Sunday, November 12, 2006
The Republicans, who did not live or govern by their campaign promises to protect life, lower taxes, preserve religious liberty, and to create an administration above scandal, have been swept from office. In their place, we have a much more honest bunch. At least the new group tells us up front that they support homosexual marriage, sex education for pre-schoolers, abortion on demand and a litany of other issues. Down with the apathetic Republicans!
As a life long conservative, I long for a stable and righeous government led by men and women of integrity. In the absence of Christ, who alone will provide this government, I must be solaced by being governed by short-sighted, prone to failure, fallible men and women. Cleaning out Congress was exactly what was needed. When the short-sighted, prone to failure and fallible men and women prove their inability to keep their promises, I should not have to convince myself to vote for them every election season.
Perhaps this will provide the much needed wake up call for the Republicans to heed their conservative base. If not, the Republicans are guaranteed to continue to lose elections.
Whatever may happen, the Bible tells us that we deserve the Democrats...
"Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God" (Romans 13:1).
This all started a number of years ago in a Baptist church in Crystal Palace in South London, England. The Sunday morning service was closing and a man stood up at the back and raised his hand and said: "Excuse me pastor can I share a short testimony?" The pastor looked at his watch and said, "You have three minutes". The man proceeded with his story: "I've just moved into this area. I used to live in Sydney, Australia. Just a few months back I was visiting some relatives and I was walking down George Street. You know where George Street is in Sydney going from the Business Area out to the Rock the colonial area. A strange little white haired man stepped out from a shop doorway, put a pamphlet in my hand and said: "Excuse me sir, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?" "I was astounded by these words. No one had ever asked me that. I thanked him courteously and all the way home to London this puzzled me. I called a friend and thank God he was a Christian and he led me to Christ." The Baptists love testimonies like that. Everyone applauded and welcomed him into their fellowship.
The Baptist pastor flew to Adelaide, Australia the next week and 10 days later in the middle of a three day series in a Baptist church in Adelaide, a woman came up to him for some counselling. He wanted to establish where she stood with Christ. He said "I used to live in Sydney and just a couple of months back I was visiting some friends in Sydney doing some last minute shopping down George Street. A strange little white haired man stepped out of a shop doorway and offered me a pamphlet and said "Excuse me madam, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?" "I was disturbed by those words. When I got home to Adelaide, I knew this Baptist church was on the next block form me. I sought out the pastor and he led me to Christ. So I am telling you that I am a Christian."
The London pastor was now very puzzled. Twice in two weeks he had heard the same testimony. He then flew to preach in the Mount Pleasant Church in Perth. When his teaching series was over the senior elder of that Church took him out for a meal and he asked the elder how he got saved. "I grew up in this church from the age of 15. I never made a commitment to Jesus, just hopped on the bandwagon like everyone else. Because of my business ability grew up to a place of influence. I was on a business trip to Sydney just three years ago. An obnoxious spiteful little man stepped out of a shop doorway, offered me a religious pamphlet cheap junk and accosted me with a question: "Excuse me sir, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?" I tried to tell him I was a Baptist elder. He wouldn't listen to me. I was seething with anger all the way home from Sydney to Perth. I told my pastor, thinking that he would sympathize, but he agreed. He had been disturbed for years knowing that I didn't have a relationship with Jesus, and he was right. My pastor led me to Jesus just three years ago."
The London preacher flew home and was soon speaking at the Keswick conventions in the Lake District and he threw in these three testimonies. At the close of this teaching series, fours elderly pastors came up and explained that they too had been saved between 25 and 30 years earlier through that same little man on George Street, offering them a pamphlet and asking that same question. The following week he flew to a similar Keswick convention in the Caribbean to missionaries. He shared the same testimonies. At the close of his teaching three missionaries came forward and said that they had also had been saved between 15 and 25 years earlier by that same little man's testimony and asked us the same question on George Street in Sydney. Next he stopped in Atlanta, Georgia to speak at a Naval Chaplain convention. Here for three days he spoke to over 1000 Naval Chaplains. Afterwards the Chaplain General took him out for a meal and he asked the Chaplain how he became a Christian. "It was miraculous. I was a rating on a Naval battleship and I lived a reprobate life. We were doing exercises in the South Pacific and we docked at Sydney harbour for replenishments. We hit Kings Cross with a vengeance. I was blind drunk, got on the wrong bus and got off in George Street. As I got off the bus, I though I saw a ghost as this man jumped out in front of me, pushed a pamphlet in my hand and said "Sailor, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?" The fear of God hit me immediately. I was shocked sober, ran back to the ship and sought out the Chaplain. He led me to Christ. I soon began to prepare for the ministry under his guidance. I am now in charge of 1000 chaplains who are bent on soul winning today."
