WARNING: The subject matter of this post may be considered offensive by any and all who read it. I would be concerned if the subject didn’t bother you quite frankly. You may not want to read this. Proceed with full awareness that you have been warned. Some of the links in the stories referenced and linked from this post may not be safe to click on if you are reading at work . The subject at hand is porn. By clicking on the more link to view this post, you are taking this on with full awareness. Continue reading
I came across this news item last week regarding the Shroud of Turin. As we were sitting in Sunday School class yesterday with the youth at our church, we talked about it for a few minutes. Of course, I realized that they had no idea what the Shroud of Turin even is, but that was pretty easy to explain.
The debate is still going as to the authenticity of the Shroud. I am not firmly in either camp. If it is genuine, that is certainly interesting and amazing, but it won’t make my faith any more firm than it already is. I am completely convinced that Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the strength of evidence that has nothing to do with the Shroud. If it is shown to be fake or fabricated long after the fact, it will have no effect on me for the same reason. But I did see this cockamamie new theory from an academic who is convinced that the Shroud is genuine, but who has taken that conclusion to a bizarre place.
Art historian Thomas de Wesselow is convinced the Shroud is real and did touch Christ’s body.
But the Cambridge academic insists that the image on the cloth fooled the Apostles into believing Christ had come back to life, and the Resurrection was in fact an optical illusion.
Please note that we are talking about an “art historian” so I am left to conclude that his biblical knowledge and scholarship is likely to be lacking. The idea that the early disciples would be so amazed by an image on a cloth that they would treat it as if the man they had walked with was “living in the image” or whatever he wants to call it, is insulting to the intelligence of first century believers for one thing and insulting to the testimony of Scripture for another.
His theory is based on the worst kind of Bible “scholarship” and I put it in quotes because it isn’t very scholarly at all. He takes one verse (ONE) as proof for his theory and apparently ignores the rest of the story. He tries to assert that Paul claimed that the resurrection is “not about flesh and blood” in 1 Corinthians 15(verse 50 according to the article). I am not sure what translation he is working from but he draws completely the wrong conclusion about what Paul is saying. At the beginning of that very chapter, Paul asserts that the risen Jesus was seen by Cephas (Peter) and then the rest of the disciples, and then at least 500 others, and then James and the rest of the apostles (1 Corinthians 15:4-7). These appearances are the parading of an image on a sheet. These are appearances in person and in the flesh. A different kind of flesh to be sure (he walked into locked and shut rooms), but flesh that ate and could be touched. Read the Gospel accounts and picture a pair of disciples walking down the road when a giant bedsheet with a picture suddenly appears next to them and starts talking and you will see just how silly and ill read this “art historian” has to be.
Is the Shroud of Turin legitimate? Maybe. Is it possible that the disciples and the first century witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection were all looking at it and thinking that this was Jesus raised from the dead? Not a chance. Just picture one of them trying to give a piece of fish to a cloth and being fooled into thinking the sheet ate it.
There is a scene in the early part of the first Lord of the Rings movie where Gandalf is cautioning Frodo regarding the ring that Bilbo has left to him. Gandalf suspects that this ring is the “One Ring” that belonged to Sauron and therefore holds great danger to him. He tells him to “keep it secret; keep it safe.” This sounds like totally prudent advice. For a time, the “keep it secret; keep it safe” plan might work, but eventually the ring has to be destroyed in order to break its evil power once and for all.
I know that many have used the symbolism of the Lord of the Rings to make spiritual points before. I have no doubt that someone else has already drawn out the same conclusion I am going to make here. The way that Gandalf initially tries to handle the ring is very similar to how most of us seek to handle sin in our lives. We would prefer to keep it secret and hope that this will somehow keep us safe. Secret sin however is far from safe, it is a time-bomb that is waiting to go off and destroy the one who holds it quietly in hiding.
The news came down Sunday that a fellow blogger and one who interacts frequently over at another blog I read at was caught in sin. That which was thought to be secret and hidden had come out of the dark and into the light. In one sense, this is not a new story. It is a sad truth that has been repeated and will be seen again. We cannot hide sin. Trying to keep it secret will consume us and will leave us far from safe. At times like this, my mind often recalls a song from one of my favorite artists. A stark reminder that none of us are immune from the potential catastrophe of sin.
