Aug 292016
 

thinking-pic1. I watched part of the Harvest Crusade Friday night and won’t watch it again…at least for any sort of spiritual edification. The last couple of times I’ve watched Greg Laurie he has incorporated speaking very badly of his mother into his “testimony”.

Very badly.

 

He notes that she was married multiple times and had many boyfriends in between the weddings.

There is something quite unsettling about a man in his sixties basically calling his mother a whore in front of tens of thousands of people.

I wonder how many times she has heard this ‘testimony” and if the Gospel has a hollow ring when she does…

2. The whole “testimony” feature is a steaming crock of stuff in my opinion,and way out of date with the current culture. What people in their fifties and sixties considered bad behavior back in the day is considered much less so today. Thus, when old guys get up and talk about smoking weed and having sex it doesn’t have any shock value unless you’re preaching to people older than you. It also makes it seem as if the Gospel is only for really bad folks…which denies the reality of sin in “good” ones. In any case, it makes the Gospel about what you did, not what Jesus has done.

3. Pastors on Facebook talk about the next service like it’s the next episode of a reality tv show… it must be exhausting to come up with something new every week.

4. A friends daughter posted a picture from college of her and her new dorm mate. I immediately noted that said roommate was a guy wearing makeup. He’s ‘transitioning”. My generation will probably have to die off before this cultural “transition” will be complete. It’s going to take a massive work of social reengineering to train people to deny the obvious. Of course, once you do, reality becomes whatever a person chooses…or is told to choose. This is not a simple matter…nor is it cruel or bigoted to wrestle with it.

5. The Gospel contains no promise of a life of pleasant circumstances…

6. Your taste in music doesn’t reflect on your spirituality…unless you like rap, in which case you’re going to split hell wide open. 🙂

7. The imagery of the book of the Revelation giggles at the doctrine of perspicuity…

8. The culture no longer has a working definition or understanding of sin…which is why they are no longer compelled by the prospect of a Savior…

9. I have the same problem as noted in #4 with those who deny that there is an ideological arm of Islam that is as evil as anything the world has ever encountered. You have to identify a problem before you can fix it. I would not be the least bit offended if a group of rogue Calvinists were identified as evil if they were running about the globe removing peoples heads with copies of the Institutes…

10. There was much praise lifted heavenward here in the valley yesterday as a woman was found alive and well after being missing for a couple of days. I join in that praise while noting that our community didn’t just stay home and pray…it turned out en masse to join search parties and hunt until we found her. That’s how most miracles happen…

 

  66 Responses to “Things I Think”

  1. I didn’t watch the crusade but did see what seemed to be masses of people responding to Greg’s invitation to faith. I realize a good number of those are the workers but I have to believe Greg preached the Gospel and that many who came forward are genuine converts.

    That’s my hope and I pray they get plugged into solid churches.

  2. Erunner,

    I understand that evangelicalism believes that the ends (conversions) justify any means.
    We put great value on the worth of one soul, as we should.

    In the eyes of many, that puts evangelism and evangelists beyond criticism.

    Call me a rebel…

  3. #2 – my testimony is similar in format to theirs – but I tell the truth

    In my before Jesus days, I was a man with a short temper. Since Jesus saved me, I am still a man with a short temper. It is a good thing Jesus saved me. End of testimony.

  4. MLD,

    Amen!
    My sanctification is a result of age and lack of opportunity…

  5. Brilliant!!!

  6. Michael,
    “The imagery of the book of the Revelation giggles at the doctrine of perspicuity…”

    How can you say this? 😉 – even with all of the imagery, the B of R is crystal clear – a bunch of bad stuff is always happening on earth and we have several glimpses into heaven where all things are under control.

    This has always been the clear meaning of the B of R until you know who came along.

  7. Happy belated birthday, Bob…grateful for you!

  8. Wish I had more time to comment.

  9. When I used to be called upon to give my testimony, I always exaggerated the bad things I did to show a genuine before and after. Fact is, many of the things I have done as a Christian are far worse than anything I ever did before.