Six months later that London pastor flew to a conference for 5,000 Indian missionaries in a remote part of NE India. At the end the head missionary took him to his humble little home for a simple meal. He asked how he as a Hindu came to Christ. "I grew up in a very privileged position, I worked the Indian Diplomatic Mission and I travelled the world. I am so glad for the forgiveness of Christ and blood covering my sin. I would be very embarrassed if people found out what I got into. One period of diplomatic service took me to Sydney. I was doing some last minute shopping, laden with toys and clothes for my children. I was walking down George Street when a courteous white haired little man stepped out in front of me and offered me a pamphlet and said "Excuse me sir, are you saved, if you die tonight are you going to heaven?" I thanked him very much but this disturbed me. I got back to my town, sought out our Hindu priest. He couldn't help me, but he advised me that to satisfy my curious mind, I should go and talk to the missionary in the mission home at the end of road. That was good advice because that day the missionary led me to Christ. I quit Hinduism immediately and began to prepare for ministry. I left the Diplomatic Service and here I am today, by God's grace in charge of all these missionaries who have together led 100,000 people to Christ.
Eight months later that London Pastor was preaching in Sydney. He asked the local Baptist Minister if he knew of a little elderly white haired man who handed out tracts on George Street. He replied "Yes is do, his name is Mr. Genor, although I don't think he does it any more because he is so frail and elderly." Two nights later they went to meet him in his little apartment. They knocked on the door and this tiny frail old man greeted them. He sat them down and made them tea. He was so frail that he was slopping the tea into the saucer as his hands shook. The London preacher sat there and told him of all these accounts from the previous three years. This little man sat with tears running down his cheeks. He told them his story. "I was a rating on an Australian warship. I was living a reprobate life. In a crisis I really hit the wall. One of my colleagues, to whom I gave literal hell, was there to help me. He led me to Jesus and the change in my life was night to day in 24 hours. I was so grateful to God; I promised God that I would share Jesus in a simple witness with at least 10 people a day. As God me strength I did that. Sometimes I was ill and couldn't do it, but I made up for the days I missed it at other times. I wasn't paranoid about it. I have done this for over 40 years. In my retirement years, the best place was on St. George Street where I saw hundreds of people a day. I got lots of rejections, but a lot of people courteously took the tract. In 40 years of doing this, I have never heard of one single person coming to Jesus until today."
You know, I would say that he has to be commitment. To show gratitude and love for Jesus to do that for 40 years and not hear of any results. That simple little non-charismatic Baptist man witnessed to perhaps 147,000 people. I think that God was showing that Baptist pastor from London was the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Goodness knows how many more had been arrested for Christ. Doing huge jobs out in the mission fields. Mr. Genor died two weeks later. Can you imagine the reward he went home to in Heaven?
I doubt his face would ever have appeared on Charisma Magazine. I doubt there would ever have been a photograph and a write up in Billy Graham's Decision magazine. No one except a little group of Baptists in Sydney knew about Mr. Genor, but I tell you his name was famous in Heaven. Heaven knew Mr. Genor and you can imagine the welcome and Red Carpet and the fanfare that he received when he went home to Glory.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
He wrote of the grip of God compelling him to lose his life for Christ. Society is pulling him to get a good secular job, marry quickly and to settle down in secular serfdom. These two forces are causing him great confusion.
We who read the Scriptures know the truth once the cloud lifts; it is right to risk for Christ. He who wants to keep his fiancee, his wife, his children, his prosperity and his dignity will lose all of them.
There is a grand delusion that besets us. It is the delusion of personal peace and safety. It is our loving duty as brothers and sisters in Christ to strip away this facade of safet and expose the world as it really is. None know their momento mori. None know what awaits them at the end of the next car trip, in the early waking hours, in the moments of the daily grind. Man should not cling to the myth of safety. It does not exist.
What does exist is the grandeur and glory of God both now and forever. It is our purpose in life to make sure that God's glory is greater due to our short passage of time on earth. Bringing glory to God by being willing even to lose my life (never out of violence) shows that I seek and understand what is beyond this poor replica of God's true kingdom.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Here is another opportunity to more fully understand the grace of Christ:
Sunday, September 17, 2006
12:30 - 6:00
Downtown Gahanna Flea Market Day
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
Friday, August 18, 2006
Faith Assembly of God Worship Center
2600 US Highway 40 NE (near juncture of 40 and 42)
London, Ohio 43140
First viewing - Monday, August 21, 2006, 2:00-4:00
Second viewing - Monday, August 21, 2006, 6:00-8:00
Faith Assembly of God Worship Center
2600 US Highway 40 NE (near juncture of 40 and 42)
London, Ohio 43140
Service time - Tuesday, August 22, 2006, 11:00 am
My father was a righteous man. I loved him for his unswerving convictions, his passionate servant-love for me and for his unshakeable confidence in Jesus Christ. He taught me how to be a man and he set an example that I can only aspire to emulate. My deepest regret is that my sons will not have the blessing of his wisdom or witness the strength of his passion.
