Monthly Archives: November 2015

Black Sunday?

This article was originally published 11/21/12. Thought it might be a good reminder this holiday season…

Wow! I found the best deal ever and I want to share it with everyone I know. Forget about “Black Friday!” Forget about “Cyber Monday!” The REAL deal is something most people haven’t figured out yet. I am about to give you the best savings tip ever! I promise you will not find a deal this good at any retailer. Just read a bit further to find out about this amazing deal!

We’ve all heard about Black Friday. It is a day that retailers look forward to all year. It has the name Black Friday” because, traditionally, this is the day that many retailers go from being “in the red” (an accounting way of showing that expenses exceed revenue) to being “in the black” (revenue exceeds expenses). Black Friday, and the relatively new Cyber Monday (internet sales), are generally the most profitable days of the year for many retailers. So why would you shop on a day that literally gets its name from the fact that companies are getting their greatest profit from YOU?

I HAVE A BETTER IDEA. Why not go somewhere that YOU profit from the expense of someone else! You see, the best deal isn’t Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but something we might call “Black Sunday.” About 2,000 years ago, Jesus went to the cross on our behalf. Corporate humanity was in debt for our sins. Rather than offering cheap deals, Jesus offered the most costly expense imaginable, His blood. And if that were the end of the story, then expenses would still exceed revenue and we would still be “in the red.”

But Sunday came, and with it, the greatest profit ever…the risen savior! Because of “Black Sunday,” we now benefit from His profit – salvation. That’s right. We get the profit, not some corporation! You don’t have to camp out all night or wait in line this Thursday. Christ rose on Sunday, and you can receive His gift TODAY! If you want to receive His “profit,” turn away from a life of sin, confess Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sin. Then begin attending a bible believing, NT church where you can learn more about walking in the light! What a deal! A true savings!

Don’t Be Fooled: Politico-Religious God Speak is NOT The Gospel

bible-american-flagWow…he mentioned God, the Bible, and America! He must be the faith candidate. Oh, wait so did all the other candidates. Is her faith better than his? Does all that political, religious jargon mean anything? Can anyone figure out what is going on here???

Are you a person of faith? Most are. According to a new Barna poll, despite religious affiliation going down slightly, almost 90% of Americans still believe in God. So it is only natural that we listen carefully to what candidates say when it comes to their faith. But sorting through all the “spin” can make you dizzy.

And the law of the land seems to be: don’t look at the particulars of my religion or faith, but hear me when I say “faith-words.” It becomes increasingly difficult to know where candidates actually stand. “Why?” Because the new spin is a benign appearing, but ultimately malignant, gospel that I call “politico-religion.”

Politico-religion, as I would define it, is “a religion that proclaims a faith in God and a desire for Him to bless us, yet absolves us of meeting those distinguishing requirements by which He measures our faith and determines His blessings.” In other words, as a country, we like “God-talk,” that is devoid of specifics regarding God’s Word. And therein lies the problem.

Presidential candidates jockey to be the “faith candidate,” and we can’t blame them. It would be political suicide to do otherwise. Any Presidential candidate, who has any chance of being elected, has to proclaim faith in God and a trust that God will continue to bless America. But politico-religion is the embarrassingly ugly cousin of the true gospel.

The gospel doesn’t begin or end at “God bless America.”

Watering down the gospel is never God-pleasing Christianity. There is no such thing as a Christian faith that absolves us of our Christian lives. Yet we continuously make exceptions and excuses in order to support a candidate who sounds “faithy.”

“What are we supposed to do,” you ask? “These are the choices we have. And though, not perfect, shouldn’t we vote for a candidate who is “closer” to our ideology?”

Fine. Just don’t believe that you are furthering His Kingdom when you promote a candidate who preaches a gospel that is clearly different from His. If you are going to invoke God, you might want to consider what God’s Word says.

For example, Hillary Clinton’s speeches that encourage people to live up to their “God-given potential,” followed by a litany of God-denounced activities, would be laughable if it weren’t so sad. One simply cannot “use” God on the broad strokes and chuck Him when it is time for the details.

Remember Mitt Romney? Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormon beliefs include: the Book of Mormon is to be believed over the Bible; dark skin is Cain’s curse from God; Satan and Jesus are brothers; Joseph Smith is responsible for a revelation leading to salvation; men can become angels; men can become gods; Jesus is the product of God and a goddess, …need I go on?

Yet 80% of evangelicals liked the faith-talk Romney used and he received the “faith vote.” Was it ok to support Romney if you believed him to be the more qualified candidate? Sure. Just don’t think that voting for a Mormon promotes the gospel. Mormons are not, what Joel Osteen called, “brothers in Christ.” The idea is absurd!

Thomas Kidd, professor of history and religion at Baylor University in Texas, puts the current race between Donald Trump and Ben Carson in similar terms:

“…a lot of evangelicals would…rather have a practicing Adventist than a nominal Presbyterian who doesn’t seem to have basic theological understanding about Christianity.”

Yet 7th Day Adventism denies basic tenants of Christianity. They reject the immortality of the soul; they believe there is no hell or personal responsibility for sin (sins will be placed on Satan); they think Ellen White was a prophet with new revelation from God, they insist worship must be done on Saturday, and they believe Jesus is the angel Michael. Yet Ben Carson’s support as the “faith candidate” grows.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump claimed that his faith, as a Presbyterian, is “middle of the road” and is safer than Carson’s. He failed to mention that it is the PC-USA wing of the denomination, known for ultra-liberal stances (denying inerrancy of the Bible, performing same-sex marriages, belief that homosexuality is not a sin, etc). In fact, where he “attends” occasionally is a different denomination altogether, and they wrote a letter saying he is not a member. Is that what the gospel is all about?