Do not seek to keep sin hidden thinking that it will be safe as long as it is unseen. Jesus cautioned His disciples that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. Just as Frodo had to take the ring out of hiding so that it could be destroyed, we too must bring sin into the light for its power to be broken. This is God’s promise.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned we make Him a liar and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:9-10
From what I have gathered thus far, the person mentioned above is now beginning the road to restoration that follows confession, but real consequences still remain. They always do when we don’t destroy what was secret in the hopes that it will be safer that way. Please pray for this man and for those affected.
7 The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding. – Proverbs 4:7
I have a funny post queued up for later in the day, but I wanted to get this up first. I have been doing several messages in the last few months playing off of this realization that we frequently misunderstand or make up meanings for obscure or difficult things in Scripture. It is based on something I heard from First Fruits of Zion a year or two ago. I found a couple of video clips on youtube that give a fuller explanation of this concept that I highly recommend. It will take about 15 minutes of your time to watch these two clips back to back. It is time well spent.
I know the end of the second clip includes a promo for some of their study material, but I can say this. Their study material is some of the most in-depth and thorough stuff I have ever seen. When I got my first copy of Torah Club Volume 4 several years ago, I went through it with a fine tooth comb to look for areas of questionable scholarship or theological issues. These guys do a great job of providing information as well as the sources that go into their materials and conclusions. I highly recommend their work to anyone I talk to these days and I always enjoy checking out their new materials. I currently have a small wishlist going for stuff I haven’t yet managed to purchase.
Here is one last video that talks about some of the deeper Hebraic concepts in the Gospels. Enjoy.
I would generally be content to stay out of the fray when it comes to the new “nickname” that the SBC has informally adopted. As a commenter shared on one of the posts over at SBCvoices, everyone learns in elementary school that you don’t get to pick your own nickname. I had a friend in college who desperately wanted a nickname and asked us to give him one. Unfortunately the first thing that came out was “muffin” which was said as a joke, and it stuck. Here is a funny video of a nickname mishap that I just had to share because it reminded of that story at the time and it seems fitting now too.
The SBC has decided that they want to be know as the Great Commission Baptist Convention. It isn’t a formal or legal name change, so it has earned the distinction of a voluntary nickname. I really don’t have a whole lot of feelings about this one way or the other. If anything, I think it is kind of silly and I fear that it has the potential to be seen as dishonest. I was in Amway when they tried the Quixstar business online as a way of getting around bad feelings about the Amway name. It didn’t work. I don’t imagine that an informal change of name will do much different for the SBC, but time will tell.
Of course, self-picked nicknames hardly ever stick. Look at Chad Johnson. He legally changed his name to a couple of numbers just to force people to call him that and now he has had to change it back because his new bride-to-be didn’t want to be called by that silly name. Self-chosen nicknames are rarely a good idea.
Instead of a group of funny Friday videos, I thought I would share just one amusement for the week. I have spent most of the week sick with a sinus infection, so I haven’t done a whole lot. I was watching a classic Twilight Zone episode with the kids last night though and thought I would show them one of my all time favorite episodes. It can be found on youtube in three clips, the first and last of which is below.
The story is about a guy who pays for his paper on the way to work and the quarter he flips into the tray lands on edge. From that moment on, he can hear others thoughts around him. It is kind of a funny episode.
This last clip shows him at work. The speech he makes about how bad it was to hear everyone else’s thoughts (just around the 2:15 mark onward) is what made me think of Facebook in the first place. It is kind of like seeing everybody naked. Figures that a young male college student would be the one who came up with the original idea. This post might have lost a little of its funny, but no worries.
Penny for your thoughts?
I have had a flash of inspiration. Perhaps someone, somewhere has already done this before, but I can’t say that I have seen it elsewhere so I thought I would give it a whirl. I run in some blog circles where people complain about hyper-Calvinists. I have a dear brother in the Lord who was burned so bad by a group of extreme hyper-Calvinists (we referred to them as 6.5 pointers in humorous love) that he would nearly froth at the mouth at the mere mention of Calvinism at all. This post should not be taken as a diatribe against Calvinism as a whole or even all that seriously. It is meant in a spirit of levity to encourage potential discussion. I love my brothers and sisters who are serious Calvinists and who are passionate for the Lord and the Gospel.