For the best of fathers, I praise God. To have the intellectual fire, the warmth of his embrace and his presence was a tremendous blessing. His immortal soul is now with Christ where his true talents and service before God may begin.
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
II Corinthians 5:18-21 states
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
With some fear, but taking to heart the message of reconciliation, Emissary has taken to the streets of Columbus. During a recent outing, we started at the topiary gardens behind the Columbus Metropolitan Library, moved to the area around Franklin University and concluded our time in the Bottoms. We encountered blue collar, white collar, black power, rainbow power and a myriad of other people groups.
While at the Donatos Pizza next to Franklin University, Rob talked to an extremely handsome, British man. He listened to Rob until he came to the issue of lust. When Rob asked, “Have you ever lusted in your heart after someone of the opposite sex?” the gentlemen replied that he looked at the “other tree.” Predictably, he did not believe that his lifestyle was sinful. He was merely pursuing his natural instincts. Rob addressed the nature of sin and encouraged the man to consider the sacrifice of Christ. We parted amicably, and upon watching the man leave, we noted the advertisement on the side of his truck; English Elegaynce Landscaping, German Village.
It is a great tragedy if someone misses an eternity with Christ because we never witnessed. But the tragedy grows far deeper for you if you do not witness. Philemon 6 states this, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” Do you know that if you are not sharing your faith, you are missing a “full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ?” This knowledge cannot be found in the next life since we cannot witness in heaven.
Here are a few opportunities to reach a fuller understanding of God through evangelism:
If you are interested in either opportunity, please contact me via email@example.com for additional details.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
He is attempting to re-envision the church. Unfortunately, most heresy is grounded in trying to add a guest wing to God's Church.
As a postmodern and Emergent Church member, Rob Bell is repaving the errors of America's theological liberalism. It is quite amusing that so many people think he is creative and pioneering. Take a peek at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelical's review at Reformation 21. I think it says it all.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
For the sake of this blog entry, I will be focusing on the issues that I see as negative (though there are a few positive facets to the movement). The movement is not monolithic or fully blossomed, but some defining elements appear to be emerging.
Central to the belief of the Emergent movement is the idea that the current incarnation of Christianity has been heavily influenced by scientific reductionism and modernism. Searching for the true meaning of Biblical texts has led to a schism between liberals and fundamentalists. This schism is viewed as hurtful and Emergent practitioners desire to heal the rift by not focusing on the underlying meaning of sacred texts. By focusing too intently on the meaning of scriptural texts, we practice the horrible heritage of our modern, western ideals.
The Emergent church desires to deconstruct theology. Per an article in the Wikipedia, “The Postmodern church resolves this issue (the issue of establishing an identity and worldview) by encouraging followers to deconstruct each element of their faith experience and reassemble the pieces according to his or her own unique journey of deconstruction” (For an uncritical review, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_Church). In other words, faith becomes even more intensely personal and non-universal. An Emergent’s experience is their own and no one elses.
Many have been drawn to the Emergent Church due to its focus on the mystical rather than the rational. Post modern Emergent members believe that the intellect has taken too much preeminence in the Church. They seek to end the opposition between science and faith by simply not addressing the issues of science. Instead, mystery will be embraced. We will simply leave the larger issues of creation, the Fall, and a global flood to those who have always had our best interests at heart; the evolutionists.
Emergent church-goers love symbols. Through the use of symbols, Emergents believe that they unite members of the Church Universal by evoking their lineage. Though the symbols had specific meaning in their historical context, an Emergent uses them to create a new cohesive center and meaning for post modern believers. In doing so, they destroy the historical nature of the symbols.
The movement also challenges long-standing doctrine. Recently, I heard one of the leading spokespersons of the movement, Brian McLaren, speak about his view on hell. In his words, those who believe in a literal hell are sinning. They ascribe to God the creation of something that God would never create in His goodness.
In McLaren’s own words:
Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of the this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brianmclaren.htm).
McLaren denies not only hell, but also our ability to have a hermeneutic (interpretational principle) for studying the Bible. In an Emergent’s world, the text does not have one central meaning. It has a variety of valid interpretations feasibly as numerous as the individuals who encounter the text. Generally, Emergents do not believe that a text of scripture has the meaning intended by the author (author-centered meaning or, in this case, God centered meaning). As an individual on a religious journey, the pilgrim brings unique meaning to the text.
Emergents are also consumed with pragmatism. If something appears to work it should be modeled by everyone. If throwing away the rational mind, systematic theology, doctrine, ecclesiology, science and author-centered meaning draws thousands to our churches, that is viewed as a good thing. After all, anything that draws large numbers can’t be wrong. Can it?
