Jesus Plus ?

Spent last night in Omaha as Jacob and I went to Rhett and Link show (FANtastic!).

Read Saturday’s “World Herald” newspaper, to include the “From the Pulpit” section.

One of the three religious contributors wrote this as part of his column…points if you recognize his denomination before I tell you what it is (bold emphasis added):

“Heaven will be an extension of the ideal home. There isn’t a work on the earth more important than parenthood – ideally pointing posterity back to our celestial ‘home.’ Parenthood is a pattern, an apprenticeship, intended to help us become more familiar with God our Father.

“Thankfully, as part of the plan of salvation, Heavenly Father sent His beloved Son Jesus Christ (KJV 1 John 4.9-10, John 3.:16) to help us overcome the sins and afflictions of this world, and to show us how to return back home to Him.”

So, according to this – yes – cultic teaching; Jesus is “part” of the “plan of salvation” to “help” us???

And that is known as salvation by works. Whether that “work” is doing good stuff, being baptized (in anything), speaking in tongues, not speaking in tongues, being pretrib, worshiping the King Jimmie…whatever…if you are subscribed to any teaching that says for salvation you need Jesus plus anything, you are in deep, deep trouble.

Just as the author of this piece, listed as President of the Millard Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is.

When they tell you they believe in the same Jesus as you, they are stone cold wrong.

Sure, they (LDS) may be and often are very nice people; they do lots of good stuff, but if they believe the teachings of their “church” they believe in salvation by works – that Christ’s perfect life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection was a nice start…but that we have to finish the deal.

 

 

Rocketman Rambling…

Rsight

I have always been a fan of Elton John’s music.elton-john-t

Thus I did watch “Rocketman.” I enjoyed the movie, loved the music, and felt the producer/writer handled both John’s slide into addiction and his homosexuality with dramatic expertise and tact.

The Russian powers-that-be apparently did not; as they heavily redacted the movie and any scenes dealing with John’s sexuality.

Elton then tweeted, “I am proud to live in a part of the world where our governments have evolved to recognise the universal human right to love whoever we want.”

I ask you to keep in mind that, yes, because I am a follower of Christ and strive to adhere to His Word, I am convinced homosexual behavior is sin (as is extramarital sex; premarital sex, sex-with-a-dog). I also grieve at the millions of dollars that were, in my mind, wasted fighting the legalization of same-sex marriage. I’ll never understand why missionaries suffered, others died of hunger, and so many other needs went unmet while professing Christians spent so much money fighting spiritual battles with man’s tools.

At any rate, I find a couple phrases in Elton’s statement informative.

“…our governments have evolved…” Interesting choice of words. Evolved from believing in truth to believing in “truth as you see it,” or, worse, “there is no truth.”

“….the universal human right to love whoever we want.”

Here it gets murky because too many American Christians confuse their kingdoms.

Sure, I pledge allegiance to the US, often gritting my teeth. But that is far below my allegiance to the King of Kings.

America is not now nor ever has been a “Christian” nation (whatever that is). Sure, we used to generally subscribe to “judeo-christian ethics” etc…but America has never had a Christian majority in governmental power (nor should it).

So “rights” get a bit murky. As a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, I have no rights. I am bought with a price. I am no longer my own.

This would be true were I Vietnamese, Russian, Chinese or any other category.

As an American citizen I recognize a core value is freedom. Freedom to worship as I please, if at all.

I am in the camp that concurs government can not legislate morality; primarily because “morality” is a fluid word defined differently by different people.

So I type again that Christians have no rights. Non-Christians have the “right” and “freedom” (under the hand of God’s sovereignty) choose sin (I know, I know, they are slaves of sin, held captive by sin, can’t help but sin {just as we Christians all were}).

And Scripture is clear (though the professing church isn’t) of the destiny of all who pursue their “rights.”

So I pray often for Elton. For Ellen. For abortion supporters and abortionists.

Yes….they are cosmic rebels against our holy God.

Just like I was…

Perhaps I Should Ebay It?

Just a couple months after I was paroled from Oregon State Prison I went to my very first Christian “conference.” It was called “Live Alive”, was probably Southern Baptist led, and was held in Fresno, California in April of 1977.

Little did I know that a few months later I’d fly to Kansas City to go to Bible school and begin an adventure that continues.

I remember nothing of the main speakers, nor the music (though I do remember handcuffing an unruly teen to a hotel bed…yeah, First Baptist, Newhall, Ca had me working as their volunteer youth guy (my “real” job was “Minister of Sanitation,” a.k.a. janitor. And, yeah, I was still on parole. Perhaps not the wisest decision for the church to make.

At any rate, I still have, and use, a booklet that was handed out by one of the break-out session teachers. He was, as I remember, still in seminary.

You may have heard of him:

(Note the handwritten permission on the bottom…and, yes, those are the sandals I am currently wearing…)

Picture Moves, But…

tragicI do NOT wish to start a discussion regarding immigration; and will delete any comments that so do.

