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Roses Have Thorns, But Not Always

Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief.

(Proverbs 14:13)

In the lobby of my church a sudden outburst of laughing will pound through my office walls. At times I will look out just to see what is so funny. And it is funny, what I see. There may be two or maybe ten who are all enjoying a good story or the end of some tease. But I know these people. There is the one who is still recovering from surgery and has burdens for her family and their faith. There is the one whose spouse is a broken person who brings so many burdens into the home and lives of the family. There is that person whose job is currently up in the air and the reality of the unknown is upon him. I see the parents laughing who have a wayward child and they are very concerned.

If I wanted to stop any of that laughter all I would need to do is pull one of them aside and inquire as to how is the situation, the burden. Laughing eyes will reflect the burden and pain that is just below the surface. Tears or anguished faces will appear and a softer, heavier voice will speak.

For all of us there are times of great laughter that hide the pain we suffer within. It is the reality of living in this broken, sinful age. We will hold in our arms a small baby and be filled with joy never knowing that the end will be grief. We will walk down an aisle to marry only for the end to be grief. We will start out our life in college and in the end is grief.

We must never forget that many things in this life bring joy. And we can enjoy them as such. But like the thorns of the rose so too do all things bringing joy. So we hold things that belong to this age lightly. Rejoicing in the times of joy and weeping with those who weep in grief. We gather together on Sunday to hold up fists of rebellion to the gods of this age as we declare by faith that God the Father “. . . raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:20-21)

Jesus tells us that we will never taste the fullness of death, called the second death, if our hope is in Him alone. Peter tells us we are kept safe by God’s power so that even if we have grief and sorrow we shall never be lost. Paul tells us that by the great love of our heavenly Father we were forgiven and raised up with Jesus Christ in the heavenly places all because we are in union with His Son.

I need to remember this more each day.

And so do you.

A Yearly Destruction of St. Louis

The annual report for Planned Parenthood is out.  You can read it at the link provided and it is well done!  Clean wording and great images all portraying a happy and victorious group of women rising up out of their struggles to better things.  Did I mention that you can read it?  You should for it is very informative.

It tells you that they will never stop fighting for the right to do abortions.  Never. They portray an attractive, happy young lady who shares how through their birth control program she is now free to pursue her dreams.They share how they are able to help through text and chat programs young ladies who had unprotected sex and are worried they might be pregnant.  When that happens Planned Parenthood offers “emergency contraception.”  One wonders what this contraception might actually be if the young lady is already pregnant.

But down on page 18 there is a simple line item that breaks my heart.  “Abortion Procedures . . . . 327,653.”  Over 300,000 babies killed.  Over 300,000.  How do we even grasp the enormity of that number.  The best I can do is point out that the population of St. Louis is 318,000.  So as a nation we killed every person in St. Louis last year.

And we shrugged.

If the blood of Abel was crying out from the ground to our Lord and Maker for justice then how great the cry must be now?

Some thoughts to end this little post:

  • How do Christians respond to this atrocity in the public square through politics and the courts?
  • The Church must grasp that many of those who hear the gospel are those who have participated in this act in one way or another.  How do we reject the act yet call them to repentance and faith in Jesus?
  • The Church must be ready to remember that each of us is a utter sinner apart from the grace of God.
  • Yet we also must be faithful to the commands in Ephesians 5:11, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.”  Such a difficult balance.
  • Finally we must see that the ultimate way to attack this great evil of abortion is through the gospel message.  Only when dead hearts are made alive by the Spirit and people truly trust and follow their Lord will we see change.

Keeping It in Perspective 12/30/2014

Just read a powerfully written post by a young woman listening to her husband call hospice for her.  We end this year in various life situations and if we are not careful we begin to think that ours is the greatest or most difficult.  These little posts are to keep everything in perspective.  Here is a bit of what she wrote:

So, there it is. My little body has grown tired of battle and treatment is no longer helping. But what I see, what I know, what I have is Jesus. He has still given me breath, and with it I pray I would live well and fade well. By degrees doing both, living and dying, as I have moments left to live. I get to draw my people close, kiss them and tenderly speak love over their lives. I get to pray into eternity my hopes and fears for the moments of my loves. I get to laugh and cry and wonder over heaven. I do not feel like I have the courage for this journey, but I have Jesus- and He will provide it. He has given me so much to be grateful for, and that gratitude, that wondering over His love will cover us all. And it will carry us- carry us in ways we cannot comprehend. It will be a new living and trusting for many in my community. Loving with a great big open hand to my story being the good story- even when it feels so broken.

Read the rest here . . . .

The Piano Guys

I lived in Idaho for my formative years of Jr. High School and college, though college was a bit vague since I either skipped classes or slept through them.  What stood out for me though was the huge presence of the Mormons in our area (near Boise).  When my father was looking for a solid church it was not an easy task, essentially you could choose between the Mormons or a Nazarene church.  Being Christians we obviously went with the Nazarenes.