How these individuals refer to themselves as Evangelicals is beyond me. Words rot. Over time, the term Evangelical has become so packed with meaning that it has become meaningless. Perhaps the time has drawn nigh to coin a new term to refer to believers who assert the primacy of the Bible, absolute truth and author-centered meaning. Might I suggest “Douloi” meaning "servants" (Philippians 1:1)? It might sound strange at first, but so did "fundamentalist" and "evangelical" many years ago.
The lines have blurred once again just as they did during the birth of liberalism. Emergents will think they are ploughing new ground, but it is merely the same harrows created by the liberals. The liberal/fundamentalist split occurred slowly; mainly because the liberals were still developing their theology and the conservatives were always trying to catch up to the latest heresy. It took time to get it wrong so badly. Hopefully our day and age will not have to wait forever for this new movement to define itself. The longer it takes, the more ingrained the Emergent ideas will become in everyday thinking. Perhaps they should be pushed to develop faster…
We might need to revive adherence to creeds and perhaps the appellative “heretic”.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Monday, April 10, 2006
Isn't it amazing the things we can’t find a trace of in the sixty six books of the Bible? If only we had found the Gospel of Judas earlier. Thousands of people could have spared themselves from martyrdom, stopped wasting time praying and finally figured out that life really is meaningless!
Liberal scholars and the National Geographic Society are embracing the Gospel of Judas and proclaiming that it carries equal weight with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Brandishing the Gospel of a traitor, they desire to rewrite our understanding of Biblical history.
The Gospel of Judas is certainly not a recent discovery. Ireneaus, the bishop of Lyons, had this to say about the Gospel of Judas circa 180 A.D:
They declare that Judas the traitor was thoroughly acquainted with these things, and that he alone, knowing the truth as no others did, accomplished the mystery of the betrayal; by him all things, both earthly and heavenly, were thus thrown into confusion. They produce a fictitious history of this kind, which they style the Gospel of Judas.
The Gospel of Judas is obviously a late and highly embellished rendering of fiction. The copy now being paraded on the news and on National Geographic is written in Coptic and was translated from an earlier Greek version. It bears the marks of a fully developed Gnosticism which only came into existence well after the time of eyewitnesses to Christ's earthly activities.
Here is an excerpt from one of the more interesting passages (please forgive the translators conjectural emendations):
The multitude of those immortals is called the cosmos— that is, perdition—by the Father and the seventy-two luminaries who are with the Self-Generated and his seventytwo aeons. In him the first human appeared with his incorruptible powers. And the aeon that appeared with his generation, the aeon in whom are the cloud of knowledge and the angel, is called  El. […] aeon […] after that […] said, ‘Let twelve angels come into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld].’ And look, from the cloud there appeared an [angel] whose face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood. His name was Nebro, which means ‘rebel’; others call him Yaldabaoth. Another angel, Saklas, also came from the cloud. So Nebro created six angels—as well as Saklas—to be assistants, and these produced twelve angels in the heavens, with each one receiving a portion in the heavens.
Gnosticism sought secret knowledge to open the doorway of immortality. Within Gnostic belief, the spirit of man partakes of the divine essence, but his physical body shackles him to drudgery. Gnostics view the corpus as evil and abuse it either by throwing it into extreme pleasure or extreme impoverishment. The ultimate ideal of Gnosticism is separation of the spirit from the body.
Gnostics were some of the early perverters of the unembellished story of Christ’s death and resurrection. Dissatisfied by the story of God’s loving sacrifice on their behalf, they denied Christ came in the flesh. In fact, Christ was in a worse condition than being in hell when he was in physical form. An incipient form of Gnosticism probably inspired John to write “And you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body” (CEV, I John 4:2).
This early heresy would later become highly embellished, highly symbolic and totally separated from reality. I guess it is the perfect topic for our “modern scholars” at National Geographic. I never cease to be amazed that hacks can dredge up old heresies and recast them as scholarship.
To take a peek at the Gospel of Judas and Gnosticism, visit the following sites:
Sunday, March 26, 2006
MSNBC trolled for a mere three days. I would have expected half a dozen men to greet the MSNBC cameras. Shockingly, over fifty men were arrested subsequent to their surprise interviews. With nary a blush, the men would spin the most outrageous lies. “I did not know how old she was.” “I just came to teach her a lesson about online predators.” Then the MSNBC reporter would unveil their lewd and offensive chat room dialogues that left all of the lies naked. Seldom did any of the men show shame.
From a short four years in ministry, I met many men who struggled with sexual issues. Dozens were addicted to pornography. Some may have been emerging predators. How many men have sexual sin at some point in their life? 100%! In the words of a New Zealand evangelist, “There are only two kinds of men in this world. Perverts and forgiven perverts.”
