Contend Earnestly: 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New From Reach Records and DJ Official: Entermission

I got an email from Reach Records to try and push some new stuff from DJ Offical...pretty stoked for this album. Enjoy...late Christmas maybe?

Entermission the debut album from DJ Official available in stores now!.

After producing for over 10 years and serving as traveling deejay, Official finally has the opportunity to reveal the dynamic of his skill-set on one project. The album is purposed to influence Christians to think about the Great Commission (Matt 28:19) and the Great Commandment (Luke 10:27) on a local level. As Christians we have a personal mission field, which consist of those that God has placed in our sphere of influence. With a missional mindset we can affect the people around us with the Gospel message by the way we live and conduct ourselves in our everyday walk. This is a message that needs to be heard and with everything from Reggae, Downsouth, East Coast, Commercial, Underground, Electro, and Rock/Hipster featured on the album there is something for everyone!

EnterMission features over 20 artists such as Lecrae, Flame, Sho Baraka, JR, Tedashii, Trip Lee, R-Swift, Thi'sl, Jahaziel, and more! Every single track on EnterMission is produced by DJ Official.

To order the album, go here

You can listen to the singles, read about the album, and create your own version of the album cover here

There are three versions to choose from:

album-now deluxe-now lp-now

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Comes to Mind When You Hear "Muslim" or "Islam"?

I want to see how many responses I can get from this. Please just give me your honest thoughts on what the first thing is that comes to mind when you hear the term "Muslim" or "Islam"? If you don't want to put it into comment form, please email me at smcbee at mcbeeadvisors dot com. Thanks.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Evangelical Christian Lives with a Muslim Family for 30 Days

Thought this was an interesting video.

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How Can I Pray for You?

Someone asked me recently how they could be praying for me. My first thought is always, "please pray for me as the apostles would pray for me." Here is a list of those verses that specifically show what the apostles prayed for in regards to their flock and those in the faith. We know that these prayers are what God wills for us. Romans 8 tells us that we don't even know how to pray, so the Spirit prays for us. But, we can be imitators of what the apostles prayed, being they were speaking the very oracles of God. I try and pray these things for others when they are sick, well, poor, rich, saved, unsaved, etc. I don't know what God will do, but I DO know that these things are in the revealed will of God for all peoples.

Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete.
2 Corinthians 13:7-9

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Ephesians 1:18

and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:19

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,
Philippians 1:9

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Colossians 1:9

praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;
Colossians 4:3

To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power,
2 Thessalonians 1:11

Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;
2 Thessalonians 3:1

and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake.
Philemon 6

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.
Hebrews 13:18

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
3 John 2

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

What I Am Learning From My Muslim Friends (Guest Post)

I asked Michael, one of the elders at Harambee that has a ministry to local Muslims, if I could post his thoughts on what he has been learning from those Muslims that he is not only contacting, but becoming friends with. He is teaching me a lot through this, and I respect his love for our Muslims neighbors greatly. I thought it would be great to share and show the "other side" of Islam, even if it is short and sweet.

SOME of what I’ve learned from my Muslim friends:

1) God’s word should be respected, so don’t handle it like any other book. Throwing it around, putting it on the floor, bringing it into the bathroom, stacking them on the shelf below other books. Why don’t I treat it like what it really is…God’s word.

2) Always have drinks and food ready to serve when ANYONE comes into your home. Arabs used to host strangers for three nights with food and sleep before they even asked the question “Where are you from and how can I help you?” Arab’s build homes with the guestroom as the FIRST room they decide on how to build and center everything else around the guestroom. They have a completely separate living room SOLELY for hosting guests.

3) Even though I can enter the throne room with confidence because of the work of Jesus, there is a reverence for God I have learned from Muslims. Just look at how everyone approached Jesus in the Gospels and you can see how many Muslims approach God.

4) Relationship trumps being considered “right” or “winning” the argument. That’s why arguing about who’s “religion” is right never leads anywhere but being upset.

5) Christians do not own Jesus…neither do Americans. Jesus is asking people to follow Him, take up their crosses and follow him. That looks different for everybody. I was with my friend Omer and told him how I think American Christians have hijacked Jesus. He said to me “Jesus is for everyone, Christians, Muslims, Jews, it doesn’t matter”. He then went on to tell me how he liked my idea about getting people together to study about the life of Jesus and other prophets as well. How amazing is Jesus!?!?!?!

I know some of you think this is legalism, but this is just what I’ve learned. I’d encourage you to spend time with Muslims and share what you learn.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Following Jesus and Still a Muslim?

Any thoughts on this video? It hits me pretty hard to see what Christ is doing around the world. I am picking up this book today to read more about the understanding of the Muslim world: A Deadly Misunderstanding by Mark D. Siljander

As a follow up to this video, please read this article as well: Muslim Followers of Jesus?

Following Jesus from The Global Conversation on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Muslim and Christian Resources: And Some Questions

There is an elder in my church who is doing some amazing work within the Muslim communities here in the Seattle area. He works with local churches to aid them in the understanding of how to speak to and serve Muslims in their area. I recently asked him for some resources that would speak to me how he formed his convictions for his ministry to the Muslims. I wanted to put that here for all to have. I have only had the chance to read the Christianity Today article (Muslim Followers of Jesus?) and listen to the Desiring God mp3's from the conference: Evangelicals and A Common Word. Both have already started to impact my thinking. I have not made many actual changes yet, but looking forward to see what the Spirit will teach me through it. Some of the questions that I am honestly asking myself as I read and listen is:

Do Muslims worship the same God? If we believe Jews do, what is the difference?

What does an actual Muslim believe? Do I characterize Muslims in a way that erects straw men instead of their actual convictions? (this is of vital importance) I have read many books on apologetical differences, but have found out that most of them erect unnecessary and unhelpful straw men.

How far can we go to reach Muslims? i.e. Can we pray with them?

What can I appreciate about the Muslim? What can I learn from them?

How can I impact Muslims for the gospel?

Mike is a great resource as he is on the front lines of bringing the gospel to the Muslims. He has been great to me so far in our discussions and I look forward to many more. As I continue, I will probably be interviewing him on this blog and would also like to invite a Muslim as well to interview them to aid us in a correct understanding of what they believe. I hope these resources help.

Evangelicals and A Common Word Conference Lectures (mp3):

Muslim Perspectives on the Writing of "A Common Word" (Caner Dagli and Joesph Lumbard)

Christian Defenses of the Yale Response to "A Common Word" (C. Donald Smedley and Joseph Cumming)

Christian Concerns About the Yale Response to "A Common Word" (John Piper and Al Mohler)

Questions and Answers


Muslim Followers of Jesus?

Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslims Road by Paul Gordon Chandler (

Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam by Fouad Accad

No God But God by Reza Aslan

How to Win A Cosmic War by Reza Aslan

Muslims, Magic and the Kingdom of God by Rick Love (

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Are You the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?

As I watched Clay Guida get beat up on Saturday night, I wondered if he really wasn't Kenny G the rest of the year. Honestly...they look like they could be related in some way, in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde sort of way. Then I started to realize that is exactly what I was in high school. I was a terrible kid 6 out of 7 days...maybe more like 6 and half days out of 7. I put my "Christian face" on for those at church and then the rest of the week, I went on to smoke pot, get drunk and would honestly steal stuff for the rush. My parents were well off and would give me anything I wanted, so this was my way to be ghetto. I would sneak out at 2 or 3 in the morning and go and steal stuff, with others, out of cars. I once stole a whole box of baseball cards from a 7-11 (in broad daylight) because someone told me it wasn't possible. I walked out, and then threw the box of cards away...again...not needing the money or merch.