  10. MLD,

    I taught on Chapters 4-5 last night…and I’m old enough now that I didn’t worry about identifying everything and just rejoiced over the message that God is on the throne and in control.
    Makes you want to shout… 🙂

  11. It is unseemly to speak badly of one’s parents in public. And that goes for everyone.

  12. Had an interesting interaction this weekend. A friend was talking to a local CC pastor, and mentioned having invited me to some event they were hosting. Turns out the guy actually already knew who I was (not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing) and had read my blog in the past. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that the connection is here, so thanks again for providing a great forum for conversation here and showing support for those in this e-community.

  13. Xenia,

    I didn’t have to exaggerate…but I always refused that nonsense because it was obvious to me that people were making them up as they went.

    I never bought the narrative that I was bad then and I’m good now…I’m still bad, but redeemed.

  14. Dallas,

    It’s my honor and pleasure to do so…

  15. Thank you Michael! My great compliment was being told that I don’t look a day over 90😎.

  16. Revelation is difficult to understand only if one insists in assigning specific, literal, current-event meanings to everything. You will go nuts trying to sort everything out if you take everything in a literalist way it was never intended to be taken.

  17. Bob,

    Then you’re doing well! 🙂

  18. Xenia @ 16… I told the church last night that those two chapters were really the heart of the book and we should proceed to something else now… 🙂

  19. “Erunner,

    I understand that evangelicalism believes that the ends (conversions) justify any means.
    We put great value on the worth of one soul, as we should.

    In the eyes of many, that puts evangelism and evangelists beyond criticism.

    Call me a rebel…”

    I have concluded I am always going to use the word Christian in identifying myself.

    Truth be told is that I am uncomfortable with parts of the crusades. But Like Paul I rejoice that Christ is preached. I’ve seen too many examples where a testimony can put more light on the person than the grace and mercy of God.

    My deepest desire is to see people come to the cross and to continue on in their walk as God works in and through them. I’ve seen too many walk away or drift away. That saddens me.

    The church seems at times to be being neutered and schisms abound as we tear one another down.

    I yearn for unity but never a unity that includes compromise. So I seek to grown personally and to do what I can to have an impact on others realizing it’s only God in me that will see anything according to His will done.

  20. I was “saved” when I was 12 so I didn’t have much to say. I am not sure I was actually saved at that time, now that I think back on my life. Who knows. God knows. I do know that my entrance into the Orthodox Church by chrismation had a profound “before” and “after” effect on me. But as you know, we see salvation as a journey towards union with God more than a done deal that happened when one said the prayer. But as for my sins, I need to repent of them and this would include apologizing and making amends where possible, forgiving everyone, and trying to avoid these sins in the future, with God’s help. I see no value in telling my sins to the world as a testimony, especially since other people are usually implicated. My sins are for the ears of God, my confessor, and whoever I need to apologize to (if appropriate).

    A much beloved monastic on the west coast, Fr. Seraphim Rose, lived a very hedonistic life before he became a Christian. We only know about this because of the stories told by other people. When asked about his past he would just say it was an unfit topic for conversation and he was walking with Jesus now.

  21. “My sins are for the ears of God, my confessor, and whoever I need to apologize to (if appropriate).”

    I’ll say the amen…

  22. Erunner,

    You aspire to good and godly things…

  23. This is a very good list of observations. #1 is most troubling. Greg Laurie is a megalomaniac – and a celebrity-junkie. He featured Mel Gibson last night – a renegade Catholic and Jew-hater whose lifestyle is that of an alley-cat — who can forget those tapes of his degrading his girlfriend for not performing for him on command.

  24. Ms. ODM,

    I just saw that video…and what a bizarre things it was.

  25. Xenia made me google Seraphim Rose. Wow, what an interesting character. Shame he died so young.

    Here are a few quote I like:

    “Atheism, true ‘existential’ atheism burning with hatred of a seemingly unjust or unmerciful God, is a spiritual state; it is a real attempt to grapple with the true God.… Nietzsche, in calling himself Antichrist, proved thereby his intense hunger for Christ.”

    ― From: Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age “

    ” Don’t criticize or judge other people—regard everyone else as an angel, justify their mistakes and weaknesses, and condemn only yourself as the worst sinner. This is step one in any kind of spiritual life.”

