Doctrine

...now browsing by category

 

#SupportingCast#Messy

Friday, November 27th, 2020

One of the hardest times for me to preach is Christmas. I know that sounds weird. But it is true. It isn’t that I don’t like Christmas. I love it! What makes it so hard to preach at Christmas is most people know the story so well they could probably do a better job than me. 🙂  So the hard job for me is to find a new way to tell an old story. By new way I obviously don’t mean denying it or the truth of it or the virgin birth or the Incarnation.  The questions are:

How do I make it come alive?

How do I make it appealing and not boring?

How do I tell this timeless story and bring old truths to life?

I’m not sure how I succeed in those but I do try. This year I am calling my series A Grand Production.  I plan to look at it through the idea of a play with the different actors and actresses in their roles. My sermon this Sunday is on the Supporting Cast.  I’m breaking it down into the Messy People and the “Go-Before” people. Do you know who they are? Hint: the first group is found in Matthew 1 and the others are found in Luke 1.  You should be able to figure them out.

If you are unable to come to OVCF don’t forget we live stream at 9:00 and 10:45. I’d love to have you join us. If you can’t would you at least pray for me/us? Thanks.

#4Truths#ClingTo

Sunday, November 1st, 2020

I mentioned in my last post that I was deeply influenced by 4 truths taught in Jesus Revolution by Greg Laurie and Ellen Vaughn. Before I share those 4 truths, I think it is important to give you the backstory to them. Greg and Cathe Laurie are the parents of two sons. The oldest, Christopher, had gotten into drugs and the way of the world. But one day he recommitted his life to Christ and it was real. He became a good husband and father. He also worked alongside his dad, who was and is the pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California.  One day they were waiting for Christopher to show with water for a ministry they were doing when it became later and later. Finally Greg received word that Christopher had been killed in a car accident. He said he collapsed on his front porch and and wept. But as he wept he said, “You gave him to me in the first place, and now I give him back to you.”  Would the faith they absorbed during the Jesus Movement days and practiced since the ’60s sustain he and Cathe? The reality of faith didn’t anesthetize the pain. Trusting Jesus wasn’t an emotional Xanax. But faith did make the pain bearable. 

They knew four truths, not just intellectually, but deep in their souls. These truths were what they could hold on to in the midst of their storm.  Here they are:

#1- Life is full of trouble, just as Jesus had promised.  John 16:33 comes to my mind when I think about this.

#2- They knew God loved them.  I personally think this is where we get tripped up the most. Sometimes we think we are owed something because of the life we have lived-both good and bad (our childhood for example). We might be going through a tough season-mentally, physically and spiritually-but we have the assurance of God’s love.

#3- They knew Jesus wept with them.  Ask for a memory verse in a contest and invariably someone will says, “Jesus wept.” We chuckle (although it is old) but have you ever considered the power in that short verse?

#4- They knew God can be glorified, in some mysterious way, by human suffering.  Job was able to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” The Lauries were able to say that as well.  The proof is in the fruit.

So much there.  Unpack it some more on your own. Want some help? Feel free to contact me.

#AnotherGospel#Review

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

When I first moved to Spencer to pastor Owen Valley Christian Fellowship (11/05), I was quite ignorant of a “new wave” that had struck the Christian landscape. It didn’t take me long to acclimate myself to this new teaching since a former staff member ascribed to it.  Even as I say that it wasn’t a “you are here now so I want you to know what I believe” type of situation. It unfolded over time until it became a full-blown storm.

First, the names. Rob Bell. Brian McClaren. Tony Jones. William Paul Young. Richard Rohr.

Second, the movement.  I soon found out the movement was known as Emergent.

Third, the teachings. Pure heresy. Questioning the Virgin Birth. The Bible’s Inerrancy. God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience. The Atonement. Penal Substitution (The cross was cosmic child abuse). And others.