That last sentence could be seen as jarring for some due to the tremendous job the Mormons have done in marketing themselves as a Christian church.  They are not.  Sadly in the current state of the Church in America this is not so clear as you can read from one man who accepts the title of an Evangelical “beg[s] to differ” on that cult thingy.  The man is wrong in every way that matters but, of course, this post is not about Mouw and his horrid, dangerous words.

This is about the Piano Guys, who are somewhat of an internet sensation and are fun to watch and listen to.  I like their music but I have noticed lately many people posting videos of them and at times posting them in the context of being Christians.  They are not. They are Mormons.

Some will say, “So?” and it is a legitimate question.  The music they do is good stuff and as a Christian can’t we enjoy their music?  As is typical of me I think it is not such an easy thing to decide but I have made my personal decision and I write it out here for others to consider.  Is there a qualitative difference between the Piano Guys doing Christmas music and Mannheim Steamroller, who don’t connect their music with a claim to being Christian? I think that there is even though I know others would disagree.

When I grew up in Idaho the Mormon Tabernacle Choir would always do a huge TV special of Christmas carols.  We would not watch it.  The reason was that they were a cult who did not even truly believe the words they were singing and in fact actively proclaimed a different gospel.  I didn’t appreciate that distinction then, but I do now.

When the Piano Guys do a Christmas carol they are doing it with the belief that they are both Christian and that they believe  those words, at least in some way.  They will posture themselves as Christians.  And unsuspecting, poorly taught Christians will hear them, click on their website and see nice things about their belief. Go ahead and click that link to Mormon.org at the bottom of their page.

BAM! John 3:16 right off the bat (assuming you are clicking near around the time I post this).  You don’t get more Christian than that do you? Click on that link and the next page you can see at the top that you can read about the Christmas Story. There you will see a nice, vanilla description of the birth of Jesus with closing words being, ” As we embrace His teachings and follow the example of His perfect life, we can become more like Him, and experience true peace and joy.”  Imbedded in that sentence is the basic lie of the Mormons, salvation is not in Jesus alone, it is through following His teachings and living in a proper manner.  But if you are a weak Christian like so many are, then this sounds good.

What is missing?  Well little things like that God the Father is only one of millions of gods who exist.  That our “salvation” is not apart from our works but because if them.  Jesus’ death is not one that secured anyone’s salvation or forgiveness of sin.  There is a lot more but this post is not merely about the beliefs of the Mormon cult.  If you want to read a bit more on their false view of salvation this page is replete with them, though you have to read with care.  My “favorite” quote on that page is how the fall of Adam “wasn’t all bad because they could now feel great joy. “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25)”  Thank goodness that now we can feel great joy because we are dead in our sins!

So, a little post became a long one.  Here is my point.  If you listen to the Piano Guys as a Christan just be aware of who they represent.  Be wise as to how to speak of their music and to whom you recommend them.  They are not neutral regarding your Lord, they advocate a different gospel of which Paul would say that they are “accursed.”  For me, they just are not on my play list.  If you lean toward my thoughts then I recommend folks like Page CXVI, Cardiphonia, or Sojourn Music to name a few.

Edited to fix some egregious errors, more to be found late I am sure.

So Much To Write and So Little Time

I find two enemies constantly are at my heels when it comes to this blog.  The first is laziness, I look outside and think about doing some woodworking or I write an article.  Woodworking wins usually.  The second is there simply is not enough time.  So I have a plan.  I am locked down time-wise through Sunday and I have several things I wanted to write.  Instead I will post this interview and ask you to watch it.  Try to listen to how both sides are presenting their arguments and what are those arguments, then write them down in the comment section.  Not the comment section of Facebook, but here.  Try to figure out what is the root problem with Bell’s argument, assuming you find it less than satisfactory.

Remember that Bell is one of those who defined a significant branch of the world of “missional.”  I don’t belong to that branch and frankly want to cut it off and burn it.

I found this to be incredibly exasperating but it is the stuff that is sweeping through our churches and para-church organizations right now.  I hope to see some helpful comments when I can return to the blog at the end of this week.

The Confessions of A Former Mormon

I grew up in my formative years in Idaho, a bastion of Mormonism.  I remember vividly my father trying to find a solid church when we moved there and having no luck.  There were no Assemblies (meaning Plymouth Brethren) and the Baptist and E V Free churches were dead even to my seventh grade brain.  There were really only two choices, become a Mormon, which wasn’t happening or attend a Nazarene church, which is what we did.  Regardless, most of my friends were Mormons, I briefly dated a Mormon girl and I had a few friends in the Nazarene church leave and convert to Mormonism.  There were countless conversations with them and I was always fascinated by the poster that most of them had on a wall somewhere prominent in there house of the story in pictures of Joseph Smith and Moroni.

I don’t run into Mormons much anymore.  We had them stop by a few years ago and I was able to sit with them and my children and challenge their assertions and point them to Jesus.  Not their Jesus, but the true Jesus.  They left unconvinced but I have always thought about where they are now, did the Word of the Gospel take root? Or did Satan come and pluck it away?

Perhaps you have Mormons who you know or who are missionaries walking in your neighborhoods.  Are you prepared to engage them?  I found this article by Loren Franck to be very revealing as he confesses to lying frequently while he served his missionary term.  I encourage you to read it so that you might better understand what may come your way if you get a knock on your door one day.

