Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Church's Man Crisis

Over the past few weeks I've been reading a verity of things that have all got me thinking about the way the Church seems to be masculinity. The first was an article at the Art of Manliness which addressed the decline of masculinity in our culture. I found myself in agreement with the article. It seems that in our society in which Egalitarianism and Feminism are the dominate worldviews, men get left out in the cold. These doctrines, in a reaction to Aristotelian chauvinism, promotes the idea that men are women are identical. Despite this, there is almost the suggestion that women are superior. Women can do anything and everything. Men are only good for so much. As such, masculinity has become a vice and not a virtue.

Later, I was reading an article by Dr. John Piper which really brought home to me the dangers of the Church accepting these philosophies. The result has been the emasculation of the Body of Christ. Now, understand that I'm not advocating the complete defeminizing of the Church. Throughout the Bible God gives us certain word pictures of terminologies that will appeal to both men (the armor of God) and women (the Bride of Christ). However, contemporary Christian seems to be reaching out almost entirely to women and children.

Across the board, women are generally more religious than men. I think that's because we guys seem to struggle with more egotistical pride. We don't like to submit to anyone, much less God. As such, preachers and church leaders have tried to appeal to their base and in doing so have emasculated the Church. Walk into most churches and you'll see a festive arrangement of pink, baby blue and lemon yellow. The music is hyper-emotional and a very love song-esque.

Notice that I'm not saying women don't have a part in the Church. Women have a vital part and the total removal of Christianity's feminine elements would be equally fatal. However, that's not the problem our culture faces. We guys have failed to do our part. Most men in the Church are either chauvinists who abuse their power or cowards who avoid it.

Thankfully, we are beginning to see an increased awareness of the this issue. Many of the young up-and-coming preachers, such as Mark Driscoll and Matt Chandler, have made this a signature of their respective churches. The New Reformed movement has also made Complementarianism a doctrinal staple. It's no longer just those crazy Quiverfullist and family-integrated churches that are aware of the problem. Many of the more mainstream churches are also waking up to it.

However, this will ultimately need to happen on an individual level. We guys need to start taking responsibility and initiative. Servant leadership needs to be prized virtue among young men again.We need a return to courageous manhood in which guys aren't afraid to take a few hits for a just cause. We need to start leading through humility and not self-centered dominance. I believe that the extent to which we respond to this "man crisis" will determine the Church's effectiveness in the upcoming generation.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Why the Gospel Matters to Believers

I'm very confident in my salvation. I've confessed with my mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead. But when did I first get saved? I have no idea. I know when I first prayed a prayer and I know that I prayed a prayer many times after that. In fact, if the sinner's prayer was a credit card I would have maxed out by the time I was six. I've always known the Gospel and there's never really been a time in which I've rejected it (though I did go through a period of doubt in my younger days). And so, it has only been recently that I've truly fallen in love with the Gospel, not just because it saved me but because of what it means for me as a believer.

The imperatives (commands) of Scripture always derive from the indicatives (statements) of Scripture. For example, in Exodus 20, before God gives the infamous Ten Commandments, He first reminds that them that, "I am the LORD thy God who has brought thee out of the house of Egypt." Every command that God was about to give the Israelites hinged up this truth. I am the Lord and I've rescued you, God told them. Everything we do as believers is based on who God is and what He's done for us.

It's only recently that I've truly begun to appreciate what God has done for me. It is a beautiful concept that the Creator would become His creation and die for them. That our Judge would be our Advocate. That God would be mindful of man and chose to claim them as His own.

The more I ponder all the ramifications of the Gospel's indicatives the more I realize the need for imperatives. Because of all that God has done for me I am willfully bound to take action. His patience and forgiveness toward me ought to motivate me to patiently forgive others. His desire to see souls have fellowship with Himself ought to give me the same desire. His love for me ought to cause me to love Him and all those He loves. His hatred for my sin ought to cause me to hate it as well.

The more I begin to think about who God is and what He's done for me, the more I realize that there is no room for laziness in my life. The Gospel ought to motivate believers to take action. That's why it's so important that the Gospel never becomes old or familiar to us. We must be in continual awe of God's beautiful masterplan. A failure to fully appreciate the indicatives of God's Word will turn the imperatives into legalism and vain religious motions. However, the more we fall in love with the indicatives the more joyous the imperatives will become.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mission: Read Like Crazy

The great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said, “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”

Lately, God has been impressing upon the need to gain wisdom from men who already possess it. This has motivated me to start asking more and better questions of different people I admire. It has also motivated me to start reading more non-fiction books by the great contemporary theologians.

I know from experience that these commitments usually fizzle away without two secret ingredients: discipline and accountability. You all can help me with both. I've decided to make a goal of reading ten books by the end of next year.

Why ten? I don't know. It just seemed like a good round number. Likewise, I think it is both a doable goal and a goal that will take a bit of effort. Upon finishing each book I'll be posting a brief review here.

This is my list thus far:

Just Do Something By Kevin DeYoung

Religion Saves and 9 Other Misconceptions By Mark Driscoll

Desiring God by John Piper

Humility: True Greatness by CJ Mahaney

Knowing God by JI Packer

God is the Gospel by John Piper

Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World - Various contributors

How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer

What do you think? Good list? Bad list? What books have been meaningful to you? What books would you recommend?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankfulness For A God Who Doesn't Slumber

My family's Thanksgiving has been a little different this year. My 90 year old great-grandmother is the hospital, resulting the cancelation of most of our usual traditions. However, this whole situation has caused me to reflect on all the things that God did for me before I was even born.