On Sundays though, I was totally different. My Kenny G face was on and ready to impress. I didn't get the fact that my whole life was worship, and I really didn't care. What was interesting is that during this whole time, I would enter into church, falsely repenting and telling God that this was the week I was going to change. But, true to form, I would return to my vomit every week (Proverbs 26:11).

I now know that nothing could have really changed my actions, as they came from the heart, besides the power of Christ. But, the reality of the situation was that I knew that I couldn't tell anyone, because my pops was the pastor. So, instead of looking for help, I just figured one day I would stop doing all this stupid crap. It wasn't that I didn't want to quit or that I didn't want to live for Christ, but it was just the fact that I didn't realize true worship, nor did I have anyone that I could trust to help me in my times of need.

I guess the question then comes, "Is there anything we can do to NOT be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?" I don't want this to become some sort of stringent list to follow, but I think it might be helpful to seek some of these things out to aid you in your walk with Christ.

1. Every day is Worship and Communion with God

Know that everything you do will either be to glorify God, or yourself (which is ultimately Satan). This is why Paul takes it to the mundane in food and drink in 1 Cor 10:31 and why we should try to put Christ in front of us in everything we do. We must continually find ways to put the cross and God's goodness and mercy in front of us daily. Try to find God's grace as you do all the things you repetitively do every day. In those things that do not give God glory, find ways to eliminate them and replace them with something that does. The more we realize that every day is worship and for the glory of God, the less chance there is for us playing the part of Kenny G and Clay Guida.

2. Pray

I suck at praying. Which means, I don't pray enough. I will go days without praying. Praying is a reminder of who this life is all about and who is control. The absence of prayer is the showing that I am in control and it is all about me. Not only is prayer a great reminder of your Creator and Sustainer, it is how we talk to God and one of the ways that God comes to our aid. The more we are on our knees for Christ, the less time we will be bowing down to our idols. Also, one of the major themes of prayer is our repentance. The one who repents, is the one who understands it isn't about them, but about Christ. One who repents gets to be reminded everytime the promise in Colossians 2:13-14

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14

Luther said that the life of the Christian is one of continual repentance, and without prayer, this becomes impossible and allows sin to find refuge and God's glory to flee.

3. Accountability

Be in community with people you can tell stuff to. I am not saying that I would have been any different if I had this type of community, but it would have no doubt helped. I am not telling you that these people will be able to change you, they might be able to guilt you into change for a while, but that isn't the point. The point is for you to have people who can give you wisdom, point you to the cross and mediate on your behalf to our Christ. This will be difficult, because we don't like to lay ourselves bear before others, because they will judge us. What you want is someone who judges you, but still loves you and desires your greatest joy for the glory of Christ.

4. Word

Not weeerd...but in the Word. The Word of God strengthens, convicts, comforts and guides. We need our God to speak to us, straight to the heart so that we can see his mercy and grace up close and personal. I need to be in the word more to just hear from God, instead of trying to break it down and erect it like it's some sort of tricky puzzle that needs to be put together. Sometimes it is good to just read and ask for God's guidance and comfort. Not only that, but Christ is the hero of the Bible and so it is very difficult to make yourself this lone hero where it's all about you. Tough to get past that it is all about Christ and not worship him, unless you aren't saved.

I am writing this post to help myself out. I use my blog a lot of the times as a personal journal for all to read. The reason for this is that I was closed off for years, not letting anyone know who I really was, and now I just don't care. People at school didn't know that went to church and confessed Christ, and people at church didn't know my real life outside of the church doors.

I hope that posts like this help others who hide things, who struggle with the Christian life and believe that it is all about them and their works instead of the One whom God said he was well pleased (when one misunderstands God's pleasure in Christ and not works is when one 'struggles' with their Christian walk). Know that because of Christ, God is well pleased with you (if you indeed know Jesus and He has saved you from your sins) and that because of this, all the "work" you do is because you love him, not to try and get God to be pleased with you. The more we understand this, I believe the more good works flourish and God is praised.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Santa is a Pharisee

When your child comes up to you and asks the question that will come up, "Daddy/Mommy is there such thing as Santa Claus?" What will you answer? Shouldn't be that difficult.

You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.
Leviticus 19:11

Your answer should be:


There is no debate on this subject if you are Christian. Doesn't mean you don't have fun with the subject of Santa Claus, but he should be treated like a unicorn or leprechaun, not like some sort of quasi Jesus character. The reason? Because Santa's gospel is more like a Pharisee's than like Jesus'. Think of it. What do good kids get? Whatever they ask for. What do bad kids get? Coal. One's grace is dependant upon their actions, which isn't grace at all. What do parents tell their kids to hang a carrot in front of them all year? "Jimmy, if you are good, maybe Santa will bring that to you at Christmas." Brutal.

Jesus' gospel tells us we all deserve coal, but we get the best gift that was ever given, which is true grace:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
1 Peter 3:18

The more we lean on telling our kids about Santa and his weird gospel, the more our kids will develop a thought process that Santa's gospel is the real gospel. This doesn't mean we don't have fun with Santa and get pictures with the old dude at the mall, but we have to make sure treat him as he should be treated: like a fantasy character that is only seen on TV and not actually raiding our living room of our milk and cookies. When Santa is treated like he is real, what happens when your child finds out that you are a liar and they were foolish for believing in this unicorn type creature? I would rather be truthful to my kids on Santa "unicorn" Claus than having to have an odd talk of why daddy thought God's word wasn't useful in telling my kid a lie about this fat dude in the mall.

This Christmas, be more gospel centered, and tell your kids about the greater Santa Claus, the One who brings the greatest gift and not one that will perish, but save them from perishing.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Thoughts on Ugandan Anti Gay Bill & Video Response from Rick Warren

If you are not familiar with recent news of the Ugandan bill that is being proposed, it is going to put forth that homosexuals will be given the death penalty and those who know of homosexual activity and don't turn them in will be put in jail for somewhere between 5 and 7 years (link to Time article). This would include not only doctors, but pastors. Some theonomists are as giddy as a child on Christmas morning, but this law is exactly what Rick Warren says it is, completely anti Christian.

We are not living in the state of Israel and if we are going to get excited about killing gays, bring out the stones and get ready to throw them at your unruly children (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). This law is ridiculous and the sad thing is that U.S. pastors are pretty stoked that it is happening (check Time article). We are to be a people of forgiveness and love, not a people who can't wait to slay those who are in sin. Although homosexuality is sin, we should allow God to bring forth the punishment he has promised for those who remain in sin and do not turn to him (Romans 12:17-21). We should be mediators for them, hoping that they would turn from their sin and into the loving arms of their Saviour who paid the price on the cross. Grace, more grace, and when you are done showing grace, show more grace.

We know what Christ would tell anyone who would feel that killing homosexuals is a great idea, because he specifically speaks to one who was having sex outside of marriage and was asked to comment on what should happen to her because of her sexual immorality, as the law required death by stoning:

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

John 8:1-11

The sad thing is that the self righteous moralist believes that they are better than a homosexual and that the sin of the homosexual is worst than their own. When they realize that are a sinner just as badly as the homosexual, then they will drop their stone and walk away. Until then, they will look for stones to cast from their glass house.

We must not condone their sin, but we must not overreact and ask God to destroy them either. We must be a people who covers their sin with the love of Christ and point them to the Saviour, not point to a cross for them to die on.

Below is a video of Rick Warren responding to this bill. His thoughts are well done and speak as a caring pastor for a country that he spends much time in. May we heed the understanding of Pastor Warren.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Advent Conspiracy

I put this video up last year before Christmas to seek out opinions about this ministry. The way that my church is handling this is very well. They are calling all of us to rethink Christmas during this time of Advent. This is part of the thought process and throughout this Advent season I will put forth what I am going to be putting into practice with my family and what our community group is doing as well to impact our communities and world for Christ. Although those posts will be difficult, because it isn't a "look at me" issue, but look at what Christ is doing issue. Challenge yourself this Christmas and think through how you can impact others of Christ and his kingdom.