America is in the throes of a great plague. Predators are being created daily by our over-saturation with sexual content. MTV and HBO know no limitations to their exploitation of man’s desire for sexual gratification. Recent Victoria’s Secret advertisements aired at all hours have only one purpose; arousal.
If the Church does not mobilize to address the silent plague, our young men will be rapists, our young women will be victims and our parents will be complicit. God has made us fully aware of the scope of our degradation.
To read the full MSNBC story, go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11152602/. Please be aware that the content is graphic. This is the third time that MSNBC has pursued sexual predators.
Monday, March 20, 2006
By GRETCHEN PETERS and LARA SETRAKIAN, with reporting by BILAL SARWARY
KABUL, Afghanistan, March 20, 2006 — Despite the overthrow of the fundamentalist Taliban government and the presence of 22,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a man who converted to Christianity is being prosecuted in Kabul, and a judge said Sunday that if convicted, he faces the death penalty.
Abdul Rahman, who is in his 40s, says he converted to Christianity 16 years ago while working as an aid worker helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
Relatives denounced him as a convert during a custody battle over his children, and he was arrested last month. The prosecutor says Rahman was found with a Bible.
Human rights workers have described the case as an unsettling reminder that the country's post-Taliban judiciary remains deeply conservative, and they have called on President Hamid Karzai to intervene. During Taliban times, men were forced to kneel in prayer five times a day, and couples faced the death penalty for sex outside marriage, for example. Reform efforts have been slow, say experts, since there are so few judges and lawyers with experience.
The U.S. State Department is watching the case closely and considers it a barometer of how well democracy is developing in Afghanistan.
"Our view … is that tolerance, freedom of worship is an important element of any democracy," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "And these are issues as Afghan democracy matures that they are going to have to deal with increasingly."
A number of Christian nonprofit groups do humanitarian work in Afghanistan. Dominic Nutt of Christian Aid calls the Rahman case a step backward for the country, especially if Rahman is executed.
Nutt, who has spent time in Afghanistan, tells ABC News "few practitioners are used to the concept of democracy and toleration … [many] are educated only in Islamic law."
Presiding judge Ansarullah Mawlazezadah tells ABC News a medical team was checking the defendant, since the team suspects insanity caused Rahman to reject Islam.
"We want to know that the doctors have given him a green light on his mental state, because he is not normal when he talks," says the judge.
The post-Taliban constitution recognizes Islam as Afghanistan's religion, and decrees that Islam's Sharia law applies when a case is not covered by specific legislation. The prosecutor says under Sharia law, Abdul Rahman must die.
The judge, however, holds hopes for a solution.
"We will ask him if he has changed his mind about being a Christian," Mawlazezadah says. "If he has, we will forgive him, because Islam is a religion of tolerance."
Article continued at http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=1746943&page=1
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Even fewer people realize that modern day Spain was controlled by Islam until 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella finally reclaimed the Iberian Peninsula for Roman Catholicism (Map – Dark brown denotes Muslim dominion in 750 A.D.).
It is a grand history of hundreds of years of domination, glorious conquest and fabled wealth that still inspires many of those who practice jihad or holy war.
A world ruled by those who take the Koran literally is too dreary to contemplate. Consider the following quotes:
· On February 23, 1998, five Islamic caliphates signed a fatwa declaring war against the U.S. · “The ruling to kill Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it…”
· Surah 2:191 states, “And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.”
· Surah 4:89 states, “Seize them and slay them wherever you may find them…”
· Surah 9:29 states, “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day.”
When you contemplate your role in evangelism, keep in mind that Christians are beginning to fall behind in the race for souls.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
While we were sleeping last night, executives in America sent their requests for presentations and research overseas to India. India, with its vast intellectual capital, turns these jobs over to men and women with doctorates who will work for a fraction of the wages earned in the U.S. When the U.S. executives arrive at work the next morning, the research and an accompanying PowerPoint presentations will be on their desktop computers. India and China work while America sleeps; the beauty of outsourcing.
If you call to reserve an airline, to order a Dell computer or to resolve a technical computer problem, it is likely an enthusiastic, English speaking West Indian who will fulfill your needs. I recently ordered a Dell laptop and received some of the best service imaginable. When I asked where the customer service representative was located, she sweetly replied "Bangalore, India".
India and China are earning the right to America's repetetive, but skilled IT jobs. In Thomas Friedman's estimation, the only jobs that may remain in America are those that require people skills. If a job has any component that may be done overseas it will be done there in the future; such jobs include taxes, call centers, the reading of CAT scans and x-rays, routine legal work, programming, hotel and airline reservations, project management, data analysis, architectural work, etc. Americans beware! God is beginning to shift world influence to a new world long deprieved of our lifestyle.
