Praying for my Christian brothers and sisters in Charleston SC

Praying for my Christian brothers and sisters in Charleston SC

Like many Americans, I awoke to read the tragic headline of evil hitting Charleston, SC as a gunman killed 9 Christians during a prayer meeting. The suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, 21, has been captured and is yet to speak out about his motive. Is Roof a deplorable racist, hateful of blacks? Is a an angry atheist, hateful of Christians? Or maybe both?

While we do not yet know the motivation for his act of evil, my prayers go out to the families of those killed in cold-blood. I pray they can find peace in the abiding grace of Jesus Christ—Lord and Savior of those 9 beautiful souls.

EDITORIAL UPDATE: JUNE 19, 2015

The suspect has now confessed and it appears that his motives for attacking are rooted in a pervasive racial hatred of blacks. His affiliation to an ideology of racism clearly makes this mass killing far more worse than a hate crime, but a deliberate act of terrorism. 
The Procrustean Church

The Procrustean Church

As I observe the world around me, I see a common thread… the willingness to do anything it takes to create ones own “reality” and live by ones personal “truth”. Pollsters do it to win elections, pseudo-scientists do it for win grant money, and Christians do it to gain favor from the world. The term that describes this practice is “Procrustean.”

Where does this term come from? It comes form Greek mythology in a figure named Procrustes.

Procrustes was a host who adjusted his guests to their bed. Procrustes, whose name means “he who stretches”, was arguably the most interesting of Theseus’s challenges on the way to becoming a hero. He kept a house by the side of the road where he offered hospitality to passing strangers, who were invited in for a pleasant meal and a night’s rest in his very special bed. Procrustes described it as having the unique property that its length exactly matched whomsoever lay down upon it. What Procrustes didn’t volunteer was the method by which this “one-size-fits-all” was achieved, namely as soon as the guest lay down Procrustes went to work upon him, stretching him on the rack if he was too short for the bed and chopping off his legs if he was too long. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, fatally adjusting him to fit his own bed.

This is akin to what I see happening today. Like Procrustes, anti-Chrisitan leaders have determined the shape to which the Church must conform, they have lured the Church into their comfortable bed with the promise of acceptance, and once trapped She has been robbed of Her Divine beauty in Christ and stretched and chopped to fit this idolatrous shape. We have become the Procrustean Church.

This method of shaping the future through manipulation is what some call a Procrustean Solution.

Procrustean Solution is the practice of manipulating facts to fit a preconceived container or agenda.

To fully understand how this applies to the Church, here is a helpful definition as it applies to statistics.

In a Procrustean solution in statistics, instead of finding the best fit line to a scatter plot of data, one first chooses the line one wants, then selects only the data that fits it, disregarding data that does not, so to “prove” some idea. It is a form of rhetorical deception made to forward one set of interests at the expense of others. The unique goal of the Procrustean solution is not win-win, but rather that Procrustes wins and the other loses. In this case, the defeat of the opponent justifies the deceptive means.

In other words, when a pollster wants to reach a specific goal (i.e. Elect a politician, persuade a public vote, etc..), they determine ahead of time how they can reach that goal and then pick the data that best fits their narrative.  This practice was effectively employed by the communists and the Nazis to influence public opinion.

For a Procrustean advocate, the end always justifies the means.

This radical Procrusteanism is found also among those who believe social justice in the absolute. Anything that does not guarantee an equal result is deemed the enemy of justice. For example, statistics show that children raised in a traditional two-parent home, one father and one mother, have certain advantages over children raised in single parent/no-parent home. Thus, for some, the traditional biological family is the enemy of social-justice. So argues Joe Gelonesi.

The power of the family to tilt equality hasn’t gone unnoticed, and academics and public commentators have been blowing the whistle for some time. Now, philosophers Adam Swift and Harry Brighouse have felt compelled to conduct a cool reassessment.

Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

So, what to do?

According to Swift, from a purely instrumental position the answer is straightforward.

‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

So if the two-parent family is the source of inequality, it must be abolished and/or redefined. The article concludes.

From this realisation arises another twist: two is not the only number.

‘Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,’ says Swift.

It’s here that the traditional notions of what constitutes the family come apart. A necessary product of the Swift and Brighouse analytical defence is the calling into question of some rigid definitions.

‘Politicians love to talk about family values, but meanwhile the family is in flux and so we wanted to go back to philosophical basics to work out what are families for and what’s so great about them and then we can start to figure out whether it matters whether you have two parents or three or one, or whether they’re heterosexual etcetera.’

In these two examples from Pollsters and Social-Justice Seekers, we can see the genesis of the Procrustean Church.

  1. Agendas are set by groups who want God’s Church destroyed.
  2. Data is selectively chosen by pollsters to fit the new narrative.
  3. The masses are persuaded by slick marketing and bullying tactics.
  4. The natural facts are rendered impotent by emotional pleas manufactured to titillate the heart.
  5. Anyone who holds a divergent viewpoint is vilified so that no rational argument can penetrate the Procrustean induced hatred.