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Thinking About Church Planting or Missions? Look at These Stats

One of my elders put this up on The City, and thought it to be interesting. I also wonder, what can we as the church individually help get the church universal back into the correct understanding of Matthew 28? Because what it seems is happening is that dying for our faith, or being persecuted for our faith isn't something that sounds too condusive to my idols that I have placed in my life. These numbers are striking to see where we send missionaries and our monies, because it isn't to save all the nations, but seems to be to try and strengthen the "safe" areas.

The following information was taken from an article on

Of the world’s 15,958 Major People Groups, 6,415 (numbering 1.8 billion persons) are considered Unreached – though Christian work occurs among most of them. (

Numbers of major religions:

* 2.0 Billion – Christians

* 680 Million – Evangelicals

* 1.3 Billion – Muslims

* 350 Million – Buddhists

* 1.0 Billion – Roman Catholics

* 340 Million – Chinese Folk Religions

* 900 Million – Hindus

* 250 Million – Tribal Religions

* 875 Million – Atheists & Non-religious

* 17 Million – Jews

Annual Growth Rates:

* World population 1.6%

* Muslims 2.7%

* Hindus 2.3%

* Buddhists 1.7%

* All Christians 2.6%

* Roman Catholics 1.2%

* Protestants 2.9%

* Evangelicals 5.7%

* Pentecostals and Charismatics 10%

There are an estimated 6,400 unreached people groups worldwide, which still need missionaries to plant Christ’s church among them.

Most of the unreached people groups are located geographically in what some scholars call- “The 10/40 Window” – from West Africa across Asia between 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees north.

Within this 10/40 window are:

1. Most of the world’s unreached peoples.
2. Two-thirds of the world’s population, although only one-third of the earth’s land area.
3. The heart of the Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist religions.
4. Eight out of ten of the poorest of the world’s poor enduring the world’s lowest quality of living.
5. Only 8% of the world’s missionary force and 0.01% of the income of the world’s Christians.

While about some of these unreached people groups are scattered among various world cultures, the majority of them are primarily in five major cultural blocks: (Global Progress Scale Listing)

1. 3,276 unreached Muslim groups. Over 1.3 billion individuals are Muslims. One sixth of the world’s population.
2. 2,550 unreached tribal groups. Only about 140 million individuals.
3. 2,425 unreached Hindu groups. They comprise a population of about 900 million individuals.
4. 450 unreached Mandarin Chinese groups. In which live 793 million individuals.
5. 552 unreached Buddhist groups. About 375 million individuals are in these groups.

Over two billion people live in these unreached people groups and every day some 50,000 of them perish without having heard the Gospel. That is about 26 million a year.

60% of unreached people groups live in countries closed to missionaries from North America.

22 million internationals visit the US each year. Of these, some 705,000 are university students from 220 countries 25% of which prohibit Christian missionaries. 80% of those students will return to their countries having never been invited to an American home.

* 40% of the world’s 220 Heads of State once studied in the US.
*60% of international students come from the 10/40 window.

10% of international students are reached by ministries while in the United States.

Worldwide Christian churches devote more than 85% of their resources on our own development. That is, only 15% of this arsenal of personnel, finance, prayer, and tools goes to bless unreached people groups.

In the U.S., the picture is even bleaker. According to the Bibles for All World Prayer Map, American Christians spend 95% of offerings on home-based ministry, 4.5% on cross-cultural efforts in already-reached people groups, and 0.5% to reach the unreached.

American evangelicals could provide all of the funds needed to plant a church in each of the 6,400 people groups with only 0.2% of their income.

If all the missionaries needed came from this country, less than 0.5% of evangelicals aged 18 – 35 could form the teams required.

The Resources


There are 430,000 Missionaries from all branches of Christendom. Only between 2 and 3% of these missionaries work among unreached peoples. 140,000 Protestant Missionaries. 64,000 Protestant Missionaries from the US.

Distribution of Protestant Missionaries among cultural blocks

*74% Among Nominal Christians
*3% Among Buddhists
*8% Among Tribal Peoples
*2% Among Hindus
*6% Among Muslims
*2% Among Chinese Folk Religions
*4% Among Non-Religious/Atheists
*1% Among Jewish Peoples

Global Church Member Finance (in US Dollars)

* 12.3 Trillion – Total Annual Income
* 213 Billion – Giving to Christian Causes (1.73% of total income
* 11.4 Billion – To Foreign Missions (5.4% of giving to Christian causes)
* 87% of foreign mission money goes for work among those already Christian
* 12% for work among evangelized non-Christians
* 1% for work among the unevangelized.

The church of Christ has over 100 times the resources needed to plant native churches in these people groups.

The stats above are adapted from data by David B. Barrett and Todd M Johnson of the Global Evangelization Movement web site. Other portions come from Patrick Johnstone’s The Church is Bigger Than You Think, Bill and Amy Stearns’ Catch the Vision 2000, and the course material for Vision for the Nations published by the US Center for World Mission.

Also data used from and

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Friday, December 04, 2009

Taking Risks is Christian, Playing it Safe is Idolatry

When was the last time you heard a godly man or woman in the Bible described as "a person who continually played it safe"? I am not sure if you could ever describe a person in the Bible as such. Now, does this mean that they then just took stupid risks for the sake of taking risks? No, they were thoughtful in their risk taking, but were continually taking risks. Know this also, that the idea of taking risks is only involved on the human level and not the omniscient infinite God level. While we see it as trusting in God and taking a risk, God knows all things and never takes a risk, and never "plays it safe" because these ideas are not even viable for an all knowing God.

But, think of the patriarchs of the Bible:

Noah built a huge boat in a desert in a world that never had rain

Abraham left his family and country to follow one God, instead of many gods. I am sure they told him that "even a blind squirrel finds a nut"...meaning (like those on Mars Hill in Acts 17) that if we worship enough gods, we'll get one right. Abraham rebuked all those gods and his land to follow one. Talking about putting all your money on red.

David went to fight an uncircumcised Philistine as a boy when his brothers were playing it safe behind their great army of self idolizing cowards

Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord against his own people, which led to people hating him and throwing him into a pit

John the Baptist, yelled at people in the desert, ate bugs, dressed like an overzealous hippie and mocked the Pharisees. So much so, that it lead to his head being served up like a ham.

The 12 apostles left their comforts to follow some carpenter from a small town that seemed to have the power of God upon him

Paul stopped killing Christians and joined their ranks, knowing that this meant he was a traitor and it was only a matter of time before he was dealt with by "the family" and put into the trunk of a Cadillac

Jesus, who was the biggest risk taker of all, from a human standpoint, shows us that when we are doing the will of God, there is no risk at all.

Think of your life, and the life of those listed above. They all seem to be taking huge risks. But, when we turn to the life of Christ, we can't say that he took any risks because he knew what the future held and was doing the will of his Father. Realize this. You have the same Father, and you have the same Spirit of power within you to take risks in the Father's will. This, in the end, shows forth not as risks at all, but really radical ways to live for the glory of God instead of the safety of the idols of the world.

Are you listening to what God is telling you to do in your life? Are you willing to take a risk because you believe it is the will of God? I am not saying to make a stupid decision, but if you are afraid to follow what God is telling you because you have made an idol of your surroundings and this need to repent quicker than Sodom as the fire is raining from heaven.