Fourth, the response. Rob Bell disappeared off the face of the evangelical planet to become Oprah’s guru. #terrible loss#sarcasm.  And to my delight I thought it had disappeared off the face of the planet and had gone the way of the dodo bird.

Fifth, finding out I was wrong about #4. (not RB but the disappearing act of Emergent).  It went underground and since has become more known by another name-one that sounds much more “Christian”- Progressive Christianity. Doesn’t that sound like a cool-sounding name? It sounds relevant (whatever that is supposed to mean). It sounds…woke. (Can I tell you how much I dislike that term in any way, shape or form or use?).  I use that term to mean I got out of bed. I woke up.

Anyway, I thought Emergent was dead and buried but Alisa Childers has shaken my comfortable world with the revelation that, no it hasn’t died, it has just been repackaged with a new name. Same old garbage just a new name. Alisa has a history with this movement. As a member of the seminal girl group ZOEgirl she traveled the globe singing about Jesus, but it wasn’t until she attended a class (albeit it innocently) taught by a progressive pastor that her house of cards almost came tumbling down in a heap. Fortunately, the Spirit who lived in her was waking her and stirring her to “test the spirits to see if they are from God.” (I John 4:1)  She almost deconstructed (the term used for evangelicals who toss the historic Christian faith aside to often become an agnostic or atheist, aka woke).  Her experience led her to study and ultimately write a book called Another Gospel? She pulls no punches on truth. She pulls no punches in exposing the false teaching of Progressive Christianity. In fact, it is her life’s mission.  Her review of Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl Wash Your Face, went viral as did her review of Jen Hatmaker’s latest book.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Words fail. I picked last year’s Book of the Year (Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity). I personally feel this is worthy of being considered in that class for 2020.  I’ve been listening to Alisa’s podcasts as well and find them a rich source of information and thought.  I might suggest you consider checking that out as well.  You can find her at alisachilders.com

Another Gospel?: A Lifelong Christian Seeks Truth in Response to Progressive Christianity

#Faith#Feelings#Doubt#

Sunday, October 4th, 2020

Today, Sunday, I spoke about how doubt should not be panned and dismissed as invalid. While I don’t question God’s character or who Jesus is as the Son of God, fully God and fully man, I do have questions. They center mostly on why things are the way they are. I struggle with not knowing what God has in mind for my life. I don’t doubt his love for me, nor do I doubt He has an ultimate plan. I struggle with Him not sharing it with me. 🙂

Part of my sermon was spent in Psalm 13 as David wrestles with the whole faith vs doubt thing.  I owe a debt of thanks to Randall Arthur (Randy Dodd) who first wrote about this in his excellent novel, Wisdom Hunter. (And yes, I am encouraging you to buy it and read it).  Anyway, here is how he teaches Psalm 13.

  1. In verse 1 David says God has forgotten him. But in verse 5 he says God loves him unceasingly (steadfast).
  2. In verse 1 he says that God has hidden His face from him. But in verse 6 he writes that God has been good to him. (dealt bountifully with me)
  3. In verse 2 he wrestled with many thoughts (take counsel in my soul) and had sorrow in his heart every day. But in verse 6 David says, “I will sing to the Lord.”
  4. In verse 2 David writes, “My enemy is triumphing over me.” And yet at the end of verse 5 he says God is delivering him (my heart shall rejoice in my salvation).

Why? Is David schizophrenic? No, of course not.  The point to see it this: There is often a difference between how we feel and what is true. Feelings can be so deceptive and unreliable. How many times have you or someone you know done something because “it felt right” or “it felt good,” but all along it is against the Scripture?  The very fact that David kept on going is proof that his beliefs kept him from being overtaken by his feelings. Trouble comes when our feelings become stronger than our beliefs.

I hope you will keep that in mind as you move through each day.