The changes we see around us do not reflect the natural progression of God’s Church, but rather a corruption designed and engineered by those who hate Her. Once aware of the agenda, I pray the power of manipulation is broken. I pray all my brothers and sisters will return to the hope of the one Gospel and the truth of Jesus Christ. I pray we will once again embrace the Church as our real inheritance in Christ.

You can’t handle the truth!

One of the most powerful movie scenes of all time puts us in the middle of a courtroom showdown between an apathetic JAG lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) who is in a battle of wits against Col. Nathan R. Jessup (Jack Nicholson). In 1992 classic, “A Few Good Men” Lt. Kaffee demands answers from Col. Jessup regarding the accusation of illegal orders he gave that resulted in the death of a young Marine. Lt. Kaffee, risking his own career, screams at Col. Jessup, “I want the truth!” Col. Jessup retorts with a simple yet powerful line, “You can’t handle the truth!”

Two-Thousand years ago, Jesus stood in the courtroom of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect ruling over Judea. There was no yelling or screaming in this courtroom, yet this trial for the life of Jesus was just as tense . Here we encounter a real-life drama centered around this same issue of Truth. In the Gospel of John we pick up at the pinnacle of this scene.

John 18:33–38 (ESV)

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Truth is something that matters to all of us. Whether it is in a court of law where we seek justice, or with our kids as we seek to raise them well.. truth matters. However, we also live in a time when the “truth” is considered very transient and personal. For Col. Jessup, truth was something he could abuse to serve his own goals, to Pontius Pilate, truth could be shaped to suit the best end, but for Jesus.. truth was an absolute reflection of the Father and His will for humanity.

As we move toward Easter Sunday, consider each of these verses below. This is every occurrence of the word “truth” in the Gospel of John from the ESV translation. Read each verse and respond to these questions.

  • What is the relationship between God, the Father, and truth?
  • What is the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Why does it matter?
  • What role does the Holy Spirit play in bringing truth into your life?
  • How would you answer Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:17

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 4:23

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

John 4:24

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

John 5:33

You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.

John 8:32

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:40

but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.

John 8:44

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:45

But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

John 8:46

Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:17

even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

John 15:26

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

John 16:7

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16:13

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 17:8

For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

John 17:17

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

John 17:19

And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 18:37

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

John 18:38

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

John 19:35

He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.

Mourning the 21: Praying for the Thousands (WARNING: Graphic Images)

Mourning the 21: Praying for the Thousands (WARNING: Graphic Images)

BumW-kjIAAAsOzL.jpg-large-e1408927036192Today we mourn the execution of 21 Egyptian Christian brothers killed in Libya by Islamic terrorists. This is only the latest savagery against Christians which includes the crucifixion, dismemberment and torture of men, women and children. Even more, these Muslim extremists are raping women and selling them into slavery.

As reported in just one instance,

kessab-bimbo1“ISIS turned up and said to the children, ‘You say the words that you will follow Mohammed,’ ” White said in video posted on the Christian Broadcasting Network website.
“The children, all under 15, four of them, they said, ‘No, we love Yeshua [Jesus], we have always loved Yeshua.’
“They chopped all their heads off.

Sadly, there are some in the media who still see these terrorists as justified in taking back what they consider “their land.” These pundits are clearly unaware that many these Christian communities have roots that predate Islam by more than 600 years, yet tens of thousands have been killed and even more forced to flee their homes to escape the savage onslaught.

xisis-child-sun-ramadan.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.RPAai2C_C1Please pray that politicians will take action to protect these people from the savagery of these terrorist groups.

Please pray that our brothers and sisters in Christ who are presently under attack will be saved from any further torture and death.

Please pray for these terrorists to be saved from their own evil intent and, just as the Apostle Paul was saved from his own mission to kill Christians, these men too will be redeemed by the cross of Jesus Christ.

How Should Evangelicals Respond To Ferguson? With The Gospel of Course!

How Should Evangelicals Respond To Ferguson? With The Gospel of Course!

In an article “A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond,” Ed Stetzer addresses the tense feelings and emotions within the African-American Community in the wake of the grand jury decision regarding the case of Michael Brown. Dr. Miller wrote his own response in this MTC article, and now I would like to offer my own thoughts. Stetzer insists that many within the African-American Community are hurting, and that they are giving good reasons as to why they are in pain–not just over the recent decision in Ferguson–but over the pain and damage of racism in society.

Ed Stetzer encourages “us” (meaning white Evangelicals) to listen to “them” (meaning African-American leaders). Why should White Evangelicals listen to these leaders within the African-American community? Stetzer tell us his reason when he writes the following:

For many, this is about an incident. Yet, for many African Americans, it’s about a system. It’s worth listening to why people are responding differently to the situation in Ferguson.

Stetzer asks the question: How should evangelicals respond to the decision in Ferguson? I will attempt to answer this question by using the source all Evangelicals ought to use in shaping their response: Sacred Scripture.