If we didn't know better, think of Christ. He left heaven, laid aside his Divine privileges to walk amongst us and die for us, all while we spit in his face and nailed his hands to the cross. Not only that, but he was born to a girl who was 14. That girl today would be into Hannah Montana and standing in line with 30 year old married women to watch the latest Twilight movie. This is who God entrusted to bring forth the Christ to the world. Seems like a risk, until we read the divine knowledge given to us in Acts 2:22-24:

Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.

What predetermined plan of God is being placed on your heart today? Are you resisting the will of God for the comforts of your stupid crap sitting around you?

Pray that God would reveal where he wants you to take risks so that his name is glorified among the nations. Take some time to read about others who did the same, not only in the Scriptures, but also afterwards.

Read about those in the Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Read about Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Calvin, John Bunyan, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Lottie Moon, et al.

Know that they, at one point, were at the same place you are. Sitting around, waiting and wanting the Lord to work through them. The only difference might be that we look to our surroundings for our safety, and they saw themselves as pilgrims and aliens, awaiting their true home in heaven.

Safety sucks. Jesus doesn't.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What is Evangelization?

Found this quote in my reading for my study through the book of Acts. Pretty interesting quote by Hugh Thomson Kerr on where our emphasis of evangelism should be as a universal Church of Christ.

We are sent not to preach sociology but salvation; not economics but evangelism; not reform but redemption; not culture but conversion; not progress but pardon; not a new social order but a new birth; not revolution but regeneration; not renovation but revival; not resuscitation but resurrection; not a new organization but a new creation; not democracy but the gospel; not civilization but Christ; we are ambassadors not diplomats.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Does Paul Washer Believe in Christ's Finished Work?

Okay...that sounds a little too far gone. I haven't heard much of Paul Washer but ran across this YouTube video on Carl Schuster's site and really was disturbed by it. This video is over 4 minutes and not one time does Washer use the name of Jesus. He never speaks of grace but continually points to what we must do in our actions. He asks, "how do you know you believe?" The problem with this question is that if the answer doesn't start and end with Christ and the cross and resurrection, no one will ever have assurance, but only doubt. No one can ever live up to the perfection that is called for to enter heaven, no one can ever test themselves and pass the test and no one can ever be assured that they believe if they don't point themselves to the Christ who died for them.

If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:9-13

I have not listened to much of Paul Washer, so please point me to other resources that are hopefully better than this one. I like the music in the background though. :)

John Calvin is far better at an understanding of our election and hope in Christ than Washer points out:

They tell you, if you look to Christ salvation is certain; if you return to yourself damnation is certain. Therefore, your mind must be alternately ruled by diffidence and hope; as if we were to imagine Christ standing at a distance, and not rather dwelling in us. We expect salvation from him—not because he stands aloof from us, but because ingrafting us into his body he not only makes us partakers of all his benefits, but also of himself. Therefore, I thus retort the argument, If you look to yourself damnation is certain: but since Christ has been communicated to you with all his benefits, so that all which is his is made yours, you become a member of him, and hence one with him. His righteousness covers your sins—his salvation extinguishes your condemnation; he interposes with his worthiness, and so prevents your unworthiness from coming into the view of God.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.2.24

Christ, then, is the mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may contemplate our election. For since it is into his body that the Father has decreed to ingraft those whom from eternity he wished to be his, that he may regard as sons all whom he acknowledges to be his members, if we are in communion with Christ, we have proof sufficiently clear and strong that we are written in the Book of Life.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.24.5

Check out the full quotes on the above quotes here

Below is the video of Paul Washer.

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Let the Glory of the Lord Endure Forever

When my dad was 15, he was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Since, he has had close to 20 major surgeries, been close to death 3 times and he is only 54 years old.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works
Psalm 104:31

My mom was date raped in high school

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My mom came from Florida, my dad from Washington, to meet at Oklahoma Baptist University and marry 3 years later

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My mom pulled the goalie and got pregnant with their first son, they named him Seth David McBee, which means "Anointed, Beloved, Son of Light"

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My grandmother, my dad's mom, died when I was three, I was the only grandchild she had and she loved me very much, but loved Jesus more. We later named our second child, Coleman (my grandmother's maiden name) after her. She was a great woman of the Lord.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My brother was born when I was four, he was named Samuel Joseph McBee, which means "Asked of God, Jehovah has added, Son of Light"

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We were so poor when I was in grade school, because my dad was a sign painter and a pastor, that I had to literally dumpster dive for clothes, furniture and mattresses.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My dad lost his business because of the Oil Bust in the 1980's, he started to work for Merrill Lynch, which meant we could buy new clothes and stop jumping into trash cans.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We moved to Washington, from Oklahoma, where I met the love of my life when I was 14, started to date her when I was 17 and then married her when I was 22

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

In High School, I loved playing sports, I loved being popular, loved getting drunk, loved marijuana, loved stealing for the rush, but I hated Jesus, but pretended to like him on Sundays.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

In High School, my brother could care less about popularity, but still was. He preached (very loudly...think Whitefield) during lunch one time, to the whole school, while being told to stop by the vice-principal. He didn't stop. He wrote his entire senior class about His Saviour and sureness and hope of heaven. My brother was my hero and helped change my views of the cross.
Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

I went to Seattle Pacific University, to study business so I could be rich by being a stockbroker. Instead I found Jesus to be real through my new friends, being rich didn't seem so awesome anymore, but I still wanted to be a stockbroker. I broke up with Stacy because, as my whole extended family put it, "I was an idiot." Stacy found Christ to be real during this hiatus and that he was her only hope, not me. I praise God he used my idiocy to show her his wonderful light.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

I married my wife while still in college, she was a massage therapist and was my sugar momma until I was done with school.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

Three years into our marriage, we decided we wanted to have kids. My wife had 2 miscarriages and I can't wait to see my unborn babies in heaven praising Jesus.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My wife got pregnant for the third time, we were scared. She started to get bad back pains and spotting blood, we thought we were going to only meet this baby in heaven as well, God smiled and 9 months later he gave me my first child, my son. His name is Caleb James McBee named after the courageous spy who stood for God's plan instead of man's.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We were poor and Stacy was trying to work while Caleb was a baby. We decided God wanted her to stay home even though it made no sense economically. We didn't care. Stacy hasn't worked since. It's been almost 7 years.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

When Caleb was 2, we decided to take the biggest risk we ever took, I left my job, we left our community, and we built a house and opened a new business within a month of each other. We have almost gone bankrupt a couple of times, but God always provides.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We found a church where God called me to be the Youth Pastor/director (while still running my business), and God, once again, used an ass to speak his truth for over 5 years.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

My second son was born, his name is Coleman William McBee, he thought crying was more important than doing anything else and he stayed awake sometimes literally all night long. My wife became severely depressed, I figured out that I was not her Saviour but Jesus was. She was told by some people that she should just smile and get over it. This didn't make sense to us, we started to leave moralism.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We started to be severely attacked spiritually by others. Moralism kills. The Gospel gives life.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We had the toughest two years financially and it tested our marriage and our faith, we found out that money was an idol, but we found Jesus to be better than money and more rewarding and sustaining.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We left our church, and we found out that ministry was an idol, we also found out who were our real friends. But, we also found a great church in Harambee, where Jesus is the most important. We also found great leaders in Doug and Nancy Cassell, they love Jesus more than their spiritual appearance among others. We love that.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

We don't know what God has in store for us. We have found that we have a lot of hatred and idols that need to be smashed. We have found that our identity can't be in anything but Jesus, because everything else fails, he doesn't. We have found that if our hope is in anything besides Jesus, our hope will fade to bitterness. I'm excited for this Advent season, because I want to smash idols and hatred and turn my affections more to the Saviour who came as a dumb baby to save a dumb people, for the power and praise of our God. He loved me this much. He has brought me through all the things above, why can't he bring me through this too? No reason, I guess, but my lack of faith in Him is amazing after I see the road he has brought us on to this point.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever; Let the Lord be glad in His works

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Putting "Christ" Back into Christmas?

