Sunday, July 11, 2010

Where Do They Get the Time?

I find it both interesting and distressing when I visit some Christian blogs and find that they spend more time criticizing others than ministering to the needs of others.


A case in point: I recently read a blog about Pastor Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor of Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC. The blogger had taken a single statement (out of context) and lamblasting him. I've attended that church for three years and have found it to be a marvelous ministry, turning many to Christ and putting more volunteers to work in the ministry per capita than any church I've ever seen - and I've seen many.

So many people try to build up their own reputation by tearing down that of another. That, of course, is counter to Christ's teaching. Let a man of God walk the way he believes God wants him to go. So often the problem is that outsiders don't understand the emphasis that God has placed on a given ministry, so they reject it out of hand.

In other cases, I believe jealousy plays a part. They see a ministry like Elevation Church exploding, while their ministry is not and feel that there must be something worldly or fleshly about the other ministry. Then, rather than praying for them, they commence to tear them down.

I have had the privilege of interacting with a number of "great" men of God over the years, including Steven Furtick. Most of them were faithful to the end. A couple of them, however, crashed and burned toward the end of their ministries. Two of the pastors I set under, who had tremendous, growing churches, fell into sin and much of what they had was negated.

Pride is an insidious, sly weapon used by the Enemy to destroy the works of God.

Both men fell into sin, then didn't repent of it. It's interesting and tragic that unrepented sin will lead its victim to rationalize their sin and develop a belief structure that allow them to continue the sin. That's one of the greatest dangers to men of God who are almost idolized by their people.

The Steven Furtick I know is balanced, loving, dedicated, gracious, and completely sold out to Jesus Christ. He also openly adores his wife and loves his children. Much of what he preaches is very applicable to families. Most of those around him make a point of honoring his wife as well as him. He makes her an integral part of his ministry and you can see his love for her.

His staff actively seeks to keep distractions away from him so that he's free to minister the word of God and seek God's vision for his church. Some say that he's treated like a rock star. I disagree. He is buffered from the little distractions that would harm his ministry and slow the growth of the church.

It is my prayer for him that he keeps his humility and dedication. Some once-great pastors have fallen because they took their eyes off Christ and started putting them on themselves. Pride took over and they started seeing themselves as great men of God, rather than the humble servants of the King of kings.

So, rather than building up yourself by tearing others down, spend your time building others up and let God take care of His servants.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Stand for Israel

There is a heresy going around among some so-called Evangelical Christians that I refer to as "replacement theology. This heresy holds that the Church has replaced Israel as God's chosen people. It's primarily taught by the more liberal branch of Evangelical Christianity and has no true foundation in Scripture. As our world spins toward the end times, there will be more and more heresy. Ultimately, Israel's friends will desert them and their enemies will mount up on all sides. But, God will not let His people fall.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pray more than you complain

You know, a lot of people are really upset with the direction our government is taking our great nation. Frankly, I can’t say that I like the direction, either. America has always been a great nation because it was undeniably founded upon Christian principles and upon a Judeo-Christian work ethic and morals. We have largely left all vestiges of our true history behind.

I’ve heard a lot of really nasty things being said about our President, Barak Obama. I’ve even read blogs that call for violence against him. I want to go on record right now as saying the following things:

I did not vote for President Obama.
I am adamantly opposed to the direction our current administration is taking this nation.

However, I do not believe any American, especially Christians, should advocate violence against the President of the United States. The Bible is clear that God places leaders in their positions of authority. That is not to say that God is a socialist or that He is for the anti-Christian rhetoric of the far left. However, God wants us to pray for our President to lead the way God would have him to do so.

I believe we are in the End Times. No, I have no intention of setting a date for the Second Coming of Christ. I simply believe the Last Days are here and it won’t be long before Christ does come again. Could I be wrong? Of course, I can. One great old preacher used to say “we plan like Christ is coming in 20 years, but live like Christ is coming today.” That’s great advice.

We live in a great nation. The Founding Fathers gave us a Judeo-Christian democratic republic as a form of government. It was the first such government in the history of its kind in the history of the world. Our form of government is not, regardless of what the news pundits say, a democracy. It is a republic with democratic principles. If you aren’t sure what that means, contact me at mabrhi@gmail.com and I will be more than happy to send you the appropriate material. Quite honestly, the Founding Fathers deliberately DID NOT give us a democracy. Some of them expressed their outright disdain for a democracy as opposed to a republic.

I find it notable that Thomas Jefferson noted that the form of government given to us by the Founders was only adequate to govern a moral and religious people. He stated that it was inadequate to judge any other kind of people. Perhaps the reason that God is allowing the present administration to push us toward a totalitarian, socialistic form of government is that our nation is no longer comprised of a “moral and religious people.” God always gives a nation the type of government it needs to maintain a semblance of order.

