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Archive for October, 2011

Should Christians participate in Halloween?

As a Christian, I do not think dressing up and wearing things that glorify death, murder, violence, the occult and the magical is a thing that glorifies God.

As a Marine who have seen death and gore in Iraq, I’m sometimes more shock at people wanting to glorify such gory violence and think it is neat.

However, I think someone knocks on your door, that’s a God-given opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus–that we are sinners, that Jesus died for those sins of those who would trust in Jesus as LORD and SAVIOR, that this is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone–whether they are Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons and people selling you something.

Thus, I believe Halloween is a great time to give out candies–and the Gospel by giving them gospel tracts.

This is a great opportunity to share the Gospel!  This is a picture of what we are doing:

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Here are the round ups of links from October 21st onwards that I thought were worthwhile to read.

1.) Is Atheism a Worldview? By Matt Slick.  This essay discuss whether or not Atheism is a worldview.

2.) Dawkins is Disgusted By James Andersen.  A response to Dawkins’ refusal to debate William Lane Craig.

3.) Odd Atheist Argument by Paul Manata.

4.) Christian Philosophy and Presuppositions Refute of Buddhism.  An article promoting a book on this topic by Mike Robinson.

 

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I.          INTRODUCTION

Joel Osteen perhaps has the biggest church in America today, with more than 30,000 visitors according to an October 3, 2005 edition of US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT.  His best selling books, televised messages and expanding popularity have caught the attention and worries from certain Evangelical Christian watch group of watering down the Christian gospel and even preaching another gospel altogether.  With Joel Osteen’s word from a short interview that was from the same edition of US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, we will compare it straight and directly from the Word of God.  May the Word of God be the final authority of Joel Osteen’s ministry.

II.         JOEL OSTEEN’S WORD & GOD’S WORD

1.)    “There’s so much negativity pulling people down that I think they respond when you say, ‘You know what: God’s not mad at you; he’s on your side, he’s got a good plan for your life, and when we obey what he wants us to do, we’re going to prosper.’

QUESTION: Is God mad at sinners?

GOD’S WORD: “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” (Nahum 1:3a)

2.)    “I’m not necessarily explaining deep, theological questions and doctrine and stuff like that.”

QUESTION: Should we teach doctrine?

GOD’S WORD: “Watch your life and doctrine closely.  Persevere in them because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1Timothy 4:16)

3.)    “People are used to [churches] condemning people to make them feel bad so that they’ll repent, so they’ll know that they’re sinners, but I think there’s a different approach.”

QUESTION: Is there a different approach besides repentance?

GOD’S WORD: Jesus said “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13: 5b)

QUESTION: Is there a different approach other than sorrow?

GOD’S WORD: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2Corinthians 7:10)

QUESTION: Is there a different approach other than the gospel message mentioned above?

GOD’S WORD: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8)

CONCLUSION:

This article is by no means definitive in analyzing the ministry of Joel Osteen.  At the minimum, Christians ought to be careful of the ministry of his ministry.  His lack of clarity in his ministry approach in relationship to the Gospel blurs the very purpose of preaching itself.  With another approach other than conviction and repentance that is at the heart of the gospel, one has to wonder if Joel Osteen is preaching another gospel where everybody is alright despite their sins and the message that God is on one’s side without warning of God’s impending judgment upon sinners.  Let God’s Word be the final Judge.

FURTHER READINGS:

“Joel Oosteen-False Preacher/Teachings” by Rev. Robert S. Liichow accessible at http://www.forgottenword.org/osteen.html

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GO TO PART I

I.Genres are not inspired, but God uses genres

a. When God inspired the authors of the Bible, the human writers used literary forms which the original audience was familiar with.

i.      If God used it in communicating to us His revelation then we best understand His revelation if we get to understand those genre

1. This is why historical understanding of the context (original audience, time period, and contemporary literary forms) is important.

ii.      “God does speak to us in the Bible, but he speaks to us through the original context of another group of people.  This is a very crucial distinction.”[1]

b. Like grammar and words, genre are not inspired in itself but they are important in interpretation.

i.      Just as word studies and knowing grammatical rules have their place in proper interpretation, so also understanding genres.

ii.      Christians in general are not skeptical of word studies and grammar but rather found them helpful, the same should be true concerning genre.