Please further note that I am not a 5-point Calvinist. I am probably more like a 2-3 pointer if anything, but I will try to describe the points with some accuracy up through my own addition. These descriptions will be intermingled with my observations as well. With all that said, here is the acronym spelled out for posterity.
T – Total Depravity
Ok, we all pretty much get that and know what it means I would think. Man is totally depraved. Scripture makes this point repeatedly, and one episode of Jerry Springer will drive this point home to even the most reluctant of individuals I would think. The other point behind this however is that man is completely helpless regarding his salvation. We don’t even look for salvation on our own.
U – Unconditional Election
We can not earn God’s grace and cannot merit salvation. There is nothing within us that makes God love us, He just does. All our righteousness is filthy rags type of things are the general point of this point. From my perspective, the idea behind this is generally right, but I hesitate to do much explaining about how God does these things. Even Paul was eventually rendered speechless in this regard (see the end of Romans 11).
L – Limited Atonement
Since not everyone is saved based on the words of Jesus, it follows that Jesus’ death must not be effective for all people in the end of all things. This particular point is generally arrived at through logical means in my experience. Both those who support it and those who argue against it can cite John 3:16 as it becomes a discussion/argument of who is covered by whosoever.
I – Irresistible Grace
This is the teaching that God’s grace is irresistible to those who are elected to salvation and they will respond to the call of God through the Spirit. This is also a hotly debatable topic, mostly because simple observation yields plenty of examples of people who hear the clear Gospel message and don’t respond to it. Frankly, I think it is more amazing that anyone can reject God at all. This doctrine reflects that in some means, but I think any attempt to explain why some reject God’s call by placing them in a category of “unelected” or whatever is not correct.
P – Perseverance of the Saints
This doctrine simply states that those who are called, elected and chosen will remain in the faith without fail as God is capable of keeping them. This sentiment is perfectly biblical and true as far as it goes. I think the main problem in applying it stems from the fact that we never can know who is who from our limited perspective. In fact, many of the problems of Calvinist theology and much of the rest of theology is our extremely limited understanding and perspective.
Y – You’re Irrelevant
This one is all mine, but you may have seen it coming. Given all of the above as absolutely true, many have moved on to another very logical point. It doesn’t matter what we do, since God has planned it all ahead of time. This comes out in various ways. I have seen a church that did no external evangelism. They preached the Gospel in Sunday morning service and expected God to draw those who were called to their building. I have seen others who assume that because everything is up to God, it absolutely doesn’t matter what you do about anything. Ultimately you are either chosen or not chosen, so just live your life and trust God(I mean why not do it anyway right) and He will do everything.
Let me say it once again. I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters. I will work alongside you all day long to share the Gospel and make disciples for Jesus Christ. I just wanted to write a post that points out the all too real end of taking this theology to its logical conclusions (I have seen it far too often for my liking). The only thing that can keep us from going there is the reminder that while all of these points may be true from God’s perspective; we are not God and they don’t work from our limited perspective.
I read a disturbing news story a day or so ago courtesy of Vox Day’s blog. Doctors in Belgium are using organs from patients who have been euthanized (I already have a problem with that part) as transplants organs for other patients. According to the article from the UK Daily Mail mentions that around 1/4 of all lung transplants come from “donors” who were killed by doctors in the hospital as well.
Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002, so this isn’t an overnight slide. It is apparent that the dreaded “slippery slope” isn’t a fallacy in this case. Doctors in Belgium are far more casual about this whole thing than doctors in other countries who aren’t euthanizing patients:
Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, an umbrella group of more than 50 British medical, disability and religious charities opposed to euthanasia, said he was shocked by the report.
‘I was amazed at how nonchalantly the issue was dealt with as if killing patients and then harvesting their organs was the most natural thing in the world,’ he said.‘Given that half of all euthanasia cases in Belgium are involuntary it must be only a matter of time before the organs are taken from patients who are euthanised without their consent.
As bad as the storm damage has been to witness this spring (and it has hit areas that I am very familiar with), I am just as concerned with the spiritual damage that folks like Harold Camping have caused with his false prophecies and predictions. As I previously wrote, May 21, 2011, was not the date of the rapture or judgment or anything else specific in regard to God’s appointed times. As for his now revised date of October 21, 2011, I will just tell you now that it also does not fall on any of God’s appointed times. The only thing on the calendar for that date is Simchat Torah, which marks the beginning of a new Torah cycle. It is hardly an ominous date in God’s previously revealed character. I am confident to say that Camping’s latest grasp at another straw will prove to be fruitless indeed.