Tell some Christians "Merry X-Mas" or "Happy Holidays" and they will react as bad as they would if you preach with jeans on or try and contextualize the gospel to their children. They simply lose it. I have seen some, when told "Happy Holidays" in the supermarket, snapping back, "Merry CHRISTmas!" Wow. They'll tell you that if you use these terms that you are not being a witness for Christ during this special part of the year. Don't you know that if you rearrange the letters of Santa you can make the name of Satan! Or, I will put the name of Christ back into Christmas, while you put the "ho, ho" back into the term ho-liday.

I find it odd that people hold so dear the term Christmas while not really thinking of the other terms or who is using them. They also parade the term like it is as biblical as the Trinity. While Christmas is definitely a special time of year and one that I do enjoy because Christ is definitely on display in many places, the fact is that never in the Bible are we told to remember the birth of Christ.

While the consumerism does bother me quite a bit during Christmas, so does the Christian who marches around with a chip on their shoulder like they are taking on the world that hates Jesus during the Christmas time. They find it funny when people spray paint red on fur coats and yell, "murderer" but what they don't understand is they look just as ridiculous with their "Merry CHRISTmas" as they try and be a witness when yelling at the clerk that is just trying to keep his job by following the boss' orders to say "Happy Holidays."

Here are a couple of reasons that the terms "Merry X-Mas" and "Happy Holidays" don't bother me at all and could care less who uses the terms or why.

1. Merry X-Mas is Merry CHRIST-mas

This is actually pretty funny. Most people get angry when they see the "X" in place of "Christ" in Christmas. They say that people are taking Christ out of Christmas or that people are crossing out Christ for Christmas. These same people crack me up because they also have 5 different kinds of "Jesus Fish" on the back of their car and every one of the i's on their t-shirts are dotted with the Ichthus as well.

If they just did some looking around they would notice that in the Ichthus that the second letter in the Ichthus is the Greek letter "x" that stands for...yeah...Christ. This shortened term for Christ seems to go all the way back to the 4th century and one of the most endeared symbols in our Christian history uses it in the Chi Rho by Constantine.

I actually laugh every time I hear someone get upset about someone using "X" in place of Christ. If they stopped making T-Shirts saying "Put Christ Back Into Christmas", take off their earphones blasting "Christian" music and step out of their bubble they would realize that when someone uses "X" in Christmas it gives us a great opportunity to speak about what the "X" stands for. I would ask that people do research on how the "X" was used and then be ready to speak to others about its importance. I think we would all be surprised at the usage and also the reaction of knowing the importance of the term and the realization that they haven't taken Christ out of Christmas, but kept Him there and given us a great way to contextualize the gospel to others.

2. Happy Holidays!

The second thing that really irks people are stores or people that say, "Happy Holidays!" What is the big deal? We have always said that this is a great "holiday season" and the term means "Holy Day." And by the way, whether we like to admit it or not, there is more going on during the solstice than just Christmas. We also have Kwanzaa, Hanukka and don't forget the best of all the holidays, Festivus for the rest of us. Now, I am not saying that these holidays are to be revered in any way or are they correct in any way. But, we must realize that since we are not a Christian nation but we are a nation of many religions and many diverse people, that stores who pigeonhole people to the term "Christmas" are not very smart in the way that they market.

Let me ask you dear Christian: Would you shop at a place where Kwanzaa was the only thing celebrated there or would you boycott it? Don't answer that question.

What I would say that instead of getting crazy about people saying Happy Holidays, why not simply say, "Happy Holidays" back? I have to say that you are not doing any good, and actually pretty shameful by making "Merry CHRISTmas" very pronounced when you snap back.

Start thinking before you snap back and ask how you can use these two terms, Merry X-Mas and Happy Holidays for the cause of Christ instead of making yourself sound very odd. By the way, if you do snap back and hear someone laughing loudly, turn around because it's me and I might just spray paint your "CHRIST-mas" sweater red for fun to make a point.

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I Hate, What Now?

I am struggling recently. The reason is because I have some real, true hatred towards some people. I hate what they have done to my life, I hate what they have done to me spiritually and I say that I have forgiven, but I have not. In reality, I hate them. I don't want good for them. I want them to fail miserably. I want fire to come down from heaven and destroy them. Have you ever felt this way towards another? It is draining. I know all the verses of the Bible that speak on hatred and I know that I should be forgiving and I have told myself that I have forgiven them, but in reality, I know that I haven't. The question isn't, "what should I do about my past?" the real question is, "what am I going to do in my present so my future is about Christ and not hatred?"

I know that there are others out there who have come across this harsh reality in their lives, yet most in the Christian circles will just smile at them and pat them on the back and tell them to "forgive and forget." Well, to be honest, it's not that easy. These are real emotions and a reality that doesn't go away by praying a mantra to a fairy god of healing in the sky. One of the things that I love about God is that he isn't always a miraculous, instantaneous healer, but he allows you to work things out while he is there with you comforting and aiding you. Honestly, during this time, I love verses like these:

O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not ahate those who hate You, O Lord?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Psalm 139:19-22

You have also made my enemies turn their backs to me,
And I destroyed those who hated me.
They cried for help, but there was anone to save,
Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them.
Then I beat them fine as the dust before the wind;
I emptied them out as the mire of the streets.
Psalm 18:40-42

Those verses are awesome to focus on during hate, because you get to focus in on God destroying those jerks you hate so much. But, like anything, too much focus on one end is going to bring a spiritual war where you know you are hell bent in the wrong direction. The question really is, "How do you get through this hatred so that it doesn't control you?" Because isn't this the worst part of hatred? The worst part is that those you spend the most time hating, control your emotions and spirit from afar. Brutal. I am writing this in the middle of hatred, not in the beginning, not looking back, but I am smack in the middle of it. I figured that I would provide an answer to those who are also going through this, or who will in the future.

1. Know That God Is In Control

Most of the times that we see David in the Psalms speaking of hatred, he then entrusts himself to God. I have to remind myself of this. God is not only in control, but he is allowing me to go through this for the betterment of my joy and his glory. I have to make sure I really focus in on this. Rage and reaction happens when I am not happy with what God is doing with his control or the pragmatic belief that he is not in control. I can recite verses, but until I allow God to work on my heart to understand that he truly is in control, I will continue in my hatred and allow those I hate to control me, instead of the Spirit.

Look at how some of these verses end in regard to those you hate:

I hate those who regard vain idols,
But I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness,
Because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the troubles of my soul,
And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a large place.
Psalm 31:6-8

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-21

Notice that although emotions run high in human beings, that both David and Paul point us back to the one who is in control and is just, therefore having the right to bring down judgment. We must not just recite these verses, but truly try and live them out.

2. Pray

God knows your heart. Don't be fake. Don't pray for your enemies if you don't mean it. If you do, you will be like those who praise God with your lips but your heart is far from Him. Pray that God would be working on your heart and working on your satisfaction in Him instead of man. Even Jesus didn't entrust himself to man because he knew their hearts (John 2:24,25). Usually, when you hate it's because you put too much trust in man and in some way made them your functional saviour. You need, I need, to pray that God exchanges that functional saviour to the real Saviour who never disappoints and never leaves us. We need this to be a heart change to Jesus, that only comes through prayer and the leaning on the Spirit of God who comforts his own. As the transformation starts to happen, I am guessing it will be easier to truthfully pray for my enemies. At this point...if I pray for my enemies I am lying.