#Disgusting#Ending

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

I’ve decided to end my discussion of the following book with this post. First, I am not sure it serves much good in reviewing this book. While many who are involved in the church in a more “official” capacity might find the book important, I’m not sure the “rank-and-file” folks will. Those who read here seem to be more of the latter. Second, I found a much better and much more concise review here. Tim Challies is a much better writer and analyzer than I am. So I suggest you read his review.

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

But, for what it’s worth, here are some of my thoughts from the latter half of the book:

#1- I had to stifle a gag reflex as I read the chapter on “Our Sexual Utopias.” I don’t blame Ms. Burton. She was “writing as she sees them.” But what she says is happening and will probably happen was enough to make me gag. I felt dirty when I was done. The acceptance of polyamory is chilling. (I have only one to keep happy. I can’t imagine having more than one…in the same house!!)  Polyamory calls our culture the “toxic monogamy culture.” WOW! I wonder what God thinks of that? A 2015 poll shows 25% of American adults find polyamory acceptable and that number skyrockets to 58% among adults who consider religion “not at all” important.  Adults interested in BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism) find it acceptable. Kink is in. Open marriage. You can say “thanks” to Fifty Shades of Gray for popularizing the whole kink thing.  Their philosophy is “If we had a god, that god would be consent.”  But one little line says it all: “My number one relationship is with myself.” (p.161)  Gag reflex subdued only by coming to the end of the chapter and taking a break.

#2-The whole influence of Silicon Valley on the grand scheme of things. Politically and financially potent this mostly godless climate has run amuck on traditional values. Just ask FB, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others. Disagree and you are wiped clean as if you don’t exist.  And, oh yeah, let’s not forget #Black Lives Matter, the Marxist organization whose goal is to ruin families and our country. Too bad a good message (by the way..all lives matter) got hi-jacked by godless, Marxists who want nothing more than to tear apart our country.  The rise of “social justice”-the idea that American is at its core built on white supremacy, patriarchy, repression, and hatred- is the hot topic of the day. Even in churches…churches which have lost their focus on Jesus and the Gospel.  They (feminist utopians) see “white men as banks just giving money to fund their s***…Everything would be female, queer, Black, trans art…Every club a drag bar.”  (King Princess-p.179)  Can I gag now?

#3- Atavism (nostalgic, masculinist vision of animal humanity). It is largely an agnostic faith, with little time for gods beyond nature.  In a nutshell to the new Utopians (Unitarians fit this), atavism  is a reimagined, renewed world in which human beings transcend our moral and physical limitations.  The atavists are looking backward.  New atavists are followers of Jordan Peterson and others like him.  Nietzsche disciple, Julius Evola, condemns Christianity for fostering a religion based on womanly qualities like emotion.  Follow that thinking and you have Hitler and Mussolini to name a few. Welcome back Fascism.  Not that all of Peterson’s advice is bad. In actuality, some of it is good: “Stand up straight. Clean your room. Avoid people who drag you down. Treat yourself with dignity. Live for something.” (p.217) Alt-right atavism-unlike its more conservative Petersonian incarnation- is a religion of meaninglessness, one that worships violence and destruction for their own sake. Makes you wonder if we are watching that on our streets and TV’s at this very moment.

#4- New Thought/New Age garbage. AOC even released her birth time to eager astrologers-and the mainstream media breathlessly covered it (surprise surprise). This is called Remixed spiritualism. Norman Vincent Peale, Joel Osteen, the health/wealth proponents all figure in this mix as well.

The church needs to be aware of the struggles it will face in the future due to the shifting cultural stance toward God, the Bible and the church in general.  Reading this book gives a chilling picture of what has been and will continue coming down the pike.

#Storms#SinkorSwim

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Several days after an earthquake hit the San Francisco area, the story is told that a young boy was seen rocking and swaying on the school playground. His principal asked him if he was okay and the boy nodded and said, “I am moving like the earth, so if there’s another earthquake I won’t feel it.” He was trying to prepare himself for what he thought was soon coming again.