I am an Evangelical Christian. I believe the Bible is the verbally inspired word of God. I believe the only hope of eternal life is through salvation by the blood of Christ. That being said, I also believe that the current state of political affairs in our nation is the fault of Christians, and not the fault of the lost nor of the socialist-minded far left. It is our fault because we did not pray, we were not vigilant, we did not vote properly, we did not take our religious convictions into the political arena as we should have and we defaulted to the immorality of modern times. But, most of all, Christians stopped reading their Bibles and stopped demanding righteousness of their political leaders.

If we want America to turn back to God, we have to go on our knees and pray – then we have to take righteous action at the polls. God gave us a nation where we have the right to “vote the bums out” if they don’t properly represent us.

American Christians, for the large part, do not vote their Biblical convictions – perhaps because they don’t have any. Or, perhaps they have simply given up the political arena. If we Christians voted as a bloc on the major issues, according to the dictates of Scripture, we could control every election and have a tremendous impact on the future of this country.

It’s time to stand up for Christ in every area of our lives – even in the political arena.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stand with Israel

Quite frankly, I care not what the majority of the world thinks, even the Christian world, in regards to Israel. I care only what God says and that’s both clear and concise. In speaking with Abraham, he said:
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3; NKJV)
I firmly believe it is the duty of Evangelical Christians to actively pray for and support Israel. Do we have to condone all of the actions of the present-day nation of Israel: of course not. However, we need to actively do what we can to pray for the nation of Israel and support organizations that seek to build a bridge between Evangelicals and Israel. It is our duty to honor the Lord by praying for God’s blessing upon His Chosen People. Anti-Semitism is an unmitigated evil, whether it is active or passive.

As for the land where Israel resides: it was given to them by God and as far as I’m concerned, that’s all there is to it. You may say, then, what about the Palestinians? Don’t they deserve a homeland? Yes, okay. But not where they presently sit because that land belongs to Israel by direct gift of God.

Where should they go? Well, my question is: if the Muslim nations are so determined that they should have a homeland, let them deed them a section of their own lands and give it to the Palestinians. The truth is, while there is nearly unanimous support for the Palestinians from the Muslim nations, support is given only so long as the Palestinians continue to antagonize Israel.

The hard truth is that none of the Muslim nations want the Palestinians on their soil for any great length of time. Jordan tried that and eventually had to crush a Palestinian rebellion. My thoughts are simple: if the Muslims love the Palestinians so much and really want them to have a nation of their own, carve out a nation for them out of some of the nearby Muslim nations.

My suggestion, for the sake of peace, is for Saudi Arabia to give them a section of their country where their borders meet with the borders of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. They could even allow them a sea-port on the small area between Qatar and the UAE. The western border of the Palestinian State could run from the border with Qatar, south to the point where the borders of Oman and Yemen come together with the current border of Saudi Arabia.

Think it’s going to happen? Not in a million years. No one, not even our President, believes anyone should do anything of real consequence for the Palestinian people other than Israel. As far as I’m concerned, the land the Palestinians currently inhabit belongs to Israel and the Israelis have the right, before God, to drive them out of the land.

The sad truth is that the Muslim nations have no love for the Palestinians. On the other hand, they literally hate Israel and will do anything to strike against the hated Jews. Thus, we see the reason for their continued support for the Palestinians. If Israel was not the most powerful country in that part of the world, they would already be extinct. But, God protects them and will continue to do so. By the way, He does not need the United States to make it happen. On the contrary, I believe that our support for Israel is one of the few reasons God hasn’t sent judgment upon our country before now. If, however, we withdraw our support for Israel, judgment will not be long forthcoming.

Several top end-time scholars believe that the next war concerning Israel will not be an attack by Iran, but by the Muslim nations immediately surrounding Israel (with the possible exception of Egypt). Now, that doesn't preclude a devastating strike by the Israeli against Iran.

The result of the foregoing war will be a considerable expansion of the borders of Israel, along with increased security for its people. That will ultimately lead to the next end-time war with Russia and many of the Muslim nations in the next tier around Israel (Iran, Iraq, etc.).

The situation between Israel and the Palestinians is just a symptom of a much more far-reaching disease. There are over one billion Muslims and the vast majority hate Israel and will lend moral and financial support, if not troops, to any war against the hated Jews.

Stand by. There’s more to come. The Middle East is the focal point of all history and the final days before the coming of Christ are shaping up. Those who are on the side of the true and living God are on Israel’s side and, by the way, are hated along with Israel. So, either stand with Israel or stand alone – there is on other way except capitulation.

