Ourselves

I've been thinking (this Christmas day) about what might be the greatest gift God has given mankind. Many will say, "Salvation and eternal life!" And I will not argue against that answer but I will suggest a qualification: Perhaps the greatest gift God has given to this earth, to all His creation in all the universe (all the worlds) [Hebrews 1:1-3], is the gift of freedom of choice.
There are (at least) four things God cannot do: 1. He can not coerce any being (angelic or human) to love and serve Him (Satan is the apogee of examples in this matter); 2. He can not forgive sin without the shedding of blood (Christ is our Perfect example in this matter); 3. He can not save without faith; and 4; He can not lie [Titus 1:2]. [Thanks to David Asscherick, from whom I stole two of these].
Joshua--a type of Christ--led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Jesus Christ will soon lead His children into the heavenly Promised Land. That is...all who exercise the choice to follow Him both here on earth and (very soon) into the eternal life He has promised. Every person is free to make the choice between eternal life and eternal death. Joshua said to the children of Israel,"Chose ye this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" Joshua 24:15. This is the way it is because this is the way it has to be.
If Christ were to coerce any being--earthly or heavenly--He would be acting outside the boundaries of everything understood about Him and His divinity. In other words, He would be very unlike God and more like a god. Satan has always wanted to be like God but he cannot because he was the first to possess and exercise every character trait that is the antithesis of God.
In His pure, holy, perfect love, God is bound to Himself: He cannot lie nor can He be a lie. Therefore, each of us is free to choose destruction. But it doesn't end there because those who choose destruction too often take others with them either by perverted example or by coercion. The only thing Satan has done perfectly is to distort the character of God by his perfect example of evil and to coerce untold numbers of mankind (and one-third of the angels) to reject God and elect self destruction.
More anon.
Blessings this Christmas day and every day. e.c.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Purpose Driven Strife

Many of us have succumbed to the seemingly innocuous call of Rick Warren's, Purpose-Driven Life/Church. We ask, "What's the problem?" and follow up with an, "I was blessed!" But here I come strolling in and add, "Or so it seemed."
And that is the point, precisely.
Warren has been wildly successful in selling books, books about churches, how to grow bigger churches, how to do and accomplish more things, etc., etc., etc. But there is poison in Warren's piety and it is evident in these words; "If you want to advertise your church to the unchurched, you must learn to think and speak like they do." [Purpose-Driven Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. pg 189)].
Wait right here for just a minute...OK, I'm to speak. What about this verse Mr. Warren? "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." [Philippians 2:5]; or how about..."These things I command you, that you love one another. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. [John 15:17-19]. Or how about what Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians, chapter 6. Here is a small offering; "Do not be unequally yoked....And what accord has Christ with Belial?...And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?...Come out from among separate..."
I can hear someone(s) thinking, "Well then, how do we spread the message of salvation? How do we seek the lost? Answer: (too simple for some) we do all that by preaching the Word of God and His Christ as the ONLY Way and the ONLY answer to sin. Remember the commission to the church? "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." [Mark 16:15].
We do the will of God when, by preaching the Gospel, we bring the unchurched into the church. It is not well done nor done well if we seek to adapt our minds to the mind of the world.
Does a person of the world find the church more appealing, more to their liking, if the church tries to get inside their head and become a broader evenue of "understanding" by which they can find an easier door to salvation? No! That approach, in its unconverted core, is mere marketing. The Holy Spirit does not "market" the God and His Christ and neither should the church.
Had there been an easy or easier way for Christ to bring salvation to mankind don't you think He would have taken that path? Of course; but there was no easier way. Before His crucifixion He asked three times..."Father, if it be possible?...but all He heard was silence because it was not possible. There was no other way to save mankind. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Light, and no one goes to heaven except through Him.
It is not done with gimmicks, with marketing, with psychology, or by reinventing the church. It has, and will, be done by the preaching of the undiluted Gospel, telling them the Truth as it is in Christ, and letting the Holy Spirit work. There is no course in "Bonehead Salvation" for those unwilling to be weaned from milk to the meat in the Word of God. Jesus is still the only Way, and it is this that the world doesn't care for. This is the explanation for the books that try to show an easier way. There is none.
Think on these things. Blessings. e.c.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Mark, the Cussing Pastor"