Don’t you wish you knew when the next storm would hit?  Not weather. Life storms.  We have an old cliche’ which says, “Into every life some rain must fall.”  Have you ever felt snarky enough to say, “Yeah rain.  But this is a storm! A downpour with lightning and thunder accompanied by a monsoon!” I think it is relatively safe to say that storms affect us all…to some degree. Some seem to always be in a storm, while others seem to skip some major ones.  There is no doubt we have been and are still in a storm called Covid-19.  I think the fear caused by it which has resulted in a shutdown of our economy, our work, our churches, our schools, businesses, and in some ways our whole way of life, has led to multiple other storms.

Sunday I am continuing my Q & A series with the question What about Storms?  (Bet you didn’t know that did you?) 🙂 I’m going to talk about some storms which were chasing David and then why that makes Psalm 13 such a rich chapter for us to study. I’ll show you in another post how every one of David’s haunting questions is answered by a solid answer.

Join us if you would like to. The church has a FB page and also streams on YouTube.  I’d love to have you join me/us.  And I’d appreciate it even more if you would commit to praying for us.

#SoulCycle#Wellness#Prosperity(un)Gospel

Wednesday, September 9th, 2020

I’m continuing with my discussion on this book:

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

Today’s installment is a bit more understandable than the last one here.  One of the most famous phrases used in today’s world is “It’s all about you.” “Seek your goals. Strive for the best. Do your thing.”  Now, understand I am not against setting goals and reaching for a dream. On the contrary, I think it is important to have goals and a place you want to strive for.

But I hate to be the bearer of bad news: IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.  No matter what an advertisement may say. No matter what an exercise lifestyle may tell you. Hence, the mention of SoulCycle. It is much more than physical transformation. It is more like a double whammy: material improvement and spiritual transcendence.  You aren’t just pedaling a bike to lose weight and become healthier in the process, but you are pedaling to become a better person. Their moniker: You are a Renegade, a Hero, a Warrior.  That sounds all well and good until SoulCycle begins to be seen as an emotional and spiritual outlet. Yeah…”God is a woman, and she’s a SoulCycle instructor.” Say what?

But it is more than SoulCycle. It is the whole Wellness Culture. Their philosophy can be summed up in a war between the authentic, intuitional self-both body and soul- and the artificial, malevolent forces of society, rules, and expectations. We are born good (Ahem!), but we are tricked, by big Pharma, by processed food, by civilization itself, into living something that falls short of our best life.  Hmmm. Maybe they can get Joel to teach them about their best life being now.  (Yeah…that is snarky…but true).

Folks, if there is ever a sense of hypocrisy, it is in this scene. They tell you things like “You are you.” “There is only one You.” “You are beautiful just as you are.” But then they turn around and offer you tricks (and I might add expensive ones) to better yourself, to make yourself more beautiful (at least according to what they think is beautiful).  The author gives so many different examples of this C**P that I can’t keep it straight. And, of course, neither can anyone else. If this one doesn’t work, I can always try something else. Then I can say, “Hey, I’ve tried multiple diets and they didn’t work. I found myself being like a yo yo until I tried Product XXX.”  And please don’t get me started on WW and its spokewoman! (I’ll reserve what I really want to say).

This whole scheme is what is called New Thought. But like many things,  New Thought is not new, nor is it thought. It’s a bunch of gobbledy-gook dressed up as intellectualism. It is called Transcendentalism (Emerson, Thoreau, and others).  It found its way into religion (I hesitate to say church) through a man named Phineas Quimby until one of his patients and disciples, Mary Baker Eddy,  founded a “church” called the Church of Christ, Scientist (aka Christian Science).

And here is where New Thought gets really warped or is that wrapped into the church world. Ever heard of a man named Norman Vincent Peale? One of his disciples: Robert Schuller?  And then a plethora of others:  Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, the Bakkers, Benny Hinn, and other Word of Faith false teachers; and now the current batch of false teachers (Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Todd White, Bill Johnson (actually all of Bethel), ad infinitum, ad nauseum).