Imagination

We are created in the image of God – that is clear in the Scriptures. I believe that the area where we are the most like Him is in our imaginations. We are, after all, very much the imaginings of God. “All things are held together by word of His power,” or, in more modern terms, all creation is held together by His power through His Word. God imagined us then spoke us into existence. Our very existence depends upon His continuing to will it so.

The Bible teaches us that when man fell, evil (sin) entered into the world and death through sin. At one point, in the time of Noah, all the imagination of almost all the world was continually towards evil.

As Christians, I believe we are most like God in his creativity when we use our imaginations. Unfortunately, we are fallen creatures, though redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. He could have created a world that remained perfect, where there was no sin, where there was no pain, but to have done that would have been to create a world where man had no choices to make. All mankind would have been nothing more than automatons, with no choice but to praise and worship God at all times. But, he chose to allow Adam a choice and, through Adam, all of us to have a choice. We chose evil. Yet, through the blood of His sinless Son, He provided a way of salvation for us. Those that choose to accept Christ as Lord, turning to Him for eternal redemption, will live forever in His presence.

God has not, nor will He ever, turn us into beings that have no choice in our worship. He will, however, someday eradicate sin forever, purging it from our persons and from all of creation. He will make all things new and perfect. I believe that we will still possess our imaginations and that for all eternity we will explore the wonders and majesty of our Heavenly High King, using our imaginations, which will be real and rooted in the power of God Almighty. I believe we will explore worlds, nay, universes of the imagination, which will then be far more real than this poor existence is today. Until then, we have our imaginations as sources of escape from the sin that besets us moment by moment.

We must use our imaginations to serve God, not some rote ecclesiastical forms that bind us to vain repetition. When we use our imaginations in a pure, free manner, discarding the chains of sin and debauchery, we glorify and worship God in a very real, high and holy manner, pleasing to our King. God gave us our imaginations, why would He not want us to use them to glorify Him?

The Big Bang Theory vs. Scripture

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. The God said, let there be a firmament in the mdst of the water, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. Then God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, and the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day. Then God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. ” Genesis 1:1-5 (NKJV)

There are a number of Christians who claim to believe the Word of God, yet claim to also believe in both evolution and the Big Bang Theory. I want to address the BBT from the perspective of Scripture.

According to the BBT, all matter was once contained in one place, probably something like a black hole that was so massive that nothing, not even energy, could escape. For some reason, this massive particle managed to explode and the resulting energy formed the physical universe as we know it. As it cooled, all of the heavenly bodies coalesced out of the energy, forming stars, nebulae, gas clouds, etc. Eventually, planets formed around some (some believe most) of the stars.

Now, I have no intention of dealing with those who are unbelievers and who ascribe to the BBT. On the other hand, those believers who claim to believe the BBt need to look carefully at the creation account in Genesis. It’s my contention that one cannot believe the literal rendering found there and the BBT. God clearly gave the chronological order of creation. Now, either the Bible is the Word of God, or it is not.

Genesis1:1-2 are clear that the heavens and the earth were created first. After that, it gets interesting. If the BBT is true, then energy (including light) was created first. Yet, God doesn’t create light until verse three. Verse three begins, “Then God said, Let there be Light ….” Therefore, matter and space (“heaven” could mean the Heaven of heavens where God presently dwells) were created prior to the creation of wave energy. Belief in the BBT of necessity requires the creation of wave energy first.

Note also that water is present before the creation of light (verse 2). As a matter-of-fact, God did further creative work on and with the earth on the second and third days, including forming the dry land, assigning the boundaries of the seas, and even creating plant life. This is significant, because God did not create the “lights in the firmaments of the heavens” until the fourth day. As a matter-of-fact, God formed the sun and the moon before (or, at least, at the same time as) the rest of the heavenly bodies (verse 16).

Another point is this: the planets that have been discovered orbiting other stars had to have been created about the same time, or immediately after, the creation of the stars they orbit. According to Scripture, therefore, space and the earth (along with water) were created before all other energy and matter.

The fact that God lays out the creation in chronological order makes it impossible for Christians to believe in both the Biblical account of creation and in the Big Bang Theory. Scripture makes them mutually exclusive and brings Christians to a point of decision: are you going to believe the Bible is the Word of God (All scripture is given by inspiration of God, …” 2 Timothy 3:16, KJV). By the way, the Greek word for “inspiration” literally means “breathed of (in the sense of “by”) God.”

So, the choice is clear: either Christians have to accept the inspiration of the Scriptures and, thus, the Genesis account of creation or they have to climb the slippery slope of believing that the Bible simply “contains the Word of God” and that fallible mankind has the task of deciding what is truly inspired and what is not.