Word out now is that Camping has resorted to the JW’s defense. He is trying to claim that the rapture did happen on May 21, but that it was “spiritual.” This tactic isn’t new; it has been used by false prophets before Camping and it will probably be used by false prophets that are yet to come if the Lord tarries long enough. I would instead call your attention once again to Scripture:
Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you beforehand. 26So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. – Matthew 24:23-28
I have already posted some of my own thoughts regarding the Rapture and you are welcome to peruse them if you like. Suffice it to say that I am not going to buy in to the predictions of those like Harold Camping. He has been proven false a second time (once was already enough for me to disregard him). Don’t put your trust in men; instead you should search God’s Word for yourself and test and try these teachers against the Truth. Camping has been measured and found wanting.
My prayer is that those who have been deceived by him to this point will awaken and seek the truth. I noted that the site run by the believer of Camping’s prophecies has not been updated in over a month. He has had nothing to say since the failure of the “prophet” he believed in has become evident. I pray that his eyes would be opened now that his false prophet has been exposed. I pray that for them all, so that the devastation will not continue. It would seem that Harold Camping has no shame after being prove false. I highly doubt that the third time in October will be the charm, either for him being right for once or for him admitting he has been wrong all along.
Sunday night after we had arrived back home from a longer than expected return trip from the Black Hills, I pretty much just wanted to veg out and then head to bed a little early perhaps. But that plan was interrupted by a text message from my sister that simply said:
R U watching the news?
It took a few seconds to switch on the TV and flip to Fox News, only to see Geraldo (who Rush jokingly refers to as “the grim reaper” for his ubiquitous presence in announcing celebrity deaths) and a crawl that announced that Bin Laden had been killed.
There are no words to convey what was going through my mind at that point. I couldn’t have said much or typed anything. In fact, I missed sending out a weekday devotional post completely on Monday from a complete inability to process or write anything useful (this blog has been on a slightly longer hiatus of the same sort). The next day, I ended up writing a devotion for the Tuesday edition that addressed some of these feelings. All of my friends on facebook seemed to have something to say about the matter and the opinions ran along a pretty varied continuum. Blog posts were written and things were shared from every corner, but all I could put down at first was this post for Tuesday’s devotional. While this could be a shameless plug for the devotional, I will just repost it here as well:
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. – Proverbs 11:10
After the news broke about the death of Bin Laden Sunday night, I had kind of a conflicted feeling about the scenes of celebration that I was witnessing. I understand the sentiment to be sure; as this proverb indicates, this is a natural reaction to such an event. I also noticed many people quoting various Bible verses both “pro” celebration and “con” celebration, which might lead some to think the Bible is a bit contradictory about this type of thing. But that only comes from a failure to recognize the difference between commandments and observation. The Bible observes the truth, we tend to celebrate when we feel someone gets “what’s coming to them” in whatever way that manifests. That isn’t a commandment however. We are encouraged to mourn the demise of the wicked and to seek their repentance and warn them of judgment if given an opportunity to do so. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked either and we are to take our cues from His standards and His perspective. We shouldn’t rejoice in the death of the wicked and when we do it is another reminder of God’s perfect character juxtaposed against our own fleshly nature.
Take this time as a reminder of the fact that God loved each of us while we were still His enemy and wicked in His sight.
6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8
A few weeks back in Bible study at our church, we were talking about the passage in the book of James where he states that “mercy triumphs over judgment.” There has been a lot of talk about this lately in fact with Rob Bell’s book proclaiming that “Love Wins” and seeming to say that judgment will never come. But while we are commanded to love and forbidden to judge, God is perfect in love and in judgment and has the authority to administer both. He will judge, both the living and the dead. His judgment is sure, more sure than the CIA or the Navy Seals or a human court or any other judgment on this earth.
In that verse I mentioned from James, we are told that judgment is “without mercy to him who has shown no mercy” and Jesus taught this same principle in Matthew 18:23-35. Why do I share it here? As much as we are tempted to condemn Bin Laden or someone else that we feel “deserves it,” we should never imagine that we are any better or different. Yet, God’s rich mercy has flowed to each of us through His Son, Jesus Christ. If you have received mercy, you must give it as well. Leave judgment and all that falls short of mercy to the only One who is qualified to mete it out.