  26. “6. Your taste in music doesn’t reflect on your spirituality…unless you like rap, in which case you’re going to split hell wide open. 🙂”

    Michael, this made me chuckle – my oldest child has been instrumental in acquainting me with some of the better side of it – there is some artistry to it, in my opinion. It’s unfortunate that so much of that particular style is used for vulgarity.
    Not talking about the bulk of mainstream and/or popular rap. You definitely have to hunt around to find any worth listening to .

  27. To set the record straight: Greg’s mother died not long after giving her life to Jesus. Her testimony is a matter of record and the whole story is included in at least 2 of Greg’s books. Hate that he had Mel Gibson (didn’t know it as I didn’t watch) but he and his mom were quite open about her life before being saved.

  28. fil,

    Thanks… it’s never crossed my mind to read a Greg Laurie book… 🙂
    I still don’t like it…don’t think it reflects the Gospel at all to keep bringing up past sin.

  29. Owen,

    Trey listens to it…I am not pleased. 🙂

  30. Michael,

    I understand your feeling on that one. It took me some time.

    What helped was the fact that my daughter doesn’t listen to pretty much any of the popular stuff, she’s heavily into KPOP (Korean pop music.) She wants to be an ESL teacher someday, she’s been learning the language, etc…. The Korean culture (this will seem obvious) is WAAY different – the music she has shared with me is very tame in content compared to Western offerings of pop, rap, etc….
    They are actually very respectful. I find it refreshing.

  31. Michael and Owen (re item 6)…I gave up listening to rap music around 1990 or so when the cop killer rappers took over. Rap in the 80s was fun and inventive, so to speak. Yeah, I know you probably spit your coffee out all over the computer on that one…! Hehehe. Anyways, loved the music conversation we had last week Michael!

  32. Dan,

    I hear you…I ran a club back in the eighties and quit because of the change in lyrics…couldn’t sell that crap and sleep.

  33. Michael and Dan…

    I hear you with the lyrics….. and it’s not just the rap, either. When my oldest went into junior high, and started listening to what all her peers like, I discovered (I know, kinda late) that the value of the content had dropped dramatically – in the rock, the pop as well. Some of the radio hits that I heard young girls singing along with made me cringe…..” do we actually want this crap getting into our girls’ heads?? Really??”

  34. We booked a couple of well known rappers into the club…that was the straw that broke the camels back.
    The girls were living out the lyrics and I knew there would be a special place in hell for me if I promoted the stuff any more.

  35. Listen to Beautiful Eulogy… Hip hop sermons basically put to cool beats and collage musical motifs…

    What role does sanctification play if we are all saying we still are bad, short tempered, etc…

  36. Hi, Steve from Canada. I’m Owen from Canada. 🙂

    What part of Canada?

  37. Outside Vancouver an hour, but just drove across Canada to Nova Scotia and back this summer with our kids and my parents to see where my dad preached when I was a little kid… Family history!

  38. Steve from Canada,
    “What role does sanctification play if we are all saying we still are bad, short tempered, etc…”

    Since I made the comment, I will ask you this. Are you objecting to still admitting that we continue in many of the old sins (as if we are making a negative confession)or are you saying that all of the old sins should be gone?

    Not a challenge, but have you given up your sin? If not then I ask “”What role does sanctification play…?”

    I am with Michael – most sins that I have given up are because I am too old, too tired and lack the opportunity.

  39. No, we should be honest about our failures, but I don’t think it’s a binary, as in either holiness or the same… Isn’t sanctification about incremental progress brought about by the Holy Spirit?

    I am just pushing back a bit as I come across a lot of Christians who don’t seem to wrestle with personal holiness (e.g. The Bad Christian podcast, etc.)

  40. Working with the preterist understanding of Revelation and find it more and more interesting. To see the book as a prophecy of God’s termination of the Moses Covenant releases us from any necessity of a religious view of Israel today. Israel’s judgment for breaking covenant vindicates God’s warnings. The emergence of a people/temple as the means of God’s covenant inclusion of all peoples is consistent with the faith we preach. It eliminates once and for all any basis of parsing our ‘ongoing relationship’ to Torah. It simply means that God has done his work in and through Israel for the world and judged sin in Israel and in the world by means of Messiah.