3. Look to Jesus, Recognize the Pharisee

Jesus was the most undeserved person to ever be hated, yet he was. I am not saying that we should get some "hatred" complex, but what I should do is notice that I am not like Jesus, who was hated, but when I hate another, I am like the Pharisees. Remember that you, I, am doing the hating, not being hated. When we look at the Scriptures, the one who is hated, is like Jesus and the one doing the hating, is the self righteous Pharisees. This hurts. This reality sucks. But, the reason that we hate is because we truly believe that we "would never do that to someone" that we "deserve better", we really believe that we are better than others when we hate. What I am going to do is look up all the verses of the Pharisees and instead of putting the word "Pharisee, Sadducee or Scribe" I am going to put my own name in the text.

Both Seth began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Luke 15:2

Then Seth went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.
Matt 22:15

You are blind Seth, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, Seth, hypocrite! For you are like a whitewashed tomb which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
Matt 23:26,27

When I hate, I am a functional Pharisee. I need to return to the cross and our Christ.

Hatred is real. It's not a fake emotion, but one that takes you over. It causes cynicism and true pessimism in everything. I need to realize it's danger and put it at the feet of the cross. I can't just give up and say that, "this is just how I am." This is what those who aren't Christians do, or really immature Christians who don't believe in the changing power of the Spirit. I need to realize that I am not my own, I am made in the image of God and I have the Spirit who dwells in me and God tells me:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

This where I am going to start. I am not sure how it will work out, but I pray that in this situation, God's glory wins out and not my own. At some point, I have to ask whether or not I am going to feed my idolatry of self, or if I am going to feed off of the Bread of Heaven, who is my real God who never fails. Any other god is a joke, especially myself and I laugh at my dumb self everytime I realize that I am making myself an idol. When I do this I go to Elijah's words of "encouragement" about this god that I worship instead of our Jehovah. Because, just like Baal, my god, which is myself in hatred, will always fail and not show up:

Then they took the ox which was given them and they prepared it and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, “O Baal, answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they made. It came about at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied or gone aside (Hebrew for "relieving oneself"), or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.” So they cried with a loud voice and cut themselves according to their custom with swords and lances until the blood gushed out on them. When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.
1 Kings 18:26-29

Now that's funny. May God intervene in this and display his glory on my heart that I might not follow after a failing god in myself, but follow and surrender to our true God for his glory and my joy.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Definition of God's Love

My friend Mike Van Drie asked an important question:

When I say "God's love", what comes to your mind or how would you describe it?

My first thought on "what comes to my mind" was the cross based on John 3:16. This is actually what was done for the entirety of the world so that we would all know the length and strength of God's love. He did this so that none would have reason to say that God did not love them or pursue them. He did this to show that he does not wish that any or everyone would perish, but so that everyone, whether in this world, or the next (judgment) would have proof of the literal dying love of God on their behalf. This is my first thought.

How would I describe God's love? Meaning, what would be my definition?

Giving us what we need for his glory and for our joy (which can be what we want, but not necessarily so)

I believe that God does all things for his glory and, just like Israel (think civil laws of OT towards the nation of Israel), if we are obedient to those things, we will have the greatest joy in our lives. Are we always obedient? No. This is why we do not live "our best life now" but we struggle, fight and go through much pain. If we were to be sinless, living always for the glory of God, our joy would truly be complete. But, not only do we not, but we can't. So, the great exchange took place so that, although we continually sin, we can say that our joy is complete because of the finished work on the cross and resurrection. As we live in this light with our joy full because of him we shine the glory of God to all people and all nations, including our neighbors.

What are your thoughts on God's love?

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old School Preaching, But Is it Complete?

Mark from Here I Blog, linked to this video and as I started to watch it I had some differing emotions hit me. One, was that it did spur me to thought on my works and the real change, or lack thereof, that has happened because of Christ. Second though, was that I realized how much grace was left out of this small section of preaching. I haven't listened to the whole sermon, nor do I know anything of Al Martin, but I am a little iffy on hearing something like this. It does honestly strike a cord with me as something I need to hear, but without grace attached closely and strongly to this message, what makes this different than any other preaching of having high morals for righteousness? What are your thoughts?

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Monday, November 16, 2009

My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

I grew up in the SBC, and therefore, have always believed in what is called dispensationalism. I will admit though, I believe it more on the basis of what was told to me, instead of true study of the facts found in the Bible. My journey from semi Arminianism to Calvinism started about 6 years ago, so I am seeing the same things happen within this transformation as well. I am right in the middle of this, so I cannot say I am fully amillennial and covenantal, but that is probably just a matter of time now. I first started looking into this as I noticed that all those that I respected to teach me about the truth of Scripture was in one way or another amillennial and covenantal. Not only that, but I had a couple of buddies in Josh Follansbee and David Ponter who kept hammering away at me and then David Drake entered the fray as well to challenge me. David challenged me in saying, "Dispensationalists make Israel and charts and maps the hero of the book of Revelation, instead of Christ being the center and the hero." This hit me hard. Not only that but what was funny is that Josh actually predicted about 4 years ago that if I truly loved Scripture, I would naturally change my views. What did these guys all have in common with me? They all were in some sort dispensationalists as well before making the switch to the historical team of the total Reformed.

One of the first things that caught me off guard, and one that made me start to think was when Josh told me that the Bible records Israel as taking the land promised to them through Abraham from God. The prophecies concerning national Israel were always a big deal for me in why there was dispensations and why there was a literal 1000 year reign of Christ. Some things really started to ramp up when some reading started to happen. These were:

1. A Reading of the Bible (I started a Bible Reading plan that showed me some of the fulfillments that had literally happened for Israel)

2. Reading The Returning King by Vern Poythress which was recommended to me by David Drake

3. Reading A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger which was recommended by Josh Follansbee

4. Reading Biblical Studies in Final Things by William E. Cox which was recommended by David Ponter and was the clincher.

In this post, I want to simply put forth those things that have been literally fulfilled for national Israel that dispensationalists still hold out hope for in the 1000 year reign of Christ. Here are those things that have actually already been fulfilled and are over and done with:

1. The land promise to Abraham pertaining to the land of Palestine have already been literally fulfilled through Joshua. Look specifically to Joshua 11:23 and 21:43

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.
Joshua 11:23

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it.
Joshua 21:43

a. The proofs that Israel became a great nation, are too numerous and well known are well documented and one doesn't need simple biblical proof to see this fact

b. The promise that the descendants would be as numerous as the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky has been fulfilled when seeing Nehemiah 9:23:

You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, And You brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.

c. The promise to Abraham that the Messiah would include all the nations of the earth (Gen. 12:3) was fulfilled in the incarnation of Christ and the book of Acts

2. After the return from the bondage in Egypt other prophecies concerning the nation of Israel included returning to the land, rebuilding the temple and the reinstitution of sacrifices (this is where dispensationalists become close, if not full, heretics). This has already been fulfilled both historically and biblically. The temple was literally rebuilt in 516 B.C. and so the sacrificial system was also back in place. One need only read such books as Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zachariah to find that there is no need for such prophecies to be for the End Times. Remember that all the prophecies concerning the return to the land, the temple being rebuilt and the sacrificial system being reinstated were all made before 516 B.C. Since this time of fulfillment in 516 B.C. there have been no further mention of these prophecies, including Malachi and the New Testament.