As the apostle Paul reminding the Corinthians, I have nothing that I have not received. All that I have is gift from God, either directly or indirectly through the workings of other people. I've become very thankful for those who have gone on before me. I would like to take this time to give thanks for all that God did before I was even born that is now helping me grow in Him.

-First of all, I'm thankful that God had a plan. A brilliant, incredible plan. This plan had many phases which were laid out through the course of human history. The master stroke of this amazing plan was the death and resurrection of my Lord and Savior. Becasue of this incredible plan I who was once an enemy of God can call Him Daddy. What could be more amazing?

-I'm also thankful that God has preserved His Word. The Lord wants to communicate with the children of dust and has ensured that His Word would survive. However, the Scriptures have not always been as accessible as they are now. Even in some parts of the world today, the Bible is not readily accessible. I'm so thankful that I can have unhindered access to the Words of my Lord.

-I'm also very grateful that in every generation God has risen up teachers and proclaimers of His Word. I'm still benefitting from the teachings of by-gone admonishers. One of my heroes is the great revivalist, Jonathan Edwards. The man was an absolute genius. However, it's also very easy for me to relate to him. Most people read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and picture some Hell-raising, fire-and-brimstone maniac. But Edwards was anything but. He was a basically just a quiet, mild-mannered, skinny bookworm (I've been described in similar terms before) who was used of God to transform America as we know.

I've also been greatly impacted by more recent teachers, namely Doug Phillips, John Piper, Voddie Baucham and Tim G. Echols. Before I was even born, God had been working in these people’s lives and gave them a vision for ministry. I am now the academic product of God's working in those men's lives.

-Lastly, I'd just like to express thankfulness for what God has done with my family. I praise God that a logger in northern Minnesota got on his knees and accepted Jesus as his Savior. He then proceeded to teach his children, who taught their children, who taught their children who taught me. I am the product of five generations of faithful men and women who passed on biblical Truth to their children.

Likewise, I'm thankful for what God did in my parents’ lives. I'm thankful that they are both saved. I'm thankful that they both love the Lord. I'm grateful that God put them together. That they were both committed to disciplining their children. That they've taken the time to teach me and train me.

There are so many other events and people I could think God for. He has been so very good to me. I know I can't even begin to think Him enough. His grace is so amazing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lawlessness Is The New Legalism

Many churches pride themselves in speaking out against the enslaving evils of legalism. Pastors are always reminding their congregation to not get distracted by rules and regulations but to just concentrate on Jesus. Well, that's great. Or is it? Legalism has become such a negative buzz word that we no longer really know what it means. I'm a guy who likes to have words nicely defined. So, before we continue our little discussion on legalism, let's give it a definition.

In my understanding, legalism is an overemphasis on law rather than on God which usually results in the creation of additional rules. Legalists typically become judgmental of those who violate these laws. In short, legalism is idolatry. It's putting man-made laws above God Himself.

So, than what's with my peculiar title? If legalism is the overemphasis of law how can lawlessness be the new legalism? Didn't I just contradict myself? Just a few months ago I would have answered yes to that very question. However, then I got to thinking about the way that we often label people as legalists.

We take people who don't listen to rock or families that don't watch R-rated movies or girls who only wear dresses and then label them legalists. But what are we focusing on? The outward appearance. Laws. Rules.

There are many people in churches today who have strict rules about not having strict rules and then when people violate their no-rule rules they judge them for being judgmental.

I've seen families who homeschool their kids, don't listen to anything with a beat, hardly every watches movies, only read certain kinds of books, would never hear of dancing, dress in a very conservative way and attend a Fundamentalist, family-integrated church. But no one could ever justly call them legalists. They aren't focusing on rules. They're focusing on Jesus and this has caused them to live their lives in a certain way. They don't judge others who don't have their same standards, but focus on living their lives in a way that would please God.

On the flip side, I've seen believers who walk around like they're at a pop culture festival and live very legalistic lives. They may not think they have rules about dress or media, but they actually do. Their rules just have the extra convenience of commanding them to act 'lawlessly'. When people use the argument that the Bible never says "thou shalt not " what are they focusing on? The law. They aren't looking at the heart behind the law. Just the law and the law doesn't mention the particulars. They are very dedicated to their anti-rule rules and will judge and label anyone of violates them.

But before I start judging the lawless legalists, I must remind myself that we're all legalists at heart. We all have this natural, God-given draw toward order and it's much easier for that order to be controlled by rules rather than love.

We must all guard ourselves against the dangerous snares of legalism. At the end of day, if you're driving down a precarious road it doesn't really matter if you fall into the ditch to your left or the ditch to your right.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Election in Perspective

My overall emotion concerning Tuesday's mid-term elections is enthusiasm. Granted, things didn't go just as I would have wanted them. I'm disappointed that Brenna Findley will not be our next attorney general and that we have to put up with Congressman Boswell for another two years.

However, by and large, I'm pleased with the election's outcome. Personally knowing some of the candidates has added a whole new dimension to this year's election. I'm very excited that young Josh Cockroft won his state house race in Oklahoma.

I'm also very glad that Kim Pearson won her race. I remember running into Mrs. Pearson shortly after she had announced her candidacy. Though she did express a great deal of enthusiasm, she also seemed reluctant to show too much optimism. I remember her commenting that at least she would make her opponent spend some of that Union money. Now she's going to the Iowa House!

And I couldn't be more thrilled for Kent Sorenson. His opponent played dirty and took some really low shots. But he came out the victor. I honestly can't help but think that he's invincible now. There's really no mud left to sling at him. They're already unleashed every piece of ammunition they had and it still couldn't bring him down.