I’m not making this up folks.  And you may think I have an axe to grind.  I guess in a very real sense I do. I see so much damage being done to the proclamation of the Gospel and the spread of the real message of Jesus and His life-giving death on the cross that it turns my insides. Jesus  is not for sale.  He is not some magic genie who can be conjured into blessing us because we declare it to be so.

Discernment. Discernment. Discernment. And do what I John 4:1 says to do: “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

#Magic#Harry#Fandom

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

I’m continuing my series on Strange Rites by Tara Isabella Burton. I’m wading into territory I have very little clue about with this one. I have never been one to indulge in Harry Potter (HP) or gaming.  But I’m also not one who will jump on the bandwagon and say reading HP or playing a game will make your susceptible to witchcraft or violence.  Not that it isn’t possible but I’m no expert in it so I don’t spend much time dealing or talking about it. Definitely not preaching about it.

I used to read a lot more fantasy than I do now.  The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis’ space chronicles. I liked to read other types of fantasy by Steve Lawhead. But I was never able to get into HP. One of the families here in the church really like it and they asked me to watch a movie to see what I thought. I was bored and after about 20 minutes said, “Enough of that waste of time.” I know I’m standing alone according to stats but that’s me. As for gaming, it never turned my crank. I remember the early Nintendo games. They seem to be like child’s play these days (probably because they are). But I know there are some who spend hours upon hours playing Fortnite and World of Warcraft. I have other things I’d rather do than sit and play on my TV.  But I know some use that as relaxation the same way I use cycling.

J.K.Rowling’s books blew away publication records as did the movies. {Note: she isn’t so popular anymore since she took a side against transgenderism}.  All in all though it doesn’t seem to take much to have something go viral due to social media.  In fact, much has changed since X-Files and Xena: Warrior Princess took center stage on TV. It all comes down to computers and the internet.

But within this craze is an insidious reptile.  Geekdom, bullying, role-playing games with the infiltration of fan communities like Tumblr, FB, and Instagram have blown it all sky high.  It is incredible the “weight” these sites have on pop culture. One pop culture site is HP, and interestingly enough,  after the publication of the last HP novel J.K. has become a lot less relevant. Some of that is because she dared to mess with being “woke.”  The other significant pop culture site is Gamergate.  This phenomena became increasingly more daring in its acceptance of “like” people and its disassociation with “others.” It also became more femininely hostile. I cannot even begin to capsulize its pull.

One of the things I gleaned is understanding authority is undergoing a colossal shift. I think, IMHO, we are seeing that come to fruition in the nightly news of the cities burning because of a lack of respect for authority and other peoples’ things. I agree with a Christian rock band, Lovewar, who had a song titled Keep Your Hands off My Stuff.

I’ll close with the closing illustration from the book. In 1820, Thomas Jefferson, a committed Deist who preferred the teachings of Jesus Christ to the idea of him being a metaphysical savior, created a bespoke Bible. Cutting and pasting the lines from the Gospels that he thought best reflected his vision of Christ, excising those passages (like the miracles) that didn’t quite fit, Jefferson created what might be considered the first fan fiction: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.  Now, we’re all doing the same thing. (p.90).  {My note: it is happening in culture and it is happening in the church}.

Next up: SoulCycle, the wellness culture and the rebirth of New Thought.  This you gotta read!! And here is the book I am reviewing:

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

#Religious#Intuitional

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World

I finished reading Strange Rites this past week and have struggled with how to do a review. The book is basically a “future book.” What I mean by that is not that it is a futuristic book (predicting the future),  but that it takes godlessness and shows its present but mostly future influence on our culture. Some observations the author made and included were eye-openers, while others were stomach-openers (i.e. kicked in the gag reflex and it was all I could do not to…you know).  While it is an important book, it is not a book for everyone. I can’t say it enriched my life but it did help make sense of some things. It also had me rolling my eyes (as well as my stomach). I thought what I might attempt to do is to take a chapter at a time. Give the basic belief of that particular godless system and then share how I think it will affect our culture.