3. Since the above mentioned have been fulfilled, all other prophecies were to include the New Covenant of believers which would include Gentiles into God's people and therefore all further unfulfilled prophecies, such as the second Advent, the judgment seat, which includes the Day of the Lord, will include all believers in the Lord Jesus, not merely national Israel. This is known as the New Covenant that was prophecied by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:31 and will be carried out by those who believe, the church. Both Jews and Gentiles without distinction.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3:28-29

I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
John 10:16

For these reasons, I have departed dispensationalism and have been doing much study to find what I honestly believe. This has put the right focus back in my study, which is off Israel and back to the true Israel, which is Christ. He should always be our focus and our hero in all of the Bible. When we start to cloud him with other issues, we start to fall into idolatry.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Athanasian Creed and the Early Church: Clearly Amillennial

This is taken from an article written by Martin R. Bachicha and I found it quite interesting. Thanks to Mark at Here I Blog for the link. I have always been told by other premils that the early fathers were mostly premils. This starts the investigation and shows that this might not be true at all. I have been studying a lot lately on the subject of end times, Revelation and amillenialism. I have to say that I have definitely switched my view to leave behind dispensationalism, but not quite sure where that leaves me. I am looking forward to continually seek the truth of the Scriptures in what they teach, instead of what I have always been taught. Here is an article to show forth some of this, and next week I will be showing some insight on the main things that have switched my view of eschatology.

The Athanasian Creed and the Early
Church: Clearly Amillennial

By Martin R. Bachicha

Weren't the Early Church Fathers Premillennialists?

In 1976 Alan Patrick Boyd, a graduate student at Dallas Theological Seminary began a challenging undertaking, writing a masters thesis whose goal was to establish the prophetic faith of the early church fathers. His professor, Dr. Charles Ryrie of Dallas Seminary fame had boldly written "Premillennialism is the historic faith of the Church." But upon completing his thesis, Boyd concluded the following in response, "It is the conclusion of this thesis that Dr. Ryrie's statement is historically invalid within the chronological framework of this thesis [apostolic age through Justin Martyr]." [ 1] (Quoted by Bahnsen and Gentry, p. 235. [ 2] )

Thomas Albrecht, who has done additional research on this topic, also writes, "some premillennialists had attempted to show that premillennialism was the ‘pervasive view of the earliest orthodox fathers’ (House and Ice, Dominion Theology, p.202). But many additional scholars have shown this to be false, including Boyd, D.H. Kromminga, Ned Stonehouse, W.G.T. Shedd, Louis Berkhof, and Philip Schaff. According to Boyd, the best that can be said of the early Church father is that they were ‘seminal amillennialists’ (cf. Bahnsen and Gentry, p. 239). The early Church fathers … Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Papius, admitted that there were many other Christians who were quite orthodox and not premillennial." [ 3]

The following quote by the early church historian Eusebius from his classic work The History of the Church clearly demonstrates the amillennial, consummationist outlook held by the early church. Speaking of the grandsons of Jude, he writes: "the grandsons of Jude.... When asked [by the Emperor Domitian] about Christ and his kingdom--what it was like, and where it would appear--they explained that it was not of this world or anywhere on earth but angelic and in heaven, and would be established at the end of the world, when he would come in glory to judge the quick and the dead ...." [The History of the Church by Eusebius] from Charles Ludwig, Ludwig’s Handbook of New Testament Rulers and Cities. [ 4]

Eusebius is one of the early church fathers who most clearly denounces "chiliasm," as premillennialism was then called. In the same work he writes, "About the same time … appeared Cerinthus, the leader of another Heresy. Caius, in The Disputation attributed to him, writes respection him: ‘But Cerinthus, by means of revelations which he pretended as if they were showed him by angels, asserting, that after the resurrection there would be an earthly kingdom of Christ, and that flesh, i.e. men, again inhabiting Jerusalem, would be subject to desires and pleasures. Being also an enemy to the divine scriptures, with a view to deceive men, he said that there would be a space of a thousand years for celebrating nuptial festivals.’" Eusebius also writes of a tradition passed down by Polycarp regarding an encounter between the Apostle John and Cerinthus in a public bath, "He [Polycarp] says that John the Apostle once entered a bath to wash; but ascertaining that Cerinthus was within, he leaped out of the place and fled from the door, not enduring to enter under the same roof with him, and exhorting those with him to do the same, saying, ‘Let us flee, lest the bath fall in, as long as Cerinthus, that enemy of the truth is within.’"[ 5] Tertullianus is another early church father who attributes chiliasm’s birth to Cerinthus. He writes: "They are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years, who think with the heretic Cerinthus. For the Kingdom of Christ is now eternal in the saints, although the glory of the saints shall be manifested after the resurrection." [ 6]

Two of the preeminent creeds of the early church that contain verses that clearly lean towards an amillennial belief are the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed. The Apostles’ Creed contains the words "He [Christ] shall come again to judge the quick and the dead," implying that both judgement and the resurrection will take place at His coming. The Nicene Creed states that Christ "shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end." Note that Christ’s kingdom is viewed here as eternal, not as a temporal reign of 1000 years.

By far the early church statement of faith that most vividly presents the early church’s belief in an amillennial, "consummationist" eschatology is The Athanasian Creed. Attributed to Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria and the champion of the Council of Nicaea, around 325 A.D., the creed ends with these words: "He shall come again to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life eternal, and they who indeed have done evil into eternal fire. This is the catholic faith, which except a man have believed faithfully and firmly he cannot be in a state of salvation." Let us analyze these closing verses more carefully to see how they align with the belief system we know today as amillennialism, and how they oppose any belief in an earthly 1000 year reign of Christ.

1. "He shall come again to judge the living and the dead." This simply means that there will be those who are alive as well as those who are dead when He comes (1 Thess. 4:15). Notice that judgement of the living and the dead occurs at His coming (cf. Matt. 25:31-46), not a thousand years after His coming.

2. "At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies ...." Thus, at Christ’s coming all rise, the good and the evil alike (cf. John 5:28,29, Matt. 12:41,42). Not just the good, and then a thousand years later the wicked.

3. "... and shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life eternal, and they who indeed have done evil into eternal fire." This is a clear reference to Matt. 25:31-46. Athanasius views this as taking place after the resurrection (or translation), making it a post-resurrection judgement. This is in sharp contrast to the dispensational view that Matthew 25:31-46 is only a judgement of "living, mortal Gentiles" who survived the tribulation. Note again that it (i.e. Matt. 25:31-46) is viewed as a judgement of all men, the Jew and the Gentile, the wicked as well as the good.

We must ask, why were the early church fathers so solidly amillennial? The first most obvious answer is that it reflected apostolic teaching, which means they were being obedient to God’s word (Acts 2:42, Ephesians 2:20). Most importantly, it is what the scriptures clearly teach, and being faithful students of the scriptures, they came to this rightful conclusion. Even the late Dr. George Eldon Ladd, a premillennialist, wrote "I admit that the greatest difficulty to any premillennialism is the fact that most of the New Testament pictures the consummation as occurring at Jesus’ parousia." [ 7] Lastly, amillennialism is the single view that most highly glorifies our Lord Jesus and His Second Coming. To demonstrate this point I will ask these questions. Which view glorifies our Lord Jesus more? A view that has the glorified Christ reigning eternally immediately after His advent from the New Heavenly Jerusalem in the glory of His Father (amillennial); or a view that has Jesus reigning temporally (i.e. for 1000 years) from an earthly Jerusalem, surrounded by mortal men, sinners (premillennial)? Which view magnifies His Second Coming more? A view where at His parousia He eternally judges all of mankind, the living and the dead (amillennial), or a view where this judgement doesn’t take place until a 1000 years after His coming (premillennial)? Which is more monumental an advent? A Second Coming where sin is utterly effaced and death is completely destroyed (amillennial)? Or a second coming where sin is not effaced and death is not destroyed until a 1000 years later (premillennial)? The answer is obvious. Let us give glory to our Lord Jesus and believe the true prophetic faith: Amillennialism, the one and only true Christian eschatology.