I believe that this election, particularly the race of Iowa governor, illustrates a very interesting point. The day after the election I was riding around with one of my co-workers. Now, you have to understand that my co-worker is an unsaved, die-hard Democrat that practically worships the ground President Obama steps on (that really isn't much of an exaggeration.) However, when it was announced over the radio that Terry Branstad had soundly beaten Governor Chet Culver, he pumped his fist and said, "Good. That's what he gets."

Upon further questioning, I discovered that my co-worker, like a lot of people, was mad at Culver. Very mad. In fact, I can't help but wonder if the Republicans could have won that race even if they had nominated Joe Blow from Anywhere City.

However, that wasn't what I found so interesting. What I found interesting was that my co-worker wasn't mad at Governor Culver because of his decisions, but because of his indecision. He felt like his governor never took a stand or was wiling to make the really hard calls. To me, that was just a great remember of the need for leaders to take a stand and be decisive. No decision at all is almost worse than a bad one. I believe that the success of this new movement which was established this year will depend on their ability to not fall into the trap of limp-wristed indecision.

The issue on the Iowa ballot which probably carried the most long term weight was the judicial retention vote. I was very pleased to see that vote go in our favor. Iowa sent a very strong message that they will not stand for judicial tyranny or the obstruction of marriage. We the people did our job of keeping wickedness at bay. We should be excited about the way the vote turned out.

However, it is also important to remember that this is not the answer. Getting righteous people into office and keeping our laws pure of wickedness is very, very important. But at the same time we mustn't put too much stock in politics. Politicians, even the best among them, will fail. The real answer is a change of heart in our people. Real change will come only after we've seen a spiritual awakening in this land. While I'm very glad to see that the political sphere may be turning back in our favor (at least for the time being), I believe it is important that the ambassadors of Christ keep our eye on the ball and not become enchanted by the whimsical movements of this age.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three Things I Hate About The Calvinist-Arminian Debate

Before I tell you the three things I hate about the Calvinist-Arminian debate, I first need to clarify some things. This is an important issue and I'm not meaning to take away from that fact. However, I think that the way in which we Christians have gone about discussing this issue has become rather unhelpful. If we better the means in which we address this issue it'll better the outcome of any debate.

For the purpose of making a point I'm not going to give a long, drawn out description of my opinion of the Calvinism-Arminianism issue. However, if you are interested in a brief summary of my beliefs, I'd encourage you to check out this sermon by Mark Driscoll. As I've stated before, I don't agree with all Mark Driscoll's stuff, however, he does a nice job of summarizing his beliefs on this issue, which I happen to be in full agreement with.

#1. The names.
In the early Church, Christians use to say that they were of Paul or of Apollos. Now we say that we're of John Calvin or of Jacob Arminius. We haven't made much forward progress, have we? Not only that, but the names are kind of misnomers. Neither Calvin nor Arminius were in full agreement with the schools of thought that would later bare their names. John Calvin never advocated Limited Atonement and Arminius, while he did express some doubts, never denied the doctrine of Eternal Security in any of speeches or writings.

The fact is, we can't put too much stock in any human being, even great Christian leaders. Calvin and Arminius were both great men who loved Jesus. However, they were also both sinners. As created creatures, we naturally feel the need for a hero. Since we can't physically see God we tend to idolize someone we can see. While they're is nothing wrong with having people we like and admire, we need to remember that all are sinners. We can't every fully trust any sinners, even great theologically minded sinners.

#2. The points.
In 1610, the Arminians got together for an event called the Remonstrance, or Protest. During this event they came up with five doctrines which directly defied Calvinism, which had been a Protestant staple since the Reformation. In response, the Calvinists held a synod at Dort (pictured) and came up with the Five Points of Calvinism, all of which were handpicked to discredit the Five Points of Arminianism.

This is really, really bad way to do theology. We don't create doctrine in response to someone else's doctrines. We get our doctrine from the Bible. The result of the current five-point system is that instead of discussing Romans 9 and Ephesians 1, we end up arguing over Irresistible Grace, Unconditional Election and the Perseverance of the Saints. The debate quickly becomes academic rather than biblical.

Personally, I always find it really frustrating when I try talking to someone about this issue and they refuse to address the Scriptures. Everyone has a cute illustration or catchy little quotable to prove the infallibility of their point. Meanwhile, the Bible stays on the shelf.

#3. The divisions.
There are certain things that should divide us. If someone tells you that Jesus wasn't God or that the earth was created by aliens, run from them like Forest Gump. However, I don't believe this should be a dividing issue. And yet it is.

It always amazes to see how willing credobaptists, paedobaptism, charismatics, cessationists, Complementarians and Egalitarians are to get together and sing Kum Ba Yah providing that they agree on the Calvinist-Arminian issue. However, if they agree on nearly everything else but can't agree on predestination, they suddenly become die hard separationists.

Honestly, I can't help but wonder if it has become more of a pride issue. Because if you examine this issue in light of many of the other truths, it really isn't that big a deal. It's important, but not quite as important as we make it out to be. However, this topic has become the defining issue within Christian circles. I once heard some one say that there are only three kinds of Christians. Calvinists, Arminians and Catholics. This debate has been so heated for so long that no one is willing to back down.