  41. BD,

    Don’t you mean “partial” preterist?

    I thought full preterists denied the Second Coming…

  42. Yes, the full preterists are increasingly universalists and nitwits

  43. Love your #8 Michael….. “The culture no longer has a working definition or understanding of sin…which is why they are no longer compelled by the prospect of a Savior…”

    Oddly enough this statement seems to represent many inside the church, just as much as it does those who are outside the church these days….

    What is the biblical/working definition of sin we should be using?

  44. Goose,

    I’m with Packer (as usual) on this…

    “Scripture diagnoses sin as a universal deformity of human nature, found at every point in every person (1 Kings 8:46; Rom. 3:9-23; 7:18; 1 John 1:8-10). Both Testaments have names for it that display its ethical character as rebellion against God’s rule, missing the mark God set us to aim at, transgressing God’s law, disobeying God’s directives, offending God’s purity by defiling oneself, and incurring guilt before God the Judge. This moral deformity is dynamic: sin stands revealed as an energy of irrational, negative, and rebellious reaction to God’s call and command, a spirit of fighting God in order to play God. The root of sin is pride and enmity against God, the spirit seen in Adam’s first transgression; and sinful acts always have behind them thoughts, motives, and desires that one way or another express the willful opposition of the fallen heart to God’s claims on our lives.”

    “Sin may be comprehensively defined as lack of conformity to the law of God in act, habit, attitude, outlook, disposition, motivation, and mode of existence. Scriptures that illustrate different aspects of sin include Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 12:30-37; Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:18-3:20; 7:7-25; 8:5-8; 14:23 (Luther said that Paul wrote Romans to “magnify sin”); Galatians 5:16-21; Ephesians 2:1-3; 4:17-19; Hebrews 3:12; James 2:10-11; 1 John 3:4; 5:17. Flesh in Paul usually means a human being driven by sinful desire; the niv renders these instances of the word as “sinful nature.” The particular faults and vices (i.e., forms and expression of sin) that Scripture detects and denounces are too numerous to list here.”

  45. Okay, cool. But that is a monstrous definition/analysis and is too big to share with someone that knows nothing of God, sin, and their subsequent need of a Savior.

    What should our condensed biblical/working definition of sin be? What should we share with someone in a couple of sentences?

  46. Goose,

    I’ve never had a serious conversation that only lasted a couple of sentences.
    Vast amounts of damage have been done by those who think the salvation narrative lends itself to brevity…

  47. People know what sin is.
    What they need to know is what Grace is.

  48. Goose!! where ya been?

  49. @37

    I always wanted to do that, but things turned out differently for me. The Lord kinda made it up to me though. I was able to see parts of the Prairie Provinces from the air. On the return trip we broke out of cloud-cover on the west Coast of Greenland and had clear weather all the way until crossing the Coast Range a few miles North of Vancouver. It was winter and the air was very cold, with low humidity. I could see for hundreds of miles. It was a very strange jet stream.

    Was able to see the Western Sahara as well looking East on the same trip.

  50. Hey MLD! Just been working like a dog….

  51. My Canada story…never driven across the nation, but a friend and I drove part of the route along Lake Superior’s Canada shoreline from Grand Portage, MN to Marathon, Ontario. VERY beautiful country. Very rugged and wild! Great scenery!

  52. Steve from Canada,
    To play off Michael for a minute – I don’t think we have a working definition of sanctification. Is it just “cleaning up your act?”

    The say that 95% of Christians have never led anyone to Christ (that could be defined many ways). But I am sure that 95% of Christians have cleaned up their personal life. My question is, if you have notled someone to Christ or are not out actively living you vocation by giving to your neighbor – do you have any sanctification?

    We usually identify someone who has stoped burping in public as working on their sanctification. Is that what it is. They are at church 4 times a week but never do anything outside of the church. I don’t know about you but I see no sanctification.