II. Interpretation does require more than words and grammar

a. Read Hebrews 1:1. God has spoken through various ways.

b. Sometimes meaning is determined by the context at the level of literary forms and not just the words and grammar by themselves.

i.      Example #1: “It is hot.”

1. Grammatically, one may know that:

a. “It”= Pronoun; Subject

b. “Is”= verb

c. Hot= Adjective

2. However, just knowing the grammar is not enough; identifying the literary genre would help determine its meaning.

a. If the sentence is found in the weather section of the newspaper, it is talking about temperature.

b. If the sentence is found in the fashion section of the newspaper, then it is talking about aesthetics.

c. If the sentence is found in the world report section of the newspaper, it might mean the circumstance is getting tense.

ii.      Example #2: Does the Bible teach that a wife is a garden?

1. Song of Songs 4:15.

a. Does a wife have flowing water from Lebanon?

b. Does she bare pomegranates, henna and nard (v. 14)?

c. Knowing where this passage comes from and its literary genre would make the reader aware that there is poetry going on here rather than a wife being a literal garden where one has to maintain by buying fertilizer.

III.  An illustration of the importance of knowing literary forms[2]

Think of understanding the various literary forms as filling your tool belt with various kinds of tool.  When you arrive at different texts with different literary forms, an understanding of the text’s literary form would help you in getting out its meaning faithfully and accurately.


[1] Walter B. Russell III, “Literary Forms in the hands of preachers and teachers,” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers), 283.

[2] This illustration comes from the book, Cracking Old Testament Codes.


GO TO PART III

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The ongoing Occupy Wall Street movement should bring Christians to the attention of what does a Biblically consistent view of Government, economy and individual responsibility looks like.

Joel over at American Vision has this article you can click on here.

Over at Generation Radio, they have an audio episode discussing about the Occupy Wall Street movement:


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So long as the cops don’t hurt anybody, I wonder how long will the Occupy Wall Street movement last.   Largely the reason why I wonder is because of the question of whether or not Occupy Wall Street Movement is sustainable.  Especially if they start becoming more consistent with their principles in how they run things.

It seems like everywhere the “Occupy…” movement goes, there are problems with hygiene concerns whether in Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Fransicso, feces, urine and vomit occupy the space where participants are at, leaving a terrible carbon footprint.

Well it turns out that a movement that is driven with the philosophy of handouts has a hard time sustaining itself when it’s own kitchen staff offerring free food becomes overworked.  I thought it was funny, that the kitchen volunteer staged their own protests…not against the 1% leadership of their organization but instead the lazy and criminals among them…and the group as a whole.

Read this from the New York post:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep’s-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.

To show they mean business, the kitchen staff refused to serve any food for two hours yesterday in order to meet with organizers to air their grievances, sources said.

As the kitchen workers met with the “General Assembly’’ last night, about 300 demonstrators stormed from the park to Reade Street and Broadway, where they violently clashed with cops.

Officers made at least 10 arrests when rowdy demonstrators refused to get out of the street and stop blocking traffic. A dozen cops on scooters tried to force them back to the sidewalk.

There were no reported injuries.

The demonstrators said they were angry over the violence in Oakland.

After making their way to Union Square, many of the protesters returned to Zuccotti.

The Assembly announced the three-day menu crackdown announced earlier in the day — insisting everybody would be fed something during that period.

Some protesters threatened that the high-end meals could be cut off completely if the vagrants and criminals don’t disperse.

Unhappiness with their unwelcome guests was apparent throughout the day.

“We need to limit the amount of food we’re putting out” to curb the influx of derelicts, said Rafael Moreno, a kitchen volunteer.

A security volunteer added that the cooks felt “overworked and underappreciated.”

Many of those being fed “are professional homeless people. They know what they’re doing,” said the guard at the food-storage area.