World markets and cultures are opening to embrace the surge of American outsourcing. India and China are welcoming American companies, their business practices and ideals unreservedly into their nations. The shift has massive potential for fulfilling the passion of Jesus Christ. The gospel is exploding in India and China. Per a recent article at http://www.religionnewsblog.com/13711/Evangelical-Christianity-shifting-outside-West:
In 1960, there were an estimated 50 million evangelical Christians in the West, and 25 million in the rest of the world; today, there are an estimated 75 million in the West, and 325 million in the rest of the world (representing about 20 percent of the two billion Christians worldwide).
Other experts differ on the number of evangelicals (estimates range from 250 million to nearly one billion) but agree that the number is growing rapidly.
"As the vibrancy of evangelicalism seems to have waned somewhat in the West, many in the non-West are ready to pick up the banner and move forward," said Kilgore, a former missionary who is now associate provost at Philadelphia Biblical University. "Most Americans have no idea how big the shift has been."
Todd M. Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, writes that "Africans, Asians and Latin Americans are more typical representatives of evangelicalism than Americans or Europeans."
The new evangelicals are more exuberant in their worship services; put more faith in spiritual healing, prophecy and visions; and read the Bible more literally than many of their Western cousins.
In a world of globalization and evangelicalization (a coined word), mission agencies relying on indigenous missionaries are enormously effective, while mission bodies dependent upon expensive American missionaries are blunted. Consider these excerpts from K.P Yohanan, founder of Gospel for Asia (http://www.gfa.org/gfa/whynativemissions):
- Although native missionaries do face many difficult obstacles as they take the message from village to village, they still have an enormous advantage over their coworkers from North America and other non-Asian lands.
- Today, over 85 percent of Asian countries do not allow western missionaries to come and freely preach the Gospel and plant churches.
- In the eyes of the people, native missionaries do not represent a foreign country or a strange religion. They already know the language or can easily learn a local dialect.
- A native missionary can be sent out at a fraction of the cost of a Western missionary. In fact, the average cost is only $1,100 to $1,800 per year compared to over $75,000 per year for a foreign missionary.
- The possibility of reaching Asia's multitudes through native missionaries in our generation is very real as thousands are being trained to plant churches across Asia!
- To date 54 Bible colleges have been established in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and at the Bhutan border. Currently, nearly 8,000 young men and women are currently receiving training.
- The quality of GFA students is incredible. Over 98 percent of our graduates minister in places where the Gospel has never before been preached. Frequently, our graduates will establish a new fellowship within their first year on the field.
- On average, our missionaries establish nearly 15 fellowships every day in Asia among unreached villages and people groups.
- The churches planted in each culture are truly indigenous in character, self-governing,self-propagating and, as soon as possible, self-supporting.
I believe we are at a watershed in history. While Asia is rising to new prominence, America's influence in globalization, evangelicalization and mission activity is waning. The next decade of world history will see massive changes in monetary, intellectual, political and Christian capital. Are we ready? What can we anticipate? How can we best support what God is already doing?
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Rob and I had a fantastic time at the Grove City Church of God on Sunday (1-29-06). People were very responsive to our Islam presentation and many shared concerning their witnessing encounters with Muslims. I was genuinely surprised at the number of people that came into contact with Islam on a daily basis.
Pastor Barr is truly a pastor’s pastor. We greatly appreciate his invitation to speak before his lovely congregation.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The following is a series of questions answered by Dan Brown of the DaVinci Code followed by my preliminary responses. I just finished the DaVinci Code and found it be a page turner and a temper boiler! Many will be taking this book seriously since Brown passes the work off as scholarly fiction. We are already beginning to see a new skepticism arise that is built off of Brown’s fallacious scholarship. Great fiction, poor truth!
HOW DID YOU GET ALL THE INSIDE INFORMATION FOR THIS BOOK? Most of the information is not as "inside" as it seems. The secret described in the novel has been chronicled for centuries, so there are thousands of sources to draw from. In addition, I was surprised how eager historians were to share their expertise with me. One academic told me her enthusiasm for The Da Vinci Code was based in part on her hope that "this ancient mystery would be unveiled to a wider audience."
Response – Dan had to dig deep for this stuff. He should be commended for writing an entertaining story, but the presentation of this material as scholarly is laughable. In particular, Dan misses on his biggest point. He writes that Constantine attempted to meld paganism and Christianity together by deifying Jesus. This goal was seen necessary to unify his factious nation. Brown writes that the Council of Nicea in 325 was a watershed event where Constantine destroyed earlier stories of Jesus’ mere humanity and established by a vote the deity of Christ. Per Dan, before this time, Jesus’ followers only thought of him as a great man.
The real issue at Nicea was not whether Jesus was divine, but whether he was partially divine or wholly divine. The battle was between Arianism which posited that Christ was God by a matter of degree and orthodox Christianity that said that Jesus has always been God. In Arius’ words, “There once was a time when Jesus was not” and “There once was a time when God was not a Father.” Arius still proclaimed Christ’s divinity, but he believed that Jesus was a created being and inferior to God the Father. Orthodox Christianity held forth that Jesus was of the same substance as the Father and had eternally existed as a member of the godhead.