I think it is vital to remember that this is an in house debate. At the end of the day, we're on the same team. Granted, the Body of Christ will always have its little family quarrels. That's nothing new. Some times these disagreement will even create a need for us to separate, just as Paul and Barabbas did. However, that doesn't mean the Church of Jesus needs to be consumed in hate and in-striving. Rather, let us remember that we are one Body with one Goal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loving the Unpopular Side of God

Lately, I've been conducting a bit of a social experiment. On this site and elsewhere I've been asking people what their favorite attribute of God is. I've yet to have anyone tell me that they just love God's justice and holy anger. But this came as no surprise.

It seems that we no longer like talking about the side of God that burnt whole civilizations to a crisp or killed even His children on the spot for their sin.

Since we don't want to come across as fire-and-brimstone extremists, we prefer to talk about love, mercy, grace and all those non-offensive attributes of God. However, there are many dangerous repercussions of this. I'll list two of them.

#1: It is an inaccurate portrayal of God. God is love. No one is denying that. Everything He does is saturated in pure, undefiled love. But God is also just. Therefore, everything that He does is also immersed in justice.

One of the most common forms of idolatry today is the worship of our favorite part of God. Look at one Mark Driscoll says on the subject,

Jesus is not a nice old man in a button-up cardigan sweater and loafers singing happy songs while loading everyone onto a trolley headed to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to meet King Friday like some Mr. Rogers clone. That god is the neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that wants to bless everyone, does not care what you call him/her/it/they, never gets angry, and would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell. This mythical Sky Fairy is increasingly mistaken for Jesus, however, by many young pastors and Christians I have met who don’t want the gospel to be the offensive and foolish stumbling block that it is. So they remake Jesus in to a feathered-hair fairy in lavender tights and take the sword of Revelation out of his hand, replacing it with a daisy.
When Moses asked God to identify Himself, the Lord said that He was Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh. I am that I am or I will be who I will be. God is who He is and it's not for us to start picking and choosing our favorite parts of Him. We can't hold to the God who feeds the five thousand and not to the God who destroyed the Canaanites and is coming back with a sword in His hand.

This is when people start accusing me of worshiping a mean, selfish God who just wants to strike everyone will lightning. Not so. I worship a God of both love and justice. I believe that to be the God of the Bible. Every just thing God does is sprinkled with love and every loving thing He does is sprinkled with justice. This is why Jesus had to die. Because sin has to be punished.

I love what John Piper has to say,

We are creatures, and our Creator is not bound or obligated to give us anything - not life or health or anything. He gives, He takes, and He does us no injustice...And besides being creatures with no claim on our Creator, we are sinners...All we deserve from Him is judgment. Therefore, every breath we take, every time our heart beats, every day the sun rises, every moment we see with our eyes or hear with our ears or speak with our mouths or walk with our legs is, for now, a free and undeserved gift to sinners who deserve only judgment.
God doesn't owe us anything but wrath. The fact that you and I are still breathing right now is a testament to our Father's mercy. For some reason we think God owes us life and comfort and a free choice. But He doesn't. If He gave us what He owes us we'd all be in Hell right now.

For those who would argue that I'm still making God out to be a tyrant, let me first say that God has every right to be a tyrant. Shall the clay say to the Potter why have You made this way? God is our Creator and therefore our Owner. A painter has the right to poke holes in His own masterpiece.

But second, we must remember how we define right and wrong. We don't define who God is based on our own understandings of morality. We define morality based on who God is.

#2: It cheapens the rest of God's attributes. When we look at what God does and we think God is unloving, what are we saying? We're saying that God owes us love. But, if He owes us love, grace and mercy than those attributes are meaningless. When we start with love, God's justice looks cruel. But when we start with justice, God's love looks so much more amazing.

Likewise, when we begin to understand how worthless we are in the presence of an Almighty God, it should make us stand in awe of God's deep love. When we begin to see ourselves as sinful enemies of God who justly deserve death and Hell, the fact that God has offered us fellowship with Him is all the more incredible.

That is the desire for my own life. That I learn to love the unpopular side of God. The side that everyone else shoves under the rug. I want to claim that awesome, almighty Judge as my Daddy. Lightning bolts and all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Independence: A Tragic Mindset

Not too long ago, I made the acquaintance of Jay Lauser. This is a young man who has an obvious passion for the things of the Lord and is very diligent in using his talents and abilities for the glory of God. One of these abilities is writing. Jay has an incredible grasp for words. Therefore, I asked him to guest post for this blog. I can't even begin to tell you how pleased I am with the article Jay sent me. I think he puts our fingers on the pulse of one of the most commonly overlooked problems among Christian youth. I hope you all get as much out of this piece as I did.


“I just want to find out if I can do it on my own.”

“I want to get out of all these rules and limits and live on my own.”

“I don't want to be depe
ndent on other people.”

“I can do it.”

“I need to live on my own.”

All of the above are statements that I hear pretty often from teenagers approaching their 'mature' years of 18-25 or so. Honestly, I hear them all too often for my taste. This is because they are representative of an attitude of independence that is fundamentally in opposition with God.

Sadly, I hear these slogans from Christians and from Rebelutionaries. This is tragic, to my mind. And I believe that it poses a serious danger to the success of the Rebelution and to the impact of the Church on our generation.

Now that I have made everyone really mad, I better go back up those rather outrageous claims. :D

There are four words which I need to define for the context of this article: Freedom, Liberty, Responsibility, and Independence. People have a strong tendency to equivocate using these words, which is assisted by the wide range of meanings that they can have. Please note that I am not limiting their definitions or meanings at all: I am only locking down how I am going to use them in this post for clarity's sake.

Freedom: A state of exemption from the power or control of another.

Liberty: Freedom to do what is right.

Responsibility: The state of being accountable for a trust reposed.