Today, a limited menu of sandwiches, chips and some hot food will be doled out — so legitimate protesters will have a day to make arrangements for more upscale weekend meals.

Protesters got their first taste of the revolt within the revolt yesterday when the kitchen staff served only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips after their staff meeting.

Organizers took other steps to police the squatters, who they said were lured in from other parks with the promise of free meals.

This also reveal much as to the make-up of the movement.  They can’t keep themselves clean, can’t even feed themselves…I imagine they probably want the Nanny state to sustain their protest…

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15 years ago:

You have a question with your homework.  You call your best friend who’s in class with you.  The phone rings.  His mother picks up ask who it is and hands the phone over to him.  After answering your question, he ask if you can hang out.  You say after your homework is done you are going to meet him at his house–down the block.

A week ago:

You call someone on the phone.  You can’t get a hold of them.  You text them.  Then you go on facebook and notice on your feed that three seconds ago they have just posted a new status.  The stamp even said, “Posted from an Iphone.”  So you call again.  While you are waiting with the ring, you shoot an email from your Android.  You get the voicemail again.  You don’t even bother leaving a message.  So you call the home phone.  No one picks up.  You log on skype to check if he’s online and while you are at it you log into AIM since you have not logged in for a while.  A whole bunch of people wants to chat with you–you have not been on AIM for a month.  You ignore all the IMs that are blinking, and close the program because your wife is texting you that dinner’s ready–beckoning to come downstairs.  You don’t even  bother texting her back.  Before you shut down your lap top, you do a quick adjustment to your linked-in profile–all the more to make you awesome.

Isn’t an interesting paradox that within the last ten years, with more ways and medium to get a hold of somebody than ever before, it turns out that it’s harder to get a hold of somebody than fifteen years ago?  Though technology provides great ways of getting hold of each other, yet people are farther apart…

So while it is harder to communicate with people, the other paradox is that we are revealing more about ourselves more than ever before–on blogs, facebook, Linked-in, twitter, Myspace (that ancient thing), etc.  Sometimes we reveal ourselves in front of a screen and with our fingers hammering away at our keyboard more than we realize–our hypocrisy, bad attitude shows–and we forget who sees us on their newsfeed or email digest.

I think the last paradox suggests that within many people, the American cultural ideal of being a celebrity (famous for being famous) is beginning to mold many people to begin to act like celebrities.  Celebrities have a following–though the celebrities themselves might not actually have and want a real relationship with those who see them–what’s important is the protrayal of an image–an attitude capture in wise cracks twitter posts, an expression capture in a picture, etc.  While the Tabloids fuel the mass to follow the littlest juicy gossip and activity of a celebrity (such as them going to a resturant, pictures of them running out of a car disguised to pick up groceries or any other routine event and dare I say non-event, all captured and valuable just simply because they are celebrities doing things and nothing more), I think people generally start mimicking our deepest imagination and fantasy.  If as a culture, our greatest fantasy is to become a celebrity, how much more now with facebook, twitter, youtube can you get people to “follow,” “subscribe,” “re-twit,” etc., can we start mimicking our deepest dream–to be someone liked by others, without returning the love of close relationship and friendship?  You can post super spiritual stuff even, petitioning for prayers–but never praying for those who follow and are praying for you…

I think that explains why our generation has a hard time getting back and responding to people…and why our generation at the same time will reveal so much private and unnecessarily information and attitudes of ourselves than ever before to strangers and friends.  It reveals why people will post pictures of their clubbing experience–even though they themselves at church will never be caught dead confessing you their drunkard sins or immoral activities–yet why do they posts things and forget who are on their list?  We have become like our deepest imagination–to live the fantasy, the dream that we are now able to be a mini-celebrity in our own unique way, almost as if we are saying, “Hey, I can have my own reality TV shows too!” At least with real celebrities they have agents and producers to edit their persona and remove some of the foolishness.  When your agent is facebook, you see the most depraved and awkard clues that people are so full of themselves without knowing it…Which speaks more of our depraved and sinful nature to be glorified rather than glorifying God.

Talk to me…

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