Monday, March 31, 2008

Be the Tree

I didn't come up with this thought; I wish I had. I read it in an article several years ago (can't remember where or who wrote it) and it has stuck with me ever since.

The author used the story of Zacchaeus to challenge the popular idea that we need to be Jesus to the people around us. I understand the thought (that whole "you're the only Bible some people will ever read" mindset), but this can be an intimidating, if not impossible, calling. I mean, who among us is up to that task? Can we really aspire to "be Jesus" to those around us?

The author's point was that just as Zacchaeus needed help seeing Jesus via the sycamore tree, so also there are people all around us who need help encountering the risen Christ.

Instead of trying to "be Jesus" to people, try seeing yourself as the sycamore tree. As being that vehicle by which others can get an accurate view of Jesus.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Resurrection Reflections

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important event in human history.

Think about this:

Scientist Henry Morris said, "The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the crowning proof of Christianity. If the resurrection did not take place, then Christianity is a false religion. If it did take place, then Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth."

Josh Mcdowell was once asked why he could not refute Christianity.

"For a very simple reason," he said. "I am not able to explain away . . . the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

On the cross, Jesus became sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). In the resurrection, God authenticated Jesus's divine authority (Acts 17:31).

There are three immutable facts:
  1. Jesus was publicly crucified on Friday
  2. Jesus was publicly buried on Friday
  3. On Sunday, His body was missing

Either His body was stolen and a lie changed the world, or He has indeed risen just as He said. And if He has risen, then, in the words of Henry Morris, ". . . Christ is God and the Christian faith is absolute truth."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama: Leaving Behind That Which is Pastor

Barack Obama’s in trouble . . . and for good reason.

Look, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I’ve grown tired of political piety. You know how it goes: as a Presidential candidate it would be expedient to try and curry favor with the religious crowd by having a nice little church to call your own. Maybe casually carry a Bible under your arm as you enter the sanctuary and make sure you’re seen being all chatty with the minister after the service as you leave. But Barack has quickly realized just how dangerous it can be to flirt with religion for political gain.

By distancing himself from the racially-inflamed, America-damning tirades of his longtime Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack has cast serious doubt on his religious commitment. (By the way, if you were in a coma or on a space-mission last week, you might not know what I’m talking about – just Google the pastor’s name and you’ll quickly be informed.)

Basically, Barack has to admit to one of two things: either he agrees with his pastor (tantamount to political suicide), or he disagrees, but has chosen to remain under Reverend Jeremiah’s spiritual guidance and authority for the past 20 years. Barack has chosen the latter and claimed that, until recently, he was not aware of the Reverend’s ribald rhetoric.

How can this be? If you’ve seen the video clips of the pastor’s sermons (go to youtube.com and enter his name in the search box), you know that there is no middle ground with this guy. There is no misunderstanding his message. All criticism aside, Pastor Wright is a polarizing figure who forces you to make a choice.

Frankly, I find Obama’s sudden indignation over his pastor’s message to be disingenuous. It’s like eating at McDonald’s for 20 years and being shocked to find out they serve hamburgers. Pastor Wright’s hatemongering is well-known. If Obama was truly unaware of his pastor’s anti-Semitic, anti-American, anti-white message, he was one of the few people in Chicago so uninformed. Even new-age neophyte Oprah Winfrey claims she stopped attending the church years ago due to Reverend Wright’s inflammatory sermons.

Maybe Barack knew about Pastor Wright’s hate-speech, but simply chose to disagree. How can you disagree with the vehement rants of your pastor, and still allow yourself to remain under his spiritual authority? For 20 years??? Unless it really wasn’t all that important to you to begin with . . .

Monday, March 17, 2008

Charles Barkley on Fake Christians

I can't help but like former NBA star Charles Barkley, and that's why it pains me to see him spouting that same ol' rhetoric that Christians aren't supposed to judge. Watch this clip and then read Matthew 7:1-5. Even a cursory reading will show that Jesus is not condemning judgment, but hypocrisy. In fact, in John 7:24 Jesus instructs the people to "judge with righteous judgment".

What are your thoughts?

Friday, March 14, 2008

John MacArthur vs. Barry Lynn

Here's a great example of someone making a stand for the truth of scripture. John MacArthur provides a stark contrast to other Christian leaders who have floundered on the Larry King show.

The Missing Question

There are lots of questions in life:
Commercial Questions
“Can you hear me now?”
Clich├ęd Questions
“Is this thing on?”
Silver Screen Questions
“Dude, Where’s My Car?”
Musical Questions
“Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”
Theological Questions
“Did Adam and Eve have belly-buttons?”

But, as important as these questions are, there is an even more important question that is missing from our society. This missing question was articulated by those who heard Peter’s sermon in Acts:

Acts 2:37 NIV
(37) When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

These men were asking, "What shall we do to be reconciled with God?" They were filled with a holy dread at the recognition that they had offended the almighty God, and they wanted to know what they needed to do to make it right.

Do people ask this question today? Are we as a society at all driven to do anything we can to be reconciled to God?

Color me cynical, but I see an alarming apathy towards God.

Apathy vs. Atheism
Atheism, the belief that there is no God, has gained ground lately. There is currently a world-wide campaign being conducted called the Blasphemy challenge. People from all over the globe post written and video blogs all intended to disparage the Christian God.

Atheism says there is no God, and you can posit rational arguments that challenge an intellectually-honest atheist. But what do you do with the person who acknowledges that there is a God . . . but they don't care?

Where does this apathy come from?

It all begins with the preacher
Romans 10:14 NIV
(14) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?


The integrity of the message lies in the effectiveness of the preacher. I believe, by and large, that the apathetic attitude towards God so prevalent in our culture stems from the humanistic preaching found in pulpits across America. This man-centered gospel has created a generation that no longer asks, "What must I do?" but rather, "What can I get?"

The net result is that we have a generation seeking the fulfillment of their flesh, not restoration with God.

This prosperity gospel creates a perverse relationship in which God is relegated to the position of a kind, old benefactor whose only purpose is to continually access His limitless resources in order to bail out his beloved. This approach to the gospel threatens to turn the Bride of Christ into Anna Nicole Smith!

Repentance Preaching
Notice the kind of preaching from Peter that prompted this question. He wasn’t afraid to place the burden of blame on the people:

Acts 2:22-37 NLT
(22) "People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through Him, as you well know.
(23) But . . . you nailed Him to a cross and killed Him.
(36) "So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!"
(37) Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"

Too much preaching today seeks to pacify the listeners and make them feel comfortable. Repentance preaching emphasizes man’s innate sinfulness and subsequent separation from God. Then the love of God is fully demonstrated in His sacrifice to redeem us.
You cannot fully appreciate the God’s love without first understanding the sinfulness of man. Because of that, an honest assessment of the human condition must precede every presentation of the salvation message. It is much more powerful to realize that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8).