Saturday, February 26, 2011

Imagine a world where God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven. To be consistent with the mental image could you be in the picture?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

May it not be said of us that Awakening did not come because we failed to humble ourselves and pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I pray to smash the world and recreate it in Scriptural holiness!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Whenever I listen to a sermon from the late Welsh Calvinistc Methodist, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981), I feel comforted & encouraged in my stand for Truth.

Dangerous Clichéd Mottos

In my 39 years I've come across some annoying clichés. Here's one from the sports world:
"I just knew that if we all gave 110% we'd win the game."
Really? Besides exhibiting poor math skills I thought a person who gave 100% would die of overexertion. I also have come across stupid mottos. Consider this gem, one that seems to be popular with ladies on social networks:
"If you can't handle me at my worst then you don't deserve me at my best."
That one just scares me. It makes me, a single man, not wanting to deserve her at her best. The biggest offender, however, is the clichéd motto. This Reign of Terror posing as wisdom at its worst could damn your soul. I've seen this crop up on the web:
"Never regret doing anything that once made you smile."
This is one of the most hideously horrible expressions I've yet to come across. It's reckless and wrong. Contrast this pyrite ("fool's gold") with a real nugget from God's Word:
The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" And to him who lacks sense she says, "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:13-18 ESV)
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Theology of Holiness and Love by Kenneth E. Jones

I was honored to know the late Reverend Doctor Kenneth Effner Jones (March 17, 1920—August 15, 1999) a bit during his latter years after his retirement from Mid-America Bible College (now Mid-America Christian University, my alma mater). Once when I was a teenager Dr. Jones stayed in my parsonage home for a night. He sat at the dinner table from supper until 10 PM or so and recounted stories from the early days of the Church of God. My family would get up periodically for a bathroom break or to take a phone call but the retired professor never moved from his chair! He clearly enjoyed sharing and my family enjoyed listening. It's a cherished memory. My senior year I took his Daniel/Revelation video class that was taped from Gulf-Coast Bible College years before. During my first pastorate we once were at a minister's meeting. I chatted with him about overstating the case for instantaneous entire sanctification by leaning on the Greek aorist tense. Not long after that he sent me a helpful article that addressed the subject. I didn't know he was going to send it and it pleased me that he cared enough about this young preacher to remember our conversation.

He penned such works as The Commitment to Holiness, Divorce and Remarriage, The Word of God and his extremely helpful article in a Gedenkschrift (tribute) to Dr. Boyce Watson Blackwelder entitled, "Babylon and the New Jerusalem: Interpreting the Book of Revelation." Dr. Jones provided the interpretative notes to Ephesians and Colossians in the now discontinued The Wesley Bible, a study Bible from the Wesleyan theological viewpoint. (We expressed our displeasure to each other that the translation used was the New King James Version. Both of us were Alexandrian Text people, not Textus Receptus folks.) I own a few books written by him in which he autographed and wrote some nice remarks. Theology of Holiness and Love, his systematic theology, is the culmination of many years thinking about the Savior and is his magnum opus.

Most people in the Church of God may be familiar with him (though perhaps without realizing it) by his editorial work; Jones condensed Frederick George Smith's What the Bible Teaches to a more readable level. The old paperbacks are probably still sitting in the basements of a gajillion church Sunday School rooms across the nation.

Jones never tried to "sound" like a scholar in his writings. He wrote for the average person on the street and could bridge the gap between lofty theologians on the one hand and the homespun folksy prose of holiness preacher, Uncle Bud Robinson, on the other. In this regard he is similar to the late Scottish scholar, William Barclay, though far more conservative. He had the knack of being an academic without sounding like an academic. Let me stress: you don't have to be highly educated and brilliant to understand his books. Don't let a fear that you aren't professionally trained in theology deter you from this book!

Admittedly Theology of Holiness and Love never will rank as one of the most important Wesleyan theologies. Even at 359 pages it is too brief and cannot be compared to a William Burt Pope, a John Miley or an Henry Orton Wiley. However, it is intensely readable and reliably helpful. (And sadly most will never dare to pick up Pope, Miley or Wiley.)  I compare it favorably against three other Church of God volumes: It is far easier to understand and more up to date than Russell Raymond Byrum's Christian Theology. It is more in-depth than Albert Frederick Gray's Christian Theology. I, personally, prefer it over the more recent Theology For Disciples by Gilbert Wayne Stafford. (I mean no slight on the late Dr. Stafford's scholarship; I believe Stafford's book, by design, was penned to accomplish other goals.)

Along with past Gospel Trumpet editor, Charles Ewing Brown, Dr. Jones' genius is in his stress that humans—because of Adam's fall in the garden—are born deprived and not depraved. That is, because of Adam every human enters the world deprived of a relationship with God, without the Spirit of God and, because of that, quickly becomes depraved as a result. Jones helps us by making theological terms personal: holiness is being turned to God in love and wickedness is being turned away. Sin isn't a thing, not an "it", not a thing to be removed. It's a relational term, not an abstract concept. For these clarifications I owe a great debt to him.