Racism Exist Because Sin Exist

The reason racism exists is because of the Fall of man due to the rebellion of Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Because of sin’s depravity, man is wicked and corrupt by nature, and as a result we do not see God, His will, nor His creation rightly. We are conceived in sin and produce wickedness due to the condition of our hearts (Ps. 51:5; Ps. 58:3; Isa. 64:4; Jer. 17:9; John 3:19; John 8:34; Rom. 1:18; Rom. 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3). As Evangelicals we understand that racism and prejudice are not the cause of the problem, they are the symptom of the cause of the problem. Racism is not a “White American” nor a “Black American” problem, it is a human problem, because humans are born dead in trespasses and sins. Ed Stetzer is right about one thing: the problem we face is about a corrupt system, but we differ on what and how the system can be fixed.  What we, as Christians, need to focus on is a worldly system that is infected by sinful creatures.

In fact, all Evangelicals, White and Black, acknowledge racism and injustice is present in the world because the Evangelical Worldview understands this is a world steeped in sin and lawlessness. Poverty and prostitution exists right before our very eyes. Child Abuse and Domestic Violence, and School shootings are seen on our television screens daily (and many experience these horrific events). Many people glorify what is unrighteous and inhumane, while they call those who have Biblical values “narrow-minded” and “bigoted.” Yes, Evangelicals know and believe corrupt systems exist, and they groan and long for the world to change, to be transformed; for Christ Himself to return and exercise justice and establish a world where freedom does ring. For Ed Stetzer to say Evangelicals who are “white” need to recognize that a problem exists and they must “rise to the aid of those in need” is to presume that white Evangelicals do not see a need and are not rising to the aid of these needs. This is something that I wish Ed Stetzer had acknowledged in his blog.

The Gospel Is The Means By Which God Transforms Hearts From Racism

Now this is one of the things that I wish Ed Stetzer would have quoted as the antidote to racism–the Gospel of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Not just that those who are hurting would see the unconditional love of Jesus displayed by His Church (John 13:35), but that this would be boldly procliamed to African Americans–as well as all men—no matter their ethnicity.

I want all men of every race to to understand that:

  • Christ died for every racist that fails to love their neighbor and God.
  • Christ was rejected by hate-filled people, just like those who have felt rejected by racists.
  • Christ spoke the truth and was kicked and pushed and beaten and “disenfranchised” by His own creation!
  • On the cross, Christ took on the wrath of God as if He were the leader of the Skinheads or the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. And He did it all for those who are racist, White and Black.

This truth of the Gospel of Christ is that God transforms the hearts of people and brings them to repentance and confession of their sin. Christ changes people from bigots, whatever race or ethnicity they once despised, into people who would give their own lives for the very race they sought to ridicule and destroy. It is this truth of Christ alone that motivates Evangelicals to serve and love our neighbor.

Because of The Gospel All Evangelicals Responses Should Be Based On These Two Truths

Lastly I want to address what Ed Stetzer said at the start of his blog when he writes:

In light of the grand jury decision handed down tonight in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, I think it is of utmost importance that all Christians, but specifically white evangelicals, talk a little less and listen a little more.

I appreciate Ed Stetzer taking a hard look at himself in light of the issues in Ferguson and encouraging fellow Evangelicals to do the same. However, may I suggest that it should not be “white Evangelical” alone (whatever this means) but every Evangelical who holds to the authority of Sacred Scripture that needs to examine their own life. Ed Stetzer comes from a different culture from other Evangelicals who have different parents, were raised in a different neighborhood, and have made different decisions in life. Yet, despite being different in almost every way, we all share a common message: The forgiveness of sins found in Christ Jesus. What I am saying is in Sacred Scripture there is no such thing as a “white” or “black” Evangelical. In fact, Paul takes it a step further to say because of our unity in Lord and doctrine “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” which is distinct from the Law (Gal. 3:28 NAS). This is our message; what we believe concerning the authority of Sacred Scripture, specifically what Christ has done for us has unified us. No matter if we are wealthy or poor, black or white, male or female, adult or child, no matter the culture, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, the Message of the Word of God and the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins is what we, the people of God and the bride of Christ, must proclaim (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47).

So, how should Evangelicals respond to the anger after Ferguson? I am convinced that we should revise this question into a statement by acknowledging another truth that is not often expressed. Evangelical Christians, both white and black, have long been on the frontline responding to these issues of race and poverty. It was Christians who created the orphanages for the fatherless and hospitals to care for the sick. It was Christians who were abolitionists, helping slaves pass through the Underground Railroad. It was Abraham Lincoln, a Christian, who understood the need to abolish slavery and, along with his supporters, helped shape the Republican Party. It was Martin Luther King, a Southern Baptist preacher, who led the freedom marches in Mobile, Alabama.

Christians, black and white, have understood the Great Commission. To preach the gospel to all people and do good works, and many have lost their lives to fulfill this mission. But these people gave up their lives, not because they were “white Evangelicals” or “black Evangelicals” but because they were Christians; period! Christians who believed in the authority of Sacred Scripture and the gospel of Christ. May all Evangelicals, no matter what race, respond in with such loving sacrifice.

In short, preach the Gospel to all people and do good works for your neighbor to the glory of God. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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