So…at the end of the day, do politico-religious politicians even care what God’s position is? I can’t say, but it doesn’t appear so. Those who worship at that altar seem interested in using enough “God speak” to get evangelical votes while not losing irreligious constituents or committing themselves to any actual Biblical positions.

Our job is not to rewrite, water down, or change the true gospel. And, if you want to support a candidate, just say you like something about them or their party. But let’s quit using “God-speak” as an excuse. Because, frankly, it is embarrassing.

Every time a Christian says they support a politico-religious candidate because of their “Christianity,” the true gospel of Christ’s  is tarnished and the effectiveness of the church is damaged. Far too many politico-religious, God-speak, politicians have been elected on that banner and then disgrace the name of God once elected.

And if you REALLY want a CHRISTIAN to be elected to an office, then demand better. It is your right as an American to promote candidates who really do profess the Bible and the true gospel. Encourage believers to get involved in politics if you want Christian politicians. But be wary of equating faith-speak and the gospel, because they are not necessarily the same…at all.

As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord, no matter who gets elected. We will continue to be proponents for God and His gospel. And we will pray that our leaders will turn to God while there is a today left in which to turn. And we pray that God will, in deed, bless America…with a heart to do His will.

Why Am I A ‘Red Cup’ Guy?

red cupSo I’ve seen the video about why we should care about the color of a Starbucks cup. And I’ve read responses by Christians telling the world that most of us don’t care what color it is. But I’m throwing my hat in the ring with the Red Cup…all the way.

You see, while the rest of social media argues over whether or not real Christians should care about the color of a coffee cup (spoiler alert: they shouldn’t and most don’t), I want to use this as an opportunity to refocus our attention on the Red Cup that matters. After all, there is a Red Cup that is at the heart of Christianity. In fact, it might surprise you, but I say the Red Cup is what Christianity is all about!

The Red Cup that matters isn’t a coffee cup, or some “Holy Grail,” or cup that Knights of the Round Table wanted. Rather The Cup is a metaphor, and it happens to be the metaphor that Jesus wants to be the focus of His followers.

Jesus spoke of cups in several ways. He used a cup of water to show the generosity He expects of God’s people (Matthew 10:42). Drinking of His cup meant sharing in His suffering and death (Matthew 20:22; Luke 22:42). And, most importantly, He used a cup to represent His New Covenant in blood (1 Corinthians 11:25).

Paul quoted Jesus’ words in 1 Corinthians 11:25, showing that the cup Jesus is  far more important than coffee. Jesus instituted the New Covenant, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” Amen.

Both believers and non-believers are trying to make sense of “Cup-gate.” If you are a non-believer and have been duped into thinking that Christians are ‘up in arms’ about coffee cups, don’t believe it. If you are a Christian and you have been duped into thinking that you were supposed to care about the color of a coffee cup, let’s refocus our thinking, please.

Christians win nothing by engaging in what Paul called, “foolish arguments” (2 Timothy 2:23). Starbucks wins free press, and Pollsters win a new measurement for the elections (America divided into “Red Cup” voters and “Decorated Cup” voters). But these arguments, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” are huge distractions from the REAL cup…the only one that matters.

My guess is that this will all blow over pretty soon. Someone will undoubtedly come up with a clever Meghan Trainer tune to cap off the experience. But what will we have taught the world about the real cup of Christ? Will we teach others about the reason that we gather together on Sundays? Will we remember Jesus’ sacrifice until the day of His return? Give it some thought… (Fade off to tune: Yeah, it’s pretty clear; it ain’t no Christmas cup. But you can drink it, drink it; yeah, you can slurp it up. It’s got that caffeine and caramel I want,…

The Counterfactual Condition

counterfactual condition, mets

Mets fans are disappointed. That’s to be expected; losing the World Series is tough. But as fans analyze the loss, we actually learn something far greater than just a baseball score. It is called the “counterfactual condition.”

What is the counterfactual condition? It is a principle that states that “if-only” a single decision had been made, contrary to the one that was in fact made, then the outcome would have been different. So, for example, “if” Terry Collins had put Jeurys Familia, in the game, instead of leaving Matt Harvey in, then the Mets would have won.

But we will never know what would have happened if a different decision was made. In 1748, David Hume expressed reverse causality as, “if the first object had not been, the second never would have existed.” Nelson Goodman coined the phrase “counterfactual condition” in 1947 for what the “contrary-to-fact” condition. A World Series has only two possible outcomes, but millions of ways to get there. All we can do is guess as to what would have happened otherwise.

And we love to guess at “what ifs?” If he had thrown 1 more strike, if they had hit one more run, if they had eaten fewer eggs that morning…etc. But the truth is, that there is no way of knowing the outcome from the counterfactual conditions. Except when it comes to scripture – another reason the Bible is so unique.

The Bible records for us what happened in reality. It tells us the true condition of man. But it also records for us what would have happened “if” Jesus had not risen on the 3rd day.

In 1 Corinthians 15:13-19, Paul writes, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

In other words, the counterfactual condition of mankind is a disaster. There is no hope. You die in your sin. There is no salvation. There is no afterlife. Thankfully, Paul continues in verse 20: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead…!”

There is hope! There is salvation! This life is not all there is! And the factual condition is eternal life with God because of Christ’s saving work. Are you still hoping for “ifs” and “buts” or are you enjoying Christ’s glory today?