I wrote about the opening salvo of the book elsewhere on this blog. You can find it here. As a further expansion of that thought it is important to add this to the mix: the author talks a lot throughout the whole book on what she calls (and I think very appropriately) intuitional religions. Not institutional. Intuitional.  She defines that as “their sense of meaning is based on narratives that simultaneously reject clear-cut creedal metaphysical doctrines and institutional hierarchies and place the locus of authority on people’s experiential emotions, what you might call gut instinct.” (p.33)  My translation: what you feel is all important.  Who cares what the Bible says or truth says; how you feel is the all-important line in the sand.  The author quoted that 3/4 of the millennials and 67% of the religious Nones now agree with the statement “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know.” (p.33)

Sound familiar? It should. It is the old “whatever feels good do it” philosophy we have had through time immemorial.  It came to the forefront when Post-Modernism hit the church in a big wave. It found its way through the attractional church model (Willow Creek and others like it).  What is interesting is how some things have shifted though and I never thought about this until I read what the author said. She wrote, “If ‘sex sells’ was the unofficial advertising mantra of the Mad Men era, then ‘spirituality sells’ is the slogan for post-2016.” (p.33)  That explains the rampant rise of spirituality as it is called by Oprah and Osteen and Rob Bell and others.

Chapter 2 (which I will skim through here) take us on a ride through intuitional religion in America.  She shows its growth and development through Deism (Someone-possibly God-created the earth then took His hands off it).  She then follows it into Transcendentalism (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau, and others); to Spiritualism; to Universalism to New Thought (precursor to Peale, Schueller, and Osteen); to the Social Gospel; then onto liberalism/ecumenism.  The precise target in all of this was the Judeo-Christian outlook, which they said only offered imposed guilt, inhibition, grimness, and anti-life repression.  She finished the chapter with a sad, but scary statement: “Almost one in five Americans was raised in a religion {My note: referring mostly to Christianity}, only to leave it to join the ranks of the Nones.” (p.52)

I’ll share more in the next installment and also begin the godless religions the author includes. Hope you will join me for that.

#BadNews#GoodNews

Friday, August 28th, 2020

In Job 5:7 Eliphaz tells Job: “Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” It is hard to disagree with that statement. The statistics of the wear and tear on people over the past 6 months or so tell an ugly story of loneliness, depression, anger, isolation and a whole bunch of other words. Suicides have reached an alarming rate as well. Parents are tired of having children at home and under foot and children are tired of being home and having their parents around all the time. 🙂

There is other bad news though, far more devastating than something political or social. Psalm 40 describes it as being in “a pit of destruction and mired in clay.” But he also wrote on to say that God set his feet upon a rock and put a new song in his mouth.”  Let me give you a word picture of our dilemma. A mother comes home to see her children all hovering around something.  She looks closer and it is five black baby animals with a white streak up their back. She yells, “Run children!” to them and then watches as they each grab one and run in opposite directions. Yikes!!

We all have had problems blow up in our face, but there is one we can’t seem to handle. You find the answer in Romans 5 where it says we are weak (v.6); sinners (v.8); and enemies (v.10). And there is nothing we can do about it.  That is the bad news.

But there is some very, very good news. We can’t do anything about it, but Someone else has.  Ironically, the same passage that gives us the bad news also gives us the very, very good news. I’ll be sharing both the bad news and the good news Sunday in my sermon entitled Good News for a Sad World. This will be the final sermon in my series on “Promises, Promises.”  My new series starts next Sunday called “Q & A.”  I’ll explain more next week.  But for this week I would appreciate your prayers. And if you have a chance, drop by and listen. Live stream is at 10:45.  Thanks.