This photo (and I am assuming it is legit) records a tragedy; and rightfully has gone viral.

Regardless of what did or did not lead to the death of these two, it is horrific.

And we shudder. Perhaps weep. Maybe get mad. Wonder what we can do about it! Prayerfully we pray…

But…

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25.46)

By God’s amazing grace I am in the latter half of that sobering sentence, uttered by the Lord Jesus.

Do I weep? Do I get furious? Do I wonder what more I can do? Do I really pray?

Who have I prayed for…by name…this day that they would come to Christ and salvation?

 

We Don’t Need “Great” Worship

It’s About True Worshipers, Not Great Worship

worshipPraise the Lord. Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people. 

Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp. For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory. Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. Psalm 149:1-5 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, on this magnificent weekend in June, we thank you for the privilege of worshiping you. May the truth of the gospel capture our minds; the beauty of Jesus fill our hearts; and the power of the Spirit energize our praise. Undo us and renew us, melt us remake us, free us and fill us, all for your glory.

As our Maker, you created us to live by the strength of your joy. As our King, your reign of grace frees us from our fears and gloom. As our Redeemer, it’s your great delight in us that liberates us to find our greatest delight in you. There is no God like you—abounding in compassion, generous in mercy, and overflowing with love.

We long to give you the worship of which you are worthy—not the worship that merely satisfies our agenda, theological tribe, or personal preferences. If our feet remain still, at least give us dancing hearts. If there’s no timbrel and harp to take up, at least cause our spirits to soar heavenward with unabated gladness.

Father, according to your Word, you are seeking true worshipers, not great worship (John 4:23)—a people, not a performance; engagement, not entertainment. Make us just such a people. As we exalt Jesus, and worship you in Spirit and truth, draw our hearts, neighbors, and the nations to yourself. So very Amen we pray, in the righteousness of faith, for the glory of Jesus.

Fabulous Week of Camp…WHY?

Saturday concluded week 1 at Midland Ministries’ SuperC Teen Camp. I once again had the privilege, responsibility, and joy of being the speaker.

I left camp a bit early yesterday so Jacob and I could drive 9 hours to my next camp (Machasay in Colorado). Spoke last night to the staff; again this morning; and tomorrow will speak for two days at their teen leadership camp.

But back to week 1.

As most know, I’ve been tasked with camp speaking for 41 summers, averaging 6 or 7 weeks each season.

So I’ve done a few…

This one was…well…dare I say it?…anointed.

If you’ve ever been to a teen camp; you know that it is usually midweek (at best) before the walls come down. Worship is stilted, interaction is almost forced, and there is a bit of wariness.

Monday evenings worship was rather typical…but starting Tuesday morning I and other staff members noticed a cohesiveness, a caring, a joy that is not typical.

I think one reason was that Jared Prindle, who used to be a youth pastor at a local church and now serves at a church near Saint Louis, brought over 30 campers and a few counselors.

They already knew each other, and yet were not clique-ish…they melded and molded with the other campers and I believe were a key factor in the week.

God’s Spirit convicted several and brought them to Christ and the gospel. Other commitments were made that prayerfully will stand the test of time.

Last Sunday night I preached at a maximum security prison located about 45 minutes from the camp. I’ve known many of the inmates who showed up for chapel for several years. I shared I’d be starting a week of camp the next morning; and they prayed for me and stated that they would gather together each morning at breakfast to pray.

Perhaps that had something to do with the week being a success? And many, many other supporters and friends of me and Midland were praying. Who knows how many grandmas, parents, and others were praying for “their” campers to be impacted by the Word of hope?

All I know is that I was blessed beyond belief to be a part of the week; and continue to pray that the campers remember, apply, and follow through with their “decisions.”

And I’d ask you to pray, also.

Here’s a pic of the group: week 1

And part of the fun of “Survivor”

survivor

And fun on the water:

blob

Memory is Weird

The other day, in a random discussion of hymns and spiritual songs, a memory popped into my aging grey matter.

It was a remembrance of a great concert by Whitney Phipps back at a Kansas City Youth For Christ Dinner Concert; probably between 1979 and 1982. He is a spectacular singer with a marvelous speaking voice; and I vaguely remember being very impressed.

But…suddenly…I had a vivid memory of Whitney telling what he felt was the story of the tune for “Amazing Grace.”

So I looked it up on youtube..and, gratefully, there it was.

No, this isn’t (I don’t think) a recording of the KCYFC event..but I’m sure it is close if not spot on…

Turn up your speakers and enjoy both the story and the song:

Why Pride?

Yes, I recognize some of you will be triggered just by the headline.

Too bad.

The dictionary defines “pride” in two primary ways:

  1. a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
  2. confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized, on the basis of their shared identity, culture, and experience.
    “the bridge was lit up in rainbow colors, symbolic of LGBT pride”

Okay, the first definition can’t apply, because what do LGBTetc have “from one’s own achievements.” They maintain that they were “born that way.” So what’s to achieve?