Independence: Freedom from support or authority of another. (Focus is on freedom from support in this post.)

A few quick remarks on these definitions:

I will really only be talking about independence. But I need the other words defined so that I can define it properly.

No one is free. And no one should try to be free. This would be rebellion against God.

Everyone ought to have liberty. We should seek liberty, but not independence. A lot of people point at liberty and say 'that is good' and then go try to acquire independence instead.

Everyone has a responsibility. No one should shirk their duty, and everyone has a duty to others. Refusing to work with other people is a violation of your responsibility. A lot of people say they are trying to be responsible, but are really trying to be independent. Do not get responsibility and independence mixed up.

No one but God is truly independent. That is actually written into the definition in Webster's 1828:

“1. Not dependent; not subject to the control of others; not subordinate. God is the only being who is perfectly independent.”

This makes sense. We cannot escape the necessity of things outside of ourselves. That is an inherent part of our created, finite nature.

My first point against an independent mindset, therefore, is immediately self-evident. To seek to be more independent than we already are is an attempt to be more self-sufficient than God made us. We are, in effect, striving after the supremacy of God. God made us inherently reliant on others. That is His plan. And to try to exclude those support systems from our lives is extremely prideful, not to say insane. We should rather seek for more support, while still maintaining our responsibilities.

The Rebelution has nobly resurrected a mindset in our youth. It is a good mindset, and in fact, it is the mindset that has built empires, preserved liberty, and in many other ways glorified God throughout the ages. But like all good things, Satan loves to twist it with his sophistry and render it damaging to the kingdom of God.

And so now there has been a resurrection of another mindset that feeds off of some of the concepts in the Rebelution, but which is contrary to it. This mindset rejects two of the three pillars of the Rebelution, and focuses exclusively on the third (which, obviously, cannot stand alone). They refuse to show Character by yielding to their pride, they block all Collaboration from mentors and peers alike, and yet they stubbornly claim Competence to be their savior.

Scripture is very clear that God wants each person to rely on others, to be interconnected and interdependent in His pattern for the network of society. I will quote a few Scriptures here to demonstrate this, but do not expect an exhaustive list, as that would be... exhausting. ;)

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Ephesians 4:15-16 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour:
for we are members one of another.

Ephesians 5:21
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Ephesians 5:23-24 For
the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.

That last one needs a bit of explanation, I admit. :)

First notice Ephesians 4:15-16, which talks about the body of Christ, with Christ as the head, and the body being joined together, each part requiring the others (for more on that, study Romans 12). Then look back at Ephesians 5:23-24. Paul deliberately makes a strong parallel between the family and the church, asserting that they are structured the same.

The conclusion is that the family, like the church, is designed to work in harmony with itself, each member supporting and relying on the others, each part adding to the whole. Therefore, trying to go off and live on your own as a teenager, merely to assert or test or prove your independence, is folly of the highest degree. In general (from what I have learned, and the Bible bears with me), it is best for you to be under your father, and thus a part of your family, until you are married. This is a far cry from the modern practice of teenagers leaving the home in all but name in high school, before they every even get to college.

For us to receive God's blessings, we need to allow Him to work through others in our lives to bless us. If we try to rely on none but ourselves, we are actually blocking out God.

And thus is my assertion. It is radical and extreme, I know. But if you read my blog, you know that doesn't bother me at all. ;)

So now it is your turn to make yourselves heard in the comments!

Have you seen this mindset in your life? Have you seen it in others? How has it affected you? And how do you think you could change your life to avoid it?


Jay Lauser, aka Sir Emeth Mimetes, is a homeschooled Rebelutionary writer passionate for God. He divides his time between his many projects and his freelancing web design and development business. He blogs at http://siremethmimetes.wordpress.com.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Need for Young Male Leaders

Okay, I have a confession to make. I'm not the biggest Mark Driscoll fan. Don't get me wrong. I love him as brother in Christ. He's a tremendous preacher. I agree with about 90% of his theology (which is actually pretty good for me). No one can deny that he knows how to reach the very anti-Christian culture of Seattle, Washington. Likewise, I have no doubt that God has used him in great ways and will continue to do so.

However, there are a few cases in which I wish he'd be a little less crude and I disagree with some elements of his philosophy of ministry. That said, he's very much a modern John the Baptist. Blunt, direct, rugged and real. He certainly drives a point home in this video.

While I might not have worded it quite like that, I definitely agree with what Pastor Mark is saying. Though, while Driscoll puts most the blame on the Church, I think that we young men are also the blame. The young men in our churches have failed to step up to the plate. In most churches, young men are more rebel than leader.

We as men have the duty and God-given responsibility to be leaders. We were designed, according to our Father's perfect plan, to take the initiative. Women are designed to respond to our initiative. But, with us guys failing in our responsibilities, women have forced to step in any many areas that are designed for men.

If the Body of Christ is going to prosper, we need men to be leaders. They need to be heads of their families, their businesses, their communities and their churches. And we, as the succeeding generation, need to begin right where we are.

We must never forget that we, whether we like it or not, are the leaders of the future. We will either lead with our action and inaction. So, the question is not whether or not we will be leaders, but what kind of leaders we will be.

It is vital that we have a vision for the future. Regardless of what are vocation may be - be it pastor, missionary, elected official, movie directer, businessman or janitor (I'm sorry, it's custodian) - we need to have an idea of how to best live our life for the glory of God.

So, my challenge to my fellow guys is to simply be men. Take the initiative. Make a stand. Learn how to lead. Serve others. Have a God-centered vision. Live in light of eternity. Lead by example. This is key to the success of the Church.