    Most people look at termination of the bad things in your personal life as a sign of sanctification. I look only to what people do outwardly towards others to measure.

  53. Goose – you need to hang here more and blow off some steam – you and I used to go around pretty good 🙂

  54. I stopped thinking about sanctification when I wasn’t cured of Jerry Lee and discovered Bowden.
    I like MLD’s working definition…

  55. #3 Bravo!

  56. London’s #47 for the win…

  57. I don’t know if it was this crusade but Mel Gibson was interviewed at one of them. Glad some one has crossed lines to befriend him but I wonder what the purpose of the interview was

  58. Sorry for the drive by, but last Sunday I heard something I have never heard in church before: a message on spiritual abuse. My pastor used Matthew 23 as a proof text where Jesus gives a strong rebuke to the Pharisees. Available online here.

  59. Steve from Canada….

    I am still determined that at some point I will go east, I live on Vancouver Island. Love it here, but the furthest east I’ve been is Saskatoon…..

    That must have been quite a trip!

  60. MLD @ #52…..

    You summed up what I was thinking, the ‘known by the fruit” idea.

    Worrying about sanctificaion is like the fruit worrying about it’s size, colour, etc…. when the main thing is to just stay connected to the vine. It can’t help but grow right when it’s connected.

  61. Your number 1 reminds me of a funeral I recently attended. It was for a lovely, very elderly woman who I was not close friends with but who had always been very kind and nice toward me and my family. One of her sons stood up to give his eulogy; he was clearly quite broken up about her death and used his time to talk to thank his mother for everything she had done for him when she was alive. Another son used his eulogy as an opportunity to “evangelize”, and he did so by talking about various theological disagreements he and his mother had had. He pointed out several ways in which she had “wrong” views of God and the Bible and then he proclaimed what the “right” view was. I don’t know about anybody else at the funeral, but I was pretty taken aback. I can’t imagine how someone in their right mind would think that such a “eulogy” would actually cause people to want to join your specific sect of Christianity; I can’t imagine that most people in the audience would want to turn into someone who would badmouth their own mother at her funeral. The difference between the two sons and their reaction to her death struck me as very stark–one who was focused on his mother and one who was focused on how he could use his mother to further his own odd ends. It was sad.

  62. People do indeed know what Sin is
    and they do indeed need to know Grace
    but Michael is correct in that people lack a Sense of Sin
    It does not pierce our hearts in ways that drive us to Grace
    It is a very big matter

  63. The Apostle Paul gave in testimony to unbelievers that one of his sins before his salvation was arranging the arrest and execution of Christians.

    When Christ saved Paul, Paul never did that anymore.

    Paul also wrote, at the end of his life, “Christ came to save sinners of whom I am chief”

    not “was”…but “am”…present tense.

    I will not elaborate here, nor do I make it a point to elaborate in messages or any formal testimony from the pulpit, the extent of my depravity and debauchery before Christ – and yes, in things that repulse me and which Christ delivered me on the spot. (And since I got saved at 25, and was doing such things right before I was saved, it was not because I just got too old and tired)

    It was the power of God.

    So, going back to Paul, there is a place to give glory for what the Lord has delivered you from, if in fact He has, but at the same time one must always recognize the depth of sin that remains while we are in these old tents.

    Not a big fan of the random pastor who repeatedly brags about all the drugs he took, or the women he bedded, or the crimes he committed – seemingly for no purpose (and no shame) except to reminisce about the old days….

  64. Mother bashing, Mel Gibson, and pre-organized people “going forward” to make it look popular. Not to mention that I personally disagree with Greg Laurie’s lordship salvation bent, that I believe pollutes the true Gospel. Yeah, I’m glad I got away from all that stuff. Far more people get saved by the simple preaching of John 6:47, than all the “crusades” in the world.

  65. BD @ 62

    Grace means nothing to the unbeliever because there is no true understanding (or belief on their part) of what a life of sin without repentance/faith in Messiah will ultimately lead to for them eternally.

  66. Sin is a black and white issue, yet even those inside the so called Church struggle to understand it….

    The Bible clearly defines sin as lawlessness – 1 John 3:4

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