Nicea did not decide whether Jesus was divine. The early church fathers had held this from the beginning. Ignatius of Antioch (died 110 A.D), Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr (circa 140 A.D), Polycarp of Smyrna, Irenaeus, Theophilus (115-181 A.D.), Melito of Sardis (177 A.D.) and a horde of other early church fathers all proclaimed Christ’s deity well before Constantine came onto the scene.
Brown likes to discount the Bible, but the book of John is absolutely rife with statements of Christ’s deity. Here is a small example:
The descriptive “I Am” passages - Jesus himself claimed his deity within these passages.
· The bread of life (6:35, 48). Jesus is the sustenance of existence and eternal life.
· The light of the world (8:12). Jesus is the clearest distinction between good and evil. He provides clarity in discerning evil.
· The door (10:7, 9). This is claim to divine exclusivity. All other means of accessing God are illegitimate.
· The good shepherd (10:11, 14). Jesus is the compassionate God.
· The resurrection and the life (11:25). Jesus claims that the hope of resurrection is vested in his person and that he is the giver of eternal life.
· The way and the truth and the life (14:6). Again, there is the claim of exclusivity. Jesus is the only venue to knowing God and living eternally.
· The true vine (15:1, 5). Without Jesus as the source of life, man cannot live or be productive.
The exclusive “I Am” passages. These statements by Christ clearly demonstrate Christ’s claim to deity. They directly identify Christ with the Old Testament statement in Exodus 3:14.
· The power encounters (4:25, 26; 8:24, 25, 28; 13:19). Jesus reveals himself as the “I am” during several climactic moments.
The Nicene Creed is a beautiful expression of the belief of the Council.
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
It is unfortunate that Brown’s only defense is that ‘history has been rewritten’ and that non-existent documents support his position. That is a whole lot of history to rewrite and control and a whole lot of missing documents!
HOW MUCH OF THIS NOVEL IS TRUE? The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction. While the book's characters and their actions are obviously not real, the artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals depicted in this novel all exist (for example, Leonardo Da Vinci's paintings, the Gnostic Gospels, Hieros Gamos, etc.). These real elements are interpreted and debated by fictional characters. While it is my belief that some of the theories discussed by these characters may have merit, each individual reader must explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own interpretations. My hope in writing this novel was that the story would serve as a catalyst and a springboard for people to discuss the important topics of faith, religion, and history.
Response – While some of the elements in this work of fiction may exist, this does not mean that they were ever woven in reality into such a complex conspiracy. Dan Brown ultimately is concerned with stoking the hugely powerful fire under his work. Almost every point in the book is intensely debatable; from the symbolism behind DaVinci’s Last Supper where Brown depicts Peter as “threatening” Mary Magdalene to the rather odd notion that early Jewish worship embodied goddess worship and shrine prostitution at the temple.
SOME OF THE HISTORY IN THIS NOVEL CONTRADICTS WHAT I LEARNED IN SCHOOL. WHAT SHOULD I BELIEVE? Since the beginning of recorded time, history has been written by the "winners" (those societies and belief systems that conquered and survived). Despite an obvious bias in this accounting method, we still measure the "historical accuracy" of a given concept by examining how well it concurs with our existing historical record. Many historians now believe (as do I) that in gauging the historical accuracy of a given concept, we should first ask ourselves a far deeper question: How historically accurate is history itself?
Response – Tripe. Dan Brown is obviously part of the revisionist movement that is attempting to overthrow any form of objective truth. As Brown noted in the previous section, “each individual reader must explore these characters' viewpoints and come to his or her own interpretations.” Whether those interpretations are true is totally outside of Brown’s concern. He is a postmodernist of the first order.
ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN? Yes. Interestingly, if you ask three people what it means to be Christian, you will get three different answers. Some feel being baptized is sufficient. Others feel you must accept the Bible as absolute historical fact. Still others require a belief that all those who do not accept Christ as their personal savior are doomed to hell. Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious--that is, that we are all trying to decipher life's big mysteries, and we're each following our own paths of enlightenment. I consider myself a student of many religions. The more I learn, the more questions I have. For me, the spiritual quest will be a life-long work in progress.
Response – There is no center to Brown’s existence. Abandoning author-centered meaning, Brown is always in transition, but never arriving at conclusions. Brown paradoxically calls himself a Christian and then denies the very substance of Christianity; the person and works of Jesus Christ. I think we can safely conclude that Dan Brown is a wolf of Biblical proportions.