Friday, September 10, 2010

10 Marks of the Early Church

While doing some research, I came across these ten characteristics of the early Church. The way the Church acted toward the increasingly corrupt Roman culture is a great model for us today as we too try to interact with a society that is increasing more antagonistic toward the Way of God.

1- They refused to attend blood thirsty entertainment. They wouldn’t go to gladiatorial events because they believed it defiled humans who were created in the image of God. This made them appear to be anti-social. Tertullian and Augustine both write about these events in a negative light.

God's principles should always trump society's feeble definitions of morality. The early Christians could have said, "Well, the Scriptures never actually say, 'Thou shalt not go to gladiatorial games.' Therefore, it isn't really a sin to go watch people kill others for sport." But, instead, they chose to travel the road less taken. They looked at the Word of God as a whole and saw that certain principles did not align with their culture's view of entertainment. Therefore, they chose abstinence in an age of indulgence.

2- They did not serve in the military to support Caesar’s wars of conquest, which made them appear weak.

Of course, the liberals love this one. They like to scribble pacifism all over the early Church. However, the matter wasn't so much war itself, but the cause of the war. The wars which the Roman Empire had started at this time weren't about defending the people or punishing wickedness - the extent of the government's jurisdiction. It was about feeding Caesar's blood lust. Therefore, the early saints drew a line in the sand and said that they would have no part in helping the government defy God's Word.

3- They were against abortion and infanticide. In this culture, both were considered acceptable. To throw your baby out on the dung heap if you didn’t want it was not taboo.

You want to know what Christian extremism really is? It'll tell you. These Christian had such an extreme love for people they had never met that they would go wading, knee deep, in the dung piles, listening for the cries of abandon newborns. When they would find them, they would not only nurse the children back to health but they would also raise them as if they were their own offspring. That is love in action.

4- They empowered women by showing their value and dignity in places of learning and service which had previously been exclusively for men. Christians held women in high regard and treasured them rather than viewing them as just a step above expendable children and servants.

Until recently, chivalry has always been a prominent fixture in the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, the Feminist movement has convinced society that valuing women for their unique and God-given traits is sexist and primitive. We guys need to make sure that we treat ladies with respect and honor.

5- They were against sex outside of marriage. This fidelity was considered odd and against culture. Sex was viewed as nothing more than a desire like eating or sleeping. Christians held a high view of the bed and kept it pure and would not engage in sex outside of marriage.

I don't think I really need to explain how this relates to our current culture. Just take comfort in the fact that saints of God have been fighting the same battles for centuries. The God who gave them victory then can still give us victory today.

6- They were against homosexual relationships. This was odd in a time when same sex practice was not frowned upon.

There is nothing new under the sun. Our adversary has been trying the same old tricks all throughout history. The traditional view of marriage was not something a bunch of bigots tried to push onto the Bible. It's what God designed and what His Church has been fighting for since the beginning.

7- They were exceptionally generous with their resources. They shared what they had with one another and welcomed others in with a hospitality that was unparalleled.

Generosity and hospitality are two components that I believe are sadly missing from the Church today. We need to once again begin displaying love in practical, everyday ways.

8- They were radically for the poor. In a time when the poor and downtrodden were viewed as getting what they deserved, they were aggressively committed to loving and serving people in the margins of society.

In a poverty-stricken age, the Christians did not waste their time worrying about their own needs. Rather, they went out of their way to actively serve others.

9- They mixed races and social classes in ways that were unseen in their gatherings, and for it they were considered scandalous.

We are one Body. Race, gender and social status don't matter in terms of our value in Christ. Our Lord is the Father of all.

10- They believed only Christ was the way to salvation. This was in a time when everyone had a god and could believe something entirely different and it was totally acceptable to be polytheists and pluralistic. Christians dared claim that Jesus was the only way and refused to bend to other gods.

Need I say more? In an age of 'tolerance', everyone is pushing coexistence. It doesn't matter what you believe. The God of the Bible is the same as any other god. Jesus is just a way, a truth and a life. Come as you are. There's no need to do things God's Way. Oh, but there is! May we always have the courage to profess Jesus Christ as the only Way to the Father.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

God of the Gardens

My family and I recently returned from a week-long vacation in the Colorado Springs area. It never ceases to amaze me when I see our God use simply things to reveal Himself to us.

In the weeks prior to our vacation I had begun a fairly in-depth study of certain doctrines that don't get a lot of attention. To me, theology is anything but boring. In fact, few things give me a bigger thrill. However, this past week brought me out of the world of textbooks and theories and amerced me in the glory of Almighty God.

In fact, I was doing some writing about theology when I was instructed to pile into the van. Our exploration of the Colorado Springs area began at the Garden of the Gods. I wish I could describe to you the shear beauty of this place. To say it's a bunch of really pretty rocks, doesn't even begin to do it justice.

I felt like a little kid on a playground. I want to climb on every boulder, gaze over every cliff, marvel at all the intriguing beauty of my Daddy's creation. And this was only the beginning.

Throughout the week, I became infatuated with the glory that the Lord has shown us through His creation. I beheld a breathtaking view from the top of Pike's Peak. I watched the wonders of life as we got a close up view of some mule deer. I was taken by the power of a waterfall and fascinated by the intricacy of plants.

It was disturbing to walk into gift shops and see all these postcards and engravings praising 'Mother Nature' and glorifying the gospel of neopaganism. It was saddening to think of these people who were beholding the same wonders I was and yet failed to see the Maker calling them to Himself. Just as the Apostle Paul predicted would happen, these people who had a form of godliness but denied the Power thereof were glorying in the creation and not the Creator.