I purchased my copy of Theology of Holiness and Love directly from him years ago. I called him at his home in Louisville and then sent him the money. In the mail arrived his book with his autograph and short note just inside the work. Today you can buy the book through ReformationPublishers.com in either softcover or hardcover. The prices are $20 for the softcover and $25 for the hardcover so you can avail yourself of Dr. Jones' lifetime of theological development and scholarship for not too much of a financial investment.  (I purchased a hardback of the book from Reformation Publishers and I am very impressed with the quality of their work on that project.)

Just mentally digesting this single book probably would give the "regular guy in the pew" a comprehension of theology he never knew he could have. Don't cheat yourself.  Study this book in Sunday School classes or small groups, at least in part. It could raise the theological IQ of a congregation. No, I don't think I'm over-selling it.

I thank God for Kenneth E. Jones and his commitment to holiness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Conspiracy Theories, Boredom and Reality


Those who know me know I have a very wry and very dry sense of humor. Today I posted a series of fictitious posts on Facebook to amuse my friends;
they are meant to be a joke...and a silly one at that!
Okay, I've picked the conspiracy theory that I'm going to believe. The Knights Templar are hiding in a vast subterranean cavern under Yawkey, WV with their treasures and are waiting for me, the long lost 43rd great-grandson of Jacques de Molay, to command them for the Battle of Armageddon to regain Jerusalem.The Roman Catholic Church—who knows the Knights still exist—have sent assassins dressed as EPA investigators in numerous failed attempts to find the entrance to the cave.

The Knights Templar have been sending me coded messages through symbolism in Warner Sallman paintings hanging at Anderson University.

The Knights Templar have ALL of the pieces of the true cross, the holy grail and the original, first cereal box of Dig 'Em's Honey Smacks from 1953.

Area 51 has been nothing but a conventional Air Force base, rather boring, in fact. Roswell? Never happened. These, along with Project Blue Book and many others, were created to keep people searching dead ends and conspiratorial rabbit holes so they never would discover the Knights continued existence.

The US secret shadow (read: "real") government is working with the Catholic Church to prevent my assumption of Templar control in an attempt to prevent the End of Days.

They will set a parameter quarantine after evacuating Hamlin, Sod, Sumerico, Yawkey and Alum Creek. The military will have orders to shoot to kill trespassers.

This all is an elaborate hoax to search for the cavern unhindered from the prying eyes of the public.

Pardon me while I go and watch old reruns of Scooby-Doo for subliminal messages to help me decide what to do next.
Why do people believe outrageous conspiracy theories? More to the point, why do people want to believe them? Why do they devote years, hours, websites and the printed page to distribute their views?

The answer is complex and multi-layered, I'm sure, but I think one answer is rather mundane: boredom. People are bored with their lives. They get tired of letting the cat out each morning before they eat the same breakfast and then leave for their pedestrian jobs. Paying the cable and garbage bills each month is boring. They crave excitement, intrigue, mystery.

It's one reason why so many are enamored with the Mayan calendar and the thought they they may be killed on December 21, 2012. They are so bored with themselves that the thought of global annihilation is almost welcomed.

But the Christian life doesn't have to be boring. To get out of the doldrums one must concentrate not on how things look but on how they are. Consider the Hebrews pronouncement:
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV)
Notice the phrase, "you have come." It's a perfect tense. It means that we Christians have come to this Reality in the past and are still there now. Though we walk this terrestrial sphere we are now citizens of heaven. We are the Covenant People of God.

That's exciting! Much more so than some fictional conspiracy theory.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Foamhenge

A good while back a friend and I visited a surrealistic place in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It's called Foamhenge.


That's right, Foamhenge, not the famed Stonehenge in England. It's Stonehenge duplicated, well, in Styrofoam.

We were awed as we stood in the midst of a site that shouldn't be in Virginia.

It looked so real but it wasn't the real thing.

The Apostle Paul warned of Christian leaders who pretended to be something they were not.
And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
(2 Corinthians 11:12-15 ESV)
People claimed to work for God when, in fact, they were slaves to Satan. It shouldn't come as a surprise, really, but we continue to be shocked when some people represent themselves as one thing when the light of God's day reveals that they are not. Christianity receives bad press, in part, because the world doesn't seem able to make the distinction between true believers and false professors.

We in the Church world are tricked, too, because we often measure a person's relationship with God (or lack thereof) by his apparent gifting and talents. The larger a pastor's church then the more spiritual he (and it) must be. The better a person's singing voice the more "anointed" she surely is. We deal in pragmatism but God deals in holiness.

The measure of a man (or anyone else) is his character, not his talents.
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the LORD's anointed is before him." But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:6-7 ESV)
Even the prophet Samuel fell prey to this thinking. When he came to find Yahweh's selection of King Saul's successor he thought God picked Eliab when the Lord picked the youngest, David. Jesus warned of people who seemed to be successful Christian leaders but whose character was corrupt:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' (Matthew 7:15-23 ESV)
Note carefully that Jesus didn't deny that these people will look successful or gifted. However, their character will be rotten and, thus, they will be thrown into hell, not granted entrance into heaven.

They may look like Stonehenge but, in actuality, just be Foamhenge.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Thank God life isn't fair. If it were then we'd all go to hell.