THIS NOVEL IS VERY EMPOWERING TO WOMEN. CAN YOU COMMENT? Two thousand years ago, we lived in a world of Gods and Goddesses. Today, we live in a world solely of Gods. Women in most cultures have been stripped of their spiritual power. The novel touches on questions of how and why this shift occurred…and on what lessons we might learn from it regarding our future.
Response – This is Dan’s central premise that goddess worship was repressed by Christianity and destroyed by a conspiracy of the Roman emperor Constantine. Since only the masculine side of the sacred is being expressed in world religions, the earth is horribly out of balance. Langdon’s mission in the book is to unwittingly restore the feminine sacred. In doing so, the earth will once again blossom into peace and love. The world of goddess worship contains orgiastic sex worship and shrine prostitution. This form of worship is seen as a beautiful expression of achieving the fusion of the masculine and feminine sacred.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
EmissaryX editor note: No one likes being a "heresy hunter". However, when God's people do not take care of their own, destructive influences destroy the witness of Christ. This posting is from the October 21st, 2005 "Fire in My Bones" column by J. Lee Grady of Charisma Online.
When Heresy Goes Unchecked
In the case of Carlton Pearson’s Universalist doctrines, we can’t soft-pedal. We must confront.
The apostle Paul wrote the Bible’s most eloquent words about Christian love. But when it came to the subject of heresy, he went into verbal-attack mode. He labeled those who were spreading false doctrines “dogs” (Phil. 3:2) and “liars” (1 Tim. 4:2), and he not only labeled heretics publicly but “handed them over to Satan” in his prayers (see 1 Tim. 1:20). Doesn’t sound much like the sloppy agape love we often model today.
Paul believed that if heresy goes unchecked it gnaws at the larger body of Christ and contaminates everyone. He warned his disciple Timothy that false teaching spreads “like gangrene” (2 Tim. 2:17). The King James Version says the words of false teachers “will eat as doth a canker.” The word “gangrene” can also be translated cancer.
Modern translation: False doctrine is malignant. Get the tumor out before it kills people.
What is troubling me these days is that many American church leaders (and I am talking about my fellow charismatics and Pentecostals) are not displaying the necessary backbone to label a heretic a heretic. We have become masters at soft-pedaling and inaction when the Lord requires us to confront.
Case in point: Bishop Carlton Pearson, who was raised in the nation’s largest Pentecostal denomination (the Church of God in Christ) and who once served as an evangelist with the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, began teaching what he calls “the gospel of inclusion” a few years ago. He has become a Universalist, claiming that people do not need Christian conversion in order to be saved by Christ.
Pearson’s deception has been widely reported.
In Charisma magazine we followed Pearson’s demise and announced that one body, the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops’ Congress, labeled him a heretic in March 2004. Since that time, Pearson convened a national conference about Universalist doctrine that featured Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, who does not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and has promoted his ideas in books such as Why Christianity Must Change or Die.
You would think that every charismatic leader in the United States would sever all ties to Pearson until he renounces his apostasy. But that is not the case.
Popular gospel singer John P. Kee, who pastors New Life Fellowship Center in Charlotte, N.C., appeared on the program at Pearson’s Inclusion 2005 conference, which was held in Pearson’s Higher Dimensions Family church in Tulsa, Okla., in June. Having Kee’s face on the program certainly gave the conference added credibility in the eyes of some Pentecostals.
Pearson was the featured speaker at a prominent charismatic church in Atlanta on Pentecost Sunday in May of this year. The church’s pastor, Bishop Earl Paulk Jr., put Pearson back in the same pulpit two weeks ago.
The church network that Paulk founded, the International Communion of Charismatic Churches (ICCC), still lists Pearson as a member in good standing. When I asked an ICCC leader last week why they did not remove him, he said the organization does not currently have any mechanism to remove members based on doctrinal or character issues.
Huh? Therein lies the root problem. In the loosey-goosey world of charismatic independence, we find it almost impossible to police our own. Everything is about “fellowship,” but we lack the teeth in our policies to ensure that we can properly discipline preachers who veer off into doctrinal error.
When I bring up the issue of Pearson’s apostasy I usually get a lot of glazed looks from people who don’t want to believe that a brother has fallen into deception. “Don’t be so hard on the guy,” is a typical response. “Maybe we don’t understand what he is teaching.”
I don’t need any more explanation. Pearson has a banner on his Web site that announces: “God Is Not A Christian.” And his church is hosting a combined service on Nov. 17 with a local Unitarian congregation in Tulsa.
We Christians are so nice we don’t know how to handle it when the Bible requires tough love. Let’s remember that when it comes to heresy, God does not require us to be nice. It’s time for all of our congregations, denominations and church networks to raise the bar and defend the faith from those who pervert it.
J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma and an award-winning journalist. He writes a column for Charisma Online twice a week.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Emissary ministries exists to equip bodies of believers to share their faith boldly within the strategic sphere that God has placed them.