However, for me, all I could see was the glory of God. But just as I began to marvel at the power of my God, the Lord hit me with another thought. If I was so impressed by the details of this little ball called Earth, just imagine what the coming glory must be like.

I found creation so amazing because it pointed me toward God. But really, all the mountains and waterfalls were just shadows of His awesome glory. As I gazed over the mountain peaks, it gave me chills to contemplate one day being about the see the real deal. The Source of all glory and beauty. The Author of all majesty.

I can't wait.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

God is Love

So, I’m sitting in a hard folding chair on a Wednesday night, innocently going about my weekly retinue, completely naive to the fact that my life is about to be forever changed. I was just a young middle schooler with a freckle-covered face and bushy, red hair. As was my custom, I was sitting in our church’s regular children’s ministry, of which my dad was head.

Now, for you to fully appreciate this story you have to understand a little bit about my dad. He grew up as a missionary kid in the deserts of Peru. Growing up in a Third World nation has made him a very practical and down to earth sort of guy. He’s the type of speaker that can take a far out, theoretical concept and make it practical for every day life.

Dad’s also a big advocate of that childlike faith Christ kept talking about. To him, the accepted theological standards of modern Christendom are second (maybe even third or fourth) to the Word of God. While a very respectful and chivalrous man, my dad doesn’t have a qualm about defying the status quo if he feels the Bible and the status quo don’t quite get along.

That leads us to Wednesday night. So far, my day had gone pretty normally. I’ve played some dodgeball, recited some memory verses and colored a really cool picture of Moses parting the Red Sea. Then it was time for the Bible lesson.

My dad walked up to the little wooden podium, pulled out his Bible and began teaching. A few sentences into the lesson and the room became deathly silent. The message was so radical that it had the parents and teachers scratching their head. But it so fundamental that it had the little kids were challenged and encouraged.

Since then, I’ve heard my dad preach this sermon many times. I’ve heard it two different languages and in multiple contexts. It’s become my dad’s signature sermon. And yet, despite being able to quote the outline by heart, the message has not yet lost its meaning to me.

So what was this message my dad introduced on that otherwise normal Wednesday night meeting? It wasn’t anything new or exotic. It wasn’t some radical concept no one had ever thought of before. In fact, he preached on a word that we use every single day.

He preached on love.

Yes, love. That little word that everyone uses and no one really understands. Before that Wednesday night I thought I knew what love was. As a young child, love was the way I felt when my mom hugged me goodnight. It was that mushy thing my parents had. It was the way I felt about pizza and cheesecake.

Oh boy, was I ever wrong! My dad’s message began a spiritual pilgrimage in which I went from having a worldly sense of love to having a more biblical and Jehovah-centric view of that amazing thing we call love.

This is arguably one of he most important topics of our day or any other day. The way we view love with effect nearly every aspect of our life. It is vital to every single relationship we have - from our relationship with God, to our parents, to our spouses, to our siblings, to friends, to the guy down the street and even our enemies.

In God’s holy Word, we are repeatedly told that loving God and loving others is the center of our faith. Therefore, we cannot allow this issue to pass by without being thoroughly explored. We can’t afford to simply glance over it without diving in and discovering its complexities.

Unfortunately, we're adopted a very unbiblical view of love. Not that it really matters, but our modern conception of love is rooted in Greco-Roman philosophy and mythology. Love is generally thought of as a largely physical, emotional and uncontrollable force that simply hits a person at random times.

But the Bible tells of a very different kind of love. The very fact that we are commanded to love implies that it is a choice. We either do it or we don't. Those are the only two options.

On that Wednesday night, my dad made a very interesting observation. First, he read from I John 4:8. It's a very simple statement. "God is love."

Whenever he preaches this sermon, my dad has everyone turn to II Corinthians 13 - the infamous "love chapter" - and every time the passage says charity or love, he has everyone replace it with the word God. In doing so, we see that all the expressions of love are really extensions of our Father's character.

So, why is it that we don't really understand love? It's because we don't really understand God. I think John the Beloved summed it up really nicely.

He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.

-I John 4:8

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Calvinist Comeback

In 2009, that all-wise, omniscient source of knowledge, Time magazine, named New Calvinism as one of the top ten ideas changing the world today. There’s no question that Calvinists and Reformed theologians are doing a lot of heavy lifting lately. It’s people like John Piper, Voddie Baucham, Joshua Harris, Albert Mohler and Brett & Alex Harris who are bringing the faith of our fathers back into the hearts and minds of modern man.

So what is it about Calvinism that is drawing so many Christian to it like a magnet? Last March, I had the privilege of working with Chad Warren of Worldview Academy during TeenPact Iowa 2010. Chad believes that the answer to that question is reaction. Just as the Emergent church claims to be a reaction to postmodernism, New Calvinism is a response to the Emergent church.

Since before I was born, the Body of Jesus Christ, at least in the West, has been dominated by “feel good theology.” Emotion-centric praise teams lead worship. Pastors are judged by how many laughs they can accumulate from the audience. Youth ministries focus more on pizza and dodgeball than on biblical teachings. To most Christians today, God is a benevolent, loving grandpa and Jesus is no longer the King of kings, but the Buddy of buddies.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Daddy. However, there’s so much more to God than a flippant deity who speaks softly and carries a twig. This is where Young Calvinism comes in.