So I guess definition #2 is why this particular group of “socially marginalized” people celebrate Gay Pride Month?

By the way, where’d the GPM come from? Glad you asked:

Two presidents of the United States have officially declared a pride month. First, President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999 and 2000. Then from 2009 to 2016, each year he was in office, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month

So the United States has Veterans Day. We celebrate Martin Luther King Day.  We bang it up on Independence Day.

The LGBTetc folks get a month?

Thirty days to celebrate pride? Pride in what? Being what you (according to you) were made?

Perhaps it is pride in the fact that some of these folks can picket and sue businesses that, for religious reasons, can not in good conscience cater to their “needs”?

As in all things, the press focuses on the bad stuff that happens in the “Pride Parades.” Perhaps there has been a parade of gays somewhere that wasn’t at least in parts obscene, and the press didn’t cover it. Perhaps.

Of course I’ll hear the theory that it commemorates the triumph of the gay spirit over things like the Stonewall Riots.

Let me be clear…as a human, American, and an unashamed Christian; I declare it is totally wrong to harass or harm a person of the gay etc persuasion.

Let me upset some friends by typing I have no problem with homosexual marriage. It’s a piece of government paper…period. I still shake my head at how many people starved, how many missionaries had to return home, and more negative things that happened because Christians poured so much money and effort into fighting gay marriage. Why?

Doesn’t make any sense to me.

Just like Gay Pride Month makes no sense.

But…since we have it, I think I’ll start working on a Child of the Sixties, alcoholic, Nam Vet, Ex-convict Day. I don’t even need a month. A day will suffice.

Because, after all, when I got off the freedom bird at Travis Air Force Base on July 9, 1969 the first round-eyed  (oops, that’s probably a no-no) girl I saw – a gorgeous, stereotypical blonde California chick (hey, might as well go for it) was screaming at me, “How many babies did you kill in Vietnam?”

So my feelings were hurt. My identity was falsely challenged. I didn’t feel safe.

So aren’t I a victim too?

Or…maybe…I should just get over it?

Summer Camp –

youth camp

I’m amazed…

Amazed I’m in the family of God, redeemed, forgiven, justified…

Amazed I get to spend time bragging on Jesus to teens…over four years of my life have been spent speaking at youth camps over the last four decades…

Camp is an amazing thing. Monday I’ll begin the first of 7 weeks of camp preaching for 2019 (5 teen, two family).

The crucial ingredient of an effective Christian camp is good, committed counselors. The best speaker with apathetic counselors makes for a horrendous camp;  an okay speaker with great counselors will work well.

Good food, good discipline, and good acoustics are key ingredients. If a worship band is used…they should be quality and interested in facilitating worship; not putting on a show.

Notice I’ve not listed “programming” yet?

Doesn’t matter what programming you have…if you don’t have a good (meaning Bible-based) speaker, good counselors, and the other things listed it doesn’t matter what kind of programming you have…

I also think camp can be a dangerous thing; if everyone is pushing for “decisions” rather than asking the Spirit of God to work in His way and His timing. I am not against altar calls; I am against “easy” altar calls. Why?

I read the Bible. And I notice that Jesus always made it easier to say “no” than “yes.”

Again…I am not diametrically opposed to “invitations,” as long as the invitee is the Spirit and not someone doing “business as usual”.

I also am leery of the “heads bowed, eyes closed” approach. I “get” it…I just can’t imagine Paul, or Peter…or Jesus…doing such a thing.

I want and I believe the Lord wants young (and old) people to stand out and stand up for Jesus and the Gospel…so why “start” them in secret??? “No one is looking around, just raise your hand if…” Please understand – I am not hammering the motives of anyone who gives invitations like this; I just question the methodology.

All too often, especially in camp situations, students are exhausted, emotionally drained, and a well-meaning but careless speaker can provoke “decisions” born of peer pressure, tiredness, and emotion rather than birthed by conviction and drawing of the Spirit of God.

So I ask prayer that I’d be bold in preaching, clear in communication, discerning in one-on-one counsel…and that the Wind of the Spirit would be pleased to change us.

Do you agree, disagree, or not understand my observations of camp ministry? I ask you to make the time to “comment” so we can, together, learn from each other.

Actions (to include forgiven actions) Have Consequences

I’m ready a great book that I will review later.war story

Just read a line that is so important for Christians to understand.

Yes, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

Yes, the only unforgiveable sin is unbelief.

But if you get pregnant out of marriage; you can ask forgiveness; and you’ll receive it…but you will still be pregnant.

You can run with the wrong crowd, be at the wrong place, and get arrested. You can ask forgiveness, and you receive it. But you may still have a criminal record.

The line from the book:

“Love and forgiveness do not, however, suspend consequences.”