He writes:

The Bible predicts a dreadful fate for liars. For instance, while banished on the island of Patmos, the Apostle John saw that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Similarly, the beloved disciple writes, liars are doomed to an eternity outside of God’s presence (Revelation 22:15). Because Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), lying is extremely serious sin.

As a full-time Mormon missionary from 1975 to 1977, I lied for the church countless times. Like my colleagues in the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission, which served the Dakotas and adjacent areas, I spoke truthfully about my background, but touted many Mormon teachings that contradict the Bible. After my mission ended, however, I examined these doctrines more closely. The harder I tried to reconcile the contradictions, the more evident they became. So, after extensive prayer and study, I resigned my church membership in 1984. Cheated and betrayed, I lacked spiritual life for the next 17 years. But God, knowing those who are His (John 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:19), drew me to Christ (John 6:44) and saved me in 2001. My spiritual emptiness was replaced by the abundant life only the Savior can give (John 10:10). And now, like millions of Christians worldwide, I have everlasting life through my faith in Him (John 3:36; 6:47).

I can’t remember all of my missionary lies. Some were small, others grandiose, but all were false and misleading. Here are ten I’ll never forget.

You can read the rest here . . . .

Meet Adam4D. Really Meet Him.

This guy’s comics packs a powerful punch to the modern church and silly/deadly practices that abound today in it.  Click on the comic to go to his site and see the “punch-line” and then like him, subscribe to him, or whatever you need to do to keep getting updates from him.

2014-05-14-grab-it1

Joel Osteen, Revised

This is a great little graphic that take Joel Osteen’s seemingly good confession about the bible (which he consistently demolishes) and puts it in a better light. I have no idea where this came from, I shamelessly stole it off of a Facebook post.  If I need to give credit then let me know.  Enjoy. . . .

osteen and reality

A Word of Praise for My Children’s Mother

My wife, Kim, was pregnant with our first child when I packed up our belonging in Houston, Texas and moved her across the country to Los Angeles so I could attend bible college at The Master’s College.  Thus started a ten year journey that involved four children, seven moves, and four different jobs.  I was with her with each birth and she approached each of them with bravery and calm that was nothing short of impressive.

This woman is the reason my children know how to read and how to think.  They were taught by her and countless times I would be locked in my study and I would hear her singing with the little ones as they learned their letters and their sounds.  When they fell it was always into her arms that they fled and always found a gentle word and plenty of sympathy.  It was because of her diligence that they learned to memorize bible verses and to read through the bible several times before they were adults and out of the house.  She formed their worldview and she provided them a place of comfort and instruction.  The gospel was constantly on her lips but also modeled in her ways.

She instructed them in the ways of obedience.  “First and Fast” is a phrase they all knew.  When it was time for a rebuke, she did not shirk from that duty.  And when it was time for discipline it was given faithfully and diligently, filled with the faith of the fruit that was to come.  Because of her diligence our children were a joy to be around, each of them a billboard to her skills as a mother.

She prayed and still prays for them.  Her greatest pleasure even today is when the family is raucously gathered together at our house (raucously because that is the only way the Henry’s know how to gather together).  Today she is now a grandmother as well.  I hear her playing upstairs even now with her little grandson and granddaughter and the memories come flooding back to my mind.

She is a woman of excellence and she captures well the words of King Lemuel, “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  She looks well to the way of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her.”

 

 

The Stump of Sin

I had a large black walnut tree in my backyard.  Sadly it overwhelmed the whole yard and was very messy so finally I decided to have it cut down.  We are still waiting for the stump to be ground away and in the meantime I noticed something very interesting.  The whole stump is constantly weeping water.  The roots are still doing what roots do and trying to nourish a tree that is not there anymore.  It is dead but not dead.  And as I thought about it I realized it was a good illustration on the nature of sin in the life of a Christian.

The New Testament uses a term to describe the reality of sin for a believer.  It is called “flesh.”  It has nothing to do with the physical body, though often it is misunderstood that way.  What it is is the lingering effects of what used to be our reality.  Ephesians 2 says it in a painfully succinct way, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3 NAS).

That state is now forever broken.  That is part of the good news found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  God’s grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus overwhelms sin.  Therefore we read in Romans 6 that we are dead to sin and therefore we are to have that as our mind set as we go about life.  We no longer are slaves to it; rather, we are free in ways we really don’t comprehend.  But . . . .

We still do sin.  And that is where the flesh comes into play.  “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Galatians 5:16-17 NAS).  The flesh was described to me as a sin hangover.  The power it once had is broken.

It is dead, but not dead.  It is like the stump in my backyard.  It seeks to draw water into the fulness of the tree, but there is no tree.  It is gone.  And eventually the stump will be gone and the roots will return to dirt.  In the same way the flesh seeks always to draw sin and death into our lives.  But the power of sin is gone.  And in the power of the Spirit I, and you, can resist and reject these efforts of the flesh to bring us into bondage.  And in the end, when our Lord returns He shall make all things new, the stump of our old nature will be ground away and true life will be ours in fulness.

 

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