Relax....I'm not talking about the writer of the Gospel of Mark; this is a different Mark; way different. I've been talking about the "Emergent Church" and Mark may be a poster boy for emergent's and their philosophy of fitting in. First a quote from John MacArthur: "The recent wave of popular books written by leading figures in the Emerging Church movement has unleashed an unprecedented flood of vulgarity and worldliness onto Christian booksellers' shelves. Obscenity is one of the main trademarks of the Emerging style. Most authors in the movement make extravagant use of filthy language, sexual innuendo, and uncritical references to the most lowbrow elements of postmodern culture, often indicating inappropriate approval for ungodly aspects of secular culture. In the popular book Blue Like Jazz, for example, Donald Miller writes of his experience in one of the best-known Emerging churches in the Pacific Northwest, referring to the pastor as 'Mark the Cussing Pastor,'" [Miller writes; "Even though Mark said cuss words, he was telling a lot of people about Jesus, and he was being socially active, and seemed to love a lot of people the church was neglecting, like liberals and fruit nuts. About the time I was praying that God would help me find a church, I got a call from Mark the Cussing Pastor, and he said he had a close friend who was moving to Portland to start a church and that I should join him. Rick and I got together over coffee, and I thought he was hilarious. He was big, a football player out of Chico State. At the time we both chewed tobacco, so we had that in common. He could do a great Tony Soprano voice, sort of a Mafia thing. He would do this routine where he pretended to be a Mafia boss who was planting a church. He said a few cuss words but not as bad as Mark."
[Source] The Truth War; Author, John MacArthur, pgs. 139, 140. Thomas Nelson, Pub. 2007
This was/is not typical of pastors. I find myself digging through the detritus of this dialogue in search of the Christ; His Spirit, and His methods. They are absent. If the church is built on Jesus Christ, the Rock and Chief Corner Stone, and if those claiming to represent Christ more accurately represent the world and its present ruler, in whom do they believe? ...those who flock to these churches...who are attracted because they can cuss, chew, be common and overtly sensual. Are they following Christ - or... Emergents want numbers; numbers they are getting...but not the numbered.
God Bless, e.c.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Postcard from Judah