You can say what you want about predestination and unconditional election, but whether they’re right or wrong, Calvinists are doctrinally-centric, Bible-focused believers. It’s not about getting a fuzzy feeling. It’s about glorifying God.

This is where Reformed theology offers something that is far too uncommon in modern Christian circles. The whole point to Calvinism is that God is God is God and He can do whatever He wants. We don’t have to like it. We don’t have to understand it. We just have to submit to it.

So, regardless of what you believe about Calvinism, there’s something that can be learned from it. When John Calvin first came on the scene, his teachings went upstream of the social status quo which was rooted in corrupted theology and dead religion. Now, our culture has stooped back to wishy-washy doctrines. It’s time for a new generation of reformers to bring our culture back to the Word of God.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Misandry - Men Don't Exist

I recently stumbled across this interesting video. I think it beautifully illustrates the broad reaching effects of Feminism in our society. While this video doesn't appear to be coming from a Christian or Complementarian worldview, it certainly does reveal a problem in our modern way of thinking.

I'm curious about you guy's thoughts of the subject. Is this is a valid point? Or is the modern perception of men deserved?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Fate of Christian Fantasy

There are two very important things that you should know about me. I love to read and I love to write. Since I was very young I have loved telling and writing stories. My pet genre is speculative fiction - which is a swiping term which includes everything the least bit abnormal. Therefore, I've been keeping a close eye on the Christian fantasy industry.

Remember, epic fantasy - at least as we know it today - has its roots in Christian authorship. There was a time when it was unheard of for a fantasy novel not to have Christian worldview. But, the devil has this tendency to hijack our stuff. As a result, many Christians have given up on fantasy.

Of course, it doesn't help that we as men have stopped paying attention literature. In fact, bookworm often has an inherently feminine flavor. As a result, prairie romances dominate Christian bookstores. It's been a long time since we've seen a big, quality Christian fantasy hit the shelves.

The exception would be people like Ted Dekker. His Books of History Chronicles - a trinity series which includes the Circle Series, Paradise Trilogy and the Lost Books novels - has been widely successful. However, Dekker had already made a name for himself in the thriller department before he decided to try his hand at fantasy. It's extremely hard for new authors to get fantasy published.

However, all is not lost. Having been rejected by the bookstores, many authors are turning to the Internet to sell their work, with varying levels of success. Jay L. Young self-published his Heroes of Old series, which I've heard is a cross between the Bible and X-Men (yeah, I had to think about that for a bit too). Young's series has seen a tremendous level of success for a self-published book. A friend of mine, Adrianne Redding, self-published a beautiful book called RoseBeast (learn more)And some smaller publishers, namely Marcher Lords, have devoted themselves to Christian fantasy.

What does all this mean? It means that there are a growing number of people out there who are hungry for a meaty portion of Christian fantasy and, if necessary, they're willing to go follow some unorthodox roads to get it. With the movement rapidly catching on, it may not be long before we see Christian fantasy hit the mainstream once again.

So, how knows, maybe the days of Tolkien and Lewis may yet return.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Big Deal

Isn’t it funny how some things that seem only mildly important to some people are essentials for living to others? For example, to my little sister getting her dress dirty is a crisis equal to the apocalypse. To my little brother, blue jeans and napkins are practically synonyms.

Sometimes, we have similar differences of emphasis with God. Lately,I’ve been studying the issue of honoring parents and I’ve realized something; this is a really big deal to God. Under Old Testament law, the dishonoring of parents in the severest of cases was a capital offense. Translation: they took this issue so seriously that if you didn’t stop disrespecting your parents the authorities would kill you. Pretty intense, no?

Before you dismiss this as out-dated, Old Covenant precautions, bare in mind that twice Paul, once in Romans 1 and again in II Timothy 3, listed disobedience to parents along side idolatry, fornication, homosexuality, pride and some of the vilest sins imaginable.

I looked at that and thought to myself, “What’s the big deal?” I mean, I understand that obeying my parents is important and that we should do it. But punishable by death? On equal terms with paganism? Seriously?

I knew there had to be a reason. After all, God’s ways are higher than our ways (thankfully!). Our Father doesn’t just make up a bunch of rules for the fun of it. Therefore, I began to dig a bit deeper. Well, upon doing some study I think that there are several reason why God puts such an emphasis on this issue throughout the Scriptures. But there’s one in particular that I want to zero in on.

In both Romans 1 and II Timothy 3, Paul is describing the symptoms of a corrupt, godless society that he knew would emerge in what he called the Last Days. In the II Timothy passage, he ends his list of abominations - which includes disobedience to parents - with the phrase, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses…” He then goes on to describe how false teachers were winning over idle women and corrupting homes.

Almost at the beginning of humanity itself, God established the institution of the family. And since his fall, our adversary the devil has been trying to undermine this most vital of God-ordained establishments. In the Garden of Eden, he got Eve to challenge her husband’s position. Only a few generations into humanity, polygamy was introduced. Then we have infamous showdown at Sodom and Gomorrah, which some historians believe outdates the pyramids. So, attacks on the family have been around for centuries and haven't gotten any better.

We’re all familiar with at least the first part of Exodus 20:12. “Honor thy father and thy mother.” But then it goes on to say, “That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” This is the first commandment with a promise. There are benefits, not only the next life but in this one, for honoring our parents.

The family is the cornerstone of society. So how can we have a godly society if we don’t have godly families? Our culture will never be God honoring unless it has a Biblical view of the family. When we dishonor parents, not only are we challenging a direct command from God Almighty, we are undermining the very basis for society itself. We are distorting the institution of the family and thereby defiling society as a whole. That's the big deal.