[1] "A Dispensational Premillennial Analysis of the Eschatology of the Post-Apostolic Fathers [Until the Death of Justin Martyr]," unpublished master's thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977, p. 47), quoted in the web article, "Some Questions and Answers on Eschatology," by Thomas Albrecht. [Back]

[2] House Divided: The Breakup of Dispensational Theology, by Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. [Back]

[3] Tom Albrecht, "Some Questions and Answers on Eschatology," World Wide Web article. [Back]

[4] Quoted in the article "The Return of Nero" by Gary Stearman, Prophecy in the News, Vol. 16, No. 5, May 1996, p. 6. [Back]

[5] From Eusebius’ Eccleslastical History, Book 3, Chapter 23. Circa A.D. 324. [Back]

[6] From Tertullianus, The Writings of Tertullianus, Vol. 3, p. 433. [Back]

[7] George Eldon Ladd, The Meaning of the Millennium, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1977) edited by Robert G. Clouse, pp. 189, 190. [Back]

About the Author:

Martin Bachicha is a native of Albuquerque and is the author of The Kingdom of the Bride, a book on Bible Prophecy.

Martin Bachicha
4908 Sherry Ann Road NW
Albuquerque, NM 87114

He also writes a prophecy newsletter, The Kingdom of the Bride Prophecy Newsletter. To receive your free e-mailed copy, send an e-mail to

© Copyright 1999, Martin R. Bachicha, All Rights Reserved

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Why Get Tattoos? Soli Deo Gloria!

One of the questions that is posed is this:

If you know that tattoos are a touchy subject and people will have issues with it, why would you still get a tattoo? Aren't you just being rebellious and self centered?

The interesting thing is that it is always put on us, who want tattoos, as the ones being selfish and rebellious by getting tattoos. The exact same things were said as Isaac Watts wrote beautiful hymns to be sung in the churches. He was rebellious and looking to self and no one wanted to play his hymns in their services. The same thing was said of those who wanted to play drums and electric guitars in the church services back in the day. It is always put on those who don't stick to tradition of the church but continue to be progressive as rebellious and selfish. Should we just give in then to those who are uncomfortable with tattoos, new hymns and drums in worship through song? Or, should we be active listeners, careful with our liberty and do all to the glory of God?

I wanted to just give some examples of what one should think of before getting a tattoo and the process I have gone through.

Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

This thought of Soli Deo Gloria was one that the Reformers continually fought for. Before the Reformers, Rome had put forth the thought that the highest calling for any individual was to be clergy of the church. The Reformers highly disagreed saying that all of life is worship and any man or woman's life and occupation is the calling of God and should reflect God's glory. Taking the Scriptures for what they said about life, the first question posed in the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms is:

Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

This first part of the answer is taken from the following Scriptures: Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11

So, when we ask, "Why get a tattoo?" the first answer needs to be, "to glorify God." This seems stupid to some, but is a reality for those who take God's glory very seriously. But, what does it mean to glorify? To glorify something in the Greek and biblical context, means that when doing something or thinking of someone it means to have a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory. Paul, and the other authors, point to the fact that what we do and what we see should always result in a good opinion of God so that we praise and honor God.

So, how do I glorify God in my tattoos?

1. Humble to the Authority God Has Put Over Me and With Me

I used to be a youth director at my previous church. One of the things I always did when kids would see my tattoos and say that they wanted one is I would tell them to go straight to their parents to discuss this. Their parents are their authority and they should honor them. My first tattoo came at the age of 18 and I was in college. Legally, I could do whatever I wanted to. Spiritually, I wanted input and and the "go ahead" from my father (who was a pastor for most of his adult life). I went to him in submission asking for his permission. He told me that he appreciated my submission to his authority and that, although he personally didn't like tattoos, I could do whatever I wanted to in regards to getting a tattoo. He gave me some things to think about in regards to the tat, such as placement and design, but allowed me to make the decision. To be honest, when someone says I am being rebellious getting a tattoo, it really angers me. The reason is that I was a very rebellious child in many ways, but I was most submissive in getting my tattoo than in any other way in my childhood.

If you are out of the house and on your own and single. Truly think through the fact that you will probably have a spouse some day. Think through the fact that they might hate tattoos and have to "deal" with your art on your body. This doesn't mean to not get one, but very careful on what you get and where so that it doesn't become a hindrance in your future marriage.

If you are married you are under obligation to go to your spouse, your body is theirs. Every tattoo goes through my wife first. She has denied me more than people know on tattoo designs, and I have shown my love for her by knowing my body is hers and that I will not get anything, or change anything, on my body that would make her uncomfortable or hinder her love for me. I completely submit everything to her in regards to my body so that I die to self and live for Christ through her. My wife loves tattoos and loves my new one and can't wait for it to be finished. She literally gets excited for them and does not cringe in any way. Let me say this again, if your spouse does not like tattoos, for whatever reason, do not get one because you are in sin. Glorify God by submitting to the authority God has over you.

2. Glorifying God, by Knowing Your Audience

Know who God is sending you to and know also those around you and their view on any subject. I have thought about this for the future. I have thought, "What if God sends me to a tribe that has pagan thoughts on tattoos in some remote part of the world?" Or, what if I become friends who truly stumbles over the fact of tattoos because of his old self? I will make sure that I do what I can to cover the tattoos in these instances. Even to the fact of using cover up make-up to make sure my exposed tattoos are covered up if I were to go to the jungles or a tribe that has those connotations with tattoos. The reason is that my tattoos are not to "make a statement" or to make a true weaker brother stumble (to get a reading on what I mean by this read this post here). If I preach to a mass audience where I know that it could trip some people up, I will do my best to cover them. But, I will also do my best to know the audience I am teaching to. This is why I also ask ahead of time what to dress like when I go to preach and teach at venues I am not familiar with. I don't want to show up in a suit, when everyone is in shorts, nor do I want to show up in cargo pants when everyone is in suits. I don't want my tattoos to become part of the message I am preaching if they are not the point. I want Jesus to be exalted where I go, not frivolous things like my tattoos, what I wear or what I eat or drink.

3. Glorify God By Getting the Right Design

Most people, when thinking of tattoos, think that they must get one that in some way has a Christian message. I don't. As long as the message or the design doesn't directly point to something contrary to God, like a naked woman, I don't care what someone gets because all lawful things point to God. When I get my tattoos I glorify God because I can see the artist and their creativity and see how that points to the amazing grandeur of the creativity and artistry found in our God and Creator. The same thing happens when I buy a piece of art, look at the sunset or stand at the foot of amazing architecture. These things do not have to have some message about God for them to glorify Him.

The correct thinking is to have these things and their beauty point you to the true beauty in God and cause you to praise and honor Him, not the artist or builder. This same mind set should happen when you eat good food, have great sex, make money, spend time with your kids, pick out something to wear or eat good food. One should understand that all these things point to the glory of God, as does a tattoo. Now, do we all like the same food, same art or same activities? No. So, I don't care if you don't like tattoos because you think they are ugly. This doesn't mean I can't glorify God in something you find distasteful. Same thing applies when you wear your ugly Christmas sweater with bells on it. You find it amusing and cute, I find it ugly and disgusting. You can glorify God in it, I want to throw up on it. Most of the things in this life that one can glorify God through, others will not be able to.
But, we should not discount others merely because we don't "get it" or don't like it. Nor should we think we can only glorify God in things if they have God's name, Scripture references or a Jesus fish on it.

So, why do I get tattoos? Is it out of rebellion or selfishness? No. It is because I find the great beauty and artistry found in tattoos to be a shadow of the great beauty and artistry found in my Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer. Through my tattoos I get to praise Jesus. You might hate them, which is fine, but don't think that I get them out of rebellion, it is quite the opposite.

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”
Revelation 4:11

Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him,
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

Psalm 96:1-6

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