The short epistle, Jude, like its neighbors, 2 eye'd and 3 eye'd John, are called postcard epistles (obviously) because they are short and to the point. Jude was written by Judah (a common name those days) who declares himself to be the brother of James. Scholars believe these two men were step-brothers of Christ.
The introduction is very short and after saying what it was he had intended to write about ("our common salvation" vs. 3a), Jude doesn't make it out of that verse without changing the subject by declaring intent of "...exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." (vs. 3b)
With that as background let's move on to his chief concern; contending for the faith.
There is no peace, neither will there be peace; not in the world and especially not in the church. Satan is intent on destroying the faith that was once delivered to the saints, and he began his work as Jesus ascended to heaven.
The early church was plagued with one controversy after another; heresy upon heresy. Jude says that "...certain men have crept in(to the church) unnoticed, that they are ungodly and are turning the grace of God into lewdness while denying the Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 4).
Online dictionary definitions of lewd(ness) includes " lust, low, ignorant, common, vulgar, base, vile, wicked, bad, worthless...
All this they brought into the church...unnoticed. They went unnoticed because they were correct in attire, vocabular, demeanor, and they knew all the right words; like, Happy Sabbath, Ellen White, prayer meeting, etc., and most probably some of them were elected to church office because the church was more interested a peaceful church than one in contention.
I'll happily agree that peace is preferable to contending, but avoiding contentious issues for the sake of peace is to surrender the truth to Satan. Do we want to do that.
Is the Essayist saying that we should be looking for a fight and be eager to contend? No; of course not, so that can be put out with the garbage. What I am saying is that the church and every righteous person in the church should not run from a fight just because even the thoughts of discord gives them dispepsia.
Just across the page from Judah I see that John is talking about ..."Diotrephes, who loves to have the preminence among them.." in the church but does not receive John and his companions.
The question comes to this: which is more important; a peaceable church or a pure church? Some will ask, "can't there be both?" "can't we have peace and purity?" I answer, "No! Not this side of heaven and not as long as there is a devil and not as long as unconverted, unChristian men and women choose to join the church.
There are those today who prefer a good looking and right acting church (orthopraxy) over a righteous church that teaches....and LIVES...the truth (orthodoxy). Orthopraxy will most probably result in there being more people, bigger offerings, more programs, etc., all of which would make it seem that the two ortho's were living together.
Today's megachurches are filled with thousands of people and we mourn at the (sometimes) paucity of people in our pews. But consider this; the demands of Christ are not popular because they cut across the paths of our natural (and sinful) inclinations. Had Christ made it easy to be a Christian; no self denial, no cross-bearing, no sacrifice, walk the wide highway, etc., etc., there would be a hundred where now there is one.
So what does the Lord want us to do and to be? Shall we contend or concede? Do not confuse contending with mean spirited argument. Remember the balance: Jesus, John, Jude.
God bless. e.c.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Everybody to get from street...

The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! That was the name of a movie...back when... way back, when I used to watch movies or in times of desperation, go to a movie. The actors, adopting the thick Russian-English accent, announced themselves with; "E-mare-gen-C, E-mare-gen-C; everybody to get from street."
(Swift segue)...into Operation Church Emergent. And quite the operation it is; more like a radical truthectomy, faithectomy, Christianityectomy (pronounce that neologism)! I finished Roger Oakland's opus, "Faith Undone," and had to go back on my antidepressant meds. (Thats a joke!
The (alleged) minds behind this iatrogenic wound to Christianity in America and thereabouts, persists in postmodernism's efforts to reinvent religion; but in the absence of confidence in God's Word viz. The Bible.
Clarity and confidence are to be shunned and all things believed and believable have been traded for a newer model of uncertainty which is deemed much less arrogant than certainty...about anything. Pillars of churches are being taken down by the gods of disbelief and replaced with tent poles. The idea is temporality and mobility; leave what you believe today in search of long as it is different from what was believed today.
As an example of just how corrosive this movement has become I will post a (credited) citation.
"Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging "new paradigm" of Christian faith." (1) Borg explains, "I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God...I realized that whatever "divine revelation" and the "inspiration of the Bible" meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority." (2)
1, 2. [Cited from "Faith Undone" pg 196, Roger Oakland, author, Lighthouse Trails, pub. 2007]
So we are to understand that Borg, Distinguished Professor in Religion and Culture and Hundere Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Oregon State University, is a thought-leader in the Emergent movement.
Somehow thinking of Borg as a "thought-leader" who does not think the Bible was derived from any divine authority evokes a 'me-thinks' the poor soul has lost his way. But never-the-mind. There are many just as confused as he.
This E-mare-gen-C in your church and my church is real and it is right now! The Christ on the cross as sacrifice for our sins is thought too bloody and repulsive to evoke worship and witness. Emergents believe that a God who would do this to His Son simply "...does not exist... [Ibidem pg. 194]
Emergents are inclusive if they are anything. Emergentism includes pagan traditions (darkened rooms, lots of candles, icons, drumming, deep contemplation [void of thought] etc.), Eastern religions, New Age, mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, and Catholics. Listen to one New Age writer: "Jesus was a historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos, is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example." [Ibidem pg. 197]
Did you get that? Is anybody out there?
But...don't believe me. Buy the book. Like a fox, I report, you decide. Immmm sorrrree; sort of. ec